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Islamabad open to ‘non-transactional dialogue’ with Imran Khan’s party

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(Last Updated On: March 25, 2023)

Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif said on Friday Islamabad was ready to hold comprehensive dialogue with former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party “for the sake of the country’s prosperity and national interest”.

Addressing a press conference, Asif said however that Pakistan’s government would not oblige by entering into any “transactional dialogue with the opposition”.

Asif said a lot has happened in the year since Imran Khan received a vote of no confidence. He also referred to the court saga in the past few weeks where Imran Khan has failed to appear before a judge on various charges relating to the sale of gifts to him during his tenure as prime minister.

Asif said: “Imran Khan refused to appear in the courts on different pretexts and security reasons or reasons of being victimized.

“And then his appearance is accepted in the court while he still sits in the car and he actually attacks the courts or the courts are mocked by his supporters,” he added.

Khawaja Asif said that when police went to Imran Khan’s house to arrest him, “the police were attacked as a result at least 70 to 80 police officers, including senior officers, were injured trying to arrest him. They pitched battle outside his (Imran Khan’s) house. This has never happened in Pakistan.”

According to Pakistan’s APP, during his (Imran Khan) regime, opposition workers and leaders were arrested. “They never contested their arrest physically, never abused and maligned the courts,” he said.

“During the last four years of his (Imran Khan) rule as Prime Minister, almost the whole of the top leadership of PML-N was arrested,” he added.

“Our leader Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif got arrested when he came back from the UK to surrender, his daughter, sons and nephews were arrested. But they never resisted their arrest.”

Asif stated that he was “picked up from Embassy Road and remained in jail for almost six months”.

He also noted that victimization of the opposition was unprecedented in Khan’s era.

Asif noted that the coalition government was governing the country under difficult circumstances – administratively and financially and politically.

“This is the backdrop in which we are at the moment governing the country and trying to give the best. We do realise that the political capital we had when we took over or when moved the vote of no confidence has depleted. We paid a cost for it,” he added.

He said the coalition government was trying to manage the crisis but that every day there was a crisis precipitated by Imran Khan, APP reported.

Planned rally

Meanwhile, Pakistan media reported Saturday that shipping containers have been placed at various locations in Lahore ahead of the PTI’s rally at the Minar-i-Pakistan on Saturday night, where party chairman Imran Khan intends to outline his “vision of Haqeeqi Azadi”.

Dawn news reported that containers were being placed at entry and exit routes around the city in what appeared to be an attempt to block routes leading to the PTI’s rally.

Earlier Saturday, Imran Khan called on his supporters to “assert their right as people of a free nation” by attending the rally.

He added that the PTI would be holding its sixth public gathering at Minar-i-Pakistan, which he felt would “break all records”.

“My heart tells me it will break all records. I am inviting everyone in Lahore to attend after Tarawih prayers. I will give my vision of Haqeeqi Azadi and how we will pull Pakistan out of the mess cabal of crooks have put our country in,” Imran said.

Dawn News reported that while expressing concerns that the government may erect obstacles to prevent party supporters from reaching the venue, Imran Khan asserted that it was the fundamental right of the people to participate in a political gathering.

“Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence and come to Minar-i-Pakistan,” he told his supporters.

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Gunmen kill 9 men after abduction in southwest Pakistan

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2024)

Gunmen shot and killed nine men after abducting them from a bus in a troubled province in southwestern Pakistan, officials said on Saturday.

No one has claimed the responsibility for the Friday night attack in Balochistan province, Reuters reported.

Separatist ethnic Baloch militant groups in the mineral-rich region have been fighting for decades against the state, saying it denies them their share of regional resources.

Several gunmen intercepted the Iran-bound bus in Noshki district, taking the nine men with them after determining they were from the eastern province of Punjab, said police officer Abdullah Mengal. “All of them were travelling to Taftan,” he said.

The victims were shot at close range, he said.

Their bullet-ridden bodies were found from beneath a bridge after one and a half hour, said the district deputy commissioner, Habibullah Musakhail.

Ethnic Baloch insurgents have previously claimed responsibility for similar killings in the region, which is home to deep-water Gwadar sea port being developed by neighbouring China. The insurgents have also targeted Chinese nationals and their interests.

Beijing has invested heavily in regional development projects as part of its $65 billion pledge under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

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Indian foreign ministry advises against travel to Iran, Israel

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2024)

India advised its citizens on Friday against travelling to Iran and Israel until further notice in view of the “prevailing situation in the region”.

The advisory from the foreign ministry came amid Iran’s threats to retaliate against a suspected Israeli airstrike on its embassy in Syria this month.

Countries including the U.S. and Russia have issued similar travel advisories for their staff and citizens in the region.

India’s foreign ministry said its citizens in the two countries should observe “utmost precautions about their safety and restrict their movements to the minimum”.

It is feared that retaliation by Iran can widen the six-month old conflict between Iran-backed Hamas militants and Israel in Gaza.

The U.S. has reached out to the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Iraq, asking them to urge Iran to lower tensions with Israel, as part of its efforts to contain the conflict.

 

(Reuters)

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17 killed as truck carrying pilgrims plunges into ravine in Balochistan’s Hub

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(Last Updated On: April 11, 2024)

At least 17 people were killed while over 40 sustained injuries after a truck carrying pilgrims plunged into a ravine in Balochistan’s Hub district on Wednesday, officials said.

Hub Assistant Superintendent of Police Ahmed Talha Wali confirmed the death toll and injuries.
He said the truck, carrying 50 people, was en route to the Shah Noorani shrine in Khuzdar from Thatta, Dawn reported.

He said the incident took place at 10pm last night, and that critically injured people had been taken to Jam Ghulam Qadir Hospital in Hub and Civil Hospital’s Trauma Centre in Karachi.
Earlier, Manan Baloch, the Edhi Foundation’s Hub in-charge, said that the rescue operation to retrieve the bodies and injured concluded Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Munir Ahmed told AFP that the truck was speeding and that the driver lost control while negotiating a turn.

In a statement issued earlier Thursday, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti expressed sorrow over the loss of lives, according to state-run Radio Pakistan.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah visited the Civil Hospital’s Trauma Centre and met with the injured persons.

Speaking to the media outside the facility, he said 40 people had been discharged so far while five were in critical condition.”
Road accidents with high fatalities are common in the country due to lax safety measures, poor driver training and decrepit transport infrastructure.

Passenger buses and trucks are frequently crammed to capacity and seatbelts are not commonly worn, meaning high death tolls from single-vehicle accidents are common.

According to the World Health Organisation estimates, more than 27,000 people were killed on Pakistan’s roads in 2018.

In January last year, 41 people were killed when their passenger bus, which was also loaded with containers of flammable oil, plunged into a ravine in Balochistan province and burst into flames.

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