Taliban Flaunts Terrorism Commitments by Appointing al-Qaida-Affiliated Governors

For more than 15 years, Qari Baryal has been on a special list of Washington’s “most-wanted” Taliban and al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan, accused of carrying out bombing and suicide attacks across the country.Baryal and the militants he oversaw were “i…

For more than 15 years, Qari Baryal has been on a special list of Washington’s “most-wanted” Taliban and al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan, accused of carrying out bombing and suicide attacks across the country.

Baryal and the militants he oversaw were “involved in the supervision of IED [improvised explosive device] production, suicide personnel allocation, and overall attack planning and execution” in Kabul and surrounding provinces, according to U.S. military reports.

In November 2021, two months after U.S. and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban appointed Baryal as the governor of Kabul province. In March 2022, he became the provincial governor for Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul.

Baryal is among those listed in a recent United Nations report as one of the Taliban’s leaders "affiliated" with al-Qaida. Besides Baryal, Nuristan Governor Hafiz Muhammad Agha Hakeem and Tajmir Jawad, the Taliban’s deputy director of intelligence, are also listed in the report.

“With the patronage of the Taliban, Al-Qaida members have received appointments and advisory roles in the Taliban security and administrative structures,” the U.N. Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team said in the report earlier in June. It called relations between the Taliban and al-Qaida “strong and symbiotic.”

According to the report, an estimated 400 al-Qaida fighters were in Afghanistan, and there are signs that the terrorist group “is rebuilding operational capability.”

The Taliban rejected the report, calling it “biased and far from reality.”

A statement posted on Twitter by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group “insists on its commitments and assures that there is no threat from the territory of Afghanistan to the region, neighbors and countries of the world and it does not allow anyone to use its territory against others.”

Taliban Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi also rejected the presence of any terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

“There are no terrorist groups in Afghanistan. They cannot operate in the country, and we don’t let them operate in Afghanistan,” he said at an event in May organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.

U.S. officials have long expressed skepticism over Taliban claims that they have distanced themselves from al-Qaida. When a U.S. drone killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri last July, he was found living in a home in a central neighborhood of the capital, Kabul.

The U.S. said his presence there demonstrated the Taliban had broken the 2020 Doha Agreement signed by the U.S. and the Taiban. By hosting and sheltering the al-Qaida leader, the Taliban violated commitments to not allow terrorists in Afghan territory threaten the security of other countries.

The Taliban “will send a clear message that those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies have no place in Afghanistan,” the agreement stated.

Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told VOA that by appointing "double-hatted" al-Qaida and Taliban leaders, including Baryal, who killed American troops, the Taliban “are openly flouting” the so-called peace agreement.

These appointments show that the Taliban “are not concerned about the perception of the international community,” Roggio said.

He said the Taliban “always lied” about their ties with al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, and that the group’s statements cannot be "trusted."

Roggio said Afghanistan could again become a training hub for the terrorist group.

“This is everything that al-Qaida can hope for. They have safe haven. They have support from the Taliban, who are in full control of the country,” he said.

But some experts do not think the country is becoming a magnet for foreign fighters.

Sami Yousafzai, a journalist who covered Afghanistan for years, told VOA he believes al-Qaida members now in Afghanistan are mainly Arabs, with just a few Afghan Taliban members who joined “out of necessity.”

“They had contacts with al-Qaida since they were living there, and they were protecting al-Qaida as they paid them,” he said.

Other regional experts say the region’s long military conflict between the Taliban and U.S.-led forces created loose alliances among regional militia groups.

Rahmatullah Andar, the former spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Security Council, told VOA that the Taliban groups in the districts have been hosting al-Qaida members for more than 20 years.

“Therefore, it is difficult to separate them. Not only with al-Qaida but also with the Pakistani Taliban,” he said.

Andar added that some Afghans were working with al-Qaida, but there were also some who were group members.

“They have the same worldview, the same goals and the same approach,” he said.

Back in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province, Baryal now posts Facebook videos showing his outreach to the local community as the Taliban government’s official representative.

Source: Voice of America

10 Killed, Six Injured As Lightning Struck Parts Of Pakistan’s Punjab

Ten people were killed and six others injured, when lightning struck parts of Pakistan’s east Punjab province yesterday, rescue officials said.The incidents happened in the Sheikhupura and Narowal districts of the province, where the lightning struck s…

Ten people were killed and six others injured, when lightning struck parts of Pakistan’s east Punjab province yesterday, rescue officials said.

The incidents happened in the Sheikhupura and Narowal districts of the province, where the lightning struck several houses after heavy rainfall, the state-run rescue organisation, Rescue 1122 said.

The injured people were shifted nearby, whereas the rescue teams have been put on high alert across the province to meet any untoward situation.

In a tweet yesterday, Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, said that, pre-monsoon rains are forecast across the country till Jun 30, during which strong winds, thunder, and heavy rain are expected in various cities of Punjab.

She mentioned that, the heavy rainfall has sparked concerns about flooding in urban areas and potential floods and landslides in mountainous regions.

“All concerned and local institutions have been instructed to be alert and tourists to be cautious. Citizens are requested to stay away from vulnerable infrastructure, power poles, and rivers, during strong winds and rains, to avoid any untoward incident,” Rehman added

Source: Nam News Network

One Killed, 11 Injured In House Attack In NW Pakistan

At least one person was killed and 11 others injured yesterday, in an attack on a house in Bannu district of Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, police told media.Police said that, the incident took place in Mera Khel area of the dist…

At least one person was killed and 11 others injured yesterday, in an attack on a house in Bannu district of Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, police told media.

Police said that, the incident took place in Mera Khel area of the district, early in the morning, when unknown men attacked the residence of a local citizen with a couple of hand grenades, followed by firing, and fled.

The explosion left men, women and children injured, said police, adding that, the injured were shifted to a local hospital.

According to the reports, police registered the case, while the complainant told them that he had no enmity with anyone.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack yet

Source: Nam News Network

Pakistan’s Absence from Asian Kabaddi Championship Leaves Fans Surprised

Pakistan kabaddi team’s surprising absence from the 11th Asian Kabaddi Championship has sparked speculations among fans.The absence of Pakistan’s kabaddi team from the 11th Asian Kabaddi Championship has shocked the sporting world. After winning silve…

Pakistan kabaddi team’s surprising absence from the 11th Asian Kabaddi Championship has sparked speculations among fans.

The absence of Pakistan’s kabaddi team from the 11th Asian Kabaddi Championship has shocked the sporting world. After winning silver medals in the previous two editions, the team’s absence has left fans and enthusiasts perplexed.

The reasons for this surprising development have sparked much speculation. While official remarks have remained unclear, guesswork has focused on plausible explanations such as funding restrictions, internal issues, or strategic planning. The absence of the team raises concerns about the overall competition, as it leaves a lack of talent and tough competitiveness that the last two years’ runners-up would bring.

As the tournament approaches, the spotlight now shifts to other participating teams who will have the opportunity to make their mark and vie for the coveted championship title. The Pakistani team’s absence will undoubtedly be felt, and fans eagerly await further clarification on this perplexing and disappointing situation.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Pakistan Remains ‘Missing’ from IMF’s Executive Board Meeting Schedule

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board has issued meetings scheduled till 6th July 2023, but Pakistan is not on the agenda as the ninth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme remains pending, despite massive revision in…

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board has issued meetings scheduled till 6th July 2023, but Pakistan is not on the agenda as the ninth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme remains pending, despite massive revision in budget 2023-24 to convince the Fund.

The current IMF programme of $6.5 billion is scheduled to end on June 30, 2023, with around $2.6 billion remaining undisbursed.

According to the IMF Executive Board calendar available on its website, the next meetings are scheduled for June 27, 28, 29, July 5, and then on July 6, 2023. Pakistan is not on the agenda but it could be added in the event that the ninth review is declared a success.

As per the IMF Staff report “Pakistan: Seventh, and Eighth Reviews of the extended arrangement”, the proposed schedule for the ninth review was November 3, 2022, but was delayed due to the failure of the government to implement agreed time-bound conditions and structural benchmarks, as well as, violation of the spirit of the agreed seventh/ eighth review particularly with respect to controlling the rupee rate artificially without the necessary reserves to intervene in the market and extending unfunded subsidy.

The tenth review’s schedule as per the seventh/ eighth review documents was February 3, 2023, but the ninth review is yet to be completed.

The IMF Resident Representative in Pakistan last week through a text message stated that Staff remains engaged to discuss policies to maintain stability. However, the draft fiscal year 2024 Budget misses an opportunity to broaden the tax base in a more progressive way, and the long list of new tax expenditures reduces further the fairness of the tax system and undercuts the resources needed for greater support for vulnerable BISP recipients and development spending.

The new tax amnesty runs against the program’s conditionality and governance agenda and creates a damaging precedent. Measures to address the energy sector’s liquidity pressures could be included alongside the broader budget strategy. The IMF team stands ready to work with the government in refining this Budget ahead of its passage.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Pakistani Ambassador Visits FC Zurich in Switzerland

Pakistan’s ambassador in Switzerland, Aamer Shoukat visited Football Club Zurich to discuss potential collaborations between two nations in the field of football.Aamer Shoukat recently made a notable visit to Switzerland’s esteemed football club, FC Z…

Pakistan’s ambassador in Switzerland, Aamer Shoukat visited Football Club Zurich to discuss potential collaborations between two nations in the field of football.

Aamer Shoukat recently made a notable visit to Switzerland’s esteemed football club, FC Zurich. The ambassador was warmly received by Ancillo Canepa, the club’s president, as they engaged in discussions regarding potential support for Pakistani footballers and clubs.

This diplomatic encounter aimed to forge stronger ties and explore avenues for collaboration in the realm of football between the two nations.

During the visit, Ambassador Shoukat also had the pleasure of meeting a promising young footballer, Sajjawal, who proudly represents both Pakistan and Switzerland as part of FC Zurich’s under-17 team.

This interaction hints at a potential development of talent within Pakistan’s football landscape as well as further emphasizes the commitment to foster bilateral relations through the universal language of football.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Punjab Police Issues Driver’s Licenses to 62 Transsexual Drivers

In a new “first”, the Punjab government has provided driver’s licenses to 62 transsexual individuals. The move is to encourage all individuals to get their driver’s licenses and carry them at all times.Media reports state that the candidates received …

In a new “first”, the Punjab government has provided driver’s licenses to 62 transsexual individuals. The move is to encourage all individuals to get their driver’s licenses and carry them at all times.

Media reports state that the candidates received training at the Punjab police driving schools. Pertinently, the Inspector General (IG) of Punjab Police Dr. Usman Anwar stated that the department now has 64 driving schools in Punjab, up from 32 last year.

The department issued 1.6 million driver’s licenses this year, up from just 600,000 last year. Furthermore, it issued 400,000 licenses in June 2023, compared to 100,000 during the same month last year.

Liberty Driving Licencing Centre in Lahore granted 16,000 licenses in June 2023, compared to 2,000 issued last year. Additionally, Rawalpindi issued a whopping 916,000 licenses this year, compared to 5,000 last year, whereas Faisalabad issued 13,000 this year, compared to just 4,000 last year.

According to IG Punjab, every Pakistani citizen who possesses a national identity card can now conveniently obtain a license from any licensing center in Punjab, or renew it upon its expiration.

Feature Image Credit: The Express Tribune

Source: Pro Pakistani

Pakistan’s first music policy prepared to resolve issues of piracy, copyrights: Marriyum

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb says the draft of Pakistan’s first music policy has been prepared to resolve issues of industry especially piracy and copyrights.In a statement, she said music industry will be revived throu…

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb says the draft of Pakistan's first music policy has been prepared to resolve issues of industry especially piracy and copyrights.

In a statement, she said music industry will be revived through this new policy.

The Minister said public performance, production, distribution, duration, mechanical and communication rights have been included in legal framework by offering several privileges and facilitation to industry.

She said music policy will greatly tackle issue of users and licences rights. The steps will also be taken against monopolization to protect basic legal rights of music workers.

The Minister said music policy has been prepared as per laws of neighboring countries and international laws as well.

She said initiatives for local and folk music in regional languages are also part of the policy.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said through this policy, steps will be taken to protect and promote the great heritage of Pakistani music.

She said the country and music industry has been facing great loss due to theft of music and intellectual rights.

Source: Radio Pakistan