2017 August 07 : AsiaNet-Pakistan

Archive for August 7th, 2017

UN: Inquiries Ongoing into Reports of Afghan Civilian Massacre

August 7, 2017 |

ISLAMABAD � The United Nations says it is looking into reports insurgents have massacred dozens of people, mostly civilians, in northern Afghanistan in recent days.

Local authorities say the incident took place Saturday after the Taliban attacked and overran Mirza Olang village in the province of Sar-e Pul.

The provincial governor accused the Islamist insurgency of torching houses of civilians and killing more than 40 people, including women and children.

The victims belonged to the minority Shi’ite Hazara community and some of them were reportedly beheaded.

Our inquiries are ongoing, a spokesperson for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told VOA Monday. Liam McDowall added the mission is seeking clarity on “a range of important matters” before issuing public remarks on the incident.

A Taliban spokesman has rejected the official claims as baseless enemy propaganda, saying the group had nothing to do with the incident.

The village is part of the Sayaad district where Islamic State militants are also fighting Afghan security forces.

Some provincial officials say Taliban and IS fighters jointly attacked the villagers.

The Taliban rejected the allegations, saying it considers IS an enemy force and asserted the militants are not present in the Afghan province.

Afghan officials in Kabul say that reinforcements are being dispatched to the conflict zone to evict the Taliban from the area.

Hostilities have intensified across Afghanistan this year, with civilians bearing the brunt of the conflict, according to UNAMA.

The agency documented around 1,700 deaths of Afghan civilians in conflict-related incidents and injuries to nearly 3,600, in the first half of 2017.

US strategy

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is working on a new strategy for Afghanistan to try to help Afghan security forces reverse insurgent gains and improve national security.

The strategy, however is facing delays in the wake of reported divisions over how to conduct and win the longest war in U.S. history.

Last week, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo, made an unannounced visit to Kabul for more talks with President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan officials on bilateral cooperation.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah informed a routine ministerial council meeting about the CIA chief’s visit but gave no further details.

The U.S. Embassy, meanwhile, announced Monday that Alice Wells, the acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, concluded a two-day visit to Kabul.

She met with Ghani, Abdullah and other top government officials to discuss issues of mutual importance and bilateral cooperation, the statement said.

Ambassador Wells underscored U.S. support for Afghanistan’s economic and political modernization, stability, and efforts to promote national reconciliation, it added.

Source: Voice of America

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Truck Blast Injures More Than 30 in Pakistan

August 7, 2017 |

A truck bomb injured more than 30 people late Monday in Pakistan, in the latest bombing to rattle the eastern city of Lahore.”The explosive material was planted inside a truck which was loaded with fruit,” said Abdullah Khan Sumbal, a top government of…

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Controversial Pakistani Charity Launches Political Party

August 7, 2017 |

ISLAMABAD � A Pakistani Islamist charity, which the United States designated as a “foreign terrorist organization” three years ago, has formed a new political party with a mission to enter mainstream politics and contest future national elections.

The controversial charity, called Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), is believed to be a front for the banned anti-India Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) organization and is run by Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 deadly Mumbai attacks.

Washington has offered a $10-million bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed, who has been under house arrest in Pakistan for the last six months.

Islamabad detained the Islamist leader under international pressure and authorities recently extended his detention for another two months.

Speaking to reporters Monday in Islamabad, Saeed’s longtime associate, Saifullah Khalid, in his capacity as president of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, explained its mission.

“We have decided to make a new political party, so that Pakistan is made an Islamic and welfare state in the true sense of the word, and also, so that we can find a better solution to the issues faced by our beloved country,” Khalid said.

Humanitarian charity

JuD denies it is a front for LeT and calls itself a humanitarian charity. It also denies involvement in the Mumbai carnage that left at least 166 people dead and brought India and Pakistan to the brink of another war.

Khalid said a request has been submitted with Pakistan’s election commission to register the party to participate in future elections.

He went on to say that JuD will continue its welfare activities across Pakistan, and the political party will strive to be a “permanent and sovereign” party at the national level.

Khalid promised his party will maintain coordination and cooperation with JuD and other organizations involved in welfare activities.

“God willing, from the platform of the Milli Muslim League, we will continue this work countrywide, right down to the Union Council level,” vowed the leader.

Khalid demanded Pakistani authorities immediately release Saeed, and criticized the decision to extend in his detention.

“First of all, Professor Hafiz Mohammad Saeed should be honorably released. There are no charges against him. He has always been found not guilty by the courts. He has been put under house arrest on charges of being innocent,” asserted Khalid.

He did not rule out a role for Saeed in the newly-launched political party once he is freed.

Terrorist designation

There was no immediate reaction from U.S or Indian officials to Monday’s announcement by the JuD leaders.

Pakistan has long been accused of harboring militant groups involved in terrorist attacks in India and Afghanistan.

Islamabad rejects the charges and, in turn, blames New Delhi for sponsoring terrorist attacks on Pakistan soil to destabilize the country.

The United States designated LeT as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in December 2001.

“Shortly after LeT was designated as an FTO, Saeed changed its name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and began humanitarian projects to circumvent restriction. LeT disseminates its message through JUD’s media outlets,” according to information posted on the State Department website.

The department’s country report on terrorism for 2016 said the LeT and its wings continued to make use of economic resources and raise funds in Pakistan.

Source: Voice of America

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More Than 20 Wounded In Lahore Bomb Blast, Officials Say

August 7, 2017 |

Pakistani officials say a bomb blast has wounded at least 22 people in the eastern city of Lahore.Provincial Punjabi government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan said on August 7 that the bomb was planted inside a truck loaded with fruit.At least thr…

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UN: Inquiries Ongoing into Reports of Afghan Civilian Massacre

August 7, 2017 |

ISLAMABAD � The United Nations says it is looking into reports insurgents have massacred dozens of people, mostly civilians, in northern Afghanistan in recent days.

Local authorities say the incident took place Saturday after the Taliban attacked and overran Mirza Olang village in the province of Sar-e Pul.

The provincial governor accused the Islamist insurgency of torching houses of civilians and killing more than 40 people, including women and children.

The victims belonged to the minority Shi’ite Hazara community and some of them were reportedly beheaded.

Our inquiries are ongoing, a spokesperson for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told VOA Monday. Liam McDowall added the mission is seeking clarity on “a range of important matters” before issuing public remarks on the incident.

A Taliban spokesman has rejected the official claims as baseless enemy propaganda, saying the group had nothing to do with the incident.

The village is part of the Sayaad district where Islamic State militants are also fighting Afghan security forces.

Some provincial officials say Taliban and IS fighters jointly attacked the villagers.

The Taliban rejected the allegations, saying it considers IS an enemy force and asserted the militants are not present in the Afghan province.

Afghan officials in Kabul say that reinforcements are being dispatched to the conflict zone to evict the Taliban from the area.

Hostilities have intensified across Afghanistan this year, with civilians bearing the brunt of the conflict, according to UNAMA.

The agency documented around 1,700 deaths of Afghan civilians in conflict-related incidents and injuries to nearly 3,600, in the first half of 2017.

US strategy

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is working on a new strategy for Afghanistan to try to help Afghan security forces reverse insurgent gains and improve national security.

The strategy, however is facing delays in the wake of reported divisions over how to conduct and win the longest war in U.S. history.

Last week, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo, made an unannounced visit to Kabul for more talks with President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan officials on bilateral cooperation.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah informed a routine ministerial council meeting about the CIA chief’s visit but gave no further details.

The U.S. Embassy, meanwhile, announced Monday that Alice Wells, the acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, concluded a two-day visit to Kabul.

She met with Ghani, Abdullah and other top government officials to discuss issues of mutual importance and bilateral cooperation, the statement said.

Ambassador Wells underscored U.S. support for Afghanistan’s economic and political modernization, stability, and efforts to promote national reconciliation, it added.

Source: Voice of America

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