Archive for ‘JeM’

11/03/2019

Pulwama attack mastermind Mudasir Ahmed Khan among 3 terrorists killed in encounter

Source: The Statesman
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10/03/2019

India and Pakistan: How the war was fought in TV studios

An Indian man watches live news channels broadcasting images of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander pilot Abhinandan Varthaman returning to India from the India-Pakistan Wagah border in New Delhi on March 1, 2019.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAn Indian man watches the news broadcasting images of the released Indian pilot

As tensions between India and Pakistan escalated following a deadly suicide attack last month, there was another battle being played out on the airwaves. Television stations in both countries were accused of sensationalism and partiality. But how far did they take it? The BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan in Delhi and Secunder Kermani in Islamabad take a look.

It was drama that was almost made for television.

The relationship between India and Pakistan – tense at the best of times – came to a head on 26 February when India announced it had launched airstrikes on militant camps in Pakistan’s Balakot region as “retaliation” for a suicide attack that had killed 40 troops in Indian-administered Kashmir almost two weeks earlier.

A day later, on 27 February, Pakistan shot down an Indian jet fighter and captured its pilot.

Abhinandan Varthaman was freed as a “peace gesture”, and Pakistan PM Imran Khan warned that neither country could afford a miscalculation, with a nuclear arsenal on each side.

Suddenly people were hooked, India’s TV journalists included.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he speaks during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) "Sankalp" rally in Patna in the Indian eastern state of Bihar on March 3, 2019.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionIndian PM Narendra Modi is accused of exploiting India-Pakistan hostilities for political gain

So were they more patriots than journalists?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: Indian television networks showed no restraint when it came to their breathless coverage of the story. Rolling news was at fever pitch.

The coverage often fell into jingoism and nationalism, with headlines such as “Pakistan teaches India a lesson”, “Dastardly Pakistan”, and “Stay Calm and Back India” prominently displayed on screens.

Some reporters and commentators called for India to use missiles and strike back. One reporter in south India hosted an entire segment dressed in combat fatigues, holding a toy gun.

And while I was reporting on the return of the Indian pilot at the international border between the two countries in the northern city of Amritsar, I saw a woman getting an Indian flag painted on her cheek. “I’m a journalist too,” she said, as she smiled at me in slight embarrassment.

Print journalist Salil Tripathi wrote a scathing critique of the way reporters in both India and Pakistan covered the events, arguing they had lost all sense of impartiality and perspective. “Not one of the fulminating television-news anchors exhibited the criticality demanded of their profession,” she said.

Media captionIndia and Pakistan’s ‘war-mongering’ media

Secunder Kermani: Shortly after shooting down at least one Indian plane last week, the Pakistani military held a press conference.

As it ended, the journalists there began chanting “Pakistan Zindabad” (Long Live Pakistan). It wasn’t the only example of “journalistic patriotism” during the recent crisis.

Two anchors from private channel 92 News donned military uniforms as they presented the news – though other Pakistani journalists criticised their decision.

But on the whole, while Indian TV presenters angrily demanded military action, journalists in Pakistan were more restrained, with many mocking what they called the “war mongering and hysteria” across the border.

In response to Indian media reports about farmers refusing to export tomatoes to Pakistan anymore for instance, one popular presenter tweeted about a “Tomatical strike” – a reference to Indian claims they carried out a “surgical strike” in 2016 during another period of conflict between the countries.

Media analyst Adnan Rehmat noted that while the Pakistani media did play a “peace monger as opposed to a warmonger” role, in doing so, it was following the lead of Pakistani officials who warned against the risks of escalation, which “served as a cue for the media.”

What were they reporting?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: As TV networks furiously broadcast bulletins from makeshift “war rooms” complete with virtual reality missiles, questions were raised not just about the reporters but what they were reporting.

Indian channels were quick to swallow the government version of events, rather than question or challenge it, said Shailaja Bajpai, media editor at The Print. “The media has stopped asking any kind of legitimate questions, by and large,” she said. “There’s no pretence of objectiveness.”

In recent years in fact, a handful of commentators have complained about the lack of critical questioning in the Indian media.

Indians celebrated on hearing news of the strikesImage copyrightAFP
Image captionIndians celebrated news of the strikes

“For some in the Indian press corps the very thought of challenging the ‘official version’ of events is the equivalent of being anti-national”, said Ms Bajpai. “We know there have been intelligence lapses but nobody is questioning that.”

Senior defence and science reporter Pallava Bagla agreed. “The first casualty in a war is always factual information. Sometimes nationalistic fervour can make facts fade away,” he said.

This critique isn’t unique to India, or even this period in time. During the 2003 Iraq war, western journalists embedded with their country’s militaries were also, on many occasions, simply reporting the official narrative.

Secunder Kermani: In Pakistan, both media and public reacted with scepticism to Indian claims about the damage caused by the airstrikes in Balakot, which India claimed killed a large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants in a training camp.

Hamid Mir, one of the most influential TV anchors in the country travelled to the area and proclaimed, “We haven’t seen any such (militant) infrastructure… we haven’t seen any bodies, any funerals.”

“Actually,” he paused, “We have found one body… this crow.” The camera panned down to a dead crow, while Mr Mir asked viewers if the crow “looks like a terrorist or not?”

There seems to be no evidence to substantiate Indian claims that a militant training camp was hit, but other journalists working for international outlets, including the BBC, found evidence of a madrassa, linked to JeM, near the site.

A cropped version of a satellite image shows a close-up of a madrasa near Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, March 4, 2019. Picture taken March 4, 2019.Image copyrightPLANET LABS INC./HANDOUT VIA REUTERS
Image captionThe satellite image shows a close-up of a madrassa near Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Paktunkhwa

A photo of a signpost giving directions to the madrassa even surfaced on social media. It described the madrassa as being “under the supervision of Masood Azhar”. Mr Azhar is the founder of JeM.

The signpost’s existence was confirmed by a BBC reporter and Al Jazeera, though by the time Reuters visited it had apparently been removed. Despite this, the madrassa and its links received little to no coverage in the Pakistani press.

Media analyst Adnan Rehmat told the BBC that “there was no emphasis on investigating independently or thoroughly enough” the status of the madrassa.

In Pakistan, reporting on alleged links between the intelligence services and militant groups is often seen as a “red line”. Journalists fear for their physical safety, whilst editors know their newspapers or TV channels could face severe pressure if they publish anything that could be construed as “anti-state”.

Who did it better: Khan or Modi?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: With a general election due in a few months, PM Narendra Modi continued with his campaign schedule, mentioning the crisis in some of his stump speeches. But he never directly addressed the ongoing tensions through an address to the nation or a press conference.

This was not a surprise. Mr Modi rarely holds news conference or gives interviews to the media. When news of the suicide attack broke, Mr Modi was criticised for continuing with a photo shoot.

Imran KhanImage copyrightAFP
Image captionImran Khan was praised for his measured approach

The leader of the main opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, dubbed him a “Prime Time Minister” claiming the PM had carried on filming for three hours. PM Modi has also been accused of managing his military response as a way to court votes.

At a campaign rally in his home state of Gujarat he seemed unflustered by his critics, quipping “they’re busy with strikes on Modi, and Modi is launching strikes on terror.”

Secunder Kermani: Imran Khan won praise even from many of his critics in Pakistan, for his measured approach to the conflict. In two appearances on state TV, and one in parliament, he appeared firm, but also called for dialogue with India.

His stance helped set the comparatively more measured tone for Pakistani media coverage.

Officials in Islamabad, buoyed by Mr Khan’s decision to release the captured Indian pilot, have portrayed themselves as the more responsible side, which made overtures for peace.

On Twitter, a hashtag calling for Mr Khan to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize was trending for a while. But his lack of specific references to JeM, mean internationally there is likely to be scepticism, at least initially, about his claims that Pakistan will no longer tolerate militant groups targeting India.

Source: The BBC

07/03/2019

Days after Pulwama, 1 killed, 29 injured in grenade blast inside bus in Jammu

The incident comes less than a month after over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

One person was killed and 29, including a woman injured in a blast after a grenade was tossed at a bus in the general bus stand in the heart of Jammu on Thursday. The condition of five injured is said to be serious.
The killed youth has been identified as a 17-year-old Mohammad Sharik of Haridwar in Uttrakhand.
Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said a local investigation has been initiated into the incident. He further said the government has given complete liberty to the forces to take all necessary steps.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police has been rushed to the site of the blast.
The Chinese grenade exploded in the bus at about 12 noon. The driver and conductor were among the injured rushed to the Government Medical College, Jammu. The injured include passengers belonging to Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand, Jammu and the Kashmir valley.
Visuals from the blast site showed the damaged bus of the J&K Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC) in which the grenade exploded.
The area has been cordoned off by the security personnel. Nature and the cause is being ascertained, police said.
Fifteen suspects have been rounded up for interrogation.
The grenade attack has coincided with the shifting of detained separatist Yasin Malik to the Jammu’s Kot-Bhalwal jail.
Police suspected the JeM outfit behind the attack. Some radicals had threatened of revenge during the recent communal tension here when about six cars were burnt.
K Vijay Kumar and KK Sharma,  both advisors to the Governor, visited the spot to take stock of the situation. The divisional commissioner, deputy commissioner and senior police and civil officers also visited the spot.
This is the third grenade attack in the bus stand during the past few months.
The blast comes at a time when Jammu and Kashmir is on a high alert following the heightened tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the incident and called for unity to defeat terror elements in the state.
“I condemn this act of terror in the strongest possible terms. My prayers for speedy recovery of those injured. The perpetrators are out there to inflict pain and divide us. Our unity has to be our tool to defeat them,” Mufti tweeted.
The provincial president of National Conference, Devender Rana, visited the hospital to inquire about the wellbeing of injured persons.
The incident comes less than a month after over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu-Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near their bus in Pulwama district.
The bus was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying around 2500 CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.
Source; The Statesman
26/02/2019

Exercise restraint, says China after strike on Jaish’s biggest terror camp

The IAF strike on Jaish camp in Balakot deep across LoC comes a day before the foreign ministers of Russia, India, and China (RIC) are expected to meet in the eastern China town of Wuzhen under the RIC mechanism.

INDIA Updated: Feb 26, 2019 15:56 IST

Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Wuzhen (China)
China on Jaish,Masood Azhar,Indian Air force
China has urged India and [pakistan to exercise restrain after the Indian Air Force hit a Jaish camp in Balakot acro(AP file photo)

China on Tuesday urged India to fight terrorism through “international cooperation” hours after the Indian air force carried out a targeted strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camplocated across the Line of Control (LoC).

India should create “favourable” conditions internationally to fight terrorism, China added possibly in an oblique reference to New Delhi’s failure to convince Beijing to allow Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, Azhar Masood to be designated as a terrorist at the UN Security Council.

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The strike comes a day before the foreign ministers of Russia, India, and China (RIC) are expected to meet in the eastern China town of Wuzhen under the RIC mechanism.

Responding to a question on the air strike, the foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang said both India and Pakistan — one of China’s closest allies — should maintain restraint.

“We have taken note of relevant reports. I want to say that India and Pakistan are both important countries. A sound relationship and cooperation serve the interests of peace and stability in South Asia. Both parties (should) remain restrained and do more to improve bilateral relations,” Lu Kang said.

Read: Nation in safe hands, says PM Modi

“As for India’s claims on taking action against terrorism, fighting terrorism is a global practice. It needs to be dealt with international cooperation. And India needs to create a favourable condition internationally for the same,” Lu said.

The Chinese foreign ministry’s reaction came soon after foreign secretary, VK Gokhale confirmed that Indian forces carried out a strike on the biggest camp of the terror group Jaih e Mohammed in Balakot area early on Tuesday.

“Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary,” the foreign secretary said.

The Chinese foreign ministry reacted carefully, keeping in mind its close ties with Pakistan and the fact that India’s decision to carry out the strike was triggered by JeM-planned Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel.

Read: After IAF strike on terror camp, Army tweets poem on power and peace

Interestingly, Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi and his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke over phone about the Pulwama attack and its aftermath over the phone on Monday evening.

“Qureshi informed Wang of Pakistan’s stance on and measures to deal with the attack, reaffirming the country’s sincerity and resolution to communicate with India and find out the truth of the incident,” a report by China’s official news agency, Xinhua, said.

“Qureshi said Pakistan’s position on maintaining regional peace and fighting terrorism will remain unchanged and it is willing to join hands with other countries to cooperate in this area,” it added.

In the phone conversation, Wang said China supports Pakistan and India to resolve the issue through dialogue as soon as possible and avoid an escalation of the situation.

“He called on both sides to collaborate on fighting terrorism and jointly safeguard the security and stability of South Asia,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the Pulwama terrorist attack and the listing of Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN is expected to prominently figure at the 16th RIC foreign ministers’ meeting being held here on Wednesday.

Besides attending the annual trilateral meeting, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj would also hold bilateral talks with Chinese FM Wang and Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the meeting.

Swaraj’s meeting with Wang assumes significance as it will be the first high-level interaction between the two countries after the Pulwama terror attack and Tuesday’s air strike.

China, a veto-wielding member of the UNSC, has consistently blocked India, the US, the UK and France’s efforts to list Azhar as a global terrorist since 2016 but endorsed a scathing statement issued by UN Security Council on February 21 on the Pulwama attack.

Source: Hindustan Times

26/02/2019

‘India in safe hands’: PM Modi’s assurance after IAF strikes terror camps across LoC

The Prime Minister had earlier in the day chaired the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) after India carried out ‘non-military pre-emptive’ airstrikes targeting the JeM camp across the LoC.

Hours after India’s offensive on Pakistan-based terror camps across the LoC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “assured that the country was in safe hands”.

“Today I assure the countrymen, the country is in safe hands,” PM Modi said while addressing a public rally in Rajasthan’s Churu.

“I pledge on this soil, I will not let the country die, I will not let the country stop, I will not let the country bend. It is my promise to Mother India, I will protect your honour,” he added.

Speaking on the One Rank One Pension (OROP), PM Modi said he was happy that the scheme had benefited over 20 lakh military families across the country including thousands of families of Churu and Rajasthan.

The Prime Minister had earlier in the day chaired the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) after India carried out “non-military pre-emptive” air strikes targeting the JeM camp across the LoC.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale addressing the media said India had received credible information on JeM attempting other attacks in the country and therefore a pre-emptive strike had become necessary.

Read | India has struck JeM’s biggest training camp, large number of terrorists, jihadis eliminated: Govt

He said the non-military pre-emptive action was targeted specifically at the JeM camp adding that the selection of the target was also conditioned to avoid civilian casualties.

In a 21-minute offensive, 12 Mirage 2000 jets carried out the strike at around 3.30 am and dropped 1000 Kg bombs on terror camps across LOC, completely destroying it.

The IAF jets struck terror camps and launch pads across the LoC in Balakot at around 3.45 am, Muzaffarabad at around 3.48 am and Chakoti at around 3.58 am.

Read | PM Modi chairs CCS meet after India hits terror camps across LoC; over 200 terrorists killed, say reports

The camp in Balakot was led by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother-in-law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar. Yusuf Azhar was on the Interpol list and among the most wanted in India.

Following the airstrikes, many leaders including that of the opposition lauded the action of the IAF and praised the PM for giving a free hand to the security forces after the Pulwama terror attack.

Over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu-Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near their bus in Pulwama district.

Source: The Statesman
25/02/2019

India toughens Kashmir crackdown; five dead in battle with militants, more detained

SRINAGAR (Reuters) – Five people were killed in a gun battle between members of a Pakistani militant group and Indian security forces in disputed Kashmir on Sunday as India intensified a security

Indian authorities have killed at least eight JeM militants and detained around 50 militants, sympathizers and their relatives since the bomb attack, which also sparked the roundup of separatists which India says is needed to head off trouble ahead of a general election to be held by May.

Most of those rounded up over the last two days were linked to the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI).

“Since JeI has a wider network across Kashmir and they are mobilising anti-India protests, their arrest could help in curbing such protests ahead of elections,” the senior police officer said.

 

One well-known separatist leader, Abdul Gani Bhat, was placed under house arrest, according to his political party.

Separatists called a strike to protest against the detentions. Many shops, petrol stations, and businesses closed, with few people and vehicles on streets in sensitive areas, except for troop patrols.

In some areas of the main city of Srinagar, the government limited the movement of people and vehicles.

“The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident,” the police said.

FUEL SUPPLIES LOW

 

The government of Jammu and Kashmir said fuel rationing had been introduced in the Kashmir Valley where there was only enough gasoline for one day, diesel for four days and no liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The government said it would seek to increase supplies to the region and that shortages are the result of road blockages after the suicide bomb attack.

Indian paramilitary troops in riot gear arrived in strength at first light, said Shakeel Ahmad, a resident of Nowhatta in the Srinagar district.

“At places, they have blocked the main roads with steel barricades and concertina wire,” he said.

State Governor Satya Pal Malik called on residents not to believe “rumours of any extreme nature”. The government said an increase in police numbers was to prevent candidates and voters from being intimidated into not standing or voting in the general election.

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who chairs the Hurriyat Conference of separatist groups, said arbitrary arrests and jailing of leaders, activists and young people for their political beliefs had happened across Kashmir for 30 years.

“Intimidating activists and leadership will not deter them from their path, nor will it stop people from demanding the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through self-determination,” he said.

Reuters’ telephone calls to the Indian home ministry to seek comment went unanswered.

TENSIONS RAISED

The suicide bomb attack has raised tensions between India and Pakistan which both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. India blames Pakistan for harbouring militant groups operating in Kashmir, which Pakistan denies.

After the attack, India dropped trade privileges for Pakistan and prepared to send as many as 10,000 more troops to the contested area, according to a home ministry letter seen by Reuters.

The Indian army said that early on Sunday evening Pakistan violated the two nations’ ceasefire at the Rajouri area of the border, through shelling from mortars and small arms fire. Defence spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand said the Indian army was “retaliating strongly and effectively”.

Ceasefire violations are not unusual along the border.

A Pakistani security official said Pakistani forces had not initiated any action but had responded to Indian firing.

Kashmir is likely to be a key issue in India’s election, distracting from concerns about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have managed the economy.

Modi has promised a strong response to the attack, saying in a monthly radio broadcast on Sunday that it had caused anguish to all of India.

Modi added that the army had vowed to destroy the militants and those who helped them.

Islamabad has warned it would respond with “full force” if attacked. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on India to show restraint or it would put “the entire region’s peace and security at stake”.
India’s Supreme Court will hear a case this week seeking to drop a constitutional provision that bars non-residents from moving to the state of Jammu and Kashmir that encompasses the Muslim-majority region.

 

If passed, it could further escalate tensions.

Source: Reuters

22/02/2019

‘Does not represent a judgement’: China on mention of JeM in UNSC statement

China has been repeatedly blocking India and several other countries’ efforts to bring about a global ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar in the UN’s anti-terror 1267 committee.

WORLD Updated: Feb 22, 2019 16:35 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Beijing
Jaish-e-Muhammad,Pulwama terror attack,UN Security Council
Lethpora: Security agencies inspect the site of suicide bomb attack at Lethpora area, in Pulwama district of south Kashmir, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. At least 37 CRPF personnel were killed yesterday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district. (PTI Photo/S Irfan)(PTI2_15_2019_000037B)(AP)

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Friday sought to downplay the scathing statement issued by the powerful organ of the world body naming Jaish-e-Muhammad in the Pulwama terror attack, saying the mention of the Pakistan-based outfit was only in “general terms” and “does not represent a judgement”.

Forty Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed in a suicide attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14, sparking outrage in the country.

The powerful UN Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday strongly condemned the “heinous and cowardly” terror attack.

“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir, which left 40 Indian paramilitary forces dead and dozens wounded on February 14, 2019, for which Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility,” it said in a statement.

Asked about the statement highlighting the role of JeM claiming the responsibility of the Pulwama attack, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that Beijing was closely following the developments related to the terror incident.

“Yesterday, the UN Security Council issued a press statement that mentioned that a particular organisation but only in general terms. It does not represent a judgment on the attack,” Geng said.

His remarks were seen as an attempt by China, without whose endorsement the UNSC statement could not have been released, aimed at placating its close ally Pakistan and play down the indictment of the JeM.

China has been repeatedly blocking India and several other countries’ efforts to bring about a global ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar in the UN’s anti-terror 1267 committee.

While China’s endorsement of the UNSC statement was reflection of wariness on the part of Beijing to repeatedly defend JeM in the UN body, which casts a shadow on its relations with India, observers say it is to be seen what stand Beijing would take when France moves its resolution seeking to list Azhar as a global terrorist in the UN.

France, also member of the permanent five of the UNSC, has officially announced that it would move a resolution soon in the 1267 committee seeking Azhar’s listing.

Since 2016, China has consistently blocked moves first by India and later by the US, the UK and France to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by putting repeated technical holds.

In his response on Friday Geng said that “China also noted that the Pakistani government showed readiness to cooperate with India on the investigation and that it is also ready to resolve differences with India through dialogue”.

“China hopes all parties will work to find the truth about this attack. We hope Pakistan and India will engage in dialogue to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” he said.

The UN statement also underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these “reprehensible acts of terrorism” accountable and bring them to justice”.

The UN condemnation came a day after Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi met top UN leaders including with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to brief them about the escalating tensions in the region in the wake of the Pulwama attack.

Source: hindustan Times

19/02/2019

Pakistan PM Imran Khan says ready to talk terror, then packs in warning against strikes

Pakistan PM Imran Khan has denied hand behind Pulwama terror attack stating if there is evidence, his government will act against the culprits.

INDIA Updated: Feb 19, 2019 14:50 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Imran Khan,Pulwama attack
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said if there is any evidence of involvement of any Pakistani national in Pulwama terror attack, his government will act against the culprits. (AP)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has denied his country’s role behind the Pulwama terror attack, the worst in Jammu and Kashmir in decades. He claimed that India does not have any evidence to prove Pakistan’s role in terror attacks in Kashmir.

“You (India) have blamed the Pakistan government without any evidence…If you have any evidence, we will act,” Imran Khan said.

He said, “It is in our interest that nobody from our soil spreads violence. I want to tell Indian government that we will take action if evidence is found against anyone from Pakistan.”

“What has Pakistan to gain from this? Why will Pakistan do this at a stage when it is moving towards stability,” said Imran Khan adding that “this is a Naya Pakistan with a new mindset.”

Calling for a dialogue with India, he said, “If you thinks you will attack us and we will not think of retaliating…We will retaliate. We all know starting a war is in the hands of humans, where it will lead us only God knows. This issue should be solved through dialogue.”

Also Read | Eliminated Jaish leadership that planned Pulwama attack within 100 hours, says army

Imran Khan’s reaction comes days after at least 40 CRPF jawans were killed in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan-backed terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier, Pakistan sought an urgent intervention of UN Secretary-General in defusing tensions with India and help facilitate dialogue between the two countries.

Following the terror attack, India launched a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan with the ministry of external affairs reaching out to more than two dozen countries including P5 – the US, the UK, France, Russia and China, which has repeatedly blocked India’s bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as global terrorist by the United Nations.

Also Read | Army major killed in Pulwama encounter made plans for first anniversary

China has used veto to shield Masood Azhar. Pakistan has also denied its support to the terror group. On Monday, in a joint statement Imran Khan and Saudi Arabia’s prince Mohammed bin Sultan “underlined the need for avoiding politicisation of UN listing regime.” This is being viewed as a snub to India’s renewed efforts to isolate Pakistan over its continued support to terror outfits and corner Masood Azhar’s JeM.

India withdrew the most favoured nation (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan in 1996. The MFN status had not been revoked even during the 1999 Kargil War and in the aftermath of 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed more than 160 people.

Source: Hindustan Times

18/02/2019

Pulwama attack: Four Indian soldiers killed in Kashmir gun battle

Four soldiers have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir in a gun battle with militants, police say.

The clash occurred in Pulwama district, where more than 40 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a suicide attack on Thursday, raising tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

A civilian and two alleged militants were also killed as Indian troops searched for suspects.

Meanwhile Pakistan recalled its ambassador for consultations.

India had already recalled its top diplomat from Pakistan in the wake of Thursday’s attack – in which it said the Pakistani state was complicit.

Pakistan denies any role in the bombing, which was claimed by a group based on its soil – Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)

What’s happening in Pulwama?

Police say two militants who were trapped in Pinglena village were killed in Monday’s operation. Both are JeM members and one is a Pakistani national, authorities said.

Heavy gunfire has been heard, and Indian security officials are appealing to villagers to stay indoors.

Police told BBC Urdu that when they fired “warning shots” at the house where the alleged militants were hiding, they fired back. One officer critically injured was taken to hospital.

The owner of the house was killed during the exchange of fire, police added.

Indian security forces have been hunting for militants with suspected links to JeM following Thursday’s bombing, which saw a vehicle packed with explosives ram a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces.

map

The suicide bomber was identified as a local Kashmiri aged between 19 and 21.

More than 20 people were detained on Sunday, according to police.

How high are tensions?

Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan since independence.

Both countries claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but control only parts of it. They have fought two wars and a limited conflict in the region.

Thursday’s attack was the deadliest attack against Indian forces since an Islamist-led insurgency began in 1989. It sparked anti-Pakistan protests in some Indian cities and angry mobs targeted Kashmiri students and businessmen.

Mobile internet services in Indian-administered Kashmir were cut over the weekend and the Indian government has pulled security normally provided to at least five Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Isolated incidents of students from Kashmir being beaten up or evicted from their accommodation in northern Indian states have also been reported.

India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) offered help to students in need, but also warned of false reports.

In broader terms, there has has been a spike in violence in Indian-administered Kashmir since Indian forces killed a popular militant in 2016. Significant numbers of young men have joined the insurgency in recent years and the funerals of well-known militants draw huge crowds who want to pay respects to “martyrs”.

India has been accused of using excessive force to control protests with thousands of people suffering eye injuries or being blinded by pellet guns.

How might India retaliate?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is facing an election later this year, has vowed a strong response and says he will give the military free rein.

The last time an attack on Indian forces close to this magnitude occurred in Kashmir was in 2016, when 19 soldiers were killed at a base. In response to that, India carried out “surgical strikes” which involved Indian soldiers crossing the de facto border to hit Pakistani posts.

This time analysts say heavy snow in the region could make that kind of limited ground response impossible. But there are fears that going further, for example with air strikes, could lead to Pakistani retaliation and a significant escalation.

So far India has focused on retaliation by economic and diplomatic means. It has revoked Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nation trading status, raised customs duties to 200% and vowed to isolate it in the international community.

Presentational grey line

Despite tensions Pakistan is calm

By Secunder Kermani, BBC Pakistan correspondent

The threat of Indian military action has not provoked widespread concern amongst the general public in Pakistan. Previous attacks by militants like JeM, believed to have close links to the intelligence services, have been seen as attempts by the Pakistani military to prevent the civilian government developing too friendly a relationship with India.

However, since Imran Khan was elected as prime minister here, many have begun to believe both the army and his administration were united in wanting to improve cross border ties.

Whether Pakistan was involved in the attack or not, it seems unlikely concerted action will now be taken against JeM. Its leader has been in “protective custody” since another attack in 2016, but still regularly releases audio messages to followers.

The group has in the past been a useful tool for Pakistan’s intelligence services wanting to foment unrest across the border, and authorities may now be reluctant to confront them, in case they turn against the Pakistani state as some of their members have done in the past.

Source: The BBC

16/02/2019

U.S. backs India’s right to self-defence over Kashmir attack – Indian government

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The United States supports India’s right to self-defence against cross-border attacks, India’s foreign ministry said on Saturday after a deadly car bombing in disputed Kashmir raised tensions with rival neighbour Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a strong response after a Pakistan-based militant group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on a military convoy on Thursday that killed 44 paramilitary policemen.

India’s government said it had evidence the group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), had the backing of Pakistan and demanded Islamabad take action. Pakistan has condemned the attack and rejected India’s allegations.U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on Friday night, promising to help bring those behind the attack to justice, the foreign ministry said in a readout of the phone call.

“The two NSAs vowed to work together to ensure that Pakistan cease to be a safe haven for JeM and terrorist groups that target India, the U.S. and others in the region,” the foreign ministry said.

“They resolved to hold Pakistan to account for its obligations under U.N. resolutions,” it added.

India has for years accused Muslim Pakistan of backing separatist militants in divided Kashmir, which the neighbours both claim in full but rule in part.

Pakistan denies that, saying it only offers political support to the Himalayan region’s suppressed Muslim people.

Modi, who is facing an election in the next few months, has called a meeting of political parties on Saturday to build support for action against Pakistan.

Indians have poured onto social media to vent their fury over the suicide bombing in Kashmir, with many of them calling for swift retribution against Pakistan as TV news shows hosted jingoistic debates.

When he swept to power at the head of a Hindu nationalist-led alliance in 2014, Modi vowed to pursue a tough line with Pakistan. The two countries have gone to war three times since independence from Britain in 1947, twice over Kashmir.

The attack comes at a difficult time for Pakistan, which is struggling to attract foreign investment and avert a payments crisis, with its swiftly diminishing foreign currency reserves at less than $8 billion, equivalent to two months of import payments.

Source: Reuters