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Local tribal council negotiating talks with militants who burnt down schools in Diamer district

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Here’s what’s happening across the border: Online petition launched asking Imran Khan to lift ban on release of film ‘Manto’ in Pakistan; Pakistan-Afghanistan border to be completed by December 2019. 

Jirga to negotiate with miscreants who torched schools in Diamer

The Gilgit Baltistan government has tasked a 30-member jirga, a tribal council sorts, to negotiate with those who set fire to more than a dozen schools in the province’s Diamer district, half of which were for girls, in August this year, reported Dawn.

Faizullah Faraq, spokesperson for the Gilgit Baltistan government, said Sunday that the jirga was working with the aim to get the militants to surrender. He added that the jirga has been given the directive to hold these talks which are being organised high up in the mountains where families of the militants also live with them.

The spokesperson remarked that the government does not want to use force on these miscreants as their wives and children are also living with them.

An initial report on the incident gave suggestions that the work was of some foreigners and few local facilitators who first vandalised the school buildings and then burnt them down.

Around 40 people suspected of planning the attacks have been arrested so far while search for 15 are underway.

Online petition demands ban be lifted on Nandita Das’s Manto in Pakistan

An online petition started by Pakistani journalist Saeed Ahmed has been launched on to urge the country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift the ban on the release of the film Manto, directed by Nandita Das, in Pakistan, reported Dawn.

The film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Saadat Hasan Manto, a prolific yet controversial Urdu writer, and focuses on some of his most tumultuous phases of his life, especially after Partition.

“The audiences and critics worldwide have appreciated the film. However, it is a matter of huge concern that the Pakistan Censor Board has recently decided to debar the film,” the online petition reads.  “The disappointing decision to ban the film has created a hue and cry among writers, poets, and intellectuals in the literary circles of Pakistan… It is therefore, appealed that the ban is dismissed with immediate effect.”

The plea also questioned if Manto would face the same fate of torture and court trials in ‘Naya Pakistan’ as he had to undergo during ‘Purana Pakistan’.

The petition has been signed by high-profile personalities and public figures including Manto’s daughters Nighat, Nusrat and Nuzhat, human rights advocates I.A. Rehman and Hussain Naqi, artist Salima Hashmi, Urdu writer Mirza Hamid Baig and journalist Saleem Asmi.

Nandita Das on Twitter thanked people for launching this initiative and demanding the release of the film in Pakistan.

Pak-Afghan border to be completed by December 2019

The fencing of the 2,611-km long Pakistan-Afghanistan border is set to be completed by next December, Pakistan army spokesperson Asif Ghafoor said Saturday, reported The News International.

Ghafoor on Twitter announced that “work on forts and fence continues on the Pak-Afghan border” as 233 of the 843 forts and fencing of 802 out of 1,200 km priority one areas has been completed.

He also said that this will benefit “people of Pakistan and Afghanistan while restricting terrorists”.

 Pak Army releases song to honour Peshawar school attack victims

The Pakistan army’s media spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor, released on Twitter a four-minute song, Hamey agay hee jana hai (we have to move forward),  as a tribute to those who lost their lives in the terror attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar four years ago, reported Geo TV.

According to a report in Dawn, nine militants massacred over 131 schoolchildren and 10 others during the attack on 16 December, 2014. It remains the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history.

The incident gave rise to a number of national policies, including a National Action Plan to curb terrorism and militancy in the country and setting up of military courts so that terrorists could be tried.

“We are a resilient nation, our enemies shall never succeed…We are succeeding, united and steadfast and we shall attain our objectives of enduring peace and prosperity,” Ghafoor tweeted Sunday.

A wreath-laying ceremony was organised Sunday in Peshawar to commemorate the martyrs in the attack.  A contingent of the Pakistan army presented the guard of honour and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s governor Shah Farman laid a floral wreath at the martyrs’ monument in the city’s Warsak Road. Several people remembered the tragic incident, including Imran Khan.

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