Pakistan says Indian fire kills 2 villagers in Kashmir

In this file photo, Kashmiri protesters clash with Indian government forces during a protest against recent killings in Srinagar on April 13, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 26 April 2018
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Pakistan says Indian fire kills 2 villagers in Kashmir

  • Indian troops targeted the villages of Thub and Banchiran on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control with mortars and other weapons, says Foreign Ministry spokesman
  • Army officials say Pakistani forces retaliated and it was unclear if there were any casualties on Indian side

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry says Indian troops have fired across the frontier between the two countries in the disputed Kashmir region, killing two civilians and wounding two others.
Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal says Indian troops Thursday targeted the villages of Thub and Banchiran on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control with mortars and other weapons. Army officials said Pakistani forces returned fire and it was unclear if there were any casualties on the Indian side.
There was no immediate comment from India.
The nuclear-armed rivals routinely blame each other for starting any skirmishes and insist they are only retaliating.
Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over their competing claims to Kashmir, which is split between them, and both claim the region in its entirety.


US Senator Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

Updated 20 January 2019
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US Senator Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

  • US and Pakistan should have “strategic engagement”, not transactional relationship
  • The American senator sees a “unique opportunity” to change diplomatic direction of US-Pakistan ties

ISLAMABAD:  US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday President Donald Trump should meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as soon as possible to reset long-difficult US relations with Pakistan and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

The comments, which add to growing signs of improved relations between Islamabad and Washington, come amid efforts to press on with talks between the Taliban and the United States aimed at an agreement to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

"I've seen things change here and all in a positive direction," Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has generally been a staunch supporter of Trump, told a news conference in Islamabad.

He said a meeting with Khan, who has declared strong support for a peace agreement in Afghanistan, would leave Trump "far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today".

"With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship," he said. A previously transactional relationship, based on rewards for services rendered, should be replaced by "strategic engagement", including a free trade agreement, he said.

US relations with Pakistan have long been dogged by suspicions that elements in the Pakistani establishment were aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad strongly denies. However, relations have appeared to improve in recent months amid efforts to push the Taliban towards a peace deal.

Trump, who has in the past argued for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan, has made it clear he wants to see a peace accord reached rapidly although the Taliban have so far refused to talk directly with the Afghan government.

Graham's trip to Pakistan coincided with a visit by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, and top military commanders including General Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command.

Khalilzad left Islamabad without announcing a new date for talks with Taliban representatives, who have refused further meetings until the US side agrees to discuss a timetable for withdrawing its forces.

The uncertainty has been increased by reports that Trump is prepared to order more than 5,000 US troops out of Afghanistan, a move that would represent a sharp change in course from Washington's previous policy of stepping up military action against the Taliban.

With Afghan forces suffering thousands of casualties a year and struggling to hold back the Taliban insurgency, the reports have caused alarm in Kabul, prompting many close to the government to question the US commitment to Afghanistan.

Asked whether there had been confusion over the US message, Graham, who has called for a Senate hearing on Trump's plans to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, said "without a doubt" but added that he did not believe Washington would stand by and allow a Taliban victory.

"The world's not going to let the Taliban take Afghanistan over by force of arms. That would be unconscionable," he told Reuters. "Any president who let that happen would go down in history very poorly."