December 2, 2014


[The chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah, a front for terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Saeed told reporters here on Tuesday that thousands of people would participate in the congregation starting on December 4 at the ground of Minar-i-Pakistan monument.]

Press Trust of India

Terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed

LAHORE: In a sign of official patronage to Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led JuD, Pakistan government is running two special trains to transport people to Lahore for the terror group's two-day congregation here.

The chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah, a front for terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Saeed told reporters here on Tuesday that thousands of people would participate in the congregation starting on December 4 at the ground of Minar-i-Pakistan monument.

Pakistan Railways is operating the first train from today from Hyderabad, Sindh province, that will arrive in Lahore on Wednesday night.

Another train will leave from Karachi and arrive here on December 4. The two special trains will also take the people back to their hometowns on the conclusion of the congregation.

The JuD leadership had spoken to railways minister Saad Rafique for his permission to run special trains for its congregation, official sources told PTI.

Spokesman for the country's railways Rauf Tahir said there had been a "uniform policy" to run special trains on the request of political and religious parties.

"The railways has a uniform policy for everyone. Pay and hire a train. Two special trains will be run for JuD congregation but not free of cost," he said.

In a related development, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has also postponed its call to block Lahore on December 4 on the "request" of the JuD leadership.

"Yes we have changed Lahore's plan on the request of JuD. The JuD told us that thousands of people are coming to Lahore on December 4 and it cannot afford any hurdle in it," a senior PTI leader said on condition of anonymity.

Tightening its noose around Lashkar-e-Taiba, the US in June added its affiliates, including the JuD, to its list of designated terror organizations.

India has maintained that Saeed is the mastermind behind Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, conspiracy for which was hatched, planned and executed out of Pakistan. The attacks claimed 166 lives.

[UK government is urged to condemn China after it refused to allow delegation of MPs into former British territory]

By Rowena Mason

China has broken its agreement with the UK to let Hong Kong govern its own borders for at least 50 years in a move that must not go unchallenged, senior MPs said on Tuesday.

In an emergency debate in the House of Commons, MPs from all parties called on the government to condemn China after it refused a House of Commons delegation entry to the former British overseas territory. The MPs on the foreign affairs committee had been hoping to investigate the governance of Hong Kong as a part of a Commons inquiry at a time when there are violent clashes on the streets between the police and pro-democracy campaigners.

The proposed visit was part of an inquiry into Hong Kong’s relations with the UK 30 years after the joint declaration that led to the handover to China in 1997, under which the territory has the right to a degree of autonomy.

However, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying has dismissed the UK’sobjections as useless and claimed Beijing has responsibility for who is allowed into Hong Kong.

“China’s opposition to any foreign government, organisation or individual interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs in any form is resolute,” Hua told a daily news briefing, according to Reuters.

“If certain people in Britain still want to keep on like this, it is not only irrational and useless but like lifting up a rock to drop it on one’s foot.”

She said the MPs were not there to conduct “a normal, friendly visit but to carry out a so-called investigation on Chinese territory”.

“We do not need any foreign lawmakers to carry out probes. I hope they can clearly see this basic reality,” she said.

MPs have reacted with fury to the decision, saying it is unprecedented in the history of Commons foreign affairs committee trips to countries such as Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

During the lengthy debate, Sir Richard Ottaway, the chairman of the committee, said the move “would only harm China’s reputation and financial interest in an increasingly global world”.

A range of senior politicians who have chaired select committees also lined up to criticise China’s decision, including Sir Gerald Kaufman, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Sir John Stanley and Mike Gapes.

In particular, Stanley, a senior Conservative, said he was “disappointed” with the reaction of the Foreign Office for only saying the ban was “regrettable”. Kaufman said trade was important but “so is morality” as he called for the UK to take a stronger stance, even at the expense of business with China.

So far, the prime minister’s official spokesman has said the decision is a “mistaken one” and “counter-productive because it only serves to amplify concerns about the situation in Hong Kong, rather than diminishing concerns”.

Hugo Swire, the Foreign Office minister with responsibility for China affairs, has also met a senior Chinese Communist party official, Guo Yezhou, in London in an effort to persuade Beijing to grant visas.

Swire emphasised that the foreign affairs committee was independent from the government, and that the proposed visit did not therefore amount to the UK government meddling in China’s internal affairs. The foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, also raised the issue with his counterpart, Wang Yi, at the margins of nuclear talks in Vienna last week.

The UK and China have been seeking to repair ties, which have been strained since Cameron met the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, in 2012. The British government is also conducting an urgent inquiry into the use of UK-made teargas by the Hong Kong police in light of renewed and violent clashes in the former UK colony. British teargas was used by Hong Kong police against demonstrators on 28 September, ministers have confirmed.

Hong Kong is supposed to retain wide-ranging freedoms and autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula. A wave of demonstrations in the country has been triggered by Beijing’s attempts to control nominations for 2017 presidential elections.

@ The Guardian