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[skill percent=”34″ title=”Iran-Saudi Arabia Standoff”]
[skill percent=”32″ title=”India Attack”]
[skill percent=”13″ title=”Economic Corridor”]
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Sectarian split across the Middle East deepens as Saudi Arabia executed an Iranian scholar Nimr al-Nimr and three other Shias on terrorism charges on Saturday. Iran immediately reacted and hailed Nimr as a ‘martyr’ and warned Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al Saud family of ‘divine revenge’.
Angry protestors stormed Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran where protesters pelted stones and set building on fire. In response, Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic ties with Iran while its Sunni allies also followed the kingdom in severing or downgrading diplomatic relations with Tehran. Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) downgraded its relations.
Iran accused Saudi Arabia of using the attack on the embassy as an ‘excuse’ to sever ties and further increase sectarian tensions while Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Iran was creating ‘terrorist cells’ among the kingdom’s Shia minority. Shia groups are united in condemnation of Saudi Arabia while Sunni powers rallied behind the kingdom, hardening a sectarian split in the Middle East
Meanwhile Pakistan has called for resolution of Saudi Arabia-Iran differences through peaceful means in the larger interest of the Muslim unity.
Indian air force base near Pakistan border in Pathankot was attacked by armed men, allegedly wearing army uniforms on Saturday. All six attackers were killed by Indian forces while seven Indian military personnel were also killed. Indian officials said that militants’ weapons included AK-47 assault rifles with makeshift rocket launchers attached, pistols, and 50-60 kilograms of ammunition. Officials also said the gunmen alleged to be from Jaish-i-Mohammed group, managed to enter the Pathankot air base before dawn on Saturday. Accusing Pakistan of involvement, India has called on Pakistan to take ‘prompt and decisive’ action against militants.
India’s foreign ministry said Islamabad has been given actionable intelligence that those who planned the assault came from Pakistan. Meanwhile Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during a telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, assured India it would take ‘prompt and decisive’ action against groups.
A meeting between the foreign secretaries of both nations had been tentatively scheduled for Jan 15, but after the attack on Indian Air Force base it is unclear if it will still happen.
Provinces have shown their concerns over the plan of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). An all parties’ conference was called this week by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) where they decided to convey their reservations about CPEC to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It was decided in the conference that JUI-F will lead a team of representatives from other political parties in a day or two to meet Prime Minister.
The JUI-F chief also urged the federal government to provide details about the timeline and locations of the economic or industrial zones that would be constructed under CPEC. He demanded the federal government address the reservations of KP and other small provinces to get their support for this project. Meanwhile Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said that his party doesn’t want to make China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) controversial, but the rights of Balochistan province must be protected in the $46 billion mega development project. The PPP chairman stressed that all stakeholders should be taken into confidence on the matter. He said that the PPP, being a federal party, won’t allow that a crucial development project like CPEC goes controversial.
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