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Posts tagged ‘Confused Land of Pakistan’

UN adds leader of outlawed Pakistan group to sanctions list

May 02, 2019

ISLAMABAD (AP) — In a major diplomatic win for India, the United Nations added the leader of an outlawed Pakistani militant group to its sanctions blacklist Wednesday after the group claimed responsibility for a February suicide attack in disputed Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers.

Sanctions against Masood Azhar were confirmed by Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal at an urgently held news conference in Islamabad. Azhar’s addition to the Security Council’s Islamic State and al-Qaida blacklist includes a travel ban and freeze on his assets as well as an arms embargo.

The development came less than three months after Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammad group claimed responsibility for the Feb. 14 attack in Kashmir, which is split between the two countries and is claimed by both in its entirety. The clashes brought the two nuclear rivals to the brink of war.

India had intensified its lobbying to have Azhar blacklisted after the killing of its soldiers and New Delhi quickly welcomed the Security Council decision. Sanctions against Azhar had been delayed because Security Council member China had blocked them on three previous occasions. But the council went ahead after China no longer objected.

Azhar was blacklisted for his leadership of the al-Qaida-linked Jaish-i-Mohammad. The official listing by the U.N. sanctions committee said the 50-year-old Azhar was associated with al-Qaida by supporting its activities including by supplying arms and recruiting members, and for financially supporting Jaish-i-Mohammed after he was released from prison in India in 1999 in exchange for 155 passengers on an Indian Airlines flight hijacked to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

As a group, Jaish-i-Mohammed had been put on the sanctions blacklist in 2001 for its ties to “Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban.” The U.N. listing noted that 2008 recruitment posters for Jaish-i-Mohammed “contained a call from Azhar for volunteers to join the fight in Afghanistan against Western forces.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter that “today is a day that would make every Indian proud! I thank the global community and all those who believe in humanitarian values for their support.”

Days after the Feb. 14 Kashmir attack, India responded by launching an airstrike in northwest Pakistan that caused no casualties. Pakistan then responded on Feb. 27 by shooting down two Indian warplanes and capturing a pilot, who was later returned.

Timely intervention by the international community defused tensions between the two South Asian nuclear powers, who have fought three wars since gaining independence in 1947. Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, said the Trump administration commends the decision to sanction Azhar. Azhar’s sanctioning comes weeks after Washington said it was seeking to have him put on the U.N. blacklist. Pakistan is a key ally of the U.S. in its fight against extremism.

A senior U.S. administration official told reporters that “after 10 years China has done the right thing by lifting its hold on this designation.” The official, who insisted on speaking anonymously, said Britain and France joined the U.S. in putting pressure on China after the Feb. 14 attack, and Beijing seems to have understood “that it is increasingly important that its actions on the international stage on terrorism matched its rhetoric.”

The official said the Trump administration is watching to see if Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment to crack down on militants in the country “will translate into irreversible steps to end terrorist and militant safe havens inside Pakistan.”

Khan has ordered the takeover of assets and property of Jaish-i-Mohammed and dozens of banned militant organizations that operate in Pakistan. Bushra Aziz, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Embassy to the U.S. in Washington, said the country is resolved to countering terrorism and claims that no other country can match Pakistan’s efforts in the fight. Aziz said terrorism is a menace to the world and also criticized India’s actions against residents of Kashmir.

Pakistan has said authorities have detained dozens of people suspected of involvement in the Kashmir attack after receiving a file with intelligence on the attack from New Delhi. Pakistan said its probe did not establish any direct link between Azhar or his group and the attack that killed the Indian soldiers. However, Islamabad has sought more evidence from New Delhi so that it can act against Azhar and his group.

Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed reported in Islamabad and AP writer Ashok Sharma reported from New Delhi, India. AP writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.

Iran’s foreign minister in Pakistan amid tensions with US

May 24, 2019

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Iran’s foreign minister lashed out at President Donald Trump on Friday during a critically timed visit to Pakistan amid a simmering crisis between Tehran and Washington and ahead of next week’s emergency Arab League meeting called by Saudi Arabia over the region’s tensions.

The remarks by Mohammad Javad Zarif were the latest in a war of words between him and Trump. The Iranian diplomat on Friday assailed the American president for his tweet earlier this week warning Iran not to threaten the U.S. again or it would face its “official end.”

“Iran will see the end of Trump, but he will never see the end of Iran,” Zarif was quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency as saying during a visit to Islamabad. Tensions have ratcheted up recently in the Mideast as the White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran. And on Thursday, the Pentagon outlined proposals to the White House to send military reinforcements to the Middle East to beef up defenses against Iran.

The purpose of Zarif’s visit to Pakistan, where he held talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi and also Prime Minister Imran Khan, was not made public. But there has been speculation that Iran is looking to Islamabad and its close relationship with Riyadh to help de-escalate the situation. Ahead of Zarif’s arrival, Pakistan’s foreign ministry called on “all sides to show restraint, as any miscalculated move, can transmute into a large-scale conflict.”

Zarif has been criticized this week by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who named him and President Hassan Rouhani as failing to implement the leader’s orders over Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Khamenei had claimed the deal had “numerous ambiguities and structural weaknesses” that could damage Iran.

Separately, the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Zarif in Islamabad as warning of anarchy if world powers don’t unite to stop what he called U.S. aggression — Iran’s official parlance for Washington’s pressure on Tehran.

The crisis takes root in the steady unraveling of the nuclear deal, intended to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The accord promised economic incentives in exchange for restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The Trump administration pulled America out of the deal last year, and subsequently re-imposed and escalated U.S. sanctions on Tehran — sending Iran’s economy into freefall. Khamenei’s criticism of Zarif signaled a hard-line tilt in how the Islamic Republic will react going forward amid President Donald Trump’s maximalist pressure campaign.

Iran declared earlier this month that the remaining signatories to the deal — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — have two months to develop a plan to shield Iran from American sanctions. On Monday, Iran announced it had quadrupled its production capacity of low-enriched uranium, making it likely that Tehran will soon exceed the stockpile limitations set by the nuclear accord, which would escalate the situation further.

Several incidents have added to the crisis. On Thursday, Saudi Arabia said Yemen’s Iran-aligned rebels again targeted an airport near its southern border with a bomb-carrying drone. The Saudi military said it intercepted the drone, while the rebel Houthis said it struck a Patriot missile battery at the airport. The Houthis have claimed three times in recent days to have targeted the airport, which also hosts a military base. It comes after the Houthis last week targeted a Saudi oil pipeline in a coordinated drone attack.

Pakistan was quick to condemn the attacks and promised Saudi Arabia, a staunch ally, its full support. The kingdom this week announced a $3.2 billion deferred oil and gas payment package for energy-strapped Islamabad.

With neighboring Iran, Pakistan walks a fine line and their relationship is sometimes prickly. Islamabad has little leverage with Washington, although relations between the two have improved since Pakistan expressed readiness to help move talks between the Afghan Taliban and Washington forward.

IRNA also reported that Zarif came to Pakistan with a proposal to link Iran’s port of Chabahar on the Arabian Sea with Pakistan’s Gwadar port, mostly being developed by China as part of the multi-billion-dollar One Road project that will connect the Arabian Sea with China.

The proposal is unexpected because Pakistan’s rival India has been Iran’s partner in developing Chabahar while Iran’s key regional rival, Saudi Arabia, has been in talks to develop an oil refinery facility at Pakistan’s Gwadar, though no agreements have been signed.

Meanwhile, Oman’s Foreign Ministry said it was working to “ease the tensions” between Iran and the U.S. The ministry in a series of tweets on Friday morning attributed the comments to Yusuf bin Alawi, the sultanate’s minister of state for foreign affairs, and cited an interview in Asharq Al-Wasat, the London-based newspaper owned by a Saudi media group long associated with the Al Saud royal family.

In the interview, bin Alawi warns war “could harm the entire world if it breaks out.” He doesn’t confirm any current Omani mediation but says both the U.S. and Iran realize the gravity of the situation.

Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said spoke last week by telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Oman, a nation on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, has long been an interlocutor of the West with Iran. The U.S. held secret talks in Oman with the Iranians that gave birth to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Vahdat reported from Tehran, Iran. Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.

IOC revokes shooting event status over Pakistan visa refusal

February 22, 2019

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee has revoked the Olympic qualification status of a 25-meter shooting event in New Delhi because Indian officials refused to grant entry visas to two Pakistani athletes and an official.

The IOC said Thursday it was informed on Monday that the Indian government authorities did not grant entry visas to the Pakistani delegation for the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol event at the ISSF World Cup, where two places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics were meant to be at stake.

The IOC said it only withdrew the Olympic qualification status from the competition in which the two Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate. There are 500 athletes from 61 countries who are already in India for other World Cup events.

“Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute joint efforts by the IOC, the ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) and the Indian NOC (National Olympic Committee), and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete,” the IOC said in a statement.

It did not say whether Pakistani athletes were entered in any other events at the competition. In a statement to the Press Trust of India news agency, Rajeev Mehta, the secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association, said Friday the IOA would approach the government again about the visas.

“It is a dangerous situation for all sport in the county,” Mehta was quoted as saying. “In addition to not being able to host events in India, there may be problems for our athletes to take part in international events.”

The IOC said the situation goes against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter to not discriminate against any athlete. The visa refusal comes amid escalated tensions between the two countries following last week’s deadly suicide bombing in Kashmir against Indian paramilitary troops. At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in Thursday’s attack, which New Delhi blamed on Islamabad.

Since independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which is divided between the two but claimed by each in its entirety.

Pakistan-India train service resumes as border tensions ease

March 04, 2019

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A key train service with neighboring India resumed and schools in Pakistani Kashmir opened Monday in another sign of easing tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals since a major escalation last week over the disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistan Railways spokesman Ejaz Shah said the train service, known as the Samjhauta Express, left the eastern city of Lahore for India’s border town of Atari, with some 180 passengers on board. Pakistan suspended the train service last week as tensions escalated following India’s airstrike on Tuesday inside Pakistan. India said it targeted militants behind a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.

Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a fighter jet the next day and detaining its pilot, who was returned to India two days later. Also Monday, schools in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir opened after seven days of closure amid the heightened tensions.

Raja Jaleel, head teacher at a secondary school in Chakothi, which is close to the Line of Control border in the disputed region, said classes resumed but attendance was thin. He lauded the courage of the students who attended, as many of the area’s parents are keeping their children home for their safety.

“We have started our day with prayers for peace,” said the head teacher, adding that the students also chanted slogans in support of the army. Schools were closed when Indian and Pakistani troops were trading fire across the Line of Control. At least eight civilians and two soldiers have been killed in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir since tensions soared following India’s airstrike last Tuesday.

The reopening of schools on the Pakistani side of Kashmir and the resumption of the train service amid the lull in the crossfire for the second consecutive day suggests that the two nuclear-armed rivals have heeded international calls to exercise restraint. But Pakistan hasn’t yet opened its airspace for flights to or from the east.

Senior civil aviation official Aamir Mahboob said that there was “no change yet in our aviation policy toward east but the west corridor is open for all flights.” After the suicide bombing on Feb 14 in the Pulwama district of Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian jets crossed into Pakistani Kashmir and then into the Balakot section of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where they dropped bombs. India claimed its jets struck the militants behind the Pulwama attack. Pakistan denied that any such militant base existed in the area or that was hit by jets. Next day Pakistan shot down two Indian jets and detained a pilot who landed on the Pakistani side. He was handed back to India in a gesture of peace two days later.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947. Both countries claim the territory in its entirety and have fought two of their three wars over it. The rivals struck a cease-fire deal in 2003 but regularly trade cross-border fire.

Mughal reported from Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. Associated Press writer Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Pakistan, India trade fire in Kashmir; villagers flee homes

February 28, 2019

MUZAFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) — India and Pakistan exchanged gunfire through the night into Thursday morning in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, a day after Islamabad said it shot down two Indian warplanes and captured a pilot.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, though jetfighters roared overhead through the mountainous region as villagers along the so-called Line of Control fled to safety. Meanwhile, members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharitiya Janata Party called for more military action, suggesting the conflict still could worsen. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had called for talks between the two nuclear-armed rivals in a televised address Wednesday, saying: “Considering the nature of the weapons that both of us have, can we afford any miscalculation?”

World powers have called on the nations to de-escalate the tensions gripping the contested region since a Feb. 14 suicide car bombing killed over 40 Indian paramilitary personnel. India responded with an airstrike Tuesday inside Pakistan, the first such raid since the two nations’ 1971 war over territory that later became Bangladesh.

The situation escalated with Wednesday’s aerial skirmish, which saw Pakistan say it shot down two Indian aircraft, one of which crashed in Pakistan-held part of Kashmir and the other in India-controlled Kashmir.

India acknowledged one of its MiG-21s, a Soviet-era fighter jet, was “lost” in skirmishes with Pakistan and that its pilot was “missing in action.” India also said it shot down a Pakistani warplane, something Islamabad denied.

Pakistan’s military later circulated a video of a man with a mustache who identified himself as the Indian pilot, sipping tea and responding to questions, mostly by saying, “You know I can’t answer that.” He appeared in good health as he was questioned about his hometown, his aircraft and his mission.

Both Indian and Pakistani officials reported small-arms fire and shelling along the Kashmir region into Thursday. Government buildings in Muzafarabad, the capital of the Pakistan-controlled section of Kashmir, were used to provide shelter to those who fled from border towns.

Indian army spokesman Lt. Col. Devender Anand described the intensity of the firing as “lesser” than previous nights. Authorities in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir closed all schools and educational institutions in the region and are urged parents to keep their children at home amid mounting tension with neighboring India. Pakistan’s airspace remained closed for a second day Thursday, snarling air traffic.

Meanwhile, India’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley, suggested at a news conference Wednesday that Indian special forces carry out secret missions to capture terrorist leaders in Pakistan, invoking the 2011 U.S. Navy Seal operation to kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

“I remember when U.S. Navy Seals went to Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden, then why can’t India?” he asked. “This used to be only an imagination, a wish, a frustration and disappointment. But it’s possible today.”

Just weeks before general elections are due in India, the head of Modi’s party in India’s Karnataka state, B.S. Yeddyurappa, said India’s pre-dawn airstrikes in Pakistan on Tuesday would help the party at the polls.

The violence Wednesday marked the most serious escalation of the long-simmering conflict since 1999, when Pakistan’s military sent a ground force into Indian-controlled Kashmir at Kargil. That year also saw an Indian fighter jet shoot down a Pakistani naval aircraft, killing all 16 on board.

Kashmir has been claimed by both India and Pakistan since almost immediately after their creation in 1947. The countries have fought three wars against each other, two directly dealing with the disputed region.

Hussain reported from Srinagar, India. Associated Press writers Ashok Sharma in New Delhi and Kathy Gannon and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Separatists attack Chinese Consulate in Pakistan, killing 4

November 23, 2018

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Armed separatists stormed the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi on Friday, triggering an intense hour-long shootout during which two Pakistani civilians, two police officers and all three assailants were killed, Pakistani officials said.

The killed Pakistani civilians were a father and a son had come to the consulate to pick up their visas to China, police said. The brazen assault, claimed by a militant group from the southwestern province of Baluchistan, reflected the separatists’ attempt to strike at the heart of Pakistan’s close ties with major ally China, which has invested heavily into road and transportation projects in the country, including in Baluchistan.

All the Chinese diplomats and staff at the consulate were safe and were not harmed during the attack or the shootout, senior police official Ameer Ahmad Sheikh said. They were evacuated from the area shortly after and taken to a safe place.

Following the attack, China asked Pakistan to beef up security at the mission. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China would not waver in its latest big project in Pakistan — the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — and expressed confidence that Pakistan could ensure security.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attack, describing it as part of a conspiracy against Pakistan and China’s economic and strategic cooperation. Khan lauded the Karachi police and the paramilitary rangers, saying they showed exceptional courage in defending the consulate and that the “nation salutes the martyrs.”

He also ordered an investigation and vowed that such incidents would never be able to undermine relations with China, which are “mightier than the Himalayas and deeper than the Arabian Sea.” The attackers stormed the consulate shortly after 9 a.m., during business hours. They first opened fire at consulate guards and hurled grenades, then managed to breach the main gate and enter the building, said Mohammad Ashfaq, a local police chief.

Pakistani security forces quickly surrounded the area. Local TV broadcast images showing smoke rising from the building, which also serves as the residence of Chinese diplomats and other staff. Multiple blasts were heard soon afterward but Sheikh could not say what they were. The shootout lasted for about an hour.

“Because of a quick response of the guards and police, the terrorists could not” reach the diplomats, Sheikh said after the fighting ended. “We have completed the operation.” He added that one of the attackers was wearing a suicide vest and that authorities would try and identify the assailants through fingerprints. Dr Seemi Jamali, a spokeswoman at the Jinnah Hospital, said a consulate guards was also wounded in the attack and was being treated at the hospital.

Geng, the Chinese spokesman, said the attackers hadn’t managed to get into the consulate itself, and that the exchange of fire took place outside the building. The discrepancy with the Pakistani officials’ reports could not be immediately reconciled.

Elsewhere in Pakistan on Friday, a powerful bomb at an open-air food market in the Orakzai region of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan, killed 25 people and wounded dozens of others, said police official Tahir Ali.

Most of the victims in the attack in the town of Klaya were minority Shiite Muslims. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. Orakzai has been the scene of several militant attacks in recent years, mostly by Pakistani Sunni militants, who revile Shiites as apostates.

In its claim of responsibility for the Karachi attack, the Baluch Liberation Army said it was fighting “Chinese occupation” and released photos of the three attackers. This was the second attack this year by Baluch separatists in Pakistan. Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, which borders Baluchistan, has a presence of several militant groups, including Baluch separatists.

In August, a suicide bomber rammed into a bus ferrying Chinese workers to the Saindak mining project in southwestern Baluchistan, wounding five workers. The project is controlled by the Chinese state-owned Metallurgical Corporation of China. And in May, gunmen opened fire on two Chinese nationals in Karachi, killing one and wounding the other.

Friday’s attack was an uptick in the level of violence perpetrated by the Baluch separatist, said Amir Rana, executive director of the independent Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies. So far this year, the Baluch Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for 12 attacks against security personnel guarding projects linked to the so-called Chinese Pakistan Economic Corridor as well as to the infrastructure.

In a letter dated Aug. 15, the group released a letter warning China against the “exploitation of Baluchistan’s mineral wealth and occupation of Baluch territory.” The letter was addressed to China’s ambassador to Pakistan.

But, Rana said, both China and Pakistan have calculated the security risks, which include the threats from the Baluch separatist. “I don’t see that this will have any impact on the Chinese projects in Pakistan. These threats were already on Pakistan and China’s threat radar,” he said.

The attack will compel China to step-up security around its people in Pakistan and increase cooperation with the local authorities, said Zhao Gancheng of the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Studies. But he said that would not sway China’s government and Chinese firms from expanding their footprint abroad, even while they take additional precautions.

“As more and more Chinese people go abroad, and more and more Chinese investment goes overseas, the security situation of the destination countries has become a very important element for consideration,” Zhao told The Associated Press.

China is a longtime ally and has invested heavily in transport projects in Pakistan. The two countries have strengthened ties in recent years and China is currently building a network of roads and power plants under a project known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC.

The Baluchistan separatists have for years fought a low level insurgency in Pakistan, demanding a greater share of the province’s wealth and natural resources In a rare statement about attacks in Pakistan, neighboring India condemned the assault on the Chinese Consulate, saying that “there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism.”

New Delhi also said “perpetrators of this heinous attack should be brought to justice expeditiously.” Pakistan has long accused India of supporting Baluch separatists. The two countries have a history of bitter relations and have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region of Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed and Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan; Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.

India, Pakistan clash in UN over support for terrorists

September 30, 2018

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — India’s foreign minister accused neighboring Pakistan of harboring terrorists in an angry speech Saturday before the U.N. General Assembly and rejected the notion that India is sabotaging peace talks with Pakistan, calling it “a complete lie.” Hours later, Pakistan shot back in its own speech, accusing India of financing terrorists and declaring that New Delhi “preferred politics over peace.”

India’s Sushma Swaraj pointed to the fact that Osama bin Laden had been living quietly in Pakistan before he was found and killed by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs, and said the mastermind of the 2008 attack in Mumbai in which 168 people died “still roams the streets of Pakistan with impunity.” Pakistan has said there is not enough evidence to arrest him.

“In our case, terrorism is bred not in some faraway land, but across our border to the west,” Swaraj said. “Our neighbor’s expertise is not restricted to spawning grounds for terrorism, it is also an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity.”

Swaraj and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi were supposed to meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly this week. India called it off only one day after it was announced, following the killing of an Indian border guard in the disputed region of Kashmir.

The two South Asian nations, always uneasy neighbors, face off under particularly tense conditions in that region at a “line of control” that cuts through a rugged mountain range. The announcement of the planned meeting had been considered an encouraging sign for restarting stalled talks between the nuclear-armed neighbors. New Delhi had agreed to hold the meeting in response to a letter from newly-elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has written his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, stressing the need for positive change, a mutual desire for peace and a readiness to discuss terrorism.

“We accepted the proposal,” Swaraj said. “But within hours of our acceptance, news came that terrorists had killed one of our jawans. Does this indicate a desire for dialogue?” Qureshi said it was the third time that the current Indian administration had called off talks, “each time on flimsy grounds.”

He said in his speech that “Pakistan continues to face terrorism that is financed, facilitated and orchestrated by our eastern neighbor.” He referred to extremist attacks in his home country, including one at an army school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 that killed more than 150 children, which he said were perpetrated by “terrorists supported by India.”

Qureshi’s afternoon speech prompted a vehement response from India, which exercised its right of reply at the end of the daylong meeting and accused Pakistan of spreading “fake allegations and fake facts.” Pakistan, in turn, responded by accusing India of “practicing terrorism as an instrument of state policy.”

Since independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, divided between the two countries but sought by each in its entirety. “The unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute hinders the realization of the goal of durable peace between the two countries,” Qureshi said. “For over 70 years it has remained on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council and a blot on the conscience of humanity.”

He welcomed the release of a report earlier this year by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that mentioned “chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces” in Kashmir. The report was written without visiting the region as both sides refused to grant unconditional access to the investigators. India at the time rejected it as a selective compilation of largely unverified information.

The U.N. has had a peacekeeping mission in the region since 1949, making it one of the world body’s longest-running peacekeeping operations. It is currently one of the smallest, with about 120 troops as of last month.

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed.

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