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Pak-Afghan issue: No surrendering to US demands!

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Afghanistan can rely on world community's support

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said today it would not succumb to any ‘demand’ by the United States in the wake of a negotiated settlement as proposed by the US President Donald Trump for Afghanistan’s peace.
“We will be part of negotiations, but without surrendering to any US demand,” Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Faisal said here at the weekly press briefing.
The response came as the spokesman was reminded of Pakistan earlier releasing Taliban leader Mullah Baradar in October following the previous visit of US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to Islamabad.
“It will be negotiations only, not demands. We will move forward through talks, continuing with our stance of no-military solution to the Afghan problem,” he said.
President Trump in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Imran Khan had sought Islamabad’s assistance and facilitation in achieving a negotiated settlement on Afghanistan, followed by the visit of Ambassador Khalilzad.
The spokesman termed the recent move by the US as “heartening”, which “registered and acknowledged Pakistan’s stance for the peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict.
He denied confirming the reports of Taliban leaders currently present in Islamabad for talks.
To a question whether the Taliban sought China or Russia as international guarantor for the settlement, he said he “cannot go into intricate details”.
He categorically rejected the impression that groundbreaking of Kartarpur Corridor would lead to putting the Kashmir issue on back-burner.
“Kashmir is our core issue, and no other development at Pakistan-India front can sideline it,” he said, adding the Kashmir dispute would be addressed in accordance with the United Nations’ resolutions and the aspirations of Kashmiris.
He said the Kartarpur Corridor was a step taken in view of religious sentiments of Sikhs and “should not be regarded as an attempt to claim credit”.
Muhammad Faisal said India’s reciprocity was important in response to Pakistan’s initiatives for peace between the two countries, adding India’s attitude was the “biggest impediment in the way to move forward”.
About a recent reward of US $5 million announced by the United States against the facilitators involved in Mumbai attack, the spokesman said the matter was “subjudice and complex” with regular hearings being conducted in Anti-Terrorism Court.
“The Law of land will take its course and I can assure you that justice would be done,” he said.
He dismissed the notion that the map shown at Chinese national television while airing the news of terror incident at Chinese Consulate, Karachi showed Kashmir as part of India.
“Instead, the China Global Television Network showed Kashmir in white shade depicting disputed territory and Pakistan and India in brown color to make distinction,” he clarified.

 

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Sri Lanka Easter Massacre toll rises to 310

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COLOMBO: Police spokesman here told NPTV that Easter bombings death toll has risen to 310, while five hundred got injured. 

President of Sri Lanka has given army war-time powers enabling them to arrest suspects.  It is pertinent to mention here that the forces used such authority throughout the 26-year-long civil war that ended in 2009.

It is pertinent to mention here that despite the arrest of forty suspects (including the driver of a van allegedly used by suicide bombers), an IED was found inside a vehicle near St. Anthony’s Church, here at Jampettah Road, Kochchikade yesterday (Monday 22nd April). It was disposed of by BDU via controlled explosion. 

A relevant piece published earlier:

SriLanka: 8 suicide bombings killed 210, injured 450

 

 

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Sri Lanka bomb attack victims: Pak NA observes 1-minute silence

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National Assembly session commences

ISLAMABAD: The members of National Assembly on Monday during the session at the Parliament House observed one-minute silence in memory of the citizens of Sri Lanka who lost their lives in bomb attacks.
The house also offered fateha for the departed souls of those who were martyred in two separate attacks in different parts of Balochistan recently.
Later, Speaker National Assembly announced a six-member panel of chairpersons for conducting the proceedings of the house in the absence of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
The Speaker named MNAs Tahir Sadiq, Jaffer Khan Leghari, Khurram Dastgir, Attaullah, Naveed Qamar and Asad Mehmood as members of the panel who would chair the proceedings of the House when the Speaker and Deputy Speaker would not be present in the house.
The Speaker announced the members for the panel according to section 13(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of National Assembly 2007.

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Pak-China FTA to be signed on 28th April

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ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing on Monday said that the Sino-Pak Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Phase II would be signed on 28th April.

Other important CPEC- related agreements will also be signed during China visit of the PM. He said the FTA had been finally concluded after eight years of negotiations and it would be inked by the commerce ministers of two countries during the visit of Pakistani prime minister.
Under the FTA-Phase II, Jing said, China would provide market access to 90% of Pakistani commodities at zero rated duty, while Pakistan would give China market access to 65% tariff lines.
He was addressing a press briefing here at the Chinese Embassy on the upcoming Second Belt and Road Forum to be held in Beijing from 25-27 April. The ambassador said world leaders, including heads of state and government from 37 countries, would attend the Forum’s roundtable summit, but Pakistan being a major partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was the most important of all.
“The Chinese Prime Minister and President are looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China where he will also hold bilateral meetings with the Chinese leadership to build more consensus on bilateral trade ties,” he added. The Chinese envoy pointed out that China wanted a more prosperous and developed Pakistan as what he said without sustainable development in the neighboring countries, China could not sustain its development.
He said under the CPEC’s industrial cooperation, the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Rashakai was going to be inaugurated during the current month where 20 factories would be set up initially. He assured that employment in the SEZs would be given to the local people and the latest technology would be transferred from China to Pakistan.
Cooperation in industrial and social sectors would be the main focus of the second phase of CPEC, he added. “There are six areas in the social sector, including education, health, agriculture, water, irrigation, and poverty alleviation in which around 26 new projects will be initiated in Pakistan,” he said.
The ambassador said two model villages would be built in Pakistan under the social sector cooperation of CPEC to uplift the living standard of low-income segments of the society.  He said China was basically an agricultural country and it started its development journey with bringing reforms in the agriculture sector. It would now help Pakistan in revolutionizing its agricultural sector by linking it with the state of the art technology.
With respect to the multi-billion Railway ML1 project, the envoy said as its technical aspects had already been finalized, the project would hit the ground soon. He also invited the neighboring countries to become part of the mega-project as it was not only beneficial to China and Pakistan but also for the whole region. To a question, Jing said 11 out of 22 projects had already been completed while the work on the remaining was going fast. In total $19 billion had been invested by China on all the projects, $13 billion lent as commercial loans and $6 billion as a concessionary loan to be repaid by the Pakistani government in 25-30 years.
To a query regarding the Karachi Circular Railway, the Chinese envoy said the two sides were working on its financial model. Many options of the financial model, including build-operate-transfer (BOT), loaning, and financing from own resources, were under consideration, he added.  Regarding investment in Gilgit-Baltistan, Yao Jing said China was eager to upgrade and develop tourists sites in the area to provide facilities to local as well as foreign tourists.

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