Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 10th of October, 2017 :-
1. “Produce evidence of Haqqani network safe havens” Pakistani Foreign Minister asks the US :-
Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif said his country is ready for a joint operation with US against the Haqqani Network if it provides evidence of safe havens inside Pakistan.
“We have offered American authorities to visit Pakistan with evidence of Haqqani network’s safe havens in the country,” he told Pakistan’s Express News.
Just hours before President Trump’s announcement on Afganistan policy in late August, Pakistan’s Major General Asif had said that “there were no terrorist hideouts in Pakistan” and operations were carried out “against all terrorists, including the Haqqani network”. He said evidence to that effect was shared with General Joseph Votel, chief of the US Central Command.
“If they find any activity [of Haqqanis] in the targeted areas, our troops, along with the US, would destroy them once and for all,” Pakistan’s foreign minister asserted.
The US had blocked a $300 million military aid to Islamabad after it failed to get a Congressional certification for “satisfactory” action against the dreaded Haqqani network.
The Haqqani Network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan, the Afghan government and other civilian targets.
The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.
The Pentagon had earlier said it was in Pakistan’s interest to take action against terrorists in “as many ways as possible”.
2. Iraqi forces recover bodies of plane crew shot down by IS :-
Iraqi forces have found the bodies of two of the crew of a plane shot down by the Islamic State group last year, the air force said on Tuesday.
The Cessna 208 Caravan was downed over the northern town of Hawija, a former jihadist bastion which was retaken by government forces last week.
“The bodies of two of the crew killed in the crash of their Cessna Caravan in Hawija in March 2016 have been found,” the air force said.
“The jihadists had hidden the bodies of Brigadier General Ali al-Ubudi and Major Mohammed al-Shikhli,” it said, adding that a search was under way for the body of the third crew member, Colonel Mohammed Abdel Kassar.
IS said it used anti-aircraft artillery to down the plane which had been on a bombing run against Hawija on March 16, 2016.
It released footage showing its fighters celebrating around the downed aircraft and the remains of its crew.
In its combat version, the Cessna 208 can be used to launch laser-guided Hellfire missiles.
Troops and militia overran Hawija on Thursday, recapturing the last major population centre held by IS in Iraq apart from a stretch of the Euphrates Valley next to the Syrian border.
Fighting is still going on in the countryside around the town, however, as troops attempt to retake some 60 villages still held by the jihadists and reach Kurdish lines to the north and east.
Kurdish forces came under attack on Tuesday near the town of Dibis, northwest of the provincial capital Kirkuk, an officer told AFP.
“Some jihadists walked up waving a white flag then attacked our fighters, killing one of them,” the Kurdish officer said.
He said the Kurdish peshmerga fighters responded, killing eight jihadists and capturing three.
3. Kenyan opposition leader withdraws from repeat Presidential poll :-
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Tuesday he would not stand in a court-ordered re-run of August’s presidential election that is scheduled for October 26.
Odinga has repeatedly said he would boycott the polls if the election board did not replace officials he blamed for irregularities in August.
“In the interest of the people of Kenya, the region and world at large, we believe that all will be best served by (opposition grouping) NASA vacating the presidential candidature of elections slated for 26th of October, 2017,” Odinga told a news conference in the capital of Nairobi.
Last month, the Supreme Court nullified incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win on August 8 due to procedural irregularities and ordered a new poll to be held within 60 days.
On Tuesday, legislators from the ruling party were debating proposed amendments to the election laws, which said if a candidate boycotted an election, the remaining candidate automatically wins.
Opposition legislators boycotted the session.
Ruling party legislators told Reuters on Monday that they were trying to head off a constitutional crisis if Odinga pulled out of the election.
4. Pakistan set to restart Afghan peace process without India :-
As the Trump administration tightens its grip over events in Afganistan, Pakistan has indicated it is ready to restart the quadrilateral peace process for ending the Afghan war, a report said.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said today foreign minister Khawaja Asif has told VOA Urdu in Washington that he intends to bring the Taliban and the Afghan government to the negotiating table through the quadrilateral peace process.
Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan are members of the group.
The Quadrilateral Cooperation Group hopes to meet in Muscat, Oman next Monday.
There is no mention of India in playing any part in bringing peace in the region.
President Trump had recently announced a new South Asia policy which severely condemned Pakistan. Trump called for more troop deployment in Afghanistan and spoke about India’s role in the country.
In his speech, Trump attacked Pakistan and accused the country of offering a safe haven to “agents of chaos”.
Pakistan foreign minister Asif was in the US last week to assure Trump government officials about his country’s intent in Afganistan.
In fact, US defense secretary James Mattis had warned Pakistan to address the problem of terrorism but if it failed then the “US president would be prepared to take whatever steps necessary”.
The quadrilateral group has met four times in the past but has achieved little, it last met in May last year in Rawalpindi.
Pakistan has tried to use its influence with China in order to coax the Afganistan government and the Taliban to come to the table and use it as a leverage against influence of India in the region.
However, Taliban’s internal differences and its relationship with the Pakistan government has been on the boil lately which has ensured no real results have been achieved.
As the US sends more troops in the region and pressures Pakistan to do more, the members within the Quadrilateral Cooperation Group are now hard-pressed to show concrete results.
5. China’s glass bridge cracks with every step, tourists stuck 3,800 ft in the sky :-
China’s glass-bottomed bridge pulled a mean prank recently on the tourists.
Located in North China’s Hubei province, the glass bridge, known for its height and scare factor is popular among adventure junkies.
But the adrenaline factor on the bridge levelled up with a new feature rather special effects that make the glass panels on the floor look shattered as and when anyone walks. Infrared sensors have been used to detect movement of tourists along with surround sound effect to make the ‘cracking’ appear more real.
The first day it was implemented, tourists had a near-death experience with all of them on their knees — trying to make sense of their surroundings and praying for survival.
The special effects have been added to the end of the walkway only and not the entire length of the bridge. The East Taiheng Glasswalk in Hubei is about 872-foot-long and 6.6-foot-wide.
While the netizens feel that this is a very mean joke pulled by the authorities taking care of the bridge, there are also fears concerning the safety of the bridge as recently one glass panel cracked after someone dropped a stainless steel cup on it, according to reports.