ISLAMABAD: The United States is believed to have blocked a Pakistani request with the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee for listing of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) leader Abdul Wali, commonly known as Umer Khalid Khurasani.
Although Pakistan has still not been notified about the development by the sanctions committee, the Foreign Office has informally learnt that the process has been held up because of an objection by the United States, a senior diplomatic source revealed.
The US objected to Pakistani request for Khurasani’s listing because of his location that has been mentioned as Afghanistan.
Washington accused of double standards in taking action against terrorists
The US move comes amid deteriorating ties with Pakistan, which have been on a steep downslide since the announcement of the new South Asia and Afghanistan policy by the Trump administration last August.
“The Americans inject politics into the sanctions regime and practice double standards. They are not listing the leader of a terrorist entity who is targeting Pakistan. Merely because he is operating from Afghanistan,” a Pakistani official told Dawn.
“Instead of supporting Pakistani request for listing a terrorist, the US raised an objection. The US needs to act fairly to root out terrorism. Such actions by the US undermine the credibility of the UN sanctions list,” he added Pakistan had made the request almost nine months ago as Khurasani was the leader of JuA that had been listed earlier on Pakistan’s request on July 6, 2017 with its base identified as Lalpura, in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
JuA was listed for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of, otherwise supporting acts or activities of and either owned or controlled, directly or indirectly by, or otherwise supporting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.
JuA is one of the splinter groups of the banned TTP and is believed to be the most lethal terrorist group that has claimed to have carried out several major attacks including a suicide blast at Wagah; the October 2014 twin bombing in Mohmand Agency; the March 2015 attack on Youhanabad Church in Lahore; the March 2015 Easter Sunday attack on a children’s park in Lahore; the March 2016 attack with IED on a vehicle carrying a US Drug Enforcement
Administration team at Sangar in Mohmand Agency; the March 2016 bombing attack on Shabqadar (Charsadda) District Court; the bomb attack in Warsak Colony, Peshawar; and a February 2017 attack in Lahore.
The group is suspected to have carried out over 150 attacks against diverse targets since its creation in 2014.
Khurasani is the mastermind of the Army Public School carnage and the Easter Sunday attack.
JuA in a statement sent to journalists welcomed the US move to block Khurasani’s listing.
Sri Lanka bombings death toll rises to 359, 18 more suspects held overnight
Colombo: Police say the death toll in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58.
The prime minister warned that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large.
Another top government official said the suicide bombings at the churches, hotels and other sites were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacre last month.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks and released images that purported to show the attackers. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that investigators were still determining the extent of the bombers’ foreign links.
UN says over 250 killed, over 1,200 injured in Libya battle
TRIPOLI: At least 264 people have been killed and over 1,200 wounded in weeks of fighting on the outskirts of Libya’s capital, the World Health Organisation said , as African leaders gathered in Cairo to discuss the crisis.
The agency called on Twitter for “a temporary cessation of hostilities, and for all parties to respect humanitarian law”.
Eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on the capital on April 4, as his self-styled Libyan National Army pledged “to purge the west of terrorists and mercenaries”.
Forces loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, launched a counter-attack at the weekend.
The fighting has since eased somewhat as both sides appeared to be preparing for the next phase of the battle.
Fighting in Tripoli’s southern suburbs has so far displaced at least 35,000 people, UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya Maria do Valle Ribeiro said on Monday.
“Displacement is continuing at an increasing rate every day,” she said, warning that the figures were a conservative estimate.
The two sides have reached a near stalemate since armed groups backing the GNA launched their counter-attack on Saturday.
An AFP team on the ground at the weekend confirmed that GNA-aligned fighters had pushed the frontline back several kilometres in the southern district of Ain-Zara, around a dozen kilometres south of the city centre.
Another frontline is a little further southwest, around the districts of al-Swani and Qasr ben-Ghachir, around 30 kilometres from Tripoli, on a key road between the capital and the old international airport.
Occasional bursts of gunfire — and heavier projectiles — have been audible, sometimes resonating in the city centre.
“It is calm on most fronts,” Mustafa al-Mejii, a spokesman for GNA forces, said.
“Orders were given to forces on the perimeter of Tripoli airport to consolidate their positions,” he said.
Haftar’s force said on its official Facebook page it had received “significant” reinforcements, particularly in the west.
Valle Ribeiro said civilians were being displaced every day, while some had been trapped by fire including “heavy artillery and… shelling in some densely populated parts of the city”.
“Any country that has leverage should be using that leverage to ensure that civilians can be protected,” she said.
African leaders were due to meet in Cairo at the behest of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss the violence.
Israel to name Golan settlement after Trump
JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to name a new settlement in the occupied Golan after US President Donald Trump in appreciation of his recognition of Israel’s claim of sovereignty there.
Netanyahu, who has been on a trip to the region with his family for the week-long Passover holiday, said in a video message that he would present a resolution to the government calling for a new settlement named after the US president.
“All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he said.
Trump again broke with longstanding international consensus on March 25 when he recognised Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the part of the strategic plateau it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The decision came only two weeks ahead of a tightly contested Israeli election, which saw Netanyahu win a fifth term in office.
Trump has shifted US policy sharply in Israel’s favour since taking office, most notably by recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel annexed 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan it seized in 1981, a move never recognised by the international community.
Around 18,000 Syrians from the Druze sect — most of whom refuse to take Israeli citizenship — remain in the occupied Golan.
Some 20,000 Israeli settlers have moved there, spread over 33 settlements.
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