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UNSC must step up pressure on Pakistan to change its behaviour: US

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United Nations :US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Thursday that the UN Security Council should step up pressure on Pakistan to “change its behaviour”.

Briefing reporters after returning from a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan, she said Kabul has asked the 15-member powerful wing of the world body to step up pressure on Pakistan.

“They did ask us for consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table and change their behaviour,” Haley said.

 

She said the Afghan government “continue to make 10 steps forward, and with Pakistan, they feel like they continue to take steps backwards.”

The Kabul visit of the Security Council members comes ahead of the Kabul Process meeting next month where the Afghan government is expected to present its strategy for reaching a settlement with the armed opposition.

Haley said the Afghan government is starting to see the Taliban concede, they are starting to see them move towards coming to the table.

But her country has conveyed to Pakistan that it will continue funding the component of the aid which allows for military training despite the suspension of the security assistance package, media reports said on Thursday.

Pakistan’s foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua informed the Senate’s foreign affairs committee on Wednesday that the US will keep funding the aid components that support their national interest, including the International Military Education and Training (IMET) part, Dawn reported.

The IMET programme, which focuses on military education, is meant to establish a rapport between the US military and the recipient country’s military for building alliances for the future.

Pakistan’s army officers have been trained in the US at a cost of $52 million over the past 15 years and an allocation of another $4 million has been made for the current year under this programme.

While the IMET would continue, the US has frozen the aid provided under the programmes that are more important to Pakistan, particularly the Foreign Military Financing (FMF). The recipients of FMF can use the funds under this programme for procurement of defence hardware produced by the US.

Foreign minister Khawaja Asif, while briefing the lawmakers on the current state of Pakistan’s ties with the US, said the relationship was not going “very smooth” and problems were persisting. He said the US was trying to shift the blame to Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan.

“We have to stand up to those who accuse us of harbouring terrorists,” he remarked.

The US says that the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani networks that target American troops inside Afghanistan are allowed to take shelter in Pakistan. Pakistan denies this and, in turn, accuses the US of ignoring its vast sacrifices – casualties have numbered in the tens of thousands – in fighting terrorism.

Early this month, the US froze nearly $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan arguing that Islamabad is not taking any decisive action against terrorists operating from its soil.

The White House said it stood President Donald Trump’s comment that Pakistan had given the US nothing but “lies and deceit” in return for $33-billion aid.

“Yes,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference on Wednesday when asked if she stands by the comments the president made in the tweet.

“Our position is firm: that we believe that withdrawing that aid is important,” Sanders told reporters in response to another question.


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Amid Indo-Pak tension, Navy deployed nuclear submarines, aircraft carrier

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New Delhi: Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, nuclear submarine Chakra, 60 ships and nearly 80 aircraft were put on operational deployment by the Indian Navy in the North Arabian sea in the wake of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, officials said.

They said the naval assets were part of a mega exercise but they transited from the area of the drill for operational deployment soon after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that increased tensions between Pakistan and India.

At a tri-services press conference on February 28, the Indian Navy said it was in a high state of readiness to “deter, prevent and defeat” any “misadventure” by Pakistan in the maritime domain, reflecting a sense of its preparedness as well as seriousness of the situation.

 

“The major combat units of the Indian Navy including the Carrier Battle Group with INS Vikramaditya, nuclear submarines and scores of other ships, submarines and aircraft swiftly transited from exercise to operational deployment mode as tensions between India and Pakistan escalated,” Navy Spokesperson Capt DK Sharma said.

The naval assets comprising 60 ships of the Indian Navy, 12 ships of the Indian Coast Guard, and 60 aircraft were part of the theatre level operational readiness exercise (TROPEX 19), which commenced on January 19 in Andaman and Nicobar islands, and was to be concluded on March 10.

However, the Jaish-e-Mohammed sponsored Pulwama attack on February 14 led to the rapid redeployment of ships, submarines and aircraft for operations in North Arabian sea, Capt Sharma said.

“The overwhelming superiority of Indian Navy in all three dimensions — on surface, under-sea and in air — forced the Pakistan Navy to remain deployed close to the Makran coast and not venture out in the open ocean,” he said.

Twelve days after the Pulwama attack, Indian fighter jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26. Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations next day.

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba will assess outcome of the TROPEX in the Kochi naval base on Monday.

The day-long review by Admiral Lanba with all operational commanders is intended to examine the conduct of the exercise and to assess the operational preparedness of the Indian Navy, said the Navy spokesperson.

Exercise Tropex was followed by the largest coastal defence drill — ‘Sea Vigil’ on January 22 and 23 with participation of 13 coastal states and union territories along with all maritime stakeholders.

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‘Don’t have any grudge’: Husband of victim says he forgives NZ mosque gunman

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Christchurch: A man whose wife was killed in the Christchurch attack as she rushed back into a mosque to rescue him said he harbours no hatred toward the gunman, insisting forgiveness is the best path forward.

“I would say to him ‘I love him as a person’,” Farid Ahmad told AFP. “I could not accept what he did. What he did was a wrong thing.”

Asked if he forgave the 28-year-old white supremacist suspect, he said: “Of course. The best thing is forgiveness, generosity, loving and caring, positivity.”

 

Husna Ahmad, 44, was killed at the Al Noor mosque — the first of two targeted by the gunman.

Fifty people, at least four of them women, were killed in the attack on the mosques where worshippers had gone for Friday prayers.

Ahmad and his wife emigrated from Bangladesh to New Zealand in 1990 and have one daughter.

When the shooting started, Husna helped several people escape from the women’s and children’s hall.

“She was screaming ‘come this way, hurry up’, and she took many children and ladies towards a safe garden,” Ahmad said.

“Then she was coming back for checking about me, because I was in a wheelchair, and as she was approaching the gate she was shot. She was busy saving lives, forgetting about herself.”

Ahmad, 59, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being hit by a drunk driver in 1998, believes he escaped the hail of bullets because the gunman was focused on other targets.

“This guy was shooting one person two, three times, probably that gave some time to us to move out… even the dead he was shooting them again.”

Ahmad, who was a butcher but now sells homeopathy products, did not see his wife when he left the mosque and only learned of her death after someone photographed her body.

“Her picture was out in the social media, so somebody showed me the picture and I identified quite easily.”

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China says 13,000 Xinjiang ‘terrorists’ arrested since 2014

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Beijing: China says it has arrested nearly 13,000 people it describes as terrorists in the traditionally Islamic region of Xinjiang since 2014 and broken up hundreds of “terrorist gangs.”

The figures were included in a government report on the situation in the restive northwestern territory that seeks to respond to growing criticism over the internment of an estimated 1 million members of the Uighur (WEE-gur) and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups.

China describes the camps as vocational training centers and says participation is voluntary. Former detainees say they were held in abusive conditions, forced to renounce Islam and swear allegiance to China’s ruling Communist Party.

 

The lengthy report issued Monday also says “law-based de-radicalization” in Xinjiang has curbed the rise and spread of religious extremism.

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