Washington, Jan 03: A day after Washington confirmed suspending $255 million of military aid to Pakistan, the White House said that further action against Pakistan would be announced in the next 24-48 hours.
Addressing a daily press briefing on Wednesday, US Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the actions being taken against Islamabad by Washington are a follow-up to Trump’s South Asia policy announced last year.
“The president is simply following through on a commitment that he made,” she said, referring to Trump’s speech in which he had accused Pakistan of “not fulfilling its obligations”.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations,” Trump had said in August last year, warning that vital aid could be cut.
“We know that Pakistan can do more to fight terrorism, and we want them to step up and do that,” the press secretary said on Wednesday, adding that Trump feels Pakistan “is not doing enough” to combat terrorism.
She said that information on further action against Pakistan would be made available over the next couple of days.
“In terms of specific actions, I think you’ll see some more details come out on that in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Sanders told the US media.
The White House’s move to suspend military aid has been seen as the first step to implementing President Donald Trump’s pledge to tighten economic restrictions on Pakistan.
Military aid to Islamabad was cut after Trump, in a tweet, accused Pakistan of being a liar.
The tweet had come in the aftermath of an increasingly terse back-and-forth between Washington and Islamabad since Trump announced his administration’s latest national security strategy.
During the announcement, the US president had been quick to remind Pakistan of its ‘obligation’ to help America “because it receives massive payments” from Washington every year.
“We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” the US president had said.
A Pentagon report to the US Congress, released to the media on Dec 17, had said Washington would also take ‘unilateral steps’ in areas of divergence with Pakistan while expanding cooperation between the two countries where their interests converge.
Subsequently, US Vice President Mike Pence had, in a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase on Dec 22, warned that Trump has “put Pakistan on notice” in what was the harshest US warning to Islamabad since the beginning of the Afghan war over 16 years ago.
The Pakistan Army spokesman, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, had at a press conference last week asserted that the aid Pakistan received from the US was “reimbursement for support we gave to the coalition for its fight against Al Qaeda.”
“Had we not supported the US and Afghanistan, they would never have been able to defeat Al Qaeda,” he had said.
“The armed forces are working with friends and want to continue doing so, but there can be no compromise on our national honour. We do not want a conflict with our friends, but will ensure the security of Pakistan,” he had added.
His briefing was considered perhaps the strongest-ever reaction from Islamabad since US functionaries began alluding to the possibility of unilateral action.
Hitting back at the US, the civilian-controlled Foreign Office (FO) had also warned against the “malicious campaign” being “used to trivialise Pakistan’s achievements in the war against terrorism”, and noted that “allies do not put each other on notice.”
The FO had further complained that recent US statements are “at variance with the extensive conversations we [Islamabad] have had with the US administration”.
Art 35-A row: SC to take ‘in-chamber’ decision on listing of plea
New Delhi, Jan 22: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would take an “in-chamber” decision on listing of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Advocate Bimal Roy Jad mentioned the matter before the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna.
He sought urgent hearing of the petition, filed by ‘We The Citizens’, saying the court had earlier ordered listing of the matter in the second week of January.
In August, the apex court adjourned hearing on a batch of petitions challenging Article 35 A till January this year, after taking note of submissions of the Centre and the state government that there was a law and order problem in the state.
Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.
The apex court had on August 31 deferred till January the hearing on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35 A, which provides special rights and privileges to natives of Jammu and Kashmir, after the Centre and the state said that polls to local bodies polls there would go on till December.
Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said that certain aspects of Article 35A needed to be debated upon and said, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A).”
On August 6, the apex court had said that a three-judge bench would decide whether the pleas challenging Article 35A should be referred to a five-judge constitution bench for examining the larger issue of alleged violation of the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution.
Several petitions including by political parties like the National Conference and the CPI-M, have also moved the Supreme Court in support of Article 35-A that empowers the state assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.
‘JK women marrying non-natives don’t lose residency rights’
Srinagar, Jan 22: Women hailing from Jammu and Kashmir who choose to marry men from outside the state do not lose their residency and inheritance rights under Article 35-A of the Constitution, a top legal expert said on Tuesday.
“This issue was settled by a full bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court in the case titled State and others vs Dr Susheela Sawhney and others in October 2002 by striking down the proviso of the state subject (permanent residency) law according to which women marrying outsiders would lose their permanent resident status,” former advocate general of Jammu and Kashmir government Ishaq Qadri said.
The bench, in the landmark judgment on 7 October 2002, held by a majority view that the daughter of a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose her status as a permanent resident upon her marriage to a person from outside the state.
Qadri’s remarks come after the Supreme Court said earlier on Tuesday it would take an “in-chamber” decision on listing of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the then PDP-Congress coalition government challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court but later withdrew its petition.
“Then law minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh brought Jammu and Kashmir Permanent Resident Status (Disqualification) Bill 2004 in the state legislative assembly and it was passed by the lower house in March 2004,” the former advocate general said.
“Since it was a Constitutional amendment bill, it needed two-thirds majority to be passed. The National Conference, which was in the opposition, supported it, ensuring the passage of the bill in the assembly,” Qadri said.
Had the bill passed the scrutiny of the legislative council — the upper house of the state legislature — and got the governor’s assent, the women marrying men outside the state would have lost their status as permanent residents, he added.
However, there was an outcry against the bill, mainly in the Jammu region.
It was taken up for discussion in the legislative council but the then chairman Abdul Rashid Dar adjourned the House sine die without taking a vote on it, Qadri said.
“As A result, the bill lapsed and it was never reintroduced,” he said, adding that the high court ruling on the permanent residency rights of women marrying outside the state stands as on date.
Article 35-A was incorporated in the Constitution in 1954 by an order of President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the then Cabinet headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.
In the previous hearing of the petition filed by NGO ‘We The Citizens’, a lawyer had given an illustration and said if a native woman of the state married an outsider, she loses several rights, including property rights, in the state, but if a man marries a Pakistani woman, he and his spouse get all rights.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is representing the Jammu and Kashmir government in the apex court, had agreed to the contention that Article 35-A and certain aspects needed to be debated upon.
He said, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A).”
Avalanche hits Ramban, 12-year-old girl among 2 killed
Heavy snowfall closes Sgr-Jmu highway; weather to improve from today
Srinagar, Jan 22: Two persons were killed and many others went missing after an avalanche hit them while they were heading home at Kawana Trigam village in Ramban district on Tuesday.
Official sources said that snow avalanche, which occurred at around 3 pm near Kawana at Trigam, swept away four persons.
Bodies of two persons were recovered and they have been identified as Rafiq (25) son of Ghulam Qadir and Sumerna (12) daughter of Mukhtar Ahmed.
The missing persons have been identified as Fatha Begum (30), son of Surkh Ahmed and Taja Begum (32) wife of Margob. All residents of Trigam, 50kms from Ramban, were moving towards their home when the avalanche struck them.
Deputy Commissioner Ramban has sanctioned ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh in favour of each of the Next of kin of the deceased.
Meanwhile, the local meteorological department predicted improvement in the weather conditions from Wednesday.
Deputy Director MeT, Mukhtar Ahmad said there will be improvement in the weather conditions from Wednesday.
Ahmad further added that there is no further prediction of rain or snowfall across the Valley till January 29 but on Jan 25, the weather would remain cloudy throughout the day as per the present forecast.
The intermittent rainfall continued to lash plains since Sunday evening while as the higher reaches and other districts of the Valley experienced fresh snowfall.
The snowfall at various places especially Srinagar-Jammu highway led to the continuous closure of the only road connecting Valley with rest of the States.
The highway was closed for second straight day today in view of the fresh snowfall that triggered slippery conditions of the roads.
Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers are stranded on the highway at Banihal or other districts in Jammu due to the closure of roads who have demanded authorities to open the highway for vehicular movement at an earliest.
However, officials said that men and machinery has already been deployed to clear the road but the fresh snowfall on Tuesday disrupted the road clearance work.
“The road clearance work is on and the road will be thrown open after the roads are cleared,” they added. (With inputs from GNS)
Observe Jan 26 as ‘Black Day’: Joint Hurriyat to people
Srinagar, Jan 22: The Joint Hurriyat Leadership on Tuesday urged people to observe January 26 as a ‘black day’ to register their strong protest against New Delhi for not resolving Kashmir dispute.
In a statement, the Joint Hurriyat comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said that for past 71 years people of J&K have been demanding the right to self-determination that Indian leadership promised to them.
“However, till this day not only has that commitment not been fulfilled but those that remind them of it are rewarded with bullets and pellets are incarcerated and gagged,” the statement said.
They said that lakhs of armed forces are deployed to suppress the aspirations of people and draconian laws like AFSPA and PSA are invoked to ensure people’s sentiments do not get out of hand.
“Hundreds of people are lodged and languishing in jails in JK and outside whose only crime is their demand for restoration of basic human and political rights the fundamental right to decide their destiny,” the Joint Hurriyat said.