Breaking News

Yearly Archives: 2016

Pakistan Military Chief Tells Afghan Leaders He’ll Work for Peace

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN � Pakistan's new military chief spoke to Afghan leaders Saturday and promised to work for regional peace as mutual mistrust and suspicion continued to plague bilateral ties in the outgoing year.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Bajwa's Afghan counterpart, General Qadam Shah Shaheem, according to the Pakistan army's media wing.

It said that Bajwa "conveyed best wishes for 2017 and pledged to work for peace in the region," adding that peace in both countries was in the "greater interest of the region."

The Afghan leadership invited the Pakistan army chief for a visit to Afghanistan, the statement said, but did not mention any dates or other details for the proposed visit.

The Kabul government alleges that covert support the Taliban receives from Pakistan's military and its spy agency has enabled the insurgent group to prolong and expand its activities in Afghanistan.

Islamabad denies the charges, calling them an attempt to deflect attention from political controversies plaguing the Afghan national unity government and "deteriorating security situation" in the neighboring country.

In a separate statement Saturday, the army also released latest casualty tolls for its countermilitancy operations in volatile northwestern tribal areas on the Afghan border and elsewhere in Pakistan.

The military-led Zarb-e-Azb offensive has killed more than 3,500 terrorists since it was launched in June 2014, while around 600 soldiers have also died and more than 2,000 have been wounded, according to the statement.

Afghan officials say that militants fleeing the offensive have crossed to their side of the porous border, adding to the security challenges facing conflict-torn Afghanistan.

Source: Voice of America

Read More »

Pakistan Plays Down Defense-Related US Sanctions

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN � Pakistan says that the United States did not share evidence of wrongdoing before placing recent sanctions against certain defense-related Pakistani entities, but that it has pledged to work with Washington to address all concerns.

A December 15 notification by the Department of Commerce named the entities and added them to the Export Administration Regulations list, saying "these government, parastatal and private entities in Pakistan are determined to be involved in activities that are contrary to the national security and/or foreign policy of the United States."

The facilities in question are thought to be associated with Pakistan's missile development program, though officials in Islamabad have not acknowledged it. The U.S. government has not revealed details of violations these entities are alleged to have committed.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told VOA on Saturday that the government was aware of the sanctions.

"This means that for any transfers of technology to these entities, U.S. exporters will need a license," he said, adding that Pakistani authorities were examining the case to ascertain the facts behind the listing.

Ready for discussions

Zakaria called the timing of the sanctions "intriguing." He told VOA that Pakistan was ready to work with the U.S. at the level of experts to devise mutually agreed-upon procedures for end-use guarantees.

"This will help in assuring nondiversion of high-technology exports from the U.S. without hampering our legitimate imports for socioeconomic development activities," the Pakistani spokesman said.

Pakistan officials insist their missile and nuclear programs are "completely indigenous," and that U.S. sanctions will have "little bearing" on them.

"It means nothing for us," said a senior official associated with the projects. He requested not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The officials described the sanctions as a politically motivated move aimed at creating problems for the incoming Donald Trump administration's relations with Pakistan.

Islamabad has developed and equipped its armed forces with a variety of short-, medium- and long-range missiles, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads.

The program has raised concerns in Washington about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, though Islamabad dismisses such issues as misplaced.

Source: Voice of America

Read More »