Pakistan News

ISLAMABAD: A 16-member delegation of Pakistan Rangers, headed by Rangers (Pun­jab) Director General Maj Gen Umar Farooq Barki, arrived in New Delhi Wednesday for routine annual talks with Border Security Force (BSF) officials.

The delegation comprises officials from Pakistan Rangers (Punjab and Sindh), Ministry of Interior, Survey of Pakistan and the Anti-Narcotics Force.

BSF Director-General Devendra Kumar Pathak will represent India at the meeting, which will last for four days (Sept 9-12).

A Rangers spokesman told DawnNews that the Rangers-BSF talks are held alternatively in India and Pakistan.

The spokesman said both border guarding forces will discuss professional matters in relation to border management.

In order to avoid losses of innocent civilian lives and property, the delegation will discuss issues pertaining to ceasefire violations, smuggling and the safe return of inadvertent border crossers, the spokesman said.

Independent observers rate this interaction highly significant against the backdrop of the recent heavy exchange of artillery fire.

RAWALPINDI: General Lloyd J. Austin Commander United States Central Command (Centcom) on Wednesday called on Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, according to a tweet by Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations Major General Asim Bajwa.

ISLAMABAD: Top Commanders of Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) are scheduled to meet in New Delhi from September 9 to 13, sources in Pakistan's paramilitary force told DawnNews.

"As per border ground rules 1961, a routine, biannual meeting of Inspector General BSF and Director General Pakistan Rangers is scheduled to take place in New Delhi starting September 9, 2015," a spokesman for Pakistan Rangers told DawnNews.

Pakistan would take up the matter of 'unprovoked' Indian firing along the Line of Control (Loc) and Working Boundary, and the killing of its civilians, the spokesman said.

He added that matters related to smuggling and other border issues are also likely to be discussed in the meeting.

A meeting was earlier held between representatives of Rangers and BSF at Wagah border to coordinate modalities of the September meeting and to finalise the meeting's agenda, the Rangers spokesman said.

The meeting will follow days of bickering between India and Pakistan, as the Pakistani government on Saturday decided to cancel the planned meeting of national security advisers with India, citing New Delhi’s refusal to allow an expanded agenda and a meeting with Kashmiri leaders.

The Indian external affairs ministry immediately termed the decision “unfortunate” and tried to wash its hands of the controversy that led to the cancellation of the meeting by saying that it “did not set any preconditions".

Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz was to have travelled to the Indian capital on Sunday for the Aug 24 meeting with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.

Besides a discussion on terrorism, Pakistan had sought inclusion of two additional points in the agenda -- a review of the progress on decisions taken in Ufa regarding release of fishermen, facilitating religious tourism and restoring peace along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary; and exploration of the modalities for discussions on other outstanding issues, including Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen.

Rejecting Indian pressure for cancelling Mr Aziz’s planned the meeting with Hurriyat leaders, the Foreign Office reiterated that it could not change the longstanding practice of holding meetings with the Kashmiri leadership during visits of Pakistani leaders to India.

India-Pakistan relations are at their lowest point in over a decade, with the two regularly trading fire over the disputed de facto border of Kashmir in recent months.

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz on Saturday said that he was saddened that the Indo-Pak security adviser level talks had been virtually cancelled and added he is 'still willing to visit New Delhi without preconditions'.

Talks between India and Pakistan, scheduled for August 23 and 24, fell into trouble as both nations reached a deadlock over Pakistan's insistence to ignore Indian ‘advice’ against holding a meeting with Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi on August 23.

Addressing a press conference in the federal capital city, Sartaj Aziz said that India had imposed new conditions on the security adviser level talks and added that, "We haven’t formally canceled the talks. We will see what comes out of the situation. We are still ready to hold the talks. But without any preconditions."

Talking about the 'virtual cancellation of talks from the Indian side' Aziz said, "India does not want the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan is concerned about the detention and arrests of Hurriyat leaders which is a violation of fundamental human rights."

Aziz also urged the international community to ponder over India’s attitude and decision to cancel the talks "on such flimsy grounds, especially when the main purpose of the meeting was to reduce tensions on the Line of Control and restore trust by addressing each other’s concerns regarding terrorist activities sitting across the table rather than through the media."

Responding to a question he said, "Pakistan wishes to resolve all issues with India on the negotiating table, but no serious talks with India are possible without discussion on the core issue of Kashmir."

"We had agreed to discuss all outstanding issues and Kashmir is definitely a part of it."

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security said that, "Indian claims that Pakistan was trying to distort the agenda agreed at Ufa and was imposing 'new conditions' for the talks could not be farther from the truth."

Aziz said that the three-point agenda proposed by Pakistan was fully in line with the Ufa statement.

Giving details of Pakistan's proposals he said, "The first point called for discussion on all issues related to terrorism."

"The second point calls for reviewing progress on actual decisions made at Ufa which included prompt release of fishermen, better arrangements for religious tourism, and activation of mechanisms for restoring peace across the LoC and the Working Boundary," he added.

"The third point was intended to explore the modalities for discussions on all other outstanding issues including Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen," Aziz said.

The most important sentence of the Ufa agreement according to Aziz was, “India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues”.

He said that India seems reluctant to recognise that the most important outstanding issue between the two countries is the future of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the UN resolutions.

Sartaj Aziz said that India had introduced a new condition, which was never mentioned in the Ufa agreement, "through its 'advice' that Pakistan should not meet Hurriyat leaders, thus assuming the right to determine the guest list for the High Commissioner’s reception."

Aziz dispelled ‘India’s wishful narrative’ according to which ‘only Pakistan’s military establishment is pushing the agenda towards the Kashmir issue’ saying that the Indian foreign policy establishment has failed to realise that the entire Pakistani nation stands united and fully committed to provide political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris struggling for their right of self-determination.

He claimed that India has been conducting a part of its diplomacy through its media which had been saying that Pakistan was looking for an exit due to apprehensions over the dossier which India's ex-spymaster and incumbent national security adviser Ajit Doval has prepared for presentation during the talks.

Aziz countered the Indian media's claim by saying, "In fact I will also be carrying three dossiers on RAW’s involvement in promoting terrorism in Pakistan. If I do not get this opportunity on 24 August, I hope I will get a chance to hand them over to Mr Doval in New York next month, if he accompanies Prime Minister Modi for the UN General Assembly."

He added that, "After handing over these dossiers to Mr. Doval, I can then also share them with the UN Secretary General."

Sartaj Aziz concluded his speech urging Indian Premier Modi to ponder over the most important part of the Ufa Statement (that India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues) and think of ways and means of initiating serious dialogue on these outstanding issues.

India will talk on all outstanding issues when terror and violence end: Swaraj

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj admitted that though the 'resolution of all outstanding issues' was preamble to the Ufa agreement, India had made it clear on August 18 that the scheduled meeting between national security advisers will only discuss issues related to terrorism.

"No other topic will come under discussion," she said.

The Indian foreign minister said that outstanding issues including Kashmir are part of the composite dialogue between the two countries but the composite dialogue has not yet resumed.

Referring to the invitation, extended to Hurriyat leaders from India-held Kashmir for a reception hosted by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, Swaraj said India has always maintained that there will be no third-party in Indo-Pak talks. "Hurriyat cannot be a party," she added.

The Indian foreign minister said that the incumbent ruling government had come under immense internal pressure after repeated attacks and exchanges of fire between Indo-Pak troops along the Line of Control and Working Boundary but the government had still decided to go ahead with the talks.

"Terror and talks not possible but talks on terror desirable," she added.

Swaraj said that Sartaj Aziz was more than welcome to visit New Delhi as long as no other issue apart from terrorism is discussed and no third party is included in the talks between the two countries.

PESHAWAR: The Chinese government has agreed to a proposal by the Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, initiating the collaboration between Pakistan and China in space technology as part of the Karamay declaration under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

At the Pakistan-China forum meeting held in Karamay-Xinjiang last week, Ahsan Iqbal, proposed space technology collaboration between China and Pakistan, an official of the forum told APP.

His proposal was approved and made a part of the Karamay-Xinjiang Declaration. The declaration was later approved unanimously after the two-day meeting.

At the concluding session, Ahsan Iqbal said that bilateral collaboration on space technology would take Pakistan-China relations to new heights. He stressed upon a joint launch of space missions which would consist of astronauts from both countries.

He said “CPEC will increase connectivity between the two friendly countries. It will shape up the future destiny of both the nations through communication linkages”.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Sun Weidong, was also a part of the CPEC forum. He labelled the meetings as successful in increasing understanding among the related stakeholders for implementing CPEC. He also pointed out the field of energy and communication as a major part of the CPEC.

Over 300 officials, businesspersons and public figures were a part of the two-day forum.

Another decision made at the forum was to make these meetings a permanent platform that will meet every year to examine the project and present collaboration on broader aspects. The forum will also be used to ensure the project's true objective of promoting Pakistan-China relations.

QUETTA: An anti-corruption court (ACC) on Monday convicted four accused, including two National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) officers for issuing Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) to foreign nationals in Balochistan.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had initiated their investigation against the accused in 2013. The accused had issued hundreds of CNICs to foreign nationals in Balochistan.

FIA had registered cases under Article 420, 486 and 471 against the accused, who were on bail for the last two years.

ACC’s presiding judge, Munir Ahmed Marri, convicted the two NADRA officials, Syed Asad Kazmi and Danish Ali and two other individuals collectively for 31 years of rigorous imprisonment.

The accused have also been fined according to the offenses committed.

Recently, NADRA has blocked thousands of unverified CNICs in Balochistan.

KARACHI: In a startling development, ARY Digital Network Founder and Chief Executive Officer Salman Iqbal announced the media group has taken over the BOL media network.

According to BOL's website, it is a complete media enterprise consisting of platforms including television, digital media, print media, cinemas & movies, theater and radio.

Speaking today at a ceremony arranged at the BOL TV office, Iqbal said the upcoming channel will start its broadcast in three weeks.

The ARY CEO further said that clearing the pending salaries and unpaid dues of BOL employees would be a key priority. He also vowed to keep the remuneration packages offered to BOL employees as promised.

“The driving force behind this decision was our mission to try and ease the difficulties faced by media persons,” said Iqbal.

He said, “I have created Pakistan’s largest TV channel – so I thought why not take that dream to BOL.”

We are not here to start any confrontation, our reasons are purely aimed to benefit the journalistic community, said Iqbal. “We have always fought for the betterment of journalists.”

ARY Digital Network CEO Jerjees Seja also confirmed on Twitter that ARY has taken over the BOL Network.

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