JANUARY 2017

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- Suresh Jaura
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MORE SMOKE & MIRRORS

0712 flag pakistanSectarian violence in Karachi is just another chapter in Pakistan’s long history of violence against minorities, has afflicted Pakistan virtually from its moment of birth...

TRUMP'S FOREIGN POLICY

U.S. allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, smiling through their teeth, are feverishly hoping that Washington will maintain its security commitments. The Russians are ... . . ..   

AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN-USA

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Growing support for suicide terrorism

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PAKISTAN: News Briefs

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TTP's popularity is on the rise in Pakistan, claims TTP 'spokesman' Shahidullah Shahid: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on February 26 claimed that its popularity is on the rise in Pakistan. "An ever increasing number of Pakistanis are joining hands with us adding more and more firepower to our jihadist capabilities. The graph of our popularity is going north", Shahid said in a statement. "We are dying to see the "glorious" results of a "grand" onslaught that the "valiant" armed forces of Pakistan are preparing to launch against us", he said, adding, "Instead of pulling the "trigger", if the government of Pakistan focuses on removing the "triggers" of this war the TTP's anti-state activities will reduce drastically". The News, February 27, 2014.

83 militants and two SFs among 85 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 38 militants, including key 'commanders', were killed in early February 23-morning air strikes the Ghaibi Nika area of Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

At least 35 militants were killed on February 20 as fighter jets targeted suspected insurgent hideouts in Dattakhel, Shawal and Mir Ali tehsils (revenue unit) of the North Waziristan Agency.

An Army Major, Jahanzaib, and three militants were killed in an exchange of fire in Frontier Region (FR) Peshawar on February 18. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia; The Nation; Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, February 18-24, 2014.

Security Forces do not have TTP's women and children in custody, says ISPR: The Inter Services Public relations (ISPR) dismissed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)'s allegations of Security Forces (SFs) having the custody of women and children of TTP members. Rejecting the allegations levelled by the TTP, ISPR spokesperson said that these allegations against SFs are unsubstantiated and false, further stating that it was a baseless propaganda by the TTP. Tribune, February 23, 2014.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stresses allegiance to Constitution before holding talks: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 21 made it clear that the Government is ready to hold dialogue only with those who have respect for the Constitution and integrity of the country. "We are ready for talks for stability and peace in Pakistan but let me make it clear we are willing to hold a dialogue only with those who have regard for the Constitution and integrity of the country..." he said. Rahimullah Yousafzai, a member of Government's committee, on February 21 said that the Taliban, during the talks, did not abnegate the Constitution and had agreed to hold talks within the framework of the Constitution.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on February 21 refused to announce a ceasefire, calling on the Government to do so first. TTP 'spokesman' Shahidullah Shahid said a ceasefire cannot be announced as the Government has been fighting against the Taliban. Dawn; The News, February 22, 2014.

460 people killed by terrorists since the formation of APC, claims security official: At least 460 people have been killed in terrorist attacks across the country since the Government held an All-Parties Conference (APC) on September 10, 2013, to mull ways and means to end bloodshed in the country. "The dead include 308 civilians, 114 military personnel and 38 Policemen," the official said. He said that some 1,264 people were injured in the terrorist attacks by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the same period. "The injured include 684 civilians, 531 military personnel and 49 Policemen," he added. Daily Times, February 20, 2014.

Islamabad under threat from LeJ, TTP and al Qaeda 'sleeper cells', reveals Interior Ministry report: Islamabad is under severe threat of terrorism from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and al Qaeda, a report of the Interior Ministry presented in the Standing Committee of National Assembly on Interior revealed on February 19. According to the report, Islamabad is the most dangerous city as the "sleeper cell" of banned TTP, LeJ and al Qaeda are posing a grave threat to the security of the city. Daily Times, February 20, 2014.

US to use Central Asian bases for drone attacks in Pakistan: The Barrack Obama administration is making contingency plans to use air bases in Central Asia to conduct drone missile attacks in northwest Pakistan in case the US is forced to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. According to the report even if alternative bases are secured, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA's) capability to gather sufficient intelligence to find al Qaeda operatives and quickly launch drone missiles at specific targets in Pakistan's mountainous tribal region will be greatly diminished if the spy agency loses its drone bases in Afghanistan. The News, February 18, 2014.

30 civilians and four militants among 36 persons killed during the week in KP: At least 13 persons were killed and 19 others injured when three back-to-back explosions occurred inside Shama Cinema in the Bacha Khan Chowk area of Peshawar (Peshawar District), the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), on February 11.

Nine persons were killed on February 11 after unidentified assailants attacked a house by opening fire and hurling hand grenades in the Badhaber area of Peshawar.

Three suspected militants were killed in an explosion in the Bacha Khan locality of Kolachi area in Dera Ismail Khan District.

Four women were killed and three others were injured in a suicide blast near a house in the Essa Khel Garhi area of Peshawar on February 10.

Unidentified motorcyclists shot dead three school teachers in the Kach Banda area of Hangu District when they were on their way home following school duty on February 10. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia; The Nation; Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, February 11-17 2014.

19 civilians and 13 SFs among 44 persons killed during the week in Sindh: At least 14 persons were killed in separate incidents of target killing and violence in Karachi on February 16.

Four persons, including a supporter of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), were killed in different parts of Karachi city (Karachi District) on February 15.

At least 13 Policemen were killed and 34 others were injured in a suicide blast targeting a bus carrying 50 Police officers near the gate of Razzakabad Police Training Center in Shah Latif Town of Karachi.

Three persons were killed in separate incidents of violence in Karachi on February 11.

Five persons were killed in separate incidents of target killing and violence in Karachi on February 10. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia; The Nation; Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, February 11-17 2014.

TTP kills 23 kidnapped FC personnel: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on February 16 claimed to have killed 23 Frontier Corps (FC) personnel kidnapped in June 2010 from Shoonkri Post of Mohmand Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), reports Daily Times. According to reports, the TTP Mohmand Agency 'spokesman', Omar Khurasani said that the kidnapped FC personnel were killed as revenge because the Government was continuously killing their men in different parts of the country, including Karachi, Peshawar and Swabi. He said if the Government does not stop killing the TTP supporters, they would also continue to kill Security Force personnel.

After the TTP claim, it was decided that the Government committee and TTP negotiators will not be meeting on February 17 (today). Daily Times; Tribune, February 17, 2014.

Pakistan fourth most dangerous countries for journalists, says CPJ report: A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on February 12 that at least five journalists were reported to be killed for their work in Pakistan in 2013. According to the report, Pakistan was ranked as the fourth most dangerous country, behind countries such as Syria, Iraq and Egypt in terms of journalists killed. Earlier in 2012, seven journalists were killed for their work in Pakistan. Tribune, February 13, 2014.

TTP has 500 female suicide bombers ready, says TTP negotiator Maulana Abdul Aziz: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) sees no urgency to reach an agreement with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Government, Maulana Abdul Aziz, one of the three negotiators representing the TTP, said February 10. In an interview at his Islamabad seminary, where some 1,300 female students are studying, Aziz said, "You should know that at the moment they (TTP) have at least 400 to 500 female suicide bombers in Waziristan and other tribal areas". Aziz said the TTP is most interested in implementing Sharia (Islamic Law) in Pakistan. Pakistan Today, February 11, 2014.

15 civilians and five SFs among 26 persons killed during the week in Sindh: At least nine people, including an infant, were killed and 10 others were injured when unidentified militants opened fire on a shrine of Meharban Ali Shah alias Jalali Baba in the Saeedabad area of Baldia Town in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh, on February 9.

Six people killed in separate incidents of violence in Karachi on February 3. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia; The Nation; Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, February 4-10 2014.

TTP comes up with 15 demands for peace talks: The "political Shura (council)" and negotiations committee of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) met at an undisclosed location in North Waziristan Agency of FATA for the second consecutive day on February 9 and produced as many as 15 demands to be put forward to the Government's negotiation committee. TTP Shura had been meeting since February 8 under its Deputy Ameer (chief), Sheikh Khalid Haqqani.

On February 7 the outfit said that that the negotiations with the Government will be aimed at imposing Sharia (Islamic law) in the country. Dawn, February 10, 2014. The News, February 8, 2014.

US State Department designate LeJ 'chief' Malik Ishaq as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist: The United States (US) on February 6 designated Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) 'chief' Malik Ishaq in its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist. "The Department of State has designated Malik Ishaq as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224," said a statement issued by the US State Department. The US Government also decided to keep his outfit on the international terrorist organisation list. Dawn, February 8, 2014.

'We reiterate our firm support to the people of J&K in their 'legitimate struggle' for their inalienable 'right to self-determination', says Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif:Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif on February 5 reiterated Pakistan's firm support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in their 'legitimate struggle' for their inalienable 'right to self-determination'. Speaking on Kashmir Solidarity Day, he stated, "The peaceful people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to suffer. Not only the right to self-determination is being denied to them but they are also being subjected to the worst kind of human rights abuses, violence and suppression. This is an occasion to reiterate our firm support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their legitimate struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination. On this day we reaffirm our resolve to stand by our brothers and sisters in their valiant struggle for their just cause." Dawn, February 6, 2014.

'US sharply curtails drone strikes in Pakistan, says report: The United States (US) has cut back sharply on drone strikes in Pakistan after the Islamabad Government asked for restraint while it seeks peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), The Washington Post report said. The report quoted a US official as saying, "That's what they asked for, and we didn't tell them no." The newspaper said there had been a lull in such attacks since December, the longest break since 2011l. Tribune , February 6, 2014.

PM Nawaz Sharif announces four-member new team to help Government in peace talks with TTP: Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif on January 29 announced a new four-member non-political team to help Government in its efforts for peace with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The committee announced by the PM comprises his Adviser on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui, Major (retired) Aamir, senior journalist Rahimullah Yousafzai and former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand - two journalists, one former intelligence man and a former diplomat.

Meanwhile, the TTP on February 1 formed a committee, which includes Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan for peace talks. Apart from Khan, the five members named by TTP includes Jamiat Ulema Islam-Samiul Haq group (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq, Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Mufti Kifayatullah, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) provincial chief Professor Mohammad Ibrahim and the former cleric of Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz. Khan, however, played it down by saying that the TTP should select their own Taliban representatives for the peace talks. Daily Times; Hindu, February 2, 2014.

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