Washington: President Donald Trump defended his administration’s decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country does not do “a damn thing” for the US and its government had helped Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hide near its garrison city.
Referring to Laden and his former compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Donald Trump in an interview to Fox News said, “You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer.”
The compound was demolished shortly after US Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces, in a daring helicopter raid, killed Laden there in 2011.
“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” he added.
“And we give Pakistan USD 1.3 billion a year. … (Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them USD 1.3 billion a year — which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he said.
The ties between the two countries strained after Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August last year, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.
In September, the Trump administration cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to Islamabad for not doing enough against terror groups active on its soil.
Trump also said that he has plans to visit Iraq and Afghanistan to meet American troops stationed there.
“Well, I think you will see that happen. There are things that are being planned. We don’t want to talk about it because of — obviously because of security reasons and everything else,” he said.
Trump has been criticized by his political opponents for not visiting either Afghanistan or Iraq in the first two years of his presidency.
Resolving 26/11 Mumbai attacks case in Pak interest, says Imran Khan
Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he has asked his government to ascertain the status of the 2008 Mumbai attacks case as it is in Pakistan’s interest to resolve the matter.
India repeated its calls for the prosecution of the masterminds and facilitators of the attacks on the 10th anniversary of the carnage blamed on the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), saying Pakistan had shown “little sincerity in bringing the perpetrators to justice”.
“We also want something done about the bombers of Mumbai. I have asked our government to find out the status of the case. Resolving that case is in our interest because it was an act of terrorism,” Khan said in an interview with The Washington Post.
The trial in a Pakistani anti-terrorism court of seven suspects, including LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, has stalled and Pakistani officials have said more evidence is needed from India to take things forward. India has insisted that there is sufficient proof to prosecute the suspects.
Khan, who spoke about Pakistan taking two steps for peace for every step taken by India in his first speech after his party won the general election in July, referred to the reasons why he believes his peace overtures had been rejected by New Delhi.
“I know, because India has elections coming up. The ruling party has an anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan approach. They rebuffed all my overtures,” he said.
“I have opened a visa-free peace corridor with India called Kartarpur (so that Indian Sikhs can visit a shrine in Pakistan). Let’s hope that after the election is over, we can again resume talks with India,” he said, referring to the recent launch of work on a corridor that will link Dera Baba Nanak in India to Kartarpur gurdwara in Pakistan.
Khan also dismissed the oft-repeated contention of US officials that the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is based in Pakistan. “When I came into power, I got a complete briefing from the security forces. They said that we have time and time again asked the Americans, ‘Can you tell us where the sanctuaries are, and we will go after them?’ There are no sanctuaries in Pakistan.”
Referring to camps for Afghan refugees, he added: “If there are a few hundred, maybe 2,000 to 3,000 Taliban who move into Pakistan, they could easily move into these Afghan refugee camps.”
US should stay in Afghanistan or face another 9/11: Gen. Dunford
Washington : The United States should continue its military presence in Afghanistan if it wishes to prevent future attacks similar to what happened on September 11, 2001, the top US military officer has warned.
Speaking at an event organized by the Washington Post on Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford said pulling American and NATO forces out of Afghanistan was not a good idea.
“Leaving Afghanistan in my judgment would give the terrorist groups the space with which to conduct operations against the American homeland and its allies,” Dunford said.
“It is our assessment that in a period of time… [the terror groups] would have in the future the capability to do what they did on 9/11,” he said.
Almost 3,000 people were killed on September 11, 2001 when 19 hijackers – 15 of them Saudis — with alleged ties to al-Qaeda terrorist group flew two passenger aircraft into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and a third plane into the Pentagon building in northern Virginia.
The United States “cannot win militarily” in Afghanistan, General Austin Scott Miller has conceded.
The war paved the way for the Daesh terrorist group, which is mainly active in Syria and Libya, to develop a base in Afghanistan as well.
Dunford, however, said his top priority was not to ensure Afghanistan’s security and stability, but to “make recommendations for the deployment of military force that protects the American people, the homeland and our allies.”
“The presence that we have in Afghanistan has, in fact, disrupted the enemy’s ability to reconstitute and pose a threat to us,” Dunford said.
Last month, Dunford admitted that the Taliban “are not losing” in Afghanistan and much more needs to be done to bring peace to the war-torn country.
He said back then that there was no “military solution” to peace in Afghanistan.
This is while US President Donald Trump’s strategy for the long-running war revolves around bringing more troops and use them to force a political resolution to militant groups.
The new strategy, unveiled last year, announced an increase in US troop levels, bringing the total number of foreign foot soldiers in the country to about 14,000.
Over half of global population now online: UN
GENEVA: Some 3.9 billion people are now using the Internet, meaning that for the first time more than half of the global population is online, the United Nations said.
The UN agency for information and communication technologies, ITU, said that by the end of 2018 a full 51.2 per cent of people around the world will be using the Internet.
“By the end of 2018, we will surpass the 50/50 milestone for Internet use,” ITU chief Houlin Zhou said in a statement.
“This represents an important step towards a more inclusive global information society,” he said, adding though that “far too many people around the world are still waiting to reap the benefits of the digital economy.” He called for more support to “technology and business innovation so that the digital revolution leaves no one offline.” According to ITU, the world’s richest countries have been showing slow and steady growth in Internet use, which has risen from 51.3 per cent of their populations in 2005 to 80.9 per cent now.
The gains have meanwhile been more dramatic in developing countries, where 45.3 per cent of people are currently online, compared to just 7.7 per cent 13 years ago.
Africa has experienced the strongest growth, with a more than 10-fold hike in the number of Internet users over the same period, from 2.1 per cent to 24.4 per cent, the ITU report showed.
The report also showed that while fixed-line telephone subscriptions continue to dwindle worldwide, to a current level of just 12.4 per cent, the number of mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions is now greater than the global population.
And it found that mobile broadband subscriptions have skyrocketed from just four subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2007 to 69.3 today.
There are currently a full 5.3 billion active mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide, ITU found.
At the same time, the report said that nearly the entire world population, a full 96 per cent, now lives within reach of a mobile cellular network, and 90 per cent of people can access the Internet through a 3G or higher speed network.