Saudi-Iranian conflict and OIC

Hafsa Razzak

Sunday, January 17, 2016Pakistan Observer

Middle East has been in a grip of conflict in recent years, and the situation seems to be deteriorating with new developments in the region. Daesh’s gruesome and barbaric crimes against humanity, its misrepresentation of Islam and its disgraceful ability to control parts of Iraq and Syria are a troublesome concern for people around the globe in current times. Syria has become a breeding ground for proxies where regional and global powers are fighting each other.

The recent execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr-al-Nimr by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the subsequent burning of Saudi embassy in Tehran; attack on Iranian embassy in Yemen; severing of diplomatic ties between both countries – have all contributed to the mounting rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the resulting tension in the region. Iran, which is nearing the lifting of sanctions against her after the recently finalized P5+1 nuclear deal, found herself engulfed in yet another conflict and sought to do some damage control by sacking one of the security officials after the attack on Saudi embassy. Iranian representative told the UN that Iran does not want escalation of tensions in the Middle East. Actions of KSA are considered by some experts to be motivated by a fear of loss of KSA’s hegemony over the oil business after Iran starts giving one million barrels of oil per day to the international market.

Possibilities of Iran’s isolation again seem to be out of question, as United States under Obama administration is seeking to avoid any damage to the nuclear agreement which the US has claimed will be successful in containing Iran’s nuclear programme. Saudi Arabian and Iranian representatives, on January 10, 2016, said that tensions amongst their countries wouldn’t affect international efforts to end the war in Syria. Their conflict, nonetheless, will continue to plague chances of peace in the region. GCC and its member Gulf Arab countries, which have a greater economic and geopolitical impact in the region, vocalized support for KSA in its conflict with Iran, and at the same time, Shiites around the Muslim world are protesting against the Saudi action of execution of the Shiite cleric, despite being cognizant of its fallout.

The Saudi Foreign Minister’s recent visit to Islamabad was a continuation of attempts to win support for Saudi Arabia’s case. The Pakistani government had reiterated its willingness to mediate between the parties but the Pakistani state is indebted to Saudi Arabia for its continuous support throughout Pakistan’s history, and cannot be perceived as impartial by Iran. Pakistan also wants to avoid friction with its neighbour especially when Iran has proved itself adept in influencing agents and proxies in favour of its interests, and Pakistan can potentially achieve some economic benefits through the possible IP gas pipeline project. Pakistani government and military leadership assured Saudi officials of all out support in case of any threat to KSA’s territorial integrity.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have both aimed to maximize their supremacy against each other in pursuance of the objective of becoming the regional power, especially since the Iranian revolution. Sectarianism, which is very much a reality of the Muslim world, has been used a tool by state actors across the region for political gains.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), established more than 40 years ago by Muslim countries, aimed in its Charter to be guided by the “noble Islamic values of unity and fraternity,” but seems to abandon those very values when unity is most needed. Religion, which should have been a unifying factor in the Muslim world, has been replaced with the more powerful element of sectarianism, where the Shia Sunni divide has exacerbated disagreements and turned them into lasting conflicts.

Former head of OIC recently gave a statement proposing Turkey’s role as a mediator between KSA and Iran. OIC members can play a part in the current conflict by bringing to table Saudi and Iranian leadership and by encouraging dialogue between conflicting parties. Under the current Secretary General of OIC, who is a Saudi national, OIC has taken a pro-Saudi stance in the conflict.

OIC should strive to be an unbiased organization and a conflict resolution forum that all member states can look up to. In this regard, Pakistan should adopt a policy where sides are not taken and an arbitrary role is played in conflicting situations between Muslim countries. Pakistan’s Parliament’s decision to stay out of the Yemen conflict last year did not land the country in any serious trouble, and it should be a priority to take such policy decisions by following democratic values and debating them in the country’s Parliament. To make OIC a potent body for uniting the Muslim world to play a positive role in case of conflicts, it should be devoid of any sectarian inclinations, and all member states, including Pakistan, should make efforts to make OIC such a reliable forum.

News Brief: January 16, 2016

January 16, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • A total of 2,159 terrorists have been killed and 1,724 arrested by the law enforcement agencies under the National Action Plan. The Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control presented an achievement report about NAP in the NA on Friday, which stated that 332 persons had been executed so far under Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).[i]
  • Customs authorities last week seized a container loaded with a large quantity of acetic anhydride — a chemical used in heroin production and manufacture of IEDs. The chemical, worth over Rs860 million, was seized from a container originating from Tanzania and destined for Sialkot.[ii]
  • Armed militants attacked an Afghan consulate official’s residence in Peshawar’s posh Town area in the early hours of Friday, SP Cantonment Area Kashif Khan said. Consulate official Humayun Yousafzai is unhurt. Unidentified armed men on motorcycles opened fire on Yousafzai’s house around 2am, the SP said.[iii]
  • Security forces on Friday arrested 60 suspected supporters of the militant IS group from various areas of KP. The arrests were made on the basis of information from suspected supporters of IS who were earlier arrested from Punjab and Islamabad, said security agencies.[iv]
  • Displaying a sad state of affairs, police told AFP Friday that an imam told a gathering at a village mosque near Lahore that those who love the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always say their prayers, then asked who among the crowd had stopped praying. A 15 year old boy reportedly misheard the question, raised his hand, was accused of blasphemy by the crowd, came home and cut his own hand.  The act was lauded by his parents and neighbors. [v]
  • The government has decided in principle to launch a grand operation against banned outfits in South Punjab. According to sources, the operation will specifically target the areas adjoining the Sindh province including Rajanpur, Jampur and Dera Ghazi Khan. It will be a joint operation of rangers, police and Pakistan Army. According to sources, there are clear reports that training camps of various outlawed organizations are operating in certain areas of South Punjab.[vi]
  • An ATC in Karachi on Friday acquitted MQM Senator Tahir Mashhadi in provocative speeches case. New Town police had registered case against the Senator. Mashhadi was charged with arranging MQM’s chief speech, clapping and praising him during the speech.[vii]
  • Intelligence agencies on Friday arrested three fish traders for allegedly funding banned outfits of Karachi, Balochistan and Afghanistan. The fish traders including an Afghan national were nabbed during a raid, conducted on a tip-off, at Fish Harbor in Karachi.[viii]
  • A man in Peshawar was accused of axing his wife and three children to death, with the help of his brother and others, in Islamabad Town within the jurisdiction of Paharipura police station on Friday. The victims have been identified as Bakht Meena, 25, Waqas, 4, and Amna and Gulmeena, who were between the ages of two and five.[ix]

 

Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

  • Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif informed the National Assembly on Friday that consumers utilising less than 300 units of electricity were already being given `heavy’ subsidy. Minister said that Rs4.11 per unit were being charged for consuming 50-100 units, Rs5.89 for 100 to 200 units and Rs8 for 200-300 units.[x]
  • The aggressive position taken by the PTI-led KP government against the federal government for ignoring its concerns over the CPEC led to an animated discussion between the two at the PM Office on Friday. A heated debate took place between KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and federal ministers.[xi]
  • Alleviating concerns of political forces, particularly in KP and Balochistan about the alleged change of Western route of CPEC, a consultative meeting chaired by Nawaz Sharif at PM House on Friday decided to constitute a Steering Committee headed by the Prime Minister to oversee implementation of the project.  The Chief Ministers, Ministers and Chief Secretaries will be members of the committee which will meet periodically. A cell will also be set up in the Planning Division for coordination.[xii]
  • Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s upcoming visit to Iran has been cancelled, a senior diplomatic source said on Friday. Mr Asif was scheduled to travel to Tehran on a two-day visit from Monday (Jan 18) for promoting defence ties between the two countries. PM Nawaz Sharif directed the cancellation of the trip.[xiii]
  • Responding to a question about Obama’s recent statement about instability to continue for decades in Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz said, “Whatever the US president said about instability in Pakistan and Afghanistan are his predictions and have nothing to do with ground realities,”[xiv]
  • During question hour in the Senate on Friday, the government disclosed that five unidentified persons had been arrested in Sindh for allegedly financing terrorism, but failed to explain when they had been taken into custody or if their cases were under investigation or would be tried in court.[xv]
  • PM Nawaz Sharif vowed Pakistan would eradicate “evil” honour killings by making legislation against it as he congratulated director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on her Oscar nomination for a harrowing documentary on the practice.[xvi]
  • The Commerce Minister said that Pakistan China Business Opportunity Conference will be held here next week to further invigorate trade and business relations between the two friendly countries.[xvii]
  • The authorities in Switzerland have turned down the political asylum request by self-exiled Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti on Friday. The Swiss immigration authorities rejected the asylum application filed by Brahamdagh as citing Pakistan government’s decision of declaring him a terrorist.[xviii]
  • Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said CPEC is a national project and it would benefit all the provinces. Addressing a seminar on CPEC organized by Pathfinder Group on Friday, Sartaj Aziz said CPEC mega project could eliminate poverty and provide employment opportunities particularly in remote areas of the country.[xix]
  • Addressing the reservations of various political groups on the technical aspects of the gigantic CPEC project, PM Nawaz Sharif constituted a 11-member steering committee to oversee the progress on the projects. The prime minister and chief ministers of the four provinces would be members of the panel while Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal would be the convener of the committee which would hold its sessions after every three months. It was decided in the meeting that the Western Route of the CPEC would be completed till July 2018 on priority.[xx]
  • Defense minister pledged that he would present a complete picture on Pakistan’s stance on Saudi grand alliance on Monday. “I will clarify all things in the next week and will also be available to all queries,” he said.[xxi]

Regional:

  • Police on Friday arrested Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta in connection with Thursday’s ransacking of a PIA office in New Delhi, Indian media reported. Gupta, who heads the Hindu Sena – a group of right-wing Hindu hardliners – claimed responsibility for the vandalism at PIA’s office and vented anger at Pakistan, holding it responsible for the siege at the Pathankot air base as well as at the attack on the Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif recently.[xxii]
  • A day after India and Pakistan agreed to reschedule the Foreign Secretary-level talks and hold them in the “very near future”, sources told that the talks are likely to take place in January itself, Indian media reported.[xxiii]
  • According to reports in Indian media, Hafiz Saeed while Addressing the Friday sermon at JuD headquarters in Lahore, Saeed said that the Pakistan government is taking action against JeM to “please” India. “The arrests are regrettable as the Nawaz government is only doing so to please Modi sarkar (government). The arrests will only encourage the Indian government to put further pressure on Pakistan to backtrack it’s stance on Kashmir,” he said.[xxiv]

International:  

  • At least 20 people have been killed and another 15 wounded Friday in an ongoing Al Qaeda attack on a hotel in the capital of Burkina Faso popular with United Nations staff and westerners.[xxv]
  • A new US force of special operations troops has arrived in Iraq and is preparing to work with Iraqi forces to go after Islamic State targets, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday.[xxvi]
  • Russia dismissed a UNSC meeting Friday on the siege of Syrian towns as “unnecessary noise” that politicizes a humanitarian crisis and risks derailing upcoming peace talks. Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov questioned the motives of Britain, France and the U.S. in calling for the meeting. He accused them of “double standards” by focusing on the suffering in Madaya, a rebel-held town besieged by Syria’s government, while minimizing suffering in towns under siege by rebels.[xxvii]
  • President Xi Jinping will visit Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt next week, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday, as the world’s second-largest economy seeks greater diplomatic heft in a crucial and tense region.[xxviii]

Opinions:

  • The News: If the state is serious about protecting the hard-earned money of ordinary people who dream of owning their own homes, we need regulation of the real-estate business. The state needs to ensure that no developer can advertise a scheme unless it owns clear title to the underlying land, that funds are collected from the public pursuant to prospectuses (like those issued by public listed companies raising public funds) making proper disclosures and listing terms that are enforceable under law, and that public funds are ring-fended and can only be applied for development of the scheme and not diverted to other uses.[xxix]
  • The Tribune: Nevertheless, the sooner the PML-N realises the need for it to change its decision-making and operational strategy, the stronger it will be at the federal level and in a better position to deliver on mega projects like the CPEC. At the same time, it is also apparent that a particular political spin is being played over the CPEC, with fake maps, agreements and details of the project going viral, all sourced back to suspicious Facebook pages that promote provincial tensions and anti-Punjab sentiment. The CPEC can be Pakistan’s platform for economic growth, and given the political maturity in the country, I am optimistic that any controversy could be resolved through negotiations and parliamentary debate. But there is a need across the provinces to reject politicising of the issue or cultivating anti-Punjab sentiment for petty political gain. The project must be carried forward, and with more oversight, accountability and unity. But let’s try not to mutually damage ourselves over an issue that can be easily resolved.[xxx]
  • Dawn: The Ministry of External Affairs official spokesman Vikas Swarup, a distinguished novelist incidentally, said on Jan 14 that the national security advisers have been in touch; the foreign secretaries’ talks will be held in the “very near future”; Pakistan’s actions are welcomed and so will be the team it proposes to send. This is progress — unlike in 2008. There is need to prepare public opinion on terrorism, and on the states’ refusal to abide by its perpetrators’ wishes by citing examples elsewhere.[xxxi]

 

References:

[i] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233348/2159-terrorists-killed-over-1700-arrested-under-nap

[ii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233355/chemical-used-for-ieds-manufacturing-seized

[iii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233163/afghan-consulate-officials-peshawar-residence-targeted-in-late-night-drive-by

[iv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233159/60-suspected-is-supporters-arrested-in-kp

[v] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233191/boy-cuts-off-own-hand-after-blasphemy-mistake-punjab-police

[vi] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285859

[vii] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/90538-MQMs-Mashhadi-acquitted-in-provocative-speeches-case

[viii] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/90539-Three-fish-traders-arrested-for-funding-banned-outfits

[ix] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1028285/in-cold-blood-woman-three-children-axed-to-death/

[x] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233365/consumers-using-300-units-getting-heavy-subsidy-na-informed

[xi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233370/kp-centre-in-verbal-duel-at-meeting-on-cpec

[xii] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285843

[xiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233349/defence-ministers-iran-visit-cancelled

[xiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233160/obamas-statement-on-pakistan-not-ground-reality-aziz

[xv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233354/five-held-in-sindh-for-financing-terrorism-senate-told

[xvi] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285853

[xvii] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285801

[xviii] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/90550-Swiss-authorities-turn-down-Brahamdagh-Bugtis-asylum-request

[xix] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/90543-CPEC-to-eliminate-poverty-provide-job-opportunities-Sartaj

[xx] http://www.thenews.com.pk/print/90745-11-member-committee-on-CPEC-formed

[xxi] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1028340/full-picture-defence-minister-to-brief-na-on-saudi-alliance/

[xxii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233179/india-arrests-hindu-sena-chief-for-ransacking-pia-office-in-delhi

[xxiii] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/india-pakistan-foreign-secy-talks-likely-in-january/

[xxiv] http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/pakistan-govt-taking-action-against-jaish-to-please-india-hafiz-saeed/story-PcnrafdGpqrRI57ggFCt7I.html

[xxv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233371/al-qaeda-attack-on-burkina-hotel-kills-20

[xxvi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/region/15-Jan-2016/special-us-targeting-force-now-in-place-in-iraq-us

[xxvii] http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/01/15/world/europe/ap-un-united-nations-syria.html?_r=0

[xxviii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233346/chinese-president-to-visit-saudi-arabia-iran

[xxix] http://www.thenews.com.pk/print/90657-Land-scams-and-half-truths

[xxx] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1028177/de-politicising-the-cpec/

[xxxi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1233248/terror-and-diplomacy

 

 

 

 

News Brief: January 15, 2016

January 15, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • LUMS administration on Thursday categorically denied reports that a student from the educational institution has been arrested on terrorism charges. LUMS Dean of Student Affairs Yasser Hashmi confirmed that the student has not been arrested and was “present in the university’s library when he was contacted,” and stated that reports of the arrest were due to “irresponsible journalism.”[i]
  • Security forces claimed to have killed at least three suspected militants in Balochistan’s Kech district on Thursday. The suspects were involved in attacks at the Frontier Works Organization personnel.[ii],[iii]
  • An assistant sub-inspector along with his eight accomplices was arrested for their alleged involvement in kidnappings for ransom, officials said on Wednesday. The officials added the gang led by ASI Mohammed Akram had been active for the past one month. They used to kidnap people by posing themselves as officers of the CTD of police, said Karachi-West DIG Feroze Shah.[iv]
  • A Peshawar High Court bench was informed on Wednesday that an Indian national, who went missing from Kohat over three years ago, was in the custody of the Pakistan Army and faced court martial.[v]
  • LEAs personnel arrested five suspected terrorists during a search operation in Sargodha on Thursday. The police and agencies personnel conducted a joint search operation in Istaqlal Colony Chungi no 12 Tariqabad and Chak 78 North of Sargodha.[vi]
  • The alleged teenage gangrape victim girl told a female judicial magistrate on Wednesday that she had friendship with the prime suspect and had gone out with him to receive a birthday gift on the day of incident.[vii]

 

Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

 

  • The Foreign Office said on Thursday that it is not aware of the arrest of Jaish-e-Mohammad’s leader Masood Azhar. Foreign Office spokesperson Syed Qazi Khalilullah said in a news briefing that, “Pakistan is in touch with India to finalise the date for foreign secretaries level talks in Islamabad.”[viii] Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Thursday confirmed that Jaish-i-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar is under ‘protective custody,’ and will be arrested if his involvement in Pathankot attack is proven[ix]
  • In Lakki Marwat, District police officer Ali Akbar has suspended six policemen, including an assistant sub-inspector, for gross negligence on their part after the murder of a woman outside a courtroom in the judicial complex, Tajazai.[x]
  • Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Thursday accepted adjournment motion filed by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed about President Obama’s speech regarding Pakistan and directed the Foreign Affairs Ministry to explain the position of the federal government.[xi]

Regional:

  • Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday that the expected meeting between India and Pakistan’s foreign secretaries has been rescheduled to “sometime in the near future”.[xii]
  • Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Thursday during a press conference said the Indian government welcomes Pakistan’s move to form a special investigation team to probe the Pathankot air base attack and will cooperate with Pakistan in the inquiry. “We look forward to the visit of the Pakistani Special Investigation Team (SIT). We will extend it our full cooperation,” Swarup told reporters.[xiii]
  • A PIA office in the Indian capital was vandalised by ‘hardline Hindu activists.’ The activists reportedly broke windows and computers at the office. A PIA spokesman told Radio Pakistan that the staff is safe.[xiv]

International:  

  • Five people were killed and 39 wounded Thursday in a car bomb attack by Kurdish militants on a police station and adjacent housing for officers in southeastern Turkey, the provincial governorate said.[xv]
  • An attack on Jakarta is over and no more perpertators are at large, police said Thursday, after gunfire and explosions left seven dead in the Indonesian capital.[xvi]
  • Islamic State said it was behind an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of Jakarta on Thursday. Seven people were killed despite multiple blasts and a gunfight, and five of them were the attackers themselves, but the brazenness of their siege suggested a new brand of militancy in a country where low-level strikes on police are common.[xvii],[xviii]

Opinions/Editorials:

  • Though no political or religious philosophy can warrant the activities or even the existence of extremist groups, like the so-called Islamic State or Daesh, the policies and dynamics leading to emergence of such ideologies should have, at that time, been reviewed academically, particularly when the attempt to change the Arab-Sunni demography of Iraq had already played havoc in the region. [xix]
  • This latest attack highlights the dangers of Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s reckless, contradictory and ambivalent policies and priorities regarding IS. Even though Turkey is formally part of the US-led coalition against IS, it has been subjected to numerous accusations that the regime in charge of the country has been guilty of turning a blind eye to the activities of IS inside Turkey, allowing safe passage for IS militant goings in and out of Syria.[xx]
  • While keeping the smaller provinces guessing, it went ahead with fulfilling its dream of building motorways in Punjab to link it with Gwadar and Karachi. Intriguingly, while there is a list of 24 energy projects on the website along with their respective costs and locations, the so-called domain of the investor, only four road projects have been identified. The two related to the western route have no allocation. The third, common to all routes, is KKH-II with a cost of $3.5 billion. xxi

[i] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232917/lums-denies-arrest-of-student-in-connection-to-indian-airbase-attack

[ii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232949

[iii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/15-Jan-2016/three-militants-killed-in-turbat

[iv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232769/asi-led-gang-of-kidnappers-busted

[v] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232870/missing-indian-citizen-in-armys-custody-facing-court-martial

[vi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/15-Jan-2016/five-terrorist-suspects-arrested-in-sargodha

[vii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232832/lahore-rape-victim-records-statement-before-magistrate

[viii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232920/not-aware-of-jaish-founder-masood-azhars-arrest-foreign-office

[ix] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232967/jaishs-masood-azhar-under-protective-custody-confirms-punjab-law-minister

[x] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232864/six-cops-suspended-over-negligence-in-duty

[xi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/15-Jan-2016/senate-seeks-govt-s-view-on-obama-s-speech

[xii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/15-Jan-2016/pakistan-india-agree-to-reschedule-talks

[xiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232929/india-welcomes-pakistan-probe-of-airbase-attack-talks-rescheduled

[xiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232928/pia-office-in-delhi-vandalised-by-right-wing-hardliners

[xv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232907/five-killed-in-bomb-attack-on-police-in-southeast-turkey

[xvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232909/7-dead-as-series-of-blasts-rock-indonesian-capital

[xvii] http://www.aol.com/article/2016/01/14/chaos-as-stunning-militant-attack-unfolds-in-indonesias-capital/21297080/

[xviii] http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/14/asia/jakarta-gunfire-explosions/

[xix] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285770

[xx] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/editorial/14-Jan-2016/istanbul-blast

xxi http://tribune.com.pk/story/1027518/whither-cpec/

News Brief: January 14, 2016

January 14, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • Three suspects, including a student of a private university, were picked up by law-enforcement agencies on Wednesday in connection with the recent attack on an airbase in India. Mobile numbers of the arrested suspects were reportedly provided by India.[i]
  • Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohammad was reportedly arrested in connection with Pathankot attack. New Delhi had named Maulana Azhar as the mastermind of the Pathankot airbase attack.[ii]
  • Pakistan on Wednesday demanded investigation of attack on Pakistani consulate in Afghanistan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday to condemn the attack on the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. He assured Mr Sharif that security for Pakistani diplomats posted in Afghanistan would be enhanced.[iii]
  • At least fifteen people including 13 policemen were killed and 24 others injured in a suicide blast near a polio vaccination centre in Satellite Town area of Quetta on Wednesday, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said.[iv],[v]
  • Rangers in Karachi have arrested an on duty Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of Sindh police, Akram red-handed for collecting money in ransom from the family of the citizen he had held as hostage. The arrested ASI is alleged of running a gang of kidnappers for ransom.[vi]

Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

  • A high-level meeting was chaired by PM Nawaz Sharif at the PM House here to review the prevailing security situation in Pakistan and the region.[ix]
  • Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday said the government wants to send a team of special investigators to the Pathankot air base in India for further investigation. The PMO also confirmed the arrests of several members of the Jaish-i-Mohammad militant group.[x]
  • Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri has said that no compromise will be made on law and order situation in the province.[xi]
  • The ruling party is still considering whether it should deploy Rangers in Punjab, as in Sindh, to carry out an operation against hardcore criminals and banned outfits based in the southern districts of the province. Whereas, Shahbaz Sharif-led provincial government is of the view that it can handle the task through its Counter-Terrorism Department and the Elite Force, but this would require special weaponry and support from the military.[xii]
  • Balochistan Information Minister Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal has urged European Union and donor agencies to provide funds for rural development in the province.[xiii]
  • Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has granted six months of “temporary” extension to the registered Afghan refugees whose legal stay in Pakistan expired in December 2015.[xiv]
  • NAB will be enlisting Interpol’s help to bring Kamran Kayani, brother of former COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, back from Dubai if he does not record his statement in DHA corruption case voluntarily. In case of non-cooperation, Interpol would be approached with a red warrant for Kamran Kayani, a news agency has claimed.[xv]
  • According to Indian media, Former president Pervez Musharraf has asked India not to overreact to Pathankot IAF base terror attack, as such incidents would keep happening in the future due to the prevalence of terrorism in Pakistan and India. He said that both India and Pakistan and India were victims of extremism and that incidents like Pathankot will keep happening.[xvi]

Regional:

  • Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh on Wednesday conceded that lessons must be learnt from the Pathankot operation and rubbished rumours of poor inter-agency coordination as the reason why the search operation ran on for one week.[xvii]
  • Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh on Wednesday accused the Pakistan Army of derailing the peace process a “number of times” in the past. “It has done it number of times. I am not saying in this (Pathankot) connection…” he said, while responding to a question whether he felt the Pathankot attack was an attempt by the Pakistan Army and the ISI to disrupt the peace process.[xviii]
  • Sympathizing with Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, Indian Union Minister of Food and Consumer Affairs Ram Vilas Paswan said that India‘s neighbouring country is also a victim of terror, and Pakistan does not support terrorism.[xix]
  • A four-hour long gunbattle between Afghan security forces and gunmen holed up near the Pakistani consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad has come to an end after all attackers were killed. [xx] Seven security personnel were killed and 10 people, including three civilians were injured.[xxi]
  • A majority of militants fleeing operations in Pakistan’s Mohmand and Orakzai agencies joined the Afghan chapter of the militant Islamic State (IS) group, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Janan Mosazai said on Wednesday. Addressing a seminar in Islamabad, the Afghan envoy said IS has become a major threat in the region.[xxii],[xxiii]
  • Pakistan’s military operations director general (DGMOs) visited Afghanistan on Wednesday and held a meeting with his Afghan counterpart. During the meeting, key issues of mutual interest came under discussion. ISPR said that the DGMOs of both countries discussed bilateral military-to-military cooperation including border coordination, and modalities for meetings of corps commanders and sector commanders from either side.[xxiv]

International:  

  • While underlining the challenges the United States may face in the near future, Mr Obama warned that both Afghanistan and Pakistan were among the countries that would continue to face instability and turmoil for decades, as IS militants are trying to establish their foothold in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well.[xxv]
  • With approximately 3.3 million Muslims currently residing in the United States, The Washington-based Pew Research Centre has predicted that the American-Muslim population will grow faster than the Jewish population, meaning Muslims will become the second-largest religious group in the country before 2040.[xxvi]
  • France has banned three extremist cultural associations which ran a mosque in the Paris area that was shut down following November’s extremist attacks on the capital, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Wednesday.[xxvii]
  • A majority of Arab Muslim youths see the actions of extremists such as the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam’s teachings, according to a poll by the Zogby Research Services of 5,374 young Muslim men and women from the Middle East and North Africa.[xxviii]

Opinions/Editorials:

  • Daily Times: To a great extent, India’s lazy and incoherent Pakistan policy springs from a certain patronising attitude towards a country it regards as no more than a nuisance that has to be endured because, as the old saying goes, you do not get to choose your neighbour (or as Atal Behari Vajpayee said, “We can change history but we cannot change geography.”) and must put up with what you are stuck with. It is somewhat akin to how the west looks upon North Korea: as a bit of a joke, a small dysfunctional country run by a bunch of comical figures trying to punch above their weight, as a New York Times op-ed pointed out.[xxix]
  • Dawn: Pakistan’s dilemma has been compounded by its inability to choose between Saudi Arabia and Iran. While Saudi Arabia’s help to Pakistan, especially in the areas of economy and defence and as one of the main importers of manpower from Pakistan, are fresh in the people’s minds, the history of Pakistan’s friendship with Iran cannot be ignored. The cordial relations with Iran under the Shah, from early 1950s to 1972-73, came under a cloud after the Khomeini revolution but have survived despite Pakistan’s inability to come to Iran’s aid during the US campaign against it and tension along the Balochistan frontier.[xxx]
  • Pakistan Today: Ahsan Iqbal, arguably PML-N cabinet’s most committed and competent minister, seems headed on the wrong track. The fact is that he has a political leaning (even if it is by default) and given that his party’s record on transparency, merit and conflict-of-interest is far from stellar, no amount of press conferences, television shows or public explanations will end the brewing controversies. The only solution is to give CPEC’s decision making and its implementation control under an autonomous, non-political and professional Board.[xxxi]
  • The importance of developing a sustained national consensus cannot be over-emphasised given the enormity of the potential impact of the CPEC on the region. This brings us to the distributional question of the CPEC, which lies at the heart of all political speculation. The projected returns from investments in infrastructure, communications and energy are anything but certain at the moment.[xxxii]

 

References:

 

[i] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232885/three-held-over-pathankot-phone-calls

[ii]http://www.dawn.com/news/1232884/govt-tightens-the-screws-on-jaish-masood-azhar-reportedly-taken-into-custody

[iii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232891/ghani-assures-sharif-of-enhanced-security-for-pakistani-diplomats

[iv] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285627

[v] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1026612/casualties-feared-as-blast-hits-anti-polio-centre-in-quetta/

[vi] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285625

[vii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/13/national/one-injured-in-grenade-attack-on-news-channels-office-in-islamabad/

[viii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1026913/one-injured-in-grenade-attack-on-ary-news-in-islamabad/

[ix] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/13-Jan-2016/pm-chairs-high-level-meeting-over-security-recent-terror-act-in-india

[x] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232709/pakistan-arrests-jaish-members-in-connection-with-india-air-base-attack

[xi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232889/terror-cant-weaken-govts-resolve-to-maintain-peace-cm

[xii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232883/rangers-operation-in-punjab-on-the-cards

[xiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232887/balochistan-minister-urges-eu-to-provide-more-funds-for-rural-uplift

[xiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232892/pm-grants-six-month-extension-to-afghan-refugees

[xv][xv] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/13/national/nab-might-use-interpol-to-bring-kayani-home-for-statement/

[xvi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/13-Jan-2016/incidents-like-pathankot-will-keep-happening-musharraf

[xvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232706/lessons-must-be-learnt-from-pathankot-attack-indian-army-chief

[xviii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/13/national/indian-army-chief-says-pak-army-derailed-peace-process-several-times/

[xix] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285509

[xx] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232685/7-dead-11-injured-as-gunbattle-near-pak-consulate-in-afghanistan-ends

[xxi] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285617

[xxii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/13/national/militants-fleeing-pakistan-joined-is-in-afghanistan-says-afghan-envoy-2/

[xxiii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1026774/majority-of-militants-fleeing-pakistan-joined-islamic-state-in-afghanistan-afghan-envoy/

[xxiv] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/13/national/pakistani-and-afghan-dgmos-talk-military-cooperation/

[xxv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232875/pakistan-among-states-that-will-face-turmoil-for-decades-obama

[xxvi] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/13/foreign/in-us-muslims-will-outnumber-jews-by-2040-study/

[xxvii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/13/foreign/france-bans-3-extremist-groups-following-november-attacks/

[xxviii] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=285628

[xxix] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Jan-2016/why-india-s-pakistan-policy-is-all-over-the-place

[xxx] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232802/foreign-policy-trials

[xxxi] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/13/comment/cpec-the-way-forward/

[xxxii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1026949/missing-national-consensus-on-the-cpec/

 

 

 

 

 

News Brief: January 13, 2016

January 13, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • Law enforcement agencies claimed on Tuesday to have arrested seven members of the banned LeJ suspected to be involved in attacks on different media houses.[i]
  • Three Christian leaders alleged on Monday that police were not registering a case of a mysterious fire that broke out at Apostolic Church in Shamkey Bhattian on Jan 6.[ii]
  • Suspected militants opened fire at a FWO vehicle carrying officials on Tuesday, injuring at least five personnel in Balochistan’s Turbat area, while a labourer was killed in a separate firing incident at an FWO camp in the same district, officials said.[iii]
  • Police and Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) recovered a hand grenade from an agriculture field in the suburbs of Multan on Tuesday. Cantonment Police Station SHO Tahir Ijaz said that a farmer was cutting his fodder crop at Basti Langarial when he spotted a shopping bag containing a hand grenade.[iv]
  • The New York Times Pakistan correspondent’s house was searched by Rangers on Tuesday as part of a ‘terrorist’ search operation. “Rangers have shown up at my house, saying they want to search the premises but have no documents or warrants#Islamabad,” he said. Taking notice of the “search operation”, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan ordered an inquiry.[v]
  • Two police personnel deployed on the security duty of polio teams have been injured in the firing by unknown assailants on teams in Gujranwala. The polio teams were busy in administering polio drops to children at Sialkot Road Gujranwala when unknown assailants started firing at the polio teams.[vi]
  • An ATC Tuesday reserved verdict on bail pleas of three culprits in the Kasur child abuse scandal. The ATC heard arguments of both the sides and reserved verdict on petitions seeking bails. The counsel for the accused stated that no reliable evidences or witnesses were found against his clients Arshad, Ishfaq and Ibrahim.[vii]
  • Polygraph test in Sangla Hill torture case has revealed that Ali Adil sewed lips himself and falsely accused the landlord of the atrocity on Tuesday. Adil was shifted to Punjab Forensic Science Agency for the test. The test proved landlord’s innocence as Adil was reported guilty of lying. Police have launched a legal action against Adil.[viii]
  • A notorious robber was killed in exchange of fire with police while his cohorts managed to escape here on Tuesday. DPO Malik Awais Ahmed said that on a tip-off regarding presence of criminals, a team of police conducted search operation in Alipur, Kaccha area of Muzaffargarh during which encounter took place.[ix]
  • Pakistan coast guard on Tuesday conducted an operation in different areas of Balochistan and arrested at least 78 foreigners. Operation was launched in surrounding areas of Gwadar city over intelligence information. Detainees included Iranian and Afghan citizens who were trying to cross Pak-Iran boarder without legal documents.[x]
  • Two death row convicts were hanged in the jails of Toba Tek Singh and Bahawalpur on early Tuesday morning. The bodies of the prisoners were handed over to their families after the execution.[xi]
  • A 13-year-old girl was allegedly burnt for resisting gang-rape attempt in Muridke tehsil on Tuesday. According to police, the incident took place in Loharanwali area of Muridke where a suspect and his accomplices barged into a house and torched a girl for resisting gang-rape attempt. The victim was severely injured in the incident.[xii]

 

Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

  • Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday that his government had cancelled the Ring Road contract awarded to Kamran Kayani for his failure to honor the commitment.[xiii]
  • Projects being executed under the CPEC need more transparency in order to build a better picture of the debts being taken on, and the future foreign exchange requirements for servicing these debts, said the IMF Pakistan mission chief in a recent conference call with journalists.[xiv]
  • Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, on Tuesday said Pakistan will not send ground troops to Saudi Arabia or any other country after having joined the 34-state Islamic military alliance led by Saudi Arabia.[xv]
  • A Srinagar-based pro-freedom leader has advised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to beware of implications of a proposal to convert Gilgit-Baltistan into a province for the Kashmir cause, saying that India will be able to integrate IHK with India if Pakistan takes ay such step.[xvi]
  • New Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale crossed the Wagah border on Tuesday to take charge of his office three days before the scheduled talks between foreign secretaries of the two countries.[xvii]
  • Approval of new income tax scheme for traders faced another setback in the NA Standing Committee on Finance on Tuesday as warring sides accused each other of playing politics over the Income Tax law. The committee faced resistance from Nafisa Shah of PPP, Rashid Godil of MQM and Nasir Khan Khattak of the PTI over the Income Tax Amendment Bill 2016 related to a recent settlement between government and traders.[xviii]
  • The Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms (SPCER) has almost finalised the draft of a unified law for electoral reforms and will meet on Wednesday.[xix]
  • As many as ten oil tankers carrying fuel supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan reached Torkham border here on Monday amid tight security, resuming the service over a year after its suspension.[xx]
  • PTI chief Imran Khan on Tuesday urged the government to take along all political parties in the execution of the multi-billion dollar CPEC project.[xxi]
  • The US Congress has stalled a planned sale of eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, although the Obama administration is still trying to undo the hold.[xxii]

Regional:

  • Afghanistan’s chief negotiator Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai in peace talks said on Tuesday that he was hopeful Taliban militants would join the process, but warned that public support would wane if there were no quick results.[xxiii]
  • Clashes erupted on Tuesday in India-held Kashmir as police fired tear gas to stop thousands of people from marching in a funeral procession of a “militant commander” killed in a clash with government forces.[xxiv]
  • The Bangladesh government on Tuesday filed a review petition with the Supreme Court seeking the death penalty for a top religious leader convicted of war crimes during the 1971 war.[xxv]
  • The Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, on Tuesday said there was no reason to distrust Pakistan’s assurances that it will take action against those responsible for the Pathankot attack.[xxvi]

International:  

  • Two US Navy boats were taken into Iranian custody on Tuesday but Iran has told the US that the crews will be returned “promptly,” US officials said.[xxvii]
  • US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would veto a bill seeking to prevent the United States from meeting its obligations under the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six world powers last summer.[xxviii]
  • A suicide bomber thought to have crossed recently from Syria killed at least 10 people, most of them German tourists, in Istanbul´s historic heart on Tuesday, in an attack Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed on Islamic State.[xxix]

Opinions/Editorials:

  • Dawn: This time, however, there was no outright knee-jerk reaction rejecting the Indian allegation. By assuring India of full cooperation in the investigation and promising to take action against those found involved, the prime minister has shown a degree of maturity not seen before. But it needs more than mere assurances. A lot will depend on how the investigation is conducted and whether the culprits are brought to justice.[xxx]
  • Daily Times: Will Obama leave the world better than he found it? Partly yes, partly no. There is less American military intervention. The number of ‘boots on the ground’ is very small. But in total there are more serious problems than there were seven years ago, none of them his making. A successor will find it very hard to do better and will probably do worse.[xxxi]
  • The News: While the Saudi-Iranian bilateral dynamics are deteriorating, Pakistan’s policy manoeuvring has to take into account elements that are relevant to Pakistan’s own interests. Five are noteworthy. One, throughout history Saudi Arabia’s relations with Pakistan have been significant from the diplomatic, security and economic perspectives. Two, Iran is an important neighbour with whom we historically share cultural ties and continue to have important diplomatic and security ties. With hope of the revival of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Iran can also become our major energy partner.[xxxii]

 

References:

[i] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232663

[ii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232423/police-accused-of-not-entering-church-fire-case

[iii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232476/one-killed-five-fwo-men-injured-in-attacks-by-suspected-militants-in-balochistan

[iv] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/13-Jan-2016/hand-grenade-found-from-agricultural-field

[v] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/13-Jan-2016/nyt-correspondent-s-house-in-islamabad-searched

[vi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/13-Jan-2016/two-policemen-injured-in-firing-on-polio-teams

[vii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/12/national/kasur-scandal-atc-reserves-verdict-on-bail-pleas-of-accused/

[viii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/12/national/polygraph-test-settles-torture-case-victim-sewed-lips-himself/

[ix] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/12/national/robber-killed-in-muzaffargarh-shootout/

[x] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/12/national/78-foreigners-arrested-during-balochistan-operation/

[xi] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/12/national/two-death-row-convicts-hanged/

[xii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/12/national/13-year-old-girl-burnt-for-resisting-rape-in-muridke/

[xiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232666/punjab-cancelled-ring-road-contract-awarded-to-kamran

[xiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232678/imf-calls-for-transparency-in-cpec-projects

[xv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232480/pakistan-will-not-send-ground-troops-as-part-of-saudi-led-military-alliance-aziz

[xvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232674/provincial-status-for-gb-to-jeopardise-kashmir-cause-warns-yasin-malik

[xvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232655

[xviii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232546

[xix] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232670/draft-of-unified-law-for-electoral-reforms-finalised

[xx] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232375/nato-supplies-resume-after-a-year

[xxi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/13-Jan-2016/provinces-reservations-on-cpec-be-removed-imran

[xxii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232401/f-16-sale-delayed-in-us-congress

[xxiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232657/afghan-official-hopeful-of-taliban-joining-peace-process

[xxiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232661

[xxv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232494

[xxvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232479/

[xxvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232679/pentagon-says-two-navy-boats-in-iranian-custody

[xxviii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232660

[xxix] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/89797-Istanbul-suicide-bomb-kills-10-people-mainly-Germans

[xxx] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232557/state-and-non-state-actors

[xxxi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/13-Jan-2016/obama-s-success-in-foreign-policy

[xxxii] http://www.thenews.com.pk/print/89858-Pakistan-and-the-Saudi-coalition

 

News Brief: January 12, 2016

January 12, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • A wanted terrorist was killed in exchange of firing with CTD personnel in Muzaffargarh on Monday. DPO Awais Ahmed said that responding to a tip-off regarding presence of a wanted terrorist, the CTD team launched search operation in Daira Din Panah area of Muzaffargarh during which exchange of fire took place.[i]
  • A Karachi-based ATC on Monday issued non-bailable arrest warrants of MQM chief Altaf Hussain and 20 others over the former’s disparaging remarks against Pakistan Army in July 2015.[ii]
  • US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson on Monday met army chief General Raheel Sharif and discussed security situation in the region, particularly Afghanistan. During the meeting held at the GHQ in Rawalpindi, Olson appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism, the ISPR said.[iii]
  • Traffic was blocked for hours in Lahore by two groups of protesters on Monday along a segment of the Canal Road and the Metro Bus route along Ferozepur Road. Scores of visually-impaired people from various districts of the Punjab had gathered at Kalma Chowk. They were demanding the implementation of three per cent job quota for disabled people in the public sector.[iv]
  • A CCTV footage has revealed that Shafique, a man who was reported to have been beaten by traffic cops was the one who threw the first punch at traffic police personnel who stopped him from parking a motorcycle at the traffic police post.[v]

 

Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

  • Unemployment rate in the country for the prime age group of 20-24 years was estimated at 11 per cent during 2014-15, said a government report released on Monday.[vi]
  • The opposition in the NA aggressively called for extending the much-touted NAP to the PML-N ruled province of Punjab, where they said lawlessness and corruption were equal to, if not more than, the other three provinces.[vii]
  • PM’s Adviser Sartaj Aziz during the trilateral meeting on Afghan peace dialogue said threat of use of military action against Afghan Taliban outfits will cause hindrances and cannot proceed the offer of talks to all groups. He said distinction should be made between reconcilable and irreconcilable groups and how to deal with the irreconcilable outfits once all avenues of bringing them to talks table have been exhausted.[viii]
  • The government has decided to take parliamentarians into confidence over high-level contacts that have taken place recently between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia following a diplomatic row between Iran and Saudi Arabia. “A joint meeting of the Senate and the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs has been summoned at Parliament House on Tuesday,” Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed told reporters.[ix]
  • Pakistani authorities carried out raids at different places following attack on the Pathankot airbase in India, leading to some arrests, intelligence officials said on Monday, according to Indian media reports which did not specify the number of people arrested.[x]
  • PM Nawaz Sharif has asked the chief of the IB to form a joint investigation team JIT to investigate the alleged links of the Pathankot air base attackers with Pakistan, sources in the PM’s House said on Sunday. The decision to form a JIT, comprising officials from IB, ISI and MI, was taken in a high-level meeting chaired by the premier a few days ago.[xi]
  • Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal on Monday said no change has been made in CPEC’s western route and reservations of all parliamentary parties were being removed by the federal government.[xii]
  • PTI has issued a fact sheet which says that the PML-N government has failed to control kidnapping and rape cases in Punjab. The fact sheet – issued by PTI Punjab Organiser Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar said Pakistan was ranked among the 10 worst countries when it comes to rape cases. It also said that at least 14,850 kidnapping cases were reported during the last one year in Punjab.[xiii]

Regional:

  • A puzzling report on Indian media suggests the national security advisers of Pakistan and India could meet secretly in a third country before the foreign secretaries are brought face to face.[xiv]
  • The National Security Advisor (NSA) of India, Ajit Doval has utterly refused annulment of Pakistan, Indian Foreign Secretary-level talks, scheduled on January 15 in Islamabad.[xv]
  • India on Monday rejected visa applications of at least 75 Pakistani pilgrims wanting to visit a shrine near Agra on “procedural grounds.”[xvi]
  • Pakistan and Iran have decided to lay railway track to connect Gwadar with the Iranian port city of Chabahar. The decision was taken at a meeting between Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and a 22-member Iranian delegation led by the governor of the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, Aaqa Ali Hosth Hashmi, in Gwadar on Sunday.[xvii]
  • Pakistan and Iran have constituted a joint committee to monitor the 900-kilometre-long porous border between the two countries in order to prevent human trafficking and drug smuggling. The committee will comprise security and district administration officers from both countries. A 22-member Iranian delegation headed by Governor of the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, Aaqai Ali Osat Hashemi, met Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri to discuss measures to ensure legal movement at the border in addition to cooperation on power projects.[xviii]

International:  

  • Masked men threw firebombs at an intelligence service compound in the city of Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia, activists said on Monday, in an apparent reprisal for the execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric earlier this month.[xix]
  • Two Pakistanis and a Syrian man were injured in attacks by gangs of people in Cologne, German police said late on Sunday, the city where the vast majority of dozens of New Year Eve assaults on women took place, reportedly by foreigners.[xx]
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran said on Sunday that an escalating dispute between the two countries would not affect international efforts to end the war in Syria. The UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said in a statement after meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran that Iran had assured him that the row would not upset talks set for later this month.[xxi]
  • The first trucks from a convoy carrying food and medical aid entered the besieged Syrian town of Madaya on Monday, a Red Cross official on the scene said, amid a growing international outcry over the increasing number of deaths from malnutrition there.[xxii]

Opinions/Editorials:

  • Pakistan Today: “In his inaugural address, Sartaj Aziz underlined the need to incentivise the Taliban through CBMs to wean them away from violence and bring them to negotiating table. He also called for a realistic and flexible roadmap which broadly defines steps and phases but avoids unrealistic targets and deadlines. As long as the Afghan Taliban and the government in Kabul stick to their maximalist positions there can be no peace in Afghanistan. The issue could not be resolved at the Islamabad talks. It was understandable on the part of the participants to decide to hold another session in Kabul while expressing commitment to peace and creating a feasible environment in Afghanistan for talks.”[xxiii]
  • Express Tribune: “In a recent statement, the Maulana outlined a three-point plan: deciding whether Ahmadis are non-Muslims or apostates, whether to impose jizya on non-Muslims, and determining which sects fall under Islam. Yes, the CII’s transition from sages to sectarians nears completion. But few people care. Sure, the CII has tremendous trolling potential, the moderates laugh. But it isn’t worth sweating over, just as no one takes the local scold seriously. This is underestimating the Council — it proudly counts the Hudood Ordinances and the Qisas and Diyat laws as “important laws enacted (on the CII’s) recommendations”. Plus, when it’s not pushing for its own, the CII can act as a massive spoiler for laws it doesn’t like.”[xxiv]
  • The News: “In short, the only way to prevent the CPEC discussion from spinning out of control and becoming a divisive national pursuit, is by making sure that PM Sharif does not keep doing what critics of the CPEC are accusing him of doing (which is: ignoring them). Concurrently (and not unrelatedly), the only way to prevent the Iran-Saudi Arabia dynamic from permanently contaminating the national discourse is by making sure that PM Sharif articulates unity and national coherence boldly and without the nervous hand-wringing that has placed the seed of doubt among many of his critics in the first place.”[xxv]

 

References:

[i] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/11/national/wanted-terrorist-killed-in-muzaffargarh/

[ii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025676/atc-issues-arrest-warrants-for-mqm-chief-20-others/

[iii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025713/army-chief-us-envoy-discuss-afghan-peace-process/

[iv] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025951/hapless-students-the-visually-impaired-block-roads-to-be-heard/

[v] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/89553-CCTV-footage-shows-Shafique-began-fist-fight-with-traffic-cops

[vi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232407/unemployment-rate-down-to-59pc-during-last-fiscal-year-report

[vii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232412/bring-nap-to-punjab-before-its-too-late-says-opposition

[viii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/12/national/pakistan-opposes-preconditions-for-afghan-peace-talks/

[ix] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/11/national/govt-to-take-parliamentarians-into-confidence-over-talks-with-saudi-arabia%e2%80%8f/

[x] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/11/national/pathankot-attack-pakistan-acts-on-india-leads-arrests-some-suspects/

[xi] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025402/indian-air-base-attack-jit-to-probe-attackers-alleged-pakistan-ties/

[xii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/11-Jan-2016/minister-says-no-change-in-cpec-s-western-route

[xiii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/11-Jan-2016/punjab-reported-14-850-kidnapping-cases-in-2015-pti

[xiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232396/indian-and-pakistani-nsas-may-meet-quietly

[xv] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/89527-Indian-NSA-Ajit-Doval-denies-cancellation-of-Pak-India-dialogues

[xvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232269/india-declines-visa-to-75-pakistani-pilgrims

[xvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232397/rail-link-planned-between-gwadar-and-iranian-port

[xviii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/11/national/pakistan-iran-constitute-joint-border-monitoring-committee/

[xix] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025698/masked-men-attack-saudi-intelligence-compound-with-firebombs-activists/

[xx] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/89542-Two-Pakistani-men-injured-in-gang-attack-in-Cologne

[xxi] http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/89528-Iran-Saudi-Arabia-assure-dispute-wont-affect-Syria-talks

[xxii] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/world/middleeast/syria-aid-madaya.html?_r=0

[xxiii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/11/comment/the-quadrilateral-talks/

[xxiv] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025751/women-in-sheraniland/

[xxv] http://www.thenews.com.pk/print/89668-CPEC-Iran-Saudi-Arabia-and-the-PM

 

 

News Brief: January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • A 45-year-old man, Mukhtar Hussain Zaidi was shot dead by armed motorcyclists in what was described as a sectarian attack on the main Dr Saleem-uz-Zaman Siddiqi Road popularly known as Suparco Road near the Dow Medical University Hospital on Friday evening.[i]
  • Two security personnel were killed and three wounded in an explosion in Balochistan’s Gwadar district on Saturday.[ii]
  • An anti-terrorism court sentenced on Friday a suspected militant, Moosa Khan, said to be associated with TTP to a collective sentence of 21 years in explosive material and illicit weapon cases. He was found guilty of keeping hand grenades and unlicensed weapon last year within the jurisdiction of Khawaja Ajmer Nagri police station.[iii]
  • MQM’s mayoral nominee, Waseem Akhtar, was on Friday granted pre-arrest bail in as many as 25 more cases including the one registered against Dr Asim Hussain.[iv]
  • Atleast five suspected militants were killed in a US drone strike carried out in NWA’s Mangroti area on Saturday.[v] A son of former deputy chief of banned TTP, Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, is said to have been killed on Sunday in the latest US drone strike near the Afghanistan border.[vi]
  • Ten persons have been booked for issuing death threats to a couple over a petty issue within the Bhara Kahu police jurisdiction. Qurat-ul-Ain who is a resident of Bhara Kahu lodged a complaint with the local police. Saifur Rehman, Irfan Khan and accomplices made their way into her house and issued death threats to them over a petty issue.[vii]
  • The anti-terrorism department (ATD) officials have arrested a key terrorist from Mingora area of Swat.[viii]
  • FC arrested an alleged militant during a search operation in Chinjan area of Killa Saifullah district on Sunday.[ix]
  • Seven Afghan nationals were kidnapped and two others were injured in an exchange of fire with the kidnappers in Taftan area near the border with Iran in Chagai district on Sunday evening.[x]

 

 

Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

  • PM Nawaz Sharif in his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Salman assured him of Pakistan’s support if any threat arises to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity.[xi]
  • The deputy crown prince of KSA, who came on a visit to Pakistan, appreciated the valiant efforts waged by the security and law enforcement authorities to root out terrorism from Pakistan.[xii]
  • COAS General Raheel Sharif on Sunday told Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman that any threat to kingdom’s territorial integrity will evoke a strong response from Pakistan, according to an ISPR statement.[xiii]
  • Amid tight security, the first anti-polio drive of the year would be launched in Quetta and other districts of Balochistan today.[xiv]
  • AJK government has decided to “put up strong resistance” against alleged moves by Islamabad to convert GB into a province before a settlement of the J&K dispute.[xv]
  • The Pakistan Tax Bar Association (PTBA) has expressed concerns over the new taxation package for traders and said that the Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme (VTCS) should be extended to sales tax as well to bring all businesses under its umbrella.[xvi]
  • An accountability court has extended for two days the physical remand of the prime accused in the Rs16 billion DHA City (Lahore) land scam.[xvii]
  • Adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information Maula Bux Chandio has said the federal minister for interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan behaves like a viceroy towards the province, and hasn’t visited the province despite the direction from PM.[xviii]
  • Mr Sher Ali, ex-MNA and former city mayor, has alleged Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah is involved in the recent killing of a police sub-inspector.[xix]
  • China on Saturday took notice of the recent political divide among local leaders over CPEC and urged the political parties to address their difference in order to create favorable conditions for the completion of CPEC project.[xx]
  • Tajikistan would export 1,000 megawatts of hydroelectric power to Pakistan by 2018 under CASA project through a 750-kilometre-long transmission line with an estimated cost of $1.16 billion.[xxi]
  • The JI on Friday announced it would stage a ‘long march’ on Islamabad and hold a sit-in outside the PM House if the original CPEC project route was not executed.[xxii]
  • The Punjab government will set up a special police unit on the pattern of the Istanbul Riot Police Unit to deal with protesters, CM Shahbaz Sharif said on Sunday while talking to a delegation of the Turkish National Police.[xxiii]
  • In a bid to tap existing hydel generation potential in KP, the federal government is vigorously pursuing mega projects to construct 4,500 MW Diamer-Bhasha and 5,400 MW Dasu dams for meeting growing energy and water demands in the country.[xxiv]
  • International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has said that the trials of alleged terrorists in military courts of Pakistan and their executions are unlawful and breach the domestic law of the country as well as its international legal obligations.[xxv]
  • Chairperson of BISP Marvi Memon has urged legislators to play their role for reducing poverty in their areas and helping needy women there to get themselves registered with the BISP. BISP will launch a survey to identify poor and needy people. [xxvi]

Regional:

  • US on Saturday said that continuation of India-Pakistan peace talks is in the best interest of the regional stability, Radio Pakistan reported.[xxvii]
  • An Afghan official said Pakistan will present a list of Taliban willing to negotiate with Kabul at a meeting this week aimed at reviving the Afghan peace process. Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States will meet in Islamabad on Monday to discuss a road map for peace talks. The meeting will not include the Taliban.[xxviii]
  • Reiterating their longstanding stance not to sit with what they term the “powerless Kabul administration,” the Afghan Taliban have said those who take part in any meeting will not be their true representatives.[xxix]
  • Indian extremist party Shiv Sena attacked on Saturday an ongoing Pak-India exhibition in the Indian city of Deradoon. The Shiv Sena activists stormed the exhibition, closed the doors and chanted slogans against Pakistan.[xxx]
  • Vietnam’s civil aviation authority has accused Beijing of threatening regional air safety by conducting unannounced flights through its airspace to a disputed reef in the South China Sea.[xxxi]
  • Pakistan needs concrete evidence from India for acting against the elements it suspects of being involved in the terrorist strike at Pathankot airbase instead of ‘leads’ suggesting the attack was planned and directed from here, a senior official told.[xxxii]

International:  

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed on Saturday a toughening of expulsion rules for convicted refugees, as protesters took to the streets against a shocking rash of assaults blamed on migrants during New Year’s festivities.[xxxiii]
  • Foreign ministers of the GCC, which groups Arab monarchies, expressed their “total support” on Saturday for Saudi Arabia in its diplomatic row with Iran.[xxxiv]
  • Iran told the United Nations on Friday that it does not want to escalate tensions in the Middle East, even as it took a swipe at Saudi Arabia for what it called “sectarian hate-mongering”.[xxxv]

Opinions/Editorials:

  • Dawn: “Do not personalise policies. Political leaders change; state interests rarely do. Know the issues. Each item on the agenda has a long, often convoluted, history with which our negotiators must be fully familiar. Do not accept the vocabulary of the adversary. For example, Kashmiri ‘freedom fighters’ cannot be equated with ‘terrorists’.”[xxxvi]
  • Dawn: “But the gravest provincial autonomy test the PML-N and Sharifs face will be in their handling of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-related issues: it turns out the ‘western corridor’ project the prime minister recently opened in Balochistan was no more than an ADB-funded road improvement, hardly fitting the definition of a CPEC corridor.”[xxxvii]
  • Express Tribune: “If it is verified that a Pakistan-based group staged the attack, the country’s civilian and military authorities should take this very seriously. If these groups can challenge the Pakistani state in one area of policy, they can one day take it on in other areas too, including domestic policies and actions. This will make Pakistan a dysfunctional state. It will become a multi-authority state, with each power centre asserting itself in different territorial units or dictating its terms to the faltering state government. The long history of hostility and conflict between Pakistan and India cannot be used as a pretext by Pakistani militant groups to disrupt the country’s foreign policy.”[xxxviii]
  • Dawn: “To safeguard their official stance on Kashmir, the Foreign Office should use its imagination as it is not a problem of the people of GB who have opted for Pakistan unconditionally. Any halfway cosmetic solution such as observer status in the National Assembly (as was granted in the early 1980s) will be unacceptable. They must have the full rights and privileges of a Pakistan citizen with representation in parliament. A discontented population at the head of the economic corridor can derail the entire project, which does not bode well for the people of GB and Pakistan, the country that they love and died for in armed conflicts with its enemies.”[xxxix]
  • Pakistan Today: “Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have to be advised to tread with caution. The Gulf states believe Iran wants to establish its hegemony by using the Shia population in the region. Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of supporting extremist groups to weaken neighbouring countries which do not accept its supremacy. To play the role of an honest broker, Pakistan has to be seen to be friendly towards both without being tilted towards either, Pakistan continues to pay heavily for Ziaul Haq’s entry into the Afghan jihad in the form of terrorist attacks that killed over 60 thousand civilians and military personnel. It must not in any way allow Saudi Arabia or Iran to play out their rivalries in Pakistan through proxies.”[xl]

 

[i] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231757

[ii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231843

[iii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231756

[iv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231675

[v] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231829/

[vi] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025104/former-ttp-commanders-son-killed-in-us-drone-strike/

[vii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/11-Jan-2016/ten-booked-over-death-threats-to-couple

[viii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/11-Jan-2016/key-terrorist-nabbed-from-swat

[ix] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/11-Jan-2016/militant-held-in-search-operation

[x] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232225/seven-afghan-nationals-kidnapped

[xi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232053/pakistan-welcomes-saudi-led-anti-terror-alliance-pm

[xii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/10-Jan-2016/saudi-defence-minister-calls-on-pm-appreciates-pakistan-s-efforts-against-terrorism

[xiii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/11-Jan-2016/no-one-can-dare-cast-an-evil-eye-on-saudi-arabia-coas

[xiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232059/55000-afghan-children-to-be-vaccinated-in-fresh-anti-polio-drive-in-balochistan

[xv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232018/ajk-govt-opposes-moves-to-convert-gb-into-province

[xvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232016/sales-tax-should-be-included-in-amnesty-scheme

[xvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232005

[xviii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231866

[xix] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231960

[xx] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231852

[xxi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231699/

[xxii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231827

[xxiii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025349/crowd-control-special-anti-riot-police-unit-to-be-set-up-soon-says-shahbaz/

[xxiv] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/10/business/land-for-diamer-bhasha-dam-to-be-acquired-in-current-month-wapda/

[xxv] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/11-Jan-2016/icj-sees-military-court-terror-trials-as-unlawful

[xxvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232224/bisp-playing-key-role-in-empowering-women-says-marvi-memon

[xxvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231853/kerry-favours-continuation-of-pak-india-peace-talks-despite-hurdles

[xxviii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232040/pakistan-to-present-list-of-taliban-open-to-peace-talks-at-quadrilateral-meeting

[xxix] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025072/taliban-toughen-stance-on-peace-talks-ahead-of-quadrilateral-meeting/

[xxx] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232011/shiv-sena-activists-attack-pak-india-exhibition

[xxxi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231981

[xxxii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231747/concrete-evidence-needed-from-india

[xxxiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231983

[xxxiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231994

[xxxv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231836/

[xxxvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231999/

[xxxvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231714/

[xxxviii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1025197/playing-the-diplomatic-card-smoothly/

[xxxix] http://www.dawn.com/news/1232094/no-space-for-gb-on-cpec-table

[xl] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/10/comment/saudi-defence-ministers-visit/

News Brief: January 8, 2016

January 8, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • The police have arrested three suspected persons and seized US-made weapons in three different raids in Narowal by intercepting a suspicious car near HUBCO power plant. One full US-made automatic gun, six magazines and a bag full of bullets was recovered.[i]
  • Culprits reportedly stitched 40-year-old man’s lips together using copper wire in alleged captivity over a land dispute. The brutally tortured victim Ali Adil was thrown outside Lahore’s Mayo Hospital in unconscious condition.[ii]
  • Two men suspected of being involved in the murder of MQM’s self-exiled leader Dr Imran Farooq recorded their confessional statements before the Islamabad deputy commissioner on Thursday.[iii]
  • Khalid Shamim, the key suspect in the Imran Farooq murder case, on Thursday confessed to killing the MQM leader, “on the instructions of Muhammad Anwar and not (party chief) Altaf Hussain”.[iv]
  • An ATC in Lahore on Thursday dismissed two applications filed by 42 workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) involved in Model Town tragedy for transfer of the cases and two-times indictment in the incident.[v]
  • KP’s Special Police Unit (SPU) on Thursday claimed to have arrested three individuals suspected of campaigning for proscribed militant organizations. “The militant campaigners were found in Peshawar’s Dir Colony,” said SPU officials.[vi]
  • Four tribesmen were shot dead when gunmen opened fire at participants of a peace jirga in the Shektoi area of South Waziristan on Thursday.[vii]
  • A transgender, member of Tans Action Alliance, was critically injured in a firing incident in Peshawar on Wednesday. According to police, the incident took place in Chamkani areas where two unidentified gunmen opened fire at the transgender and fled on a motorcycle.[viii]
  • A seven-year-old boy was gang-raped before being killed by a group of men in Bahawalnagar’s Chistian district. Asif*, a resident of Moza Soda Basti, went missing on Tuesday evening, a day after which locals found his body dumped in the fields.[ix]
  • Reports have surfaced that a Balochistan-based militant is likely to assume the charge as Daesh’s chief in Pakistan. The terrorist commander, identified only as Haji Sahib, is in constant touch with his counterparts in Afghanistan. Counter-terror experts have different views on this development.[x]
  • The NA was on Thursday informed that at least 182 suspicious seminaries had been shut down by the Interior Ministry across the country under National Action Plan (NAP).[xi]
  • The capital police have informed the Supreme Court that the wife of Lal Masjid’s cleric, Umme Hassan, failed to substantiate her claim about the number of seminary students inside the mosque during the operation in 2007. The police stated that during the probe, both of the witnesses failed to substantiate their version that there were 3500-3600 students inside Lal Masjid.[xii]

 

Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

  • A high-level meeting chaired by PM Nawaz Sharif Thursday reportedly discussed ‘evidence’ provided by India regarding a recent attack on an Indian Air Force base near Pakistan’s border. “National Security Advisor Lt Gen (r) Nasser Janjua briefed the meeting about the ‘evidence’ handed over by India following a deadly assault on the Pathankot airbase. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar also updated PM Nawaz about the latest status of banned outfits, particularly Jaish-e-Mohammed which has been blamed for attack at the Indian airbase.[xiii]
  • The PPP will attend a multi-party conference convened by the Balochistan National Party-Mengal on Jan 10 to work out a joint plan on the issue of basic infrastructure on the proposed western route of the CPEC.[xiv]
  • Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has appreciated the performance of FIA during 2015. He said the agency was promoting values and positive attitude in society.[xv]
  • Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir arrived in Pakistan on Thursday to discuss the situation in the Middle East following the kingdom’s estranged ties with Iran.[xvi]
  • Pakistan reaffirmed on Thursday its support to Saudi Arabia, which is embroiled in a tense standoff with Iran, and the counter-terrorism coalition that it (Riyadh) was setting up.[xvii]
  • As the Saudi foreign minister landed in Islamabad, protesters from various religious parties held a protest demonstration in the federal capital’s D-Chowk against Pakistan’s decision to join the Saudi-led coalition and execution of Sheikh Nimr.[xviii]
  • Talking to PTV on the visit of Saudi foreign minister, Sartaj Aziz said both the sides have decided to hold meeting of foreign ministers of the two countries in Islamabad and Riyadh alternatively to discuss overall situation and set the future targets. Aziz told that Saudi foreign minister clarified that every country becoming part of the anti-terror coalition would itself decide what kind of cooperation it would extend. He said Pakistan could extend cooperation in training, capacity building, counter-insurgency.[xix]
  • Pakistan is mulling to elevate the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan region in a bid to provide legal cover to the multi-billion-dollar Chinese investment plan, officials said on Thursday.[xx]
  • Political leaders at an all-parties’ conference called by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) on Thursday decided to convey their reservations about the CPEC to PM Nawaz Sharif.[xxi]
  • The ECP has decided to hold local government elections in Sanghar and Badin districts on January 23 after the improvement in the law and order.[xxii]
  • The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at $ 20,810.1 million on January 1.[xxiii]
  • According to unofficial results of 147 polling stations, PML-N’s Pir Ali Baba won by-poll for PP-89 by a margin of 20825 votes. He secured 55894 votes while independent candidate Sonia Ali Raza got 35,609 votes. The turnout was 56 per cent.[xxiv]
  • One more child has died in Civil Hospital Mithi after an outbreak of water borne diseases and malnutrition while the death toll has reached to 17 in the last one-week.  Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah constituted a five-member ministerial committee with the task to visit Thar and identify problems and solve them on war footings.[xxv]
  • Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the government would import LNG to resolve gas crisis in the country. He expressed the hope that the LNG import agreement with Qatar would be finalized this month.[xxvi]

Regional:

  • India on Thursday said it is awaiting Pakistan’s response on the information provided related to the Pathankot incident, following which it will decide on the resumption of bilateral peace talks scheduled for later this month. India’s foreign ministry said Islamabad has been given actionable intelligence that those who planned the assault came from Pakistan.[xxvii] “As far as we are concerned, the ball is now in Pakistan’s court,” spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters when asked if the talks were on. “The immediate issue in front of us is Pakistan’s response to the terrorist attack.”[xxviii]

International:  

  • The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is likely to further widen an existing sectarian divide in the Middle East, pitting Muslims against Muslims, warned a Pew survey released on Thursday.[xxix]
  • 60 people were killed and dozens injured Thursday when a truck bomb exploded at a police training center in the Libyan coastal town of Zlitan, officials said.[xxx]
  • In a public criticism of China, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Beijing on Thursday that its effort to rein in North Korea had been a failure and that something had to change in its handling of the isolated country it has supported for the past six decades.[xxxi]
  • The Syrian government has agreed to allow humanitarian assistance into three beleaguered villages following reports of deaths from malnutrition in that part of the country, a U.N. official said Thursday. Meanwhile, the aid group Doctors Without Borders said 23 patients have died of starvation at an MSF-supported health center in one of the three villages since Dec. 1 — including six infants under 1 years of age and five adults over the age of 60.[xxxii]
  • Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, an ISIS leader and its chief spokesman, has been injured in an airstrike, a statement from Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said Thursday.[xxxiii]

Opinions/Editorials:

  • Daily Times: For the Haqqani network and Quetta Shura, these militant groups have been deemed important by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif for holding peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Banning these two groups would mean that the distinction between the ‘good’ Taliban and the ‘bad’ Taliban has been diminished. The policy of still holding on to such groups is a dangerous predicament for Pakistan as it has its own repercussions internally and at the international level where the country is being identified as a terrorist exporter.[xxxiv]
  • Daily Times: But, contrary to its official stance, India has been producing fissile material for its nuclear weapons and is engaged in an arms buildup at a time when other states are cutting-down their stocks. The Centre for Public Integrity (CPI), a non-profit, non-partisan investigative news organisation in Washington DC published a comprehensive report on India’s secret nuclear weapon facility in Karnataka that will produce thermonuclear weapons along with fuel for its nuclear powered submarines. The CPI’s report clearly discloses the gap that exists between India’s theoretical approach and practice.[xxxv]
  • Dawn: While the current amnesty scheme appears to be better designed than previous ones, it is unlikely to taste success in terms of an increase in documentation and tax revenue — for the following reasons: A history of failure; Weak threat of enforcement; Moral hazard. In the presence of lessons from past failures, what should be the correct sequencing of tax reform in Pakistan. Restructure FBR; A ban on tax amnesty schemes; Closing legal loopholes.[xxxvi]
  • Pakistan Today: Apparently, either the KP CM is not fully cognizant of the full magnitude of the project or he is being deliberately manoeuvered by vested interests to sabotage CPEC. The May 28 APC talks only of the western route but KP is the beneficiary of five major aspects of the project. A new KKH is being built because the old route is congested with traffic and is the worse for wear. More than 600 kms of the new KKH is going to pass through KP. The CM is demanding a six-lane highway, which is ambitious and it is impractical to construct such a broad highway through mountains and treacherous terrain, where a dual carriage road will suffice as is the norm in most developed countries. He also claims that if the CPEC’s share for KP is only a road, the province could have built it from its own resources. What is stopping him?[xxxvii]
  • Pakistan Today: The best way to ensure transparency was to put all the details about the CPEC on the net, including the funding of its projects, the proposed dates for their completion, budgetary provisions, documents signed with China, the amount of direct Chinese investment, total loans with the rate of interest and firms awarded contacts along with the terms and conditions applying to them. The government, however, has acted in a way which shows it considers the CPEC Sharif’s gift to the nation and as such beyond scrutiny. The country being a federation the government is however answerable to the federal units over all projects that affect them in any way.[xxxviii]
  1. [i] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/07/national/police-seize-us-made-modern-weapons-in-three-different-raids/
  2. [ii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/07-Jan-2016/culprits-stitch-man-s-lips-cm-takes-notice
  3. [iii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231518/two-suspects-confess-in-imran-farooq-murder-case
  4. [iv] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/07/national/imran-farooq-murder-case-suspects-confess-to-killing-mqm-leader/
  5. [v] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/08-Jan-2016/atc-dismisses-pat-workers-pleas-in-model-town-tragedy-case
  6. [vi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231376/three-campaigners-of-proscribed-outfit-arrested-say-kp-police
  7. [vii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231470/four-tribesmen-killed-in-attack-on-peace-jirga
  8. [viii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/08/national/transgender-wounded-in-gun-attack-in-peshawar/
  9. [ix] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1023446/7-year-old-boy-dies-after-being-gang-raped-by-influentials-in-bahawalnagar/
  10. [x] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/08/national/balochistan-based-militant-to-head-daesh-in-pakistan-source/
  11. [xi] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/07/national/182-suspicious-seminaries-shut-across-country-na-told/
  12. [xii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1023199/lal-masjid-clerics-wife-failed-to-substantiate-claim/
  13. [xiii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/08-Jan-2016/pm-briefed-on-pathankot-evidence-given-by-india
  14. [xiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231508/ppp-to-attend-multi-party-conference-on-corridor-convened-by-bnp-mengal
  15. [xv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231500/nisar-lauds-fias-2015-performance
  16. [xvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231401/saudi-fm-discusses-middle-east-crisis-with-pakistani-leadership
  17. [xvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231519/s-arabia-assured-of-support
  18. [xviii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231519/s-arabia-assured-of-support
  19. [xix] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/08-Jan-2016/pakistan-tells-saudi-arabia-to-resolve-iran-conflict-through-peaceful-means
  20. [xx] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/08-Jan-2016/pakistan-mulls-to-elevate-constitutional-status-of-gilgit-baltistan
  21. [xxi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/08-Jan-2016/jui-f-led-kp-apc-decides-to-approach-pm-on-cpec-route
  22. [xxii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/08-Jan-2016/ecp-to-hold-lg-elections-in-sanghar-badin-on-january-23
  23. [xxiii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/08-Jan-2016/pakistan-s-liquid-foreign-reserves-reach-20-810b
  24. [xxiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231296/pml-ns-baba-sweeps-pp-89-by-election
  25. [xxv] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/08-Jan-2016/17-children-die-of-malnutrition-in-tharparkar-last-week
  26. [xxvi] http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/front-top/271627-lng-import-agreement-with-qatar-to-be-finalized-this-month-shahid-khaqan.html
  27. [xxvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231399/india-awaits-pakistans-response-before-resuming-peace-talks
  28. [xxviii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/08-Jan-2016/ball-of-dialogue-now-in-pakistan-s-court-india
  29. [xxix] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231502/iran-saudi-row-may-widen-sectarian-divide-pew-survey
  30. [xxx] http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-libya-truck-bomb-20160107-story.html
  31. [xxxi] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/08/world/asia/us-tells-china-that-soft-approach-to-north-korea-has-failed.html?_r=0
  32. [xxxii] http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/syria-government-agrees-aid-beleaguered-villages-36141973
  33. [xxxiii] http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/07/middleeast/isis-leader-abu-mohammed-al-adnani/
  34. [xxxiv] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/08-Jan-2016/when-militant-organisations-are-not-banned
  35. [xxxv] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/08-Jan-2016/india-s-secret-nuclear-city
  36. [xxxvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231503/political-economy-of-taxation
  37. [xxxvii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/07/comment/kps-reservations-on-cpec/
  38. [xxxviii] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/07/comment/how-not-to-make-cpec-controversial/

 

 

 

News Brief: January 7, 2016

January 7, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • NAB has approved a fresh investigation against former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain on charges of illegal allotment of state land and money laundering. The decision was taken at a meeting of the NAB’s executive board on Wednesday.[i]
  • Balochistan CM Sanaullah Zehri said on Wednesday that the army and other security forces had played a remarkable role in defeating terrorists and restoring peace in the province.[ii]
  • Five suspected militants affiliated with the banned TTP group were killed in an ‘encounter’ in Karachi on Saturday, police said.[iii]
  • MI has arrested two suspected members of al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent from Malir Garrison in the port city in the recent days. The suspected al Qaeda members were serving as prayer leaders in two different mosques of the garrison.[iv]
  • Unidentified gunmen abducted six locals of Balochistan’s Dera Bugti district on Wednesday.[v]
  • COAS General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday reiterated a zero-tolerance stance for terrorist organisations and directed military officials to continue efforts until the prevalence of sustainable peace and security in the country. The COAS said this while presiding over the Corps Commander Conference.[vi]
  • The police department KP has expressed reservations over the decision of provincial government to do away with road blockades and traffic restrictions during VIP movement, according to sources. A senior government official told that protocol and security were two different things and only undue and extra protocol was abandoned.[vii]
  • Police cannot arrest the MQM senior leader and mayor nominee for Karachi, Wasim Akhtar, on sedition and terrorism charges until January 13, as the SHC granted bail in two such cases.[viii]
  • Nearly 4,500 suspects arrested in high-profile cases are back on the streets of Karachi but the police department is planning to send them behind the bars again. The police department has decided to file review appeals to cancel the bails of all such accused, who were involved in high-profile or terrorism cases.[ix]
  • The Schools Education Department (SED) Punjab has issued directives to district education officers to put up material discussing anti-terrorism efforts, tolerance and co-existence in all schools of the province.[x]

 

 

 Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

  • The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly summoned on Wednesday the director general of the NAB after its representatives failed to satisfy the panel over an investigation into the sale of buildings of Pakistani missions in Tokyo and Jakarta.[xii]
  • Pemra on Wednesday issued guidelines in the wake of the recent Saudi-Iran row, advising media houses to deal with the matter “professionally.” A notification issued by the body advises all television channels to remain cautious while airing talk shows and analysis on the issue lest they harm Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with friendly countries.[xiii]
  • Pakistan asked Bangladesh to withdraw one of its diplomats from Islamabad, Dhaka said Wednesday, in an apparent retaliation after the expulsion of a Pakistani envoy who allegedly funded a suspected extremist on trial for espionage.[xiv]
  • On completion of its five-year constitutional term, the National Finance Commission (NFC) has reported to the parliament that the federal and provincial governments had miserably failed to achieve targeted revenue growth.[xv]
  • Federal Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid on Wednesday said that all provinces are working on finalizing policies and measures for forestation at a national level.[xvi]
  • The first report of its kind was issued by the Senate Secretariat on Wednesday contained statistics on attendance of its members as well as details of legislative and other work carried out during the last session which ended on Jan 1.[xvii]
  • PTI has called a meeting of opposition parties to formulate a joint-strategy on the metro train project. The meeting, called by Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, will be held on Thursday. Parliamentary leaders of all opposition parties are expected to deliberate over the Orange Line Metro Train project.[xviii]

Regional:

  • India’s BSF, in its preliminary report on the Pathankot fiasco to the home ministry on Wednesday, said it was still looking for a breach of the international border though the focus of further investigations would be to look for any old or existing tunnels from Pakistan.[xix]
  • An alliance of Kashmiri Mujahideen groups rejected on Wednesday reports that the attack on Pathankot airbase had been carried out by Jaish-i-Mohammad, a banned militant outfit blamed for the 2001 attack on Indian parliament. “It’s just a false impression. In fact the attackers are a squad of mujahideen drawn from different member outfits in our alliance,” said Shaikh Jameelur Rehman, secretary general of the UJC.[xx]
  • The Indian army and police launched a search operation Wednesday near Pathankot where a weekend attack on an air force base left seven soldiers dead, after villagers complained about two suspicious men in the area.[xxi]
  • The All Parties Hurriyat Conference condemned on Wednesday the violent terrorist attack on an Indian airbase in Pathankot and called it a conspiracy to derail talks between Islamabad and New Delhi.[xxii]

International:  

  • North Korea said on Wednesday it had carried out a “successful” hydrogen bomb test, a claim that — if true — massively raises the stakes over the state’s banned nuclear programme.[xxiii], [xxiv]
  • The UN Security Council agreed on Wednesday to prepare further unspecified measures against North Korea after it carried out a fourth nuclear test. The 15-member council including China, Pyongyang’s ally, “strongly condemned” the test and described it as a “clear threat to international peace and security.”[xxv]
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she wanted to stem the flow of refugees into the European Union while at the same time keeping open borders within the bloc, days after Denmark imposed passport checks on people entering from Germany.[xxvi]
  • Three days of IS attacks on Libya’s biggest oil terminals have started fires that have spread to five massive oil storage tanks. Ali al-Hassi said the Petroleum Facilities Guards were still in control of the neighbouring ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, where at least nine guards were killed and more than 40 injured near the ports’ perimeters on Monday and Tuesday.[xxvii]
  • Since Saturday’s execution of four Shi’ite Muslims in Saudi Arabia, hundreds or thousands of the minority sect have marched nightly in protest, and their anger could herald wider unrest.[xxviii]

Opinions/Editorials:

  • Dawn: However, on Tuesday, the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs said Pakistan would work to reduce tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, along with working for “unity” within the Muslim world. In the current climate, this seems to be a sensible approach. The Tehran-Riyadh row, which was sparked by the execution of senior Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr on Jan 2, and thereafter exacerbated by the storming of Saudi missions by protesters in Iran, shows no sign of being resolved soon.[xxix]
  • Tribune: Southern India is vastly different from the country’s northern parts. Not only is it indifferent to India’s desire for military domination of the region, its motivating force is largely economic. And Modi offered precisely that. Modi promised a Shining India, and very soon. It was this idea that caught the imagination of all Indians, but most of all, of those in southern India. Northern India might have been motivated as much by his macho image as by his economic vision, but not the south, which hugely contributed to Modi’s success[xxx]
  • Dawn: “Point five of NAP categorically explains the resolve of the state to counter hate speeches and extremist material. Point 11 bans glorification of extremists on mass media. Prior to NAP, non-state actors captured significant airtime and space in the media. To reduce space on social media, point 14 determines that action shall be taken against those who lure youth towards extremism through social media.”[xxxi]
  • Daily Times: “So, the question is: what precipitated the Saudis to carry out the act? One explanation is that the Saudis did not think through the sectarian flare the incident would unfurl. But then, keeping in view how Saudis have been playing the sectarian gambit for decades, it is hard to assume that they were not mindful of what they would unleash. Another explanation is that it was critical for the Saudis to give a strong message that any dissent against the regime would be dealt with an iron fist. And so, on the same day the Saudis executed Nimr Al-Nimr, they also executed a key cleric who was ideologically aligned to al Qaeda and has served as an ideological inspiration for them.”[xxxii]
  • Dawn: “The latest tax amnesty scheme announced by the government has the merit of combining both, the carrot and the stick, in a smart combination that requires minimum recourse to coercive measures, and for that reason, it stands a decent chance of success. Those comfortable in the assurance that “it will not work” have no reason to oppose the measure, since by their own logic, if it doesn’t work, then no harm done, we’ll still be left with the same status quo that we have.”[xxxiii]

 

References

[i] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231330/nab-approves-fresh-probe-against-dr-asim

[ii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231329/cm-praises-army-for-restoring-peace-in-balochistan

[iii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231169/five-suspected-ttp-militants-killed-in-karachi-encounter-police

[iv] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/06/national/al-qaeda-members-busted-from-army-garrison-in-karachi/

[v] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231218/six-kidnapped-from-balochistans-dera-bugti-district

[vi] http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/06/national/show-no-mercy-to-terrorists-army-chief-tells-commanders/

[vii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231137/kp-police-concerned-over-thin-security-for-vips

[viii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022833/shc-grants-pre-arrest-bail-to-mqms-waseem-akhtar/

[ix] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1023072/on-bail-police-to-go-after-4500-suspects-out-on-bail/

[x] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1023117/constant-vigilance-schools-told-to-display-anti-terror-material-on-campuses/

[xi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231170/fc-arrests-seven-suspected-militants-in-balochistan-raids

[xii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231336/pac-summons-nab-official-over-sale-of-embassy-buildings

[xiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231171/pemra-advises-tv-channels-to-display-caution-on-saudi-iran-conflict

[xiv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231165/pakistan-expels-senior-bangladesh-diplomat-as-spy-row-escalates

[xv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231209/centre-provinces-fail-to-meet-nfc-targets

[xvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231151/government-prepares-a-comprehensive-national-forest-policy

[xvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231328/senate-issues-performance-report-for-last-session

[xviii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022488/govt-spending-pti-to-rally-opposition-against-metro-project/

[xix] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231318/no-breach-of-border-found-yet-indian-agency

[xx] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231326/kashmiri-mujahideens-squad-carried-out-airbase-attack-ujc

[xxi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231175/india-army-launches-search-for-suspicious-men-near-attacked-air-base

[xxii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231320/pathankot-attack-bid-to-derail-talks-says-aphc

[xxiii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022776/north-korea-says-conducted-successful-h-bomb-test/

[xxiv] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/north-korea-nuclear-test_568c8085e4b0a2b6fb6dd21d?utm_hp_ref=world

[xxv] http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/front-top/271386-un-security-council-to-prepare-further-measures-against-north-korea.html

[xxvi] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-germany-merkel-idUSKBN0UK20020160106

[xxvii] http://in.reuters.com/article/libya-security-fires-idINKBN0UK1B720160106

[xxviii] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-security-shi-ite-idUSKBN0UK24J20160106

[xxix] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231059/a-delicate-balance

[xxx] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022969/modis-change-of-heart/

[xxxi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231248/a-counter-narrative

[xxxii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/07-Jan-2016/songs-of-war

[xxxiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231249/who-wants-a-tax-amnesty

News Brief: January 6, 2016

January 6, 2016:

Domestic Security News:

  • The security forces have set up dozens of new posts along the Pakistan Afghanistan border to stop cross-border attacks and infiltration of militants from the neighbouring country.[i]
  • PTI Punjab issued a fact sheet about the law and order situation in Punjab, saying it worsened in the last one year with 5,820 reported murders, of them 341 in Lahore. In the fact sheet issued on Monday, PTI Punjab organizer Chaudhry Sarwar said 14,437 kidnap cases, 95 kidnap-for-ransom cases, 2,867 rape and 235 gang-rape cases had been reported from across Punjab, which was a slap on the face of the government.[ii]
  • An accountability court allowed the NAB to keep custody of former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain for 14 more days during a hearing on Tuesday.[iii]
  • TTP has released its first annual report, with analysts suggesting its “inflated” figures illustrate the extremists’ struggle to demonstrate their capability as security improves. The report says that in 2015 the TTP carried out 73 target killings, 12 ambush attacks, 10 raids, 19 IED blasts, five suicide attacks, 17 missile attacks and shot down two helicopters, and claims it killed some 686 people in 2015.[iv]
  • FIA yesterday claimed to have arrested six alleged human-traffickers in two separate raids conducted in Rawalpindi and Lahore.[v]

 

Pakistan – Politics, Diplomacy and Economy:

  • Indian PM Narendra Modi urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday to take “firm and immediate action” against those behind an attack on an Indian Air Force base that left seven soldiers dead.[vi]
  • Since the stalemate between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a sensitive issue that needs skilful handling, Pakistan cannot commit what role it will be playing because it has friendly ties with both countries, the PM’s adviser on Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday. Khursheed Ahmed Shah and parliamentary parties sitting on the opposition benches called upon the government to provide something more concrete.[vii]
  • Nadra has finally agreed to provide its data for use in elections for biometric verification of voters, but only with certain security checks.[viii]
  • Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Tuesday inked eight MoUs on the sidelines of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Sri Lanka. The MoUs and agreements for cooperation in fields of health, education, trade, science and technology, tourism, gem and jewelry were signed during delegation-level talks between the two countries.[ix]
  • Pakistan is to sell eight combat JF-17 Thunder aircraft to Sri Lanka under an agreement signed during PM Nawaz Sharif’s visit on Tuesday. The multi-roll fighter aircraft is the joint production of Pakistan and China.[x]
  • KP government’s Drinking Water Policy 2015 plans to ensure access to the province’s entire population to adequate supply of potable water at affordable cost through efficient and sustainable services by 2025.[xi]
  • ECP has failed to announce the result of by-election of PB-50-Turbat-3 where polling was held on Dec 31. All the four candidates have been claiming victory and massive rigging in the election.[xii]
  • In the country’s first ever consolidated assessment of right to information/freedom of information (RTI/FOI) laws and their implementation at the federal and provincial levels, which was launched on Tuesday, KP’s Right to Information Act, 2013 and the KP Right to Information Commission (RTIC) secured the first place in the overall rankings with a score of 73%. Punjab’s Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013 and Punjab Information Commission (PIC) formed under it ranked at second position with an overall score of 65%.[xiii]
  • Rs40 billion will be distributed in interest-free loans among two million people during the next three years to make them self-reliant, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday.[xiv]
  • KP government achieved another milestone by approving the first-ever Provincial Population Policy 2015. The policy will ensure that all women and men, who require services, receive it with ease, according to their choice and needs thereby reaching out to the vulnerable and poorest of the poor through its infrastructure.[xv]

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor:

  • The western route of the CPEC, which would connect the port city of Gwadar with Quetta via Khuzdar, would be completed by 2018, said National Highway Authority Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar on Tuesday.[xvi]
  • PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Tuesday said that his party doesn’t want to make CPEC controversial, but the rights of Balochistan province must be protected in the $46 billion mega development project.[xvii]
  • Pakistan Navy has increased all-round surveillance at Gwadar Port with the commencement of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, Radio Pakistan reported. “A special Marine Battalion has been raised for security of Gwadar, Chinese engineers and delegates visiting the port,” Pakistan Navy said.[xviii]
  • President Mamnoon Hussain says Pakistan will continue to support right to self-determination of Kashmiri people. Talking to a delegation of Kashmiri hurriyet leadership in Islamabad on Tuesday, he said Kashmir is unfinished agenda of the partiton.[xix]
  • Federal Planning Minister Ashan Iqbal yesterday said that he is visiting KP today to remove their reservations regarding CPEC and reiterated the claim that no province or region of the country would be discriminated. The minister said that he would call on KP CM today to remove his reservations over CPEC and hoped that all misgivings would be eliminated in the meeting.[xx]
  • The new Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost paid a courtesy call on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday.[xxi]

Regional:

  • Indian forces have killed the last of the six militants who attacked an air force base, the defense minister said Tuesday. Manohar Parrikar stopped short of saying the operation had ended, but Indian officials have said repeatedly that only six gunmen were involved.[xxii]
  • The United States has urged India and Pakistan to stay the course and not allow extremists to prevent them from engaging to resolve bilateral issues. At a US State Department news briefing, spokesperson John Kirby also asked Pakistan to act against perpetrators of this week’s deadly attack on an Indian air force base.[xxiii]
  • An explosion was reported on Tuesday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad close to foreign consulate buildings including those of Pakistan, India and Iran, a spokesperson for the provincial governor said.[xxiv]
  • In a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi-led BJP government over the terror attacks in Pathankot, Shiv Sena has asked the PM to focus on the country and questioned the logic of talks with Pakistan at a time when India was bearing the “brunt of Pak-sponsored terrorism.”[xxv]

International:  

  • Iran unveiled a new underground missile depot on Tuesday with state television showing Emad precision-guided missiles in store which the US says can take a nuclear warhead and violate a 2010 UN Security Council resolution.[xxvi]
  • Saudi Arabia should not respond to criticism of its regime by beheading people, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday, referring to Riyadh’s recent execution for “terrorism” of Nimr al-Nimr.[xxvii]
  • Denmark has imposed controls on its southern frontier with Germany in a move that is intended to stem the flow of migrants but will also deepen concerns about Europe’s fraying commitment to the free movement of people.[xxviii]
  • One U.S. soldier was killed and two wounded during a joint U.S.-Afghan Special Operations mission in Marjah, Afghanistan, Tuesday, with fighting still continuing, the Pentagon announced.[xxix]
  • The acting U.N. disarmament chief told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that the chemical weapons watchdog agency has reported a possible use of the deadly nerve agent sarin in an alleged chemical attack in Syria.[xxx]

Opinions/Editorials:

  • Express Tribune: “But what about the country’s capital, Islamabad, where the civilian administration is still struggling with the remnants of the Lal Masjid? What to make of the more than 306 mosques and madrassas that, according to a report submitted to the Public Accounts Committee a year ago, exist in Islamabad? Has any action been taken against them? In fact, a few more such structures have emerged in sectors F, mostly in the Green Belt, where even government officials offer their Friday prayers. Isn’t this a direct challenge to the NAP, which had promised indiscriminate action against all those threatening state and public interest?”[xxxi]
  • Dawn: “The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is coalescing tribal, local, ethnic, national and international regimes into specific GPS coordinates while throwing forward interesting anomalies. Roads are usually a public good and public works, but this one is a foreign investment with foreign contractors. It follows the narrative of economic development but the contestation around it is built on psycho-geography. It is being heralded as a trigger of growth but with little thought of what we will produce and send out through the corridor aside from it being a transit facility, a regional laari adda.”[xxxii]
  • Daily Times: “As a result, the scheduled Foreign Secretary level talks are in danger as India is mulling pushing for a new round of NSA-level talks instead where only the issue of terrorism will be discussed. While in the light of recent events such demands are understandable, both Islamabad and New Delhi should learn from the follies of the past. If anything, this attack has proved the thesis that the two nuclear-armed countries simply have no recourse except for dialogue to resolve their long-standing thorny problems. The hawks on both sides will continually angle for conflict and instability, but it is up to the governments to show that they will not bow down to these assaults on diplomacy.”[xxxiii]

 

[i] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230887/new-posts-in-bajaur-to-stop-cross-border-attacks

[ii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230902/pti-issues-fact-sheet-of-punjab-police-progress

[iii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230933/dr-asim-corruption-case-court-grants-nab-14-day-extension-in-remand

[iv] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022336/ttp-annual-report-claims-inflated-say-analysts/

[v] http://nation.com.pk/lahore/06-Jan-2016/fia-nabs-6-alleged-human-traffickers?

[vi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230945/nawaz-modi-call-india-urges-pakistan-to-act-after-pathankot-airbase-attack

[vii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231103/opposition-seeks-definitive-stance-on-riyadh-tehran-spat

[viii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231122/nadra-ready-to-provide-data-for-voters-verification-but-only-with-security-checks

[ix] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230917/pakistan-sri-lanka-sign-eight-mous-for-bilateral-cooperation

[x] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/05-Jan-2016/pakistan-to-sell-jf-17-thunder-aircraft-to-sri-lanka

[xi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230899/kp-govt-to-spend-10pc-of-adp-funds-on-drinking-water

[xii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231111/candidates-call-for-announcement-of-by-election-result

[xiii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/06-Jan-2016/kp-beats-punjab-in-right-to-information-ranking

[xiv] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022487/self-reliance-rs40b-for-two-million-jobless-in-next-three-years-cm/

[xv] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/06-Jan-2016/kp-govt-approves-population-policy

[xvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231115/western-route-of-cpec-to-be-completed-by-2018

[xvii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/06-Jan-2016/bilawal-wants-balochistan-rights-protected-in-cpec

[xviii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022261/special-marine-battalion-to-protect-gwadar-port-chinese-engineers/

[xix] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=284718

[xx] http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/06-Jan-2016/ahsan-to-meet-kp-cm-today-to-discuss-cpec-row?

[xxi] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/06-Jan-2016/iranian-ambassador-meets-sartaj-aziz?

[xxii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230916/all-six-militants-killed-in-pathankot-airbase-siege-indian-defence-minister

[xxiii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231124/us-urges-pakistan-india-to-stay-the-course

[xxiv] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022200/blast-near-consulate-buildings-in-eastern-afghan-city-official/

[xxv] http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-shiv-sena-slams-modi-after-pathankot-attacks-2162647?

[xxvi] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230957/iran-unveils-second-underground-missile-likely-to-irk-us

[xxvii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1230948/saudi-beheadings-wrong-response-to-criticism-iran-president

[xxviii] http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7ae022f2-b2cd-11e5-8358-9a82b43f6b2f.html#axzz3wGOpH0ER

[xxix] http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/05/politics/u-s-soldier-killed-in-afghanistan/

[xxx] http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/01/05/world/middleeast/ap-un-united-nations-syria-chemical-weapons.html?_r=0

[xxxi] http://tribune.com.pk/story/1022399/challenges-facing-the-counter-terror-drive/

[xxxii] http://www.dawn.com/news/1231065/corridor-echoes

[xxxiii] http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/editorial/06-Jan-2016/pathankot-fallout?