Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Uncategorized

US will try to work with Pakistan on terrorism one more time: Mattis

Report in The News, Oct 4, 2017
WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary James Mattis Tuesday said that The United States will make another attempt to work with Pakistan on terrorism.

According to details, The United States will try to work with Pakistan on terrorism “one more time”, Defense Secretary James Mattis said.

“We need to try one more time to make this strategy work with Pakistan, by, with and through the Pakistanis, and if our best efforts fail, President Trump is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary,” Mattis said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

The US relationship with Pakistan has ebbed and flowed over the course of the 16-year war in Afghanistan, getting most tense after Trump’s August speech outlining his new strategy for Afghanistan, President Trump said the United States would do more to pressure Pakistan to combat ‘terrorist safe havens’ in its borders.

Pakistan denies that it provides safe haven to terrorists, said it has launched operations to clear militant groups from the Waziristan border region with Afghanistan.

Mattis said assistant secretaries and national security staff will visit Pakistan to discuss the issue, followed by himself and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has arrived in the United States of America on a three-day important visit, where he will hold meetings with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser Lieutenant General H.R.McMaste and discuss bilateral relations and situation in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The US’s new policy on South Asia will also be discussed.

During his meeting with US counterpart Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser Lieutenant General H.R.McMaste, the minister will focus on resumption of bilateral relations and work out ways to dispel tensions that worsened after US President Donald Trump’s August 21 speech.https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/234452-US-will-try-to-work-with-Pakistan-on-terrorism-one-more-time-Mattis

October 4, 2017   No Comments

Jihadi glamour: Pakistani Taliban launches women’s magazine

AFP report, Aug 1, 2017 at 11:34 PM
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) published the first issue of an English jihadi magazine for female Muslims SITE INTELLIGENCE
The militant group was also active on Facebook and Twitter, but most of its social media pages have now been closed

The Pakistani Taliban on Tuesday released the first edition of a magazine for women, apparently aiming to convince its target readership to join the militant group and take up jihad.
The first edition of “Sunnat E Khaula” – which translates as ‘The Way of Khaula’, referring to an early female follower of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) – published by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) features a picture of a women veiled from head to toe on its front cover.
Inside is an interview with the TTP’s leader’s wife, who is not named, in which she talks about being married to the head of the militant group, Fazlullah Khorasani, at the age of 14.
“I ask you why now everywhere there is hue and cry about underage marriages… We have to understand that mature boys and girls if left unmarried for too long can become a source of moral destruction of the society,” the militant leader’s wife tells the interviewer.
“We want to provoke women of Islam to come forward and join the ranks of mujahideen e (holy warriors of) Islam,” reads the opening editorial of the magazine, which includes an advice column for would-be lady jihadists.
“Organise secret gatherings at home and invite like-minded jihadi sisters,” the column suggests.
“Distribute literature reflecting on the obligation of jihad, arrange physical training classes for sisters. Learn how to operate simple weapons. Learn the use of grenades.”
The English-language magazine also includes an article written by a Pakistani female doctor describing her decision to shun her western education and embrace Islam, titled “My journey from ignorance to guidance”.
At the height of the Taliban’s influence in Pakistan, the militant group regularly put out publications in Urdu and English, hoping to attract recruits to its ranks.
The militant group was also active on Facebook and Twitter, but most of its social media pages have now been closed.
Pakistan’s military launched an offensive against insurgent groups in the country’s northwest in late 2014 after the Taliban attacked a military-run school killing more than 150 people, mostly children.
Security has since improved, though the Taliban continues to sporadically launch attacks, including one last month on a market in Lahore that killed 26 people.http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/south-asia/2017/08/01/jihadi-glamour-pakistani-taliban-launches-womens-magazine/

August 2, 2017   No Comments

‘TTP planning attack on senior politicians’

by Mohammad Asghar in Dawn, June 21st, 2017
RAWALPINDI: The police have been directed to tighten security around several senior politicians including the Punjab chief minister, the governor and ministers after intelligence reports suggested the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Sheheryar Mehsud Group was planning to target high profile political personalities in Punjab.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab retired Capt Usman Khattak has directed divisional police chiefs, the Counter Terrorism Department, Special Branch and all city police officers across the province to tighten security around senior politicians.

A directive issued by the IGP to the police said all possible measures must be taken to ensure the politicians are safe.

The IGP has also directed them to carry out intelligence based operations and combing operations in and around target areas so that those who want to carry out the attacks in Punjab cannot do so easily.

The police have also been directed to deploy extra police and be vigilant around vital installations including important buildings, hospitals, recreational places and markets.

A senior security official told Dawn the threat from TTP cannot be taken lightly. He said there had been threats before but this was a serious one, and the police are taking measures to ensure these people are protected.

The police have already advised prominent politicians and foreign experts working on different development projects to inform the police before leaving for any public gathering or work place.

The intelligence had also warned that in light of the events in Afghanistan, backlash can be expected in Lahore and Islamabad and that the terror group has already dispatched people to target vital installations and important political figures.

Law enforcement agencies have been directed to be extra vigilant in protecting major public figures and vital installations and that the security of worship places, Ramazan bazaars and shopping centres should be ensured especially in Ramazan.

June 21, 2017   No Comments

Six workers freed from Taliban after a year

PESHAWAR – Six Pakistani employees of a Polish oil and gas surveying company kidnapped on November 26 last year by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Sajna group in Dera Ismail Khan have been released, officials confirmed on Monday.

The abducted employees of Geofizyka Krakow have reached Wana, in South Waziristan after their release.

The company has been in liquidation since August, and a spokesperson for its parent company, PGNiG, had told Reuters at the time of the abduction that the six men were “sub-contractors.”

On May 9, the workers pleaded for their lives in a video released by the militant faction. The six could be seen in the video sitting on a floor, flanked by two masked, armed TTP militants while one of them read a statement.

A Polish engineer from the same company was kidnapped in late 2008 near the same area and beheaded several months later. On May 24, armed men pretending to be policemen kidnapped two Chinese language teachers from Jinnah town, an affluent residential area in Quetta.

Security in the country has improved over the last few years but many of the northwestern areas bordering Afghanistan remain volatile and dangerous, especially for foreigners and those working with foreign companies.

The semi-autonomous northwest frontier region, hard to access due to rough terrain, has long been the sanctuary of fighters from several militant groups.

June 6, 2017   No Comments

Two MQM-London men held

KARACHI: Pakistan Rangers Sindh claimed on Sunday to have arrested two suspects from Saudabad.
A paramilitary force spokesman said Mohammed Sajid Shaikh alias Kamran Guddu and Mashood Alam of the MQM-London, were arrested.
The arrested men were involved in targeted killings, extortions, forcible collection of fitra, hoisting party flags, wall chalking and sale and purchase of illegal arms, claimed the spokesman.

June 5, 2017   No Comments

JuD leaders’ detention: Law officer told to submit review board’s verdict

Report in Dawn, May 30th, 2017
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday directed a federal government’s lawyer to submit decision of a review board regarding detention of Jamatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and other leaders.

A division bench headed by Justice Abdul Sami Khan issued the direction when the government’s counsel stated that a federal review board had delivered a decision on the extension of the detention of the JuD leaders. However, he said, copy of the decision was yet to be received by the attorney general office. The bench directed the law officer to submit the copy of the board’s decision within two days.

The bench was hearing a petition challenging detention of JuD leaders including Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Husain.

Earlier, Advocate A.K Dogar representing the petitioners argued that proceedings before the review board were different from the matter before the court. He said the court should decide the matter on merits.

He said the government failed to produce the petitioners before the review board prior to expiry of their detention period. He said extending detention period of the petitioners without mandatory approval of the board was illegal. He asked the court to set aside the detention of the petitioners for being unconstitutional. The bench would resume hearing on June 1. www.dawn.com/news/1336297/jud-leaders-detention-law-officer-told-to-submit-review-boards-verdict

May 30, 2017   No Comments

Pak-based terrorist groups are planning to attack both India and Afghanistan: Top US spymaster

PTI report in The Times of India online,| May 12, 2017, 09.23 AM IST
WASHINGTON: Pakistan-based terrorist groups are planning to attack both India and Afghanistan, a top US spymaster has said.

“Islamabad has failed to curb militants and terrorists in Pakistan,” Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during a Congressional hearing on Worldwide threats.

“These groups will present a sustained threat to the United States’s interest in the region and continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan,” Coats said.

Pakistan, he rued, is expanding its nuclear arsenal in pursuing tactical nuclear weapons, potentially lowering the threshold for their use.

In South Asia, the intelligence community assesses that the political and security situation in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018 even with a modest increase in military assistance by the United States and its partners, he told the lawmakers.

“This deterioration is undermined by its dire economic situation. Afghanistan will struggle to curb its dependence on external support until it contains the insurgency or reaches a peace agreement with the Taliban,” he said.

“Meanwhile, we assess that Taliban is likely to continue to make gains especially in rural areas. Afghan Security Forces performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, combat casualties, desertion, poor logistic support and weak leadership,” Coats said.

“Pakistan is concerned about international isolation and sees its position of India’s rising international status including India’s expanded foreign outreach and deepening ties with the United States,” he said.

“Pakistan will likely turn to China to offset its isolation, empowering a relationship that will help Beijing to project influence into the Indian Ocean,” Coats testified before the committee.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-based-terror-groups-plan-to-attack-india-afghan-us-intel-chief/articleshowprint/58638411.cms

May 12, 2017   No Comments

How strong is Islamic State in Pakistan?

By Imdad Hussain in The Express Tribune, Mar 10, 2017
The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist specialising in diplomatic and security issues.
Security forces have successfully busted several attempts by Islamic State to establish itself in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, but their continued activities in Pakistan show the threat they pose is as real as it gets.

The militant organisation, originally based in the Syria-Iraq region, recently claimed responsibility for the attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine in Sehwan, which killed over 80 people. Last year, it had taken responsibility for an attack on the police academy in Quetta.

Islamic State was not considered dangerous until it located itself in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan’s tribal areas. It announced its formal establishment in January 2015 and since then has expanded its influence in the war-torn country by launching attacks in Jalalabad and Kabul and by making alliances with the local militants in the country.

Bloodbath at Sehwan shrine

Though the Afghan Taliban oppose Islamic State and have clashed with it several times, breakaway factions like the Mullah Rasool group are on good terms with the organisation. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is now based in Afghanistan and has ties with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has also sworn allegiance to Islamic State.

IS in Pakistan

After establishing itself in the volatile Afghanistan, the banned outfit is believed to have developed ties with militant organisations in Pakistan. The possibility of Islamic State trying to grow its influence in Pakistan was already feared because many of its leaders and members in Afghanistan have strong connections with Pakistan. Its first head in Afghanistan Hafiz Saeed Khan was born in Orakzai Agency and was a TTP commander initially. His maiden twelve-member shura consisted of nine Pakistanis, two Afghans, and one person of unknown origin. Abu Haseeb, who succeeded Khan after he was killed in a drone attack, studied in Pakistani madrassas and has links with Pakistani militants.

Alliance of convenience among terror outfits in Pakistan matter of concern for US: Gen Nicholson

A number of other TTP commanders and militants also joined Islamic State after they escaped military operations in Pakistan. Videos were released in 2014 and 2015 showing several of the TTP former commanders pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr alBaghdadi – the leader of Islamic State. Several members of other militant groups have done so such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which reportedly partnered with Islamic State for the attack on Quetta’s police training school last year.

Reports about the arrest of Islamic State members from Lahore, Sialkot and Gujranwala also point at the group’s efforts for establishing itself in the country. A few members were arrested in Peshawar as well, carrying pamphlets inscribed with warnings against polio vaccinations, while earlier, pamphlets were distributed in Kurram Agency with threats of attacks in the area. Pro-Islamic State wall chalking was also reported in different parts of the country including Karachi and Gilgit.

It is believed that Islamic State, with thousands of members in Afghanistan, has a relatively smaller number of followers living in Pakistan, that too in hiding. The group allegedly recruited about 50 young refugees in Pakistan and sent them to Afghanistan for militant training. The news of Bushra Cheema, an educated woman from Lahore who went to Syria along with her four children, also garnered attention two years ago.

Regional context

As a militant organisation with regional ambitions, radical ideology, and large recruitment pool of existing and potential militants, Islamic State poses a threat not only to Pakistan and Afghanistan but to the entire region. Its recent expansion to Afghanistan’s eastern and northern parts rightfully ringed alarm bells to as far as Russia which blames the US for Islamic State’s presence in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, Islamic State released media content targeting China specifically. The two videos asked Muslims around the world to fight the kafirs of China and to revenge the deaths of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

India is also under its radar with the militant group carrying out supposedly its first attack in the country this week. A low-intensity blast in a train in Madhya Pradesh injured 10 passengers and prompted coordinated police operations which saw the arrest of eight Islamic State members.

Trouble in paradise

Though Pakistan has long been a hotbed of militant activities, concerned authorities believe Islamic State cannot put down roots in the country due to the ongoing operations including recently-launched Radd-ul-Fasad and many intelligence-based raids.

Islamic State members hide among public in K-P

The security efforts, particularly those in the wake of Sehwan blast, are geared towards targeting all terrorists including Islamic State and their facilitators. The counter-terrorism measures also focus on dismantling the nexus between criminals and militants.

Pakistan is further coordinating with Russia, China, Afghanistan and other regional countries to contain terrorism and Islamabad’s participation in a recent Moscow meeting was part of its efforts to tackle the growing threat of Islamic State in the region.

Right strategy

With widespread military efforts against militants across Pakistan, it will be hard for Islamic State to establish itself in Pakistani territory. But its existence in Afghanistan can allow the banned group to continue carrying out cross-border attacks or coordinating with local militants to hit targets in Pakistan.

The situation demands strict border management which, as many analysts maintain, can only be possible if ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan – currently marred by a lack of trust – improve drastically.

A comprehensive response, in addition to security cooperation with Afghanistan and elimination of safe havens, should also include police training and programmes to counter radicalisation.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1350564/strong-islamic-state-pakistan/

March 10, 2017   No Comments

No infiltration into Xinjiang: Pakistan; by SHAFQAT ALI in The Nation,12-Jan-2017

ISLAMABAD –  Pakistan has once again assured China that its soil can never be used against the time-tested friend, foreign ministry officials said on Wednesday.

Senior officials at the ministry told The Nation that Islamabad had contacted Beijing to reiterate its commitment to friendship with China and peace in the friendly neighbour.

The development came after China’s official media quoted the head of the Xinjiang government as saying that the security along the China-Pakistan border would be tightened to prevent movement of the terrorists.

Xinjiang chairman Shohrat Zakir spoke at the regional People’s Congress unveiling the plans to stop “illegal movement” along the border.

Indian media unleashed a propaganda after Zakir’s statement claiming it was a signal that China was displeased with Pakistan for not containing terrorists who allegedly crossed into the troubled province.

Xinjiang province has been facing a separatist conflict. The Uyghur separatists claim their area have been occupied by China since 1949. They argue that the Second East Turkestan Republic was illegally brought under Chinese rule and hence deserved liberation.

A senior official at the foreign ministry said that China was contacted yesterday to assure them of Pakistan’s commitment towards peace in China and its solidarity.

“We have told them, as we have always done, that we will never allow anyone to cross into China for terrorism. We are not allowing our soil to be misused even against rival countries such as India, how can we do this to our best friend [China],” he said. The official said that since India was bent upon linking Pakistan to terrorism, “their [Indian] media is trying to highlight Shohrat Zakir’s statement as anti-Pakistan. We see nothing in it. They [China] have the right to secure their border.”

Recently, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong had appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to defeat terrorism. He had also asked the world to acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism and assured China’s complete support.

China is investing close to $57 billion under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which speaks volume about the two nations’ friendship.

Pakistan had also handed over control of Gwadar Port to China’s state-owned China Overseas Ports Holding in February 2013.

Gwadar Port – built by Chinese workers and opened in 2007 – is undergoing a major expansion since.

Another foreign ministry official said that Pakistan had clarified to China that infiltration was taking place from “our side.”

“We have proper security to check illegal movement. We do not allow anyone to cross the lines,” he said citing contacts with the Chinese diplomats.

International Affairs expert Huma Baqai said that India would not succeed in creating misunderstandings between Pakistan and China.

“Our friendship is too strong to fall to media reports from India. The two countries remain in contact on a regular basis so there can never be a misunderstanding,” she said.

Baqai said that Pakistan and China needed each other, which further strengthened their relations. “China has always helped us when needed at all forums including the United Nations,” she added.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Senator Abdul Qayyum said that Indian media did not let any chance slip, to target Pakistan.

“There was nothing in that statement from Shohrat Zakir which challenged our ties with China. They [China] take their internal decisions and are free to do as a sovereign country. Our friendship means, we respect their decisions,” he said.

Qayyum, a former Lt Gen, said that Pakistan would never betray Beijing as “China is our all-weather friend.”

“India can do whatever it can but our friendship is above their [India’s] conspiracies,” he added.http://nation.com.pk/newspaper-picks/12-Jan-2017/no-infiltration-into-xinjiang-pakistan

January 12, 2017   No Comments

Inside the Rakhine State insurgency Adil Sakhawat in Dhaka Tribune, Jan 12, 2017

Dhaka Tribune’s Adil Sakhawat spoke to some top members of Harakah al-Yaqin (HaY), an insurgent group in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The guerrilla/militant organisation is responsible for a series of attacks on Myanmar border posts on the first week of October, which led to hardcore retaliation from the Myanmar security forces on the Rohingya people. This is the second part of the exclusive interview, which took place in a clandestine manner
Harakah al-Yaqin (HaY) was formed to revolt against the Myanmar government and establish the rights of Rohingyas as citizens of the country, claimed a top leader of the insurgent group.
And, according to his claim, they had full support of the locals of northern Rakhine, home to Rohingya Muslims.
HaY’s name popped up shortly after a series of attacks on several outposts of Myanmar Border Guard Police near Bangladesh border on October 9, 2016, in which nine policemen were killed.
The leader, who claims to be the second-in-command of self-proclaimed HaY chief Ata Ullah, claimed that this premeditated attack was aimed at acquiring arms and ammunition for the members who had been trained in guerrilla war tactics.
“The senior leaders, including Ata Ullah, started speaking with villagers [in Rohingya-dominated areas] in Rakhine four months before the attack and received astonishing response,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
“We had the support of all – from school-going children to the elderly,” he claimed.
A number of the members are the frustrated students of madrasas and employees of mosques which were shut down by the Myanmar government following the 2012 riot. They were never reopened.
The second-in-command said: “We attacked Dumci police station around midnight; it was the most successful attack of the night.”
In their second attempt, they attacked Hawar Bill police outpost around 2am.
The third one was around 4am on Naffura police outpost. “That one was the least successful.”
The second-in-command claimed that they had managed to rob more than 90 firearms that night.
With the newly “acquired” weapons, HaY found themselves on a stronger ground to face the Myanmar authorities.
But what they had not considered was the possibility of an aerial attack.
“They [Myanmar Army] brought helicopters to shoot at us,” said the second-in-command. “They knew they would not be able to overcome us on the ground.”
Unable to defend themselves, the insurgents retreated.
By then the army had also launched its raid in the Rohingya villages that led to mass murders and gang rapes of the Rohingyas, as told by those who fled to Bangladesh.
“People saw the army killing their family members right in front of them. They saw their loved ones being raped by the army. Their will to fight crumbled and they fled Arakan [Rakhine].”
The fighters witnessed as many as 250 Rohingya houses being burnt to the ground, he claimed.
The army attack turned local Rohingyas against HaY, whom they started to blame for the crackdown.
In the meantime, fighters of the group scattered around to hide, waiting for instructions from the high command.
But the instructions never came.
Many HaY members lost their faith in the group’s goal to establish their rights.
Rohingya community also started despising the insurgents.
“The army attack cost us the support of Rohingyas,” said the second-in-command.
Having lost followers, territory and ammunition, the HaY leaders have yet to decide on the next course of action.
“We do not have any plans yet to further our movement. The situation in Rakhine is too risky for us, and some of our fighters were injured during the crackdown,” said the second-in-command.
Their leader, Ata Ullah, is currently hiding to escape military prosecution. When this correspondent asked to meet him, the second-in-command rejected the request instantaneously.
“It is absolutely impossible. Three of our members were recently abducted. Since then, Ata Ullah has gone deep in hiding.”
When asked where they were keeping their firearms, he said most of them were buried underground.
The leaders have no idea how to proceed with their movement, but they are still determined to finish what they started.
“We will fight until the end. This is a revolution against the oppression of Rohingyas by the Myanmar government,” said the second-in-command.

January 12, 2017   No Comments