The Taliban’s refusal to participate in the dialogue with the Afghan government till its conditions are met is a blow to international efforts to bring peace to the war-ravaged country. The conditions are withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, reversal of sanctions by the UN on Taliban leaders and release of prisoners. The Taliban spokesman further…
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)
Washington, October 13: 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.
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.
Ghazni, Washington October 11: Taliban militants have ordered mobile phone companies to shut down their networks at dark in central Ghazni province, provincial police authorities told VOA.
In a bid to mitigate risks, the insurgent group has asked telecom operators in Ghazni province to halt operations from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in order to make it difficult for the Afghan forces to get intelligence and tips on militants through mobile phones.
The insurgent group has destroyed several telecom towers in the restive province over the last three days.
“The recent uptick in airstrikes against militants is causing increasing casualties in Taliban ranks. The militants want to destroy telecom towers to disturb communications,” Fahim Amarkhil, a police spokesperson in Ghazni told VOA.
The Taliban has said Afghan and U.S. forces use the network signals to locate the group’s fighters.
In addition to Ghazni, the insurgent group has asked mobile phone companies to halt their networks’ coverage in several other provinces as well, an official of a major cell phone company in Kabul told VOA on the condition of anonymity.
The official added that in many cases, the operators have no option but to comply with what the insurgents want.
The disruption in telecom services have angered customers in Ghazni who rely on mobile phone as their only means of communication. The residents fear that if the government does not address the issue in a timely manner, the telecom companies may end their operation in the province.
“Some time ago, the Taliban had warned the telecom companies to pay taxes to the Taliban, not to the government, and the issue was resolved,” Jamil Weqar, an activist in Ghazni told VOA. “But this time, they destroyed the towers which has created many problems [for customers],” he added.
The telecommunication sector in Afghanistan has made tremendous progress following the fall of the Taliban and the establishment of a new government in the post-2001 era. With little to no access to cell phones and the internet 15 years ago, the country now has more than 20 million mobile phone subscribers, covering more than 85 percent of the population.
The communication blackout comes as the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is increasing military pressure on militant groups across the country. The new plan includes a more intensive use of airpower against militants.
The latest official data shows U.S. forces dropped 751 bombs in September against the Taliban and militants linked to the so-called Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan. This is the largest number of bombs dropped on militants in a single month since 2012.
“This increase can be attributed to the president’s strategy to more proactively target extremist groups that threaten the stability and security of the Afghan people,” according to a summary from the U.S. Air Force’s Central Command.
U.S.-backed Afghan forces are trying to regain control of areas and districts lost to the Taliban across the country.
The government has said it controls nearly two-thirds of the country’s 407 districts. Taliban reportedly control 33 districts, less than 10 percent of the national total. Around 116 districts are “contested” areas, according to a recent U.S. military assessment. (voa)