Claire Blackman (centre
L), wife of imprisoned marine Alexander Blackman, reacts as she poses for a
photograph with supporters and members of her legal team on the steps of the
Royal Courts of Justice in central London on March 15, 2017. / AFP / ADRIAN
BJP Must Give Us Justice for Vote: Triple Talaq Victim
Israel Imposes 'Apartheid Regime' On Palestinians: UN
‘All of Us Were ISIS Human Shields’: Survivors of
Islamic Cleric Threatens To Sue T.B. Joshua for
Calling Jesus God
Turkish FM Warns Of ‘Holy Wars’ In Europe in Remarks
on Dutch Elections
Two Islamic State Suspects Arrested In Manipur
Pakistan becoming world’s terrorism factory: India at
'Modi certainly doesn't exclude Muslims from
India fast-tracks hydro projects in Kashmir
'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor challenge to India's
Jammu and Kashmir: Withdraw AFSPA from some areas,
says Mehbooba Mufti
UK Soldier Wins Appeal of Taliban War Crime Conviction
German Prosecutors Charge Man with Islamic State
Dutch anti-Islam politician Wilders promises firm
Cross purposes: Activists in German town protest
mosque construction with crucifixes
Muslims slam EU court’s Hijab ban
Pope warns of ‘very grave sin’ when jobs are cut
Syria: At Least 30 Dead in Suicide Attacks in Damascus
Soldier Killed By Shia ‘Terrorist Elements’ In Saudi
Iraq car bombing: At least seven killed in Tikrit, say
Paramilitary forces kill 2 Islamic State members in
Chinese President Receives Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques and hold official talks
King Salman: Islamic World Challenges Require More
Solidarity among Muslims
Syrian Soldiers Clash Fiercely with ISIL in Eastern Aleppo,
Repel Terrorists' Attack
Al-Nusra Suffers Heavy Casualties in Field Attack on
Syrian Army positions in Eastern Damascus
Syrian President's Advisor: Turkey Facing Consequences
of Wrong Policies in Region
Majority of ISIL Terrorists Escape from Raqqa City to
Syria: Terrorists Withdraw from More Strongholds in
Syrian Army Scores More Victories against ISIL in
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI Replaces PM Amid
& Smear’: Israel Fires Back at UN’s ‘Apartheid Regime’ Report
DM: Iran to Forcefully Increase Armed Forces' Combat,
Operational Power in New Year
Belgium rejects visa applications of Turkish imams
Once Hit By Terror, Balochistan Becoming 'Economic
Tiger of Pakistan': Nawaz
Pakistan Set To Declare Gilgit-Baltistan as Fifth
Pakistan launches first population census in 19 years
amid tight security
Pakistan rejects report about deployment of troops in
Aziz discusses terror issue with Afghan NSA in London
Interpol help sought to curb blasphemy online
PM cautions against speculation about Panamagate case
11 Afghan nationals arrested in joint search
Pak-Afghan border tensions costing millions
Four ISIS-Linked Militants Killed In Raid in
Three Islamic Militants Blow Themselves Up In
Taliban Leaders among 36 Killed In Latest Airstrikes
Women empowerment crucial for peace in Afghanistan:
No evidence hospital attack was insider job: Afghan
Jundullah’s explosives expert and Taliban’s key
commander arrested in Samangan
US Embassy says Afghan visa holders can visit US,
rejects travel ban rumours
Trump: Assimilation of Muslims To Be Very Difficult In
President Trump Suffers Second Defeat as Revised
Travel Ban on Hold
Trade war will hurt US firms first, China says
US plans for Syria include another 1,000 troops: US
Danger Rises as Foreign Conflicts Spill Over Into
Dozens killed in fresh clashes on Myanmar’s China
Myanmar refugees may be hurt most by Donald Trump
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Mar 16, 2017
BAREILLY: Atiya Sabari, a Saharanpur woman who had
approached the Supreme Court challenging triple Talaq given on a piece of paper
by her husband, said she had voted for the BJP and now it was the party's turn
to bring justice to women whose lives had "become hell" due to the
Sharia law. She told TOI that thousands of Muslim women in circumstances
similar to hers had supported the saffron party, and now awaited justice.
While expressing delight over the BJP's unprecedented
mandate in UP, Sabari said, "Triple Talaq is a nightmare for any Muslim
woman. Our Prime Minister had showed all Muslim women a ray of hope by saying
that the practice should be opposed. So we voted for him and his party. I am
extremely glad with BJP's remarkable victory in the state and I believe that
the time has come for all Muslim women to get justice." She added that her
entire family and relatives too had voted for the party.
In her petition to the apex court in January, the
30-year-old woman had made Darul Uloom seminary a party alleging it did not
hear her before issuing a fatwa validating triple talaq. She had also made her
ex-husband, in-laws and the Union government parties in her petition. The SC had
asked the attorney general to file a consolidated submission of all such cases
by March 30.
Israel Imposes 'Apartheid Regime' On Palestinians: UN Report
REUTERS 16 March 2017
A UN agency published a report on Wednesday accusing
Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" of racial discrimination on
the Palestinian people, and said it was the first time a UN body had clearly
made the charge.
Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman likened the
report, which was published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for
Western Asia (ESCWA), to Der Sturmer ─ a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly
The report concluded "Israel has established an
apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole."
The accusation ─ often directed at Israel by its
critics ─ is fiercely
rejected by Israel.
UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive
Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the "first of its type"
from a UN body that "clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist
state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian
ESCWA comprises 18 Arab states in Western Asia and
aims to support economic and social development in member states, according to
its website. The report was prepared at the request of member states, Khalaf
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New
York that the report was published without any prior consultation with the UN
"The report as it stands does not reflect the
views of the secretary-general (Antonio Guterres)," said Dujarric, adding
that the report itself notes that it reflects the views of the authors.
The United States, an ally of Israel, said it was
outraged by the report.
"The United Nations secretariat was right to
distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the
report altogether," the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley,
said in a statement.
The Israeli ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, commenting on Twitter, also noted the report had
not been endorsed by the UN secretary-general.
"The attempt to smear and falsely label the only
true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and
constitutes a blatant lie," Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon said in a
The report said it had established on the "basis
of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the
crime of apartheid."
"However, only a ruling by an international
tribunal in that sense would make such an assessment truly authoritative,"
The report said the "strategic fragmentation of
the Palestinian people" was the main method through which Israel imposes
apartheid, with Palestinians divided into four groups oppressed through
"distinct laws, policies and practices."
It identified the four sets of Palestinians as:
Palestinian citizens of Israel; Palestinians in East Jerusalem; Palestinians in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and Palestinians living as refugees or in exile.
ESCWA hoped the report would inform further
deliberations on the root causes of the problem in the United Nations, among
member states, and in society, Khalaf said at an event to launch the report at
ESCWA's Beirut headquarters.
It was authored by Richard Falk, a former UN human
rights investigator for the Palestinian territories, and Virginia Tilley,
professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.
Before leaving his post as UN special rapporteur on
human rights in the Palestinian territories in 2014, Falk said Israeli policies
bore unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
The United States accused him of being biased against
16 Mar, 2017
The battle for Mosul has taken a heavy toll on
civilians struggling to escape the crossfire between ISIS and the Iraqi army,
survivors have told RT’s Murad Gazdiev. U.S and Iraqi officials, however,
cannot evaluate the casualties, citing a lack of “visibility” on the situation.
A hospital in Erbil has received as many as 120
wounded every day since the beginning of the operation to retake western Mosul
from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists. Injured civilians, who
managed to escape the ongoing bloodshed are being treated in the hospital, but
many others have died trying to do so. The RT crew visited the busy facility
and heard the chilling tales of survival and daring escapes from the city.
Civilians are suffering at the hands of the both
warring sides — as IS terrorists deliberately hide among them in order to
attract US-backed coalition strikes and thus inflict as many casualties as
possible among the population.
“We were five families together when ISIS fighters
came to our house and went on the roof. We asked to be allowed to leave– we
knew a jet would bomb the house, but they said no,” an injured man told RT.
“The Iraqi army came and shot at our house with an Abrams tank. Seven civilians
were killed and their bodies are still there. Everyone else fled —children,
women, people with injuries — everyone ran where they could.”
“If ISIS has one great talent – it is their ability to
kill people. If they take an area with a population of a thousand, in six
months there will only be 500 left,” the man added. “Ask anyone in this
hospital — and every single one will tell you that we were ISIS’s human
“The Iraqi soldiers didn’t know people were in the
house. When they get shot at — they respond with fire. So when ISIS started
shooting at them, they shoot back,” an Iraqi man said.
Many of those who managed to escape the carnage have
paid a heavy price.
“We ran out of our home, and the army came to drive us
away. When we got out of the cars, the shells started falling,” a girl in a
wheelchair told RT.
Her legs were sprayed by shrapnel, but she got off
lightly, compared to her mother. The woman has lost her eye, an arm and the
ability to walk after being hit in an IS shelling, but the loss of relatives
pains her the most.
“All I remember is everyone laying on the ground,
covered in blood. I think my brother and his son were killed. They tell me
they’re OK… but I’m his sister. I can feel it,” she said. “Perhaps I committed
some sin to deserve this. But I don’t know what I did, I just don’t know…”
Besides the IS mortar and artillery shelling, US-led
coalition airstrikes also cause heavy suffering among Mosul's civilians,
according to survivors.
“We heard regularly of airstrikes hitting civilians.
We ourselves spent two weeks on the floor, with the windows covered, so that no
one would see us,” the maimed woman added.
A prominent Iraqi politician, Khamis Khanjar, warned
the US-backed coalition on Monday that attempts to accelerate the battle would
lead only to a surge in civilian deaths.
At least 3,500 civilians have already perished in west
Mosul since the beginning of the latest offensive, according to Khanjar, who
noted that most of the casualties have been inflicted by incessant coalition
airstrikes and shelling.
“There were heavy casualties due to speeding up of
military operations and we see this as a big mistake and residents who we are
in touch with have much more fear than in the past of the ongoing military
operations,” Reuters quoted Khanjar as saying. “We hope the US-led coalition
doesn’t hurry up in this way without taking into consideration the human
US officials, however, could neither verify nor debunk
these shocking figures, voiced by the Iraqi politician. The spokesman for the
US State Department, Mark Toner, admitted that Washington has little data on
what is really happening in Mosul.
“I just don’t have any kind of visibility on these
exact allegations,” Toner told RT’s correspondent Gayane Chichakyan.
A lack of verified accounts, however, never prevented
US officials from condemning reports of civilian sufferings and casualties
during the Aleppo liberation. As many human rights advocates have noted,
western mainstream media has also followed a similar pattern, citing all kinds
of questionable sources to report casualties allegedly skyrocketing among
eastern Aleppo residents.
The Mosul operation gets completely different coverage
in the media than the Aleppo liberation did, as civilian losses and hardships
are muffled, Bolivian documentary filmmaker and director of the “The Voice of
Syria” Carla Ortiz told RT.
“Whatever the media was covering 24/7 was basically on
every wrong move that the Syrian Army, or Russia, or Iran were making. Of
course, there were many casualties as well because that’s why it’s a war,”
Ortiz said. “But I think about Mosul we don’t have much information about what
is really happening. There’s a lot of silence about it, and if you want to find
out you have to really go deep in.”
16th March 2017
A Muslim cleric and front-line Islamic lecturer,
Sheikh Hussaini Yusuf Mabera, has threatened to drag renowned Nigerian Pastor
Trmitope Joshua to court.
In a message he shared on his Facebook wall, Mabera
berated the pastor for regularly describing Jesus Christ as God.
He wrote: “I am filing a case to the Federal High
Court of Nigeria against Pastor T.B. Joshua and co-pastors for speaking a lie
against Jesus Christ by calling him God.”
The Islamic teacher said he regularly watched Joshua’s
popular television channel Emmanuel TV, wondering why the prophet should
address Jesus as God in front of thousands of his listeners.
He added: “I was completely aghast when I heard the
‘so-called’ Prophet T.B. Joshua of Emmanuel TV calling Jesus God in the
presence of thousands of his audience, among whom were professors, doctors,
reverend fathers and mothers, pastors and bishops.”
Sheikh Mabera said from his own findings, the Bible
itself has so many evidences contradicting the belief that Jesus Christ is a
Mabera, who owns an Islamic school where he trains
other Muslims in the art of defending their faith, continued that T.B. Joshua
and his ilk lacked “proper understanding” of Scriptural truths.
“As I was watching T.B. Joshua speaking through
Emmanuel TV and his audience helplessly watching and listening to his
accumulated lies and unfounded praise-singing directed at Jesus, I almost cried
with automatic alacrity when he said that Jesus is Almighty God.
“My conclusion was that both TB Joshua and other
Christians actually read their Bible without proper understanding of what they
are reading”, he claimed.
Islamic cleric threatens court action against T.B
Joshua for calling Jesus God
The fiery Islamic advocate then quoted several
Scriptures to support his claims that Jesus Christ was a “servant of God”, not
“There are millions of facts from the Scriptures and
other rational facts that authentically proved that Jesus does not have even
the least qualification of being God,” he opined.
Mabera ended his post by declaring that Joshua was
“deceiving and misguiding” his “innocent followers” with “preposterous lies.
“Let us meet in the court of law and debate it out.
Enough is Enough”, he declared.
Turkish FM Warns Of ‘Holy Wars’ In Europe in Remarks on
Europe will soon be the site of “holy wars,” Foreign
Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on March 16, in Ankara’s first comment on the
general elections in the Netherlands that saw the victory of Prime Minister
Mark Rutte’s Liberal VVD.
“Now the election is over in the Netherlands ... When
you look at the many parties you see there is no difference between the social
democrats and fascist [Geert] Wilders. All have the same mentality. Where will
you go? Where are you taking Europe? You have begun to collapse Europe. You are
dragging Europe into the abyss. Holy wars will soon begin in Europe,” Çavuşoğlu
Meanwhile, French presidential front-runner Emmanuel
Macron hailed the election defeat of far-right Dutch candidate Geert Wilders on
March 16 as a win for 'progressives', but there was no immediate reaction from
his rival Marine Le Pen.
"The Netherlands is showing us that a
breakthrough for the extreme right is not a foregone conclusion and that
progressives are gaining momentum," said Macron, 39, who pledges to
modernize French politics and transcend traditional left-versus-right
Two Islamic State suspects arrested in Manipur
16 March 2017
Assam Rifles have arrested two Islamic State suspects
from a border town in Manipur, police sources said on Thursday.
The arrests were made at a border check post at
Khudengthabi along the Trans Asian Highway No 1 on March 14 when the suspects
were proceeding towards Imphal from the border town of Moreh.
The two were identified as Nazir Mohammad and Abu
Bakir who told police that they were from Tamil Nadu.
The Assam Rifles personnel recovered 14 SIM cards and
some handsets, besides Rs 75,130 in Indian currency and a huge amount in
The two told police that they left Kolkata on March 9
and travelled through Assam and reached Dimapur railway station in Nagaland on
They then came to Imphal from where they went to
Moreh. They further told police that this was their second visit to Manipur.
The police said they were investigating the real
purpose of their visit and what they did in the border town.
It's (Pakistan) continued support for terror groups in
J&K is main challenge to protecting human rights of our citizens in the
state, said India.
March 16, 2017
“We ask Pakistan to stop inciting and supporting
violence and terrorism in any part of India and refrain from meddling in our
internal affairs in any manner,” the official said.
Calling Pakistan a terrorism factory, India on
Wednesday lashed out at the neighbouring country saying its terror policies
have alienated its own people through continued mistreatment of minorities. In
the United Nation, India accused Pakistan of spreading terrorism and illegally
occupying some territories in Kashmir.
Exercising its right to reply during a UN Human Rights
Council session in Geneva, the Indian Representative said Pakistan must rein in
its “compulsive hostility” towards India. “We ask Pakistan to stop inciting and
supporting violence and terrorism in any part of India and refrain from
meddling in our internal affairs in any manner,” the official said.
India Slams Pakistan At UNHRC, Calls It A Terrorism
Once again Pakistan’s delegation has chosen to misuse
the Council to make fallacious references about internal matters pertaining to
Jammu and Kashmir, the diplomat said.
Emphasising that terrorism is the grossest violation
of human rights and should be so acknowledged by any impartial and objective
observer, the Indian side said a part of the territories of Jammu and Kashmir
remain under the forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan. “We also demand
that Pakistan must fulfil its obligation to vacate illegal occupation of
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK),” the diplomat said.
“It is unfortunate that in recent times the people of
PoK have become victims of sectarian conflict, terrorism and extreme economic
hardship because of Pakistan’s occupation and discriminatory policies,” the
Indian side said.
“The Indian state of J&K is part of a pluralistic
and secular democracy, where an independent judiciary, an active media and a
vibrant civil society guarantee freedoms. In contrast, Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir is administered by a ‘deep state’ and has become a hub for the global
export of terror,” the diplomat said.
The Indian side asserted that India does not accept
attempts by Pakistan to denigrate the democratic choice that has been regularly
exercised by the people of J&K over the last six decades since our
independence. “Pakistan’s continued support for terror groups operating in
J&K is the main challenge to protecting the human rights of our citizens in
the State. Pakistan’s selective approach in tackling terror groups operating
outside Pakistan and within, despite the numerous solemn promises made
underscores the continuing unwillingness to acknowledge the truth,” the Indian
The Indian side said apart from becoming “world’s
terrorism factory”, Pakistan has alienated its own people through continued
mistreatment of Hindus, Christians, Shias, Ahmadiyas and other minorities.
“In this Council, Pakistan has referred to situation
of minorities in India. Minorities in India have been Prime Ministers,
Presidents, Vice-Presidents, senior Cabinet Ministers, senior civil servants,
cricket team captains, Bollywood superstars-can the minorities of Pakistan
claim even a shadow of this? All they have are blasphemy laws and relentless
abuse and violation of their human rights,” the Indian side said.
Uttar Pradesh turned saffron on March 11 when the
Bharatiya Janata Party won an astounding 312 seats in the 403-seat assembly.
Poll pundits were scratching their heads trying to
decipher the triumph. For Dr A K Verma, director, Centre for the Study of
Society and Politics, Kanpur, Modi's victory wasn't much of a surprise.
Dr Verma explains to Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf
the implications of the victory for the BJP and where the Samajwadi Party and
Bahujan Samaj Party are headeded from here.
What's your take on the UP results?
Much of the results were on expected lines. We had
anticipated a clear majority for the BJP. We were predicting the BJP would
cross 'Mission 265,' but we weren't expecting this kind of victory -- crossing
How come few anticipated this Modi electoral tsunami?
No, it is not like that. I had written in the Economic
and Political Weekly on December 31, 2016, about a third democratic upsurge in
In this democratic upsurge my hypothesis was there is
a massive OBC (Other Backward Classes) shift towards the BJP, a very
substantial shift of MBCs (Most Backward Castes) towards the BJP and a miniscule
Muslim shift towards the BJP. That was published in EPW. We had no doubt about
What was the reason for this third upsurge of voters
for the BJP?
One reason was that the marginal sections like the
more backward and most backward sections had become disillusioned with identity
They were actually craving for aspirational politics
and they wanted development. They had enough of identity politics.
Identity politics did not bring in substantial and
qualitative change in their lifestyles.
There was dissatisfaction.
Post 2014, the BJP was supported by all social
denominations. The BJP sensed that it is not difficult to access all these
marginalised sections which was earlier not in the BJP's constituency.
So they started wooing them and they wooed them very
First, they tried to rope them in Delhi's basic
structure. They accommodated people like Anupriya Patel, in the Modi ministry.
They then appointed the most backward category person
-- Keshav Prasad Maurya -- as president of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
They also gave some Dalit representation in Modi's
They tried to capture this resentment of these
The masterstroke was that while allocating tickets to
BJP candidates they avoided 40 per cent tickets to the more backwards and the
most backward sections, a share which the OBC has in the population of Uttar
Therefore, by integrating them both in the leadership
structure and representation in assembly seats they captured UP.
The Modi government gave M J Akbar representation in
the prestigious external affairs ministry. To say, the BJP is not giving
tickets to Muslims is unfair.
The Opposition says communal polarisation led to the
I think it would be unfair to the electorate of UP to
say that it was communal polarisation because many people will not understand
and accept that several Muslims voted for Modi.
Young educated Muslim women and lot of Muslims from
the Terai belt areas openly said they will vote for the BJP because of the
triple talaq issue.
In Fatehpur constituency, we found lots of Muslims
On the ground, we found that the Muslim psyche was
changing towards the BJP and it is unfair to call it communal polarisation.
The BJP did not field a single Muslim candidate. Modi
spoke of qabristan and shamshan at his rallies. Swami Adityanath was
campaigning on communal lines.
Don't you think we need strong evidence to show that
Muslims voted for Modi in UP?
This is actually the general perception of people from
outside Uttar Pradesh.
How can the BJP give Muslim candidate tickets if they
don't have any good Muslim candidates?
I understand that the BJP wasn't doing any tokenism as
far as Muslim representation is considered, but they certainly don't exclude
Muslims from governance.
The Modi government gave M J Akbar representation in
the prestigious external affairs ministry. There are other Muslim members in
the Modi Cabinet.
To say the BJP is not giving tickets to Muslims is
I think the more the BJP becomes proactive in reaching
out to Muslims, the greater would be the representation of Muslims in the BJP.
What was the change in the minds of the Muslims with
regard to the BJP and Modi?
I do not know what is their perception and what is
their frame, but certainly Muslims are happy at the grassroot level.
There are certain things which are going on at the
grassroot level and the BJP's Muslim outreach is happening at the grassroot
The politics of communal polarisation is tokenism
because you see the counter question -- are the parties which followed and
pursued the politics of secularisation how Muslims look at them?
You see the result -- there is vehement rejection of
Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati and that speaks for itself of the changing Muslim
perception about the BJP.
What went wrong with the Samajwadi Party? Did Congress
become a burden for them?
From the very beginning, you have been talking to me
about this and I have been telling you that the entire business (the family
feud between Mulayam Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav) is structured and choreographed
and it was going to be devastating for the SP.
People came to realise it was all a drama.
There was nothing wrong in the alliance for the
Congress, but the Samajwadi Party tying up with the Congress was suicidal.
Secondly, the SP has always flourished on
anti-Congress sentiments. So it couldn't explain the U-turn on the Congress.
The Socialist Party was founded on anti-Congress
sentiments by Ram Manohar Lohia and he happened to be the only guide for the
This party could never explain why it has come so
close to the Congress.
Akhilesh was running a good government with a
majority. By ceding 105 seats to the Congress, Akhilesh triggered a revolt in
105 constituencies. These candidates openly opposed the Congress.
The Bihar model did not take place in Uttar Pradesh
because the Congress was nowhere near power since 1989. This, Akhilesh failed
The way they campaigned lacked any seriousness. It was
all allegations and a reactionary campaign. They could not sell their
The caste factor and Muslim polarisation worked for
Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar against the BJP in Bihar. Why did it not work for
Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi in UP?
It is crystal clear. In Bihar, Lalu and Nitish were in
power for so many years. They could also energise their cadres and get their
votes transferred, but in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress had no cadre.
Whatever premise was there about the transfer of votes
was absolutely flawed because Muslims or Yadavs were not interested in
transferring their votes to the Congress and therefore they fared so badly.
The Congress has no stake in Uttar Pradesh; there was
nothing wrong in the alliance for the Congress, but Samajwadi tying up with the
Congress was suicidal.
What went wrong with Mayawati?
Since 2012, Mayawati has distanced herself from Uttar
Pradesh and nursed national ambitions.
The Dalits of UP realised she is not interested in
Secondly, most backward classes always thought that
Mayawati was unfair to them and favoured the Jatav community more within Dalit
society. Therefore, they were not happy with her.
The Brahmin component was completely marginalised
after the Daya Shankar episode. Brahmins, Thakurs and upper castes did not vote
for the BSP.
Mayawati went for Muslim votes thinking that social
engineering is like mechanical engineering, but it is not.
Dalit-Muslim bonhomie at the grassroot level was never
there and suddenly on the eve of elections it was not to be found.
If she wants Muslims and Dalits to come together she
will have to work more on that for some time. Only then you can see the
Do you think if the BSP and SP do not form an alliance
for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it will lead to a Modi sweep in UP, just like
it happened in 2014?
As far as I understand, the coming of the SP and BSP
won't happen in UP though nothing is impossible in politics.
The BSP and SP not only represent antithesis as far as
the leadership of Mayawati and Mulayam is concerned, they also represent two
social denominations, which are positioned against each other.
OBCs normally are looked as exploitative by Dalits as
they own land in villages and are dominant people. Dalits work on fields.
So, there is an economic clash between the two
communities and therefore it is difficult for them to come together.
Moreover, both are not interested in coming together,
so it is difficult to see this in the future.
More importantly, people these days do not appreciate
the politics of negativism. Two people coming to remove the BJP. This was
demonstrated by the Congress and SP and it failed in UP.
NEW DELHI: India has fast-tracked hydropower projects
worth $15 billion in Kashmir in recent months, three central and state
officials said, ignoring warnings from Islamabad that power stations on rivers
flowing into Pakistan will disrupt water supplies.
The swift approval of projects that had languished for
years came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested last year that sharing
the waterways could be conditional on Pakistan clamping down on anti-India
militants it shelters.
Pakistan has opposed+ some of these projects before,
saying they violate a World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of the Indus
river and its tributaries upon which 80 percent of its irrigated agriculture
The schemes, the largest of which is the 1,856 MW
Sawalkote plant, will take years to complete, but their approval could prove a
flashpoint between the nuclear-armed neighbours at a time when relations are at
a low ebb.
"I say the way you look at these projects, it is
not purely a hydro project. Broaden it to a strategic water management, border
management problem, and then you put in money," said Pradeep Kumar Pujari,
the top ranking official in the power ministry.
Pakistan denies any involvement in terrorism in
Kashmir and has repeatedly urged New Delhi to hold talks to decide the future
of the region.
Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman, Nafees Zakaria,
said he would confer with the Ministry of Water and Power on the proposed
Indian projects, saying it was a technical matter.
He noted, however, that India would be attending a
regular meeting of the Indus Commission later this month in Lahore, even though
the broader peace dialogue was on hold.
"It seems that finally India has realized the
importance of this mechanism under the IWT (Indus Waters Treaty) for resolving
water disputes related to the Indus water and its tributaries," Zakaria
Six hydro projects in Kashmir either cleared viability
tests or the more advanced environment and forest expert approvals in the last
three months, two officials in India's Water Resources Ministry and the Central
Electricity Authority said separately.
Together these projects on the Chenab river, a
tributary of the Indus, would triple hydropower generation in Jammu and Kashmir
from the current level of 3,000 MW, the biggest jump in decades, added the
officials, declining to be named because the approvals had not yet been made
"We have developed barely one-sixth of the
hydropower capacity potential in the state in the last 50 years," the
senior official at the Water Resources Ministry said.
Pakistan's water supply is dwindling because of
climate change, outdated farming techniques and an exploding population.
A 2011 report by the US Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations said New Delhi could use these projects as a way to control
Pakistan's supplies from the Indus, seen as its jugular vein.
"The cumulative effect of these projects could
give India the ability to store enough water to limit the supply to Pakistan at
crucial moments in the growing season," it said.
India says the projects are
"run-of-the-river" schemes that use the river's flow and elevation to
generate electricity rather than large reservoirs, and do not contravene the
Environmental groups have questioned whether the
government has followed proper procedures in fast-tracking projects located in
a highly seismic area.
"BLOOD AND WATER"
Modi told a meeting of government officials on the
Indus treaty last year that "blood and water cannot flow together",
soon after Pakistan-based militants carried out a deadly attack on Kashmir last
Modi's message was two-fold, Indian foreign ministry
spokesman Gopal Baglay said. Terrorism had to stop and India must fully utilise
the economic potential available to it within the Indus treaty.
The projects that have won technical approvals in
recent months are Sawalkote, Kwar, Pakal Dul, Bursar and Kirthai I and II.
Most of the projects have been held up for at least a
decade awaiting multiple clearances. Sawalkote, which was cleared by a
government-constituted environment committee in January, was first given
techno-economic approval in 1991.
It is now up for forest clearance from the state
authorities, after which the government will finalise financing and begin
Some projects like Pakal Dul were stuck in litigation,
but that has been resolved, Jammu and Kashmir's Power Minister Nirmal Singh
told Reuters in the summer capital Srinagar. "Things are now in a position
of take-off," he said.
In January, senior federal officials made a
presentation on energy security to Modi in which they proposed interest
subsidies and long-term loans for hydroprojects above 100 MW, according to the
document seen by Reuters.
This is an effective step by PM Modi to stop militancy
in Kashmir. Unless Pakistan is hit hard they will not come to terms.
But Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia
Network on Dams, Rivers & People, said some projects had been cleared
without impact assessment studies and public consultation.
"It's on one river, the Chenab, where you are
doing so many projects. This is a very vulnerable region. It's landslide-prone,
it's flash flood-prone, earthquake-prone."
NEW DELHI: India has expressed strong opposition to
the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor+ (CPEC) project, which is the
key to Beijing's ambitious 'One-Belt, One-Road' initiative, even as it slammed
Islamabad for not taking concrete steps to stop crossborder terrorism.
"The CPEC passing through
Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir challenges Indian sovereignty," said the Union
defence ministry in its annual report submitted to Parliament on Wednesday.
In the past too, India has criticised the
Chinese-funded CPEC, which links China's Muslim dominated Xinjiang province to
the Gwadar deep-sea port+ in Pakistan, because it passes through
Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK, which New Delhi considers its own territory. During
the G-20 summit at Hangzhou in September last year, PM Narendra Modi had
expressed India's concerns over the CPEC in his bilateral meeting with Chinese
President Xi Jinping, holding that the two countries needed to be
"sensitive" to each other's strategic interests.
Taking note of China's significant restructuring of
its People's Liberation Army to boost its offensive military capabilities, the
defence ministry also reiterated India's support for freedom of navigation and
overflight, and unimpeached commerce, based on international laws in the
contentious South China Sea.
New Delhi has taken to criticising Beijing's strongarm
tactics in the South China Sea+ , even as it slowly but steadily builds
military ties with countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and others locked in
territorial disputes with China in the region.
"India undertakes various activities, including
cooperation in the oil and gas sector, with littoral states of South China Sea
(Vietnam, for instance)...India believes that states should resolve disputes
through peaceful means....," said the MoD.
Turning to Pakistan, the MoD said: "Although the
(Pakistani) military has made efforts to improve the security situation in the
country, it has avoided taking action against jihadi and terror outfits that
target Pakistan's neighbours."
"Support to such groups persists despite ongoing
efforts by the international community, including India, to list the head of
the terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammed, Masood Azhar, as an international
terrorist," it added.
"Such outfits continued to be encouraged to
infiltrate into India under the cover of massive cross-LoC and cross-border
firing in J&K and other areas throughout the year.
China's hegemonic policy has to be challenged.
Pakistan is selling land it does not have rights upon. POK issue has remained
meaningless at the UN for far too long and with cross border terrorism inc...
Pakistan-based terrorists attacked military bases in
India, triggering an appropriate response by the Indian armed forces (the
September 29 surgical strikes against terror launch pads in PoK)," it
As for the internal security situation in J&K,
especially in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan
Wani in July last year, the MoD said it is currently tense but under control.
"Relentless counter-terrorist operations by the Army, along with other
security forces, in the hinterland have thwarted the plans of Pakistan to give
a fillip to the proxy war being waged against India," it said.
Mehbooba Mufti said, "We should not shy away from
removing AFSPA when situation improves."
March 16, 2017
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on
Wednesday called for the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)
from some areas of her state. “We should not shy away from revocation of the
AFSPA. When things improve, why not?” she asked at an Indian Foundation
counter-terrorism conference in New Delhi.
“We do not shy away when the situation goes bad. We do
not shy away from calling more forces…. But when the situation improves, we
should not shy away from the fact that we need to start revocation of the AFSPA
from some places and see what is the impact,” she said. Mehbooba advocated good
governance to eradicate terrorism. She added that she required a “window of
peace” for ensuring good governance to shrink the militant space.
She lauded former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
for his Kashmir policy and suggested there was a need for shifting security
camps “away from public” once the situation improves. Mehbooba asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi
to initiate talks with “all stakeholders” for a lasting solution in Kashmir.
“We need to have dialogue as was done by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee,” she said.
March 16th, 2017
LONDON: A London court on Wednesday reduced the
conviction of a British soldier found guilty of killing an injured Taliban
fighter to manslaughter from murder, in a high-profile case that has divided
Alexander Blackman is currently in jail for shooting
the fighter at close range in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province on Sep 15, 2011,
after the Afghan was seriously injured by fire from an Apache helicopter.
“There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil ... It’s
nothing you wouldn’t do to us,” Blackman was heard saying, paraphrasing Shakespeare
Hamlet, in footage captured by a camera on a soldier’s helmet. “Obviously this
doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention,” he said to
his fellow Royal Marines, a reference to international laws governing the
treatment of prisoners of war.
Blackman was convicted by a court martial in 2013 and
sentenced to life in prison with a 10-year minimum.
The sentence was later reduced to eight years to take
into account the fact that he was suffering from combat stress disorder — the
same reason given by the judges on Wednesday for downgrading his conviction. A
further hearing, whose date has not been set, will decide what sentence he
still has to serve.
His wife, Claire, who has spearheaded a public
campaign involving best-selling author Frederick Forsyth and many veterans,
said she was “delighted” by the ruling. “This is a crucial decision and one
which better reflects the circumstances my husband found himself in during that
terrible tour in Afghanistan,” she told reporters outside the court. She said
she hoped for “a significant reduction” in Blackman’s sentence.
The case marked the first time since World War II that
a British soldier was convicted of a murder carried out on the battlefield.
“You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered
him in cold blood,” judge Jeff Blackett told Blackman at his court martial in
2013. “By doing so you have betrayed your corps and all British service
personnel who have served in Afghanistan, and you have tarnished their
reputation,” Blackett said. The conviction was supported by Britain’s chief of
the defence staff at the time, Nicholas Houghton, who said: “Murder is murder,
this is a heinous crime.”
by BREITBART LONDON
16 Mar 2017
BERLIN (AP) — Federal prosecutors say they have
charged a 23-year-old German man with membership in a terrorist organization
for joining the Islamic State group in Syria.
In a statement Thursday, prosecutors said Anil O.
traveled to Syria in August 2015 with the intention of working as a medic for
Prosecutors said O., whose last name wasn’t published
due to German privacy law, soon became disillusioned with IS after seeing how
it treated fellow Muslims.
They said he tried several times to flee IS-held
territory, succeeding in January. He returned to Germany in September last year
and was arrested at Duesseldorf airport.
“I would rather have been the largest party,” he told
reporters outside his office in parliament. “But we gained seats. That’s a
result to be proud of.”
Even outside of government, his party’s influence on
Dutch politics had been enormous, he added.
Dutch vote in key elections as far-right slips
Wilders said he did not understand Rutte’s comment
that Dutch voters had said no to the “wrong kind of populists”.
“I don’t know what he means. He is implying there are
good and bad populists. I don’t see myself as a populist but he is suggesting I
am a bad populist and some kind of Nazi.”
16 Mar, 2017
Wooden crosses several meters high have been installed
by a group of protesters at a site in Erfurt, in the German region of
Thuringia, where a local Muslim community plans to build a mosque.
In early March, the first 10-meter-high wooden cross
was erected on a piece of private land owned by the local Muslim Ahmadiyya
community. It was set up by a group called ‘Bürger für Erfurt’ (Citizens for
Erfurt), aided by the anti-immigrant club ‘Ein Prozent’ (One Percent) from
neighboring Saxony, which published a video-report of the action on its
The cross was later torn down by unknown persons, but
re-erected shortly afterwards by the initiators – along with six more wooden
crosses of varying sizes. The move came after the Ahmadiyya community announced
plans to construct a mosque on the undeveloped grounds in a commercial zone in
Erfurt-Marbach – the first such building in Thuringia.
Currently there are only a number of prayer rooms in
several towns across the region. The building application is to be submitted to
the municipal administration in the coming weeks, according to the local MDR
Commenting on the incident, Erfurt mayor Katrin Böhlke
said that legally the town’s authorities cannot act against the crosses’
installation, as they are not set up on the town’s land. She added, however,
that she has been negotiating with activists, urging them to stick to peaceful
“We talk with the citizens again and again. Legally,
one cannot act against the crosses. It is not an urban area and is not governed
by the town’s Agriculture Department. We can only appeal again and again that
any protests against the mosque construction are peaceful,” Böhlke told MDR.
She noted that the issue would surely be discussed at the next meeting of the
A spokesman for the Ahmadiyya community in Erfurt,
Mohammad Suleman Malik, said the community does not see the crosses themselves
“The cross is not a provocation. On the contrary: It
would be nice if churches, synagogues and mosques stood side by side. We would
welcome a church construction in Marbach in the immediate vicinity [of the
planned mosque],” Malik told Thuringen24. He was astonished, however, that
“opponents expressing their aversion for the mosque’s construction through this
action would utilize a religious symbol like this.”
Two major Thuringian churches have condemned the
protest in a joint statement, speaking out “against abuse of the cross as a
“Whoever uses the cross to [protest] other thinking or
other faiths misuses this Christian symbol. The [action] has nothing to do with
the Christian message of charity and even love.“Our basic law is clear here:
religious communities have the right to freely exercise their religion, and
this right is also true when religion is expressed in architecture. We as
Christian Churches welcome the mosque construction in Erfurt. Those who
question the freedom of religion should ask themselves whether they act within
the precepts of our basic law,” the Evangelical Church of Middle Germany and
the Catholic Diocese of Erfurt said in a joint statement issued earlier this
The crosses also came under fire from local
politicians, with the head of the Thuringian State Chancellery, Benjamin Hoff,
tweeting: “Whoever wants to protest with a cross symbol against the mosque
construction in Erfurt-Marbach does not understand anything about Christian
“And I actually thought the time of the Crusades was
over…so much to the abuse of religious symbolism against the # mosque building
# Erfurt,” local Greens Party Parliamentary Director and Erfurt Councilor
Astrid Rothe-Beinlich tweeted.
Even among the locals opinions differ as to whether it
is appropriate to protest against the mosque. A local citizen told RT’s Ruptly
that the protest is justified.
“I think this is a justified protest. The citizens of
Erfurt, who are against the construction of the mosque, should be able to
express the protest in a peaceful manner,” he stated. Another man said he does
not oppose the mosque personally, but understands the reasons for the action.
“I personally am not scared of the mosque’s
construction. But I understand that the Marbach population is worried, that
through the construction of a mosque the structure of the population will
change in a few years, like we have seen in Berlin’s Kreuzberg, in Duisburg’s
Marxrloh or in Brussels’ Molenbeek, where the indigenous population is being
pushed out and have to leave their place. Because a mosque is always a ‘train
station’ at the same time, where many people settle around it," he stated.
Yet another local resident suggested further that in order to evade conflicts
the town “should carry out a poll or a referendum like in Switzerland and then
accept the decision of the population.”
Muslims Slam EU Court’s Hijab Ban
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim slammed the
ruling saying that there was nothing acceptable about the decision, during an
interview aired live on HaberTurk, Bloomberg HT and Show TV.
“This is so wrong. There is nothing acceptable about
this [decision]. It is against the human rights, freedom of belief and freedom
of dress,” Yildirim said.
In Germany, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany
also sharply criticized the ruling, saying it was in contradiction with the
basic freedoms guaranteed under the major European conventions on human rights.
“With their decision today the judges of the Court of
Justice of the European Union have opened the door for further discrimination
of Muslim women in Europe and they have further restricted the legal options
for objecting such discriminatory measures,” the council said in a press
Bekir Altas, secretary general of the Islamic
Community of Milli Gorus, one of the largest organizations of the
Turkish-Muslim community in Germany has also condemned the court ruling.
“The ruling of the Court of Justice of the European
Union is a wrong decision. Moreover it is open to misuse,” he said.
Altas warned that following this ruling, more Muslim
women would be further excluded from the labor market and lose their
opportunity to gain their economic independence.
“This is an unacceptable situation. Politicians should
immediately take necessary steps in the parliament to introduce measures to
strengthen the struggle against discrimination,” he added.
Bekir Alboga, secretary general of the Turkish-Islamic
Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) said the right of Muslim women to wear the
headscarf should be respected by all, as religious freedoms are protected by
the German constitution.
The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on
Tuesday that employers can ban their workers from wearing any religious symbol,
including headscarves worn by certain Muslim women.
In a ruling on two separate appeals made by Belgium
and France over the headscarf ban, the court said companies could bar staff
from “visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign”.
The EU court further said the decision to ban such
symbols at workplaces was not discriminatory.
Amel Yacef, European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
Chair, criticized the decision describing it as “Muslim ban”
Yacef said in Brussels the decision would
“effectively” keep away all Muslim women wearing a headscarf from the
In Turkey, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus
joined the premier in describing it as a “disgrace” in an interview with CNN
“This cannot be acceptable. The decision which does
not comply with any standards of Europe, with any humanitarian values and
freedom of human is a disgrace,” Kurtulmus said.
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci also told Anadolu
Agency in Turkey’s eastern province of Van that practices against human rights
and freedom in Europe had become popular.
Francis has spoken out frequently about the need for
dignified work for all, lamenting the high rate of unemployment and youth
unemployment in Italy and elsewhere.
March 15, 2017
Pope Francis said Wednesday that employers who fire
workers for unclear economic reasons are committing a “very grave sin” and
should ensure dignified work for all their employees.
Francis made the comments at his general audience
after appealing for a resolution to a labor dispute at Sky Italia, where
employees are facing job cuts and relocation as the satellite channel moves
offices from Rome to Milan.
Francis called for a solution that respects the rights
of all, “especially families.” Speaking off-the-cuff, he added: “Those who for
economic reasons or to conclude unclear negotiations, close factories and
business ventures and take away jobs, this person is committing a very grave
The audience was marked by an emotional encounter at
its start as a small group of Chinese pilgrims approached Francis on their
knees and wept at his feet as he blessed them in St. Peter’s Square. The
pilgrims said they were from Tianjin and brought with them a statue of the
Francis has been working to improve relations with
Beijing, particularly over the thorny issue of bishop nominations. China has an
estimated 12 million Catholics, millions of whom are loyal to the pope and
worship in independent congregations outside the control of the communist
party’s Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for
either attack, but other, similar attacks in recent weeks were claimed by
al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria.
March 15, 2017
Suicide bombers Wednesday hit the main judicial
building and a restaurant in Damascus, killing at least 30 people, according to
state media, spreading fear across Syria’s capital as the country’s civil war
enters its seventh year. The first attacker struck inside the Justice Palace,
located near the famous and crowded Hamidiyeh market. The explosion left bodies
lying amid pools of blood and shattered glass in the building’s main hall,
adorned with a picture of President Bashar Assad hanging on one of the walls.
The official news agency, SANA, said another suicide
explosion struck a restaurant in Rabweh district of Damascus, leading to
multiple casualties, mostly women and children.
The Ikhbariyeh TV channel said the attacker was being
chased by security agents when he ran into a restaurant and detonated his
explosives’ vest there.
The bombings were the latest in a spate of deadly
explosions and suicide attacks targeting government-controlled areas in Syria
and its capital. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either
attack, but other, similar attacks in recent weeks were claimed by al-Qaida’s
affiliate in Syria.
The attacks came as Syrians mark the sixth anniversary
of the country’s bitter civil war, which has killed more than 400,000 people
and displaced millions of others.
The conflict began in March 2011 as a popular uprising
against Assad’s rule but quickly descended into a full-blown civil war. The
chaos allowed al-Qaeda and later the Islamic State group to gain a foothold in
the war-torn nation.
The recent attacks have struck at highly symbolic
targets, and may mark the start of a new insurgency campaign by al-Qaeda-linked
militants to try and counter recent military advances by Assad’s forces, backed
by Russia and Iran.
According to Damascus police chief Mohammad Kheir
Ismail, the Justice Palace attacker struck in the early afternoon. A man
wearing a military uniform and carrying a shotgun and grenades arrived at the
entrance to the palace, the police chief told state TV.
The guards stopped the man, took away his arms and
tried to search him. At that point, the man hurled himself inside the building
and detonated his explosives, the chief said.
Syria’s attorney general, Ahmad al-Sayed, who was in
the building just a few meters away from the explosion, confirmed that account
to state TV, saying that when the security guards tried to arrest the man, he
threw himself inside the palace and blew himself up. He said 30 people were
killed and 45 others wounded.
“This is a dirty action as people who enter the palace
are innocent,” he said, noting that the timing of the explosion was planned to
kill the largest number of lawyers, judges and other people who were there at
In the second attack, in Rabweh district, SANA said a
suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant, killing several people.
Today’s bombings followed twin attacks on Saturday
near holy shrines frequented by Shiites in Damascus that killed at least 40
people. The attacks also came during a new round of peace talks in the Kazakh
capital of Astana.
Soldier killed by Shia ‘terrorist elements’ in Saudi
A Saudi soldier was killed by gunmen late last night
in the Eastern province’s city of Qatif, in an incident the interior ministry
said was carried out by “terrorist elements”.
The security patrol came under fire upon approaching a
suspicious vehicle, the statement carried by state news agency SPA said, adding
that the gunmen fled the area.
Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province is home to much of
Saudi Arabia’s oil production as well as the majority of the country’s Shia
population, who overall form a small minority in the conservative Sunni Muslim
kingdom. Qatif has been the focal point of Shia unrest since protests in early
2011 calling for an end to discrimination, a charge that Saudi Arabia denies.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
attack. Extremist Shia militants, many of whom are backed by regional Shia
power Iran and who claim to be angry at what they say is repression of their
community, have attacked security forces in the Eastern province in the past.
The Daesh militant group, which controls territory in
Syria and Iraq, has also claimed attacks on Saudi security forces as well as
deadly bombings and shootings that target the kingdom’s Shia, attacks the Saudi
authorities have condemned whilst also undertaking efforts to prevent Daesh
extremists from killing Shia civilians.
Daesh, however, mainly attack Saudi officials,
security personnel and civilians in predominantly Sunni areas. This includes
the capital Riyadh and also the holy city of Medina, the second most sacred
site in Islam, where a Daesh extremist killed a gathering of security personnel
who offered to share their food with him before he murdered them.
In the past week, Saudi security forces killed two
wanted men in separate incidents in Eastern province, after the authorities
were attacked and killed at least one militant in the ensuing gunfight.
The bombing hit Al-Ataba Street, which is home to
medical clinics as well as shops, also wounding dozens of people, the sources
A car bomb ripped through a busy street in the Iraqi
city of Tikrit today, killing at least seven people, police and a doctor said.
The bombing hit Al-Ataba Street, which is home to medical clinics as well as
shops, also wounding dozens of people, the sources said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
attack, but the Islamic State jihadist group carries out frequent bombings
targeting civilians in Iraq. Tikrit, located north of Baghdad, was the first
Iraqi city to be recaptured from IS, which overran large areas north and west
of the capital in 2014.
Iraqi forces retook Tikrit in 2015, and while some of
it was heavily damaged, civilians have since returned to the city. Baghdad’s
forces went on to recapture the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, and are now
battling to retake the western side of second city Mosul, after seizing its
east from the jihadists earlier this year.
by Mohamed Mostafa
Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) Pro-Iraqi government
paramilitary groups said Thursday they killed two Islamic State members in a
foiled attack in western Mosul.
Al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) said
through its media they killed two Islamic State attackers in western Mosul’s
region of Tal Zalat, and destroyed their vehicle.
PMUs, an alliance of Shia militias which won
recognition as a national armed force in November, have been actively taking
part in operations against Islamic State extremists in western Mosul and other
Iraqi provinces. They had made remarkable accomplishments over the past months,
retaking Tal Afar airport and most recently taking part in the liberation of
Al-Hashd has also claimed to have isolated Tal Afar,
an outstanding IS bastion, from both Mosul and the group’s strongholds in
Iraqi commanders said recently they became in control
over 60 percent of western Mosul since operations to recapture that area
launched in February. The government said late January its forces fully retook
the eastern side of the city. Forces are currently working to expel IS
militants from central Mosul.
Military commanders had predicted to retake western
Mosul within six months of operations.
Battles in the eastern side of the city have so far
displaced more than 100.000 civilians.
President Xi Jinping of the People s Republic of
China, today received Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin
Abdulaziz Al Saud in the Great Hall of People in Beijing.
An official welcoming ceremony was held for the
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques on the occasion of his current visit to
China. Memorial photos were taken, the reception was attended by a number of
Then, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and President
Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China held a session of official talks
at the Great Hall of the People.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques delivered a
speech in which the King said, "We express our happiness about the level
of relations reached between our two friendly countries, recalling with
appreciation your Excellency's visit to your friendly country, the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia, in January 2016, during which we held fruitful meetings reflected
positively on the joint cooperation in all fields.
Among the fruits of these meetings were the formation
of high-level Saudi-Chinese Committee that will serve as a framework to promote
relations between the two countries to the level of the strategic partnership.
On this occasion, I congratulate Your Excellency on
the success of the 18th session of the Conference of the People's Congress
which confirmed your position and wise leadership.
The world is witnessing today many challenges that
threaten its security and stability topped by the phenomenon of terrorism,
interference in States' internal affairs, the arms race, and the clash of
cultures which necessitate that the international community exert more efforts
and work together to confront these challenges and enhance international peace
I would like to commend the positions of the friendly
People's Republic of China in this area, looking forward to further
coordination of positions and efforts between our two countries in this regard.
For his part, the President of the People's Republic
of China delivered a speech in which he welcomed the Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques, considering this visit as reflecting the extent of the King's great
interest in developing relations between the two friendly countries.
He talked about his previous visit to the Kingdom
during which they reached concord and partnership between the two countries,
expressing his thanks for the warm welcome and generous hospitality accorded to
him in the Kingdom.
The Chinese President emphasized their keenness to
strengthen and promote relations between the Kingdom and China to the highest
levels, noting that they consider the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques to their country as an important opportunity to further advance
comprehensive strategic relations between the two countries.
Then, they reviewed the relationships of friendship
between the two countries, prospects of joint cooperation in various fields,
and the latest developments at the international arena.
The Chinese President held a luncheon banquet in honor
of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
The session of official talks was attended by Minister
of State and Cabinet's Member Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, Minister of
Economy and Planning Engineer Adel bin Mohammed Faqih, Minister of Education
Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Issa, Minister of Transport Sulaiman bin Abdullah
Al-Hamdan, Minister of Labor and Social Development Dr. Ali bin Nasser
Al-Ghafis, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Nizar bin Obaid Madani,
Assistant Special Secretary to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Tamim bin
Abdulaziz Al-Salem, and Saudi Ambassador to China Turki Al-Madhi, and it was
also attended by a number of Chinese ministers and officials.
Riyadh- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman
bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrived in the People’s Republic of China Wednesday on an
official visit. Before his departure from Tokyo, he received at his residence a
number of Islamic figures in Japan.
In his speech, King Salman declared that the Islamic
religion is a religion of love and peace that respects human dignity and
preserves their rights.
King Salman stated, “This blessed meeting with you was
preceded by similar meetings over the decades. Before eighty years, the late
King Abdulaziz sent a representative to Japan to share with Muslims here the
joy of the opening of the Tokyo Mosque in 1938, and these good, blessed
meetings are still continuing.”
He added, “We should highlight that Islam calls for
tolerance, moderation and fight against extremism and terrorism in all forms
and we should recognize that the challenges faced by the Islamic world require
more solidarity among Muslims. The kingdom, which is honored by God to serve
the Two Holy Mosques, provides its best to serve Islam and is keen to reach out
to Muslims around the globe.”
Imam and preacher of the Arabic Islamic Institute in
Tokyo and member of the Muslim Association of Japan Sheikh Saeed Sato delivered
a speech in which he expressed appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
under the leadership of King Salman for its restless efforts to serve the Two
Holy Mosques, pilgrims, visitors and Islam and Muslims in the world.
King Salman was welcomed by Yang Jiechi, State
Councilor of the People’s Republic of China, with an official welcoming
ceremony at the airport in Beijing.
Syrian Soldiers Clash Fiercely with ISIL in Eastern
Aleppo, Repel Terrorists' Attack
Wed Mar 15, 2017
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army forces warded off ISIL's
offensive South of the Air Force Academy, killing tens of terrorists and
wounding many more.
The army units engaged in heavy fighting with ISIL
terrorists in several fronts along the road connecting the village of a-Qatibeh
Um Arkileh village.
The ISIL suffered tens of casualties and its military
hardware sustained major damage in the failed attack.
In relevant developments in the province on Tuesday,
the army units engaged in another round of intense battle with ISIL West of
Deir Hafer and managed to recapture Hamimeh al-Saqireh settlement, killing and
wounding a number of terrorists.
In the meantime, the Syrian Air Force carried out
several combat flights over the positions and movements of ISIL in the Western
direction of Deir Hafer, killing tens of terrorists and destroying several
positions and military vehicles.
A local source said that the army's control over
Hamimeh al-Kabireh and Hamimeh al-Saqireh reinvigorated security to Kuweires
Wed Mar 15, 2017
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops fended off a
heavy attack of Al-Nusra Front (Fatah al-Sham Front) on their positions in the
Northeastern outskirts of Damascus city, killing or wounding a large number of
The Al-Nusra terrorists launched their attack on
Tishrin district's police building, media center building and the district's
The terrorists started their offensive with RPG
rockets, while the group's snipers were also targeting army soldiers, followed
by a raid. But they sustained heavy casualties and pulled back after facing
tough resistance and the powerful defense of the Syrian army.
Army reports indicated death of, at least, three
Al-Nusra snipers in the clashes.
In the meantime, an informed source denied terrorists'
claims about their advances in Barzeh farms, and underlined that the army men
foiled terrorists' plan to penetrate into Barzeh farms via their tunnels,
killing four terrorists.
The sources said on Monday that the army men stormed
the Al-Nusra positions and drove them out of al-Bostan (garden) pool that is
located in Barzeh gardens and was one of the most important positions of
Al-Nusra, and managed to advance against terrorists 700 meters in length and
500 meters in width South of the pool towards al-Hafez street in al-Qaboun
They added that the army soldiers took full control
over al-Hafez street from the gardens of Barzeh and also seized full control
over Darb al-Tawileh road that connects Barzeh district to al-Qaboun and Barzeh
The sources went on to say that with the army's
control over Darb al-Tawileh road, Bostans are now under the full control of
the army men, and Barzeh district has also been completely separated from
TEHRAN (FNA)- Bouthaina Shaaban, advisor to Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad, underlined that Turkey which one day wanted to
occupy the Arab states by its soft neo-Ottoman policies and then by supporting
terrorism and violence, is now facing the consequences of its wrong policies.
The problems created for Turkey recently have made
Erdogan to stress his commitment to Syria's territorial integrity and joint
efforts to fight against terrorism in his meeting with Russian President
Vladimir Putin, Shaaban wrote in the news website of al-Mayadeen channel on
"The dire situation in Turkey is not just
witnessed in its retreat from positions on the Syrian issue and the country is
now facing different security, economic and political problems too," she
Shaaban also referred to Turkey's darkened ties with
Europe and the US, and said Erdogan was dreaming about finding control over
Arab regions in the past few years, but now his ultimate goal is improving
Turkey's weakened economy.
In relevant remarks on Tuesday, a senior leader of the
Syrian Democratic Union Party underlined that the Turkish government's wrong
policies in the region have damaged the world states' trust in Ankara.
"We can say that the world countries have lost
trust in Turkey and its supporters who call themselves as moderate dissidents
in Syria, as Turkey is not yet neutral in the Syrian issue and is after
spreading extremist thoughts in the region with the help of its Syrian and Arab
mercenaries," Ebrahim, the media official of the Syrian Democratic Union
Party in Europe, told FNA.
Noting that Turkey is not after annihilating the ISIL,
he said Ankara wants to suppress the Kurds and their friends in other Syrian
His remarks came after Dutch authorities banned two
ministers from campaigning for Turkey’s April constitutional referendum which
seeks to extend Erdogan's powers.
Erdogan has warned that the Netherlands will “pay the
price” for its “shameless” treatment of Turkey’s ministers.
Several German municipalities have also canceled rallies
by Turkish ministers campaigning for a “yes” vote in the April referendum.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Local sources in Northeastern Syria said
that 75 percent of ISIL members have left Raqqa city for Deir Ezzur province,
adding that the terrorist group is digging more trenches around the city to
slow down the anti-ISIL front's rapid advances.
The source said in spite of digging more trenches and
building more bunkers in the Eastern, Northern and Western outskirts of Raqqa,
the entire commanders and a large part of ISIL terrorists have left the city,
adding that the remaining pockets of the terrorists are residents of Raqqa and
They added that the ISIL has pardoned all the people
whose documents had been seized by the terrorist group for actions harmful to
the ISIL or violating its rules.
The sources went on to say that the ISIL has built a
long moat along the al-Qatar street in the Northern part of Raqqa city.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on
Sunday that hundreds of the family members of ISIL terrorists and commanders
escaped from Raqqa to Deir Ezzur and Hama provinces after the terrorist group
suffered heavy defeats in clashes with Kurdish fighters in different
SOHR reported that over 300 family members of ISIL
terrorists and commanders left Raqqa city for Deir Ezzur and Eastern Hama.
SOHR added that the ISIL terrorists' family members
moved towards the Southern banks of the Euphrates River on ferry.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army forces continued to
attack the positions of Al-Nusra Front (Fatah al-Sham Front) in Eastern Ghouta,
driving the terrorists out of more strategic positions in al-Qaboun district.
The army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with
Al-Nusra Front Northeast of al-Qaboun district and managed to seize back the
mosques of al-Na'aman, al-Qasem and al-Hossein and most of residential
Local sources, meantime, said that a number of militants
of Liwa al-Awal are about to join the peace agreement with the Syrian
government, adding that during a meeting held amongst the militant group's
commanders, some of the militants showed their intention to join the peace
process and leave al-Qaboun with their individual guns, but some others
insisted on continuing the clashes.
In relevant development in Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday,
the army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra terrorists and
managed to recapture the entire Bostans in al-Qaboun district Northeast of
Damascus city after taking control over al-Mohaba Sports Stadium.
Local sources said that the army soldiers also
discovered and seized tens of tunnels of the terrorists in al-Qaboun's Bostans
connecting the district to Harasta and Arbin towns.
The sources added that almost 200 terrorists have thus
far been killed in clashes with the army men in al-Qaboun district.
Elsewhere in the province, the army units opened fire
at the movements of the terrorists in al-Sanawiyeh square in Harasta town,
destroying two of their positions, including a telecommunication center
equipped with modern equipment.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops continued their
advances against ISIL in energy-rich regions Northeast of the newly-freed city
of Palmyra (Tadmur) and managed to take back more key positions.
The army soldiers engaged in heavy fighting with ISIL in
Badiyeh al-Sharqi of Palmyra after taking back the key region of al-Sawameh on
The army men further attacked ISIL's defense lines and
took full control over Jabal (mount) al-Mostadireh and its nearby areas,
killing a number of terrorists.
Also, the army men engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL
Northeast of the newly-liberated city of Palmyra and pushed the terrorists back
from the strategic region of al-Sawameh along the road to Arak oilfield on
In the meantime, the army soldiers took back al-Qabab
region North of Tal (hill) al-Ameriyeh and Palmyra from ISIL.
A military source said, meantime, that the army's
control over the Northeastern and Southern fronts, Sabkhat al-Mouh, power
convertor station, al-Kaziyeh and Maktab al-Dowar Southeast of Palmyra, will
restore more security to the ancient city.
The source further added that a large number of ISIL
terrorists were killed and a number of its vehicles equipped with heavy
machinegunswere destroyed in the army attacks, including a vehicle with license
plate number registered in Saudi Arabia.
Morocco: Benkirane had been reappointed after the PJD,
which first came to power in 2011
Moroccan King Mohammed VI is replacing Prime Minister
Abdelilah Benkirane and will ask another member of the Islamist Justice and
Development Party (PJD) to form a government after five months of post-election
deadlock, a statement from the royal cabinet said on Wednesday. The king took
the decision “in the absence of signs that suggest an imminent formation” of a
government and due to “his concern about overcoming the current blockage” in
political negotiations, the royal statement said. It did not say who he would
name to replace Benkirane.
Benkirane had been reappointed after the PJD, which
first came to power in 2011, increased its share of the vote in October
elections, maintaining its position as the biggest party. Under Morocco’s
election law no party can win an outright majority in the 395-seat parliament,
making coalition governments a necessity in a system where the king still holds
But the PJD’s relations with a former coalition
partner, the conservative Istiqlal party, soured over economic reforms, and
talks over formation of a government with the centre-right National Rally of
Independence (RNI) stalled. Benkirane’s efforts have met with resistance from
parties that critics say are too close to the palace. Royalist supporters have
been reluctant to share power with Islamists since the king ceded some powers
in 2011 to ease protests.
The palace says the king maintains the equal distance
from all parties and dismisses claims of royal interference. Concern has
mounted about the impact of the political impasse on Morocco’s economy. This
year’s budget, which should have been approved by parliament by the end of
2016, cannot be passed until a government is in place. Speculation had been
building that King Mohammed would attempt to break the political deadlock
following his return on Tuesday from a tour of African states.
The palace statement said the king would receive the
new prime minister soon, and would task him with forming a government. The king
thanked Benkirane for his service as prime minister, praising him for his
“effectiveness, competence and self-sacrifice”. A source in the PJD told
Reuters the party will be meeting Thursday morning to discuss the king’s
decision, which Benkirane said he accepted. “This is our king and he came to a
decision under the framework of the constitution, which I’ve always expressed
support for,” he told Reuters. “I’m going to perform ablution, pray, and continue
working on the ground.”
‘Despicable lie & smear’: Israel fires back at
UN’s ‘apartheid regime’ report
Israel has denounced a new UN report which accuses Tel
Aviv of crimes against humanity for running "apartheid policies"
against the Palestinians. Israel's UN envoy has called the document an attempt
to “falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East.”
The UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western
Asia (ESCWA) report published Wednesday accuses Israel “beyond a reasonable
doubt” of being guilty of “policies and practices that constitute the crime of
apartheid” against the Palestinian people.
The report says that Israel is guilty of pursuing a
policy of “strategic fragmentation” of the Palestinians as the “principal
method” by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime.
“This fragmentation operates to stabilize the Israeli
regime of racial domination over the Palestinians and to weaken the will and
capacity of the Palestinian people to mount a unified and effective
resistance,” the Beirut-based commission report said.
Israel, the report says, is trying to dominate over
the 1.7 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel by offering them
inferior services, limited budget allocations and restrictions on jobs and
professional opportunities. Some 300,000 Palestinian residents in East
Jerusalem suffer discrimination from inadequate access to education, health
care, employment, in addition to residency and building rights.
“They also suffer from expulsions and home
demolitions, which serve the Israeli policy of 'demographic balance' in favor
of Jewish residents,” the report says.
Those 4.7 million Palestinians who live in West Bank
and 1.9 million in the Gaza Strip, the report claims, suffer the most, as they
are governed by military law, while some 350,000 Jewish settlers are
accountable to Israeli civil law.
“The territory is administered in a manner that fully
meets the definition of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention: except for
the provision on genocide, every illustrative ‘inhuman act’ listed in the
Convention is routinely and systematically practiced by Israel in the West
Bank,” the commission discovered.
Furthermore, millions of Palestinian refugees are
“prohibited” from returning to their homes and are being deterred from doing so
in a “frankly racist language.” According to the authors of the report, Israel
justifies the policy by saying that Palestinians constitute a “demographic
threat” and that their return would “alter the demographic character of Israel
to the point of eliminating it as a Jewish State.”
The ESCWA report concludes that Israel is guilty of
imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, “which amounts to the
commission of a crime against humanity.”
The Israeli UN ambassador Danny Danon immediately
denounced the damning ESCWA report calling the findings a “despicable lie.”
The report is an “attempt to smear and falsely label
the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is
despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” Danon said.
He accused the authors of the report of bias, and the
envoy specifically singled out the ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf, a
“It comes as no surprise that an organization headed
by an individual who has called for boycotts against Israel, and compared our
democracy to the most terrible regimes of the twentieth century, would publish
such a report,” the ambassador noted, as reported by the Times of Israel.
The UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres was quick to
distance himself from ESCWA document. His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said
that “the report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general”
and was issued without consultations with the UN secretariat.
The United States also criticized the report calling
its findings "biased" and labeling it as "anti-Israel
“The United States stands with our ally Israel and
will continue to oppose biased and anti-Israel actions across the UN system and
around the world,” UN ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement late
Haley has also called on the UN to withdraw the
report, as she went after one of the authors of the probe, Richard Falk, a
Princeton professor emeritus.
“That it was drafted by Richard Falk, a man who has
repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused
ridiculous conspiracy theories, including about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is
equally unsurprising," Haley said. "The United Nations Secretariat
was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and
withdraw the report altogether."
Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign
Ministry, compared ESCWA's findings to Nazi propaganda.
“Friendly advice — don’t read it without anti-nausea
pills,” he tweeted.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier
General Hossein Dehqan announced plans to bolster the country's defense
capabilities and the Armed Forces' combat and operational power in the Iranian
new year (to start on March 21).
New home-made weapons and equipment will be produced
in the new year and "the combat and operational power of the Armed Forces
will boost remarkably", General Dehqan said on Wednesday.
He also referred to the achievements and measures
adopted in the current year, and said the defense industries' capacity in area
of warfare tools and weapons has folded 45 times.
General Dehqan said that the defense industries have
taken major steps in different missile, aerospace, telecommunications,
electronics, optics and engineering fields in recent years.
His remarks came a few days after Iran unveiled the
country's newly-manufactured state-of-the-art tank named 'Karrar' and launched
its mass-production line.
"The tank can compete with the most advanced
tanks in the world in the three main areas of power, precision and mobility as
well as maintenance and durability in the battleground," General Dehqan
said, addressing the ceremony.
Noting that the tank is equipped with electro-optical
fire control system, laser rangefinder, ballistic computer and enjoys the
capability to fire at stable and mobile targets in day and night, he said,
"Karrar has the capability to fire missiles and precisely guide them
(towards the target)."
General Dehqan added that the tank can also move through
pits and rivers and is capable of moving even under water, and said Karrar is
equipped with navigation and telecommunication systems and is resistant to
He underscored that the tank is also equipped with
armored protection resistant to different types of anti-armor weapons.
The Belgian authorities have rejected the visa
applications of four Turkish imams who requested long-term visas to work in the
The Belgian Foreign Affairs Council supported the
rejection decision given by Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Migration
Theo Francken, German daily Deutsche Welle reported on March 16.
According to Belgian media reports, Francken has
declined the applications of 12 imams this year, saying they wanted to preach
sermons in mosques unrecognized by the state. The Belgian Foreign Affairs
Council also supported Francken’s stance on unrecognized mosques.
Ten of the imams appealed against the decision, saying
their religious freedom was being restricted. However, the council said the
issue could not be handled within the scope of Belgian law due to the imams
living outside Belgium.
The imams have the right to apply to the Belgian
Supreme Administrative Court and then carry the case to the European Court of
Human Rights in Strasbourg.
According to Belgian daily La Libre, there are 65
mosques in the country with links to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate
(Diyanet). Another Belgian daily, Grenzecho, said there were 300 mosques in the
country as of 2015 but only 82 were recognized by the state.
The Belgian state undertakes part of the salaries of a
number of imams on duty in mosques accepted by the state. The country’s
government on February announced plans to reserve 3.3 million euros of
resources in order to support the training of imams.
Once hit by terror, Balochistan becoming 'economic
tiger of Pakistan': Nawaz
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said
Balochistan is fast becoming a centre of development for the rest of the
“Once hit by terrorism, this province is now
witnessing development to change the fate of the country and itself,” the
premier said while addressing a public gathering in Gwadar on Thursday.
“Pakistan will soon become an Asian tiger while
Balochistan will prove to be the country’s economic tiger soon,” he added.
Countries cannot prosper without education, health and
trade and these cannot take place without building infrastructure and roads,
Nawaz said in a thinly veiled jibe at his political rivals.
Pakistan was created to fight religious persecution:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has
been calling for purging the country of corruption and a scrutiny of the Sharif
family’s alleged offshore accounts exposed by Panama Papers leaks.
Nawaz announced to allocate Rs1billion to build a
university, a state of the art 300-bed hospital and an exemplary university for
the people of Gwadar. “500 acres of land has been acquired to build the
university,” he added.
Gwadar, he added, is being linked with China through
100-kilometre of road links and highways. “The city will be turned into a model
port,” PM remarked. He said that roads links are also being established in the
areas of the province hit by terrorism. “Roads are also being built and
improved in the rest of the country.”
“We will provide five million gallons of clean
drinking water to Gwadar while Rs1billion will be spent to improve the sewerage
system in the city.”
PM Nawaz calls out PML-N leader for being overweight
“No one paid attention to Gwadar during 1993 and
1997,” the premier said. He added that the incumbent government was now
initiating projects that the city deserved.
The people of the province, he added, will be provided
with free health cards which will enable them to avail free of cost treatment
across the country.
“Moreover, 50 outstanding students of the city will
get admissions in prestigious varsities of the country.” Nawaz also announced
to send 50 students to China to learn Chinese language.
Nawaz reiterated that China Pakistan Economic Corridor
(CPEC) and Gwadar will prove a game changer for Pakistan.
Pakistan set to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as fifth
Mar 15, 2017
ISLAMABAD: In a move that may raise concerns in India,
reports suggest that Pakistan is planning to declare the strategic
Gilgit-Baltistan region also known as Northern Areas as its fifth province.
Pakistan's minister for inter-provincial coordination
Riaz Hussain Pirzada told Geo TV that a committee headed by advisor of foreign
affairs Sartaj Aziz had proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.
"The committee recommended that Gilgit-Baltistan
should be made a province of Pakistan," Pirzada said on Wednesday.
He also said that a constitutional amendment would be
made to change the status of the region, through which the $46 billion China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes.
The four provinces that are presently under
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab, and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Gilgit-Baltistan shares a geographical boundary with
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and India considers it as part of the undivided
Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan sees it as a separate from PoK.
The USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
(CPEC) passes through this region, and reports said Pakistan was mulling to
elevate the constitutional status of the region in a bid to provide legal cover
to the CPEC.
Reports also said China's concerns about the unsettled
status of Gilgit-Baltistan prompted Pakistan to change its status.
According to an earlier report in Dawn newspaper,
Pakistan was mulling to elevate the constitutional status of the region in a
bid to provide legal cover to the CPEC.
The move could signal a historic shift in the
country's position on the future of the wider Kashmir region, the paper had
quoted experts as saying.
Pakistan last conducted a census in 1998, which
recorded a national population of nearly 180 million.
Pakistan Friday launched a countrywide census, the
first in nearly two decades, amidst security fears and concerns about the
political fallout of the massive exercise for which some two lakh soldiers have
Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa inaugurated the process
of 6th census from Attock district in Pakistan’s largest province of Punjab.
Some 119,000 officials including 84,000 enumerators are taking part in the
census with 200,000 troops providing security and monitoring the process to
Pakistan last conducted a census in 1998, which
recorded a national population of nearly 180 million. Pakistan now has about
200 million people, becoming the sixth most populous country in the world. The
first phase of housing and population census will continue till April 15,
followed by a 10-day break and then the second phase will begin from April 25
and continue till May 25.
Bajwa said that in the first phase the census will be
completed in 63 districts of the country, including 16 in Punjab, 8 in Sindh,
13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one in tribal region, 15 districts in Balochistan and
5 each in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan.
In the second phase, census will be conducted in 21
each districts of Punjab and in Sindh, 18 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 17 in
Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory, and five each in PoK and
Gilgit-Baltistan. Bajwa urged the people to enthusiastically participate in the
census process and cooperate with the officials.
Under the constitution, census should be held every 10
years to determine the exact population and allocation of resources among
provinces on the basis number of people, but it had been delayed due to
security concerns and political wrangling. It has become political issue as
Punjab province, the country’s largest, fears that its share in the national
resources may diminish as population of other provinces might have increased.
The smallest province of Balochistan fears that local
Baloch may become a minority due to the presence of Afghan refugees who are
believed to have got citizenship in droves through fraud. The final outcome of
the census would be known by July and it may lead to demarcation of
constituencies ahead of general elections next year. The census will show the
exact number of people living in Muslim-majority Pakistan.
Pakistan had to face displeasure of Saudi Arabia and
its ally UAE after refusing to send the troops in 2015.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif Wednesday said Pakistan
has no plans to send troops to Saudi Arabia as he rejected media reports about
the deployment of the Pakistani soldiers in the Gulf Kingdom to guard its
southern border in the ongoing conflict with Yemen.
Asif spoke in the National Assembly in response to a
question raised by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Shafqat Mahmood, who
referred to media reports that an army brigade was being sent to the Kingdom.
“No military personnel have been sent to Saudi Arabia
in perspective of the Saudi Arabia-Yemen conflict,” Asif said.
“It is our policy not to get involved in Saudi
Arabia-Yemen conflict. If any decision had to be taken, it will flow through
the parliament,” he said.
The parliament had asked government not to get
involved in Yemen conflict after a policy debate in 2015. Saudi had pressed
Pakistan to join its coalition which carried out deadly air strikes against
Sanaa. Asif said that Pakistan would not play a partisan role in the war but
try to be a peace-maker if needed.
The minister also informed the house that under a 1982
agreement between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, about 1,000 Pakistanis security
personnel including technicians, doctors and engineers were in that country.
Earlier, an online news site had reported that
Pakistan was sending a brigade of combat troops to shore up Saudi’s vulnerable
southern border from reprisal attacks mounted by the Houthis in Yemen.
LONDON: The Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign
Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, has met Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser, Hanif
Atmar, in London to discuss complaints that Afghan-based militants are mounting
attacks on Pakistani soil.
It was the highest level face-to-face discussion
between representatives of the two countries since Islamabad closed down border
crossings with Afghanistan. The two men were hosted by the UK’s National
Security Adviser, Sir Mark Lyall Grant.
Last month the Pakistan military shelled a militant
training camp on the Afghan side of the Durand Line. Military sources said the
militants it targeted — within a few hundred metres of the border — were from
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. Complaining about a breach of its sovereignty, the Afghan
foreign ministry said Pakistan should stop all cross-border military activity.
ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is
in touch with Interpol to identify social media pages that contain inflammatory
and sacrilegious content that violates international laws.
In addition, the agency has sent a formal request to
social networking site Facebook in the light of recent court rulings regarding
the blocking of blasphemous material online, FIA officials told a high-level
meeting on Wednesday.
Chaired by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, the
meeting was held to review ongoing investigations into the circulation of
blasphemous content on social media sites, in the light of the prime minister’s
instructions to ensure the immediate blocking of all such content and swift
punishment of those behind these acts.
An interior ministry statement said that at least 11
persons, who were involved in uploading and sharing objectionable material, had
been identified and were being questioned, adding that FIA would also seek help
from Interpol in questioning some of the suspects — indicating that some of the
suspects may not be in the country.
The minister also directed FIA to seek help from
intelligence agencies to identify the culprits who had uploaded the blasphemous
In addition, a senior diplomat at Pakistan’s embassy
in Washington has been tasked with contacting Facebook to seek the requisite
information under US Right to Information laws.
The statement said the government was considering
hiring noted legal expert Farrukh Kareem to pursue the matter in international
judicial forums to push Facebook to remove the content that is hurting the
religious sentiments of Muslims.
The minister was quoted as saying that the government
would use all available options to ensure the removal of blasphemous material
from social media sites.
“I hope that the management of Facebook will respect
the religious sentiments of 200 million Pakistanis and tens of millions of
users of Facebook in Pakistan and will cooperate in that regard,” the statement
quoted him as saying.
An FIA official told the meeting that while it had
established contact with Facebook as per court orders, the social media site’s
management had yet to respond. The meeting was attended by officers of the
interior ministry, National Counter Terrorism Authority, National Database and
Registration Authority and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
GWADAR: In rare remarks about the Panama Papers leaks
case whose verdict was reserved by the Supreme Court late last month, Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif emphasised on Wednesday the sensitivity of the matter and
the effect that speculation could possibly cause to the imminent judgement.
According to TV reports, Mr Sharif while talking
informally to journalists soon after arrival from Pasni in the fast-developing
port city of Gwadar by road said that speculation over the reserved verdict
could be “detrimental to judicial decorum”.
On Feb 23, the apex court while closing prolonged
proceedings reserved its ruling, saying it’s not possible to announce a short
order in such a case.
“We will take some time to deliberate and ponder over
every possible aspect,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who headed the five-member
bench that heard the case against the members of the prime minister’s family,
“We will decide the case strictly in accordance with
the law and the Constitution, unfazed by any outside clamouring and unmindful
of whether it pleases or displeases someone,” Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, a
member of the bench, had said.
Since Feb 23, plaintiff opposition parties led by the
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf as well as the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz
have been saying they would accept whatever judgement the court would announce,
but both have also made no secret of their expectations as both have been
publicly claiming that the verdict would eventually vindicate their respective
position on the controversy.
The other important point that PM Sharif spoke about
was the under-construction China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and uplift
projects of Gwadar.
“The development [projects] of Gwadar and CPEC are
important part of my priorities and will be completed as soon as possible,” he
said, adding that with the completion of these projects Pakistan, particularly
Balochistan, would have been developed on a large scale.
Later, presiding over a meeting, Mr Sharif said his
government was paying full attention to the improvement of infrastructure,
projects aimed at the availability of health and energy facilities and
development of social and economic lives of the people of Balochistan.
He said his government was committed to protecting the
rights of locals and would take all steps to ensure their legitimate rights.
“Local people should be given priority in the development projects,” he
directed the authorities concerned.
Mr Sharif expressed satisfaction over the security of
development projects. He said that the expressway, Gwadar international
airport, free zone and business complex would attract investors. He assured the
meeting that the federal government would continue to help Balochistan in its
development and bring it on a par with other provinces.
Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri
expressed the hope that all projects would be completed in time.
Gwadar Development Authority director general Sajjad
Hussain briefed the meeting about the water supply, electricity, road and
economic zone projects.
Earlier, the premier reached Gwadar for a two-day
visit by the newly-built 136km Pasni-Gwadar road so that he could inspect the
quality of work on various projects.
The new road is part of the Makran Coastal Highway
project. He lauded the standard of the highway and appreciated the efforts of
the authorities concerned and workers who took part in its construction.
Federal ministers Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Khawaja Saad
Rafique, Ahsan Iqbal and Abdul Qadir Baloch accompanied the prime minister.
11 Afghan nationals arrested in joint search operations:
Security officials on Wednesday apprehended 26
suspects including 11 Afghan nationals in joint search operations in various
cities, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated in a press release.
Punjab Rangers, police and intelligence officials
conducted search operations in Islamabad and Rawalpindi as well as different
cities of Punjab, including Dera Ghazi Khan, Lahore, Sialkot, Attock,
Hassanabdal, Narowal, Shakargarh and Rajanpur.
Weapons, ammunition, improvised explosive devices as
well as material required to build suicide jackets such as circuits were also
confiscated during the operation.
The development is part of Operation Raddul Fasaad,
which translates roughly to 'elimination of discord'.
The Pakistan Army launched the operation in February
2017 following a spate of terror attacks that claimed more than 100 lives in
The military action is aimed at indiscriminately
eliminating the "residual/latent threat of terrorism", consolidating
the gains made in other military operations, and further ensuring the security
of Pakistan's borders.
Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Civil Armed Forces
(CAF) and other security and law enforcing agencies (LEAs) will be part of the
operation, which is intended to be a continuation of National Action Plan
According to a recent progress report on NAP, shared
by Minister of State for Interior Balighur with the Senate, so far some 1,865
suspected terrorists have killed and over 5,000 arrested.
The closure of the border between Pakistan and
Afghanistan is more than inconvenient; it is costly.
Officials on both sides of the border say in just one
month, the closure has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost
trade, and tonnes of perishable goods have rotted in stranded trucks.
The two countries accuse the other of harbouring their
Both countries deny the other's charges.
This longstanding tension reached a breaking point
when Pakistan closed all border crossings on Feb 16 after a string of brutal
suicide attacks last month that killed more than 125 people. Islamabad claims
the attacks were orchestrated from safe havens in Afghanistan.
Kabul too has been battered by horrific attacks, the
latest a coordinated assault against a military hospital that killed more than
Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal
has asked Pakistan's political leadership to reconsider the closure.
Pakistan recently agreed, but only for two days to
allow an estimated 35,000 stranded Afghans and Pakistanis to return to their
Border traffic routinely gets disrupted, sometimes to
protest against US action in the region, but the closures are rarely
protracted. The one exception ─ and only for
trucks carrying goods destined for Nato soldiers ─ occurred in 2011 when Pakistan
protested a US attack on a military outpost that killed 24 soldiers. The
closure lasted seven months.
Otherwise, lengthy border closures lasting more than a
week or two are rare.
Aside from the political back-and-forth and personal
inconveniences, this closure is hurting business in the region.
The border is one of the most lucrative trade
crossings in South Asia.
Cross-border trade includes everything from supplies
destined for Nato troops still stationed in Afghanistan to Afghan goods
transiting through Pakistan to Karachi destined for international markets, said
senior Pakistani customs officer Samad Khan.
Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, senior vice president of the
Afghanistan/Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, said the annual trade target of
$2 billion has plunged to $1.5bn because of frequent border closures. The real
potential, if the two neighbours could get along, is up to $4bn in annual
trade, Sarhadi said.
"We understand the sensitivities," Sarhadi
said in a telephone interview, referring to border security. However the
closures are already creating shortages of goods in Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan depends on Pakistan for everything
from needles to helicopters," he said.
Some of the Afghan members of Sarhadi's organisation
called the closure both illegal and illogical.
The bulk of the trade between the two countries is
construction material, meat, poultry, fresh and dry fruits. And the real
victims, Sarhadi said, are the small traders for whom a truckload or two that
spoils while waiting at the border could be devastating.
Since last month's decision, more than 2,000 trucks
have been stranded at the Torkham crossing on Afghanistan's northwest border.
The prolonged closure "has affected us badly,"
said Lal Raheem Shinwari, president of the Traders Association in the nearby
Pakistani town of Landi Kotal.
"We, the residents and traders, are the worst
The government won't say when the border might
Each country has given the other a list of militants
they want apprehended and handed over. Afghanistan has also identified 32
alleged terrorist training centres in Pakistan that it wants closed.
In Kabul, Azrakhsh Hafizi, a member of the
international relations committee of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce, said the
two countries need a regional cooperation agreement.
Politics, he said, is devastating the business
communities in both nations. In the markets in Kabul, prices are already
soaring, Hafizi said.
'All the time we are facing many many challenges
because of politics," he said. "The business community suffers a lot
of losses and a lot of problems. We need to find a solution to this."
Four suspected militants, including a woman, from a
group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State were killed in a shootout on
Thursday when Bangladesh police raided their hideout in the southeast, a senior
police official said. Police said those killed were members of a faction of the
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh group, known as New JMB, which they believe
were linked to an attack on a cafe in the capital, Dhaka, last July that killed
22 people, most of them foreigners.
New JMB has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State
militant group, which claimed responsibility for the attack on the cafe in
Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter.
Two policemen were wounded when the militants inside a
two-storey building in Chittagong, about 200 km (120 miles) southeast of Dhaka,
attacked them with at least a dozen grenades, police official Mohammad
Moniruzzaman told Reuters.
It was not clear whether the militants were killed in
a shootout with police or had detonated suicide vests they were wearing,
Moniruzzaman said. “The operation is over. Our intelligence and bomb disposal
units are now working,” he said.
The raid on the building began on Wednesday night and
20 members of seven families trapped inside were taken to safety before the
final assault began early on Thursday, Moniruzzaman said. Live bombs were found
inside the building, he said.
Bangladesh has been hit by a spate of killings of
liberals and members of religious minorities in the past few years. Police have
killed more than 50 suspected militants in shootouts since the cafe attack,
including the man they say was its main planner, Bangladesh-born Canadian
citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury.
At least three Islamic militants blew themselves on
Thursday in Bangladesh when police raided their hideout outside the port city
of Chittagong as part of an intensified crackdown on militants. The operation
‘Assault 16’ was jointly carried out by Counter Terrorism and Transnational
Crime unit, Special Weapon and Tactic Team (SWAT), Rapid Action Battalion and
Chittagong district police in Sitakunda.
The gunfight began after police stormed a two-storey
building where militants were staying as tenants. According to media reports,
the suspected militants were apparently killed in “suicide explosions”.
The extremists believed to be operatives of banned
Neo-Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), hurled grenades and fired gunshots
before blowing themselves up. Two policemen also injured during the raid.
Ambulances were seen coming out from the site carrying
wounded policemen with officials. “Police launched an operation when the
militants started blasting grenades…explosions rocked the neighbourhood for
nearly 10 minutes,” a journalist told PTI.
“Several families were living in that house and they
were freed after spending the night as hostages,” the journalist said. The
building has been cordoned off.
Neo-JMB is said to be inclined to the Islamic State
terror outfit which has claimed the responsibility for the deadly July 1, 2016
attack on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people, including an Indian, were killed.
Earlier, a couple was arrested from a suspected
militant hideout at Chittagong’s Sitakunda. A police spokesman in Dhaka told
PTI the law enforcement agencies have launched countrywide “block raids”
targeting presumed militant hideout since last Thursday. Eighty militants have
been killed in these raids so far.
Bangladesh witnessed a spate of attacks on secular
activists, foreigners and religious minorities since 2013. The country launched
a massive crackdown on militants specially after the Dhaka cafe attack.
Taliban leaders among 36 killed in latest airstrikes
Thu Mar 16 2017
At least thirty six Taliban insurgents were killed in
the latest airstrikes conducted in the restive Helmand province in South of
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the militants were
killed during the airstrikes conducted in the vicinity of Nad-e-Ali district.
The Taliban leaders killed in the airstrikes have been
identified as Mullah Esmat who was also famous as Sur Gul and Sefat, both
belonging to a single family.
At least eight Taliban insurgents were also wounded
during the airstrikes, the Ministry of Defense added.
Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern
Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in its various
districts and often carry out insurgency activities.
Taliban insurgents have carried out numerous large
attacks to capture the key districts of Helmand including the provincial
capital of Lashkargah city during the recent months.
This comes as the defense officials and local
officials in Helmand said at least thirty two people including personnel of the
Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces were rescued from a Taliban jail in Lashkargah
According to the officials, the prisoners were
released during a special military operation conducted by the Afghan commandos
on Monday night.
So far nearly 4,000 poor women and widows have
benefited from the program and thousands more will receive the training in the
second phase of the project by next year, said UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin
India has stressed that gender euality and women
empowerment are essential factors for the success of the peace process in
Afghanistan. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed
Akbaruddin cited the example of an Indian NGO named Self-Employed Women’s
Association (SEWA) which is working with the women in Afghanistan and providing
vocational training in areas of food processing, garment stitching and
“Women empowerment and gender equality are essential
to peace building,” he said during a session here yesterday on opportunities
for women’s economic empowerment in insecure areas of Afghanistan.
So far nearly 4,000 poor women and widows have
benefited from the program and thousands more will receive the training in the
second phase of the project by next year, he said.
He said that under the project Afghan a federation
named Sabah Bagh-e-khazanah, which has 22 women’s groups who formulate their
business plans, run their production centers and sell their products in the
Initially about 45 local master trainers received
training from visiting SEWA teams from India. They also visited India for
vocational training and in turn imparted the skills to thousands of Afghan
women, particularly war widows and destitute women, he added.
The total cost of the project was about USD 2 million.
Akbaruddin pointed out that in the second phase, the
project has spread beyond Kabul and attracted other funds such as from the US
Agency for International Development (USAID) to train master trainers from
Mazar-e-Sharif, Baghlan and Parwan Provinces.
Over 3,000 women would benefit in this phase which
would run through mid-2018, he said.
Afghanistan's defence ministry Wednesday shrugged off
allegations that insiders were involved in a catastrophic insurgent attack on
the country's largest military hospital, as it faces scathing public criticism
over the assault.
Despite an earlier statement that the attack was
inside job, the ministry says no evidence have been found to substantiate
Gunmen disguised as doctors stormed Sardar Daud Khan
hospital in Kabul last Wednesday, with multiple surviving staff telling AFP
that insiders including two interns were among the attackers.
The carnage inside the heavily guarded hospital points
at a spectacular intelligence failure and spotlights how insurgents have
managed to infiltrate top government and military institutions in Afghanistan.
"We have no evidence it was an insider job,"
Deputy Defence Minister Helaludin Helal, head of a government investigation
team, told reporters.
"The attackers entered the hospital using a
Corolla car. One blew himself up and four others entered the building."
But his comment contradicts an earlier statement from
his own ministry's spokesman Mohammad Radmanish, who conceded that "the
attack was carried out from both outside and inside".
"This could not have been possible without the help
of people inside," Radmanish said on Sunday.
Public anger has grown over the episode, with
speculation swirling on social media that such a brazen attack on the tightly
guarded hospital could not have happened without the complicity of high-ranking
"The government is trying to cover up its
embarrassing security failures and pretend there was no help from within,"
one Afghan said on Facebook Wednesday, echoing a deluge of similar comments.
Also read: Afghan security leadership under fire over
The Afghan security leadership has also come under
bitter criticism from lawmakers.
MPs are calling for the impeachment of Afghanistan's
defence and interior ministers and the intelligence chief, as the country
braces for an intense fighting season in the spring.
For his part, Helal said 24 hospital and military
officials accused of "negligence of duty" are being prosecuted.
He added 50 people were killed by five attackers. But
security sources and the survivors, some of whom counted dead bodies,
previously told AFP that the death toll exceeded 100.
The savagery of the assault was characterised by how
the assailants stabbed bed-ridden patients, threw grenades into crowded wards
and shot people from point-blank range.
The militant Islamic State group claimed it was behind
the attack via its propaganda agency Amaq ─ hours after the Taliban denied responsibility.
But the survivors AFP spoke to said some of the
attackers "were in phone contact with handlers whom they addressed as
Mullah Sahib", and attacked all but two wards on the hospital's first
floor where Taliban patients were admitted.
An explosives expert of Jundullah terrorist group was
arrested along with a key Taliban commander in northern Samangan province of
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the two militant
leaders were arrested during the counter-terrorism operations.
The Jundullah explosives expert was involved in
manufacturing Improvised Explosive Device to carry out roadside bombings in
this province, MoI said, adding that an Ak-47 rifle was also confiscated from
him together with a motorcycle.
According to MoI, the Taliban leader arrested during
the operation has been identified as Esmatullah who was also famous as Jalali
and was leading a group consisting twenty insurgents.
He was held during an operation conducted in the
vicinity of Hazrat Sultan district, the ministry added.
The anti-government armed militant groups have not
commented regarding the reports so far.
Samangan has been among the relatively calm provinces
since the fall of the Taliban regime in northern Afghanistan but the
anti-government armed militant groups have increased their presence and
insurgency activities in some of its district as they continue to attempt in
spreading violence in northern provinces of the country.
US Embassy says Afghan visa holders can visit US,
rejects travel ban rumors
The Embassy of the United States of America in Kabul
has said the Afghan nationals holding valid visa can travel to the country,
rejecting rumors circulating regarding the travel ban on Afghans to US.
“Contrary to social media rumors about the U.S.
Executive Order on Immigration, #Afghans with valid visas may travel to the
United States,” according to a short statement posted online by the Embassy.
This comes as the latest executive order by President
Donald Trump sparked concerns among the people that the travel ban could also
affect the Afghans.
According to the executive order, the travel ban has
been temporarily imposed on Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
Reports indicate that the travel ban has been imposed
for a period of at least 90 days.
The difference between the previous executive order
and the latest one is the exclusion of Iraq from the list.
The executive order is expected to be full executed
from 16th March.
The two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, are having
large numbers of applicants who have applied for the special immigration visa
for working alongside the US government and forces.
Trump: Assimilation of Muslims to be very difficult in
Assimilation of Muslims to be very difficult in
Western countries, U.S. President Donald Trump told Fox News.
During the interview the host of the Fox News TV
channel asked the president whether it is possible to integrate Muslims into
Western civilization, CBS News reported.
“The assimilation has been very, very hard,” Mr. Trump
said. “It’s been a very, very difficult process. I want this country to be
Trump also added that “many Muslims love our country”.
At the same time the head of the state suggested “to
look at what’s going on in Germany, Sweden, Brussels and many other places.”
“It has been a very hard process. We are going to try
very, very hard to make it work,” he said.
The interview was recorded before the news of the
court ruling to suspend Trump’s immigration order broke shortly before Trump
addressed supporters at an evening rally in Nashville, Tennessee.
President Trump suffers second defeat as revised
travel ban on hold<
US District Judge Derrick Watson criticized what he
called the "illogic'' of the government's arguments and cited
``significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus'' behind the travel
Watson criticized what he called the “illogic” of the
government’s arguments and cited “significant and unrebutted evidence of
religious animus” behind the travel ban. He also noted that while courts should
not examine the “veiled psyche” and “secret motives” of government
decision-makers, “the remarkable facts at issue here require no such
“For instance, there is nothing `veiled’ about this
press release: `Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of
Muslims entering the United States,” Watson wrote, referring to a statement
Trump issued as a candidate.
Trump called the ruling an example of “unprecedented
judicial overreach” and said his administration would appeal it to the US
Supreme Court. He also called his new travel ban a watered-down version of the
first one, which he said he wished he could implement.
“We’re going to win. We’re going to keep our citizens
safe,” the president said at a rally in Nashville. “The danger is clear. The
law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear.”
If the administration seeks an emergency stay of Watson’s
decision at the 9th Circuit, the matter would be heard by different judges from
the three who ruled on the case last month. That’s because the panel of judges
assigned to such cases rotates every month, said court spokesman David Madden.
The 9th Circuit on Wednesday declined to reconsider
the 3-0 decision not to reinstate the original ban. In a dissent, five judges
said they considered that decision incorrect and wanted it vacated.
“Whatever we, as individuals, may feel about the
president or the executive order, the president’s decision was well within the
powers of the presidency,” Judge Jay Bybee wrote for the five.
Watson issued his 43-page ruling less than two hours
after hearing Hawaii’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the
ban from being put into practice.
The hearing was one of three held Wednesday in federal
courts around the country. US District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who
blocked the initial travel ban last month, did not immediately rule on a
request from an immigrant-rights group to block the revised version. Neither
was there a ruling from US District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland in a
challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.
In all, more than half a dozen states are trying to
stop the ban. A case brought by Washington state argues that the new order
harms residents, universities and businesses, especially tech companies such as
Washington state-based Microsoft and Amazon, which rely on foreign workers.
California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon have joined the claim.
Trump’s initial travel ban, issued on a Friday in late
January, brought chaos and protests to airports around the country as travelers
from seven nations Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen were
barred from entering even if they had prior permission to come to the US The
State Department canceled up to 60,000 visas, but later reversed that decision.
Robart ordered the government to stop enforcing the
ban, which also suspended the nation’s acceptance of refugees from around the
world, and a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
unanimously declined to reinstate the ban.
The administration subsequently rewrote the ban,
emphasizing more of a national security rationale, dropping Iraq from the list
of banned countries and spelling out some reasons that travelers from the
listed nations might be granted waivers allowing them into the US despite the
policy. The new ban does not apply to travelers who already have visas.
Critics of the ban said the changes made it more
palatable, but they still argued that it violated both the Constitution and
federal immigration law, and they tweaked their lawsuits to target the revised
Watson is a 2012 appointee of President Barack Obama.
He is the only Native Hawaiian currently sitting as a federal judge and the
fourth in U.S. history. He received his law degree from Harvard in 1991.
In his order, he found little evidence the travel ban
would aid national security, noting a point brought up by the state: that a
draft report from the Department of Homeland Security found nationality to be
an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats.
Watson made it clear that his decision applied
nationwide, ruling that the ban could not be enforced at any US borders or
ports of entry or in the issuance of visas.
In the Hawaii case, the federal government said there
was no need to issue an emergency restraining order because Hawaii officials
offered only “generalized allegations” of harm.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed
the lawsuit that succeeded in blocking the first ban, cheered the Hawaii
“It’s very exciting,” Ferguson said. “At this point
it’s a team effort multiple lawsuits and multiple states.”
BEIJING: Chinese premier Li Keqiang warned the US on
Wednesday that American companies would be the first to be hit in the case of a
trade war between the two nations.
US president Donald Trump has promised to impose heavy
duties on Chinese goods sold in that country.
The warning assumes significance because a meeting
between Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping is in the offing in April.
Speaking at the annual session of the National
People's Conference, Li said, "A trade war would not make our trade
fairer." Li said that "a closed-door policy or beggar thy neighbour
approach will not make anyone the winner." This is seen as a reference to
Trump's "America first" policy.
Li also made a plea to the European Union to relax its
restrictions on export of high technology to China. On the South China Sea, he
said, "China and the US have been cooperating for a long time in the
Asia-Pacific and we have common interests."
Up to 1,000 additional US troops could deploy to
northern Syria under provisional plans drawn up by the Pentagon, a US defense
official said on March 15.
The plans, which still need to be approved by
President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, would mark a
significant uptick in US boots on the ground in Syria as part of the fight
against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Currently, the troop level is capped at 500 in Syria,
but that number has become increasingly meaningless as commanders flow extra
"temporary" forces in as needed -- such as last week's deployment of
a Marine artillery battery near Raqa.
The actual number of American troops in the war-torn
country is likely now between 800 and 900, and a US defense official said the
new plans would allow for up to 1,000 more.
"That's one of the proposals that's on the table
for discussion," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of
The possible deployment was first reported by the
Washington Post, which said the extra forces would come from the 24th Marine
Expeditionary Unit and the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division.
The official said the troops would not be in direct
combat, but rather serve in support roles for any additional capabilities the
military requires in northern Syria, where a US-led coalition is training and
backing a local Kurdish-Arab alliance to fight the jihadist group.
Such missions could include additional artillery
batteries and the use of rocket launchers known as HIMARS that can provide
round-the-clock bombardment in the battle to recapture Raqqa from ISIL.
Former president Barack Obama was loath to deploy
combat troops into Syria and Iraq to fight ISIL, arguing the battle could only
be meaningfully won by local forces.
Trump has said he wants to quicken the defeat of ISIL
and told the Pentagon to come up with a range of plans that could accomplish
Syria is marking the sixth anniversary of its brutal
civil war, which began with anti-government protests in March 2011 and has
killed more than 320,000 people.
The civil war and the anti-IS fight are interconnected
but for the most part have played out in separate parts of Syria.
The "United States does remain committed to
finding a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the Syrian conflict," State
Department spokesman Mark Toner said. "All of us know how hard that is.
Danger rises as foreign conflicts spill over into
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s welcoming policies are
laudable, but they may now be making the country unsafe.
Not only has Malaysia become a way station for
conspirators to plot terror attacks abroad, conflicts in other country’s are
now spilling over onto Malaysian streets, according to a report in the Wall
Street Journal (WSJ).
It quoted security analysts as saying that for
decades, Malaysia had attracted transnational criminals and political exiles.
The main reason for this was Malaysia’s open-border
policy and apathy, according to experts quoted by the WSJ.
It cited two recent major terror-linked plots: The
murder of Kim Jong Nam, blamed on a North Korean-led hit team, and an alleged
Islamic State-linked attempt to attack Saudi King Salman’s visiting delegation
last week with a car bomb.
In June 2016, Islamic State-influenced militants
carried out a grenade attack at a nightclub in Puchong, injuring eight people.
Police said it was the first ever successful IS attack in Malaysia.
WSJ quoted Rohan Gunaratna, a professor of security
studies at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore, as saying: “In the past,
terrorists did not target Malaysia, but today the threat has changed. Malaysia
has become a really important target.”
Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told WSJ
that authorities had raised the alert level since the two plots in February but
that “people are free to move and do their routine”.
It quoted the words of James Chin, director of the
Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania, who wrote in a recent article:
“As long as Malaysia allows political exiles who are still active to live in
Malaysia, political violence not related to Malaysia will occur on Malaysian
soil. The Kim killing was not the first and will not be the last.”
Malaysia, said WSJ, was among the most welcoming
nations, extending visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 164 countries and
territories. In comparison, the US does so for 43 countries and France, 91.
WSJ noted that when many Western nations curbed travel
from some Middle Eastern states after the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in
the US, Malaysia eased travel privileges for the region, drawing millions of
new visitors. However, it did take new security precautions.
And until the diplomatic spat with Pyongyang, North
Koreans enjoyed visa-free travel to Malaysia.
WSJ said Malaysia’s National Security Council last
year proposed restoring visa requirements for several Middle East nations,
citing the need for greater controls following an Islamic State-linked attack,
but that the Cabinet threw it aside.
The proposal was rejected, added the report, because
the Cabinet felt it was discriminatory, diplomatically complex and bad for the
WSJ gave several examples of transnational criminals
and political exiles finding Malaysia a conducive place to meet and discuss
plots and issues.
US officials had previously said that the Sept 11
attacks and the USS Cole bombing in the Gulf of Aden were partly planned by
al-Qaeda operatives meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
The 9/11 Commission Report said militants linked to
Osama bin Laden saw Malaysia as an ideal place for wounded militants to
It noted that Indonesians Abu Bakar Bashir, spiritual
head of a Southeast Asian affiliate of al-Qaeda, and Riduan Isamuddin – known
as Hambali – once Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorist, both lived in Malaysia
in the 1980s and 1990s.
Bashir was convicted and imprisoned in Indonesia while
Hambali is a Guantanamo Bay detainee.
It said leaders of an Indonesian separatist movement
in the Aceh region had also set up base in Malaysia, but did not give details.
Another regular Malaysia visitor, the WSJ noted, was
Zakir Naik, an India national “who has urged all Muslims to be terrorists,
praised bin Laden and called for the death penalty for homosexuality”.
WSJ said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not
respond to requests for comment.
“Malaysia is a place where local and international
networks of all sorts are built and seeds are sowed slowly and steadily because
of its peaceful and apathetic setting,” it quoted Achmad Sukarsono, an analyst
with Washington DC-based Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy, as saying.
“As long as they lie low, stay quiet and act normal,
people with extreme ideas can connect with like-minded others.”
Thousands of people have since fled to China to escape
the ensuing gun battles, artillery strikes and fires, leaving Laukkai deserted.
Raging battles on Myanmar’s border with China have
claimed dozens more lives, military and official sources said on Wednesday, as
the mounting death toll landed a fresh blow to the government’s faltering peace
process. Fighting broke out between troops and ethnic minority rebels in the
Chinese-speaking Kokang border region in northeastern Shan State this month
when insurgents dressed in police uniforms launched a surprise raid on security
Military sources said 28 civilians and police have
been killed, while the commander in chief’s office has reported at least 46
insurgents have also died.
Troops “found the bodies of 17 enemies and seized 27
weapons” between March 6-14, it said in a statement.
Three more rebels were killed today during an army
offensive in which “some military officers and other (lower) rank soldiers were
killed and injured,” it added.
A military source who asked not to be named said the
figures were in addition to 26 rebels the government said had been killed in a
statement on March 6.
State media reported on Tuesday that “dozens of
soldiers” had also been killed in the escalating clashes.
The bloodshed has threatened to derail de facto leader
Suu Kyi’s efforts to seal a peace deal with Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, some
of which have been fighting the state for decades.
The UN said at least 50,000 people have fled their
homes in Shan and Kachin States since September to escape some of the worst
violence to grip Myanmar’s restive border regions for decades.
A second round of peace talks initially scheduled for
late February have now been pushed back to May.
This month’s clashes in the Kokang region have also
raised tensions with Beijing, which fears the deadly unrest will spill across
its borders as it did in 2015.
The people of Kokang have strong bonds with Myanmar’s
giant neighbour — locals speak a Chinese dialect and the yuan is the common
Observers believe Beijing also holds significant sway
over the ethnic fighters and has been angling to leverage its key role in the
government’s peace process.
Last week China called for an immediate ceasefire and
this week officials have reportedly been holding talks with rebel groups in a
bid to calm the fighting.
President Donald Trump's 16-page travel ban "to
keep the bad dudes out" bars new visas for people from six Muslim-majority
countries and shuts down America's refugee program through mid-July.
Tin, her husband and five children have cleared years
of refugee hurdles to come to the US: blood tests, interviews, DNA and
fingerprints, background checks. She has her one must-bring possession within
reach, a well-worn Bible, and keeps their phone charged for the U.S. Embassy to
But the odds of that happening dropped precipitously.
President Donald Trump’s 16-page travel ban “to keep
the bad dudes out” bars new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries
and shuts down America’s refugee program through mid-July. His executive order
had been set to take effect Thursday, but a federal judge put it on hold hours
before it was to take effect.
The order also includes a 55 percent reduction in
refugee visas overall, from a planned 110,000 to 50,000 this year. This means,
in some of the most desperate places in the world, 60,000 refugee visas are not
going to be issued after all.
Who are the 60,000 people who may have lost their
chance to resettle in the U.S. by September? An Associated Press analysis of 10
years of refugee data suggests that their most common country of origin is not
any of the six nations in the travel ban, but Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Thousands, like Tin and her family, are Christians who were persecuted in their
They expected to resettle before September in the
U.S., a place they consider home. More than 160,000 Burmese have resettled in
the US in the past decade, more than any other group. They account for nearly
25 percent of new U.S. refugees since 2007.
“America is really our fatherland in terms of
religion,” said Tin, 38. “They sent their missionaries to our country and
taught us to be Christians. And now we had to escape. All we want is to be
Under an authoritarian regime in predominantly
Buddhist Myanmar, Christians face religious and political discrimination. Tin
and her community fled Chin state, where Human Rights Watch says more than 90
percent of the residents were adhering to the tenets the American Baptist
Church by 2009, pitting them against a military campaign to elevate Buddhism
over all other religions.
Tin and others said that when they gathered for family
prayers, people threw rocks at them. Soldiers busted into church services. They
hid their precious Bibles for fear of attack.
School teacher Sang, 29, a Burmese refugee who learned
English as a theology student, meticulously read through a copy of Trump’s
executive order last week and then looked up, nodding.
He said that while he agreed with the need to keep
terrorists out of the U.S., “We are not terrorists, we are Christians. We will
never be a problem in the United States. We will get educations, we will work
hard. We only seek safety.”
Tin and Sang are among more than 100,000 Christian
Burmese refugees forced to flee in recent years. They live out of suitcases in
abject poverty in Malaysia. Their kids can’t go to school, and they risk
deportation or detention if they try to report a crime.
And it’s not just Christians. Hundreds of thousands of
Rohingya Muslims have also been forced to escape the country of 51 million,
where soldiers torched homes, raped women and killed them in a crackdown that
began in October.
Trump’s “Executive Order Protecting The Nation From
Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” says lowering the cap is
necessary to US interests. But the swift reduction in refugee visas interrupts
work underway by federal law enforcement agencies and nonprofits around the
world to vet 110,000 people in 2017, the highest number in decades. It was an
attempt to put a small dent in the record 65 million refugees, asylum seekers and
internally displaced persons worldwide.
Nearly 38,000 have been admitted so far. Another
72,000 were preparing to arrive before the fiscal year ends in September.
Instead, under Trump’s order just 12,000 more will be allowed in. Exceptions
can be made if the secretaries of State and Homeland Security agree.
“The safety and security of the American people is our
highest priority,” said a State Department official who provided a statement on
condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk on the record about
The US defines refugees as people of “special
humanitarian concern” who have been persecuted because of their race, religion,
nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
An AP analysis found that nearly half the refugees who
have arrived in fiscal year 2017 came from the seven majority Muslim countries
named in an earlier executive order. Refugees from Syria, in particular, have
arrived in greater numbers in the past twelve months. Burma’s share has dropped
from 26 percent of all spots in 2015 to just 8 percent of the refugee caseload
so far this fiscal year.
The AP also found refugees from Bhutan and Afghanistan
make up a smaller proportion admitted in 2017 than in previous years.
About 210,000 refugees, largely Vietnamese and
Cambodians, came to the U.S. in 1980, the most in any year. Refugee arrivals
dropped to less than 30,000 after 9/11 prompted strict new immigration rules.
But they have increased fairly steadily since 2004, and overall refugee admissions
reached 85,000 last year.
The journeys of Burmese refugees begin in some of the
poorest places on Earth: remote villages in strife-ridden regions. They pay
smugglers upward of $500 for the harrowing two-week journey. Some end up in
Thailand, where an estimated 100,000 live in refugee camps, known locally as
“temporary shelters.” Thai officials did not allow AP to visit.
In Malaysia there are about 130,000 Burmese refugees
awaiting resettlement. They live in Kuala Lumpur’s poorest neighborhoods, their
makeshift plywood walls dividing ordinary two-bedroom apartment into a half
dozen stifling family units, a stark contrast to city’s glimmering skyscrapers.
They can stay for years, their belongings packed in baggage, so they can be
near the United Nations and U.S. Embassy if called to get stamps on documents
or meet with officials.
Earlier this week, Tin _ the mother waiting for the
Embassy to call _ dropped off her youngest son at a volunteer-run school. A
teacher wrote words on the board, and asked students for three descriptive
Bauri Ram, 11, stared at his word, President.
“Donald Trump,” someone had written. “Help other
Bauri Ram took up the blue marker: “They help
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