MENAFN - Arab News
Key Pakistani cleric quits Taleban peace negotiations
(MENAFN -Arab News) ISLAMABAD/QUETTA: A Pakistani cleric with close ties to the Taleban said Wednesday he would no longer act as a government-backed peace broker with the militants after airstrikes killed 40 people in a tribal district.
Sami Ul Haq, who heads the hardline Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary and is often referred to as the “Father of the Taleban,” was given the task of initiating peace talks with the Pakistani Taleban in December by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif’s government announced its talks policy in September and began making preliminary contact with the Taleban’s leadership, but the initiative ended after a US drone strike killed then-Taleban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in November.
“The government does not seems serious and concerned. I had requested them to avoid a military operation and use of force but yesterday it started bombing in North Waziristan and tribal areas,” Haq, who is also chief of his own faction of the religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S) party, said in a statement sent to AFP.
The air strikes in the North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions on Tuesday were retaliation for two major Taleban attacks on military targets in as many days.
But Haq, whose seminary has awarded Afghan Taleban leader Mullah Omar an honorary doctorate, said more fighting was not the answer.
“Both sides (Taleban and government) are in a state of war. Innocent citizens and soldiers are dying,” he said in the statement. “A military operation is not the answer: We should instead put all our passion into the process of talks.
“In such a situation I want to separate myself from this bloody tragedy,” he added.
Haq said Sharif sought his help in initiating peace talks and he received positive signals after contacting the Taleban leadership, but “the lack of seriousness on behalf of the government” forced him to quit the process.
The two high-profile attacks on Sunday and Monday left at least 39 dead, marking a bloody return for the militants after a period of relative quiet following Mehsud’s death and the installation of hardline cleric Maulana Fazlullah as his replacement.
Gunmen opened fire on Pakistani police escorting a Spanish cyclist through a volatile province bordering Iran on Wednesday, killing six officers and wounding the Spaniard, said officials.
The attack on the cyclist, who had just arrived from Iran and whose blog said he was trying to cycle around the world, came one day after militants in the same region killed 28 people in a bus convoy of Muslims. One police officer said authorities suspected the same group carried out both attacks.
The Spanish cyclist had arrived in the town of Dalbandin, about 350 km from Quetta, provincial capital of Baluchistan, on Tuesday evening after biking from the Iranian border, said the provincial Home Secretary, Asadur Rehman Gilani.
Local authorities asked him to stay overnight out of concern for his safety and then arranged a police escort of more than a dozen officers to take him to Quetta on Wednesday morning, Gilani said.
When they were in the Mastung district, about 70 km from Quetta, gunmen opened fire.
Six policemen were killed, while the cyclist and another nine police officers were wounded, according to a police official Mohammed Ibrahim.
The Spanish embassy in Islamabad did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
The Home Secretary identified the Spaniard as Colorado Solana while the Spanish media identified him as Javier Colorado. A blog written by the Spaniard said he was cycling around the world and that he had been the victim of an attack in Pakistan.
Tourists have been targeted in Baluchistan before. Gunmen last March kidnapped two female Czech tourists and their police guard as they were traveling on a bus from Iran to Quetta. The captives were taken to Afghanistan and the officer released but the women are still being held.
No one claimed responsibility for the shooting Wednesday, but Ibrahim said he suspected the same group that targeted a group of Shiite pilgrims returning from Iran on Tuesday was responsible for the Wednesday incident as well.
He described the group as “sectarian.” Radical Sunni Islamic militants who view Shiites as heretics have stepped up attacks against members of the minority Shiite Muslim sect in recent years. Over 400 Shiites were killed in 2013, according to Human Rights Watch. Violence has been especially bad in impoverished Baluchistan.
Police initially said 20 people died when a bomb exploded near the pilgrims’ bus, but on Wednesday, a local police official, Asad Cheema, said the death toll had risen to 28. Some of the wounded were still listed in critical condition.
Shiite Muslims rallied Wednesday in Quetta, demanding action to stop the continued violence against their sect. In a show of protest, they brought the coffins carrying the dead pilgrims into the street.
“We will not bury our dear ones until the government acts against the attackers,” local Shiite leader Agha Dawood said.
Militants also struck in the country’s northwest. A bomb rigged to a bicycle exploded next to a police patrol on its way to guard a polio vaccination team. Six officers were killed as well as a boy who was nearby, said officer Shafiullah Khan.
Islamic militants have repeatedly targeted health workers carrying out anti-polio vaccinations and policemen who are supposed to protect them. In the last 24 hours alone ten people have been killed in connection with the anti-polio campaign.
The blast happened in the Charsadda district, just outside the provincial capital of Peshawar. The bomb also wounded 11 people, four of them tribal policemen, Khan said.
It was the second such attack in the past 24 hours. On Tuesday, gunmen killed three health workers in an attack on a polio vaccination team in the southern port city of Karachi.
Pakistan, one of only three countries in the world where the polio virus is still endemic, has seen relentless attacks on polio vaccination teams.
Militants oppose vaccinations against polio and consider such campaigns a cover for spying against Pakistan and a conspiracy to allegedly make male Muslim children sterile.
The vaccination campaign is also viewed with suspicion by many in Pakistan after a fake vaccination effort was used as a cover by the CIA in its pursuit of Osama bin Laden.
MENA News Headlines
|Mar 17 2014||UAE's Caramel to open new branch in Kenya ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) UAE-based hospitality operator Caramel Group said it plans to expand its business network to reach the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, according to Arabian Business.
The group plan to launch ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Oman's Duqm fishing harbor expected to complete by 2016 ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) The Omani Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said that a fishing harbour in Duqm, the largest in the country, is expected to launch in 2016, Times of Oman reported.
The Undersecretary ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Kia Motors Qatar to commence service promotion ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Kia Motors Qatar is to focus on enhancing the after sales service with the opening of 2014 Service Clinic called 'Newcomers', The Peninsula Qatar reported.
The service clinic will help in ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Qatar's IQ new units push petrochemical revenue ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Industries Qatar's newly launched facilities have pushed the group's revenue in its petrochemical segment last year, The Peninsula Qatar reported.
The Group logged the first full year of ...|
|Mar 17 2014||GCC's Automobile industry to grow 5.9 percent to 2017 ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Automobile industry is expected to flourish in the GCC countries as vehicle sales will reach 2 million units over the following few years, according to the Peninsula Qatar.
Vehicle sales ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Qatar to launch projects worth USD65b ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Qatar is planning to launch development projects worth USD65 billion in the country soon, The Peninsula Qatar reported.
The President of the Administrative Control and Transparency ...|
|Mar 17 2014||UAE's Emaar unit sales hits six-month high ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Emaar Properties PJSC logged its highest unit sales since September, as the developer of the world's tallest skyscraper plans a USD2.45 billion share sale of its shopping malls to reward ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Venezuela Primera Division Wrap: Zamora under siege, as Trujillanos, Mineros win ,Kora|
|(MENAFN - Kora) With Zamora's Round 10 game postponed due to the Barinas-based outfit's Copa Libertadores duties coming up on Tuesday, Trujillanos and Mineros both won to edge within two points of ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Costa Rica Primera Division Wrap: Perez Zeledon celebrate rare success ,Kora|
|(MENAFN - Kora)
Perez had not won since the opening round of the campaign and after going behind on the stroke of half-time, the cellar-dwellers looked set for yet another disappointing day.
|Mar 17 2014||KSA GDP growth hits 3.8 percent in 2013 ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) The governor of Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (central bank) said that the gross domestic product (GDP) in Saudi Arabia grew 3.8 percent last year, The Peninsula Qatar reported.
|Mar 17 2014||Juve written off in Europa League, claims Conte ,Kora|
|(MENAFN - Kora) Juve continued their charge to a third consecutive Serie A title with a 1-0 victory at Genoa on Sunday, three days after drawing 1-1 with Fiorentina in the last 16 of the Europa ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Dubai opens Dubai Association Center ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Dubai has announced the launching of "Dubai Association Center" that will help offer assistance for the establishment of International non-profit, professional associations, according to ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Two Bids for Doha Zoo Development Project ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) The Public Works Authority said on Sunday it tendered two bids for a project designed to develop the Doha Zoo, valuing 118.253 million riyals for setting the ground for ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Tunisian President Arrives in Riyadh ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) The Tunisian President Mahdi Jumaa flew in on Sunday on the second leg of a Gulf tour that he started in the UAE. Jumaa said before leaving Tunis that his trip is aimed ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Jordanian Royal Court Chief Meets Qatar's Ambassador ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Jordanian Royal Court Chief Dr. Fayez Tarawneh met Sunday evening with HE Qatar's Ambassador to Jordan Zayed bin Saeed Al Khayareen.
JODuring the meeting, they ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Meets Tunisian Premier ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met here on Sunday with the Tunisian Prime Minister ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Fuel Enters Gaza as Kerem Shalom Crossing Re-opened ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Deliveries of fuel to the Gaza Strip resumed on Sunday morning as Israeli authorities allowed the Kerem Shalom (Kerem Abu Salem) crossing to re-open, Palestinian crossing ...|
|Mar 17 2014||4 Worshippers Injured as Israeli Forces Storm Al-Aqsa ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Israeli special forces stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and injured four worshippers on Sunday morning, medical sources said. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli forces ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Arab League Condemns Killing of Egyptian Policemen ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Arab League Secretary-General Dr. Nabil Elaraby has strongly condemned the act of terrorism that took place in Shubra Al Khaima neighbourhood in Egypt claiming the lives ...|
|Mar 17 2014||Qatari Relief Aid Distributed to Syrian Refugees in Lebanon ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have distributed Qatari humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees in Friesian in Mount Lebanon Governorate. This ...|