ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has arrived in Pakistan on a two-day state visit with Pakistan-US relations and regional security high on the agenda.
She met with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani along with other high level officials of the government and army including Chief the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, DG-ISI General Shuja Pasha, Minister for Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir along with other officials in a meeting at the PM House in Islamabad.
Clinton was accompanied by a high powered contingent that included Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus, and US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committe chairman General Martin Dempsey.
She will later meet with Prsident Asif Ali Zardari.
Clinton is on a scheduled tour of the region stopped over in Afghanistan on her way to Pakistan where she held talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Clinton revealed that her talks in Pakistan will focus on “how to increase pressure on the safe havens there” while at the same time urging Pakistan to support efforts at negotiations.
The two sides are expected to discuss the strained relationship between the two countries in the wake of increased US demands for expanding the scope of operations against the Haqqani network.
Pakistan is likely to stress that it would conduct military operation in North Waziristan, if and whenever required.
CIA chief David Petraeus and US JCSC Gen. Martin Dempsey will hold talks with Pakistan’s top military brass.
LAHORE: A resolution was submitted jointly by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the Punjab Assembly for the establishment of a new southern Punjab province on Thursday.
PML-Q’s Chaudhry Zaheeruddin, PPP’s Raja Riaz and other members of the two parties including Amir Talal, Mohsin and Yousuf Leghari and Muhammad Yar Hiraj were also present at the occasion.
PML-Q leader Talal warned if Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz tried to oppose the resolution, then the people of southern Punjab will never forgive them.
PML-Q Members of Provincial Assembly (MPA) credited senior leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi for voicing the concerns of southern Punjab.
Earlier on Wednesday, Nawaz, addressing a public gathering in Dera Ghazi Khan, said he was “completely in favour” of new provinces based on administrative grounds in Bahawalpur, southern Punjab and other areas if appropriate.
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan is yet to receive financial details from 16 senators, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh and Petroleum Minister Dr. Asim Hussain, Express 24/7 reported on Thursday.
Official sources told Express 24/7 that Election Commission Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmad has already written a letter to the Senate secretariat in this regard.
PPP Chief Whip Islamuddin Sheikh and Opposition Leader in the Senate Abdul Ghafoor Haideri are also among those who have to file their lists.
Under the Public Representation Act, the Election Commission can suspend the membership of any legislator who fails to submit financial details by October 15.
The EC secretary has warned that memberships of these senators can be suspended if they fail to submit the required details by Monday.
PESHAWAR: At least 34 militants and three security personnel, including an officer, were killed and eight others were injured during a search operation on Thursday in Shlobar, a sub-division Bara of Khyber Agency.
Sources said that the security personnel were carrying out a search operation in the area of Malak Din Khel when militants opened indiscriminate firing.
“There were intelligence reports of militants running a training camp in the area upon which troops entered Malak Din Khel this morning. There was stiff resistance on the part of the militants and they used heavy weapons,” said a security official while confirming the casualties.
Sources said that an officer of the rank of Captain was also amongst the killed as heavy firing was heard in the vicinity. The area is home to the banned organization Lashkar-e-Islam, against whom an active military onslaught was launched some two years back. Since then a curfew has been imposed in the area.
Nine security personnel and 15 militants were killed in Bara, in the beginning of this week when militants ambushed a vehicle of security personnel. A number of mortar shells landing on house and markets have also claimed more than nine lives in the last few days as the security situation remains turbulent.
Woman, children killed in shelling
A woman and two children were killed after mortar shells hit a house in the Shlobar area. Three people also sustained critical injuries in the incident.
Earlier on Wednesday, two mortar shells were fired at a shrine and madrassa adjacent to the house of former federal minister for Zakat and MNA from Khyber agency, Allama Noorul Haque Qadri.
One of the shells did not explode but the main gate of the madrassa was damaged by the other shell.
Khyber Agency has experienced a lot of unrest after militants constructed their hideouts in the agency. The security forces have been carrying out various search operations in the area to clear out the militants.
Around 58 schools, mostly those for girls, have also been attacked by militants in Khyber Agency since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
KABUL: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday demanded that Pakistan dismantle Taliban safe havens, stepping up the pressure on Islamabad as American troops pressed a major offensive along the border.
Clinton spoke in unusually strong language following talks in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai a month after his peace broker was assassinated, derailing any immediate prospect of reconciliation with the Taliban.
She warned the Taliban to be part of a peaceful future or face a continuing assault, but urged Islamabad to play a “constructive” role in bringing militants to negotiations aimed at ending the 10-year war in Afghanistan.
But many policy makers in Islamabad see a twin US approach of pressing the fight on the battlefield and pursuing reconciliation efforts behind the scenes as contradictory, arguing that Pakistan cannot make any further sacrifices.
Clinton is later due in Pakistan later Thursday, when she is to be joined by CIA chief David Petraeus and top US military officer Martin Dempsey.
“And now it’s a question as to how much cooperation Pakistanis will provide in going after those safe havens,” she said.
“We intend to push the Pakistanis very hard as to what they are willing and able to do with us… to remove the safe havens and the continuing threats across the border to Afghans,” said Clinton.
She warned militants that “we are going to seek you in your safe havens” on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border and confirmed a US operation against the hardline Haqqani network it blames for some of the worst war attacks.
“There was a major military operation inside Afghanistan in recent days that has been rounding up and eliminating Haqqani operatives on this side of the border,” Clinton told reporters in a leafy plaza of Karzai’s palace.
It is her first visit to the region since a 19-hour siege of the US embassy in Kabul and a truck bombing on a NATO outpost that wounded 77 Americans last month. Washington blamed the attacks on the Haqqanis.
Dempsey’s predecessor Admiral Mike Mullen called the Haqqani network the “veritable arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and accused Pakistani spies of being involved in the embassy siege, dramatically worsening ties.
Clinton confirmed that the United States believes the network operates out of a “safe haven in Pakistan”.
US commanders say the Haqqanis are their most potent enemy in eastern Afghanistan and increasingly capable of launching high-profile attacks in Kabul. It is an Afghan Taliban faction, loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Clinton said her talks in Pakistan will focus on “how to increase pressure on the safe havens there” while at the same time urging Pakistan to support efforts at negotiations.
“We believe that they can play either a constructive or a destructive role in helping to bring into talks those with whom the Afghans themselves must sit across the table and hammer out a negotiated settlement,” she said.
“We will be looking to the Pakistanis to take the lead because the terrorists operating outside of Pakistan pose a threat to Pakistanis, as well as to Afghans and others,” she said.
Karzai, who has long called on Pakistan to wipe out militant sanctuaries feeding the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, spoke of “shifting the focus” of the peace effort to Pakistan.
The president said Afghanistan believed that the Taliban “to a very very great extent is controlled by establishments in Pakistan.”
He added: “The proper authority we firmly believe is in Pakistan and the venue therefore should be in Pakistan.”
Pakistani security officials say privately that contacts are maintained with insurgent groups to facilitate any eventual settlement in Afghanistan, a possibility that would be squandered if it launched any new offensive.
Islamabad argues that it has already made tremendous sacrifices, losing 3,000 soldiers and thousands of civilians in bomb attacks on its soil, and that it cannot do what the Americans demand when the relationship is so unpopular.
“When the Americans ask us to do more, why don’t they try to understand our problems and address our reservations and concerns?” one Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“Pakistan will tell the Americans that the military options are getting limited in Afghanistan and there is a need to promote a genuine Afghan-led peace process through dialogue involving all the stakeholders,” he added.