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Pakistan not USA’s ‘hired gun’ anymore: Imran

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Islamabad, Dec 7:PakistanPrime Minister, Imran Khan has accused the US of “pushing Pakistan away” and said he would never want to have a relation with Washington where his country is treated like a “hired gun”.

“I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun — given money to fight someone else’s war,” Khan said in an interview with the Washington Post on Thursday, referring to the 1980s war against the Soviet Union and the ongoing “war on terror”.

“We should never put ourselves in this position again. It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity. We would like a proper relationship with the US,” he said.

 

Khan also regretted that his government’s repeated overtures for peaceful negotiations with New Delhi had been turned down.

He claimed that the approach of the ruling BJP was “anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan” and expressed the hope that the stalled bilateral talks could resume after the general elections in India next year.

Prime Minister Khan said his government was keen to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attack to book, asserting that it was in the interest of Pakistan.

“India has elections coming up. The ruling party [of India] has an anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan approach. They rebuffed all my overtures….Let’s hope that after the election is over, we can again resume talks with India,” Khan said in an interview with ‘The Washington Post’ on Thursday.

The general elections are due to be held in India in April or May 2019.

He maintained that he wanted the case of the Mumbai attacks to be resolved, adding that he has “asked the government to find out the status of the case”.

Asked to elaborate on the ideal nature of relationship that he would like to have with the US, Khan said: “For instance, our relationship with China is not one-dimensional. It’s a trade relationship between two countries. We want a similar relationship with the US.”

He said Pakistan was not “hedging” towards China, rather it was Washington’s attitude which had brought a change in the bilateral relationship. “The US has basically pushed Pakistan away.”

Asked why he “harboured anti-US sentiments”, Khan said disagreeing with Washington’s policies did not make him “anti-American”.

“This is a very imperialistic approach. You are either with me or against me.”

Khan condemned the 2011 US operation in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden, saying that it was “humiliating” that Washington did not trust Pakistan to kill him.

“It was humiliating that we were losing our soldiers and civilians and (suffering terrorist) bomb attacks because we were participating in the US war, and then our ally did not trust us to kill Bin Laden,” he said, adding that the US “should have tipped off Pakistan”.

“We did not know whether we were a friend or a foe.”

He also dismissed claims that there were safe havens for “terrorists” in Pakistan, saying that “there are no sanctuaries in Pakistan”.

Referring to US President Donald Trump’s South Asia policy, Khan said he was committed to having dialogue to achieve peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

“I talked for years about how there was no military solution in Afghanistan and they called me Taliban Khan. Now I’m happy that everyone realises there is only a political solution.”

Welcoming the US bid to engage in talks with the Afghan Taliban, he said that Islamabad did not want the US to leave Afghanistan in a hurry as they did in 1989.

“The last thing we want is to have chaos in Afghanistan. There should be a settlement this time.” (Agencies)

 


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India rejects US report criticising it on religious freedom

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New Delhi, Jun 23: India Sunday rejected a US religious freedom report saying religious intolerance in India was growing under its right-wing government, setting off a new spat before a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

An annual report on international religious freedom released by Pompeo on Friday said Hindu groups had used “violence, intimidation, and harassment” against Muslims and low-caste Dalits in 2017 to force a religion-based national identity.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government insisted that no foreign country had the right to criticise its record.

 

Pompeo is set to arrive in New Delhi on Tuesday for a trip intended to strengthen ties, but already complicated by spats over trade tariffs, data protection rules, US visas for Indians and buying arms from Russia.

The US religious freedom report said groups claiming to protect cows – considered sacred by Hindus –have attacked Muslims and Dalits. Christians have also been targeted for proselytising since Modi came to power in 2014.

“Despite Indian government statistics indicating that communal violence has increased sharply over the past two years, the Modi administration has not addressed the problem,” the report said.

The report consists of chapters by country, grouped into tiers, in which India is categorised in tier 2. It highlights a 12 percent decline in communal violence compared with the previous year.

The controversial revision of the National Register of Citizenship in northeastern state Assam, which could land millions of minorities stateless, also got noticed in the report.

The foreign ministry however rejected the report, saying there was no right “for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.

Reacting to the report, the external affairs ministry said a foreign entity had “no locus standi” to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar underlined that “India is a vibrant democracy where the fundamental rights of all its citizens, including minorities, are protected under the Constitution.”

“We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” he said.

“The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities,” the MEA spokesperson asserted.

“It is widely acknowledged that India is a vibrant democracy where the Constitution provides protection of religious freedom, and where democratic governance and rule of law further promote and protect the fundamental rights.”

The United States has sought to boost ties with India as a counterweight to China, and both US President Donald Trump and Modi have highlighted their good relationship.

However, India last week imposed higher import tariffs on 28 US items in retaliation to Washington’s recent withdrawal of trade privileges for New Delhi.

Pompeo wants to use his New Delhi trip to lay the ground for a Trump-Modi meeting at the G20 Summit in Osaka this month. It will be their first since Modi’s new landslide election win last month. Pompeo is also to give a speech on the future of the relationship between the two countries. 

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Civilian harassment on highway should stop: Farooq

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Srinagar, Jun 23: Member parliament from Srinagar parliamentary seat and National Conference’s (NC’s) president, Farooq Abdullah Sunday said that security forces are “harassing” people on the national highway.

“When I was coming, I saw security forces were stopping people at several places on the highway. It should not happen, nowhere in the country, people are stopped at so many places, they travel freely on it moreover with peace,” Farooq said at Pahalgam.

Asking for end to the practice, he urged the authorities to ensure hassle free movement of the people on the highway without any delay.

 

“They (forces) should let people travel in peace on the highway and stop harassing people without any reason,” he added.

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Local pandit beaten by forces in Qazigund

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Srinagar, Jun 23: A local resident of Levdoora area of Qazigund in south Kashmir, Krishan Raina, a Pandit, was beaten up by CRPF personnel on Sunday and was rescued by the local people in the vicinity.

According to the reports, Raina, who has been living in the locality since childhood was rounded up by a patrolling party of the CRPF in the Levdoora area without any provocation.

“Forces initially questioned me for living in Kashmir despite being a Hindu. After which they started erecting bamboo sticks on me,” Raina is heard saying in the video.

 

Raina, son of Gopi Nath Raina, sustained multiple injuries during the assault by CRPF men, the front window of his car has also been smashed as well speaking about the incident, he said that he was on way to Qazigund market to get medicines for his ill wife, when the CRPF men intercepted him and started beating him resulting in multiple injuries.

“Local Muslims gathered around the area to rescue me. A man with begging hands pleaded them not to thrash me, however, they assaulted him too,” said Raina. The incident sparked anger in the locality and dozens of other Muslims rushed to help the Pandit man.

“I am thankful to the Muslim community who saved me from the hands of CRPF men, otherwise who knows,” Raina said. He also said that the government forces are defaming the local Muslim population, who otherwise are helpful and rescued him from the wrath of forces. The locals later took Krishan to the nearby hospital where he is being treated

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