Category Archives: Pakistan

(BBC) Pakistan-India: Pakistan ‘shoots down two Indian jets’ over Kashmir

(BBC)

Pakistan soldiers by what Pakistan says is a downed Indian jet
Image captionPakistani soldiers by what Pakistan says is wreckage from a downed Indian jet

Pakistan says it has shot down two Indian Air Force jets in a major escalation of the Kashmir conflict.

A spokesman said one plane had fallen inside Pakistani territory and two pilots had been captured. India has not yet given details. Pakistan has denied reports one of its jets was shot down.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Kashmir, but control only parts of it.

The nuclear powers have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. All but one were over Kashmir.

The aerial attacks across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Indian and Pakistani territory are the first since a war in 1971.

They follow a militant attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian troops – the deadliest to take place during a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir. A Pakistan-based group said it carried out the attack.

The BBC’s Soutik Biswas, in Delhi, says the challenge for India and Pakistan now is to contain the latest escalation before things get completely out of control.

What’s the latest?

Pakistan’s information ministry published but subsequently deleted a video purporting to show one of the Indian pilots that the Pakistani military says it has captured.

In the video, the pilot – who is blindfolded and appears to have blood on his face – identifies himself as Wing-Commander Abhinandan.

Image purportedly showing captured Indian pilot
Image captionPakistan’s information ministry tweeted a video purporting to show a captured Indian pilot

The ministry also tweeted what it said was footage of one of the downed Indian jets.Skip Twitter post by @MoIB_Official

Embedded video

Information Ministry@MoIB_Official

Wreckges of Indian fighter planes burning. Well done Pakistan Air Force. The entire nation is proud of you.7646:59 AM – Feb 27, 2019298 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyReport

End of Twitter post by @MoIB_Official

Pakistan’s assertion that it had shot down two Indian aircraft came shortly after Islamabad said its warplanes had struck targets in Indian territory.

Pakistan said it had “taken strikes at [a] non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage”.

Indian authorities said the Pakistani jets had been pushed back.

In a briefing, Maj Gen Ghafoor said that Pakistan “had no alternative to respond” to Tuesday’s Indian air strikes on its territory.

However he said Pakistan had not hit Indian military targets because “we don’t want to go on the path of war”.Skip Twitter post by @OfficialDGISPR

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor@OfficialDGISPR

In response to PAF strikes this morning as released by MoFA, IAF crossed LOC. PAF shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K while other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area.88.8K6:19 AM – Feb 27, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy65K people are talking about thisReport

End of Twitter post by @OfficialDGISPR

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has also said that her country will act “with responsibility and restraint”.

“India does not wish to see further escalation of the situation,” she said, speaking from a meeting with Russian and Chinese foreign ministers in China.

India said Tuesday’s air strikes on Balakot in north-western Pakistan killed a large number of militants but Pakistan said there had been no casualties.

The US, EU and China have all called for restraint.

Are flights affected?

Pakistan has closed its entire airspace, its civil aviation authority said. Nine airports in northern India have been closed, reports in India said.Skip Twitter post by @AirportPakistanView image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

CAA Pakistan@AirportPakistan

🇵🇰

Civil Aviation Authority of #Pakistan has officially closed its airspace until further notice & issued NOTAM. 1268:05 AM – Feb 27, 2019164 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyReport

End of Twitter post by @AirportPakistan

The flight monitoring group Flight Radar says international flights are also avoiding the area.Skip Twitter post by @flightradar24View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Flightradar24@flightradar24

International flights that transit between Indian and Pakistani airspace now being affected. Some flights returning to origin, while others appear to be seeking alternate routing. https://www.flightradar24.com/multiview/1fa269b4,1fa270f4,1fa21283,1fa21c61,1fa20062,1fa25484 …7366:39 AM – Feb 27, 20191,013 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyReport

End of Twitter post by @flightradar24

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‘These are uncharted waters’

By Soutik Biswas, BBC News, Delhi

The challenge for India and Pakistan now is to contain the escalation before things get completely out of control.

It is almost unprecedented for two nuclear-armed countries to carry out air strikes into each other’s territories.

“We are in uncharted waters,” Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the US and adviser to three Pakistani prime ministers, told me late on Tuesday.

An Indian defence analyst believes Indian security forces will now have to be prepared for a “full spectrum of conflict”.

However Daniel Markey from Johns Hopkins University in the US says we are “several steps away” from nuclear escalation.

A further escalation, he believes, will happen if Pakistan’s “next step were to raise the stakes by hitting Indian civilian targets”.

That is highly unlikely.

Read more from Soutik on this story

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What else is happening?

Troops have been shelling across the LoC. Four Pakistani civilians were killed and 10 others were injured in cross-border shelling on Tuesday.

On the Indian side, five soldiers were also injured in the firing, officials told the BBC. Schools in at least two districts along the LoC – Rajouri and Poonch – have been closed.

People living along the de facto border have been asked to leave their homes.

Map of region
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Timeline of India-Pakistan tensions

Media captionIn December Yogita Limaye examined why there had been a rise in violence in Kashmir

October 1947: First war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir just two months after they become independent nations.

August 1965: The neighbours fight another brief war over Kashmir.

December 1971: India supports East Pakistan’s bid to become independent. The Indian air force conducts bombing raids inside Pakistan. The war ends with the creation of Bangladesh.

May 1999: Pakistani soldiers and militants occupy Indian military posts in Kargil mountains. India launches air and ground strikes and the intruders are pushed back.

October 2001: A devastating attack on the state assembly in Indian-administered Kashmir kills 38. Two months later, an attack on the Indian parliament in Delhi leaves 14 dead.

November 2008: Co-ordinated attacks on Mumbai’s main railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre kill 166 people. India blames Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

January 2016: Four-day attack on Indian air base in Pathankot leaves seven Indian soldiers and six militants dead.

18 September 2016: Attack on army base in Uri in Indian-administered Kashmir kills 19 soldiers.

30 September 2016: India says it carried “surgical strikes” on militants in Pakistani Kashmir. Islamabad denies strikes took place.

(Reuters) Pakistan dismisses U.S. concerns about IMF bailout and China

(Reuters) Pakistan on Wednesday dismissed U.S. concerns that any new International Monetary Fund bailout for the South Asian nation would be used to repay Chinese debt as “totally wrong”.

Pakistan’s economy has hit severe turbulence over the past year and most analysts expect the nuclear-armed nation to seek a bailout, either from the IMF or closest ally China, to avoid a currency crisis.

Beijing has pledged $57 billion in loans for Pakistan as part of China’s vast Belt and Road initiative, deepening economic and diplomatic ties between the neighbors at a time when relations between Islamabad and Washington are fraying over how to deal with Islamist militants waging war in Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday warned that any potential IMF bailout for Pakistan’s incoming government should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders.

In response, Pakistan’s finance ministry sought to de-couple the link between any potential IMF bailout and Beijing’s loans for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which spans mostly energy and transport infrastructure.

“First and foremost it is totally wrong to link the IMF package with CPEC. It is affirmed that Pakistan Government is fully committed to undertake and complete CPEC projects in their totality,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

“Third parties cannot weaken our collective resolve to make CPEC a success story.”

CPEC is billed as Pakistan’s most important national project, while Beijing has touted CPEC as the “flagship” project in the vast Belt and Road initiative to build rail, road and maritime links across the globe.

Both countries are very sensitive of any criticism about CPEC.

The United States has been concerned that China is saddling smaller countries with debt as a way to gain influence and control around the globe.

Pakistan obtained a $6.7 billion IMF bailout in 2013 and near-identical balance of payments problems pose a major headache for the incoming government of Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former cricket hero who is seeking coalition partners to form a government.

“Make no mistake. We will be watching what the IMF does,” Pompeo said.

“There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars, and associated with that American dollars that are part of the IMF funding, for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself,” Pompeo added.

Asad Umar, widely tipped to become the new finance minister, told Reuters last month that Khan’s government would not rule out either Chinese or IMF support.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the IMF had its own standards and operating rules when cooperating with countries.

“I believe they will handle it appropriately,” he told reporters, without elaborating.

30-YEAR LOANS

Miftah Ismail, Pakistan’s finance minister in the previous government until late May, said the Chinese debt repayments were nowhere near as big as Western nations imagine.

He told Reuters that ministry of finance calculations showed that for the next five years, Pakistan’s total annual debt repayments and profit expatriation by Chinese companies would be below $1 billion.

“All of those things combined will not go to $1 billion up until 2023,” he said.

Ismail added loans given by China to Pakistan had a 30-year length and a five-year grace period, meaning there were no repayments for the first five years.

The lending was a combination of zero-interest debt, concessionary and some market rate loans, Ismail said, adding that the “weighted average” interest rate for these loans was 2 percent

“These are not loans that will break our back,” he said.

Ismail said the problems hitting Pakistan’s economy were not linked to debt but rather to current account problems, which was not China’s fault.

Pakistan’s finance ministry said it was engaged in “technical discussions” with the IMF but the interim caretaker government did not have a mandate to decide on any IMF package, which will be down to the new administration.

(PT) Aga Khan thanks Portugal for a ‘progressive partnership’

(PT)

LISBON: Prince Karim Aga Khan has praised Portugal as a country of opportunity and has thanked the country for a “progressive partnership” with the Ismaili imamat.

He said this while addressing members of the Portuguese parliament. He was invited to speak at the Assembly of the Republic in Lisbon by its president Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues.

The address coincides with the global celebrations taking place in Lisbon commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of the Aga Khan, marking 60 years of his leadership as 49th spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

In his address to the parliament, he expressed gratitude to the Republic of Portugal and spoke of Portugal as a significant partner with the Ismaili imamat, one that shares a commitment to pluralism and embracing diversity. He described Portugal as a country of opportunity. He said that Portugal is “a country that seeks to honour both its past achievements and its future opportunities, to embrace both the gift of social stability and the promise of social progress.”

He also noted that the history of Ismaili engagement with Portugal stretches back many years, beginning when Ismailis settled in Portuguese Territories in India in the 17th century. He noted the warm welcome that Portugal offered almost half a century ago to Ismailis fleeing the Mozambiquan civil war. In reflecting upon the past, he also looked forward and considered the challenges that lie ahead, remarking “We know that the days ahead will be demanding ones, a time of profound global change.”

Members of his family who joined him for the address included his brother Prince Amyn, daughter Princess Zahra and her children Sara and Iliyan, son Prince Rahim with his wife Princess Salwa, and sons Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad.

+++ (BBG) Pakistan Vows to Hunt Terrorists After Easter Sunday Carnage

…Only now…?…After all these years…?…Or is it a false promise…?

(BBG) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to eradicate radical ideologies from Pakistan after a Taliban suicide bomber targeted many women and children celebrating Easter Sunday at a park in one of its biggest cities.

“Our goal is not only to eliminate terror infrastructure but also the extremist mindset which is a threat to our way of life,” Sharif said in a statement on Monday after reviewing security in Lahore. “We must take this war to the doors of terrorist outfits before they are able to hit our innocent country men.”

He called for more coordination between law enforcement and intelligence agencies and sought a united fight against terrorism, a refrain he has repeated often in the face of a Taliban insurgency that has killed more than 60,000 people since 2001. This one hit close to home: Punjab, the nation’s most populous state, is Sharif’s political base and has seen fewer attacks than areas closer to the mountainous border with Afghanistan.

The blast killed at least 72 people and injured about 300, police spokesman Nayab Haider said by phone on Monday. An offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility and said the group was targeting Christians, the Washington Post reported, citing a spokesman.

Pakistani television showed a video of people running from the Gulshan-e-Iqbal park in a residential part of Lahore. The area was crowded with Christians, and many families were leaving when the blast occurred, according to reports.

The attack highlights the challenges in Pakistan, where the military has long used extremist groups as strategic assets against India to the east and Afghanistan to the west. Sharif has sought to take on Pakistan’s conservative elements in recent months, calling for better treatment of women and executing a man who assassinated a former governor for seeking a review of a blasphemy law.

Cowardly Attack

Sharif, who took power in 2013, termed the attack as cowardly and said it was a reaction to the government’s success in the fight against terrorism. Troops and intelligence agencies conducted five raids since last night, recovering a “huge cache” of arms and ammunition and arresting a “number of” suspected terrorists and facilitators, military spokesman Asim Bajwa wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The attack occurred as thousands rallied in the capital Islamabad to protest the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered the former governor of Punjab in 2011 over his stance on the blasphemy law. The protesters called for the imposition of Shariah law and wanted Qadri to be declared a martyr.

Although Pakistan was created for Muslims as part of a two-state solution following independence from the British in 1947, military ruler Zia ul Haq imposed more stringent Islamic laws only in the 1980s. Religious minorities — including Hindus, Christians and Shia Muslims — have been frequent targets of sectarian violence.

Leaders around the globe condemned the attack. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Nawaz Sharif on Sunday and “underlined the need for uncompromising efforts to fight against terrorism,” foreign office spokesman Vikas Swarup wrote on Twitter. U.S. presidential candidates also condemned the attack.

“The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s appalling terrorist attack,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in an e-mailed statement. “Attacks like these only deepen our shared resolve to defeat terrorism around the world.”

Sunday’s attack was Pakistan’s deadliest since 2014, when the Taliban massacred about 150 — mostly students — in their school, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal. It was the deadliest in Lahore since 2010, when a bombing killed almost 100 members of the minority Ahmadi Muslim community.