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.
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.
With Bin Roye currently gracing the screen and as Bilal Ashraf’s love interest in Hassan Waqas Rana’s under post-production film Yalghaar which is also due to come later this year, a couple of on-air serials and being the face of a brand of soft drink, in two years Armeena Rana Khan has achieved what it takes a decade for others to accomplish.
“It just happened,” Armeena says. “I’m the only one in my family to venture into this field and believe me, it wasn’t planned at all. I didn’t choose acting, it would be better to say that acting chose me instead.”
It all began a few years back when Bollywood narrowed its search down to the girl born to Pakistani parents settled in Canada. “While pursuing my degree in Business Studies in England, I got a call from India for an indie film Huff! It’s Too Much. I told them that I wasn’t an actress, and the modeling assignments through which they selected me was just a hobby … but the director had other ideas.”
And then the debut on Pakistani television. “Wajahat Rauf introduced me on TV through a sitcom, after which I was approached by Hum Films for Bin Roye. I ended up saying yes because of the star cast. I have always been in love with Zeba Bakhtiar, and when I was told that she plays my mother in the film, it was the happiest day of my life!”
Armeena’s debut TV serial Shab-i-Aarzoo ka Alam was followed by Muhabbat ab Nahi Hogi, and they made hers a household name. But there was a slight hitch — language barrier. “Till two years back, I wasn’t very fluent in Urdu, especially when it came to reading scripts. The Bollywood film I did had the script in Roman so that wasn’t a problem, but in Pakistan all scripts are in Urdu. I had to work really hard on my language skills and have somewhat overcome the problem. In Karb, I play a girl who belongs to a family from Lucknow, so my Urdu had to be good if not perfect.”
Armeena plays the main lead in Karb and Ishq Parast, both characters strikingly different. How does she rate her work while sharing the screen with the actors she saw while growing up. “Humayun Saeed and Adnan Siddiqui were iconic performers while I was growing up. Adnan Siddiqui plays my husband in Karb while I get a chance to share the screen with Humayun Saeed in Bin Roye!”
“I take everything in stride,” Armeena says as she explains the reasons behind her happy-go-lucky personality. “Since becoming a full-time actress, things haven’t changed much except that I get to travel a lot between England, Canada and Pakistan.”What is it about Armeena that makes her a citizen of the world? “I am half-Pashtun, half-Punjabi which is why I am very excited about my upcoming feature film that is being produced by Reham Khan in collaboration with Imran Kazmi and Hareem Farooq. I play the main lead and it is about the Pashtun community, so I should thank the genes on my mother’s side as they helped me get the role (laughs).”
Armeena was the first Pakistani actress to walk at Cannes in 2013. “I was the first girl from Pakistan to walk the Red Carpet at the prestigious film festival. I took British director Sheraz Ali’s psychological thriller Writhe to Cannes where I played a serial killer. Another film, Stranger within Me, also got selected for Cannes where I played the main lead. As for the experience, it was wonderful to move around the same place where Steven Spielberg and Nicole Kidman were also present!”
Armeena says she idolises Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah, believing they can’t be bettered in any universe. “I have always been fond of Aamir Khan and currently I love Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s work, they are fabulous actors in their own rights. As for my favourites in Hollywood, I can watch Meryl Streep and Dame Judi Dench any day. I also admire the humanitarian work Angelina Jolie does because that’s something I would like to take up as well in future.”
The ravishing Armeena believes that the sky is the limit when it comes to acting and that’s why she will not stop after doing films in Pakistan. “The international market is very vast and there aren’t many Pakistani actors there except for a few like Faran Tahir. I have done indie films in England and I am currently in talks with people in Hollywood for a crossover film. I plan to make a name for myself and Pakistan wherever I go, even if it takes me to Hollywood.”
ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif made it clear on Saturday that the Pakistan Army is "acutely aware" of the campaign by "rivals" against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asim Bajwa said on Twitter.
The army chief vowed that the armed forces are prepared to "pay any price to turn this long cherished dream into a reality".
During his visit to Panjgur and Turbat in Balochistan where he inspected the under-construction road network of the project, the army chief said, "CPEC and Gwadar Port will be built and developed as one of the most strategic deep sea ports in the region at all costs."
The ISPR spokesman said Gen Raheel was apprised during a briefing that as many as 11 units of Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) have been employed in Balochistan for the construction of an 870 kilometre-long stretch of roads at five different locations simultaneously.
Out of the the 870km-long road, 502 km of roads have already been completed in less than one and half year on special directives issued by Gen Raheel.
The army chief lauded the FWO for their untiring efforts in the construction of such a vast road network across Balochistan against all odds at an "amazing pace" and paid tributes to FWO soldiers for sacrificing their lives for undertaking this national project.
Emphasising the importance of the CPEC project, the army chief said that the roads will link Gwadar Port with the rest of the country "to yield the real envisioned dividend of the port and corridor" in order to transform the lives of people and bring prosperity to the region.
Speaking to notable individuals of the area, the COAS paid rich tributes to the proud and valiant people of Balochistan and thanked them for their unconditional cooperation and support for these projects, assuring them that these projects will serve their best interests.
The COAS said that the potential of Balochistan as a regional hub for trade in goods and energy will only be realised with a national approach for its security and development.
Gen Raheel emphasised that a secure and peaceful environment was a must to push all the planned development work.
He also lauded the law enforcement agencies for bringing a significant change in the overall security situation of the province. He commended the Frontier Corps and police for recently conducting successful operations against foreign-funded militants who were involved in disruption of law and order in the province.
The COAS said that ongoing operation Zarb-i-Azb was not only an operation but a concept for a terror-free Pakistan. It will continue to target all militants without any discrimination and hunt down terrorists across the country to achieve the end objective, he said.
LANDI KOTAL: Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif has said that all terrorists and their facilitators, abettors and financiers will soon be apprehended and brought to justice.
During a visit to the front positions of security forces in Tirah valley on Friday, he said terrorists’ strongholds in the agency had been reduced and now the fight was in progress in the remaining few pockets, close to the Pakistan-Afghan border. The noose, he added, had been tightened around terrorists and they would not be allowed to regroup.
The army chief said the area where the operation was being carried out was heavily infested with IEDs, mostly of foreign make. After the North Waziristan Agency, terrorists in Khyber Agency are also using the most rugged terrain as their strongholds.
Gen Raheel Sharif spent the entire day with troops and met tribal elders before visiting Jawaro, an area near the Afghan border, to review the progress of operation in its concluding phase.
He praised the troops for their professional commitment and sacrifices rendered to restore peace and normality in the troubled Khyber Agency.
On his arrival in the agency, the army chief was received by Corps Commander 11 Corps Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman. He also visited a de-radicalisation centre in Bara, where tribesmen who surrendered during the Operation Khyber are getting education and vocational training.
The army chief praised tribal people for their support to the campaign to cleanse the agency of terrorists and for their resolve not to allow terrorists to return to the area. He paid rich tributes to troops and tribal people who sacrificed their lives and those who were wounded.
AIR STRIKES: Meanwhile, at least 20 suspected militants were killed and 18 others injured in air strikes on Friday.
The Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement that Air Force planes pounded militant hideouts in different parts of Tirah valley in the morning, killing at least 20 militants. It claimed that some important militant commanders and foreigners were among the dead.
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2015