Pakistani PM orders stern action against unreasonable price hike

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked relevant authorities to take stern action against the people involved in hoarding, and unreasonable rising prices of food staples, authorities reported on Friday.

The Prime Minister directed provincial chief secretaries and chief commissioner of capital Islamabad to launch a systematic special campaign against the unusual price hike in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

Khan also directed price control committees to release price lists in their vicinities regularly to put a check on unreasonable price hike of food staples.

The recent increase in inflation has made it hard for people to make ends meet. Recently released surveys from independent organisations show that more and more people are compromising on health and education due to a decrease in their purchasing power.

In its latest available monthly report released in early June, the country’s Federal Bureau of Statistics said the inflation increased 9.1 per cent in May 2019 as compared to May 2018.

The bureau said sensitive price index jumped 10.8 per cent while the inflation rate in the wholesale sector remained at 14 percent.

Adding woes to the government’s economic policy, the value of the US dollar against local currency rupee surged to a historic high of 164 rupees.

The persistent depreciation of rupee against the greenback has fuelled inflation, which has not only hit the lower strata of society but also



Row over Hyderabad BJP MLA ‘copying’ Pakistani song

Telangana’s lone BJP MLA Raja Singh landed himself in embarrassment after the Pakistan Army accused him of copying their song but he stood defiant saying he did not have to copy anything from a “terrorist state”.

“Good to see even #Pakistan media is covering my song #HindustanZindabad. I’m more surprised that even a terrorist nation produces singers. #Pakistani singer’s may have copied my song, we don’t have to copy anything from a terrorist state like Pakistan,” Singh said in a tweet.

Spokesperson of the Pakistan Armed Forces, Major General Asif Ghafoor, who in his tweet on Sunday had accused the BJP legislator of copying the song, responded to Singh on Monday, saying: “Pakistani media isn’t covering the ‘so called’ song. In rest of the world, this is called something else…”

“Glad that you copied. But copy to speak the truth as well. #PakistanZindabad,” Asif Ghafoor had earlier tweeted from his personal handle, ridiculing the MLA for replacing ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in the song with ‘Hindustan Zindabad’.

Singh, who represents the Goshamahal constituency in Hyderabad, had announced that his new song was dedicated to the Indian armed forces and will be released on the occasion of Ram Navami on Sunday. He had posted the video of his song on April 12.

A few hours before the legislator was to release his song in a procession in Hyderabad, Ghafoor tweeted that he copied it.

Singh’s video and Pakistani Army spokesman’s tweet went viral with many people on social media also sharing the original Pakistani song “Dil ki himmat watan… apna jazba watan. Man ki sacchi lagan… seedha rasta watan” sung by Sahir Ali Bagga.

The Pakistani song was released on March 23 on the occasion of Pakistan Day by the Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistani Army.

The legislator dropped his plans to release the song after it sparked the plagiarism row.



Pakistani pilots training on Rafale fake news; Envoy

France has denied reports that Pakistani pilots under an exchange programme with Qatar were being trained to fly Rafale fighter jets.

“I can confirm that it is fake news,” tweeted French Ambassador to India Alexan Ziegler, putting to rest speculations that Pakistani pilots had got hands on the Rafales before they were inducted into the Indian Air Force.

A February report of AIN Online had gone viral claiming that the first batch of pilots trained for Qatar (which has also ordered French Rafale jets like India) in November 2017 were Pakistani exchange officers.

Qatar had placed two separate orders for 36 Rafale jets. The first of the aircraft was delivered in February.

The delivery of Rafale for India was expected to start by September.


Science & Technology

FB removes Pakistani military-backed fake accounts

Facebook on Monday said it removed 103 Pages, Groups and accounts on both its platform and Instagram for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour against India as part of a military-backed network that originated in Pakistan.

The individuals used fake accounts to operate military fan Pages, general Pakistani interest Pages, Kashmir community Pages and hobby and news Pages.

“They also frequently posted about local and political news including topics like the Indian government, political leaders and military,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, told the media during a telephonic conversation.

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that it was linked to employees of the ISPR (Inter-Service Public Relations) of the Pakistani military,” he added.

In total, there were 24 Pages, 57 Facebook accounts, seven Groups and 15 Instagram accounts.

Nearly, 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 4,700 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and around 1,050 accounts followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.

“Around $1,100 in spending for ads on Facebook paid for in US dollars and Pakistani rupees. The first ad ran in May 2015 and the most recent ad ran in December 2018,” informed Facebook.

The accounts posted on Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and the Indian Air Force, among other references.

In a faux pas, after mentioning Kashmir separately along with India and a few other countries in a blog post last month, Facebook apologized for the “mistake” and later deleted the reference to Kashmir.





Pakistani Hindu girls be sent to their homes; Sushma

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that the two Hindu girls, who were reportedly kidnapped in Pakistan and forced to convert, should be restored to their families immediately.

In a series of tweets, Swaraj said the age of the girls is not disputed and even Pakistan Prime Minister will not believe that girls of this tender age can voluntarily decide about their conversion and marriage.

“Forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan: The age of the girls is not disputed. Raveena is only 13 and Reena is 15 years old.

“Even the Prime Minister on Naya Pakistan will not believe that girls of this tender age can voluntarily decide about their conversion to another religion and marriage. Justice demands that both these girls should be restored to their families immediately,” she said.

The Minister had on on Sunday sought details from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad following reports of abduction, forced conversion and underage marriage of two Pakistani Hindu girls in Sindh province.

The two sisters were reportedly abducted on the eve of Holi.

India also shared its concerns through an official note to Pakistan Foreign Office sent on Saturday and said that suitable remedial action is being taken by the Pakistan government to protect and promote safety, security and welfare of its own citizens, especially from the minority communities.

The incident came to light after their father and brother said in videos that went viral in social media that the two were kidnapped and forced to embrace Islam.

In a separate video, however, the minor girls were heard saying that they accepted Islam of their own free will.

Sushma Swaraj’s tweet on Sunday had led to a spat between her and Pakistan Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who had responded through tweet and said it was his country’s internal issue.

Replying to Chaudhry’s tweet, Sushma Swaraj asked him if giving data on abducted Hindu girls is making them nervous. She attributed the nervousness to a guilty conscience.




Indian, Pakistani armies trade fire on LoC in Poonch

Indian and Pakistani armies traded heavy fire on the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, police said.

The firing exchanges started in Chakan Da Bagh area.

“Mortar shelling and small arms firing continued between the two sides,” a police officer said.

As two shells fired from Pakistan landed near the Chakan Da Bagh trade facilitation centre, its staff and others present there hurriedly took shelter in underground bunkers.

“No damage or casualty was caused due to the Pakistani shelling,” the officer said.

The Pakistani ceasefire violation occurred on a day the cross-LoC trade between the Indian and Pakistan administered parts of Jammu and Kashmir took place between Chakan Da Bagh and Rawalakot.



Pakistani drone crosses Rajasthan border says BSF

A Pakistani drone attempting to enter Indian territory across the Rajasthan border went back following its detection by the Border Security Forces (BSF), who tried to shoot it down, the BSF said.
This was another of the drones from across the international border that tried to enter Indian territory at around 5 a.m. at Hindumalkot border near Sriganganagar, a BSF official said, adding that the moment it was sighted the troopers started firing, forcing it to return.
Villagers residing along the western border also heard heavy firing.
The drone returned safely across the border to Pakistan, a BSF official said.

Congress getting high TRPs in Pakistani TVs; Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday lashed out at the Congress and its President Rahul Gandhi for repeatedly raking up the Rafale fighter jet deal and said the questions raised on the issue were meant to divert public attention from the comments made by Congress leaders “against national security”.

“The Congress has in the last few days through statements of its senior leaders boxed itself into a corner in a very difficult situation. They are getting high TRPs in Pakistani TVs. But there is a revulsion as far as domestic opinion in India is concerned,” Jaitley said.

He was responding to query on Gandhi’s demand that an investigation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be carried out for conducting parallel negotiations and delaying the delivery of the Rafale fighter jets to India.

Jaitley said that the government had repeatedly made its position clear on the issue, the Supreme Court had spoken on it and the CAG had already analysed it.

“The petitioners are taking one more chance. No dynast can claim that he is above Supreme Court or CAG and that verdicts and findings don’t apply,” he said.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had demanded that India release evidences of air strike in Pakistan as the US did after killing Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) bombed Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26 in response to the February 14 terror attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers.



Anti-terrorism protest at UN demands action against Pakistani terror sponsors, JeM chief

Members of the Indian community and international supporters have held a protest outside the UN headquarters demanding that the international organisation act against Pakistani leaders abetting terrorism and impose an arms embargo on Islamabad.

The protest on Sunday by about 400 people also included concerned citizens from the US, Bangladesh, Caribbean countries, Sri Lanka and Israel, as well as from Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

The protesters held up signs listing various terrorist attacks around the world linked to Pakistan — from Pulwama to New York’s Times Square, and from Mumbai to London, and the Pakistani military’s atrocities during Bangladesh’s War of Independence.

Their posters also listed terrorist organisations like the Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Haqqani Network, Taliban, Laskshar-e-Omar, Sipah-e-Sahaba that are based in Pakistan and operate internationally.

A memorandum from the protesters to the UN said the world body should declare Pakistan a global terrorist state and JeM leader Masood Azhar an international terrorist and impose sanctions on them.

As a member of the Security Council, China has been protecting Azhar and has vetoed efforts by other members to add him to the list of global terrorists so he would face international sanctions.

The JeM claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14 which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel.

The memorandum also asked the UN to impose an arms embargo on Islamabad and financial and travel sanctions on Pakistani political and military leaders involved in protecting and aiding terrorist organisations.

Overseas Friends of BJP President Krishna Reddy Anugula said that they would send the memorandum to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday.



Pakistan claims IAF did not go deep into Pakistani territory

Pakistan claimed on Tuesday that Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and returned after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) scrambled war planes.

Pakistan has clarified that the IAF jets dropped bombs within Pakistani Kashmir at Balakote.

Amid confusion about the location as there are two places by the name of Balakot/Balakote, the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Asif Ghafoor, said the “intrusion” took place within three to four miles of LoC in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

His earlier tweet had mentioned that the Indian fighters dropped a payload at Balakot.

A place called Balakot is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a Balakote is located in the Pakistani administered Kashmir.

Following an uproar in Pakistan about Indian jets flying deep into its territory, the DG ISPR clarified that the intrusion took place close to the LoC.

The alleged incident took place in the Muzaffarabad sector, said Radio Pakistan.

The IAF action follows a suicide bombing attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama in Kashmir on February 14 that killed 40 troopers.

The attack was claimed by Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and prompted a spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Flight tracking websites spotted heightened activities along the border with an IAF early warning plane Emb 145 and mid-air refueller circling in the area early in the morning.

Reports claimed that the IAF strike was carried out by a group of Mirage 2000 fighters at around 3.30 a.m.

Pakistan claims IAF did not go deep into Pakistani territory



US Indian community holds anti-terror protests at Pakistani, Chinese consulates

Members of the Indian community have held protests outside the Pakistani consulates in New York and Chicago to condemn the February 14 Pulwama attack that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF troopers.

In New York on Friday, the police stopped 400 protesters from approaching the consulate building and cordoned them off next to Central Park, across the avenue.

They protested peacefully for over two hours shouting “Vande Mataram” and “God Bless America” along with slogans denouncing Pakistan’s support for terrorism.

A delegation went to the consulate to handover a memorandum demanding “credible and visible” action against the perpetrators of the Pulwama carnage that was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that claimed 163 lives.

Overseas Friends of BJP-USA (OFBJP) President Krishna Reddy Anugula said that the diplomats at the consulate refused to accept the memorandum, which also asked for freedom for Kulbhushan Jadav, who has been sentenced by a Pakistani military court as a spy, and for handing over JeM chief Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim, who is wanted for 1993 terrorist bombings in Mumbai, to India.

On Thursday, community members held a demonstration at the Chinese consulate in Chicago against Beijing’s policy of protecting JAzhar from UN sanctions through its veto powers.

Jagdish Sewhani, the president of the American India Public Affairs Committee, and one of the organisers of the New York protest, said that his group was organising a nation-wide outreach campaign to members of Congress to sponsor legislation against Pakistan’s support for terrorism.

Members of his group and other Indians have been asked to call on their legislators or write to them seeking action against Islamabad, he said.

The Federation of Indian Associations organised a candle-light vigil in Woodbridge, Virginia, on Thursday to honour the Pulwama victims.

About 600 people, including Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac Councilwoman Nancy Drumm, attended the vigil.

Earlier in the week, OFBJP organised the screening of Bollywood film “Uri” to raise awareness of terrorism in the sub-continent. .

Across the US, Indian communities have held vigils and prayer services for the victims, including in Atlanta, Georgia; Naperville, Illinois; Sacramento, California’ and Houston, Stafford and Woodlands in Texas.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)




Entertainment India

Enough is enough, says Vidya Balan on Pakistani artiste ban

With the Hindi film industry condemning the Pulwana terror attack and not releasing films in Pakistan besides banning all Pakistani artistes from working in India, National award-winning actress Vidya Balan on Friday said a strong stand needs to be taken this time.

“Though I have always believed that art should be kept away from all boundaries and politics, I think we have to take a stand now. Enough is enough,” Vidya told the media at the launch of her debut radio show “Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho.”

In the worst-ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in 1989, a suicide bomber on February 14 rammed his SUV packed with explosives into a CRPF bus in Pulwama district, killing at least 40 troopers. Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed later claimed responsibility for the attack.

When asked if art should be kept away from politics, the “Tumhari Sulu” actress said, “As an individual I believe that there is no better way to bring people together than arts, be it music, poetry, dance, theatre, cinema or any other art form. But this time I think we should just take a break from this practice and see what can be done for the future. As I said, some tough calls have to be taken at some point.”

A host of Bollywood actors, including Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra, Ajay Devgan and Vicky Kaushal, among others, have condemned the Pulwama attack.

The film “Total Dhamaala” directed by Indra Kumar too did not release in Pakistan for the same reason.



After Pakistani prisoner’s murder, four officials in trouble

The Rajasthan government has suspended two jail officials and acted against two others after a Pakistani prisoner was murdered by Indian inmates in the Jaipur Central Jail, officials said on Thursday.

The government has put Jail Superintendent Sanjay Yadav and Jailor Jagdish Sharma under Awaiting Posting Orders (APO) category and suspended two officials with immediate effect, Inspector General of Police Rupinder Singh said.

Rakesh Mohan Sharma has been appointed the new jail Superintendent.

Singh said that Vaidhyanath Sharma, in charge of cell number 10 where the Pakistani, Shakarulla, was lodged and murdered, has been suspended along with the warder of the cell, Ramswaroop.

Security has also been enhanced in other prisons in Rajasthan where Pakistanis are jailed, an official said.

The Pakistani prisoner was allegedly murdered by group of fellow prisoners on Wednesday after an argument over a TV programme, officials said.

The incident comes in wake of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan over the terror attack in Kashmir which left 40 CRPF troopers dead.

After Pakistani prisoner's murder, four officials in trouble





Pakistani who plotted suicide bombing killed; Police

Security forces on Monday shot dead a Pakistani militant of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) who masterminded the suicide bombing of a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir killing 49 troopers, police sources said.

Kamran, a JeM commander, was killed in a gunfight barely 10 km from the spot in Pulwama district where the suicide bombing took place on February 14.

The second slain militant has been identified as Bilal Ahmed Naik alias Rashid Bhai, a Kashmiri militant, the sources said.

A Major and three soldiers, besides a civilian, were also killed in the gunfight, police said.

The suicide attack on the Srinagar-Jammu highway was claimed by the JeM. It was the worst ever attack on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in 1989.



Indian and Pakistani troops trade fire on Line of Control (LoC)

Indian and Pakistani armies on Monday traded fire on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district.

Defence Ministry sources said the firing exchanges started around 10.30 a.m. after the Pakistanis resorted to unprovoked firing targeting Indian positions.

“Our troops retaliated strongly and effectively after the Pakistan Army used small arms and automatics to target Indian positions in Kerni and some other sectors,” an official said.

“Intermittent firing exchanges were going on between the two sides,” the official said.



ED files money laundering case against Pakistani terror group

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday registered a case against Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), a Pakistani terror group, for their involvement in money laundering through various hawala channels.

A senior ED official said that the case was registered under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on the basis of a case registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in September 2018. 

The financial probe agency will try to establish money trail and to identify proceeds of crime that are suspected to be generated out of the criminal activities from the accused.

On September 26, 2018, the NIA has arrested Mohammad Salman from south Delhi’s Nizamuddin area who was in regular touch with a Dubai-based Pakistani national, who in turn was connected with the deputy chief of FIF, a front-end organisation of proscribed terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

According to the NIA case, Salman was alleged to have received funds from FIF operators through hawala channels.

The NIA in its FIR claimed that the accused and other persons reportedly received money illegally from various people in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates and these funds were utilised to carry out terrorist activities and to create unrest in India.

The agency has recovered and seized cash amounting to Rs 1.56 lakh, Nepali currency worth Rs 43,000, 14 mobiles phones, five pen drives and other incriminating documents.

Besides Salman, the NIA has also arrested FIF hawala conduit Mohammad Salim aka Mama, a resident of central Delhi’s Daryaganj, and Srinagar-based hawala courier Sajjad Abdul Wani.

According to the NIA, FIF is a Lahore-based organisation established by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and acts as a front for the LeT.

It was founded in 1990 by Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.