Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan denies main spokesperson killed in Afghanistan

Taliban members inspect a site in Jalalabad, capital city of Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, on September 18,2021. (AFP/File)
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Updated 10 January 2022

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan denies main spokesperson killed in Afghanistan

  • Security officials say Khurasani was killed on Monday in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan
  • He had fled to neighboring Afghanistan following launch of Pakistani military offensive Zarb-e-Azb in 2014

PESHAWAR: The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on Monday denied Muhammad Khorasani, the main spokesperson for the group had been killed, after security officials reported his death in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
The TTP is a separate movement from the Afghan Taliban and has fought for years to overthrow the government in Islamabad and rule with its own brand of Islamic Shariah law. Last month, the group declared an end to a month-long cease-fire arranged with the aid of the Afghan Taliban, accusing the Pakistan government of breaching terms including a prisoner release agreement and the formation of negotiating committees.
The head of the Pakistan army’s media wing said last week armed operations against the group had been relaunched since the end of the cease-fire.
On Monday, two security officials told Arab News the militant commander had been killed in Afghanistan but the TTP denied the news on Twitter.

Earlier on Monday, a security official told Arab News on condition of anonymity that Khurasani had been killed in an “internal fight” within the group. He gave no details of how the fight erupted or who else was involved.
“Muhammad Kursani (Khurasani), central spokesperson of TTP has been killed today in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan,” another security official privy to the development told Arab News, requesting anonymity. “His actual name was Khalid Bilti.”
“He was involved in killing innocent people of Pakistan and master minded many terrorist attacks on security forces of Pakistan,” he said. “He in collaboration with TTP Chief Noor Wali was planning to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan.”
The second official did not disclose details of how Khorasani was killed.
The Pakistan army has not officially confirmed the killing but Pakistan state TV also said on Twitter the militant commander had been killed.

Khurasani, who is believed to be around 50 years old, was born Khalid Balti. He is believed to have fled to neighboring Afghanistan following the launch of a Pakistani military offensive codenamed Zarb-e-Azb in the North Waziristan tribal district in 2014.


This undated picture shows Muhammad Khorasani, the main spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). (Photo courtesy: Online)

Adnan Bitani, a senior journalist and security analyst in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Afghanistan, said the death, if confirmed, would be a “huge setback” for the TTP.
“If the news of his killing is true then it will be a big blow to the banned outfit because he was among the founding leaders of the group,” he said.
Bitani said Khurasani has been a trusted friend of the late Qari Hussain, a top lieutenant in the TTP and the organizer of the group’s suicide bombing squads. Khurasani had received his education in Karachi and became the TTP spokesman in 2014. He had been detained by the Afghan Special Forces in 2018 but was freed soon after the Afghan Taliban, which is a separate but allied group with the TTP, took over Kabul last August.
Last year’s cease-fire between the TTP and the Pakistan government, which was signed with the possibility of extension if both parties agreed, was the latest in a series of attempts to broker a settlement to end a conflict that has killed thousands.
The Afghan Taliban’s shock overthrow of the Western-backed government last August gave peace talks fresh impetus but the TTP accused Islamabad of failing to respect the cease-fire agreement and called it off on December 10. It said the government had not released more than 100 prisoners as promised and or appointed negotiating teams to conduct talks. It also said security forces had carried out raids while the cease-fire was in force.

Punjab chief minister kicks off cleanliness drive in Lahore to combat smog

Updated 10 December 2023

Punjab chief minister kicks off cleanliness drive in Lahore to combat smog

  • Lahore, considered Pakistan’s cultural capital, has been blanketed in thick haze since onset of winters
  • Punjab chief minister deploys four teams with one hundred members each to clear roads off dust

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi kicked off a cleanliness drive in smog-hit Lahore on Sunday, in a bid to clear the dust off the roads as thick haze hangs heavy in the provincial capital of Punjab.

Lahore, a city that houses over 11 million residents, has been blanketed in thick haze that partially blocks the sun and shrouds streets with fog at night. The problem is aggravated during the winter season, as temperature inversion prevents a layer of warm air from rising and traps pollutants closer to the ground.

Heavy smog has forced authorities in Punjab to announce several measures, including lockdowns, school closures, changing business hours for markets, and cracking down on smoke-emitting vehicles and industries since November.

Thousands of people in Lahore, children in particular, have suffered from respiratory issues due to the smog since the onset of winter.

“Taking another step to combat smog in Lahore,” Naqvi wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“A cleanliness drive has started today, deploying four teams with 100 members each to clear the roads from dust.”


The caretaker chief minister said the initiative was aimed at improving Lahore’s air quality “without impacting traffic flow.”

The state-run Radio Pakistan said in a post that the campaign encourages citizens’ participation and emphasizes the responsibility of the community in “fostering a cleaner and greener Lahore.”

“By combining targeted actions with a commitment to minimal disruption, the government aims to set a precedent for effective and responsible governance in environmental management,” Radio Pakistan said.

Lahore topped the world’s most polluted city index several times in November, consistently having an air quality index (AQI) above 300, according to Swiss group IQAir.

The AQI is a standardized tool measuring air pollutants, serving as a crucial barometer for public health. An AQI between 101 and 200 is considered ‘unhealthy’, particularly for sensitive groups while an AQI between 201 and 300 is said to be ‘very unhealthy’ and above 300 is ‘hazardous.’

Pakistani entrepreneur honored with UK’s MBE eyes ‘innovative approaches’ for sustainable future

Updated 10 December 2023

Pakistani entrepreneur honored with UK’s MBE eyes ‘innovative approaches’ for sustainable future

  • Faraz Khan was conferred with Order of the British Empire award last month for his services to UK-Pakistan relations
  • Khan is CEO and partner of tech and data advisory firm Spectreco which simplifies, accelerates sustainability transitions

KARACHI: Pakistani entrepreneur Faraz Khan, who was conferred with the prestigious Order of the British Empire (MBE) award in November for his services to UK-Pakistan relations, said on Sunday he plans to introduce “innovative approaches” in the fields of impact investment and climate advocacy for a more sustainable future. 

Prince William conferred the MBE award on Khan during a ceremony at Windsor Castle in November for his “services to UK/Pakistan relations,” the UK government said on its website. Khan is the chief executive officer (CEO) and partner at Spectreco— a technology, data, and advisory firm that simplifies and accelerates sustainability and economic, social, and governance (ESG) transitions.

Born in Pakistan’s southwestern Quetta city, Khan earned his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Karachi, before traveling to the UK for his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Lincoln University from 1998-2000. 

According to Faraz, he has over 25 years of experience in multi-stakeholder investments, ESG policy, and impact development. He is also the founder and director of Social, Entrepreneurship & Equity Development (SEED) Ventures, an investment and impact development organization in emerging markets. 

As per his LinkedIn profile, Khan has transformed the group into a sustainable organization, which has achieved a turnover of $40 million for SEED and its portfolio companies over the past decade.

“I view this honor as a catalyst for fostering collaborative opportunities and partnerships that will contribute significantly to the sustainable development of both nations,” Khan said about the MBE award, speaking to Arab News over the phone from Dubai. 

He added that the MBE award underscored the positive impact of his endeavors in strengthening ties between Pakistan and the UK in ESG and climate advocacy.

“I am actively exploring innovative approaches in the realms of impact investment, social enterprise, and climate advocacy,” he said. “To address the evolving challenges our world faces. I am committed to advancing initiatives that align with our vision for a sustainable future.”

Impact investments are investments made to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

Khan said the realization that every action can bring about a “positive ripple effect” became the driving force behind his commitment to the fields of impact investment and social enterprise.

The Pakistani entrepreneur hoped Spectreco would contribute to a “greener, more resilient” future. 

“In the urgent landscape of climate action, we champion ESG initiatives, spearhead climate investments, and navigate the complex terrains of sustainable development, propelling Spectreco as a torchbearer in the global pursuit of a greener, more resilient future.”

Pakistan recall Sajid after Abrar ruled out of Australia Test

Updated 10 December 2023

Pakistan recall Sajid after Abrar ruled out of Australia Test

  • Leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed sustained leg injury during match against Prime Minister's XI, says PCB 
  • Sajid Khan played the last of his seven Tests against Australia on home soil in March 2022

KARACHI: Pakistan recalled Sajid Khan after fellow spinner Abrar Ahmed was ruled out of the first Test against Australia with a leg injury, selectors said Sunday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Abrar will remain with the team to receive treatment.

"Ahmed injured his leg around the knee during the tour game and his MRI suggests rest and rehabilitation, which means he will not be available for the first Test," a PCB news release said.

Abrar will be assessed for the second Test in Melbourne from December 26, it said. The third Test is in Sydney from January 3.

Sajid, 30, played the last of his seven Tests against Australia in March 2022 and will fly to Perth to join the team before the match.

Pakistan’s army chief leaves for first official visit to US

Updated 10 December 2023

Pakistan’s army chief leaves for first official visit to US

  • General Syed Asim Munir is expected to meet senior American military, government officials, says army’s media wing
  • Washington has worked closely with Pakistani army chiefs, who enjoy considerable influence, alongside civilian governments

ISLAMABAD: Army chief General Syed Asim Munir left today, Sunday, for the United States (US) on his first official visit to the country, where he is expected to meet senior American and military officials, Pakistan Army’s media wing said. 

Munir was appointed army chief in November 2022, following which he has undertaken official visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and various other countries. The army chief is arguably the most influential person in Pakistan, with the military having ruled the country for about half of its 75-year history since independence from Britain and enjoying extensive powers even under civilian administrations. 

Washington has worked closely with Pakistan’s army chiefs over the years alongside civilian governments in the South Asian country, on issues ranging from regional stability to fighting militancy, and Afghanistan. 

“General Syed Asim Munir, NI (M), Chief of Army Staff (COAS) has left today for United States of America (USA) on an official visit,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. 

“During his visit, General Syed Asim Munir is scheduled to meet the senior military and other government officials of USA.”

Ties between Washington and Islamabad were strained during former prime minister Imran Khan’s tenure. Washington suspected Islamabad allowed Taliban militants to seek refuge in Pakistan. 

The relationship between the two countries further soured when Khan claimed Washington had backed a parliamentary move to oust him from office.

The US, Pakistan’s military, and Khan’s political rivals, all denied the allegations. Following Khan’s ouster from office, Islamabad’s relationship with Washington improved following overtures from Pakistan. 

Munir’s predecessor, General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, was the last Pakistani army chief to visit the US when he undertook a visit to Washington in October 2022. During his trip, Bajwa met US Defense Secretary General Lloyd James Austin III (retired), National Security Adviser Jacob Jeremiah Sullivan, and former deputy secretary of state Wendy Ruth Sherman.

Pakistani gas company discovers 1.5-km illegal pipeline in Islamabad

Updated 10 December 2023

Pakistani gas company discovers 1.5-km illegal pipeline in Islamabad

  • Illegal gas pipeline extended from a village to a private housing society, says SNGPL spokesperson
  • Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency has initiated an inquiry, action will follow, warns SNGPL official

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani integrated gas company said on Sunday had discovered a 1,500-meter (1.5-kilometer long) illegal gas pipeline this week in Islamabad, warning that legal action will be taken against those involved in installing the pipeline.

Pakistan faces ongoing struggles to meet the rising demand for natural gas due to the country’s growing energy needs and supply-demand disparities. Domestic natural gas production in Pakistan declined by about five percent last year, according to the country’s energy ministry. About 25 percent of Pakistan’s natural gas consumption relies on imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

To enhance electricity and gas supply while reducing losses, Pakistan’s caretaker government launched a nationwide crackdown against gas theft in September. Through the crackdown, the SNGPL said it had disconnected hundreds of illegal gas connections across the country.

The Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) discovered the illegal pipeline extending from Japan Road Kangota Syedan Village to a private housing society in Islamabad, SNGPL Islamabad spokesperson Shahid Akram said.

“Based on the SNGPL vigilance team’s report, a joint operation involving our task force teams and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials was conducted on December 8 to dismantle an illicit 1500-meter gas pipeline,” Akram told Arab News.

The spokesperson said someone from the private housing society, which he did not specify by name, installed the illegal pipeline. He said gas meters were also shifted to the newly established society from another area in a bid to give off the impression that the society had access to gas.

Akram said this was done to falsely raise the prices of the plots in the housing society.

“We have completely dismantled the pipeline and removed the gas connections while the FIA is currently investigating and seeking to identify culprits within and outside the department,” Akram said.

He said that based on the FIA’s report, a First Information Report (FIR) would be registered against those found guilty.

“Departmental actions will be taken if individuals within are found involved, but so far no arrests have been made as the FIA is verifying facts before proceeding with a proper FIR,” Akram said.

He said the SNGPL was closely coordinating with the FIA and is committed to taking action against those involved in installing the illegal gas pipeline. 

Akram said the SNGPL has a vigilance team that monitors a specific area and gathers information on illegal activities. He said the vigilance team refers its discoveries to another team: the Unaccounted For Gas (UFG) action team. 

The UFG team, he clarified, conducts raids in collaboration with the FIA. 

“Our ongoing campaign against gas theft and illegal connections is yielding positive results where we have recovered millions in outstanding payments and disconnected many illegal connections,” Akram said.