Police: Militants Kill 3 Officers in Restive NW Pakistan

Militants shot and killed three police officers on the outskirts of the Pakistani city of Peshawar, authorities said, the latest violence in the restive northwestern region bordering Afghanistan.

Senior superintendent of operations Kashif Aftab Abbasi said the three officers died as they chased militants who had earlier attacked a police station with hand grenades, sniper guns and automatic weapons in Sarband, near Peshawar.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group — also known as TTP — Saturday claimed responsibility for the police station attack a day earlier and for killing the officers.

The TTP has waged an insurgency in Pakistan over the past 15 years, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country, the release of their members who are in government custody, and a reduction of Pakistani military presence in the country’s former tribal regions.

They also claimed responsibility for an attack Friday at a police checkpoint in Punjab’s Taunsa district that killed two officers.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said the central government was deeply concerned about deteriorating law and order in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is located.

He criticized local authorities for failing to learn from previous assaults, including a militant takeover and hostage situation at a counter-terror department in the Bannu district.

“Terrorists are attacking police stations, policemen and officers are being targeted,” said Khan. “It seems that the provincial government has not learned any lesson even from Bannu CTD headquarters,” he said, referring to the counter-terror department seized by militants.

He said the local chief minister’s priority was politics not peace and, with even local police not safe from attacks, he asked what would happen to the safety of ordinary people.

The TTP has stepped up attacks on security forces after unilaterally ending a cease-fire with the Pakistani government in November.

The group is separate but allied with the Afghan Taliban.

Source: Voice of America

OTS Secretary General was received by Prime Minister of Hungary

On January 13th, 2023, OTS Secretary General Ambassador Kubanychbek Omuraliev was received by Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán in Budapest.

Congratulating Secretary General Omuraliev for his appointment to the post of the Secretary General of the OTS, Prime Minister Orbán emphasized that Hungary has always nurtured deep ties with the Turkic World and reiterated the Hungarian side’s commitment to achieving the goals of the OTS towards fostering multidimensional cooperation and increasing people-to-people contacts and cultural exchange among its Member and Observer States by promoting their rich heritage and shared values.

Secretary General Omuraliev highlighted that having taken the lead of many initiatives and actively participating in a wide range of cooperation activities, Hungary has made valuable contributions to the Organization’s sectorial efforts, particularly in the economic field with its robust foreign policy orientation called “Eastern Opening.”

Prime Minister Orbán expressed continuous support to the initiatives within the OTS to facilitate and further strengthen economic, trade and investment ties, and restated Hungary’s readiness to actively participate in the activities within the Organization aimed at implementing the decisions taken at the Samarkand Summit.

Considering the recent developments taking place in the region surrounding the OTS countries and in the globe, Secretary General Omuraliev and Prime Minister Orbán exchanged views and shared their visions on furthering practical cooperation in priority areas such as transport and energy, agriculture, and water management.

In this sense, Omuraliev and Orbán emphasized the important role of the OTS Drought Prevention Institute to be established in Budapest to reduce the negative effects of drought and its economic impact on the Turkic countries, leveraging Hungary’s expertise and experience in water management and drought prevention.

Underlining the relevance of cultural, educational, youth, and sports activities within the OTS, the parties expressed their readiness to actively involve Hungarian universities in the Turkic University Union to discover opportunities for enhanced cooperation among the universities, and agreed to support scheduled events, including the World Nomad Games, Turan Kurultaj and Teqball tournaments.

They also discussed the vital role of the Representation Office of the OTS in Budapest in promoting cooperation between the OTS countries and Hungary, as well as the European Institutions.

Source: Kyrgyz National News Agency

Taliban Rebukes UN Over Call to Lift Bans on Afghan Women

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Saturday rebuffed a renewed call by the United Nations to reverse rules blocking women’s access to work and education, insisting they are regulating “all matters” in line with Islamic law or Shariah.

“Considering the responsibility it has towards the people and religion, the Islamic Emirate cannot allow acts against Shariah in the country,” chief Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said.

His statement came in response to Friday’s private meeting by the 15-nation U.N. Security Council where participants discussed and expressed “grave concern” regarding the restrictions the Taliban have imposed on women since seizing power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

Mujahid noted in his response that the Taliban administration “understands” the concern expressed by the Security Council.

“Countries and international organizations should understand the religious demands of our nation and not link humanitarian issues/aid to politics. Based on our religious principles and values, we are ready to cooperate in any field,” he said.

The Islamist Taliban have excluded women from almost all areas of public life, banning them from secondary and university education, visiting parks, gyms and bath facilities, and ordering most female government employees to stay at home.

Last, month the hardline rulers forbade Afghan women from working for NGOs, saying they were not wearing the Islamic headscarf or respecting other Shariah directives. The move drew a strong backlash from the world and warnings that it could worsen an already bad humanitarian crisis in the crisis-hit country.

Before Friday’s closed-door meeting, nearly a dozen Security Council members, including the United States, Britain, France Japan, Malta, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, issued a joint statement underscoring the need to include women across all aspects of Afghan society.

“We urge the Taliban to immediately reverse all oppressive measures against women and girls,” Japanese Ambassador Kimihiro Ishikane, the current president of the Security Council, delivered the statement on behalf of the 11 council members.

“Without their participation in aid delivery in Afghanistan and their essential expertise, NGOs will be unable to reach those most in need, in particular women and girls, to provide lifesaving materials and services,” he said.

The statement called on the Taliban to “respect the rights of women and girls, and their full, equal and meaningful participation and inclusion across all aspects of society in Afghanistan, from political and economic, to education and public space.”

The ban on female aid workers has forced many NGOs to suspend their lifesaving programs in Afghanistan, but the U.N. said its agencies would continue their operations in a country where 97% of Afghans live in poverty, two-thirds of the population need aid to survive, and 20 million people face acute hunger.

U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters Friday after the council’s private discussions that the Taliban’s “grave violations of fundamental rights” had also contradicted assurances given to the global community following their takeover of Afghanistan about the role women would play in the country under their fundamentalist rule.

Source: Voice of America