ISLAMABAD: Talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan for opening a third trade corridor through Waziristan got a fresh impetus during the visit of Afghan Defence Minister Gen Bismillah Mohammadi when the two countries narrowed their longstanding strategic differences. The high-ranking Afghan defence ministry delegation departed on Thursday after completing a five-day visit during which they held meetings with civilian and political leadership and inspected a number of Army’s training facilities. During his several interactions, Gen Bismillah is said to have stressed the need for finalisation of the agreement on third trade corridor, which will not only reduce the travel time and distance between Karachi and Kabul, but will also contribute to development of border areas of both countries. “Afghans have recognised the centrality of Pakistan for peace and stability in their country not only in terms of kinetic military operations, but also with regard to socio-economic development of conflict zones,” an official said. The third route has been under discussion since 2003, but deep-running mistrust between the two neighbours had prevented its materialisation. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA 2010) had provided for a third entry-exit point on the Pak-Afghan border in addition to the two existing points — Chaman and Torkham, but had deferred its operationalisation till a “mutually- acceptable date”. Dawn.
PARACHINAR: Two polio workers were killed when their motorbike hit a roadside bomb in Kurram tribal region on Thursday, an administration official said. The two were on their way to Malikhel village to vaccinate children against the crippling disease when their motorcycle hit the bomb, killing them on the spot, the source said. The official pointed out that Malikhel village in Upper Kurram was a peaceful area and there had been no security issues there. The blast was the first incident of its kind in the area, he said. The official said an investigation had been launched into the incident. The area is inhabited by the Shia community and authorities suspect the incident might have a sectarian dimension to it. “It has nothing to do with attacks on polio workers elsewhere in the country. This is terrorism aimed at subverting the efforts for peace,” said Haji Hamid Hussain, an elder of the Tori Bangash tribe. Dawn, The News, The Nation, Daily Times,
LANDI KOTAL: Eight volunteers of a peace committee were killed in Tirah valley when a mortar shell went off accidentally and a militant commander died in fighting over the strategic Takhtaki area in Khyber tribal region on Thursday. Sources said that a mortar shell exploded in a bunker used by volunteers of the Kamarkhel peace committee at Takhtaki when ammunitions were being shifted to another base. The blast killed eight volunteers of the peace committee, they said. Kamarkhel is a neutral tribe and doesn’t want to indulge in fighting but recently it has taken up arms to keep Takhtaki from the influence of any militant group. Lashkar-i-Islam has been carrying out sporadic attacks on the Kamarkhel tribesmen to take control of the important location to which the Kamarkhel volunteers are offering resistance.
PESHAWAR: Eleven passers-by were injured and several vehicles and shops were damaged when a bomb exploded inside a police van at the busy Firdous Chowk here on Thursday. The blast took place when a police party, led by Sub-inspector Imran Dil Khan, parked the van at Firdous Chowk during routine patrolling of the area. “The sub-inspector and his driver were sitting in the front seat while the two guards were standing at a distance from the van but they remained unhurt miraculously,” police sources said. A student identified as Shoaib Ali Khan was also the injured. He was on his way to college when fell victim to the blast, sources said. , The News,The Nation, Daily Times.
LANDI KOTAL: The elders of Loe Shalman area in Landi Kotal subdivision of Khyber Agency have alleged that political administration is pressurising them to form peace committees. However, officials of political administration have rejected these allegations. Requesting anonymity for fear of losing official perks and privileges, some of the tribal elders told Dawn that the administration wanted the Loe Shalman residents to form village defence committees to ward off militant attacks. According to sources, militants have considerable presence in the villages across the Kabul River in Afghan territory near Loe Shalman. The administration, the elders said, held a number of meetings with notables of Durma Kallay, Wali Mohammad Koroona, Ghundakhel, Narai and Sheen Pokh villages of Loe Shalman to persuade them to form peace committees. Dawn.
ISLAMABAD: Afghan Defence Minister General Bismillah Khan termed Pakistan as a natural destination for training of Afghan National Security Forces. “Thousands of Afghans are studying in civil institutions of Pakistan and attaining various degrees,” said General Khan during a visit of the Afghan defence delegation to one of the training institutions and facilities of Pakistan Army. “Many of Afghans are graduating from Pakistan as doctors and engineers,” he said. Under such circumstances, Pakistan could be a natural destination for the ANSF personnel, too, he said. The Afghan defence delegation visited a number of training institutions and facilities of Pakistan Army. Military sources say that the Afghan delegates were impressed by the standard of training and questioned training of their forces by the Western countries in the presence of these facilities in Pakistan. The News.
KOHAT: The security forces arrested a man for keeping heavy arms and fake currency in Darra Adamkhel on Thursday, official sources said. The sources said that acting on a tip-off, the security forces raided the house of Saddam Khan in Mazidkhel village and seized heavy arms and fake currency. After arrest the accused Saddam Khan was shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation, the sources added.
Meanwhile, the police stopped a truck (Peshawar-K/7199) at the City Phattak Checkpost and seized 240 kilogrammes hashish and arrested the accused Ihsanullah Afridi belonging to Landikotal, Khyber Agency. The News.
WANA: The internally displaced persons (IDPs) from South Waziristan called off their strike after assurance from the officials about sufficient supply of food to the affected tribespeople.The affected tribesmen had staged a sit-in protest for the last 10 days against the decrease in the food supply from the World Food Program. The government officials held meeting with the elders of Mahsud tribe and IDPs at the Circuit House and assured them that the government would address the issue. The News.
NAWAF KHAN, SHARAFAT ALI CHAUDHARY