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Two soldiers, policeman killed in pre-dawn attack in Kashmir’s Baramulla district

The curfew and separatist-called shutdown on August 17, continued to paralyse normal life for the 40th day in a row

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Kashmir
Protesters vs Security forces, (representational Image) Wikimedia

August 17, 2016: In a pre-dawn attack, two soldiers and a policeman were killed on Wednesday, when militants ambushed an Indian Army convoy on a highway in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district – the second deadly strike on security forces in three days.

The attack comes amid the deadliest Kashmir unrest in six years that began after the July 8 killing of rebel commander Burhan Wani. The militant’s death has provoked angry protests by Kashmiri youth who hail Wani as their hero.

As the street unrest continues, militant violence has also escalated in the state.

Security officials blamed the unrest on the surge in militant attacks after years of decline.

“Militants have been able to consolidate as security forces remain busy in controlling the unrest,” a top police officer told IANS in Baramulla where the latest attack occurred.

The officer said heavily armed men ambushed an army convoy near Baramulla town around 3. 30 a.m. and killed two soldiers. They struck again and killed one policeman when a police deployment reached there.

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Authorities have said some 60 militants have managed to sneak into the valley from Pakistan in the weeks of unrest.

Violence in Kashmir started after killing of Burhan Wani. Image Source: defence.pk
Violence in Kashmir started after killing of Burhan Wani. Image Source: defence.pk

At least four security personnel were injured in the attack, which comes two days after militants killed a paramilitary commandant in Srinagar on Independence Day. Militants also attacked a police station in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district late on Tuesday, injuring five policemen.

The Kashmir Valley has been on the boil for nearly six weeks now. Some 63 civilians have been killed in firing by security forces during clashes with protesters. At least two policemen have also been killed.

Schools, shops, banks and offices have remained closed in much of the valley as police and paramilitary troopers patrol on roads to prevent people from coming out on the streets.

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The curfew and separatist-called shutdown on Wednesday continued to paralyse normal life for the 40th day in a row.

The curfew and communications blackout have, however, failed to bring calm in the valley. Separatists have called for a march to the UN office in Srinagar and a 72-hour sit-in if security forces stop them. (IANS)

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Facebook

Srinagar, October 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday arrived in the border town of Gurez to celebrate Diwali with soldiers protecting the country’s borders.

Official reports said in summer capital Srinagar that the Prime Minister arrived at the Dawar Brigade headquarters of the Indian Army in Gurez border town on Thursday to celebrate Diwali with soldiers protecting the Line of Control (LoC).

Sources here said the Prime Minister is also visiting the far-flung Tulial area near the LoC in Gurez sector to spend some time with the soldiers there.

A day ahead of Modi’s visit, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat had visited the area on Wednesday to review the security situation in the Kashmir valley.(IANS)

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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)