MIRPUR – Pakistan Army on Saturday shot down an Indian spy drone over the Line of Control (LoC), said a statement released by the military's media wing.
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Pakistan Army on Tuesday maintained that the recent crackdown on banned outfits is not due to any external pressure, and that the action is being taken as part of the National Action Plan (NAP) formulated and endorsed by all major political parties and …
PESHAWAR: People took out processions in different areas here on Wednesday against the Indian aggression and vowed full support to the Pakistan Army for protection of the country.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) has come and gone. He arrived amid great fanfare and departed on a high note, leaving behind a government grateful for a seemingly significant package of promised investments worth billions of dollars.
But what does the visit really amount to in both political and economic terms? The promise of $21 billion is nothing to trifle about.But seen in a broader historic context, the promises come in the shape of memoranda of understanding (MoU), not actual investments. A report in this newspaper last week revealed that Pakistan had signed over 10,000 MoUs in the last two decades but only two percent materialised into on-the-ground investments.The political context matters. The latest Saudi promises translating into MoUs have been underwritten by MBS himself on his first-ever visit to Pakistan, and come on the heels of hectic deliberations over the last four months, including two meetings between him and IK in Riyadh and another three with Pakistan’s military leadership.
They also follow two separate sets of $3 billion assistance for balance of payment support and oil on deferred payments, which led to similar arrangements with the UAE and China, thus preventing potential bankruptcy.This total of $12 billion worth of investments in oil and mineral sectorare already materialising and go beyond MoUs, so that is something.
The other significant aspect is that the MoUs are for investments that specify several projects and acquisitions such as a major refinery in Balochistan and power plants in Punjab — in a staggered manner over the course of five years. That the promised money has a high probability of materialising into Pakistan’s fraught economy is hinted at by the establishment of an Implementation Coordination Council to be co-chaired annually by MBS and IK, with its maiden meeting held in Islamabad and co-chaired by the two leaders even before the ink on the MoUs had dried.A three-year priority list and action plan were promptly drawn up, bilateral working groups created, and tasks assigned. This is super-fast by Pakistan standards and smell of real money!While the fate of the investments is in the hands of the working groups, what cannot escape scrutiny is the fact that these promises-leading-to-investments really constitute an economic bailout for Pakistan, which require payback.
Pakistan must start paying back $12 billion to Saudi Arabia, UAE and China starting from the new fiscal year in equal annual installments. This is on top of the current annual $9 billion debt servicing obligations.
The $21 billion Saudi investments will come at an average of $5 billion a year, if all of it will flow in, and that too will depend on Pakistan creating and utilising capacity for delivery.In addition to Pakistan having to deliver on these tough financial terms and economic performance, the real cost of this Saudi bailout over several years may be political and tougher to deliver.
The deep involvement of the Pakistani military in bringing fractured bilateral ties between Islamabad and Riyadh cannot come without expectations on the issue of security.The Saudi refinery at Gwadar will kill any remaining chances of a long-gestating Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline as it allows the Saudis to export oil supplies to China and Central Asia right through Iran’s backyard.
A former Pakistan Army chief is already head of the security alliance against terrorism based in Saudi Arabia. He shuttled between Islamabad and Riyadh, meeting both IK and the COAS, ahead of the MBS visit.The previous government led by Nawaz Sharif, otherwise considered historically close to the Saudis, balked at providing outright support of the military to the Saudi security alliance which is seen as one that aligns Sunni states. It was IK who protested on the streets against Pakistan aligning itself with the military alliance currently fighting Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Ironically, IK seems to have reversed his stance on the issue now that he is in power and is ready to go the extra mile with Saudi Arabia.While there has been no formal mention of Pakistan’s security partnership during the MBS visit, everyone found themselves focusing on it when the Saudi foreign minister, accompanying MBS, said in a press conference jointly with his Pakistani counterpart that Iran was a sponsor of terrorism.This brought into open the elephant in the room – Pakistan’s ties with Iran – even though the engagement was a bilateral one between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. This embarrassed Pakistan and its foreign minister had to call his Iranian counterpart within a couple of hours of his press conference with the Saudi foreign minister to assuage concerns that Pakistan was neutral with Iran and that its ties with Saudi Arabia were not going to influence its relationship with Iran.
This ‘X’ factor in Pakistan’s strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia – Iran –will test Pakistan’s diplomatic and political skills at packaging a neutrality-in-policy that is not neutrality-in-practice. The Saudi refinery at Gwadar will kill any remaining chances of a long-gestating Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline as it allows the Saudis to export oil supplies to China and Central Asia right through Iran’s geographic backyard.Iran will not let go this strategic slight by Pakistan. This will make a long-term de facto or de jure security pact between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia all but inevitable to counter Iranian anger.
The MBS visit to Pakistan definitely carves out a more strategic engagement with Pakistan by moving the course from hitherto an assistance relationship to an economic relationship. But that is really a thin cover for a broader, long-term security relationship that will pitch Pakistan into a larger strategic regional game but, considering how security interests in Pakistan impact national polity, will end up changing Pakistan’s political landscape.And, from the perspective of the people, this will not necessarily be for the better. COAScrown prince Mohammad bin Salman Gwadar Imran Khan MBS Pakistan and Saudi relations Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia and Pakistan Adnan Rehmat 2019-02-24 TNS Editor tweet The author is a political analyst and media development specialist.
LAHORE: The government has begun backdoor contacts with India and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is currently in India, has met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma.
Vankwani also met Minster of State for External Affairs General VK Singh, the four-star general who has also served as the Indian army chief.“I have communicated a positive note to the Indian leaders and I hope there will now be a change in their behaviour,” Vankwani said on Saturday while talking to The Express Tribune over telephone.The Sindh-based PTI leader, who is a lawmaker on minority seat, is in India on a religious trip amid heightened tensions between the two rival states in the wake of February 14 suicide attack that killed at least 40 India paramilitaries in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Trump alarmed by ‘very dangerous situation’ between Pakistan, IndiaVankwani said he encountered Modi during an event and the Indian PM met him warmly. He said he told Modi that he had come with a positive message and wanted to return with a positive message.He said later on Modi’s directive, Sushma Swaraj also held a 25-minute-long meeting with him.“I told the Indian foreign minister that in Pakistan its captain’s [Prime Minister Imran Khan] government now; he is a Pathan and he does what he says.We assure you that no Pakistani institution is involved in Pulwama attack. If India provides evidence, we will facilitate the investigation,” Vankwani said.
According to the MNA, he told Swaraj that the two countries need to take lessons from past and not to hold on to it.“Enmity can be brought to an end by befriending the enemy,” he said, adding that he himself has returned after Ganga Ashnan (ablution) and never tells lies.FO sets up ‘Crisis Management Cell’ in Pulwama aftermath“I told them that we need to get out of politics of accusations,” he added.According to Vankwani, after the meeting he felts that the atmosphere was beginning to thaw.
“Indian PM during his Rajasthan rally has hinted at holding dialogue with Pakistan,” he added.PTI’s Ramesh Kumar Vankwani meets State Minister for External Affairs Gen VK Singh.EXPRESSHe said he had come to India on invitation from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) for participation in Kumbh Mela. “220 people from 125 countries from all over the world have been invited to participate in this event and I am representing Pakistan,” he added.
PHOTO: EXPRESSWar frenzy has been sweeping across India ever since a young man from Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) rammed a vehicle full of explosives into a military convoy in Pulwama, killing nearly four dozen soldiers.India airlifts thousands of paramilitary troops to occupied KashmirJaish-e-Mohammad militant group, which Delhi claims operates from Pakistan, purportedly claimed credit for the deadliest attack on Indian troops in IoK.Delhi put the blame squarely on the state of Pakistan, deployed its troops menacingly close to the border, and started issuing threats.Amid crescendoing war hysteria and relentless threats of military action from India, the Pakistan Army on Friday also issued an unambiguous warning to New Delhi: Dont mess with Pakistan.
We do not wish to go to war. But please be assured, should you initiate any aggression, you shall never be able to surprise us.We shall, for sure, surprise you, the chief military spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor, said during an unusual media briefing
SIALKOT: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that defending the motherland is the most sacred act and the Pakistan Army is ready to perform its duty to safeguard the country's boundaries.
RAWALPINDI: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor is expected to address an “important” press conference at 3 pm on Friday.
The press conference comes at a time when Pakistan and India face heightened tensions after the Pulwama attack in the Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).
On February 14, at least 49 Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and many others injured when suspected militants targeted a convoy with a car bomb at Awantipora, in what is the worst attack ever on security personnel in the state.The car bomb attack was reportedly claimed by militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and carried out by a 20-year-old Kashmiri man.
India has accused Pakistan of facilitating the attack as tensions between the two countries escalated and India announced it would withdraw Pakistan’s ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status. However, Pakistan has denied all allegations of terror financing.Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the Pakistan Army to respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure by India.The premier issued the directives during a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), which discussed the geo-strategic environment in the region as well as the situation arising after the Pulwama incident.Prior to the NSC meeting, Khan also held a meeting with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. The two dignitaries discussed the national and regional security situation, it was reported.
Srinagar, Feb 15: The Jaish-e-Mohamamad on Thursday carried out one of the most lethal strikes in Jammu and Kashmir, in which nearly 44 CRPF jawans were martyred.
Jawans carry a victim after militants attacked a CRPF convoy in Goripora area of Awantipora town in Pulwama district.
Security officials have always warned that the Jaish is the deadliest terror group in the Valley and poses the highest threat due to the kind of attacks it can carry out. Ironically this group has grown leaps and bounds over the past couple of years.From being dormant, the Jaish has become the most dreaded groups in the Valley over the years.Also Read | Pulwama suicide attack: Both IB and police had warned of Jaish led strike Currently the Jaish has a terrorist strength of over 60 in the Valley.It has also created suicide and sniper squads in the Valley.The security forces say that while the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayiba have been dented largely, the Jaish on the other hand has become deadlier.
The terror group did not have a single terrorist in the Valley in 2016. However in the past three years, it has managed to grow in terms of strength and numbers in the Valley.The Jaish headed by Maulana Masood Azhar was founded in 2000. However after making a deadly start in the Valley, it had become dormant for long.
It is since the Pathankot attack that we have begun to witness that the group has been raising its ugly head once again.The group may not have the numbers that the Hizbul Mujahideen has, but it is more deadly than another terror group in the Valley.If one were to do a comparison of the numbers, the Hizbul has anything between 200 to 300 operatives in comparison to 40 to 60 that the Jaish has.Now, what makes the Jaish so lethal? First and foremost, these terrorists are highly trained and have state of the art weapons.The M4 Carbine was first brought into the Valley by this group. The other factor is that the group puts in place a plan before staging an attack.It undergoes the entire process of recruitment, training, reconnaissance and then carrying out an attack.The Hizbul Mujahideen on the other hand shows its dominance through its numbers.
Most of their terrorists are untrained and do not have powerful weapons. The recent plea by the Hizbul Mujahideen commander through a video message complaining about the lack of weapons or outdated ones is a clear indicator of what the strength of the outfit is.An Intelligence Bureau official explains to OneIndia that the Hizbul was a fading outfit, brought back to life by a social media campaign by slain commander of the outfit, Burhan Wani. This went on to become a fad and their presence became restricted largely to the social media through which they indulged in propaganda.The Jaish on the other hand which is nurtured by the Pakistan army and ISI has grown in terms of strength. Pakistan has been investing more into this group and with a free flow of funds and access to the best possible weaponry has gone on to become extremely lethal.Moreover the Jaish focuses on big operations and attacks at Nagrota and Pathankot are proof of this.Also Read | Jaish bomber released a chilling video before striking at PulwamaOver the past couple of months, several local youth have been making a beeline towards this outfit.The Jaish, however uses only its Pakistani terrorists in big attacks. The locals are tasked with gathering information and logistics, security officials say.The choice of Pakistani terrorists for major attacks is due to the fact that they are highly trained. These terrorists undergo extensive training before they are launched into the Valley, officials also say.Officials also admit that the encounters with the Jaish terrorists especially those from Pakistan are the hardest. Firstly they are highly trained, secondly they have sophisticated weapons and more importantly they are ready to die.
They plan only in terms of fidayeen attacks and this makes the encounters difficult the officer added