Wednesday February 20, 2019
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Two Hindu Teenagers shot in communal tension at Pakistan’s Sindh province

Dewan Sateesh Kumar who was 17 years old, succumbed to his injuries while his friend Avinash is in a critical condition

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Image Source :media2.intoday.in/
  • There has been rapid radicalisation and an increase in communal tensions after the entry of groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah
  • After some burnt pages of the Quran were found outside an old mosque, local religious leaders along with several agitated people took the fight to the streets
  • Two Hindu youths who were sitting outside a tea stall in Mirpur Mathelo area were shot by some men riding on motorbikes

Sindh, where most of Pakistan’s Hindu minority group lives had been more peaceful than the other provinces of Pakistan until now. There has been rapid radicalisation and an increase in communal tensions after the entry of groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah. After few burnt pages of the Quran were found outside an old mosque near Daharki town on Tuesday, July 26, local religious leaders along with several agitated people took the fight to the streets. Even though the culprit was arrested, the protests continued resulting in shootings that left one Hindu teenager dead and the other in a critical condition.

The shooting took place outside a tea stall in Mirpur Mathelo area on Wednesday, July 27. Dewan Sateesh Kumar who was 17 years old, succumbed to his injuries while his friend Avinash is in a critical condition, Dawn.com reported.

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When the desecration of the Holy Quran became known to the public, angry protesters assembled on the National Highway and held a sit-in for five hours, demanding the arrest of the culprit.

Police deployed after the protest. Image Source: Bing News
Police deployed after the protest. Image Source: Bing News

According to the news portal, the police arrested their prime suspect Amar in the Ghotki area of the province, which shares its border with India. on charges of blasphemy. According to the police, Amar is a drug addict suffering from the psychotic disorder. He is said to be living in a mosque after converting to Islam a few months ago.

Shops remained shut and other daily activities remained suspended in Ghotki. Shops owned by Hindus also remained shut.

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Section 295 (B) of the Pakistan Penal Code deals with blasphemy under which over 1,300 people have been accused of blasphemy from 1987 to 2014. The vast majority of the accusations were lodged for desecration of the Quran.

Two Hindu youths who were sitting outside a tea stall in Mirpur Mathelo area were shot by some men riding on motorbikes and in the attack, Dewan Sateesh Kumar was killed while Avinash was critically injured.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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US-Taliban Meeting Cancelled, 14 Members on “The US and UN Blacklist”

A day later, Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the talks during a press conference, calling it a “game changer.”

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US, Taliban, Pakistan
FILE - Taliban political chief Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, in the first row, second from left, Abdul Salam Hanafi and other Taliban officials pray during the intra-Afghan talks in Moscow, Feb. 6, 2019. VOA

An upcoming meeting in Pakistan between a delegation of the United States and Taliban representatives has been cancelled, according to information coming from both sides.

A Taliban leader confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that the meeting was cancelled, “by the Americans.” A Taliban statement issued later in the day said the talks were postponed because many members of its 14 person negotiating team were unable to go overseas since they are on “the US and UN blacklist.” Several of them are on the U.N. Security Council sanctions list which bars them from international travel.

Meanwhile, a U.S. official said Zalmay Khalilzad, who was supposed to lead the American delegation, is not planning to visit Islamabad this week.

US, China, Taliban
FILE – U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, center, speaks during a roundtable discussion with Afghan media at the U.S Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan Jan. 28, 2019. VOA

The U.S. said it had not received an official invitation from the government of Pakistan for this meeting which was first announced by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid a couple of days ago.

Mujahid’s statement had set February 18 as the date of the talks and said a formal invitation had been issued by Pakistan. In addition, he said, the Taliban delegation would also meet the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

A day later, Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the talks during a press conference, calling it a “game changer.”

“The next round of negotiations with the Taliban will be in Pakistan, and as a result of these negotiations, there is a chance of stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

US, China, Taliban
FILE – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) speaks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (3rd L) during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Islamabad, Pakistan, in this handout photo released Jan. 18, 2018. VOA

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry reacted strongly to the announcement of a meeting in Islamabad, saying it was in violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

“#Afghanistan complains to #UNSecurityCouncil on #Pakistan’s engagements with the Taliban on which #Afg Govenrment is not consulted,” Tweeted Sibghatullah Admadi, a spokesman for the Afghan foreign office.

Previously, Afghanistan launched a similar complaint against Russia for allowing Taliban members to travel to Moscow for a conference in which nearly 50 Afghans, including various political leaders, former jihadi commanders, and civil society activists were invited. However, the Afghan government was not invited to that conference because the Taliban have so far refused to engage with the Kabul administration despite pressure from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and others.

President Ashraf Ghani lashed out at those attending the conference saying they had no “executive authority” to make any agreements.

“Let hundreds of such meetings be held,” he said.

Some analysts say Ghani’s statements indicated his frustration at being left out of the negotiations between the Americans and the Taliban that first started last Summer. Since then, the two sides have held several rounds of talks.

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The last meeting in Doha early January lasted for six days and Khalilzad said the two sides had agreed “in principle” to a withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in return for guarantees that Afghan soil will not be used by any terrorist groups or individuals.

Speaking in a public event at Washington based United States Institute of Peace, Khalilzad said the Taliban do not want to “sit with the government alone” because they did not want to give President Ghani an advantage in the presidential elections scheduled in July.

“There are indications that they will be willing to sit with the government in a multi-party arrangement,” he said. (VOA)