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AIMPLB To Approach Supreme Court On Hijab Ban; Appeals To Muslim Clerics, Leaders, Intellectuals And Industrialists To Set-Up Schools For Girls

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 March 2022


(Picture for representation)


• Pakistan Witnesses Unprecedented Rise In Attacks And Arrests Against Shia Minority, Says Report

• The Event ‘Saudi Cinema Nights’ Celebrates Filmmaking In Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

• Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Calls on Foreign Countries to Accept New Envoys

• Federal Court Ruling On Unilateral Conversions An ‘Interpretation’, Says Minister



• 14-Member Kerala Salafist Family Tries To Enter War-Torn Yemen To Study Islam, Sent Back

• Hindu Activists Want Muslims To Be Kept Out Of ‘Kaup Maari Pooje’

• Kashmir: Authorities Bolster 'Village Defense Committees' To Counter Islamists

• Beyond ‘Kashmir Files’, Hindu-Muslim Talk, Pain Is Real For Displaced People In India

• Omar: 'Kashmir Files' bundle of lies, don't forget other victims

• LeT module busted in J&K's Pulwama, 6 held

• K'taka government to discuss with experts before introducing Bhagwad Gita in school syllabus



• Pakistan To Intensify Cooperation With Islamic World: Foreign Office

• Various Pak regimes raised voice against hostility and bigotry towards Muslims

• Pakistan no-trust motion: PM Imran Khan to seek court ruling over defections

• Bishops ask Pakistan govt to diffuse political tension

• Resident killed under Pakistan Army custody, claims Baloch activist

• Neutrality in Ukraine war to safeguard Pakistan’s interests: FO

• Islamabad High Court refuses to stop ECP from acting against PM Imran

• Pakistan to recognise Taliban regime after regional consensus

• Imran Khan meets Pakistan Army Chief amid looming no-confidence motion

• Pakistan PM Imran Khan's ally PML-Q rejects horse-trading allegations


Arab World

• Syria’s Assad Visits UAE In First Trip To Arab State Since War Began

• Hezbollah Denies Sending Fighters To Ukraine In Support Of Russian Invasion

• ISIS ‘Lover’ Blows Up Aunt’s House In Baghdad For Refusing His Marriage Proposal

• Lebanon PM says some judges stoking tension within country

• Saudi Arabia to extend visa validity for Ukrainians in the Kingdom for free

• GCC to host talks between Yemen’s warring parties in Riyadh

• 81 mass graves of Yazidis found in Iraq's Sinjar since 2014: Official

• Syria's Afrin liberated from terrorists 4 years ago


South Asia

• Islamic Emirate Welcomes Renewal of UNAMA Mandate

• Taliban Welcomes UN's Presence In Afghanistan In Global Recognition Quest

• Taliban forms commission to facilitate return of political leaders

• Taliban Suspends Insurance Companies' Operations In Afghanistan

• 180 media outlets closed in past seven months in Afghanistan

• Blast kills four minors in Kandahar province

• Taliban release three Afghan journalists after 24 hours in custody

• Ready to provide secure environment for Indian mission: Taliban


Southeast Asia

• Saudi Arabia Executes Two Indonesians For Murder  

• Court dismisses bid by Islamic healer to declare TCM Act unconstitutional

• Ramasamy questions police impartiality in religious cases

• Court orders media not to expose names, pictures of Hindu mother Loh Siew Hong’s children



• Senior Iranian Cleric: Double Standards on Human Rights to Cause West's Collapse

• Israel Calls On US Not To Delist IRGC As Terror Group

• Turkey calls on Greece to restore demolished Muslim cemetery

• IRGC Warns to Target More Israeli Bases in Iraqi Kurdistan

• Iran Categorically Rejects Report by UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur



• Russian Military Has Documentary Evidence US Funded Bio experiments in Ukraine

• Denmark agrees extradition treaty with UAE, eyes British tax fraud suspect

• Turkiye ‘very important for the defence of NATO’s eastern flank’: Netherlands

• EU appreciates Turkiye’s diplomatic efforts to end war in Ukraine



• Algerian President Vows Not To Cede Rights Over 'French Colonialist Crimes'

• Sudan group says 187 wounded in latest anti-coup protests

• Nearly 20 killed in Niger passenger bus attack: Report

• Dbeibeh, US envoy discuss ways to prevent violence in Libya


North America

• General Voices Concern For US Troops As Iran-Israel Attacks Increase

• ‘Impossible to imagine’ nuclear deal if Iran doesn’t release Americans: Sherman

• CENTCOM chief bemoans delays in US weapons sales to Middle East allies

• Security Council renews mandate of UN mission in Afghanistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



AIMPLB To Approach Supreme Court On Hijab Ban; Appeals To Muslim Clerics, Leaders, Intellectuals And Industrialists To Set-Up Schools For Girls


(Picture for representation)


Mar 18, 2022

NEW DELHI: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Friday said that they have decided to approach the Supreme Court to appeal against the Karnataka High Court's order that upholds the ban on hijab in educational institutions.

The Board has also appealed to Muslim clerics, leaders, intellectuals, education issues and industrialists to come forward and set-up schools for girls to encourage Muslim girls to enroll and continue their education.

Also they have called for holding peaceful protests in any state where girls wearing head scarves are prevented from attending classes.

A decision to approach the SC to appeal against the HC order was taken at an online meeting attended by the members of the Board's legal cell and other senior functionaries. A consensus was reached that they must approach the Supreme Court as they feel the HC order disregards the rights pertaining to personal liberty and tries to decide what is essential and not essential in Islam.

Reacting to the HC verdict on March 15, AIMPLB general secretary,

Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani had refuted the claim that hijab is not essential to Islam and said banning it is intrusion in constitutional rights of Muslim citizens.

“Islam and Shariat have made certain things farz (duty) and wajib (obligatory) on Muslims and it is lazim (pre-requisite) that they be followed. Hijab is one such obligation which is a prerequisite. If certain Muslims in their ignorance and laziness do not perform namaz or roza, they cannot be eliminated from Islam but they do commit a sin. Similarly, if certain Muslims don’t follow the hijab, it does not make the act non-essential to Islam,” explained Maulana Rahmani.

“Secondly, it is the constitutional right of every individual to wear what he deems fit," he added.

In that context, the AIMPLB general secretary said, stopping Muslims students to wear the hijab appears to be discriminatory on the basis of religion. “Definitely schools have the right to decide upon a uniform as far as their boundary walls are concerned, but it has also come to our notice that the case that went in court was not related to schools but was for colleges, where the coercion of uniforms cannot be made,” he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan Witnesses Unprecedented Rise In Attacks And Arrests Against Shia Minority, Says Report


Shia Muslims mourning the death anniversary of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, in Karachi on 8 October. Photograph: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images


18 March, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], March 18 (ANI): Pakistan has witnessed an unprecedented rise in attacks and arrests against its Shia minority, who make up between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the Sunni-majority country, a media report said on Thursday.

The Pakistani police have launched a religious crusade of sorts against Shia Muslims. Only last week, in Punjab, “police beat up and arrested 22 Shia Muslims, including seven women, who were taking part in a ceremony to mark a Shia martyr”. And now, the Islamic State terrorists have joined the fight against them, Islam Khabar reported.

The Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) took responsibility for a devastating attack at the Shia mosque of Koocha Risaldar in Peshawar on March 4 that left more than 60 people dead, the report said citing a translation of an ISIS statement by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The Islamic State is a Sunni Muslim terrorist group. It considers Shias heretics and has claimed several previous attacks in Pakistan but the Shia mosque bombing is the biggest and the deadliest yet, the report said.

The anti-Shia Muslim campaign first began gathering pace on social media last September, demanding that Shia Muslims were declared heretics. The hashtag “infidel, infidel, Shias are infidel” began trending. The same month, Sunni Muslims took out a massive procession in Karachi calling for the beheading of the “heretic” Shias, the report further said.

Many Shia families and prominent people among them have gone into hiding after they were named as targets for assassination on the charge of blasphemy. Blasphemy is a capital offence in Pakistan and even unsubstantiated allegations can lead to mob violence and lynchings against the accused.

At the forefront of the anti-Shia campaign in Pakistan are two hardline Sunni Muslim groups, Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). ASWJ had previously been banned in Pakistan under the Anti-Terrorism Act before it was lifted in 2018 but is still globally considered a terrorist organisation. Sectarian persecution of Shia Muslims has been a long-running fracture in Pakistan, exacerbated by the proxy wars fought on Pakistan soil by Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia and Shia-majority Iran, as well as the US’s ‘war on terror’, according to reports.

The Taliban has added another complication for Pakistan. After assuming power in Afghanistan, the Taliban have launched an operation to wipe out ISIS-K from the country. That has forced the fighters of the terror group to cross the border into Pakistan to take shelter. That is largely how they end up in Peshawar where they are now carrying attacks against Shias.

Growing anti-Shia terrorist attacks by Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) has left Pakistan literally clueless on how to handle the situation which, the international community is quick to point out, is mostly its own doing by trying to develop relations with terror groups antagonistic to one another as a matter of policy, the report said. (ANI)

Source: The Print

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The Event ‘Saudi Cinema Nights’ Celebrates Filmmaking In Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


The screenings were followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. (Supplied/Ahmed Al-Thani)



March 18, 2022

DHAHRAN: Fans of Saudi cinema filled the plush, multi-coloured theatre seats at Ithra, the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, on Tuesday, March 15, as the venue co-hosted a new event celebrating local films and emerging talent in the Kingdom.

“In collaboration with the Red Sea International Film Festival, we are having an event titled Saudi Cinema Nights,” Mansour Albadran, the cinema coordinator at Ithra’s performing arts unit, told Arab News.

“It is a signature event by the (RSIFF) and we decided to have it here in Dhahran for the first time.”

The event was like a masterclass in modern Saudi cinema, as viewers were treated to a curated selection of recent films exploring the Saudi condition, all of which were made local directors and producers and featured local actors. The screenings were followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers.

The first film was “Quareer,” the title of which is derived from an Arabic word that roughly translates as “glass bottle.” It is an anthology featuring five short films made by five female directors — Ragheed Al-Nahdi, Norah Almowald, Ruba Khafagy, Fatma Alhazmi, and Noor Alameer — as part of their graduation project.

Each vignette tells a story about a Saudi girl or woman living in the Kingdom in the past decade or so, recent-enough history to be easily identifiable to anyone in the audience over the age of 21.

The title was chosen to reflect the fact that Saudi women can be fragile but also strong and capable of taking on any challenge or role required of them.

After the screening, the directors spoke about their experiences of creating and telling their stories of Saudi women and how much it means to them for it to be shown in their home country.

Next up were two films by pioneering journalist-turned-filmmaker Faiza Ambah, who presented her debut Arabic-language film “Nour Shams,” along with “Jawwi,” a short documentary about the making of the film.

They were filmed in various neighborhoods of Jeddah where, for about seven months during the pandemic, Ambah introduced filmmaking to an area largely untouched by cinema. She worked with local youths during the production, most of whom were between the ages of about 10 and 13 and had never seen a film in a theater.

Without realizing it at the time, she was also documenting a part of the city that would soon be redeveloped. As a result many of the neighborhoods in which she filmed are now gone, demolished to make way for new construction plans, and so her film became a valuable archive of historical footage.

Ambah returned to her roots for the screening on Tuesday; she grew up in Dhahran before leaving to work for Arab News in the late 1980s.

In 2015, she wrote and directed her debut film, “Mariam,” about a French Muslim girl who faces a dilemma when the hijab is banned in schools. In one scene in “Nour Shams,” a character shouts, “The French hate the Arabs,” possibly a nod to the earlier film.

During a post-screening conversation with Ithra’s cinema coordinator, Mohammed Almousa, Ambah talked about the challenges and joys of working in her home country and sharing neglected narratives.

Audiences then watched “Route 10,” an action movie, directed and co-written by Omar Naim, about two privileged siblings who set off on a road trip from Riyadh to attend a family wedding in Abu Dhabi and are faced with internal and external threats along the way.

One of stars, Baraa Alem, talked after the screening with Albadran about how difficult it had been to shoot a film at “the height” of the COVID-19 pandemic, when cast and crew had to take PCR tests every few days.

He also spoke about how he had also been coping with a recent personal loss; his father passed away shortly before filming began, and Alem said he had thrown himself into his role as a result.

All of the films screened on Tuesday were chosen by a committee and screened during the RSIFF in December.

“We are very happy to have this event here in Ithra,” Albadran said. “We think this event will be a start of a long-term, unique relationship between Ithra and the Red Sea International Film Festival.

“Ithra is co-organizing this with the (RSIFF) as part of its efforts to reinforce its presence in the film industry as one of the oldest and, if you will, biggest players of the cinema industry in the Kingdom, and the Eastern Province specifically.

“We hope this event tonight will be an event that people will remember (along with the) movies they watch. Whether you’re a cinema lover or a filmmaker, we hope that you find (something) here.”

Source: Arab News

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Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Calls on Foreign Countries to Accept New Envoys


Photo TOLO News


19 March, 2022

The Islamic Emirate called on the international community to accept the envoys of the current government at Afghan embassies and consulates overseas. 

The Islamic Emirate on Wednesday introduced Fazal Mohammad Sabir as acting head of the Afghan embassy in Ashgabat. 

According to the Islamic Emirate’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, the ceremony was attended by the deputy foreign minister of Turkmenistan and Afghan diplomats.

The officials of the Islamic Emirate said the introduction of the new acting head for the Afghan embassy in Ashgabat was a step toward extending diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

“The contacts and relations of the Islamic Emirate with many world countries exist. We hope this process will be incentivized,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate. 

However, political analysts believe that introducing ambassadors or acting heads for the Afghan embassies--while the current government is not recognized--is against international law. 

Although the Islamic Emirate earlier appointed its ambassador to Islamabad, no country has recognized the current Afghan government so far. 

“The introduction of ambassadors and diplomatic envoys must be agreed-upon. Without considering the conditions, the introduction of an ambassador is in contrast with the law,” said Sayed Javad Sijadi, an international relations analyst. 

Meanwhile, some of the diplomats who are not in contact with the Islamic Emirate complained about financial problems and diminished diplomatic activity. 

“This means that the Islamic Emirate is step-by-step being recognized,” said Hatif Mukhtar, director of the Afghanistan International Strategic Studies Center. 

Earlier this week, the Afghan embassy and the consulates in the US were closed and the property of the embassy was handed over to the US Department of State.

Source: Tolo News

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Federal Court Ruling On Unilateral Conversions An ‘Interpretation’, Says Minister


Idris Ahmad said that the right to administer Islamic affairs is a constitutional right given to the states. (Bernama pic)


Predeep Nambiar

March 17, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Religious affairs minister Idris Ahmad today characterised an apex court ruling requiring consent from both parents in converting a minor to Islam as an “interpretation” of the Federal Constitution.

He said that when it came to matters related to the administration of Islam, such as the conversion of minors, it was in the hands of the state to enact laws as they wish, which was a constitutional right that ought to be respected.

Idris said many Muslim children were taken care of by non-Muslim guardians and have been raised well.

“While the Federal Court has interpreted Article 12(4) to mean that both parents’ consent was needed, the most important thing here is the children’s welfare.

“And religion is an important aspect of welfare and the child’s best interest must be considered by all,” he said in reply to R Sivarasa’s (PH-Sungai Buloh) question in Parliament today.

Sivarasa had asked what the government was doing to standardise shariah laws in states with regard to unilateral conversions, based on the ruling by the Federal Court.

Idris said while the government took note of the issues related to unilateral conversions of late, the welfare of the children was paramount.

Sivarasa, in response, told Idris that once the Federal Court decides on something, it was the law, and the government must ensure states follow suit.

“It is not an issue of interpretation, it is the law when the Federal Court decides. When a minor is converted without both parents’ consent, the conversion is illegal.

“From your answer, the federal government appears to be turning a blind eye to a serious problem.

“The federal government should engage states to reduce any contradiction in terms of the law,” he said.

Hanipa Maidin (PH-Sepang) then interjected, saying that the issue was about people “running away” with kids and going to the shariah court on the pretext of “saving” them.

He said if the children’s parents were married under civil laws, then the civil courts should also look into matters relating to their offspring.

“The constitution is the highest law of the land, and we have agreed on this as part of our social contract to ensure the law’s supremacy. And when we try to degrade the constitution, we end up with problems,” he said.

However, Idris reiterated that the jurisdiction of the state and its powers in Islamic administration must be respected.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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 14-Member Kerala Salafist Family Tries To Enter War-Torn Yemen To Study Islam, Sent Back

19th March 2022

KASARAGOD: A 14-member Kerala family that tried to enter war-torn Yemen to study Islam was denied entry and sent back by the Yemeni border security. The Salafist family headed by a couple from Kasaragod and Kozhikode returned to Kerala on March 7, said an officer of the Special Branch.

The Special Branch of the Kerala Police prepared a report on their attempted journey to Yemen and has sent it to the headquarters. The Indian government evacuated its citizens in Yemen and shifted the embassy in the capital Sana’a to the neighbouring country Djibouti in 2015 because of the raging conflict and crisis there.

“Now, Indians will need special permission from the Union government to go to Yemen,” the officer said. But Abdul Hasheem, 32, of Vidyanagar in Kasaragod town and his wife, a native of Kodiyathur panchayat in Kozhikode embarked on a journey to Yemen via Oman a month ago. They were accompanied by 12 close relatives, including four minor children, said the officer. “All the relatives were from Kozhikode,” he said.

They reached Salalah in Oman and from there, they tried to enter Yemen. “But they were blocked by Yemeni security at the check post and sent back,” the officer said. The family returned via Muscat and landed at Kozhikode International Airport. The Special Branch officers said they questioned the family to know the motive of them going to Yemen to study Islam.

Source: New Indian Express

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Hindu activists want Muslims to be kept out of ‘Kaup Maari Pooje’

18th March 2022

UDUPI:  Hindu activists wrote to Kaup town municipal council chief officer asking him not to permit Muslims to open shops/stalls during the 'Suggi Maari Pooje' event at three Maarigudis on March 22 and March 23.

The letter has now gone viral. The letter threatened the officer that if he went ahead and allowed members of the Muslim community to open shops during the temple festival, he will be responsible for the after-effects.

The chief officer Venkatesh Navada however told TNIE that he has received the letter, but as India is a secular country, traders from all communities can open the shops. ‘‘We are still examining the issue’’ he noted.

Prakash Kukkehalli, Mangaluru divisional general secretary of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV) said that local members of HJV in Kaup submitted the letter as per the instructions by HJV leaders. ‘‘There are three Maarigudis in Kaup -- Hale Maarigudi, Hosa Maarigudi and Moorane Maarigudi temples. More than 100 shops would be auctioned during Hosa Maarigudi, the highest among the three temples. We approached the temple management committee which convened a meeting on Friday and passed a resolution to ensure that only Hindus participate in the auction," he said.

It is not just the decision of HJV, the local devotees are also upset as Muslim businessmen shut their shops on March 17 in support of the Karnataka Bandh held against High Court’s verdict on the hijab ban. It was a joint decision by all stakeholders’’ he said.

Ramesh Hegde, president of the temple management committee of Hosa Maarigudi Temple in Kaup echoed Kukkehalli saying that a resolution was passed in the meeting convened on Friday to allow only Hindus during the auctioning of shops/stalls. Shops selling flowers, coconuts, hens and other will all be given only to Hindus’’ he said.

Source: New Indian Express

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Kashmir: Authorities bolster 'village defense committees' to counter Islamists


In early March, the Indian government announced it would reestablish Village Defense Committees (VDCs) to fight "anti-India militancy" in conflict-torn India-administered Kashmir.

The decision has alarmed locals, some of whom say they have been victims of violence at the hands of VDC members.

Salma Chowdhary is a mother of two and says her husband was killed by a VDC member in Kashmir's Rajouri district. Chowdhary and her children now live with her mother.

"A VDC member devastated our lives," Chowdhary told DW.

In 2015, Chowdhary's husband, Ishtiyaq Ahmad, went to a government-run shop to check on reports that vendors were illegally selling subsidized rations meant for poor families on the black market. Ahmad had been a youth leader of the then-opposition party National Conference.

When he approached one of the vendors accused of selling goods on the black market, the man told Ahmad to back off. The man, who was a member of the VDC, kept a rifle inside the shop. When Ahmad persisted, the man shot him dead.

In another incident a week later, a VDC member shot and killed a woman and her four-year-old son in Rajouri district.

The deaths triggered protests across India-administered Kashmir, with opposition parties demanding that the VDCs be disbanded.

Although the VDCs were not officially disbanded, the meager monthly salaries of their members were withheld and many surrendered their weapons.

However, on March 3, India's Home Ministry said the VDC program would be restarted, with an increased monthly salary.

"I was shocked when I read that the government reestablished the VDCs. They take up arms to harass and kill people," Chowdhary said.

VDCs accused of operating with impunity

In 1995, the VDCs were set up when New Delhi armed volunteers, mostly Hindus, to fight militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. Initially, there were around 5,000 VDC members, but over the years their number has grown to over 27,000.

Since then, VDCs have come under sharp criticism for committing human rights violations in remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

Official estimates show that 221 cases have been filed against various VDC members for alleged involvement in murders, rapes, rioting and other crimes. Of these, 23 VDC members have been charged with murder and seven charged with rape.

However, the conviction rate in the cases against VDCs is low, with only six cases having so far led to a conviction. Seven years after her husband's murder, Chowdhary says the case is still pending.

Zahid Choudhary, a youth leader in Jammu district, said the VDCs "assert the right to control and punish anyone they deem to be a suspect."

He added the VDCs are increasingly found to be using their weapons to settle personal disputes.

"It seems clear that New Delhi wants to arm a particular community in the name of fighting militancy, which doesn't exist in the Jammu region. Instead of reviving this armed militia, the government should disband them," he said.

Local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sunil Sharma backs the revival of the VDCs, saying their members have given their lives to fight militants he claims are supported by Pakistan.

VDCs to receive more advanced training

For the past few months, the Indian Army has conducted multiple training workshops with the VDCs following a drone attack on an air force station in Jammu district.

Indian Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Devender Anand confirmed that the VDCs are an important component of the security setup in the region.

Every month, a training workshop is to be held somewhere along the Line of Control with Pakistan, instructing VDCs in the handling of weapons and drone warfare. Coordination with regular army forces is also to be improved to reduce delays when responding to militant activities.

Source: DW

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Beyond ‘Kashmir Files’, Hindu-Muslim Talk, Pain Is Real For Displaced People In India

Kamalika Ghosh

18 MAR 2022

The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 resulted in the widespread assassination of several Iraqi academics. Some others were sent envelopes containing bullets to threaten them to leave their institutions, as well as the country, or risk getting killed. Iraqi-American anthropologist, writer, poet, and journalist Louis Yako, in his book Bullets in Envelopes: Iraqi Academics in Exile, traces the genealogy of loss and the destructive side of the US occupation of Iraq.

Yako poignantly describes exile in the book and says, “Exile is not just the location where exiled people are today, it is also everything that happened before arriving at their current destination.” The book offers a heartbreaking narration on the state of exile and the strong feelings of defeat, humiliation, and loss it generates.

Unrealized Indian Dream

India is no stranger to feelings of despondency and homelessness. The partition ravaged northern and eastern parts of India, uprooting swathes of the population and throwing them into unknown territories. It was accompanied by murder, rape, and the annihilation of families. The history of partition has been well-documented in post-Independence literature and cinema.

However, what has gone largely undocumented is the continued tradition of similar displacement in independent India. The country was created on ideas very different from some of its neighboring countries: it was conceptualized as a safe haven for a diverse group of people. Post-independence, displacement ideally should have stopped. It did not.

Increased militancy in Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s forced a religious minority of Kashmir, the Kashmiri pandits, to flee their homeland. Several were killed, women raped and children murdered. Kashmiri pandits have narrated events like schoolchildren being killed during a Republic Day function sometime around 1994. The trauma was so gripping that, post the event, many parents developed a fear of public events and resisted their children’s participation. There were open calls of raping of Kashmiri pandit women. Some of the tales that are coming out are ghastly, to say the least.

Events such as these forced people to flee their homeland. Some have lived in refugee camps in Jammu since. Abject poverty followed for some, while others began rebuilding their life from scratch after having lost everything, in different parts of the country.

Other Displacements

The India of the 1990s is full of stories of displacement and rootlessness. I come from a family that saw displacement twice. The first time was during India's partition, when Sylhet, from where my family hails, went to East Pakistan.

Before partition, Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, was the capital of undivided Assam. Sylhet had been a part of Assam since 1874. Several Sylheti Hindus left Sylhet after it became a part of East Pakistan following a referendum a month before the partition and landed in Shillong. My paternal grandfather's family too moved to the Northeastern city. He completed his education there and later worked as a government employee in the city. Other members of the family too settled there post-partition.

My grandfather built a beautiful house in Laitumkhrah, amidst the peace, calm, and serenity of the hills. My father and his sister, my aunt, were born there. They finished their education there. My aunt became a teacher in the school she once was a student of. My father and his cousins roamed around the streets of Shillong as young children, getting exposed to its delectable food and rock culture. The city always had a thriving cosmopolitan culture.

I still remember the huge plum trees that grew right behind our house that my grandmother had caringly nurtured and the beautiful flower garden she created on the front side of our home. My mother went to that house as a newly married woman. That was her first marital home. My father then built the second floor of the house with a small fireplace. I have vague memories of that house as a child.

The Identitarian Churn

Meghalaya, as well as several parts of northeastern India, has been a witness to peak anti-outsider insurgency. The first major riots in Shillong took place in 1979, directed mainly against the local Bengali minority, aimed to drive them out. Rioting continued through the 1980s sporadically. In 1987, curfews were imposed for a whole year.

Through the whole of the 1990s, violence against outsiders continued. Houses were burnt and people were murdered and raped. Right after sunset, most Bengali and Nepali houses would keep their lights switched off to create a perception that the houses were empty. There was a curfew every day at 7 pm. The shop of my father’s friend was burnt down. The whole of Nepali and Bengali populations were ethnically cleansed out. I could not find any figure for the number of deaths. Some unverified estimates put the exodus figure at 20,000. My family was displaced for the second time. These were stories that I vaguely remember my grandmother narrating after we moved to Calcutta.

My grandfather sold his house at one-fourth of its then valuation. The family moved to Calcutta and lived in small rented spaces. We did not have the financial bandwidth to buy another house. Then began the struggle to rebuild, of dealing with stretched finances. My grandparents could never get used to shrunken spaces. My grandfather, generally a quiet man, fell even more silent. He refused to socialize. Whenever guests visited, he would excuse himself and go into his room. My grandmother was a stronger person. She dealt with it better.

There are several stories across India of exile. Of having lost homes within the homeland. Several stories that never got told. That perhaps died with the generation that bore the maximum brunt. Stories that deserved to be documented in popular culture.

But there is a thin line of difference between stories of real-life experiences and narratives. Narratives rob history of its complexities. History is hardly black and white, it is grey. There is no one victim or one perpetrator. While stones were pelted at Bengali homes by young Khasi natives, the same Khasi friends of my aunt gave her shelter on days she was unable to reach home before sunset. Our Khasi neighbors chased away a group of troublemakers who had been standing in front of our home one day post 7 pm to gauge whether it was empty or had inhabitants.

Truth And Its Many Claimants

Representation in popular culture works as catharsis for victims of horrific, systemic crimes. What else is art for, if not a medium to tell stories of suffering, thus enabling future generations to learn from the blunders of the past?

But, it is also important to see how the representation is done. Rahul Pandita’s Our Moon has Blood Clots poignantly captures the exodus of Kashmiri pandits by weaving a powerful memoir through oral histories and poetry by several poets, primarily among them Agha Shahid Ali and Lal Ded. Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan immediately comes to mind. The novel does not merely see the partition only through the political events surrounding it but digs deep to bring a local focus which gives the whole narration a human dimension, bringing a sense of believability and horror to the events. Govind Nihalani’s Tamas, based on the Sahitya Akademi Award-winning eponymous Hindi novel, is an evocative example in this genre. The television film is set in the backdrop of a riot-stricken Pakistan at the time of the partition of India. It depicts the plight of emigrant Hindu and Sikh families to India as a consequence of the partition.

It is commendable that more and more Kashmiri pandits are speaking up about the horror of their displacement. But, it is important to remember that narrative building had robbed them of the agency than to tell the world what they went through. History teaches us to not repeat the mistakes of our past.

Source: Outlook India

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Omar: 'Kashmir Files' bundle of lies, don't forget other victims

Mar 19, 2022

SRINAGAR: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday called 'The Kashmir Files' a concocted story and a bundle of lies.

Making his stand on the issue clear, he said one cannot make out if it is a commercial film or a documentary. "If it was a documentary, then it was alright, but the makers have themselves claimed that the movie was based on reality. The fact is that many lies have been projected in the film and the biggest one is that it has been wrongly shown that there was an NC government," he told reporters on the sidelines of a party rally in Kulgam district of south Kashmir. "It wasn't the NC government [in J&K] in 1990, as projected in the so-called film, but the governor's rule under the BJP-backed VP Singh regime."

Source: Times Of India

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LeT module busted in J&K's Pulwama, 6 held

Mar 18, 2022

SRINAGAR: Six alleged militant associates were arrested after a module of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was busted in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, police said.

Preliminary investigation revealed that they were involved in providing logistics, shelter, managing and transferring terror finance and motivating youth to act as hybrid terrorists, a police spokesman said.

“Police in Pulwama have busted a terror module linked with proscribed terror outfit LeT and arrested six terrorist associates,” he said.

He identified them as Rouf Ahmad Lone alias Amjid, a resident of Lelhar Kakapora, Aqib Maqbool Bhat, a resident of Alochibagh Pampore, Javaid Ahmad Dar, a resident of Larve Kakapora, Arshid Ahmad Mir, a resident of Parigam Pulwama, Rameez Raja, a resident of Parigam Pulwama, and Sajad Ahmad Dar, a resident of Larve Kakapora.

The investigating team also learnt that they were working for terrorist commander Reyaz Ahmad Dar alias Khalid alias Sheeraz of LeT, the spokesman said.

Reyaz Dar hails from Sethergund Kakapora in Pulwama, he added.

Source: Times Of India

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K'taka government to discuss with experts before introducing Bhagwad Gita in school syllabus

Mar 18, 2022

BENGALURU: With the Gujarat government planning to introduce Bhagwad Gita in the school syllabus, Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh on Friday said the state government will discuss with educationists before taking a call on doing so.

"In Gujarat they have decided to introduce moral science in three to four phases. In the first phase, they have decided to introduce Bhagwad Gita. This is what has come to my notice today. We will take a call only after discussing with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai regarding introducing 'moral science'," Nagesh told reporters here.

Claiming that the cultural values among children were taking a beating, the minister said many people have demanded that moral science should be introduced. According to him, earlier there used to be one class of moral science every week where contents related to Ramayana and Mahabharata were taught.

"We will seek the Chief Minister's advice regarding introducing moral science in the coming days. If we decide to go ahead then we will discuss with the education experts about the content of the moral science and the duration of the class," Nagesh said.

Nagesh underlined that statesmen used to draw inspiration from Bhagawad Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata including Mahatma Gandhi.

Even Mahatma Gandhi used to give credit to the Hindu epics-Ramayana and Mahabharata- for his upbringing, which his mother used to narrate to him. When he grew up, the play Raja Harishchandra had a big impact on his life, the minister explained.

Underlining the moral values in Hindu religious scriptures, he said the teachings in these books were the reason behind building a well-cultured society in ancient India when there were no modern schools and universities.

It is our duty to introduce those things, which have positive effect on society. However, it will be left to the educationists to decide what should be introduced, Nagesh said.

"It is not like Bhagwad Gita should not be taught to the children because S M Krishna used to tell me when he was the Chief Minister that he used to read Bhagwad Gita every night, which was his strength," the minister said.

Regarding the content, he said it will be left to the experts to decide.

"Whatever the experts say about introducing Bhagwad Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharat, or the stories of Jesus Christ and the good teachings in Bible and Quran can be retained. Whatever is time tested, will be taught in moral science," the minister explained.

The Congress state president D K Shivakumar said there was no need to further glorify things, which are already in the textbooks.

"There is nothing wrong in getting to know about the religious practices of various faiths. We will see what content they (BJP government) want to introduce in the education system. Textbooks have the contents of various religions. I don't think there is no need to further glorify new things," Shivakumar told reporters.

He underlined that the BJP was not introducing a novel idea.

"As Chief Minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah had distributed books related to Bhagawad Gita for Rs two. These people (BJP government in Karnataka) are not doing anything new. There is no need for them to take credit for it," Shivakumar said.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan To Intensify Cooperation With Islamic World: Foreign Office

On Mar 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD   –   Pakistan yesterday said it aimed to build partnerships and bridges of cooperation across the Islamic world as Islamabad prepares to host the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting. Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed said Pakistan wants to promote collective interests of the Ummah (nation) and to address the myriad of challenges confronting Muslims.

“Flawless administrative and security arrangements have been made for the two-day 48th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad, beginning from Tuesday (March 22),” he said. The spokesperson said theme of the Session – ‘Partnering for Unity, Justice, and Development’ – represented Pakistan’s commitment to foster unity within the Ummah, advance the cause of justice for all Muslims, and promote prosperity and sustainable development for OIC Member States.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan will make a keynote address at the inaugural session. The core issues on the agenda, particularly Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir will be addressed during the Conference,” he added. He said the OIC discussions will also focus on key priorities such as countering Islamophobia, recovery from COVID-19 pandemic and diverse matters of peace and security, economic development, cultural and scientific cooperation and revitalizing the role of the OIC. He said Pakistan was ready in all respects to receive the participating Foreign Ministers and delegations as “our honoured guests.”

He mentioned that the session was coinciding with the 75th anniversary celebrations of Pakistan’s independence and all the OIC Foreign Ministers will also join at the Pakistan Day Parade as guests of honour, in a show of solidarity with Pakistan and its people.  The resolution reflected the sentiments of more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. “This is the first time ever that the UN has adopted a resolution specifically recognizing Islamophobia as a contemporary form of discrimination,” he added. Prime Minister Imran Khan, he added, was the first Muslim leader to raise the issue of Islamophobia at the UN – in his first address to the UNGA in September 2019.

Ahmed said Pakistan had also consistently emphasized the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, including self-determination of peoples, non-use or threat of use of force, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, pacific settlement of disputes and equal security for all.  He said Pakistan believed these principles should be applied consistently and universally.

The spokesperson said Pakistan had engaged both Ukraine and Russia, the neighbouring countries, key partners in Europe and others and is willing to make all possible contribution to reinforce efforts for a diplomatic solution.  On India, he referred to the grave incident of unprovoked and flagrant violation of Pakistan’s airspace by an Indian supersonic missile that fell to ground near Mian Channu causing damage to civilian property on March 9. The flight path of the missile also endangered many international and domestic commercial flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace as well as human life and property on ground,” he said.

He said taking note of that statement, the Ministry issued a Press Release on March 12 in which questions were raised regarding India’s security protocols and technical safeguards against accidental or unauthorized launch of missiles in a nuclearized environment.

Source: Nation Pakistan

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Various Pak regimes raised voice against hostility and bigotry towards Muslims

By Sabir Shah

March 19, 2022

LAHORE: The recent decision by the 193-member United Nations General Assembly to approve a resolution setting March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia is a product of the untiring efforts initiated by successive Pakistani governments since General Pervez Musharraf’s time in 2004, research shows.

Introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the passage of the resolution thus consolidates global awareness about curtailing systematic hate speech and discrimination against Muslims.

Talking to “The News International,” Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, said: “This milestone has been achieved after about 18 years of dogged and persistent efforts initiated by successive Pakistani governments, though the word ‘Islamophobia’ was not used by most.

Determined voices have thus been raised from the Pakistani power corridors multiple times in this context. March 15 marks the day when a gunman had entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 victims and injuring 40 others on March 15, 2019. But I must mention here that Pakistan, along with the Philippines, has been pressing for an intellectual inter-religious dialogue to promote harmony, tolerance, and co-existence since the Musharraf-led regime in Islamabad. This issue was first raised under the Agenda Item of ‘Culture and Peace.’ It hence goes without saying that these tenacious efforts have, in a way, served as a building block for the latest resolution.”

Archival research shows that on September 21, 2016, the-then Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, had first used the term ‘Islamophobia,’ which had cropped up following a fall-out in relations between many Muslim and Western nations in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

While addressing the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Nawaz Sharif had asserted: “In many countries, the ghost of intolerance has revived ‘Islamophobia’ and Xenophobia.”

Half a decade earlier, on September 28, 2011, this is what Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, had contended before the United Nations General Assembly: “Respect for beliefs, cultures and traditions are the hallmark of civilised conduct. We are particularly concerned over campaigns that tend to stigmatise Islam and Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace. It is important that the international community celebrate our common humanity and unity in diversity.”

On September 21, 2017, in his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, had also raked up this issue.

Abbasi had propounded: “Rising racism and religious hatred – manifested in Xenophobia and ‘Islamophobia’ are erecting physical walls and psychological barriers between nations and peoples even as our world becomes increasingly interdependent.”

On September 8, 2017, as Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, had called for building walls against racism, bigotry, Xenophobia and ‘Islamophobia,’ rather than erect walls to keep people out.

On April 4, 2019, while addressing the UN General Assembly after Pakistan had unanimously adopted a resolution that strongly condemned continuing acts of terrorism targeting individuals on basis of religion or belief, Maleeha Lodhi had opined that the growing prejudice against Islam was becoming increasingly common as a result of extreme nationalist and populist ideologies in the West as well as in the region.

She was heard emphasising: “Pervasive ‘Islamophobia’ is a global phenomenon that calls for a global response: collaborative, coherent and committed action against incidents that fuel, funnel and fortify this narrative against Islam and Muslims. The rise of extreme nationalist and populist ideologies in liberal Western democracies and elsewhere, including in our region, are fanning the flames of intolerance and anti-Muslim hatred.”

On June 19, 2019, the Pakistani envoy was quoted as saying: “Words don’t just have consequences. Words can kill. Social media platforms should not be allowed to become conduits for incitement to violence. Just as technology companies have set ground rules that deter use of these platforms by terrorists, corporate responsibility should extend to ensure that harmful and hate-filled messages are not disseminated on social media platforms. It is time that we evolve ways to ensure that information technology companies are held accountable for the content that incites violence and weaponises individuals.”

Maleeha, who also served as Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States twice and High Commissioner to England, had further stressed: “To tackle hate speech a ‘whole of government’ and a ‘whole of society’ approach is needed."

On June 25, 2019, she came out proposing a six-point plan at the United Nations to counter increasing racism and faith-based hatred around the world.

At an event “Countering terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief,” which was arranged by Pakistan along with the UN, Turkey and the Holy See (the Pop-led universal government of the Catholic Church that operates from Vatican City State) at the United Nations headquarters, she had held: “A particularly alarming development is the rise of ‘Islamophobia,’ which represents the recent manifestation of the age-old hatred that spawned anti-Semitism, racism, apartheid and many other forms of discrimination."

Source: The News

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Pakistan no-trust motion: PM Imran Khan to seek court ruling over defections

Mar 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan's government will petition Pakistan's Supreme Court to seek a ruling on whether defectors from his party could lose their seats ahead of a no-confidence vote against him, his interior minister said on Friday.

The threat of political turmoil in the nuclear armed nation is growing as the opposition seeks to oust Khan in a vote that could come as soon as this month. Several of Khan's lawmakers (24, by some reports) withdrew their support for him on Thursday, stoking more uncertainty over whether the former cricket star can hang on to power, following a warning by a key ally that the premier could lose his coalition partners.

Interior minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad told a news conference it had been decided to seek the Supreme Court's ruling about whether the defectors are eligible to cast a vote after switching sides. Ahmad said the decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Khan. He did not say when the petition would be filed. "I want to ask all of you to get back ... We wouldn't do anything against you," he said in an appeal to the dissidents.

The dissidents are being issued a show-cause notice, Khan's Cabinet minister Asad Umar said.

Source: Times Of India

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Bishops ask Pakistan govt to diffuse political tension

By Kamran Chaudhry

March 19, 2022

The Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) has called for political dialogue as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government faces a no-confidence vote sought by the opposition.

In a March 16 statement, the PCBC expressed its “deep concern” over the growing tension between the government and opposition.

The opposition parties criticize Khan for inflation, mismanaging the country and foreign policy. No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed his term in office.

The bishops appealed to the political leadership to restrain from confrontation and ease the tense political atmosphere by resolving the matter through dialogue.

They invited both the government and opposition “to take measures to ensure that the political temperature of the country is diffused and work together for the peace, harmony and progress of the country.”

On March 10, Islamabad police stormed parliament lodges and made 19 arrests including key opposition members of the National Assembly.

The authorities claimed to have cleared the building of activists of Ansarul Islam, a uniformed volunteer force of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, one of Pakistan’s largest Islamic parties. They were released the next day.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communications Shahbaz Gill verbally abused National Assembly member Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a Hindu, in a live television show on March 17.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the politician for using foul language.

“HRCP is revolted by Gill's crass choice of words for his colleague on national television. What should have been a civilized debate on a politically critical issue crumbled into a litany of abuse,” the commission stated in a March 17 tweet.

“This is no way represents freedom of expression and the anchor should not have brushed the abuse aside as Mr. Gill’s temper. With the media already hemmed in on so many fronts, we cannot afford to let the office of the editor and anchor become bait rather than direction."

Source: UCA News

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Resident killed under Pakistan Army custody, claims Baloch activist

ANI19 March, 2022

Balochistan [Pakistan], March 19 (ANI): A prominent Baloch activist who runs a campaign against missing persons in Balochistan has claimed that a resident of the province has been killed under Pakistan Army custody.

Taking to Twitter, Mama Qadeer, the Vice Chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, shared the image of Wahid and said that his tortured and bullet-riddled body was brought by Army to Awaran Hospital on Thursday.

“Abdul Wahid, resident of Kolwah in Awaran, has been killed under Pak Army custody. Here in the 1st pic taken on 9 Oct 2021, he can be seen under detention of Army. His tortured & bullet riddled dead body was brought by Army to Awaran Hospital yesterday,” Qadeer tweeted on Friday.

Earlier, on Thursday, Dr Naseer Dashti, Executive President of the Baloch Human Rights Council (BHRC) said since the occupation of Balochistan, by Pakistan in 1948, the history of the Baloch is a tale of “blood and tears”. He made these remarks at the conference at the Press Club in Geneva.

Talking about the aspects of human rights violations in Balochistan, he said, “The one aspect is the genocidal act, which includes enforced disappearances, the phenomenon where the Pakistani military and its security agencies, they pick up human rights activists, political activists, doctors, Indian students, teachers, and they keep them incommunicado for years.”

“The families are unaware about the whereabouts of their loved ones,” he added. He stated that estimated 4,833 persons have been disappeared since 2006.

There is another aspect of human rights violation which is called the “kill and dump policy”, he said.

“The Pakistani security agencies, with the help of their collaborative auxiliary organization. They pick up people torture them, and throw their mutilated bodies in desolate areas. And this is a routine affair in Balochistan,” Dashti said.

“Hundreds of students, teachers, political activists, social activists, journalists have been killed in such ways. And there is a phenomenon of mass graves, found in many locations and Balochistan since 2011,” he added.

He said that there is another aspect of human rights violation which is the “conversion of secular Baloch society into a religious fundamentalist one”.

“Thousands of religious schools are sponsored by the Pakistani military where the children are taught a very medieval version of religion and they are trained to become jihadis or to convert humanity into Islam, Dashti further said.

Source: The Print

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Neutrality in Ukraine war to safeguard Pakistan’s interests: FO

Baqir Sajjad Syed

March 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday said Pakistan’s neutrality in Ukraine war was aimed at safeguarding its interests.

At the weekly media briefing, FO spokesperson Asim Iftikhar, while defending the government’s position on the Russia-Ukraine war, said it was “driven by the imperative of protecting the country’s vital interests”.

He explained that the decision taken by the government in Ukraine’s case was because of its policy about not becoming part of bloc politics. “We have underlined that Pakistan will only be a partner in peace, not in conflict,” he further said.

Pakistan has been emphasising on resolving the dispute through dialogue and diplomacy. It, moreover, abstained during voting in the United Nations General Assembly on a resolution calling on Russia to end the war.

Western countries have been uneasy with Pakistan’s neutral stance because they believe that there has been no clear denunciation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine from Islamabad.

Mr Iftikhar reminded that Pakistan has consistently emphasised the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, including self-determination of peoples, non-use or threat of use of force, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, pacific settlement of disputes and equal security for all.

“We believe these principles should be applied consistently and universally,” he added.

Expressing concern over the continued military conflict, he said Pakistan was calling for immediate cessation of hostilities, establishment of humanitarian corridors and provision of humanitarian assistance, and continuation of talks between Ukraine and Russia and persistent efforts for a diplomatic solution.

He recalled Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning about the “adverse consequences” of the conflict especially the developing countries.

The spokesperson said Pakistan was engaged with both Ukraine and Russia, and European partners and was willing to contribute to efforts for a diplomatic solution. “As you are aware, Pakistan has also dispatched humanitarian assistance for the Ukrainian people, in keeping with our close relations with Ukraine,” he added.

OIC meeting

The spokesperson said preparations for hosting the meeting of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers have been completed. “We are ready in all respects to receive the participating foreign ministers and delegations as our honoured guests. The administrative and security arrangements for the conference and other events are flawless and in place.”

Pakistan is hosting the 48th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on Mar 22 and 23, themed “Partnering for Unity, Justice, and Development”. The meeting also coincides with the 75th anniversary celebrations of Pakistan’s independence.

“We will seek to build partnerships and bridges of cooperation across the Islamic world to address the myriad of challenges confronting us and to seize the multiple opportunities that present themselves to promote the collective interests of the Ummah,” the FO spokesperson said about the expectations from the meeting.

The conference will address the core issues on the agenda, particularly Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir, besides focusing on priorities such as countering Islamophobia, recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and peace and security, economic development, cultural and scientific cooperation and revitalising the role of the OIC.

Progress on the outcomes of the extraordinary session on Afghanistan held in Islamabad in December will also be reviewed. Over 100 resolutions are likely to be adopted by the session, which will articulate OIC’s perspective on major issues.

APP adds: About the significant achievement of Pakistan’s diplomacy, the FO spokesperson mentioned that the UN General Assembly had unanimously adopted a landmark resolution introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC countries proclaiming March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

Source: Dawn

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Islamabad High Court refuses to stop ECP from acting against PM Imran

Malik Asad

March 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) declined to issue an interim order on Friday to restrain the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from proceeding against Prime Minister Imran Khan and federal ministers for allegedly violating the code of conduct during the ongoing campaign for local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The ECP earlier issued notices to Prime Minister Khan, KP Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, federal ministers Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Murad Saeed, and others for allegedly violating the canvassing rules ahead of the polls.

The second phase of local government election in the remaining 18 out of 35 KP districts is set to take place on March 31. Meanwhile, the first phase of local government polls in 17 out of 36 districts of Punjab are due in the last week of May.

After receiving the ECP notices, PM Khan and Planning Minister Asad Umar petitioned the IHC. The court registrar’s office then raised administrative objections to the petition, which were later removed by the prime minister and the petition was subsequently fixed for a hearing by Justice Aamer Farooq.

During the hearing, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar — the counsel for Mr Khan and Mr Umar — argued that the president promulgated an ordinance amending the Elections Act of 2017 to enable public office holders to canvass during the election campaigns.

Justice Farooq remarked that the government appeared to rely on ordinances to run its affairs.

Barrister Zafar requested the court to restrain the ECP from proceeding against Mr Khan and ministers. But Justice Farooq declined the request, saying that the court would not issue such orders without hearing the election commission.

Last month, President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated an ordinance amending the Elections Act and added Section 181(A) to it, allowing members of parliament, provincial assembly or elected members of local government to visit or address public meetings in “any area or constituency” before elections.

However, the chief election commissioner, during a consultative meeting with the representatives of some 17 political parties, sought the draft code of conduct for the next elections. According to a statement issued by the ECP, the commission revised the code of conduct for all stakeholders in light of the consultation.

It allowed ordinary members of parliament and provincial assemblies to take part in canvassing but issued notices to Mr Khan and ministers summoning them on March 14 Upon court’s inquiry, Barrister Zafar said the PM did not appear before the ECP on the said date.

Justice Farooq observed that the conduct of the petitioner, i.e. Mr Khan, was unreasonable since he should appear before the ECP to give his stance.

Barrister Zafar asserted the ECP lacked jurisdiction to overrule the amendments introduced through an ordinance.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan to recognise Taliban regime after regional consensus

Anwar Iqbal

March 19, 2022

WASHINGTON: Pakistan will recognise the Taliban regime in Kabul when there’s a consensus, particularly of regional countries, on the issue, says Islamabad’s UN envoy Munir Akram.

The question of recognition resurfaced on Thursday when the UN Security Council voted to establish formal ties with the Taliban-run Afghanistan without extending diplomatic recognition to the regime. Fourteen of the council’s 15 members voted for the resolution while Russia abstained.

Russian Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia said he was compelled to abstain because attempts to secure consent from the host country for a UN presence were ignored. Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said that since August 2021, when the Taliban captured Kabul, Afghanistan had entered a new phase and more flexibility was needed to deal with the situation.

Although Pakistan was the first nation to call for more flexibility in dealing with Kabul’s new rulers, Islamabad too has not recognised the Taliban regime.

Ambassador Akram says UN resolution has one shortcoming: there’s no reference to the de facto government in Afghanistan

Asked if the UN vote would influence Pakistan’s position on this issue, Ambassador Akram said: “We will do it (recognition) when there’s a consensus, especially among regional countries.”

Six of Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours are meeting in China next month and this would be one of the top issues on their agenda. China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will attend the meeting. A Taliban delegation will also participate.

Russia, although not an immediate neighbour, was invited to the previous meeting and may attend this meeting as well. India, however, has not been invited.

Ambassador Akram said the UN resolution, adopted on Thursday, had one shortcoming: “There’s no reference to the de facto government in Afghanistan,” although it does mention the need to work with relevant authorities.

Apparently, France and India opposed any reference to the de facto authorities and managed to keep it out of the mandate.

The UN mission in Afghanistan, Ambassador Akram said, “should be acting with the consent and cooperation of the local authorities and its absence, in our view, is a shortcoming of the mandate”.

The Pakistani envoy, however, acknowledged that the resolution has reaffirmed donors’ commitment to Afghanistan and underlined the need for providing unconditional humanitarian assistance to the country.

Since August 2021, the UN Secretary General has launched a $4.4 billion appeal for helping Afghanistan while a separate appeal for $3.4bn was also launched to meet the country’s basic needs. The second fund covers reconstruction, education, health, and Afghan businesses. But this additional fund is conditional on the Afghans responding to the wishes of the international community.

Ambassador Akram pointed out that the UN resolution also emphasises the need to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets held in the United States.

Source: Dawn

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Imran Khan meets Pakistan Army Chief amid looming no-confidence motion

March 19, 2022

Amid the looming no-confidence motion against his government, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday.

The meeting is being speculated to have revolved around the recent political developments in the country, with the local media reporting that the agenda of the meeting could have revolved around the upcoming Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) summit in Pakistan, the ongoing unrest in Balochistan and the upcoming no-confidence motion against Imran Khan.

"The majority of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders are waiting for the outcome of this meeting, the result of this meeting will be important amidst the ongoing political developments in the country," Capital TV, a Pakistani media channel reported.

The meeting is also being seen as an attempt by Imran Khan to get back in the good books of the Pakistani establishment, which is the Pakistani Army and thereby, save his government.

The fissures between Imran Khan and the Army establishment became visible when the former in his profanity-laced speech on March 11, had rebuffed Army Chief Bajwa's advice to not use derogatory remarks against Opposition leaders.

"I was just talking to Gen Bajwa (Chief of Pakistani Army) and he told me not to refer to Fazl as 'diesel'. But I am not the one who is saying that. The people have named him diesel," Khan reportedly said referring to JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Meanwhile, 25 lawmakers from Imran Khan's ruling PTI took refuge in the Sindh House in Islamabad, and are widely believed to be rebelling against Khan.

Pakistan media reported on Friday that PTI workers broke the gate of the Sindh House and entered the building. The police arrested PTI's Faheem Khan and Attaullah Niazi who were leading the group in the Sindh House. Some workers who were part of the mob have also been arrested.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz wrote on Twitter that the federal government should "go home" if it has any sense of shame left.

"God willing, you will not be able to save the government, but if you have any sense of shame left in you, then go home," she tweeted.

Source: Business Standard

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan's ally PML-Q rejects horse-trading allegations

March 19, 2022

An ally of Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Friday rejected horse-trading allegations ahead of the no-confidence motion.

Hussian said, "This is the first no-confidence motion in which no one is buying or selling votes, this is just propaganda," reported Geo News.

In an official statement, the PML-Q leader said that he had been observing it in newspapers and on TV that "bundles of notes" are being distributed ahead of the no-confidence motion. He added that even Prime Minister Imran Khan had mentioned that "bundles of notes" were being distributed in Sindh House.

The PML-Q leader said that the government always tries to stop public gatherings and it was the "first time" that the Opposition and the government were holding rallies on the same issue. The Opposition is insisting on holding public gatherings due to the government's announcement.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had claimed a day earlier that the Sindh House in Islamabad, "is currently the centre of horse-trading," while accusing the Opposition of buying the votes of MNAs, reported Geo News.

He had alleged that there were "reports of huge sums of money being shifted to the Sindh House," adding that the PPP has deputed police outside it to accommodate people there.

Following the claims, the Sindh House had become the centre of attention, with PTI MNA Raja Riaz, who is residing therein, claiming that 24 lawmakers were staying at the lodge.

The claims made by the minister and Riaz had also pushed PTI workers in Islamabad to stage a sit-in outside the Sindh House, reported Geo News.

While the protest started off peacefully at the beginning, it soon took a violent turn as demonstrators broke the gate open and stormed inside the Sindh House. The incident happened despite the presence of a heavy contingent of police outside the lodge.

The Opposition parties moved a no-confidence motion seeking the ouster of PM Imran Khan on March 8, accusing him of "mismanaging the economy and poor governance."

Source: Business Standard

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Arab World


Syria’s Assad visits UAE in first trip to Arab state since war began

19 March ,2022

Syrian President Bashar Assad was in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, his office said, marking his first visit to an Arab country since Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011.

In a statement posted on its social media pages, the office says that Assad met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai. The two discussed expanding bilateral relations between their countries.

The visit sends the clearest signal yet that the Arab world is willing to re-engage with Syria’s once widely shunned president.

Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League and boycotted by its neighbors after the conflict broke out 11 years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the war, which displaced half of Syria’s population. Large parts of Syria have been destroyed and reconstruction would cost tens of billions of dollars.

Arab and Western countries generally blamed Assad for the deadly crackdown on the 2011 protests that evolved into civil war, and supported the opposition in the early days of the conflict.

With the war having fallen into a stalemate and Assad recovering control over most of the country thanks to military assistance from allies Russia and Iran, Arab countries have inched closer toward restoring ties with the Syrian leader in recent years.

A key motive for Sunni Muslim countries in the Gulf is to blunt the involvement of their Shia-led foe, Iran, which saw its influence expand rapidly in the chaos of Syria’s war.

The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency said the country’s de facto ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to his palace in Abu Dhabi.

At the meeting, Sheikh Mohammed expressed his hope “this visit would be the beginning of peace and stability for Syria and tee entire region.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Hezbollah denies sending fighters to Ukraine in support of Russian invasion

18 March ,2022

Lebanon’s Hezbollah denied on Friday that any of its fighters were supporting the Russian military inside of Ukraine after Kyiv accused the Iran-backed group and Syria of sending mercenaries to support Moscow’s invasion.

“No one from Hezbollah, no fighter or military expert, went to this arena or any of the arenas of these wars,” the group’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, said in televised remarks.

General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine released a statement on Friday saying that around 1,000 Syrian mercenaries and Hezbollah fighters were recruited to fight in Ukraine.

In recent days, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced an initiative to allow “volunteers” from the Middle East to join Russian forces invading Ukraine.

Hezbollah has fighters and experts fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria and others in Yemen to support the Houthis.

Source: Al Arabiya

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ISIS ‘lover’ blows up aunt’s house in Baghdad for refusing his marriage proposal

17 March ,2022

An ISIS member in Iraq blew up his aunt’s house in Baghdad after she refused his marriage proposal to marry her daughter because he lacks academic qualifications, Alsumaria News reported on Wednesday.

According to Alsumaria which cites a report by Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council, the man proposed to marry his cousin several times but his proposal was always rejected because he does not have any academic degrees while the girl holds a master’s degree.

The suspect thus placed an explosive device in the house and blew it up the next day at 12:00 p.m. when his aunt, her daughter and son were inside.

The explosion went off when the suspect dialed a mobile number connected to the explosive device, killing his male cousin while he was getting ready to go to football practice.

The mother and daughter were both unharmed by the explosion, the report said.

The suspect was apprehended, and he confessed to planting and detonating the explosive device, the Supreme Judicial Council said, adding that according to an intelligence report, he belongs to the “terrorist ISIS group.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon PM says some judges stoking tension within country

18 March ,2022

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Friday that actions taken by some judges were heightening tensions in Lebanon, warning of potentially serious consequences for a country mired in a major financial collapse.

His statement followed judicial orders since March 14 that froze the assets of seven banks in three separate legal actions.

On Thursday, the brother of the central bank governor was arrested on a charge of “complicity in illicit enrichment” in a case a judicial source said also involved Governor Riad Salameh.

A lawyer for Raja Salameh declined to comment on the case on Friday, while the office of Riad Salameh’s lawyer said he was not available for comment.

Without referring to any specific case, Mikati said the course of action taken by some judges was “pushing toward ominous tensions, and there are attempts to use this tension in election campaigns,” referring to a parliamentary election in May.

“This is a dangerous matter we have previously warned against,” Mikati said, in a statement from his office.

Mikati has previously offered public support to Governor Salameh, who faces embezzlement probes at home and abroad, saying in December “one does not change their officers during a war.” Salameh has denied any wrongdoing.

Mikati and Justice Minister Henry Khoury agreed to ask the country’s public prosecutor to take “appropriate measures on this [issue],” the statement said, without specifying what issue or elaborating on the measures.

Ghada Aoun, the judge who ordered Raja Salameh’s arrest and froze the assets of six banks this month, is politically backed by the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), founded by President Michel Aoun.

The FPM has sought the removal of Governor Salameh, who has described accusations against him as politically motivated.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia to extend visa validity for Ukrainians in the Kingdom for free

18 March ,2022

Saudi Arabia has issued a royal directive to extend the validity of visas of Ukrainian nationals currently residing in the Kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

The process will be carried out automatically, reported SPA, and without any additional fees or fines.

The new directive also applies to tourists in the country.

Russia launched a multi-pronged attack on Ukraine on February 24, which President Vladimir Putin claims in a special military operation.

But the conflict has escalated to become the largest military invasion in Europe since World War II.

The UN human rights office in Geneva said it had recorded 2,032 civilian casualties in Ukraine – 780 killed and 1,252 injured. The UN also said that at least 3.2 million residents have fled.

Meanwhile, more than 350,000 people are sheltering in the besieged southern port of Mariupol.

Source: Al Arabiya

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GCC to host talks between Yemen’s warring parties in Riyadh

17 March ,2022

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will host talks between Yemen’s warring parties in Riyadh from March 29 until April 7, Secretary General of the GCC Nayef al-Hajraf said on Thursday.

The consultations will cover six topics, including military and political ones, Hajraf said in a press conference, adding that the GCC’s move to hold these negotiations is not a “new initiative” but a “reaffirmation that the solution [to the conflict] is in the hands of the Yemenis.”

Hajraf called on all warring parties to participate in the negotiations and to engage in peace negotiations that are sponsored by the UN and supported by the Gulf.

“We urge a ceasefire by all Yemeni parties and urge them to start peace talks,” he said, adding that the invitation to participate in the talks will be sent “to everyone without any exception” and will be held among whoever attends.

He voiced hope that all Yemeni parties respond to the GCC’s initiative, noting that these Yemeni consultations will be sponsored by the GCC for the purpose of reaching peace.

Source: Al Arabiya

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81 mass graves of Yazidis found in Iraq's Sinjar since 2014: Official



A total of 81 mass graves of Yazidis have been found in Sinjar district in northern Iraq since 2014, according to a Kurdish official on Thursday.

Baravan Hamdi, Deputy Minister of the Martyrs in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), said these graves were dug by the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group.

“These graves are acts of ethnic cleansing,” he told Anadolu Agency.

The KRG deputy minister said two mass graves were found two weeks ago in the Hardan village in Sinjar and several bodies were exhumed and sent to Baghdad for DNA analysis and identification.

The Sinjar district was captured by the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group in 2014 and in 2015 the PKK terror organization managed to establish a foothold in the area.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Syria's Afrin liberated from terrorists 4 years ago

Omer Koparan and Ethem Emre Ozcan  


AFRIN, Syria

It has been four years since the Afrin district of northern Syria was liberated by the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed group Syrian National Army (SNA) from the YPG/PKK terrorist organization.

Afrin was largely cleared of YPG/PKK terrorists on March 18, 2018 through Turkiye’s anti-terror offensive Operation Olive Branch.

The Turkish forces and SNA took control of six town centers, 282 villages, six sub-village settlements, 23 strategic mountains and hills, a dam and 50 strategic points in the operation.

During the operation, over 4,500 terrorists were neutralized. A total of 54 Turkish soldiers were killed while 236 soldiers were wounded. Some 320 SNA soldiers were also killed.

Infrastructure support

After its liberation, seven local councils were established in the district with the support of Turkiye to serve the people of the region.

The councils provided support to the public in various fields including agriculture, industry, commerce, culture, sports, health and education in a bid to bring life back to normal.

Civilians started returning to their homes as of March 20, 2018 thanks to the assurance provided by Turkish forces and SNA soldiers.

After four years, the number of civilians living in the center and rural areas of the district has reached 600,000.

A 100-bed hospital was reopened in Afrin.

In addition to five hospitals in the center, 25 health centers in the towns provide free treatment to the people of the region.

The education system imposed by the YPG/PKK was terminated in schools, and education in accordance with the curriculum determined by the opposition's provisional government was started.

Turkey's Gaziantep University established the Faculty of Education in the region, along with a cultural center and sports complex.

Nearly 75,000 students study in 272 schools in Afrin district center and surrounding towns.

Civilians being targeted again

Speaking to Anadolu Agency Mustafa Suleyman, who has lived in Afrin for 12 years, said the district was targeted by the YPG/PKK terrorists in a recent provocation.

"I am from Afrin, I was injured in the missile attacks by the terrorist organization 45 days ago in the district. Many people died and many were injured. I want my voice to reach everywhere. We are civilians, we are targeted, we are not guilty of anything."

Suleyman, whose treatment is still ongoing, said: "We are very satisfied with the services. Thank God our hospital, doctors and nurses take good care of us. Thank you very much for the services provided."

Another resident, Ibrahim Halil Mustafa, who sells shoes, said: "My family has been living in Afrin for 175 years. Our grandfathers and ancestors also lived in Afrin. Afrin is getting more beautiful day by day. In the first days of Afrin's liberation, there were difficulties in security and trade, thank God it is very good now."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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South Asia


Islamic Emirate Welcomes Renewal of UNAMA Mandate

19 March, 2022

The Islamic Emirate welcomed the renewal of the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mandate for Afghanistan and said it hoped the move would be beneficial for engagement with the international community. 

The UN Security Council on Thursday extended the mandate of UNAMA for a period of 12 months.

“It is a good step. We call for good engagement and effective cooperation in the coming year,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate. 

 The resolution was confiirmed by 14 votes, with Russia abstaining.

"The resolution sends a clear message that this council stands firmly behind the UN's continuous support to the Afghan people as they face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty. The resolution ensures that UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) has a strong and robust mandate to promote inclusive political dialogue, monitor and report on human rights, and continue to facilitate humanitarian and basic human needs assistance. And to engage with all Afghan actors, and that includes the Taliban on all these issues," said Mona Juul, Norway's permanent representative to the UN.

The UK permanent ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, said the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate at the current moment was important for Afghanistan. 

"Today, the council spoke with one voice in support of a robust UN mission in Afghanistan: to lead and coordinate urgent humanitarian efforts, to support the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to hold the Taliban accountable on its commitments. It's disappointing that one council member decided to abstain just when UNAMA's work is more important than ever," Woodward said. 

Analysts believe that UNAMA can play a beneficial role to connect Afghanistan with the world. 

Source: Tolo News

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Taliban Welcomes UN's Presence In Afghanistan In Global Recognition Quest

March 18, 2022

Kabul: The Taliban Friday welcomed a UN Security Council resolution formally extending the world body's presence in Afghanistan, although the government of the hardline Islamist group remains unrecognised by the international community.

Thursday's resolution -- which avoids using the word "Taliban" -- allows the UN to continue work in Afghanistan, still reeling after decades of war and whose economy was devastated when the international community cut off aid as the group took power last year.

The vote to extend the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) was 14 in favour, with one abstention -- by Russia.

The UN has not yet recognised the Taliban's pick of envoy to the body, and the resolution does not give the new government international recognition.

The mission includes several strands of cooperation, on humanitarian and political issues as well as on human rights, including those of women, children and journalists.

"We consider the extension of the mandate of UNAMA as a good step and want them to work effectively for solving humanitarian and other problems in Afghanistan," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP Friday.

"We will coordinate and cooperate with them."

First established in Afghanistan in 2002, UNAMA's mandate has in the past included humanitarian support, human rights advocacy and political and regional cooperation.

Before last year it also sought to protect civilians throughout the conflict and support the peace process.

"The Council gives a clear message with this new mandate: UNAMA has a crucial role to play in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and to support the Afghan people as they face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty," said Norwegian UN ambassador Mona Juul, whose country drafted the resolution.

Crisis deepens

The security situation in Afghanistan appears to be stabilising, months after the Taliban seized power on August 15, 2021 amid a hasty withdrawal of US-led foreign forces after 20 years of war.

But since then the country's humanitarian crisis has deepened.

The United Nations and other global aid agencies have said that more than half of Afghanistan's 38 million people are facing hunger as winter drags on.

The country has known almost continuous war since 1979, broken up only by the Taliban's first regime from 1996 to 2001.

As a result it is one of the world's poorest countries, with little in the way of infrastructure and a young population traumatised by decades of fighting.

In January, the UN made its biggest-ever single-country aid appeal, calling for $5 billion to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

Source: ND TV

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Taliban forms commission to facilitate return of political leaders

18th March 2022

KABUL: Taliban established a commission to pave the way for the return of the Afghan political leaders who left the country after the group took over Afghanistan in August last year.

The body is called "Commission Ertibatat Ba Shaksiat Hai Afghan Wa Awdat Anan," or the Commission of Contact with Afghan Leaders and Their Repatriation, Tolo news reported.

As per the Afghan media outlet, the seven-member commission is led by the acting Minister of Gas and Petroleum.

"Based on the decision of the cabinet, Shuhabuddin Delawar (acting Minister of Gas and Petroleum), will lead the commission. (Other members:) Amir Khan Muttaqi (acting Foreign Minister), Khairullah Khairkhwa, (acting Minister of Information and Culture), Fasihuddin Fetrat (a senior member of the Islamic Emirate), Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, and Anas Haqqani," said a statement of the Administrative Office of the President, as per Tolo News.

After the fall of President Ashraf Ghani let Afghan government, many political leaders left the country. Following the Taliban takeover in August last year, thousands of Afghans left the country fearing reprisal from the Islamic group.

The situation of human rights in Afghanistan has worsened since the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban's return to power in August last year. Although the fighting in the country has ended, serious human rights violations continue unabated.

The Taliban have committed and continue to commit human rights violations including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions, a massive rollback of the rights of women and girls, censorship of and attacks against the media.

Source: New Indian Express

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Taliban suspends insurance companies' operations in Afghanistan

March 18, 2022

The Taliban on Friday suspended the operations of the insurance companies in Afghanistan till a future notice.

In an official letter sent to the insurance companies, the acting government announced the suspension of all the activities of the public and private insurance firms, reported Khaama Press.

The letter says the spirit of the insurance industry is under discussion in the Science Academy of Afghanistan to decide whether it is against Islamic practices or not.

The suspension spells doom for insurance companies who have invested and carried out financial risks in the country for the last 20-year of the democratic era and open market in Afghanistan.

Several private insurance companies in addition to a government-owned insurance entity, have invested and carried out financial risks.

The Afghanistan economy went into crisis after the collapse of the Afghanistan government in the hands of the Taliban on August 15 of last year. Hundreds of companies, organizations and projects were shut down, reported Khaama Press.

The acting Taliban government in Afghanistan emphasizes Islamic norms but has never issued any written Islamic policies yet.

Source: Business Standard

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180 media outlets closed in past seven months in Afghanistan

March 17, 2022

As many as 180 media outlets out of 475 have been closed in Afghanistan in the past seven months following the takeover by the Taliban in August this year, local media reported.

On Tuesday, Afghanistan’s National House of Journalists in its latest survey said Afghan media outlets have been affected the most after the Taliban takeover as a result only 290 media outlets are active in the war-torn country, Khaama Press reported.

A recent survey released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) indicates that about 43 percent of Afghan media outlets have shut down their operations, leaving almost 60 percent of journalists unemployed.

Head of Afghanistan’s National House of Journalists Sayed Yaseen Mateen said that reason behind the mass closure of media was economic woes and migration of professional media workers in the country.

Apart from the economic woes and stoppage of foreign support of the media in Afghanistan, the lack of access to information cited by Afghan journalists is said to be another big issue for media in the country, Khaama Press reported.

On the other hand, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has always denied the claim.

They said that the closure of media outlets in Afghanistan is owing to the stoppage of their donors. They denied having restricted Afghan journalists and media, Khaama Press reported.

The situation of human rights in Afghanistan has worsened since the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban’s return to power in August last year.

Although the fighting in the country has ended, serious human rights violations continue unabated.

Source: The Statesman

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Blast kills four minors in Kandahar province

19 Mar 2022

Provincial officials of the southeastern Kandahar province said that a rocket explosion has claimed the lives of four children in Sha Walikot district of the province on Friday morning, March 18.

The police headquarters of the province confirmed and said that the incident took place in the sixth district of the province.

A statement released by the headquarter reads the unexploded rocket detonated after the minors played with it.

Meanwhile, another rocket that landed in Garda Serai district of Paktia province killed two and wounded more on Friday.

It is the third explosion in the past ten days that kills and wounds civilians who are mostly children.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban release three Afghan journalists after 24 hours in custody

18 Mar 2022

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan freed three Afghan journalists from TOLO News after 24 hours in custody of the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) the spying body of the IEA.

Spokesperson of the GDI Khalil Hamraz said that some media outlets were disturbing religious sentiments of the Afghan society and were a threat to national security.

Hamraz further added that the media gave anti-Taliban elements the opportunity to propagate and carry out destructive moves against the IEA.

“Unfortunately, the media outlets did not meet their pledges and did not solve their problems thus, relevant bodies of the IEA took measures.” Reads a Twitter post of Hamraz.

The spokesperson has said the IEA is committed to freedom of speech under Islamic Sharia and will not allow anyone to violate national and religious values, threaten minds, and national security at large.

Source: Khaama Press

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Ready to provide secure environment for Indian mission: Taliban

Mar 18, 2022

With international recognition on mind, and following efforts by the government to strike the right chord in the post-US withdrawal Afghanistan - not least with the ongoing supply of 50,000MT of wheat to the country, the Taliban continue to reach out to India for establishing diplomatic ties.

Taliban's UN ambassador-designate Suhail Shaheen told ToI Thursday that the government in Kabul was ready to provide a "secure environment" for the Indian embassy in Kabul and that diplomatic presence was essential for boosting bilateral relations. India had recalled all embassy officials after the return of Taliban to Kabul on August 15 but government authorities remain in touch with Taliban to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

"We want all those countries including India who had their embassies in Kabul to reopen their embassies and start functioning as normal. We are committed to providing them a secure environment for their functioning. Diplomatic presence is important for boosting bilateral relations," said Shaheen.

India has so far sent 8,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan in 4 separate shipments via the Attari-Wagah border with Pakistan. The Taliban had last year taken up with Pakistan the need to quickly approve India’s proposal to transport 50,000 MT of the grain through the land route. This is the first time since 2007 that Pakistan has allowed India to use the land route to send aid to Afghanistan. In 2007, India had supplied wheat biscuits to Afghanistan via the land route with Pakistan.

Significantly, a private Indian trader was Thursday reported to have transported Indian sugar to Uzbekistan via Pakistan and Afghanistan in a "historic trade activity." According to a PTI report, the Taliban commerce and industry ministry organised a special ceremony to facilitate the transit of Indian goods, which was despatched to the Karachi port from Mumbai earlier this month, and hailed it as a major step towards turning Afghanistan into a key trade link between Central and South Asia.

Source: Times Of India

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Southeast Asia


Saudi Arabia executes two Indonesians for murder  

By Katharina R. Lestari

March 18, 2022

The Indonesian government has come under fire from a migrants' rights group for not doing enough to save two Indonesians executed in Saudi Arabia.

Agus Ahmad Aras and Nawali Hasan Ihsan were beheaded in Jeddah on March 17 after being sentenced to death in June 2013 for murdering an Indonesian woman in 2011.

They were executed just days after Saudi Arabia executed 81 people on March 12 in the largest mass execution the country has staged in recent history, sparking outrage from the United Nations and rights groups.

News of their executions prompted Migrant CARE, a group that advocates on behalf migrant workers and their families, to accuse the government of abandoning the two men.

Anies Hidayah, who heads Migrant CARE’s study center, told CNN Indonesia that the government had a chance to save the executed Indonesians by getting an appeal for clemency from the victim’s family, which could have seen the men spared the death sentence. Instead, government officials did nothing, she said.

Judha Nugraha, director of the Protection of Citizens and Legal Entities Overseas Department at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, denied the claim, saying the government did everything it could.

“We made extraordinary efforts. We sent diplomatic notes to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry more than nine times"

“The government, through the Indonesian consulate general in Jeddah and the Indonesian embassy in Riyadh, had taken all efforts — both litigation and non-litigation — to help meet the rights of the two Indonesian citizens during their trial. Efforts to lighten their sentence had also been taken,” he said at a press briefing on March 17.

“We made extraordinary efforts. We sent diplomatic notes to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry more than nine times … Our foreign minister wrote to his counterpart while President Joko Widodo wrote to the Saudi king twice.”

He said the government was unable to trace the murder victim’s family to ask them to seek clemency for the two executed men, which is allowed under Saudi law.

He said the victim appeared to have been an undocumented migrant worker because both the government and the Saudi authorities could not find much information about her or her family.

Source: UCA News

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Court dismisses bid by Islamic healer to declare TCM Act unconstitutional

March 17, 2022

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today dismissed a leave application by an Islamic healer who was seeking a declaration that the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) Act was unconstitutional.

Ramli Ghani said that under the Act, which came into force on Aug 1, 2016, Islamic healing practitioners have to register with the health ministry and did not come under the State List.

However, Judge Zawawi Salleh, who sat as a single judge to hear the application, dismissed his bid.

“After having gone through the relevant provisions in the Federal Constitution, I find that Parliament is competent to legislate the law.

“Section 25 of the law only provided for the registration of medical practitioners and that included traditional Malay and Muslim healers,” he said.

Zawawi said, therefore, the law did not infringe on “hukum syarak” and Malay customs.

“This court holds that the application to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation did not fulfill the requirements under Article 4 of the constitution,” he said.

Zawawi did not order costs to the government, represented by Shamsul Bolhassan and Masriwani Mahmud.

Ramli, who was represented by Shahrudin Ali, filed the application last November and named the health ministry and the government as respondents.

He said the federal legislature had no power to pass the Act because Schedule 9, State List, Item No. 1 of the constitution provides that only the states have the power and jurisdiction in matters of Islam and the Malay customs.

He added that Islamic healing strikes at the core of Islamic faith, the five pillars of Islam, “aqidah”, and the recitation of Quran.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Ramasamy questions police impartiality in religious cases

March 18, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy has questioned the police about the impartiality of the force in religious conversion cases.

Ramasamy contrasted the action taken by police against himself and a Seberang Perai councillor, and the apparent lack of action on reports against Perak mufti and an Islamic preacher.

He said Seberang Perai councillor P David Marshel had been summoned to Bukit Aman tomorrow to give a statement about a video he posted concerning the conversion of Loh Siew Hong’s children without her consent.

Ramasamy said he had been summoned to Bukit Aman on March 3 for the same issue. “Now, David has been called as several individuals have lodged police reports against him and investigation papers have been opened.

“But what has happened to the police report made against Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin and the 600 police reports against Islamic preacher Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu?,” said Ramasamy.

“Have the police called them for further investigation with regard to the reports against them?” he said.

He also questioned why the police were not investigating Muslim organisations such as Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah), Berjasa, Putra, and Perkasa who deliberately fanned racial tensions over Loh’s case.

“I am not sure whether the police still lack enough evidence to open an investigation paper or if they are hesitant to investigate Asri, Zamri and these organisations,” he said. “I have not seen any developments about the police reports I have made against these individuals and organisations,” he said.

Ramasamy said he was confused as to why David, who helped Loh to unite with her children based on a court order, was being investigated but those who had openly violated the law and constitution had yet to be called.

He said the law and enforcement must be fair to all and the police should not be partial in carrying out their role.

“Asri and Zamri should be further investigated for turning Loh’s case into a racist issue which has sparked racial tensions in the country,” he said.

On Feb 21, the High Court granted Loh’s habeas corpus application to regain custody of her three children.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Court orders media not to expose names, pictures of Hindu mother Loh Siew Hong’s children

17 Mar 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — The High Court today issued an order for all mainstream media organisations and social media platforms not to expose and publish the names and pictures of the three children of single mother, Loh Siew Hong, effective today.

Judicial Commissioner Evrol Mariette Peters made the decision after lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla representing the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPs), requested in verbal for the identity and pictures of the children not to be exposed so as to protect them.

Mohamed Haniff, when contacted, said today’s case management was also attended by two other lawyers representing MAIPs, Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar and Aidil Khalid, while Loh was represented by Sri Murugan and Dr Shamsher Singh Thind.

He said with the court order, it was hoped that the media would cooperate and not expose the picture, names and identity of the children in their reports.

“The court also set the hearing date for MAIPs’ application to intervene in the divorce petition between Loh and Muhammad Nagahswaran Muniandy (who converted to Islam with their three children), for 10.30am on April 29,” he said.

In the divorce petition, Loh, 34, has been granted sole custody, care and control over their three children, aged 10 and 14.

MAIPs filed the application to intervene on March 7 so that it would have locus standi to apply for a variation on the terms of the sole custody order granted to Loh on the ground that because the children had converted to Islam and registered in Perlis, MAIPs was responsible for ensuring they get access to the rights as new converts.

MAIPs claimed that despite being in Loh’s custody, the children can be seen expressing desire through their actions to remain in Islam and were still practising the religion.

On February 21, the three siblings who were under the care of the Social Welfare Department were released to Loh after the High Court allowed the habeas corpus application that she had filed.

Source: Malay Mail

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Senior Iranian Cleric: Double Standards on Human Rights to Cause West's Collapse


Addressing a congregation of people at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Grand Mosalla (congregational prayers site), Hojjatoleslam Aboutorabifard made the remarks in reaction to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit to Saudi Arabia.

"If the UK is really concerned about human rights, why did Johnson travel to Saudi Arabia immediately after its horrible crime of mass execution?" the senior cleric asked while referring to the double standards of the UK towards human rights issues.

He reiterated that such double standards on human rights mark the end of Western power and the collapse of the hegemonic system.

Referring to the mass execution of 81 men in Saudi Arabia, Hojjatoleslam Aboutorabifard said that such moves are contrary to international law and contrary to human principles and legal practices accepted worldwide.

In relevant remarks on Monday, Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi condemned mass execution of people in Saudi Arabia, and blasted the western states for keeping silent on such a horrendous violation of human rights.

Application of double standards by the western countries and the instrumental use of the concept of human rights, as well as the silence and inaction of self-proclaimed human rights advocates towards death penalty for innocent people, are condemned, Rayeesi said.

"International organizations and free media and relevant institutions should break their silence," he added.

Also, on Sunday, the Iranian foreign ministry strongly deplored the mass execution of tens of people in Saudi Arabia, saying that Riyadh cannot cover up its political problems with suppression.

“Execution and [the use of] unbridled violence are no solution to self-produced crises and the Saudi government cannot use such measures to cover up its political and judicial bedlam and suppress people,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

He added that the recent mass executions in Saudi Arabia constitute an inhumane act in contravention to the basic principles of human rights and international law.

“This measure is also at odds with all human [rights] principles and recognized judicial procedures [as death sentences were issued] without respect for due process,” Khatibzadeh said.

He also slammed the western countries for use of double standards in such cases and instrumental use of the concept of human rights.

Khatibzadeh took to task those countries who claim to be human rights advocates for their inaction toward such heinous measures, describing it as a sign of those countries hypocrisy and their politicized use of human rights to achieve their political goals against independent governments.

His remarks came after the state-run Saudi Press Agency said in an announcement on Saturday that Saudi Arabia had executed 81 prisoners in a single day over ‘terror-related offenses,’ in the largest mass execution carried out by the highly-conservative Arab kingdom in recent memory.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israel calls on US not to delist IRGC as terror group

Rina Bassist

March 18, 2022

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid urged the United States today not to remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of terror organizations. “The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is a terrorist organization that has murdered thousands of people, including Americans. We refuse to believe that the United States would remove its designation as a terrorist organization,” Lapid and Bennett said in a rare joint statement that Lapid also tweeted.

They pointed out that the IRGC directs and instructs Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen and militias in Iraq, and that the body is responsible for attacks against American civilians and American forces throughout the Middle East, including in the past year. The IRGC has been accused of plans to assassinate senior American officials and was involved in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians. The statement read, “They kill Jews because they are Jews, Christians because they are Christians, and Muslims because they refuse to surrender to them."

It went on, “The attempt to delist the IRGC as a terrorist organization is an insult to the victims and would ignore documented reality supported by unequivocal evidence. We find it hard to believe that the IRGC’s designation as a terrorist organization will be removed in exchange for a promise not to harm Americans. The fight against terrorism is a global one, a shared mission of the entire world. We believe that the United States will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists."

This is not the first time Israel has protested such reported American intentions.

Addressing the Conference of Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations on Feb. 20, Bennett warned against the new JCPOA being negotiated at Vienna, arguing that with the imminent deal, tens of billions of dollars will be poured “back into this apparatus of terror" and "Much of this money will be funneled towards attacking Israel.” Bennett revealed that in the ongoing negotiations, “to cap the chutzpah, Iran is demanding to delist the IRGC” as a terrorist organization. “Do you understand? They are now asking to let the biggest terror organization on earth off the hook.”

Addressing the same event on Feb. 21, Lapid warned that the administration of President Joe Biden might be open to accepting the delisting request and called on international actors to convince the White House against it. “Everyone in his right mind should talk to the administration about this and tell them, ‘This is just wrong, don’t do that.'”

On March 16, Israeli journalist Barak Ravid reported for Axios, “The Biden administration is considering removing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from a terror blacklist in return for a public commitment from Iran to de-escalation in the region, three Israeli officials and two US sources tell me.” Ravid explained, “An agreement to restore the 2015 nuclear deal is nearly complete, but Iran's demand that President Biden reverse Donald Trump's decision to designate the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is a key remaining sticking point.”

Source: Al Monitor

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Turkey calls on Greece to restore demolished Muslim cemetery

MAR 18, 2022

Turkey on Friday condemned the demolition of an Ottoman-era Muslim cemetery in the Western Thrace region of Greece and called on the Greek authorities to restore the cemetery as soon as possible.

The cemetery in Xanthi (Iskeçe) was demolished on the pretext of building a football field.

The statement released by the Foreign Ministry said, "Necessary steps have been taken before Greece regarding the inhuman act, which is understood to have been carried out by the order of the mayor of Bulustra (Avdira)."

The statement said Greek authorities, who responded positively to Turkey's initiatives, were expected to complete the investigation they started by showing the necessary sensitivity and restoring the cemetery as soon as possible.

Greece's Western Thrace region is home to a Muslim Turkish community of 150,000.

Turkey has long decried Greek violations of the rights of its Muslims and the Turkish minority, from closing mosques and shutting schools to not letting Muslim Turks elect their religious leaders.

The measures violate the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne as well as European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) verdicts, making Greece a state that flouts the law, Turkish officials say.

Turkey recently reiterated support for the Turkish minority community in Greece as a recent probe continues into the Xanthi Turkish Union (Iskeçe Türk Birliği) because of a rights march last July.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry last month asserted on Twitter that the probe is part of Greece's plan of intimidating and punishing minority members who seek to reclaim their rights, which were guaranteed by various bilateral and international treaties, including the Lausanne Treaty of 1923. The ministry highlighted that Greece did not implement rulings of the ECtHR regarding the registration of the union, because it contained "Turkish" in its title.

"We stand by the Western Thrace Turkish minority against the discrimination," the ministry added.

The march by the Xanthi Turkish Union, one of the oldest and most influential associations of the Turkish minority in Greece, was attended by thousands and prominent figures who protested that Greece had not applied decisions of the ECtHR that favored the minority.

A 2008 ECtHR ruling guaranteed the right of Turks in Western Thrace to use "Turkish" in the name of associations, but Athens has failed to carry it out, effectively banning the Turkish group's identity.

Source: Daily Sabah

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IRGC Warns to Target More Israeli Bases in Iraqi Kurdistan


“If Iraqi officials do not take action to remove other bases of the Zionists in that  country while our security continues to be threatened from this region, we will respond without hesitation," General Sharif said.

He reiterated that "the Zionists had admitted themselves that their drones" which flew over a military base in Iran’s Kermanshah Province had taken off from their bases in Erbil (capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region).

"It is our natural right to destroy any base from which any attack is carried out against the security of Iran and this is a redline for us," General Sharif said.

He pointed out that Iranian ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi had on several occasions warned the Iraqi Kurdistan Region about the presence of the Mossad base, which was recently attacked by the IRGC.

Last week, Scores of ballistic missiles hit secret Mossad bases in Erbil, reportedly leaving several Israeli operatives dead.

Citing security sources, Iraq’s Sabereen News reported that two Mossad training centers were targeted by ballistic missiles in the early hours of Sunday.

Al-Mayadeen said a Mossad base on the Masif-Saladin street in Erbil was “fully razed to the ground and a number of Israeli mercenaries were killed or injured”.

In a relevant development earlier this week, Iranian lawmakers in a statement voiced support for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' strong and eye-catching attack on the Zionist regime of Israel.

"The Iranian parliament supports the strong action taken to target the Zionist regime’s center of plot and evil through the IRGC precision missiles with pinpoint accuracy," 213 out of 290 parliamentarians said via the statement at the end of their open session on Tuesday.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the IRGC in a statement claimed responsibility for a missile attack against Israel's strategic center for conspiracy and evil, warning Tel Aviv that any wrong move will not go unanswered.

In reaction to the event, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that Iran will never tolerate existence of a center of plotting on its borders.

According to the Iranian parliament's statement, the IRGC has a good record in the fight against terrorism and the advisory presence in regional countries.

Further, parliamentarians reiterated that "global peace and security should be preserved and the illegitimate regime’s evil and brutal acts should be condemned".

National security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its strong Armed Forces is considered as red line by nation's representatives; and the Iranian parliament sees the IRGC's recent brave move as the one was within the framework of country's laws to defend the nation.

The IRGC in its statement issued a stern warning to Israel following a retaliatory missile strike on the "strategic center of Zionist conspiracy and evil" in the Northern Iraqi Kurdistan city of Erbil, stressing that the operation was in response to an Israeli airstrike on the Syrian capital of Damascus last Monday, in which two IRGC officers were martyred.

"Following the recent crimes of the fake Zionist regime and the previous announcement that the crimes and evils of this infamous regime will not go unanswered, the strategic center for conspiracy and evil of the Zionists was targeted by powerful and pinpoint missiles of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps," it said.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Categorically Rejects Report by UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur


"Selective and political approaches will undermine human rights instead of improving it," Khatibzadeh said.

He reiterated that adopting a political and selective approach to human rights not only does not help to promote it but also destroys and undermines human rights.

Iran has provided detailed comments on this report, which has been officially published by the UN Human Rights Council, he said.

Reiterating that Iran does not accept the mission of the Special Rapporteur, he added that the false accusations and allegations of the reporter are based on misinformation received from biased sources, including terrorist and Western groups.

Criticizing the double standards and hypocritical approach of Western countries towards human rights, Khatibzadeh said, "Tehran is committed to supporting and promoting human rights around the world, and will continue to promote the human rights of its people seriously despite US unilateral coercive moves."

In relevant remarks on Thursday, Khatibzadeh said that Tehran is making efforts to further bolster relations and cooperation with the regional countries.

The Islamic Republic’s foremost foreign policy goal is to strengthen friendship with regional countries, Khatibzadeh said, addressing a ceremony attended by foreign ambassadors and diplomats at the diplomatic club of the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

He also said the administration of President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi tries to achieve that goal by relying on commonalities between Iran and other regional nations.

The spokesman underlined that today’s world needs peace and co-existence more than ever before.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Russian Military Has Documentary Evidence US Funded Bio experiments in Ukraine


"We believe that components of biological weapons were being created in Ukraine," Kirillov stated, TASS reported.

He demonstrated a document dated March 6, 2015 confirming "the Pentagon’s direct involvement in financing military biological experiments in Ukraine."

He stressed that it was standard practice to fund US sanitary and epidemiological wellbeing projects in third countries, including those in Africa and Asia, through national health service agencies.

Ukrainian biolabs continue to destroy biological materials and documentation on the research of dangerous viruses, Kirillov added.

"Information continues to be received about attempts to destroy biomaterials and documentation in laboratories in Ukraine. We know that during the liquidation in the laboratory of veterinary medicine in the settlement of Khlebodarskoye, working employees, citizens of Ukraine, were not even allowed into the building," he continued.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, in a bid to cover tracks, biological waste from the laboratory in Khlebodarskoye was taken 120 km away towards the Western border to the area of the settlements of Tarutino and Berezino.

Ukrainian Defense Ministry laboratories in Kiev, Odessa, Lvov and Kharkov received $32 million funding from the US, Kirillov underlined.

"I draw your attention to the fact that the agreement on joint biological activity was signed between the US military ministry and the Health Ministry of Ukraine. However, the true recipients of the funds were laboratories of Ukrainian Ministry of Defense located in Kiev, Odessa, Lvov and Kharkov. The total funding amount was $32 million," he underscored.

According to Kirillov, these laboratories were selected by US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and its contractor Black & Veatch for implementation of Project UP-8, aimed aimed at studying the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), leptospirosis and hantaviruses.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Denmark agrees extradition treaty with UAE, eyes British tax fraud suspect

17 March ,2022

Denmark on Thursday signed a general extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates which it said it would use to seek custody of a Briton charged with defrauding Danish tax authorities via so-called “cum-ex” trading schemes.

“This agreement aims to expedite specific criminal cases. This includes the extradition of one of the suspected perpetrators in the dividend tax case,” Denmark’s Justice Ministry said in a statement.

A spokesperson from the ministry confirmed to Reuters that the person in question is Sanjay Shah, a British citizen charged with swindling Danish tax authorities for as much as 7 billion Danish crowns ($1.04 billion).

Shah, who lives in Dubai, denies any wrongdoing and his spokesperson called the extradition treatment

“political posturing.”

“We have maintained for the past seven years that he received legal advice that the trades were legal so there is no chance of extradition happening in the near future at all,” he said.

The ministry declined to comment on when a potential extradition could happen.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkiye ‘very important for the defence of NATO’s eastern flank’: Netherlands

Abdullah Asiran  


ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday that Turkiye is very important for the defense of NATO’s eastern flank amid Russia's war on Ukraine.

Rutte spoke at a Cabinet meeting and said he will visit Turkiye on March 22 ahead of an extraordinary NATO leaders’ summit March 24, which will discuss the war.

He said contact with Turkiye should not be solely from Germany's side, adding that Berlin should also have good relations with Turkiye even if there are disagreements on some issues.

Rutte said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is one of the few leaders who has contact with Moscow and Kyiv, therefore, he talked to Erdogan to visit Ankara in a recent telephone call.

He said his relationship with Turkiye has always remained good.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial restrictions on Moscow and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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EU appreciates Turkiye’s diplomatic efforts to end war in Ukraine

Agnes Szucs 



The European Union appreciates Turkiye’s diplomatic efforts in mediating between Ukraine and Russia, an EU official said on Friday.

The European Commission’s lead foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano said they "appreciate the clear position" adopted by Turkiye, noting that the country "was very clear in its position in condemning the war and ... made great efforts to play the role of the mediator."

He underlined that Turkiye managed to organize the first meeting between the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers after Russia launched the war on Ukraine, calling Turkiye's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s recent visits to Moscow and Ukraine's western Lviv city "very important."

Stano pointed out that Turkiye "acted as a partner and as a member of NATO," explaining that the EU works with Turkiye and other countries that did not adopt sanctions against Russia, expecting them to put pressure on Russia "in the areas where they can."

He asserted that Turkiye "has done a lot in the area of diplomacy in playing the role of mediator."

As part of Turkiye’s ongoing efforts to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, Cavusoglu held a talk with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday, and met with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Lviv the day after.

Hopes for a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia have increased a little more, he said after meeting with Kuleba.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Algerian president vows not to cede rights over 'French colonialist crimes'

Abdul Razzaq bin Abdallah


ALGIERS, Algeria

Algeria's president on Friday pledged not to cede his country's rights over French colonialist crimes against Algeria, stressing such that such rights "are not subject to the statute of limitations."

In a statement addressing the Algerian people on the 60th anniversary of the 1962 Evian peace accords between France and Algeria, which ended the eight-year war of Algerian independence, Abdelmajid Tebboune vowed to continue efforts to restore his country's heritage from France and to receive clarification from France on the fate of Algerians missing from the battle for Algeria's independence.

"We will demand compensation for the victims of the (French) nuclear testing and for other cases linked to these testing from France,” he added.

Approximately 1.5 million Algerians were killed and millions more displaced in an eight-year struggle for independence that started in 1954 and ended on March 18, 1962.

France has also committed cultural genocide against Algeria since 1830, wiping out significant pats of Algeria’s three centuries of Ottoman heritage and local identity.

Paris has never officially apologized to Algeria as a state for its colonial policies.

For years, Algeria has negotiated with France over four historic issues, starting with restoration of the Algerian archive, which France still refuses to hand over to Algeria, along with the retrieval of skulls belonging to leaders of the Algerian resistance who were beheaded by French colonial forces.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Sudan group says 187 wounded in latest anti-coup protests

18 March ,2022

Nearly 200 people have been wounded in the latest protests to erupt in the Sudanese capital over deteriorating economic conditions following a military take-over, a doctor’s union said Friday.

The Sudan’s Doctors Committee issued a statement saying that 187 people were wounded in clashes with police in Khartoum on Thursday, 70 of whom were likely struck by rubber bullets. Three of the wounded were shot in either the head or chest and are currently in intensive care, it added.

Riot police used tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters who had sought to reach the Republican Palace, seat of the military government. Videos posted on social media showed police firing tear gas.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Nearly 20 killed in Niger passenger bus attack: Report

James Tasamba


KIGALI, Rwanda

At least 19 people, including two policemen, were killed and five injured when a passenger bus was attacked by suspected terrorists near the Niger-Burkina Faso border, local media reported on Thursday.

The bus was intercepted by “armed individuals riding on a dozen motorcycles” near the Petelkole border post in Niger’s Tillaberi region, local daily ActuNiger reported, citing security sources.

It was heading from Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou to Niger’s capital Niamey with some 30 people on board.

The attackers had escaped by the time security personnel reached the spot.

“Several bodies were lying next to the bus, which was set on fire, and wounded people, some of them with serious injuries, lay on the ground,” read the report.

Two more trucks were also found in flames at the site.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident, but similar attacks in the Tillaberi region, which is in the tri-border area with Mali, have been claimed by the al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS terror groups.

Last month, Niger agreed for French and European special forces being withdrawn from Mali to be moved to its territory to secure the tri-border area.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Dbeibeh, US envoy discuss ways to prevent violence in Libya

Moataz Wanees  



Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh on Thursday met with US Ambassador Richard Norland for talks on developments in the war-torn nation.

Norland said on Twitter he discussed with Dbeibeh "the current political situation with a particular focus on preventing any outbreak of violence."

"I urged the immediate re-opening of Libya's airspace to domestic flights," Norland said, stressing the importance “of participating in good faith mediation efforts to help Libya maintain stability."

The meeting also dwelt on the Libyan oil issue and "the responsible distribution of Libya's oil wealth for the benefit of all the Libyan people."

Libya is witnessing a deep political rift as the Tobruk-based parliament in early March gave confidence to a new government headed by former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha while Dbeibeh insists on continuing with his post and duties as prime minister.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


General voices concern for US troops as Iran-Israel attacks increase

19 March ,2022

The outgoing head of the US Central Command said Friday that he was concerned about the increasing attacks between Israel and Iran “because many times our forces are at risk.”

“I think it’s obvious that Israel is going to take steps to defend itself when it’s confronted with Iranian actions. And of course, Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel,” CENTCOM chief Gen. Frank McKenzie said during a video call with reporters.

He added: “I do worry about these exchanges between Iran and Israel because many times our forces are at risk, whether in Iraq or in Syria. So that, in fact, does concern me as we watch this series of exchanges.”

Last week, the most recent incident occurred when Iran claimed an attack on a residence in Iraq’s Erbil, claiming the target to be an Israeli intelligence compound. The Erbil government denied that there were any Israeli sites in its territory. The IRGC said they were retaliating for an Israeli air strike that killed two of its members in Syria and a drone attack allegedly launched from Erbil.

Gen. McKenzie noted several attacks by Iran and its proxies targeting US forces in Syria and Iraq over the last six months. “The Iranians have believed that they can undertake a certain level of kinetic action against us,” he said but pointing out that US casualties have been avoided. “Had US casualties occurred, I think we might be in a very different place right now.”

The top US military commander for the Middle East will be replaced in the next few weeks as he steps into retirement, but looking back, he said Iran was the number one problem he faced during his three-year term.

“There were other problems, other huge problems, but the headquarters as a whole… focused on the Iranian problem and everything attended to that,” he said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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‘Impossible to imagine’ nuclear deal if Iran doesn’t release Americans: Sherman

18 March ,2022

It will be “impossible to imagine” a nuclear deal with Iran if detained Americans are not released, a senior US official said Thursday.

As indirect talks on a new nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran appear to be heading for the finish line, one of the main sticking points remains the detained US citizens.

Earlier this week, Iran released two British nationals after the United Kingdom paid millions of dollars, which Iran claimed the UK owed it due to a payment from Iran’s former monarch, the Shah, paid upfront for 1,750 Chieftain tanks and other vehicles. Almost none were delivered after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 toppled the US-backed leader.

But the US has, so far, been unable to secure the release of its detained citizens.

“It [detainees’ release] is separate and apart from the JCPOA. Though I must say it is impossible to imagine that we get a deal on the JCPOA and that those unjustly detained Americans don’t come home,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told Al Arabiya in an interview.

Sherman added: “It is a high priority for this administration to bring them home, to make sure that they’re safe and secure. There is no higher purpose that we have than to protect Americans.”

Sanctions relief and Russia

Sherman played down reports speculating that the US would waive sanctions to allow Russia to pursue a reported $10 billion contract with Iran’s atomic energy organization to expand nuclear sites in Iran.

“It makes no sense to me whatsoever,” Sherman told Al Arabiya.

Asked about the possibility of removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from the foreign terrorist organization blacklist as part of the JCPOA, Sherman remained tight-lipped.

“I’m not going to get into the details of a negotiation, which is not final yet. I think it is in all of our interest to make sure that Iran never has a nuclear weapon. And that’s what the JCPOA is all about,” she said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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CENTCOM chief bemoans delays in US weapons sales to Middle East allies

17 March ,2022

The top US military general for the Middle East on Thursday lamented the delay in weapons sales to Washington’s allies in the Gulf and called for doubling down on “America’s commitment to regional security and our partnerships.”

Gen. Frank McKenzie, speaking about ways of deterring Iran, said proving that the US was a “credible, dependable force in the region” was needed.

“In this regard, the greatest threat to the region’s security—Iran’s missile force—is also a catalyst for increased cooperation in the form of Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD),” Gen. McKenzie told the House Armed Services Committee.

Ties between Gulf allies, specifically Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have soured since the Biden administration took office and made several foreign policy decisions seen as hostile by Gulf countries.

Such moves included:

Ending support for “offensive” operations in Yemen

Removing the Iran-backed Houthis and its leaders from terror blacklists

Freezing arms sales to Riyadh and the UAE

Vowing to “recalibrate” ties with Saudi Arabia

US President Joe Biden has since said he was reconsidering designating the Houthis following their near-daily attacks on Saudi Arabia and recent drone attacks on Abu Dhabi. The group also refuses to negotiate a political solution to the yearslong war in Yemen, which involves the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Mainly progressive Democrats have attempted to block US arms sales to Gulf countries, citing human rights violations.

The US general, who will be replaced in the coming weeks, said regional partners needed to share intelligence “more fully and quickly than they have to date,” but he said there was no need for new foreign forces deployed to neighboring nations.

But Gen. McKenzie said CENTCOM was being hindered in its ability to achieve “effective, economical collective security” due to delays in foreign military sales (FMS) to allies and partners.

In addition to reducing the number of American troops and capabilities in the region, Gen. McKenzie said this contributed to the perception of a “wavering United States commitment to the security and stability” of the area and individual countries.

This has also given US competitors an opening to undermine the deterrence of Iran, he said. “Countering this impression requires credible assurance and demonstrations of America’s commitment to regional security and our partnerships.”

Gen. McKenzie added: “This commitment includes a recognition of the importance of our security assistance enterprise and our defense industry being capable of efficiently supporting our partners’ defensive needs.”

Yemen’s Houthis

Speaking at length about the Houthis, Gen. McKenzie said the Houthis were the “least restrained and most destabilizing of all of Iran’s affiliates in the region.”

He also warned that the Houthis were prepared to further escalate the war in Yemen by “using whatever means the Iranians put at their disposal, even at the risk of inflicting mass civilian casualties and threatening American forces.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Security Council renews mandate of UN mission in Afghanistan

Servet Günerigök, Michael Gabriel Hernandez  



The UN Security Council on Thursday renewed the mandate of its mission in Afghanistan, which is now under Taliban control.

The one-year extension of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) received 14 votes from the 15-member body. Russia abstained.

"The resolution sends a clear message that this council stands firmly behind the UN's continued support to the Afghan people as they face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty," Norway's envoy to the UN, Mona Juul, said after it was adopted.

Norway introduced the resolution and Juul said the mandate is critical to not only respond to the immediate humanitarian and economic crisis in the war-torn nation but to support the Council's overarching goal of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

UNAMA is a UN Special Political Mission established to assist the state and the people of Afghanistan in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development.

Barbara Woodward, the British envoy to the UN, said the adoption ensures UNAMA will continue to play a key role in coordinating the UN's response in the country.

She said there has been a reduction in civilian casualties under the Taliban but the new government needs to demonstrate that extremist groups are no longer able to flourish in the country.

"Let me be clear, the Taliban have a choice. The international community has made its expectations clear," she said. "We will base our approach on the actions the Taliban now take.”

“UNAMA will play a key role in supporting the rights of all Afghans, promoting an inclusive society in which women and girls participate fully," she added.

US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Jeffrey DeLaurentis hailed the resolution as "an important step," saying the Council has been tasked with facilitating dialogue among Afghan and international stakeholders.

"Afghanistan cannot prosper if half the population is denied access to education or is not permitted to work. The United States is closely watching the Taliban's actions to ensure it meets its commitments to respect the rights of women throughout the country," he said.

The Taliban retook power by force last August amid the withdrawal of foreign forces and the collapse of the internationally-recognized government. The interim administration, however, has yet to gain international recognition.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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