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Teacher in India makes teenage girls ‘take off clothes’ over Rs70 ‘theft’

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 22:49

Two girls were allegedly forced by their female teacher to take off their clothes at a school in Damoh district of India’s Madhya Pradesh after a classmate lost Rs70.

The girl said that she and her friend were forced to strip when she refused to admit that she had committed the “theft”, Times of India reported.

“My classmate lost her money. [The] teacher checked my bag and threatened me to confess. When I refused, she forced me and my friend to undress,” the girl said.

In fact, the teacher also threatened them that she would bring a tantrik (mystic) to find the money, Hindustan Times reported.

After the teenage girls were stripped, the money was not found on them.

After school, the girls told their parents, who took up the matter with the school’s higher authorities.

District education officer PP Singh said after the incident came to his knowledge, he had issued a show cause notice to the teacher.

“Appropriate action would be taken if the charges are found to be true. No one has the right to force anyone to strip,” he added.

The teacher maintained that the incident took place when the rest of the class was out on the school ground for karate practice.

“The girl whose money had been stolen came to me and told me about the theft and I asked her to search the bags of the two girls, but she went to the class and told them to strip, which I had never authorised,” she added.

I have been working for 17 years. Why will I do such a thing?”

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Broadcom eyes mega-deal for US chip rival Qualcomm: reports

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 15:57

Shares of Qualcomm jumped nearly 13 per cent Friday after unconfirmed media reports said rival computer chip giant Broadcom may make an unsolicited takeover bid.

Broadcom is considering an acquisition plan, which it could put into motion as soon as this weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed source it said was familiar with the matter.

Shares in Qualcomm closed up 12.71 per cent to $61.81 on the Nasdaq exchange, valuing the company at $91 billion. That could make the deal the biggest ever in the technology sector.

US court rejects Qualcomm bid to limit Apple lawsuits

Broadcom shares also gained ground on the Nasdaq, rising 5.45 per cent to $273.63, valuing the company at more than $116 billion, in a possible sign that the market saw merit in the acquisition.

Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources, said Broadcom could soon launch a bid of more than $100 billion for Qualcomm.

News of the deal came a day after Broadcom chief executive Hock Tan appeared at the White House with President Donald Trump to announce plans to move the tech company back to the United States from Singapore.

Qualcomm declined requests for comment, while Broadcom did not immediately respond.

The potential tie-up signaled consolidation in a sector that produces chips for smartphones and an array of other “internet of things” connected devices.

New smartphones may charge in just five minutes

It comes as Qualcomm seeks a $47 billion acquisition of Dutch rival NXP, a deal which is the subject of an EU antitrust inquiry.

Broadcom, meanwhile, is seeking to buy US rival Brocade Communications, a deal being reviewed by Washington.

Qualcomm was fined more than $770 million in Taiwan last month for abusing its market dominance. It is facing similar challenges in several countries, including the United States. China and South Korea have already imposed heavy fines.

In the US, Qualcomm is locked in contentious patent battles with fellow tech giant Apple, which filed a lawsuit in January accusing the chip maker of abusing its market power to demand unfair royalties.

The post Broadcom eyes mega-deal for US chip rival Qualcomm: reports appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

US service member killed in Afghanistan

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 15:55

KABUL: A US service member was killed in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, the military said, without giving details of his identity or the circumstances of his death, which occurred as American forces have stepped up operations against the Taliban.

A statement from US Forces Afghanistan Command in Kabul said the service member had died of wounds sustained during operations in Logar, the eastern province where another service member was killed last week after a helicopter crash.

“Despite this tragic event, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the Afghan people and to support them in our mutual fight against terrorism,” Gen John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan said in the statement.

The latest death comes after President Donald Trump ordered a boost in the number of US troops assisting Afghan forces against the Taliban as part of a new strategy to try to break the stalemate with the insurgents.

Although, most US troops are not in combat, the new strategy will give them greater authority to engage the Taliban and will involve some acting as advisers at brigade and battalion level, bringing them much closer to the front line.

Up to Aug 23, 10 US service members had been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to figures published last week by the congressional watchdog SIGAR, more than double the number killed in the same periods in 2015 and 2016.

Separately, the US military said it was investigating reports of civilian casualties caused during a combined operation in the northern city of Kunduz on Friday and was assessing the facts surrounding the incident.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Trump heads to Japan with North Korea on his mind

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 15:45

HONOLULU, HAWAII: US President Donald Trump headed to Japan on the first stop of his five-nation tour of Asia on Saturday, looking to present a united front with the Japanese against North Korea as tensions run high over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

Trump, who is on a 12-day trip, is to speak to US and Japanese forces at Yokota air base shortly after arriving in Japan on Sunday and looked to stress the importance of the alliance to regional security.

Ballistic missile tests by North Korea and its sixth-largest nuclear test, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, have exacerbated the most critical international challenge of Trump’s presidency.

Trump to top US diplomat: Don’t bother talking to North Korea

Aerial drills conducted over South Korea by two US strategic bombers have raised tensions in recent days.

In a display of golf diplomacy, Trump is to play a round of golf with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The two leaders also played together in Florida earlier this year.

Trump will also have a state call with the Imperial Family at Akasaka Palace during his visit.

Abe and Trump will meet families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. Joined by his wife Melania on part of the trip, Trump’s tour of Asia is the longest by an American president since George HW Bush in 1992.

North Korea says Trump has ‘declared war’

Besides Japan, he will visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Trump departed Hawaii for Japan aboard Air Force One shortly before 7:27 am Hawaii time (17:27 GMT).

En route to Hawaii’s Hickham Air Force Base, Trump’s motorcade stopped briefly at the Trump International Hotel Waikiki.

“It has been a tremendously successful project and he wanted to say hello and thank you to the employees for all their hard work,” White House spokesperson, Sarah Sanders, said.

Trump extended the trip by a day on Friday, when he agreed to participate in a summit of East Asian nations in Manila.

His trip got off to a colorful start in Hawaii. He was taken by boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial, where lies the World War Two ship that was sunk by the Japanese during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.

Trump ‘gravest threat to international peace, security’: North Korea

The Trumps tossed white flower petals into the waters at the memorial in honor of those who died at Pearl Harbor.

Trump’s trip is to be dominated by trade and how to muster more international pressure on North Korea to give up nuclear weapons.

“We’ll be talking about trade,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. “We’ll be talking about obviously North Korea. We’ll be enlisting the help of a lot of people and countries and we’ll see what happens. But I think we’re going to have a very successful trip. There is a lot of goodwill.”

Trump has rattled some allies with his vow to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the United States and his dismissal of North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, as a ‘rocket man’ on a suicide mission.

White House national security adviser HR McMaster, briefing reporters on Friday, defended Trump’s colorful language.

“What’s inflammatory is the North Korean regime and what they’re doing to threaten the world,” McMaster said.

Trump says North Korea diplomacy has failed

Trump will seek a united front with the leaders of Japan and South Korea against North Korea before visiting Beijing to make the case to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he should do more to rein in Pyongyang.

Trade will factor heavily during Trump’s trip as he tries to persuade Asian allies to agree to trade policies more favorable to the United States.

A centerpiece of the trip will be a visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam, where he will deliver a speech in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, which is seen as offering a bulwark in response to expansionist Chinese policies.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Saudis intercept ‘ballistic missile’ fired by Huthi rebels near Riyadh

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 15:32

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday intercepted and destroyed a “ballistic missile” northeast of the capital Riyadh after it was launched from Yemen, state media reported.

“Saudi Air Defense intercepts ballistic missile northeast of Riyadh,” Saudi state TV said.

State-run news channel Al-Ekhbariya said the missile “was of limited size (and) no injuries or damage” were reported.

Yemeni rebel missile shot down near Makkah

The missile was destroyed near Riyadh’s King Khaled international airport, which was functioning normally, it added.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed they had fired the missile, targeting the airport, the Huthis’ Al-Masirah television said.

Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour Yemen has been torn apart by a war between the Saudi-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Huthi rebels backed by Iran.

Saudi Arabia agrees to buy Russian S-400 air defence system

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 to prop up Hadi’s government after the Huthis seized the capital Sanaa. The rebels continue to hold much of the country.

United Nations-backed talks have failed to broker a political settlement to end the fighting, which has left more than 8,600 people dead since the coalition intervened.

Saudi Arabia says 3 civilians killed by missile fired from Yemen

A cholera outbreak has claimed more than 2,100 lives in Yemen since April as hospitals struggle to secure supplies amid a coalition air and sea blockade.

The United Nations has warned Yemen now stands on the brink of famine.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

5.1-magnitude earthquake jolts parts of K-P, FATA

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 15:11

PESHAWAR: An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale shook parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and adjoining Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) on Saturday night.

No casualties or damage to property was reported in the tremor which, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), originated in Parachinar, the administrative capital of Kurrum Agency.

The earthquake struck 35 kilometres deep in the ground, said the PDMA. It shook Kurram Agency, Swat, Dir, Malakand, and Peshawar districts, and surrounding areas.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), it was a 4.6-magnitude quake with its epicenter 19 kilometres away from the Jalalabad city of Afghanistan.

The USGS further said that the earthquake struck at 9:34 pm (PST). The PDMA added that it had not received any reports of casualties or damage to property from anywhere in the affected regions.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

80,000 smuggled cell phones seized in raid at bungalow in Karachi’s Defence

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 14:03

KARACHI  : The Pakistan Customs raided a bungalow in Karachi’s Defence area on Saturday and seized over 80,000 smuggled cell phones.

The Directorate Customs Intelligence Karachi also arrested three suspects in the raid. The phones are estimated to be worth Rs1.2 billion.

The smugglers got the phones cleared from the Karachi International Container Terminal through mis-declaration. The company involved in importing the seized mobile phones was identified as M/S Digicom.

Customs Intelligence Karachi Director Sameena Zehra formed a six-member team including ADC Ali Zaman Gardezi and Principal Appraiser Vaqar Qureshi that raided a bungalow in Defence Phase-7 and found cartons containing 80,000 cell phones.

Zehra said even well-reputed companies were misusing the Customs Green Channel facility and mis-declaration cases were on the rise.

She added that the company involved in smuggling the phones had imported 800 containers in the last few years and they were all cleared through the green channel.

Smuggled mobile phones, tablets worth Rs284m seized

Meanwhile, in a separate raid on Friday the customs authorities in its biggest raid seized a container which had more than 63,000 mobile phones and over 500 tablets worth 285 million in the market.

Customs Collector Preventive Iftikhar Ahmed, in a news conference said that they stopped the container near Karachi’s Gull plaza after receiving it received credible information that some reputable importers were misusing the facility of green channel under paperless Web Based One Customs (WeBOC) system and getting their goods cleared from Karachi by declaring them LED lights and bulbs in their description.

The official added that they have registered a case against M/S Digicom, which was involved in the smuggling electronic items through mis-declaration. He added that the authority is also searching for the four directors of the company and for three more containers of this sort.

The official also informed that Friday’s raid also saved the exchequer from losing Rs104 million.

Three ‘smugglers’ detained at Jinnah international

Karachi airport 

The Customs Prevention officials at the Karachi airport seized $100,418, 357,845 dirhams and 70,000 Saudi riyals from an elderly couple leaving for Dubai.

Customs official Wasif Malik said Abdul Sattar and Salima Sattar were scheduled to depart for Dubai on flight EK 605.
The foreign currency was found hidden in lunchboxes, bread boxes and shoe boxes.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

US air strikes kill 13 civilians in Afghanistan

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 13:43

Air strikes by the US forces in Afghanistan have killed at least 13 civilians, residents and officials in the area have said.

The strikes happened in the Chardara district, a locality in which Afghan commandos, with advise from the American military and air support in the form of bomber planes, have been conducting operations for the past several days.

US forces struck Taliban hideouts overnight, and locals said that the fighters forced them in the morning to help retrieve the bodies of their comrades, when the air strikes resumed again.

Afghanistan moves to block WhatsApp

“We are aware of the claims and are looking into them,” Tom Gresback, a spokesperson for the US military, said while talking to the media.

Afghan authorities denied that any civilian lives were lost, and a spokesperson for Afghan commandos, Ahmed Saved Salem, said that the strikes had killed 25 Taliban insurgents.

“Over the past three days of our operations in the village, we haven’t seen a single civilian,” Saleem said. “We have video of the eight people killed in the morning strikes, and all of them were armed.”

US-allied forces have been struggling to clear the city of Kunduz and its surrounding areas of insurgents ever since the Taliban briefly took control of the urban area a couple of years ago.

Back in 2015, American gunship helicopters had targetted a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the area, leveling the building to the ground and killing 42 people.

Last year, US bombers were involved in another deadly incident, and killied 33 civilians while trying to target Afghan militants.

US airs trikes have more than doubled since Donald Trump assumed office as American President, and announced his new strategy for the South Asian region in August.

About 900 munitions have been dropped on the country by the United States Air Force to date, compared to about 260 for the same period last year.

Some officials in the Afghan government have voiced their support for the new US strategy, saying that the air strikes help rein in the militants and decrease risks that they would attack cities and districts.

However, there are also those who claim that the civilian toll from the air operations is “unacceptably high”.

Video of Afghan colonel sexually exploiting woman prompts outrage

Residents of a village in Chardara district have said that Taliban targets in the area have been hit on numerous occasions ever since heavy fighting broke out between Afghan commandos and insurgents a few days ago.

“At night, they bombed many times in our area,” said Abdul Qayoum, a tailor in the village who lost three cousins in the airstrikes. “In the morning, after prayer, people got out to see what happened. My dad went, but I didn’t go. Then we heard another strike. When I came out, I saw people carrying bodies on carts.”

“They [Taliban] told us, and we had to [go collect bodies from overnight bombing], particularly when they said we are all Muslims and we can’t leave bodies lying out there,” Haji Mahmoud, a resident of the area, said.

“I saw three Taliban bodies. When the boys were trying to dig up those bodies, the plane struck again. Thirteen people were killed. I am wounded in my head and my arm.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Retired army brigadier helped PML-N win 2013 elections, claims Imran

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 13:08

KHANEWAL: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has said that if Nawaz Sharif thinks he can regain control of the country by “buying” the judiciary and the establishment “he’s living in a fool’s paradise”.

“Gone are the days when the establishment and judiciary were part of political planning as now only merit is their top priority,” the PTI chief said while addressing a public gathering with more than 35,000 in attendance at Khanewal Stadium on Saturday.

“Going for merit will also maintain the integrity of both the institutions,” he added.

Sharif, who is today going against the establishment and judiciary, had forgotten that it was the military that brought him to power, he said.

“The Inter-Services Intelligence had financed Sharif to win the 1990 elections and then again in 1997,” alleged, adding that the establishment had now decided to remain out of politics for strengthening democracy in Pakistan.

Imran takes a jab at Nawaz for addressing ‘dwindling crowds’ at ‘homegoing’ rally

He also blamed a retired brigadier, without mentioning his name, for helping the PML-N win the 2013 general elections.

About the judiciary, Khan said, “Sharif thought that every judge was for sale as in the past he had threatened or bought them to do his bidding, but this time the judiciary has upheld supremacy of law.”

“The judges have given the decision in the Panamagate case on merit,” he said.

“Sharif said that he will not accept any minus-Sharif formula, but the people have already accepted the formula,” he added.

Criticising Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, he said, “I feel sorry for him as he is serving a thief [Sharif] which is damaging the dignity of our nation.”

He said Rs94 billion had been doled out to PML-N parliamentarians by PM Abbasi to buy votes, but his effort would not bear fruit as the people “now stand united against corruption and corrupt dynasties”.

Sharif, Zardari assets exceed country’s debt, claims Imran

Confident that the PTI would come to power after the 2018 general elections, he said, “I will ensure that minorities enjoy equal rights and status in Pakistan according to the ideology of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.”

India would give an example of Pakistan and minorities all around the world would prefer “our country to live in”, he added.

Talking about pollution, he said the whole country, apart from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, was filled with pollution. “There is no pollution in K-P because we have planted more than one billion trees over there.”

Taking over the podium, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “PML-N has been guarding only billionaires and their vested interests, which is why small farmers are dying in South Punjab.”

“China has helped small farmers strengthen its economy,” he said. “They have transformed their economy of $300 billion 30 years ago into a $10,000 billion economy today.”

PTI General Secretary Jehangir Khan Tareen also spoke on the occasion.

Renowned folk singer Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi entertained an already charge-up crowd with his mesmerising performance.

 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Child killed, two others injured in South Waziristan landmine blast

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 13:04

PESHAWAR: A minor boy was killed and two other children were injured when a landmine exploded in the Tiyazara area of South Waziristan Agency on Saturday.

The three children were playing in the fields when the landmine went off. Shah Zeb died on the spot while the others were admitted to a hospital.

Seven killed in Khuzdar mine blast

Security forces launched an investigation into the matter.

A resident told The Express Tribune that scores of local tribesmen, including children, had been killed or injured in landmine blasts.

He added that Taliban terrorists had planted the devices to hamper the movement of security forces in the area during military operations.

 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Kashmir dispute: Hizb commander rejects Indian offer for talks

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 15:49

MUZAFFARABAD: The United Jihad Council (UJC) Chairman Syed Salahuddin has rejected New Delhi’s announcement to hold talks with ‘all stakeholders’ in occupied Kashmir, saying that if it had been sincere, it would have appointed a politician rather than a retired intelligence officer as interlocutor.

“We want tripartite talks involving Pakistan, India and Kashmiris. If India is sincere in talks, first it should accept three parties to the dispute; declare Kashmir a disputed territory; and talk to the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) leaders in IOK,” he said on Thursday.

US declares HuM chief Syed Salahuddin ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’

Salahuddin, who is also supreme commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM), was addressing a press conference at the Centre Press Club along with other commanders of Kashmiri freedom fighting organisations.

“More than 150 times bilateral talks between Pakistan and India have failed to settle the Kashmir dispute as the Indian offer has never been based on sincerity,” Salahuddin said, adding that only tripartite talks were a solution to the longstanding dispute.

He said New Delhi appointed a former Intelligence Bureau officer Dineshwar Sharma as its interlocutor to show to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that it was holding talks with Kashmiris. “However, this is an Indian attempt to hoodwink the world community,” he added.

Salahuddin said India’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in wee hours of Thursday raided residence of his son, Shahid Yousaf, in IOK’s Budgam area to create fear among his family members.

“But Indians should keep in mind that Kashmiris will never surrender their right to self-determination and there is zero chance of a compromise on our legitimate struggle,” he added.

He called braid chopping another tactic of the Indian military establishment being used with the support of political leadership of India and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

“Braid chopping first started by the RSS with the support of Indian army and intelligence agencies in Baderwah Jammu and now they use it in Kashmir as a tool of psychological warfare,” he added.

Sharing details of the land forcibly usurped by the Indian army in the valley, the UJC chairman said more than 28 lakh kanals of agricultural land were under the control of Indian forces in IOK.

Salahuddin said since the beginning of the Kashmir freedom movement in late eighties, more than 115,00 Kashmiris had been martyred, 8,000 of which were killed in custody. “There are at least 23,000 widows and 108,00 orphans in Kashmir while 11,000 women were raped by Indian forces,” he added.

US sanctions Kashmiri group Hizbul Mujahideen

The UJC chairman said following martyrdom of Burhan Wani in June last year, about 9,000 Kashmiris had been injured by pallets and 300 of them lost the vision. He said there were more than 6,000 unmarked graves in IOK.

Sharing the success of the Kashmiri freedom fighters, Salahuddin said during the last 28 years, three serving major generals and 37,000 Indian soldiers were killed in IOK. “India is expanding its military infrastructure in Kashmir to convert Muslim majority into a minority.”

He rejected the latest census saying the Indian census department deliberately showed a decline in Muslim population in Jammu and Ladakh regions. There is no room for separate colonies of 13 lakh west Pakistani refugees in Kashmir and this all is being done to change demography of IOK.

He said the UJC welcomes Kashmri Pundits in their ancestral areas not in Israel-style colonies to create a divide in the Kashmiris communal harmony. Sallauhdin further said Sanik colonies was another move to change Kashmiri’s demography which we would never allow.

He said that India is working to break the economy of IOK. Since July 8, 2016 till now Kashmiris suffered 20000 crore loss in terms of fruits, tourism and handicrafts.

UJC chairman claimed that it was New Delhi strategy to appoint non-state subjects on the key posts in Kashmir which is another example of exploitation of IOK Muslim bureaucracy.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

NAB DG has an authentic degree, spokesperson affirms

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 15:37

KARACHI  : Allegations that a top National Accountability Bureau official has a fake degree have been hatched as a conspiracy to weaken graft cases against powerful individuals, NAB spokesperson said while talking to the media.

The spokesperson added that  NAB Punjab DG Shahzada Saleem’s MSc in Computer Science degree from Al-Khair University in Azad Kashmir has also been attested by the Higher Education Commission.

 EXPRESS TRIBUNE

PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE

 EXPRESS TRIBUNE

PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE

During this time, he also arrested 200 persons involved in corruption cases, according to the spokesperson.

Saleem recovered Rs4.78 billion in K-P during the three years from 2014 to 2017, which was more that the regional office’s total recoveries in the past 14 years – Rs1.35 billion, he said.

“Indirectly, he recovered Rs1.66 billion and arrested 366 persons during his three-year tenure, while the previous 14 years saw 420 corrupt persons arrested.”

Even during his appointment in K-P, he maintained an impressive record against corruption, he praised.

The spokesperson revealed that during the first 14 years, 449 cases were filed in K-P, while during Saleem’s tenure as DG, 126 references were filed and the arrest rate increased 300 times.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

COAS praises Pakistan motor rally for promoting country’s soft image

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 14:50

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has witnessed the Pakistan Motor Rally 2017 in South Waziristan Agency (SWA), a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Thursday.

The army chief has appreciated the spirit of all participants and organisers for promoting peaceful and soft image of the country.

The rally, started on October 21 from Khunjerab and organised by the Pakistan Army, reached SWA on Thursday on completion of its second segment.

Accompanied by Khyber-Pakthunkhwa (K-P) Governor Engineer Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Gen Qamar also distributed prizes to the best racers of the rally.

Participants of Pakistan Motor Rally 2017 drive past South Waziristan Agency on Thursday. PHOTO: ISPR

Speaking on the occasion, the COAS said holding of such events in areas once affected by terrorism speak for results of the national sacrifices and efforts to bring back peace and normalcy. “Such like events will promote adventure sports, showcase tourism potential and cultural heritage of the country,” he was quoted by the military’s media wing as saying.

Gen Qamar witnesses multinational air exercise in Sargodha

The rally is planned in four segments with more than 300 jeeps, 500 motorcycles and 150 vintage cars drawn from 23 motor clubs of the country.

The rally that kicked off from Khunjerab is passing through Gilgit, Islamabad, South Wazirstan Agency, Quetta and Karachi will eventually culminate in Gwadar on October 31, covering more than 3,000 kilometre of areas – which are relatively less explored and less developed.

A large gathering of local population and civil-military officials were also present on the occasion to witness the event.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

JIT found no proof against Nawaz Sharif in London: Maryam

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 14:13

ISLAMABAD: Maryam Nawaz, daughter of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif,  has said the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had failed to find any concrete evidence against her family and returned “empty handed” from the United Kingdom.

The JIT, formed by the Supreme Court to probe the Panamagate scam, had contacted six countries including the UK for mutual legal assistance during its 60-day probe into the Sharif family’s offshore assets, paving the way for the apex court to disqualify Nawaz Sharif and order the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to open references against the family.

Speaking to media representatives outside an accountability court on Thursday, Maryam said opponents had miserably failed to find anything objectionable against her father, adding that evidences were being fabricated against the Sharif family. In the same breath, she  questioned if the law only applied to Nawaz Sharif and his family in the country.

Maryam’s remarks come the same day when an accountability court issued bailable arrest warrants against Nawaz Sharif after he failed to appear before the court in connection with three references filed by the NAB.

Warrants out as Sharif skips court hearing

The accountability court has indicted Sharif, daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (retd) Mohammad Safdar in Avenfield Apartments reference. Sharif is also indicted in two separate references pertaining to the Azizia Steel Company and the Hill Metal Company and the Flagship Investment and other companies.

The indictments came after the court separated the trial of Sharif’s sons, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, after they failed to appear before the court despite repeated orders. The court had declared Sharif’s sons – who were nominated by NAB as accused in all the three references — as absconders.

“We are appearing before the court despite our mother’s illness and father’s questionable disqualification… so how can the process are termed as VVIP accountability?” Maryam, political heir apparent to Sharif, responded to criticism raised by rival parties.

“The best example of VVIP accountability is former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf who left the country unaccounted on a lame pretext of backache,” she said and claimed that ‘hasty justice’ was being meted out to only Nawaz Sharif and his family.

Later, she tweeted saying: “Unjust verdicts of the past are still bringing shame and bad repute to judges and courts of that eras.”

نانصافی سے کئے گئے فیصلے آج بھی تاریخ میں اس وقت کے منصفوں اور عدالتوں کیلئے بدنامی اور شرمندگی کا سامان ھیں.

— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) October 26, 2017

Maryam said despite upholding democratic values and promoting justice in the society, why the former premier was being termed as traitor. She said the country is passing through a critical situation and expressing apprehension on any verdict can amount to contempt of court.

Sharif attorney sees ‘unholy haste’ in court order

The former first daughter also ruled out reports of differences within the Sharif family, claiming that only the media was propagating against the family which has no importance.

Responding to a question about handling the PML-N media cell, Maryam categorically said she did not run any media cell and know well who was spreading the ‘propaganda campaign’.

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In a first, Saudi Arabia grants citizenship to robot ‘Sophia’

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 13:35

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia granted citizenship on Thursday to a robot named Sophia to underline its hi-tech ambitions at an exhibition previewing major development projects.

Visitors sat in a virtual reality roller coaster and interacted with a hologram of a lion.

But some of the bottlenecks that have slowed growth in the past reappeared at the conference. Wifi service, powered by the country’s main telecommunications firm, was spotty and live video streams were glitchy. Shuttle buses arranged to take guests from hotels to the venue ran late.

While the country impressed bankers and fund managers from around the world this week with the size of its economic ambitions, it may not have convinced foreign businessmen to pour in the billions of dollars needed to transform the kingdom.

At a lavish, three-day investment conference attended by over 3,500 people from 88 countries, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for a $500 billion business zone reaching into Jordan and Egypt. Riyadh’s main sovereign wealth fund said it would nearly double its assets to $400 billion by 2020.

The event, part of the kingdom’s drive to free itself of reliance on oil exports in an era of cheap oil, attracted senior executives of global banks such as Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of China and Mizuho.

Saudi public fund to double assets by 2020

Under heavy security, officials from China, Russia and Africa huddled with Saudi officials in a palatial conference venue boasting chandeliers, gilt furniture and marble floors.

But many executives – speaking privately to avoid endangering their chances of winning business – said they remained concerned about Riyadh’s ability to execute its plans.

An undeveloped legal system, sluggish bureaucracy and poor labour productivity have deterred foreign investment and frustrated many Saudi economic plans in the past. Foreigners own only a little over 4 percent of the stock market, and foreign direct investment has been running at under $10 billion a year.

“They have a decent vision, but also face steep hurdles,” said a London-based executive of a trading firm that works closely with manufacturers. “The objective is to bring money here, but we are seeing companies wanting to take money out.”

He said most international companies aimed to win supply contracts in Saudi Arabia, while banks were working for fees and commissions – but few companies were willing make big, fixed investments in the country.

The conference was heavy on grand gestures. Prince Mohammed, the 32-year-old architect of Saudi economic reforms, took part in a panel discussion and held up an old-fashioned Nokia phone next to an iPhone to show the size of the change he planned.

NEOM

Saudi Arabia’s plan to build a 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile) business zone captured both the scale of its ambitions and the worries surrounding them.

The zone, known as NEOM, a word meaning “New Future” in a combination of English and Arabic abbreviations, could unlock vast potential in industries including tourism, solar energy and wind power, and logistics.

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But Saudi Arabia has already tried with little success to build smaller but similar projects. For a decade it has been seeking to develop half a dozen new “economic cities”; most have grown much more slowly than hoped, and Riyadh complained last year that some faced “challenges that threaten their viability”.

Some of NEOM’s half-trillion dollar cost is supposed to come from private investors, but much of the private sector is wary of investing in state projects. A recession triggered by low oil prices and austerity policies has brought private sector growth down near zero, and bank lending has been shrinking.

Raza Agha, chief economist for the region at VTB Capital, said NEOM had potential but many aspects needed clarification, such as how the country could obtain the labor to build it without straining its balance of payments.

“The funding needs for this project will create additional pressure on government expenditures and consequently either on the rate of depletion of Saudi foreign assets or the increase in government debt levels,” he said.

“Beyond the challenges of funding and building a project of this scale, the seemingly ad hoc nature of this, and other, announcements only serves to add to Saudi policy unpredictability.”

It was clear at the conference that the government is determined to push through a vast overhaul of its regulatory system, and to become more transparent in many areas.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

European Parliament calls in experts over sexual harassment

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 12:51

STRASBOURG: The European Parliament called Thursday for a committee of outside experts to investigate sexual harassment at the institution, as the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood continues to make waves at the EU.

The parliament’s procedures for dealing with allegations of unwanted sexual advances have come under scrutiny this week amid increasing talk of harassment within the EU, including so-far anonymous reports of rape and abuse of power among parliamentary staff.

MEPs passed a resolution calling on the parliament’s chief and administration to “urgently and thoroughly examine the recent media reports on sexual harassment and abuse in the European Parliament”.

They said the parliament should “set up a task force of independent experts… to examine the situation of sexual harassment and abuse in parliament” and suggest any necessary changes to the existing complaints procedure.

The motion highlighted the vulnerable position of parliamentary assistants who are often young and could be reluctant to report incidents for fear of damaging their career prospects.

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It said that “all too often” such assistants are afraid to speak out as a special “loss of trust” clause in their contracts means they can be sacked at very short notice.

A spokeswoman for the European Parliament has said that cases of rape and sexual harassment have been reported, and “sanctions and disciplinary measures” have been taken, but these did not involve MEPs or their assistants.

“In the European Parliament there is not more harassment than elsewhere, but nor is there less,” French socialist MEP Edouard Martin said.

The European Commission, the EU’s vast executive arm of roughly 32,000 employees, said on Wednesday it had received an average of one complaint a month about “inappropriate behaviour” from staff over the past five years.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Gen Qamar witnesses multinational air exercise in Sargodha

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 12:10

Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa witnessed the ongoing multinational exercise ‘ACES Meet 2017’ at the Air Power Centre of Excellence (ACE) during his visit to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base Mushaf Sargodha, Punjab  on Thursday.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), contingents of the Royal Saudi Airforce and Turkish Airforce also took part in the exercise.

A total of eight countries are taking part in the exercises in the two-week long endeavour which began on October 16.

The chief of army staff (COAS) was briefed on the ACE training facility as well as the scope of  exercise which aims to project mutual cooperation between the air forces and consolidate upon modern concepts in the domain of counter terrorism operations.

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Gen Qamar lauded the PAF contributions and sacrifices made in the fight against terrorism. He also hailed the operational readiness and expertise of the PAF.

Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman said the current global security situation coupled with the changing dynamics of warfare calls for enhanced partnership among armed forces.

“PAF ACE was established as a strategic initiative to develop a unique institution to share with friendly air forces the rare experiences PAF has gained in counter terrorism operations,” he explained.

The air chief marshal said the air operations had to remain in sync with surface operations in order to make decisive gains on the ground.

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Russia’s opposition newspaper plans to ‘arm journalists’

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 12:04

MOSCOW: Editors of Russia’s opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta said Thursday they were planning to give their employees weapons training and arm them with non-lethal weapons to protect themselves against possible attacks.

The decision comes amid a spike in violence against dissenters in Russia, including this week’s attack on a radio journalist who was stabbed in the neck at the offices of the liberal Echo of Moscow radio.

“If the state is not ready to protect us, we will protect ourselves,” Sergei Sokolov, a deputy editor at Russia’s top opposition newspaper, told AFP on Thursday.

“When journalists find themselves helpless in the face of lawlessness on the streets and indiscipline of law enforcement agencies, there is no other way.”

Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov said on Wednesday that a number of employees would undergo arms training and the newspaper would purchase the weapons.

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The use of firearms is tightly regulated in Russia. The so-called “traumatic” weapons such as arms that fire rubber bullets can be used for self-defence but can also inflict lethal damage.

“I will arm the newsroom,” Muratov said on Echo of Moscow radio.
“We will also supply journalists with other security means that I don’t want to talk about.”

“We will conclude an official agreement with the Russian interior ministry,” he added. “I have no other choice.”

Contacted by AFP, Muratov said he could not provide details of the plan over security concerns.

“Our security experts have asked me to refrain from commenting before we take concrete steps,” he said.

Pavel Kanygin, a Novaya Gazeta correspondent, said he was ready to use non-lethal weapons to defend himself.

“I don’t see anything bad in our situation,” he told AFP in written comments, adding that potential criminals may be deterred by the knowledge that Novaya Gazeta reporters carry weapons.
“This too is defence.”

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Thursday he saw no reason to provide extra security for journalists.

“Unfortunately, every one of us can become the target of a madman,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding Novaya Gazeta was free to adopt any measures as long as they were in line with existing laws.

Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov jumped at the opportunity to tout its guns, saying it was ready to offer a 10 per cent discount to all journalists seeking to purchase non-lethal weapons.

“Kalashnikov Concern advocates responsible gun ownership and supports a lawful right of citizens to protect themselves,” the company said in a statement.

It promoted “arms of limited damage” such as the MP-80 Makarov pistol that it said could be purchased online.

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Over the past two decades Novaya Gazeta has lost several journalists to contract-style killings, including investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya who was gunned down at the entrance to her Moscow apartment in 2006.

Earlier this week Tatyana Felgenhauer, a 32-year-old Echo of Moscow presenter, was stabbed in the neck by a mentally unstable man.

Many commentators have blamed the authorities for fomenting hatred against dissenters and creating an atmosphere in which such attacks became possible.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Rights groups urge Pakistan not to deport Turkish nationals

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 11:46

ISLAMABAD: Human rights activists warned Thursday that nearly 300 Turkish nationals are facing forced deportation from Pakistan as they called on authorities to protect them.

The warning came almost two weeks after a Turkish teacher Kacmaz Mesut, his wife and two young daughters were deported, despite the court’s stay order.

The family was picked up in September, allegedly blindfolded and bound before being loaded into trucks and taken away.

Some 285 Turkish nationals are also at risk and Islamabad must protect them “from forcible repatriation, arbitrary arrest,” according to a statement by the International Federation for Human Rights.

“The government’s deportation of a Turkish family should set off alarm bells,” FIDH president Dimitris Christopoulos said in the the statement.

The father of the family was a former director of PakTurk International Schools and Colleges, private schools popular in Pakistan allegedly backed by US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet group.

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Ankara accuses Gulen of masterminding a coup attempt against Erdogan’s government in 2016 — an allegation the cleric strongly denies — and is seeking his extradition from the US.

The other 285 Turkish nationals are teachers associated with the PakTurk schools and their families, and they have been facing deportation to Turkey since November 2016.

They “live in fear of raids carried out by the Pakistani police and intelligence services,” the statement said.

The rights activists said that Turkey has already succeeded in obtaining the forcible repatriation of teachers linked to the PakTurk schools from Malaysia, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia.

“Pakistan flouted its international obligations simply to appease the Turkish government. It must reverse this approach with respect to the 285 Turkish nationals,” Mehdi Hasan, chair of the Human rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said.

Last November Pakistan deported dozens of Turkish teachers tied to PakTurk schools after a visit from Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, sparking small demonstrations in major cities.

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Pope and International Space Station crew discuss the meaning of life

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 11:37

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis chatted with six astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, kicking off the rare interview with a philosophical question on “man’s place in the universe”.

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, 60, admitted that despite the bird’s eye view of Earth he too remained “perplexed”, while American Mark Vande Hei said seeing the planet from space made them “realise how fragile we are”.

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The Argentine pontiff sat at a small desk inside the tiny city state, facing a wide-screen television on which the astronauts from America, Russia and Italy could be seen floating together in their blue suits.

“Good afternoon… or good evening. I imagine time passes differently at the space station, right?” the pope quipped.

“Astronomy makes us think about the universe’s boundless horizons, and prompts questions such as ‘where do we come from, where are we going?'” the pope mused.

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A 30-second delay in the satellite feed gave Nespoli, Vande Hei, Americans Randolph Bresnik and Joseph Acaba, and Russians Sergej Nikolaevic Rjazanskij and Alexandr Misirkin time to weigh up life’s biggest questions.

“Our aim here is to spread knowledge, (but) the more we learn, the more we realise we do not know,” Nespoli admitted.

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“I would like people like you, theologians, philosophers, poets, writers, to come to space to explore what it means to be a human in space,” he said, as Francis nodded and smiled.

But the pope had not finished: what, he wanted to know, was their opinion of love as a force that moves the universe? What was their source of joy up in the space station, and how did a life without gravity change their view of the world?

The crew took it in turns to get their philosophical caps on, and not even a technical hitch which temporarily interrupted the interview, or the lack of a Russian translator, could throw the space travellers off course.

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