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Pakistan welcomes US mediation for easing ties with India

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Khwaja Asif claims of “cleared air” in ties with US

Having gone through US pressure for “doing more” to contain terror groups on its soil for few months, Pakistan seemed to be relieved on Monday when its foreign minister Khwaja Asif assured that their security forces have dismantled terrorist network across the country and welcomed US mediation for easing its ties with India.

According to Radio Pakistan Asif was speaking at US-Pakistan Bilateral Dialogue – organised by a think tank in Islamabad. He said that Pakistan has always opted for comprehensive dialogue for a peaceful neighbourhood. Asif shared dais with US Ambassador David Hale after a while on Monday.

The theme for the US-Pakistan Bilateral Dialogue was “Convergence amid divergence: Identifying pathways to cooperation in a challenging environment”.

Clarifying US preference of India’s growing role in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s foreign Minister Khwaja Asif said, “America has assured us that New Delhi’s role in Afghanistan will be limited to economic assistance only.”

He said that it was “unfair to blame Pakistan for whatever ails Afghanistan” as Pakistan has “eliminated terrorism from its soil after great sacrifices and now there are no terrorist safe havens here”.

Asif claimed that recent interactions between Pakistan and US has “cleared the air”, and added, “We look forward to confidence building to achieve the goal of peace in the region.”

He claimed that its counter-terrorism efforts have prevented “countless” militant attacks in the US and Europe and said that Pakistan and US have a lot of work to do in fighting negative perceptions.

He assured that Pakistan was is ready to cooperate with other countries to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan. “The US should share timely intelligence and Pakistan will take action itself,” he added.

While speaking to media persons after the dialogue, Asif described the differences in Pakistan-US relations as “only misperceptions which are being put aside by continued dialogue”.

The News International, published from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, reports that US ambassador has revealed that his country had put pressure on India to improve its relations with Pakistan. At the same time he asked Pakistan to show “equal diligence” in fighting all terrorist groups operating in the country, including Haqqani network and cautioned that bilateral relations are at a “crucial juncture.”

The Ambassador discussed US policy about Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said that Trump administration’s recently announced South Asia strategy seeks a secure and stable Afghanistan and looks to Pakistan for decisive action against the terrorists operating on its soil.

The US Ambassador was quoted saying, “We ask for equal diligence in decimating all the groups operating in Pakistan which threaten the region’s stability, including the Haqqani network. We seek a sustained and irreversible effort to achieve an aspiration and commitment that was made public by Pakistani officials themselves, and end to the use of Pakistan soil for attacks on its neighbours.” 

The daily further says that US and Afghan officials have alleged that Taliban and its Haqqani allies are directing the insurgency in Afghanistan from sanctuaries on Pakistani soil. The allegations have been at the centre of Islamabad’s tension with Kabul and Washington.

The US ambassador indicated favouring negotiated settlement with Taliban. He reiterated that US are committed to denying the Taliban a military victory in Afghanistan and urged Pakistan to assist in advancing “negotiated settlement” to the conflict.

“Pakistani leaders have made clear that they share our goals for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. It is now time to join in our efforts and create a context in which terrorist groups can no longer launch cross-border attacks and see no alternative to negotiations,” said the ambassador.

India and Pakistan held no bilateral formal talks since December 2015 despite agreeing to launch Comprehensive Dialogue due to string of terror attacks on military facilities. India blamed Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) for the attacks on Indian Air Force base in Pathankot and its army personnel in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

In April this year, Gopal Baglay, the spokesperson of external affairs ministry had indicated that India’s stand that “disputes with Pakistan must be resolved bilaterally and without third party mediation” remains unchanged.

He was responding to US envoy to UN Nikki Haley’s comments that her country would try and “find its place” in efforts to de-escalate strains between India and Pakistan.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda says statements on reclaiming Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka have no ground

Devananda told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about Katchatheevu as elections are taking place in India.

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Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda has said the statements from some political leaders in India on reclaiming Katchatheevu from the island nation have no ground. He told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about the strategic island as elections are taking place in India.

The Sri Lankan Minister said he thought India is acting on its interests to secure this place to ensure Sri Lankan fishermen would not have any access to that area and that Sri Lanka should not claim any rights in that resourceful area. According to the 1974 agreement, Devananda said Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen can go fishing in the territorial waters of both countries until the pact was reviewed and amended in 1976.

The amended agreement resulted in fishermen from both countries being barred from fishing in neighboring waters. India’s ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday steered clear of the row surrounding Katchatheevu island. To a volley of questions on the Katchatheevu issue, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal reffered to External affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent comments on the matter.

He said he would like to talk about the issue that has been raised. He added the External Affairs minister has spoken to the press here in Delhi and also in Gujarat and has clarified all the issues. He said everyone should look into the press engagements and they would find the answers to their questions there.

The remarks from Devananda, a Sri Lankan Tamil, came days after the Narendra Modi government accused the Congress and its ally DMK in Tamil Nadu of overlooking national interests by handing over Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka in 1974. The BJP has also been slamming the 2 parties for not ensuring the rights of the fishermen wanting to fish in waters around the island.

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US reiterates its call for fair, transparent, legal process for Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, speaks on Congress frozen accounts

The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections.

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A day after India summoned an US diplomat over their remarks on the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor policy case, the US reiterated its call for fair, transparent, timely legal processes on Wednesday.

Responding to questions on India summoning Gloria Berbena, the US Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that they will continue to follow these actions closely, including the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Notably, the meeting at the foreign ministry’s South Block office lasted nearly 40 minutes yesterday with India objecting strongly to the US remarks on the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal.

Matthew Miller also responded to a question on the Congress party’s frozen bank accounts. The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections. He added that the US encourages fair, transparent and timely legal processes for each of the issues.

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested last week by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection to the Delhi liquor policy scam. Earlier, AAP leaders Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Sanjay Singh were arrested in the same case.

The External Affairs Ministry had earlier stated that states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others, and this responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies, adding that it could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents.

The Ministry further emphasized that India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. It mentioned that casting aspersions on India’s legal procedure is unwarranted.

The United State’s remarks followed days after Germany’s Foreign Office stressed that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is entitled to a fair and impartial trial. The Indian government labelled their remark as blatant interference in internal matters.

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5 Chinese nationals killed in suicide bomb attack in Pakistan

This is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

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Nearly five Chinese nationals were killed in an explosion during an attack on their convoy by a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday. Reportedly, the suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers travelling from Islamabad to their camp in Dasu, situated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Regional police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur said that five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in the attack. As yet, none has claimed responsibility for the attack. Bisham Station House Officer (SHO) Bakht Zahir asserted that the incident was a suicide blast and the authorities concerned were collecting the evidence.

The Station House Officer further added that security arrangements were tightened at the spot and the bodies were being shifted to a hospital. He added that they will investigate from where and how the vehicle of a suicide bomber came and how it happened. Notably, this is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

Previously, two attacks hit an airbase and a strategic port in the southwest province of Balochistan where China is investing billions in infrastructure projects. Several Chinese engineers and Pakistani construction workers have for multiple years been working on hydroelectric projects as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative in the western province of Khyber-Paktunkhwa.

Notably, Dasu is home to a significant dam project, has been a target of previous attacks. Earlier in 2021, the attack in Dasu resulted in the deaths of nine Chinese nationals, along with two Pakistani children. The incident occured when a bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the Dasu Hydropower Project site was targeted.

There was confusion surrounding the nature of the attack initially, with some reports suggesting it was a bus accident. Nonetheless, subsequent investigations revealed that it was indeed a terrorist attack. The bus was hit by a blast, leading it to plunge into a ravine.

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