Pak-based terrorists fought in Kashmir, JeM operates in India: Imran

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has acknowledged that some terrorists in Pakistan had fought in Kashmir while asserting that he had the army’s support for disarming them and for overtures to India.

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace in Washington on Tuesday, he tried to make the case that the army and the security forces were not patronising the terrorist groups and backed the crackdown, while letting slip about their role in Kashmir.

He also admitted that the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed was operating in India.

He said that because some of the terrorists were trained and had experience of fighting in Kashmir the police can’t handle them and the army’s help is required.

Khan said: “It was said normally that the security forces patronised the groups. We would not be disarming if the security forces were not standing behind us. You cannot disarm because the police is incapable of disarming these groups. They are trained, these people have experience of fighting in Afghanistan, some in Kashmir. The police cannot go after them, so it is the army that is helping us disarm all militant groups in our country.”

In a country where the military has ruled directly or from behind the scenes ensuring its hardline policies were followed and toppling elected governments there is skepticism about how far a civilian government can set the agenda.

Khan tried to dispel this notion where his elected civilian government was concerned, even in regard to India, and assert that he had the military’s backing.

But he stopped short of claiming that the military establishment was under civilian control as it should be in a democracy.

“Whatever our policies from the day we arrived, on peace with India, they were behind (me), when I decided to release the Indian pilot who had been shot down in Pakistan, the army was right behind me,” Khan said. “So today as we speak, you know, there is no difference between the policies of the Pakistan security forces or Pakistan’s democratic government”.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan when his Mig-21 was shot down along the Kashmir border in the days after the Phulwama attack in February and returned to India.

He said that even before the Phulwama terrorist attack in which a convoy of Indian security forces were attacked by a car bomb, Pakistan had decided to disarm “all militant groups” and all the political parties had backed it.

“But because this group claimed responsibility, which was in India as well — Jaish-e-Mohammed was operating in India — Pakistan suddenly came in the limelight,” he said.

“Even before this had happened, we had already decided that we will disarm all militant groups in Pakistan. And it is Pakistan’s interest, I repeat it is in our interest, because the country has had enough of militant groups,” he added.

However, Khan tried to brush off the role of Pakistan-based terror groups in the Phulwama incident claiming that it was an indigenous attack by a “Kashmiri boy radicalised by the brutality of the security forces”.

Khan admitted that whenever there was progress in improving ties between India and Pakistan it was met by some incident that caused a reversal. But he did not say who was behind the incidents that setback peace.

He said, “Unfortunately because of one issue of Kashmir whenever we have tried, whenever our relationship has started to move in the right direction with India, some incident happens — and that is all related to Kashmir — we go back to square one.”

Khan claimed that two of the three former Foreign Ministers who had joined his party “told me that actually, they came pretty close in the time of General (Pervez) Musharraf and when (Atal Behari) Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India, apparently they came pretty close, there was some sort of convergence on a phased movement on Kashmir, on various steps to be taken and over a period of time some sort of a referendum”.

He did not say who they were, but one of the former foreign ministers with him is Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who holds the portfolio now, and another is Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, who was in office when Vajpayee was Prime Minister.

“Anyway, I don’t want to say anything right now because it is a delicate issue, but there is a solution and the solution has to be with the will of the people of Kashmir”, he added.



Wrong to say we shelter terrorists, says China on Friday

China on Friday said it was wrong to accuse it of sheltering terrorists because it put a technical hold on the resolution to blacklist Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group chief Masood Azhar as its decision was in line with the rules of an anti-terrorism panel at the UN.

China has repeatedly blocked resolutions moved by India, the US, the UK and France at the UN to declare Azhar an international terrorist, who is wanted for plotting deadly attacks in India.

Last month, India lamented and the US slammed the latest and fourth technical hold by China on the resolution to ban Azhar at the 1267 UN committee. His outfit JeM claimed responsibility for killing 40 Indian security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir last month.

“If certain country accuses China of sheltering (terrorists) by putting such technical hold, does that mean that all countries that put hold are sheltering terrorists? If this makes sense, shall we say that the country that puts the most holds is the biggest protectors of terrorists?” asked Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang here.

He was responding to a question about Beijing being accused of shielding terrorists.

“At the UN Security Council sanctions committee, the practice of putting technical holds is in line with the stipulations of the committee. It is not China that has put the most hold at the committee,” Geng said.

“China put a technical hold with a purpose to conduct a comprehensive and in-depth assessment so as to give enough time and space to dialogue and consultation between the parties.

“China has stayed in close communication with all parties to seek a settlement through the dialogue. We hope all the members of the Security Council will work towards that goal,” the spokesperson added.

When asked about the time sought by Beijing to explain the rationale behind the latest technical hold was running out, Geng said: “China has stayed in close communication with all parties on the issue listing. Like we said many times, we will act in a responsible and constructive manner to participate in discussions at the committee.”

“We also hope to work with various parties as to seek a proper settlement of the issue.

“And it is improper for me to reveal to you the detailed discussions,” the spokesperson added.

The latest technical hold on the resolution by Beijing has prompted the US to turn directly to the UN Security Council and unilaterally circulate a draft of such a request to declare Azhar an international terrorist.

A livid Beijing on Thursday warned the US over the move, asking to act cautiously as its actions could complicate the matters.

Beijing also accused Washington of “bypassing” the UN 1267 Committee and eroding its authority.



12,995 ‘terrorists’ arrested in China’s Xinjiang since 2014

China on Monday said it has arrested 12,995 terrorists since 2014 in the troubled region of Xinjiang, where, according to human rights organisations around a million Muslims are being held in internment camps.

China’s State Council published a white paper titled “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang”, in which it says 1,588 violent and terrorist gangs have been disbanded and 2,052 explosive devices seized in the last five years.

Some 30,645 people have been punished for 4,858 illegal religious activities and 345,229 copies of illegal religious materials confiscated, Efe news quoted the document as saying.

According to the white paper, “incomplete statistics show from 1990 to the end of 2016, separatist, terrorist and extremist forces launched thousands of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, killing large numbers of innocent people and hundreds of police officers, and causing immeasurable damage to property”.

In the document, Beijing defended the actions it is taking “in accordance with the law” against “all sorts of violent and terrorist activities that violate human rights, endanger public security, undermine ethnic unity and split the country”.

However, it asserted the government “fully respects and safeguards civil rights, including freedom of religious belief” and its actions were aimed at “containing extremism”.

“It is not Islam. These inhuman, anti-social and barbaric acts have brought enormous suffering to all ethnic groups in Xinjiang,” it said.

China also accuses the “East Turkistan” forces, both inside and outside the country, of stepping up collaboration since the 1990s to establish “East Turkistan” through “jihad”.

“It is indisputable that Xinjiang is an inseparable part of the Chinese territory. Xinjiang ethnic cultures are an inseparable part of the Chinese civilisation,” said the white paper, adding Uyghurs, the largest ethnic group of the region, came into being in the long process of migration and ethnic integration and “are not descendants of the Turks”.

According to human rights groups, close to one million ethnic Uyghurs are being held in Xinjiang re-education camps, which the government calls vocational training programmes aimed at eradicating terrorism and religious extremism.





India, Saudi Arabia to work for credible steps against terrorists

India and Saudi Arabia on Monday agreed to take “irreversible, verifiable and credible” steps against all terrorists without any discrimination, in an apparent message to Pakistan, which has been linked by New Delhi with last month’s Pulwama terror attack.

The development came during the visit of Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir here, as a follow up of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s India visit last month.

Al Jubeir met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in his over four-hour working visit.

He conveyed the greetings of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince to Prime Minister Modi.

Modi thanked the Saudi Arabian leadership for expressing solidarity with India’s fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The Saudi minister also briefed the Prime Minister on the follow up of the outcomes of the historical visit of the Crown Prince.

Both the countries have taken significant steps to boost trade and investment and to achieve $100 billion investment from Saudi Arabia into India, which was announced during the visit of the Crown Prince.

During his meeting with Sushma Swaraj, the third between the two leaders in about a fortnight, Al Jubeir took note of the “significant developments” after the visit of the Crown Prince.

She reiterated that “immediate irreversible and verifiable action” was essential to to dismantle terror infrastructure.

“It was agreed that Saudi Arabia and India should work together for irreversible, verifiable and credible steps against all terrorists without any discrimination,” an official release said.

India and Saudi Arabia have close and multifaceted relations underpinned by historic, cultural, religious and economic linkages which have been elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

The two countries have agreed to set up the Strategic Partnership Council at the earliest.

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner and second largest supplier crude oil to the country.



We hit terrorists in their backyard after Pulwama; Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India hit terrorists in their backyard after the Pulwama terror attack and accused the previous Congress-led UPA government of lacking courage to take action against Pakistan-based terror groups after 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in 2008.

Addressing a rally here, Modi said what his government did post-Pulwama has not been done in decades.

“We hit terrorists in their houses. The terrorists and their masters were not expecting this kind of response. The air strikes were done at 3.30 am and Paksitan lost its sleep. They tweeted at 5 a.m. and started saying that Modi has hit us,” he said.

Recalling the surgical strike of 2016 in the wake of terror attack at Uri, he said terror masterminds were accustomed to thinking that India would do nothing, but his government has “taught them a lesson”.

He alleged that perception about inaction by India was due to the government that ruled India before 2014.

Modi said that there was need of action after the Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people as the world community was with India.

“But it needs courage. There were proofs of involvement of terror masterminds based in Pakistan. But what did India do?” he asked.

Modi said the forces were ready for action but “Delhi was cold”. He said terror cannot be fought by constraining hands of defence force.

Referring to the terror incidents after the Mumbai attack, Modi said these were also linked to Pakistan but the “remote-controlled” government showed inaction.

“What did the then government do? They did not change the policy, but (changed) only home ministers. If they had shown the courage, given reply to terrorists in their language, terrorism would not have become such a big problem (for the country),” he said.




Centre, Telangana behaving like ‘economic terrorists’; Andhra CM

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday accused the Centre and the Telangana governments of behaving like “economic terrorists”.

He said both governments were targeting the opponents, including those from the corporate sector, by threatening them or by fabricating false cases against them.

Addressing a news conference here, he said both the Narendra Modi-led government and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government were creating an atmosphere of fear by targeting the opponents through raids or by causing mental agony to them.

Naidu also came down heavily on the Centre for threatening to file cases against “The Hindu” and N. Ram, Chairman of the publishing group, under the Official Secrets Act. He termed this as a serious threat to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief referred to the raid conducted by the Telangana Police on an information technology firm providing services to the party. He alleged that the TRS government took away the data of his party and gave it to the YSR Congress to help it in the coming elections.

Naidu said 160 people who were working with the company ran away from Hyderabad as the TRS government created fear through the raid.

“They also filed a false case against us that government data was stolen. In what way are you concerned with this? Do you have so much love for Andhra Pradesh,” he asked.

The Chief Minister said Andhra Pradesh would take all steps, including legal recourse, to protect its sovereign rights.

He alleged that the TRS, BJP and YSR Congress had colluded to create chaos in Andhra Pradesh which was on the path of development and prosperity thanks to the efforts of his government during the last five years. He also claimed that they were trying to get the names of eligible voters deleted from the electoral rolls.

Stating that the Central and the Telangana governments forced many opponents, including some industrialists, to surrender before them, he said there was no question of compromising with them.

“They are threatening me of using the CBI, the ED and other agencies, but they can’t do anything. I have done nothing wrong in my 40-year-long political career and I will continue to fight,” Naidu said.



J&K attack worst mistake by terrorists, those responsible will pay; Modi

A day after 45 CRPF troopers were killed in a gruesome terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the terrorists have committed their “biggest mistake” and those responsible have to pay.

“We have given complete freedom to the security forces of the country. We have full faith in their bravery and valour,” Modi said while addressing a programme to flag-off the first indigenous Train 18, renamed as Vande Bharat Express at the New Delhi Railway Station.

Addressing the terror groups directly, the Prime Minister said: “Even those who are giving them shelters are responsible and have committed their worst mistake. They have to pay a very big price.”

Modi also assured the nation that “those powers who are behind the attack will be punished for their deeds”.

Hitting out at Pakistan, without naming it, “Our neighbouring country has already been sidelined by the international community; despite that if it feels it can create problem for India by creating instability, its their mistake.”

His remarks came minutes after the Cabinet Committee on Security that decided to withdraw the “Most Favoured Nation” status given to Pakistan.

He then inspected the engine-less Train 18 that has been renamed Vande Bharat Express and flagged it off at 11.20 a.m.

Train 18, the country’s first engine-less train manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, left from New Delhi railway station at 10 a.m. for Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Modi.

J&K attack worst mistake by terrorists, those responsible will pay: Modi



Short film questions VIP treatment given to terrorists in jail

A short film, “Kaun Saab”, backed by a former commando of the National Security Guard (NSG), raises a question on how dreadful criminals and terrorists are given VIP treatment in jail.

Lucky Bisht, the ex-commando, has produced the short film along with Kashwi Productions. A satire, the film brings several challenges being combated by police personnel and highlights their plight.

Explaining the film’s title, Bisht told IANS: “The film features a back-to-back fleet of cars running on roads which stuns people around. Out of inquisitiveness, they ask if any VIP is coming in their city. They exchange their query saying ‘Kaun saab’ (Who is it?) and get to know that it is a terrorist who is going to jail, escorted by a huge police convoy. Hence, the name ‘Kaun Saab’.”

The film is an attempt to draw the government’s attention towards challenges being faced by police personnel in police stations as a big amount is being spent on insignificant things but basic facilities have still a long way to go, added Bisht.

The story deals with the problems of governance and lack of modern infrastructure at police stations, among many issues.

“We stand dedicated for a cause and hence we are trying to bring a difference to the short film industry by bringing up this burning issue,” he added.

“Kaun Saab” is directed by Mukul Sharma, who has earlier written and acted in a short film “Soul in Sole”.

According to Sharma, directing a short film comes with several challenges and a lot of preparation.

“It requires hard work, dedication and a whole set of skilled crew members to get the right mood and the perfect casting,” he said, adding that the result of the effort behind “Kaun Saab” is “humorous and powerful performances from the very talented actors”.

The film cast includes Sanjay Tripathi, Tarun Kapur and Sahil Patel.

Bisht, after serving the Indian Army, aims at producing films with a strong message. He has been working to bring out a biopic on the legendary tale of Gabbar Singh Negi, a World War I hero who sacrificed his life at the age of 19 in 1915.

“Negi, a resident of Garhwal (Tehri district), lost his life while fighting in World War I. He stunned Britishers with his act of bravery, valour and fearlessness and hence was awarded the Victoria Cross honour posthumously. It was the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. He was the youngest soldier (19) from Garhwal Rifles to receive this highest British honour,” Bisht said.