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Three Pakistani Soldiers Killed In Restive Balochistan Province

A previous bomb attack in Quetta (file photo)

Three Pakistani soldiers were killed and five others injured in a bombing in southwestern Pakistan late on November 15.

A local spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Balochistan Province told reporters on November 16 that a remote-controlled bomb had been planted in a motorcycle parked in the town of Kuchlak, a suburb of the provincial capital, Quetta.

The spokesman, Zia Lango, said the bomb was detonated when a military vehicle transporting the soldiers -- members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps of Pakistan -- approached the motorcycle.

Police estimated 8 kilograms of explosives had been used in the bomb.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Balochistan Province, which borders Afghanistan, has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by separatists demanding more autonomy and a greater share in the region's natural resources.

Lightning, Heavy Rains Hit Pakistan Desert, Killing At Least 27

Thar desert in Sindh Province (file photo)

At least 27 people were killed when lightning struck amid heavy rains overnight in various locations in Pakistan's southern desert region, officials said on November 15.

A state of emergency was declared by authorities as rescue teams rushed to the Thar Desert in the province of Sindh, said Saeed Ghani, a spokesman for the provincial government.

Dozens of people, including many women and children, were being treated at hospitals after sustaining injuries caused by lightning and falling structures caused by the rain, Ghani said.

The death toll was expected to rise as rescuers reached remote villages, said Anwar Kazmi, a spokesman for the Edhi charity, which operates in the region.

Hundreds of animals have reportedly perished in the lightning strikes and the fire that followed in the affected areas, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.

Based on reporting by dpa and dawn.com

Gunmen Kill Senior Police Official In Northwest Pakistan

Police say unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police vehicle in northwestern Pakistan, killing a senior counterterrorism officer and wounding his driver and a passerby before fleeing the scene.

Peshawar police chief Zahur Babar Afridi said Deputy Police Superintendent Ghani Khan was killed in the November 14 attack, which occurred on the outskirts of the city.

Babar said a search operation had been launched in the area.

Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which borders Afghanistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has witnessed dozens of militant attacks in recent years, most claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

No one immediately claimed responsibility and the motive behind the attack was unclear. Khan had led several raids on militant hideouts in recent years.

With reporting by AP

Top Pakistani Officials Visit Kabul In Effort To Normalize Ties

Afghan national-security adviser Hamdullah Mohib met with senior Pakistani officials.

A high-level Pakistani delegation has traveled to Afghanistan’s capital to discuss efforts to normalize relations between Islamabad and Kabul, an Afghan official says.

Afghan national-security adviser Hamdullah Mohib met with the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, General Faiz Hameed, and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Suhail Mahmood, Mohib’s spokesman Kaber Haqmal said on November 11.

The two neighboring nations have an uneasy relationship.

Kabul has long blamed Islamabad for supporting the Taliban in the country's protracted war -- a charge Pakistani officials reject

Last month, Afghanistan shut down its consulate in Peshawar over a dispute regarding ownership of a market in the northwestern Pakistani city.

And in late October, Afghan and Pakistani security forces clashed along the countries' disputed border, leaving several people dead.

Based on reporting by AP and RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan

Separate Attacks In Pakistan's Punjab Province Kill Nine

Five people have been killed in an ambush on a police vehicle in the Rajanpur district of Pakistan's Punjab Province.

Pakistani officials said gunmen opened fire on the vehicle as soon as it reached the Arbi Tibba area to arrest an unspecified number of fugitives at a militant hideout on November 10.

Police spokesman Kaleem Qureshi told AP the dead were two police officers, two intelligence officers, and an informant.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a separate incident the same day, a police officer was among four killed at a checkpoint near the city of Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab Province.

An unknown number of men riding a motorcycle sprayed indiscriminate fire after they were signaled by the police to stop at a checkpoint in the Arbi Tibba area.

An elite force officer, a passerby, and two suspects were killed in the exchange of fire.

Another police officer sustained gunshot wounds.

Meanwhile, additional security personnel were called in for the arrest of suspects in both the Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan districts of the province.

Based on reporting by Times of Islamabad, Samaa TV, and AP

Pakistani Opposition Leader Maryam Nawaz Granted Bail

FILE: Maryam Nawaz was detained in early August by the country's anti-corruption National Accountability Bureau.

A Pakistani court has granted bail to opposition leader Maryam Nawaz, who is facing money-laundering charges.

The Lahore High Court on November 4 ordered the deputy leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party to post a roughly 10-million-rupee ($64,500) bond and hand her passport over.

Nawaz was detained in early August by the country's anti-corruption National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a case regarding business transactions at a sugar factory -- Chaudry Sugar Mills -- where she was one of the major shareholders.

On October 24, she filed a petition for bail on humanitarian grounds after her jailed father, PML-N founder and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was rushed to hospital amid a deterioration of his health condition.

An Islamabad court on October 29 suspended Sharif’s conviction on corruption charges for two months to allow for medical treatment.

The 69-year-old Sharif, a three-time prime minister, and his daughter have denied the charges against them, saying they are politically motivated.

Bomb Blasts Kill Four Soldiers In Northwestern Pakistan

FILE: Pakistani army tanks form a column during a ground military operation against Taliban militants in the main town of Miran Shah in North Waziristan, in June 2014.

Four Pakistani soldiers have been killed in two separate bomb explosions in the North Waziristan tribal district, local officials say.

Local administration officials told RFE/RL on November 4 that two soldiers were killed and another was wounded in a roadside bomb blast in the Razmak area.

The soldiers were on a routine patrol, the officials said.

Two more soldiers died in a second roadside bomb explosion in the town of Mir Ali.

Razmak
Razmak

Militants of Hizbul Ahrar, a splinter group from the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Pakistan launch a massive military operation in North Waziristan in 2014 to cleanse the region of Islamic militants.

Pakistani Opposition Parties Await Deadline They Set For PM To Resign

Activists and supporters of Islamic political party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) and other opposition parties in Islamabad on November 1.

Tens of thousands of opposition parties supporters at a protest camp in Pakistan's capital are awaiting a deadline set by their leader calling for the prime minister to resign before November 4.

Firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the Jamian Ulam-e Islam party, led a caravan of supporters to Islamabad last week in a bid to pressure Imran Khan to step down, calling him an "illegitimate'' ruler. Eight more opposition parties are supporting the protest.

Rehman has hinted he could direct his partisans to march on the seat of Pakistan's government and force Khan's resignation. Khan says he has no plans of quitting.

Pakistani authorities further strengthened security around the camp in the lead-up to Sunday night's deadline. That includes walls of shipping containers blocking roads leading into and out of the protest area, as well as deploying riot police and paramilitary forces.

-- Reported by the AP

Pakistani Authorities Step Up Security In Islamabad As Deadline Looms For Government To Quit

Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani opposition parties attend an anti-government march in Islamabad on November 1.

Hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters remain in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, following a call for Prime Minister Imran Khan's resignation over economic hardships.

On November 2, authorities deployed riot police and set up barriers to deny the Islamist protesters access to government buildings.

The moves come after Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the Islamist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, told the rally on November 1 that he was giving a two-day deadline for the government to resign.

"Don't test our patience," Rehman said, without saying what would happen after the expiration of the deadline in the evening of November 3.

In a veiled reference to Pakistan’s army, he called on the country's "establishment" not to support Khan's government.

Rehman was joined by leaders of Pakistan's main political parties in anti-government speeches, as Khan remained defiant, accusing his opponents of using religion against his government.

The opposition claims the prime minister is incompetent and that his government was illegitimately installed by Pakistan’s military after a rigged general election in 2018.

The army denies meddling in politics.

Based on reporting by AP, geo.tv, Reuters, and Dawn

Over 400,000 Afghans Returned Home From Iran, Pakistan, Says Migration Organisation

FILE: Afghan women wait during the visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at the Azakhel Voluntary Repatriation Center in Nowshera in September 2018.

A total of 403,338 people have returned to Afghanistan from neighboring Iran and Pakistan since the beginning of the year, the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a report released on October 31.

The report said that some 385,000 Afghans have been repatriated from Iran, with just over half of them being forced to leave under deportation orders.

The IOM estimates that 1.5 million to 2 million undocumented Afghans are currently living in Iran.

Many Afghans have settled in Iran mainly for economic purposes, but due to the dire economic situation in the Islamic republic, they have returned in large numbers, the Geneva-based IOM said.

The IOM also said that some 17,500 Afghans have returned from Pakistan since the start of the year. Pakistan hosts 1.3 million registered Afghan nationals, and more than 1 million Afghans who are unregistered, the IOM said.

High unemployment, a weak economy, and a precarious security situation in Afghanistan have driven the migration to neighboring countries and the rest of the world.

More than 38,000 civilians have been killed in the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan, according to estimates.

A UN report earlier this month said almost 1,200 civilians were killed from July to September this year -- a 42 percent increase over the same period last year.

With reporting by dpa

Pakistani Court Extends Bail Of 'Critically Unwell' Ex-Prime Minister Sharif

Supporters of Pakistani former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shout slogans outside a hospital where Sharif is being treated, in Lahore, Pakistan on October 27.

A Pakistani court has suspended the conviction of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for two months to allow for medical treatment.

The October 29 decision by the Islamabad High Court comes hours before a temporary bail granted to the 69-year-old over the weekend was set to expire.

Sharif, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence on corruption charges, was rushed to hospital on October 21 after his health condition deteriorated.

The ex-prime minister is currently in hospital in the eastern city of Lahore, where he is "critically unwell" and is "fighting the battle for his health & life," according to his personal physician, Adnan Khan.

Sharif has a low platelet count and suffered a heart attack, both of which are being further complicated by "deteriorating kidney functions," Khan wrote.

After eight weeks, he will have to return to court and either get an extension for more treatment or return to prison.

Sharif, a three-time prime minister, has denied the corruption charges against him, saying they are politically motivated.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP

European Parliament Delegation Visits Disputed Kashmir

An Indian policeman puts out a bonfire at a road block in Srinagar on October 29.

A group of European Parliament members arrived in Kashmir on October 29 -- the first foreign delegation to visit the disputed Himalayan region since India canceled its semiautonomous status and imposed severe restrictions in early August.

The delegation is visiting Srinagar, the main city in India-controlled Kashmir, and meeting with government and military officials.

Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-led India have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of which were over control of Kashmir, the divided region claimed by both countries.

A decision by New Delhi in August to revoke the special constitutional status of India-controlled Kashmir and impose a security lockdown sparked new tensions between the South Asian rivals.

New Delhi has denied UN special rapporteurs, U.S. lawmakers, and foreign journalists access to the region.

The EU delegation to India said the visit is "unofficial" and is being carried out by some members "in their personal capacity."

A statement issued by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office said the visit should give the delegation "a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region."

The visit comes after gunmen killed a fourth truck driver in the last three weeks in the region on October 28.

Gunmen have targeted apple traders and truck drivers transporting apples from the region, whose apple industry is vital to its economy.

Based on reporting by AP and The Hindu

European Parliament Members To Visit Disputed Kashmir

A masked Kashmiri man with his head covered with barbed wire attends a protest in Srinagar on October 11.

A delegation of European Parliament members is scheduled to visit the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

The delegation will visit Srinagar, the main city in India-controlled Kashmir, on October 29.

Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-led India have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of which were over control of Kashmir, the divided region claimed by both countries.

A decision by New Delhi in August to revoke the special constitutional status of India-controlled Kashmir and impose a security lockdown sparked new tensions between the South Asian rivals.

New Delhi has denied UN special rapporteurs, U.S. congressmen, and foreign journalists access to the region.

The EU Delegation to India said the visit is "unofficial" and is being carried out by some members "in their personal capacity."

A statement issued by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office said the visit should give the delegation "a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region."

Based on reporting by AP and The Hindu

Thousands Of Supporters Of Firebrand Pakistani Cleric Head To Capital For Protest

Maulana Fazlur Rehman gestures during a press conference in Islamabad on October 22.

KARACHI -- Supporters of firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman have set out for Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, to hold an anti-government march.

The leader of the ultra-religious political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) told supporters on October 27 as they set out that the “illegitimate” government of Prime Minister Imran Kahn needed to be removed.

He added that the action was also a show of support for Indian-administered Kashmir, which both countries claim as their own.

JUI claims that Khan's government came to power in a fraudulent manner and should therefore be abolished.

Government officials have called the charge baseless.

Some other parties said they backed the protest, including the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Peoples' Party of former President Asif Zaradri.

Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-led India have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of which were over control of Kashmir.

Pakistan's Ex-Prime Minister Sharif Granted Bail On Medical Grounds

Nawaz Sharif (C), former Prime Minister and leader of opposition party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), leaves an accountability court after a hearing on money laundry case, in Lahore on October 11.

A Pakistani court has granted bail to jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif so he can seek medical treatment.

The decision was announced by the Lahore High Court on October 25 after hearing a petition from the 69-year-old's brother, Shahbaz Sharif.

A court official told AFP that the ruling came after doctors confirmed Sharif was suffering from an immune system disorder requiring immediate medical attention.

Sharif, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence on corruption charges, was rushed to hospital on October 21 after his health condition deteriorated.

His lawyer, Ashtar Ausaf, said his client cannot be released until the Islamabad High Court hears an appeal in a separate corruption case on October 29.

Ausaf told the Lahore court that the ex-prime minister's condition was "extremely serious," as his platelet count was constantly falling.

The government has said Sharif's low blood-platelet level may be the result of medication he was taking.

Sharif, a three-time prime minister, has denied the corruption charges against him, saying they are politically motivated.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and Dawn

Suspected Islamic State Recruiter Arrested In The Maldives

Up to 160 Maldivian militants are believed to be held in Syrian detention camps after Islamic State was defeated in the country. (file photo)

Police in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives have detained a local man who the United States says is a recruiter for the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Muhammad Ameen, 35, was arrested on October 23 on suspicion of spreading an "extremist ideology," Maldivian police said the following day.

He allegedly mobilized fighters for IS in Syria and Afghanistan.

No further details were provided about the suspect although U.S. authorities last month designated him as a foreign terrorist leader of IS-Khorasan, a group that is reportedly active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Citing local media, AFP reported that Ameen first sent fighters to Syria, but was now focused on recruiting Maldivians for combat in Afghanistan.

He is also suspected of involvement in an explosion at Sultan Park in the capital of Male in September 2007 in which a dozen tourists were hurt with minor injuries.

Up to 160 Maldivian militants are believed to be held in Syrian detention camps after IS was defeated in the country.

The country’s parliamentary speaker and former president, Muhammad Nasheed, said in June that he wants to rehabilitate the imprisoned Maldivians but not without an internationally supervised reintegration program.

The Maldives is a state of 340,000 mostly Sunni Muslims who practice a liberal form of Islam in a nation that relies heavily on luxury tourism for revenue.

Based on reporting by AFP

Pakistan, India Ink Deal On Visa-Free Access To Sikh Shrine

Construction work is seen in progress at the Pakistan side of the border for the the Kartarpur Corridor, at Zero Point near Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district on October 24.

In a rare moment of cooperation between Pakistan and India, the two nuclear-armed rivals have signed an agreement allowing Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their holiest shrines without a visa.

"Today is a day of celebration," Mohammad Faisal of Pakistan's Foreign Ministry told the October 24 signing ceremony at a border point between the two countries' regions called Punjab.

Under the agreement, Sikh pilgrims from India will be allowed to travel to the shrine in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur seven days a week through a corridor built on both sides of the border.

Each visitor will have to pay a $20 service charge to Pakistan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to formally inaugurate the corridor on November 9.

The project has survived a flareup in tensions between the neighbors after New Delhi revoked the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir in August.

The shrine to Guru Nanak, the 15th-century founder of Sikhism, is located 4 kilometers from the Indian border.

Pakistan used to be home to a large Sikh community, but most of its members went to India during the 1947 partition, with only a few thousand remaining in Pakistan.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, Reuters , and AFP

World Bank: Pakistan, Tajikistan Among 10 Economies Who Most Improved Business Climate

FILE: A worker pushes a wheelbarrow loaded with melons at a fruit market in the northwestern city of Peshawar on August 31.

Pakistan has been named one of the top 10 countries that has done the most in the past year to improve the ease of doing business, an annual World Bank report says.

It improved in five of 10 areas that the World Bank monitors. It was credited for making starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, paying taxes, trading across borders easer, said the World Bank's Doing Business 2020 report, published on October 23.

Thus, Pakistan climbed 28 notches from last year to the 108th spot among 190 economies in 10 areas of business activities.

The other nine countries where economies improved the most were Tajikistan, China, India, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Nigeria.

Tajikistan, in the 106th spot, improved in three areas: starting a business, getting credit, and trading across borders.

Russia climbed three steps from last year to the 28th spot.

Over the past year, Russia "made getting electricity faster by setting new deadlines and establishing specialized departments for connection works within the utilities of Moscow and St. Petersburg," the report stated.

Ukraine jumped seven spots to rank 64th.

Kyiv was credited for streamlining the process of obtaining construction permits, making it easier to get electricity, register property, accessing credit, and improving access to credit information, protecting minority investors, and easing trading across borders.

New Zealand tops the global ranking, with Singapore and Hong Kong right behind, with South Korea in fifth place, and the United States sixth.

Based on reporting by TASS and AFP

Disease Fighters To Mark Partial Victory In Polio Eradication Battle

A health worker administers polio vaccine to children during a three-day countrywide vaccination campaign in Peshawar on August 26.

LONDON, -- Global health officials will on October 24 announce a partial victory in the decades-long fight to end polio, with a second of three strains of the crippling virus certified as eradicated worldwide.

The ending of wild polio virus type 3, also known as WPV3, will be the third human disease-causing pathogen to be eradicated in history, after smallpox was declared wiped out in 1980 and wild polio virus type 2 (WPV2) in 2015.

Polio spreads in vulnerable populations in areas where there is no immunity and sanitation is poor. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours.

It cannot be cured, but infection can be prevented by vaccination, and a dramatic reduction in case numbers worldwide in recent decades has been largely due to intense national and regional immunization campaigns in babies and children.

The last case of polio type 3 was detected in northern Nigeria in 2012, and global health officials have since been conducting intense surveillance to ensure it has gone.

"With no wild poliovirus type 3 detected anywhere in the world since 2012, the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication is anticipated to officially declare this strain as globally eradicated," the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) said in a statement.

The success in ending type 3 means that only type 1 of the wild virus is still circulating and causing infections.

Polio type 1 is endemic in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but efforts to wipe it out have faced setbacks in the past two years.

After reaching a historic low of only 22 cases of wild polio infection in 2017, the virus has caused 72 cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan already this year -- pushing back yet further the potential date for the world to wipe polio out altogether.

The first target date for ending polio was set in 1988 by the GPEI, a partnership of the World Health Organization, the health charity Rotary International and others, which had aimed to eradicate it by 2000.

GPEI said, however, that this week's declaration of the end of WPV3 was a "significant milestone," while Carol Pandak, director of Rotary's PolioPlus program, said it proves that a polio-free world is achievable. "Even as the polio program addresses major challenges, we're making important headway in other areas," she said.

Pakistan's Jailed Ex-Prime Minister Sharif Rushed To Hospital

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrives at a court in Lahore on October 11.

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been convicted on corruption charges, has been moved from prison to hospital after his health deteriorated.

Sharif was taken to hospital late on October 21 after he was found to have a "critically low platelet count" that required "immediate" hospitalization, according to the ex-prime minister's personal physician, Adnan Khan.

The National Accountability Bureau in Lahore on October 22 said Sharif’s condition was "under control," adding that the 69-year-old’s low platelet count may have been the result of medication he was taking.

His younger brother and current president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, Shahbaz Sharif, warned the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan it would be responsible if anything happened to the former prime minister.

Sharif has a history of diabetes and had medical procedures on his heart at a clinic in London more than two years ago.

Sharif has been serving a seven-year prison sentence at a high-security prison in Lahore on charges of possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

He has insisted he is innocent.

Pakistan, Indian Exchange Of Fire Kills At Least 10 At Border

FILE: Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol near the India Pakistan border fencing at Garkhal in Akhnoor, about 35 kilometers west of Jammu in August 13.

ISLAMABAD -- At least seven civilians and three soldiers are said to have died during cross-border skirmishes between Pakistani and Indian troops late on October 19-20, reportedly making it one of the deadliest days since New Delhi revoked the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir in August.

The conflicting reports from each side suggested the death toll could still rise from the latenight incident.

Pakistani Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor, in a tweet on October 20, blamed “unprovoked” shelling from the Indian side of the de facto Line of Control that he claimed was "deliberately targeting civilians." ​

Six civilians and one soldier in Pakistan-administered Kashmir died as a result, Pakistan’s military told AFP.

Ghafoor said two more Pakistani soldiers and five civilians were injured.

He added that Pakistani troops had retaliated, killing nine Indian soldiers and injuring "several" more. He said two Indian bunkers had been "destroyed."

But Indian sources disputed that account of events and casualty figures.

Senior Indian police and military officials told Reuters and AP that Pakistani soldiers had targeted an Indian border post and civilian areas, leaving one soldier and two civilians dead.

Two Indian soldiers and a civilian were killed, and three others were wounded in the mountainous region of Kupwara district “by unprovoked fire by Pakistan, a spokesman for the Indian army told AFP.

Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-led India have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of which were over control of Kashmir, the divided region claimed by both countries.

A decision by New Delhi in August to revoke the special constitutional status of India-controlled Kashmir and impose a security lockdown sparked new tensions between the South Asian rivals.

Two people were killed in renewed gunfire exchanges between Indian and Pakistani border forces in the same region in late September.

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

Pakistan Awaits Fate On Global Terror-Financing Watch List

The FATF last year placed Pakistan on its global terror financing watch list.

Pakistan is set to learn whether it has done enough to be removed from a global watch list of countries with inadequate controls over the financing of terrorism.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is to conclude a five-day meeting on October 18 and is scheduled to decide whether to remove Islamabad from the watch list or to blacklist it alongside Iran and North Korea.

The global money-laundering watchdog placed Pakistan on its terrorism financing "gray" monitoring list last year to pressure Islamabad to halt alleged support for militant groups.

The 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.

The move followed a push by the United States and European allies to get Islamabad to close financing loopholes to terrorist groups.

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

Islamabad has denied the charges, insisting that it is clamping down on extremist groups and their financing.

But it also said it made a "high-level" commitment to work with international authorities to tighten regulations and follow an action plan to curb money-laundering and terror financing.

Pakistan has blamed its neighbor and bitter nuclear rival India for lobbying to blacklist it and has looked to friendly nations such as China, Turkey, and Malaysia for support.

Reuters reported that during a recent visit to Beijing, Pakistan's civil and military leadership was assured by Chinese leaders that Islamabad would not be placed on the task force's blacklist.

"God willing, we're trying that we get out of this gray-list as soon as possible, and I think you should believe that a comprehensive effort is being put in place," Pakistani Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told a news conference.

"We have done a lot to remove anomalies in our system. We hope the body will remove us from the watch list," he added.

If Pakistan does avert a blacklisting, it will be a temporary measure until the FATF’s next annual summit in February 2020.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa

Provincial Official Backs Entry Ban On Pakistani Lawmakers, Activists

Ali Wazir (second left) and Mohsin Dawar (right), pictured after their release from jail, are members of a Pashtun civil rights movement.

The government of Pakistan's Balochistan has defended its decision to ban two lawmakers from the province.

Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, who were elected to parliament last year in the North Waziristan tribal region and are members of a Pashtun civil rights movement, were detained on terrorism charges following a shooting incident on a security checkpoint in North Waziristan on May 26.

They were freed on bail on September 21, and were banned from entering the neighboring Balochistan Province on September 24.

Speaking to RFE/RL on October 7, Balochistan's provincial Home Minister Ziaullah Lango defended the move, which he said was needed because the two men were inciting people against the state.

Wazir and Dawar are members of the civil rights movement Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement or PTM. The group is demanding investigations into "human rights violations" in the tribal areas of which North Waziristan is a part, and in the adjacent Balochistan Province.

At the time of their arrest, the two were leading a demonstration against the detention of locals by police and the imposition of a curfew in North Waziristan when shots were fired.

Police said some of the protesters were armed and opened fire first. Protesters denied this and said soldiers opened fire when they approached the checkpoint.

Pakistan's Khan To Visit ‘Staunch Partner’ China This Week

FILE: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan claps with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony in April.

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to pay a two-day visit to China this week to discuss economic cooperation between the two neighbors and the situation in Kashmir.

Khan's third visit to Beijing in less than a year is scheduled to start on October 8 amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and India over New Delhi’s decision in August to strip the Indian-administered part of Kashmir of its special autonomy and to impose a security lockdown.

China, which also has border disputes with in India, has warned New Delhi not to take any unilateral step aimed at changing the status of the disputed Himalayan region.

Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-led India have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of which were over control of Kashmir, which is claimed by both countries in its entirety.

Khan’s office said in a statement on October 7 that his trip “will be instrumental in further cementing Pakistan’s economic, investment and strategic ties with China.”

Beijing has pledged tens of millions of dollars in investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, part of its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Calling Pakistan and China “closest friends, staunch partners and ‘iron brothers,’” the statement said Khan will hold talks with President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

A number of agreements and memoranda of understanding are expected to be signed during the visit.

Official: Pakistan Experiencing Among Worst-Ever Dengue Outbreaks

A worker fumigates to kill mosquito larvae to fight the spread of dengue fever in Karachi on September 20.

Pakistan is undergoing one of its worst-ever dengue fever epidemics recording about 20,000 cases and 34 confirmed deaths in recent months, a top Pakistani health official said.

The disease has hit urban areas of Pakistan, including the capital, Islamabad, placing hospitals countrywide under severe strain, Rana Mohammad Safdar, a top official at the National Institute of Health, said on October 3.

Authorities are conducting anti-mosquito spraying in urban areas to contain the spread of disease, the health official said.

Prolonged monsoon rains have been blamed for the outbreak, whereas the opposition has accused the government of not taking timely measures to prevent it, AP reported.

"Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection" that causes a severe flu-like illness and sometimes causes a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue, according to the World Health Organization.

Dengue is prevalent in poor areas areas, suburbs and the countryside, but also affects more affluent neighborhoods in tropical and subtropical countries.

Based on reporting by AP

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