Pakistan army chief asks Iran to tighten border security, stop terror attacks

Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa
Short Url
Updated 13 May 2020

Pakistan army chief asks Iran to tighten border security, stop terror attacks

  • Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday linked the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Pakistan with the forced sending of pilgrims back from Iran

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top commander has asked Tehran to tighten its borders in a bid to curb terrorist attacks on Pakistani security forces by militants allegedly operating from Iran.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa called his Iranian counterpart, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Bagheri, and discussed an array of issues including border fencing, improvement of border terminals and the killing of Pakistani security personnel near the Pakistan-Iranian border, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Monday.
“The COAS said that Pakistan has started fencing the border but will require mutual bilateral cooperation to ensure border security and stem smuggling activity which is also used by terrorists and Narco traffickers for covering their movement,” the ISPR added.
Bajwa contacted Bagheri in the wake of an attack on a Frontier Corps patrol team in the Buleda area of Kech district last Friday in which six Pakistani security personnel lost their lives.
The attack, which took place about 14 km from the Iranian border, was claimed by the banned Baloch Liberation Army.
“The recent terrorist attack on Pak security forces resulting in shahadat of six security personnel near the Pak-Iran border also came under discussion. Both commanders resolved to enhance security measures on either side of the border,” the ISPR said.
The Pakistani army chief reiterated the “country’s desire for regional peace and stability based on mutual respect, non-interference and equality,” the military’s media wing added in its statement.
Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on April 29 approved 3 billion rupees ($18.6 million) in additional funds for the fencing of its border with Iran. The Senate of Pakistan was informed by the Frontier Constabulary of Balochistan on May 10 last year that the country had started fencing certain areas of the border which were hotspots for smuggling and militant movement.
The 900-km border begins at the Koh-i-Malik Salih mountain and ends at Gwadar Bay in the Gulf of Oman.

FASTFACT

Fencing of Pakistan-Iranian border underway to curb militancy: Foreign office spokesperson.

“The work on the Pak-Iran border fencing has been underway for the last few months for effective border management and to curb smuggling and militant activities,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, told Arab News on Tuesday.
She added that there was no need for a No Objection Certificate from the foreign office for this as it was primarily the decision of the institutions responsible for border management and security.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday also linked the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Pakistan with the forced sending of pilgrims back from Iran.
During a National Assembly session, he said that Iran had pushed around 5,000 Pakistani nationals through the border in Balochistan despite Islamabad’s request to wait until COVID-19 quarantine facilities were ready for them.
“Fencing the Pak-Iran border is very important as it is very difficult to patrol such a long stretch. It can only prove successful in curbing smuggling, narcotics and terrorists’ infiltration if Iran also reciprocates the efforts,” senior defense analyst, Lt. Gen. (retired) Amjad Shoaib, told Arab News.
He added that insurgent and militant activities had increased due to a heavy Indian presence in Chabahar.
“The need for border fencing was increased after the heavy presence of Indians in Chabahar, which resulted in an increase in insurgent activities as they have training camps there.
“Iran used to accuse Pakistan for infiltration of Jandullah from its side which was effectively eliminated by Pakistan, but Iran has not controlled insurgents and militants from using its soil for terrorist activities inside Pakistan,” Shoaib said.


UN chief fears world is heading toward a wider war

Updated 07 February 2023

UN chief fears world is heading toward a wider war

  • Guterres fears likelihood of further escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict means the world is heading towards a "wider war”
  • World must work harder for peace not only in Ukraine but in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, UN chief says

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations chief warned Monday that the world is facing a convergence of challenges “unlike any in our lifetimes” and expressed fear of a wider war as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said experts who surveyed the state of the world in 2023 set the Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight — the closest ever to “total global catastrophe,”
He pointed to the war in Ukraine, “runaway climate catastrophe, rising nuclear threats,” the widening gulf between the world’s haves and have-nots, and the “epic geopolitical divisions” undermining “global solidarity and trust.”
In a wide-ranging address Guterres urged the General Assembly’s 193 member nations to change their mindset on decision-making from near-term thinking, which he called “irresponsible” and “immoral,” to looking “at what will happen to all of us tomorrow — and act.”
He said this year’s 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should serve as a reminder that the foundation of the inalienable rights of all people is “freedom, justice and peace.”
Guterres said the transformation needed today must start with peace, beginning in Ukraine — where unfortunately, he said, peace prospects “keep diminishing” and “the chances of further escalation and bloodshed keep growing.”
“I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war. It is doing so with its eyes wide open,” he said.
The world must work harder for peace, Guterres said, not only in Ukraine but in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict “where the two-state solution is growing more distant by the day,” in Afghanistan where the rights of women and girls “are being trampled and deadly terrorist attacks continue” and in Africa’s Sahel region where security is deteriorating “at an alarming rate.”
He also called for stepped up peace efforts in military-ruled Myanmar which is facing new violence and repression, in Haiti where gangs are holding the country hostage, “and elsewhere around the world for the two billion people who live in countries affected by conflict and humanitarian crises.”
The secretary-general said it is time for all countries to recommit to the UN Charter, which calls for peaceful settlement of disputes, and for a new focus on conflict prevention and reconciliation.
The proposed new UN Agenda for Peace, he said, calls for “a new generation of peace enforcement missions and counter-terrorist operations, led by regional forces,” with a UN Security Council mandate that can be enforced militarily and guaranteed funding. “The African Union is an obvious partner in this regard,” he added.
Guterres also said it is time for nuclear-armed countries to renounce the first use of all nuclear weapons, including tactical nuclear weapons, a possible use that Russia has raised in Ukraine.
“The so-called `tactical’ use of nuclear weapons is absurd,” he said. “We are at the highest risk in decades of a nuclear war that could start by accident or design. We need to end the threat posed by 13,000 nuclear weapons held in arsenals around the world.”
As for the global financial system, Guterres called for “radical transformation” to put the needs of developing countries at the center of every decision.
He pointed to rising poverty and hunger around the world, developing countries forced to pay five times more to borrow money than advanced economies, vulnerable middle-income countries denied concessional funding and debt relief, and the richest 1 percent of the world’s people capturing “almost half of all new wealth over the past decade.”
Multilateral development banks must change their business model, Guterres said.
Guterres told diplomats that 2023 must also be “a year of game-changing climate action,” not of excuses or baby steps — and there must be “no more bottomless greed of the fossil fuel industry and its enablers.”
The world must focus on cutting global-warming greenhouse gas emissions by half this decade, which means far more ambitious action to cut carbon pollution by speeding the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, especially in the world’s 20 richest global economies, he said.
It also means cutting emissions from the highest emitting industrial sectors — steel, cement, shipping and aviation, he said.
Guterres had a special message for fossil fuel producers who he said are scrambling to expand production “and raking in monster profits.”
“If you cannot set a credible course for net-zero, with 2025 and 2040 targets covering all your operations, you should not be in business,” he said.
The secretary-general invited any leader in government, business or civil society to the Climate Ambition Summit he is convening in September — with a condition.
“Show us accelerated action in this decade and renewed ambitious net zero plans — or please don’t show up,” Guterres said.


US imposes security zone in search for Chinese balloon remnants

Updated 07 February 2023

US imposes security zone in search for Chinese balloon remnants

  • China called the shooting down of the balloon an “obvious overreaction”

WASHINGTON: The US Coast Guard on Monday imposed a temporary security zone in waters off South Carolina during the military’s search and recovery of debris from a suspected Chinese spy balloon that a US fighter jet shot down.
The White House said the balloon’s flight over the United States had done nothing to improve already tense relations with China and its national security spokesperson dismissed Beijing’s contention that the balloon was for meteorological purposes as straining credulity.
Beijing condemned the shooting down of the balloon and urged Washington to show restraint over the episode. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters: “Nobody wants to see conflict here.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a planned Feb.5-6 visit to China because of the balloon’s flight into US airspace last week. It was shot down off the Atlantic Coast on Saturday.
Kirby said Blinken would seek to reschedule the trip when the time is right.
The trip to Beijing would have been the first by a US secretary of state since 2018 as the United States and China have sought to mend ties that have been under severe strain over a range of disagreements, including US attempts to block Chinese access to some cutting-edge technologies.
INTELLIGENCE GATHERING
The United States was able to study the balloon while it was aloft and officials hope to glean valuable intelligence on its operations by retrieving as many components as possible, Kirby said.
China called the shooting down of the balloon an “obvious overreaction.”
“China firmly opposes and strongly protests against this,” Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said in remarks to the US embassy in Beijing posted on the ministry’s website.
US officials have played down the balloon’s impact on national security, although a successful recovery could potentially give the United States insight into China’s spying capabilities.
Senior US officials have offered to brief former Trump administration officials on the details of what the White House said was three China balloon overflights when Donald Trump was president. US officials said those balloons came to light after Trump left office in January 2021 and was succeeded by President Joe Biden.
A senior US general responsible for bringing down the balloon said on Monday the military had not detected previous spy balloons before the one that appeared on Jan. 28 over the United States and called it an “awareness gap.”
However, Air Force General Glen VanHerck, head of US North American Aerospace Defense Command and Northern Command said US intelligence determined the previous flights after the fact based on “additional means of collection” of intelligence without offering further details on whether that might be cyber espionage, telephone intercepts or human sources.
On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said China learned that its balloon had drifted over the United States after being notified by Washington.
“The unintended entry of this airship (into the US) is entirely an isolated, accidental incident. It tests the sincerity the US has in improving and stabilizing bilateral relations and the way it handles crises,” she said.
Mao said another balloon, spotted over Latin America, was an unmanned civilian airship on a test flight that “severely deviated and unintendedly entered the space above Latin America because it was affected by the weather and because it has limited self-steering capability.”
On Sunday, Colombia’s military said it sighted an airborne object similar to a balloon after the Pentagon said on Friday that another Chinese balloon was flying over Latin America.
POSSIBLE REPERCUSSIONS
While calling for US restraint, China has warned of “serious repercussions” and said it will use the necessary means to deal with “similar situations,” without elaborating. Some policy analysts said they expect any response to be finely calibrated, however, to prevent diplomatic ties becoming even worse.
Brokerage ING said in a Monday note that the incident could exacerbate the “tech war” and would have a negative near-term impact on China’s yuan currency.
“Both sides will likely impose more export bans on technology in different industries. This is a new threat to supply chain disruption, although the risk of logistical disruption from COVID restrictions has now disappeared,” it said.
“This new risk is more of a long-term risk than an imminent one,” ING said.


Blinken tells Turkiye to ‘let us know’ what US can do after earthquake

Updated 07 February 2023

Blinken tells Turkiye to ‘let us know’ what US can do after earthquake

  • Blinken asked his senior staff to identify available funding to help Turkiye and NGOs in Syria

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Turkish counterpart to “pick up the phone and let us know” what the United States can do to help after a huge earthquake hit the country on Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.
The Biden administration’s top diplomat spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone following the earthquake that killed more than 2,700 people across a swathe of Turkiye and northwest Syria.
“It was so important for the secretary to speak to his foreign minister counterpart, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, in the first instance to offer condolences and to make clear...that anything Turkiye needed that we could provide, they should pick up the phone and let us know,” Price said.
Blinken asked his senior staff on Monday morning to identify what funding might be available to help Turkiye and NGOs working on the ground in Syria, Price said.
Washington has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team and is in the process of deploying two urban search and rescue teams from Virginia and California that are expected to comprise 79 people each, the US Agency for International Development said.
The US consulate in the southern Turkish city of Adana would also host others working on rescue efforts, Price added.


Former military ruler Musharraf’s body arrives in Pakistan

Pervez Musharraf died on Sunday aged 79 in Dubai. (File/AP)
Updated 06 February 2023

Former military ruler Musharraf’s body arrives in Pakistan

  • Plane carrying his body landed late Monday evening in Karachi
  • It was expected that he would be buried in the southern city, where his family settled after leaving Old Delhi following the partition of the Indian subcontinent

ISLAMABAD: The body of Pakistan’s exiled former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who became a key US ally during the “war on terror,” was repatriated on Monday, aviation sources told AFP.
Musharraf, who fled Pakistan in 2016 for medical treatment after a travel ban was lifted, died on Sunday aged 79 in Dubai, after a long illness.
The plane carrying his body landed late Monday evening in Karachi, the sources said.
It was expected that he would be buried in the southern city, where his family settled after leaving Old Delhi following the partition of the Indian subcontinent.
A military source told AFP that his funeral would take place on Tuesday.
Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup and was acting simultaneously as Pakistan’s army chief, chief executive, and president when the 9/11 attacks on the United States took place.
The general twice suspended the constitution and was accused of rigging a referendum shoring up his power, as well as rampant rights abuses including rounding up opponents during his nearly nine-year rule.
“In the end he left Pakistanis with a deep distaste for direct military rule — so that even though the military wields much power behind the scenes now, it does not want to be in power directly again,” Madiha Afzal, an analyst from the Brookings Institution, told AFP.
Musharraf became Washington’s chief regional ally during the invasion of neighboring Afghanistan in 2001, a decision which put him in the crosshairs of Islamist militants, who made several attempts on his life.
But it also earned Pakistan a huge influx of foreign aid, which bolstered the economy.
In Pakistan, where the military remains supremely powerful and enjoys significant support, Musharraf is a divisive figure.
“There was good in him,” 69-year-old Naeem Ul Haq Satti told AFP in an Islamabad marketplace.
“But his one act, which will be remembered throughout history, was he violated the constitution,” the retired civil servant added. “The most important thing a country has is its constitution.”
Musharraf had been suffering from a rare disease known as amyloidosis and last summer his family said he had no prospect of recovery.
Senior military chiefs “express heartfelt condolences on (the) sad demise of General Pervez Musharraf,” a brief statement released by the military’s media wing said Sunday.


Salman Rushdie says he feels ‘lucky’ in first interview since stabbing

Updated 06 February 2023

Salman Rushdie says he feels ‘lucky’ in first interview since stabbing

  • Novelist still struggling to write in the aftermath of ‘colossal attack’
  • Brands assailant Hadi Matar ‘an idiot’ but says he does not want to be ‘a victim’

LONDON: Author Salman Rushdie has said he feels “lucky” to be alive in his first interview since he was stabbed in New York.

Speaking to the New Yorker magazine, Rushdie said his “main overwhelming feeling is gratitude” that he had not been more severely injured during the incident, which saw him require emergency treatment and left him hospitalized for six weeks.

“The big injuries are healed, essentially. I have feeling in my thumb and index finger and in the bottom half of the palm. I’m doing a lot of hand therapy, and I’m told that I’m doing very well.

“I’m able to get up and walk around. When I say I’m fine, I mean, there are bits of my body that need constant checkups. It was a colossal attack.”

The Indian-born British American writer was attacked on stage at a talk at the Chautauqua Institution on Aug. 12 by 24-year-old Hadi Matar, who is thought to have been inspired to attack Rushdie by the fatwa issued by the late Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini for his book “The Satanic Verses.”

Rushdie, who spent several years in hiding after the fatwa was issued, was stabbed multiple times in the neck and torso by Matar, going blind in one eye and losing the use of a hand.

Matar has been charged with attempted second-degree murder and attempted second-degree assault, both of which he denies.

Rushdie said he only blames his assailant for the attack and holds no bitterness toward anyone else, despite the venue in question having insufficient security measures in place.

“I don’t know what I think of him, because I don’t know him,” Rushdie said of Matar, who has admitted to not having read “The Satanic Verses” in its entirety.

“All I’ve seen is his idiotic interview in the New York Post. Which only an idiot would do. I know that the trial is still a long way away. It might not happen until late next year. I guess I’ll find out some more about him then.”

Rushdie continued: “I’ve tried very hard over these years to avoid recrimination and bitterness. I just think it’s not a good look. One of the ways I’ve dealt with this whole thing is to look forward and not backwards. What happens tomorrow is more important than what happened yesterday.

“I’ve always tried very hard not to adopt the role of a victim. Then you’re just sitting there saying, ‘Somebody stuck a knife in me! Poor me’ … Which I do sometimes think.”

He admitted, though, that writing had become difficult in the aftermath of the attack. “There is such a thing as PTSD, you know,” he said.

“I’ve found it very, very difficult to write. I sit down to write, and nothing happens. I write, but it’s a combination of blankness and junk, stuff that I write and that I delete the next day. I’m not out of that forest yet, really.”

Rushdie was speaking ahead of the publication of his latest novel, “Victory City,” which he had completed prior to the fateful day at the Chautauqua Institution.

He added that the future of his writing career remains unclear following the attack.

“I’m going to tell you really truthfully, I’m not thinking about the long term,” he said. “I’m thinking about little step by little step. I just think, ‘bop till you drop.’”

He did suggest, though, that he could write a sequel to his memoir “Joseph Anton,” which would almost certainly address the attack.