Archive | May, 2016

Taliban kill 16 bus passengers in northern Afghanistan

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Taliban kill 16 bus passengers in northern Afghanistan

Posted on 31 May 2016 by GGS News

Kunduz, 31 May : The Taliban killed at least 16 people and kidnapped dozens of others on Tuesday after pulling them from buses in northern Afghanistan, officials said, in the latest assault since the insurgents named a new leader last week.

The Taliban have so far not commented on the incident in Aliabad district in the volatile province of Kunduz, where the insurgents briefly overran the provincial capital in a stunning military victory last year.

With a new leader, will Taliban finally come to talks?

“The Taliban shot dead 16 passengers and they are still holding more than 30 others,” said Sayed Mahmood Danish, spokesman for the governor of Kunduz.

Police commander Shir Aziz Kamawal gave a death toll of 17.

Around 200 passengers were travelling in the buses when they were stopped by the Taliban.

“They (Taliban) have released some passengers but are holding many others. None of the passengers were wearing military uniform, but some may have been former police,” he said.

Residents of insurgency-prone Aliabad told AFP that the Taliban were holding an informal court in a local mosque, scrutinising the ID documents of the passengers and interrogating them for any government links.

Highways around Afghanistan passing through insurgency prone areas have become exceedingly dangerous, with the Taliban and other armed groups frequently kidnapping and killing travellers.

Civilians are increasingly caught in the cross hairs of Afghanistan’s worsening conflict as the Taliban step up their annual spring offensive, launched last month against the Western-backed Kabul government.

The Afghan Taliban last Wednesday announced Haibatullah Akhundzada as their new leader, elevating a low-profile religious figure in a swift power transition after officially confirming the death of Mullah Mansour in a US drone strike.

Afghanistan, Pakistan discuss fate of peace process after Mansour’s death

The drone attack, the first known American assault on a top Afghan Taliban leader on Pakistani soil, sent shock waves through the insurgent movement, which had seen a resurgence under Mansour.

He was killed just nine months after being formally appointed leader following a bitter power struggle upon confirmation of founder Mullah Omar’s death.

US President Barack Obama, who authorised the drone strikes, said Mansour had rejected efforts “to seriously engage in peace talks”, asserting that direct negotiations with the Afghan government were the only way to end the attritional conflict.

The US killing of Mansour showed that Washington has at least for now abandoned hopes of reviving the direct peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban, which broke down last summer.

Observers say Akhundzada, who is seen as more of a spiritual figurehead than a military commander, will emulate Mansour in shunning peace talks with the Afghan government.

 

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6 killed, 20 injured in two bomb attacks in Turkey’s Sirnak province

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6 killed, 20 injured in two bomb attacks in Turkey’s Sirnak province

Posted on 31 May 2016 by GGS News

Ankara, 31 May : 6  persons, including two police officers, were killed and 20 others were injured in two bomb attacks in Turkey’s Sirnak province on Monday, local media reported.

In the first attack, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants placed explosives under manhole cover and detonated it with remote control while a police vehicle was passing, killing four and injuring 19 people, Xinhua news agency reported.

Two police officers were killed and one other was injured in the second attack by the PKK members in Van province. The bomb was detonated with remote control targeting an armoured police car.

Further details are awaited.IANS

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Modi is PM not ‘shahenshah’; Congress-mukt Bharat a conspiracy: Sonia Gandhi

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Modi is PM not ‘shahenshah’; Congress-mukt Bharat a conspiracy: Sonia Gandhi

Posted on 31 May 2016 by GGS News

New Delhi, 31 May : Congress president Sonia Gandhi has come to the rescue of her son-in-law Robert Vadra amid allegations that he bought a ‘benaami’ (proxy owned) house in London from controversial arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. Last month, agencies had conducted simultaneous raids at 18 premises owned by Bhandari.
Replying to India Today’s queries over the allegations, Sonia Gandhi, who was in her constituency Rae Bareli today, said, “Kabhi aisa nahi dekha…ek pradhan mantri hain..shahenshah nahi.(He (PM Modi) is a  prime minister not an emperor.)
“Roj…roj ye Congress mukt Bharat ke liye naya mudda uthate hain. Roj galat iljaam lagate hain. (The Opposition keeps on coming up with new baseless allegations daily. This is a conspiracy against the Congress.)
“Agar kuch galat hai to bina bhed bhaaw jaanch karo. Doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani karo (If they have evidence, then they must order an independent probe for the truth to come out),” Gandhi said.

NO LINKS WITH BHANDARI, NO PROPERTY IN LONDON: VADRA
A statement issued by Vadra’s lawyers rejected media reports about him owning any property in London.
The statement also claimed that Vadra has “no business relations with Sanjay Bhandari.”
“Our clients wish to state categorically and unequivocally that Mr. Robert Vadra does not own, directly or indirectly, any house described by you as house No. 12, Ellerton House, Bryanston Square, London. Hence, question of purchase or sale of the house in the year 2009 or in the year 2010 does not arise at all. Our Clients regret that you are proceeding on a completely incorrect and false assumption,” the statement said.
“Our clients have no business relations with Mr. Sanjay Bhandari. Our clients further state that Mr. Robert Vadra has not entered into any transaction of a financial nature with Mr. Sanjay Bhandari and is not even aware that Mr. Sanjay Bhandari is involved in any Defense transaction. Our clients have scrupulously avoided even being remotely involved in relation to any Defense transaction,” it added.
BJP DEMANDS PROBE
Senior BJP leader Kirit Somaiya had earlier demaded a detailed investigation by central agencies into the alleged involvement of Robert Vadra in the purchase of Rs 19 crore mansion in London in 2009.
Somaiya wrote a letter to the Enforcement Directorate seeking a detailed probe into the matter. The BJP leader in his letter quoted media reports alleging Vadra’s links with Sanjay Bhandari.
According to reports, Bhandari’s associate was in touch with Vadra and his assistant through email. They discussed the purchase of the property situated in London’s upscale Bryanston Square locality. The house was bought in 2009, renovated and sold a year later.
Vadra’s legal team has denied allegation of him having any property in London in his name, and also denied any link with Sanjay Bhandari.
‘FINISH PROBE AGAINST VADRA BEFORE HE BECOMES BRITISH CITIZEN’
Meanwhile, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has urged the government to speed up its probe in Robert Vadra case before he takes up British citizenship.
Swamy told India Today in Beijing that there was “no doubt” that Vadra had property in London .
Swamy has also claimed that Vadra is paying hefty amount to get fast-track British citizenship.
“I think it is already under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and it is only a matter of time before a case is registered for summoning of Mr Vadra. But they should do it quick enough before he takes British citizenship because I heard he wants to take British citizenship by paying a hefty amount which enables foreigners who invest in Britain to get fast-track citizenship,” said Swamy.

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Jat quota violence probe: Institutional decay, officers wait for political masters’ directions

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Jat quota violence probe: Institutional decay, officers wait for political masters’ directions

Posted on 31 May 2016 by GGS News

Chandigarh, 31 May : Jat agitation,Murthal mass rape,India,Haryana,Murthal rape,Murthal gangrape,Haryana quota agitation,crime,Prakash Singh CommitteeThe Haryana government submitted the Prakash Singh committee report on the role of the state top machinery during the Jat quota violence of February and the status report on the alleged Murthal gangrapes, to the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday.
The Prakash Singh committee report could not be discussed but the brief hearing during which the status report on investigation into the Murthal gangrapes saw a heated exchange between amicus curaie, senior advocate Anupam Gupta, and the counsel of the state government.
The status report was submitted in a sealed over and the content was not discussed in the detail. But the arguments from both the sides pointed towards the state probe indicating of no headway so far.
Dissatisfied with the status report, Gupta sought for an affidavit from Prakash Singh, Haryana DGP KP Singh and additional chief secretary Vijai Vardhan, claiming that they had met Sukhdev Dhaba owner Amrik Singh who had told them of alleged instances of gangrapes during the Jat quota protest. The dhaba is located on National Highway-1 at Murthal, where the alleged gangrapes took place on the night of February 22.
Gupta also read out contents of a Delhi-based newspaper, wherein Prakash Singh is quoted as saying that “something dishonourable happened” at Murthal during the protests.
It transpired during the hearing that Amrik Singh was questioned but he denied having any knowledge about the alleged rapes. It also appeared that the author of report of a Delhi-based web portal was not “cooperating” with the state police and government found “inconsistencies” in his versions. “His statements are contradictory. They (the special investigation team) were calling him. He is not coming forward. The accounts of the author are not corroborated by the driver, who was accompanying him,” the state’s additional advocate generals, Lokesh Sinhal and Parvinder Chauhan, told the court.
However, the amicus curaie questioned the manner in which the investigation was being carried out by the state SIT and submitted that there was an effort from the state to “discredit” the investigation of author.
“In the manner, the report is written, it gives a strong impression of their probe. There appears no difference between both the SITs working (earlier the SIT was headed by IPS officer Rajshree Singh). Nothing can come out of their investigation and I would reiterate my earlier demand of a CBI probe,” a visibly upset Gupta told the high court bench of justice SS Saron and justice HS Sidhu.
However, SIT head Mamta Singh, who was in court, intervened and apprised the court that the state was not submitting a closure report.
“We have not closed the chapter. But so far we have not got anything. Nearly 220 mobile phones used by locals are being scanned. We have arrested a few people. Investigations are on, but we are finding contradictions in claims (of some persons). Amrik Singh was questioned for six hours and he virtually broke down, but reiterated that he did not know anything (about the alleged rapes),” she said. Later, the hearing was adjourned for Wednesday as the matter could not be heard further due to paucity of time.
Haryana to file plea to vacate stay on Jat quota
Haryana is likely to file an application for vacation of stay on the Jat quota on Tuesday. The state is likely to engage Supreme Court lawyer Jagdip Dhankar to defend its decision in the high court. The 10% quota to Jats and five other communities was stayed by the high court last week.

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Barack Obama could be Hillary’s secret weapon in rallying Democratic support: Report

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Barack Obama could be Hillary’s secret weapon in rallying Democratic support: Report

Posted on 30 May 2016 by GGS News

WASHINGTON, 30 May : US Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Clinton could have President Barack Obama, who remains popular at end of his eight-year presidency, as a secret weapon in her presidential run, a report said on Sunday.
There is no one better positioned to unify the party behind Clinton as her long and sometimes bitter struggle with primary rival Senator Bernie Sanders draws to a close, Xinhua news agency cited the report.
Indeed, Obama retains immense popularity with the Democratic base, including vital groups such as young people, with whom Clinton has struggled, the report noted.
Obama’s approval ratings have been marching upward since the start of the year, and the latest Gallup’ s daily tracking poll showed 52 percent of adults approving of Obama’s job performance and 44 percent disapproving.
Obama can play “a huge role” in bringing the Democratic base and independents together to unite behind Clinton’s candidacy, Democratic strategist Jonathan Rosen was quoted as saying.
That could be particularly important as the primary season has shown that Clinton has failed to thrill some parts of the Obama coalition, such as younger voters, the report said.
Though Clinton tried to keep distance from Obama at the early months of her campaign, she shifted the position as the challenge from Sanders became more serious.
Clinton has cased herself as the protector of Obama’ s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act. And a Clinton campaign ad on gun control featured the candidate saying “I’m with him (Obama)”.
Part of Clinton’ s pivot was clearly aimed at stopping the Sanders insurgency, but her political proximity to Obama could pay dividends in the general election too, the Hill report said.Clinton will also face a tough challenge in the presidential race as traditionally it has been difficult for a candidate to win the White House after his or her party has held the presidency for the preceding eight years.
But experts said that 2016 could be exceptional due to the polarizing nature of the Republican nominee, brash billionaire Donald Trump, who could leave some voters seeking a “safe haven” with Clinton.And Obama’s popularity could also help counteract Clinton’s low favourability numbers, as well as the traditional voters’ reluctance to give a party three successive White House terms.
The challenge to win a third term of presidency for the Democratic Party can be overcome “when you have a popular sitting president”, Democratic strategist Evan Stavisky was quoted as saying.

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Fast, stretchy circuits could yield new wave of wearable electronics

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Fast, stretchy circuits could yield new wave of wearable electronics

Posted on 30 May 2016 by GGS News

Washington, 30 May : University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have created the world’s fastest stretchable, advanced wearable integrated circuits that shall push the Internet of Things (IoT) to a much more connected space. The platform that has been developed by these engineers may help manufacturers further the capabilities and applications of wearable electronics – including biomedical applications – using the new wireless broadband technology 5G.

With wavelength sizes varying from a millimetre to a metre, microwave radio frequencies are electromagnetic waves that use frequencies between 0.3 gigahertz to 300 gigahertz, a range that directly falls under 5G. In coming days, the wide microwave frequencies of 5G networks will connect a rapidly growing number of mobile phone users and shall also result in a significant increase in data speeds and coverage areas.In an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), epidermal electronic unis (electronics that stick to the skin like temporary tattoos) may allow health care staff to monitor their patients wirelessly and remotely, thus increasing patient convenience by totally removing the hassle of going through a variety of cables and wires every time for health check. While this application has been studied and brought to fore a lot many times earlier, what makes it specially unique and powerful here is that the new, stretchable integrated circuits have a special structure inspired by twisted-pair telephone cables.
These circuits accommodate two ultra-tiny intertwining power transmission lines in repeating S-curves. These serpentine shape formed in two layers by segmented metal blocks like a 3D puzzle provides the transmission lines with an ability to stretch without affecting their performance. It even helps shield the lines from external interference and simultaneously confines the electromagnetic waves flowing through them, almost entirely elimination current loss. As of now the researchers’ stretchable integrated circuits can work at a radio frequency up to 40 gigahertz.

Unlike other stretchable transmission lines, whose thickness may go up to 640 micrometers, the new stretchable integrated circuits are just 25 micrometres wide – a size tiny enough to be employed in epidermal electronic systems among several other applications. Zhenqiang “Jack” Ma, team leader of this project, stated that the team has found a way to integrate high-frequency active transistors into a useful circuit that can have wireless capabilities.

This study was published in Advanced Functional Materials journal.

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High-speed Spanish Talgo train begins trial run, to be introduced on Delhi-Mumbai route

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High-speed Spanish Talgo train begins trial run, to be introduced on Delhi-Mumbai route

Posted on 30 May 2016 by GGS News

New Delhi, 30 May : The trial of Spanish train Talgo, the lighter and faster vehicle with speed up to 115 km per hour, was conducted between Bareilly and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh as part of the Railways’ strategy to increase the speed of trains.

“It was a smooth ride,” said a senior railway official after nine Talgo coaches were hauled by a 4,500 HP diesel engine on the 90-km line for the first trial run.

The train left Bareilly at 9.05 AM, moved at a speed ranging between 80-115 km per hour, and reached Moradabad at 10.15 AM, the official said.

As of now, the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express runs at an average speed of 85 km per hour.

Besides reducing travel time, Talgo’s lighter trains consume 30 per cent less energy.

The nine-coach Talgo train consists of two Executive Class cars, four Chair Cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end coach for staff and equipment.

Hamid Akhtar, Executive Director of Railways’ Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) who was on the train on way back from Moradabad, said, “There will be three more such runs” before the success or failure could be assessed.

“It is difficult to say anything about the success or failure of the trial… We will record the timings and other parameters during the journey (in further runs)… The data will be analysed and then only we will be able to say anything. Nevertheless it was a smooth ride,” he said.

Besides the officials, the coaches were filled with sand bags. There will be trial with empty coaches as well. After the trial run on the Bareilly-Moradabad line, it will be tried on Rajdhani route between Mathura and Palwal for 40 days with speed up to 180 km per hour.

Talgo high-speed trains for Indian Railways’ Delhi-Mumbai route: 7 things to knowhttps://t.co/WWNBiGx04Epic.twitter.com/urkhhIIGjE

— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) 5 May 2016

The Talgo train coaches are lightweight and designed in a way that it can run on curves without decelerating the speed, the official said.

Shipped from Barcelona, the Talgo aluminium coaches anchored at Mumbai port on April 21.

Talgo envisages the journey between Delhi and Mumbai can be completed in about 12 hours as compared to 17 hours at present.

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Pakistan can target India in 5 minutes, claims controversial scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan

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Pakistan can target India in 5 minutes, claims controversial scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan

Posted on 30 May 2016 by GGS News

New Delhi, 30 May : NUCLEAR-ARMED Pakistan has the ability to “target” Delhi in five minutes, according to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is considered the father of that country’s nuclear programme.
Addressing a gathering on the 18th anniversary of Pakistan’s first nuclear tests, which were carried out under his supervision in 1998, Khan said Pakistan could have become a nuclear power as early as 1984 but the then President Gen Zia-ul-Haq “opposed the move”.
The 80-year-old nuclear physicist said Gen Zia, who was Pakistan’s President from 1978 to 1988, opposed nuclear testing as he believed the world would intervene militarily in such a scenario.Further, he said, it would have also curtailed international aid that Pakistan was receiving due to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan at the time.
“We were able and we had a plan to launch a nuclear test in 1984. But President Gen Zia-ul-Haq opposed the move,” Khan said on Saturday.
Khan said that Pakistan has the ability to “target” Delhi from Kahuta near Rawalpindi. Kahuta is home to Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), Pakistan’s key uranium enrichment facility, linked to the atomic bomb project.
In 2004, Khan had to accept responsibility for the proliferation of nuclear technology and forced to live a life of official house arrest. In 2009, the Islamabad High Court declared him to be a free citizen of Pakistan.
“Without my services, Pakistan would never have been the first Muslim nuclear nation. We were able to achieve the capability under very tough circumstances, but we did it,” said Khan.
But Khan said he regretted the treatment meted out to him during Gen Pervez Musharraf’s rule. Nuclear scientists in the country have not been given the respect that they deserve, he said. “We are facing the worst, given our services to the country’s nuclear programme,” said Khan.

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Islamic State selling sex slaves on Facebook for $8,000

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Islamic State selling sex slaves on Facebook for $8,000

Posted on 30 May 2016 by GGS News

Washington, 30 MAY : As the terrorist group comes under heightened pressure in Iraq and Syria, these female captives appear to be suffering, too — sold and traded by cash-strapped fighters, subjected to shortages of food and medicine, and put at risk daily by military strikes, according to terrorism experts and human rights groups.

Social-media sites used by Islamic State fighters in recent months have included numerous accounts of the buying and selling of sex slaves, as well the promulgation of formal rules for dealing with them. The guidelines cover such topics as whether it’s possible to have sex with prepubescent prisoners — yes, the Islamic State’s legal experts say — and how severely a slave can be beaten.

But until the May 20 incident, there were no known instances of Islamic State fighters posting photographs of female captives being offered for sale. The photos of the two unidentified women appeared only briefly before being deleted by Facebook, but the images were captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington nonprofit group that monitors jihadists’ social-media accounts.

“We have seen a great deal of brutality, but the content that ISIS has been disseminating over the past two years has surpassed it all for sheer evil,” said Steven Stalinsky, the institute’s executive director, using the common acronym for the Islamic State. “Sales of slave girls on social media is just one more example of this.”
Almani, the apparent owner of the Facebook account, is thought to be a German national fighting for the Islamic State in Syria, according to Stalinsky. He has previously posted to social-media accounts under that name, in the slangy, poorly rendered English used by many European fighters who can’t speak Arabic. Early postings suggest that Almani is intimately familiar with the Islamic State’s activities around Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital in Syria. He also regularly uses his accounts to solicit donations for the terrorist group.

In displaying the images of the women, Almani advised his Facebook friends to “get married” and “come to dawlah,” or the Islamic State’s territory in Iraq and Syria. Then he engaged with different commenters in an extensive discussion about whether the $8,000 asking price was a good value. Some who replied to the postings mocked the women’s looks, while others scolded Almani for posting photos of women who weren’t wearing the veil.

“What makes her worth that price? Does she have an exceptional skill?” one of his correspondents asks about woman in the second photo.

“Nope,” he replies. “Supply and demand makes her that price.”The Islamic State’s leaders have historically used U.S.-based social media such as Facebook and Twitter to attract recruits and spread propaganda, but in the past year American companies have sought to block jihadist accounts and postings whenever they are discovered.

Facebook in particular has garnered high marks from watchdog groups for reacting quickly to terrorists’ efforts to use its pages. But at the same time, the militants also have become more agile, leaping quickly from one social-media platform to another and opening new accounts as soon as older ones are shut down.

The Facebook incident comes amid complaints from human rights groups about waning public interest in the plight of women held as prisoners by the Islamic State. The organization Human Rights Watch, citing estimates by Kurdish officials in Iraq and Syria, says the terrorist group holds about 1,800 women and girls, just from the capture of Yazidi towns in the region. After initial denials, the Islamic State last year issued statements acknowledging the use of sex slaves and defending the practice as consistent with ancient Islamic traditions, provided that the women are non-Muslims captured in battle or members of Muslim sects that the terrorist group regards as apostates.A report last month by Human Rights Watch recounted the ordeals suffered by three dozen Iraqi and Syrian women who escaped from terrorist-held towns in recent months. Among the women were former Yazidi sex slaves who described abuses that included multiple rapes by different men as they were sold and traded.

The problems faced by such women appear to be growing worse as military and economic pressure against the Islamic State increases, the report said.

“The longer they are held by ISIS, the more horrific life becomes for Yazidi women, bought and sold, brutally raped, their children torn from them,” said Skye Wheeler, women’s rights emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Meanwhile, ISIS’s restrictions on [non-enslaved] Sunni women cut them off from normal life and services almost entirely.”

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Afghan govt seeks extension for refugees to stay in Pakistan

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Afghan govt seeks extension for refugees to stay in Pakistan

Posted on 30 May 2016 by GGS News

Lahore, 30 MAY : The Afghanistan government has requested Pakistan to give an extension of four years to the 1.5 million registered refugees, to legalise their stay till 2020.

Quoting sources, the Dawn reports that the legal stay of the registered Afghans will expire by the end of June.

A high level delegation headed by Afghanistan’s Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, had requested to extend the stay of refugees for another four years.

The government had yet to decide whether to accept or reject the Afghan’s government request.

The request for yet another extension from the Afghan government came at a time when relations between the two countries are uneasy because of mutual suspicions, especially border disputes and cross-border activities of the militant groups.

Legal stay of registered refugees had expired in December 2015 and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while using his discretionary powers gave six months temporary extension to refugees in January.

The government had adopted a tough policy regarding Afghan refugees after the terrorists attack on Army Public School and College Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Under the 20-point National Action Plan, the government had decided to formulate a comprehensive policy to deal with the issue of Afghan refugees. (ANI)

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