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Stalled Samjhauta Express departs for Delhi

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Lahore: The India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express bound for Delhi, which was called back from the Wagah border India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express to the Lahore railway station on October 8, left for Attari on Thursday, media reported.

There are 122 Indian and 70 Pakistani passengers on board, officials said.

The train had earlier departed carrying 193 passengers — both Indian and Pakistani nationals — but was recalled to Lahore after Indian authorities cautioned Pakistani officials of disruptive farmers’ protests in Indian Punjab.

Pakistan Railways (PR) earlier announced that the train would depart on Monday but the departure was delayed a second time as farmers’ protests continued on the Indian side of the border.

The train, scheduled to run on Mondays and Thursdays, departed after Indian authorities confirmed resumption of the train service with PR, Pakistan Radio reported.

Indian passengers whose visit visas to Pakistan expired stayed at the PR headquarters and were provided certificates to validate their stay in the country.

On Tuesday, 14 stranded Pakistanis who were scheduled to return home by the Samjhauta Express arrived in Lahore from Delhi by the Dosti Bus that runs between the two countries.

Their Indian visas expired and they were to return to Lahore by the Samjhauta train on October 8 and then on October 12 but could not travel because of the cancellation of train service in the wake of farmers’ agitation in Indian Punjab.

(IANS)

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Pakistani Authorities ‘Stop’ Import of Cotton and other Indian Agricultural Commodities

Cotton importers and customs clearing agents claimed that the department had stopped the import of agriculture commodities from India without a warning or written order

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FILE -(representational image) Pakistani villagers living at the Line of Control between Pakistan-Indian Kashmir, Chakoti, build concrete house in Pakistan, Nov. 21, 2016. VOA

Islamabad, Nov 26, 2016: Pakistani authorities “halted” the import of cotton and other agricultural commodities, including vegetables, from India via the Wagah border, it was reported on Saturday.

Am official from the Department of Plant Protection has said the move came due to escalating tensions between the two countries after Indian troops allegedly targeted a passenger bus and an ambulance near the Line of Control (LoC) and killed “three Pakistani soldiers and 10 civilians” on Wednesday, Dawn reported.

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Cotton importers and customs clearing agents claimed that the department had stopped the import of agriculture commodities from India without a warning or written order citing increase in tensions across the LoC.

Sahabzada Imran Shami, director general of the DPP, a subordinate department of the national food security and research ministry, however, sought to dispel the impression.

“We have stopped import of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables in order to protect our farmers. We have enough tomato and other vegetables stocks, which we import from India only in case of shortages in the domestic market,” he told Dawn.

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The reason behind the “suspension” of cotton imports from India was, nevertheless, different. “No. We have not stopped cotton imports from India. It has just been halted over reports that the Indian exporters are not meeting our bio-security conditions,” Sahabzada Shami contended.

“We’re looking into these reports and will lift restriction on cotton imports if our apprehensions are proved wrong.”

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He said the suspension of cotton import from India would create a huge problem for the textile exporters as the truncated domestic crop target of 11.25 million bales for this year appeared difficult if not impossible to meet.

“The industry requires 14 mn bales. We will still be short by three million bales of cotton even if the crop target is achieved.

“The cotton shortages after ban on Indian imports,” he said, “would lead domestic prices to jack up at the expense of exports.” (IANS)

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Pakistan using Kabul as pawn against India by blocking Indo-Afgan trade

Instead of using the excuse of no response from Pakistan, India could have sent the supplies by open routes and it would have reached Afghanistan by now. India uses the excuse of humanitarian grounds, for which it has no respect

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Ashraf Ghani, wikimedia

New Delhi, Sept 16, 2016: It is really ‘petty’ of Pakistan to use Kabul as a pawn against India by blocking the trade. “Afghanistan is landlocked but thinks openly, Pakistan has access to the sea and thinks like a landlocked country,” said Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, on Thursday at Delhi’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

Ghani further added that Kabul won’t be taking this lying down. “Afghanistan is at (a) crossroads, it’s no longer a landlocked country, those who block us will be blocked. Why are we concerned that a country (Pakistan) can block two great nations (India and Afghanistan) from trading? Anyway, with Chabahar (port), (Pakistan’s) monopoly will end.” It was solely referring to the warning given by Kabul on Sunday and that Afghanistan would shut Pakistan’s transit route to Central Asian countries if it tries to block the Afghan traders to use the Wagah border to trade with India, mentioned TOI report.

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Pakistan doesn’t really appear to be bothered by it. On Thursday, Ghani said what he thinks of such policy. He made it very clear that he is referring to Pakistan when he said, “States do not behave like maligned non-states actors vis-a-vis their neighbours.”

TOI reports mentioned, recently India wanted to supply 1.7 lakh tonne of wheat to Afghanistan, to which foreign secretary S Jaishankar said, “We made a request to the Pakistan government. (But) we didn’t get a reply.”

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The response to foreign secretary S Jaishankar comment was published in Dawn newspaper on Friday. A spokesman told Dawn that Jaishankar’s request “was made days before the killing of Burhan Wani.”

Well, what exactly the killing of Wani, a Kashmiri terrorist, has to do with the wheat trade to Afghanistan, the officer didn’t really say that. It added, there is no such agreement with India to use Pakistan’s land routes for trading with Afghanistan.

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“Instead of using the excuse of no response from Pakistan, India could have sent the supplies by open routes and it would have reached Afghanistan by now. India uses the excuse of humanitarian grounds, for which it has no respect,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said, sticking nose in India’s internal affairs, by referring to Kashmir.

Apart from this, the recent statements by other Pakistani officials pretty much confirm the using of Afganistan against India in the battle.

A top government official of Pakistan told, there was no way by which Pakistan would accede to the Afghan President’s demand to trade with India through Wagah.

– prepared by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram. Twitter: @PinazKazi

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Pakistani Taliban planning Wagah Suicide Bomb attack on Independence Day, warns Pakistan

In a letter, accessed by IANS, Pakistan National Counter Terrorism Authority wrote to Punjab Home Secretary over the possible attack at the Wagah Border between August 13-15

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Pakistani Taliban. Image source: guardian.ng

A terror alert was issued by Pakistan on Wednesday, August 10, warning that the Pakistani Taliban was planning to strike on the Wagah border with India around the Independence Day  ceremonies of the two neighbours.

In a letter, accessed by IANS, Pakistan National Counter Terrorism Authority wrote to Punjab Home Secretary over the possible attack at the Wagah Border between August 13-15.

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“Reportedly, Tehreek-e-Taliban, Fazal Ullah group is planning to target parade at Wagah border in Lahore or Ganda Singh Border in Kasur on August 13, 14 or 15,” the letter stated.

It also warned that at least two suicide bombers had been dispatched to carry out the attack.

“Extreme vigilance and heightened security measures are suggested to avoid any untoward incident,” the letter said.

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The letter comes as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level security meeting.

On November 2, 2014, a suicide bombing had taken place at Wagah border following the daily border ceremony in Pakistan. The attack, which led to dozens of fatalities, was claimed by three militant groups.

Pakistan has already heightened its security at sensitive places across the country following the recent terror attack in Balochistan, which left over 70 people dead, making it the deadliest this year in 2016.

The Taliban has been battling the Pakistani army in the country's northwest for the last four years [EPA]. Image source: www.aljazeera.com
The Taliban has been battling the Pakistani army in the country’s northwest for the last four years [EPA]. Image source: www.aljazeera.com

Top military commanders in the country believe the terrorist threat is taking on a brutal shape due to “a growing nexus between hostile actors in the neighbourhood and facilitators within the country”.

At a corps commanders’ conference held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, August 9, the generals reviewed the threat perception and discussed measures for countering the security challenges. (IANS)

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