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Pakistan violates ceasefire: Kills six civilians, including 9-year-old child

Jammu: In a new flareup in border tensions, Pakistani troops on Sunday resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling at Indian posts and civilian areas, killing six civilians, including a sarpanch in multiple ceasefire violations along the LoC in Poonch district.

A woman was killed in heavy firing and mortar bomb shelling by Pakistani troops.
Army retaliated effectively and heavy exchanges are going on. Sunday was the eighth day of continuous ceasefire violations
by Pakistan, which has resorted to firing and mortar shelling along the LoC in Poonch district since 9 August.

Pakistan Army resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling on forward posts and civilian villages in Poonch and Balakote sectors since Sunday morning, Defence Spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta said.
In the heavy mortar shelling, a woman identified as Nussarat Bi died in Behrote village in Balakote sector, a police officer said, adding that very heavy mortar shelling of 82 mm mortars is going on.
With her death, the toll has gone up to six and five other are injured.
"We are rushing to the areas to see how people can be evacuated from the shelling and firing zones", Deputy Commissioner, Poonch, Nisar Ahmed told PTI.
"Heavy shelling is going on in the area", he said.

A senior police official said five civilians were also injured while unofficial reports put the number at 22.
The offensive on Indian positions in Jammu region came as the country celebrated the 69th Independence Day and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sent his greetings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying promoting friendly ties between the two neighbours was in mutual interest. The National Security Advisers (NSA) of the two countries are also due to meet in New Delhi on 23 August.

Three civilians died on Saturday when the car in which they were travelling was hit by a mortar shell fired by Pakistani troops in Balakote sector and exploded, a senior police officer had said.
The dead were identified by police as Karamat Hussain, who is sarpanch of Basoni, Abdul Rahman, a government teacher, and Mohd Sheeraz, a 17-year-old boy.
A large crowd which had assembled at the spot also came under Pakistani fire and at least five civilians were injured, the officer had said.

The injured had been airlifted to the Government Medical College hospital in Jammu and one of them, who was identified as Mohd Amin, succumbed to his injuries.
A nine-year-old boy identified as Moin Khan was killed during the Pakistani firing in Hamirpur sector, police had said.

There have been 36 violations of the 2003 ceasefire accord in August till Saturday evening and this is the seventh consecutive day that Pakistani troops have shelled Indian posts along the LoC in Jammu region, an Army official said.

PRO, Defence Lt Col Manish Mehta said, "Pakistani troops resorted to firing of 60 mm and 82 mm mortar shells on forward posts and civilian areas along LoC in Mandi, Hamirpur and Saujiyan sectors of Poonch from 1820 hours last evening to 0730 today."

While Pakistani troops resorted to mortar shelling of 60 mm mortars shells and firing from 6.20 pm on Saturday evening to 11.50 pm in Hamirpur sector, they also fired in Mand and Saujiyan sectors from midnight to 3 am and again from 7.30 am, he said.
Lt Col Mehta said troops guarding the borderline retaliated, resulting in exchanges, which are going on.
  • Published in National

Pakistan raises Kashmir in Independence Day speech

In a departure from the past, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit raised the Kashmir issue at the flag hoisting ceremony for Independence Day celebrations. “Aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir can neither be ignored nor put on the back burner,” said Mr. Basit in a strong speech on Friday. “No matter how much more time does their legitimate struggle take, Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause.” The comments come a day after the Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz confirmed that he will be in Delhi for talks with NSA Ajit Doval on August 23rd.

The speech by the High Commissioner comes in sharp contrast to his speech last year, which by coincidence, preceded then-scheduled talks between the foreign secretaries. They were subsequently cancelled by India.

According to the High Commission’s website, last year’s speech had focused on the “importance of freedom”. “[The High Commissioner] emphasised that we should value and respect the sacrifices made by our national heroes who devoted their lives for creating Pakistan as an independent and sovereign state,” was all that the website said about the speech. This year, the press release from the High Commission featured Jammu and Kashmir as the first and most salient point, saying that the High Commissioner told embassy staffers and others gathered that “it is necessary to settle all outstanding issues, particularly the Jammu Kashmir dispute.”

The MEA has made no comment on the speech yet. However sources say the government believes the tone of the speech could be related to the criticism PM Nawaz Sharif faced in Pakistan over the exclusion of Kashmir from the Ufa joint statement in July. Since then NSA Aziz has made several statements, including saying “no dialogue with India was possible without the mention of Kashmir.”

In Delhi, the High Commissioner Abdul Basit faced the fallout as well, as most of the separatist Hurriyat leadership declined his invitation to an Eid event in Delhi, saying they had felt slighted by the Ufa statement.

Speaking to The Hindu at the time, Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who was the only prominent leader to attend, had said, "It obviously upsets people that Jammu and Kashmir did not receive a mention when the statement was put out in Ufa, but we see the talks as a positive development that should be taken ahead."

MEA officials have been clear that the talks between the NSAs would discuss “all issues related to terrorism” only. At the least, the High Commissioner’s comments on Friday on the Kashmir dispute indicate that Pakistan’s NSA will instead attempt to raise the issue at the forefront of his talks with Mr. Doval.
  • Published in National

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Pakistan on its Independence Day

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday greeted Pakistan on its Independence Day, notwithstanding the chill between the two countries in the wake of recent attacks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

"Greetings & good wishes to the people of Pakistan on their Independence Day," Modi tweeted.

His greetings came in the midst of chill between the two countries in the wake of terror attacks at Gurdaspur in Punjab and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir.

The terrorists, who struck at these two places, had infiltrated from Pakistan. One of the terrorists was caught alive in the Udhampur attack.

The relations between the two countries suffered another blow recently with Pakistan refusing to invite Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker to a conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, in protest to which India decided to boycott the meet to be held in Islamabad from September 30 to October 8
  • Published in National

Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz to arrive in India for talks on August 23

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Thursday confirmed that he would travel to India on August 23 for first-ever NSA-level talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.

“I can confirm I will be going to India on August 23,” the Dawn quoted him as saying at a press conference.

Aziz said the decision was taken after consultations.

Officials said that the decision to attend the meeting was taken after the final nod by PM Sharif who returned last night from his three-day visit to Belarus.

India abruptly suspended high level diplomatic talks with Pakistan in August last year after the Pakistani envoy in New Delhi met Kashmiri separatist leaders.

The talks, known as the "Composite Dialogue", were also stopped by India following the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

"Although the security talks are not the revival of the Composite Dialogue, the meeting would be 'ice-breaking' as we will hold discussions on some important issues," Aziz said.

"Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif believes that dialogue is the only option to peacefully resolve issues," he added.

India had proposed August 23 and 24 dates for the National Security Advisor (NSA)-level talks between the two countries during the July 10 talks in Ufa, Russia, between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

At that time, both sides had agreed to jointly cooperate to eliminate terrorism and that both their NSAs would meet shortly in Delhi to discuss issues connected to terrorism.

However, continuous ceasefire violations across the border and a terror attack in Punjab last month had put a question mark on the fate of the talks.

The nabbing of a Pakistani terrorist -- the second man after Ajmal Kasab, who was caught alive during the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai – also raised doubts whether Pakistan was serious in taking peace talks forward.

The young terrorist hails from Gujranwala in Pakistan and was linked to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

Earlier, the two countries had exchanged a war of words over a "spy" drone which Pakistan alleged was being used by India for aerial photography near the Line of Control, a claim dismissed by New Delhi.

Last week, Aziz had said that Pakistan wants a constructive, sustained, unconditional and result-oriented dialogue with India on all issues of mutual concern including the core issue of Kashmir.
  • Published in National

Pakistan rules out inviting Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker

Islamabad: Pakistan has ruled out inviting Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Islamabad, saying it does not recognise and accept the J-K assembly as legitimate one.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said Kashmir was a disputed territory and Pakistan does not recognise its assembly.

"Pakistan does not recognise and accept the said assembly as legitimate one," he told reporters in Islamabad on Saturday.

He said Pakistan's principled position on Jammu and Kashmir will be compromised if the speaker of Kashmir is invited to the conference.

"We will never invite the speaker of occupied Jammu and Kashmir Assembly," he said.

Pakistan has not sent an invitation to the J-K Assembly Speaker for the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting to be held from September 30 to October 8 in Islamabad while invitations have been sent to all the other Speakers in India.

India has threatened to boycott the event if J-K assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta was not invited.

Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan said Pakistan had violated the protocol by not inviting the speaker of Jammu and Kashmir, local media reported.

"In the past Pakistan has invited delegations from Kashmir," he said.

Raghavan said India will not attend the conference if Pakistan did not invite the speaker of J-K assembly.
  • Published in World

"I came here to kill Hindus" tells Pak terrorist arrested by police in J&K

Shrinagar: A Pakistani terrorist was apprehended alive by his hostages only hours after he, in cahoots with another militant, fired at a BSF convoy and killed two troopers on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Udhampur on Wednesday. Retaliatory firing took down the other terrorist, identified as Momin. Far from being perturbed by his capture, Mohammad Naved presented a picture of calm, sometimes even happiness, in a video recorded just after he was overpowered.

He seemed to be in a stupor of ecstasy rather than betraying even an iota of remorse.

“Kashmiris are being killed by India. I was told to take revenge... I came to kill Indians,” said Naved, wearing a dark blue shirt and brown trousers. On why they were targeting people and children in India, Naved told his audience: “There is fun in (doing) this.” Did he get money for this work? “I am motivated by revenge,” he added. Naved claimed that he had crossed into India through Tangmarg nearly 12 days ago, walking all the way through the jungle.

Asked if he used any mode of transport, he chuckled: “Where do you see a bus or train coming here?”
Admitting to being a Pakistani, he revealed that they had finished their food in the first three days and then broke into a house for more.
Naved said only Momin was with him, but the BSF contested the claim and said at least two other terrorists were still at large.
On his plans ahead, Naved said: “What plans now? You people have caught me. Had I been killed, it would have been Allah's doing.”

Some villagers, feeling enthusiastic over the prize catch, commented that Naved should have taken up honest work instead of spreading terror. “But you just have to kill,” prodded a villager. Naved uttered a simple “yes”. He kept his interrogators guessing about his identity and age. He first claimed he was in his early 20s, but later said he was only 16.
He identified himself as Kasim, Usman and Naved at various stages. This points to Lashkar-e- Taiba’s tactic of telling youngsters that if caught, they should claim to be below 18 so that they are tried as juveniles.

Earlier, Naved and Momin hurled grenades and fired on a BSF convoy, on its way to Srinagar from Jammu, near Nassu.
The BSF soldiers were returning from leave and only two guards in the vehicle were armed.
A militant was gunned down when he tried to enter the bus, BSF maintained.

The BSF said one of its constables, who was martyred in the encounter, displayed exemplary courage and shot Momin when he tried to enter the vehicle.
A batch of Amarnath pilgrims had an hour earlier crossed the stretch on the highway where the militants attacked the BSF convoy.
The convoy of Amarnath yatris usually passes between 5.30am and 6.30am, while the attack took place at 7.30am.
Immediately after the encounter, vehicular movement on the Jammu-Srinagar highway was stopped and a search operation launched.

The five hostages were Vikram Singh, Rakesh Sharma, Des Raj, Rakesh Kumar and Romesh Kumar.
However, the last three soon managed to escape to safety. Vikram and Rakesh Sharma overpowered the terrorist when Naved reportedly told them that he was hungry and wanted to eat something.
He also wanted them to show him a route to flee the area.
Vikram said: “We got together, jumped on him and wrestled him to the ground. Then we took away his gun. When he saw the police coming, he got unnerved and threatened us.
"But Rakesh caught his neck, I held on to his gun."

No student was present in the school from where the terrorist was overpowered, the Udhampur deputy commissioner said.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah lauded the civilians for their courage.
“Very brave of the unarmed civilians to wrestle & disarm an armed terrorist. They should be suitably rewarded for this bravery,” he tweeted.

  • Published in National

Pak cricketers needs to play India if they want to perform under pressure says Inzamam

Karachi: Former batting great Inzamam-ul-Haq says if Pakistani cricketers have to learn performing under pressure, they must play arch-rivals India on regular basis.

Inzamam urged the PCB to organize more tours for the national team to Australia, England, South Africa and India. "In the past when we toured countries like Australia or South Africa we struggled but we also got to learn a lot and we learnt to cope with pressure. I think there is no better way for our players to improve and learn to perform under pressure than playing regularly with India," Inzamam, who appeared in 120 Tests and 378 one-day internationals, said.

The former Test captain said he would love to see Pakistan and India launch a new cricket chapter by playing in December this year. "Regardless of where we play we should play India on regular basis," he said.

"We have fallen behind in international cricket in the sense we are not getting tours to the big countries but the PCB now needs to organise more tours to Australia, South Africa and other top cricket nations," he said.

Talking about Younis Khan, Inzamam said his biggest plus point was that despite all the politics and intrigues in the Pakistan team he remained focused on his game.
The former captain noted that Younis by his performances had himself established himself as a world class player. Inzamam also requested Younis to carry on playing and become the first Pakistani player to complete 10,000 Test runs.
"I have one regret that whenever I look at the list of world’s leading scorers I don't see any Pakistani who has scored 10,000 test runs even I couldn't do it nor Muhammad Yousuf. So I would love to see Younis achieve this target and make 10,000 test runs."
  • Published in Cricket

This Indian girl in Pakistan waiting for 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'

Karachi: Bollywood hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan may have been a work of fiction, but in Karachi it is a real life story of an Indian girl who can neither speak nor hear and stuck in Pakistan for 13 years with all efforts to trace her family in India remaining unsuccessful.

"The Punjab Rangers brought her to us some 13 years ago," said Faisal Edhi of the social welfare group Edhi Foundation.

"For years, we have been trying to locate her family or her hometown so that she can return," Faisal was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune newspaper.

First brought to an Edhi Centre in Lahore, the girl was shifted to the shelter in Karachi where Bilquis Edhi named her 'Geeta' and has become quite close to the girl.

Now 23-year-old, Geeta is believed to have mistakenly crossed into Pakistani territory as a child."The only communication she has managed with the Edhi staff is recognising the Indian map on a mobile phone and breaking down into tears," the paper said.

"Sobbing silently, she frantically points first at the Indian state of Jharkhand and then at Telangana, trying hard to tell something of her past that may be a clue for them."

Using her fingers and facial expression, Geeta says she has seven brothers and four sisters. "We have shown her writings to people but nothing has come out of it. She copies Hindi words from magazines," Faisal said.

The shelter home's staff have created a separate praying room for her, adorning it with colourful posters of Hindu deities. "This is the Ganesh that I got for her from Nepal," Faisal said pointing toward one of the figurines.

With the success of the Salman Khan-starrer 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan', activists are making more efforts to reunite Geeta with her family in India.

Human rights activist and former minister Ansar Burney, who has raised Geeta's issue three years ago during a visit to India, is now running a Facebook campaign for her.

"Last year, officials from the Indian Consulate visited her, took her picture and records but they didnt come back,"said Faisal. Journalists, including one from India, also interviewed her but no one was able to locate her family.

The foundation activists persuaded Geeta to begin a new life in Pakistan by getting married to a Hindu boy. In her sign language, she refused and made it clear that she will only get married once she returns home.

Amongst Geeta's writings, the numbers '193' make a frequent appearance. Faisal draws a house on a piece of paper and hands her a pen. Geeta takes it, smiles, and jots down the numbers beside it. '193', it seems, may be her house number, the paper added.

Salman's movie revolves around a speech-impaired girl from Pakistan who finds herself lost in India with no way to return her home. An Indian man undertakes the task and reunites her with her family in Pakistan.
  • Published in National
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