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Over 2,000 border villagers in Jammu return home

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Jammu: Over 2,000 residents of border villages in Samba, Kathua and Jammu districts returned home on Thursday following guns on the international border in Jammu region remaining silent for the last three days.

“Over 2,000 people from different villages in Samba, Kathua and Jammu districts returned home Thursday and yesterday Wednesday after cross-border shelling and firing stopped on the international border in these districts,” a senior official told IANS in Jammu.

Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistani Rangers field commanders held a meeting at Octroi Post in R S Pura sector of the international border in Jammu district on Monday to defuse tension on the border.

The commanders of both forces agreed to respect the bilateral ceasefire and work together to uphold it.

There has been no violation of ceasefire by Pakistan since Monday evening and peace has since then returned to the borders.

One civilian was killed and over a dozen others were injured in indiscriminate shelling and firing by Pakistan Rangers on the international border in Jammu region last week.

Over 3,000 villagers from border areas in Samba, Kathua and Jammu districts had abandoned their homes after last week’s cross-border shelling.

The state government had set up 20 makeshift accommodations for these migrants in government buildings and religious places.

(IANS)

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Vow To Hold Peace Talks With India: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan

Since taking power in August Khan has also sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan prepares to speak at the opening of the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. VOA

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with arch-rival India following elections in the neighbouring country, after a similar offer from the former cricketer was “rebuffed.”

Khan made the announcement during a speech at a Saudi Arabian investment conference where the newly minted leader launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payment crisis.

“When I won the elections and came to power the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India,” Khan told the crowd at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, saying the overture was later “rebuffed” by Delhi.

“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he added, referring to upcoming nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.

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Imran Khan, wikimedia commons

In September India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit — a move that was termed “arrogant” by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both since independence in 1947.

Delhi has stationed about 500,000 soldiers in the portion of Kashmir it controls, where separatist groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Khan’s call for peace talks comes as his administration is desperately seeking funds from “friendly” countries, including Saudi Arabia, to shore up Pakistan’s deteriorating finances.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, surrounded by host country representatives and other participants, attends an investment conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. VOA

The prime minister’s attendance at the FII comes as leading policy-makers and corporate chiefs shunned the conference in response to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

During his address at the FII Khan confirmed that Pakistan was also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a new bailout.

Also Read: Pakistan Fears Economic Turmoil, Re-thinks ‘Silk Road’ Project With China

Since taking power in August Khan has also sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.

But help has been in short supply and economists’ warnings have grown increasingly urgent. (VOA)