India asks Pak to address global concerns on terror

India on Saturday asked Pakistan to address global concerns on terrorism by taking “credible” and “irreversible” steps, after an international body, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), slammed the country for failing to do enough to check terror financing and warned of action if it does not comply with the requirements in four months.

The FATF said Pakistan, since June last year, made “a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG (Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering) to strengthen its AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies.

It said: “Pakistan has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including the recent development of its TF (Terrorist Financing) risk assessment addendum; however, it does not demonstrate a proper understanding of Pakistan’s transnational TF risk.”

A statement issued after three-day deliberations of the international watchdog, founded by G-7 (Group of seven industrialized nations) in 1989, Asaid, read: “The FATF expresses concern that not only did Pakistan fail to complete its action plan items with January deadlines, it also failed to complete its action plan items due May 2019.”

“The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan by October 2019 when the last set of action plan items are set to expire. Otherwise, the FATF will decide the next step at that time for insufficient progress.”

The FATF has already placed Pakistan in the ‘Grey’ list (watch list) and runs the risk of being blacklisted, after which the country can be denied aid by international bodies.

In the wake of the FATF warning, India on Saturday said Pakistan should take “credible” and “irreversible” steps to address global concerns related to terrorism.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Pakistan should take all necessary steps to effectively implement the FATF action plan to counter terror financing operations.

“We expect Pakistan to take all necessary steps to effectively implement the FATF Action Plan fully within the remaining time frame i.e. by September 2019 in accordance with its political commitment to the FATF,” Kumar said.

“Pakistan should take credible, verifiable, irreversible and sustainable measures to address global concerns related to terrorism and terrorist financing emanating from any territory under its control,” he added.

Outlining a series of steps that Pakistan needs to take, the FATF said it should continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its “strategic deficiencies”, including by “adequately demonstrating its proper understanding of the TF risks posed by the terrorist groups , and conducting supervision on a risk-sensitive basis”.

It also asked Pakistan to demonstrate that “remedial actions and sanctions are applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, and that these actions have an effect on AML/CFT compliance by financial institutions.a

Pakistan also needs to demonstrate that competent authorities are cooperating and taking action to identify and take enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services (MVTS).

The FATF also asked Pakistan to demonstrate that “law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are identifying and investigating the widest range of TF activity and that TF investigations and prosecutions target designated persons and entities, and persons and entities acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities.”

Pakistan must demonstrate that TF prosecutions result in “effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and enhancing the capacity and support for prosecutors and the judiciary,” the FATF said.

It said Pakistan should also show aceeffective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.”

The 1267 refers to the UN Sanctions Committee, which has listed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and ALashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed as global terrorists.

The FATF said Pakistan also must demonstrate that “facilities and services owned or controlled by designated person are deprived of their resources and the usage of the resources.”



Ram Nath Kovind for simultaneous elections, says terror to end

Appealing for simultaneous parliamentary and Assembly elections, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday outlined the new Modi government’s roadmap, saying it was determined to crush terrorism and Maoism.

Addressing a joint session of Parliament, Kovind also said that India was on its way to becoming the world’s fifth largest economy in terms of GDP and said the government’s aim was to make women equal stakeholders in economic development.

Making a strong case for ‘one nation, one election’ concept, the President said simultaneous elections were the need of the hour to accelerate development.

“With such a system in place, all political parties… will be able to better utilize their energy towards development and public welfare.

“Therefore, I urge all MPs to seriously ponder over this development-oriented proposal of ‘one nation – simultaneous elections’.”

The President’s remarks came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over an all-party meeting here to pitch for simultaneous parliamentary and state Assembly elections — an issue that has divided political parties.

Saying economic prosperity was linked to nation’s security, Kovind said that effective steps had been taken to tackle terrorism and Maoism.

“India has amply demonstrated both her intent and capabilities, first through surgical strikes and then through air strikes after the Pulwama attack at terrorist hideouts across the border. In future too, all possible steps will be taken to ensure our security.

“The area affected by Naxalism is reducing continuously.”

He said that illegal infiltrators posed a major threat to internal security, leading to social imbalance in many parts of the country.

“My government will make the zero tolerance policy against corruption more comprehensive and effective. The mission to eliminate corruption from public life and government services will be implemented with greater zeal.”

He said India was now getting information about economic offenders from 146 countries including Switzerland. “We are now receiving information about all those who have stashed black money abroad.”

India, he said, was among the fastest growing economies in the world today and was set to become the world’s fifth largest economy in terms of GDP.

As part of economic development, the Modi government was committed to make women equal stakeholders.

“Priority will be given to those enterprises where women’s participation in the workforce is more than the prescribed limit.”

The President said it was imperative to eradicate social evils like ‘triple talaq’ and ‘nikah-halala’. ”

Kovind said that after assessing the performance of the Modi government during the first tenure, the people of the country have given “even stronger support for the second term”.

Underlining the need for a strong rural economy, he said that the government will double the income of farmers by 2022.

The President also spoke about the water crisis and the government’s determination to clean up the Ganga river.

“On the lines of river Ganga, the government will also endeavour to clean up other rivers such as Kaveri, Periyar, Narmada, Yamuna, Mahanadi and Godavari.”

He said that India had acquired a new image today “and its relations with other countries have become stronger”.

“The world community supports India’s position on various issues… Today the whole world stands with India on the issue of terrorism.”



Prayagraj, 4 get life term in 2005 Ayodhya terror attack

A special court in Prayagraj on Tuesday convicted four accused in the conspiracy behind the 2005 Ayodhya terror attack case that had caused death of two civilians, and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

The fifth accused, Mohammad Aziz, was acquitted in the verdict which took 14 years to come by.

All the accused are presently lodged in the Naini Central Jail in Prayagraj.

On July 5, 2005, a terrorist had carried out a suicide bombing attempt, breaching the security of the makeshift Ram temple. Five terrorists subsequently attempted to attack the ‘Sita Rasoi’.

All the five terrorists were later gunned down by the Central Reserve Police Force personnel in an hour long encounter. Two civilians Ramesh Pandey and Shanti Devi were also killed in the cross fire.

Seven CRPF personnel were also injured in the encounter, three of them seriously.

Special judge Dinesh Chand said that those involved in the conspiracy behind the 2005 attack were equally guilty as those who actually carried out the attack.

The four accused had provided logistic and material support to the terrorists, who were Jaish-e-Mohammad operatives.



Kashmir’s Changing Terror, After muscling out the Hurriyat hawks

After muscling out the Hurriyat hawks in the bullpen called Kashmir Valley, the Islamic State propelling local youth to turn rogue has formalised a new dangerous strategic imperative, something that has the Indian deep state developing furrowed brows.

As a new government assumes power in India, one of its first priorities will be to fix what is broken. And Kashmir, sure is broken.

However, the security and intelligence apparatus know that there are no quick fix solutions to the proliferation of religious Islam which is beginning to have a strong underpinning in the Valley and predominantly in south Kashmir. The starting point in this tale of deep-seated hatred of ‘Hindu India’ through proselytising is Gani Dar Ghazali, the alleged plotter behind Maulana Shaukat Ahmed’s assassination who is perceived to be the ring master of this new game.

In May, 2015, a Srinagar court granted bail to Abdul Gani Dar alias Ghazali, who was a co-accused in Maulana Showkat assassination case. Court of 3rd Additional Sessions Judge, Y.P. Kotwal granted bail to Dar after prosecution failed to produce evidence that the accused was involved in the conspiracy to kill Maulana Showkat.

On July 14, 2011 the police had presented a 400-page chargesheet against six accused – Nisar Ahmad Khan alias Issac, Javed Ahmad Munshi alias Bil Papa, Abdul Ghani Dar alias Ghazali, Abdul Majid Dar alias Almadani, Riyaz Ahmad Shah and Gulzar Ahmad Khan – in the court of chief judicial magistrate Srinagar.

Now, let us connect the dots: In July, 2017, news emerging from the Khurasan area of Afghanistan was that a Kashmiri boy, Abdullah-Ibn-Aijaz, a 15-year-old militant, was among the al-Qaeda militants killed in the US drone strike. His family claimed that Abdullah Ibn-Aijaz alias Abu Umair, was son of Aijaz Ahanger, a former Kashmiri militant of Harkatul-Mujahideen, who was reported missing by his family in 1995 but had actually crossed the border and lived in Afghanistan.

Abu Umair was also grandson of Abdullah Gazali, a former chief of Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen outfit who resides in a village in Beerwah pocket of central Kashmir. Ghazali, originally Abdul Ghani Dar, was one of the oldest militants when he was captured by government forces in 1992 as the chief of TeM. “I was arrested in 1992 and lodged at Rangret jail,” Dar had told Kashmir Reader, adding that he among others had met a young, noble, sincere and handsome boy Ajaz Ahmad Ahanger, a resident of Nawakadal area of Srinagar, inside the jail.

The dreaded Ajaz Ahanger, codenamed Huzefa Al Pakistani, is the other lynchpin to this tale, for everything appears to be connected to him. Ahanger is the founder of Islamic State JK and an original fighter for the Tehrik ul Mujahideen. Its roots can be traced back to Ahl-i Hadith or Ahl-e-Hadith which had a local chapter in Gow Kadal area in Srinagar. This is a religious movement that emerged in northern India in the mid-nineteenth century from the teachings of Syed Nazeer Husain and Siddiq Hasan Khan.

Adherents of Ahl-i Hadith profess to hold the same views as the early Ahl al Hadith movement. They regard the Quran, ‘sunnah’ and ‘hadith’ as the sole sources of religious authority and oppose everything introduced in Islam after the earliest times. In particular, they reject ‘taqlid’ (following legal precedent) and favour ‘ijtihad’ (independent legal reasoning) based on the scriptures. The movement has been compared to Saudi Wahhabism or a variation on the Wahhabi movement, but the movement itself claims to be distinct from Wahabbism and some believe it possesses some notable distinctions from the mainly Arab Salafis.

This contagion of Wahhabi Salafism is now part of the construct of modern Kashmir as the dark web and TOR has penetrated homes through the internet to indoctrinate young impressionable minds. The major concern of the security agencies is that Kashmiri nationalism is gradually being replaced by Islamic theology and ideology and Sharia.

Pulwama is actually a tipping point in this attritional war being fought since 1989-90 for self-belief has now dawned on the local youth. Adil Ahmad Dar, 20, from the village of Lethipora in Indian Kashmir, rammed a car full of explosives into the convoy and the body count was low because intel agencies now claim that the bomb was poorly fabricated.

Dar had been radicalised after police stopped him and his friends on the way home from school in 2016. “They were stopped by the troops and beaten up and harassed,” his father said, adding that the students were accused of stone-pelting. “Since then, he wanted to join the militants.” This is a very delicate time in Kashmir’s history of bloodletting and violence. It requires the entire heft of the new government to bring the local Kashmiris back into the mainstream.



90,000 YouTube videos violated terror policy; Google

In a bid to crackdown on terror-related content, Google said it has reviewed more than one million suspected terrorist videos on YouTube in the first quarter of 2019 and found 90,000 of such videos violated the company’s terrorism policy.

In a letter sent to the US House Committee on Homeland Security, Google said it spends “hundreds of millions of dollars annually” on reviewing content, CNET reported on Thursday.

The House panel, however, observed that tech companies have failed to provide requested information on fighting terrorist content while Facebook did not respond.

“The fact that some of the largest corporations in the world are unable to tell us what they are specifically doing to stop terrorist and extremist content is not acceptable,” said the panel.

“As we saw in New Zealand, Facebook failed and admitted as much,” it added in a statement.

With these platforms becoming more and more ubiquitous in peoples’ lives, these companies have an obligation to Americans to ensure – and prove – they are doing everything possible to stop the spread of this vile content, the panel argued.

In a separate letter to the US panel, Twitter said putting a dollar amount on efforts to combat terrorism is a “complex request”.

“We have now suspended more than 1.4 million accounts for violations related to the promotion of terrorism between August 1, 2015, and June 30, 2018,” added Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy.





Police Arrested Ex-Army Man for Making Hoax Call About Terror Attack

Bengaluru police on Friday late night arrested a 65 year old ex army man Swamy Sundara Murthy on charges of making hoax call about a terror threat, to Bengaluru police control room on Friday.

The arrested person had been identified as a resident of Munivenkatappa Layout, Avalahalli. He is a retired army person, now working as a truck driver

Karnataka DG-IGP had written to his counterparts of 6 states and an Union Territory –Tami Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Goa, Maharashtra –warning of terror attacks.



India now virtually terror free says PM Narendra Modi

Citing the example of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed 290 people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday claimed that India is now virtually “terror free” barring some pockets of Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing an election rally at Pimpalgaon here, Modi said: “Scores were killed in Sri Lanka when the terrorists struck at the innocent Christians peacefully engaged in prayers in churches.

“What was the situation in India prior to 2014? There were regular terror strikes in Maharashtra, Ayodhya, Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country. The (then) Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government just mourned and kept crying about Pakistan.”

“But after coming to power in 2014, your ‘Chowkidar’ changed that strategy and rammed the terrorists inside their dens and the result is before all to see,” he said, referring to the February 26 Indian Air Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan, after the February 14 Pulwama attack which killed 40 CRPF troopers.

“Terror is now practically erased from the country, barring some pockets in Jammu and Kashmir but even there, our security forces regularly keep killing the terrorists… The terrorists are scared that under ‘Modi’ they cannot escape punishment.”

Modi arrived here on Monday morning to address two campaign rallies — first in Nashik and later at Nandurbar which will go to elections in the fourth phase on April 29.





Man accused over Christchurch terror attack to face 89 charges

The Australian man accused of killing 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques here on March 15 will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges, New Zealand police said on Thursday.

“Police can now confirm the man arrested in relation to the Christchurch terror attacks will face 50 murder and 39 attempted murder charges when he appears in the High Court in Christchurch on Friday 5 April,” the New Zealand Police said in a tweet.

The charges against Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, comes ahead of his second appearance at the High Court in Christchurch on Friday, reports The New Zealand Herald.

He first appeared a day after he carried out the massacre at the city’s Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre which also left over 50 others injured.

The police said that other charges were still under consideration.

Tarrant has turned down his legal counsel and said he wanted to defend himself against the charges.

The High Court received 12 applications from both New Zealand media and foreign organisations to film, take photographs, or make audio recordings at Friday’s hearing.

But Justice Cameron Mander declined the applications.

Justice Mander also ruled the accused will appear in court on Friday via audio-visual link from New Zealand’s only maximum security prison in Paremoremo, Auckland.

Tarrant will not be required to enter pleas to charges he currently faces.





Arun Jaitley slams Congress over ‘Hindu terror’ slogan

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday slammed the Congress, while accusing it of coining the “Hindu terror” slogan and filing cases based on fake evidence to gain political mileage.

Days after an anti-terror court in Haryana acquitted Swami Aseemanand in the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, Jaitley said a decision has to be taken in the end.

“Perhaps because of this, those who considered Hindus as terrorists are now trying to prove their devotion towards religion,” he told the media, adding that the trial in court happened on the basis of evidence collected during the UPA regime.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that during the tenure of the UPA, when there was no evidence, the theory of Hindu terror was floated for the first time in the history of the country to tarnish the Hindu community.

“Three-four similar cases were made but none of them could stand in the court. The Congress floated the fake theory of Hindu terror to gain political mileage and tarnished the entire Hindu community. They should apologise to the community,” he said.

Last week, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court here acquitted all four accused, including Aseemanand, in the February 2007 Samjhauta Express train blast which killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis.

Slamming the Congress, Jaitley said: “The judgment makes it clear that it was a trial of no evidence… So many innocent people died. Who will take responsibility of this? The responsibility lies with the UPA leadership. The society will not forgive them.

“You did not go towards the real culprits. To create a theory of Hindu terror, you caught the wrong people.”

The NIA court had in January 2014 framed charges against Aseemanand, Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary and Lokesh Sharma.




Modi slams opposition for seeking proof on terror strike

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday slammed the opposition for seeking proof about India’s air strike on terror camps in Balakot in Pakistan.

“It has been a month. Pakistan is still busy counting the dead bodies and our rivals here are asking for proof,” Modi told an election rally in Jeypore in Odisha.

“When India acts against terrorists, enters their home and hits them, these people demand proof,” he added.

Modi said a lesson should be taught to those who insult the capabilities of the Indian armed forces and scientists.

“Do you trust the Indian Army?” asked Modi, and the crowd responded with “Yes”.

“But our opposition have no trust,” the Prime Minister quickly added.

“Two days ago, Odisha became a witness to a historic moment that showed the world India’s capability. India is now doing chowkidari even in space,” said Modi, referring to the successful test-firing of an anti-satellite A-SAT missile.

Hitting out at both the Congress and Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Prime Minister said that while Odisha had abundant natural resources, the people were poor in the state, which was the proof of Congress and BJD’s inefficiency in governing the state.

He said Odisha can become strong only when the BJP forms a government both in Odisha and at Centre.

“Can those embroiled in chit fund scam make Odisha strong? Can those who are working with mining mafia and depriving tribals of their rights make Odisha strong? Give us a chance and see the transformation. This chowkidar is always there for your safety and well-being.”

He said out of Rs 6,500 crore accumulated under District Mineral Foundation (DMF) fund, the state government had only spent Rs 1,000 crore for the tribals.

He also took a dig at the Odisha government for refusing to connect with Ayushman Bharat Yojana, depriving the poor people from quality healthcare.

Odisha will vote on April 11, 18, 23 and 29 in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.



UNSC demands stringent action to combat terror funding

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has demanded that all countries should take stringent action to combat the financing of terrorist organisations and to prosecute those funding terrorism.

A resolution passed unanimously on Thursday said that every nation should have laws to prosecute serious criminal offences, the collection of funds or the provision of resources and services to terrorist organisations or individual militants and enforce them.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, whose country holds the Council presidency for the month, introduced the resolution at the session on terrorism funding. He said that to fight terrorism, the international community must tackle evil at its root by cutting off the sources of financing.

Terrorists have learned to adopt new technologies for their use posing a great challenge, he said. But he added, “our determination must be equally great”.

For this, he said, the UN’s Office of Counter-Terrorism (CTED) must develop its capacity to combat terrorist financing and work with other organisations.

India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin criticised the lax implementation of the Council resolutions and UN measures against terrorism financing. He said that no effective actions have been taken against those not complying with sanctions.

An expert on countering money-laundering and terrorism financing, Mercy Buku, said that the proliferation of mobile phone-based money transfer services and digital payment systems were vulnerable to exploitation by criminals because of the speed and convenience.

Governments should enact and enforce regulations to ensure that new technologies are not used to finance terrorism, she said via video-teleconference from Nairobi.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) President Marshall Billingslea told the Council that the risks of terrorism financing extend beyond the banking and financial sectors and governments should look for all the ways they may become vulnerable to terrorism financing.

Billingslea, who is also a US assistant treasury secretary, drew attention to factors like corruption, weak governance, and regional instability that create environments conducive to terrorist financing.

FATF, which monitors and takes action against money laundering and terrorist financing, has put Pakistan on a “grey list” of countries that fail to adequately act against financing terrorists.

A delegation from the FATF’s Asia Pacific Group was in that country this week for meetings with officials and institutions. According to the Pakistan-based Geo TV, the delegation said that the country had not taken adequate action against eight major proscribed organisations.

At the Council, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi pleaded that it was difficult to implement the Task Force recommendations because her country’s economy was largely cash-based. She asserted that action was being taken to ensure that non-profit organisations did not divert funds to terrorist group.

Regardless of the context, she could not resist taking a pot shot at India, saying that “foreign occupation” of Jammu and Kashmir is “state terrorism”.



India won’t play on backfoot against terror says Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitly on Friday attacked Congress President Rahul Gandhi over his chief advisor Sam Pitroda’s remarks on the Pulwama attack and said if the ‘guru’ (teacher) has such thinking, then one can imagine how his student would be.

He said the fight against terror cannot be won by playing on the backfoot and India’s security doctrine had evolved to a point where it does not just defend itself, but can also go to the origin of terror and make a pre-emptive strike.

Jaitley’s remarks came in response to Pitroda’s comments that incidents like the February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing “happen all the time” and that the UPA government also could have sent planes to Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but “that is not the right approach”.

“Agar guru aisa ho aur uske vichar aise ho, to shishya kitna nikamma niklega (If the teacher has such views, then how worthless the student would be),” the Finance Minister said at a press conference.

“It is unfortunate for India that somebody who is an ideologue of the Congress has said so. I think such people have no connect with India’s security requirement, the sentiment of India and Indian forces, and the pain and loss that we have suffered in last three decades due to terrorism,” he said.



Opposition habitat of terror apologists;  Narendra Modi 

In a sharp attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday accused the opposition of insulting defence forces and being the “natural habitat of terror apologists and questioners” of the country’s armed forces.

His statement came in response to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s chief advisor Sam Pitroda’s remarks referring to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that such incidents “happen all the time” and that the UPA government also could have send planes across the border after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but “that is not the right approach” to deal with the world.

“Loyal courtier of Congress’ royal dynasty admits what the nation already knew — Congress was unwilling to respond to forces of terror. This is a New India — we will answer terrorists in a language they understand and with interest,” Modi said in a tweet.

“The most trusted advisor and guide of the Congress President has kick-started the Pakistan National Day celebrations on behalf of the Congress, ironically by demeaning India’s armed forces. Shame!” he added.

On Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav’s statement that the Pulwama attack was a conspiracy to win votes and would be investigated after a new government takes over, Modi said: “This reprehensible statement by a senior leader like Ram Gopal ji insults all those who have given their lives in protecting Kashmir. It humiliates the families of our martyrs.

“Opposition is the natural habitat of terror apologists and questioners of our armed forces.”

He accused the opposition of insulting the forces time and again.

Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Congress of attempting to “separate terror from Pakistan”.

“Shame on Congress. Top Congress leader and Rahul Gandhi’s chief advisor Sam Pitroda, on one hand, handing out clean chit to Pakistan, while on the other blames Modi government and India for the air strikes. Astonishing attempt by the Congress to separate terror from Pakistan,” Patra said in a tweet.




Congress separating terror from Pakistan says BJP

The BJP on Friday accused the Congress of attempting to “separate terror from Pakistan” and said that while on one hand it blamed the Narendra Modi government for the air strikes in Pakistan, on the other, it was handing out a clean chit to Islamabad.

“Shame on Congress. Top Congress leader and Rahul Gandhi’s chief advisor Sam Pitroda, on one hand, handing out clean chit to Pakistan, while on the other blames Modi government and India for the air strikes. Astonishing attempt by the Congress to separate terror from Pakistan,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted.

Earlier, referring to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, Pitroda had said that such incidents “happen all the time” and that the United Progressive Alliance government could have also reacted by sending planes across the border after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but “that is not the right approach” to deal with the world.

He said one can’t jump on the entire nation (Pakistan) if a few terrorists “come and do something” in India, and that it was naive to blame every citizen of that nation because of some people.



2008 Mumbai Attacks One Of The “Most Notorious” Terrorist Attacks; China

China has described as “one of the most notorious terror attacks” the 2008 Mumbai killings for which Pakistan was blamed.

The statement was made in a white paper called “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang” released by the Chinese government on Monday.

In the chapter “International Counter-terrorism Exchanges and Cooperation”, the white paper bracketed the Mumbai attack with the 2005 London bombings that killed 52 people, the Paris 2015 attack which left 132 dead and the 2017 Sinai mosque attack that killed 235 people.

“China opposes all forms of terrorism and extremism, and opposes double standards on fighting terrorism. It opposes linking terrorism and extremism with specific countries, ethnic groups or religions,” the white paper said.

It said that “as a responsible member of the international community”, China also supported the UN in “playing a leading and coordinating role in international cooperation against terrorism”.

The white paper came on the day when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi arrived in Beijing on a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi under the first China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

The Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 was carried out at multiple locations within a small geographical area by members of the Pakistan-based terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.




China and Pakistan to discuss Pulwama terror attack fallout

The recent India-Pakistan tensions after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF troopers, will figure in the talks between the Chinese and Pakistani Foreign Ministers which will begin on Tuesday.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi arrived in Beijing earlier on Monday on a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi under the first China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

The meet comes at a time when India’s ties with China and Pakistan, who are close allies, have come under strain after the suicide attack claimed by the Pakistan-based terror outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) whose chief Masood Azhar, Beijing once again refused to declare as an international terrorist.

Though the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday confirmed that India-Pakistan tensions will be discussed during the meet, it said that it was not aware if the listing of Azhar as an international terrorist will figure in the talks.

“On March 19 in Beijing, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will have the first China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister to discuss the international and regional issues of mutual concern,” Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said here.

“As you said, the issues causing regional tensions will be discussed. As a neighbour, China would like to see the easing of tensions between the two countries and would like to see the two nations engage in dialogue for peace and stability in the region,” Geng said when asked if the aftermath of the Pulwama attack will be discussed.

Geng, meanwhile, welcomed India-Pakistan talks on the Kartarpur corridor which will enable pilgrims from India to travel to the Sikh shrine inside Pakistan through a dedicated corridor.

“India and Pakistan are neighbours and they will always live with each other. A harmonious relation serves the fundamental interests of both and the common aspirations of the international community. We hope that two sides can continue to show goodwill, meet each other halfway, resolve differences through dialogue and improve relations and uphold regional peace and stability.”

Asked if the Azhar issue will figure in the talks, Geng said: “Well, I cannot prejudge the topics that are going to be discussed in the meeting. But as I said, they will discuss the issues of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual concern.

“So, as for the listing issue, I believe you are well aware of China’s position so I will repeat here. China will continue to deal with this issue in a responsible and constructive manner and will maintain close communication with all parties, including India and Pakistan.”

On March 13, China for the fourth time put a technical hold on the proposal by the UK, US, and France to the UN to ban Azhar who is responsible for deadly terror attacks in India.

Following the Pulwama attack, the Indian Air Force pounded the JeM’s hideout at Balakot, Pakistan, after which Islamabad scrambled its fighters jets that resulted in a dogfight with Indian warplanes.

Each side downed one jet of the other side. An Indian pilot was captured by Pakistan but Islamabad released him as a “peace gesture”.



Christchurch terror attack ‘despicable’; Rahul Gandhi 

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday termed the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city “a despicable act of terrorism”.

Expressing condolences to the families of the victims, he said the terror attack must be condemned unequivocally.

“The world stands in need of compassion & understanding. Not bigotry & hate filled extremism. My condolences to the families of the victims. My prayers go out to those who were injured,” he said in a tweet.

At least 49 people were killed when gunmen said to be whites opened indiscriminate fire at two mosques in Christchurch city on Friday in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said was a terror attack.



ED seeks approval to question terror funding accused

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday moved a Delhi court seeking permission to question Altaf Ahmad Shah and another person in judicial custody in connection with the terror funding case.

Altaf Ahmad Shah is the son-in-law of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The other person is Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali.

The court will hear the plea on March 19.

In January 2018, the National Investigation Agency charge sheeted Ahmad Shah and Watali along with Pakistan-based terrorist leaders Hafiz Saeed, Syed Salahuddin, seven Kashmiri separatist leaders and others in a case of terror funding in the Kashmir Valley.

They were charge sheeted under stringent anti-terror laws alleging that they hatched a conspiracy with Saeed and Salahuddin to wage war against India for the secession of Jammu and Kashmir.

The separatists, who were arrested on July 24, 2017, are Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah.



Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba warns of seaborne terror strikes

Observing that India is facing state-sponsored terrorism, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Tuesday warned about terrorists being trained to carry out attacks even via sea route.

Addressing the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue, Admiral Lanba without taking names hit out at Pakistan for abetting terrorists, who carried out the February 14 Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 CRPF troopers.

“India, however, faces a far more serious version of terrorism — state-sponsored terrorism. You have all witnessed the horrific scale of the extremist attack in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir just three weeks ago,” he said.

“This violence was perpetrated by extremists aided and abetted by a state, which seeks to destabilise India. We also have reports of terrorists being trained to carry out attacks with varying modus operandi, including through the medium of the sea,” said Lanba.

“We have seen how quickly terrorist groups evolve across the globe and this particular ‘brand’ of terror may well become a global problem in the near future.

“The Indian security establishment is continuously working to address this menace. It is imperative that the global community acts to contain and eliminate terrorism, in all its forms,” he added.




Has to be war against terror, not against a country; John Abraham

Actor John Abraham on Monday said action needs to be taken against terrorism instead of waging a war against a country or religion.

At the trailer launch of his upcoming film titled “RAW (Romeo Akbar Walter)”, based on the real life story of a spy, the actor was asked about the escalating tension between India and Pakistan post the February 14 Pulwama attack.

John said: “There has to be a war against terror (ism) and not against a country or any religion. I am very clear with my outlook on that.

“I am not one of those actors who will say that ‘People will like this, so let’s do it’. I say things as it is. These days, polarization is happening and that is dangerous.”

Directed by Robbie Grewal, “RAW (Romeo Akbar Walter)” is slated to release on April 5.

Asked if the plan to release the film at a time when patriotism is on a new high would favour the box office business of the film, John said: “We do not want to sound like opportunists in this current situation because we had decided to release the film around this time almost a year ago.

“Back then, the situation was certainly not the same. However, keeping the present in mind, I think in the current ecosystem, it resonates with what is happening in the country.”

John plays the protagonist in the film, which also features Jackie Shroff, Mouni Roy, Sikander Kher, Raghubir Yadav in pivotal roles.




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.