Sunday, June 4, 2017

Unsure of U.S., Asia builds new alliances to counter China

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/05/asia-pacific/unsure-u-s-asia-builds-new-alliances-counter-china/#.WTT-62nhXqA



REUTERS

JUN 5, 2017

SINGAPORE – Several Asian nations are seeking to bolster informal alliances among themselves, regional diplomats and officials said, unsettled by growing fears that the United States could not be relied on to maintain a buffer against China’s assertiveness.

Countries including Australia, Japan, India and Vietnam are quietly stepping up discussions and cooperation, although taking care they do not upset Beijing, the diplomats said. No one was yet talking about a formal alliance.

Inaugurating the weekend Shangri-La Dialogue, the region’s premier security forum, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “In this brave new world we cannot rely on great powers to safeguard our interests.

“We have to take responsibility for our own security and prosperity, while recognizing we are stronger when sharing the burden of collective leadership with trusted partners and friends.”

His comments resonated through the three-day meeting that ended Sunday.

Regional officials and analysts said there was growing mistrust of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, especially because of his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on trade and then, last week, the pullout from the Paris climate accord.

Many fear Trump is signaling a deeper retreat from a traditional U.S. security role that has underpinned the region for decades.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Singapore forum that Washington remained committed to the region and insisted it would oppose China’s militarization of the disputed South China Sea, one of Asia’s most volatile hot spots.

Regional officials said they were worried by Trump’s unpredictability and concerned that his warm praise of Chinese President Xi Jinping after their first summit meeting in April would influence any decisions on Asia.

“We trust Mattis and we trust (U.S. Pacific Command chief Harry) Harris but at the very top? The trust gap is very wide,” said one senior Asian military officer.

“Our fear is driven by the reality that it is only the U.S. that is powerful enough to set red lines with China.”

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Asia was still trying to figure out Trump’s policy in the region.

“I would like to know very clearly what are the true intentions of the new administration,” he said.

In broad terms, Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen confirmed accelerated cooperation among partners, but he also said he welcomed Mattis’ reassurances.

“Countries look at the landscape and you adjust, and that’s what good leadership does … you put yourself in a position so if there are changes, you are not caught completely off guard,” Ng said at a news conference Sunday.

Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Malaysia and Singapore re-energized their Five Powers Defense Agreement over the weekend, with officials saying they wanted to better link new military capabilities, as well as boosting counterterrorism efforts and maritime security.

Tim Huxley, a regional security expert, wrote in a newspaper article last week that the five countries needed to improve the interoperability of their militaries as the regional balance of power shifted.

While China was becoming richer and more assertive, U.S. strategy and policy had entered “a period of, at best, uncertainty under President Donald Trump,” he said.

“Amid this uncertainty, most states in the region are seeking to increase their military capabilities,” he added.

India did not send a government delegation to the Shangri-La forum but has been active in strengthening cooperation in the region.

It sent four ships and a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to naval exercises with Singapore last month, and is discreetly improving Vietnam’s defenses. Several Indian defense companies attended the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference in Singapore last month, including the manufacturers of short-range missiles.

New Delhi rejected an Australian request to join its Malabar naval exercises next month with Japan and the United States for fear of antagonizing China, which has warned against expanding the drills, navy officials and diplomats said.

But officials say the exercises will expand gradually, noting that India has bilateral defense agreements with countries including Australia, Singapore and Vietnam.

“There are different strands of cooperation. At some point they will come together,” one Indian official said.

Beijing sent a low-key delegation to the Shangri-La forum this year, but its officials were warily watching developments and warning of “Cold War thinking” behind moves to strengthen alliances.

“It’s a Cold War mentality to use alliances to check on China,” said senior Col. Zhao Xiaozhuo, of the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Science.

“It’s creating some sort of threat and using China as a threat is a huge mistake

Shangri-La: Australia Warns Against 'Coercive' China; Mattis Tries to Reassure Allies

https://international.thenewslens.com/article/69948


Malcolm Turnbull|Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

Agence France-Presse

  

China has nothing to gain by strong-arming its way in the Asia-Pacific, Australia's prime minister said Friday, warning that a "coercive" Beijing would only face resentment in the region.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, speaking at a regional security conference in Singapore, said it was inevitable that China play a bigger regional role to match its rising economic weight, but cautioned against threatening its smaller neighbors.

Turnbull's address at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual defense and security summit, follows China's moves to build a series of artificial islands on shoals and reefs in contested waters in the South China Sea, which has sparked concern among its neighbors.

Beijing claims almost the entire sea, pitting it against the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam which have partial claims.

"A coercive China would find its neighbors resenting demands they cede their autonomy and strategic space, and look to counterweight Beijing's power by bolstering alliances and partnerships, between themselves and especially with the United States," said Turnbull.

"Just as modern China was founded in 1949 on an assertion of national sovereignty, so will 21st century China best succeed by respecting the sovereignty of others and in so doing build a reservoir of trust and cooperation with its neighbors," he added.

Turnbull also urged Beijing to help bring North Korea "to its senses" and exercise its influence over Pyongyang.

On Monday the North test-fired a ballistic missile for the third time in less than three weeks, its 12th this year.

"The North Korean regime, the Pyongyang government, is endangering the peace of the region and indeed the peace of the world by conduct that is persistently reckless, dangerous and indeed unlawful," Turnbull said.

Turnbull also said that countries in the region should not see US President Donald Trump's recent decisions to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact and the Paris climate agreement as disengagement from the global community.

"While these decisions are disappointing, we should take care not to rush to interpret an intent to engage on different terms as one not to engage at all," he said.

Mattis reassures allies as US turns to China on N. Korea

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis moved to reassure Asian allies Saturday that the United States can work with China on reining in North Korea's nuclear weapons program without compromising its opposition to Beijing's continued "militarisation" of the South China Sea.

President Donald Trump -- who frequently denounced China on the campaign trail -- has turned to Beijing to help pressure Pyongyang, prompting broad concerns that America will go easy on China's maritime activities.

Longstanding partners are also mortified that Trump has seemed indifferent to traditional alliances, and have interpreted his pulling out of a trans-Pacific trade deal and the Paris climate accords as signs of broader American disengagement.

Mattis, arguably Trump's most important statesman as the new president hopes to slash the State Department, tried to allay the fears.

"In the security arena, we have a deep and abiding commitment to reinforcing the rules-based international order, a product of so many nations' efforts to create stability," Mattis said in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major defense summit for countries from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Calling North Korea's nuclear ambitions a "threat to us all," Mattis asked the international community to come together on the issue.

It is "imperative that we do our part each of us to fulfill our obligations and work together to support our shared goal of denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula," Mattis said.

"The Trump administration is encouraged by China's renewed commitment to work with the international community toward denuclearisation," he added.

Pyongyang on Monday test-fired another rocket, the latest in a series of launches and atomic tests that have ratcheted up tensions over its quest to develop weapons capable of hitting the United States - something Trump has said "won't happen."

The defense chief spoke directly to concerns America might grant concessions to China to ensure cooperation on North Korea, saying the issue was not "binary" and that the United States would continue to pressure Beijing elsewhere.

"Artificial island construction and indisputable militarisation of facilities on features in international waters undermine regional stability," Mattis said, calling China out over its "disregard for international law" and "contempt for other nations' interests."

The US Navy on May 25 conducted a "freedom of navigation" operation in the South China Sea, when the USS Dewey guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, despite partial counter-claims from Taiwan and several Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

It has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes and other equipment.

'Unbeliever'

Summit delegates were clearly anguished by the South China Sea issue and Trump's intentions.

One questioner asked if the US president was an "unbeliever" in the rules-based regional order. Another wondered if he could be trusted given his "America First" pronouncements.

"Bear with us," Mattis said. "We will still be there, and we will be there with you."

Mattis was repeatedly asked about Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate pact. He did not address the issue directly but the Pentagon generally views climate change as a security threat, especially given its role in famines and mass relocations.

Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada later said she placed "full trust" in the United States, a sentiment echoed by Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne.

"I think actions speak as loud if not occasionally louder than words," Payne said, pointing out that Mattis's first international visit was to Japan and South Korea.

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said delegates were generally reassured.

"There's a consensus that the US message is very clear, not only from the point of view of the messaging, but the messenger," he said.

Lieutenant General He Lei, the head of China's delegation to the summit, said the "Asia-Pacific situation is generally safe and positive" but warned of "hotspot issues" flaring up from time to time.

"The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula keeps fermenting and remains complicated and unresolved," he said.

"Individual countries maintain their security through exclusive military alliances, base their security on other countries' insecurity and do not hesitate to stir up conflict and provoke trouble."

After meeting with President Xi Jinping in April, Trump, who once accused China of "raping" the US, praised its leader as a "good man," saying it would be inappropriate to pressure Beijing while Washington is seeking its help with Pyongyang.

International pressure ramped up on Pyongyang Friday as the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on 18 North Korean officials and entities.

Reporting by: Toh Ting Wei; Martin Abbugao; Thomas Watkins

Practical measures to avoid conflict at sea

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1049942.shtml


By Zhou Bo Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/4 23:13:39

The Asia-Pacific region today is the main engine of the world economy and peace and development are still the major trends in the region. Due to historic reasons, maritime territorial disputes are commonly found in the region and quite a few countries have disputes with more than one country. Therefore, it is not necessary to single out the South China Sea dispute between China and some ASEAN claimants. Currently the situation in the East China Sea and the South China Sea is by and large stable; no country wishes to aggravate disputes and there is no realistic threat of a massive conflict at sea.

How to avoid conflict at sea? We believe that:

Firstly, territorial disputes must be resolved through peaceful consultations and negotiations. China not only upholds this principle but also honors this principle in practice. Ever since reform and opening-up, China hasn't used its increased military strength to trigger any territorial disputes or conflicts. On the contrary, China has resolved land border issues with 12 neighboring countries, accounting for 90 percent of the Chinese land border. China has also resolved maritime delimitations in the Beibu Gulf with Vietnam. On the South China Sea issue, China and ASEAN claimants all agree to resolve their disputes through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned in accordance with universally recognized principles of international laws and 1982 UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) without use or threat of force. Encouragingly, China and the Philippines began the first round of direct bilateral talks on the South China Sea last month; and the senior diplomats of China and ASEAN reviewed and passed the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

Secondly, military activities in close proximity that could be perceived as unfriendly or even hostile should be reduced and avoided. From time to time we see maritime and air incidents in the EEZs caused by close-in surveillance and reconnaissance by certain countries in the name of "freedom of navigation." As early as in 1998, China made it clear that the PRC Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf meant that all states shall, on the premise that they comply with international law and the laws and regulations of the PRC, enjoy the freedom of navigation in and flight over its exclusive economic zone. About 100,000 ships transit through the South China Sea each year and no countries have complaint that the freedom of navigation of their merchant ships is affected. It is ludicrous to turn freedom of navigation into an issue and impose one's unilateral understanding of this concept upon others. 

Thirdly, the universally recognized international rules and norms must be observed. All countries must implement 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea and member states of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium should honor the 2014 Code of Conduct for Unplanned Encounters at Sea and follow good seamanship to avoid danger. The Chinese and the US military should further enhance the "Mutual Notification Mechanism of Major Military Activities" and "Rules of Behavior for Safety of Maritime and Air Encounters" to avoid conflict and confrontation.

Finally, dialogues and exercises aiming to avoid dangerous maritime and air military activities should be encouraged. The Chinese Ministry of Defense has established direct communication links with the US, Russia, ROK and Vietnam. In 1998, China and the US established a consultation mechanism to strengthen military maritime safety. Since 2008, China and Japan have conducted many rounds of consultations on establishing a maritime and air liaison mechanism. We hope the Japanese side will demonstrate flexibility and work in the same direction with China for an early conclusion of the mechanism. 

In 2011, China and Vietnam signed an agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of maritime issues existing between the two countries. So far 22 rounds of joint patrol are conducted in the Beibu Gulf. The Chinese military has attended all maritime security cooperation exercises under the ASEAN Regional Forum and ADMM-PLUS. We stand ready to explore the possibility of setting up a China-ASEAN defense communication link. Both sides are exploring the possibility of conducting joint maritime exercises next year. 

We believe that all these consultations, dialogues and cooperation have played a positive role in promoting maritime security and in avoiding maritime conflict.

This is an abstract of a speech by Zhou Bo, director for Security Cooperation of Office for International Military Cooperation, Ministry of National Defense, at the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogueopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Eastern Balochistan ‘neglected in CPEC’

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1427411/eastern-balochistan-neglected-cpec/


By Our Correspondent

Published: June 5, 2017

PHOTO: AFP

QUETTA: Former president Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Balochistan Mir Sadiq Ali Umrani has said that eastern Balochistan has been completely neglected in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

“Not a single project from the region has been included in the mega economic development project,” he told a press conference on Sunday.

Highlighting the canal irrigation system as the salient feature of the region, he said, “Eastern Balochistan plays an important role in the agriculture sector of the province.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Bilawal slams PML-N over power failures in Ramazan

He said the rulers did not even consider including a single district of the four districts – Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Sohbatpur and Jhal Magsi – of eastern Balochistan in the CPEC project despite its major importance in the agriculture sector.

Umrani, who is also a member of the Central Executive Committee of PPP, said that he had suggested Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri during a meeting to make rehabilitation of the canal system part of the CPEC project.

“Super flood of 2009-10 had badly damaged the canal system in the division,” he said, adding that though the government had tried to repair the system, it still requires work.

PPP is the party of all classes: Bilawal

Umrani urged to include Pat Feeder, Kirthar and other distributary canals in the CPEC project as well.

“Growers are not getting water in the tail-end area for their crops as the capacity of canals could not be improved due to embezzlement of funds allocated for the purpose,” Umrani said, adding that Kachhi canal project is another such project that has been affected by the embezzlement of funds.

Pointing out the worsening situation in the education sector, he said that girls were completing their intermediate studies in workshops with tin roofs.

Debunking myths on CPEC

Answering a question, he said, “PPP has its own vote bank in Nasirabad division and will be active in Balochistan in the upcoming election.”

Umrani said that PPP should elect a candidate for NA-260 (Quetta-cum-Chagai) seat in the by-election as the party had won this seat thrice in the past

Silk Road hub or tax haven? China's new border trade zone may be less than it seems

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN18V15Z

X

By Sue-Lin Wong and Mariya Gordeyeva | HORGOS, CHINA/KHORGOS, KAZAKHSTAN

On the border of China and Kazakhstan, an international free trade zone has become a showpiece of Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature "Belt and Road" Initiative to boost global trade and commerce by improving infrastructure and connectivity.

Chinese state media are filled with stories about the stunning success of Horgos, the youngest city of China's new Silk Road. Last month at China's Belt and Road Summit - its biggest diplomatic event of the year - promotional videos about Horgos' booming economy ran on a loop at the press centre.

But Chinese business owners and prospective investors who had recently visited the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center (ICBC), told Reuters they were disappointed by the disconnect between the hype and reality.

Rather than the vibrant 21st Century trading post of Beijing's grand vision, Horgos is instead developing a reputation as China's very own tax haven.

"We were so unimpressed by what we saw that after looking around for three hours, we turned around and drove eight hours straight back to Urumqi," said a businessman from the capital of China's far western region of Xianjiang, who only wanted to give his surname, Ma, due to the sensitivity of the topic.

Several business owners echoed complaints about poor design and low visitor numbers made by Ma, who visited Horgos to investigate the viability of opening a high-end clubhouse.

"You've got Kazakh farmers walking around with plastic bags full of cheap Chinese t-shirts and you want me to open a club for government officials and businessmen to meet inside the zone - which, by the way, you can't drive your car into and doesn't have any five-star hotels?" Ma said.

On the Chinese side of the border there are five malls selling cheap consumer goods, though traders complain there are not enough visitors.

"Sometimes I'll sit here for a whole day and not make a single sale," said Ma Yinggui, 56, who has a market stall selling clothes. "Some Kazakhs are rich but most are poor. They come and haggle over a 20 yuan ($2.93) t-shirt."

More than five years after the 5.3 sq km trade zone opened, much of the Kazakh side remains empty.

Only 25 of the 63 projects on the Kazakh side have investors, according to Ravil Budukov, ICBC press secretary on the Kazakh side. About 3-4,000 people enter from Kazakhstan each day and around 10,000 from China, he added.

The Xinjiang and Horgos governments declined to make officials available for comment to Reuters for this article.

Huang Sanping, a senior Xinjiang government official, told Reuters at a news conference in Beijing that he had just returned from a visit to Horgos, a city "performing extremely well. It's full of vitality and flourishing".

CHINA'S TAX HAVEN

Beijing has bestowed numerous tax breaks and preferential policies on Horgos hoping to stimulate growth in this strategic border town in Xinjiang, a key link on the new Silk Road between China and Central Asia, where the government says it is battling to defeat Islamist extremism.

According to Horgos' tax bureau, 2,411 companies registered in Horgos last year, taking advantage of five years of no company tax, and a further five years paying half rate.

At least half those companies are registered in Horgos solely for tax purposes, estimates Meng Shen, Director of Chanson & Co, a boutique investment bank in Beijing.

Chinese celebrities are opting to register production companies in Horgos and an increasing number of financial services and IT companies are also registering there, according to Guan Xuemei from Shenzhou Shunliban, a tax advisory firm that recently opened an office there.

But with no obligation to operate from Horgos or even in Xinjiang, it is unlikely this policy will create jobs or bring money to what has long been an economic backwater, say experts.

"In theory this is a good policy because it aims to stimulate the local economy," said Shen. "But Beijing didn't think through the fact lots of companies wouldn't actually want to operate from Horgos which is very far away from China's economic center."

Those who do trade in the "free trade zone" find they face restrictions from both sides.

The Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) - of which Kazakhstan is a member - limits traders from the Kazakh side to importing up to 50 kg (110 lbs) of any goods per month duty-free.

China bans imports of many food products - the Kazakh goods most desired by Chinese consumers worried about food safety at home - and caps traders from taking more than 8,000 yuan ($1,175) worth of goods out each day.

"The EEU is a significant barrier because Russia and Kazakhstan and other Central Asia countries want to develop their own industries, they don't want to constantly rely on cheap Chinese goods," said a former Chinese government official turned businessman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

ALSO IN BUSINESS NEWS

Dollar dented by jobs miss, London attacks hurt sterling; stocks subduedFresh safety concerns hang over global airlines conference

Mao Shishi, 44, who currently raises cattle in nearby Qingshuihe, wants to import wool and wild herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine from Kazakhstan to China through Horgos.

"I'm watching and waiting for any policy changes. Right now we can't import lamb, fish or wild herbs into China," Mao said.

LOGISTICS THOROUGHFARE

Plans to develop a parallel special economic zone in Khorgos - as it is known on the Kazakh side - as a logistics hub appear to be having more success.

Trade volumes are sky-rocketing at the Khorgos Gateway dry port in Kazakhstan, where container freight is lifted off Chinese trains and onto Kazakh ones because of different gauge rail tracks.

"According to our plans, this year we are going to trans-ship around 100,000 TEUs, five times more than we are doing now," said Asset Seisenbek, head of the commercial department at Khorgos Gateway, referring to "twenty-foot equivalent units", an industry measure based on standard shipping container sizes.

Electronics giants HP and Foxconn both ship goods through the dry port, which is faster than sea freight but cheaper than air cargo. One container sent by sea to Europe is about three times cheaper than rail, while air freight is between five to 10 times more expensive, according to Seisenbek.

Last month China's COSCO Shipping and Lianyungang port took a 49 percent stake in Khorgos Gateway which Seisenbek sees as an opportunity to attract more Chinese business.

This sort of investment is what Horgos/Khorgos should hang its hat on, according to Ma, the businessman underwhelmed by the international free trade zone.

"The free trade zone doesn't need to be that successful if the intercontinental trains and roads take off," he said. "In the grand scheme of things, that's the main role for this part of the world." ($1 = 6.8100 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong from HORGOS, China and Mariya Gordeyeva from KHORGOS, Kazakhstan; Additional reporting by Olzhas Auyezov in ALMATY and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Alex Richardson

AIOU plans to set up Chinese language centre at Gwadar

http://pakobserver.net/aiou-plans-set-chinese-language-centre-gwadar/

Islamabad

Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) will soon set up a Chinese Language and Culture Centre at Gwadar in collaboration with Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication (BIGC). A feasibility report to this effect is being prepared to establish the Centre at the earliest, according to a presss release on Sunday.
It will be an educational response to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Shahid Siddiqui. A Letter of intent has already been signed by the two sides to establish China’s Confucius Center here at the AIOU’s main Campus. The Gwadar’s Center will be first step forward to this direction to teach and popularize Chinese language in Pakistan.
Chinese language is going to play a key role in the region, promoting people-to-people contacts, due to the One Belt one Road’s initiative and the importance of CPEC. There is a need to develop educational corridor as well to supplement CPEC through the language’s connectivity, he added.
Language, literature and cultural influence the mind of the people and are used as a tool to promote harmony and collective well-being of the people, that is the essence of One Belt One Road’s initiative of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, the VC said. The proposed Language Centerhas been found viable, since the local community as well as the Pakistani manpower, engaged in CPEC have shown keen interest in its establishment.
As per the mutual agreement, BIGC will set up Chinese and the Urdu learning Centre at their respective institution in Beijing as well. The two sides will also start joint academic programmes particularly in the field of teachers’ training and the printing technology that is commonly used by the educational institutions to meet their academic requirements.
Both BIGC and AIOU have decided to start operating Confucius Institute from Gawadar and then further in Islamabad and other parts of the country like Gilgit, Skardu and Hunza. In this scenario, AIOU has conducted a need-assessment study to check the demand and need of Chinese Language and Culture among the local community in Gwadar. The response from students, teachers, workers and business community is highly encouraging.
Dr Zahid Majeed, Focal Person of the project from AIOU visited Gwadar early this week and met all the stakeholders, who assured their support in undertaking the project.
According to the Vice Chancellor, all possible efforts will be made to start the center as soon as possible with the support of the University’s regional office, local community and local administration, including Gwadar Development Authority.—APP

Quote of the day: Dr.Allah Nazar

Security forces foil major terror plot in Balochistan

https://www.geo.tv/latest/144551-security-forces-foil-major-terror-plot-in-balochistan




By

GEO NEWS

 

Sunday Jun 04, 2017

QUETTA: Under the ongoing Operation Raddul Fasaad, security forces foiled a major terror plot and killed 12 hardcore terrorists in Balochistan’s Mastung district, said the Inter-Services Public Relations. 

According to Pakistan Army’s media cell, the security forces conducted an Intelligence-based Operation in Splinji area of Mastung during the last two days.

The terrorists were hiding inside a cave for planning, coordination and execution of terrorist activities in Balochistan, stated the ISPR press release.

Five security officials including two officers also got injured in the crossfire.

Balochistan - Pakistan's largest province in terms of land area - has been plagued by an insurgency and sectarian killings for several years now. However, security forces have conducted effective operations across the province cracking down on militants.

This has led to a considerable drop in militancy in the province but scattered attacks are still reported at times.

Following the beginning of Op Raddul Fasaad, security forces have intensified intelligence-based and combing operations in the province in an effort to establish peace in the province

Two Hazara people gunned down in Quetta

https://www.dawn.com/news/1337383/two-hazara-people-gunned-down-in-quetta


Syed Ali ShahPublished about 2 hours ago

Unidentified armed men opened fire and killed a Hazara man and woman in Quetta's Spini Road area on Sunday evening.

Police said the attackers opened fire and killed a man and woman belonging to Hazara community as they were travelling on a motorcycle in Spini Road area of Quetta.

“This incident is an act of targeted killing,” police said.

The Hazara man and woman were going from Hazara Town area to Marriabad area of Quetta when they were targeted.

Both received fatal bullet wounds and died on the spot. Their bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta, police said. The assailants, who were reportedly riding a motorcyle, sped away from the spot after the attack.

The law enforcement agencies reached the spot as investigation into the incident went underway. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Spini road is considered to be one of the most sensitive areas of Quetta city where people belonging to Hazara community have been frequently targeted in the past

Two Hazara people gunned down in Quetta

https://www.dawn.com/news/1337383/two-hazara-people-gunned-down-in-quetta

Syed Ali ShahPublished about 2 hours ago

Unidentified armed men opened fire and killed a Hazara man and woman in Quetta's Spini Road area on Sunday evening.

Police said the attackers opened fire and killed a man and woman belonging to Hazara community as they were travelling on a motorcycle in Spini Road area of Quetta.

“This incident is an act of targeted killing,” police said.

The Hazara man and woman were going from Hazara Town area to Marriabad area of Quetta when they were targeted.

Both received fatal bullet wounds and died on the spot. Their bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta, police said. The assailants, who were reportedly riding a motorcyle, sped away from the spot after the attack.

The law enforcement agencies reached the spot as investigation into the incident went underway. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Spini road is considered to be one of the most sensitive areas of Quetta city where people belonging to Hazara community have been frequently targeted in the past

Beard ‘Blasphemy’

http://newsweekpakistan.com/beard-blasphemy/



Posted 2 days ago by Newsweek Pakistan

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, April 14. Arif Ali—AFP

Parts of Pakistan are too eager to create brand new forms of outrage

Recent reports in Pakistani media have shed light on a funny development in two cities of Balochistan province, giving us a measure of how Islam is being interpreted in parts of the country. The deputy commissioners of Ormara and Kharan districts reportedly tried to ban the “trimming” of beards by local barbers because “all national and international religious scholars were against styling beards.” In their orders, the government officials announced heavy fines for barbers if they committed the “blasphemous act.” When Quetta learned about this new interpretation of blasphemy, it wisely acted to rescind the orders.

Kharan is a district headquarters of 7,000 people, with 20 barbers serving mostly bearded men. According to reports, a group of offended religious scholars had visited the district administrator of Kharan and complained that the region’s men were indulging in the blasphemy of styling their beards in a new forbidden fashion. The “accepted” style is one of wild, unkempt growth favored by such famous national figures as Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maulana Samiul Haq. The former wields a substantial amount of street power in Balochistan with his JUIF serving as a countervailing factor against Baloch insurgents. The “beard blasphemy,” therefore, could have been part of an anti-terrorism strategy that, mercifully, was quickly abandoned by Quetta.

In Pakistan, some laws end up being “suggestive” rather than “preventive.” One ugly example is the blasphemy law, which was supposed to prevent the common man from taking the law into his own hands and murdering blasphemers. The impression created by this legislation was that the streets of Pakistan were strewn with dead blasphemers because the outraged pious could not resist retaliation. After the legislation passed, it was suggested, this vigilante justice would give way to normal litigation. But this turned out to be a false supposition: after the promulgation of the law, vigilante mobs grew emboldened and targeted minorities across the country, killing innocent people in the name of religion. Expanding the law to include beards would have ravaged the entire country

10 APCs given to Balochistan Levies

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1426879/10-apcs-given-balochistan-levies/


By Mohammad Zafar

Published: June 4, 2017

A file photo of Balochistan Levies personnel. PHOTO: EXPRESS

QUETTAIn an attempt to make Balochistan Levies a modern force, Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri handed over 10 armoured personnel carriers (APC) to the force, in a ceremony of Saturday.

According to a press release issued by the provincial government, Zehri gave the vehicles in order to modernise the centuries-old force and provide them with better equipment, vehicles, communication devices and training to improve law and order in Balochistan.

Balochistan cleansed of terrorists: Zehri

ADVERTISEMENT

And while talking to the reporters here, Zehri said the government was providing 10 APCs to the Levies “which is responsible for maintenance of law and order in 90 per cent areas of the province”.

He said that the APCs were purchased from the Ordnance Factory in Wah. He handed over the APCs to the Director General Levies Saleh Mohammad Nasar.

The CM said he wanted to strengthen the force on the pattern of the police and other law enforcement agencies by providing them better equipment, weapons and communication devices.

“The government has already started implementing the plan to further modernise the Levies as a model force defending life and property,” he said.

Zehri vows for educated Balochistan vision

Zehri also told the reporters that his government had maintained total transparency in purchasing the APCs and other equipment.

“This time we bought the APCs from the Ordnance Factory, Wah. The vehicle is called B7 which is part of the fleet of the Pakistan Army,” he said, adding that a single APC cost the government around Rs29 million.

During the ceremony, the chief minister also announced that his government would buy 20 more such vehicles and that the fund for them would be earmarked in the upcoming fiscal budget


Baloch cricket players ignored

http://nation.com.pk/letters/03-Jun-2017/baloch-cricket-players

June 03, 2017

Balochistan is the richest province of Pakistan for its vast mineral reserves but is ignored in other sectors.
There is no opportunity for players of Balochistan province to play their due role in the national team of Pakistan.
Despite being a part of Pakistan, the Baloch players are ignored in PSL and not even taken in domestic level tournaments even though they are experts in all areas of the sport.
The PCB should be more vigilant regarding the talents in Balochistan.
 

FIDA ZAMAN,  

Kech, May 12

Pakistan forces say they killed 'dozen IS fighters' in Balochistan in three-day raid operation

http://www.firstpost.com/world/pakistan-forces-say-they-killed-dozen-is-fighters-in-balochistan-in-three-day-raid-operation-3515969.html


WorldPTIJun, 04 2017 15:37:53 IST

Quetta: Pakistani forces on Sunday said they had killed around a dozen Islamic State (IS) militants in a three-day raid prompted by intelligence reports that the group were holding two recently kidnapped Chinese nationals.

The operation took place in the rugged Mastung district of southwest Balochistan province and targeted the hideout cave of a group of IS commanders, a senior security official told AFP.

"Some 12-13 IS commanders have been killed after intense gun-battles and the area was cleared late Saturday," he said, but added that the Chinese pair were not recovered from the scene despite the presence of the vehicle used in their kidnapping nearby.

Representational image. Reuters

IS has been making inroads in the country through alliances with local militant outfits such as the sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar groups, though its presence is generally downplayed by the government.

Security forces also seized six suicide jackets, a cache of ammunition, explosives, detonators, solar panels and food rations, a second Pakistani security official told AFP, adding the cave was a base used by IS to plan attacks across the country.

The two Chinese workers were abducted last month in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, raising safety concerns for Beijing's multi-billion-dollar investments in the country.

One Chinese woman managed to escape as the men began firing in the air to scare off onlookers.

A passer-by, Muhammad Zahir, was shot as he tried to prevent the abduction.

Mineral-rich Balochistan has been plagued by Islamist and separatist insurgencies since 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.

But a greater push towards peace and development by Pakistani authorities has reduced overall levels of violence in recent years