Tag Archives: ISLAMABAD

India hosts Vladimir Putin as it balances ties with Russia, US

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss defense and trade relations as India attempts to balance its ties with the United States.

The agenda for the annual summit includes political and defense issues, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said. The two countries are expected to sign several agreements, particularly in trade and defense.

India and Russia have a long history of close ties. But recently, India has drawn closer to the United States, which it considers critical to countering China. India and China have had a months-long military standoff along their disputed border in eastern Ladakh, where deadly clashes erupted last year.

Russia, meanwhile, has expressed reservations over the formation of the Quad, a grouping involving the US, India, Japan and Australia formed in response to China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

India is trying to navigate its defense relationship with Russia as it ramps up its military ties with the United States. India and Russia are discussing and likely to sign a 10-year military-technical agreement that could help in the transfer of new technologies to India.

India, a major buyer of military equipment, depended largely on the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. But it has been diversifying its purchases by opting for US equipment as well. During the Donald Trump presidency, the US and India concluded defense deals worth over $3 billion. Bilateral defense trade increased from near zero in 2008 to $15 billion in 2019.

India’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems which it considers to be critical in countering China could prove to be an irritant in Indo-US ties.

Washington has asked its partners to stay away from Russian military equipment to avoid possible sanctions.

India and Russia are also expected to strengthen their trade deals. They have already set a target of $30 billion in bilateral trade by the end of 2025.


Sialkot lynching: 7 more prime suspects apprehended, taking total arrests to 131

The Punjab police on Monday announced the arrest of seven more of the prime suspects allegedly involved in the lynching of 49-year-old Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara in Sialkot over blasphemy allegations, taking the total number of arrests to 131.

A mob comprising hundreds of protestors, including the employees of the factory Kumara was the manager of, had tortured him to death on Friday and later burnt his body.

A first information report was registered against 900 workers of Rajco Industries on the application of Uggoki Station House Officer (SHO) Armaghan Maqt under sections 302, 297, 201, 427, 431, 157, 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code and 7 and 11WW of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The applicant admitted that the protesters had slapped, kicked, punched and hit Kumara with sticks in his presence, and dragged him out of the factory on Wazirabad Road where he died. They then set the body on fire. The SHO said he was helpless in front of the mob owing to shortage of personnel.

Over the past three days, the police have arrested scores. The suspects included the individual allegedly involved in planning the attack as well as others who waged violence and incited others.

The police added that out of the 131 people arrested, 26 played a “central role” in the brutal killing.

The statement added that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and the inspector general of police for Punjab were continuously monitoring the investigation and the secretary prosecution was tasked with the prosecution of the case.

“These suspects will be presented in an anti-terrorism court today,” the statement said.

A spokesperson for the Punjab police said the process to identify the suspects was ongoing.

Meanwhile, the human remains of Kumara were brought to Lahore airport to be flown back home through Sri Lankan Airlines.

On Sunday, the police had identified and arrested six more of the main alleged culprits.

Thirteen of the main suspects were also produced in a criminal court and subsequently remanded in police custody for one day. The suspects were identified as Farhan Idrees, Saboor Butt, Talha, Abdul Rehman, Imran, Taimur, Shoaib, Raheel, Usman, Shahzaib, Nasir, Ehtisham, and Junaid.

They have produced in the court of judge Zarif Ahmed amid tight security. They will be produced before the Gujranwala anti-terrorism court on Monday (today).

Friday’s incident caused outrage across Pakistan with all sections of society coming forward to condemn the incident and calling for the suspects to be punished. Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had spoken to the Sri Lankan prime minister and assured him of due legal action.

Dhabeji Industrial Zone project hits impediments.

• Award of contract challenged in Sindh High Court
• Provincial govt says the project does not have SEZ status

ISLAMABAD: The recently awarded contract for the Dhabeji Industrial Zone (DIZ) project that falls under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is in the doldrums after being challenged before a court of law.

The Sindh High Court will take up on Monday (today) a petition submitted to it challenging that the rules of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) had not been followed in the award of the contract.

The provincial government claims that since DIZ has not been given the status of SEZ so far, the rules of special economic zones do not apply to it. The CPEC Authority also had submitted an official statement to the high court, expressing satisfaction over the bidding process and claiming that no irregularity had been committed in the award of the contract.

According to a document of the Sindh Economic Zones Management Company (SEZMC), however, the DIZ will be declared a special economic zone (SEZ).

The multibillion DIZ, which will be developed under Public-Private Partnership by the successful bidder Zahir Khan & Brothers (ZKB) and the Sindh government, is part of CPEC and may be given the status of a special economic zone later.

The project, spread over 1,500 acres, is being executed jointly by the Centre, Sindh government, and CPEC Authority with an aim to make it a hub of major economic activities in the province.

The Sindh government received bids for the project in February this year. However, after a two-month evaluation, one of the bids was declared ‘technically unfit’. The provincial government then went for re-bidding in which ZKB emerged successfully. Subsequently, the government issued a Letter of Award (LoA) to the winning firm.

However, the award of the contract was challenged before the court that would take up the matter on Nov 29 (today).

Earlier at a meeting held on Nov 23, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed the hope that all economic zones, including Dhabeji Industrial Zone, would be completed at the earliest and economic activity started there.

He, however, lashed out at the Sindh government for the slow pace of development work in the province.

When contacted, the Sindh government’s spokesman Saeed Ghani said he was not fully aware of the project’s details, but believed that there was nothing wrong with the award of the contract.

Meanwhile, a senior SEZMC official said the provincial government had ensured transparency and fair play in the award as the successful bidder had quoted Rs16.25 billion while the second-lowest bid was Rs13.75bn.

He said the total income to be generated from the project was Rs32bn and the successful bidder would have to pay Rs16bn to the provincial government in five to seven years. The remaining amount would be paid to the provincial government by selling plots in the economic zone, he added.

The official believed that like 17 other industrial zones in the country, the DIZ had so far not attained the status of SEZ but the provincial government would apply for it later.

“Allama Iqbal Economic Zone in Lahore was established in 2006 but got the SEZ status in 2016,” he said, explaining that economic zones did not get the SEZ status right away.

The official said unfortunately the court had been misled by the petitioner, who was claiming that rules of SEZs had not been followed while awarding the contract for DIZ.

Meanwhile, it has been learned that due to litigation, the DIZ project is being delayed as the successful bidder has still not signed the agreement with the Sindh government even a month after the issuance of the LoA.

Under the contract, the successful firm will undertake designing, financing, construction, operation, and maintenance of DIZ on a build, own, operate and transfer basis.

The DIZ is located on the N-5 National Highway, close to Bin Qasim and Karachi ports as well as about 700km from Gwadar Port, which connects the Central Asia Republics, Middle East, Europe, and Africa. According to the layout plan, the DIZ will have 130 heavy, 145 medium, and 211 light industries, 82 warehouses, commercial areas, office areas, grid stations, roads, lanes, mosques, recreation areas, captive power generation facilities, and PTCL/SSGC/K-Electric intake points.

India ramps up Himalayan border defenses after deadly China clashes

On the winding road up to India’s Himalayan frontier is a postcard view of gushing streams and tranquil lakes — punctuated occasionally by the sight of artillery barrels and military bunkers.

A year after deadly high-altitude clashes with Chinese soldiers, India is ramping up its border defenses along with a treacherous mountain range that has long been a flashpoint between the two countries.

Arunachal Pradesh straddles the other side of the Himalayas from Tibet and shares a common Buddhist cultural heritage with its northern neighbor.

Dalai Lama fled through the state in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in his homeland and has lived in India ever since.

Beijing also claims ownership of Arunachal Pradesh — which it refers to as South Tibet — and briefly occupied most of the territory, three years after the Buddhist leader’s flight, in a short but bloody war.

Tensions have flared again since mid-2020 when troops from both nations fought a hand-to-hand battle further west along their shared frontier in Ladakh, leaving at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers dead.

Indian soldiers on a Bofors gun positioned near Tawang. — AFP
Indian soldiers on a Bofors gun positioned near Tawang. — AFP

Each side routinely sends patrols into areas claimed or controlled by the other, and India has also accused China of establishing permanent settlements near the border.

“We have observed some infrastructure development on the Chinese side,” Lieutenant General Manoj Pande told journalists during a rare press tour through the region last month.

“That has led to (a higher) number of troops that are now located or placed there.”

New Delhi has responded by scaling up its defenses in Arunachal Pradesh, deploying cruise missiles, howitzers, US-made Chinook transport choppers, and drones built in Israel.

Fatal geography

Officers in the region say last year’s clash highlighted the urgent need to fortify the military’s frontier presence, after fruitless talks with Beijing to ease the border build-up on both sides.

Temperatures around the remote strategic hamlet of Tawang — one of the closest towns to Tibet, and a potential chokepoint for any advancing forces — often drop below zero and the thin mountain air is starved of oxygen.

Nearby military outposts can be cut off from the outside world for entire weeks in the winter.

“The region’s geography is against humans,” an Indian army brigadier told AFP.

“It can be fatal if one isn’t fully fit, trained, or acclimatized.”

Army engineers are building a huge road tunnel at 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level, expected to open next year, to link the area to arterial routes further south and expand the reach of soldiers.

“These tunnels… will mean all-weather connectivity for locals and security forces deployed in Tawang,” said Colonel Parikshit Mehra, the project’s director.

Indian officers in the region say last year's clash highlighted the urgent need to fortify the military's frontier presence. — AFP
Indian officers in the region say last year’s clash highlighted the urgent need to fortify the military’s frontier presence. — AFP

A similar project is underway in Ladakh beneath the rocky terrain of the Zojila mountain pass — otherwise impassable during winter months — that would help troops quickly mobilize at the border from India’s huge garrison in Kashmir.

‘Pressure tactics’

A statue of the Buddha overlooks the houses sloping up the uneven plateau on which Tawang was built, reflecting the largely Buddhist population of the region.

Those living in the town have applauded the new focus on the region from New Delhi and are anxious about future Chinese incursions, mindful of Beijing’s efforts to suppress Buddhism across the frontier.

The Chinese government has made clear it could seek to name a successor to the 86-year-old Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists and a revered figure in Tawang.

“We share our culture with Tibet but China today is modifying Buddhism according to its whims,” said Dondup Gyaltsen, who runs a shoe store in Tawang’s main market.

Monpa Golang, who runs a pharmacy further down the street, said India should stand strong against “Chinese pressure tactics”.

“Our government should make it clear that no Buddhist will accept anyone China imposes after the Dalai Lama,” the 75-year-old added. “He may look human but he’s our god. “

Wah Cantt police operation, Baba Gang arrested


06 accused of inter-provincial Mama robbery gang wanted in several incidents of house robbery and robbery arrested including ringleader. Police

Rs 10 lakh looted from the possession of the accused in various cases of house robbery and burglary and 06 pistols used in the incident along with ammunition were recovered.

The arrested accused include gang leader Gul Akbar alias Mama, Tahir, Shahid, Nadeem, Faqir, and Nisar.

The accused have revealed several incidents during the investigation

The stolen goods were recovered from the accused after the identification parade.

Gul Akbar alias Mama, the ringleader of the robbery gang, has already been Convicted in robbery cases in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Rawalpindi.

The gang members were traced and arrested by SHO Wahcantt and his team under the supervision of SP Pothohar.

CPO Muhammad Ahsan Younis congratulate to SP Pothohar, ASP Taxila, SHO Wahcantt and the team.

Those who molest the property of citizens cannot escape the grip of the law. CPO Muhammad Ahsan Younis