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Parliamentary Candidate Survives Assassination Attempt In Pakistan

Pakistan's election campaign has been marred by violence as well as what critics describe as a crackdown on political activists, journalists, and opposition figures.

Pakistani police say a candidate running for a seat in the national parliament in the July 25 elections has escaped an assassination attempt -- the latest in a series of election-related attacks in the country.

Police in the eastern province of Punjab said on July 17 that a vehicle carrying Sheikh Aftab Ahmed and his son, Salman Sarwar, came under attack by gunfire in the Attock district late on July 16 when they were returning to their home from an election rally.

Police said Ahmed was "safe" without specifying whether he sustained any injuries. They said at least three bullets struck the vehicle.

Ahmed is running for parliament as a member of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party and served as a minister in Sharif's cabinet. His son is running for a provincial council seat.

Sharif was arrested last week upon returning to Pakistan from London to face a 10-year prison sentence for corruption.

Pakistan's election campaign has been marred by violence as well as what critics describe as a crackdown on political activists, journalists, and opposition figures.

Some 150 people, including a local candidate, were killed on July 13 when a suicide bomber attacked an election rally in the southwestern province of Balochistan. More than 180 people were wounded in that attack.

On the same day, four people were killed by a bombing that targeted a campaign rally in the northern town of Bannu.

Based on reporting by AP, Ndtv.com, and BBC

Pakistan’s Waseem Loses In Flyweight Boxing Title Fight

FILE: Pakistani boxer Muhammad Waseem

Pakistan’s Muhammad Waseem lost to Moruti Mthalane of South Africa on on points in an IBF flyweight title boxing match in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 1.

Previously unbeaten Waseem knocked Mthalane to the floor with a left-hand shot near the end of the 11th round, but the South African’s overall superior performance earned him a 114-113, 114-113, and 116-110 decision from the three judges.

It was the first loss in his ninth professional match for the 30-year-old Waseem, the 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medalist from Quetta. The 35-year-old Mthalane is 36-2 with 24 knockouts.

The match was the undercard to one by Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao, who stopped WBA champion Lucas Matthysse in the seventh round to win back the welterweight world title at the age of 39.

The fight was stopped when Pacquiao knocked down the Argentine for a third time in the seventh round.

With the victory, Pacquiao (60-7-2, with 38 knockouts) becomes a five-time welterweight world champion.

Based on reporting by AFP and Boxingscene.com

Turkey Agrees To Sell 30 Military Helicopters To Pakistan

The deal for the sale of 30 T129 ATAK helicopters was signed between Turkish Aerospace Industries and the Pakistani Defense Production Ministry. (file photo)

Turkey has agreed to sell Pakistan 30 Turkish-made attack helicopters in a deal that has been billed as Ankara's largest single defense sale.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported on July 13 that the deal for the sale of Turkey's T129 ATAK helicopters was signed between Turkish Aerospace Industries and the Pakistani Defense Production Ministry.

Turkey would also provide logistics, spare parts, training, and ammunition, Anadolu reported.

The agency did not say how much the deal was worth. But Turkish media reports put the value at around $1.5 billion.

On July 5, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said Ankara will sell four 99.5-meter-long indigenous corvette warships to the Pakistani Navy.

Pakistan has sought new suppliers for military hardware since September, when the United States announced it was withholding nearly $1 billion in military aid and access to its state-of-the-art hardware for what President Donald Trump called Islamabad’s failure to crack down on Taliban "safe havens" in Pakistan.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

Pakistani Politician's Convoy Attacked, Leaving At Least Three Dead

Police said the blast targeted a convoy transporting former Housing and Works Minister Akram Khan Durrani, a candidate for Muttahida Majlis-e Amal, an election alliance of Islamist political parties.

Pakistani police say at least three people have been killed and more than 15 wounded in a bomb blast targeting a politician who escaped unharmed.

Police said the blast targeted a convoy transporting former Housing and Works Minister Akram Khan Durrani, a candidate for Muttahida Majlis-e Amal, an election alliance of Islamist political parties.

Police said Durrani was on his way to address a campaign rally in the northwestern town of Bannu when the blast struck.

Durrani is running as a candidate for Bannu in a general election on July 25.

No one claimed responsibility, but the bombing came after a suicide bomber attacked a crowd waiting for an election rally organized by the secular Awami National Party (ANP) in the northwestern city of Peshawar on July 10.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 20 people, including Haroon Ahmed Bilour, a candidate for a seat in the provincial legislature.

Another 65 people were wounded.

With reporting by AP

Pakistan Braced For Ousted PM Sharif's Return

Supporters of Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif hold posters of him and chant slogans as they gather at the venue where his younger brother Shahbaz Srarif will lead a rally towards the airport ahead of the arrival of Nawaz from London.

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, both sentenced to lengthy prison terms in absentia, are due to return to Pakistan.

Authorities have mobilized thousands of police officers ahead of their arrival in the city of Lahore on July 13 and have blocked key roads leading to the airport.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party say authorities have arrested hundreds of party members in recent days to prevent them from staging a rally upon Sharif's return.

Mushahid Hussain Syed, a senator and head of the PML-N's media committee, told RFE/RL on July 12 that a "huge crackdown" has been launched against the party.

PML-N leaders have accused Pakistan's powerful military, which has an influential role in domestic and foreign affairs, of attempting to destabilize the party ahead of general elections scheduled for July 25.

Sharif, ousted by the Supreme Court for corruption last July, was convicted last week and sentenced to 10 years in prison over purchases of luxury apartments in London.

His daughter Maryam was sentenced to seven years in a case stemming from the 2016 Panama Papers leaks.

Both were sentenced in absentia while in Britain, where Sharif's critically-ill wife is in the hospital.

Sharif has not yet appealed his conviction and is expected to be taken into custody as soon as he lands in Lahore.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

Pakistan Election Rally Bombing Death Toll Climbs To 20

FILE: The explosion took place as Haroon Bilour (L), the party's candidate for a provincial assembly, was arriving for a party meeting.

The death toll from a suicide bombing at an election rally claimed by the Pakistani Taliban has climbed to 20.

A suicide bomber attacked a crowd waiting for an election rally organized by the Awami National Party (ANP) in the northwestern city of Peshawar on July 10.

Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said in a July 11 statement that the group had targeted the ANP in an attack that killed Haroon Ahmed Bilour, a candidate for a seat in the provincial legislature. Another 65 people were wounded.

Militants have attacked the secular, ethnic Pashtun-dominated ANP in the past over its opposition to the Taliban and similar extremist groups.

Bilour's father, Bashir Ahmed Bilour, was killed by a suicide bomber in 2012.

The bombing came hours after Major General Asif Ghafoor, an army spokesman, warned of security threats ahead of national elections scheduled for July 25.

Ghafoor said the army would deploy more than 370,000 security forces to polling stations to ensure free and fair elections.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Pakistan Arrests Former PM’s Top Aide In Corruption Case

FILE: Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif gestures as he leaves after a press conference of his daughter Maryam Nawaz (L)

Pakistan’s anticorruption body has arrested a former top aide to ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over alleged links to a housing scam.

Fawad Hassan’s arrest on July 5 comes a day before a judge was set to announce a verdict against Sharif and his daughter in a high-profile corruption case involving their luxury properties in London.

The National Accountability Bureau said in a statement that it arrested Hassan in the eastern city of Lahore after questioning him for several hours.

Hassan is accused of abusing his position during Sharif’s administration by influencing authorities to award lucrative contracts for a government-run housing program for low-income citizens to a Lahore-based construction company with which he had political connections.

Sharif was removed as prime minister and disqualified from politics for life by the Supreme Court in 2017 over undeclared assets.

Sharif has requested the court delay the verdict until he returns to Pakistan from London, where he is taking care of his ailing wife.

Sharif hasn’t been able to campaign for his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, which is trying to regain power by winning the July 25 elections.

Sharif’s daughter, Maryam, is running for parliament and her conviction would be another blow to the party.

Sharif’s party is facing tough competition from his rival, former cricket captain Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party is gaining ground in opinion polls ahead of the elections.

Based on reporting by AP, dawn.com, and Reuters

Six Soldiers, Two Police Killed In Pakistan Attacks

FILE: Pakistani soldiers respond to an attack in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan.

Six members of Pakistan’s paramilitary force and two police officers have been killed in separate attacks in the country's southwest and northwest, officials say.

Two paramilitary troops were also injured on July 2 when gunmen ambushed their convoy with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades in the southwestern province of Balochistan, said Hasil Khan, a local administrator.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Awaran district.

Resource-rich Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

In the North Waziristan tribal region, officials said a July 2 attack left two police officers dead.

A government official and a police officer were also wounded in the attack, according to Mohammad Ayaz Khan, the region's top government administrator.

Islamic militants had sanctuaries in North Waziristan until a 2014 Pakistani Army offensive, after which most militants escaped to Afghanistan. They continue to carry out sporadic attacks.

With reporting by AP

Pakistan Added To Watch List On Global Terror Financing

Santiago Otamendi, president of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

A global money-laundering watchdog will place Pakistan back on its terrorism financing “gray” monitoring list to pressure Islamabad to halt alleged support for militant groups, Pakistani officials say.

Officials were quoted as saying on June 28 that the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) took the decision as part of a weeklong meeting under way in Paris.

FATF will make a formal announcement on June 29, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said, adding that the body in February had informed Pakistan that it would be returned to the list this month.

“It was also agreed in February that an action plan would be negotiated between Pakistan and FATF members by June. This has been done. Pakistan will work toward effective implementation of the action plan, while staying in the gray list,” Faisal added.

The move follows a push by the U.S. and European allies to get Islamabad to close financing loopholes to terrorist groups.

Pakistan has also been under pressure to stop offering safe haven to militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan.

Islamabad denies the charge, insisting that it is clamping down on extremist groups and their financing.

FATF, which comprises 35 member states and two regional organizations, discourages banks and global investors from lending money to a country put on its gray list.

But Pakistan still managed to negotiate an International Monetary Fund bailout package and continued to tap the global bond market when it was included on the monitoring list from 2012 to 2015, according to Bloomberg.

The placement on the gray list could also be a precursor to Pakistan’s eventual addition onto FATF’s black list, which would mean further sanctions.

With reporting by dpa, Dawn, AP, and Bloomberg

Deadly Clash Between Security Forces, Militants In Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan

FILE: A shepherd in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan

Three Iranian security personnel and three militants have been killed in a clash in the southeast of the country near the border with Pakistan, Iran’s state media report.

Reports said the fighting took place in the border city of Mirjaveh in Sistan-Baluchistan Province late on June 25.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said its ground forces killed a "terrorist group" as it tried to enter Iran.

A Sunni militant group called Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) claimed that its fighters killed 11 Iranian security personnel.

None of the casualty figures could be independently verified.

Iranian security forces frequently clash with militants and drug traffickers in Sistan-Baluchistan. The province lies on a major smuggling route for Afghan opium and heroin.

The population of the province is predominantly Sunni, while the majority of Iranians are Shi’a.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

Two Pakistani Soldiers, Six Militants Killed In Tribal Region

A Pakistani soldier in Waziristan

The Pakistani Army said six militants and two government soldiers were killed in a gunbattle in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The army said the firefight on June 23 occurred in the South Waziristan tribal district, where the Pakistani Taliban are active.

The army said troops also seized weapons and ammunition in the village of Spina Mela.

The Pakistani Taliban in a statement claimed that its fighters killed three government soldiers.

The Pakistani Taliban are waging a deadly insurgency against Pakistan.

The militant group had sanctuaries in the tribal areas until a 2014 Pakistani Army offensive, after which most of the militants escaped to Afghanistan. They continue to carry out sporadic attacks.

With reporting by AFP

Pakistan's Milli Muslim League Blocked From July Vote

FILE: Saifullah Khalid (2nd L), President of Milli Muslim League (MML) political party, holds a party flag with others during a news conference in Islamabad, August 2017

Pakistan's election authorities have refused to register the Milli Muslim League (MML) for next month’s elections, alleging it has links to a group blamed for deadly terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.

The Election Commission of Pakistan on June 13 said it had denied permission the MML to run in the July 25 national poll after the Interior Ministry refused to clear the group.

The ministry told the commission that the party adhered to the ideology of Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, which India and the United States blame for the series of attacks in Mumbai that killed 164 people in November 2008.

Saeed, who has denied involvement in the attacks, has been designated as a "terrorist" by the United Nations.

The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed, who is believed to be living in Pakistan.

The MML was founded in 2017 by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity, which officials allege has links to Saeed. Pakistani officials banned the charity in February.

In April, the United States added the MML to its list of foreign terrorist organizations for its alleged links to LeT, claiming it was operating as a front for the group, which is also on the U.S. terrorist list.

The State Department at the time called the MML "an alias" of the LeT, which it said was responsible for the Mumbai attacks along with the killings of "dozens of Indian security forces and civilians in recent years."

Based on reporting by RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal, dpa, and AFP

Malala Praises G7 Pledge To Provide Billions For Girls' Education

PAKISTAN -- Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai poses for a photograph at all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, during her hometown visit, some 15 kilometres outside of Mingora, on March 31, 2018. Malala Yousafzai landed in

Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai praised the Group of Seven industrialized nations after they pledged nearly $3 billion to help vulnerable women and girls get educations.

The 20-year-old on June 9 said the move would "give more girls hope that they can build a brighter future for themselves."

The pledge came at the end of the G7 summit near Quebec, Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who hosted the event, called it "the single largest investment in education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations."

Canada will contribute $300 million of the total, he said.

Malala was shot in the head on her school bus by Taliban gunmen in 2012 because she campaigned for the education of girls, which the militant extremist group opposes.

She wrote on Twitteron June 9 that the funds give "young women in developing countries the opportunity to pursue careers instead of early marriage and child labor."

Officials said the funds will be spent over the next three to five years and used to train teachers and improve curriculums, collect educational data, support new education methods, and raise the graduation rates for women and girls in developing countries.

With reporting by AFP

Pakistani Army Denies Temporary Abduction Of Journalist Critic

FILE: Major General Asif Ghafoor

Pakistan's army denied it was involved in the abduction of a Pakistani-British journalist and rights activist who openly criticized the country’s military.

"[The] army is not behind the abduction of Gul Bukhari," the military’s chief spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, told reporters late on June 8. "We actually want a thorough investigation in this case."

It was a rare on-the-record denial of a specific case for the military, which routinely says it is not involved in disappearances of critics.

In her first comment since the abduction, Bukhari on June 10 said in a tweet, without naming anyone: "Is there any shame? Any ethics, any grace? You just picked me?"

Bukhari has been a vocal critic of Pakistan's powerful military on social media in the run-up to the July 25 general election, accusing it of meddling in politics.

She has also defended former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who clashed with the military before the Supreme Court forced him from office last year.

She was abducted on June 6 and held for several hours by unknown men in the eastern city of Lahore before being freed, her family and colleagues said.

The 52-year-old Bukhari's abduction occurred a day after a military spokesman warned at a press conference that it is monitoring citizens who criticize Pakistan, amid a growing crackdown on free speech in the country.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

Pakistani Army Rejects Criticism Of Campaign Against Militants

Pakistani Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor (file photo)

Pakistan's military has rejected accusations that the country is harboring militants who launch attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.

In a wide-ranging press conference on June 4, chief military spokesman Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan had been battling against militancy and noted that the country had paid a heavy price in its campaign against extremism.

"More than 70,000 Pakistanis and 16,000 soldiers have been killed and wounded in this war," Ghafoor said at the army's headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The comments come one day after activists from the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM) clashed with Taliban-linked militants in the country's northwest, near the Afghan border.

At least two people were killed and some 25 wounded in the clash in the Rustam Bazar of Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, local officials say.

PTM echoed accusations -- repeatedly voiced by Kabul and Washington -- that the Pakistani military continues to allow extremists a safe haven from which to launch attacks in Afghanistan, while only targeting insurgents who turn their guns on Pakistan.

In the press conference, Ghafoor hit back at PTM, accusing the group of being manipulated by "enemies of Pakistan."

PTM activists have been calling for the return of disappeared Pashtuns allegedly detained during military operations in the region.

The group also condemns what it describes as undue harassment of Pashtuns at checkpoints and demand authorities remove security posts.

Based on reporting by AFP and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

India, Pakistan Trade Fire In Kashmir; Two Indian Troops Reported Killed

An Indian man walks near smoke rising from a residential area that was gutted from firing allegedly from the Pakistan side of the border in Jora farm village, in Ranbir Singh Pura district of Jammu and Kashmir in May.

India and Pakistan exchanged fire across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed region of Kashmir, Indian officials say, days after the two neighbors agreed to uphold a 2003 cease-fire agreement.

Indian officials said two paramilitary soldiers were killed and at least seven civilians were wounded on June 3, when it said Pakistani border rangers opened fire on posts along the frontier.

Pakistan did not immediately comment.

The two nuclear-armed rivals regularly accuse one another of violating a 2003 cease-fire, with cross-border fire frequently resulting in the deaths of civilians and soldiers on both sides.

On May 29, Pakistan and India pledged to respect the conditions laid out in the truce accord "in letter and spirit," after exchanges of fire along the LoC killed dozens of civilians and soldiers since the beginning of the year.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been divided between Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947. Both claim the region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa

Pakistani Official Killed In Waziristan Ambush

FILE: Hameedullah Wazir

Authorities in Pakistan say an official in the northwestern tribal region was shot dead and three local security personnel injured in an ambush by assailants in a mountainous area.

The June 1 attack that left Hameedullah Wazir dead was the eighth incident in the past two months involving targeted killings in North Waziristan, one of the mainly rugged, mountainous areas along the border with Afghanistan.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for these killings.

Wazir, who was in his early 30s, served as a political clerk in the political administration office in North Waziristan.

His father, Amanullah Wazir, had also worked for the government in the same area and was killed by Taliban militants several years ago.

Islamic militants had sanctuaries in the tribal region until a 2014 Pakistani Army offensive, after which most militants escaped to Afghanistan. They continue to carry out sporadic attacks.

Pakistan's Former Chief Judge Sworn In As Interim Prime Minister

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain (L) listens to caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul Mulk after an oath-taking ceremony at the President House in Islamabad on June 1.

Former Chief Justice Nasir-ul Mulk has been sworn in as the caretaker prime minister for an interim period of two months, after the Pakistani government completed its term for only the second time in the country's history.

The country's constitution provides for new parliamentary elections to be held within 60 days.

Mulk, who has a reputation as a defender of democratic institutions, will run the interim government pending results of the vote most likely to take place on July 25.

The next prime minister will be named by the party that wins a majority in parliament, or that is able to put together a majority coalition.

For nearly half of its 70-year existence, Pakistan has been under direct military rule. At least 15 heads of state were deposed before completing their tenure.

"Completion of this tenure is a success story for democracy in Pakistan," the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party (PML-N) said in a statement before the parliament and government were dissolved at midnight on June 1.

Pakistan completed its first-ever democratic transfer of power following elections in 2013, when the Pakistan People's Party handed over the power to the PML-N, following its landslide victory.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Pakistani President Signs Law Merging Tribal Areas With Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Pakistanis celebrate the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain has signed legislation that merges the country's tribal regions with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and therefore grants some 5 million people in the regions the same rights as other Pakistanis.

Hussain signed the law in Islamabad on May 31.

The bill had previously been passed by the lower and upper houses of parliament as well as the assembly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the necessary two-thirds majority.

The legislation rids the northwestern tribal areas of what were seen as discriminatory laws under which those regions have been governed since the colonial rule of Britain.

Pakistan was granted independence from London in 1947.

The Federaly Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) include seven territorial agencies: Bajaur, Dir, Khyber, Mohmand, Peiwar Kotal in the Kurram Agency, and the Bolan Pass and Gomal in South Waziristan. They are mainly rugged, mountainous areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan's government, led by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, formally steps down on May 31, the end of its five-year term.

Parliamentary elections will be held on July 25 and a new government formed afterward.

Based on reporting by AP and Thenews.com.pk

Sikh Activist Gunned Down In Pakistan Laid To Rest

The funeral of Charanjit Singh on May 30.

Unknown gunmen riding on a motorcycle have shot and killed a respected member of Pakistan’s Sikh minority, officials say.

The funeral of Charanjit Singh was held on May 30, a day after he was killed inside his general store on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The gunmen managed to flee after the attack, which was not claimed by any group.

Sikh elder Baba Amarjit Singh said Charanjit, 52, was a social worker who actively worked to improve interfaith relations.

He was also described as a vocal supporter of the Pakistani military's efforts to crack down on Islamic extremists.

Hindu leader Haroon Sarabdayal said he believed the attack against Charanjit was a targeted killing "since he did not have a feud with anyone."

Most Sikhs went to India during the bloody partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, with only a few thousand remaining in Pakistan.

With reporting by AP and The Express Tribune

Pakistan, India Agree To Restore Truce In Kashmir

Indian border guards patrol on a footbridge built over a stream near the Line of Control (LoC), a cease-fire boundary that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. (file photo)

The Pakistani and Indian militaries say they have agreed to deescalate tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed region of Kashmir, where exchanges of fire between the two neighbors have killed dozens of civilians and soldiers since the beginning of the year.

The understanding was reached during a special hotline contact involving the director-generals of military operations, the two armies said in almost identical statements late on May 29 -- in what Pakistan's Dawn newspaper described as an "unprecedented" move.

In their statement, the Pakistani and Indian armies said both sides agreed to fully implement the 2003 truce agreement between the nuclear-armed rivals "in letter and spirit forthwith and to ensure that henceforth the cease-fire will not be violated by both sides."

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been divided between Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947. Both claim the region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.

The two neighbors regularly accuse one another of violating the 2003 cease-fire accord, with cross-border fire frequently resulting in the deaths of civilians and soldiers on both sides.

Fighting along the LoC and elsewhere has left 28 Pakistani civilians dead over the past five months, according to Dawn.

A number of Pakistani soldiers were also killed, but the military has not yet released the casualty figure.

Based on reporting by AP and Dawn

Pakistan Names Interim PM Ahead Of Parliamentary Elections

FILE: Former Chief Jutics Nasir-ul-Mulk will be Pakistan's caretaker prime minister.

Former Pakistani chief justice Nasir-ul-Mulk has been chosen to act as the interim prime minister until parliamentary elections are held in two months.

The ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and the opposition announced on May 28 that Mulk will serve until elections are held on July 25.

Mulk, 67, is due to be sworn in as prime minister on June 1, one day after parliament dissolves and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's mandate expires.

It's only the third time in Pakistan's 70-year history that a parliament completed its five-year term without being dismissed by the military or due to a political uprising.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Syed Khursheed Shah, opposition leader in the lower house of the bicameral parliament and Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the National Assembly made the announcement in a joint press conference in Islamabad.

Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah said the decision was made jointly with the ruling party and others, saying that Mulk has played "a historic role" in Pakistan. "I hope that the God will give him courage and passion and he will succeed in conducting elections to be held on July 25.”

Pakistan's prime minister is elected by the National Assembly, the country's lower house of parliament, and at the end of the government's five-year term a caretaker prime minister is selected whose main duty is to oversee the Election Commission in holding free and fair elections.

Mulk served as Pakistan's chief justice in 2014-15 and before that was a senior judge on the Supreme Court. He was previously chief justice of the Peshawar High Court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

Shoot-Out In Pakistan Kills Two Quetta Police, Two Assailants

A file photo of Pakistani members a police force in Quetta, Pakistan.

Two police officers and two militants have been killed in a shoot-out in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, officials say.

The incident, which occurred around sunset on May 27, took place on Sarki Road when two assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire, killing two traffic police, according to the authorities.

Police officers on patrol nearby rushed to the scene after hearing the shooting and opened fire on the gunmen.

"They engaged the attackers in firing and killed them on the spot," Abdul Razaq Cheema, a senior police official in the city, told the AFP news agency.

One other attacker on a separate motorcycle fled the scene, although police said they believed he had been wounded in the shooting.

The home secretary of Balochistan Province, of which Quetta is capital, announced a reward of 1 million rupees ($8,644) for any information on the militants.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Geo News

Afghan, Pakistani Security Officials Meet In Islamabad

FILE: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inspect the honor guard at the presidential palace in Kabul.

Afghan and Pakistani security officials are meeting in Islamabad amid heightened tensions between the two neighbors.

Hanif Atmar, the Afghan president’s national security adviser, is holding talks with Pakistan's powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on May 27.

A statement from the Afghan presidential office on May 26 said the Afghan delegation was invited by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to visit and discuss the security problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region.

Afghanistan and the United States have been increasing pressure on Pakistan to take action against militants operating in the country.

Islamabad denies harboring militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

Afghan and Pakistani officials are also expected to discuss a series of deadly border clashes in recent months along their disputed border.

In April, clashes broke out between Pakistani paramilitary troops and Afghan border police in three locations along the border, leaving several dead on both sides.

The two nations share a 2,500-kilometer border known as the Durand Line, which Pakistan considers to be an international border. Afghanistan rejects the colonial-era border that was created in 1893.

Based on reporting by Tolo News and Khaam

Pakistan To Hold General Elections on July 25

FILE: Pakistani women waiting to cast their votes in by-election held in Peshawar in 2017.

Pakistan will hold general elections on July 25, officials said on May 26.

"President Mamnoon Hussain has approved the date for the elections," a spokesman for Election Commission of Pakistan, Altaf Khan told Reuters.

"We haven't yet received the summary signed by the president, but we hope to get it anytime," he said.

The Election Commission had proposed three dates from July 25 to July 27 as dates to hold polls.

Elections for the national parliament and four provincial assemblies will be held on the same day, according to domestic media.

Pakistan’s government and parliament is due to be dissolved on May 31, when a new interim prime minister and an interim administration is meant to take over.

Political wrangling between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the opposition in parliament had delayed the announcement of the new interim premier.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters and Geo TV

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