|Sanctions Lifted On Key Taliban Members As Talibs Announce Start of Spring Offensive|
|[ToloNews] Sources close to the have confirmed that the has "temporarily" removed sanctions on Taliban’s senior members who have held negotiations with US officials in According to the sources, all the 14 members of Taliban’s political office in Qatar, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of Qatar office and deputy leader of the group, have been removed from the UN blacklist for nine months. |
Anas Haqqani, Sher Mohammad , Amir Khan Muttaqi, Qari Din Mohammad, Zahidullah Ahmadzai and Mawlawi Ziaurrahman Madani are also among those who have been removed from the UN blacklist, the sources said.
"This issue (removing names from UN blacklist) was discussed in the first meeting as well, but the Americans were making the excuse that for removing the names, the agreement of the Afghan government is needed. But this time, it is clear that the Americans have made the move, after their 16-day meeting (in Qatar), to reach an agreement," said Nazar Mohammad Mutmaen, a political analyst familiar with Qatar talks.
The Afghan government and the UN have not commented on the report.
Iqbal Khyber, head of People’s Peace Movement said that lifting sanctions on the Taliban’s senior members will help the peace talks.
"This will not only facilitate the peace talks but will also create trust between the two sides," said Khyber.
This comes as the US Special Envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad and his team are expected to start a new round of talks with the Taliban in Qatar later this month. Khalilzad so far has held five rounds of talks with the Taliban which according to him, these meetings have been "productive".
Mohammad Ismail Khan, member of the leadership and member of the newly-established Reconciliation Leadership Council, said the working committees of the council have not reached an agreement about the members of the delegation that will attend the Qatar meeting ‐ scheduled for April 19.
"So far, they have not agreed on a list. The government was trying to have more delegates (in the team), but the politicians were not accepting it," Khan said.
The intra-Afghan talks, between the Afghan government, Afghan politicians and the Taliban, is scheduled for April 19 to 21. Initially, the talks were scheduled for April 14, but the Reconciliation Leadership Council on Wednesday said the meeting has been postponed.
This comes as the Taliban announced their spring offensive on Friday morning which is entitled Operation al-Fatha - which means "victory" in Arabic. The group said in a statement that the offensive will be conducted across Afghanistan with the aim of "eradicating occupation" and "cleansing our homeland from invasion and corruption".
Hours after Taliban announced their so-called spring offensive, a of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, Dave Butler, said the coalition forces will continue to support the Afghan forces in the fight against the Taliban as the group has chosen violence despite a "tremendous" opportunity for peace.
|Gen. Dostum reacts to killing of uprising commander in Taliban militants ambush in Jawzjan|
|[KhaamaPress] The First Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid has reaced to killing of Haji Khan Mohammad Zabit, the commander of who was leading a group of uprising forces in northern Jawzjan province.|
The Office of the First Vice Presidnet in a statement said Gen. Dostum made the remarks during a meeting with the family members of Haji Zabit in Jawzjan province.
The statement further added that the First Vice President offered his condolences to the family mbers of Haji Zabit and appointed his brother Khal Mohammad as his successor.
Gen. Dostum also instructed the provincial and intelligence chiefs to take immediate steps to establish new security outposts in vulnerable areas of Jawzjan.
Haji Zabit and a number his comrades were killed in a ambush in Jawzjan province late on Friday night.
|Banning JeI will only drive their activities underground: Omar|
|[Daily Excelsior] National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Saturday said the Centre should reconsider its decision of banning the (JeI) as the move would serve no purpose except "to drive their activities underground".|
"The centre should reconsider its recent decision. The situation in J&K had improved drastically between 1996 and 2014/15 without having to resort to such bans. There is nothing to suggest that this ban will in any way contribute to any improvement on the ground," he wrote on Twitter.
The former Chief Minister of Jammu and said after the outbreak of turmoil in the State, the organization was banned for more than five years in 1990, but such a ban "served no purpose and achieved nothing".
|India bans Kashmir Jamaat-e-Islami|
|India detains Kashmir separatists, issues new warning to Pakistan|
|[PULSE.NG] As international concern grows over India-Pakistain sabre-rattling, residents of , at the centre of a decades-old struggle between the nuclear-armed neighbours, reported heightened military activity.|
The region has been on edge since the February 14 attack on an Indian convoy which killed 40 soldiers and was claimed by Pakistain-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
India has accused Pakistain of supporting the attack -- a claim rejected by the Islamabad government -- and there have been widespread calls for nationalist leader Modi to order a reprisal strike.
About 10,000 paramilitaries started arriving in on Saturday, a day after India ordered the reinforcements.
Modi told a rally in Rajasthan state that the country was "angry" about the attack in the Pulwama district of Indian-held .
"After the Pulwama attack, you must have seen how Pakistain is being brought to account one step at a time. They are in a state of panic because of our government's decisions," Modi said, speaking in Hindi.
"We will not sit quietly after taking this pain. We know how to crush terrorism," he added. "We have given full freedom to the military."
Among those taken into custody in the crackdown in were senior figures in , the region's biggest religious organization, and the Hurriyat Conference, a coalition of local political parties.
Jamaat and Hurriyat Conference both strongly support 's right to choose whether it wants to be part of India or Pakistain, which have been fighting over the region since independence in 1947.
"Police and other agencies launched a mass arrest drive and raided many houses in the valley with dozens of... central and district-level leaders ," Jamaat said in a statement, adding that those detained included central leader Abdul Hamid Fayaz.
Police linked the arrests to security preparations for upcoming elections in India and a Supreme Court hearing on Monday on a challenge to a constitutional provision that gives Kashmiris special rights to property and jobs in the territory.
But the arrests drew widespread criticism from .
"Fail to understand such an arbitrary move which will only precipitate matters," Mehbooba Mufti, a pro-India former chief minister said on Twitter. "You can imprison a person but not his ideas."
"Such illegal and coercive measures against Kashmiris are futile and will not change realities on ground," wrote Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, an influential separatist leader, on Twitter.
Businesses across were shut on Saturday, some in protest at the arrests and with others fearing conflict between India and Pakistain.
Many in are wary of a military strike over the suicide bomb and residents in several areas reported unusual military air activity on Friday night.
Authorities did not comment on the reported fighter aircraft and helicopters flying over the territory.
Pakistain's Prime Minister has vowed retaliation if his country is attacked. In a letter to the UN Security Council released Saturday, Pak Foreign Minister Shah accused India of "warmongering".
More than 100 separatists detained in Kashmir raids in pre-election crackdown
[AlAhram] More than 100 separatists in were detained in overnight raids, police officials said on Saturday, as part of a crackdown on groups that might cause trouble ahead of nationwide elections set to be held by May.
The overnight arrests in the state included those of many senior members of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), an Islamic organization that wants to be independent from India.
The arrests led to violent scenes in parts of , with stone-throwing protestors met by police firing tear gas.
JeI’s leader, Dr Abdul Hamid Fayaz and , the head of Jammu Liberation Front (JKLF) that wants independence from both India and Pakistain, were among those detained.
A for India’s home ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the arrests or troop deployments.
Next week India’s Supreme Court is also expected to hear a petition attempting to remove an article in the country’s constitution that prevents non-residents from moving to Jammu and , the Indian state that contains -majority . If passed it could further escalate tensions in the region.
|Women's bicycle rally in Peshawar cancelled after protest threat by devout men with turbans|
|Moslem holy men + women's bicycle seats = recipe for disaster|
[DAWN] The first women's bicycle rally scheduled to take place in on January 19 was cancelled after religious parties on Friday threatened to protest against the event, officials said.
Zama Jawandoon, an organization working for women's rights, had organised the 'peace rally' that was scheduled to begin from Peshawar's Hayatabad neighbourhood on Saturday.
According to the event's organiser, Wafa Wazir, at least 35 women were slated to participate in the rally and they had also invited people from the transgender community.
But the ‐ Fazl (JUI-F), , and other religious parties on Friday announced they would stage a protest against the rally at the Bagh-e-Naran in Hayatabad.
"The women's bicycle rally is spreading obscenity," JUI-F's Maulana Rafiullah Qasmi was quoted as saying at a meeting held earlier today.
"The idea of those plump, pumping thighs, the butts... the succulent, swaying boobies, bent low over the long, round, hard handlebars... I must... I must... shoot off! My gun! I must shoot off my gun! Oh, Allah! Grant me... boobies!"
He announced that they would contact the relevant departments to have the event cancelled and if that is not done, a demonstration will be held against the rally at 9am tomorrow.
The threat of the protest led the organisers to cancel the rally a day before it was scheduled to take place.
Speaking to DawnNewsTV, Wafa Wazir, the lead organiser, said they had approached the Peshawar district administration before announcing the rally and were subsequently issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) to hold the event.
But she said they had decided to postpone the event after the protest call by religious groups because they did not want the rally to take place in a state of any unrest.
When contacted, police said the organisers of the event had not approached them to obtain an NOC or seek security.
"After receiving information about the [planned] protest against the race, police contacted the organisers and they revealed that the rally had been postponed," SP Cantt Wasim Riaz said.
He said it was the responsibility of police to provide security to any events in the city, adding that organisers must first obtain police clearance.
According to SP Riaz, police had not received any directions from the district administration or any other department for the provision of security to the women's bicycle rally.
the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa directorate general of sports issued a statement to distance itself from the scheduled rally, even though it practically had nothing to do with the event.
"It has come to the notice of the [sports directorate] that some people are agitating protest regarding the organising of [a] female cycle race," the notice read. "It is clarified that this office is unaware regarding the organising of the said event."
It said the directorate had neither organised the event nor was the Hayatabad Sports Complex being provided to any NGO to hold the same.
|BNP unlikely to sever ties with Jamaat as Fakhrul talks about unity|
|[Dhaka Tribune] Apparently giving a hint at not leaving as per Gono Forum's desire, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday advocated for strengthening the unity between Jatiya Oikya Front and the 20-party Alliance further to defeat the current regime.|
"I would like to say it clearly that there is no alternative to unity, no matter who thinks what... BNP has created a bridge between the Jatiya Oikya Front and the 20-party Alliance for the cause of a historical necessity. It is still necessary to maintain, and we think now a greater unity is essential," he said, reports UNB.
Speaking at a discussion, he further said: "We do not accept the election. As political parties, it is our duty to consciously cement the national unity, and remain alert so that frustration does not grow among us."
(Zafar) had organized the program at the National Press Club in memory of its acting chairman TIM Fazle Rabbi, who died on December 27 last year.
On January 12, Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain said it was a mistake of his party to join the 11th general election, held on December 30, with Jamaat under the banner of Oikya Front, which he leads.
He also said that they would mount pressure on BNP to drop Jamaat from its coalition to keep the Oikya Front intact and make it stronger.
Without mentioning any party's name, Mirza Fakhrul warned that if any party thinks that it will be possible to get a democratic victory fighting against a dangerous monster with lone efforts, it is not the right approach. "We must achieve the victory through people's unity. This is the reality."
He said the people of the country and the international community have already turned down the election. "The people witnessed a cruel mockery in the name of election. People's rights were snatched through it."
He said a big damage has been done to Awami League through the election as the party has now become the opponent of people for depriving them of their voting rights. "Even, Awami League supporters are bemoaning that they could not cast their votes,"
The BNP secretary general said it is Awami League's inherent nature is to think that they are the owners of the country and people are their subjects. "That's why this party never recognized people's rights."
|Women’s education: Hefazat chief Shafi claims his remarks were distorted|
|[Dhaka Tribune] chief Shah Ahmed Shafi has claimed that his statement regarding women’s education has been "distorted," claiming that he is against the co-education system and not against women’s education.|
His call made on Friday about not allowing girls to study had sparked widespread controversy, drawing criticisms from different quarters including government ministers.
In a media statement issued on Sunday, known Islamic hardliner Shafi urged the mass media not to "distort" his comments when publishing them. "Because that leads to confusion and misunderstanding among the general people... Do not spread lies against anyone."
"Reaching a conclusion without understanding someone’s remarks is a crime. And using a part of a remark for one’s own interest is a bigger crime," he said in the statement.
Shafi also claimed that a vested quarter was out to desperately make him sound controversial. "They are trying to present me as a person who is against women and women’s education.
"I have responded to that. Read that and try to understand. Do not spread lies," he said.
"I am saying again ‐ create a safe environment for women’s education and ensure security of their lives and honour. No one should send their daughters to an unsafe environment."
He said that his remarks were made in the backdrop of rapes and murders of women around the country that are taking place every day. These crimes and discrimination against women would not stop if people do not have any morale, he added.
The chief of fundamentalist Islamist group Hefazat also added: "The summary of what I said is that they [girls or women] should wear burkas if they go to colleges and universities for higher education and their teachers should be women too."
REMARKS AND REBUTTAL
On Friday, the 99-year-old had asked his followers to take oath to restrain girls from studying at schools and colleges, while addressing an annual religious gathering at al-Jamaatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Madrasa, also known as Hathazari Madrasa, in Chittagong.
"Do not let girls study at schools and colleges. At best, you can allow them to study up to fourth or fifth grade. If you let them study any more... You have seen in the newspapers that... If you educate your girl up to ninth, tenth, MA, BA levels then that girl will not remain yours.
"If you educate your girls, other men will snatch them away," he said.
After media reports on his remarks led to controversy and harsh criticism, Shafi on Saturday had issued another statement, where had claimed that his comments were published partially in different media outlets.
He said: "In my speech, I tried to say that girls should not be sent to any educational institution which goes any against basic tenets of Islam. You should bear in mind that Islam is a complete code, which encompasses every aspect of life. Islam encouraged girls' education and every one of you knows that Bibi Ayesha (R) was a renowned interpreter of Hadith. If she did not receive education, then we would remain deprived from many valuable sayings of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him)."
|Anisul: Law will be amended to try Jamaat|
|[Dhaka Tribune] The International Crimes Tribunal Act will be amended soon to try as a political party for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, Law Minister Anisul Huq said yesterday.|
"As per the directive of Prime Minister
|India: SC rejects plea of Hizbul Chief Salauddin’s son|
|[Daily Excelsior] The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the plea of Syed Shahid Yousuf, son of Hizbul-Mujahideen founder and a ’specially designated global terrorist’ |
, challenging the Delhi High Court order dismissing his bail petition in a terror funding case.
The top court said that once the trial court had granted extension of time to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to complete the investigation in the case, the accused was not entitled to statutory bail.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said the trial court and the Delhi High Court have applied their mind and there was no illegality in the decision.
|Govt Not Aware Of Peace Talks Agenda: Ismail Khan|
|[Tolo News] Mohammad Ismail Khan, a former Jihadi leader and member of the leadership of Party of Afghanistan, on Friday said the National Unity Government is not aware of the peace talks’ agenda ‐ as the peace efforts are ongoing by the international community, US on the top, and the Afghan government.|
He warned that the efforts for holding talks with the , including the next meeting in Jeddah, will have no results unless the Afghans and regional countries enter the process.
"The peace agenda should become clear for the people of Afghanistan or at least government should be aware of the ," Khan told TOLOnews. "So far, neither the Afghan government, nor the Afghan people have enough information in this regard."
He said that Jamaat-e-Islami party is forming a team to negotiate with the Taliban but he did not give more details about the team.
"Jamaat has considered a list of figures but has not introduced them officially. Let’s the get completed and the talks get started officially in the form that the Taliban show readiness for negotiations, then we will introduce the team," he said.
’s Hizb-e-Islami said they are trying to hold negotiations with the Taliban.
"The Islamic movement of the Taliban accepts participation in a joint government and we see it an important progress. They are discussing ceasefire and an interim government," said Humayun Jarir, Hizb-e-Islami member.
While the Afghan government has said they will send a 12-member team to Jeddah for talks with Taliban, but some former Taliban members said representatives of the group will not meet the Afghan government delegation in Jeddah.
"Discussion has not been held on the withdrawal of foreign forces (from Afghanistan) while Taliban has reiterated on this issue," said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former member of the Taliban.
|4 Jamaat men held over attack on Awami League offices|
|[Dhaka Tribune] Police have detained four leaders and activists over their alleged involvement in the attack on two Awami League election campaign offices in Narayanganj.|
They were detained from Fultala upazila on Friday night, reports the UNB.
Fultala Officer-in-Charge Monirul Islam said the police, in separate drives, had detained Khulna North District Jamaat Ameer Imran Hossain and three of Jamaat activists.
Earlier on Friday, some unidentified miscreants set off improvised bombs targeting the Awami League election campaign office in Bigetdanga Union around 9pm.
In another incident in Damudar Union had area, the Awami League campaign office was torched by some unidentified attackers around 11pm.
A team of firefighters doused the flame, added the OC.