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.

Pakistan regulator asks TV stations to avoid promoting ‘hate mongers’ involved in anti-state activities

Updated 17 min 3 sec ago

Pakistan regulator asks TV stations to avoid promoting ‘hate mongers’ involved in anti-state activities

  • The directive comes as focus turns to ex-PM Imran Khan amid open hearings of a case relating to leaking of state secrets
  • Khan, who has been in jail since August 5, says cases against him are ‘politically motivated,’ aim to keep him out of politics

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has asked broadcasters not to promote “hate mongers” involved in anti-state activities, citing violent incidents in May that stemmed from the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Khan, who was ousted in a parliamentary no-trust vote in April 2022, was briefly arrested in a graft case on May 9, which led to attacks on government and military installations in Pakistan by supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

The attacks led to a crackdown on Khan supporters and members of his party. Several top aides of the ex-premier and members of his party have since distanced themselves from the PTI, while many still remain behind bars. 

In its directive to TV stations on Monday, PEMRA said any speech that incites violence, promotes hatred, or poses threat to public order and security could be restricted, noting that it was “crucial to strike a balance between protecting freedom of speech and maintaining public order.”

“In this regard, attention of all the licensees is drawn to a tragic incident occurred on May 9, 2023 and its mastermind, wherein state and public properties were attacked, innocent lives were endangered and anti-state sentiments were prompted, attempting to weaken Federation of Pakistan and state institutions,” the regulator said.

“This is unequivocally a very horrific trend and indeed needs to be condemned and those involved in promoting such activities must be boycotted on media for damaging peace and tranquility in the country. In the wake of aforementioned scenario, all satellite TV channel licensees are directed to remain vigilant and not to promote any hate monger, perpetrators and their facilitators inadvertently or advertently.”

The PEMRA directive comes as Khan once again becomes center of public attention, with public hearings of a case against him relating to the leaking of state secrets. The ex-premier initially faced an in-camera prison trial in the case, however, a Pakistani high court last month ruled that such hearings were illegal and ordered an open trial with media access.

Khan, who has been in jail since August 5 after being convicted in a case involving the sale of state gifts, faces a slew of cases that he says are “politically motivated” and aimed at keeping him out of politics.

Further in its directive, PEMRA asked all licensees to ensure compliance of the provisions of its code of conduct for programs and advertisements aired on electronic media.

“Licensees must adhere to provisions of PEMRA laws and orders of the superior courts by refraining from providing their airtime to such individuals who propagate hate speech and provoke public sentiments against the Federation and State Institutions,” it added.

Islamic Development Bank announces $100 million loan to make Pakistan polio-free

Updated 05 December 2023

Islamic Development Bank announces $100 million loan to make Pakistan polio-free

  • The South Asian country has already received $60 of this amount, the IsDB president says
  • Pakistan, Afghanistan are only two countries in world where polio continues to threaten lives

ISLAMABAD: The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has announced a $100 million loan to support Pakistan’s polio eradication efforts, the Pakistani health minister and the Bank said, on the sidelines of the ongoing COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai. 

This loan builds on a previous support from the IsDB and includes a $35 million principal buydown from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to an IsDB statement.  

The new funding complements previous loans and will be used to secure and deliver millions of polio vaccines needed to protect all children across Pakistan against the debilitating yet preventable virus. 

"I am very pleased to announce that the IsDB approved US$100 million financing in the 4th Phase of Polio Eradication Program for Pakistan in April 2023, which brings the IsDB total financing for Polio eradication in Pakistan to US$ 587 million, making the Bank one of the largest providers of finance to the national polio eradication program in Pakistan," IsDB President Dr. Muhammad Al-Jasser was quoted as saying in the statement.  

"Under this latest phase, I am happy to note that US$60 million of this amount was disbursed in mid-November 2023. We and our partners remain committed and are working hard to win this battle against this disease. We really are at the last mile in this long journey as only 5 cases of wild poliovirus have been reported in the country in 2023.”  

The IsDB president thanked the Pakistani government, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for their steadfast commitment to polio eradication. 

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of ten years. It invades the nervous system, and can cause paralysis or even death.  

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio continues to threaten the health and well-being of children.  

“We welcome the support of the IsDB and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in contributing to the critical effort of ending polio in Pakistan,” Pakistan Health Minister Nadeem Jan said, addressing the ‘Reaching the Last Mile’ forum related to polio at COP28. 

“Interrupting poliovirus transmission remains a core focus for the Government of Pakistan, and thanks to the heroic efforts of community health workers, global partners and contributors like the IsDB and the foundation, we have pushed the virus to the brink of eradication.” 

An official of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said they saw this loan as an important step forward for the eradication of polio in Pakistan.  

“We are pleased to partner again with the IsDB and the Government of Pakistan to ensure funding opportunities to provide the needed resources to reach every child with polio vaccines,” said Chris Elias, president of the Global Development Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

“With continued support to health workers and the efforts from partners like the IsDB, I am confident we will end polio in Pakistan.” 

The IsDB said this new loan would enable Pakistan's polio program to reach all children and communities with the life-saving vaccine.  

"It will also help meet the country’s commitment of US$155 million towards its national polio program supported by the partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)," it added. 

Ailing Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui ‘raped’ inside US prison, lawyer says

Updated 05 December 2023

Ailing Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui ‘raped’ inside US prison, lawyer says

  • Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a 49-year-old mother of three, is serving an 86-year sentence at a US federal prison
  • Her lawyer says she has been abused 'countless times' by guards and prisoners at US detention facility

ISLAMABAD: Ailing Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who has been jailed in the United States (US) after being convicted of attacking US troops in Afghanistan, has been "raped" inside a US prison, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

Siddiqui, a 49-year-old mother of three, is currently serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Carswell, Texas after a New York court convicted her in 2010 of attempting to shoot and kill a group of US soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan who wanted to interrogate her for alleged links to Al-Qaeda.  

Her sentencing by a US court has riled many in Pakistan, including former and current Pakistani governments that had campaigned for her release and paid for her legal defense.  

Siddiqui's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, on Tuesday made shocking disclosures about mistreatment of Siddiqui, a day after his meeting with the Pakistani scientist at FMC Carswell. 

"She has been raped in FMC Carswell, no question about it," Smith, a US-based human rights lawyer who is representing Siddiqui, said in an interview to a Pakistani broadcaster. 

"Well, I mean, at least two times is a formal thing by guards, but in terms of abuse by the guards and prisoners, countless times." 

As an American, Smith said, he was "ashamed of" what the US prison system had done to Siddiqui. 

"I have filed a report on her abuse and what they have been doing to her is pretty unspeakable in terms of the sexual mistreatment," he said. "She has told me in great detail about how she has been abused." 

Smith said Siddiqui's complaints were all "extreme" and "true," and that she had been meted out the "harshest" treatment by the US prison authorities. 

"There are 10,250 women in the [US] federal prison system," the lawyer said. "The woman who has been treated the harshest of all those 10,250 is Aafia Siddiqui." 

Siddiqui, who is reportedly ailing, earned advanced degrees from Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before she was sentenced for assaulting US soldiers after being detained in Afghanistan two years earlier.  

Her punishment sparked outrage in Pakistan among political leaders and her supporters, who viewed her as a victim of the US criminal justice system.  

In the years since, Pakistani officials have publicly expressed interest in any sort of deal or swap that could result in her release from US custody, and her case has continued to draw attention from supporters.  

The government of Nawaz Sharif, three-time former prime minister of Pakistan, as well as the outgoing Pakistani administration of his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, have made efforts for Siddiqui’s release during their tenure.  

In March this year, the younger Sharif instructed Pakistan’s foreign ministry to remain engaged with the US government and the country’s mission in Washington for the release of jailed Pakistani neuroscientist, following his meeting with Siddiqui's sister, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui. 

Smith said he had apprised the Pakistani government of Siddiqui's abuse and was certainly going to let Pakistani authorities know of the "gruesome details." 

He, however, said it was the duty of the Pakistani government to protect her from the abuse. 

"That's her government, it is their duty to protect her," he said. "I will do what I can, I am an American, I apologize for what has happened to her. But it is actually, ultimately the job of the government in Pakistan." 

AirBus A320 acquired for $13 million by PIA from Indonesia to fly to Pakistan today

Updated 05 December 2023

AirBus A320 acquired for $13 million by PIA from Indonesia to fly to Pakistan today

  • The purchase by the loss-making airline is part of $26 million two-plane deal
  • PIA has accumulated hundreds of billions of rupees in losses and arrears

KARACHI: An Airbus A320 acquired by Pakistan International Airline (PIA) for $13 million from Indonesia will land in Karachi on Tuesday night, a spokesperson for the airline said.

Loss-making PIA has accumulated hundreds of billions of rupees in losses and arrears. The government announced in August it would privatize the airline, a move that would be in line with an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal.

PIA leased two Airbus A320 planes from leasing company AirAsia in 2012. The lease concluded in September 2021, after which PIA returned the aircraft to the leasing company. However, a dispute arose when AirAsia declined to accept the planes, contending they were not returned in satisfactory condition.

The row continued for nearly two years and the airline finally struck a deal with the leasing company to buy the two planes after a PIA delegation met with AirAsia officials in Jakarta in October.

“PIA has acquired these aircraft, which were earlier sent to Jakarta for return to the leasing company, AirAsia, upon the completion of a six-year lease,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan told Arab News.

“The lessor agreed to PIA's proposal of buying out these aircraft at the price of $26 million.”

PIA made a payment of $13 million last week, the spokesman said, after which one aircraft was released and flying to Pakistan today, Tuesday. 

“One aircraft will land at Karachi airport today at 11pm, while the second one will be acquired after paying the remaining $13 million within the next couple of weeks,” Khan added.

The purchase comes at a time of deep crisis for the loss-making airline, which the government says it can no longer fund. PIA has also been in disputes with the Pakistan State Oil company (PSO) over payments.

The airline has long been in trouble. 

PIA flights to Europe and the UK have been suspended since 2020 after the European Union's Aviation Safety Agency revoked the national carrier's authorization to fly to the bloc following a scandal over pilot licences.

Pakistan to play ‘aggressive’ cricket on Australia Test tour — skipper

Updated 05 December 2023

Pakistan to play ‘aggressive’ cricket on Australia Test tour — skipper

  • Pakistan will play first Test against Australia in Perth on Dec. 14, followed by two others in Melbourne and Sydney
  • Ahead of the first Test match, Pakistan will play Prime Minister’s XI on December 6 at Manuka Oval in Canberra

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will try playing an ‘aggressive’ cricket in their three-match Test series against Australia, skipper Shan Masood said on Monday.

Pakistan will play the first Test against Australia in Perth on December 14, before the traditional Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. 

The third Test will be played in Sydney and begin on January 3. 

Masood, who was recently appointed Pakistan Test captain, said Test cricket had undergone a significant change over the years. 

“We will try playing with a positive mindset, an aggressive mindset,” he told reporters in Canberra. 

“Wherever an opportunity came to put the other side under pressure, we will try to put pressure as a bowling unit or a bowling unit.” 

Ahead of the Test series, Pakistan will play Prime Minister’s XI on December 6 at Manuka Oval. 

Masood believed time factor was quite important for his side the games against Australia. 

“As a batting unit, you will have to improve the run rate a bit,” he said, adding Pakistan pacers will also have to strive to bowl as many players out as they can. 


Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jr., Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi