Muslim Hajj pilgrims touch the Kaaba
stone (Image: Getty)
gather at Mount Arafat (Image: EPA)
Muslim pilgrim prays while gathering with others atop Mount Arafat (Image:
An aerial view shows some of the cars
used by pilgrims before they leave from Mina (Image: EPA)
Mount Arafat is also known as Jabal
al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy) (Image: Getty)
Hajj 2018 in Pictures: Incredible Images
as Muslims around the World Mark Eid Al-Adha
Islam Preaches Respectful Behaviour,
Saudi Arabia accused by its neighbours
of politicising Hajj
Iraq's Sairoon and Nasr coalitions in
talks to form largest bloc
Baby boy born in Arafat holy site during
US and Russia prepare to launch FRESH
conflict in Syria WITHOUT support of China
Electronic ID tracking system for
accident victims, e-guidance system for pilgrims launched in Makkah
Syria’s Assad attends holiday prayers at
Erdogan: Attack on economy same as
attack on call to prayer
UN: Two-thirds of child soldiers in
Yemen fight for Houthi rebels
Lebanese FM: No reason for Syria
refugees to stay in Lebanon
Saudi Arabia 'to build oil port' in
Yemen's al-Mahra: sources
French energy giant Total quits
lucrative Iran gas project
First India-Indonesia Interfaith
Dialogue to be held in October 2018
Imran Khan comes to Navjot Sidhu’s
defence, says those targeting minister doing disservice to peace
Four years ago, Khalid attacker was part
of mob that marched on BJP office with a cow’s head
Imran Khan keen we begin with
Indian-Pakistan cricket ties: New PCB chief Ehsan Mani
UAE extends $100 million aid to Kerala
Taliban militants kidnap 170 passengers
from Kunduz-Takhar highway
Several blasts heard in Afghan capital
Suicide bomber killed, 4 accomplices
arrested in Jalalabad city
Ghani orders troops to continue their
operations against Taliban
U.S. calls on Taliban to participate in
Eid ceasefire initiative
After 17 years of war, a peace movement
grows in Afghanistan
Sharifs to spend Eid in jail as ruling
on pleas for release deferred
US welcomes Imran’s desire for peace
with Delhi, Kabul
CJP chides NAB for leaking probe
information to media
Trudeau congratulates Imran in 'great'
Pakistan SC tells high-paid executives
to return cash
Pakistan unlikely to sign trade deal
with Eurasian bloc
Nawaz, Maryam to be put on ECL; decides
China keen to work with Imran: Li
China Hosts Seminar on Iranian
World faith leaders eye 'middle path' to
combat extremism, Jakarta meet looks to promote virtues of tolerance, justice,
solidarity, charity, and equality amongst the influential World faith leaders
eye 'middle path' to combat extremism
Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never
expected this in Canada'
US wants another Eid ceasefire in
Afghanistan, says Pompeo
Nigeria: Boko Haram kills 19 villagers
in Borno state
Islamic Militants Launch Attacks in
Chechnya, 5 Killed
ISIL claims attacks on security forces
in Russia's Chechnya
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Hajj 2018 in Pictures: Incredible Images
As Muslims Around The World Mark Eid Al-Adha
By ANDREA TONKS
Aug 20, 2018
Eid al-Adha, also known as Festival of
Sacrifice, is different from Eid al-Fitr which is celebrated earlier in the
year at the end of Ramadan.
The Festival of Sacrifice honours
Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his own son at the request of God.
Eid al-Adha, which takes place between
the 10th and 13th of the last Islamic month, follows Hajj which began
During Hajj, many Muslims make a
pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia during a five day period.
The Islamic pilgrimage must be carried out
at least once in a lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically able.
It occurs between the 8th and 12th day
of the last month of the Islamic calendar, the Dhu al-Hijjah which is based on
Several rituals are performed at the
arrival of the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building at the centre of the mosque.
Pilgrims must circle the building
counter-clockwise seven times.
Erdogan: Attack On Economy Same As
Attack On Call To Prayer
21 August 2018
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
has vowed his country will not be brought to heel amid an ongoing diplomatic
crisis with the United States.
Without naming the US directly, the
Turkish leader on Monday said that there was no difference between attacks on
the country's economy and attacks on "our call to prayer and and our
"The goal is the same. The goal is
to bring to heel Turkey and the Turkish Nation, to hold it captive. We are a
nation that prefers to be shot in the neck rather than to be chained at the
neck," he said in a video message before the of Eid al-Adha holiday.
Ties between Turkey and the US have
deteriorated over a number of issues, such as conflicting aims in the Syrian
conflict, Ankara's planned buy of a Russian anti-aircraft system, and the
detention of US Evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who Turkey accuses of
supporting terrorist groups.
The US has rejected the accusations
against Brunson and has demanded his release under the threat of punitive
measures against its NATO allies.
Turkey willing to talk with US as equals
over tariffs and pastor
Earlier this month, the US slapped
sanctions on two Turkish ministers over Brunson's house arrest, and promised
further measures if he was not released.
Erdogan has also blamed outside powers
for a burgeoning economic crisis, reflected in the tumbling value of the
country's currency, the lira.
The currency hit a low after US
President Donald Trump announced tariffs on Turkish metal imports, falling to
just over seven liras to the dollar but later recovered slightly to six liras
to the dollar.
Turkey announced equivalent sanctions on
US-produced goods, amounting to $1bn in total.
Erdogan has denounced Washington for
declaring "economic war on the entire world" and holding countries
"for ransom through sanction threats".
A day after Trump's tweet on August 10,
the Turkish leader wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, warning the US
was jeopardising ties with Ankara, and that Turkey could look for "new
friends and allies", raising fears that it could turn towards Moscow.
First India-Indonesia Interfaith
Dialogue to Be Held In October 2018
JAKARTA: The first India-Indonesia
Interfaith Dialogue, decided during the maiden visit of Prime Minister Narendra
Modi here, will be held in early October, the Indian Embassy here said today.
Minister of State for External Affairs M
J Akbar, who visited Indonesia this week, discussed with the Indonesian Foreign
Minister Retno Marsudi, concrete steps to follow up on Prime Minister Modi's
visit in May, the embassy said.
The two sides also firmed up the
arrangements for the upcoming 1st India-Indonesia Interfaith Dialogue to be
held in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta in October, the mission tweeted.
During Prime Minister Modi's talks with
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the two leaders had agreed to organise an
Interfaith Dialogue in Indonesia in early October 2018, which will be followed
by a similar dialogue in India next year to promote pluralism and eradicate
Akbar also met with Dr Haedar Nasir,
Chairman of Muhammadiyah - world's 2nd largest Muslim organisation and with
Prof Dr. Said Aqil Siradj, Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama and discussed tangible
steps to ensure a successful upcoming Interfaith Dialogue, the mission said.
The minister also paid a visit to Indonesia's National Mosque, the largest in
Southeast Asia, Istiqlal Mosque and interacted with the Grand Imam Prof Kyai
Haji Nasaruddin Umar.
Prime Minister Modi and President Widodo
had shared the view on the imperative need to eradicate radicalism and
reiterated the importance of promoting peaceful pluralism that would lead to
true civilisation harmony, and moderation through a holistic approach, a joint
statement issued after their meeting in May had said.
"Interfaith dialogue is a
reflection of the united commitment of both countries to explore a new understanding
on the rise of religious identities, the dynamic of pluralism and to eradicate
radicalism, terrorism, and violent extremism," it said.
Indonesia and India have pursued the
ideals of pluralism, tolerance, rule of law and values of peaceful co-existence,
the statement said.
Indonesia, the world's most populous
Muslim-majority nation, has struggled with Islamist terrorism and violence
against its Christian minority in the past two decades.
India has the second largest population
of Muslims, after Indonesia.
August 21, 2018
The Hajj sermon delivered at Mount
Arafat on Monday emphasised respectful behaviour and good character as the most
important lessons of Islam.
More than two million Muslims from
around the world scaled the rocky hill southeast of the holy city of Makkah to
perform the pinnacle of Hajj. Mount Arafat is where Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)
delivered his final sermon.
The imam of Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque,
Sheikh Hussein bin Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh, delivered the sermon.
“All prophets of God invited humanity to
tauheed, and believing in it will be path of success,” he said. “Give respect
and importance to your parents and teachers. Strengthen your relation with the
Holy Quran,” he said. Islam forbids us from indulging in sins. It preaches
harmony and brotherhood amongst Muslims.”
The pilgrims performed Zuhr and Asr
prayers combined, and spent time in Arafat with prayers for acceptance of their
pilgrimage and recitation of Quranic verses until sunset.
After sunset, the pilgrims headed to
Muzdalifah, where they would stay until midnight, engaged in prayers after
performing Maghreb and Isha prayers combined.
The ritual of changing Ghilaf-e-Kaaba
was also held early Monday morning. The new Ghilaf was prepared at a cost of
200,000 Riyal. It comprises 670kg pure silk, 120kg gold and 100kg silver.
Imam Masjid-ul-Haram Dr Abd ur Rahman
Assudais and Governor Makkah Khalid Faisal participated in the ritual.
Every Muslim is required to complete the
Hajj journey to Islam’s holiest sites at least once in their lifetime if they
are healthy enough and have the means to do so.
This year, the Saudis have launched a
“smart Hajj” initiative, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel
plans to medical care.
The interior ministry said on Saturday
that the number of pilgrims arriving in Makkah had already surpassed the two
million mark, mostly from abroad including large contingents from Egypt, India,
Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Pilgrims stood shoulder to shoulder for
an emotional day of repentance and supplication at the site Muslims believe the
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his final sermon, calling for equality and
for Muslims to unite.
Muslims believe prayer on this day at
Mount Arafat, about 20 kilometres east of the holy city of Makkah, is their
best chance to erase past sins and start anew.
The five-day Haj represents one of the
world’s biggest gatherings every year and is required of all able-bodied
Muslims once in their life.
By Mohammed Vall
For the second time since the blockade
on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies more than a year ago, both Qatari
citizens and expatriates have been unable to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform
Hajj, the five-day annual pilgrimage undertaken by Muslims to the holy city of
Mecca, which is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith.
Saudi Arabia has been accused of using
Hajj as a tool of pressure in its foreign politics.
Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall reports.
JEDDAH: A baby boy was born at a holy
site in Saudi Arabia while Muslim pilgrims were performing Hajj rituals on
A Saudi Press Agency report said a
Jordanian woman gave birth to the baby at the Jabal Al-Rahma Hospital in Arafat
Arafat, about 20 kilometers southeast of
Makkah, is where Muslims performing Hajj go to pray on the ninth day of the
month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar for the most important part of
The father named the child
"Wadah" after the director of the hospital for his kind care and
attention, the report said.
It added that the hospital's medical
staff provided medical care for the child and his mother, who are both in good
by Arwa Ibrahim
20 Aug 2018
Iraq's Sairoon Alliance led by Shia leader
Muqtada al-Sadr is in talks to form a coalition with the Nasr alliance led by
outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, along with two other parliamentary
The parliamentary blocs of Sadr-backed
Sairoon and Abadi's Nasr met on Sunday with the Hikma bloc led by Shia cleric
Ammar al-Hakim and the Wataniyya bloc led by former prime minister Iyad Allawi,
in Baghdad to discuss forming the largest alliance that would form a government
for the next four years.
After the meeting, the four blocks
announced late on Sunday a preliminary agreement to form a coalition.
"We agreed today to form a core for
an alliance, seeking to form a parliamentary bloc that can form the government.
We have decided at this meeting to open up to our other partners to contribute
together in the formation of this (largest) alliance," said the blocs in a
statement on Sunday.
The announcement also confirmed the
blocs' commitment to taking an anti-sectarian approach to the process of
forming a new government.
"The coalition is determined to
work hard to build a state of citizenship, justice, equality and the provision
of a decent life for all our people," the statement said.
Confirming the progress of the talks,
Kadhim al-Shimmary, a leading figure in the Wataniyya bloc told Al Jazeera:
"We had a successful meeting and agreed to form a coalition among us.
"We are now waiting to see if we
will be able to form the largest bloc," he added.
The announcement came as Iraq's Supreme
Court ratified the final results of the May 12 parliamentary elections, setting
in motion a 90-day constitutional deadline for the top parties to form a
Many Iraqis disputed the results of the
vote, alleging widespread electoral misconduct but a nationwide recount of
votes on August 10 did not change the number of seats Sadr's bloc won.
According to the commission, only one
seat from Iraq's Baghdad Coalition had moved to the second-placed Al-Fatih
bloc, giving it 48 instead of 47 assembly seats.
But while Sadr retained his lead, his
potential alliance with Abadi's bloc and the others does not grant him the 50
percent plus one - or at least 165 seats - needed to form a majority bloc.
The Sairoon alliance won the largest
number of parliamentary seats at 54, while the Nasr alliance, which came in
third place, won 42 seats.
Together with the Hikma bloc, which won
only 19 seats, and Allawi's Wataniyya bloc, which won 21 seats, the potential
alliance has 137 seats - 28 seats short of a majority bloc.
Commenting on the coalition forming,
Iraqi analyst Jassim Moussavi said despite this shortcoming, the alliance was
likely to form a strong bloc that could place it in a position to gain support
from other groups in order to form the new government.
"These blocs have a lot in common
including their anti-sectarian approach and inclination towards garnering
strong relations with all regional powers," Moussavi told Al Jazeera.
"It is quite likely that they will
be able to form the largest bloc and hence the new government," he added,
saying that if this group was to remain allied, it would likely announce Abadi
- an ally of both the United States and Iran - as its candidate for prime
In a televised speech earlier on Sunday,
al-Abadi called on the political blocs to accelerate their negotiations, and on
Iraqi President Fuad Masoum to invite the new parliament to hold its first
Following the Supreme Court's
ratification of final results, incoming MPs are now expected to hold a first
session to elect a new assembly speaker.
Within 30 days of that first session, a
two-thirds majority of the assembly will elect the country's next president,
who will then task the largest bloc in parliament with drawing up a government.
The new government will have to be
referred back to parliament for approval.
By GEORGE COOK
Aug 21, 2018
However, they will be doing so without
the help of China after the Asian superpower denied reports they intended to
send troops to support the effort.
Chinese special envoy to Syria, Xie
Xiaoyan, said: “Recently, some media speculations that China is going to get
involved in the Syrian conflict emerged. That is a false picture of the Chinese
“Arab media, which issues the relevant
material, later explained that China had no military presence in Syria.
“China is strongly advocating the
settlement of the conflict only by peaceful means, and China has never sent its
troops to Syria.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry added:
“China opposes all forms of terrorism and is willing to strengthen
anti-terrorism cooperation with the international community, including Syria,
to safeguard security and stability in the region and around the world.
“China has no military presence in
China has played a greater economic role
in the conflict, pouring money into Syria’s reconstruction instead of
committing troops on the ground.
Since the Syrian Civil War broke out in
2011, the US and Russia have been backing different local forces in their
attempts to defeat ISIS and other local terrorists groups.
The US are working with the Syrian
Democratic Forces who are a group of local fighters, the majority of which are
Whereas Russia and Iran are working with
the Syrian military.
Russia has been engaged heavily through
airstrikes in the region, while Iran has developed a prominent presence on the
The US and Russia are now reportedly
preparing to launch new battles in different parts of the country, in the hope
of defeating the so-called Islamic State.
Pro-Syrian government forces are
focusing their attention around the last remaining rebel-held territories in
the north-west province of Idlib.
Conflict has been increasing in recent
weeks in what is hoped will be the last major operation against rebel
Turkey has also become heavily involved
in the conflict as a number of their military posts are located in the affected
Peace talks are ongoing and Russia has
stated it is open to working with Turkey to come up with a solution to the
JEDDAH: The assistant minister for
operational affairs at the Interior Ministry inaugurated in Mina on Sunday an
electronic identification tracking system for victims of accidents and disasters.
Gen. Saeed bin Abdullah Al-Qahtani
opened an identification technicians’ workshop attended by those participating
in this year’s Hajj season.
During the workshop, forensic experts
and officials explained in detail the forensic forces’ duties in the holy
places, and in case of an accident or disaster.
They also explained how the new tracking
system functions, with each victim being given a serial number and barcode.
Their pictures and fingerprints are then taken and linked to all Interior
Al-Qahtani thanked the interior minister
for his constant support of the public security forces, and praised forensic
teams’ efforts to develop and train their personnel.
Also on Sunday, the Saudi Arabian Boy
Scout Association showcased its electronic guidance system that it provides
through its public service camps in Makkah and the holy sites.
The e-guidance program, which benefits
the pilgrim or any other person through smart devices, enters any information
available to him such as the name of the institution or the office number.
The application, which is available on
the website of the association, will specify an electronic path for the Hajj or
the information seeker. The application includes all the data of the Ministry
of Hajj and Umrah Offices and campaigns related to pilgrims.
DAMASCUS, Syria: Syrian President Bashar
Assad has attended prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha in Damascus,
the seat of his power.
State-run television showed Assad
saluting worshippers as he arrived Tuesday at the Al-Rawda mosque and various
footage of him praying and talking to people following prayers.
It’s the first Eid Al-Adha since Syrian
troops, backed by Russia, recaptured suburbs of Damascus earlier this year and
areas in southern Syria previously held by rebels.
In recent years, Assad has often
traveled outside Damascus to towns and villages recaptured from rebels or
Islamic State fighters to attend holiday prayers there.
With crucial military support from
allies Russia and Iran, Assad’s troops have recaptured most rebel strongholds
across the country. The northern province of Idlib is the last major remaining
UN: Two-Thirds Of Child Soldiers In Yemen
Fight For Houthi Rebels
by Sara Khairat
The United Nations has blamed the
Saudi-led coalition for being responsible for most of Yemen's child casualties
from the past year.
It has also called for an investigation
into the school bus attack that killed 40 children earlier this month.
But children in Yemen are vulnerable in
many other ways, including being recruited as child soldiers, mainly by the Houthi
Al Jazeera's Sara Khairat reports.
20 August 2018
Russia lashed out at Western countries,
accusing them of blocking UN aid for Syria's reconstruction and trying to
prevent the return of refugees
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said
after talks on Monday with his Lebanese counterpart, Gibran Bassil, the US'
refusal to provide assistance for rebuilding Syria after more than seven years
of fighting would deter Syrians from returning to their homes.
Lavrov said the United Nations'
political affairs department last year sent out "a secret directive
forbidding organisations belonging to [the UN] system from any project aimed at
restoring the Syrian economy".
Russia has been the chief backer of
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, helping his forces to regain control over
most of the country. Now, Moscow is calling on Western countries, which backed
the opposition, to help fund reconstruction efforts, saying it would reduce the
flow of refugees and migrants to Western Europe.
Lavrov bristled at the US and its
Western allies for making assistance to Syria contingent on a political transition
process. He also accused the West of pressuring the United Nations to stay away
from reconstruction efforts in Syria.
He said Moscow is looking into why the
UN cultural agency, UNESCO, is dragging its feet on the reconstruction of
world-famous archaeological sites in the Syrian city of Palmyra. He said the UN
Secretariat's political department has explicitly banned any involvement in
reconstruction in Syria pending a political settlement.
Lavrov added he protested the move in a
phone conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
"It's inadmissible when a group of
countries manipulates secretariats of international organisations, which are
supposed to be unbiased and independent," Lavrov said.
"The UN was created on the basis of
... equality of all countries. I strongly urge our Western partners to return
to that principle and not try to covertly exploit international
He also criticised recent comments by
Filippo Grandi, the head of the UN refugee agency, who said last week it was
too soon to talk about the mass repatriation of the more than five million
Lavrov said the UNHCR should not be a
"subsidiary of a group of Western countries".
The Russian foreign minister also
alleged that al-Qaeda fighters located near al-Tanf, in southeastern Syria
where US military advisers are based, had launched raids intended to prevent
refugees from returning from Jordan.
Bassil said Lebanon, which is hosting
more than one million refugees, fully supports Russian efforts to help Syrians
"Lebanon supports the quick and
safe return of Syrian refugees without any link to a political solution,"
Bassil said. "The circumstances in Syria have changed and many areas are
safe, and for that reason, there is no reason for the refugees to stay."
Several thousand Syrian refugees in
Lebanon have started to return to their homes in Syria voluntarily in recent
Some Lebanese officials have pushed for
speedy returns, but the UN and human rights groups say conditions are still not
safe in Syria.
Bassil said also said Lebanon should
serve as a platform for the economic revival of Syria, and ensured Beirut would
coordinate its efforts with Moscow, Interfax news agency reported.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir
Putin spoke about international reconstruction efforts and the humanitarian
situation in Syria with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
"It's important to help those areas
that the refugees can return to," said Putin, whose decision for Russia to
militarily intervene in Syria's conflict in 2015 tilted the odds in favour of
Assad, who has regained large swaths of land from armed rebel groups.
"I think it's in everyone's
interests, including Europe's."
Letter addressed to a Saudi official
suggests the kingdom plans to establish an oil port in Yemen's al-Mahra
Saudi Arabia is seemingly planning to
build an oil port in Yemen's al-Mahra governorate in the country's southeast,
where Saudi and United Arab Emirates' troops are present, sources told Al
A document obtained by Al Jazeera on
Monday points to Saudi Arabia's intention to develop the port, which would
extract and export petroleum, the sources said.
In a letter addressed to the kingdom's
ambassador to Yemen, a Saudi-based marine construction company, Huta Marine,
thanked the official for trusting the company's capabilities by asking it to
present a technical and financial proposal for the design and implementation of
The company added it would arrange to
visit the site and carry out necessary fieldwork needed to develop a proposal
and construction plan.
Al Jazeera has reached out via email to
Huta Marine for comment, but has yet to recieve a response.
The company's phone lines were
temporarily put out of service on Monday.
Reports that previously emerged in
Yemen's media revealed Saudi Arabia's alleged intentions to kick-start
development projects in al-Mahra, which borders Oman, including the
construction of a pipeline that would extend to Saudi to transport its oil.
There have been restrictions and tariffs
imposed on imported goods, which come through the al-Mahra border crossing
between Yemen and Oman.
Seventy percent of imports to Yemen
enter from Oman through this key border crossing, which, along with the
province's seaport and airport, is under the Saudi-UAE coalition's control.
Residents of al-Mahra were protesting in
April, calling on the coalition to scale back its military presence.
Troops arrived to the area in December
2017, about two years after Saudi Arabia and the UAE - along with other Arab
states that are no longer a part of the coalition - launched a military
offensive on the impoverished country.
The coalition, which revives US
logistical support, says it is concerned by the rise of the Houthi rebels and
has repeatedly accused regional rival Iran of arming the rebels, allegations
the Houthis and Iran deny.
It says its military campaign is aimed
at re-installing the government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
At least 10,000 people have been killed
in the fighting and more than 22 million are in dire need of assistance.
French energy giant Total confirmed it
is withdrawing from a multibillion-dollar gas project in Iran after it failed
to obtain a waiver from US sanctions.
Total signed a deal worth $4.8bn in July
2017 to develop a field off Iran's southern coast as the lead partner alongside
the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Iran's Petropars.
"Total has notified the Iranian
authorities of its withdrawal from the contract following the 60-day deadline
for obtaining a potential waiver from the US authorities," the company
told AFP news agency on Monday.
"Despite the backing of the French
and European authorities, such a waiver could not have been obtained."
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar
Zanganeh said the company had notified authorities of its decision to exit the
"Total has officially left the
agreement for the development of phase 11 of South Pars," Zanganeh said,
emphasising the dire state of Iran's oil-and-gas facilities, which he said were
"worn out" and in need of renovation that Iran could not afford.
The deal was meant to bring in
state-of-the-art technology to tap the gas field, which Iran could then
replicate on surrounding ones.
The United States said in May it was
abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and other nations, and reimposing
sanctions on Tehran in two phases in August and November, with the second
targeting the country's vital oil-and-gas sector.
Total has $10bn of capital in US assets,
and US banks are involved in 90 percent of its financing operations, meaning it
would have been highly vulnerable to US penalties for remaining in Iran.
But it is unlikely that CNPC or Iran's
own firms can take over the project, said Homayoun Falakshahi, an energy
analyst for Wood Mackenzie in London.
"The technology Total was hoping to
implement would have been world-first, using electricity to compress the
gas," he said.
"The other complication is that it
needs huge platforms. Iran can build 5,000 to 7,000-tonne platforms. This would
have been 20,000 tonnes."
The urgent need for investment to
upgrade Iran's dilapidated energy infrastructure was a key motivator behind its
decision to join the 2015 nuclear deal.
Some conservatives in Iran oppose
foreign involvement in the strategic energy sector and have frustrated plans to
develop attractive investment contracts.
As a result, the Total deal was the only
major investment project finalised after the nuclear deal came into force.
By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
August 21, 2018
Navjot Singh Sidhu faced severe backlash
and criticism back home for hugging Pakistan’s Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on
Tuesday came to the defence of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu after he
faced severe backlash and criticism back home for hugging Pakistan’s Army
General Qamar Javed Bajwa and sharing the stage with the president of
Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) during his swearing-in ceremony. Thanking Sidhu
for attending his oath-taking ceremony, Khan said those targeting the
politician were doing a disservice to peace in the subcontinent.
want to thank Sidhu for coming to Pakistan for my oath taking. He was an
ambassador of peace & was given amazing love & affection by ppl of
Pakistan. Those in India who targeted him are doing a gt disservice to peace in
the subcontinent - without peace our ppl cannot progress
2:41 PM - Aug 21, 2018
The newly elected Pakistan PM said Sidhu
was an ambassador of peace and without harmony both the nations won’t progress.
“Sidhu was an ambassador of peace and was given amazing love and affection by people
of Pakistan. Those in India who targeted him are doing a great disservice to
peace in the subcontinent – without peace, our people can’t progress,” Khan
Following the oath-taking ceremony on
Saturday, Sidhu came under fierce attack from non-Congress parties in Punjab
and was even ticked off by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh himself. Reacting to
the criticisms, Sidhu said his visit to the neighbouring country should not be
seen through a political lens and he went there on the invitation of his friend
Touching upon the Kashmir issue for the
second time since his victory in the Pakistan elections, Khan said for both
nations should move forward and the Kashmir conflict should be resolved. “To
move forward Pakistan and India must dialogue and resolve their conflicts incl
Kashmir: The best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the
subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue and start trading,”
In his victory speech on July 26, the
World Cup-winning captain had said his government would like leaders of the two
sides to resolve all disputes, including the “core issue” of Kashmir, through
talks. “If India takes one step, Pakistan will take two,” he had said.
Naveen Dalal, the man accused of
attacking JNU PhD scholar Umar Khalid outside Constitution Club last week, was
arrested in 2014 for being part of a 40-man mob that had entered the BJP’s
office at Ashoka Road with a severed cow head, police said.
Dalal and Darwesh Shahpur, who had
released a video claiming responsibility for the attack on Umar, were arrested
by the Delhi Police on Monday. In the video, they had promised to surrender at
the residence of Sikh revolutionary Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha in Sarabha
village of Ludhiana on Friday, but did not turn up. They had said the attack on
Khalid was an Independence Day gift for the nation.
After questioning them during the day,
police said the two, who are associated with a gau raksha outfit, were “trying
to gain popularity”.
Even in 2014, Dalal was part of a mob
led by cow protection activist Gopal Das, who was seeking stringent laws on cow
slaughter. Additional DCP (special cell) Manishi Chandra confirmed Dalal’s
arrest in 2014 and said an FIR was registered against him at Parliament Street
police station. “The case is still pending in a Delhi court,” he said. On
Monday, “both accused were arrested from Hisar’s Fatehabad district”.
According to police, when Dalal attacked
Khalid on August 13, Shahpur was standing at a tea stall nearby. Both fled
separately and later met in Jhajjar, said police. While Dalal is a resident of
Mandothi village in Jhajjar, Shahpur is the resident of Jind.
Police questioned them at length, and
discovered that both were active on social media and wanted to “do something
impactful”. It was on Facebook that Shahpur saw a post about the event, Khauf
se Azadi: Towards Freedom without Fear, being organised at Constitution Club.
Khalid was in the audience at the event.
They thought disrupting the event would
grab maximum eyeballs, police said. The two claimed the pistol was not to attack
Khalid but for their own safety. “The pistol belongs to Shahpur; he had
borrowed it from a man who is now dead. During the incident, Dalal was carrying
the pistol,” said an officer.
Police said the two talked on phone and
met at Nangli Dairy near Najafgarh before reaching Constitution Club in a bus.
As the event was yet to start, they stood outside to have tea. In the meantime,
they saw Khalid with friends and Dalal attacked him. Police are verifying
whether or not they came prepared to attack Khalid.
Dalal first hid at Akashwani Bhawan
before hiring at autorickshaw and reaching India Gate. He then took the Metro
from Central Secretariat and reached Dwarka Mor Metro station. From there, he
boarded a bus and went to Bahadurgarh before going to hide in Hisar. Police
said both were hiding at residences of their associates.
Khalid, meanwhile, said: “Even though
these two have been arrested, I hope the investigation will unearth if there
were others behind this conspiracy. We have seen in previous cases how right-wing
groups have been involved in murders. That angle must be probed. Those who said
this was a staged attack should now apologise to me.”
NEWLY ELECTED Pakistan Prime Minister
Imran Khan is “very, very keen” on the resumption of bilateral cricket between
India and Pakistan, according to Ehsan Mani, the new chairman of the Pakistan
Cricket Board (PCB).
“It’s still early days. My intention is
to make Asian cricket stronger again, as it used to be. I don’t want to go into
any detail at this stage but obviously, cricket between Pakistan and India is important
to world cricket. So, that is one thing we will have to sit down, consider and
address. Fortunately, we have a Prime Minister who is very, very keen on that,”
Mani told The Indian Express on Monday.
India and Pakistan haven’t played any
bilateral cricket since 2012-13, when Pakistan toured India for a short
limited-overs series. The Indian government has refused to give permission for
a bilateral series until “Pakistan stops cross-border terror”. The upcoming
Asia Cup in September had to be shifted out of India because of Pakistan’s
participation in the tournament. The UAE will now host the Asia Cup.
ndia and Pakistan, however, have been
playing each other in ICC events. Pakistan came to India for the ICC World T20
Imran, the World Cup-winning Pakistan
captain, has been a vocal advocate of cricketing ties between the two
countries. On his India visit in 2015, as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)
chairman, Imran had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the time, the PTI’s
official Twitter handle had quoted him as saying: “When I told Modi that India
& Pak should play cricket, he gave a smile, I can’t decipher that further.”
Khan had also been quoted in the media
as saying: “We don’t want to be enemies forever. You have to think about the
future. There are mutual cricketing heroes in both our countries. Like Wasim
Akram is adored and loved in India, Sachin Tendulkar is a hero in Pakistan.”
On Monday, while appointing Mani as PCB
chief, Khan posted on Twitter: “I have appointed Ehsan Mani as Chairman PCB. He
brings vast and valuable experience to the job. He represented PCB in the ICC;
was Treasurer ICC for 3 yrs and then headed the ICC for another 3 yrs.” The
announcement followed Najam Sethi’s resignation from the post.
UAE also formed a national emergency
committee to help the flood victims in Kerala.
The UAE government has extended $100
million as financial assistance to rebuild the flood-ravaged Indian state of
Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Tuesday.
"Malayalis from all corners of the
world have offered help. Millions of those Malayalis treat the Gulf countries
as their second home," Vijayan said during a media briefing in Kerala.
He noted that the UAE has stood by
Kerala in its hour of need.
"The UAE government is sharing our
grief. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu
Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has spoken to Prime
Minister (Narendra Modi). The UAE has offered assistance of $100 million (Rs
The chief minister lauded the
benevolence shown by the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al
Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President
and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The UAE government had formed a national
emergency committee to help the flood victims.
By KHAAMA PRESS - Mon Aug 20 2018
The Taliban militants have kidnapped at
least 170 passengers from the highway connecting Kunduz with the northeastern
Takhar province of Afghanistan.
The Security Director of Kunduz Security
Commandment Safiullah Mahzon confirmed the incident and said the passengers
were abducted from the vicinity of Khanabad district.
The local officials are saying that the
Afghan forces are busy conducting operation to rescue the abducted passengers.
In the meantime, Mahzon said the
kidnapped passengers were on their way to Kabul province when they were
He did not disclose further information
regarding the exact number of passengers who have been kidnapped but the local
sources are saying that around 170 people were travelling in three buses when
they were kidnapped.
The anti-government armed militant
groups including Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so
The Taliban militants often kidnap
passengers on the main highways of the country on charges of having links with
the government or security institutions of Afghanistan.
Kunduz has been among the relatively
calm provinces in northern parts of the country but the security situation has
deteriorated in some parts of the province during the recent years.
A number of blasts were heard in
Afghanistan's capital Kabul on Tuesday, newswire Reuters quoted a security
official as saying.
Reports said the blasts were heard as
president Ghani was speaking during an Eid prayer ceremony.
As per the security official, the
explosions were caused by rockets fired from outside of the state and some fell
in the presidential palace, around embassy compounds and government buildings.
There have been no immediate reports on
On Monday, the Taliban had rejected
Afghanistan government's call for peace offer for a ceasefire and vowed to
continue its attacks against the government and its foreign allies.
Last week, a suicide bomber from ISIL
blew himself up in front of an education center in Kabul, killing 34.
Wednesday's attack in the Shia neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi left dozens more
(With inputs from Reuters)
A suicide bomber was killed but four of
his accomplices were arrested during an operation of the Afghan Intelligence,
National Directorate of Security (NDS), forces in Jalalabad city.
The provincial government of Nangarhar
in a statement said a suicide bomber detonated his explosives while being
chased by the Afghan intelligence operatives during an operation in the 4th
police district of the city.
The statement further added that the
operation was conducted based on intelligence tip off and as a result four
accomplices of the suicide bomber were arrested alive.
According to the provincial government,
the suicide bomber and his four accomplices had taken shelter inside a
religious school (Abdullah bin Fetada Seminary) as operations were being
conducted for their apprehension.
This comes as the Afghan intelligence
operatives last week arrested a group of seven suicide bombers during a similar
operation in Jalalabad city.
The anti-government armed militant
groups including Taliban and ISIS militants have not commented regarding the
report so far.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has
ordered the armed forces to continue to their operations against the militants
until a positive response has not been received from the Taliban regarding the
The Office of the President, ARG Palace,
in a statement said President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spoke via video
teleconference with the provincial governors, national defense and security
officials, provincial council members, and members of the provincial high peace
and Ulemas councils.
The statement further added that issues
related to the security of the country during Eid days were discussed together
with the administration of the likely ceasefire.
According to ARG Palace, the conference
was also attended by the Chairmen of Afghanistan High Peace Council and the
Ulemas Council of Afghanistan, National Security Adviser, Officials of the
security and defense institutions, and some other high level government
President Ghani instructed the national
defense and security forces to continue to their operations against the Taliban
until a positive response has not been received.
He also added that the details of the
ceasefire and joint instructions of the national defense and security
institutions and the government have been shared with the provincial
administrative governments through the Independent Directorate of Local
The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
has called on the Taliban group to participate in the ceasefire initiative
announced by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.
“The United States welcomes the
announcement by the Afghan government of a ceasefire conditioned on Taliban
participation. This plan responds to the clear and continued call of the Afghan
people for peace,” Pompeo was quoted in a statement released by the US Embassy
He said “The last ceasefire in
Afghanistan revealed the deep desire of the Afghan people to end the conflict,
and we hope another ceasefire will move the country closer to sustainable
security. The United States and our international partners support this
initiative by the Afghan people and the Afghan government, and we call on the
Taliban to participate. It is our hope, and that of the international
community, that the Afghan people may celebrate Eid Al-Adha this year in peace,
free from fear.”
“The United States supports President
Ghani’s offer for comprehensive negotiations on a mutually agreed agenda. We
remain ready to support, facilitate, and participate in direct negotiations
between the Afghan government and the Taliban. There are no obstacles to talks.
It is time for peace,” Pompeo added.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on
Sunday announced a conditional ceasefire with the Taliban group during Eid
Speaking during a gathering to mark the
99th Independence Day of Afghanistan, President Ghani said the government
announces ceasefire with the Taliban, starting from Monday until Eid Milad un
Nabi (Birth of Prophet Mohammad), on the condition that the Taliban group also
announces a ceasefire.
He said “As we approach Eid-ul-Adha, and
to respect the wishes of different segments of Afghan society including
religious scholars, political parties, politicians, women and civil society
leaders, youth and members of high peace council in all 34 provinces, and to
respect the wishes of the religious scholars of the Islamic world that were
gathered in the holy mosques and to respect the wishes of the Organization of
Islamic Countries (OIC) and the custodians of the two-holy mosques, the King of
Saudi Arabia, we announce a ceasefire that would take effect from tomorrow,
Monday, the day of Arafa, till the day of the birth of the prophet (PBUH) i.e.,
Milad-un-Nabi, provided that the Taliban reciprocate.”
SHAKARDARA (Afghanistan): With every
step, the blisters burned.
After three days of walking barefoot
alongside a highway from Kabul with about 50 other peace activists, Abdul Malik
Hamdard, a computer teacher, had only gotten as far as this farming village
about 40 miles north of the capital. But he had a point to make, and he said he
planned to keep going no matter how much his feet hurt.
“War kills Afghan people every day,”
said Hamdard, 27, as the group stopped to rest in a mosque one day earlier this
month. He said he lost three brothers to conflict in the past 25 years. “We
will walk from Kabul to Mazar for peace,” he said, referring to the northern
city of Mazar-e Sharif, about 200 miles north.
At the moment, the group’s new effort
seems both quixotic and timely. In the past several weeks, a burst of insurgent
violence has flared across the country, most recently a major ground assault by
the Taliban on the southeastern city of Ghazni that killed at least 120 people
and a suicide bombing in Kabul by the IS militia that claimed at least 34
The renewed bloodshed has dampened the
hopes for breakthrough in the conflict that followed the June ceasefire and a
high-level meeting between US diplomats and Taliban representatives in July.
But the peace marchers said these setbacks make their mission more relevant
The group originally formed in southern
Helmand province after a bombing in March, staging peaceful protests there.
Then in May and June, eight of its members walked more than 300 miles to Kabul
to persuade the government to negotiate with Taliban insurgents. Along the way,
they braved scorching heat and dust storms, but their numbers grew to more than
100. Sometimes, they said they encountered Taliban fighters and begged them to
end the war.
In Kabul, the group set up tents outside
the embassies of Pakistan, the United States and other countries, meeting with
diplomats and asking them to step up support for a peace deal. They also met
with Afghan officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, calling on them to
take “practical steps” to end the war.
But the group’s leaders said the
meetings produced no results, so they decided to take up their peace march
again, with almost half of the activists walking barefoot.
“I told them that Afghans have lost
trust in you entirely. You only made promises in 17 years. We have not seen
practical steps towards peace,” said Mohammad Iqbal Khaybar, 27, the leader of
the movement, who previously ran a private medical clinic in Lashkar Gah, the
capital of Helmand.
Of those who criticise the marchers for
walking barefoot, Khaybar said, “We harm ourselves to make you aware. Why are
‘Peace at any cost’
Although most of the marchers are young,
some of the older ones are especially motivated by memories of life before
their country was torn apart by conflict. Mohammad Seraj, 55, recalled tranquil
days in Helmand before the Soviet invasion and civil war of the 1980s. He and
his family fled to Iran for nearly 30 years — only to return to a country at
“Afghanistan is a good place without
war. War is ugly,” Seraj said. “We want peace at any cost.”
Since the formation of the Helmand peace
movement, others have sprung up in different areas of the country, holding
rallies and sit-ins and calling on all warring parties to hold peace talks.
Ghani has praised their efforts, but Taliban officials dismissed them in June
as conspiracies and foreign plots.
Despite the recent upsurge in violence,
the peace activists are still hoping a second ceasefire will take place next
week during the three-day Muslim holiday known as Eidul Azha.
In a tweet this week, activist Bacha Khan
Muladad wrote, “Every day dozens of young Afghans are dying, this has to stop,
we need to stop this 4 decades old cycle of violence or else [we] will not stop
As the marchers walked along the highway
one recent day, a car drove slowly ahead, broadcasting a Persian-language song
An 11-year-old boy, whose mother had
died in a rocket attack in Logar province, walked just behind it. At one point,
a white dog began following the group and stayed with them for miles. Some of
the marchers said they hoped it would bring them luck.
By arrangement with The Washington Post
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz
Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad
Safdar will celebrate Eidul Azha in Adiala jail as the Islamabad High Court on
Monday deferred its decision on petitions seeking their release.
This is the second time Mr Sharif will
celebrate Eid in detention. Earlier, after the October 1999 coup, he was taken
into custody and spent two Eids in detention.
Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto was the first prime minister to have spent Eids in jail while being
under arrest after the July 1977 coup.
Accountability court decides to
simultaneously conclude remaining two references against ex-PM
An accountability court had on July 6
sentenced Mr Sharif to 10 years, Maryam to seven years and Capt Safdar to one
year in prison in the Avenfield properties reference.
An IHC division bench comprising Justice
Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb sustained an objection of
the prosecution on maintainability of the petitions seeking suspension of the
sentence awarded to the Sharifs.
National Accountability Bureau’s
prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi argued that after filing appeals against the
conviction, the convicts could not file petitions for the suspension of the
Earlier, the court had ignored this
objection and asked defence counsel Khawaja Haris and Amjad Pervaiz to advance
their arguments. However, when the court had asked prosecutor Abbasi to argue
the case on Thursday, he sought time for filing a reply. The bench had
expressed annoyance over applying delaying tactics and subsequently imposed a
fine of Rs10,000 on NAB and adjourned the hearing.
The court resumed the hearing on Monday
and, after concluding the arguments, told Khawaja Haris that since the appeals
against the conviction had already been fixed for hearing in the second week of
this month, the decision on the Sharifs’ petitions might be deferred till then.
The IHC order read: “Section 32 of the
National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999 provides for a time frame for
deciding the appeals. Since the learned division bench has directed fixing of
the appeals, at this stage we are not inclined to decide these petitions and
they shall remain pending and be fixed along with the appeals. In case, there
is delay in deciding of the appeals then the petitioners shall be at liberty to
press these petitions.”
The court directed the registrar office
to fix the case immediately after the summer vacations scheduled to end by Sept
Last week, the court had framed 10
questions for the prosecution to answer in order to get understanding about the
case. The questions relate to the price of property, determination of known
sources of income at the time of purchasing of the property, comparison of
discrepancies, difference between benamidar and dependent, the law to evaluate
trust deed, etc.
Interestingly, the prosecution’s
arguments did not address these questions. During the course of hearing,
prosecutor Abbasi read out previous orders of the Supreme Court issued in the
Panama Papers case and selected excerpts of a report prepared by the Joint
At one stage, Justice Aurangzeb had
snubbed Mr Abbasi for reading out irrelevant text and regretted that latter had
never pointed out even a single proposition during the entire arguments.
Accountability court proceedings
Accountability court judge Mohammad
Arshad Malik on Monday decided to conclude the remaining two references against
Nawaz Sharif simultaneously.
The Islamabad police produced the former
prime minister before the court.
During the course of arguments, Khawaja
Haris, the counsel for Mr Sharif, said the Islamabad High Court had transferred
the references to Judge Malik since accountability judge Mohmmad Bashir,
instead of simultaneously deciding three references, concluded the Avenfield
Judge Malik summoned JIT head Wajid Zia
for Aug 27 and adjourned the hearing.
WASHINGTON: A key US official said on
Monday that the United States welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement
emphasising the importance of peace on both sides of Pakistan’s borders.
Alice Wells, who heads the Bureau for
South and Central Asian affairs at the State Department, said the main
objective of the Trump administration’s South Asia strategy was to restore
peace and stability in Afghanistan with support from other regional states.
“We welcome the words of Prime Minister
Imran Khan in which he discussed the importance of peace on both sides of
Pakistan’s borders,” she said at a news briefing.
Ms Wells is expected to accompany US
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo when he visits Islamabad in the first week of
September for talks with the new Pakistani leadership. He is also likely to
visit New Delhi and Kabul for consulting those governments on Washington’s
efforts to resolve the Afghan conflict.
Ms Wells said that America’s South Asia
strategy was “obviously pointed to the role India can and should play” in
supporting the stabilisation of Afghanistan.
“We want to see Afghanistan stitched
back into the region,” said the US diplomat while clarifying that this
integration does not have to come at the expense of any other country in the
“Pakistan, obviously, has a critical
role to play in stabilisation of Afghanistan. And we have encouraged Pakistan
to take stronger steps to ensure that the Taliban either come to the
negotiating table or are expelled back into Afghanistan rather than enjoy a
safe haven outside of the country,” said Ms Wells while explaining the role the
United States wants Pakistan to play.
She noted that over the last several
months, Pakistan and Afghanistan had embarked on efforts to improve the
bilateral relationship and Washington strongly supported negotiation of a
solidarity document between them.
Without mentioning China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor, the US official expressed concerns over projects in
countries where governments involved had not been able to sustain the repayment
schedules, which “resulted in the loss of sovereignty over key infrastructures”
that they have had to turn over to their lenders.
Ms Wells said that if China stopped pursuing
the policy of mortgaging the future of such countries to “unrealistic and
unsustainable loan terms, Washington and Beijing could work together on many
“In South Asia, there are many areas
where our interests overlap, peace and stabilisation of Afghanistan, both
support improved Afghanistan-Pakistan relations,” she said. These over-lapping
interests could be “basis for a good conversation to start from,” she added.
Wajih Ahmad Sheikh
LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Monday took
exception to the National Accountability Bureau’s practice of leaking
information of people facing NAB inquiries to the media, leading to their
character assassination without any charge being proved against them.
“NAB has no right to ridicule anyone,”
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar told the bureau’s prosecutor general
Syed Asghar Haider.
A three-judge bench headed by the CJP is
hearing a matter relating to excessive salaries of chief executive officers
(CEOs) and others working in the public sector companies in Punjab. Justice
Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan are other members of the bench.
During the hearing on Monday, the chief
justice observed that the proceedings of the bureau were privileged in nature
and could not be disclosed to the media officially.
“People summoned by NAB come to know
about summons through the media in most of the cases,” the chief justice said
and added, “We cannot allow this kind of accountability”.
He said the court had proof that the
bureau treated people unjustly without possessing any evidence against them. He
observed that this practice of the anti-corruption watchdog would discourage
foreign investors. “Do you want to drive out foreign investors from the
country?” the chief justice asked the prosecutor general.
Mr Haider stated that NAB Chairman
retired justice Javed Iqbal had initiated a process of strict internal accountability.
He said some individuals were involved in such practices but the institution
under the chairmanship of Mr Iqbal had been acting strictly in accordance with
Justice Ahsan observed that the practice
of scandalising people was observed at the level of investigating officers.
Chief Justice Nisar noted that there was
a consideration at the time of the chairman’s appointment that a retired judge,
if appointed (as NAB head), could save the bureau from the wrath of the Supreme
The chief justice directed the NAB
chairman to meet him in his chamber along with the prosecutor general next
Monday to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, the bench was informed that
39 officers out of 56 who had worked or were working in the public sector
companies had agreed to voluntarily return the salaries they received (in
excess to their regular salaries) being government servants.
Representing at least 20 officers,
senior lawyer Ahsan Bhoon asked the court to grant one-year time for the return
of the salaries in instalments.
However, the chief justice refused to
grant such a long period for the purpose and observed that no money would be
recovered after his retirement. Chief Justice Nisar will reach superannuation
in January 2019.
Chief Justice Nisar directed the
officers to deposit the amount to NAB within three months and asked the bureau
to start recovery from those who were not willing to return their excessive
salaries. He said the recovered amount would be deposited in the fund for dams.
The bench observed that NAB was free to
drop inquiries against the officers if there was no other charge against them
than receiving excessive salaries.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Imran Khan and congratulated
him on forming the government.
Trudeau, in a tweet, said he discussed
human rights, girls’ education, trade, refugees and climate change with the
premier and had a “great phone conversation”.
“Congratulations again, Imran, on
forming Pakistan’s new government – I look forward to working together for
people in both our countries.”
A statement by the Press Information
Department (PID) said Trudeau also appreciated PM Khan’s “illustrious career in
cricket and politics and wished him well for implementing his party’s agenda
for the welfare of Pakistani people”.
The Pakistani premier “also underscored
the contributions of over 400,000 Canadians of Pakistani origin in Canada”.
On Monday, China’s Premier Li Keqiang
had a telephonic conversation with the prime minister in which he conveyed
Beijing’s desire to foster Pak-China ties.
“The CPEC project is a national priority
and we [Pakistan] laud Chinese workers’ role in developing our nation,” Imran
was quoted by Express News as telling his Chinese counterpart over the phone.
The Chinese leader also invited the
former cricketer to visit China.
Earlier, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dr
Mahatir Mohamad also took to Twitter to congratulate PM Khan on his
appointment, adding that he looked forward to working with him closely.
A plethora of world leaders have reached
out to Imran to congratulate him on his election victory and conveyed their
willingness to work with the newly formed government.
LAHORE: The Supreme Court ordered on
Monday all executive officers working in 56 public sector companies to return
any salary amount above Rs300,000 per month within three months.
NAB officials submitted a report about
officials who were drawing salaries above Rs300,000.
NAB’s prosecutor said that 58 officers
cumulatively received Rs520.074 million in salaries from their respective
He said that 34 officers had offered to
voluntarily return the amounts in instalments.
According to the report, Ahad Khan
Cheema got Rs50.14 million while Mujahid Sher Dil received Rs 20.41 million.
The Chief Justice remarked that more
time could not be given for returning the money.
“No one will return a single penny after
my departure,” the CJP remarked.
SC dismisses petition seeking
disqualification of candidates
He observed that the matter of the
return of extraordinary salaries could be disposed of, but NAB should continue
to probe the matter of misuse of power.
Shaheen Air ordered to pay compensation
Rejecting Shaheen Air’s plea to allow it
three weeks to pay compensation, the Supreme Court ordered that compensation
should be paid to passengers who were stuck in China within a week.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief
Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, passed the order.
The counsel for Shaheen Air contended
that a committee had been formed to pay a compensation of Rs100,000 to
passengers who had been trapped at an airport in China. He requested for
allowing the airline three weeks to pay compensation.
Rejecting the plea, the bench observed
that the compensation amount should not be limited to just Rs100,000.
Passengers’ rights should be protected,
the CJP observed, adding that people had suffered because of the airline.
The airline was also directed to deposit
a fine of Rs20 million.
The bench observed that the court would
decide the matter.
By Zafar Bhutta
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan may be unable to
sign a trade deal with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) – the Russia-dominated
bloc – as it struggles to discover new markets following a decline in exports
during the tenure of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.
The EEU comprises Belarus, Kazakhstan,
Russia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
Officials told The Express Tribune that
Pakistan did not have diplomatic relations with Armenia, a key member of the
EEU, and absence of those ties could be a major stumbling block in the way of
finalising the trade deal.
Owing to the US influence in Pakistan,
Islamabad has long been dependent on American and European Union markets where
textile products are major export goods. However, a civil nuclear cooperation
between the US and India created rift between Islamabad and Washington and
bilateral relations nosedived.
Caspian Sea nations to sign landmark
Ties with the US worsened after Pakistan
and China started work on the $60-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
(CPEC). According to an official, in this situation Pakistan has been facing
threat of US sanctions. During the previous PML-N government’s tenure, overall
exports fell $4 billion, which was a cause of serious concern for Pakistan.
According to the official, Central Asian
states have the potential for trade but Pakistan does not have encouraging
bilateral trade with the region. There were border tax issues and corruption in
Central Asian states, therefore, Pakistan was unable to make progress on trade
The official revealed that former prime
minister Nawaz Sharif had been keen to enhance trade with Central Asian
Republics. Except for Armenia, he said, Sharif visited all other countries and
they assured him of full support for signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with
the Eurasian bloc.
He also gave directives for signing the
FTA with the economic union to enhance trade with Russia and other member
countries. “Pakistan wants to tap the potential of trade with Central Asian
states and Russia,” he said.
Working on the directive, the commerce
ministry sent an FTA draft to the Foreign Office to be shared with other
countries, but no response was received during the previous government’s
tenure. Owing to political uncertainty, followed by Nawaz Sharif’s
disqualification as premier, no progress could be made.
According to the official, Pakistan had
also concerns that the US could block economic cooperation with the Eurasian
Pakistan exports major textile items to
US and EU markets and it has even enjoyed GSP Plus preferential trade status in
Officials were of the view that US and
EU countries may offer some more incentives to keep Pakistan away from going
into the Eurasian fold due to the dominating position of Russia there.
However, Pakistan could gain greater
access to Eurasian and eastern European markets through free trade engagements
with Belarus and the EEU.
As Pakistan gears up for economic
challenges, there are key lessons
Belarus, which is part of the Eurasian
bloc, is a landlocked but a major industrialised country located in the heart
of Europe and has a significant geographical position.
The Eurasian bloc fundamentally promotes
ideas to streamline the flow and transportation of services and goods between
It greatly attracts the interest of many
stakeholders and according to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development,
many international organisations and economic giants like China have expressed
great interest in the creation of free trade zones through the EEU.
Now, the onus is on the new government
of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to explore markets and increase exports,
which had remained almost stagnant in the past five years.
The new federal cabinet at its first
meeting here on Monday decided to put the names of imprisoned former Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam on the Exit Control List. Prime
Minister Imran Khan chaired the cabinet meeting which also discussed economic
challenges and austerity measures, among other matters. The cabinet also
directed the law and interior ministries to implement red warrants against
Nawaz’s sons, Hassan and Hussain, and former finance minister Ishaq Dar and
bring them back to Pakistan, Fawad Chaudhry briefed the media after the cabinet
The law ministry has been directed to
contact the British government over the Avenfield properties, Chaudhary added.
“Avenfield properties belong to
Pakistan,” the information minister said, referring to one of the corruption
cases against the Sharif family in which Nawaz was sentenced to a total of 11
years in prison while his daughter Maryam was given eight years’ sentence by an
accountability court earlier in July.
“Eliminating corruption is an important
part of our policy,” Chaudhry continued, adding that there will be no political
appointments in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s government.
The cabinet meeting also focused on
implementation of the policy measures announced by PM Imran in his address to
the nation on Sunday.
Fawad Chaudhary expressed hope that the
party would also win the presidential election, which will be held on September
4. PTI has nominated Karachi leader Dr Arif Alvi as its presidential candidate.
The minister said PTI will fully participate in the by-election on
constituencies vacated by the victorious party lawmakers.
Chaudhry also commented on the
government’s stance on relations with neighbouring countries, saying talks with
China and India will continue. He also emphasised that relations with India
would be based on state-level instead of any personal relations. Indian prime
minister has written a letter to PM Imran, who has already stated that Pakistan
would be ready to talk on all matters, including Kashmir issue, the information
Chaudhry detailed austerity plans by the
government to be carried out by reducing official expenses. He said that the 88
vehicles for the PM House would be auctioned off and that a committee would be
formed under Finance Minister Asad Umar to overview large residential
government buildings. In addition, the government has withdrawn the facility of
medical treatment abroad on state expenses of ministers. Foreign tours of
ministers would also be limited, the minister said. PM Imran would not go on
foreign visits for the first three months unless absolutely necessary, he
China values and appreciates Prime Minister
Imran Khan’s positive statement on China-Pakistan relations and the
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, said a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign
Ministry here on Monday at a regular news briefing.
China has conveyed warm congratulations
to Imran Khan on his appointment as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
China and Pakistan are all-weather
partners. We are willing to work together with the new Pakistani government to
enhance friendly exchanges and cooperation in various fields, accelerate the
construction of China-Pakistan economic corridor, and promote greater
development of China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership.
Premier Li Keqiang Monday made
telephonic all to Prime Minister and felicitated him on assuming the office.
Premier Li said that Pakistan and China
were all weather friends and expressed the desire to work closely with Imran
Khan to further strengthen the bilateral relations. He hoped that
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would be completed as per schedule.
Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Premier
Li and people of China for their good wishes and said that Pakistan and China
were close friends and strong partners.
The strategic cooperative partnership
between Pakistan and China would be further strengthened during the PTI’s
Imran Khan conveyed that he was keen to
learn from Chinese experience in poverty alleviation, anti-corruption and
social sector reforms like health and education as those were his government’s
priorities for domestic reforms.
The prime minister said that CPEC was a
project of national significance and would remain a priority during his
government. He lauded the services of Chinese workers in the development of
The prime minister vowed to continue to
closely coordinate with China on all regional and international issues of
August 20, 2018
A seminar on Iranian mysticism and
Sufism was recently held by the Beijing University and the Iranian embassy’s
cultural attaché in the Chinese capital Beijing.
The event attracted a number of Iranian
and Chinese scholars interested in the Iranian mysticism and Sufism.
In an address to the seminar, Iranian
university professor Gholam-Reza A’avani referred to the long history of
philosophy in Iran and said it is the only country in the world in which
philosophy was taught even before Islam and served as a philosophical hub in
the world, a report by IRNA said.
Professor A’avani underlined that
philosophy in Iran has been taught not only in academic but also in
non-academic circles throughout history.
According to the Iranian professor,
philosophy in Iran is currently taught in three traditional, Islamic and
He also thanked the Foreign Language
Department at Beijing University for its huge efforts to promote foreign
languages including the Chinese language as well as the Iranian philosophy in
He then elaborated on the terminology of
Sufism in the world and provided the participants with different
interpretations of the word offered by Islamic scholars throughout history.
According to Professor A’avani, Iranian
mysticism and Sufism are some spiritual channels through which human beings can
get closer to God.
During the one-day seminar, the Iranian
professor also replied to questions raised by the participants about the
Iranian mysticism and Sufism.
Konradus Epa, Jakarta, Indonesia ,
August 20, 2018
Religious leaders, scholars and
activists from around the globe ended a three-day interfaith forum in Indonesia
on Aug. 16 with a message for world leaders to use a "middle path" to
overcome poverty, discrimination, and extremism.
The middle path refers to positive
values such as goodness, tolerance, justice, solidarity, charity, and equality,
which was the central theme of the 7th World Peace Forum in Jakarta on
Aug.14-16 attended by about 250 people from 43 countries.
Cardinal John Onaiyekan from Ajuba in
Nigeria told ucanews.com that participants wanted to encourage world leaders to
fight extremism and to create an atmosphere of justice, tolerance and
He said a decade ago Nigerians were very
proud of their country, calling it a model of Christian-Muslim harmony for the
But now that image has been wrecked by
terrorism, perpetrated particularly by the Boko Haram group — with its peculiar
interpretation of Islamic teaching — which has cost many lives.
"The middle path is a solution to
counter all forms of extremism which considers differences and other people
enemies," he said.
Azumardi Azra, an Indonesian Muslim
scholar, said the rise of the Islamic State group, Boko Haram, the Taliban and
other radical groups, along with their brutality, has contributed greatly to
increased hostility to Islam and the Muslim world.
"[In this case] the middle path
means the Muslim community needs to speak out more clearly and loudly against
radical groups using jihad to justify their violence acts," Azra said.
Bishop Yohanes Harun Yuwono of
Tanjungkarang, chairman of the bishops' Commission for Ecumenical and
Interreligious Affairs said a middle way "tells us to reach out to all
people so we can live in harmony."
Valeria Martano representing the Community
of Sant'Egidio, a Rome-based lay Catholic organization, said the Jakarta event
was important as it gathered people from different countries, religions and
cultures and made them look at a basic way to build interreligious dialogue and
overcome identity conflict.
She said the Community of Sant'Egidio
works closely with Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second biggest Islamic
organization, to enhance Christian-Muslim dialogue and cooperation.
"Pope Francis has asked Catholics
to hold dialogues [with Muslims] through concrete action," she said.
According to Simone Sinn from the
Lutheran Church Council in Switzerland, the recommendations of the three-day
meeting now known as the "Jakarta Message" will be presented to the
United Nations in the hope that the U.N. will use it as a guideline to promote
by Jillian Kestler-D'Amours
Ottawa, Canada - Binto Mohamed hasn't
had a good night's sleep since May. That's when she received a letter telling
her that her family of 10 had 120 days to find a new home.
"There's a piece of me missing,
because of the stress," she says, standing in the middle of her dimly-lit
kitchen, the air thick and sticky in the overpowering August heat.
Mohamed, a mother of eight, knows her
house is far from perfect.
The kitchen sink is about half full of
dirty, brownish water; the drain hasn't worked for the past year, and despite
putting in a request to have it repaired five months ago, it's still blocked.
Without a working sink, dirty pots and
pans sit unwashed on the stovetop, which itself is covered in a crusted
splatter of sauces.
The bathroom light fixture has been
broken for months, while the outer glass of a double-paned window is missing
off the first-floor room Mohamed's disabled 18-year-old daughter sleeps in, in
a hospital bed. In the winter, cold air seeps in, making the teenager ill.
But this home is all Mohamed has ever
known since she moved to Canada with her family from their native Somalia in
They are now one of more than 100
families facing eviction in Heron Gate, a neighbourhood in the south end of
Ottawa, in what a local tenants' rights group says is the "largest forced
displacement in Canada" in recent history.
Several families have found new homes,
but despite seeing other places and scouring the listings every day, Mohamed
hasn't found anything affordable that can accommodate her large family and its
"I came to Canada thinking it was
an escape, only to realise it's like torture," she says in Somali through
"People are playing with our
lives," adds her husband, Jamale Ibrahim.
"Winter and the cold is coming,"
Mohamed says, "and we have nowhere to go."
Company defends plan
Heron Gate is one of Ottawa's most
diverse communities, home to a large number of residents of Somali and Arab
backgrounds. It comprises a mix of townhouses, medium-sized buildings and tall
In late May, the landlord - Timbercreek
Communities, a large real estate company that bought up large swaths of the
community - announced plans to demolish about 150 units here.
The company, which operates in 27 cities
across Canada, said the townhouses are no longer viable and it gave tenants 120
days - until September 30 - to find alternative housing.
That's the required notice period under
the law in the province of Ontario, as Timbercreek moves ahead with a mass
development project for the neighbourhood.
Under the provincial Residential
Tenancies Act, a landlord can issue eviction notices for the purpose of
demolishing a property or conducting extensive renovations, among other
In an email to Al Jazeera on August 10,
Timbercreek said 70 percent of the affected tenants in Heron Gate have found
new places to live.
The company is offering displaced
tenants three months' rent, as well as an additional $1,530 ($2,000 Canadian)
compensation, up from an original offer of $1,150 ($1,500 Canadian), to move.
It is also negotiating reduced rates with moving companies, and employing a
relocation team to help tenants find other properties, the company said.
"Timbercreek is going beyond the
requirements of the law in providing relocation assistance," its statement
"Timbercreek's vision has always
been for Heron Gate to be a diverse and sustainable community. A project of
this magnitude, however, requires that tenants relocate during the
revitalisation process. We will offer all impacted residents the right to
return to Heron Gate when the redevelopment is completed."
Homes in poor condition
However, several families who remain in
Heron Gate say they're struggling to find alternative housing that meets their
needs and doesn't exceed their budgets.
Mumina Egal, a member of the Heron Gate
Tenant Coalition, which advocates on behalf of the residents facing eviction,
said families of eight or nine people are being told to look at two-bedroom
apartments, much smaller than what they need.
One resident of Heron Gate who spoke to
Al Jazeera said she paid about $1,000 ($1,305 Canadian) for a three-bedroom
townhouse. She said she visited similarly sized apartments after getting her
eviction notice, but the rents are in the $1,380 ($1,800 Canadian) to $1,530
($2,000 Canadian) range, plus utilities.
A recent article in the Ottawa Citizen
bore the headline, "Rising rents and cutthroat competition". The
newspaper reported that "Ottawa's residential rental market has recently
become red-hot, with demand and prices ballooning and vacancies increasingly
Last year, the city had a 1.7 percent
rental vacancy rate, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation,
and the average rent for a two-bedroom townhouse was $925 ($1,209 Canadian),
the Citizen reported.
In Heron Gate, the tenant coalition has
also criticised Timbercreek for failing to keep the units in good condition.
For years, tenants have complained of
bug infestations, water damage to their ceilings, inadequate rubbish pick-up,
and broken windows and floorboards, as well as general lack of upkeep and
maintenance services from the company.
Asked to comment on the complaints, the
company said it "continues to maintain Heron Gate units and quickly
respond to repair requests".
But a resident, Amina, who didn't give
Al Jazeera her last name out of fear of reprisals, keeps her food in closed
rubbish bags because her kitchen is overrun by cockroaches.
A handful of bugs scurry into the cracks
of the cupboards, as she opens them, one by one, to illustrate the problem. She
has more than half a dozen sticky anti-cockroach traps around the room, in the
corners and in a space between the fridge and a cabinet; each was full of
"What we're living right now is not
a life," the mother of four says.
The 64-year-old was forced to relocate
from a home in another section of Heron Gate in 2015 after Timbercreek slated
it for demolition.
At that time, dozens of families were
displaced when about 80 townhouses were razed. Today, a crane and a construction
site stand in their place, soon to be transformed into "three, six-storey
Now, the four-bedroom townhouse Ali
moved into after that first eviction is also set to be demolished, and his
household of nine people - Ali, his wife, six children, and a granddaughter -
has been forced to look for a new home once again.
He currently pays $1,225 ($1,600
Canadian) in monthly rent, plus utilities.
"They didn't tell us they intended
to demolish [this home, too]," Ali tells Al Jazeera, just outside his
front door, the construction site where his previous home stood towering over
his right shoulder in the distance.
If they had, Ali says he wouldn't have
stayed in Heron Gate.
"It's Canada, it's a highly
respected nation for human rights. This is worrying ... This is something we
never expected to happen in Canada," he says.
Evicting the residents of Heron Gate
does more than strip them of the roofs over their heads, he adds.
For many, especially new immigrants who
don't speak English and lack a local support network, the community is a
"We support each other. This is our
culture, and this is how our community works," Ali says.
After the demolition notices were issued
in May, the Heron Gate Tenant Coalition went door-to-door, collecting data from
the households affected.
Eighty-nine percent of the nearly 600
residents facing eviction are people of colour, the group found, while 44 and
24 percent are of Somali or Arab background, respectively.
"A lot of them are dependent upon
the community via translation work, for moral support, for babysitting while
they go out to find jobs or go to English class," says Egal, who grew up
near the neighbourhood.
"Taking them away from this
neighbourhood and moving them to the east end or moving them to the west end -
where they don't have those community ties for the day-to-day necessities of
life - is extremely debilitating," she tells Al Jazeera.
Liban Mohamed is one such person. The
29-year-old moved to Heron Gate in 2015, five years after he first landed in
Edmonton, in Western Canada, from his native Somalia.
Currently studying for his high school
equivalency certificate, he pays $380 ($500 Canadian) a month to rent a house
with two roommates. Theirs is one of the homes subject to demolition.
He hasn't found another place yet, and
Mohamed says he can't imagine living anywhere else.
"My community is here," he
tells Al Jazeera. "It's very stressful. It's not easy to move."
More time to find alternatives
If the residents that remain in Heron
Gate refuse to move by September 30, Timbercreek can go to Ontario's Landlord
and Tenant Board to apply for a formal eviction order. It must then apply to
the city for permits to demolish the units.
The company says it will "design a
community that fits the needs of the people in the community", but it
doesn't have a plan in place yet for the type of units that will replace the
Because landlord and tenant issues fall
under provincial laws in Ontario, the City of Ottawa says it can't intervene in
the eviction process. The city only gets involved once a landlord applies for a
demolition permit or files a development proposal.
A spokesperson for Mayor Jim Watson said
his focus has been "to encourage Timbercreek to increase compensation to
affected households, and to provide families with more time to look for a new
"Mayor Watson sought, and received
reassurance from Timbercreek representatives, that the company is focused first
and foremost on helping families relocate and not on the eviction process,"
Livia Belcea told Al Jazeera in an email.
However, the need for affordable housing
far exceeds availability in Ottawa.
About 10,500 families are currently on a
subsidised housing waiting list, which gives them access to
"rent-geared-to-income assistance and associated housing benefits",
said Shelley VanBuskirk, director of the city's housing department.
Wait times are four years or more, on
average, she said in an email.
Additionally, low vacancy rates, coupled
with high demand in the private rental sector and higher rental costs,
"are placing additional demands on the wait list for social housing and
for affordable housing options", VanBuskirk said.
Back in Heron Gate, residents have asked
Timbercreek for more time – as much as a year's leeway - to find other places
The residents who remain are in a
"desperate situation", says Abdullahi Ali. They called on the city to
do more to support the people facing eviction.
Daniel Tucker-Simmons, a lawyer
representing some of the residents, said a request for accommodation was sent
to Timbercreek's lawyer and to Mayor Watson.
They're asking that if parts of the
neighbourhood need to be demolished, that the current tenants receive more
relocation assistance, and be guaranteed a right to return to units with similar
rents once the redevelopment is finished. It also asks that units be preserved
if they can be.
The request is currently being
considered, Tucker-Simmons said. If he doesn't receive a response, he said the
complaint could be sent to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, which adjudicates
on alleged human rights code violations.
"These mass evictions are having a
differential, a discriminatory, impact on my clients because of their race,
because of their ethnicity, because of their religion," he said.
While they wait to see what happens
next, a sense of anxiety runs through every home and every family, says Ali's
"We don't say hi [to each other].
We say, 'Did you find a house?' … Our minds [are] always [on this]."
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State
Michael Pompeo, who is likely to visit Islamabad in the first of week of
September for talks with the new Pakistani government, said on Monday that the
United States wanted a ceasefire in Afghanistan during Eidul Azha because this
was also the desire of the Afghan people.
The Afghan government announced on Sunday
that it wanted a ceasefire in the country during this Eid like the one that was
observed during Eidul Fitr, which allowed rival Afghan factions, particularly
the Taliban, to celebrate the religious festival peacefully with their
But Mr Pompeo and Afghan officials both
said that for this ceasefire to happen, it was necessary for the Taliban to
desire it as well.
“This plan responds to the clear and
continued call of the Afghan people for peace,” Mr Pompeo said.
He noted that the last ceasefire in
Afghanistan revealed the deep desire of the Afghan people to end the conflict.
“And we hope another ceasefire will move the country closer to sustainable
security,” the chief US diplomat said.
“The United States and our international
partners support this initiative by the Afghan people and the Afghan
government, and we call on the Taliban to participate.”
Mr Pompeo said the US supported this
initiative because “it is our hope and that of the international community that
the Afghan people may celebrate Eidul Azha this year in peace, free from fear”.
He said the US also supported Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer for
comprehensive negotiations with the Taliban on a mutually agreed agenda. “We
remain ready to support, facilitate, and participate in direct negotiations
between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” said the US diplomat.
Earlier this week, Mr Pompeo telephoned
the Saudi crown prince and also asked him to help arrange a ceasefire during
Eidul Azha. The United States hopes that the ceasefire will enable the Taliban
to experience the blessings of peace while celebrating the festival with their
Mr Pompeo, who will be arriving in
Islamabad after the ceasefire, is expected to urge the new Pakistani government
to back its efforts for bringing a durable peace in Afghanistan. In return for
Pakistan’s support in Afghanistan, Washington may drop its opposition to a $12
billion aid package with the IMF and consider restoring its security assistance
Afghanistan was on Monday awaiting the
Taliban’s response to President Ghani’s proposal for a three-month ceasefire,
an offer welcomed by the US and Nato after nearly 17 years of war, according to
The president said his office had cleared
“all obstacles” to peace with the announcement following consultations with
religious scholars, political parties and civil society groups.
The Taliban did not immediately respond
to President Ghani’s truce offer, but vowed to release “hundreds” of “enemy
prisoners” to mark the Eidul Azha holiday. A Taliban member told AFP that the
leadership had yet to issue a formal response to the ceasefire, but suggested
fighting might be restrained during Eid even if no announcement was made.
Boko Haram fighters have killed more
than a dozen people in an attack on a village in northeast Nigeria's Borno
state, witnesses say.
Abatcha Umar, a survivor, told Reuters
news agency that at least 19 people were killed when the armed group stormed
Malari village at around 2am on Sunday.
Umar said he counted 19 bodies,
including that of his younger brother, after the attack.
However, an aid worker at a camp that
received the survivors, and who declined to be identified, put the death toll
Hundreds of people from villages in the
area have fled to the camp for displaced people in the garrison town of Monguno
in Borno state, the aid worker said.
Boko Haram fighters had arrived in
trucks at Malari village on Saturday evening, firing guns and rocket-propelled
grenades, villagers said.
"The police made no attempt to engage the
Boko Haram fighters," Grema told AFP news agency.
The fighters ransacked the village for
two hours before leaving, another resident, Masida Umar, said.
The strike is the latest blow to
Nigeria's efforts to defeat Boko Haram and allied groups.
On Friday, four farmers were killed when
Boko Haram fighters raided crop fields near Maiduguri.
Boko Haram has launched a series of
assaults against Nigerian troops, putting pressure on President Muhammadu
Buhari's government to tackle insecurity in the country ahead of general elections
In recent months, the military has
suffered its heaviest defeats in years, while commanders have been repeatedly
replaced, and special forces soldiers have mutinied.
Founded in Maiduguri in 2002, Boko Haram
is an armed group that fights against Western influence in West Africa and is
active in Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon.
The group's nine-year revolt has killed
more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million from their homes,
triggering a dire humanitarian crisis in the remote Lake Chad region.
The majority of the displaced people
used to be subsistence farmers, but because of the ongoing violence they can no
longer tend to their fields and rely on food handouts from aid agencies to
Chad, Cameroon and Niger have all joined
the military effort by Nigeria against Boko Haram.
GROZNY, RUSSIA (AP) — Aug. 20, 2018
Islamic militants launched a series of attacks
Monday in Russia's southern province of Chechnya, leaving five young militants
dead and several police officers wounded, officials said.
The violence indicated the Islamist
insurgency remains active in the mostly Muslim province despite authorities'
claims that it has been eradicated. It follows an attack on a Russian Orthodox
church in May that left four attackers, two policemen and a churchgoer dead.
Chechnya's regional leader, Ramzan
Kadyrov, sought to downplay the attacks, saying they were quickly fended off by
police. He insisted the young attackers were brainwashed by Islamic militants
and don't have any public support in Chechnya.
Dzhambulat Umarov, the information
minister in the regional government, told the Tass news agency the attackers
were aged between 11 and 16. He said the Islamic state has increasingly focused
on teenagers in its efforts to recruit supporters in the region.
The regional police said in a statement
that two knife-wielding attackers broke into a police station in the southern
town of Shali and stabbed two officers. Police shot and killed them.
In another clash in Shali, two attackers
tried to blow up a truck loaded with gas canisters in a suicide attack, but the
vehicle failed to explode, Kadyrov spokesman Alvi Karimov said on Kommersant FM
radio. He said the two were shot dead by police.
Russian news agencies also reported an
attack in the village of Mesker-Yurt, outside Shali, in which an attacker blew
himself up near a police checkpoint. Police were unhurt and Kadyrov said the
suicide bomber survived and was hospitalized.
And in yet another attack in the
regional capital of Grozny, an attacker driving a car hit two traffic police
officers, injuring them, officials said. Police later shot and killed the
The Kremlin has relied on the strongman
Kadyrov to stabilize Chechnya after two separatist wars in the 1990s and has
provided generous subsidies to help rebuild the region.
International human rights groups,
however, have accused Kadyrov of rampant rights abuses, including arbitrary
arrests and extrajudicial killings by his feared security forces.
Radical Islamic militants, some of whom
have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group, have conducted sporadic raids
in Chechnya, defying Kadyrov's assurances that the region is stable.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All
rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
A series of coordinated attacks against
security forces hit Russia's volatile autonomous republic of Chechnya on Monday
with authorities claiming to have killed at least five assailants - all of them
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL) claimed responsibility for the spate of violence, the SITE monitoring
group reported, citing the group's Amaq website.
"Fighters from the Islamic State
attacked Chechen police officers and elements in Grozny and Shali in
Mesker-Yurt," Amaq said. ISIL has claimed attacks in the past that it had
no logistical role in.
Dzhambulat Umarov, information minister
in the regional government, told the Tass news agency the attackers were aged
between 11 and 16. He said ISIL has increasingly focused on teenagers in its
efforts to recruit supporters.
Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting
from Moscow, said information on the situation in Chechnya was scarce.
"These attacks appear not to have
been particularly sophisticated or effective," he said. "Exact
details are still coming in. The Russian investigative committee says it has
launched a criminal case into the attacks."
Officials in Russia confirmed several
policemen were wounded and at least five attackers killed in the capital Grozny
"The criminals were
neutralised," the investigative committee said.
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