Imran Khan calls for talks after India and Pakistan shoot down jets

1 / 2
Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, outside Srinagar on Wednesday (AFP)
2 / 2
Indian army soldiers arrive near the wreckage of an Indian aircraft after it crashed in Budgam area, outskirts of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, Feb.27, 2019. (AP/Mukhtar Khan)
Updated 28 February 2019

Imran Khan calls for talks after India and Pakistan shoot down jets

  • Imran Khan calls on India to hold talks to avert devastating war
  • Indian aircraft crash killed two pilots and a civilian

ISLAMABAD,NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan engaged in aerial hostilities along the Kashmiri Line of Control (LoC) for the first time since 1971 on Wednesday, with New Delhi claiming to have lost a pilot in action, and Islamabad losing an F-16 fighter jet, according to Indian sources.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan called for a de-escalation of the tensions and invited Indian officials to choose dialogue over force in a televised address to his nation.
The address came after Pakistani jets shot down two Indian warplanes across the LoC, the de facto border dividing Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. One Indian pilot was reportedly captured.
Khan said the two sides could not afford a miscalculation with the weapons they had, and he was willing to sit down with his Indian neighbors and discuss ways to resolve their outstanding issues, including terrorism.
“Let’s sit together and resolve our problems through dialogue,” Khan told the Indian leadership in a televised address after chairing a high-level meeting of the National Command Authority, which oversees Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.In a statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that Pakistan had responded to its legitimate “counter-terrorism action” against the group Jaish-e-Mohammed, suspected of carrying out an attack on an Indian military convoy last week, by “targeting military installations on the Indian side.”
The statement added that the IAF had lost one MiG-21 fighter jet, and that its pilot was missing. Efforts, it added, were underway to confirm Pakistani claims that he had been taken into custody across the border.
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs admitted Islamabad had attacked Indian military positions, but claimed to have only done so in self-defense. 
“The sole purpose of this action was to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self-defense. We do not wish to escalate but are fully prepared if forced,” a spokesman said.
Earlier this month the Pakistan-based militant group JeM claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir in which more than 40 paramilitary troops were killed.



 

Khan said he had “offered peace to India after what happened in Pulwama. I understood the pain of the families (who lost family members in the incident). We offered India our complete cooperation in the investigations, as this is not in Pakistan’s interest to let its soil to be used against any other country.”
He added: “But I feared that India would do a misadventure due to upcoming elections.”
Referring to the shooting down of the Indian MiG-21 aircraft, Khan said: “No sovereign country can allow violation of its sovereignty. I had told India of retaliation.“The sole purpose of our action was to convey that if you can come into our country, we can do the same.” He said Pakistan had planned to ensure that any retaliatory action caused no collateral damage or casualties.
Khan said it was of the “utmost importance” to “exercise wisdom and acumen” to avoid further conflict. “All wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they can lead,” he added.
Addressing his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, the prime minister said: “With the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford such a miscalculation?”
Extending the offer of talks to India, Khan added: “Better sense should prevail.”
Security and defense experts have hailed Khan’s stance. Tahir Malik, an academic and analyst, told Arab News: “It is now up to India whether it engages with Pakistan for dialogue to resolve the issues peacefully, or keeps trumpeting the warmongering mantra.” 
Malik also called for an international effort to help resolve the dispute over Kashmir.
“The real challenge for both Pakistan and India now is to de-escalate and engage in a meaningful dialogue. We hope the Indian leadership will reciprocate Prime Minister Khan’s message of peace.”
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held meetings with senior military chiefs and the heads of his nation’s intelligence services throughout Wednesday. 
New Delhi shut nine airports in the north of the country in the immediate aftermath of the Pakistani airstrike, but all have since reopened.
Indian opposition leaders, meanwhile, have condemned Modi for “the politicization of the Pulwama attack,” asking him to address the nation to explain himself.
Kashmir-based political analyst Dr. Siddiq Wahid said: “The ‘no dialogue’ approach of the Modi regime has not worked, and in fact made matters worse. It is time to talk.”

 


US Embassy in Kabul warns of extremist attacks against women

Updated 18 September 2020

US Embassy in Kabul warns of extremist attacks against women

  • The “Taliban don’t have any plans to carry out any such attacks,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said
  • Peace negotiations underway in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, are in the initial stages

KABUL, Afghanistan: The US Embassy in Afghanistan is warning that extremists groups are planning attacks against a “variety of targets” but are taking particular aim at women.
The warning issued late Thursday doesn’t specify the organizations plotting the attacks, but it comes as the Taliban and government-appointed negotiators are sitting together for the first time to try to find a peaceful end to decades of relentless war.
The “Taliban don’t have any plans to carry out any such attacks,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told The Associated Press on Friday.
Peace negotiations underway in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, are in the initial stages with participants still hammering out what items on the agenda will be negotiated and when.
Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said at the start of negotiations last weekend that spoilers existed on both sides. He said that some among Afghanistan’s many leaders would be content to continue with the status quo rather than find a peaceful end to the war that might involve power sharing.
According to the embassy warning, “extremist organizations continue to plan attacks against a variety of targets in Afghanistan, including a heightened risk of attacks targeting female government and civilian workers, including teachers, human rights activists, office workers, and government employees.”
The embassy did not provide specifics, including how imminent is the threat.
The Taliban have been harshly criticized for their treatment of women and girls during their five-year rule when the insurgent group denied girls access to school and women to work outside their home. The Taliban rule ended in 2001 when a US-led coalition ousted the hard-line regime for its part in sheltering Al-Qaeda, which was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
One of the government-appointed peace negotiators, Fawzia Koofi, a strong, outspoken proponent of women’s rights, was shot last month in Afghanistan, but escaped serious injuries and attended the opening of negotiations last weekend. The Taliban quickly denied responsibility and Khalilzad again warned of the dangers to the process.
The United States has said that perhaps one of the most dangerous extremist groups operating in Afghanistan is the Islamic State affiliate, headquartered in the country’s east and held responsible for some of the most recent attacks. The IS affiliate has declared war on minority Shiite Muslims and has claimed credit for horrific attacks targeting them.
The United Nations as well as Afghanistan’s many international allies have stressed the need for any peace deal to protect the rights of women and minorities. Negotiations are expected to be difficult and protracted and will also include constitutional changes, disarming the tens of thousands of the Taliban as well as militias loyal to warlords, some of whom are allied with the government.
The advances for women made since 2001 have been important. Women are now members of parliament, girls have the right to education, women are in the workforce and their rights are enshrined in the constitution. Women are also seen on television, playing sports and winning science fairs.
But the gains are fragile, and their implementation has been erratic, largely unseen in rural areas where most Afghans still live.
The 2018 Women, Peace and Security Index rated Afghanistan as the second worst place in the world to be a woman, after Syria. Only 16% of the labor force are women, one of the lowest rates in the world, and half of Afghanistan’s women have had four years or less of education, according to the report, which was compiled by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. Only around half of school-aged girls go to school, and only 19% of girls under 15 are literate, according to the UN children’s agency.
Nearly 60% of girls are married before they are 19, on average between 15 and 16 years old, to spouses selected by their parents, according to UNICEF.
Until now, parliament has been unable to ratify a bill on the protection of women.
There are also Islamic hard-liners among the politically powerful in Kabul, including Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, who is the inspiration behind the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a US-designated militant who made peace with President Ashraf Ghani’s government in 2016.