Gen Raheel visits working boundary, slams India’s blatant violations
ISLAMABAD: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif visited the working boundary and Rangers Headquarters in Sialkot and appreciated the high morale of troops deployed there against the India’s ‘blatant violations’, DawnNews reported on Friday.
According to the details shared by the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asim Bajwa, the army chief lauded the efforts of troops deployed at the working boundary for replying to the Indian aggression in a befitting manner.
The army chief also visited the Combined Military Hospital in Sialkot to inquire about the health of civilians injured as a result of unprovoked by Indian border security forces.
“India has blatantly violated the ceasefire agreement along the working boundary and line of control,” Gen Raheel was quoted as saying.
He further said that India has crossed all limits to terrorise Pakistani citizens and has disregarded the international conventions and norms.
“We can sense that there is definite linkage between terrorism being sponsored by India in various parts of Pakistan and belligerence along the working boundary and line of control,” the army chief asserted.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said Pakistan would raise India’s ceasefire violations at all international forums.
8 civilians killed, several injured in Indian shelling
Indian envoy summoned
SIALKOT/ISLAMABAD: At least 11 civilians were killed and several others wounded on Friday during an exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani border troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and Working Boundary in Sialkot’s Charwah, Harpal, Chaprar and Sucheetgarh sectors.
According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel resorted to firing and shelling along the boundary.
Earlier reports suggested seven Pakistanis were killed in firing and shelling by Indian forces, however, the military’s media wing has confirmed the number as eight.
Rangers sources said the attacks along the Sialkot Working Boundary have mostly harmed civilians, adding that livestock belonging to residents of the area has been killed, while houses have been partially damaged.
Meanwhile, Indian officials claimed firing by Pakistani border guards along the boundary in Kashmir left three Indian civilians dead and at least 16 wounded.
Both sides claim that the other side had opened fire first.
Simrandeep Singh, a local administrator on the Indian side, accused the Pakistani guards of unprovoked firing of small arms and mortars across the border in the R S Pura sector on Thursday night.
The Indian border guards returned fire, he said, adding that the injured Indian villagers have been evacuated to nearby hospitals.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his concerns over firing on Working Boundary with India.
He also expressed condolence over loss of eight innocent lives and injuries to 47 others during the firing.
Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghawan was summoned at Foreign Office and strong protest was lodged with him over the working boundary violations by Indian Border Security Forces near Sialkot which resulted in the killing of civilians.
“Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry received the Indian envoy. He was conveyed Pakistan’s protest and concern over continued LOC/working boundary violations,” Foreign Office said in a statement.
Indian high commissioner was told that India has to honour ceasefire agreement of 2003 between the two countries.
Sartaj Aziz condemns Indian aggression
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz condemned the exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani border troops along the LoC in Kashmir and Working Boundary.
“The government of Pakistan expresses concern at the continued ceasefire violations by India along the LOC and the Working Boundary,” said Aziz.
“We urge the Indian government to stop ceasefire violations along the LOC and the Working Boundary,” added Aziz.
Instances of firing across the Indo-Pak border have occurred intermittently over the years.
In the last instance of unprovoked Indian shelling in Sialkot’s Sucheetgarh and Charwah sectors on Aug 18, 60-year-old Mohammad Shareef was killed when he was hit by a mortar shell.
A team of United Nations observers visited the villages hit by Indian shelling and met the family of Shareef at Thathi Khurd village, Sucheetgarh.
The UN team also met other locals affected by Indian shelling and sought details from them about the fresh BSF hostilities, which caused heavy losses of their property and livestock.
The latest incident of firing comes days before India and Pakistan’s border security force chiefs are likely to meet in New Delhi.
The chiefs of the Pakistan Rangers and the Indian Border Security Force were to meet in New Delhi from Sept 9 to 13, a statement issued by the Pakistan Rangers had said.
The agenda for the meeting includes recent firing over the Line of Control, the de facto frontier in the divided Kashmir region, as well as cross-border smuggling, Pakistan Rangers spokesman Waheed Bukhari had said.
The developments come days after the first high-level peace talks in years between the two countries collapsed.
On Saturday, the first high-level peace talks in years between the two country’s national security advisers were cancelled after a dispute over the agenda for those talks.
In December 2013, the two countries had pledged to uphold the 2003 ceasefire accord which had been left in tatters by repeated violations that year. The truce breaches had put the nascent bilateral peace dialogue on hold.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since becoming independent nations in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, which both claim in full but rule in part.
New Delhi has for years accused Pakistan of backing Kashmiris in Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan denies the allegations and blames India for fomenting unrest inside Pakistan.
US warns India to avoid blame game against Pakistan
- Urges rivals a to resolve issues through dialogue
WASHINGTON: The US State Department Spokesman John Kirby said that he has not seen any kind of statement regarding use of nukes from Pakistan, India should not spread these speculations.
The US State Department Spokesman, in his daily press briefing in Washington, has warned India not to spread these kind of speculations that Pakistan has given any threat of using nuclear bomb against India and they have not seen any news regarding this threat. He further said that Pakistan and India should resolve their issues through bilateral talks and these sort of statements will not help in reducing tensions between both the rivals.
The United States has said that it wants both Pakistan and India to continue to work together with constructive dialogue to resolve their issues; however, it admitted that there are longstanding issues between the two countries.
John Kirby said that we understand that there are longstanding issues but we want to see the tensions decrease. “What really needs to happen, is sitting down, dialogue, cooperation, talking through these things, and trying to work through some meaningful solutions,” the spokesman said.
The national security advisors (NSAs) of Pakistan and Indian were scheduled to meet in New Delhi on August 24; however, the Indian government set pre-conditions for talks asking Pakistan not to go with its planned meeting with the Kashmiri leaders.
But Pakistan rejected the Indian objection and said that talks with Kashmiri leaders are a routine matter, and it wants India to include all outstanding issues including Kashmir in NSAs level talks.
The US expressed its disappointment at the cancellation of the Pakistan-India security talks and urged the two neighbors to resume formal dialogue soon.
In reply to a question regarding a report which says that Pakistan will be the third-largest nuclear stockpiles in a decade, John Kirby said that the US continue to urge all nuclear-capable states including Pakistan to exercise restraint regarding furthering their nuclear capabilities.
Earlier, the United Nations Secretary-General has regretted cancellation of the planned meeting between the National Security Advisers of Pakistan and India, and expressed the hope that the two South Asian neighbours would resume dialogue soon.
“The Secretary-General reiterates his call to both countries to continue to address their differences through dialogue,” Eri Kaneko, a UN spokesperson said in a statement.
“He (secretary-general) sincerely hopes that the leaders of the countries will use all opportunities to resume talks at an early date,” the statement added. - NNI
ECP announces schedule for Islamabad local government elections
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday announced the schedule for the first-ever party-based local government elections in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), according to which the polling will take place on November 30.
According to the ECP, the election candidates may submit their nomination papers between October 24 and October 27, while scrutiny of the papers will take place between October 31 and November 4.
The candidates will have until November 10 to withdraw their nomination papers and on November 11, the final list of candidates will be published.
Elections results will be announced by the ECP on December 3.
The election schedule comes a day after the Supreme Court had directed the ECP to issue a schedule for local government polls in Islamabad by Friday.
The ECP assured the Supreme Court on Thursday that the schedule for holding local government polls in Islamabad will be announced on Friday.
ECP Additional Director General (Law) Mohammad Arshad assured the court that the schedule will be announced on Friday after Additional Attorney General (AAG) Aamir Rehman told a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S Khawaja that the rules under which the polls were to be held had been drawn up.
The bench had taken up an ECP application seeking directions for the federal government to expedite the passage of the bill and frame the rules enabling the commission to hold local government elections in ICT.
But on Aug 4, President Mamnoon Hussain gave his assent to the Federal Capital Territory Local Government Bill, which the National Assembly had passed along with the amendments proposed by the Senate suggesting party-based elections for the local government in ICT on July 29.
The last local government elections in Islamabad were held in 1992 under the Federal Capital Local Government Ordinance 1979, but those were limited to 12 rural union councils in the peripheries of Islamabad.
When the case was taken up on Thursday, the AAG told the court that the process of framing of the rules had been completed and the same had also been notified. He also submitted copies of the notification under which the local bodies elections were to be held.
The chief justice then adjourned further proceedings for 40 days, when the delimitation of wards in Islamabad would have been completed. - APP
Earlier, on March 10, the ECP had proposed elections be held on July 25.
MQM says PPP responsible for whatever happening in Sindh
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Rabita committee's senior deputy convener Nadeem Nusrat on Friday said that Pakistan People's Party (PPP) bears responsibility of whatever is happening in Sindh.
According to a statement, the MQM member said that PPP would have to harvest what the party's leadership sowed. The party ruling in Sindh cannot expect flowers after sowing seeds that bear thorns.
He criticised PPP saying that the party has been rejoicing over state-led operation against MQM for the past two years. He said that a raid was conducted at Nine Zero 24 hours after PPP won senate's chairmanship on MQM's votes.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah in a statement after the raid said that there is no question of talks with MQM, he added. Nusrat said that PPP openly criticised formation of a monitoring committee for the operation in Karachi.
The rabita committee's member said that cases against MQM chief Altaf Hussain were first registered in interior Sindh in PPP's constituencies. For the first time, PPP is pointing out problems in Karachi operation, he added. Nusrat said that PPP who advises MQM over different matter now has to face allegations. - NNI
FO rejects report claiming Pakistan nuclear arsenal is fastest growing
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday strongly rejected a report published by a US think tank, which claimed that Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world.
"The report is utterly baseless," said Qazi Khalilullah, the spokesperson for the Foreign Office (FO).
"Such reports have the effect of diverting attention from the exponential increase in India's fissile material stockpiles," added the spokesperson.
He also added that India's stockpiles have grown as a result of deals with Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries which will have destabilising consequences for the region.
The spokesman stated that as a nuclear state, Pakistan's policy is characterised by utmost restraint and responsibility.
"Pakistan strictly abides by the concept of credible minimum deterrence and our nuclear programme is only aimed at maintaining peace and stability in South Asia. Pakistan has no desire to engage in nuclear arms race," stated Khalilullah.
It was also said that Pakistan remains committed to the global objective of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.
Pakistan has put forward several initiatives to promote conventional and strategic stability in South Asia, including the proposed Strategic Restraint Regime but India has failed to respond positively towards Pakistani initiatives, according the FO spokesperson.
Earlier, the Washington Post had reported that Pakistan could become the third largest nuclear stockpile within the next five to ten years, behind only the United States and Russia, quoting reports published by two American think tanks.
The report was published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center, said that Pakistan, out of its fear of India, was far outpacing its rival neighbour in the development of nuclear warheads and may be building 20 nuclear warheads annually.
Govt to address PPP’s concerns over Dr Asim’s arrest, says Pervaiz Rashid
ISLAMABAD: A day after the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) urged the government to respect the law and to adopt transparency in the way it is acting against the corrupt, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that they will address concerns of the main opposition party over Dr Asim Hussain's arrest and the ongoing Rangers crackdown in Sindh.
Rashid assured that the law enforcement agencies will work within the ambit of law when carrying out operations in the province.
On Thursday, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah warned of 'open war if anyone dared to touch PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.'
"Law will take its due course, government does not believe in any sort of retaliatory action against any political party," Rashid said while speaking to the media in Lahore on Friday, Express News reported.
Regarding Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan's demand for members of the election commission to resign for their failure to hold transparent elections in 2013, Rashid said that the government does not hold any power to remove any member of the commission.
Rashid also hit out at Imran's intentions to stage another sit-in for the fulfillment of his demands, saying he could not 'afford to hold another such protest'.
OGRA recommends petroleum ministry to slash POL prices
ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has sent its summary to the petroleum ministry to slash prices of petroleum, diesel, kerosene oil and other petroleum products by Sept 1, sources told Geo News on Friday.
According to the summary, OGRA has recommended the ministry to slash the price of petrol by Rs6.14 per litre.
The regulatory body has also recommended a decrease in price of diesel by Rs7.40 per litre, Rs7 per litre for Hi-Octane, and a reduction in price of kerosene oil by Rs7.7 per litre.
If approved by the federal ministry, the prices will be applicable by Sept 1.
All sets for oath taking of elected LG members in KP
Tripartite alliance announces boycott of District, Town Nazim elections
PESHAWAR: The tripartite alliance comprising of JUI(F), Awami National Party (ANP) and PPP, has announced boycott of elections of District and Town Nazims to he held tomorrow.
The announcement was made after an emergency meeting of representatives of tripartite alliance, informed Haji Ghulam Ali, former Senator and Central leader of JUI(F).
The meeting was held at the residence of Malik Tehmash Khan of PPP and was attended by JUI(F) Peshawar Amir, Khair-ul-Bashar, Maulana Amanullah Haqqani and Haji Ghulam Ali, ANP representatives including Malik Ghulam Mustafa, Malik Naeem and Sartaj Khan.
Talking to APP here on Friday, Haji Ghulam Ali said leaders of tripartite alliance consider the recent election of Local Bodies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as worst in the history of province.
He said elections were held in May and after passage of three months the oath taking ceremony will be held.
Furthermore, he continued, no intimation has been made to the successful candidates about oath taking and elections of District and Town Nazims.
Haji Ghulam Ali alleged that holding of District and Town Nazims elections on a closed day (Sunday) has raised eyebrows and is considered as an attempt to manipulate polling results.
The participants of the meeting decided to announce boycott of elections of Peshawar District. They also announced holding of an important press conference at Peshawar Press Club on today.
They said the procedure adopted by PTI government is totally unacceptable and termed it illegal and illogical.
Meanwhile, exactly three months after election of the Local Government (LG) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the elected members would take oath today across the province for which all the necessary have been made by the District Administration including imposition of Section 144 to ensure smooth process of the oath taking ceremonies in province.
In Peshawar, the oath taking ceremony of the members elect would be held at government High School No. 1 Peshawar City and where Deputy Commissioner is expected to administer oath to the members. DC Riaz Khan Mahsud has imposed section 144 in the district for August 29 and 30 and cancelled all leaves of the respective staff for the weekend.
The election of the District Nazim and Town Nazim would be held on August 30 in all the 25 districts of the province. The 92 district members of Peshawar would elect District Nazim and Naib Nazim and Nazim and Naib Nazim for the four town councils.
In Swat the oath taking ceremony would be held at the respective office of the Returning Officers. According to a notification PMLN with 34
district members was on the top of the list followed by the PTI with 38 and ANP stood third with eleven members. Similarly JUI has three seats whereas PPP and Jamaat-e-Islami has one each seat in the district council.
Therefore the total strength of the grand alliance comprising of PMLN, JUIF, ANP and PPP is 59 in Swat district and the PMLN was in comfortable position to form the government. The PMLN has not yet disclosed the name of district nazim and likely to announce it during the election.
In Charsadda district the administration has made elaborate security arrangements to avoid the possibility to any terrorism during the oath taking ceremony of the LG representatives. The administration has prohibited the entry of the supporters and unnecessary people in the
security zone on the day of election. There would be total ban on display of arms and movement of Irrelevant people near the precinct of the oath taking ceremony.
In Shangla District Additional Deputy Commissioner Farhatullah Marwat would take oath from the 44 members of the District Councils at District Bar Room Alpuri. The District Administration has made all arrangements for the oath taking ceremonies of the LG representatives. - APP
Steering Committee for TDPs meets
ISLAMABAD: A Special Steering Committee meeting for FATA's Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) Emergency Recovery Project was held on Friday at Economic Affairs Division.
Minister for Finance, Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting, said a press release issued by Finance Ministry.
Addressing the meeting, Dar emphasized that the success of Operation "Zarb-e-Azb" dependeds on the well coordinated efforts of all stakeholders.
He stated the total cost of operation was US$ 1.9 billion of which the cost of rehabilitation is US$ 800 million; US$ 530 million is for security and operational cost is US$ 270 million of which the government had disbursed half of the amount and would continue to support till the successful completion of the operation. Similarly Government has also spent US$300 million for wheat subsidy and other TDP related expenses, he added.
The Minister note that all stakeholders including Federal Government, FATA, SAFRON and security forces worked diligently and in a coordinated manner to achieve objectives of the operation and for safe return of FATA TDPs.
He appreciated the efforts of World Bank for financing US$ 75 million for cash transfer support to FATA TDPs. He directed NADRA to leave no stone unturned in preparation of software and mechanism compatible to international standards of transparency as this was the hallmark of the government.
Secretary, EAD informed that for rehabilitation cost of US$800 million, donors such as China, IDB and Italy are already forthcoming with their assistance and the modalities are being finalized. Other donors will also be mobilized in this regard.
Finance Minister also inaugurated the Operations Unit for the Temporarily Displaced Persons at the Economic Affairs Division and issued instructions that the work of return and rehabilitation of TDPs must be completed by the end of 2016 as planned.
The Minister appreciated the efforts of the World Bank for the financial support and congratulated EAD for setting up the TDPs Operation Unit with the help of Islamic Development Bank.
This unit will serve as a focal body for not only implementing FATA TDPs Emergency Recovery Project but also mobilizing and coordinating other donors' assistance.
Senior officials of Economic Affairs Division, Finance Division, Planning and Development, SAFRON, FATA, NADRA, S&M Secretariat and Country Director World Bank attended the meeting. - APP