Friday October 20, 2017
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Intelligence officials: ISI may have joined hands with JeM

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New Delhi: As per the intelligence sources, the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency has reportedly conjoined hands with banned Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) to “reinvigorate” the latter’s base.

The tie-up is to carry out terrorist attacks across India, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Over the last eight months, intelligence officials had intercepted several Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls of cross-border discussion between ISI agents and their contacts in terror modules in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Sources said the Saturday fidayeen attack at the frontline Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot in northern Punjab could have been carried out by JeM militants who were being backed by ISI for several months.

“We are not very sure if the intercepted calls were to JeM militants, but the possibility is high,” the sources said.

“After LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) and SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), the ISI is now reported to be backing JeM for its revival in Kashmir and other Indian cities. ISI’s motive is to establish a large number of terror outfit modules of different militant groups in several parts of the country,” the official said.

Maulana Masood Azhar formed Jaish-e-Mohammed in March 2000, shortly after his release from prison in December 1999, in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC 814 was taken to Kandahar, in Afghanistan.

Sources said the group, in coordination with LeT, was implicated in the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament in New Delhi. In December 2002, four JeM members were caught by Indian authorities and put on trial. All four were found guilty. One of the accused, Afzal Guru, was sentenced to death for his role in the attack.

The group was formed after a split within Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), another militant group. A majority of HUM members joined JeM.

The attack, it was said, would be carried out to avenge the death of Abu Qasim, a senior commander of LeT who was killed in an encounter with security forces. Qasim had carried out an attack on a BSF convoy in August in Udhampur, Punjab.

Intelligence officials had told the agency that the alert was based on the busting of a pan-Indian ISI-backed spying ring unearthed by Delhi Police’s Crime Branch wing in November-December last year.

Six ISI moles including a serving leading aircraftsman (LAC) Ranjith KK, a library assistant Kafaitullah Khan, a Border Security Force (BSF) head constable Abdul Rasheed, a retired Indian Army havildar Munawwar Ahmad Mir, Rifleman Farid Khan of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and a government teacher Sabar were arrested during the Delhi Police operation.

Ranjith was sent for police remand while the other five alleged ISI moles are already in 14-day judicial custody.

Sources said that Ranjith is being questioned by the intelligence agencies and Delhi Police sleuths over the Pathankot terror attack. At least five terrorists were killed by commandos following the attack, police said.

Ranjith, who was sacked from the IAF after his link with ISI was established, was later arrested from Bathinda Air Force Station in Punjab on December 28.

He had allegedly shared information on some recent IAF exercises, movement of aircraft and deployment of various air force units with a woman, who spoke with a British accent, during a VoIP call that was intercepted by military intelligence and IAF’s liaisoning unit.

“Ranjith was fooled by a fictitious Facebook account in the name of Damini McNaught who pretended to work as an executive with a British magazine that wanted some Indian Air Force information for its next issue,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav had said earlier.

Intelligence officials are also in touch with the Kolkata special task force (STF), which has also arrested some alleged ISI operatives from the city since November 14. The task force had arrested Akhtar Khan, his brother Zafar Khan, Irshad Ansari, Asfaq Ansari and Mohammad Jahangir for providing secret information to ISI, the sources said.(IANS)

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Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

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UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)

 

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Pakistan Electoral Body Bars Political Party Due to Terror Ties

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Sheikh Yaqub (C) candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. voa

Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group in the country.

Milli Muslim League (MML) has been disqualified to participate in the country’s state and general elections.

The electoral commission’s decision is said to be based on a request made earlier by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, stating that Milli Muslim League is a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S.-designated terror sponsoring organization in Pakistan.

“The government is vigilant and under no circumstances will allow any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to spread their extremist ideology through democracy and political means,” Tallal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s minister of state for Interior Affairs, told VOA.

Saif Ullah Khalid, president of Milli Muslim League, dismissed the election commission’s decision and said the party will take the matter to the country’s judiciary.

Political wing

Milli Muslim League was established in August 2017 as a political wing for the controversial Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group led by Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Saeed has been reportedly under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore for the past eight months.

In September, during an important by-election in Lahore, when the National Assembly’s seat fell vacant following the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly launched MML backed an independent candidate who finished fourth in the race for Sharif’s seat.

At the time, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament strongly criticized the country’s election commission for allowing JuD’s political wing, MML, to participate in the Lahore by-election.

Some experts were concerned about the emergence of militant groups joining mainstream politics in Pakistan. They maintain that the political trend seen in Lahore’s by-election, where parties linked to militant groups are able to mobilize and generate sufficient numbers of votes within a very short period of time, as alarming.

“There should be a debate on this sensitive issue through social, political and media channels. By allowing militant-based political parties to integrate into mainstream politics, it will only escalate radicalization in the society,” Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar based political analyst, told VOA.

“There are people who believe with the merger of such militant groups into politics, we’ll provide them an avenue to maintain a political presence without leaving their extreme ideologies,” Hussain added.

Army’s support

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s army acknowledged they are mulling over plans to blend the militant-linked political groups into the mainstream political arena.

Some analysts side with MML, arguing the party should be allowed to participate in elections.

“I do not understand in what capacity the election commission has rejected MML’s application to register as a party,” said Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, the head of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

“Did they (MML) break any law? If not, how can you bar MML from entering the mainstream politics when they’re doing it through legitimate ways,” Mehboob emphasized.

Zubair Iqbal, a Washington-based South Asia expert, also raised concerns over the validity of the decision.

“This is how democracy works. … There are some extreme groups, some moderate groups and no one should be stopped because of their extreme ideologies,” Iqbal told VOA. “The extremist groups can be barred from entering into the politics only through people and democracy.”

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to participate in the political system they might never change their extreme ideologies and might continue operating underground which will prove to be more dangerous,” Iqbal added.

International pressure

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced escalating pressure from the international community for not being able to crackdown on militant groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan and launching attacks in neighboring countries.

In his recent speech on the region, U.S President Trump put Pakistan on notice to take actions against safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the existence of safe havens on its soil.

Pakistan is also accused of being selective in its pursuit of terror groups. It allegedly goes after only those groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, ignoring others that threat India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan rejects the allegations and reiterates its stance of having no sympathy for any terror group operating in the country.(VOA)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)