Pakistan acutely aware of rivals’ campaign” – COAS
The Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif visited Panjgur and Turbat in southwestern Balochistan province on July 25 to inspect under-construction road network of CPEC.
He paid rich tributes to the valiant people of Balochistan and thanked them for their cooperation in road network projects. He said the Pakistan Army is “acutely aware” of the campaign by “rivals” against the mega project, according to Inter-Services Public Relations. He vowed that armed forces are prepared to “pay any price to turn this long-cherished dream into reality”.
“CPEC and Gwadar Port will be built and developed as one of the most strategic deep seaports in the region at all costs,” General Sharif said. The army chief said the roads will link Gwadar Port with the rest of the country “to yield the real envisioned dividend of the port and corridor” in order to transform lives and bring prosperity to the region.
Flash Floods Wreak Havoc
The flash floods which started two days before Eidul Fitr in upper Chitral and eastern Punjab, have now affected 300,000 people in the two weeks since the deluges first hit the north of the country, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
The nationwide death toll from flash floods in various parts of Pakistan has risen to 81 on as floodwater inundated hundreds of villages, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless.
A total of 172,016 people were rescued from the flood-hit areas in the eastern Punjab and southern Sindh provinces. Rescue teams from the military, provincial governments and NDMA were carrying out “relief and rescue operations” in the affected areas, said the NDMA spokesperson Ahmed Kamal.
India Pakistan Track-II Dialogues and Border Skirmishes
The progress made during the July 10 meeting in Russian town of Ufa between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for de-escalating tensions was quickly reversed after an unprovoked ceasefire violation by the Indian BSF took place along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary (WB) on July 15.
According to ISPR, three civilians, identified as Ghulam Mustafa, Rahat and Boota from Malana and Salehpur villages, were killed by the unprovoked Indian firing along the Working Boundary near Sialkot. And a girl, Zareena Bibi (18), was killed near LOC in Rawalakot`s Nezapir sector by Indian firing. A protest was lodged with Indian High Commissioner Raghavan over the unprovoked firing and the violation of Pakistan’s airspace by a remotely piloted Indian aerial vehicle on a spying mission that was downed by Pakistani troops near LoC.
Pakistan and India were set to revive their Track-II dialogue for discussions on Kashmir and other outstanding issues. The Track-II is an unofficial dialogue involving private individual, mostly retired officials, to resolve conflicts between the two states.
Elections 2013 and the Judicial Commission Report
The three-member judicial commission formed after long-running protests by the PTI last year for inquiry into the PTI’s complaints of rigging and mass electoral irregularities announced its verdict. The three main allegations of the PTI included organized rigging in the 2013 general elections, non-transparent polling and theft of the public mandate.
Headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, the commission in its detailed report sent to the Ministry of Law rejected all the three allegations of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) on rigging in the 2013 general elections. However, the commission has pointed out procedural irregularities in the 2013 elections but held that on the basis of these irregularities, the elections could not be declared void. The commission has also given some recommendations for improving the electoral system in future.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, after the report was made public, said in his address that Pakistan has entered a new era of peace and prosperity after this landmark decision by the judicial commission, constituted to inquire the rigging allegations on General Election 2013.
Iran Nuclear Deal Finalized
Major powers signed a historic nuclear deal with Iran that ensured she does not obtain the nuclear bomb, while opening up new ways for Tehran`s economy.
US President Barrack Obama hailed the deal as a step towards a `more hopeful world` and Iran`s President Hassan Rouhani said it proved that `constructive engagement works`. But Israel called it a `historic surrender`.
Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that is allegedly aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
Iran`s re-entry into global economy after lifting off of the sanctions would create business opportunities worth tens of billions of dollars for both local and foreign companies.
Pakistan will particularly benefit by finalizing its gas pipeline deal and other energy agreements that have long been held up because of the crippling sanctions.
“So as soon as the sanctions are lifted we can very rapidly start the implementation of those agreements and at the same time trade possibilities will expand; right now there are lot of payment difficulties between Iran and Pakistan and more importantly Iran’s integration in the region in terms of economy will also lead to political advantages”, said Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security.
Afghan Government, Taliban Peace Talks
Representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban are set to meet again for the second round of peace talks on July 31. According to news sources, an unnamed official said that the second round would be more substantive and detailed. “The fact that the two sides are re-convening in less than a month is encouraging. It is a big success.” He further said, “We expect both sides to discuss confidence-building measures, including steps to bring down the level of violence before they move on to discuss the more complex issues to end the conflict in Afghanistan.”
The first round of negotiations held in Murree on July 8, in the presence of US and Chinese officials, were the first direct contact between the two sides in almost two years. . The participants had agreed to continue talks to create an environment conducive to peace and reconciliation process.
Israeli Police Enter Al-Aqsa Mosque
Palestinian Muslim worshippers and Israeli police clashed at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on July 26, on the annual Jewish day of mourning for the Holy City’s two destroyed Biblical temples.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, is called by the Jews as the Temple Mount and they consider it their holiest site, while Muslims refer it as the Noble Sanctuary.
About 300 security personnel had entered the compound when the clashes began with about 200 Palestinians. Approximately 30 Palestinians were injured and treated – most for tear gas inhalation, others for injuries sustained from beatings – according to the Islamic Waqf authorities, administrators of the affairs of Al-Aqsa Mosque and other religious sites.
Three others were reportedly detained.
Sikh Resurgence and Gurdaspur Attack
On July 27, a group of heavily armed men, dressed in army uniforms, stormed a police station in the northern frontier state of Punjab killing ten people and wounding several others. Indian police managed to overcome the armed men after a 12-hour gun battle. Four police officers including the local superintendent and three civilians also died in the operation in the usually calm Gurdaspur district in northern state of Indian Punjab.
Pakistan strongly condemned this terrorist incident in which a number of precious lives have been lost. “Pakistan reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and our thoughts are with the bereaved families,” Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said. As the Indian media blamed Pakistan for cross-border militancy through this attack, Monday’s armed standoff in India’s Gurdaspur border town has set off an alert over a possible Sikh upsurge. India’s external intelligence agency RAW had alerted the Indian government of Sikh militant resurgence across the globe. A little more than a month ago RAW had sent a report to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), detailing the resurgence of Sikh radical organizations across the globe.