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Islamic World News ( 24 March 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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As ISIS 'Caliphate' Ends, Where Is Its Leader Baghdadi?

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 March 2019

Leena Alam in the “Letter to President” drama directed by Roya Sadat



 As ISIS 'Caliphate' Ends, Where Is Its Leader Baghdadi?

 Saudi Forces Steal Show at Pakistan Day Parade In Islamabad

 Afghan Filmmakers Scrambling To Revive Film Industry Damaged By Ongoing Conflict

 Taliban Wants Solid and Serious Guarantees for Its Future Deal with US: Kabulov

 US Official Denounces ‘Choreographed’ Visits To China’s Xinjiang

 Yemeni Human Rights Groups Protest in Geneva against Houthi Crimes In Hajour

 World Powers Agree To Ensure Afghanistan No Longer Poses Threat

 Daesh Territorial Defeat 'Historic Milestone': British PM

 Muslim Man Killed By Group of 20 in Uttar Pradesh's Sonbhadra Over Dispute Linked To Islamic Holy Structure


Arab World

 As ISIS 'Caliphate' Ends, Where Is Its Leader Baghdadi?

 Saudi Forces Steal Show At Pakistan Day Parade In Islamabad

 Kurdish-led forces proclaim end of IS ‘caliphate’

 Islamic State: Pioneers of the 'digital caliphate'

 Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

 SDF Commander: Time to target sleeper cells following ISIS’s territorial defeat

 Syrian Kurds announce death of Daesh 'caliphate'


South Asia

 Afghan Filmmakers Scrambling To Revive Film Industry Damaged By Ongoing Conflict

 Taliban Wants Solid and Serious Guarantees for Its Future Deal with US: Kabulov

 Four killed in bombings at Afghan ceremony

 Two prominent Taliban leaders killed in Faryab airstrike

 Burqa-clad militant shot dead by Afghan forces in Faryab province

 8 Taliban militants killed while importing IEDs to Kandahar province

 Taliban claims responsibility for twin explosions in Lashkargah city

 15 Taliban militants killed in Special Forces operations, airstrikes in past 24 hours

 Explosions kill 2 at Afghan celebration, wound governor


Southeast Asia

 US Official Denounces ‘Choreographed’ Visits To China’s Xinjiang

 Malaysian PM Mahathir: Israel ‘a state of robbers’

 Qatar-Malaysia partnership can be tapped to benefit the world

 PAS hints at expected dowry for ‘marriage’ with Umno

 Brunei Sultan conferred honorary doctorate by UiTM

 Johor Sultan warns against ratifying UN conventions, accuses Putrajaya of violating Constitution



 Yemeni Human Rights Groups Protest in Geneva against Houthi Crimes In Hajour

 Arab Coalition Launches Air Raids on Houthi Drone Storage Sites In Sanaa

 Israel strikes Gaza over bomb balloons

 Palestinians hold funerals for two men killed during weekly protests in Gaza

 Turkey’s ex-premier squares up for Istanbul election battle


North America

 World Powers Agree To Ensure Afghanistan No Longer Poses Threat

 Syria asks UN council to uphold resolutions on Golan

 Sanders speaks at US mosque in the wake of deadly terrorist attack in New Zealand



 Daesh Territorial Defeat 'Historic Milestone': British PM

 U.N. Draws Up Plans To 'Facilitate' Rohingya Relocation To Island

 Turkey’s Erdogan shows shooting video again, hours after NZ meeting

 Macron says ISIS defeat eliminates ‘significant threat’ to France

 UK’s secret war: British commandos wounded in Yemen

 More than $7.4 million donated to help families in NZ shooting



 Muslim Man Killed By Group of 20 in Uttar Pradesh's Sonbhadra Over Dispute Linked To Islamic Holy Structure

 Gurugram: Outrage after Muslim Family Thrashed For Playing Cricket On Holi, Asked To Go To Pak

 Family of held ‘JeM’ Operative Claims He Was Arrested In February



 Govt Striving To Transform Pakistan into Modern Welfare State: Fawad

 Islamabad’s Overtures Are Constructive Thinking, India Told

 PM Has Ordered To Investigate Two Hindu Girls’ Alleged Abduction Case: Info Minister

 Pakistan Day special service held at London’s Westminster Abbey church

 Regional cooperation needed to counter terrorism, says Qureshi



 At Least 134 Fulani Herders Killed In Central Mali’s Worst Violence Yet

 Fire breaks out at Sudan’s old presidential palace

 At least 11 wounded in Somalia attack claimed by al-Shabaab

 Al-Shabab attacks Somali government building in Mogadishu

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




As ISIS 'Caliphate' Ends, Where Is Its Leader Baghdadi?

AFP | Mar 23, 2019

BAGHDAD: The world's most wanted man who has so far eluded capture, Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has seen his "caliphate" crumble and its last shred of territory in Syria evaporate on Saturday.

After declaring himself caliph in 2014, Baghdadi held sway over seven million people across swathes of Syria and Iraq, where IS implemented its brutal version of Islamic law.

But that land has been whittled down to disjointed sleeper cells by years of fighting, including a ferocious bombing campaign by the US-led coalition.

Reclusive even when IS was at the peak of its power, the 47-year-old Iraqi, who suffers from diabetes, has been rumoured to have been wounded or killed several times in the past. And his whereabouts have never been confirmed.

So, with his proto-state gone and a $25-million US bounty on his head, where is Baghdadi?

"He only has three companions: his older brother Jumaa, his driver and bodyguard Abdullatif al-Jubury, whom he has known since childhood, and his courier Saud al-Kurdi," said Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi specialist in IS.

Hashemi said the quartet is likely laying low somewhere in Syria's vast Badia desert, which stretches from the eastern border with Iraq to the sweeping province of Homs.

That is where his son Hudhayfa al-Badri was reportedly killed in July by three Russian guided missiles, he added.

Nicknamed "The Ghost", he has not appeared in public since he delivered a sermon at Mosul's famed Al-Nuri mosque in 2014 declaring himself "caliph".

His last voice recording to his supporters was released in August, eight months after Iraq announced it had defeated IS and as US-backed forces closed in next door in Syria.

But as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces pressed the "final battle" against IS's last sliver of territory, a spokesman for the US-backed group said the elusive leader was likely not there.

"We do not think he is in Syria," Mustafa Bali told AFP, without elaborating.

But some of those who fled Baghouz in the dying days of the caliphate, claimed they had been ordered to leave by Baghdadi.

"Had the caliph not ordered it, we would not have left," one woman told AFP in late February, referring to Baghdadi who was not believed to have been among the jihadists in their last holdout.

Keeping a low profile -- in contrast to slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- has helped Baghdadi survive for years.

Born Ibrahim Awad al-Badri in 1971, the passionate football fan came from modest beginnings in Samarra, north of Baghdad.

His high school results were not good enough for law school and his poor eyesight prevented him from joining the army, so he moved to the Baghdad district of Tobchi to study Islam.

"He had a vision, early on, of where he wanted to go and what kind of organisation he wanted to create," said Sofia Amara, author of a 2017 documentary that unveiled exclusive documents on Baghdadi.

After US-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003, he founded his own insurgent organisation but never carried out major attacks.

When he was arrested and held in a US detention facility in southern Iraq in February 2004, he was still very much a second- or third-tier jihadist.

But it was Camp Bucca -- later dubbed "the University of Jihad" -- where Baghdadi came of age as a jihadist.

"People there realised that this nobody, this shy guy was an astute strategist," Amara said.

He was released at the end of 2004 for lack of evidence. Iraqi security services arrested him twice subsequently, in 2007 and 2012, but let him go because they did not know who he was.

In 2005, this father of five from two different wives pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the brutal leader of Iraq's AlQaeda franchise.

Zarqawi was killed by an American drone strike in 2006, and after his successor was also eliminated, Baghdadi took the helm in 2010.

He revived the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), expanded into Syria in 2013 and declared independence from Al-Qaeda.

In the following years, Baghdadi's Islamic State group captured swathes of territory, set up a brutal system of government, and inspired thousands to join the "caliphate" from abroad.

Baghdadi was raised in a family divided between a religious clan and officers loyal to Saddam's secular Baath party.

Years later, his jihadist group incorporated ex-Baathists, capitalising on the bitterness many officers felt after the American move to dissolve the Iraqi army in 2003.

That gave his leadership the military legitimacy he personally lacked and formed a solid backbone of what was to become IS, combining extreme religious propaganda with ferocious guerrilla efficiency.

Uncharismatic and an average orator, Baghdadi was described by his repudiated ex-wife Saja al-Dulaimi, who now lives in Lebanon, as a "normal family man" who was good with children.

He is thought to have had three wives in total, Iraqi Asma al-Kubaysi, Syrian Isra al-Qaysi and another, more recently, from the Gulf.

He has been accused of repeatedly raping girls and women he kept as "sex slaves", including a pre-teen Yazidi girl and US aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was subsequently killed.



Saudi forces steal show at Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad

23 March 2019

As troops belonging to the Royal Saudi Armed Forces marched past the podium seating dignitaries marking the Pakistan Day on Saturday, thousands of spectators gathered to witness the military parade stood up to applaud the smartly dressed soldiers.

Witnessing the occasion were Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and the guest of honor Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Bin Mohamad.

Holding the Saudi national flag, Major Abdullah bin Sahab al-Thani led the unit during the military parade at the Pakistan parade ground in the heart of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

Following the march past, the Saudi troops and paratroopers took part in a free-fall jump, winning the hearts of thousands of people gathered for the event.

Pakistan Day commemorates the Lahore Resolution passed on March 23, 1940, and the adoption of the first constitution of Pakistan.  

Great bonding

“Troops of Saudi Royal Forces have won the hearts of millions of Pakistanis by participating in Pakistan Day Parade today. It shows great bonding between the two brotherly countries of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” Pakistan’s Defense Minister Pervez Khattak told Al Arabiya English.

“Our ties have reached another level after the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Pakistan recently,” he said.

Top civil-military leadership, diplomats including the Saudi Arabian ambassador, President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa and the chiefs of Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force were present on the occasion.

Foreign dignitaries who witnessed the military parade also included Chief of Bahrain Armed Forces and Minister of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov.

President Arif Alvi addressed the parade highlighting the services rendered by the founding fathers of Pakistan and the importance of Pakistan Day. He said Pakistan respects the sovereignty of all nations but is not oblivious of its defense.

“Pakistan has overcome the menace of terrorism but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Dr. Alvi also paid rich tribute on behalf of the nation to the country’s armed forces for defending the nation in the wake of Indian aggression after Pulwama attack in India’s Kashmir.



Afghan filmmakers scrambling to revive film industry damaged by ongoing conflict

24 Mar 2019

Afghan cinema travels on the bumpy road that has been damaged by the ongoing spooky tsunami of the so-called war.

Cinema that is known to reflect cultural attitudes, trends, and events of a country, the Afghan cinema so far has done fairly a good job in doing that. You can sincerely see the reflection of war and the political and social conflicts that have generated from it in different eras and the one we are living now by today’s storytellers. Being it if it is mostly about war and its side effects, perhaps it is proper to talk about the number one topic of interest in our films.

Except digitalization, overall pretty simple and basic not much different from the 70s and 80s in terms of making that is claim to be somewhat the productive decades, films originates its content from the heart of today’s society which has made it appealing to the audience to some extent, at least to the foreign audience. Clearly because of the political situation that was alerted post 9/11, world is keen to know more about Afghanistan.

The common people watch TV and rely on the media’s news projection, where the sensitive and intellectuals go to festivals, cinemas and galleries to get to know the Afghan culture trough the lenses of the filmmakers and the artist.

This of course generated a great opportunity and opened doors for the Afghan filmmakers to reach farther and find true audience.

With no attachment to the government financially nor morally, free of censorship the low budget and ultra-low budget independent films and the few that had been funded by international organizations can travel anywhere in the world where they can reach audience. Where in the past, films were mostly shown in government friendly countries.

Forming capitalism, freedom of speech, obviously would carry free market along. What this means is that you have full control of your film. You can showcase it as much as you want using different screening platforms, or simply sit it on a shelf and archive it. This may sound all very good in culture-oriented society that actually do watch films. But in a very religious and conservative society where the Clerics send out fatwa against TV, music, films and artists, you cannot expect its simple mined people who think war, corruption, poverty and overall misery that they are experiencing is the work of destiny, to care less about cinema or any form of art for that matter.

Despite to have had introduced to Popular Culture in the pas 17 years, with dozens of TV stations without prejudice, computers, Internet, cellular phones, television sets are still stoned and called the devil in some parts of the country.

Lack of security, funding and overall support of the government and the closed minded society has been brutal to the Afghan cinema. Resulting discouragement which has forced many filmmakers and artists to flee the country in hope of seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

It also may have extremely slowed productions, but has not blocked the path of filmmakers from filming as of yet. Many filmmakers are known to have used their personal and borrowed money from friends and family to finance their films.

Keeping a low-key production, mostly writing indoor scenes, choosing random days and not following an orderly schedule to avoid life threatening situations especially with female actor on the scene.

Despite difficulties and obstacles, filmmakers of the new generation have been trying their best to clean the dusty camera lenses and film a colorful motion picture somewhat presentable to world cinema.



Taliban wants solid and serious guarantees for its future deal with US: Kabulov

23 Mar 2019

Russia’s Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has said that the Taliban group wants solid and serious guarantees for its future deal with the United States.

Kabulov reportedly made the remarks after the conclusion of a trilateral summit between U.S., Russia, and China in Washington.

“Both we and the Chinese are certainly interested in immediate success of the US talks with the Taliban movement, five rounds of which were held in Doha. That’s why this is a key moment for further progress towards a stable peace in Afghanistan,” Kabulov was quoted as saying in a report by Russia’s TASS News Agency.

“As soon as the US agrees with the Taliban on the schedule of foreign troops’ withdrawal, we can start makingnext and more particular steps, leading to establishing peace in Afghanistan: this is ceasefire and a whole number of other <…> steps, and the most important of them will be direct talks of a broad spectrum of Afghans with the Taliban movement,” he added.

“The Taliban movement has said many times at its discussions with both the US and other [sides] that it wants to see serious guarantors of its future deal with the United States. Among such guarantors they named Russia [and also] China, Pakistan and Iran,” the diplomat said.

“I quoted the Taliban as saying that they want to have solid and serious international guarantees. When we come to that point: yes, why not?” Kabulov was quoted as saying by TASS News Agency.



US official denounces ‘choreographed’ visits to China’s Xinjiang

March 24, 2019

BEIJING: “Highly choreographed” tours to Xinjiang organised by the Chinese government are misleading and propagate false narratives about the troubled region, a US official said, after China announced plans to invite European envoys to visit.

China has been stepping up a push to counter growing criticism in the West and among rights groups about a controversial de-radicalisation programme in heavily Muslim Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

Critics say China is operating internment camps for Uighurs and other Muslim peoples who live in Xinjiang, though the government calls them vocational training centres and says it has a genuine need to prevent extremist thinking and violence.

China’s foreign ministry said late last week it would invite Beijing-based European diplomats to visit soon.

Diplomatic sources said the so-far informal invitation had gone specifically to ambassadors and was planned for this week.

A US government official, asked by Reuters if the US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, had been invited to visit Xinjiang, said there were no meetings or visits to announce.

“Highly choreographed and chaperoned government-led tours in Xinjiang have propagated false narratives and obfuscated the realities of China’s ongoing human rights abuses in the region,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The visit this month would be the first by a large group of Western diplomats to the region since international concern about Xinjiang’s security clampdown began intensifying last year. Hundreds have died in unrest in Xinjiang in recent years.

Several groups of diplomats from other countries have already been brought to Xinjiang on tightly scripted trips since late December to visit the facilities.

There have been two visits by groups including European diplomats to Xinjiang this year.

One was a small group of EU diplomats, and the other by a group of diplomats from a broader mix of countries, including missions from Greece, Hungary and North African and Southeast Asian states.

A Reuters journalist visited on a government-organised trip in January.

The US official described what was happening in Xinjiang as “a highly repressive campaign”, and said claims that the facilities were “humane job-training centres” or “boarding schools” were not credible.

“We will continue to call on China to end these counterproductive policies, free all those who have been arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of its Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate.” China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China has rejected all foreign criticism of its policies in Xinjiang, and says it invites foreigners to visit to help them better understand the region.

Earlier this month, the US State Department said China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang marked the worst human rights abuses “since the 1930s”.

The issue of Xinjiang adds another irritant to already strained ties between Washington and Beijing, who are trying to end a bitter trade war and have several other areas of disagreement, including the disputed South China Sea and US support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

Late last year, more than a dozen ambassadors from Western countries, including France, Britain, Germany and the EU’s top envoy in Beijing, wrote to the government to seek a meeting with Xinjiang’s top official, Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, to discuss their concerns about the rights situation.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including Chen.

Two diplomatic sources told Reuters on Saturday that government officials had said a meeting with Chen was not being offered to the European ambassadors, and that the trip was not to discuss human rights but to talk about China-Europe cooperation on President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road project.

It remains unclear whether they would accept the invitation, though the two sources said it was unlikely.

The European Union’s embassy in Beijing has declined to comment on the invitation.

Xi is currently in Europe on a state visit to Italy, Monaco and France. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang goes to Brussels next month for a China-EU summit.

EU leaders said on Friday the bloc must recognise that China is as much a competitor as a partner



Yemeni human rights groups protest in Geneva against Houthi crimes in Hajour

24 March 2019

The Global Union of Yemeni Communities and other rights groups protested in front of the UN headquarters in Geneva against Houthi atrocities being committed against civilians in the district of Hajour.

Protesters on Saturday said they wanted to draw international attention to the situation across Yemen and called on the international community to apply further pressure on the Houthis by imposing sanctions to deter the Iranian-backed militant group.

Dr. Hayaf Khalid, president of the Global Union of Yemeni Communities, said that the people of Hajour “suffer from a very harsh Houthi siege that prevents them from water and food.”

“Their homes have been bombed, their sheikhs have been killed and their children are being used as human shields on the battlefronts, he added.

Since last September, the Houthis had imposed a blockade on Hajour, according to local sources, in an attempt to subdue them.

The Hajour tribes with a population of around 200,000 are spread over more than 10 districts in Hajjah Governorate.



World powers agree to ensure Afghanistan no longer poses threat

Anwar Iqbal

March 24, 2019

WASHINGTON: The world’s three major powers — the United States, Russia and China — have agreed to ensure that Afghanistan never becomes a source of threat to any of them, according to US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

In a separate statement, the US State Department said on Saturday the three powers had also agreed to ensure that Afghans exercised their right to decide their own future.

Representatives of the three countries met in Washington on Thursday and Friday to coordinate their strategies for restoring peace and stability to Afghanistan. This was their first joint meeting since the United States started holding direct talks with the Taliban militants. “The parties exchanged views on the current status of the Afghan peace process and discussed common efforts to bring peace, prosperity and security to Afghanistan,” the State Department said.

“They underscored their respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, as well as Afghanistan’s right to make its own political, security and economic decisions.”

Mr Khalilzad, who leads the US team in the talks with the Taliban, attended the trilateral talks. In a tweet released after the talks, he wrote that he first held separate meetings with his counterparts from Russia, China and the European Union before joining them on a working lunch.

“Welcome the robust interest in Afghan Peace Process,” he wrote. “We respect Afghan sovereignty, want peace for all Afghans and seek an Afghanistan that is never a source of threat for any of us.”

The State Department said the United States, China and Russia had agreed to continue further discussions as “the parties will continue to seek common efforts and coordination on the Afghan peace process”.

The exact date and venue for the next meeting will be decided through diplomatic channels.

The meeting followed the fifth round of US-Taliban talks in Doha, Qatar, late last month. The talks focused on four key points: Counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.

While there seems to be an understanding on the first two points, the Taliban are refusing to hold talks with the Afghan government and appear reluctant to enforce a comprehensive ceasefire.



Daesh territorial defeat 'historic milestone': British PM

Mar 23, 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said the fall of the last bastion held by Daesh terrorists in Syria marked "a historic milestone" as she paid tribute to British forces and coalition partners.

"The liberation of the last Daesh-held territory is a historic milestone that would not have been possible without their commitment, professionalism and courage," she said in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group.

"I commend the tireless work and extraordinary courage of the British forces and our global coalition partners that have fought Daesh in Syria and Iraq," she added.

Britain is part of the US-led coalition claimed to be fighting Daesh terrorists in Syria. London has deployed about 1,400 troops to the region to support local forces, while Britain's Royal Air Force has conducted more than 1,600 air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

"We must not lose sight of the threat Daesh poses and the government remains committed to eradicating their poisonous ideology," May said.

"We will continue to do what is necessary to protect the British people and our allies."

American and British leaders have tried to take credit of major victories achieved in Syria by Syrian forces.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump said Daesh no longer held any territory in Syria.  White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One that the territorial Daesh-held had been “100 percent eliminated” from the Middle Eastern country.

In December, the US president said he would withdraw all 2,000 troops from Syria. However, the Wall Street Journal said recently that Washington planned to keep about 1,000 troops in Syria.

US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford later rejected the report as “factually incorrect,” stressing that there was no change to the planned 400 troops which the White House wanted to keep in Syria.



Muslim man killed by group of 20 in Uttar Pradesh's Sonbhadra over dispute linked to Islamic holy structure

Saurabh Sharma

Mar 23, 2019

Sonbhadra: When the entire nation was symbolically burning evil on the night of Holika Dahan, Kamrun Begum never thought something evil was going to take place right in her backyard. The 48-year-old woman saw some people converging at Imam Chowk near her house and sent her husband Mohammed Anwar to find out what was happening at the chowk.

On the night of 20 March, Mohammed Anwar, 50, was attacked and killed by a group of over 20 people in Parsoi village of Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh.

Hailing from Ghazipur, 25-year-old Hasnain Anwar Seikh, said that his father was strolling in the village after having dinner when he saw around 20 men gathered near Imam Chowk on the night of Holika Dahan. "My mother told my father that something was happening at Imam Chowk and asked him to go there and check as it was not the place where Holika is burned. My father went there and someone attacked him with an axe from behind. They gagged him and started beating him up. We were helpless as no one from the village came to rescue him. We called the police helpline and with the help of police, we took him to the hospital, but by then, it was too late. My father was declared dead on arrival," the mourning son said.

According to the police, Mohammad Anwar was killed because he opposed the demolition of Imam Chowk, which was allegedly illegally constructed by the Muslim community. The Muslims had kept their Taziya, a holy structure, in Imam Chowk. The deceased was looking after the farms and is survived by seven sons, one daughter and his wife. All his sons are settled and have small businesses of their own.

Cops say it’s murder, not lynching

"Anwar Ali was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon when he tried to stop a few men from the other community trying to demolish the Imam Chowk. The local police reached the spot and the victim was immediately taken to the hospital, where he was declared brought dead," said Sonbhadra Superintendent of Police Salmantaj Jafertaj Patil.

As a few people from the Hindu community were opposing the construction at Imam Chowk, disputes in the two communities took place thrice in the last six months. However, according to SP Patil, both the parties were called for mediation and the dispute was resolved after holding discussions.

"The police and the administration was successful in sorting out the case in the previous attempts but this time, the unfortunate incident happened. Additional police personnel and PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) have been deployed in the village to maintain law and order situation," Patil said.

The SP also stressed on the point that this case is of a murder and it should not be portrayed as a lynching incident.

The police has lodged an FIR against 19 people and two unnamed persons for rioting, unlawful assembly and murder under Sections 147, 148, 149, 295, 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). While 13 people have already been taken into custody, the police have launched a manhunt to nab the rest.

Living under fear

After the incident, the Muslim community — which has only three families in the village — is living under fear. Such is the extent of fear that Anwar’s family has now shifted to Obra market in Sonbhadra from the village.

"There are only three Muslim households in the village and our family is afraid that something can happen to us. Not even a single person from the village turned up to help and it is only because of a single person,” said Hasnain.

He also blamed a government teacher for disturbing communal harmony in the village and accused him of trying to instigate Hindus against Muslims.

“Ravindra Kharwar (one of the accused named in the FIR and currently under police custody) is a teacher in the local government high school and has been trying to incite communal tension in the village ever since he was transferred to this village. We really don’t know what problem he has with the Muslim community," Hasnain added.

Naeem Ghazipuri, 60, the elder brother of the deceased, said that the communal harmony of the village has been intact for the last 17 years but since the arrival of Kharwar, communal tension flared up.

"A few months ago, another Muslim man was attacked and he has been bedridden since. There was no religious divide in the village and we were living peacefully here for many years. It seems that my brother was targeted because he had just returned from Ajmer a day ago," he says.

The village headman was not available for comment.

‘Forget minorities, even MLAs are not safe’

Ameeque Jamei, the national spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party, the main party in Opposition in Uttar Pradesh, said that the condition of law and order in the state has been deteriorating. In contrast, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, on the occasion of completion of two years of his government, claimed that the law and order situation in the state has become an example for other states.

“Even the lawmakers of the ruling party are not safe. An MLA of the ruling BJP party was shot at on Holi in Lakhimpur Kheri. In such kind of environment, how will the minorities feel safe, and that too when they have been facing hate crime incidents?” he said, condemning the incident and demanding stern action against the accused.



Arab World


Kurdish-led forces proclaim end of IS ‘caliphate’

March 24, 2019

BAGHOUZ (Syria): Kurdish-led forces pronounced the end of the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s nearly five-year-old “caliphate” on Saturday after flushing out diehard fighters from their last bastion in eastern Syria.

Fighters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)raised their yellow flag in Baghouz, the remote riverside village where militants of a variety of nationalities made a desperate, dramatic last stand.

The SDF’s victory capped a deadly six-month operation against the final remnants of the ‘caliphate’ which once stretched across a vast swathe of Iraq and Syria, and held seven million people in its sway.

World leaders hail the victory as a major landmark but warn the militant group is far from being defeated

World leaders hailed the victory as a major landmark in the fight against IS and its ideology, but warned that the group that spurred a spate of global terror attacks was far from defeated.

“Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100 per cent territorial defeat of ISIS,” spokesman Mustefa Bali said in a statement, using another acronym for IS.

The state proclaimed in mid-2014 by fugitive IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi started collapsing in 2017 when parallel offensives in Iraq and Syria wrested back its main hubs Mosul and Raqa.

The nearly five years of fighting against the most brutal militant group in modern history left major cities in ruins and populations homeless.

The territory administered by the remnants of IS continued to shrink month after month and in September 2018 the SDF launched a final offensive on the last dregs of the “caliphate” in its Euphrates Valley strongholds.

SDF fighters last week expelled IS fighters who refused to surrender from an encampment on the edge of Baghouz and have since been hunting down a few survivors hiding on the reedy banks of the Euphrates.

“Those who lasted the longest were mostly foreigners... Tuni­sians, Moroccans, Egyptians,” Kurdish fighter Hisham Harun, 21, said.



Islamic State: Pioneers of the 'digital caliphate'

March 23, 2019

PARIS: The Islamic State may have lost its self-styled caliphate, but its barbaric back catalogue of grisly execution videos will continue to haunt the global imagination and serve as a template for how to sow terror, analysts say.

At the height of its reign over a vast chunk of Iraq and Syria in 2014-2015, the Sunni jihadist group had a huge digital footprint, flooding social media with slick videos lionising their fighters and showing the gruesome executions of "infidel" soldiers and civilians.

Today, its once-sophisticated propaganda machine, like its proto-state, has been reduced to rubble.

But the images of a Syrian soldier being crushed with a tank, a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage, and countless other IS atrocities, including Western reporters and aid workers being beheaded, will endure.

"It clearly will stick with us, rather like how Al Qaeda stuck with us persistently even after Osama bin Laden was killed," Charlie Winter, senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King's College London, told AFP.

The group was not the first to use gore as a propaganda tool, with al-Qaeda releasing a video of the beheading of US journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002 and Mexican drug cartels also regularly sharing decapitation videos.

But IS's Hollywood-style action clips -- and use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the encrypted service Telegram to reach millions of viewers -- took graphic terror videos videos into the mainstream.

IS invested "a lot more time, a lot more money, a lot more energy, and a lot more human capital in the production of propaganda than other groups have before it," Winter said.

"It was the pioneer in terms of really upscaling and industrialising the production of propaganda."

Analysts say the group was particularly savvy in its use of social media to cement the radicalisation of thousands of disenfranchised Muslim youths by projecting an image of invincibility on the battlefield.

To expand its audience, it piggybacked on popular hashtags on social media, such as those linked to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and one linked to singer Justin Bieber.

And while the videos and pictures of crucifixions and decapitations dominated international headlines, other IS videos tried to show a softer side of life in the caliphate.

"Most of the videos, and broadly, most of the web content produced by ISIS at the time, were actually utopian content, trying to show that they were trying to build a utopian state, a utopian society," Marc Hecker, foreign policy expert at the French Institute for International Affairs told AFP.

Foreign fighters were also the forefront of the propaganda drive, snapping grinning selfies of themselves with assault rifles slung across their chests, on what David Thomson, author of a bestselling book of interviews with French jihadists, called their "LOL jihad".

Pointing to the likes of Junaid Hussain, a young British hacker who enlisted and died in Iraq, Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at RUSI, noted: "Their communications people were kids in their twenties operating in a terror group the way they do back home."

"They weren't doing anything exceptional."

Their social media presence made IS propagandists a prime target for international intelligence agencies, with a US airstrike killing IS spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani in northern Syria in August 2016 and another hit taking out its media centre in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Under pressure from Western governments, Facebook, Twitter also clamped down on jihadist propaganda, establishing filters on violent content that IS and other terror groups struggle to circumvent.

These days IS propagandists mostly use the "dark web" -- a heavily encrypted part of the internet which is almost impossible to regulate, or the Telegram app -- to encourage supporters to launch attacks on their own initiative.

A research note in November from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies,

a Washington-based think-tank, said the group retained a "digital caliphate" to support its insurgency in other countries.

Noting its launch of a new series of weekly videos providing statistics on purported IS activity across the world, author Maxwell B. Markusen noted: "This propaganda effort also may indicate an ongoing effort to over-emphasise its real role on the battlefield, and to recruit new fighters."

Winter described the group's impact on terrorist propaganda as "enormous".

Full report at:



Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

23 March 2019

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle extremist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October.

After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism” and said “cooperation between Egypt and Iraq will be essential for this matter,” according to an official statement.

His comments came as US-backed forces said they had captured ISIS’s last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz, ending its territorial rule over a self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq after years of fighting.

Though the defeat ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.

Some ISIS fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.

The United States thinks the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.

Defeating militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power a year after the military overthrew President Mohammed Mursi in 2013.

Full report at:



SDF Commander: Time to target sleeper cells following ISIS’s territorial defeat

23 March 2019

ISIS’s territorial defeat now begins a new phase in operations against the extremist group, which will target sleeper cells, according to a top Syrian Kurdish Commander.

Speaking at a press conference held on Saturday following ISIS’s defeat in Syria by US-backed Syrian forces, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander Mazloum Kobane, said that the focus of upcoming military operations in the extremists’ former heartland would be the elimination of sleeper cells “which are a great threat to our region and the whole world.”

ISIS’s territorial defeat comes after a six-month operation which resulted in the death of more than 630 civilians, according to a monitoring group.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that during the months-long operations, 209 children and 157 women were killed – some of which were relatives of the extremist group.

The operation had also cost the lives of 730 SDF fighters, while 1,600 extremists were killed.

Following Saturday’s defeat, the US-led coalition congratulated the Syrian people and the SDF, adding that the SDF had made great sacrifices in eliminating ISIS. However, the coalition said “the fight is not over.”

The coalition also stressed on the importance of supporting the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to end the conflict in Syria, as well as quoted US President Donald Trump as he stressed on the importance of continuing the work to ensure the total elimination of ISIS.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May described the fall of the last bastion held by ISIS as a “historic milestone,” as she paid tribute to British forces and coalition partners.

“The liberation of the last (ISIS-held) territory is a historic milestone that would not have been possible without their commitment, professionalism, and courage,” she said in a statement.

Full report at:



Syrian Kurds announce death of Daesh 'caliphate'

Mar 23, 2019

Syrian Kurds have pronounced the death of Daesh's nearly five-year-old "caliphate" after flushing out diehard terrorists from their very last bastion in eastern Syria.

The victory on Saturday came in Baghouz, the remote riverside village where Takfiri militants of a variety of nationalities made a desperate, dramatic last stand.

"Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100 percent territorial defeat of ISIS," spokesman Mustefa Bali said in a statement, using another acronym for Daesh.

The recapture of the territory now removes the last hurdle to its return to the Syrian government fold even though the US military presence remains yet another sticking point.

The US professes support for Syrian Kurds, including Syrian Democratic Forces, but many observers see it in the context of Washington's plans to carve out a foothold in the region.

US leaders have always tried to hijack major victories achieved in Syria. On Friday, US President Donald Trump said Daesh no longer held any territory in Syria. 

The United States is also a key advocate of autonomy for Syrian Kurds which Damascus has roundly rejected.

Last month, a senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flatly rejected the idea of giving Syrian Kurds a measure of autonomy, saying such a move would open the door to the partition of the country.

The Kurdish-led authority that runs much of north and east Syria has presented a roadmap for a deal with Assad in recent meetings with Russia.

The Kurds want to safeguard their region inside a Syrian state when US troops pull out and hope a deal with Damascus would dissuade neighboring Turkey from attacking them.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has expressed optimism over dialogue with Kurdish groups as he stressed that Damascus wanted to retake every inch of territory lost during eight years of war.

“Autonomy means the partition of Syria. We have no way to partition Syria,” senior adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said last month.

“Syria is a country that is a melting pot for all people and all people are equal in front of Syrian law and in front of the Syrian constitution,” she added, calling the Kurds “a precious and very important part of the Syrian people.”

She also criticized Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his idea of carving out “a safe zone” in northeast Syria.

“Turkey has all the new ambition to occupy other people’s land and I think we are facing Erdogan who has dreams of reinvigorating and recreating the Ottoman Empire,” she said.

“But I don’t think he will be able to do that because our people are there to defend our land.”

Last month, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called on SDF militants to return to the Syrian army, warning them against reliance on the United States.

“We say to those groups who are betting on the Americans, the Americans will not protect you. The Americans will put you in their pockets so you can be tools in the barter, and they have started with it," he said.

"Nobody will protect you except your state. If you do not prepare yourselves to defend your country, you will be nothing but slaves,” Assad added.

In December, the US president said he would withdraw all 2,000 troops from Syria. However, the Wall Street Journal said recently that Washington planned to keep about 1,000 troops in Syria.

US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford later rejected the report as “factually incorrect,” stressing that there was no change to the planned 400 troops which the White House wanted to keep in Syria.

Trump’s December announcement to withdraw all troops from Syria has infuriated the UAE crown prince, according to a recent report by Middle East Eye.

“You are leaving Syria to be under Iranian and Turkish influence and that will bring everyone back. They will act against your acts and our interests,” Mohammed bin Zayed told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Full report at:



South Asia


Four killed in bombings at Afghan ceremony

March 24, 2019

LASHKAR GAH: An attack claimed by the Taliban killed four people and wounded 31 on Saturday during a celebration in the Afghan city of Lashkar Gah.

Afghanistan’s multi-day celebrations to mark its traditional new year have been marred by several attacks, beginning with explosions claimed by the militant Islamic State group in the capital of Kabul on Thursday that killed six people and wounded 23.

Saturday’s blasts in the southern provincial capital appeared to have been caused by explosives planted at the stadium where nearly 1,000 people were celebrating Farmers Day.

Helmand provincial governor Mohammad Yasin Khan was knocked over but suffered only superficial injuries, a spokesman said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility on Twitter for the explosions.

In a video footage, bursts of gunfire can be heard before and after one of the blasts, causing people to flee. A witness said the gunfire came from security personnel.

“There was chaos and people were running. Security forces asked them to calm down and then the second explosion happened,” said Najibullah, who was in the stadium for the celebrations.

He said the explosions seemed to originate from where tents were set up for farmers to display their produce.

The Persian new year is widely celebrated in Afghanistan but some hardline Islamists oppose the festivities, saying they are un-Islamic.

Helmand, source of much of Afghanistan’s opium, is one of several Afghan provinces in which insurgents have the greatest control and influence.

The latest attack came a year after a car bomb killed at least 14 people who had gathered for a wrestling match in Lashkar Gah.

Fighting has been relentless in Afghanistan amid recurring peace talks between US and Taliban negotiators. The latest negotiating round wrapped up this month with both sides saying there was progress toward ending the 17-year war.

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction estimated in January that the government controlled or influenced just over half the country, covering nearly two-thirds of the population.



Two prominent Taliban leaders killed in Faryab airstrike

23 Mar 2019

Two prominent leaders of Taliban were killed in an airstrike which was conducted in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan, the Afghan military said.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North announced earlier today that two prominent and key Taliban leaders Mullah Arif and Mawlavi Ghiasuddin were killed in Qaisar district.

According to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps, at least 29 militants were also killed in the airstrike and 15 others sustained injuries.

The statement further added that Mullah Arif and Mawlavi Ghiasuddin and his fighters were involved in terrorist related activities in Qaisar and Almar districts.

The militants were killed around 8am local time on Friday, the statement by 209th Shaheen Corps added.

Full report at:



Burqa-clad militant shot dead by Afghan forces in Faryab province

24 Mar 2019

A Burqa-clad assailant was shot dead by the Afghan armed forces in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan, the Afghan military announced Sunday.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North said the militant was shot dead around 11am local time on Saturday.

According to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps, the militant was trying to assassinate security personnel by disguising in women’s dress and Burqa.

The statement further added that the militant was killed in Sherin Tagab district of the province.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the report so far.

Full report at:



8 Taliban militants killed while importing IEDs to Kandahar province

23 Mar 2019

At least eight Taliban militants were killed and three others were wounded in a premature explosion in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

According to local security officials, the incident took place in Salat area of Shorabak district on Friday.

The Kandahar Police Chief, Major General Tadin Khan confirmed this incident and tweeted on social media ” 8 #Taliban were killed and 3 others injured in Shorabak district when insurgents were transporting bombs from Pakistan into #Kandahar. This is the fate of the enemy when they try to hurt the people of #AFG! They have not said anything about their loss.”

The same day, reports circulated of a civilian family who was traveling to a Nawroz celebration when they struck a Taliban roadside bomb in Shah Wali Kot, Kandahar which killed the driver and injured the four passengers of the car to include a woman and child.

In reaction to the incident, Gen. Tadin Khan Khan said “This is a tragedy that innocent people have to suffer at a time of peaceful celebration.”

Full report at:



Taliban claims responsibility for twin explosions in Lashkargah city

23 Mar 2019

The Taliban group has claimed responsibility for twin explosions in Lashkargah city, the provincial capital of Helmand province.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid issued a statement claiming that several high level government officials including deputy provincial governor, provincial intelligence chief, border forces commander, director of information and culture, director of agriculture and irrigation, and director of economy of Helmand were killed or wounded.

Mujahid went on to claim that the civilians were not hurt in the two explosions.

The Ministry of Interior officials have said at least 3 people have died and more than 30 others have sustained injuries in the explosions.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Omar Zwak said at least two peole have died and 21 others have sustained injuries in today’s twin explosions.

Full report at:



15 Taliban militants killed in Special Forces operations, airstrikes in past 24 hours

20 Mar 2019

At least 15 Taliban militants were killed during the operations of the Afghan Special Forces and airstrikes in the past 24 hours.

According to informed military sources, Afghan special forces conducted a raid targeting Taliban leadership in Tarang Wa Jaldak district of Zabul province, leaving 1 Taliban fighter dead.

The sources further added that Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Azrah district of Logar province killing 3 Taliban fighters and destroying 750kg of hashish.

“In Andar district of Ghazni province, two strikes killed 11 Taliban fighters and destroyed one staging area,” the sources added.

Full report at:



Explosions kill 2 at Afghan celebration, wound governor

Mar 23, 2019

Two explosions went off at a public celebration in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah on Saturday, killing two people and wounding the governor of Helmand province, security and hospital officials said.

The blasts came during a Farmers Day celebration at an outdoor stadium that was attended by nearly 1,000 people.

The provincial governor, Mohammad Yasin Khan, was knocked over by the blasts before he was quickly removed from the celebration, according to a Reuters witness. The governor's condition was unclear.

Two people were killed and 23 were wounded, according to initial estimates by hospital officials.

The blasts appeared to have been caused by planted explosives.

The attack is one of several to occur during Afghanistan's multi-day celebrations to mark its traditional new year, beginning with explosions in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday. Those attacks killed six people and wounded 23 and were claimed by Daesh.

The traditional New Year is widely celebrated in Afghanistan but some hardline extremists oppose the festivities.

Helmand is one of several Afghan provinces in which insurgents have the greatest control and influence. Lashkar Gah is the provincial capital.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Malaysian PM Mahathir: Israel ‘a state of robbers’

Mar 23, 2019

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has dubbed Israel as “a state of robbers”, saying his country enjoys friendly relations with every country in the world except Israel.

“We are not against Jews but we cannot recognize Israel because of its occupation of Palestinian land,” Mahathir said in remarks aired by local broadcasters during his three-day visit to Pakistan.

“You cannot seize others’ lands, and form a state. It’s like a state of robbers,” he added.

His remarks came a day after US President Donald Trump said it was time to recognize Syria's Golan Heights, occupied since 1967, as Israeli territory.

Trump's announcement came ahead of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States next week. 

Netanyahu has been pressing Washington for years to recognize Israel's claim to the occupied Golan Heights.

Earlier this month, the US State Department changed its usual description of the Golan Heights from "Israeli-occupied" to "Israeli-controlled" in an annual global human rights report.

Washington’s recognition of the Israeli-occupied area would mark a major shift in US policy. The United Nations emphasizes Syria's sovereignty over the territory.

In 1967, Israel waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of the Golan and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

In 1973, another war broke out and a year later, a UN-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to which Tel Aviv and Damascus agreed to separate their troops and create a buffer zone in the Golan Heights.

Syria said last month that it is ready to go to another war with Israel in order to free its occupied territories.



Qatar-Malaysia partnership can be tapped to benefit the world

March 23 2019

By Mohanna Al-Hubail

The visit of His Highness the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to Malaysia last December has ushered in a new future for Qatari-Malaysian relations at a crucial time for both the countries and all the Muslim East.

It comes at a time of the rise of a new political alliance in Malaysia, even though the political rivalry there is still going on. Such an alliance followed the historic struggle of Islamic thinker Dr Anwar Ibrahim, the second pioneer of the Islamic civilization experience in Malaysia, as he has endured the pain of struggle for putting the democratic process on track again.

This sacrifice had created an important popular ground that enhanced national integration between an important segment of the Malayan people and the Chinese Democratic Party, which guaranteed the victory and return of Dr Mahathir Mohamed to power.

Even though the political conflict between the two men went on, Malaysia is resuming its experiment with a new perspective.

Accordingly, such national diversity and economic partnership all together with the economic mentality of the Chinese Malaysians work for the benefit of Malaysia. This particular case is considered an important platform for a key partnership between the GCC represented in Qatar and Malaysia in East Asia. Malaysia is as well open to the Indian and Chinese people as part of its national fabric and constitutional bonds.

Currently, Qatar has been going ahead with its strategic project, away from the blockade countries, particularly the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Qatar's progress in reaching out to the new economic network would continue even after Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, arrives at a solution to the Gulf crisis.

The second course is to transfer this co-operation to the fields of education, technology, science and specialised institutes. It can be in the form of building specialised and profit generating university cities in Malaysia. Such universities should address the issue of the unregulated pursuit of the young people in the Arab countries and the Islamic World, who have been kept on the long waiting lists for university seats, to guarantee them specialised academic education. It should give them the opportunity to complete higher education within the normal academic years while living in comfortable surroundings away from the areas of conflict. Besides, they should enjoy the individual dignity secured by Malaysia today.

Yet, this University City, suppose we call it 'Qatar education city in Kuala Lumpur' or any other place on the various islands of the archipelago chosen as its headquarters, would need to offer an intellectual progressive cultural content. Such content would reshape the mentality of the contemporary Muslim for the good of the positive thinking that works for the progress of the East and the making of the collective humanity partnership. This approach is incompatible with the Western imperial extortion, and the extremist discourses or the lack of knowledge that has hit the Islamic world.

Thus, the outcomes of education at this university would represent an incentive for many countries in Asia and Africa. It would further encourage the creation of a national partnership among Muslims and all the citizens of the East from the other religions sharing their land to create a culture industry that work towards the progress of the East, its independence and scientific advancement. In particular, such a platform would be focusing on the specialised fields needed by these countries from physiology to space science. Eventually, educational institutes would be created to reproduce the ethical wise thinking industry for the whole world.

Ethics has always been the message of the East starting from the individual conduct up to the family affairs as values kept apart from the mundane world thinking. The tyranny, ignorance and backwardness that colonialists used in fostering their interest obscured this message creating a big void, filled nowadays with a perverse course of conduct. Such course of conduct promotes individualism over society integration and encourages absolute perverseness within the communities of the society. It threatens the future of the family and the safety of childhood throughout the entire humanity.

As for the third course, it is aimed at easing the hardships of wars and civilian conflicts that have been hitting the Middle East. This can be achieved through forming a strategic intellectual base to be used to create an international centre for the resolution of conflicts in coordination with the United Nations and the countries interested in this view. In addition, it can devise perspectives for practical solutions of the issues of migration and refugees.

In this way, the partnership with the East is a message to save humanity and it would be a quantum transformation at international co-operation. The people of the East are esteemed in most world countries that are plagued by troubles. Similarly, the failure of the West to contain conflicts caused by some of its countries would further deepen the need for this partnership. The West, in particular the wars of United States and Russia, created such conflicts in the East besides the interventions of their military bases stretching across its different countries. All such things would not obstruct the creation of partnership between the East and the West with of course an intentional cover to enhance the suggested projects. It can also co-operate with already existing experiences such as the Swiss model in Cordova Area.

However, the Qatari-Malaysian partnership here, with its Islamic and Arabic dimensions, has the potential to create opportunities for the humanitarian settlement of the issues of conflict. In addition, the suggested Qatar Education City in Malaysia would create a qualification programme for professionals, who would be appointed to manage the areas of conflict after the settlement process. This course of action would reactivate the engagement of the East in treating its crises but with a progressive modern spirit for the good of its people rather than promoting the interests of the West.

Full report at:



PAS hints at expected dowry for ‘marriage’ with Umno

24 March 2019

By Justin Ong

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang recalled yesterday the conditions for his party’s 70s partnership with Barisan Nasional (BN) that included the rejection of Western culture..

According to PAS mouthpiece Harakah, Hadi further said the previous partnership had not bound his party to the Alliance.

It had also given PAS free rein to teach Islam in government offices and public universities as well as to espouse the religion on radio and television, culminating in the azan (the Muslim call to prayer) being broadcast on both mediums.

“The cooperation also allowed activities deemed in conflict to Islam, such as dancing and alcohol consumption, to be ended,” he said when opening the PAS Rantau Panjang assembly yesterday.

PAS partnered with the Alliance Party in 1972 and even contested under BN colours in the 1974 general election.

However, it withdrew in 1977 following conflict with Umno over which should govern Kelantan.

Yesterday, Hadi asserted that the country’s political landscape deteriorated after his party left BN.

Acting Umno president Datuk Mohamad Hasan previously announced that his party and PAS were now “married”.

The two have cooperated with increasing intensity since the Seri Setia by-election, resulting in two successive election victories in Cameron Highlands and Semenyih.

Full report at:



Brunei Sultan conferred honorary doctorate by UiTM

23 March 2019

SHAH ALAM, March 23 — The 90th convocation ceremony of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) today saw the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah conferred an honorary doctorate in recognition of his leadership and contributions to the Islamic world.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah presented the scroll to His Majesty.

The Brunei Sultan was conferred the honorary doctorate at the first session of the convocation ceremony along with 109 UiTM graduands witnessed by UiTM vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim at the Dewan Tuanku Canselor (DATC) here.

Also present were the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and Education Minister Maszlee Malik.

In accepting the scroll, the Sultan thanked UiTM, especially the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who is also UiTM Chancellor for the honour.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said it was a great honour for him and the people of Brunei to receive the award which served as a catalyst to promote bilateral ties between the two countries.

“I am pleased that the relations between the two nations have always been strengthened through cooperation between Brunei and Malaysian universities including UiTM.

“I understand that UiTM is working with the Islamic University of Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), Brunei to organise an international halal conference this April,” he said.

He expressed hope that the good relationship would continue through collaborative efforts in the field of research and through student exchange programmes between the two institutions of higher learning.

Meanwhile, Mohd Azraai in his speech said the award was in recognition of the Brunei Sultan’s contribution towards his Islamic approach in ruling the country which has led to rapid development in terms of education and socio— economic development of the Muslim community.

Full report at:



Johor Sultan warns against ratifying UN conventions, accuses Putrajaya of violating Constitution

23 March 2019

By Zurairi AR

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 —  Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has accused Putrajaya today of going against the Federal Constitution in its move to ratify several core human rights conventions, including the recent Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In an address at his birthday celebration in Johor Baru, he also harshly labelled those who are allegedly disputing the authorities of state rulers and governments when it comes to Islam, water, forestry, and land as “traitors”.

“Any party that touches the rights and powers of a ruler or state government, is breaking the law and can be considered as traitors,” he said.

“The action of the federal government to ratify ICERD and signed the Rome Statute is an action that is contradictory to the Federal Constitution because it touches on the power of the rulers and the special status of the Malays as well as the sanctity of Islam in the country.”

The text of his speech was published by his crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim on his Facebook page.

ICERD refers to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination — which Putrajaya has backed off from ratifying following pressure from Malay-Muslim lobby groups.

The ICERD seeks to oblige countries to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, is able to enjoy a long list of rights some may take for granted, including the right to freedom of expression, the right of peaceful assembly, the right to work, the right to housing, the right to medical care, social security, education and even the right to access places for the public’s use such as restaurants, theatres and parks.

“The government should remember on the social contract in the history of the formulation of the Federation of Malaya, where the special status of the Malays and the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong along with the Malay rulers are not to be touched or infringed,” the sultan added.

The sultan’s remark came even after Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has decreed earlier this month to dispel any misinformation regarding the International Criminal Court Statute, including the claim that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will be exposed to the prosecution.

Wisma Putra has also repeatedly explained that the Agong cannot be held responsible towards the four core international crimes covered by the statute: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

Putrajaya also explained that ratifying the statute does not require the agreement of the Conference of Rulers, since it does not fall under the nine issues stipulated under Articles 159(5) and 38(4) of the Constitution.

Despite that, it said the Cabinet will still inform the Agong of the decision in respect of the principles of Constitutional Monarchy.

Sultan Ibrahim today warned the federal government against ratifying any international conventions just for the sake of foreign recognition, claiming it would jeopardise the rights and sovereignty of the country and its citizens.

Pakatan Harapan had in its manifesto pledged to ratify core United Nations conventions to in order to protect the human rights of Malaysians.

Sultan Iskandar then reminded members of the public that Johor is an independent sovereign state that has existed prior to the Federation of Malaya and Malaysia.

“This sovereignty means Johor has powers and rights in executing matters as enshrined in the state and Federal Constitution,” he said.

Despite the sultan’s claim, as one of the states in the federation of Malaysia, Johor’s jurisdiction is spelled out in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. Foreign policy is under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

The remark today came following a protest by Malay-Muslim groups yesterday in Johor, who submitted a memorandum to the sultan protesting against acceding the Rome Statute.

Full report at:





Arab Coalition launches air raids on Houthi drone storage sites in Sanaa

24 March 2019

The Arab Coalition mounted air raids targeting Houthi sites in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa on Saturday.

The raids targeted two sites in Sanaa, which were used by the Houthi militia to store unmanned drones.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said the raids targeted two sites used by Houthi forces to store drones.

The raids are part of an operation launched in January to destroy the Houthis’ drone capabilities, al-Maliki said.

“We are asking civilians not to approach the targeted sites for their own safety,” a statement read.

Al Arabiya sources also confirmed that the Arab Coalition launched separate air raids on Houthi sites in the province of al-Bayda.

Earlier in the day, the Arab Coalition launched air raids on Houthi camps in Sanaa, including the al-Dulaimi air base. This comes hours after the Houthis announced the downing of a coalition aircraft on the outskirts of Sanaa, according to the militias' media outlets.

Yemen’s National Army, backed by the Arab Coalition, managed on Saturday to liberate new strategic positions in Saada’s Kitaf al-Boqe'e district, which were previously held by the Houthis.



Israel strikes Gaza over bomb balloons

23 March 2019

The Israeli military said Saturday it launched airstrikes against two groups of Palestinians in Gaza, after they allegedly flew balloons rigged with explosives into Israel.

“Troops identified a terrorist squad which launched explosive balloons into Israeli territory from the southern Gaza Strip. In response, an Israel Defense Forces aircraft fired towards the terrorists.”

A subsequent statement said that an aircraft fired at “an additional terrorist squad” which also launched explosive balloons from southern Gaza.

The military did not say if the targets were hit, but a Palestinian security source said that two people were wounded in the first attack. He did not know the extent of their injuries.

Gazans regularly launch kites and balloons carrying explosive or incendiary devices into neighboring Israel, causing extensive damage to farmland and some harm to residential buildings.

Israel has vowed to retaliate for every incident.

At least 257 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since weekly border protests began nearly a year ago.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

On Friday the Gaza health ministry said that two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in two separate border clashes.

The Israeli army did not comment on the deaths but said “approximately 9,500 rioters and demonstrators” gathered in various locations, “hurling explosive devices, hard objects and rocks” at troops.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya is calling for a mass turnout for border protests scheduled for the first anniversary of the demonstrations, on March 30.

Full report at:



Palestinians hold funerals for two men killed during weekly protests in Gaza

Mar 23, 2019

Hundreds of Palestinian mourners in Gaza took part in funeral processions on Saturday (March 23) for two men who were killed during border protests a day earlier.



Turkey’s ex-premier squares up for Istanbul election battle

March 24, 2019

ISTANBUL: If former Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim wants a reminder of how much he needs to win as Istanbul mayor in this month’s election, he just has to listen to his boss.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who started his own political career as Istanbul mayor, likes to tell his Justice and Development Party (AKP) that winning the country’s economic hub is like winning Turkey itself.

Picking a well-known name and ruling party heavyweight like Yildirim for mayor shows how key Istanbul remains for Erdogan. The Turkish leader has been campaigning hard around Turkey, often in Istanbul, to drum up support for the AKP before the March 31 municipal election.

Even though Yildirim is the favourite, the stakes are high: Turkey’s economy is in recession and a lira currency crisis and double-digit inflation are threatening to undermine some AKP support at the ballot box.

“We should not underestimate the Istanbul mayor office. Look at Mr.Chirac,” Yildirim told AFP referring to Jacques Chirac, the late French president who was mayor of Paris from 1977-95 in between two stints as prime minister.

The vote in Istanbul, with a population of 15 million out of Turkey’s 80 million, will be a major test for Erdogan’s party to consolidate its power. Istanbul is seen as a political bellwether with its mixed population of secular and conservative Turks as well as Kurds.

In the 2017 referendum on the new executive presidential system that concentrated powers under the Turkish leader, Istanbul narrowly voted against Erdogan’s plan.

“Istanbul is a country on its own,” he said.

Erdogan is actively touring for the AKP even though he is not standing for election. In Istanbul alone, he has held over a dozen rallies in several neighbourhoods in the past few weeks.

On Sunday, Erdogan called a giant rally, with his right-wing ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli in Istanbul’s Yenikapi district.

Fielding a younger candidate, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) hopes a fresh approach will help them take the Istanbul mayor’s office from Erdogan’s ally.

Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, current mayor of Istanbul’s Beylukduzu district on the outskirts of the city, worked in a family business and was a board member of a Turkish football team.

A loyalist to Erdogan since the 1990s, Yildirim holds no grudge over the disappearance of the prime minister office he held for two years. He even campaigned for “Yes” in the 2017 vote on reforms that handed Erdogan more authority.

“Two captains can sink a ship. There should be only one captain,” he said at the time of the vote that abolished the premier’s office.

Yildirim, born into a poor family in an eastern province, served as transport minister between 2002 and 2014 and oversaw grandiose projects from new highways and high-speed trains to tunnels and bridges.

Erdogan often touts such projects as a symbol of Turkey’s success during his time in power. But Yildirim has never shown any ambition to outshine the president.

Known for his slow-talking style, the AKP candidate says in the introduction of a rap tune prepared for his election: “I speak slow but I work fast like my surname.” His surname means “lightning.”

Yildirim never makes secret of his love for Istanbul.

“Istanbul is all my youth, a city that has given me everything, so to serve this city is a big honor for me,” Yildirim said.

Asked if his boss Erdogan was giving him advice, Yildirim said: “Of course. We always benefit from his experiences.”

Both candidates have shown an appetite to win over the other’s side’s supporters in the cosmopolitan city.

At one campaign rally, religiously conservative Yildirim was seen saluting residents drinking beer at street tables in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district on the Asian side, which is known as a CHP bastion.

And Imamoglu, in a video on social media, was seen reciting the Qur'an at Eyup mosque — for Muslims massacred in New Zealand attacks this month — in an AKP stronghold.

Imamoglu hopes his discreet profile could turn out to be an “advantage,” against a popular AKP candidate.

“Society has recently built a resistance against all that is well known in politics,” he told AFP.

The CHP candidate lamented that conditions were not equal, especially with most Turkish media taking a pro-Erdogan line. But he was still in the fight.

Full report at:



North America


Syria asks UN council to uphold resolutions on Golan

23 March 2019

Syria on Friday asked the UN Security Council to uphold resolutions declaring that Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights after President Donald Trump said the United States would recognize Israel’s annexation of the territory.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari urged the council to “take practical measures to ensure that the council is fulfilling ... its mandate in the implementation of its resolutions” concerning the Golan, in a letter seen by AFP.

The council is scheduled to discuss the Golan on Wednesday during a meeting on renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force deployed between Israel and Syria in the Golan, known as UNDOF.

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.

Donald J. Trump


After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!


10:20 PM - Mar 21, 2019

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In the letter, the Syrian ambassador also asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to reaffirm the UN position on Israel’s occupation of the Golan, which it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Asked about Trump’s stance, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said UN policy was based on council resolutions and those of the General Assembly on the status of the Golan.

“The resolutions are of course unchanged,” said Haq. “Our policies have not changed in that regard.”

The United States backed Resolution 242 adopted in 1967, which calls on Israel to withdraw from territories it occupied in the Six-Day war and refers to the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.”

The council adopted another resolution in 1973 that reaffirmed the demand for a withdrawal and in 1981, backed a separate measure that rejected Israel’s annexation of the Golan.

After Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a group of Arab countries presented a resolution in 2017 condemning the decision to the General Assembly that won overwhelming support.

UN diplomats said it was premature to speculate as to whether there would be a similar measure in the assembly.



Sanders speaks at US mosque in the wake of deadly terrorist attack in New Zealand

Mar 23, 2019

US Senator Bernie Sanders attends a mosque in the state of California in the wake of deadly attacks against two mosques in New Zealand by a white supremacist shooter.

“In this difficult moment, not only in American history where we see a rise in hate crimes, and not only in a world where we see a growing tendency toward authoritarianism, where demagogues are picking on minority communities all over this world, now is the time … for us to stand up to hatred of all kinds," Sanders said during the event Saturday.

The 2020 presidential candidate visited the Islamic Center of Southern California, where religious leaders and people from other faiths had gathered to commemorate the 50 lives lost in the mass shooting earlier this month in Christchurch, New Zealand.

"To show the world that this nation in fact will be a leader in bringing our people together regardless of their religion, and to create an economy that works for all of us, an environment that works for all of us, and a world in which love will conquer hate,” said the Vermont senator.

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Bernie Sanders


In this difficult moment, where we see a rise in hate crimes and a growing tendency toward authoritarianism, now is the time for everybody to come together and to show the world that love will conquer hate.


12:21 AM - Mar 24, 2019 • Los Angeles, CA

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Fifty people died and dozens were injured in twin shootings on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15.

Described as a terrorist attack by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, it was the worst ever peacetime mass killing in the country.

The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan. Muslims account for just over one percent of New Zealand's population.

The attack revived calls for an end to Islamophobia in the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Trump has been urged to assure Muslims that they are protected and that he will not tolerate violence against their community.

The US president's condemnation of the massacre was mild and did not involve the word “Muslims.”

Full report at:





U.N. draws up plans to 'facilitate' Rohingya relocation to island

MARCH 23, 2019

YANGON (Reuters) - The United Nations is making plans to help Bangladesh relocate thousands of Rohingya refugees to a remote island off its coast, documents seen by Reuters show, a move opposed by many refugees and that some human rights experts fear could spark a new crisis.

Bangladesh says transporting refugees to Bhasan Char – a Bay of Bengal island hours by boat from the mainland – will ease chronic overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar, which are home to more than 1 million Rohingya, members of a Muslim minority who have fled neighboring Myanmar.

Humanitarian and human rights groups have criticized the relocation proposal, saying the island is flood-prone, vulnerable to frequent cyclones and could be completely submerged during a high tide.

A document drawn up by the World Food Programme (WFP), the U.N.’s food aid arm, shows the agency has supplied the Bangladesh government with detailed plans – including a timeline and budget – of how it could provide for thousands of Rohingya transported to the island within weeks. It stresses that any relocation should be voluntary and done “in accordance with humanitarian principles and code of conduct”.

The document, labeled as a “Concept of Operations” and dated March 12, outlines how the organization and its partners “may facilitate the identification, staging, forward movement, reception, and sustainment of refugees” on Bhasan Char, estimating an initial appeal for donor funding of between $8.6 and $19 million.

More detailed operational planning would be needed it says, noting the Concept of Operations had been “developed quickly and without the benefit of any recent on-site assessment”.

Gemma Snowdon, communications officer for WFP in Cox’s Bazar, said the organization was part of “ongoing discussions” with the government over the future of the refugee response.

“The viability of safely relocating people to Bhasan Char needs to be thoroughly assessed and WFP is investigating the potential operational needs, financial costs, and challenges in several areas that we traditionally support in emergencies: food security, emergency telecommunications and logistics,” she said.


The numbers of refugees in the Cox’s Bazar camps have grown dramatically since August 2017, when a Myanmar military-led crackdown that U.N. investigators have said was conducted with “genocidal intent” prompted some 730,000 Rohingya to flee. Myanmar has denied almost all allegations of atrocities made by refugees during what is says was a legitimate counterterrorism operation by its security forces.

Bangladesh says it is struggling to cope with the influx and wants to start relocating thousands of refugees to the island, which it says has been secured with flood defense embankments and cyclone shelters.

A senior U.N. official told reporters in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Thursday the organization welcomed the fact the government had “taken steps to identify alternative settlements”.

“As you also know if you have been to Kutapalong and the various camps in Cox’s Bazar area, it is clear that there is huge congestion,” said Volker Turk, Assistant High Commissioner for the U.N. refugee agency.

Mozammel Haque, the head of Bangladesh’s cabinet committee on law and order and a senior government minister, told Reuters in an interview the government planned to start moving refugees next month.

“We are in talks with U.N. agencies and they have agreed,” he said. “Now we are working on other things like how to move them and other strategies. We are the host country. We will decide where to keep them. And we are doing everything to ensure their safety and security.”

Abul Kalam, the Relief and Repatriation Commission chief based in Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters preparations were “still going on” and the site was not ready.


Bhasan Char, a flat and featureless island that emerged from the sea 20 years ago, has never been inhabited.

Humanitarians have not visited since a four-hour trip in September 2018, according to WFP. An internal report produced after that visit, also seen by Reuters, found a 1,500-acre area of the 13,000-acre island had been encircled by a nine-foot (3 meter) embankment, short of the 21-foot barrier recommended by WFP.

Housing with corrugated iron roofs and concrete floors and walls for about 70,000 people had been built, but there were only enough cyclone shelters for 17,000.

A U.N. human rights investigator who visited in January said earlier this month she feared a “new crisis” if Rohingya were taken to the island.

“There are a number of things that remain unknown to me even following my visit, chief among them being whether the island is truly habitable,” said Yanghee Lee, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.

In Cox’s Bazar, local officials are compiling lists of the first refugees to be moved, District Administrator Mohammad Kamal Hossain told Reuters.

On Thursday, a poem by a Rohingya refugee titled ‘Do Not Send Me to the Island’ was posted to social media. “I’m a human being, I deserve all human rights,” it read.

“You know, we are refugees, surviving in refugee camp for two years,” the author, 22-year-old Mohammed Rezuwan, told Reuters in a message. “Still we are tolerating so much tragedies.”



Turkey’s Erdogan shows shooting video again, hours after NZ meeting

23 March 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan replayed graphic footage of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting at an election rally on Friday – just hours after that country’s foreign minister met him and said he believed the controversial showings had stopped.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters arrived in Istanbul on Friday to talk to Erdogan about the footage and comments he has made on the shooting of 50 people at mosques in Christchurch a week ago, which have drawn condemnation from New Zealand and Australia.

But Peters emerged from a brief meeting with Erdogan and struck a conciliatory tone, saying that he had not raised at the meeting some of the most controversial comments the Turkish leader has made at rallies.

He also said that he had not asked Erdogan to stop showing the videos.

“I did not ask that question because I felt that I did not have to ask it, because they are not doing that anymore,” Peters told reporters after attending a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Two hours later, however, Erdogan paused his speech at an election rally in the central province of Konya so that the audience could watch the video footage of the shootings that the alleged gunman had broadcasted on Facebook on March 15.

The video, which governments and social media sites have attempted to take down since the incident, was blurred but the gunshots were heard.

Erdogan is seeking to drum up support for his AK Party in the March 31 local elections. He has shown different versions of the video about a dozen times throughout the week, including on Thursday.

“The New Zealand deputy Prime Minister came with a delegation and we had a chance to talk before coming here. We discussed and agreed upon what we should do,” Erdogan told supporters in Konya without elaborating.

‘Coffins’ comment goes unaddressed

The massacre in New Zealand was carried out by a lone gunman at two mosques. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with one murder following the attack and is likely to face more charges.

In rallies across Turkey, Erdogan has since called on New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if that country did not. Referring to a “manifesto” posted online by the attacker, he said Turkey will return “in coffins” anyone who tried to take the battle to Istanbul.

Peters told reporters he had not addressed these comments with Erdogan because he did not think it would serve a “long-term peaceful purpose,” adding that he had received assurances regarding the safety of New Zealanders visiting Turkey.

In an address to leaders of Muslim countries attending the OIC meeting, including Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Turkey, Peters defended New Zealand’s response to the shooting and said the perpetrator would spend his life in prison.

“This person will face the full force of New Zealand law, and will spend the rest of his life in isolation in a New Zealand prison,” Peters said, adding later that “misinterpretations” in the days following the shooting had been cleared up following his meeting with Erdogan and the OIC.

Before leaving Istanbul to attend the election rally, Erdogan told the OIC that the empathy and reaction displayed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern since the incident “should be an example to world leaders.”

Earlier on Friday, Ardern said Peters had gone to Turkey to “set the record straight” amid the diplomatic row.

Earlier in the week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Erdogan’s comments “deeply offensive,” though on Thursday he said progress had been made and “we’ve already seen the moderation of the president’s views.”

No other heads of state or government attended the gathering of the OIC, which groups together Muslim countries to protect the interests of the Muslim world. It met on Friday to discuss Islamophobia and the New Zealand shooting.

Relations have generally been good between Turkey, New Zealand and Australia, with thousands traveling to Turkey each year to commemorate soldiers in the ANZAC army corps who died at Gallipoli just over a century ago.

Full report at:



Macron says ISIS defeat eliminates ‘significant threat’ to France

23 March 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday that the fall of the so-called “caliphate” run by ISIS extremist group in Syria has removed a source of potential terror attacks against France.

“A significant threat to our country” has been “eliminated”, Macron said on Twitter, adding that “the step taken today is immense.”

“But the threat remains and the fight against terrorist groups must continue,” he said.

France has suffered a wave of jihadist-inspired terror attacks that have killed 250 people since 2015, when gunmen massacred 12 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The next day a man took hostages at a Jewish supermarket on the edge of Paris, killing four before being shot and killed by police.

“If you attack the caliphate, we will attack you,” the attacker, Amedy Coulibaly, said in a posthumous video.

Macron’s comments came as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and other officials gathered in Trebes, southern France, to mark the first anniversary of a shooting spree by a man claiming allegiance to ISIS.

Four people were killed by gunman Radouane Lakdim, including a police officer who volunteered to take the place of a hostage.

Kurdish-led forces pronounced the death of the nearly five-year-old “caliphate” Saturday after flushing out ISIS extremist group militants from their last redoubt in Baghouz, eastern Syria.

France has said it would maintain its participation in the coalition in case the fighters attempt to regroup, despite plans by the United States to withdraw the bulk of its troops from Syria.

The Western allies in the US-led coalition fighting ISIS remnants are negotiating with Washington on the residual force that will remain after most of the American soldiers are brought home.

France has contributed around 1,200 soldiers to the coalition backing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Full report at:



UK’s secret war: British commandos wounded in Yemen

Mar 24, 2019

A number of elite British commandos have sustained injuries in direct gunfights with Yemeni forces as part of what appears to be a secretive UK military campaign in Yemen, a new report says, adding a major twist to London’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s deadly war against its impoverished southern neighbor.

The Mail on Sunday said it can reveal that at least five members of the UK’s Special Boat Service (SBS) troops had suffered gunshot injuries in fierce clashes with members of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, who have been repelling the Saudi-led military invasion since March 2015.

The SBS personnel received treatment for leg and arm wounds in Yemen’s northern Sa’ada province, where the report said around 30 elite British forces had been based.

The injured soldiers had been taken back to the UK to recover, the report added.

“The guys are fighting in inhospitable desert and mountainous terrain against highly committed and well-equipped Houthi rebels. The SBS’s role is mainly training and mentoring but on occasions they have found themselves in firefights and some British troops have been shot,” an SBS source told the Mail.

“In a contact a few weeks ago, a SBS guy was shot in the hand and another guy was shot in the leg. Their injuries were a reminder that this is a very dangerous assignment. Obviously nothing about the mission will be confirmed publicly by the Ministry of Defense unless a UK soldier is killed – they’d have to announce that.”

The SBS teams deployed to Yemen include medics, translators and Forward Air Controllers (FACs), who are tasked with directing Saudi air support.

The SBS, a 200-strong force based at Poole in the British town of Dorset, is a maritime Special Forces unit that mainly recruits the Royal Marines. The force has been known for its operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently in Syria.

The revelation that British forces are fighting in Yemen came after Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster admitted that London had long been servicing UK-made fighter jets Saudi Arabia was using to indiscriminately bomb Yemeni people.

Lancaster told the parliament last Monday that Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) was providing “engineering support”  and “generic training” to Saudi Arabian military.

'UK engineers nearly died in Yemeni drone attack'

According to the new report, British engineers stationed at the King Khalid Air Base in the southwestern parts of the kingdom narrowly escaped a Yemeni drone attack.

The attack, carried out by a “suicide drone” that exploded on the runway, destroyed at least two of the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF)’s UK-made Tornado fighter jets which were kept at the base for maintenance purposes.

The new report is expected to spark angry criticism from British politicians and activist groups that have long criticized London’s support for Saudis over the course of what has been referred to by the UN as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

Humanitarian crisis deteriorating in Yemen: UN

Andrew Mitchell, a British Member of Parliament the former secretary of state for international development, said the UK was “shamefully complicit” in Saudi Arabia’s atrocities in Yemen.

He also urged the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to brief Parliament about the role of the British troops in the conflict.

This puts British soldiers on the same side as Saudi-funded Yemeni militias and foreign soldiers who have been recruited by Riyadh to fight the war on behalf of the Saudi military.

A former British serviceman who had returned from Yemen earlier this year said the Saudi-led coalition – which includes repressive regional regimes like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - was paying money to recruit children as young as 13 as mercenaries.

“The tribal leaders accept payments from the Saudis and the UAE in return for youths aged 13 and 14 to bolster the front line. They are poorly armed and have no body armor,” he said.

He said Riyadh was hiring mercenaries because Saudi soldiers didn’t want to leave their air-conditioned shelters.

“They (the Saudi forces) don’t want to be in Yemen at all,” the former serviceman told the Mail.

Saudi, UAE recruiting 1000s of African mercenaries

Saudi Arabia began its deadly aggression against Yemen with a declared goal of destroying the Houthis and reinstating fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch Riyadh ally.

The UK, along with the US, seized on the opportunity and signed major arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom, while also providing it with target intelligence and personnel training throughout the conflict.

The UK has licensed over £4.7 billion worth of arms exports, including missiles and fighter jets, to Riyadh since the deadly conflict began in 2015. May has so far faced down calls for a ban on the weapons sales despite the growing humanitarian disaster.

Full report at:



More than $7.4 million donated to help families in NZ shooting

March 23, 2019

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: More than NZ$10.8 million ($7.4 million) in public donations has been received so far to help families of the 50 people killed in New Zealand’s mosque shootings, according to a pair of fund-raising websites.

A support fund on New Zealand site had received NZ$8,271,847 from more than 91,000 donors as of Sunday, while, a global crowdfunding platform focused on Muslims, had netted NZ$2,546,126 from over 40,000 donors.

The slaughter of 50 people at Friday prayers in two Christchurch mosques on March 15 shocked the normally laid-back country and prompted global horror, heightened by the gunman’s cold-blooded livestreaming of the massacre.

Since then, New Zealanders have responded with an outpouring of support for the country’s small Muslim community.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week that the country would cover the costs of burying the 50 victims as well as “repatriation costs for any family members who would like to move their loved ones away from New Zealand.”

The attack also left dozens of people injured, some critically.

Full report at:





Gurugram: Outrage after Muslim family thrashed for playing cricket on Holi, asked to go to Pak

March 23, 2019

At least 35 to 40 goons assaulted three to four people belonging to a Muslim family in Bhondsi area, Gurugram on Holi (March 21). A video showing the assault has surfaced online.

Gujjars attack Muslims family in Gurgaon and India police is sleeping.

Ahmed Shaikh (@AhmedSh74648708) March 23, 2019

Reports claimed that the goons told the Muslim family to go to Pakistan.

An FIR under various Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections, including an attempt to murder among other sections, was registered in Bhondsi police station after which the police arrested six of the attackers.

ACP (Crime) Shamsher Singh said that the victims were playing cricket outside their residence in Bhup Singh Nagar in Gurugram around 5 pm on Holi when the incident took place.

"As per statement given by one of the victims, identified as Shahid, the attackers were inebriated and asked the victims not to play cricket on the street. Following this, both the groups got into an argument and the goons trashed the victims with batons, iron rods, hockey sticks, and water pipes," said Singh.

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 Haryana: #Visuals from the residence in Gurugram that was vandalised & where the family members were beaten up on March 21. Police registered a case; police said, "children of a local were playing cricket, a few men threatened them asking not to play cricket there &attacked them"


11:08 AM - Mar 23, 2019

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As the victims tried to escape, a few attackers followed them and thrashed them inside their house until Shahid lost consciousness.

Meanwhile, the other goons pelted stones at the house. The attackers thrashed them even after the victims' family members kept pleading them to stop and leave the house.

One of the victims filmed the entire incident in Gurugram. "We have video grabs of the incident and efforts are on to identify other accused," Singh added.

Meanwhile, Shahid's father Mohamad Shamshad claimed that they tried to contact the local police many times but the police didn't come to the rescue and the attackers kept beating them for about half an hour.

Reacting to the assault on the Muslim family, users took to Twitter to slam the incident.

A user wrote, "This is New India, some Hindu person attack on Muslim family in a developed city of Gurugram. What's the thinking of such people and government of India about Muslims."

Another user tweeted, This is what Modi’s #NewIndia is all about."

A user also said, "This is so ridiculous. Justice must be given."

"Not at all fair, highly condemnable," a user also tweeted.



Family of held ‘JeM’ operative claims he was arrested in February

Mar 24, 2019

The family of arrested alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed operative Sajjad Khan claimed he had been arrested by the police more than a month ago, and not on March 21. The family’s allegations come a day after the Delhi Police’s special cell arrested Khan, allegedly a close aide of Pulwama attack mastermind Mudasir’s.

Khan’s family says he was arrested on February 16 along with other six other Kashmiri shawl vendors and said he was innocent, claiming he was earning a livelihood by selling shawls.

The suspect’s family, who live in Handoora village in Tral Pulwama said Khan, had gone to Delhi with other people from across the district in search of work, and had all been arrested.

“My son, along with other youths, was arrested in a raid on February 16. It is baseless that my son was arrested on March 21. I went to Delhi and met officials there and remained there for 24 days. They (officials) assured me that my son will be released very soon, but they neither allowed me to meet him, nor did they give me a chance to see him,’’ said his father, Ghulam Nabi Khan.

He said officials in Delhi told him to go home and that his son would be released and sent home without any harm. “I reached home three days ago, and now they are saying my son was arrested on March 21. If I am lying about hism being arrested last month, the other Kashmiri persons who were arrested with my son can reveal the true story, if they are released soon. They have framed incorrect charges against my son.’’

Full report at:





Govt striving to transform Pakistan into modern welfare state: Fawad

March 24, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Saturday said that the present government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan was striving to convert Pakistan into a modern welfare state as envisioned by the founding fathers Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

In a message, he paid rich tributes to the martyrs and Ghazis of the nation and offered hearty congratulations to the nation on this auspicious occasion.

The minister said that Pakistan is a sacred trust of the martyrs and Ghazis and its protection and development were obligatory.

He said that those who tried to betray this sacred trust were punished by Almighty Allah.

Today’s is the day of renewal of the pledge to move forward following the ideology of our forefathers.

Today, we have to remember the great sacrifices of our forefathers,  who had strived to build a strong and prosperous state under the leadership of Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

They had dreamt of a state where rules for rich and poor were not different, where social justice can be ensured and equal opportunities would be available for all, he said adding that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was working to achieve this goal. He said that bright future is awaiting Pakistan, and the new and proud  Pakistan will emerge in the coming days and months.

By following the Quaid’s principles of the unity, faith and discipline, we have to devote ourselves to the construction of Pakistan, he said.



Islamabad’s Overtures Are Constructive Thinking, India Told

March 24, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood said on Saturday Pakistan’s peace gestures to India showed his country’s forward looking approach for the future of the region.

Speaking at a flag-hoisting ceremony at the Pakistan High Commission on the occasion of Pakistan Day, the high commissioner, according to a press statement issued from New Delhi, said that Pakistani government’s overtures should not be seen as “a sign of weakness”, rather they should be looked as “constructive thinking of a secure and confident nation”.

Take a look: How Pakistan, India pulled back from brink of war

The high commissioner earlier on Friday hosted a reception on the eve of Pakistan Day in which he emphasised the need for dialogue to address all bilateral issues including that of Kashmir. “Diplomacy and dialogue remain indispensable for enhancing mutual understanding, addressing mutual concerns, and resolving long-standing disputes including Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Mr Mahmood noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to release captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan, return of two high commissioners to their respective missions and the initiation of the discussion on developing modalities for the operationalisation of Kartarpur Corridor showed that things in the bilateral relationship were moving in a positive direction.

He recalled the strides Pakistan had made in democracy, economic development, independence of judiciary, promotion of free media and growth of a vibrant civil society since its independence in 1947.

Pakistan Day in other countries

IRAN: Pakistan Ambassador to Iran Riffat Masood, while speaking at a Pakistan Day ceremony in Tehran, hoped that Pakistan and Iran ties would improve. She also said the leadership of both the countries was committed to betterment in their relationship. Amb Masood called upon the Pakistani community to remain committed to serving their country, reiterating the need for forging national unity to overcome challenges faced by the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Hassan Rouhani in their conversation earlier this month agreed on the need for closer cooperation among the two intelligence agencies of their countries in combating terrorism. Successful recovery of four kidnapped Iranian border guards by Pakistani law enforcement agencies last week helped improve the atmospherics in the relationship that had become tense since the bombing of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps bus in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province in February. IRAQ: Pakistan Ambassador to Iraq Sajid Bilal hoisted the national flag at a Pakistan Day ceremony at the embassy in Baghdad. Speaking on the occasion, Amb Bilal said Pakistan “successfully confronted extraordinary challenges and made notable gains against extremism and terrorism”. He said Pakistan was, however, still faced with the challenge of socio-economic development.

Prominent members of Pakistani community in Iraq, a wide cross section of Iraqi society including prominent politicians, members of the parliament, officials of various ministries, the academia, philanthropists, journalists, businessmen and members of Baghdad-based diplomatic corps attended a reception hosted by the embassy in the evening.

One-minute silence was also observed at the reception for the victims of the ferry that capsized near Mosul in Ninawa province of Iraq. Over hundred passengers including 12 children lost their lives when an overcrowded ferry capsized in the River Tigris on Thursday.

Amb Bilal later called on Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to convey Pakistani government’s condolences on the tragic loss of precious lives in the ferry accident. Iraq is observing three-day mourning over the incident.

UAE: Ambassador to the UAE Moazzam Ahmad Khan in his speech at a Pakistan Day ceremony in Abu Dhabi recalled the challenges confronted by Pakistan since its inception and how through national resolve, resilience and commitment by the Pakistani nation had overcome them.

“While appreciating the unity and maturity displayed by [the] Pakistani nation during the recent unprovoked Indian aggression against Pakistan, the ambassador reiterated the readiness of Pakistan to play its part in winning lasting peace in the region,” the mission in Emirates said in a statement.

The ambassador thanked friends of Pakistan particularly the UAE who has always stood by it in difficult times and contributed to its development. He said the successive meetings between the leadership of two countries in recent months had transformed these bilateral relations into strategic partnership.

Full report at:



PM has ordered to investigate two Hindu girls’ alleged abduction case: Info minister

March 24, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Sunday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered to investigate the abduction case of two Hindu girls.

Tweeting about the development, the information minister wrote: “Today, Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued the orders to investigate the abduction case of two Hindu girls and news about them being shifted to Rahim Yar Khan. After immediate investigations, two girls should be found and released.”

Ch Fawad Hussain


 آج صبح وزیر اعظم عمران خان نے وزیر اعلی! کو یہ ہدائیت جاری کی ہے کہ سندہ سے اغوا ہونیوالی دو نو عمر ہندو لڑکیوں کے بارے میں ایسی اطلاعات ہیں کہ انھیں رحیم یار خان منتقل کیا گیا ہے، اس معاملے کی فوری تحقیقات کی جائیں اور اگر ایسا ہے تو بچیوں کو بازیاب کرایا جائے،


10:46 - 24 Mar 2019

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In the second tweet, Fawad Hussain said: “The prime minister has also asked Sindh and Punjab government to make a mutual policy regarding the issue. He has also asked the Sindh government to take concrete steps to stop such incidents. The minorities are the white colour of our minorities and we love every colour of the flag.”

Ch Fawad Hussain


• 1h

 آج صبح وزیر اعظم عمران خان نے وزیر اعلی! کو یہ ہدائیت جاری کی ہے کہ سندہ سے اغوا ہونیوالی دو نو عمر ہندو لڑکیوں کے بارے میں ایسی اطلاعات ہیں کہ انھیں رحیم یار خان منتقل کیا گیا ہے، اس معاملے کی فوری تحقیقات کی جائیں اور اگر ایسا ہے تو بچیوں کو بازیاب کرایا جائے،

Ch Fawad Hussain


وزیر اعظم نے سندہ اور پنجاب حکومت کو یہ بھی ہدائیت کی ہے کہ اس معاملے پر مشترکہ حکمت عملی اختیار کریں اور سندہ حکومت ایسے واقعات کے تدارک کیلئے ٹھوس اقدامات اٹھائے، پاکستان میں اقلیتیں ہمارے جھنڈے کا سفید رنگ ہیں اور ہمیں اپنے تمام رنگ عزیز ہیں اور اپنے پرچم کی حفاظت ہمارا فرض ہے


10:47 - 24 Mar 2019

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On Thursday, two Hindu sisters, who were allegedly kidnapped from village Hafiz Salman near Deharki as per their parents, have embraced Islam, Ghotki’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) informed Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Kaleem Iman.

The girls’ father and brother, in videos circulating on social media, say that the two sisters were abducted and forced into changing their religion. However, a separate video of the minor girls is also making the rounds, in which they say that they accepted Islam of their own free will.

Human rights activist Jibran Nasir was among those who raised the issue on Twitter, sharing a video which he said was of the two sisters, one aged 14 and the other 16.

In the video, a cleric can be seen next to the girls and two men who they were married to. The cleric says the girls were inspired by Islam and alleges that their family is spreading “false propaganda” and is threatening their lives.

Jibran Nasir said the Hindu sisters were converted at the Dargah Barchundi Sharif. “As per Dargah, girls wanted to convert to Islam since long influenced by its teachings, but first act after the conversion was underage marriage,” he said. The girls were reportedly taken to Rahim Yar Khan following their marriages.

Nasir also shared a copy of a first information report dated March 20, which was registered by the girls’ family against their alleged forced conversion to Islam.

FIR [registered] with local police for ‘abducting to compel to marriage’. Age in FIR is 14 and 16,” said Nasir. “Under Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, every citizen under 18 falls under the definition of child and can’t be married.”

Police has tried to dismiss the matter by citing a video of the two sisters in which they claim they willfully converted (sic) to Islam,” Nasir said.

Fawad said on Twitter that the Ministry of Human Rights had been “asked for an inquiry”. The information minister said he would share more information when it became available.

Karachi’s Central Police Office (CPO) claimed that the two Hindu girls who left their house stated in a recorded video that neither anyone had abducted them nor held them hostage as they had left their home on their own will and have embraced Islam without any pressure.

Reena, aged 14, and Raveena, aged 16 left their home as parents said that they had been abducted. However, locals were suspicious that the girls might have fled on their, but there was no confirmation in this regard.

Full report at:



Pakistan Day special service held at London’s Westminster Abbey church

March 24, 2019

The Westminster Abbey, which was founded in 960 AD, organised a special evensong in connection with the National Day of Pakistan, as per tradition.

The special service was held on the eve of March 23.

Westminster Abbey is a royal church in London and a world heritage site with over a thousand years of history.

Pakistani High Commissioner to United Kingdom Mohammad Nafees Zakaria represented Pakistan at the special service.

He was received by Dean of Westminster Dr John Hall. The Reverend Mark Birch led the evensong. The evensong was sung by the world-renowned choir of Westminster Abbey.

Special prayers were offered for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan and its people as well as for the continued friendship between the two countries. A large number of British citizens and church goers attended the event, besides the high commission’s officials.

Full report at:



Regional cooperation needed to counter terrorism, says Qureshi

March 24, 2019

BEIJING: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that instead of unwarranted criticism and rhetoric, the regional countries should develop cooperative approaches to counter the scourge of terrorism as it was a global problem and required concerted efforts of the international community to defeat it.

“Pakistan believes that terrorism is a global problem and requires concerted efforts of the international community to defeat it. Only through dialogue and constructive engagement, can we defeat this scourge throughout our region,” he told Global Times during his recent visit Beijing to co-chair China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue.

He remarked that it was therefore critical that instead of unwarranted criticism and rhetoric, the regional countries develop cooperative approaches to counter the scourge of terrorism.

“Pakistan is engaged bilaterally as well as multilaterally in development such approaches”, he added.

Responding to a question about the agenda of China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, he said that he co-chaired with State Councillor Wang Yi, the inaugural meeting of the Strategic Dialogue following a decision of the political leadership of both countries in November 2018 to elevate the dialogue to Foreign Minister’s level.

“I held in-depth discussions with State Councillor on the whole spectrum of our bilateral relations including high level exchanges, future development and direction of CPEC, cooperation in the fields of trade, defence and security, enhancing people-to-people exchanges and regional and international issues of mutual interest,” he added.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that this platform would serve as an opportunity to further consolidate our time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and reiterate our commitment to building closer China-Pakistan community of Shared Future in the New Era.

While commenting on significance of the strategic dialogue, he said that recent developments in South Asia were well known to the world. “World is also aware how the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has acted to deescalate the situation.”

Pakistan, he said, had convincingly manifested its quest for peace in the region by offering dialogue to India and investigation of the Pulwama incident if credible evidence was made available.

Afghanistan, he said was another area where Pakistan and China hold common views. Both countries were committed to peace and development in Afghanistan and in Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.

“The Strategic Dialogue with China not only reinforces our close friendly ties but also allows both sides to evaluate the regional situation and the steps which can be taken to improve it,” he added.

Introducing the new development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that philosophy of PTI  government was people-oriented and people-centric.

“As reflected in the Pak-China joint statement issued in November 2018, both the countries agreed to focus on socio-economic development, job creation, improving people’s livelihood, poverty alleviation, industrialization, development of industrial parks and agriculture- that is Phase-II of CPEC with the premise to build on the achievements of Phase-I,” he added.

About Prime Minister Imran Khan’s forthcoming visit to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, he said that at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan would attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019.

“PM Imran Khan is expected to hold meetings with Chinese leadership on the side-lines of the Forum. More details will be released in due course,” he added.

To a question about Saudi Arabia’s pledge of US$20 investment in Pakistan, he said that Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were brotherly countries and old friends.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman have carved a new vision for future development of bilateral relations. “Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030″ to become an investment powerhouse and global hub connecting three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa fits neatly with Pakistan’s own vision of a regional trading hub and connectivity corridor,” he added.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that President Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative had drawn attention of the world and countries along the Belt and Road were seeking means of collaborative and integrated economic development.

He said that CPEC was the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative and added, “It is primarily a bilateral project between Pakistan and China. CPEC will bring economic dividends to the region”.

“We are open to project-based participation of third countries including Saudi Arabia in the development of CPEC,” he added.

Regarding Pakistan’s relations with India after Pulwama attack, he said that China was a voice of reason and wisdom in our region.

“We value and appreciate China’s support and for its call to exercise restraint and upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. We welcome the Chinese efforts and its good offices to stabilize the situation in our region,” he added.

On expectation for an ideal Pak-India relationship, he said that since assumption of office in August 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan had made several peace overtures to India including the Kartarpur Corridor and release of Indian pilot.

Full report at:





At least 134 Fulani herders killed in central Mali’s worst violence yet

March 23, 2019

BAMAKO: Gunmen killed at least 134 Fulani herders in central Mali on Saturday, a local mayor said, the deadliest such attack of recent times in a region reeling from worsening ethnic and jihadist violence.

The assaults on the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara took place as a UN Security Council mission visited Mali seeking solutions to violence that killed hundreds of civilians last year and is spreading across West Africa’s Sahel region.

Moulaye Guindo, mayor of the nearby town of Bankass, said armed men, dressed as traditional Donzo hunters, encircled and attacked Ogossagou at about 4 a.m. (0400 GMT).

“We are provisionally at 134 bodies recovered by the gendarmes,” Guindo told Reuters by telephone from Ogossagou.

He said another nearby Fulani village, Welingara, had also been attacked, causing “a number” of deaths, but he did not yet know how many.

Security sources said the dead included pregnant women, children and elderly people.

One Ogossagou resident, who asked not to be identified, said the attack appeared to be in retaliation for an Al-Qaeda affiliate’s claim of responsibility on Friday for a raid last week that killed 23 soldiers.

That group said that raid was payback for violence by Mali’s army and militiamen against the Fulani.

Jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Daesh have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger in recent years to boost recruitment and render vast swathes of territory virtually ungovernable.

French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the desert north but the militants have since regrouped and expanded their presence into central Mali and the neighboring countries.

Some 4,500 French troops remain based in the wider Sahel, most of them in Mali. The United States also has hundreds of troops in the region.

Security Council ambassadors met with Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and other government officials on Friday evening to discuss the violence and the slow implementation of a 2015 peace agreement with non-Islamist armed groups.

“Clear sense of frustration among many Security Council members at pace of implementation of Mali Peace Agreement,” Britain’s representative on the mission, Stephen Hickey, wrote on Twitter. “Security Council prepared to impose sanctions on those who impede its implementation.”



Fire breaks out at Sudan’s old presidential palace

23 March 2019

Thick plumes of smoke billowed into the sky Saturday as a fire ripped through Sudan’s old presidential palace in the capital Khartoum.

Police cordoned off the streets heading to the palace, built in 1832 on the bank of the Blue Nile, as smoke billowed from the building.

The fire broke out due to a short circuit in some of the offices on the second floor of the palace, the presidency said.

“Most offices in the old republican palace are not in use... the fire has now been brought under control,” Mohamed Saleh, an official at the presidency said in a statement.

He did not say whether there were any casualties.

The palace was the official seat of the Sudanese government in the decades following the country’s independence in 1956.

But in recent years, President Omar al-Bashir had shifted to a new palace from where he runs his administration’s daily affairs.

Full report at:



At least 11 wounded in Somalia attack claimed by al-Shabaab

23 March 2019

At least 11 people were wounded when gunmen set off explosions and stormed government ministries in Somalia's capital

Saturday in an attack claimed by the al-Shabaab extremist group, police said.

“There can be others inside but we have so far collected eleven people wounded in the attack,” said Abdukadir Abdirahman Adan, director of the Aamin ambulance service in the capital Mogadishu.

Police say the assault began when two explosions were set off near the ministries of public works and labor.

Gunmen entered the buildings following the blasts.

“The security forces rescued many of the staff from the buildings and they are still engaging some gunmen who managed to enter the building after the blast,” said security commander Ahmed Adan.

It remained unclear if there were any deaths in the attack.

The attack was claimed by the al-Shabaab Islamist group, which is fighting an armed insurrection in Somalia against what it sees as heretic and foreign influence.

Attacks that use a combination of bombs and gunmen have become a hallmark of the insurgents.

Earlier this month, at least 20 people died in an attack in Mogadishu which saw al-Shabaab extremists battling security forces for nearly 24 hours.

Full report at:



Al-Shabab attacks Somali government building in Mogadishu

Mar 23, 2019

At least 15 people, including an assistant minister, have been killed after al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants stormed a government building and detonated a suicide car bomb in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

The huge explosion shook the heart of Mogadishu on Saturday and a large plume of smoke rose above the scene of the blast, a building that houses Somalia's ministries of labor and works.

Police said the gunfight between security forces and militants had ended.

Earlier, Major Mohamed Hussein, a police officer told Reuters that two al-Shabab militants, who entered the building after the initial car bombing, had been killed in a firefight and that much of the building had been secured.

"We believe there are other militants hiding themselves," Hussein said.

Meanwhile, Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulance Service, also told Reuters that some people were still trapped inside the building.

Al-Shabab said one of its members had rammed the ministry building with a car bomb, allowing others to enter.

"We are inside the building and (the) fighting goes on. We shall give details later," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab's military operation spokesman told Reuters.

It was the latest bombing claimed by al-Shabab, which has long sought to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government.

The militant outfit was forced out of Mogadishu with the help of African Union forces in 2011. However, it still wields control in large parts of the countryside, and every now and then carries out deadly attacks against government, military, and civilian targets in the capital as well as regional towns.

The terrorist group has fought successive Somali governments as well as neighboring governments in Kenya and Uganda.

Full report at:




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