Security forces seize large car bomb in Balochistan
QUETTA: Security forces seized a vehicle packed with more than a tonne of explosives in Balochistan, officials said Friday.
Government paramilitary troops recovered the vehicle along with a cache of ammunition and four suicide vests during a raid on a refugee camp close to the border with Afghanistan, officials said.
“A vehicle laden with explosives weighing 1,200 kilograms was recovered from an Afghan refugee camp in Roghani area near the Afghan border,” Frontier Corps (FC) spokesman Manzoor Ahmed told AFP.
He said two people had been arrested and taken to an undisclosed location for questioning.
“I cannot say which group the two men belong to but we had an intelligence tip-off that an explosive laden vehicle is about to be delivered in Quetta,” he said.
FC spokesman Khan Wasey also confirmed, while talking to DawnNews, that two terrorists were arrested by forces during a successful raid conducted in Roghani area of Chaman. “Terrorists were preparing to carry out a major terror act either in Chaman or Quetta,” he said.
Chaman is Pakistan’s bordering town with Afghanistan and is considered a transit route for drug and weapons smugglers.
Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, was the scene of two of the deadliest bombings in Pakistan in recent years; in early 2013, blasts a month apart targeted Shias in the city, killing nearly 200.
Just last week, gunmen killed 20 construction workers and injured three others in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers’ camp near Turbat, in Balochistan’s Kech district.
Later in the week, Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif went to Quetta on a one-day visit to chair a meeting on the law and order situation in Balochistan. He commended law enforcement agencies in curbing terrorism. - AFP
Pakistan starts implementing arms embargo against Houthis
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has started implementing the UN Security Council resolution seeking arms embargo on Yemen’s Houthi rebels as well as freezing their assets and imposing a travel ban.
“In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today issued SRO 324(I)/ 2015 in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 2 of the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1948 (XIV of 1948) to implement assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo and other related obligations in accordance with the relevant provisions of the UNSC resolutions on Yemen,” said a statement issued on Friday by the Foreign Office.
On April 14, the UNSC adopted a resolution under chapter VII of the UN Charter on the situation in Yemen.
The Foreign Office said Pakistan will take all measures to fully implement the provisions of the Security Council resolutions 2140(2014), 2204(2015) and 2216 (2015) on the situation in Yemen in line with its international obligations.
However, it did not say what measures Pakistan is contemplating to ensure implementation of UNSC resolution.
It is believed that Pakistan may send naval vessels to the Arab Peninsula to join other Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia to stop supply of weapons and arms to Houthis from outside.
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of sending arms and equipment to Houthis, a charge Tehran has strongly denied.
China says AIIB won’t be used for $46b Pakistan deal
BEIJING: China does not plan to use either its new Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) or Silk Road fund to finance the $46 billion Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, with money to come from both countries instead, a senior diplomat said on Friday.
President Xi Jinping’s trip to Pakistan next week is expected to focus on the corridor, a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking Pakistan’s deepwater Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with China’s far-western Xinjiang region.
It would shorten the route for China’s energy imports, bypassing the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, a bottleneck at risk of blockade in wartime.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao said the project would be good for Pakistan’s economic development, but would not be drawn on financing details.
“Several different facets will be utilised for the financing of these projects. Both sides will increase cooperation, to jointly provide financing support,” he told a news briefing.
“As to whether the AIIB or the Silk Road fund will be used, at present these (projects) are being looked into, or are in the planning stages. So at the moment we are not considering using these mechanisms or platforms or financial organizations to provide financing,” Liu said.
“The money needed is quite large, and China is willing to provide financing support to Pakistan,” he added, saying details would be released during the visit.
China announced last year it would contribute $40 billion to set up the Silk Road infrastructure fund to boost connectivity across Asia. The Beijing-founded AIIB will also invest in regional infrastructure.
Xi’s trip is his first outside of the country this year, and also the first visit by a Chinese head of state to Pakistan in nine years.
While the two countries refer to each other as “all-weather” friends, China has serious security concerns in Pakistan.
Beijing, concerned about stability in its far western region of Xinjiang, has long urged Islamabad to weed out what it says are separatists from there holed up in a lawless tribal belt on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, home to a mix of militant groups. - Reuters
Xi to address joint session of Parliament on Tuesday
ISLAMABAD: According to the Foreign Office, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping will address a joint session of Parliament during his two-day state visit to Pakistan from April 20 to 21.
Official sources told DawnNews that the Chinese president will address the joint session on April 21.
Separately, President Mamnoon Hussain Friday summoned a session of the National Assembly on April 20 at 4pm at Parliament House.
Shafqat Hussain’s age
IHC summons responses from Nawaz, Mamnoon, others
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday issued notices to President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and nine other parties, directing them to submit responses within 15 days in response to a petition calling for a judicial inquiry into the age of death row convict Shafqat Hussain.
Hussain’s counsel had submitted an application Thursday requesting a judicial inquiry to ascertain his client’s age. The petition also expressed dissatisfaction over the FIA’s investigation into Hussain’s age.
Hussain was arrested and sentenced to death in 2004 for kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old boy from an apartment building in Karachi where he was working as a guard.
The counsel reiterated that at the time of the murder, Hussain was a minor and should have been tried in a juvenile court but his case was processed in a regular court.
Hearing the petition, IHC judge Justice Athar Minallah issued notices to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain, Federation of Pakistan, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), jail authorities and others. The court has summoned responses from the said persons within 15 days.
The proceedings will take place after the said parties have submitted their responses.
On March 18, President Mamnoon had postponed the execution for 30 days on Hussain’s mercy appeal.
Following extensive media coverage of the case, several civil society organisations took interest in Hussain’s case and he is currently being represented by lawyers from Justice Project Pakistan, a legal aid NGO.
An executive inquiry to verify his age is expected to make its findings public this week and sources privy to the investigation told DawnNews that the FIA team probing the case is in possession of new evidence that may put the matter to rest.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry told on Thursday that the inquiry into Hussain’s age was “in its final stages” and its report would be made public soon.
PM takes notice of attack on US citizen
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday strongly condemned Thursday’s gun-attack on Vice-Principal of the Jinnah Medical and Dental College Debra Lobo — a US national — said a statement issued by the PM House.
According to the statement, the premier sought a report on the incident and directed the authorities to apprehend the culprits at the earliest.
He also asked for provision of best medical treatment to her, and prayed for her speedy recovery, the statement said.
Ms Lobo was going home in the Defence Housing Authority in her car at 3pm when four suspected terrorists on two motorcycles attacked her on Shaheed-i-Millat Road.
Ms Lobo suffered two bullet wounds on her hand and face and was taken to a nearby hospital. She was later shifted to the Aga Khan University Hospital where she was stated to be out of danger.
Karachi-East SSP Pir Mohammed Shah said the 55-year-old woman had been attacked by militants for being an American citizen. She hails from California.
Shah said that a leaflet found near the crime scene said ‘we will burn America’ and that the attack was to avenge the recent killing of five militants in an ‘encounter’ in Keamari area.
He said the leaflet did not carry a logo of any militant organisation but claimed that they were ‘lions of Islamic State’ and ‘falcons of the caliph’.
The Rangers had killed the five militants linked with the outlawed Al Qaeda and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in Keamari on April 8 in an alleged encounter.
US department’s spokesperson Marie Harf in a press briefing Thursday said that the US government was aware of a US citizen being injured in a gun-attack in Pakistan.
She said that the US Consulate General in Pakistan is “in close contact with Pakistani authorities and is working to obtain more information” regarding the incident.
She further said that Pakistani authorities “may have more information” regarding the attack as they were handling the investigation locally.
Afghan, Pakistani army chiefs review border management
RAWALPINDI: Visiting Afghan Army Chief, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, and his Pakistani counterpart General Raheel Sharif on Friday discussed border management and defence cooperation amid growing military-to-military contacts, the military said.
The Afghan army chief arrived in Pakistan on a two-day visit for talks on bilateral security issues. It is his second visit to Pakistan in nearly four months. He last visited Pakistan in December just days after the Taliban attacked an army-run school in Peshawar and killed 150 people, most of whom were children.
Afghanistan has also arrested five suspects of the attack on the Army Public School on intelligence passed on by Pakistan.
The Afghan army chief visited the Pakistan military headquarters in Rawalpindi and held talks with his Pakistani counterpart on a wide-range of issues, the military said. “During the meeting, matters related to peace and stability in the region specially in Afghanistan, Pak-Afghan border management and measures to further enhance defence and training cooperation between both armies were discussed,” an army statement said.
General Karimi also laid floral wreath at”Yadgar-e-Shuhada”(martyrs monument) and offered prayers for those who sacrificed lives in war against militants.
Earlier, on arrival at General Headquarters, a smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Army presented Guard of Honor to the dignitary.
The Afghan army chief will be the chief guest at the passing out parade of cadets at Pakistan’s major academy at Kakul today and will address the parade.
A group of six Afghan army cadets are also receiving training at the Pakistan Military Academy.
Former President Hamid Karzai had refused to send army officers for training in Pakistan, however, his successor President Ashraf Ghani sent the first group in February this year in a sign of enhanced bilateral security cooperation. - Xinhua
Indian flag torched in Kashmir at arrest protest
SRINAGAR: Demonstrators set fire to an Indian flag and hurled rocks at riot police in Kashmir’s largest city Friday as protests over the arrest of a top separatist leader turned violent.
Hundreds took to the streets of Srinagar, capital of Indian-held Kashmir, to vent their anger at Masarat Alam Bhat’s detention after he fronted a rally earlier in the week where followers waved Pakistani flags.
The violence erupted soon after worshippers emerged from Friday prayer services in the city’s mosques, chanting pro-Pakistan slogans and “we want freedom”, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.
The police tried to disperse the crowds by firing tear gas and then wielding their batons.
At least 16 people were injured during the clashes, including three policemen, an officer who was not authorised to speak to the media told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Bhat, who was released in March after several years behind bars, was arrested early Friday at his home in Srinagar, a day after police registered a case against him.
“He (Bhat) has been arrested after a case for unlawful activity was registered against him,” K. Rajendra, the state’s director general of police, told AFP.
The case stems from a rally on Wednesday organised to welcome another separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani, on his return to Srinagar from New Delhi where he had spent the last three months receiving medical care.
Although that rally passed off peacefully, television images of Bhat leading a chorus of his supporters chanting “jeeve jeeve Pakistan (long live Pakistan)” and other slogans against India’s rule of the disputed region triggered widespread condemnation from politicians and the media.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep across Kashmir, a picturesque Himalayan region which is India’s only Muslim-majority state.
Bhat rose to prominence in 2010 when he organised a series of mass protests before being detained without charge for four years under controversial public safety legislation. - AFP
Accountability court reopens assets reference against Zardari
ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Rawalpindi on Friday initiated proceedings against former president Asif Ali Zardari in an assets reference.
Accountability court judge Raja Ikhlaq Hussain heard a petition by Special Prosecutor Raja Khurram Ejaz which he had filed on behalf of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry.
The application said that Zardari’s immunity had ended with the termination of his presidential tenure on Sept 8, 2013, and requested that the assets reference against him be reopened.
The name of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto — who was a co-accused in the case — was eliminated from the reference following her death in 2007.
Approving the application, the court ordered Zardari to appear before it on April 27 and subsequently adjourned the matter to the said date.
The assets reference was initiated against Zardari and Benazir in 2001 during the tenure of former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf but its hearing was adjourned indefinitely in 2010.
In 2002, Zardari had challenged the assets reference, which pertains to the former president’s movable and immovable property in Pakistan and abroad.
In the assets reference, the prosecution alleged that Zardari had purchased a number of properties in the name of his frontmen and had deposited the money from kickbacks in different Swiss banks.
Altaf resigns, returns after workers appeal
KARACHI/LONDON: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain addressed party workers and supporters at the Jinnah Ground in Karachi via telephone on Friday.
During the address however, Hussain expressed his displeasure with party officials and workers and decided once again to part ways from the party he created.
Altaf Hussain said that the Rabita Committee and the workers can decide how to continue amongst themselves and hung up the telephone.
Tearful party workers at Jinnah Ground appealed to Altaf Hussain to reconsider his decision. After refusing to return to the phone, efforts paid off and Altaf Hussain returned to address his workers. - Statesman
PTI still hopeful of JI support as NA-246 by-poll nears
Altaf Hussain to give final resignation on April 23: Siraj
KARACHI: The NA-246 battleground is heating up as polling day nears, with major contenders revving up their rhetoric. But there still appears to be a standoff between the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) as both refuse to withdraw their candidates to favour the other.
JI chief Sirajul Haq on Friday predicted that Altaf Hussain will once again resign as head of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on April 23 (polling day), “but this time he will not reverse his decision”.
Delivering a fiery speech at a JI women’s wing rally at Shahrah-e-Pakistan as part of his party’s election campaign, Sirajul Haq said Karachi’s future will not be decided in London anymore; “the people of Karachi will decide their fate on the city’s streets.”
In an explicit onslaught directed at the MQM, the JI chairman said politics of fear and violence will soon cease to exist in Karachi. “People will reject violence and fear on April 23,” he said.
But as the JI prepares for a tough battle in a constituency considered an MQM bastion, the third major contender—Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — still believes there are chances the JI will withdraw its candidate in its favour.
PTI leader Jehangir Tareen, while talking to DawnNews, clarified that PTI is a much bigger force than the JI in Karachi and will not withdraw its candidate in NA-246 by-poll.
Earlier, PTI Central Information Secretary Shireen Mazari on Friday said consultations with the JI are still underway and she expressed hope that the JI will cooperate with the PTI in the upcoming by-poll by withdrawing its candidate.
Talking to media personnel following PTI’s core committee meeting, Mazari said PTI’s campaign in the constituency was shaping up very well and the party had decided not to pull back its candidate in support of the JI.
But the JI had just a day ago reiterated it was not going to withdraw its candidate in any party’s favour for the NA-246 by-poll, rejecting speculation about their understanding with the PTI to this effect.
It is significant to note here that the PTI and the JI are coalition partners running the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, but have so far not been able to finalise an adjustment in Karachi, where both claim to have a fair chance of defeating heavyweight MQM.