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Pakistan will soon be recognised as “minorities-friendly country,” says PM Nawaz Sharif, orders renovation of Hindu Shrines

Nawaz Sharif emphasizes on the minority-friendly policies of Pakistan government

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Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Wikimedia

Islamabad, Jan 11, 2017: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a statement on Wednesday said, Pakistan will soon be recognised as a “minorities-friendly country”, as he ordered the start of the renovation of Katas Raj temple complex, one the most sacred places for Hindus in the country with Muslim majority.

Pakistan is adapting a number of policies to establish the country’s identity as a minority-friendly country and providing equal rights to the followers of all religions in the country, Sharif stated while speaking at the Katas Raj Temples Complex in Chakwal.

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“The day is not far when Pakistan will be recognised as a minorities-friendly country due to steps being undertaken to better the lives of minority groups,” he was quoted as saying during his speech.The Prime Minister said he had advised the Pak government officials to spare no efforts in playing host to pilgrims and take measures for the protection and expansion of minorities’ places of worship.

He also said he was the Prime Minister of everyone and “not just Muslims” and instructed Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) chairman Siddiqul Farooq to renovate the holy sites in the area to their original state.

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He would ensure his full backing for the construction of Baba Guru Nanak and Gandhara universities, Sharif added.

Sharif referred to historic examples to point out that it was a part of the Islamic faith to treat the majority and minorities with equal care and importance.He acknowledged the fact that Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis have all been working hand-in-hand to protect the country and contribute their share to its peace, prosperity and growth.

Sharif showed up at the Katas Raj temple complex in Chakwal district near Islamabad to inaugurate the water filtration plant of Amrat Jal.

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The filtration plant has been set up at the temple’s holy Amrat Jal pond and it will be a major supply of clean drinking water to the Hindu pilgrims who are visiting the place.

“The renovation should be done to restore the building to its original shape. It should be done within the one and half year of remaining tenure of my government,” he mentioned in his speech.(PTI)

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

 

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ISIS Announces New India and Pakistan Provinces

The "Islamic State Pakistan Province," in communiques issued via its global propaganda mouthpiece Amaq News Agency, took credit for killing a Pakistani police officer

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ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
FILE- An Islamic State flag is captured in this photo illustration. VOA

The Islamic State group says it has established a “province” in Pakistan, days after the terrorist organization used the name “Hind Province” for an attack it claimed in the India-ruled portion of the disputed Kashmir region.

Both of the divisions formerly fell under the “Khorasan Province” or ISKP — the name the Middle East-based terrorist group uses for its regional operations launched in early 2015 from bases in the border region of Afghanistan — according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist threats.

The “Islamic State Pakistan Province,” in communiques issued via its global propaganda mouthpiece Amaq News Agency, took credit for killing a Pakistani police officer this week in Mastung, and it reported shooting at a gathering of militants linked to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban militant group in Quetta.

Both the districts are located in violence-hit Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. Several separatist Baluch groups and sectarian organizations also are active in the province.

ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
FILE – Rescue workers and army soldiers gather at the site of a blast at a vegetable market in Quetta, Pakistan, April 12, 2019. VOA

There was no immediate reaction available from the Pakistani government.

Islamabad maintains there is no “organized” presence of IS in the country. Pakistani military officials say an ongoing nationwide military-led “intelligence-based operation” is primarily aimed at denying space in Pakistan to extremists linked to any terrorist groups.

The group released no details about the boundaries of the territory it is now claiming. In previous Islamic State propaganda, all of Afghanistan and most of Pakistan, parts of modern Iran and Central Asia make up the so-called Khorasan Province. IS also has spoken about creating its own chapter for the Indian subcontinent.

Marketplace expolsion

IS also took responsibility for last month’s suicide blast in a marketplace in Quetta city that killed 20 people and left nearly 50 injured. The targets of the attack were members of the ethnic Hazara Shiite Muslim community.

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On Friday, IS declared in a statement via Amaq the creation of “Hind Province,” while taking responsibility for clashes with Indian forces in Amshipora in the Shopian district of Kashmir.

IS has increased attacks lately in the region, including taking credit for the group’s Easter Sunday first-ever bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 people.

Observers say altering its provincial structure and fragmenting the “Khorasan Province” by IS could be aimed at bolstering its credentials after losing its “caliphate” in Syria and Iran, where the terrorists at one point used to control thousands of miles of territory.

“As ISIS [one of several acronyms used for IS] seeks to build and restructure foundations of insurgencies across the globe after its losses in Iraq and Syria, it is attempting to recruit also from Pakistan, a country with an existing jihadi militant population,” tweeted Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group.

ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
the terrorist organization used the name “Hind Province” for an attack it claimed in the India-ruled portion of the disputed Kashmir region. Wikimedia Commons

The suspected rebranding of ISKP comes as the United Nations earlier this week designated the “Khorasan Province” as a global terrorist, noting the group was formed in January 2015 by former members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who pledged allegiance to Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, leader of the ISIS/ISIL.

The United States has already blacklisted ISKP as a foreign terrorist organization, and American troops are conducting regular airstrikes against the group’s bases in Afghanistan with the help of local forces, killing thousands of militants.

Analysts say American counterterrorism airstrikes and clashes with the Afghan Taliban have prevented ISKP from expanding its regional influence and the rebranding strategy could have stemmed from those challenges.

“Khorasan chapter has been struggling to establish a footprint in Afghanistan and the region in general, and they may be following al-Qaida’s strategy to create regional affiliates,” says Muhammad Amir Rana, who heads Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace and Studies (PIPS). (VOA)