US tells Pakistan: Do more to wipe out terrorism

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, left, with US Vice President Mike Pence in New York. (Photo courtesy the Prime Minister's Office)
Updated 19 March 2018
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US tells Pakistan: Do more to wipe out terrorism

ISLAMABAD: US Vice President Mike Pence wants Pakistan to work more closely with Washington to defeat terrorism on its soil.
A White House statement said Pence reiterated President Donald Trump’s “request that the Government of Pakistan must do more to address the continued presence of the Taliban, Haqqani Network, and other terrorist groups operating in their country.”
But the statement did not share any details about the nature of talks and meetings.
PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is on a private visit to the US, met Pence on Saturday. But his office has not shared anything, so far, with the media about his visit or the meeting.
On Thursday Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that active negotiations are in progress between Pakistan and the US. “It is a difficult balancing act and both sides have conveyed their reservations and differences on the new US strategy to each other.”We are actively seeking to find common ground, as is manifested in continued engagement at all levels between Pakistan and the US.”
Former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir believes that this particular White House statement reflects a partial view.
“Pakistan and US interests converge on both peace in Afghanistan and countering terror. Both sides need to talk more and cooperate more. There have been positive developments in this regard,” he told Arab News.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, professor of politics and international relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, believes this reflects the significance of Pakistan’s role in the US strategy for culmination of the war in Afghanistan. “Mike Pence asked Prime Minister Abbasi to do more. Doing more means more cooperation.”
Qamar Cheema, a political analyst, told Arab News that the mistrust between Pakistan and the US is over the alleged presence of the Haqqani Network.
“The US has been asking Pakistan to do more on the Haqqani Network, whereas it also accepts that Pakistan has taken certain measures which are appreciable. If the trust deficit between both countries will be bridged, that will be a win-win situation for both,” Cheema said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua visited Washington on March 7-8, where she met senior US officials including US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan at the State Department and Deputy National Security Adviser Dr. Nadia Schadlow, at the White House.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Janjua had in-depth discussions with South Asia experts at the US Institute of Peace.
“She reaffirmed Pakistan’s constructive approach to work together with the US for regional peace and stability,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement after Janjua’s visit.
The US and Afghanistan have been asking Pakistan to move against the Haqqani Network, which the US says operates from Pakistan. However, Islamabad maintains that Pakistani forces have eliminated the infrastructure of militants and acted indiscriminately against all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network.


Finns held in Muslim Malaysia over ‘Christian pamphlets’

Updated 21 November 2018
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Finns held in Muslim Malaysia over ‘Christian pamphlets’

  • hey are accused of breaking laws that forbid people from disturbing religious harmony, and could be jailed for up to five years
  • Issues related to race, religion and language are considered sensitive in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Four Finns have been arrested on a holiday island in Muslim-majority Malaysia for allegedly distributing pamphlets about Christianity, police said Wednesday, and may face up to five years in jail.
Religion is a deeply sensitive issue in Malaysia, where more than 60 percent of the populaton is Muslim, and critics say rising conservatism has chipped away at a traditionally tolerant brand of Islam in recent years.
Authorities detained the two men and two women on Tuesday after receiving complaints from members of the public that they were handing out Christian materials on the popular resort island of Langkawi, said local police chief Mohamad Iqbal Ibrahim.
“Police have arrested four Finnish nationals in Langkawi for allegedly distributing religious material in a public place,” he told AFP.
“They were distributing pamphlets related to Christianity.”
The Finns, aged between 27 and 60, were arrested at a hotel and police seized pens, notebooks and a bag.
They are accused of breaking laws that forbid people from disturbing religious harmony. If found guilty, they could be jailed for between two and five years.
The suspects have been remanded in custody while police investigate.
Langkawi, a jungle-clad island in northwest Malaysia, attracts millions of tourists to its palm-fringed beaches every year.
Malaysia, home to about 32 million people, has sizeable ethnic Chinese and Indian communities who have long complained about rising Islamization.
In 2010, three churches were attacked with firebombs, causing major damage to one, as Muslims sought to prevent Christians from using the word “Allah.”
Issues related to race, religion and language are considered sensitive in Malaysia, which witnessed deadly riots between members of the majority Malay community and ethnic Chinese in 1969.