January 2020




The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter January 10, 2020

KARACHI: Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi visits a Chinese navy ship during Sea Guardians 2020 exercise on Thursday.—INP

KARACHI: Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi has said that the naval exercise with China is a manifestation of treasured friendship and mutual trust that existed between the two countries.

On the fourth day of the sixth bilateral drill ‘Sea Guardians 2020’, which is being conducted between the navies of Pakistan and People’s Liberation Army, Admiral Abbasi visited the PLA (Navy) Flag Ship Yinchuan on Thursday.

Upon his arrival on-board PLA (Navy) Ship Yinchuan, the naval chief was warmly welcomed by PLA Deputy Commander Southern Thea­­tre Command Vice Adm­iral Dong Jun. A smartly turned out contingent presented the guard of honour to the naval chief, who was then given a briefing on-board.

Later, Admiral Abbasi had a meeting with PLA Deputy Commander Southern Theatre Command Vice Admiral Dong Jun where matters of mutual interest came under discussion.

During the meeting, the naval chief highlighted that the exercise was a manifestation of treasured friendship and mutual trust that existed between the two countries.

“The ongoing exercise will carry forward our relationship to new heights of glory,” he said, adding that the exercise was aimed at not only countering maritime threats together but also solidifying the common resolve of both the navies of ensuring regional peace and security.

He expressed the hope that regular conduct of such exercises would further en­­h­­­ance the cooperation and interoperability bet­ween the two navies.

Later, the Chief of the Naval Staff also interacted with the PLA (Navy) ship’s crew and appreciated their professional competence and morale. PLA Deputy Commander Southern Theatre Command Vice Admiral Dong Jun thanked the naval chief for his visit on-board PLA (Navy) Ship.

Exercise Sea Guardians 2020, the sixth in the series, covers a wide spectrum of maritime and naval operations by ships, aerial platforms and marine forces.

Exercise Sea Guardians 2020 is aimed at sharing professional experiences on contemporary and non-traditional threats at sea, improving security cooperation and promoting safe and sustainable maritime environment in the region.

During the exercise, frontline destroyers/frigates along with air and other assets and Marines/Special Forces from Pakistan Navy and PLA (Navy) will carry out advance level joint drills and naval manoeuvre in the North Arabian Sea.

In addition, during the harbour phase, various professional and social activities will also be conducted.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2020



Saleem Shahid Updated January 11, 2020

QUETTA: A suicide bom­bing inside a mosque clai­m­ed 15 lives, including that of a deputy superintendent of police, and left 19 others wounded in the Satellite Town area of Quetta just two days after a targeted attack on a Frontier Corps vehicle in a busy market of the provincial capital.

While the Tuesday attack had been claimed by Hizbul Ahrar, the AFP wire service says that responsibility for the Friday bombing was claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group citing the SITE intelligence group. According to AFP, spokesman for the Balochis­tan government Liaquat Shah­wani in a late-night statement confirmed that it was a suicide attack.

Witness Fida Mohammad, who was offering prayers at the mosque at the time of the blast, said that around 60 people were present there. The explosion ripped through the front row of the faithful shortly after the prayer began. “It was a powerful blast, people were screaming and running here and there — many people were injured because of the stampede,” he said.

The terrorist attack was promptly condemned by President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani.

Police said the mosque and the adjacent seminary situated in Ghousabad belong to a prominent cleric, Sheikh Hakimullah. While there were reports that the prayer leader, too, lost his life in the explosion besides DSP Haji Amanullah Ishaqzai, the police did not confirm the reports explaining that investigations were under way to ascertain facts.

Initial investigations indicated that an improvised explosive device (IED) was used in the attack, though police had not ruled out the possibility of a suicide bombing, as Home Minister Ziaullah Langove, who along with Balochistan police chief Mohsin Butt visited the mosque after the explosion, said: “Sui­cide attack on the mosque could not be ruled out.”

The actual situation would be clearer once investigations were completed, he had told reporters.

“Nine people died on the spot and over two dozen others were injured,” Quetta DIG Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema said, adding that six of the injured victims later died during treatment at hospital.

Soon after the blast, FC and police personnel rushed to the site and after cordoning off the area shifted the bodies and the injured to Civil Hospital, Quetta.

“We have received 15 bodies and 19 injured so far,” Dr Wasim Baig, spokesman for the hospital, told Dawn. He said the condition of at least seven injured was serious.

Meanwhile, a bomb disposal squad reached the spot and started collecting evidence.

A senior investigation official requesting anonymity said the blast seemed similar to the Kuchlak mosque explosion that took place in August last year. It claimed at least four lives and injured 25 others. The prayer leader, who was later identified as Hafiz Ham­mad­ullah, had also lost his life.

The Friday evening blast claimed the life of DSP Ishaqzai, who had come to the mosque for offering prayers. Only last month, his young son, Najeebullah, had been killed by unidentified attackers in the Sariab road area.

In all, 12 of the 14 blast victims were identified as DSP Ishaqzai, Jamil Ahmed, Hikmatullah, Abdul Hadi, Imamullah, Akbar Khan, Adam Khan, Hafeezur Rehman, Sham­sullah, Junaid, Qudratullah and Zakaullah.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan condemned the brutal act and ordered the authorities concerned to immediately submit a detailed report of the incident. He said such assaults could not hit the morale of the nation.

“Enemies of peace and progress of Balochistan and Pakistan are attempting to destabilise the country,” said CM Alyani, while directing the law enforcement agencies and security forces to tighten security in the provincial capital and other parts of the province.

Mr Alyani, who also holds the portfolio of health ministry in absence of heath minister, declared emergency in all government hospitals. He also issued orders for provision of best medical treatment facilities to the blast victims.

He expressed deep sorrow and grief over the demise of over a dozen people and prayed for quick recovery of the injured.

Acting governor Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo while condemning the blast said terrorists had attempted to sabotage the country’s peace but the nation was united to foil their nefarious designs. He directed the law enforcement agencies to tighten security and arrest the culprits at the earliest.

President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the blast, while the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa as saying that those “who targeted innocents in a mosque could never be true Muslim”.

In separate messages, the president and the prime minister expressed grief over the loss of lives and prayed for peace of the departed souls and early recovery of the injured. They also directed the authorities concerned to extend the best possible medical facilities to the injured.

The prime minister sought an incident report from the provincial administration, while the president noted that terrorists were “making wicked attempts to create unrest” in the country but the nation was united to foil such designs.

According to an ISPR tweet, the FC troops reached the blast site and cordoned off the entire area as a joint search with the police was under way, while the injured were being evacuated to the hospital. It quoted the COAS as saying “every possible assistance be given to police & civil administration. Those who targeted innocents in a mosque can never be true Muslim”.

Balochistan is key to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative. CPEC seeks to connect China’s restive western Xinjiang region with the Pakistani port of Gwadar, giving the world’s second-largest economy access to the Arabian Sea.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2020



January 12, 2020

By NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: Indian army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane on Saturday said if his army receives orders from the Indian parliament to ‘reclaim’ Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) from Pakistan, it will take action, the international media reported.

Addressing the media, the newly-appointed Indian army chief said: “If the (Indian) parliament wants (Azad) Kashmir to be a part of India, then we will take the necessary action to achieve that goal.” “There is a parliamentary resolution that entire Jammu and Kashmir is part of India. If parliament wants it, then, that area (AJK) also should belong to us,” he added. This is not the first time the new Indian general has indulged in provocative posturing. In an earlier statement, Gen Naravane had said that India “reserve(d) the right to pre-emptively strike at sources of terror”. He had said that India had “evolved a strategy of resolute punitive response against sponsored terrorism”.

Pakistan had rejected the statement, calling it ‘irresponsible’. The Foreign Office in its statement said Pakistan was fully able to respond to any Indian aggression in AJK and that New Delhi should not forget Islamabad’s befitting response to its aggression in Balakot last year. Tensions have been high between the two nuclear-armed neighbours since New Delhi revoked the special status of Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) on August 5 of last year, imposing a military lockdown in the valley. The two countries had in February last year engaged in cross-border aerial missions, which had resulted in the capture of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistani forces. The captured pilot was eventually let go by Pakistan as a gesture of peace.

The Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor, said in response to the Indian army chief’s statement, that Pakistan’s armed forces will give an ‘even stronger’ response than that of February, if India attempts any military action across the Line of Control (LoC). The Indian army chief’s statement on Azad Kashmir was a part of routine rhetoric to divert attention from domestic issues in India, said the DG ISPR. Major General Asif Ghafoor, in a tweet, said that Pakistan’s armed forces are ready to respond to any Indian aggression.

“Statements by Indian COAS to undertake military action across LoC are routine rhetoric for domestic audiences to get out of ongoing internal turmoil. Pakistan Armed Forces are fully prepared to respond to any act of Indian aggression,” he tweeted. The DG ISPR called the Indian COAS’ statement a latest manifestation of extremist indoctrination in India’s state institutions. “We are aware of the dangers of belligerent fascist mindset in IOJ&K and to regional peace. World needs to take notice of Indian atrocities in IOJ&K and against minorities across India,” he said. The military spokesman added that India has experienced Pakistan’s response on Feb 27, 2019. “Same shall be even stronger next time,” said the DG ISPR.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said in his reaction said that an extremist RSS had taken over a nuclear-armed country of over a billion people, leading to bloodshed, as its ideology was based on racial superiority and hatred of the Muslims and all minorities. The prime minister tweeted, “An extremist ideology RSS has taken over a nuclear-armed country of over a billion people. It is an ideology based on racial superiority & hatred of Muslims & all minorities. Whenever this genie has come out of the bottle, it has always led to bloodshed.”

He also uploaded an article, published in a leading English daily, which says, “Police, police.” While protesters scrambled to flee over the rooftops of the block in old Lucknow, dozens of officers burst in raining blows on women and children. The Muslim families cowered from their attackers.

“Take her veil off, check if she’s a man,” one officer yelled, pointing to Salma Hussain, 29, who wept as she recalled the humiliation. The women were groped and officers commented on their breasts as they beat them. “One man put a gun to my head,” said Tabasum Raza, 26. “He said: ‘Tell me where the men are hiding or I’ll shoot you’.

Two photographs could also be seen on his Twitter account: one shows a protest by apparently Indian Muslim women, including veiled ones, carrying posters, one of which reads, “who the hell are (PM Modi) you to say I am not an Indian”.