Angelina Jolie joins in a press briefing as she visits Kutupalong refugee camp
in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rehman Asad
Converted To Islam in US Prison Wins Stay of Execution over Imam
Ilhan Omar Compares Israel to Iran
Top Court Orders Army, ISI to Stay Away From Politics
Team Woman Goalie Embraced Islam, Faces Threats
Shelter from the Cold As UK Mosque Opens Its Doors
UAE Trip Was ‘New Page’ in Christian-Muslim Dialogue
Teacher in Bihar Thrashed For Not Saying ‘Vande Mataram’ On Republic Day
Ruined My Life: Kerala Man Cleared Of IS Charges
Jolie Visits Rohingya Camps, Says Refugees’ Plight ‘Shames Us All’
Iran Ready to Accept Friendly US Ties If It ‘Repents’
End of Daesh Territory to Be Announced Next Week
US College Slams Khashoggi Murder; Keeps Saudi Ties
general asks Pak to cease its behaviour undermining regional stability
to pull half of troops out of Afghanistan by April: Taliban
no Muslim cemetery in Quebec two years after mosque attack
FM conveys concerns to Brazil on Jerusalem move
Trump expects to liberate '100 per cent' of ISIS territory by next week
of the Union: Donald Trump singles out Iran as the 'world’s leading state
sponsor of terror'
Sit-In: SC Tells Govt To Prosecute Elements Propagating Hate And Extremism
activist Gulalai Ismail released: Islamabad police
requested to dismiss petition about Abbottabad operation
wants Shahbaz to quit position of PAC chief
of weapons recovered in South Waziristan
with Islam Key for Peace: Pope
Police Investigating Verbal Abuse of Top Muslim Player, Mohammad Salah Of Egypt
Jehovah’s witness gets 6 years for ‘extremism’ in Russia
raps French plan to mark Armenian ‘genocide’ day
My UAE Trip Wrote New Page In Christian-Islam History
and Afghan officials issue joint announcement from Moscow
Won't Turn Into Launch Pad For Aggression Against Others, Top Shia Cleric Says
1,500 Foreign Terrorists Enter Idlib from Turkey
Iraqi cleric rejects Trump’s plan for US troops in Iraq
opposition rejects move to extend Sisi’s rule
can counter-sectarianism committee achieve in Egypt?
to rely on Russian strategy for return of Syrian refugees: Minister
Berri says Israel oil exploration in disputed waters 'dangerous'
Decides Not To Present Triple Talaq, Citizenship Bills In RS
anti-graft body to learn from CBI under new pact
bans J&K outfit Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen over terror
terrorist killed in encounter in Pulwama
Reject Trump's Suggestion of Lingering US Counter-Terrorism Presence
face ‘time bomb’ in Bangladesh land clash with Rohingya refugees
airstrike leaves 3 Taliban dead in Helmand province
refutes Taliban claims regarding troops pullout plan
suffer heavy casualties in ANDSF operations in Kandahar and Zabul
diplomat says Pakistan key player in regional peace
army to buy two Israeli Iron Dome air defence systems
University launches weekly lectures to ‘analyze’ Houthi leader speeches
blocks UN motion against Israel's expulsion of al-Khalil monitors
Palestinian prisoner dies because of ‘deliberate medical negligence’ in Israeli
the Constitution,’ US Senators told after pro-Israel move
Voters Brave Terrorism Threats in Southern Philippines
Siang to Wee: You’d have lost seat if Muslim voters had taken Hadi’s advice
seeks to open eyes on Malay, Muslim rights under Pakatan
to hand over bank statements to Malaysian anti-graft agency to refute claims it
received $30m from 1MDB
army plotting to kill Sheikh Zakzaky: IMN
leader’s ally says foreigners who intervene in poll face ‘body bags’
halts some Cameroon military assistance over human rights
Libyan forces say they've taken southern oil field
Somalia losing the war against terrorist group al-Shabaab?
corpses were lying on the streets': Refugees flee Boko Haram
by New Age Islam News Bureau
converted to Islam in US prison wins stay of execution over imam
42-year-old Domineque Ray, who converted to Islam while in prison, won a
last-minute stay of execution Wednesday when a federal court ruled that his
constitutional rights had been violated because the state of Alabama refused to
provide an imam to accompany him into the death chamber.
federal appeals court, headquartered in Atlanta, granted the stay of execution
to Ray, who had been scheduled to die on Thursday for the rape and murder of a
girl in 1995.
central constitutional problem here is that the state has regularly placed a
Christian cleric in the execution room to minister to the needs of Christian
inmates, but has refused to provide the same benefit to a devout Muslim and all
other non-Christians," the judges said in their ruling.
First Amendment of the US Constitution forbids public authorities from favoring
one religion over another, or from preventing the free practice of faith.
his execution date approached, Ray, who converted to Islam while in prison,
demanded the right to be escorted to the death chamber by an imam.
conservative southern state allows a salaried prison chaplain into the
execution chamber, but only allows unauthorized spiritual guides to accompany a
condemned prisoner to the door of the room.
lawyers filed an emergency challenge to the ruling last week, but it was denied
by a lower court, which argued that Alabama could not allow "the risk posed
by allowing another cleric into the execution chamber."
the appeals court said that Alabama had presented no evidence of any such
security risk, nor why it would be a problem to train an imam in prison
protocol in time for the execution.
state of Alabama announced after the ruling that it would take its case to the
Congresswomen Ilhan Omar compared Israel to Iran while in the process of
falsely characterizing the Israeli Nation-State law.
I see Israel institute a law that recognizes it as a Jewish state and does not
recognize the other religions that are living in it, and we still uphold it as
a democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle, because I know that if we see
that in any other society we would criticize it, we would call it out, we do
that to Iran, we do that to any other place that sort of upholds its religion,”
Omar (D-MN) said. “And so I am
aggravated, truly, in these contradictions.”
law to which Omar was referring defines Israel as “the historical homeland of
the Jewish people” and its “historical right to self-determination.” The
recently-passed law, however, did not change the status of any religion in
Israel, the only country in the region that affords religious freedom for all
declaration of the establishment of the state of Israel “promises freedom of
religion and conscience and full social and political equality, regardless of
religious affiliation.” The Nation-State Law does nothing to change this
population is approximately 75 percent Jewish, 18 percent Muslim, two percent
Christian and 1.6 percent Druze.
days after her win, Omar announced her support for the anti-Semitic Boycott,
Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement. During her campaign for her Congressional
seat, Omar told audiences she believed BDS was “counteractive” since it wasn’t
“helpful in getting a two-state solution.”
after her electoral win, Omar’s campaign switched her position saying the
congresswoman-elect believes in and supports the BDS movement.
has a history of demonizing Israel. In 2012, Omar accused Israel of
“hypnotizing the world” and asked God to “awaken the people and help them see
the evil doings of Israel.” Just before the midterm elections, Omar stood by
that tweet and defended her position.
recently said that her choice of words in the tweet were “unfortunate.”
the Covington Catholic High School controversy, Omar falsely accused the high
school boys of “taunting” members of a Black supremacist group. In actuality,
the group was hurling violent and pornographic epithets at the boys.
were taunting 5 Black men before they surrounded [Nathan] Phillips and led
racist chants,” she tweeted. She later deleted the tweet.
top court orders army, ISI to stay away from politics
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday proscribed
the armed forces, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other spy agencies from
indulging in political activities and ordered the federal and provincial governments
to sternly monitor and act against all elements advocating hatred, extremism
verdict of a two-judge bench, comprising Justices Faez Essa and Mushir Alam,
was related to the apex court taking suo motu cognisance in November 2017 of a
three-week sit-in in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The sit-in, spearheaded
by Islamist parties Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Sunni Tehreek, was
held against a change in the “Finality of Prophethood” oath, termed by the then
government as a clerical error when the government passed the Elections Act of 2017.
The agitation was called off after protesters reached an agreement with the
government through the good offices of the army and ISI.
Constitution emphatically prohibits members of the Armed Forces from engaging
in any kind of political activity, which includes supporting a political party,
faction or individual. The government of Pakistan through the ministry of
defence and the respective Chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are
directed to initiate action against the personnel under their command who are
found to have violated their oath,” the verdict stated.
43-page verdict directed intelligence agencies and the army’s media wing not
exceed their constitutional mandate. “All intelligence agencies, including ISI,
Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI), and the Inter-Services
Public Relations (ISPR) (army’s media arm) must not exceed their respective
mandates. They cannot curtail the freedom of speech and expression and do not
have the authority to interfere with broadcasts and publications, in the
management of broadcasters/publishers and in the distribution of newspapers,”
intelligence agencies, according to the judgment, should monitor the activities
of all those who threaten the territorial integrity of the country and all
those who undermine the security of the people and the state by resorting to or
best ensure transparency and the rule of law it would be appropriate to enact
laws which clearly stipulate the respective mandates of the intelligence
agencies,” the verdict suggested.
Pakistan, the army is considered the most powerful institution and its chief
the most powerful person, one who has the final say in all important matters
related to foreign policy, the economy and national security. While several
observers lauded the apex court’s verdict, some expressed their reservations
considering the rules of the game being set in Pakistan’s corridors of power.
“The Supreme Court has reminded the armed forces and spy agencies what already
has been described in the Constitution. The military’s role in the political
domain cannot be fixed unless the civilian institutions in the country remain weak,”
Aamir Ghauri, a prominent Pakistani analyst, told TOI.
ruling said any person issuing an edict, or fatwa, which harms another or puts
another in harm’s way must be criminally prosecuted under the Pakistan Penal Code,
the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and/or the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act,
spreading messages through electronic means which advocate or incite the
commission of an offence are liable to be prosecuted under the Prevention of
Electronic Crimes Act, 2016,” it added.
A women goalkeeper for Sweden National Team under 19, faced huge criticism
threats, insults over the past seven months following her conversion to Islam.
Andersson, a member of the Uppsala Women’s Football team appeared on a TV show
called Troll Hunter on Monday night.
to Anadolu Agency, the person who sent Andersson’s house a hate letter was also
in present during the show. The identified person also apologize to Andersson.
her story of becoming a Muslim, on the show, Andersson said she was first
introduced to Islam when she was 15-year-old by her Turkish friend.
said: “I had a Turkish boyfriend when I was 15, and I learned about Islam from
his family. When I went to Turkey with his family, I was so much impressed by
stated to had a peaceful life after becoming a Muslim. “I read the Holy Quran,
I pray and fast. “I am proud and happy to be a Muslim,” Andersson added.
become a hot topic of discussion in Sweden after she accept Prophet Muhammed
(Peace Be Upon Him) as Allah’s messenger and announce her religious conversion
to the public on May 2018.
an interview with National Swedish newspaper Expressen.se, Andersson stressed
that she is proud to be a Muslim despite the hate she received from people around
her, including her family: “They are full of prejudice against me… I was also
exposed to hatred,” she said. But she said, “I’m Proud I Chose Islam.”
to the US State Department report in 2011, Muslims make up between 450,000 and
500,000 of Sweden’s nine million people.
shelter from the cold as UK mosque opens its doors
Britain’s bitterly cold winter shows no sign of abating, a Birmingham mosque
has opened its doors to the homeless amid concern at the freezing temperatures
and the housing crisis.
looking for help sleep overnight in the mosque's community hall and are given
food, snacks and warm drinks. The project began two weeks ago when volunteers
from the Green Lane Mosque and Community Centre began dropping off leaflets
around the city advertising their support.
homeless person, who came with a wheelchair-bound friend, became so cold before
arriving he could not feel his feet, the mosque said. All are welcome,
regardless of race, religion or background according to Humayan Saleem, head of
welfare at the centre.
around the city centre at night you see all the homeless huddled in doorways.
They sleep on concrete floors in freezing temperatures. Over the last couple of
years in Birmingham there have been cases of homeless people freezing to death
and we want to help avoid this,” said Kamran Hussain, the mosque’s general
day three there were 12 staying in the mosque overnight with numbers described
as “consistent” thereafter.
want to continue for a number of weeks and will then reassess the situation. It
is, however, reliant on local goodwill and the volunteer efforts of around 20
have had a call out for volunteers from our congregation and have had a good
response…. it is difficult to find people who can contribute to stay for a
whole night so we are requesting more people to come forward and register their
support for the overnight stay from 11pm to 7.30am,” said Qaid Khizar, an
administration support assistant at the mosque.
centre said it also distributes food to the community via its foodbank, which
has been running for years.
January temperatures plunged below freezing as Birmingham was hit by a torrent
of snow and ice. According to research released in November by the charity
Shelter, there are at least 320,000 homeless people in Britain – a four percent
rise on the previous year.
CITY — Pope Francis said Wednesday that his recent trip to Abu Dhabi in the
United Arab Emirates was a step forward in Catholic-Muslim dialogue and
promoting peace among religions.
a brief visit, the “scattered seeds” of the Feb. 3-5 trip will bear fruit
according to God’s will, he said during his general audience Feb. 6.
visit to the UAE, and second meeting with the Muslim grand imam of al-Azhar,
“wrote a new page in the history of dialogue between Christianity and Islam and
in the commitment to promote peace in the world on the basis of human
Francis first met the grand imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, during a 2017
apostolic visit to Egypt. The two signed a joint document on human fraternity
the document, “we condemn all forms of violence, especially those with
religious motivation, and we commit ourselves to spreading authentic values and
peace throughout the world,” the Pope stated.
this era, he said, when there is strong a temptation to discord between
Christian and Islamic cultures, and considering religions as sources of
conflict, “we wanted to give a further, clear and decisive sign, that, instead,
it is possible to meet; it is possible to respect and dialogue.”
added that he recommends people read the document and try to understand it,
because it has helpful points for how to carry out a dialogue on human
the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic world
appreciate and protect common values: life, family, religious sense, honor for
the elderly, the education of young people, and still other things,” he said.
trip to the UAE, the first of a pope to the Arabian Peninsula, also fell 800
years after St. Francis of Assisi visited Sultan Malik al Kamil in Egypt. Pope
Francis said it was “Providence” that a pope named Francis made the historic
trip on the 800th anniversary of the saint’s visit.
often thought of St. Francis during this journey: He helped me to keep the
Gospel, the love of Jesus Christ, in my heart while I was living the various
moments of the visit,” he said.
my heart there was the Gospel of Christ,” he said, “the prayer to the Father
for all his children, especially for the poorest, for the victims of injustice,
wars, misery; prayer because the dialogue between Christianity and Islam is a
decisive factor for peace in today’s world.”
the audience, Francis also recalled his meetings with two 90-year-old priests
who have both served in the UAE for many years. One, he said, is now blind and
in a wheelchair, but a smile never left his lips. “The smile of having served
the Lord and done very good.”
highlight of the trip, he pointed out, was the Mass he celebrated in the
stadium in Abu Dhabi Feb. 5, which was attended by around 150,000 people.
“There were so many people!” he said. “We prayed in a special way for peace and
justice, with a special intention for the Middle East and Yemen.”
Muslim teacher in Bihar’s Katihar district was beaten up by locals after he
refused to say ‘Vande Mataram’ following the flag-hoisting ceremony on Republic
Day on January 26.
video of local residents thrashing the primary school teacher, identified as
Afzal Hussain, has gone viral.
later said he did not say ‘Vande Mataram’ as the same is against his religious
believe in Allah and Vande Mataram is against our belief. The term means
vandana (praise in Hindi) of Bharat Mata which is not what we believe in,” he
said, according to news agency ANI. “Nowhere in the Constitution is it written
that saying Vande Mataram is necessary. I could have lost my life,” he said.
Education Minister KN Prasad Verma said, “action will be taken if incident of
this sort has occurred. National song’s insult is not forgivable at all”.
education officer Dinesh Chandra Dev told reporters he has not received any
complaint regarding the incident. “Had we got any such information, an investigation
would have been done. But till now we have not got any such complaint,” he
Mataram, India’s national song, has sparked controversies in the past. Many
Muslims say the song in Sanskrit is a hymn to the Hindu goddess Durga and it is
against the tenets of Islam to sing it.
song was written by the Bengali poet Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1876.
ruined my life: Kerala man cleared of IS charges
February last year, Riyaz’s life took a turn for the worse. He was sacked from
his managerial job in Saudi Arabia, his family abandoned him and he was placed
under arrest for 76 days by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after his
wife alleged she was forced to convert and he sold her to Islamic State (IS) as
a “sex slave”.
one year since the 27-year-old was arrested under the stringent Unlawful
Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the NIA last week cleared him of terror
charges and transferred his case to the North Paravur police.
has been cleared of IS links and NIA has dropped charges against him under the
UAPA. They found no evidence against him. Now, we will probe the alleged crime
under Section 498 (A) of IPC, (husband subjecting a woman to cruelty),’’ said
an officer of Ernakulam rural police.
charges being dropped is light at the end of a long tunnel for Riyaz, but he
says the IS stigma has ruined his life forever.
I was arrested, I lost my job as a manager in Saudi Arabia. Close family
members abandoned me after the ISIS links were foisted. I never thought a love
marriage with a woman of a different religion would trigger such trouble. I had
come from Saudi Arabia to convince people of my innocence, but the NIA arrested
and put me in jail,’’ says Riyaz.
New Mahe in Kannur, Riyaz was arrested on February 3 by NIA when he landed from
Saudi Arabia. The NIA had taken over the case from the local police, where his
wife, a Muslim convert, alleged that Riyaz had tried to sell her to IS in
love affair began in 2013 in Bengaluru where Riyaz and the Hindu woman, from
Pathanamthitta, studied in the same institute. They married in May 2016 without
support from either family after the woman converted to Islam.
months later, she got a call from her father that her mother fell in the
bathroom and she was needed at home and flew to Gujarat.
she reached home, my wife realised that the family had trapped her. She
contacted me with the help of a friend and asked to rescue her,” said Riyaz.
he moved a habeas corpus plea in the Kerala High Court alleging his wife was
detained by her parents. She told the court she voluntarily married him and on
October 15, 2016, the Court allowed her to stay with Riyaz.
couple then moved to Jeddah and two months later, his wife got another call
that her father was ill and she should return immediately. “It was true that
her father was ill. I had objected to her return then as she was at the risk of
losing her job. I let her go and even dropped her to the airport,’’ he said.
went awry in November 2017, when his wife in a Kerala HC plea said she was
forcefully converted and Riyaz tried to sell her as a sex slave to IS in Syria.
gave her my ATM card and mobile phone. After she boarded the flight, I messaged
the copy of her boarding pass to my cousin. How can her family claim she
escaped from my custody and I tried to sell her as a sex slave? When she
insisted on returning, I arranged everything,’’ he said.
the NIA took over, Riyaz contacted officers in Kochi to appear before them,
neglecting legal advice. “I was confident of convincing officers about my innocence.
But I was jailed and got bail from the High Court after 76 days,’’ he said.
said he lost his job after he was jailed for alleged IS links. “Everyone looks
at me with suspicion. People were not willing to interact with me. I have
become a stranger for even close family members.’’
said he could not contact his wife after she moved the complaint in court. “She
could have sought a divorce. It was cruel to link me with ISIS.’’
Jolie visits Rohingya camps, says refugees’ plight ‘shames us all’
refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie on Tuesday visited camps in
Bangladesh for Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and condemned the world’s
failure to prevent a crisis that saw 730,000 people driven from their homes.
Hollywood actor addressed a crowd of refugees on a hilltop in Kutapalong camp,
the world’s largest refugee settlement, in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.
said was “humbled and proud to stand with you today.”
have every right not to be stateless and the way you have been treated shames
us all,” said Jolie, adding the crisis was the result of decades of
discrimination that had gone unaddressed.
is most tragic about this situation is that we cannot say we had no warning.”
visit came as the United Nations said it was preparing to launch a new appeal
for $920 million to support the refugees, who fled a brutal military crackdown
in neighboring Rakhine state in Myanmar in response to militant attacks in
investigators have accused Myanmar’s army of carrying out mass killings and
rapes with “genocidal intent” during the massive offensive that laid waste to
hundreds of Rohingya villages in the western Rakhine state.
denies the charge and says its offensive was a legitimate response to an
insurgent threat and has pledged to welcome the refugees back.
the United Nations says conditions are not yet right for return. The Rohingya
say they want guarantees over their safety and to be recognized as citizens
said she had met stateless Rohingya who described being “treated like cattle in
met a woman yesterday, a survivor of rape in Myanmar, and she told me ‘you
would have to shoot me where I stand before I would go back to Myanmar’,” Jolie
urge the Myanmar authorities to show the genuine commitment needed to end the
cycle of violence, displacement, and improve conditions for all communities in
Rakhine state, including the Rohingya.”
government spokesman Zaw Htay did not pick up a call seeking comment.
flew to Bangladesh this week to “assess the humanitarian needs of the Rohingya
refugees and some of the more critical challenges facing Bangladesh as a host
country”, the UNHCR said in a statement.
will meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul
Momen in the capital, Dhaka, on Wednesday, the refugee agency said.
refugees who gathered to watch Jolie speak said they knew only that she was a
22-year-old Mohammed Shakir, who fled his home in Rakhine after the 2017
violence, said he respected her for her humanitarian work.
I saw her, I was very excited because she has special words for our Rohingya,”
Iran ready to accept friendly US ties if it ‘repents’
President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday his country would be ready to establish
“friendly relations” with the United States if it apologized for past wrongs.
slogan is friendly relations with the whole world,” he said. That would even
include “America, if it repents... and apologizes for its previous
interferences in Iran, and is prepared to accept the greatness and dignity of
the nation of Iran and the great Islamic Revolution,” he said.
are still ready to accept America’s... repentance despite the fact that for
years it has done injustice to us,” he told foreign diplomats in Tehran during
a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
the hostage crisis at Washington’s US embassy in 1979, Iranian students had
famously demanded that the US should repent in return for the release of
diplomats. The following year, the two countries cut diplomatic ties, and they
have remained estranged ever since.
a message marking Persian New Year in March 2009, then-US president Barack
Obama reached out to the Islamic Republic, declaring: “we know that you are a
great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the
United States and the world.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded the next day, saying “change
and our attitude will change”. In June the same year, Obama became the first
serving American president to recognize that the US played a role in the 1953
coup that toppled Iran’s elected government – but he stopped short of
the detente was scuppered by Obama’s successor Donald Trump, who in May last
year unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear accord and re-imposed sanctions.
Rouhani last week accused the US of being an “oath-breaker”, and his hardline
opponents have repeatedly hammered the 2015 deal.
End of Daesh territory to be announced next week
formal end to Daesh's territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria is likely to be
announced as soon as next week, President Donald Trump said Wednesday as U.S.
partners fight to rid the terror group from its final bastions in Syria.
president made the announcement at a convening of over 70 of the U.S.-led
anti-Daesh coalition's foreign ministers in Washington.
ISIS caliphate has been decimated," Trump said at the meeting, using
another name for Daesh.
warned, however, that even as the group loses the last remnants of its
territories, holdout Daesh operatives still in the region will continue to pose
assured, we will do what it takes to defeat every ounce, and every last person
within the ISIS madness," he said.
the meeting, the top diplomats of Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia,
the United Kingdom and the U.S. issued a joint statement stressing the
"concerted need for diplomacy and international political will" led
by the UN to end the Syrian conflict.
affirm in the strongest terms that those who seek to destabilize the region or
seek a military solution will only succeed in increasing the risk of a
dangerous escalation and wider conflagration in the region," the countries
comments came as the UN released its report on the terror group, warning Daesh
is transforming its operations into covert networks in Iraq and Syria following
military defeats in the two countries.
document obtained by a Member State describes ISIL’s objectives for the
post-caliphate period: to undermine stabilization and reconstruction
activities, target infrastructure rebuilding efforts and in general thwart
economic progress," it said.
group's "center of gravity" is expected to remain in Syria and Iraq,
where it counts 14,000 to 18,000 militants in its ranks, as well as financial
reserves ranging between $50 million and $300 million.
announced the "rapid" withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria in
December, claiming then that the global coalition had succeeded in defeating
Daesh, his "only reason for being" there.
pushback from within his administration and from key U.S. lawmakers, he later
signaled a "slow & highly coordinated pullout" from the war-torn
Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that rebukes Trump over the planned
Syria withdrawal, claiming the exit could allow al-Qaeda and Daesh to regroup.
bill still has to pass in the House of Representatives, where Democrats
currently in control of the chamber are split over an amendment that protects
states who penalize businesses that support a Palestinian-led boycott and
divestment movement against Israel.
laws aimed at doing so in the past have directly impacted individual citizens
in addition to businesses, most notably in Texas, where people seeking aid
following Hurricane Harvey were forced to sign an anti-boycott pledge in order
to receive assistance.
and other states like it, has a law on the books barring agencies from doing
work with contractors who boycott Israel. The state, however, classified aid
seekers as contractors, forcing them to sign the anti-boycott pledge.
US college slams Khashoggi murder; keeps Saudi ties
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Wednesday said it would not
severe its ties with Saudi Arabia but the school condemned the murder of
journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
utterly condemns such brutal human rights violations, discrimination and
suppression of dissent, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,"
President Rafael Reif said in a letter.
students, faculty and members of the MIT community demanded the university end
its relationship with the kingdom after Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi
Consulate in Istanbul last October.
initially denying a role in the journalist's death, Saudi Arabia changed its
story and blamed the killing on a botched rendition operation.
said he shared the "sense of horror" at the killing but had no
intentions of cutting engagements with Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom
sponsored research and education programs for the university.
year, the Saudi state oil company, Aramco, pledged $25 million to the
university for an energy research project.
experience leads me to see our Saudi engagements differently, and therefore to
believe that cutting off these longstanding faculty-led relationships abruptly
in midstream is not the best course of action," said Reif.
said the university will establish an advisory committee to review
international engagement with other governments. This committee will review
future partnerships and also look at ones that are up for renewal.
Pakistan's actions are often a source of "frustration" to US' regional
efforts in Afghanistan, a top American general has said as he asked Islamabad
to cease its behaviour undermining stability and play constructive role in achieving
peace in South Asia.
a Congressional hearing, Commander of the US Central Command General Joseph
Votel told the lawmakers on Tuesday that terrorists operating out of Pakistan
and Afghanistan continue to threaten Afghan stability as well as stoke tensions
between Pakistan and India.
look to regional actors such as Pakistan to cease behaviour undermining
regional stability and play constructive role in achieving peace in Afghanistan
as well as the whole of South Asia," General Votel told members of the
Senate Armed Services Committee.
his testimony, General Votel said that Pakistan has taken positive steps to
assist Special US Representative of Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in support of
Afghanistan reconciliation by facilitating talks with the Taliban.
Pakistan "has avoided taking any concrete or irreversible steps such as
arresting or expelling Taliban leaders who do not cooperate with reconciliation
efforts," he said.
being appointed in September last, Khalilzad has met with all sides in an
attempt to end America's longest war in which the US has lost over 2,400
soldiers in more than 17 years.
our strategic focus on reconciliation and regional security, Pakistan has a
unique opportunity to make good on its promises of support to US efforts
focused on finding a negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan conflict,"
the US Commander said.
Pakistan plays a positive role in achieving a settlement to the conflict in
Afghanistan, the US will have opportunity and motive to help Islamabad fulfil
that role, as peace in the region is the most important mutual priority for the
US and Pakistan, he said.
Votel said, presents the US with challenges and opportunities in the execution
of its South Asia Strategy.
a state possessing nuclear weapons that sits at the nexus of Russian, Chinese,
Indian, Iranian, and US geopolitical interests, Pakistan will always be a
country of importance to the US, he noted.
Pakistan's actions are often a source of frustration to the US regional efforts
in Afghanistan," Votel said.
Pentagon's posture with Pakistan involves supporting Department of State as
they pursue a diplomatic solution with Islamabad to end the conflict in
Afghanistan while ensuring that Pakistan's equities are acknowledged and
addressed in any future agreement.
told lawmakers that Pakistan has not taken concrete actions against the safe
havens of violent extremist organisations or VEOs inside its borders.
VEOs located in Afghanistan conduct attacks inside Pakistan. This cross-border
instability and violence generates tension along both sides of the
border," he said.
Taliban say the United States has promised them to withdraw half of its troops
from Afghanistan by April as part of a peace process in the conflict-stricken
country, a report says.
the Russian RIA news agency, Reuters quoted the Taliban group — which has a
delegation in Moscow for talks with Afghan opposition politicians — as making
the assertion on Wednesday, without offering more information.
Taliban have been holding bilateral talks with the US, without the
participation of the Afghan government. Kabul has said any ultimate decision
for peace in Afghanistan must include Kabul. It has also derided the Moscow
separate Reuters report cited the head of the Taliban delegation in Moscow,
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, as saying that no timetable had been agreed upon
for the withdrawal of US troops yet.
timetable is not agreed so far, but it requires more discussion and more
meetings so that we can decide on this,” Stanikzai said on Tuesday. “We hope
that with their [Russians’] help, with their assistance, we can reach some sort
of solution. We appreciate this.”
also discussed what he said was the Taliban’s hopes for the withdrawal of all
foreign troops from Afghanistan.
America side... there are two things, two agendas we have discussed. One was
the withdrawal of their troops, complete withdrawal of all foreign troops from
Afghanistan... How they will withdraw, when they will withdraw, the timetable
and which troops, and also the other side also. So two technical groups are
working on that. It will start soon, their work,” he said.
meeting was organized by the Council of Afghan Society, an organization
representing the Afghan diaspora in Russia.
month, the US held talks with the Taliban in Qatar.
President Ashraf Ghani has appealed to the Taliban to end the violence in the
country, emphasizing that the use of US-led foreign troops to establish peace
there has always been a temporary solution to the conflict.
Ghani told Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews that the Moscow meeting amounted to
Moscow meeting is nothing more than a fantasy. No one can decide without the
consent of the Afghan people. Those who have gathered in Moscow have no
executive authority. They can say what they want, but who are they
representing?” President Ghani said.
the 17-year presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban militants
still wield control over almost half of the country.
CITY: Two years after six people were killed in an attack at the Islamic
Cultural Center of Quebec, the local Canadian Muslim community still does not
have its own cemetery to bury their dead.
had been chosen in 2017 for a new cemetery about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from
the capital of Canada’s Quebec province, but the project was rejected in a
City later sold land adjacent to a Catholic cemetery to the mosque, but its
opening has been delayed by technical issues.
this area, the water table is a little too high,” explained Frederic Fournier,
spokesman for Quebec’s environment ministry.
Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec (CCIQ), he said, “must propose a solution to
lower the water table to prevent the coffins from coming into contact with the
groundwater and avoid contamination.”
president Boufeldja Benabdallah said it is pressing ahead but the water woes
could take a few more months to resolve.
opened, the new cemetery will be able to accomodate a few hundred burials. “The
graveyard will be good to use for 50 years,” he said.
years past, there were only two options for the deceased,” Mohamed Labidi, a
former president of the CCIQ, told AFP.
their remains were repatriated to their birth country — the six killed in the
2017 mosque shooting had emigrated to Canada — or they were buried at a Muslim
cemetery in Montreal, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Quebec City.
stressed the importance for members of his community to be buried in an
all-Muslim cemetery. “It’s real need to have a cemetery, for stability of the
Muslim community,” he said.
the six victims of the January 2017 attack, “five people have been repatriated
to their home country and one is buried at the Muslim cemetery in Montreal,”
were all dual nationals — two from Algeria, two Guineans, one Moroccan and one
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday shared concerns with his
Brazilian counterpart, Ernesto Araujo, about that country’s possible decision
to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
bilateral relations & international developments w/FM Ernesto Araujo of
#Brazil. Conveyed our concerns on the possible transfer of the Brazilian
Embassy to #Jerusalem," Cavusoglu said in a tweet.
arrived in Washington on Tuesday to attend a meeting of foreign ministers a
part of the global coalition to defeat Daesh.
November, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced he intended to move the
embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following the U.S., which had done so
earlier in the year.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) responded to the announcement,
denouncing the move as "illegal".
declaration was a flagrant violation of international law and of all relevant
UN resolutions," said the OIC.
President Donald Trump predicted that ISIS will lose all its territory in its
former so-called Caliphate next week, but warned of “dangerous remnants” from
anti-terror global coalition members who gathered in Washington on Wednesday,
Mr Trump said that the extremist group is “decimated” because of a plan that
his administration put in place when he came to office in January 2017.
I became president it was a mess,” he said, explaining that he asked the
Pentagon to put together a plan to directly confront the group and enable US
partners on the ground in Iraq and Syria.
a result, two years later, Mr Trump says ISIS territory will be completely lost
by next week.
should be formally announced sometime next week that we will have 100 percent
of the caliphate. I want to wait for the official word. I don't want to say it too
early,” he said.
land is gone,” he added, but warned of dangerous remnants of the group.
Trump said “as countries in the region step up their commitments…we look
forward to give our troops a warm welcome home” but he did not announce a
timeline for withdrawal from Syria.
US President thanked the UAE, Germany and Saudi Arabia for their increased
financial commitments as part of the coalition.
Trump's comments followed on from a statement by his Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo, reassuring the 79 nations represented at the event that the US is still
leading the fight against ISIS.
officials from the alliance in Washington, Mr Pompeo stressed that the United
States was not backing out of the fight after President Donald Trump announced the
surprise withdrawal of troops from Syria in December.
all know why we’re here – ISIS remains a menace, one that it’s our generation’s
responsibility to stop,” the top US diplomat said.
entering an era of decentralised jihad and nature of the fight against ISIS is
changing so we must be nimble in response,” Mr Pompeo added.
played down the US planned withdrawal from Syria saying it was a tactical
change rather than a retreat in their involvement, adding that: “America will
continue to lead in giving those who would destroy us no quarter”.
Pompeo returned to the need for all coalition partners to redouble efforts,
work together militarily but also through intelligence sharing, financial and
humanitarian assistance and through cooperation to ensure the total eradication
of the militant group and its ideology.
giving detail, he said that partners need to be able to respond quickly to
requests for action in the fight and that these requests would be coming soon.
US diplomat urged all countries to take back ISIS foreign fighters, prosecute
and punish them. America, unlike many other countries, has actively taken
custody of US citizens who travelled to Iraq and Syria to join the militant
group. The US has also requested custody of non-American nationals who have
committed crimes that may be punishable under American law.
includes two former British nationals, part of a group from the UK dubbed ‘the
Beatles’ accused of the murder of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff,
and aid workers David Haines, Alan Henning and Peter Kassig. The two suspects
are held by Western-backed Kurdish forces in Northern Syria and have been
stripped of their British nationality.
countries are reluctant to accept the return of captured foreign fighters due
to the difficulty in mounting a legal case against them and inadequate laws
against nationals travelling abroad to join armed groups. Also, there lingers
the question for many counties if they are able to make a successful
prosecution of what to do with the former fighters.
a phone call with reporters about the meeting, a senior US official voiced
optimism about the prospects of setting up a “safe zone” on the Turkish-Syrian
border that may include an international force.
in closed negotiations with our Turkish counterparts to see what might be
possible in terms of a buffer zone that would both protect Turkey's legitimate
security concerns about its border, and also protect the partners that we've
been fighting with over the course of the last few years. I don’t think we're
prepared to comment on what might make up an international force in that safe
zone because those conversations haven't been concluded yet,” the official
by The National if the US would amend its withdrawal plans were the safe zone
talks to fail, the US official said: “I wouldn’t want to predict failure given
the success of our recent discussions with the Turks. I think we'll remain
optimistic that creating this safe zone is in both of our best interests and
that we'll be able to get there.”
official said the US administration was “a little surprised by the reaction” by
Iraqi leaders to Mr Trump’s recent comments that US troops watch Iran from
Iraq. “We look at the influence of Iran across the region, the places where
they’re intervening are not exactly an advertisement for good government and
prosperous security,” the official said.
Foreign Minister Mohamed Al Hakim, speaking after Mr Pompeo, called on
countries to help expose ISIS "sleeper cells" in Iraq and restore
asked coalition members for “complete respect for territorial integrity of
Iraq” and that all operations must take place with the knowledge of the
government in Baghdad and according to its constitution.
US official did not put a timeline for US withdrawal from Syria but hinted that
American troops presence at Al Tanf base in the east “would be the last place
that we would withdraw from, and I think that’s something that has not been
Pompeo also held a morning meeting with the Coalition’s Small Group that
includes Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and
the United States. In a joint statement on Syria following the discussions,
they recommitted to “efforts to achieve a political solution to the conflict in
Syria on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.”
his second State of the Union address, US President Donald Trump singled out
Iran as the “world’s leading state sponsor of terror” and repeated his pledge
to avoid endless wars.
Mr Trump stopped short of doubling down on declaring full victory against ISIS
as had been expected and he did not give a more fixed timetable for pulling US
forces from Syria.
president struck a more bipartisan tone to last year in a speech that followed
the longest government shutdown in US history last month and the Republican
loss of the House of Representatives in last November’s election.
the Middle East, the US President focused on Iran, the fight against ISIS and
withdrawal from Syria without detailing the specifics of his plan.
administration has acted decisively to confront the world's leading state
sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran,” he said.
ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the
United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in
place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country,” Mr Trump said.
White House is preparing to host a conference in Warsaw next week to discuss
increasing pressure on Tehran.
will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and
threatens genocide against the Jewish people,” he said to applause.
president laid out his Middle East strategy — or without saying so
specifically, his policy towards Israel and Palestine — as one of “principled
realism, not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield
Administration recognised the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the
American Embassy in Jerusalem,” he said.
long drawn-out wars, Mr Trump complained about spending more than $7 trillion
(Dh25.7 tn) in the Middle East. “As a candidate for President, I pledged a new
approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars,” he said.
Mr Trump was widely expected to reiterate his claim that the US had defeated
ISIS and detail a timeline for withdrawal from Syria.
US president's December announcement that the campaign in Syria was completed
came as a shock to US allies and his own officials. It led Defence Secretary
Jim Mattis and the US’s top envoy to the international anti-ISIS coalition,
Brett McGurk, to resign.
I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria.
Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these
bloodthirsty killers,” he said.
as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give
our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.”
Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, a Yazidi activist and survivor of genocide, and
Syrian Kurdish leader Ilham Ahmed were in the audience.
America’s longest war, Mr Trump said he has “accelerated our negotiations to
reach a political settlement in Afghanistan”. He highlighted the US's “constructive
talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban.
do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after
two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace”.
to Russia, he defended his decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range
Nuclear Forces Treaty on missiles. “Decades ago, the United States entered into
a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile
we followed the agreement to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms …
Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or
perhaps we can’t.”
president's most concrete plans was over talks with North Korea.
Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam,” Mr Trump said.
his signature negotiations with North Korea, Mr Trump said, “our hostages have
come home, nuclear testing has stopped and there has not been a missile launch
in 15 months.
work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.”
Venezuela, the US has condemned President Nicolas Maduro, called for him to
step down and backed National Assembly head Juan Guaido as new interim
stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we
condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime,” Mr Trump said.
the domestic front, Mr Trump touted “an unprecedented economic boom” with a
drop in unemployment and rise in wages during his first two years. He urged the
new Democratic House to work with him, as another shutdown looms if no funding
is provided for his flagship border wall in the coming weeks.
repeated his defence of the wall and stronger border security and called for
“reversing decades of calamitous trade policies” and uniting to rebuild
“America’s crumbling infrastructure.”
concern over how the new Congress will handle Mr Trump given the broad powers
to demand investigations into the president, he warned, “If there is going to
be peace and legislation there cannot be war and investigation.”
sit-in: SC tells govt to prosecute elements propagating hate and extremism
Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the government to proceed against those who
advocate hate and extremism, obstruct people’s right to use roads and damage
its verdict in a suo motu case regarding the 2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the two-member bench comprising Justice Qazi
Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam directed the federal and provincial
governments to monitor all elements advocating hate, extremism and terrorism
and prosecute the perpetrators in accordance with the law.
per the written verdict authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the Supreme Court
has ruled that any person issuing an edict or fatwa, which harms another or
puts another in harm’s way, must be criminally prosecuted under the Pakistan
Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and/or the Prevention of Electronic
Crimes Act, 2016. The verdict directed intelligence agencies, including ISI, IB
and MI, and the ISPR to not exceed their constitutional mandate.
the state’s security apparatus to not interfere with broadcasts and
publications, the court further instructed the intelligence agencies to monitor
all those who threaten the territorial integrity of the country and all those
who undermine the security of the people and the State by resorting to or
inciting violence. “It will be appropriate to enact laws which clearly
stipulate the respective mandates of the intelligence agencies to ensure transparency.
The Government of Pakistan through the Ministry of Defence and the respective
chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are directed to initiate action
against the personnel under their command who are found to have violated their
oath,” the verdict read.
full verdict is as follows:
Subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law, citizens have the right to
form and to be members of political parties.
Every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest
provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law
imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order. The right to
assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on
the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to
hold and enjoy property.
Protesters who obstruct people’s right to use roads and damage or destroy
property must be proceeded against in accordance with the law and held
The constitution earmarks the responsibilities of the Election Commission which
it must fulfil. If a political party does not comply with the law governing
political parties then the Election Commission must proceed against it in
accordance with the law. The law is most certainly not cosmetic as contended on
behalf of the Election Commission.
All political parties have to account for the source of their funds in
accordance with the law.
The State must always act impartially and fairly. The law is applicable to all,
including those who are in government and institutions must act independently
of those in government.
When the State failed to prosecute those at the highest echelons of government
who were responsible for the murder and attempted murder of peaceful citizens
on the streets of Karachi on May 12, 2007, it set a bad precedent and
encouraged others to resort to violence to achieve their agendas.
A person issuing an edict or fatwa, which harms another or puts another in
harm’s way, must be criminally prosecuted under the Pakistan Penal Code, the
Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and/or the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.
Broadcasters who broadcast messages advocating or inciting the commission of an
offence violate the PEMRA Ordinance and the terms of their licences and must be
proceeded against by PEMRA in accordance with the law.
Cable operators who stopped or interrupted the broadcast of licenced
broadcasters must be proceeded against by PEMRA in accordance with the PEMRA
Ordinance, and if this was done on the behest of others then PEMRA should
report those so directing the cable operators to the concerned authorities.
Those spreading messages through electronic means which advocate or incite the
commission of an offence are liable to be prosecuted under the Prevention of
Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.
All intelligence agencies (including ISI, IB and MI) and the ISPR must not
exceed their respective mandates. They cannot curtail the freedom of speech and
expression and do not have the authority to interfere with broadcasts and
publications, in the management of broadcasters/publishers and in the
distribution of newspapers.
Intelligence agencies should monitor activities of all those who threaten the
territorial integrity of the country and all those who undermine the security
of the people and the State by resorting to or inciting violence.
To best ensure transparency and the rule of law, it would be appropriate to
enact laws which clearly stipulate the respective mandates of the intelligence
The constitution emphatically prohibits members of the armed forces from
engaging in any kind of political activity, which includes supporting a
political party, faction or individual. The government of Pakistan through the
Ministry of Defence and the respective chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air
Force are directed to initiate action against the personnel under their command
who are found to have violated their oath.
The police and other law enforcement agencies are directed to develop standard
plans and procedure with regard to how best to handle rallies, protests and
dharnas, and ensure that such plans/procedures are flexible enough to attend to
different situations. It is clarified that though the making of such plans/procedures
is not within the jurisdiction of this courtm however we expect that in the
maintenance of law and order every effort will be taken to avoid causing injury
and loss of life.
We direct the federal and provincial governments to monitor those advocating
hate, extremism and terrorism and prosecute the perpetrators in accordance with
Isa concluded the written verdict by quoting Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah:
“I consider it my duty to call upon the Muslims to temper their resentment with
reason and to beware of the dangers which may well overwhelm their own State.
Should they allow their feelings of the moment to gain mastery over their
actions. It is of utmost importance that Pakistan should be kept free from
disorder, because the outbreak of lawlessness… is bound to shake… its
foundation and cause irreparable damage to its future. I pray to God that He
who has bestowed on us this great boon of a sovereign State, may now give our
people courage to… preserve intact the peace of Pakistan for the sake of
bench had reserved judgement on November 22 last year, a year after initiating
suo motu proceedings on November 21, 2017.
activist Gulalai Ismail was released by Islamabad police late Wednesday,
Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat told DawnNewsTV.
according to the senior official, 17 of the 25 Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)
workers arrested a day earlier along with Gulalai for holding a protest
demonstration outside the National Press Club were sent to Adiala jail after
the completion of a verification process by police.
official said that the workers were sent to jail under Section 3 (1) of the
West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) of 1960.
the order, the 17 will remain jailed for a period of 15 days.
meanwhile, was released by Islamabad police, DC Shafqaat confirmed.
in the day, Gulalai's father, Professor Muhammad Ismail, told Dawn.com that his
daughter had been arrested on Tuesday.
to Professor Ismail, the activist was picked up from outside the National Press
Club in Islamabad while she took part in a protest against the controversial
death of PTM leader Arman Loni in Balochistan on Saturday.
had initially shifted Gulalai to the G9 Women's Police Station, Ismail told
to Gulalai's father, she was shifted to an unknown location a few hours after
are trying to trace her whereabouts but the police is not ready to share
Gulalai's location," he had said, adding that so far no First Information
Report (FIR) of the arrest had been registered at the time.
October last year, Gulalai had been detained by airport officials in Islamabad
following her return from London. She was later released on bail but her
passport was withheld by airport officials.
detention had been in connection with an FIR that Swabi police had registered
on Aug 13, 2018 against 19 PTM leaders, including Gulalai, for their
involvement in a public gathering in Swabi where PTM's Manzoor Pashteen and
Gulalai both addressed the crowd.
is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the
former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted
on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances
and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account
within a truth and reconciliation framework.
a Pashtun and women's rights activist, was in 2017 awarded the 'Reach all Women
in War' Anna Politovskaya Award.
co-founded a non-governmental organisation, Aware Girls, with sister Saba
Ismail in 2002. The organisation aims to strengthen the leadership skills of
young people, especially women and girls, enabling them to act as agents of
change for women empowerment and peace building.
and unconditional' release
a statement shared on Twitter, Amnesty International South Asia called on
Pakistani authorities to "immediately and unconditionally" release
Former president Asif Ali Zardari has requested Peshawar High Court to dismiss
as non-maintainable a writ petition, seeking orders for the commission of
inquiry into the Abbottabad incident to probe the ‘prior information’ allegedly
available with Mr Zardari about the May 2011 US military operation against Al
Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
a written reply to the petition submitted to the court, the former president
states that the writ petition is not maintainable as the subject matter does
not fall within the ambit of Article 199 of the Constitution and the inquiry
commission after concluding its report is no longer functional.
petition is filed by freelance journalist Shahid Orakzai, pleading the court to
order the Abbottabad commission to examine the ‘evidence’ of the alleged
communication between former president Zardari and then Pakistani ambassador to
the US Hussain Haqqani prior to the Abbottabad operation and submit report
about it within 30 days.
interim relief, the petitioner has requested the court to suspend the
membership of the National Assembly of Mr Zardari and restrain him from leaving
lawyer Muzzamil Khan submitted the reply on behalf of Mr Zardari.
bench of Justice Syed Afsar Shah and Justice Lal Jan Khattak, which took up for
hearing the petition on Wednesday, adjourned hearing in the case without any
noteworthy progress due to strike of lawyers across the province.
petitioner has alleged that Mr Zardari was covertly connected with the American
CIA in relation to its operation against Osama bin Laden and his connection
should be proven before the commission of inquiry into the Abbottabad incident.
the written comments, prepared by senior counsel Sardar Mohammad Latif Khan
Khosa, it is stated that the subject matter related to the episode having
occurred in 2011 and was being agitated before the court in 2019.
public concern was promptly addressed with the constitution of a high-powered
commission known as the Abbottabad commission headed by Supreme Court Senior
Justice Javed Iqbal under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1956 by the then
federal government,” the respondent maintained.
states: “The commission held threadbare inquiry and examined civil, military
and personnel of all agencies and innumerable others and after prolonged
sessions, hearings and deliberations submitted report which with its
sensitivities and national interests concluded the matter.”
Zardari states that the petitioner is neither an aggrieved person, nor has any
locus standi to file the petition. It is added that the petitioner is known for
filing such petitions, which can be termed as frivolous and wastage of court’s
precious time. The respondent states that the commission has long since
concluded and submitted the report to the federal government and as such has
become non-functional. He terms the claim of the petitioner incorrect that in the
last week of April 2011, he as the country’s president betrayed the ‘security
of Pakistan’ by concealing secret information received from Washington DC about
the US military operation against Osama bin Laden.
Some two months after the election of Shahbaz Sharif as chairman of the Public
Accounts Committee (PAC), the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government on
Wednesday called for his resignation.
ruling party reached the conclusion at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister
Imran Khan that leader of the opposition in the National Assembly should resign
from the position of PAC chairman.
meeting, that was attended by senior PTI leaders, also described the arrest of
PTI leader and Punjab minister Abdul Aleem Khan as the National Accountability
Bureau’s (NAB) “balancing act” that was aimed at justifying its actions against
PTI leaders also asserted that the government would not make any National
Reconciliation Ordinance-like deal with any opposition leader.
Minister Fawad Chaudhry informed the media about details of the meeting in a
video message. He said the government believed that Mr Sharif was using PAC as
a shield against corruption cases initiated against him.
meeting expressed concern over the role and actions of Shahbaz Sharif as PAC
chairman,” he added. “Shahbaz Sharif should step down and face corruption cases
said PTI leader and Punjab minister Aleem Khan had resigned from his office
after he was arrested by NAB in a corruption case.
Sharif, who is president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, was elected
unopposed as PAC chairman on Dec 22 last year after months of wrangling between
the PTI and the opposition parties.
is the apex parliamentary watchdog that oversees the audit of revenues and
expenditures of the government and is considered to be the parliament’s most
powerful and important committee.
the PAC used to comprise only the members of National Assembly, but in recent
past the members of Senate have also been made part of it.
there is no stipulation in the rules to give the chairmanship of the PAC to
opposition parties only, there’s a tradition that the office is given to an
opposition member to ensure transparency in financial matters.
the PTI-led government was reluctant to give chairmanship of this vital
committee to the opposition leader, contrary to the tradition. However, Foreign
Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi later announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan
had decided not to stand in Mr Sharif’s way if he wanted to head the PAC.
information minister said Aleem Khan had set a good example by leaving his
office after being arrested by NAB. “Shahbaz Sharif should follow Aleem Khan
and step down too.”
minister said Prime Minister Khan was “unhappy” over the arrest of Aleem Khan
and vowed to introduce reforms in NAB.
Chaudhry said Mr Sharif was not only using PAC as a shield against his cases,
but efforts were now being made to make another PML-N leader implicated in a
NAB case, Khawaja Saad Rafique, a member of the PAC. “The way Mr Sharif
summoned NAB officials in the PAC meetings shows he wants to take shelter
behind the PAC position,” he added.
information minister said Aleem Khan’s resignation had highlighted the
difference between the PTI and other parties.
mentioning the names of opposition leaders who were asking for a NRO-like deal,
he said: “No deal and dheel [concession] will be given to anyone.”
Chaudhry said the government had decided to bring all cases of corruption to
their logical conclusion.
a separate meeting with leaders of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Prime
Minister Khan vowed to resolve the problems confronting the people of the
country’s largest province.
delegation led by federal Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal
apprised the prime minister of the problems faced by the people of Balochistan.
prime minister told the delegation he was aware of the problem of water
scarcity in the province and said he was in contact with Balochistan Chief
Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani to address the issue.
Security forces recovered a cache of weapons during an Intelligence Based
Operation (IBO) in village Manra of Tehsel Birmal in South Waziristan, the
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
ammunition included guns of different calibers, rocket launchers and machine
guns, the statement added.
Fasaad, launched on February 22, 2017 is the codename for an operation launched
by the military forces in collaboration with the Pakistan Air Force and
Pakistan Navy as well as local law enforcement agencies to curb down on
terrorist actvities in the country.
with Islam key for peace: Pope
Dialogue between Christianity and Islam is crucial to promote peace worldwide,
Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience in the Vatican on
Wednesday following a landmark visit to the United Arab Emirates.
between Christianity and Islam needs to be a key factor for peace in the world
today”, the pontiff said.
Pope said the trip was “brief but very important”, linking it to his 2017 visit
to Al-Azhar, Egypt, the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam, and wrote “a
new page in the dialogue between Christianity and Islam and in efforts to
promote peace in the world based on human brotherhood”.
noted that it was the “first time that a Pope visited the Arabian peninsula”
and that “providence wanted it to be a Pope called Francis, 800 years after the
visit of St Francis of Assisi to Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil.
pontiff said UAE has grown a lot over the past few decades becoming a
“crossroads between East and West, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious ‘oasis’
and thus the right place to promote the culture of encounter”.
an era like ours, when there is a strong temptation to see an ongoing clash
between the Christian and Islamic civilization, and also to consider religions
as sources of conflict, we have wanted to give a further clear and decided sign
that it instead possible to meet, it is possible to respect one another and
dialogue and that, despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the
Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and preserve common values”, the Pope
went on to say, citing life, family, a sense of religion, honoring the elderly
and educating the young, among others.
pontiff in particular recalled the he has signed with the grand imam of
al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi a historic declaration of fraternity, calling for peace
between nations, religions and races in which “we condemn all forms of
violence, especially when it is motivated by religion and we pledge to promote
authentic values and peace worldwide”.
recalled that over one million Christians live in the UAE, mainly workers from
Asian countries, and that he met with representatives of the Catholic community
at Abu Dhabi’s St Josepth Cathedral, celebrating a mass with Patriarchs,
Archbishops and Bishops in which they “prayed in particular for peace and
justice, with special intention for the Middle East and Yemen”.
in London is investigating a major Islamophobic attack against Liverpool FC’s
Mohammad Salah of Egypt.
Metropolitan Police (The Met) said on Wednesday that it was investigating an
incident during an English Premier League football match between West Ham
United and Liverpool FC, in which a capital club supporter allegedly hurled
Islamophobic rants at Salah.
footage of the incident uploaded on the internet showing Salah being targeted
with serious verbal abuses in the Monday match as he was taking a corner for
Met said they were reviewing the footage while calling on anyone having
witnessed the incident at London Stadium to come forward.
arrests have been made and enquiries continue,” a Met statement said, adding,
“Anyone who witnesses inappropriate behaviour during a match is urged to bring
it to the attention of a steward or police officer.”
Ham United authorities said they were also reviewing footage taken by CCTV
cameras to identify the perpetrator. The London club vowed strong action
against the suspect if he is found of guilty of racial abuse.
West Ham United, we have a zero tolerance policy to any form of violent or
abusive behavior. We are an inclusive football club,” said a club spokesperson,
adding, “Anyone identified committing an offence will have their details passed
to the police and will face a lifetime ban from London Stadium.”
Russian court on Wednesday sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness to six years in prison
for “extremism”, in the first conviction of its kind since a 2017 law that
outlawed the religious group.
citizen Dennis Christensen was in court in the southern Russian city of Oryol
for the sentencing, spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia Yaroslav
Sivulskiy told AFP.
deeply regret the conviction of Dennis Christensen -- an innocent man who did
not commit any real crime,” Sivulskiy said in a statement.
is sad that reading the Bible, preaching, and living a moral way of life is
again a criminal offence in Russia.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses, a US-based Christian evangelical movement, will appeal the
verdict within 10 days, according to a statement from the organization’s head
AFP photographer outside the courtroom saw Christensen, 46, being led past a
mass of supporters by police officers following the verdict.
groups have condemned the trial, with Amnesty International saying it was
“emblematic of the grave human rights violations” taking place in Russia.
has condemned a decision by French President Emmanuel Macron to declare a
national day for the commemoration of the “genocide” of Armenians by Turkish
troops in World War I.
condemn and reject attempts by Mr. Macron, who is facing political problems in
his own country, to save the day by turning historic[al] events into political
material,” President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a
statement on Wednesday.
of the so-called Armenian genocide are a political lie lacking any legal basis
and contrary to historical facts,” Kalin said, adding that the accusations are
“null and void for Turkey.”
said April 24 would in the next weeks be declared a “national day of
commemoration of the Armenian genocide.”
said he had already informed Erdogan of his decision.
says 1.5 million people were massacred, imprisoned, or faced forced deportation
by the Ottoman Empire during WWI.
denies that “genocide” took place at the time, arguing that 300,000 to 500,000
Armenians and at least as many Turks were killed in a civil strife when
Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers back then. It has repeatedly
proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from the two sides as
well as international experts to tackle the issue.
issue has also been a source of friction between Turkey and European Union
My UAE trip wrote new page in Christian-Islam history
CITY: Pope Francis says his pilgrimage this week to the United Arab Emirates
wrote a “new page in history of the dialogue between Christianity and Islam”
and in promoting world peace based on brotherhood.
pilgrims at the Vatican Wednesday about making the first-ever papal trip to the
Arabian Peninsula, Francis described his encounter with leaders of Islam as a
counterpoint to the “strong temptation” to contend there’s a current clash
between Christian and Islamic civilizations.
in Abu Dhabi, Francis signed a document with the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the
ancient seat of learning in Sunni Islam, condemning religiously motivated and
other violence. The pope said the two religious leaders wanted to give a “clear
and decisive sign” that respect and dialogue is possible between the Christian
and Islamic worlds.
leaders repeated a historic claim that the withdrawal of foreign forces from
Afghanistan was a prerequisite for peace during talks in Moscow on Wednesday
that were criticised by US officials and the government in Kabul .
the meeting with Afghan politicians outside of government, senior Taliban
leaders said that the US had agreed to draw down half of its 14,000 force in
Afghanistan by April, a claim later denied by officials in Washington. The
group’s leaders also told reporters they had no intention of taking the entire
country by force.
conference in the Russian capital, organised by an Afghan diaspora group, came
just three months after Taliban leaders were last in Moscow. In November, the
foreign ministry brought together Taliban leaders alongside representatives of
the Afghan government and 11 countries that were touted as the highest level
talks the insurgent group had ever participated in.
Russian official speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity explained
that the Kabul government had not been invited to talks this week due to their
President Ashraf Ghani criticised the gathering in Moscow on Tuesday saying
they amounted to "nothing more than a fantasy.”
one can decide without the consent of the Afghan people," he told Afghan
media. "Those who have gathered in Moscow have no executive authority.
They can say what they want."
Afghan president Hamid Karzai, among the most high profile attendees in Moscow,
said Kabul’s role in negotiations was something for it to resolve with the
Taliban. "We understand that the government in Kabul needs to be part of
these negotiations, we wish that they would have been here today," he told
talks in Moscow come shortly after US officials and the Taliban ended their own
round of negotiations in Qatar in January. Both sides said they had made
significant headway. US president Donald Trump used his State of the Union
address to call for renewed efforts to negotiate with the hardline Sunni
years after the Taliban ousted Soviet troops from Afghanistan with US backing,
Russia is taken an increasingly assertive role in the conflict.
officials have accused the Kremlin of arming the Taliban and interfering in
Washington’s efforts to bring about a resolution to the 17-year conflict. Ahead
of the talks, a senior US official told Reuters that "Russia is again
trying to muddle the US-backed peace process and the political situation of Afghanistan."
however, has grown increasingly concerned that the US has failed to resolve the
conflict in Afghanistan, analysts in Moscow told The National. The Kremlin is
particularly concerned about drug trafficking and the rise of ISIS explained Alexey
Khlebnikov, an analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council think-tank,
which was set up by the Kremlin.
treats Afghanistan as its sensitive underbelly,” Mr Khlebnikov said. “This is
why Moscow sees stabilising and pacifying Afghanistan as an important
precondition to the security of its own borders.”
the Middle East more broadly, Russia is seen as wieldling increasing clout in
conflicts where the US has opted for a lighter touch. Mr Khlebnikov did not
rule out that as Mr Trump plans to pull US troops from Afghanistan, Russia may
be eyeing filling the vacuum.
won't turn into launch pad for aggression against others, top Shia cleric says
most senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has fiercely criticized
the latest statement by US President Donald Trump that American forces must
remain in Iraq so Washington can keep a close eye on neighboring Iran.
a meeting with the special representative for Iraq and head of the United
Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaer, in the
holy shrine city of Najaf on Wednesday, Ayatollah Sistani said Iraq rejects
serving as a launching pad to harm any other country.
noted that Iraq aspires to have good and balanced relations with all
neighboring countries, without interference in their internal affairs.
remarks came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi strongly
condemned Trump’s comments, stressing that his country will not accept being
used for any acts of aggression against other states.
Monday, Iraqi President Barham Salih hit back at the US president, saying, “The
Iraqi constitution rejects the use of Iraq as a base for hitting or attacking a
said Trump did not ask Iraq's permission for US troops stationed there to
an interview with CBS television network broadcast on Sunday, Trump highlighted
the importance of a military base in Iraq, saying it was crucial to the
surveillance of Iran’s activities.
spent a fortune on building this incredible base, we might as well keep it. And
one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little
bit at Iran” he said in an apparent reference to Ayn al-Asad Airbase in western
Iraq, which he paid a visit to during an unannounced trip to the country last
asked whether he planned to use US forces in Iraq to “strike” Iran, Trump
responded, “No… all I want to do is be able to watch.”
large number of foreign militants have opened their way into Idlib from
Sarmada, Atmeh and Bab al-Salam passageway in the past 48 hours and joined the
troops of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front)
and Horras al-Din terrorist groups," the sources were quoted by the
Arabic-language website of Sputnik as saying.
to the report, 1,500 foreign terrorists, from Western, East Asian and Arab
states, arrived in Idlib from Turkey on Sunday and Monday midnights while they
had been hidden in container vehicles.
reports said late last month that Ankara was integrating the terrorist groups
in regions occupied by them in Northern Syria, sources said, adding that the
move contradicts Turkey's undertakings under the Sochi agreement.
Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the terrorists as
saying that the Turkish military and intelligence officials have promised the
ringleaders of Ahrar al-Sham, Nour al-Din Zinki and the so-called National
Liberation Front (NLF) terrorist groups that they would merge them along with
Tahrir al-Sham within the framework of a military organization.
added that Turkey had also promised them to set up a parliament and an
autonomous government after dissolution of Tahrir al-Sham in territories
occupied by the militants, adding that Faylaq al-Sham which has recently been
joined by 18 other terrorist groups in Northern Idlib and Western Aleppo was
due to be the political branch of the new organization and Tahrir al-Sham would
take the responsibility for its military wing.
military experts warned that Turkey's measures were against the Sochi agreement
to establish a demilitarized zone in Northern Syria and the Turkish president's
promises to his Russian counterpart in the last week meeting in Moscow, adding
that the move by Ankara has left the Syrian army with the only option of
cleansing Tahrir al-Sham from the demilitarized zone.
reports last month also said that the terrorists of Tahrir al-Sham were
pursuing the new scenario to establish a new integrated military organization
in Idlib after the terrorist group extended its presence in the province in
cooperation with Turkey.
terrorists of the National Liberation Front (NFL) affiliated to the Turkish
Army will soon be dissolved in Tahrir al-Sham as the militant groups have
agreed to form an integrated military structure," the Arabic-language Enab
Baladi affiliated to militants quoted a source close to Ankara-backed Free
Syrian Army (FSA) as saying.
source noted that the scenario started after Tahrir al-Sham's dominance over
most of Idlib's regions.
said that according to the plan, Idlib province will be divided into two
sections in political and military terms; the Ankara-backed Faylaq al-Sham
terrorists will take charge of the political affairs and Tahrir al-Sham will
represent the military wing.
most senior Shiite cleric on Wednesday joined a chorus of Iraqi politicians and
clerics criticizing recent statements by President Donald Trump in which he
said US troops should stay in Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran.
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said Iraq aspires to have “good and balanced
relations” with all of its neighbors “based on mutual interests and without
intervention in internal affairs.”
“rejects being a launching pad for harming any other country,” he said during a
meeting with U.N. Iraq envoy Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert at the cleric’s base in
Iraq’s president and prime minister have hit back at Trump’s statements to US
media this week stating that US troops should stay at a base in Iraq so that
America can “watch Iran.”
spent a fortune on building this incredible base,” Trump said. “We might as
well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be
looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.” Trump apparently
was referring to the Al-Asad air base in western Iraq, where he paid a brief
visit to US forces in December. The base hosts American troops but belongs to
the Iraqi army.
comments angered Iraqi politicians and Iranian-backed factions and further
added to concerns in Iraq about America’s long-term intentions, particularly
after it withdraws its troops from Syria.
Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, at his weekly news conference late Tuesday, reminded
Trump that there are no US bases in Iraq and said he doesn’t accept the idea of
Iraq becoming an arena for fighting a neighboring country. He called on Trump
to retract his statements.
President Barham Saleh said Monday that Trump did not ask for permission to use
Iraqi territory to monitor Iran and said the Iraqi constitution forbids the use
of Iraq as a base to threaten the interests or security of neighboring
overburden Iraq with your own issues,” he said.
opposition parties have formed a coalition against proposed changes to the
constitution that would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in office
well beyond the end of his current term in 2022.
parliament has given its preliminary approval to the changes, but they would
also need to be put to a national referendum.
al-Husseini, a senior leader in the Karama party, said Wednesday that 11
parties had met the previous day and declared their opposition.
Higher Committee to Counter Sectarian Violence was formed on December 30, 2018.
committee, headed by the president’s advisor on security and counter-terrorism
affairs, includes members from the military, military intelligence, central
intelligence, national security, and the Administrative Control Authority.
to law 602/2018, representatives of other relevant entities can take part in
the committee’s work depending on the nature of the issues tackled. The
committee is supposed to look into and deal with sectarian incidents as well as
develop a strategy to prevent them from taking place in the future.
light of the recurrence of several sectarian attacks, the establishment of the
committee is a promising step forward. Egypt’s Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican
churches hailed the step. Yet whether it can really effect a change on the
ground remains to be seen.
al-Zayat, Director of the National Center for Middle East Studies, argued that
the committee is bound to play a major role in making the Egyptian society more
coherent and protecting it from sectarian tension.
is because the committee will not only deal with sectarian incidents when they
happen, but will also work on taking the precautions that will prevent them
from happening,” he said, adding that those precautions will address reasons
behind tension between Muslims and Christians, especially in villages and small
will include dealing with sensitive issues such as the construction of new
churches and obtaining permits for unlicensed ones.” Zayat noted that the
committee will also oversee religious discourse in general to make sure that
incitement of sectarian violence is eliminated.
linked the establishment of the committee to the law that regulates the
construction of churches and the recent legalization of several churches built
without permit. “Both indicate the state is determined to address all the
reasons for sectarian violence,” he said.
Islamophobia Observatory, affiliated to Dar al-Iftaa, the Egyptian entity in
charge of issuing religious edicts, commended the establishment of the
committee for its role in putting into practice principles of diversity and
committee is a continuation of the state’s plan to uproot extremism,” said a
statement issued by the Observatory. “Extremist groups suffered fatal blows at
the hands of the military, so they turned to churches and the Christian
community and now this too is coming to an end through the committee.”
committee, the statement added, plays a major role in promoting the image of
Islam as a moderate religion that has called since its inception for accepting
Coptic MP Emad Gad, the committee’s most important achievement will be putting
an end to customary sessions as a means of solving sectarian conflicts.
committee is comprised of members of official entities, meaning it will abide
by the law, which is exactly what those informal reconciliation sessions
overlooked,” he said. “Those sessions neither punished the perpetrators of
violence nor compensated the victims and that is why sectarian incidents never
added that the committee should go back to a report written by late MP Gamal
al-Otaifi on the 1972 sectarian clashes that started in the city of Khanka in
the Qalyoubia governorate when a building owned by a Christian association was
attacked and burnt down then extended later to Assuit governorate in Upper
report contains thorough analysis of the problem of sectarianism in Egypt and
offers a number of solutions, but since it was not implemented the problem
persisted,” he said. “The content of the report still applies to the current
situation and should be used by the committee.”
analyst Mohamed Mounir Megahed argued that the establishment of the committee
indicates that the state still prioritizes the security solution. “Combating
extremism is basically an intellectual and cultural process,” he said. “This
means that such a committee should be mainly comprised of scholars.”
scholars, he explained, should work on preparing a modern interpretation of the
Quran and issuing a book that contains only confirmed sayings by the Prophet.
“The product of this work is what students of theology and potential preachers
should learn and spread.”
to Megahed, the committee’s efforts will also not bear fruit if serious
measures are not taken toward eliminating discrimination on other different
includes the choice of school teachers and the dismissal of already existing
ones that promote extremism among students as well as issuing one single law
that regulates the construction of all houses of worship without
commending the creation of the committee, writer Sameh Fawzy underlined the
different concerns that might be associated with it. “There are apprehensions
that this is just another committee that starts with much hype then fades away
gradually,” he wrote.
added that the committee might not be able to meet its objectives if it depends
on official information only and if it has no executive power. “In this case,
the committee’s job will be confined to writing reports and submitting them to
minister of state for displaced affairs says his country will stick primarily
to the Russian strategy for the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.
Russian strategy will be adopted as a basis for our approach towards the return
of Syrian refugees to Syria,” Saleh Gharib told China’s official Xinhua news
agency on Wednesday.
also did not deny the possibility of visiting Syria, or conducting a direct
dialogue with high-ranking government officials in Damascus to secure the
return of Syrian refugees.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri is very much aware of the sensitivity of this issue,
and all necessary steps will be taken in this regard,” Gharib pointed out.
strategy to help Syrian refugees go back to their homes was drawn up following
a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart
Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital city of Helsinki on July 16, 2018.
specifies around 76 residential neighborhoods in Syria's central provinces of
Homs and Hama, the northwestern province of Idlib as well as Damascus to enable
the return of 360,000 Syrian refugees as a first step.
strategy also entails the rehabilitation of houses in the mentioned areas,
which would allow the return of 500,000 more Syrian refugees within two years.
official National News Agency reported on December 24 last year that more than
1,000 Syrian refugees had returned to their homeland from various areas in the
return of refugees took place in the southern Lebanese cites and districts of
Tripoli, Arsal, Tyre and Nabatieh, and under the supervision of Lebanon's
General Security in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for
returned home using buses sent by Syrian authorities and arrived at al-Zamrani,
Jdeidat Yabous, al-Dabbousiya border crossings from Lebanese territories.
refugees underwent medical checks and polio vaccines were administered to
children. They were then transferred to Syria’s northern and central provinces
of Idlib and Homs in addition to other areas in the crisis-stricken Arab
than 1,000 Syrian refugees returned to their homeland from different areas in
Lebanon, including Nabatieh, Bekaa, Tripoli and Shabaa on December 16, 2018.
Elnashra online independent newspaper reported that the return of refugees took
place under the supervision of Lebanon's General Security Directorate in
cooperation with the Lebanese army.
than one million Syrian refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Lebanon.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri says the Israeli regime is violating Lebanon's
sovereignty in a “dangerous” manner by licensing a company to "exploit an
area" for oil and gas resources near a disputed region.
maritime dispute between the two sides runs over a sea zone of about 800 square
kilometers. The underlying Levant basin of the Eastern Mediterranean has been
proven to contain large natural gas reserves, probably even crude oil.
is) a dangerous matter. Israel has licensed and exploited an area adjacent to
the Lebanese southern maritime borders," Berri was quoted by lawmakers
from Amal party as saying on Wednesday after a meeting.
is an infringement on Lebanese sovereignty and targets our oil wealth and
vowed "not to remain silent" and will bring the issue up with Italy’s
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during his visit to Beirut this week.
Bazzi, an Amal lawmaker, said Israel pressed on with the "violation"
despite the fact that the firms on the Lebanese side have stayed away from the
year, the Lebanese government announced that it had signed gas exploration and
production contracts for two energy blocks, including the disputed Block 9,
with a consortium of France's Total, Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek oil and
operator Total said it would not drill the first well of Block 9 near the
disputed sliver of water, adding that the well would be drilled over 25
kilometers from the maritime border claimed by Israel.
decides not to present Triple Talaq, Citizenship bills in RS
Govt. of India has decided not to present Triple Talaq and Citizenship Bills in
is said that this decision has been taken for the smooth functioning of the
last session of Rajya Sabha. This decision was taken at the end of a meeting
held with Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad and other opposition leaders.
is reported that Chairman of Rajya Sabha and Vice President, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu
had made it clear that there should not be any disturbance in Rajya Sabha in
this session so that no wrong message is sent to the people. After it, the
responsibility of ensuring smooth functioning of Rajya Sabha was given to
Parliamentary Affairs Minister by negotiating with opposition leaders.
has also been decided to hold discussions on the pending bills in the current
Affairs Minister , Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr. Ramgopal
Yadav and other leaders attended the meeting.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may be in the middle of controversy, but
Bangladesh’s top anti-corruption body wants to learn from the CBI’s
investigative skills, especially in tackling economic offenders.
Anti-Corruption Commission, which has been at the forefront of investigating
the country’s former PM Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique, is expected to sign a
pact with the CBI Thursday to formalise a partnership.
is likely to be one of the key outcomes of the India-Bangladesh 5th Joint
Consultative Committee Meeting, which will be chaired by visiting Foreign
Minister A K Abdul Momen and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on
Thursday. Momen will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
is Momen’s first visit to India after being appointed Foreign Minister last
month. An economist and a diplomat, he was Bangladesh’s Permanent
Representative to the United Nations in New York from August 2009 to October
2015. His elder brother, A M A Muhith, was Bangladesh’s Finance minister from
2009 to 2018.
pact between Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission and CBI is expected to
give a boost to the cooperation between the two investigating agencies. For the
Bangladesh government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, bringing economic
offenders to justice and fighting corruption is a priority area.
pact is likely to help in capacity-building and experience-sharing by CBI with
it’s Bangladesh counterpart, the ACC,” a source said.
the latest report by the Transparency International in January-end, Bangladesh
was ranked 149th in the Global Perceptions Index 2018 out of 180 countries —
down by six notches from 143 last year. India’s ranking improved by three
notches to 78.
to Transparency International, a Berlin-based graft watchdog, Bangladesh is
ranked second-lowest in south Asia, only ahead of war-torn Afghanistan, and the
reasons include the Anti-Corruption Commission’s failure to act effectively.
other pacts likely to be signed up during the visit by the Bangladesh Foreign
Minister is one on setting up a Special Economic Zone near Mongla port by the
Hiranandani group, on traditional medicine, training of Bangladesh’s civil servants,
and one between public broadcasters of the two countries.
said the discussions at the 5th JCC meeting will review the progress made in
areas such as trade and investment, security, connectivity, border management,
power, energy, shipping and people-to-people exchanges.
two countries will also discuss common challenges and find ways on how, along
with other like-minded nations, they can continue fighting terrorism, extremism
Union Home Ministry on Tuesday banned the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM) under the
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for its alleged involvement in a
series of terror acts. Set up in 1990s, TuM claims that it has been been
fighting for “liberation of Kashmir”.
a notification, the ministry said the central government believes that TuM is
involved in terrorism as it has committed and participated in various acts of
terrorism in India and its members are getting financial as well as logistic
support from their handlers based abroad.
TuM came into existence in 1990 with the objective of “liberation of Kashmir”
and has been actively pursuing it by way of acts of terror, the ministry said.
“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (a) of
sub-section (1) of section 35 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967,
the central government hereby makes the following further amendments in the
First Schedule to the said Act, namely:- In the First Schedule to the said Act,
after serial number 40 and the entries relating thereto, the following serial
number and entries shall be inserted, namely:- ‘41. Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM)
and all its manifestations’,” it said.
has carried out many terrorist attacks and subversive acts such as grenade
attacks, weapon snatching and supporting other terrorist outfits like the Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen
and Lashkar-e-Taiba in terms of financial and logistic support in the recent
past, the notification said.
self-styled district commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terror outfit was
killed in a brief encounter with security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu
and Kashmir on Wednesday, police said. The encounter broke out when a joint
patrolling party of army and police was fired upon by terrorists at Chakoora
area of Pulwama district, a police spokesman said.
one terrorist got killed in the exchange of fire. The killed terrorist has been
identified as Irfan Ahmed Sheikh, a local resident,” the spokesman said.
was affiliated with LeT and was known as district commander of the outfit for
Pulwama. He was wanted by the law for his complicity in terror crimes, the
Sheikh had a long history of terror crimes for which several terror cases were
registered against him. He was involved in conspiring and executing several
terror attacks on security establishments in the area including grenade
attacks,” the spokesman said.
reject Trump's suggestion of lingering US counter-terrorism presence
The Taliban reiterated on Wednesday their long-held demand that all foreign
troops get out of Afghanistan, rejecting a suggestion by US President Donald
Trump of a lingering US focus on counter-terrorism after troops are drawn down.
used his State of the Union address to stress the importance of accelerated
talks with the hardline Islamist movement to end the longest of America's
offered no specifics about when he would bring home the 14,000 US troops in
Afghanistan but said progress in negotiations with the Taliban would enable a
troop reduction and a "focus on counter-terrorism".
about Trump's speech, a Taliban official told Reuters that all foreign troops
in Afghanistan had to go.
the first step, we want all the foreign forces to leave and end the military
presence in our country," said Sohail Shahin, a spokesman for a Taliban
office in Qatar and a member of a Taliban team now meeting Afghan opposition
politicians in Moscow.
after ending their military presence, their non-military teams can come and we
need them too, they can come and take part in the reconstruction and
development process," he said.
officials have held several rounds of talks with the Taliban in Qatar since
last year, in what is widely seen as the most serious bid for peace in the
sides hailed progress after the latest round, last month. The US team, led by
veteran envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, is due to meet Taliban representatives there
again on February 25.
Taliban imposed hardline Islamist rule across most of Afghanistan from 1996
until late 2001.
were ousted by Afghan opposition forces, backed by US forces, for harbouring
al-qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks on
the United States.
since, the Taliban have been fighting to drive out foreign forces and defeat
the Western-backed government in Kabul.
has spread over the years to most regions of the country, with many thousands
of people killed every year.
said Trump's comments appeared aimed at reassuring an Afghan government fearful
about a swift withdrawal of Afghanistan's US-led NATO force, and how embattled
government troops would cope.
Taliban have long condemned the Afghan government as a "puppet" and
have not agreed to let its officials join their talks with Khalilzad.
office of President Ashraf Ghani said late on Tuesday the government had to be
the "decision maker" behind any deal. The office did not make any
immediate comment on Trump's speech.
officials have used the Moscow meeting to outline their vision for a post-war
Taliban negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said on Tuesday the movement
did not want to rule alone but as part of "an intra Afghan Islamic system
of governance ... in consultation with all Afghans".
also pushed for changes to Afghanistan's "illegitimate" constitution
- a document staunchly protected by the government -saying it should be based
on "Islamic principles, national interests, historic pride and social
his sweeping statement, Stanikzai also demanded the removal of Western
sanctions and travel bans on Taliban members, prisoner releases, an end to
"propaganda" against the Taliban and clearance to open an official
the emotive issue of women's rights, Stanikzai said the Taliban were committed
to all rights of women "that have been given to them by the sacred
religion of Islam".
has given women all fundamental rights, such as business and ownership,
inheritance, education, work, choosing one's husband, security and the right to
good life," Stanikzai said.
Afghan women fear a return of repressive Taliban policies if they come back as
part of a peace deal.
Taliban rule, women were banned from work, required to wear the full-length
burqa and not leave home without a male relative. Girls were banned from
BAZAR, Bangladesh: Standing atop an elephant watch-tower on the outskirts of
the sprawling Rohingya refugee settlement in southeast Bangladesh, Nur Islam
takes great pride in keeping his people safe.
in a uniform of blue T-shirt, navy trousers and a neon yellow vest, Islam is
one of 570 Rohingya on the Elephant Response Team, known locally as the tusk
force, who are on duty every night to look out for elephants coming into the
about 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar into Bangladesh 18 months ago and set up
camp, they realized they were not only at risk from monsoons and cyclones but
also elephants, as they were blocking a migration path, with 13 people killed
in six months.
Amin, Bangladesh representative for the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN), said as a quick fix in February 2018 they built 95 towers and
trained a team to watch, raise the alarm and guide elephants out of camps.
said in the past year the all-male response team, who are paid to work, had
steered elephants away from the former nature reserve on at least 50 occasions
with no more fatalities.
now 18 months into the crisis, Amin said it was becoming important to find a
longer-term solution as the elephants were confined to a shrinking forest area,
and needed an alternative corridor to move freely to find food or conflicts
are in a time bomb, a slow paced time bomb where not a very bright future is
waiting for them,” Amin told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from the
Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.
should be OK for some time but they are now in a small area and will start
inbreeding ... and food could be an issue.”
32, said he had been involved in stopping about 18 elephant incursions into
some of the camps located from 40 km (25 miles) south of the beachside town of
Cox’s Bazar that now make up the world’s largest refugee settlement.
than 900,000 mainly Muslim Rohingya now live in the camps after the 2017
exodus, which followed an offensive by Myanmar’s military that the United
Nations has described as “ethnic cleansing.”
the influx, swathes of forest were cut down to make space and build shelters,
threatening biodiversity, including the endangered Asian elephant. Its numbers
have shrunk to about 50,000 globally, due largely to habitat loss, according to
IUCN estimates there are about 268 surviving elephants in Bangladesh, of which
about 15 percent, or 35-45, live around the sprawling Rohingya camp area.
the largest refugee camp, was well known as a corridor for elephants moving
between Myanmar and Bangladesh in winter to find food and shelter, breaking
obstacles in their way which led to human conflicts.
who arrived in Cox’s Bazar with his wife and two children, said he was not
scared of elephants, although others were, so he stepped forward to be on the
project, a joint venture between IUCN and the UN refugee agency UNHCR, received
so many applicants that they held a 100-meter running race to choose the
said his job was to keep watch at night and if he saw an elephant to call team
members on duty in other watch-towers who would come to help drive the elephant
out of the camp using megaphones and a high-powered search light.
a good job because we help our people,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation
via an interpreter before climbing up the rickety, 20-feet (6 m) bamboo tower
overlooking a labyrinth of mud and bamboo shelters as well as the adjacent
will also help the elephant to survive. All this land was forest before but now
it has been torn down and the elephant deserves to be conserved.”
said it was the response team’s job to also educate the Rohingya about
elephants through awareness campaigns and children’s programs.
are also trying to encourage local Bangladeshi farmers to grow crops that
elephants do not like, such as green chillies and tobacco, to stop the animals
encroaching on their land in search of food and creating more human conflict.
need to spread the message that the elephant is not an enemy and deserves space
as, like the Rohingya, it has lost access to its own land,” Amin said.
said it was unclear what impact restricting the elephants’ movement would have
in the longer term, or whether it would be possible to provide a new corridor.
he said, would involve moving about 100,000 people to new shelters, eating into
team wants to gather more data to understand the elephants’ migratory patterns,
he said, and there are plans to collar and follow five of the animals in the
area this year.
least three Taliban militants were killed in an airstrike conducted by the
coalition forces in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.
to the informed military sources in Afghanistan, the airstrike was carried out
in Sangin district of the province.
anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the airstrike and the deaths of three militants so far.
is among the volatile provinces in South of Afghanistan with some of its
districts witnessing daily violence due to the insurgency led by the Taliban
the meantime, both the Afghan and coalition forces conduct regular ground
operations and airstrikes to suppress the anti-government militants who are
continuously attempting to expand foothold and insurgency in Helmand and other
restive provinces in the South.
U.S. Military officials have refuted the Taliban statement suggesting that the
U.S. Military has agreed to withdraw half or 50 per cent of its troops from
Afghanistan by April of this year.
David Butler, a spokesman for the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan has the rejected
the Taliban claims, saying “Our mission hasn’t changed. We have no orders to
comes as reports emerged earlier today that the deputy chief of the political
office of Taliban in Qatar Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi has said that the half of
the U.S. troops would withdraw from Afghanistan until the end of April.
Hanafi has also claimed that the assurance regarding the pullout of half of U.S. troops has been
given by the U.S. side and that technical groups would be formed to work
regarding a schedule for the pullout of the remaining U.S. forces from
anti-government armed militants have suffered heavy casualties during the
operations of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in Kandahar and
to the informed military sources, the operations were conducted in the past one
week, leaving at least 43 militants dead and 22 others wounded.
sources further added “Over the course of the past week, the 205th Corps has conducted
joint operations with local security forces in both Zabul and Kandahar
Provinces. These operations were a result of intelligence reports of Taliban
safe havens. Therefore the 205th Corps has conducted fresh raids and clearing
operations to disrupt terrorist activities in these Provinces. This has
resulted in a total of 43 insurgents killed and an additional 22 insurgents
wounded. Additionally, the 205th Corps engineer team has cleared over 25
homemade IEDs from harming local Afghan citizens.”
sources also added that “Currently the 205th Corps has an on-going operation to
re-open the Kandahar-Uruzgan highway, which is a 75 kilometer stretch of
highway that has been closed due to Taliban activity. So far, they have killed
at least 12 insurgents and making progress to open the road.”
Iranian Consul General Muhammad Bagher Beigi has said the Trump administration
has taken U-turn and acknowledged the role of Pakistan as a key to regional
Iranian diplomat also urged Pakistan’s leaders to show seriousness in quelling
the factors impeding friendly relations with his country to take full advantage
of the potentials offered by Iran.
Bagher Beigi, who was speaking at evening tea he arranged in the Iranian
Consulate on Wednesday for the newly-elected cabinet of the Peshawar Press
Club, Video Journalists Forum and Sports Writers Association and other
journalists, said that President Trump and US administration strived to
intimidate and pressure Pakistan over the last one year or so, but ultimate they
took a U-turn and accepted that the role of Pakistan for the regional peace was
function was arranged in connection with the 40th anniversary of the Iranian
Revolution where Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah and Ijaz Khan
of the sports writers body also spoke.
said President Trump and US administration had acknowledged that only Pakistan
and other regional countries could play a vital role to ensure peace in the
region and resolve the regional issues.
added that the US had also been hatching conspiracies against the democratic
revolution in Iran and it (the US) tried to put the Iranian people in trouble
and pressure them. But it failed to hoodwink the Iranian people who foiled
these conspiracies and they are now celebrating the 40th year of their
revolution, the consul general maintained.
want to tell you that all the strategies of the US against Iran over the last
40 years have badly failed and the same will fail in the future too, God
willing!” Beigi hoped. He said that Iran had always welcomed suggestions and
proposals for the peace and cooperation in the region. The manifestation of the
same was the speaker conference of the six regional countries, which was
proposed by Pakistan to fight terrorism. The first of the conferences was
hosted by Pakistan, while the following one was held in Iran to promote peace
and cooperation in the region.
said they attached immense importance to relations with Pakistan and other
neighbouring countries with which Iran shares culture, civilisation and values.
Its main example remains the three visits of Iranian leader Hassan Rohan to
Pakistan in the last three years, while foreign minister Jawad Zarif has also
made various trips to Pakistan, Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament,
and other political, civil and army leaders came here to shore up mutual ties.
a question, he said that Iran wanted to offer its potential in so many areas
where Pakistan is in real need of help.
have always desired to have good economic ties with Pakistan and worked with
all political parties in power, including Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan
People’s Party and now Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for the economic development of
the country,” he added.
made particular mention of the railway link, ferry services between Gawadar and
Chahbahar, etc. Similarly, he said Iran is ready to provide up to 3,000
megawatts electricity to Pakistan and it is also ready to help Pakistan build a
transmission line from Taftan to Quetta for the same.
however, asked Pakistan leadership to exhibit seriousness to remove hurdles in
this regards and the main of these hurdles is the absence of banking
transactions between the two countries.
know better as to what factors are impeding the efforts aimed at bringing the
two brotherly countries closer. Keeping in view the benefit of its own people,
the Pakistani leadership has to overcome these factors to take full advantage
of the potentials both the countries offer for each other.
US Army said Wednesday it wants to purchase a pair of Iron Dome short-range air
defense systems, an interceptor technology developed by Israel with US support.
spokesman Colonel Patrick Seiber said the deal would meet a short-term need to
protect troops from “indirect fire” such as rockets and mortars. No decisions
have been made yet about where the two systems may be deployed.
Iron Dome will be assessed and experimented as a system that is currently
available to protect deployed US military service members against a wide
variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats,” Seiber said in a statement.
Dome systems have been in operation by the Israeli air force since 2011 and
have seen frequent use in thwarting rocket attacks from Gaza and elsewhere.
Seiber said the US Army will “assess a variety of options” for a system that
could be used in the long term.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, called
the deal further proof of Israel’s alliance with the US.
has an Iron Dome and an iron fist. Our systems know how to deal with any
threat, both in defense and in attack. I would not recommend our enemies to try
us,” he said in a defense ministry statement.
said the US Army proposes spending $1.6 billion through 2024 to field an
“enduring capability” that may include portions of the Iron Dome system.
Iron Dome system was developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with
the help of US funding. It is designed to intercept rockets and artillery
shells fired from a range of four to 70 kilometers.
faculty of postgraduate studies and scientific research at Sanaa University
invited students to attend a weekly lecture to analyze the speeches of the
“leader of Quranic march,” Abdulmalik al-Houthi, according to a poster that
promotes the event.
Quranic march refers to the lectures explaining some verses of the Quran
according to the Houthi understanding. It was started in 2002 by Hussein
weekly lectures will be held every Wednesday at 12:00 pm.
poster, which bears a photo of Abdulmalik al-Houthi, included the slogans “God
is Great,” “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” “Damn the Jews” and “Victory
University has been targeted by the Houthis since their takeover of the city.
The militias have sought to bring about a change of curriculums, appoint their loyalists,
and organize lectures that market their ideas.
in the country’s capital, Sanaa, the university was established in 1970 as the
first institution of higher education in Yemen.
December 2017, the Sanaa University Council appointed more than 300 Houthi
supporters as academics, reportedly without considering professional and
academic standards. Several deans who oppose the Houthis were also sacked.
union of faculty members and their assistants protested the move, noting that a
number of those who attended the Council’s meeting were not members of the
Council, and that the members were actually pressured into making these
to Yemeni media reports, the amendments to the Islamic culture course included
material added by the Houthis to talk about the ongoing war in Yemen, attack
Saudi Arabia and note that America was “supervising the war” with
US has blocked yet another UN Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution that
would condemn Israel for expelling an international observer group tasked with
safeguarding Palestinians in the flashpoint West Bank city of al-Khalil
and Indonesia presented the motion on Wednesday after a closed-door UNSC
meeting on the Tel Aviv regime’s recent decision to suspend the mandate of the
Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH).
diplomats said Washington did not believe a Security Council statement was
appropriate regarding the issue.
draft resolution, seen by AFP, expressed “regret” about Israel’s “unilateral
decision” to boot TIPH observers out of al-Khalil and urged “calm and
also stressed “the importance of the mandate of the TIPH and its efforts to
foster calm in a highly sensitive area and fragile situation on the ground, which
risks further deteriorating,” warning Israel that it has an obligation under
international law “to protect the Palestinian civilian population" in
al-Khalil and the rest of the West Bank.
Council President Anatolio Ndong Mba said that the countries had “exchanged
different views” about Israel’s decision during Wednesday’s meeting.
was almost unanimity in the concern for the situation,” he added.
Kuwait’s Ambassador to the UN Mansour al-Otaibi said that the UNSC would
discuss a proposed visit to the Israeli-occupied territories for a close-up
look at the situation on the ground.
week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the TIPH's
mandate would not be extended, claiming that the monitoring mission “acts against”
the Tel Aviv regime.
foreign ministers of the countries that provide observers to the TIPH — Norway,
Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, and Turkey — denounced Netanyahu’s move in
a joint statement and rejected his accusation against the group as
“unacceptable and ungrounded.”
TIPH was set up in 1994, when an Israeli settler killed 29 Palestinian
worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil.
Palestinian prisoner has died of the health complications he developed in
Israeli jails due to “deliberate medical negligence.”
Baroud, a resident of the al-Shati refugee camp in the northern part of the
Gaza Strip, died on Wednesday evening, only hours after being suddenly
transferred to intensive care from Ramon prison in the Israeli-occupied
late 51-year-old was suffering from a number of health conditions, including a
hernia and liver disease, and had repeatedly spoken about medical neglect and
denial of necessary health treatment to Palestinian inmates.
had earlier lost 80 percent of his eyesight due to a vision problem and Israeli
prison officials had delayed the required treatment for four consecutive
authorities had also denied him of family visits for 18 years.
was arrested in 1991, and was supposed to be released in 2013 as part of
negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the Tel Aviv regime. Israeli
officials, however, reneged on the agreement, refusing to release the final 30
prisoners, including him.
of the Palestinian Prisoners Media Office, Nahed al-Fakhouri, described
Baroud’s death at the hands of Israeli officials as a “heinous crime,” stating
that it reflects the criminal policies pursued by the Israel Prison Service
against Palestinian detainees.
Hamas resistance movement held the Israeli regime fully responsible for the
death of the Palestinian prisoner.
argued that the deliberate medical neglect policy pursued by Israeli prison
officials against Palestinian inmates amounts to a “crime against humanity,”
calling on international humanitarian and legal organizations to act urgently
to save the lives of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.
further stressed that Israel’s heinous crimes will never break the Palestinian
7,000 Palestinians are currently behind bars in 17 Israeli prisons and
detention centers, according to reports.
than 400 Palestinians are being held without trial under so-called
administrative detention, which is a policy according to which Palestinian
inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge. Some
Palestinian prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11
senators in favor of a pro-Israel bill passed in the upper chamber of US
Congress are urged to “read the Constitution.”
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) denounced the Senate’s Tuesday vote to
pass legislation in an attempt to stop contracts with supporters of Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
the Senate chose politics over the Constitution and trampled on the First
Amendment rights of all Americans,” said the rights group.
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) rushed to applaud the
legislation mirrors a provision in current federal law that protects states
directing divestment from companies invested in Iran’s energy sector,” AIPAC
claimed, adding that “the legislation has no impact on the right of Americans
to personally boycott Israel or oppose Israeli policies.”
senators voted in favor of the move and 23 voted against it.
of the Democratic Party members of the Senate also threw their support behind
the measure, while only one Republican, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, voted
against the legislation along with nearly half of the Democrats.
thank each senator who defended the First Amendment and voted against the
Combating BDS Act,” the ACLU said. “Senators who voted for the bill: we
encourage you to read the Constitution, which protects against the McCarthy-era
tactics this bill endorses.”
pro-Israel measure is expected to fail once it reaches the
Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
BDS is gaining momentum in the United States and poses a serious threat to
Israel’s “hegemonic power” in Washington, according to Myles Hoenig, a
political activist based in the US state of Maryland.
Jake Maxwell Watts
of poor towns in the southern Philippines voted Wednesday on whether to join a
new self-governing Muslim region in a test of a fragile peace process that has
come under attack from suicide bombers linked to Islamic State.
vote took place amid tight security but was mostly peaceful following two
deadly terrorist attacks in the past 10 days and at least three small blasts on
the eve of the vote that officials said caused little harm. Results aren’t
expected for several days.
LUMPUR: DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang today hit out at MCA president Wee Ka Siong
for not realising the irony of the situation by defending Umno’s cooperation
with PAS in elections.
asked if Wee realised he would have lost his deposit in the Ayer Hitam
parliamentary constituency in the 14th general election if voters had followed
PAS president Hadi Awang’s “dictum” that Muslims must vote for Muslim
MP for Iskandar Puteri noted that Wee had won 17,076 votes in the contest for
the Ayer Hitam seat, beating Pakatan Harapan candidate Liew Chin Tong with a
thin majority of 303 votes. The third candidate from PAS, Mardi Marwan, got
Muslims only vote for Muslim candidates, as is now Hadi’s stand, claiming that
a corrupt and decadent Muslim leader is any time better than a clean and honest
non-Muslim leader, Wee would not have received any Muslim votes in the Ayer
Hitam parliamentary constituency and would even have lost his deposit.
is a poor student of history as DAP had never worked with a PAS leadership
which advocated such a toxic and vicious brand of politics, aimed at sowing
suspicion, distrust and hatred among races and religions – which is not
building a nation but destroying the very social fabric in Malaysia.”
Lim said, was not the PAS which DAP had worked with in the Barisan Alternative
from 1999 to 2001 and Pakatan Rakyat, from 2008 to 2015.
Wee had said there was nothing wrong with Umno and PAS cooperating to defeat a
common rival in the upcoming Semenyih by-election.
in the past, the opposition used to accept collaboration and cooperation.
don’t see the difference when in the past, DAP and PAS worked very well
together,” Wee had said at MCA’s Chinese New Year open house at Wisma MCA.
said: “DAP will work with a political Islam that recognises Malaysia as a
plural society and believes that Malaysia’s greatness comes from the leveraging
of the assets and best qualities from the diverse races, religions, languages
and civilisations which meet in confluence in Malaysia, building tolerance, trust
and confidence among the races and religions and not by sowing suspicion,
distrust, fear and hatred among the races and religions.”
said Wee’s defence of the political cooperation between Barisan Nasional (BN)
component parties and PAS showed the “political hypocrisy of MCA leaders”.
made a great play before the MCA general assembly that BN was outdated and
should be dissolved. But after the general assembly, Wee is behaving like a
duck taking to water — which shows that he is very comfortable playing the
subservient role in BN.” Lim said the best kept political secret was “the
untold story” of the role MCA ministers and leaders played in the “cover-up of
the monstrous 1MDB” scandal.
Feb 7 ? Datuk Salahuddin Ayub wants to make one thing very clear about the
position of Malays and Islam under Pakatan Harapan (PH) ? there will be no
erosion under the new government.
seven months in federal power, the Parti Amanah Negara deputy president
acknowledges that the paranoia of losing the special rights accorded their
status as “princes of the soil” remains strong within the country’s largest
population group, which he attributes to the narrative being told by political
rivals and critics portraying PH as anti-Islam.
fear that Islam is no longer relevant under the PH government, yet many did not
talk about the failure of Tabung Haji or Felda. Did this happen under PH or
what?” the agriculture and agro-based industry minister told Malay Mail in a
want to blame Pakatan Harapan because Islam is supposedly eroded under our
administration? We are only seven months in compared to 60 years,” he
continued, pitting the length of his coalition’s rule against that of the
Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance it toppled in the May 9 general election last
Salahuddin, the sense of insecurity felt by Malays and Muslims in the country
is wholly unfounded, but is being exploited by PH opponents who are clinging to
outdated and biased stereotypes to curry sympathy, even empathy.
illustrate his point, he pointed to the political outcry over the government’s
planned ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) last year.
anchor, the once-moderate Umno and Islamist party PAS joined forces and held a
mass rally protesting against ICERD in the streets of the national capital last
December, even though by then, the PH government had announced it was not
ratifying the United Nations treaty.
urged Malays and Muslims to think for themselves about the political narrative
created by PH critics in blatant disregard of the government’s push for fair
advised Malaysians not to let their racial and religious differences cloud
their minds in building a future based on mutual respect for each other.
need to educate people about new politics as the narrative has changed from the
want Islam to be implemented in a nice way, but Malays must be a good example
in terms of your cleanliness, your approach, your attitude so that the
non-Muslims will respect you and vice versa,” he said.
said Amanah leaders are trying to show the way forward with its “Rahmatan Lil
‘Alamin” brand of Islam, which means “blessings to all creations” by putting
such a philosophy into practice in their daily routines.
stressed that the philosophy is what separates Amanah from PAS, and why the PH
party has been getting up to 10,000 membership applications a month since GE14.
that does mean we can be complacent. I will ensure that we move forward by
learning from PAS, work to rectify any mistake now and ensure that PH remains
strong,” he said.
said Amanah is not in the business to crow about the strength of its religious
beliefs or “demonise” the concepts and faith of others.
practise moderate Islam,” he said.
JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS)
has promised to hand over bank statements of its accounts to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption
Commission (MACC), which is investigating accusations that the Islamist party
received RM90 million (S$30 million) from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said the party would give its full cooperation
to the anti-graft agency to prove that it had not received any money from 1MDB.
give our word that we will hand over all our documents, if requested by MACC
for the purpose of investigation, including bank statements of PAS Central bank
accounts, to prove the allegations that PAS received RM90 million from 1MDB are
merely lies and slander," he said in a statement released on Wednesday
night (Feb 6).
believe MACC will conduct the investigation as a body with integrity without
any fear or favour."
had earlier on Wednesday confirmed that it would be investigating PAS over the
investigation was opened after a report was made with regard to allegations
that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had received the funds from 1MDB accounts.
came after Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi agreed to an out-of-court settlement for his
defamation suit against Britain-based Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle
Abdul Hadi had sued Ms Rewcastle Brown for libel over an article she published
on Aug 6, 2016, alleging that the party received RM90 million in bribes from
filed a counterclaim in October 2017, but on Feb 1, the case was settled out of
to PAS treasurer Razman Zakaria, the rising cost of legal fees is one reason
why PAS opted for the out-of-court settlement.
Sunday, former prime minister Najib Razak denied he gave RM90 million to Mr
Abdul Hadi or PAS, as claimed in Ms Rewcastle Brown's article.
Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) says the country’s army is plotting to kill
incarcerated top Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky in a “staged” shootout.
a statement on Wednesday, the IMN exposed a plan by the security agencies in
Nigeria to kill Sheikh Zakzaky while in his detention facility.
plot to kill the top cleric emanated from an exposed letter – titled ‘Plans by
Islamic Movement in Nigeria to raid selected detention facilities in the
country during the 2019 general election’ – sent to the office of the Inspector
General of Police from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
IMN statement, signed by S. I. Shuaib on behalf of the Academic Forum of the
IMN, said “on January 25, 2019, the office of National Security Adviser, wrote
a letter to the Inspector General of Police, telling him some concocted lies
that the Islamic Movement is planning to attack some selected detention
facilities in the country during the 2019 general election.”
IMN said in its statement that the army wants to stage the attacks via a fake
Shia Muslim group against some detention centers including where they are
keeping the prime target, Sheikh Zakzaky.
will give them the chance to frame a story that Shias attempted to forcefully
free Sheikh Zakzaky and others, so there was an exchange of fire, and as a
result they shot their leader,” the statement said.
IMN stressed that it has always abided by law and will continue to do so.
movement will only follow legal ways to secure Zakzaky’s release, it added.
statement said all Nigerians and the rest of the world know that the Islamic
movement is not armed, adding “this plot will fail.”
also pointed to the killings of hundreds of IMN supporters by the army in 2015,
and said at that time, the movement only filed a lawsuit against the
perpetrators and never used violence.
the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, has been held in detention since
December 2015 and was charged just in April 2018 with murder, culpable
homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other accusations.
He has pleaded not guilty.
2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered his unconditional release from jail
following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.
top cleric, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a raid which
was carried out by the Nigerian army on his residence in the northern town of
Zaria in December 2015.
the raid, Zakzaky’s wife sustained serious wounds too and more than 300 of his
followers and three of his sons were killed. Zakzaky, his wife, and a large
number of the cleric’s followers have since been in custody.
A key ally of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said people
from overseas who sought to intervene in the country’s election to be held in
little over a week would go back in body bags.
El-Rufai, governor of the northern state of Kaduna, made the comments during a
discussion program on the Nigerian Television Authority when the topic of the
international community’s role in elections was raised. It followed an
international outcry over the suspension of Nigeria’s top judge.
Feb. 16 vote in Africa’s top oil producer pits Buhari, a military ruler in the
1980s who was voted into office in 2015, against main opposition candidate
Atiku Abubakar, a businessman and former vice president in a race widely seen
as tight that has become increasingly rancorous in the last few weeks.
discussion about the role of foreign countries in elections was raised on the
program in which reference was made to concerns expressed by the European
Union, the United States and Britain over the suspension of Chief Justice Walter
Onnoghen over allegedly breaching asset-declaration rules.
are waiting for the person who will come and intervene. They will go back in
body bags because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our
country,” said El-Rufai.
have got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as
possible,” he said.
year Buhari and Atiku both signed an agreement stating a commitment to hold a
El-Rufai’s comments, the main opposition People’s Democratic Party said it
would be “left with no option than to consider a review of its signatory in the
national peace accord” if the ruling party did not stop “comments, threats and
chief justice — who was suspended and replaced with an acting replacement last
month — could preside over a dispute over the election result. Nigeria’s
judiciary has helped resolve electoral disputes in past votes, some of which
have been marred by violence and vote rigging.
week the Nigerian government said it would not accept any foreign “meddling”
after statements by the EU, the United States and Britain expressed fears about
the impact of the judge’s suspension if the election result was disputed.
The United States said on Wednesday it was halting some military assistance to
Cameroon over allegations of gross human rights violations by its security
forces in the northwest, southwest and far north regions.
State Department official said the United States had terminated a C-130
aircraft training program, and halted deliveries of four defender boats, nine
armored vehicles and an upgrade of a Cessna aircraft for Cameroon’s rapid
the United States had withdrawn its offer for Cameroon to be part of the State
Partnership Program, a military cooperation program, the official said.
do not take these measures lightly, but we will not shirk from reducing
assistance further if evolving conditions require it,” the official said. “For
the time being, other programs will continue.”
has cooperated closely with the United States in the fight against Islamist
militant group Boko Haram in West and central Africa. But rights groups have
accused authorities of using the fight against Boko Haram to crack down on
political opponents, and make arbitrary arrests and torture people.
arrested opposition leader Maurice Kamto in January, accusing him of mobilizing
dissent against President Paul Biya, who has ruled the country since 1982.
has been accused by the opposition and rights groups of cracking down in the
Anglophone Southwest region to root out armed separatists trying to end his
grip on power.
of thousands of people have been displaced in Nigeria and neighboring Chad,
Niger and Cameroon during Boko Haram’s campaign to carve out an Islamic
caliphate in northeast Nigeria.
Libyan forces from the country's east have taken control of the southern
Sharara oil field, part of an expansion of Gen. Khalifa Haftar's control over
Libya's main revenue generator.
Mesmari, spokesman for the Libyan National Army under Haftar's command, said
the move was taken in order to provide security to an area that was previously
says the move was made in collaboration with local tribes, and grievances over
salaries would be addressed.
is governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country's east, each of
which is backed by an array of militias. Haftar heads the eastern faction.
has been engaged in a long and bloody war with al-Shabaab. Some would claim the
government is losing control; others would claim they were never in control.
Currently, Somalia’s central government and the terrorist organization seem to
be trading blows evenly. We hear of airstrikes killing hordes of al-Shabaab
fighters one day, then the next day nearly a dozen people have been killed by
an explosion in Mogadishu and al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the
is a thoroughly trained and capable combat organization operating in Somalia,
and they are extremely loyal to al-Qaeda and their cause. This was tested when
the Islamic State approached al-Shabaab and called for them to side with their
organization. In a 15-minute broadcast, al-Shabaab commanders ordered their
fighters to cease communication with any Islamic State representatives, and
those who didn’t would be punished. While this caused a rift within the
organization, only a small number of fighters and one officer left al-Shabaab
and retreated north to Puntland.
still commands respect and support from some Somali communities. The group’s
fearless style of fighting and early morning raids on African Union Mission in
Somalia (AMISOM) bases have earned them a reputation as a fierce fighting force
in Somalia. Their renowned intelligence unit is allegedly one of the most
clandestine in the world, and their ability to continue to assault the central
government within Mogadishu is a testament to their capabilities. Al-Shabaab is
possibly one of the most fierce and enduring terrorist groups in Africa.
latest attack on the outskirts of Mogadishu has killed two colonels and nine
soldiers from the Somali National Alliance (SNA). Their convoy struck an IED
while in transit from Mogadishu to the Dhanaane area. Colonel Abdisalaan Aden
has been named as one of the officers killed; he was returning to his unit
after talks with the central government.
- Seconds after glimpsing Boko Haram gunmen leap out of vehicles brandishing
weapons in the town of Rann, Nigeria, Abdul, 45, rushed inside the medical
clinic where he worked.
his eyes up to the ceiling, it seemed as if he was about to murmur a prayer.
he clambered atop a plastic worktable and hoisted himself inside a narrow
concealed opening just below the roof.
hid there for hours," said Abdul, one of more than 35 000 Nigerians who
fled Rann for Cameroon.
described the shooting he heard outside while militants shouted "we are
the agents of Jihad!"
after he began to smell burning and realised the clinic had also been set on
fire, he shed his clothes, punched his way through the roof and rolled off into
the grass, lying low until he could gather some belongings and flee.
week, Abdul, who works for international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres
(Doctors Without Borders) and did not want to reveal his real name for safety
reasons, escaped to Cameroon's Far North region in search of safety.
BACK TO DANGER
have been sheltering in Cameroon for years, on the run from the Islamist
militant group Boko Haram.
Boko Haram's previous attack on Rann on January 14, about 9 000 refugees
crossed the border.
almost all of them were forced to return by the Cameroonian military, according
to the U.N.'s refugee agency.
Cameroonian government could not be reached for comment, but when asked last
week about the forced deportations the governor of the Far North region denied
they took place.
numbers of those deported - a violation of international law - has increased
more than six times compared to 2018 according to U.N. figures.
action was totally unexpected and puts lives of thousands of refugees at
risk," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a
latest attack on Rann, on January 28, was termed "the deadliest yet"
by Amnesty International, which confirmed that at least 60 people were killed
and hundreds of buildings burned in and around the surrounding area.
corpses were lying on the streets in the town," Abdul told the Thomson
Reuters Foundation, adding that many people did not stay long enough to bury
them, fearing another attack.
once in Goura, many Nigerians worried that they may once again be forced to
are afraid to go back there," said one Nigerian who did not reveal his
name but spoke on behalf of a community from Rann addressing a delegation from
the United Nations visiting Goura.
of us have moved five times - and this time, we will stay longer," he
said, adding that most of the population of Rann was made up of Nigerians who
had been forced to flee their homes multiple times in recent years.
request to the Cameroonian government and the humanitarians is this: we are
under the sun, we have no shelter, we don't have enough to eat, we don't have
water, we don't have latrines," he said.
IN CAMEROON'S POOREST REGION
in Goura, a small Cameroonian village of several thousand inhabitants dotted
with crumbling huts made of mud and straw, is not easy even in the best of
the most populated yet poorest of Cameroon's 10 regions, the arid landscape of
the Far North is vastly undeveloped, with almost no infrastructure, chronic
desertification and widespread poverty.
prior to the Boko Haram conflict, three quarters of the population lived below
the poverty line, the International Crisis Group noted.
the region's principal road, an artery linking Cameroon to Nigeria and Chad, is
in a state of crumbling disrepair, covered by sand and full of potholes.
Boko Haram's first attacks in Cameroon in March 2014, more than 1 500 people
have been killed, prompting almost a quarter of a million to flee their homes.
week, Nigerian refugees continued arrived in a continuous stream of people.
carried mattresses on their heads and sewing machines on their shoulders,
hoping to be able to use them to earn some money. Others brought donkey carts
loaded with clothing, pots, pans, children and elderly relatives.
Haram have burned my house - I have nowhere to return to," said Asada
Ngassi, a 30-year-old mother of five, while breastfeeding her youngest baby
outside a tent she made out of tree branches and empty tarpaulin rice sacks.
the third time I've lost my home. I'm not going anywhere else," she said.
with no regular water supply nor electricity, people stood in a 200-metre-long
queue waiting for trickles from a container which usually serves just one
household in the prosperous neighbourhoods of Cameroon's capital, Yaounde.
the scorching sun, the refugees peddled vegetables, flip flops, air fresheners
and other goods in a make-shift market set up directly on the ground within
just hours of arrival.
is a massive influx of people who are very afraid and tired and have really put
a lot of hope on Cameroon to find refuge and respite here," said Allegra
Baiocchi, the U.N.'s development and humanitarian coordinator in Cameroon.
priority now is to respond to the most urgent needs," she said,
emphasising safety and shelter.
are hungry so they need immediate food assistance and medical screening,"
she said, adding that the United Nations is working on a rapid scaling up of
operations in the area.
is hard because we have so many emergencies at same time," she said.
hosts about 350 000 refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic
in the country's two English-speaking Western regions, 437 000 people have become
internally displaced because of violence and insecurity, according to the
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