Outrage as Indian minister suggests opponents be ‘tied under jets’

The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the opposition. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 06 March 2019

Outrage as Indian minister suggests opponents be ‘tied under jets’

  • The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Modi’s Hindu nationalist party with the opposition

NEW DELHI: Indian opposition leaders who question the country’s bombing raid on Pakistan last week should be tied under fighter jets and dropped like bombs when they stage a new mission, a government minister said Wednesday.
The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the opposition over its claims that he has used the military strike to boost his standing ahead of a national election.
The BJP has given conflicting accounts about the success of the air raid on a militant camp run by a group blamed for a February 14 suicide bombing in Kashmir that left 40 Indian paramilitaries dead.
Twelves days later Indian jets bombed what New Delhi called a “terrorist” training camp inside Pakistan territory taking the neighbors to the verge of a new war.BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, claimed up to 250 people were killed in the cross-border raid. But the opposition has demanded the toll be backed up and accused Modi of making political capital out of the attacks.
“I think when India does something (like this) again then the people from opposition parties raising these questions can be tied under the jets during the raids so that they can look at the targets,” junior foreign minister V.K Singh told media.
“They can look at the targets when the bombs are fired and then can also be dropped (there) to count before coming back,” Singh added.
After the raid, the Indian government said “a very large number” of Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, commanders and trainers had been “eliminated.”
But no official figure on the damage has ever been given and Pakistan has denied there were any casualties.
With a national election to be called imminently, Modi’s BJP has still touted the mission at political rallies across the country.
“The government under Modi’s leadership carried out the air strike and killed more than 250 terrorists,” Shah, one of Modi’s closest lieutenants, told one rally this week.
SS Ahluwalia, a junior minister, came up with a different claim earlier however, saying the raids were intended to give a lesson and not kill anyone.
The differing accounts have increased demands that the government clarify its toll.
“PM Modi has blatantly politicized the bravery and martyrdom of India’s soldiers as a political pamphlet,” said Randeep Singh Surjewala, spokesman for the main opposition Congress party.
Modi “is indulging in shameless credit-seeking for the valour of armed forces as a last resort for the 2019 elections,” Surjewala added on Twitter.
A heated exchange between a top Modi cabinet minister, Piyush Goyal, and a television journalist went viral earlier this week.
The journalist, citing international media reports, asked Goyal why the government has not given more details to back its claims of the mission’s success.
Goyal said such questions were part of a “shameful” campaign “to belittle our armed forces.”


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 51 min 45 sec ago

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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