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Unarmed civilians nab militant in Jammu

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Vigil (left) with members of his team and members of the Northern Alliance west of Konduz Afghanistan in late 2001.
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Jammu: In a dramatic turn of events on Wednesday, unarmed villagers in Jammu and Kashmir overpowered a young Pakistani terrorist who took them hostage shortly after he and another militant ambushed a BSF convoy and killed two troopers on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.

picture from- www.oneindia.com
picture from- www.oneindia.com

Eleven Border Security Force personnel were also injured in the morning attack on a stretch of the highway in Udhampur district that has been free of terrorist violence for 15 long years. Once the BSF shot dead one of the two attackers, the second one fled, with his weapon.

Identified later as Usman alias Qasim Khan, the 20-something from Faislabad in Pakistan quickly sprinted to the small Chirdi village some 15 km away and took shelter in a house after flashing his AK-47 rifle.

The rattled residents first fed him food when he said he was hungry. Later, when he sought help to escape from the village, the three men in the house pounced on him, grappled with him and overpowered him just as security forces threw a ring around the village.

“After we disarmed him, the militant begged us to let him go,” said one of the villagers who took hold of his AK-47.

He also pleaded: “Mujhe mat pakdo, mujhe mat pakdo.” (Don’t catch me.)

In no time, the frightened Pakistani, who was wearing a black shirt and trousers, was handed over to the security forces who led him away down the mountain path after securing him with a rope.

It was the first time that Indian security forces captured a Pakistani terrorist — after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

Police officials said he was linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, which also carried out the deadly Mumbai attack that left 166 Indians and foreigners dead.

According to informed sources, the Pakistani terrorist confessed that their ultimate mission was to target the ongoing Amarnath Yatra. He added that 16 Pakistani terrorist modules were active in Jammu and Kashmir.

In New Delhi, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the incident. Amid indications that the Pakistani might be flown to New Delhi on Thursday, the home ministry said the ambush and capture would be probed by the National Investigation Agency.

It all began when two militants ambushed a BSF vehicle on its way to the Kashmir Valley, killing two troopers and injuring 11, at Narsu Nallah, 65 km from Jammu.

The BSF vehicle was peppered with bullets but the troopers fought back, one officer said.

After one of the attackers got killed, Usman ran all the way to Chirdi village in the hills and took three simple villagers hostage — a decision that was to seal his fate.

Officials initially gave no credit to the villagers who caught the terrorists. But the villagers gave their version of the story to reporters who thronged the village.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said the credit for catching the Pakistani should go to Chirdi villagers.

“Very brave of the unarmed civilians to wrestle and disarm an armed terrorist. They should be suitably rewarded for this bravery,” Omar said.
“Very unfortunate that the credit is not going where it is due.”

Some Indian experts felt that Wednesday’s attack was aimed at spiking the proposed talks between the National Security Advisers of Pakistan and India.

Wednesday’s attack took place on the 300-km Jammu-Srinagar highway that links Jammu region with the Kashmir Valley and is a lifeline for Srinagar.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said the attack was “extremely worrying” because it followed the July 27 terrorist attack in Gurdaspur district in Punjab that left seven people dead.

Gurdaspur borders Pakistan, and those attackers too were believed to be Pakistanis.

(IANS)

 

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U.S. Welcomes Pakistan’s Actions Towards Peace in Afghanistan

Pakistani officials say their influence over the Taliban has significantly declined over the years because the insurgents have gained control over large areas of Afghanistan

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Imran Khan, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Pakistan"s Prime Minister Imran Khan is seen during talks in Beijing, China, VOA

The United States said Saturday it welcomes actions Pakistan is taking to promote a negotiated solution to the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

The acknowledgement came a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced his country has arranged another round of Washington’s peace talks with the Afghan Taliban scheduled for Monday.

“The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” a U.S. embassy spokesperson in Kabul told VOA.

US negotiator

U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the spokesperson added.

Neither Khan nor the U.S. spokesperson have disclosed the possible venue for the upcoming meeting with Taliban officials.

Some Afghan sources say Monday’s meeting will take place in Islamabad, but no official confirmation is available.

USA, afghanistan
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

Khalilzad, who is visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks, is to lead the U.S. delegation in talks with insurgent representatives. This will not be the first time Khalilzad has met with the Taliban.

Since taking office in September, the special U.S. envoy has held two publicly known rounds of preliminary discussions with insurgent negotiators in Qatar, where the Taliban runs its so-called political office. The talks have been for the sake of talks, according to insurgent and other sources aware of the meetings.

Trump’s letter to Khan

U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month wrote a formal letter to Khan asking for his help to bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations. A day later, Khalilzad visited Islamabad where he met with Khan and his military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to follow-up on Trump’s request, Pakistani officials say.

Speaking in northwestern city of Peshawar on Friday, Khan said the U.S. has changed its tune by requesting help instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as U.S. officials have previously insisted.

“By the grace of Allah, the dialogue is now happening inshallah [God willing] on the 17th [Khan did not mention the month] and Pakistan has facilitated the talks between America and the Taliban,” Khan said. He did not share further details.

taliban, afghanistan
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, right, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

Khan recounted Friday that critics used to mock him as “Taliban Khan” for saying the Afghan war could not be ended without political negotiations but now all key stakeholders are jointly working to pursue a political settlement to end the violence in Afghanistan.

“If peace were achieved, God willing, Peshawar will change and become a hub of commerce and tourism, as things around the 2,500 years old living city are likely to change,” Khan said Friday.

Ambassador Khalilzad is 13 days into an 18-day visit to the region. He has traveled to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belgium and plans to visit the U.A.E. and Qatar.

Withdrawal an issue

Pakistani officials privy to the U.S. interaction with the Taliban have told VOA that until now no progress has been achieved because the insurgents adamantly demand “a date or timeframe” for all foreign troops to withdraw from Afghanistan before the Taliban decides to participate in an intra-Afghan peace process.

Also Read: What to Make of Taliban’s Continued Rare Silence on Ghani’s Peace Offer? 

U.S. officials have long maintained Taliban leaders are sheltering in Pakistan with covert support from the country’s intelligence agency. Washington has been urging Islamabad to use its influence to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Pakistani officials say their influence over the Taliban has significantly declined over the years because the insurgents have gained control over large areas of Afghanistan and continue to pose serious battlefield challenges for U.S.-backed Afghan security forces. (VOA)