Taliban Leader Killed
Killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike in Balochistan province last week caused a strain in Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan and the US. Mullah Akhtar Mansour had just returned from Iran when his vehicle was struck. According to media reports Mansour entered Pakistan from Iran at Zero Point in Taftan, a town which shares border with Iran, and hit by US drone while traveling to Quetta. Initially Pakistani officials denied the man killed in attack was Taliban chief, but later Sartaj Aziz, adviser to the prime minister on national security and foreign affairs, confirmed the man killed in attack was Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour.
In a briefing to media at the Foreign Office, Aziz said the killing of Afghan Taliban chief on Pakistan soil added to the complexity of the Afghan conflict and has undermined Afghan peace process. He also termed the drone strike as violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Aziz also said the US did not consult or inform Pakistan before carrying out the strike on Mansour.
Meanwhile Pakistan Army has also expressed serious concerns over the US drone strike. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif in a meeting with US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale said that the drone attack was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and had also damaged peace efforts in Afghanistan. Meanwhile Afghan Taliban formally confirmed the death of former chief and announced the appointment of Maulvi Haibatullah as their new leader. Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mullah Yaqoob were appointed deputy leaders of the movement.
This was the first ever US drone strike in Balochistan province and Pakistan had already conveyed the US in 2010 that Balochistan was a ‘no-go area’ for the drone strikes.
The proceedings of the parliamentary committee constituted to draft terms of reference (ToRs) to investigate Panama leaks have been marred by mistrust between government and opposition. According to media reports both the government and opposition have failed to make any breakthrough so far due to lack of trust. According to media reports the government is not ready to show any flexibility on opposition’s demand to start investigation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. While, the opposition parties are adamant that the inquiry must start from prime minister and his family. However the committee agreed on the preamble of the ToRs of the inquiry commission. While talking to press after the meeting, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said out of 15, two points of the opposition parties had been removed from the list.
Meanwhile JUI(F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called on PPP’s Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari in London and tried to convince him to support Nawaz Sharif so that the dangers confronting democracy might be over.
According to media reports ex-president Asif Ali Zardari sent a clear cut message to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif through Maulana Fazlur Rehman that further negotiations could take place in this regard if the vengeful behaviour with Pakistan Peoples’ Party in Sindh was stopped. Maulana Fazlur Rehman also tried to persuade Zardari saying that if the PPP did not support the PML(N), then a third power could take benefit of the current situation and in that case the PPP and the PML(N) would have incur a heavy loss.
After recent evidences of involvement of foreign intelligence agencies carrying out their activities in Pakistan, the country has raised question about their presence. After the arrest of six “Afghan spires” from Balochistan, its Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti in a press briefing said that arrested spies were involved in violent activities in the province, including targeted killings. The minister also lashed out at the Afghan intelligence agency – National Directorate of Security – for deceiving Pakistan. The home minister also warned the Afghan president against such activities, stating that relations between the two countries could deteriorate if such activities continue.
Bugti also suggested that the time has come for the Afghan refugees to return home as Indian spy agency RAW and Afghan spy agency NDA is using them to deteriorate law and order situation in the country.
Meanwhile India, Afghanistan and Iran have signed a mega project to develop a port on Iranian soil. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed a three-way transit agreement on Iran’s port of Chabahar. India will invest up to $500 million to develop a Chabahar port and both countries planned a number of other hundred millions of dollars’ worth projects. The development of the port of Chabahar expands a trade route for the land-locked countries of central Asia that bypasses Pakistan.
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