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Pak to send back IAF pilot as ‘goodwill gesture’

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Islamabad, Feb 28: The captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot will be freed on Friday “as a peace gesture”, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the IAF was captured by Pakistanis on Wednesday after his MiG was shot down and fell in Pakistani territory during a dogfight.

Addressing a joint session of the National Assembly, Khan said the India-Pakistan situation should not “get out of hand” otherwise “Pakistan will have to retaliate”, the Dawn reported.

 

“Countries are ruined because of miscalculation,” said Khan. Alleging “war hysteria” in India, he said: “I’m afraid there might be a miscalculation.”War is not a solution. If India takes any action, we will have to retaliate.”

The joint session of Parliament was called to discuss the rising tensions with India.”The only purpose of our strike (on India on Wednesday) was to demonstrate our capability and will,” said the Prime Minister. “We did not want to inflict any casualty on India as we wanted to act in a responsible manner.”

He said he tried to call Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the telephone on Wednesday because “escalation is not in our interests nor in India’s”.

Talking about the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and India, the prime minister said that despite his government’s multiple overtures of peace, the response from New Delhi had not been encouraging.

“We realised that it was because of upcoming elections in India,” he said and added that the government decided to wait until the polls in India were over before making another offer for talks. However, he disclosed, he had “feared they (India) would do something”.

He told the Parliament that after an Indian aircraft violated Pakistan’s airspace in the wee hours of Tuesday, he had a meeting with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa where it was decided that Pakistan will not respond straightaway.

“We realised that Pakistani people might get upset that we did not respond, but we (army chief and premier) decided that since we did not know if there were any casualties, in case of an immediate response there will be escalation.”

An official handout issued by the Pakistan National Assembly Secretariat said: “The forum unanimously expressed that they stand united against any aggression against Pakistan and will support the government and its institutions unconditionally.”

It said the participants also “expressed hope that those who want peace and stability will prevail as war is not an option but a failure of policy”.

 

Very happy he will return, says IAF
Press Trust of India
New Delhi, Feb 28: The Indian Air Force Thursday said it is very happy that captured pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is returning home but dismissed suggestions that it was a goodwill gesture, insisting it was in line with the Geneva Conventions
“We are very happy Abhinandan will be freed tomorrow and look forward to his return,” Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff, told a news conference.
Varthaman’s MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down two Pakistani F-16 fighters during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning, he said. He has been in Pakistan since then.
Asked if the IAF sees it as a goodwill move, he said, “We see it as a gesture in consonance with the Geneva Conventions.”
He was addressing the media along with the representatives of the Army and the Navy, who both said the armed forces are on high alert and ready to meet any security challenge on land and sea
Kapoor said it was up to the political leadership to decide when and how to release evidence of the Balakot strike’s success.
He was responding to a question that there was some scepticism about whether IAF fighters had hit the intended targets
Kapoor said there is credible information and evidence that “we hit the intended targets” and it was premature to assess the casualties and damage.

 

Mirwaiz, Omar, Mehbooba welcome
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Feb 28: The Kashmiri mainstream leaders today welcomed the Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s peace gesture to release captured Indian war pilot.
“The decision to hand over Wing Commander Abhinandan is a great gesture & shouldn’t be seen in isolation. It also comes at a time when Pak could’ve chosen to further escalate an already tensed situation. I see it as a mark of reconciliation. Our leadership should reciprocate,” Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
In a tweet National Conference vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said, “Very glad to know that #WingCommandarAbhinandan will be heading home. I’ll wait for him to be back on Indian soil before I welcome him back but I’m greatly relieved that PM @ImranKhanPTI has announced the imminent release of our pilot.”
“Pakistan PM Imran Khan move to release Abhinandan is a welcome move. Conflicts per se r not irresolvable. Leadership makes a conflict resolvable or irresolvable,” Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone tweeted.
The captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot will be released on Friday “as a peace gesture”, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the IAF was captured by Pakistanis on Wednesday after his MiG was shot down and fell in Pakistani territory during a dogfight.
Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Thursday welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to release the captured IAF pilot.
“Welcome decision by Pakistan PM @ImranKhanPTI to release the captive indian pilot as a peace gesture. Hope better sense prevails the war clouds scatter and the #Kashmir dispute moves towards a peaceful resolution,” Mirwaiz tweeted.
National Conference (NC) president and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah today welcomed Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s peace gesture to release captured Indian pilot.
He said this step taken by Pakistan is a much needed effort for peace and this is how things will be brought closer between India and Pakistan.
“We hope India will also take such initiatives to ensure peace and stability in the region,” he added.

 

‘India trends Welcome Back Abhinandan’
Agencies
New Delhi, Feb 28: Emotions run high in India as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan today said that Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be sent back home today.
Soon after the news of Abhinandan’s release broke, Twitter users took to the micro-blogging platform to say Welcome Back Abhinandan.
Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu was one of the first celebrities to react to the news. The Naam Shabana actress wrote, “Now this really brought smile to my face !!! Waiting for tomorrow ….. with bated breath… This is heartening. THIS is worth celebrating.”
Musician Vishal Dadlani wrote, “Bahut khoob, @ImranKhanPTI Saab! Dil se shukriya. #SayNoToWar #WelcomeBackAbhinandan”
Twitter user Zeeshan Khan wrote, “#PeaceAmbassadorImranKhan thank you @ImranKhanPTI “Actions speak louder than words” you proved it before and done it again now by giving peace another chance. War won’t bring anything but a great loss on both side of the border. Bless you! #WelcomeBackAbhinandan”
“We can’t wait to welcome the braveheart.. #WelcomeBackAbhinandan” wrote Barun Mahapatro.
Rajeshwari Prasad wrote, “Thanks for giving our people strength & showing us what a Real Hero is made of. We celebrate your existence,your bravery & You. #WelcomeBackAbhinandan #AbhinandanVartaman #AbhinandanMyHero”
India and Pakistan had been on edge after the Indian Air Force conducted airstrikes on February 26 on Jaish-e-Mohammed training camos in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. After the IAF’s airstrikes, which were in retaliation to terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed’s February 14 suicide bombing on a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, tensions between India and Pakistan were at an all-time high. On February 27, the Pakistani Air Force shot down an IAF MiG-21 Bison jet and took Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in custody.
Netizens from India and Pakistan took to Twitter and social media platforms to trend #SayNoToWar, #BringBackAbhinandan and #BringHimHome all through Wednesday.


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Pak ‘duty-bound’ to share info: Guv

Says militant infrastructure ‘disrupted’, remaining militants to be sternly dealt with

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Srinagar, Jun 19: Asserting that his administration has “disrupted” militant infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, Governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday said that Pakistan is “duty-bound” to share intelligence inputs about militant attacks with the Government of India.

However, in an apparent jibe, the Governor said “it needs to be seen how many attacks Pakistan is able to stop on its own soil.”

“Pakistan is duty-bound to share intelligence inputs with us. But it also needs to be seen how many attacks are they (Pakistan) able to stop on its own soil,’ Malik said at a police function in SKICC, Srinagar on Wednesday.

 

Asked about the recent increase in militant activities in the valley, the Governor said as his administration has disrupted the militant infrastructure in the state, the militants are doing “one-odd attacks to keep themselves relevant.

“No one has been able to stop one or two attacks, not even America, England or France. But we are working on it and will be able to find a solution to the problem. We will deal with them (militants) sternly and with precision,” he said.

He said that militant recruitment and stone pelting incidents across the Kashmir Valley have also come down.

“No stone pelting takes place anywhere now not even after Friday prayers. A number of youth have also joined their families back and are leaving the militant ranks. Yesterday only two more boys returned to their families,” Malik said.

Last week on Saturday, the Governor had made a similar briefing about the state while addressing the 5th Governing Council meeting of Niti Aayog.

He’d told the meeting that the militant activities have come down in J&K as the people of the state are “not giving shelter to militants.”

Malik had also said time had come to focus on development of the state while giving a PowerPoint presentation and figures about militant activities.

The Governor had claimed that the administration was getting information about militants and their “activities by locals and that they are not offering shelter to those involved in militant activities.”

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JK Bank case: ACB widens ambit, seeks admitted signatures of 13 officers including two past chairmen

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jun 19: Widening the ambit of the investigations, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has sought the admitted signatures of 13 senior officials of Jammu and Kashmir Bank including its two former chairmen in connection with the case related to alleged backdoor appointments.

A top source in the Anti-Corruption Bureau told The Kashmir Monitor that Senior Superintendent of ACB recently wrote a letter to the incumbent chairman of the J&K Bank to provide details of 10 admitted signatures, handwriting, and initials of 13 officers of the bank.

Among the13 officers, the source said, two are former J&K Bank chairmen. “Most officials have either served in the Human Resource Department or are still posted there,” the source said.

 

The ACB had registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act on the basis of a complaint about the alleged illegal and fraudulent appointments made in the bank.

The allegations reflected in the complaint disclose commission of criminal misconduct by J&K Bank officers.

“This constitutes offence under section 5(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act Samvat 2006 and punishable under section 5(2) of the Act. A case FIR No 10/2019 was registered in Police Station Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Central Kashmir in Srinagar. Investigation of the case has also been taken up,” a spokesman of ACB had said.

The ACB officials refused to share the details saying: “The case is under investigation”.

However, a senior official, who wished not to be quoted, said: “Once we receive the admitted signatures, handwriting, and initials, the same will be forwarded to Forensic Scientific Laboratory to ascertain whether they match with the records we have seized during raids.”

The ACB is currently investigating 1,200 appointments, made allegedly at the behest of some political leaders of the previous PDP-BJP dispensation.

The government recently removed Parvez Ahmad as JK Bank Chairman. There are also allegations of large-scale irregularities in matters related to loans, finances and appointments.

The ACB sleuths on Wednesday raided the official residence of deposed chairman of JK Bank Parvez Ahmad near Polo View Lal Chowk. The ACB team also raided the house of Ahmad’s brother at Natipora area.

The union home ministry and the state government have decided to split the post of chairman-cum managing director of the bank in accordance with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines.

RK Chhibber, who was the bank’s executive president, has been named as the interim CMD.

Jammu and Kashmir government has 59.3 percent stakes in the bank, which has been established in 1938.

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Modi chairs all-party meet; Cong, TMC give it a miss

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Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti attending the all-party meet called on 'one nation, one election' by PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday (Photo: KM/Shanker Chakravarty)

New Delhi, Jun 19: “Most parties gave their support to ‘One Nation, One Election‘, CPI(M) and CPI had a difference of opinion but they didn’t oppose the idea, just the implementation of it,” Defence minister Rajnath Singh declared on Wednesday after the all-party meet on the same concluded.

He added, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address, said that a committee will be constituted to give its suggestions on the subject (One Nation, One Election) in a time-bound manner.”

One of the affirmative voices came from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik, who on Wednesday said, “Our party is supporting the idea of One Nation, One Election.”

 

The Modi government-led meeting of the heads of political parties to discuss the proposal of ‘One Nation One Election’, among other issues was held in the Parliament even as several party patriarchs skipped the meet.

Out of those who opted to sit out this ‘crucial meet’ were Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M K Stalin, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu. Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati and her former ally Samajwadi Party too decided to skip the meeting. Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal too did not attend the meeting but the party sent Raghav Chaddha as its representative.

Attacking the moot point of the meet today, BSP chief Mayawati said that holding simultaneous national and state elections “appears to be an undemocratic and unconstitutional” idea for a vast country like India. She added that elections in any democracy can never be a problem “nor elections should be weighed from the point of view of expenditure and extravagance”.

‘One nation, one election’ is not an issue before the country, she said. Elections through ballot papers are actually the national issue and our party will continue its struggle for it,” Mayawati declared.

On the other hand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also claimed that she would have joined the meeting had it been on EVMs. She had declined the invitation to attend and had asked the Centre to instead prepare a white paper on the “one nation, one election” issue for consultations.

Sources said that Opposition parties are wary of the meeting convened by the prime minister as they feel this might be a “trap” set by the BJP and needs proper discussion before going ahead.

The agenda for the meeting also includes the celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year. It will be followed by a dinner meeting with all the MPs on Thursday.

Meanwhile, JD(U)’s chief Nitish Kumar, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti and YSRCP’s Jaganmohan Reddy are among those who attended the meeting.

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