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Islamic World News ( 6 Feb 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Bangladesh PM Recalls Indian Singer Lata Mangeshkar’s Role in 1971 Liberation War after Her Death

New Age Islam News Bureau

07 February 2022 

Music legend Lata Mangeshkar passed away in Mumbai on Sunday at age 92. (File)

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• Pakistan PM Imran Khan condoles Lata Mangeshkar's death, says subcontinent lost one of the truly great singers

• Frankly Speaking: Terror threat won’t deter British investment expansion in the Middle East, UK trade official says

• Pakistan, China reiterate release of Afghanistan’s funds

• Full text: Joint Statement Between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

• Syrian opposition groups make new bid to unite against Assad

• Jewish settlers storm East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with Israel security protection

• Tunisian president to dissolve top judicial council, amid tension with judges

• 15 People killed, injured including 5 family members in Texas shootings

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India

• Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the forgotten freedom fighter of India

• Muslim girls fighting against Hijab ban will win: Aakar Patel

• UP's Muzaffarnagar Not Stadium For Hindu-Muslim Matches, Says Farmer Leader

• Kashmir a bilateral issue, says Russia, rejects ‘state-affiliated media’ report

• After Xi-Imran meet, China and Pakistan rake up J&K issue

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Pakistan

• Genocide Watch recognises Pak Army's 1971 genocide in Bangladesh

• China says opposed to 'unilateral actions' to resolve Kashmir issue

• Pak PM Imran Khan expresses support to China on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet

• Islamabad, Beijing vow to boost links at all levels

• UK police alert Pakistani dissidents to threats: report

• Imran Khan turns blind eye to Uyghur Muslim suppression in China

• Immediate disciplinary proceedings recommended against JUI-F chief’s brother

• Militancy, once driven out, returns to Balochistan

• 5 Pak soldiers killed in firing from Afghanistan; TTP claims responsibility for attack

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Europe

• UK government cuts free medication, toiletries for Afghan asylum seekers

• Muslim man who stopped London knife attack said he had ‘duty to act’

• Former UK member of European Parliament claims he was victim of Islamophobia by government minister

• Imam who supported an al-Qaeda terrorist is given the green light to open a nursery by Ofsted

• Macron govt seeks to give Islam a French makeover

• Italy delivers vehicles to Lebanese military

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South Asia

• Islamic Emirate Welcomes Return of Afghan Pilots

• UN committed to providing aid for Afghanistan, despite political predicaments

• Islamic Emirate seeks economic plans to counter crisis

• Tens of ISIS-K affiliates surrender to Taliban in eastern Afghanistan

• Mullah Baradar Calls on Govt Bodies to Provide Economic Plans

• IEA reacts to UN report over Al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan

• Plans underway to eliminate poverty and create work opportunities: Baradar

• Afghan journalists face harassment under Taliban: Media body

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Southeast Asia

• Keeping the faith, quietly: Inside Muslim Indonesia’s hidden Jewish community

• Malaysia: Govt to pay up to 60% for losses due to Umrah travel postponement

• Deputy minister: Covid-19 SOP for prayers at mosques nationwide effective in curbing outbreaks

• Singapore and Malaysia can prosper and emerge stronger from pandemic by working together: Masagos Zulkifli

• Umno’s embrace of non-Malays had better not be an election ploy

• Xinjiang skier becomes joint last torchbearer in Beijing

• Khairy fails to appeal 2017 High Court ruling on Anwar’s defamation suit

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Arab World

• Minors still detained in Syria prison attacked by ISIS: UN

• Iraq court suspends Hoshyar Zebari from presidential race

• Blast targets US-led coalition convoy in southern Iraq

• France, Luxembourg ask Lebanon for information on cenbank chief’s finances: Sources

• 2 journalists kidnapped by YPG/PKK terror group in Syria

• President Xi says China, Egypt hold ‘similar visions,’ ‘strategies’

• Anti-drug judge shot dead in southern Iraq

• Arab Coalition destroys missile launcher in Yemen: Statement

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Mideast

• Iran Holds Trial of Ringleader of ‘Tondar’ Terrorist Group

• Israel vows to ‘act freely’ against Iran's nuclear program

• Turkiye 'neutralizes' 8 YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria

• Iranian President: US Expulsion to Establish Peace, Security in Region

• FM: Only Practical Measures by US Matter to Iran

• Iran: Vienna Talks Far from Balance in Commitments of Parties

• President Rayeesi Calls for Expansion of Iran-Sri Lanka Ties

• Israeli, Palestinian figures propose two-state confederation

• Iran media report says man confesses to decapitating wife

• Rare session of key Palestinian body could provide Abbas succession clues

• Israeli premier, US president discuss 'regional challenges'

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Africa

• South Sudanese want peace, stability after tough decade of self-determination

• Tunisia rescues 163 migrants off east coast

• African Union summit cancell decision to grant Israel an observer in pan-African organization

• Moroccans in mourning after trapped boy’s death

• Exclusive interview: Malian premier says France responsible for Mali’s security situation, economic woes

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North America

• Removal of US sanctions is its red line for revival of 2015 deal, says Tehran

• Alleged leader of US-based Iran militant group goes on trial

• Israeli leader talks to Biden about ISIS, Iran

• After Houthi attacks, senior US general in UAE to bolster defenses

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/bangladesh-indian-singer-lata-mangeshkar-death/d/126321

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Bangladesh PM recalls Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar’s role in 1971 liberation war after her death

Feb 7, 2022

Music legend Lata Mangeshkar passed away in Mumbai on Sunday at age 92. (File)

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Singer Lata Mangeshkar’s demise has created a “great void in the subcontinent’s musical arena”, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina said on Sunday, as she recalled ‘the empress of music’ with gratitude for her role in the liberation war of 1971 against Pakistan. “Lata ji, along with her fellow Indian artists, contributed immensely towards promoting the cause of Bangladesh,” a Bangladesh government press release said.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/bangladesh-pm-recalls-latas-role-in-1971-liberation-war/articleshow/89393574.cms

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan condoles Lata Mangeshkar's death, says subcontinent lost one of the truly great singers

Feb 6, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday condoled the death of singing legend Lata Mangeshkar, saying the subcontinent has lost one of the truly great singers the world has known.

The 92-year-old playback singer died on Sunday in Mumbai.

"With the death of Lata Mangeshkar the subcontinent has lost one of the truly great singers the world has known. Listening to her songs has given so much pleasure to so many people all over the world,” tweeted Khan, who was on a four-day visit to China

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-pm-imran-khan-condoles-lata-mangeshkars-death-says-subcontinent-lost-one-of-the-truly-great-singers/articleshow/89388208.cms

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'Magic of her voice will live forever': Tributes pour in for Lata Mangeshkar from Pakistan

Feb 6, 2022

Credit: DH File Photo

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ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Eminent personalities from across all spheres of life in Pakistan on Sunday described Lata Mangeshkar as the "nightingale of the subcontinent" and the "queen of melody" as they paid tributes to the legendary singer, who, they said, was the most favourite artiste of Pakistani people and would rule their hearts forever.

Mangeshkar, 92, died at 8.12 am on Sunday in Mumbai due to multi organ failure after over 28 days of Covid-19 diagnosis.

Pakistani politicians, artists, cricketers and journalists mourned the death of Mangeshkar, terming it a “darkest day in the world of music”.

“Lata Mangeshkar's death marks the end of an era in music. Lata ruled the world of music for decades and the magic of her voice will live forever,” tweeted Chaudhry in a condolence message in Urdu from Beijing, where he is currently part of a delegation led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

A legend is no more, #LataMangeshkar was a melodious queen who ruled the world of music for decades she was uncrown… https://t.co/AoKx6G6k8U

— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) 1644121650000

“Wherever Urdu is spoken and understood, there are crowds of people saying goodbye to Lata Mangeshkar,” he said.

He also tweeted separately in English, saying, "a legend is no more. Lata Mageshkar was a melodious queen who ruled the world of music for decades. She was the uncrowned queen of music. Her voice shall keep ruling the hearts of people for all times to come.”

Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Senator Ali Zadar said, “the nightingale of subcontinent Lata Mangeshkar was a beautiful sweet voice that was part of every music lovers' life. May she rest in Peace. She will live forever in our hearts and continue to give tremendous joy to all future generations across the world.”

Opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senator Sheery Rehman said that Mangeshkar defined an era of melodic, virtuoso singing, playback cinema and more.

"Sad to hear of her passing. She had such a vast repertoire, it is impossible to choose even five favourite songs, so here's one : Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai,” she said.

Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Hina Pervaiz Butt said, “legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar will forever live in our hearts. My condolences to her fans living around the globe. We have grown young listening her sons. Her beautiful voice will live forever.”

Butt said that she was the most favourite singer of the Pakistani people.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif wrote on Twitter that he grew up listening to her songs which will remain part of his memory.

“In the passing of Lata Mangeshkar, the world of music has lost a singing legend who mesmerised generations with her melodious voice. The people of my generation grew up listening to her beautiful songs that will remain part of our memory. May she rest in peace!” he said.

Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif's political secretary Senator Asif Karmani said the singer was an institution in the art of singing.

“Today is end of an era. From all over the world the fans of Lata Ji are mourning her death,” he said.

Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is Patron of Pakistan Hindu Council as well as a leader of ruling PTI, expressed grief over Mangeshkar's death, saying the singer ruled the hearts of the people of the subcontinent for a long time and a person who understands Urdu/Hindi across the world, including India and Pakistan, is sad.

Afrasiab Khattak of Awami National Party said, “generations of South Asians, and not only Hindi or Urdu speaking people, grew up listening to the melodious songs of the legend. She is no more but she will live on in her songs. May the departed soul rest in peace!”

Krishna Kumari Kohli, PPP leader and member of the Senate said: “Rest in peace Lata Jee. Your memories will never be forgotten. Those will always remain with us forever.”

Film and TV star Imran Abbas, who also worked in an Indian film, termed Mangeshkar's demise as the darkest day in the world of music.

"Her contribution to our memories and music is certainly incomparable. Today marks the end of an era. She vanquished our hearts for decades and would always be ruling as a queen of melody for the years to come.”

Comedian Sohail Ahmed said he was sad to hear the news of her passing away. “She was a great singer and her songs resonate in our hearts. She was a legend of all times,” Ahmed said.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman and former Test Cricketer Rameez Raja said, “Lata Mangeshkar was the epitome of grace, humility and simplicity and therefore greatness… a lesson for all. Kishore Kumar and now her death has left me music broken.

Known journalist Mehr Tarar said, “Lag ja galle ke phir yeh haseen raat ho na ho Shahed phir iss janam mein mulaqaat ho na ho. Rest in peace, Lata Mageshkar saheba. Thank you for your beautiful voice for so many decades, your everlasting songs enriched our hearts, our loves, our memories.”

TV anchor Rauf Klasra said the news of departure of legendary Lata Mangeshkar has saddened everyone.

"She entertained generations— a goddess of music. We used to sit around All India Radio in village to listen old songs before the age of CDs and YouTube and music Apps. She was part of every family who had radio. Prayers & love,” Klasra said.

Columnist Mehreen Zahra Malik said, “Lata Mangeshkar could sing in four octaves — and had a gift for singing in character, tailoring her voice and emotions for the actress she was voicing onscreen. Film star Dilip Kumar once called her voice “a miracle of nature's creativity.”

Famous actor Adnan Siddiqui expressed sorrow over Mangeshkar's death. "Irreparable loss to the music world. Grew up on her unforgettable melodies. Nightingale of India, the void you have left can never be filled," the actor tweeted.

Singer and actress Meesha Shafi wrote on Twitter: "Supreme reigning voice of a century. RIP, Lata Mangeshkar."

Pakistan supermodel Nadia Hussain Khan in a tweet said, "sadly that voice has gone to sleep forever."

Singer Salman Ahmed said: "The great, nightingale and legend of India, Lata Mangeshkar has passed on. Her silky voice swept up a multitude of emotions, styles, genres and languages. There will never be another like her. RIP Lataji."

Popular film actress Resham in an instagram post said, "a chapter has ended."

Famous actress Bushra Ansari shared the regret that she never met the singer.

The Hindu community in Peshawar expressed profound grief over Mangeshkar's demise.

Leader of the Hindu Community Haroon Sarab Diyal said that Mangeshkar was a great singer whose services and achievements in the field of playback singing for the Indian film industry were matchless and could not be filled in the days to come.

Singers like her are born in centuries who always worked to promote love and affection between the two neighbouring countries. She would be remembered as ambassador of peace in the region, Diyal said.

Diyal said that Mangeshkar had respect for Pakistan singing icons like Noor Jehan, ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali and others.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/magic-of-her-voice-will-live-forever-tributes-pour-in-for-lata-mangeshkar-from-pakistan/articleshow/89384774.cms

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Frankly Speaking: Terror threat won’t deter British investment expansion in the Middle East, UK trade official says

February 06, 2022

Simon Penney, a veteran banker, highlighted the attractions of Saudi Arabia as a trade partner for the UK. (Screen grab from Frankly Speaking video)

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DUBAI: Escalating terror attacks by Iran-backed Houthis will not deter British businesses from expanding investment in the Middle East, the UK official responsible for his country’s trade with the region told Arab News.

“The GCC, and within that the UAE, have been very popular destinations for both UK exporters and tourists over many years, and we certainly don’t see any drop-off in that interest,” Simon Penney, UK trade commissioner for the Middle East, said.

“In fact, the Gulf more broadly is the UK’s third-largest export market globally, outside of the EU. We are highly confident and have every reason to believe that our position as an exporting nation to the Gulf will improve even further in the years ahead.”

He was speaking after a spate of air strikes on the UAE, claimed by backers of Yemen’s Houthi militia, in an escalation of the terror campaign that has seen drones and missiles aimed at population centers and civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

The UK authorities warned British citizens of an increased threat and urged them to be vigilant, ahead of a visit by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, to the UAE this week. But Penney insisted that such threats would not dent the enthusiasm of British business for investment in the region.

“We continue to see a very strong and healthy pipeline of companies doing business here,” he said.

“In fact, only last week we had (in Dubai) the Arab Health (trade fair). More than 140 UK companies made the trip out here, which was fantastic to see, not only in light of the events that you highlighted but also off the back of two years of COVID-19.”

In a wide-ranging interview on “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video conversations with leading policymakers and business people in the region, Penney — who is also the British consul in Dubai — spoke of the “passionate” interest of UK business in many sectors of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic transformation strategy, the imminent prospects for a UK-GCC free trade agreement, and the potential for the Middle East to help compensate for some of the trade forgone by the UK in the post-Brexit world.

Penney, a banker in the Middle East before he took up his current role in 2018, highlighted the attractions of Saudi Arabia as a trade partner for the UK.

“I have to say I’m very passionate about the Kingdom. I’ve been working there in my various different jobs for more than a decade now and I’m as enthusiastic if not more today than I’ve ever been about the opportunities that exist in the Kingdom and across the whole of the Kingdom.”

He added: “In fact, only the week before last I had the opportunity to visit NEOM and I was absolutely blown away by the sheer scale of the project, by the ambition of the project, from what can only be described, really, as a blank sheet of paper today.”

UK interest in Saudi Arabia was strong across all sectors that have been energized by the Vision 2030 strategy, he said, including healthcare, education, food and drink, and leisure and entertainment.

“And energy, of course. You know, as the Kingdom and the world embarks on this journey of energy transformation toward ‘clean  growth,’ we’re seeing increasing interest around ‘clean growth’ and how we can work with the Kingdom to develop the technologies of the future,” Penney said, referring to the goal of simultaneously increasing national income and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

British companies in the region were looking increasingly at Saudi Arabia rather than other GCC countries.

“In the UAE alone, we have 5,000 UK companies that call the UAE their home but, interestingly, as those companies look increasingly across the region for future business opportunities, it really is clear that Saudi Arabia, in particular, is going to be a major source of opportunity for those businesses,” he said.

Penney touched on the reaction in the UK to the recent proposals by the government of Saudi Arabia, which will require multinational companies to have their headquarters in Riyadh in order to conduct official business in the Kingdom.

“I think it’s varied. I know a lot of large British businesses that have been working in the Kingdom for quite some time that are actually embracing that because it makes good business sense — it’s where the majority of the business that companies are starting to do is, and you know it makes sense to be located in the Kingdom,” he said.

“I know other companies have a slightly longer-term watching brief on that. But I think companies will make decisions around what makes commercial sense. Certainly, in a lot of the companies that I’ve spoken to, based on what I said around the scale of opportunity that Saudi presents, that actually it will make good business sense to do so.”

Penney said: “It’s not just about Saudi Arabia. We see a lot of activity in Qatar, obviously, with the FIFA World Cup coming up later this year, but also beyond that, in Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait. There really is a lot of interest in this region both ways.”

As someone who has been closely involved in preparations for a free trade agreement between the UK and the GCC, Penney outlined the next steps of that negotiations process.

“We will be launching negotiations for a GCC free trade agreement in the spring of this year,” he said.

“We have just concluded a parliamentary process, which is a uniquely UK process we need to go through before we can launch FTA negotiations. That 14-week consultation closed in mid-January.”

He added: “We’re now going through a process of assimilating and capturing all the feedback that we received from businesses and stakeholders during that consultation period. We’re factoring that into the negotiating strategy and approach the UK will adopt as we commence those FTA negotiations with the GCC.”

Since the decision to leave the EU, the UK has been seeking to put in place trade alliances with other major economic blocs as part of the “Global Britain” strategy. However, Penney insisted a UK-GCC agreement was not just a way of compensating for business lost with Europe in the wake of Brexit.

“On the contrary, I think, if anything, it’s going to spur business further. The GCC already is the UK’s third-largest export market, outside of the EU, third behind the US and China,” he said.

“So, already today the Gulf features very highly in the minds of UK exporters. We’re highly confident that by putting in place a free trade agreement, we’ll be able to reduce even further some of the barriers and impediments that businesses face in doing business here, which are not unique to the Gulf.”

Penney insisted that political uncertainty in the UK, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is increasingly beleaguered after a series of scandals, would not deter Middle East investors from doing business with the UK.

“We don’t see any let-up in investor interest in the UK,” he said.

“In fact, since we’ve left the EU and the referendum in 2016, in particular, we’ve seen investor interest increase exponentially. Confidence in the UK, I would say, is probably the highest we have seen for a very long time.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2019471/middle-east

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Pakistan, China reiterate release of Afghanistan’s funds

07 Feb 2022

During wide-range bilateral talks between the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Chinese President Xi Jinping the two stressed provisions of international aid to Afghanistan and asked for the nearly $10 billion assets of the country to be unfrozen.

After the meeting, a joint statement read that the international community should provide the Afghan people with enhanced humanitarian assistance and support the country through unfreezing Afghanistan’s cash now frozen in the western banks.

As per the joint statement, the two are ready to discuss China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Afghanistan.

Neither the call for the release of funds is the first nor the callers are the first ones, other world leaders and international aid agencies had also called for unfreezing Afghanistan’s assets as the country is going through the worst humanitarian crisis on earth.

Meanwhile, the US has always said that their sanctions on Afghanistan only target the Taliban leaders and do not affect the lives of common people, the case which is untrue and quite the opposite on the ground.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/pakistan-china-reiterate-release-of-afghanistans-funds-8578875/

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Full text: Joint Statement Between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

February 07, 2022

BEIJING, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- The following is the full text of a joint statement released by China and Pakistan on Sunday:

Joint Statement Between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

1. H.E. Mr. Imran Khan, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was invited by the Chinese leadership to visit Beijing from 3 to 6 February 2022 to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games 2022. During the visit, the Prime Minister held talks with H.E. President Xi Jinping, and H.E. Premier Li Keqiang.

2. The Prime Minister appreciated the Chinese Government for excellent and meticulous arrangements and congratulated China for hosting the games in a streamlined, safe and splendid manner. The two sides agreed that Olympic Games were a global event that fostered mutual understanding, inclusivity and friendship among the peoples of the world. The Chinese leadership appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan's participation in the Winter Olympic Games as a mark of iron brotherhood and solidarity between Pakistan and China. Both sides agreed to maintain high-level exchanges and strengthen institutional linkages at all levels.

3. During their interactions, the leaders of the two countries held in-depth exchange of views on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations as well as regional situation and international political landscape. The meetings were marked by traditional warmth, strategic mutual trust and commonality of views that characterize the Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership.

4. Reiterating his felicitations on the centenary of the Communist Party of China, Prime Minister Imran Khan lauded the role of CPC leadership with President Xi Jinping at its core for China's growth and prosperity and appreciated President Xi for his personal contribution to promoting the enduring Pakistan-China partnership.

5. The leaders reaffirmed that close strategic ties and deep-rooted friendship between Pakistan and China are time-tested and timeless. The bilateral relationship served the interest of both countries and was the historic choice of both peoples. The Pakistan side underscored that Pakistan-China relationship is the cornerstone of its foreign policy and that closest friendship with China enjoys the abiding support of the people of Pakistan. Both sides reiterated their support on issues concerning each other's core interests. The Pakistan side expressed its commitment to One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. The Chinese side reaffirmed its support for Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and security, as well as promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity.

6. On behalf of Pakistan, the Prime Minister reiterated his invitation to H.E. President Xi Jinping to pay a state visit to Pakistan and stated that the people of Pakistan looked forward to welcoming him at an early date. The two sides reaffirmed their intention to undertake the visit at a mutually convenient time.

7. The leadership from both sides was pleased to observe that the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations celebrated last year marked an important milestone in the diplomatic history of the two countries. Taking note of more than 140 celebratory activities organized by the two countries, both sides agreed that the celebrations had reinvigorated the friendship between the peoples of Pakistan and China with indelible impressions to inspire future generations.

8. Both sides reviewed with satisfaction the outcome of three sessions of Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue and agreed to hold its next meeting at an early time.

9. Commending President Xi's visionary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored that as the flagship project of BRI, CPEC has significantly contributed to Pakistan's economic and social development, in line with its shift to geo-economics and the economic security agenda of promoting trade, investments, and connectivity.

10. Both sides acknowledged the major contribution of CPEC projects, particularly in the areas of energy and transport infrastructure, in strengthening Pakistan's key role in regional connectivity while modernizing its economic base. The leaders reaffirmed their support to CPEC's high-quality development and the commitment to ensuring the smooth operation of completed projects and the timely completion of projects under construction. The leaders took note of the signing of a Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation and agreed to further leverage the private sectors and entrepreneurs of both countries to contribute to Pakistan's industrialization in an all round way. The Chinese side appreciated the Prime Minister's launch of the Pakistan-China Business and Investment Forum, and will enhance B2B cooperation between the business sectors of both countries.

11. The leaders agreed to task the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) to strengthen cooperation across all areas including in the fields of trade, infrastructure, industrial development, agriculture modernization, scientific and technological cooperation and socio-economic well-being of local people. Noting close bilateral cooperation in the areas of health, environment and ICT, the two sides agreed to launch the China-Pakistan health, industry, trade, green and digital corridors.

12. The two sides highlighted the significance of Gwadar as a central pillar of CPEC and important node in regional connectivity. According to the "1 + 4" layout, the two sides agreed to jointly accelerate the construction and operation of Gwadar Port and build Gwadar low-carbon circular industry zone. They agreed to build high-quality livelihood projects for the socio-economic development of Gwadar city and its residents.

13. Both sides expressed their strong determination to safeguard CPEC from all threats and negative propaganda. Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to making all-out efforts for the security of all Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan and the Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the measures taken by Pakistan in this regard.

14. Both sides observed that CPEC was a win-win enterprise and pivotal for regional prosperity and enhanced connectivity. As an open and inclusive initiative, third parties were welcome to benefit from investment opportunities in CPEC SEZs.

15. The two sides reviewed with satisfaction bilateral cooperation and mutual support after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Chinese leadership for provision of COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan which have been a mainstay of national mass vaccination drive. Both leaders agreed that their mutual support, cooperation and solidarity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic was in keeping with the time-honoured traditions of Pakistan-China friendship and that both sides would continue supporting efforts to overcome the pandemic.

16. The two sides reaffirmed their resolve to continue and enhance their existing cooperation for developing emergency response systems, public health infrastructure and joint ventures for development of pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan to tackle similar challenges in future.

17. The two sides noted with satisfaction the record increase in bilateral trade volume in 2021. They agreed to further consolidate and expand bilateral trade relations by fully utilizing the 2nd Phase of Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement. The Chinese side welcomes more of Pakistan's high-quality food and agricultural products to the Chinese market.

18. Welcoming the establishment of Pakistan's pavilions on Chinese e-commerce platforms, the two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation in e-commerce, setting up online payment systems and cooperating in logistics, warehousing and customs facilitation.

19. The two sides noted with satisfaction the successful holding of the 15th Session of Pakistan-China Joint Committee on Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technical Cooperation in December 2021. They agreed to leverage this important mechanism to further enhance overall bilateral economic engagement between the two countries.

20. The Pakistan side appreciated China's unrivaled achievement of lifting 770 million people out of absolute poverty and wished the Chinese Government and people greater success in achieving the goals of socialist modernization and national rejuvenation. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan's Ehsaas Programme for poverty alleviation and reiterated its resolve to support Pakistan for infrastructure development in several fields including agriculture, education, health, safe drinking water and vocational training.

21. Both sides noted with satisfaction robust cooperation between Pakistan and China in education sector, and committed to further enhance cooperation between the educational institutions of the two countries. Pakistan side highlighted that China has become a popular education destination. While ensuring safety against COVID-19, China will arrange for Pakistani students to return to China and resume classes in a prudent manner.

22. Both sides reiterated the importance of people-to-people contacts, tourism cooperation and cultural exchanges for strong bilateral relations. Building on the MoU on Tourism Exchanges and Cooperation signed in November last year, the two sides agreed to celebrate Pakistan-China Year of Tourism Exchanges in 2023 and to establish strong linkages between the tourism promotion agencies and private enterprises of the two countries.

23. The two sides agreed to make all possible efforts in support of greater civilizational exchanges between Pakistan and China and further expand cooperation for the conservation and presentation of heritage and artifacts of the two countries. The leaders welcomed the organizing of a Gandhara Art Exhibition at Palace Museum in Beijing in 2022.

24. Both sides agreed to continue the momentum in defence cooperation at various levels between the armed forces of Pakistan and China. They underscored that stronger defence and security cooperation between Pakistan and China was an important factor of peace and stability in the region.

25. China recognized Pakistan's sacrifices and efforts in the fight against terrorism. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

26. Both sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties. They emphasized the importance of pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region.

27. The Pakistan side briefed the Chinese side on the latest developments on the situation in Jammu &Kashmir, including its concerns, position and pressing issues at the moment. The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.

28. On Afghanistan, the two sides agreed that a peaceful, stable, united, safe, and secure Afghanistan is fundamental for prosperity and progress in the region. They expressed satisfaction with the outcome of two Foreign Ministers' meetings of the six neighboring countries on Afghanistan and looked forward to its next meeting to be held in China. They are ready to discuss with Afghanistan the holding of the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Dialogue.

29. The two sides underscored the need to expedite humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and its people to avert the looming crisis and called upon the international community to provide continued and enhanced assistance and support to Afghanistan including through unfreezing of Afghanistan's financial assets. The two sides are ready to discuss with Afghanistan the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan for hosting the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on Afghanistan on 19 December 2021. The two sides agreed to continue their close cooperation on Afghanistan in the future.

30. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the close cooperation at multilateral fora and resolved to further deepen strategic coordination, consultation and communication. They reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and support for multilateralism and win-win cooperation.

31. Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed and reiterated support for the Global Development Initiative (GDI) proposed by President Xi Jinping, which aims to promote international cooperation and accelerate the implementation of UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening development partnership under the GDI.

32. Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked the leadership and people of China for the warm and generous hospitality accorded to him and expressed his best wishes for China's continued development and prosperity.

33. The two sides signed or concluded a number of agreements / MoUs, covering bilateral cooperation in areas of economic and technical, industry, investment, infrastructure, space, vaccine, digitalization, standardization, disaster management, culture, sports and vocational education.

Source: People's Daily Online

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

http://en.people.cn/n3/2022/0207/c90000-9953858.html

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Syrian opposition groups make new bid to unite against Assad

06 February ,2022

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad gives a press conference after talks with Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych on December 3, 2010 in Kiev. (AFP)

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Syrian opposition forces on Saturday made a new bid to revive their decade-old campaign against President Bashar al-Assad at talks in Qatar, where a senior leader said they had to “correct” past mistakes.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The political groups, now mainly based abroad, have seen their influence wane in recent years as Iran and Russia steadfastly supported the Syrian president after he launched a deadly crackdown on protesters in 2011 that quickly descended into civil war.

Riad Hijab, who defected to the opposition when he was Assad’s prime minister in 2012, told the opening of the two-day meeting that events in Syria were “grim”.

He said the meeting had to “assess our progress and correct the errors we have made along the difficult path to achieving a unified, free, democratic state”.

The opposition chief did not say what mistakes had been made, but his entourage said opposition parties had failed to communicate with ordinary Syrians and make themselves relevant to their daily battles.

Hajib said it was “imperative” for the opposition to “implement effective plans” to counter Assad’s government and “to expose the false concept that Assad can abandon Iranian dominance”.

A list of recommendations aiming to “unify” the opposition would be released at the end of the talks, a statement said.

Salem al-Meslet, head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, told AFP that it was important to “send a message to all Syrians, listen to their advice and make a new plan”.

With international talks on Syria’s future at a stalemate, Meslet said a united opposition would also send a “an important message to the UN envoy” on the conflict.

The last round of UN-organized peace talks in October failed to make any progress, and special envoy Geir Pedersen has highlighted “great mistrust on all sides”.

Syria’s war has killed close to half a million people and spurred the largest conflict-induced displacement since World War II.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/06/Syrian-opposition-groups-make-new-bid-to-unite-against-Assad

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Jewish settlers storm East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with Israel security protection

06 February, 2022

Radical Israelis stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, the body responsible for running the site has said.

The Jewish settlers were protected by Israeli forces, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported, citing witnesses.

A large number of settlers accessed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, the third most-sacred place in Islam, through the Al-Mugharbah Gate, the Islamic Waqf Department maintained. It also said they had engaged in acts of worship.

The Israel Police claimed there had been "distorted and false coverage based on incorrect information that has no grip on reality".

In a statement to The New Arab, it contended: "As part of the regular visits to Temple Mount [the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex], the police acts in accordance to the visiting rules of the place, which are intended to enable public order, public peace, and security.

"These rules are transferred before the visitors enter the mountain area, and any deviation from the rules is treated accordingly.

"We will continue to allow visits to Temple Mount, subject to the visiting rules of the place and to maintain the safety and security of worshipers and visitors to the holy places in Jerusalem in general, and Temple Mount in particular."

The status quo at Al-Aqsa means the Jordanian-administered Islamic Waqf is responsible for the site and Jews are forbidden from praying while there. Many extremists in Israel have called for abolishing this understanding.

In October, an Israeli judge ruled that the silent prayer of Jews at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex was not a "criminal act". It was the first decision by an Israeli court to support Jewish prayers at the flashpoint compound.

This prompted condemnation, including from the Christian Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem.

The New Arab has asked the Israel Police if the settlers who were at the Al-Aqsa complex on Sunday engaged in prayer, as the Islamic Waqf claimed.

Settler raids at Al-Aqsa are frequently decried as "provocative" by the Waqf, which maintains Palestinians praying there or protecting the site feel uneasy at Israeli extremists and security being there.

East Jerusalem was first occupied by Israel in 1967. It went on to annex the holy city in 1980.

This claim to sovereignty is rejected by almost all states and the United Nations considers East Jerusalem as Palestinian land.

Source: The New Arab

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/israeli-settlers-storm-jerusalems-al-aqsa-mosque-compound

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Tunisian president to dissolve top judicial council, amid tension with judges

Yamena Salemi 

06.02.2022

TUNIS, Tunisia

Tunisian President Kais Saied said he plans to dissolve the country’s Supreme Judicial Council, amid tension with the judiciary.

The council “has become a thing of the past,” Saied said in a statement on Sunday.

“This council has become a place where positions and appointments are sold according to loyalties," he added.

The statements came shortly before planned protests by Saied’s supporters on Sunday to demand the dissolution of the council, a body responsible for the independence of the judiciary.

“It’s your right to protest and it’s your right to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council,” the Tunisian president said.

Saied’s statements quickly drew fire from the head of Supreme Judicial Council, Yousef Bouzakher.

“We consider the decision to dissolve the council…as illegitimate,” Bouzakher told Anadolu Agency.

He said the judicial council will continue its work as usual.

“There is no legitimacy or constitutionality in dissolving the council,” he said, accusing the Tunisian president of inciting the judicial council.

Tension has marred Saied’s relations with the council, with the Tunisian leader criticizing the judiciary over delay in issuing rulings in cases of corruption and terrorism.

In July, 2021, Saied dismissed the government suspended parliament, and assumed executive authority amid mounting public anger over economic stagnation and political paralysis.

While Saied insists that his "exceptional measures" were meant to "save" the country, critics have accused him of orchestrating a coup.

Tunisia has been seen as the only country that succeeded in carrying out a democratic transition among Arab countries which witnessed popular revolutions toppling ruling regimes, including Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/tunisian-president-to-dissolve-top-judicial-council-amid-tension-with-judges/2495293

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15 People killed, injured including 5 family members in Texas shootings

February 7, 2022

Nine people have been killed and six others injured in separate shooting incidents in the US state of Texas, according to authorities.

Police said a man shot and killed 4 members of his family and injured three others before killing himself in Navarro County on Saturday.

The suspect identified as Kevin Milazzo, 41, shot dead his 68-year-old stepfather, William Mimms; his mother Connie Mimms, 61; his 21-year-old son Joshua Milazzo; and his former girlfriend's son, 4-year-old Hunter Freeman.

Milazzo was reportedly on the run, according to ABC affiliate WFAA. Police intercepted him on a road and used a monitoring service to shut his engine off.

Officers approached his vehicle to see Milazzo critically injured with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The conditions of the three survivors are not immediately known.

Also police, after midnight on Saturday, responded to the scene of another shooting in Corsicana, which is about 55 miles outside of Dallas.

According to Corsicana Police Chief Robert Johnson, a man and a woman were shot and killed in Corsicana. Two other people were wounded in the shooting.

Shortly after the incident, police responded to another shooting in the nearby town of Frost, according to the Daily Sun.

A man and a child were shot and killed in Frost, while another one was wounded.

Gun violence in the United States has been a chronic social problem that seems to have no solution.

According to the latest data by the GVA, some 400 Americans were killed in gun violence only in the first four days of 2022.

Source: ABNA24

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://en.abna24.com/news//15-people-killed-injured-including-5-family-members-in-texas-shootings_1226794.html

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India

 

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the forgotten freedom fighter of India

6th February 2022

Frontier Gandhi, Bacha Khan, or Badshah Khan are a few of the many names of the freedom warrior Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who was born to Behram Khan on February 6, 1890.

Khan was from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, earlier known as the Northwest Frontier Province, and was a Pakhtun or Pathan.

A devoted Muslim, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, led a nonviolent movement throughout the county against the British and was an advocate for Hindu-Muslim reconciliation in the Indian subcontinent. He was a political and spiritual leader was recognised for his peaceful opposition with an oath towards non-violence, on the path of the Muslim Prophet, Muhammad.

The becoming of the “Frontier Gandhi”

Khan’s close friend Amir Chand Bombwal gave him the nickname “Sarhadi Gandhi” as the former held views as that of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1910, at the age of 20, Khan opened a school in his hometown Utmanzai which provided education to women and children, rebelling against the British Raj.

After witnessing the downtrodden condition of the society, especially his community, Khan developed the Afghan Reform Society in 1921, followed by a youth movement called the Pashtun Assembly, for the social upliftment of the community. He also founded the ‘Pashtun’ a monthly political journal to ensure that people were well-read and informed.

In 1929, in a revolt against the British, Khan formed the Khudai Khidmatgar, a nonviolent anti-colonial resistance movement that demanded a democratic, secular and united nation.

As the popularity and favoritism towards the Khudai Khidmatgars increased among Indians, the colonizers launched a series of crackdowns against Khan and his followers. The Khudai Khidmatgas were subjected to some of the most brutal persecutions during the Indian independence struggle, in an attempt to suppress the movement.

Abdul Gaffar Khan was a prominent part of India’s partition into the Hindu Dominion of India and the Muslim Dominion of Pakistan, siding with the pro-union Indian National Congress and All-India Azad Muslim Conference against the pro-partition All-India Muslim League.

Khan was arrested during the salt satyagraha, alongside Gandhi, on April 23, 1930. As the Khudai Khidmatgars gathered in a protest against his arrest in Peshawar’s Kissa Khwani, the British massacred unarmed protestors in large numbers with machine guns.

The Khudai Khidmatgar, which merged with the Congress during the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930-31 but retained its identity as a volunteer force.

Only four leaders held out to the pressures of partition which included Gandhi, Ghaffar Khan, Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narain.

He felt deeply deceived when the Indian National Congress reluctantly accepted the partition proposal without consulting Khan, who had outrightly opposed the partition. Khan who was upset after his people were pushed into Pakistan, slammed the Congress saying “you have thrown us to the wolves”.

Khan’s feeling of being betrayed arose from the fact that the Pakhtuns were only given a choice between two states and not a proposal of an independent nation.

Khan moved to Pakistan as his province the North-West Frontier choose the state during the partition. He regularly detained by the Pakistani government till the end of his life, over suspicions of being a traitor and his fight for a better deal for his province and people.

Source: Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/khan-abdul-ghaffar-khan-the-forgotten-freedom-fighter-of-india-2270726/

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Muslim girls fighting against Hijab ban will win: Aakar Patel

Yunus Y Lasania

7th February 2022

Hyderabad: A Gujarati liberal man. It might sound like an oxymoron, but that conflicting nomenclature is the impression one gets after meeting journalist and editor Aakar Patel, who is the Chair for Amnesty International India.

With India’s media landscape becoming more and more shrill, and polity normalising hate-speech, Aakar Patel today has emerged as a voice of reason. Having published back-to-back books in the last two years (Our Hindu Rashtra, Price Of The Modi years) on Hindutva and the Indian economy under Narendra Modi, Patel has his finger on the nation’s pulse.

And if you are active on Twitter, then chances are that you’ve mostly come across one of his many satirical tweets on the Indian government, or Modi. Siasat.com sat down for an interview with the man, who has been the editor of different newspapers (including the regional Divya Bhaskar in Gujarat years ago), to talk about his second book, the media and the overall situation of Indian society today. Excerpts:

Q. In your latest book ’Price Of The Modi Years’, you talk about the ‘godi media’, or the mainstream media. Post COVID-19 and digital news websites coming in, what do you think will happen next?

Patel: In the last 20 years, advertising revenue has become split between digital websites and TV. Forty years ago, the only option you had was the newspaper. (for ads). And in the last five years, the share of newsprint, be it papers or magazines, has shrunk compared to digital or TV. TV has remained the same, digital has taken the money from print.

We will start seeing major newspapers shutting down, and we are already seeing that happen. Take the example of Mumbai Mirror, which was shut due to lack of advertising to support it.

And how does affect the quality of journalism or the industry in general? What will be its impact?

Patel: In my last job, I worked for Divya Bhaskar (Gujarat) which had 300 beat reporters. They were highly specialised in what they did. We had a reporter in Bombay who looked at communities. That is not there in TV. You lose the citizens’ connect with what is going on in the government.

The absence of these beat reporters which affect the media in the way that we will not have information the way we did 20 years ago. Most digital advertising money go to Facebook and Google, because they know who the reader is. A website’s owner doesn’t know that.

As a journalist and editor, you were on a three-member team from the Editor’s Guild of India which went to Gujarat after the 2002 riots to put out a fact-finding report. You met Narender Modi then. How was his demeanour then?

Patel: I think I was chosen because I was the only Gujarati speaking editor. Though I was based in Bombay, I suspect I was chosen because I was Gujarati. Modi (then Gujarat chief minister) was eager in fact to meet us and show he had done a good job. In one meeting, he called all secretaries of the state government, who were sitting like a bunch of students in the classroom. Any question he (Modi) could not answer, he would ask them.

Did you meet Modi even after 2002? Was he open to meeting journalists back then? Unlike what we have seen ever since he became the PM in 2014.

Patel: I went to interview him again in 2004. He was quite fond of me, but I think that may have changed in the recent past. I don’t think he will (want to meet me) anymore, as he no longer needs journalism as he did in 2004. He wanted to build a reputation as an image of someone who was modern. He had a fancy for English newspapers, which he felt would communicate his image. He felt he was provincial.

But Modi personally underestimated his own popularity on the side of bigotry, because he thought of could become a big hero due to the nasty person he was until he entered the national stage. Maybe he still has notions that he could transform the polity into a forward looking economy. He felt he had it.

How was Gujarat say a few decades earlier? Was society there the same back then too? Is today’s hate-ridden society similar to what some say is like the Gujarat model of Hindutva that developed under Modi as chief minister earlier?

Patel: Most Hindus, even if well meaning, do not understand their privilege even if they are well-meaning. If you are urban and upper class, in a space that is quite rarified, you don’t know what Muslims are feeling. I was part of that set. I might not have been prejudiced against a community, but I did not have too much insight or empathy for what was going on around me. I think that is true of most Indians who are liberal.

How was your experience working as the editor of Divya Bhaskar? How did you, as an urban, privileged journalist, fit in the space of a massive regional paper? And what were your expectations? And do you think such papers will manage to survive in the future?

Patel: Editing a newspaper is a job where your impact has to come in terms of number of copies sold. You are marginally concerned with what readers feel. To say that I am going to change what my readers feel, even through text, is not what you are hired for.

The owners were quite forward looking and modern. We never came to a discussion about what it meant, whether it was design, or anything else. The thing is that Gujaratis are quite conservative and the transition out of print will be slower there, but it will happen. Papers will be delivered but will not be read.

The thing with mass market newspapers is that they have no idea as to who the reader is. Online advertising is quite targeted. For example, a newspaper will not know online what a reader likes or prefers. Most money in digital advertising goes to Facebook and Google because those can deliver ad messages. No media can compare with that kind of knowledge.

You were not at Divya Bhaskar for too long. What was your expectation as an editor at DIvya Bhaskar?

Patel: I was and remain quite fond of the owners, who are from Madhya Pradesh. But I found it difficult to live in Gujarat, particularly in Ahmedabad. Having lived in Bombay and then Surat, I was unused to this level of segregation. I don’t think it will change any time soon. I thought it was a really provincial state.

The romance of journalism ends when you leave large cities. For the most part, or even 99% of journalists working in Gujarat, job security is priority. The nature of their work is completely secondary. The idea of a journalist as a person of independent mind producing material that society should look at is bogus when it comes to most or perhaps all newspapers in India.

Amnesty International India was raided by both the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI while you were heading it earlier as well. It had to stop operations due to that, on allegations that certain laws were violated. As its Chair in India, what will be your next step?

Patel: My term at Amnesty here ended at the end of November 2019. In 2018 we had a raid – what is called a search and seizure – by the ED under the accusation that we were violating the FCRA Act. After that we had out accounts frozen, and I was kept in the office till 11 pm. We moved the Karnataka High Court and got relief very soon as the govt had not followed the law.

The raid was in October and the month that my term ended (November), the office was raided by the CBI. I rejoined them last year (as Chair) and we hope to resume operations in India very soon.

Why do you think the Indian government went after Amnesty here? What does it mean for a country’s reputation on a global level when something like this happens?

Patel: India’s international reputation has been battered under modi on two-three fronts. One is on the front of indices. So if you look at the global indices like rule of law, democracy, hunger etc, India has fallen. The government has so far ignored all of this.

India has been very careful over the decades to reassure the world that it is a secular, democratic, pluralist space; the same as western democracies. When India engages with the EU or the US, we don’t say we are a hindutva state which stops young women from going to school because they have scarves over their head. The problem is that this hypocrisy produces a problem for the government of India.

It is exposed as something it does not say that it is. I think one of the things civil society should focus on is to ensure that the professional wings of the state should be pressurised to do the right thing. The BJP does not care how it is seen abroad. Whether it is seen as Muslim-hating party. It is not concerned about the reputation of India.

The BJP is concerned with the reputation of the BJP, because it gets nastier the more it operates in a polarised system. What does it mean? The best way of doing that is the 80/20 system, where you say that 20% of the population(Muslims in this case) is the enemy. How long that works for? I don’t know.

Even as a political strategy, long do you think this hate campaign will be sustainable for?

Patel: There are two issues with this. In what is the universal experience of mankind with bigoted democratic politics, it is not that long (politics of polarisation). Second part is to what extent the competence, or lack of, of Modi’s govt attributes this to the electoral success of the BJP. Today, five crore fewer Indians have jobs. So will I always vote for something that happened 500 years ago?

To my mind, modernity has a way of bringing society to the right track. And its record is very good. Fact is that on Issues of slavery, racism, rights of women over their own bodies, etc., what we call liberals, have always won. Every battle has been won by left, the right has only ceded space. So (even in India), It might take some time.

I think in the long term, the future is bright for all of us. Mankind as a species moves towards progress. It is the medium term, about 10-15 years, what we have to fight for. At some point, the Hindu voter should consider the data the government itself is putting out. Data shows that GDP had come down to almost zero before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We were already on a declining pathway for about two years.

Where does the media fit into all of this?

Patel: We assume that in liberal democracies like India the media is independent, but it is not. It has two anchors it is weighed down by. One is popularity of the hate content, and second that it has to please the government.

You live in Bangalore, which is supposedly a liberal city. But not far away in the state, right-wing Hindu goons chopped up a Muslim man recently. Now we are seeing Muslim girls in schools not being allowed in for wearing the hijab. A pattern seems to be emerging in the state…

Patel: The first part of violence is hate-speech, where you need to mobilise people to make them okay with violence. Hate-speech is the primary enemy. We have to connect a murderous attempt on Asaduddin Owaisi to what is said about him. We need to press legally, and to ask the world to tell India to behave. We are in a space where the government is not mature enough or does not care.

These young women in Karnataka are not simply fighting to wear the hijab, they are saying ’don’t discriminate against me because I am a Muslim’. That is why they will win. More and more women will say ’I will wear it’. The point here is not about religious identity as the state sees it. It is about individual right. We will not stop a Sikh from wearing a turban, so why stop a Muslim woman from wearing a scarf?

After the CAA-NRC was brought up, a sense of fear had crept up among Muslims all across India, given that the community felt their existence in India was threatened. What has changed since then?

Patel: I think the women of Shaheen Bagh, and not just in Delhi, but in all these places where there were 24/7 sit in protests, it killed-off CAA. It made sense only if there is the NRC. to follow The problem is that the BJP did not expect a pushback, which brought it in two groups. One is the much smaller group of liberal Hindus, like academics, students, etc which was in turn able to pull in political parties.

It also applied external pressure. The EU had a resolution passed against it, and the government was not able to handle it, because it is a very ‘bechara’ government. Amit Shah said “You take it for granted that CAA is the prelude to the NRC”. But he has run away. His words were on record. It was delayed because of resistance.

Source: Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/muslim-girls-fighting-against-hijab-ban-will-win-aakar-patel-2270763/

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UP's Muzaffarnagar Not Stadium For Hindu-Muslim Matches, Says Farmer Leader

February 07, 2022

Noida: With Assembly polls less than a week away in western Uttar Pradesh, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait made a veiled attack on the ruling BJP on Sunday as he said Muzaffarnagar is "not a stadium for Hindu-Muslim matches".

The national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), which is a part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), said those talking on communal lines will not witness electoral gains in the region.

"Western Uttar Pradesh wants to talk about development. Those talking about Hindu, Muslim, Jinnah, religion will lose votes. Muzaffarnagar is not a stadium for Hindu-Muslim matches," Mr Tikait said in a tweet in Hindi.

In another tweet, he called on people to question the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates in the upcoming polls about the farmers who lost their lives during their year-long protest against three agriculture laws of the Centre, which have now been repealed.

"The prime minister of the country has not even taken the name of the farmers who got martyred during the movement. Till date, the prime minister has avoided calling the farmers who lost their lives in the movement as martyrs. Farmers should question their candidates," Mr Tikait said.

Mr Tikait's BKU is headquartered in Muzaffarnagar district of western Uttar Pradesh.

Muzaffarnagar had witnessed communal riots in 2013, after which the dominant Jat and Muslim communities in the region had apparently grown apart.

Source: ND TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/up-election-uttar-pradeshs-muzaffarnagar-not-stadium-for-hindu-muslim-matches-says-farmer-leader-rakesh-tikait-2753137

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Kashmir a bilateral issue, says Russia, rejects ‘state-affiliated media’ report

Feb 7, 2022

NEW DELHI: Russia has rejected a report by ‘redfish channel’, categorised on Twitter as Russia state-affiliated media, describing Kashmir as another Palestine in the making. The Russian embassy here said in a statement that Moscow continued to follow a policy of non-interference in bilateral issues.

The redfish channel describes itself as a multi award-winning digital content creator which specialises in producing short and in-depth documentaries in collaboration with people “involved in grassroots struggles worldwide to build an alternative to the ruling capitalist system”. Many have alleged that it is backed by Kremlin. In a documentary on Jammu & Kashmir, it has said the the Union Territory is fast becoming a “settler-colonial state”. The video is titled “Kashmir: Palestine in the Making’.

The embassy said though that the “misleading” label of this channel on Twitter as “Russia state-affiliated media” did not make it “automatically related to any state support”.

“The channel functions independently with regard to its editorial policy,” it said. The embassy, however, expressed hope that the complexity and historical background of this and other regional issues will be given “due understanding and balanced approach, which is expected from any professional media”.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/kashmir-a-bilateral-issue-says-russia-rejects-state-affiliated-media-report/articleshow/89393202.cms

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After Xi-Imran meet, China and Pakistan rake up J&K issue

Feb 7, 2022

NEW DELHI: China and Pakistan upped the ante on Jammu and Kashmir again as they brought up the issue in a joint statement, following President Xi Jinping’s meeting Sunday with PM Imran Khan in Beijing, with China saying it opposed any “unilateral actions” that complicates the situation.

While there was no official response by India till late Sunday, sources said China and Pakistan should remember that the Union Territory is an integral and inalienable part of India.

According to the statement, the Pakistan side briefed the Chinese on the latest developments on the situation in J&K, including its concerns, position and pressing issues. China “reiterated” that the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the “UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements”.

This is not the first time though that China and Pakistan have referred to the situation in J&K in their bilateral documents. India has in the past dismissed such references as interference in its internal affairs.

The Pakistan PM is among the 20-odd leaders visiting Beijing for the Winter Olympics, an event that has been diplomatically boycotted by India and many western countries, including the US and UK. The joint statement also emphasised the importance of “pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region”.

While there were also several mentions of CPEC in the joint statement, government sources said both China and Pakistan are fully aware of India’s position that the corridor, apparently the flagship project of China’s BRI, is located on Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan and that India rejects any attempt to change the status quo in the area.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/after-xi-imran-meet-china-and-pakistan-rake-up-jk-issue/articleshow/89391696.cms

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Pakistan

 

Genocide Watch recognises Pak Army's 1971 genocide in Bangladesh

February 5, 2022

Genocide Watch, a US-based organisation that campaigns against all forms of mass murder, has recognised the crimes committed by the Pakistani forces during Bangladeshs Liberation War in 1971 as genocide, bdnews24 reported.

"Genocide Watch recognizes the crimes committed by the Military Forces of Pakistan against the Bengali population in Bangladesh in 1971 as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes," the organisation said in the declaration on Thursday in commemoration of 50 years of the genocide.

The Washington D.C.-based NGO works to predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and other forms of mass murder.

"These crimes by the Pakistani Military Forces constituted the crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearance of persons, and other inhumane acts," the declaration states.

"Strong evidence supports the conclusion that the crimes committed against the Bengalis of East Pakistan during 1971 were widespread and systematic and carried out by the Pakistani Army, other militia forces (Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams etc.), and pan-Islamic political forces (including Jamat e Islam, Nezam e Islam and the Muslim League).

"Conclusive research by internationally recognized genocide experts indicates that the nature, scale and organization of the Pakistani Military operations demonstrates planning and intentional design by the Pakistani junta leadership and military command to destroy a substantial part of the Bengali ethnic and national group and a substantial part of the Bengali Hindu religious group," the report said.

Gregory Stanton, an expert in genocide studies and founder of Genocide Watch, called upon the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution recognising the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh.

He urged the member states of the United Nations, especially the US, the UK, and Pakistan, to recognise the crimes committed by Pakistani Military Forces in Bangladesh as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The declaration also urged member states of the UN to take necessary measures to recognise these crimes in appropriate fora, and to charge surviving leaders of this genocide in national courts with universal jurisdiction.

It called for proper reparations for these crimes from Pakistan to Bangladesh.

Tawheed Reza Noor, son of slain journalist Serajuddin Hossain, applied for the recognition of Genocide Watch in December, the report said.

Source: Business Standard

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https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/genocide-watch-recognises-pak-army-s-1971-genocide-in-bangladesh-122020500423_1.html

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China says opposed to 'unilateral actions' to resolve Kashmir issue

Feb 6, 2022

BEIJING: China on Sunday pledged closer cooperation with Pakistan under the $60 billion CPEC investment programme and called for resolving the Kashmir issue properly and peacefully while opposing any "unilateral actions" that could complicate the situation as Prime Minister Imran Khan held talks with the top Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping.

Khan called on President Xi on the last day of his four-day visit to China to discuss a host of issues including the slow pace of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and increasing concerns of Beijing over recurring attacks on Chinese personnel working in its various projects in Pakistan.

In his meeting with Khan, Xi said China firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty, dignity and fighting terrorism, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

He said China is willing to join hands with Pakistan to push forward the in-depth development of the CPEC and ensure the implementation of key projects.

"Both sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties,” said a joint statement issued at the end of Khan's visit to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

"They emphasised the importance of pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region,” it said.

"The Pakistan side briefed the Chinese side on the latest developments on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, including its concerns, position and pressing issues at the moment. The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation,” it said.

In the past, India strongly rejected references made to Jammu and Kashmir in a previous joint statement by Pakistan and China and asserted that the union territory as well as Ladakh have been and will remain its integral and inalienable part.

In July 2021, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had objected to reference made to the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in a statement by the two countries, saying it is in Indian territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan.

"As in the past, India categorically rejects any reference to Jammu and Kashmir. The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the union territory of Ladakh has been and will remain an integral and inalienable part of India," Bagchi had said.

The spokesperson had said that India has consistently conveyed to both China and Pakistan that the so-called CPEC is in India's territory.

"We resolutely oppose any attempts by other countries to change the status quo in areas illegally occupied by Pakistan as also to Pakistan bringing up any material change in Indian territories under its illegal occupation. We call upon parties concerned to cease such actions," he said.

The China-Pakistan joint statement also said that China recognised Pakistan's sacrifices and efforts in the fight against terrorism adding that both sides reaffirmed their commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

It said, "both sides agreed to continue the momentum in defence cooperation at various levels between the armed forces of Pakistan and China”.

China has emerged as Pakistan's biggest supplier of weapons including battle tanks, fighter aircraft and latest naval frigates.

"They underscored that stronger defence and security cooperation between Pakistan and China was an important factor of peace and stability in the region,” it said.

In his meeting with Khan, Xi while calling for “firmer confidence” between China and Pakistan relations said that “strategic significance” of all-weather ties are “getting more prominent” as two countries signed several agreements to firm up all-weather ties.

The joint statement said “both sides expressed their strong determination to safeguard CPEC from all threats and negative propaganda”.

Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to making all-out efforts for the security of all Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan and the Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the measures taken by Pakistan.

China has repeatedly called on Pakistan to step up security for thousands of its personnel working in the CPEC in view of several attacks on them.

Khan praised the Chinese leadership for hosting the Winter Olympics which was diplomatically boycotted by the US and its allies over human rights violations against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Coinciding with his visit, the two sides signed a host of MoUs, covering bilateral cooperation in areas of economic and technical, industry, investment, infrastructure, space, vaccine, digitalisation, standardisation, disaster management, culture, sports and vocational education, the joint statement said.

Prominent of these agreements whose details are not revealed was the new Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation to begin the construction of the 2nd phase of the CPEC in which China has so far invested about $25 billion, according to its envoy to Islamabad, Nong Rong.

In his meeting with Khan, Xi called on the two sides to “create better future for bilateral relations with firmer confidence”, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. He did not elaborate.

The joint statement said “the two sides are ready to discuss with Afghanistan the extension of the CPEC to Afghanistan”.

Xi expressed China's willingness to work with Pakistan to expand cooperation in the fields such as science and technology, agriculture and people's wellbeing, build a green, healthy and digital corridor, and support Pakistan's industrialization to enhance its sustainable development capability.

Xi said that China is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with Pakistan on multilateral platforms including the United Nations, to safeguard world and regional peace and stability.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/china-says-opposed-to-unilateral-actions-to-resolve-kashmir-issue/articleshow/89389274.cms

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Pak PM Imran Khan expresses support to China on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet

Feb 07, 2022

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his country’s support for the Chinese government regarding its policies in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province, Hong Kong and Tibet -- regions where the communist government is accused of carrying out massive human rights violations and genocide. In a joint statement on Sunday, Khan who is on a four-day visit to the country, expressed Pakistan's "commitment to One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.

Khan is visiting China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics and meet the top Chinese leadership from political and business areas. The visit also aims to raise financial assistance for inflation-hit Pakistan. On Friday, he signed a new agreement with China to kick off the second phase of the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Meanwhile, the support by Pakistan comes at a time when the global community along with rights groups have been raising concerns about a crackdown on human rights, centralisation of political power and extensive surveillance by the Chinese government. Under President Xi Jinping, Chinese authorities have been committing mass abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans, ethnic groups, and religious believers from all independent faith groups, a Human Rights Watch group said in late January.

According to the report, the Chinese government has eliminated independent civil society by persecuting human rights activists, feminists, lawyers, journalists, and others. The government has eviscerated a once-vibrant civil society in Hong Kong, expanded tech-enabled surveillance to significantly curtail the rights to expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and allowed the use of forced labour, in violation of international law, it added.

Source: Hindustan Times

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/imran-khan-expresses-support-to-china-on-xinjiang-hong-kong-tibet-101644206535730.html

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Islamabad, Beijing vow to boost links at all levels

Syed Irfan Raza

February 7, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday agreed to strengthen institutional links at all levels, cementing mutual strategic, diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.

While exchanging views on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, regional situation and international political landscape, the two leaders appreciated the finalisation of a number of agreements and memorandum of understanding in the fields of trade, infrastructure, industrial development, agriculture modernisation, science and technology and socio-economic well-being of local people.

The meeting held at the Great Hall of People was the last leg of PM Khan’s four-day trip to China. During the visit, he attended the opening ceremony of Beijing Winter Olympics and met the Chinese premier, leaders of several countries and chairman of the China’s National Development and Reform Commission. Mr Khan also had detailed discussions with corporate leaders and investors besides attending the luncheon hosted by Mr Xi in the honour of visiting heads of the states.

President Xi and PM Khan met for the first time since October 2019 when the latter visited China.

After completing the tour, the prime minister, along with his delegation, returned to Islamabad.

Later, in a tweet, PM Khan said he had a “great meeting” with the Chinese president. “We agreed to further enhance our strategic and economic relations and to fast track the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” he said.

According to the Prime Minister Office (PMO), Mr Khan and Mr Xi reviewed the entire gamut of Pakistan-China bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, in a warm and cordial atmosphere.

The two leaders appreciated the signing of a number of agreements covering industrial, space and vaccine cooperation.

Both leaders also acknowledged that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote economic development and connectivity in the region and called on the international community to promptly assist the Afghan people in averting a humanitarian catastrophe.

PM Khan briefed President Xi on people-centered vision of geo-economics and his government’s policies for Pakistan’s sustainable growth and regional connectivity. He lauded China’s continued support to Pakistan’s socio-economic development that had greatly benefitted from the high-quality development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Mr Khan welcomed increased Chinese investments in second phase of CPEC that centered on industrialization and improving people’s livelihoods.

Sharing his views with President Xi on growing polarization in the world that threatened unraveling of global developmental gains and posed serious risks to the developing countries, Mr Khan highlighted that insurmountable challenges of climate change and growing inequalities could only be tackled through unqualified cooperation of all nations in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The PM lauded President Xi’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative and Global Development Initiative (GDI) that called for collective action for sustainable development aimed at win-win outcomes.

The prime minister observed that persecution of minorities in India and the atrocities in India-held Kashmir was a threat to regional peace and stability and pointed out that rapid militarisation of India was undermining regional stability. He noted that partnership between Pakistan and China was an anchor for peace and stability in the region and thanked China for its unwavering support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and national development.

While the Chinese side reaffirmed its support for Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and security, as well as promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity, the Pakistani side expressed its commitment to One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, according to a joint statement issued on the occasion.

Mr Khan congratulated the leadership and people of China on successful hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics, extended his best wishes on the Chinese Lunar New Year and renewed his invitation to President Xi to undertake a visit to Pakistan at his early convenience.

The Chinese side appreciated the PM’s launch of the Pakistan-China Business and Investment Forum, and vowed to enhance B2B cooperation between the business sectors of both countries.

Noting close bilateral cooperation in the areas of health, environment and information and communication technology, the two sides agreed to launch the China-Pakistan health, industry, trade, green and digital corridors.

Highlighting the significance of Gwadar as a central pillar of CPEC and important node in regional connectivity, they expressed determination to safeguard CPEC from all threats and negative propaganda. According to the ‘1+4’ layout, the two sides agreed to jointly accelerate the construction and operation of Gwadar Port and build Gwadar low-carbon circular industry zone. They agreed to build high-quality livelihood projects for the socio-economic development of Gwadar city and its residents.

They also decided to expand bilateral trade relations by fully utilizing the second phase of Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement. The Chinese side welcomed more of Pakistan’s high-quality food and agricultural products to the Chinese market.

Hailing the establishment of Pakistan’s pavilions on Chinese e-commerce platforms, the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in e-commerce, setting up online payment systems and cooperating in logistics, warehousing and customs facilitation.

The two sides agreed to celebrate Pakistan-China Year of Tourism Exchanges in 2023 and to establish strong linkages between the tourism promotion agencies and private enterprises of the two countries. They agreed to make all-out efforts in support of greater civilisational exchanges between Pakistan and China and further expand cooperation for the conservation of heritage. The leaders welcomed the organizing of a Gandhara art exhibition at Palace Museum in Beijing in 2022.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1673740/islamabad-beijing-vow-to-boost-links-at-all-levels

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UK police alert Pakistani dissidents to threats: report

Atika Rehman

February 7, 2022

LONDON: Pakistanis living in exile have been warned by the UK police forces of threats to their lives and asked to keep a low profile, a report published in British newspaper The Guardian this week revealed.

The advice came from the Counter Terrorism Policing, which is a collaboration of the UK police forces that work with UK intelligence personnel to help prevent and investigate terrorist activity.

The development came just a week after a jury convicted Muhammad Gohir Khan, a 31-year-old British man of Pakistani descent, who agreed to kill a Pakistani dissident based in the Netherlands as part of a contract killing conspiracy. A photo and address of the target, blogger and activist Waqass Ahmed Goraya, was provided by a Pakistan-based middleman identified in the trial only as “Muzammil”. Inquiries into establishing the identity and whereabouts of Muzammil remain ongoing, the Met Police said in a statement.

The report said that ahead of the trial, officers from the Counter Terrorism Policing warned Pakistani political commentator Rashid Murad to “review his security”.

Defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa is among those who face such threats

“Police have already installed a panic alarm and CCTV at his home and shared guidance on personal security from the national counter-terrorism security office,” the report said.

Murad told the paper two police officers visited his home last year and informed him that they had intercepted a communication which revealed that some people were planning to harm him.

“They didn’t tell me who but indicated they were from the Pakistani authorities,” Murad alleged.

The report also mentioned lawyer Fazal Khan as another alleged “target” of the Pakistani authorities.

Khan said officers from the Met’s counter-terrorism command told him to notify other UK police forces if he intended to travel outside London.

“In the UK, a severe threat exists; London, Birmingham and cities like Sheffield with big Asian communities and where they [the Pakistani authorities] have people on their payroll. I was asked not to move around, not to leave the city and provide the police details of my contacts,” Khan told The Guardian.

The report said defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa has also been warned of threats to her life, and revealed that a well-connected lawyer had told her that the method used to target her would involve British-based Pakistani drug gangs.

Siddiqa urged the UK government to pressure Pakistan to also identify an unknown man named in Khan’s trial who was referred to as Muzammil’s “boss”, believed to be behind Goraya’s murder plot.

Pashtun rights campaigner Zar Ali Khan Afridi, who fled to the Netherlands after an abduction attempt, was quoted in the report as saying that he had received a life-threatening call from a British number.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1673745/uk-police-alert-pakistani-dissidents-to-threats-report

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Imran Khan turns blind eye to Uyghur Muslim suppression in China

7th February 2022

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has turned blind eye to the accusations of West and rights groups against China over suppressing Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang as he supported Beijing on Xinjiang issue on Sunday and the leader also backed the communist regime on the South China Sea as well as One-China Principle.

“The Pakistan side expressed its “commitment to One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet,” read a joint statement released following the meeting of Imran Khan and Chinese Presiden Xi Jinping in Beijing on Sunday.

Islamabad gave its support to China on issues related to the One China Policy and the South China Sea, which the West sees as arbitrary rules policies made by Beijing to foster its expansionist approach.

“The Chinese side reaffirmed its support for Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and security, as well as promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity,” it added.

Islamabad’s support to Beijing against the accusation of human rights violation by China in the Xinjiang region came at a time when recently 243 global groups called for action against China over human rights abuses in the country.

The groups in late January had urged the countries to join the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games.

Under President Xi Jinping, Chinese authorities have been committing mass abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans, ethnic groups, and religious believers from all independent faith groups said the Human Rights Watch in late January.

Source: Siasat Daily

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https://www.siasat.com/imran-khan-turns-blind-eye-to-uyghur-muslim-suppression-in-china-2271005/

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Immediate disciplinary proceedings recommended against JUI-F chief’s brother

February 7, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Provincial Election Commissioner Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday asked the Chief Secretary KP to initiate necessary disciplinary proceedings immediately against government officer Zia-ur-Rehman on participating in local government elections campaign of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam (JUI-F) candidate in D.I.Khan.

According to ECP sources, a letter was written in this regard under Section-24 of the Government Servants Efficiency and Disciplinary Rules, 1964 against the concerned officer under intimation to this office for its onward submission to the Election Commission.

As per details, Zia-ur-Rehman, brother of the chief of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman had addressed the political gathering arranged in Iqbal Marriage Hall, Zafarabad Colony, Tehsil and District D.I.Khan on February 03 as part of the election campaign of JUI, candidate, namely, Muhammad Kafel Nizami.

The letter said that being a public office holder (PMS Officer, Government Servant), his participation in such political activities is a sheer violation of section 187 of the election act 2017 which is reproduced.

It said that a notice was already issued to the officer concerned by the District Monitoring Officer, D.I.Khan on the ground that a person in the service of Pakistan is guilty of the violation of official duty in connection with an election if he misuses his official position in a manner calculated to influence the results of the election.

The violation of such provision of law is punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to two years or with a fine that may extend to one hundred thousand rupees or with both.

Source: Pakistan Today

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https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/02/07/immediate-disciplinary-proceedings-recommended-against-jui-f-chiefs-brother/

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Militancy, once driven out, returns to Balochistan

February 6, 2022

QUETTA: Regrouping of militant groups, the volatile situation in neighbouring Afghanistan and foreign support are key factors behind a new flare-up of violence in Balochistan, according to local political and security analysts.

Terrorism has reared its head in the mineral-rich province as dozens of security personnel and militants have been killed in ambushes, clashes, and bomb blasts across the region in recent months.

Retired Lt Gen Talat Masood, an Islamabad-based security analyst, told Anadolu Agency the resurgence of terrorism in the province is not unexpected, given the vastness of the region, loose control of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and involvement of foreign elements.

At least 20 soldiers were martyred in attacks on security check posts and clashes with suspected militants in several parts of the province, a key route of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the past week alone, in a clear indication of the return of otherwise dwindling violence.

The martyrdom of 10 army troops in an attack on a security checkpoint in the Kech district near Iran’s border on January 28 was the deadliest incident in months.

The Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), a proscribed militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Another seven army troops and 13 suspected militants were martyred in two separate security operations in the Panjgur and Noshki districts on February 3.

“There is no support (for terrorism) from the Afghan government but it’s because of the loose border control, of which the militants are taking advantage not only in Balochistan but in the northwestern tribal region,” said Masood, who served in the army from 1956 to 1992.

Pakistan has also seen a surge in terror attacks in the tribal region, mainly North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, since the Taliban took control of Kabul last August.

Mineral-rich Balochistan is also a key route of the $64-billion CPEC project, which aims to connect China’s strategically important northwestern Xinxiang province to Gawadar port through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines for cargo, oil, and gas transportation.

With its 600-kilometre (373-mile) coastline, Gwadar is an important deep seaport currently operated by China, which aims to attain direct access to the Indian Ocean via the seaport.

The economic corridor will not only provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East but will also bring billions of dollars to Pakistan in the form of transit fees from the world’s second-largest economy.

COMPLACENCE

The vastness of the province, which makes up 42 percent of Pakistan, according to Masood, is another advantage terror groups have been taking to regroup after short and long intervals.

“Balochistan is a vast province, and hard to fully control. Therefore, it is not very difficult for them (militants) to regroup,” he said.

Supporting the view, Ikram Sehgal, a Karachi-based defense analyst, observed that a no man’s land between Pakistan and Iran has long been serving as a “safe haven” for militants.

“The security forces should not have been complacent after subsiding the insurgency in recent years. They have reared their head also because of lack of preparedness from the security forces,” Sehgal, who edits the reputed Defense Journal of Pakistan, told Anadolu Agency.

He called for doubling the number of troops within Balochistan and at borders with Iran and Afghanistan to check the “cross-border movement of terrorists.”

UNIFICATION OF MILITANTS AND INDIAN HAND

Anwar Sajidi, a Quetta-based political analyst, sees the “unification” of several militant groups as a key reason behind the fresh wave of violence across the province.

He said different separatist outfits have recently formed the Baloch National Alliance (BNA), an umbrella group, which has improved “coordination” and “access” in terms of attacks.

Sehgal and Masood also claim the “Indian hand” behind the rise in terror attacks, whereas Sajidi, too, does not rule out the possibility.

Masood said New Delhi is “opening new fronts in Balochistan with the help of dissident elements along the borders to settle the score on Kashmir.”

Sehgal contended that India has “reactivated its network” in Balochistan, which is responsible for the latest wave of violence in the region.

Sajidi said the possibility of the involvement of a foreign hand in the latest string of attacks in Balochistan is “there”.

In 2016, Pakistan arrested a spy Kulbhushan Jadhav — who at the time was a serving officer in the Indian Navy — in Mashkel in Balochistan, a few miles from the border with Iran.

Disguised as Mubarak Hussein Patel, a Muslim, he was running a spy network for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s premier intelligence agency, from the Iranian port of Chabahar.

Source: Pakistan Today

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https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/02/06/militancy-once-driven-out-returns-to-balochistan/

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5 Pak soldiers killed in firing from Afghanistan; TTP claims responsibility for attack

February 6, 2022

At least five Pakistani soldiers were killed by firing from neighbouring Afghanistan, Islamabad said Sunday, in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

It comes just days after Baloch separatists in the southwest killed nine Pakistani troops in a series of brazen attacks that officials said involved planners from Afghanistan as well as India.

After seizing power in August, Afghanistan's Taliban pledged terror groups would not be allowed to operate from the country, but Pakistani militant groups have long taken sanctuary across the porous border.

They include the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which on Sunday claimed responsibility for the attack in the Kurram district of rugged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The TTP has been emboldened by the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan and has stepped up attacks since a month-long truce with the Pakistan government ended last year.

The Taliban are separate groups in both countries, but share a common ideology and draw from people who live on either side of the border.

The TTP said it killed six Pakistani troops in Saturday night's attack, but the Pakistan military's public relations wing (ISPR) said five Frontier Corps members had died.

"Own troops responded in a befitting manner," it said, adding "terrorists suffered heavy causalities".

Pakistan "strongly condemns the use of Afghan soil by terrorists", ISPR said.

The army "is determined to defend Pakistan's borders against the menace of terrorism, and such sacrifices of our brave men further strengthen our resolve".

Premier in China

It took four days until Saturday for Pakistani troops to put an end to assaults by separatists in Balochistan province, with the army putting the final death toll at 20 militants and nine soldiers.

The ISPR said intelligence agents intercepted communications during those assaults on army posts that showed militants had links to Afghanistan and India.

Separatists have waged an insurgency in the vast southwestern province for years, fuelled by anger that its abundant reserves of natural resources are not relieving citizens from crushing poverty.

The fighting came as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was making an official visit to China, which has invested significantly in Balochistan, further stoking tensions.

Chinese investments in Balochistan are part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative.

A Pakistani security official told AFP on Friday that the attacks were an attempt to derail Khan's visit to China.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project linking China's far-western Xinjiang region with the strategic port of Gwadar in Balochistan has sparked claims that the vast influx of investment does not benefit locals.

While the economic corridor offers a lucrative gateway for China to the Indian Ocean, the security of its workers has long been a concern.

Pakistan's government announced late last year it had entered a month-long truce with the TTP, facilitated by Afghanistan's Taliban, but that expired on December 9 after peace talks failed to make progress.

The TTP has been blamed for hundreds of suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings across the country, and for a while held sway over vast tracts of the country's rugged tribal belt, imposing a radical version of Islamic law.

Source: India Today

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https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/pakistani-soldiers-dead-firing-afghanistan-taliban-ttp-1909616-2022-02-06

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Europe

 

UK government cuts free medication, toiletries for Afghan asylum seekers

February 05, 2022

LONDON: Asylum seekers in Britain being housed in hotels have been told by the UK Home Office to pay for non-basic toiletries themselves, a letter has revealed.

People fleeing the Taliban, some of whom worked for the British military or authorities, say the latest move from the British government shows that it “does not care” about them anymore.

It was revealed that the Home Office is spending £4.7 million ($6.36 million) per day housing asylum seekers in hotels and providing for them — an estimated £127 per person.

Faiz Mohammad Seddeqi, 30, a former guard at the British Embassy in Kabul, is one such evacuee from Afghanistan and has been staying at one of the hotels for almost six months.

He was evacuated with his wife and son during the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan in August last year.

“When we see this kind of reaction and decision from the Home Office, it means ‘from onward we don’t care about you and we are not concerned about you — you need to manage everything by yourself,’” he said.

He said that the hotel in Watford where he and his family are staying is “not very clean” and that the food they are given is “not good.”

The letter he received, addressed from the Afghanistan Resettlement Arrivals Project at the Home Office, reads: “Until now, in addition to your Universal Credit payments and the accommodation and meals provided in the bridging hotels, we have also provided some additional items.

“I am writing to inform you that from Feb. 11 we will no longer provide those additional items and you will need to purchase these for yourself using your Universal Credit payments.”

According to the letter, asylum seekers will still receive “main meals,” including “baby food and baby milk,” but will no longer receive “complimentary snacks, toiletries (aside from basic toiletries) or over-the-counter medication.”

The letter added: “You will need to pay your own transport or taxi fares to appointments,” referencing the Home Office’s desire for those being resettled to find work.

“All hotel residents continue to receive fully furnished accommodation, including a choice of three meals a day, constant access to drinking water, basic toiletries and their utility costs are covered,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

Some 25,000 asylum seekers and 12,000 Afghan refugees are now staying in hotels in the UK, the Home Office told the Home Affairs Committee this week.

At the session, MPs were told that the UK government was “optimistic” that it can find a revised way of working with councils on managing costs.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2018856/world

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Muslim man who stopped London knife attack said he had ‘duty to act’

February 05, 2022

LONDON: A Muslim man in London who was released without charge after running over a knife attacker has said it was “his duty to act.”

The 26-year-old Chechen, known as Abraham, works as an electrician and was on his way to a job in London on Jan. 24.

While driving through the neighborhood of Maida Vale, he spotted a man stabbing a woman in the street three times in the chest.

Witnesses tried to stop the attack by Leon McCaskie on his ex-wife Yasmin Chkaifi, but to no avail. Both McCaskie and Chkaifi died after the incident.

Abraham told the Daily Mail: “Should you see an evil it is your duty to stop it with your hands. If you cannot, then you should stop it by speaking out. So I was thinking: ‘How could I face God if I don’t help? It is my duty, my religion.’

“In that moment I knew I had to act. I cannot go away and leave her. I had to help, to try to save her. I did not have time to consider. I thought the safest and quickest option was to push the man away from the woman with my car.

“So I put my car into first gear and drove up onto the pavement. It was a short distance, 10 or 12 feet, and I pushed him, I made an impact. I managed to avoid the woman.

“Then I took my foot off the gas but my car didn’t stop. The momentum continued and I knew the man was under my car. I opened the door and I saw his hand sticking out from under it. That sight stays with me and always will: The man’s hand sticking out.

“My car hit a garden wall and stalled and I tried to reverse but the engine wouldn’t turn over. I kept trying to start the car, to free the man, but I couldn’t. I shouted for help.

“I took my head in my hands and thought: ‘How has this happened?’ I’d tried to save a woman’s life and I’d killed a man. I said a prayer: ‘God forgive me for what I have done’.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2018696/world

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Former UK member of European Parliament claims he was victim of Islamophobia by government minister

February 06, 2022

LONDON: A British Conservative politician has accused his party of failing to investigate allegations of Islamophobia against a fellow Tory who has since risen to the ministerial level in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.

Sajjad Karim, a former member of the European Parliament for North West England from 2004 to 2019, told The Independent that he was prepared to place identities on record after an investigation into Islamophobia in the party failed to take his claims into consideration.

Karim said that in 2013 he overheard a conversation in which two Tory politicians, including the individual now serving as a minister, plotted to use Karim’s faith as a weapon against him.

“It’s politically motivated. It was entirely a political exercise to try and undermine me — to use my religion as a means to undermine me,” he said.

His claims come just weeks after Tory MP Nusrat Ghani alleged that her Muslim faith was cited by a party whip as a reason for sacking her from a ministerial position in 2020.

“I don’t know Nus Ghani’s case or situation,” Karim said. “All I know is in my case the discussion was about how my religious and cultural background could be engineered politically and used against me.”

Karim said that he stayed quiet about overhearing the conversation at the time, adding that he had “just got on with it,” but later revealed it in September 2019 to the BBC, after which the party invited him to make a formal complaint.

However, he demanded that he be allowed to speak in person to the party chairman, James Cleverly MP, only to be told that Cleverly was too busy.

“I responded, and said: ‘No I’m not going to use the standard process, this is not appropriate.’ And then I was emailed back saying that, actually, the … inquiry was going to be taking place … and that the inquiry would contact me and that I should give my evidence to the ... inquiry.”

The inquiry in question, headed by Prof. Swaran Singh into Islamophobia in the party, published its report in May 2021, which failed to mention the incident. Furthermore, Karim said that he was never contacted for questioning.

“So they’ve gone ahead and concluded all of this but I’d been excluded from this,” he said. “So in terms of my complaint, it was neither dealt with by the chairman, nor was it a part of the Singh inquiry, and therefore it just has not been a part of any process in dealing with Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

“I think it’s demonstrative of a lack of real, genuine seriousness in the party to actually treat Islamophobia as a serious issue,” he added. “It’s seen more as a nuisance that in some way has got to be dealt with.

“Do I have any confidence that the current setup has any interest in actually dealing with my complaint? No, not at all. But that’s not to say that the Conservative Party per se — the board — ought not to be interested in what has actually happened here.”

Karim added that he would name the individuals involved in the allegation. “I will tell the party the full facts of what I experienced,” he said. “The party has then got to decide, are they (the minister) a fit and proper person?

“I think that there is a need for the Conservative Party to think long and hard today about how we once again become a party that is actually fit for governance,” he said, adding: “Whilst Boris Johnson is at the helm, I just don’t see how you can carry out the necessary reforms — he’s just too much of a distraction.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2019416/world

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Imam who supported an al-Qaeda terrorist is given the green light to open a nursery by Ofsted

6 February 2022

An imam who expressed support for an al-Qaeda terror attacker has been given the green light to open a nursery by the education regulator.

Imam Muhammad Asim Hussain urged followers at the Al-Hikam mosque in Bradford to attend an event in 2015 in support of Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year prison term in the US for attempting to kill soldiers in a machine gun attack.

In a recorded video, Mr Hussain said the event would highlight the 'injustice and most importantly the oppression that has been given and meted out to our sister Dr Aafia Siddiqui who is currently in imprisonment'.

Siddiqui hit the headlines last month when Malik Faisal Akram, 44, from Blackburn, demanded her release after taking four people hostage at a synagogue in Texas. He was shot dead by police after his captives escaped.

Mr Hussain left his role at the mosque in 2019 following claims of misconduct but was re-appointed last year.

Another founder of the Al-Hikam mosque, Muhammad Adil Shahzad, last year used the racially derogatory term 'coconuts' to describe 18 Muslim MPs who backed a Yorkshire teacher who had been suspended for showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad to pupils. 

Mr Shahzad also called for the teacher to be sacked and said he and his followers were 'fighting an academic war' against the enemies of Islam.

Despite the controversies, Ofsted gave the go-ahead for the nursery plans last month.

Celebrating the news on social media, Mr Hussain, a trustee at the mosque which is a registered charity, said Ofsted's agreement represented a 'huge milestone' and posted pictures of the nursery.

However, the regulator said it would re-examine the case after The Mail on Sunday brought the imams' previous comments to its attention.

David Ibsen, executive director at the Counter Extremism Project, said: 'Al-Hikam should not be permitted to educate young British citizens in its nursery when there is a track record of espousing objectionable and oppressive beliefs.'

An Ofsted spokeswoman said: 'We have been alerted to these concerns and are looking into them.

Source: Daily Mail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10481417/Imam-supported-al-Qaeda-terrorist-given-green-light-open-nursery-Ofsted.html

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Macron govt seeks to give Islam a French makeover

Feb 6, 2022

NICE: The French government on Saturday forged ahead with efforts to reshape Islam in France and rid it of extremism, introducing a new body made upof clergy andlaymen — and women — to help lead the largest Muslim community in western Europe.

With France bloodied by past Islamic extremist attacks in past years, few disagree that radicalisation is a danger. But critics also see the efforts as a political ploy to lure rightwing voters to President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party ahead of April’s presidential election. The new body, called the Forum of Islam in France, is being introduced on Saturday by the French interior ministry. Supporters say it will keep the country safe and free of foreign influence, and ensure that Muslim practices in France adhere to the country’s cherished value of secularism in public life.

Its critics, including many Muslims who consider the religion a part of their French identity, say the government’s latest initiative is another step in an institutionalised discrimination. The new body will include imams, influential figuresfromcivil society, prominent intellectuals and business leaders. All hand-picked by the government, and women will make up at least a quarter of its members, according to reports.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/macron-govt-seeks-to-give-islam-a-french-makeover/articleshow/89376034.cms

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Italy delivers vehicles to Lebanese military

February 06, 2022

ROME: The first batch of vehicles donated by Italy to the Lebanese Armed Forces, and 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the local population, have been delivered at the Port of Beirut.

“This first vehicle delivery is a tangible sign of Italy’s … closeness to Lebanon, its people and the Lebanese Armed Forces,” said Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini.

Rome remains committed to supporting the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, and to contributing to the country’s stability, he added.

“The bond of friendship between Italy and Lebanon has deep historical roots based on our common Mediterranean identity,” he said.

“Our continued presence in that country since 1980 is a clear testimony to our commitment to peace and stability across the entire region.”

Two 20-seat buses, a tanker and an inflatable boat were delivered as a first instalment of a donation that will be completed by the end of the year.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2019246/world

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South Asia

 

Islamic Emirate Welcomes Return of Afghan Pilots

February 7, 2022

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Sunday announced that five Afghan air force pilots who left Afghanistan after the republic government's collapse, have returned to the country and resumed work.

Officials at the ministry further said that they will persistently strive to encourage all professional staff of the previous government to return to Afghanistan.

“Five Afghan pilots who left country, based on propaganda, answered our call and came back to Afghanistan,” said Enayatullah Khwarizmi, MoD’s spokesman.

With the fall of the republic government, many of the experienced military and air force staff of Afghanistan fled the country to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America, but no details are available about where these five pilots are returning from.

“The leadership of the Ministry of Defense has consistently called on everyone to come back and serve their country,” said Khwarizmi.

In the meantime, Anas Haqqani, a high member of the Islamic Emirate, welcomed the return of Afghan pilots on Twitter, saying Afghanistan currently needs professionals.

“Afghanistan needs everyone who is a specialist: doctors, engineers, pilots and teachers,” said Sarwar Neyazai, a military expert.

Reports have stated that around 140 Afghan air force pilots and personnel who were trapped in Tajikistan after leaving Afghanistan have since gone to the Unites States.

Source: Tolo News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-176602

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UN committed to providing aid for Afghanistan, despite political predicaments

07 Feb 2022

The UN Secretary General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov said they will continue providing humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan in spite of political obstacles that impacted the lives of millions of people in the country.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Kabul on Sunday, February 6, 2022, Ramiz Alakbarov said that he was proud that the international aid agencies have so far provided life assistance to over 18 million Afghans.

In the conference, the Afghan authorities pledged to be distributing aid to people in need transparently and timely.

Head of UNOCHA, Isabelle Moussard Carlsen said that 24.4 million people in Afghanistan need urgent humanitarian assistance and for that, the UN needs $4.4 billion.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/un-committed-to-providing-aid-for-afghanistan-despite-political-predicaments-7986875/

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Islamic Emirate seeks economic plans to counter crisis

February 6, 2022

KABUL:  A senior official of the Islamic Emirate instructed the government bodies to present their proposals to counter the existing economic crisis in the country.

Talking at an economic conference in Kabul on Sunday, the First Deputy of Prime Minister, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar promised to offer tremendous efforts to tackle the ongoing crisis in the country.

 “I instruct the officials of all ministries and departments to share their short- and long-term plans for economic development with us,” he said. 

He pledged the government would pave the ground for the investors to invest in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is going through a dire humanitarian condition, with millions of people are facing starvation.

Addressing the same conference,  the Second Deputy of Prime Minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, stressed countering corruption, saying that administrative corruption has significantly dropped.

“We support the private sectors to improve the economy in Afghanistan and to attract investors to invest in various fields in the country,” he said. 

Source: Afghanistan Times

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

http://www.afghanistantimes.af/islamic-emirate-seeks-economic-plans-to-counter-crisis/

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Tens of ISIS-K affiliates surrender to Taliban in eastern Afghanistan

07 Feb 2022

Provincial officials of the eastern Nangarhar province said on Sunday, February 6, 2022, that up to 50 ISIS-K or Daesh fighters surrendered to them.

The local officials said that the terrorists surrendered following mediation by tribal elders of the province.

Head of the Nangarhar Intelligence Directorate Dr. Basheer said that the fighters surrendered based on the general amnesty announced by the supreme leader of the Taliban and added that the process will go on.

This is the eighth group of the Daesh fighters that surrenders to the Taliban in Nangarhar province since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan took over last year.

The surrendered militants said that they remorse being par to the ISIS-K and promised not to join the terror group again.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/tens-of-isis-k-affiliates-surrender-to-taliban-in-eastern-afghanistan-8769876/

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Mullah Baradar Calls on Govt Bodies to Provide Economic Plans

February 7, 2022

First Deputy of the Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, called on the government institutions to present their plans to tackle the economic meltdown and root out poverty in the country. 

Speaking to a conference in Kabul today, Mullah Baradar accused the previous governments of corruption, saying that the funds for Afghanistan over the last 20 years "poured into the pockets" of certain individuals, so the country is not self-sufficient.

“I instruct the officials of all ministries and departments to share their short- and long-term plans for economic development with us,” he said. 

Mullah Baradar promised that the Islamic Emirate will take significant steps to address the current crisis in the country.

“This is the responsibility of all of us--to work for economic progress. We should do something to reduce the level of poverty and provide work opportunities for the people in the country,” he said. 

He also emphasized that a safe environment will pave the way for investment inside Afghanistan. 

The Second Deputy of Prime Minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, said administrative corruption in the government departments has been eradicated.

“We support the private sectors to improve the economy in Afghanistan and to attract investors to invest in various fields in the country,” he said. 

Source: Tolo News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan-176605

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IEA reacts to UN report over Al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan

07 Feb 2022

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan reacted to the recent report of the UN and denied the presence of Al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan.

The Ministry in a press release on Monday, February 7, 2022, said that these ungrounded claims that are based on no evidence and proof can harm the security of Afghanistan, the region, and the world.

United Nations in their recent report claimed that the Al-Qaida affiliates are more active in Afghanistan and they are freely operating inside the country.

The Foreign Ministry said that Afghanistan has fully been secured after the IEA gained power last year.

“Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is fully committed to the implementation of the Doha agreement and allows no one to threaten other’s soil from the country and wants the same from other countries as well.” Reads the statement.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/iea-reacts-to-un-report-over-al-qaida-presence-in-afghanistan-865765/

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Plans underway to eliminate poverty and create work opportunities: Baradar

06 Feb 2022

Economic Deputy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said that economic growth is their top priority and they are working to eradicate poverty and unemployment in the country.

Speaking at the gathering of the economic commission of the IEA in Kabul on Sunday, February 6, 2022, Mullah Baradar said that economy of Afghanistan was fake that collapsed following the full withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

Baradar has lately been appointed as head of the high commission of the economy of the IEA by the supreme leader Mullah Hebtullah Akhundzada.

“Previous government in Afghanistan had fake economies so they collapsed after the international community left Afghanistan. The money that would come to Afghanistan from abroad would pour into the pockets of a specific number of people.” Said Mullah Baradar.

The Deputy PM further said that they support national and international investors in Afghanistan and do everything to provide for the investors working facilities.

Meanwhile, the second Deputy of the PM Mullah Abdul Salaam Hanafi said that Afghanistan is hundred percent secure and that investors from across the world are welcomed.

Hanafi added that for the sake of Afghanistan’s economic growth, they fully support the private sector.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/plans-underway-to-eliminate-poverty-and-create-work-opportunities-baradar-7687657/

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Afghan journalists face harassment under Taliban: Media body

6th February 2022

Kabul: The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that journalists and media workers in Afghanistan are facing increasing “harassment” under the Taliban regime.

RSF said the threats, interrogations and arbitrary arrests of journalists have increased and these actions are in violation of Afghanistan’s press law, TOLO News reported.

According to RSF, since the Taliban came to power in August last year, at least 50 journalists and media workers have been detained, lasting from several hours to nearly a week.

“Threatening to rip out journalists’ tongues in order to prevent them from covering certain subjects is completely unacceptable,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk.

“Journalists must be able to practice their profession without being under a permanent threat of arrest and torture. These unlawful threats, which violate Afghanistan’s media legislation, are all the more horrifying for coming at a time of growing harassment and increasingly restrictive rules for the right to news and information.”

According to the RSF, the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice had also issued a decree in November last year defining certain rules for media in Afghanistan.

On February 3, the International Federation of Journalists also raised concerns on the status of media in Afghanistan, saying at least 318 media outlets have closed since the fall of the Western-backed government in 33 of 34 provinces in Afghanistan.

“The crisis has hit newspapers the hardest with just 20 out of 114 continuing to publish,” the report read.

“Fifty-one TV stations, 132 radio stations and 49 online media outlets have ceased operations according to the report compiled for the IFJ.”

The Taliban, however, reacting to these reports, said it is committed to supporting press freedom.

Source: Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/afghan-journalists-face-harassment-under-taliban-media-body-2270562/

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Southeast Asia

 

Keeping the faith, quietly: Inside Muslim Indonesia’s hidden Jewish community

By Chris Barrett and Karuni Rompies

February 7, 2022

Singapore/Jakarta: In Tondano, near the north-east tip of the island of Sulawesi, south-east Asia’s first Holocaust museum was unveiled last month.

The brainchild of Rabbi Yaakov Baruch, who operates Indonesia’s only synagogue in the lakeside town, its opening on International Holocaust Remembrance Day was witnessed by more than 100 invitees, among them local and district government representatives and foreign diplomats including the ambassador of Germany.

On show inside the synagogue compound so far is simply a photo exhibition, but for Baruch it is the fulfilment of a long-held ambition.

“I had a dream that one day I could open up a museum in Indonesia to educate people about the Holocaust,” he said.

“Our goal is that it is not only for Jews. The message of the museum is that racism and hatred must be fought from early on before it is too late.“

In the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, however, its establishment has not been welcomed by all with open arms.

The Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI), a group of scholars that oversees Islamic affairs, has called for the museum to be shut.

“I beg the local government … this hurts the Palestinian people,” said Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim, the head of the MUI’s international relations unit.

Hidayat Nur Wahid, a senior figure in the Islamist faith-based Prosperous Justice Party and the deputy speaker of Indonesia’s upper house, was also scathing. He said he believed the museum to be a ploy by Israel to try and normalise relations with Indonesia, which has long rejected diplomatic ties because of its support for the Palestinian cause.

It’s an issue that has been in the headlines lately after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the prospect of establishing formal relations between Indonesia and Israel during a visit to Jakarta in December. The controversy about the photo exhibition prompted reporters to last week again pose questions to Indonesia’s foreign ministry about where it stands on Israel.

Indonesia’s position, though, remains unchanged. “We support the Palestinian people and we continue to work for the independence of Palestine within the two-state solution framework,” foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said.

Baruch insists the exhibition in Tondano has nothing to do with conflict in the Middle East. He told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he forbids members of the synagogue displaying the Israeli flag “because it only provokes people”.

“I support the [Indonesian] government’s position,” he said. “We are talking about faith here, we are not talking about politics.”

The furore over the museum’s opening, however, offers a glimpse into the life of the tiny Jewish community in a nation of 230 million Muslims.

Baruch estimates there are about 50 Indonesian Jews across the archipelago, descendants of Dutch colonialists and immigrants from Iraq, and a further 500 expatriates living in Jakarta and Bali. “It is difficult to find them because they hide their identity,” he said.

Indonesia has traditionally been known for its moderate form of Islam and in Tondano as well the nearby provincial capital of Manado, which has a large Christian population, the small Jewish community is embraced and feels safe to openly display and practise their faith and mark holy days. Before the pandemic, visitors from a prominent Islamic boarding school in Gontor, East Java, even came to the synagogue twice a year to study Judaism.

Rising religious conservatism and intolerance in Indonesia, though, has given the sprinkling of Jews beyond that inclusive corner of Sulawesi extra reason to keep a low profile.

“I had a bad experience when I was in Jakarta,” Baruch said, recalling an incident in the capital a decade ago. “I was with my [pregnant] wife at a mall and five big men shouted at me saying ‘crazy Jew’. They said they would kill me unless I took off my kippah. They wanted to hit me but the mall security suddenly arrived and saved us, so we could get away.”

When he has returned to Jakarta since, he has led religious rituals behind closed doors inside a five-star hotel for security.

Maureen Elias, a 73-year-old Jewish woman who lives on the outskirts of the Indonesian metropolis, knows all about worshipping in secret.

“We do the Sabbath by ourselves and it’s just ourselves celebrating our own festive days,” she said.

“We’re not looking for trouble. Safety first. The most important thing is that the soul goes to heaven.”

She believes it is “very sad”, however, that people aren’t buried according to Jewish customs as Judaism is not one of the six officially recognised religions in Indonesia.

“We can choose what [religion] to state in our ID cards, be it Islam, Christian, Hindu, whatever. But my grandma chose Christian,” she said. “So, we will be buried in the Christian way as stated in our ID card. It is the norm in Indonesia.”

Discrimination is deeply embedded. Research in 2014 by the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish non-government organisation, concluded as many as 75 million Indonesians, or 48 per cent of the adult population, harboured anti-Semitic attitudes. It was a figure eclipsed in south-east Asia only in Malaysia, according to the ADL.

Mun’im Sirry, an assistant professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame in the US, conducted his own study in 2018 and 2019, interviewing 700 university students around Indonesia as well as 500 high school students in East Java province. Asked to rank who they disliked the most, Jews came in third behind LGBTI people and communists, he said.

“Indonesia, in the past few years, underwent certain type of radicalisation. [Anti-Semitism] is certainly a very serious problem there,” Sirry said.

“But most Indonesians are not aware of the presence of a small Jewish community in the country. And they cannot even conceptualise Judaism as a religion because Judaism is not one of the officially recognised religions in the country.”

Ultimately, Baruch would like the minute Jewish minority in Indonesia to be comfortable in revealing their true religious identity, arguing that concealing it was a problem in itself.

“We are trying to be ourselves, to be the way we are,” he said. “I’m asking them now to have guts by wearing the kippah and by interacting in the inter-religious groups.”

After decades of keeping their religious affiliation under wraps, though, it’s not an approach that will be easy to persuade Indonesian Jews to take up.

Source: SMH

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/keeping-the-faith-quietly-inside-muslim-indonesia-s-hidden-jewish-community-20220203-p59tnv.html

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Malaysia: Govt to pay up to 60% for losses due to Umrah travel postponement

February 7, 2022

The Malaysian government will pay up to 60% of the losses incurred by pilgrims affected by the month-long temporary postponement of umrah travel imposed since Jan 8, said deputy religious affairs minister Ahmad Marzuk Shaary.

He said the Pilgrims Fund Board (TH) and the tourism, arts and culture ministry had checked the list of pilgrims affected by the postponement.

“We know of umrah pilgrims who were stranded (following the postponement of umrah travel) recently.

“They suffered losses as they had paid for accommodation and made other bookings. The government will bear part of these losses.

“However, this is still in the final stage of processing and expected to be completed by the middle of this month,” he said at an event with fishermen in the Kijang state constituency here today.

Marzuk, who is Pengkalan Chepa MP, said the payment would be disbursed by TH directly to the affected pilgrims.

He said the pilgrims would be required to go to the nearest TH branch office by bringing the relevant documents, including details of their umrah package.

“If they have a TH account, it will be easier as the payment will be credited directly to their TH account. TH will distribute the allocation provided by the government through the finance ministry,” he added.

Source: ABNA24

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://en.abna24.com/news//malaysia-govt-to-pay-up-to-60-for-losses-due-to-umrah-travel-postponement_1226777.html

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Deputy minister: Covid-19 SOP for prayers at mosques nationwide effective in curbing outbreaks

06 Feb 2022

KOTA BARU, Feb 6 — The current standard operating procedures (SOP) for congregational prayers in mosques, surau and madrasah have proven to be effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19, says Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary.

He said this could be seen by the fact that no mosque-related clusters have been reported so far, and therefore, the existing SOP would also be used for the special tarawih prayers during the month of Ramadan.

“That is why we have maintained the SOP until today, and if there is a change in the next two months before Ramadan, it will be announced by the government. If any (changes are announced), it is up to the views of the respective state religious councils to use the SOP effectively.

“We have also learned from several incidents that occurred last Ramadan when there were clusters of tarawih groups that did not comply with the SOP. Therefore, the government and the authorities will intensify monitoring so that congregants comply with the SOP set,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after attending the Food Bank Contribution presentation ceremony by Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam Malaysia (YaPEIM) at Kolej Uniti here today, which was also attended by Kota Baru Kolej Uniti chief operating officer Mohd Shaharom Azmin and Kelantan YaPEIM Administrative Centre general manager Nik Mohd Nurul Ihsan Salleh.

The media previously reported that the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) did not intend to introduce specific SOP for tarawih prayers during Ramadan this year, and would instead maintain the existing ones in use.

Meanwhile, commenting on a recent ‘trend’ of couples getting divorced through the WhatsApp application, Ahmad Marzuk said the divorce was legal, but it was not ethical in nature.

Source: Malay Mail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2022/02/06/deputy-minister-covid-19-sop-for-prayers-at-mosques-nationwide-effective-in/2039791

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Singapore and Malaysia can prosper and emerge stronger from pandemic by working together: Masagos Zulkifli

Nadine Chua

FEB 5, 2022

SINGAPORE - Close cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia will see both countries prosper and emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli on Saturday (Feb 5).

In a Facebook post after a three-day working visit to Kuala Lumpur, he noted two recurring themes from engagements with his Malaysian counterparts.

"First, we recognised and affirmed that Singapore and Malaysia are close neighbours with deep and treasured ties in many ways for as long as anyone can remember," he said.

"Second, that by working closely together, we can all prosper and emerge stronger together from the pandemic.

"With the VTL resumption, I am confident that this will pave the way forward."

Mr Masagos was referring to the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) arrangement between Singapore and Malaysia.

About 100,000 people have entered Singapore from Malaysia under the quarantine-free travel scheme that started on Nov 29.

Of these, about 55,000 people have entered via the Causeway under the land VTL, and some 44,000 people have entered via the VTL for air travellers from Malaysia.

Mr Masagos, who is Singapore's Second Minister for Health and Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs, said he also met Malaysia's Home Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainudin.

"We have known each other for many years when we were both in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and updated each other on developments in both our countries," said Mr Masagos.

In a meeting with Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad, Mr Masagos described the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), Mendaki and People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council as engines driving Singapore's Muslim community towards success.

"I am happy to share that Minister Idris and myself have agreed to advance new working cooperation in several key areas that value-add and support the socio-religious life of Muslims in both countries," he added.

Mr Masagos arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

In a meeting with Minister of Rural Development Mahdzir Khalid, he noted that despite Singapore and Malaysia facing different challenges, both countries have the same vision to enable families in need.

Source: Straits Times

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-and-malaysia-can-prosper-and-emerge-stronger-from-pandemic-by-working-together-masagos-zulkifli

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Umno’s embrace of non-Malays had better not be an election ploy

K. Parkaran

February 7, 2022

The political intrigues of the “Sheraton Move” that brought down Pakatan Harapan in 2020 has also cast a pall on the optimism shared by many Malaysians that the nation will, one day, provide fair and equal opportunities for all irrespective of ethnicity.

The downfall of Pakatan Harapan led to Perikatan Nasional taking over with an almost completely Malay-Muslim government. Of course, Umno gave its shoulders to lift up PN and nudge out PH.

The party openly claimed that PH had at least eight non-Muslim Cabinet ministers, which Umno claimed was not good for national unity. Ironically, this happened in the year 2020, the year when Mahathir Mohamad’s vision of a mature Bangsa Malaysia society, with minimal reference to racial origins, was supposed to flower.

We are still fighting hard to regain our position as a nation that is fair to all.

The people have not forgotten that Umno helped to take down the PH government, but  recent statements by certain Umno leaders that non-Malays must be given their fair share is a breath of fresh air.

Certain Umno leaders are now openly, and consistently, saying that this nation is not just about Malays and Muslims, but also about the others, especially those who are deeply rooted and committed to the country.

This was underscored again a few days ago by Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin who said Barisan Nasional must return to a formula of genuine power-sharing and not resort to appointing token non-Malays in the government.

“Increasing non-Malay support must be a key strategy. It is time that they become part of the government and manage the states and country with Umno, the biggest Malay party,” he declared.

For non-Bumiputeras, who form 35% of the population, Khaled’s remarks were obviously music to their ears, after being often reminded by some fanatical leaders in the past that Malaysia is a Malay land and others can leave if they are not happy.

Obviously, many are asking if Umno’s change of mind is merely a ploy to win the non-Malay votes, a huge factor in the coming Johor state elections.

Umno’s sudden strong multiracial stand can be construed, rightly or wrongly, as its way of wooing the votes it lost to DAP at the last general election. Or it could be the case of psyching up the masses for a possible coalition with DAP after the elections if the opposition party manages to win a substantial number of seats in the state assembly.

It definitely won’t risk going into the polls with a pre-election pact with DAP as it will be used by PAS and Bersatu to accuse Umno of selling out the Malays.

If you ask an eternal optimist like me, Umno’s statements, whether real or not, mark a good start, because over the last two years certain parties have positioned non-Malays as a group that is irrelevant politically and one that Malaysia could do without.

There have been politicians in the past who, months before any election, wax lyrical about how important this group is, but then change their tune.

Khaled has said Umno does not believe in tokenism but I am afraid the party has to go beyond mere words if the current trust deficit is to be addressed. It has to make definite pledges on appointing qualified and competent non-Malays to important positions that can make a difference.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2022/02/07/umnos-embrace-of-non-malays-had-better-not-be-an-election-ploy/

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Xinjiang skier becomes joint last torchbearer in Beijing

February 4, 2022

BEIJING: China chose a cross-country skier born in the troubled Xinjiang region to be a joint final torchbearer at the climax of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony today.

Campaigners say that at least 1 million mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in “reeducation camps” in Xinjiang, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.

After initially denying the existence of the camps, Beijing said they were vocational training centres aimed at reducing the appeal of Islamic extremism.

In the final moments of the opening ceremony in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, the last two torchbearers were Zhao Jiawen and Dinigeer Yilamujiang.

Born in Xinjiang, 20-year-old Yilamujiang became the first Chinese cross-country skiing medallist in an international ski federation-level event, having finished second in the opening women’s leg in Beijing in 2019.

Chinese media has reported that she learned to ski as a five-year-old as a way of getting around her snowy hometown in Altay prefecture, northern Xinjiang, and that her father is a skiing instructor.

Yilamujiang trained in Norway for the last three years with the national team, according to a video on the Beijing 2022 Youtube channel.

“The only thing we can do now is train hard and win glory for the country,” she says in the video.

The video commentary also describes her ethnicity as “Uighur”.

The US and lawmakers from multiple western nations have accused China of carrying out a genocide against its Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, a charge Beijing denies.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/sports/2022/02/04/xinjiang-skier-becomes-joint-last-torchbearer-in-beijing/

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Khairy fails to appeal 2017 High Court ruling on Anwar’s defamation suit

07 Feb 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has lost his appeal against the defamation suit filed 14 years ago by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in relation to a statement made during a political rally.

According to a report by local daily The Star, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya chaired by Justice Lee Swee Seng saw no “appealable error” made by the High Court in Kuala Lumpur back in 2017.

Khairy’s appeal was dismissed and he was reportedly ordered to pay RM50,000 in costs to Anwar.

In 2008, during a political rally, then-Umno Youth chief Khairy uttered the words “main belakang” — Malay for “playing from behind” — in relation to Anwar.

Anwar filed the defamation suit soon after, arguing that the words uttered by Khairy were defamatory, and implied that Anwar went against Islam and was unfit to hold political positions.

In 2017, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled in Anwar’s favour and ordered Khairy to pay RM150,000 in damages.

Khairy appealed the High Court decision. The Court of Appeal dismissed it in February 2018.

Source: Malay Mail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2022/02/07/khairy-fails-to-appeal-2017-high-court-ruling-on-anwars-defamation-suit/2039951

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Arab World

 

Minors still detained in Syria prison attacked by ISIS: UN

06 February ,2022

The United Nations said on Sunday that minors were still being detained in a northeast Syria prison attacked last month by ISIS, calling their conditions “precarious.”

International rights groups, including Save the Children and Human Rights Watch have previously said that 700 boys had been in the Ghwayran jail before the January 20 operation.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Aged between 12 and 18, they include many who had adult relatives inside the prison and were transferred from nearby displacement camps housing thousands of children of extremist fighters.

“UNICEF met with some of the children still detained in the Ghwayran detention center,” the UN’s child agency said in a statement.

“Despite some of the basic services now in place, the situation of these children is incredibly precarious,” it added, without specifying how many minors were still detained.

Farhad Shami of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces told AFP that “hundreds” of minors were still being held in Ghwayran, refusing to disclose an exact figure.

“They are being kept in a safe place,” he said

The ISIS prison break attempt from the Ghwayran jail in Hasakeh city triggered a week of clashes inside and around the Kurdish-run facility, leaving hundreds dead, before Kurdish-led forces recaptured the jail.

It was the largest operation in Syria since the group’s territorial defeat in 2019.

UNICEF said it was working to immediately provide care for the minors and confirmed that it “is ready to help support a new safe place in the northeast of Syria to take care of the most vulnerable children.”

On Sunday, the SDF said in a statement that UNICEF was the first UN agency granted permission to visit the jail since the attack.

“The delegation was provided with information on the status of [ISIS]-linked teenagers," the SDF added.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/06/Minors-still-detained-in-Syria-prison-attacked-by-ISIS-UN

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Iraq court suspends Hoshyar Zebari from presidential race

06 February ,2022

Iraq’s Supreme Court said Sunday it had temporarily suspended Hoshyar Zebari, a frontrunner for the presidency, on the eve of parliament’s vote on the position, citing years-old corruption charges against him.

The court said it had received a complaint from lawmakers that Zebari's candidacy was “unconstitutional” because of the graft claims, adding that his suspension was “temporary” while the court considers the case.

Zebari was one of two main contenders for the largely ceremonial post of president, which the 329-member parliament was to vote on on Monday.

The other favored candidate for the presidency is the incumbent Barham Saleh.

Iraq’s highest judicial body said the complainants consider that Zebari does not fulfil constitutional requirements that the head of state must have “a good reputation and integrity.”

The court cited his 2016 dismissal from the post of finance minister by parliament “over charges linked to financial and administrative corruption.”

Public funds worth $1.8 million were allegedly diverted to pay for airline tickets for his personal security detail.

Zebari, 68, has always denied all corruption accusations.

The complaint also cited at least two other judicial cases linked to him, including when he was the country’s long-time foreign minister after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/06/Iraq-court-suspends-Hoshyar-Zebari-from-presidential-race

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Blast targets US-led coalition convoy in southern Iraq

Ibrahim Saleh  

06.02.2022

BAGHDAD

A roadside bomb targeted a military convoy carrying logistics for the US-led coalition against the Daesh/ISIS terror group in southern Iraq, according to a local security official on Sunday.

No injuries were reported in the attack that occurred on a highway in the southern al-Diwaniya province, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

A military vehicle sustained limited damage in the blast.

According to the source, Iraqi authorities have launched an investigation into the attack.

Recent months saw a spate of attacks on coalition convoys in central and southern Iraq.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/blast-targets-us-led-coalition-convoy-in-southern-iraq/2495311

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France, Luxembourg ask Lebanon for information on cenbank chief’s finances: Sources

06 February ,2022

Lebanon has received letters from French and Luxembourg authorities asking for information relating to Lebanon Central Bank Chief Riad Salameh’s bank accounts and assets, two Lebanese judicial sources told Reuters.

The sources did not elaborate.

A spokesperson for Luxembourg’s judiciary confirmed to Reuters in November it had opened “a criminal case” in relation to Salameh and his companies and assets, declining to provide further information at the time.

France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Lebanon are also probing Salameh’s personal wealth. Salameh has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing during his nearly three-decades at the helm of Lebanon’s central bank.

A spokesperson for Luxembourg’s judiciary and Lebanon’s justice minister did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

The French embassy in Lebanon said Saturday it could not comment on “ongoing judicial affairs.”

When asked for comment, Salameh told Reuters the request for cooperation from Luxembourg was a “normal procedure” not a “legal suit.”

“If they had filed a legal suit they don’t need help in the investigation,” he said.

Salameh denied reports that he had been charged by Luxembourg authorities, and noted both Switzerland and France had previously requested similar cooperation from Lebanon.

Salameh’s role at the central banks has come under close scrutiny since Lebanon’s economic meltdown in 2019, which has seen the value of the currency collapse and swathes of the population pushed into poverty.

The Swiss attorney general’s office last year said it had requested legal assistance from Lebanon in the context of a probe into “aggravated money laundering” and possible embezzlement of more than $300 million under Salameh at the central bank.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/06/France-Luxembourg-ask-Lebanon-for-information-on-cenbank-chief-s-finances-Sources

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2 journalists kidnapped by YPG/PKK terror group in Syria

06.02.2022

QAMISHLI CITY, Syria

The YPG/PKK terror group has kidnapped two journalists working for a media outlet close to the Kurdish National Council in Syria, according to local sources on Sunday.

YPG/PKK terrorists raided the houses of Sabri Fahri and Baver Molla Ahmet in Qamishli city in northeastern Syria overnight and took them to an unknown location, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

The two journalists work for ARK News outlet based in Erbil in northern Iraq.

According to the sources, the order to hold the two journalists was issued by Mahmut Ris, a commander in the PKK terror group in Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq.

On Saturday, the PKK terrorist group banned the Kurdish Rudaw TV in areas under its control in northeastern Syria.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/2-journalists-kidnapped-by-ypg-pkk-terror-group-in-syria/2495317

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President Xi says China, Egypt hold ‘similar visions,’ ‘strategies’

05 February ,2022

China and Egypt “share similar visions and strategies in defending their own interests,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Saturday in a meeting with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Xi “hailed enhanced political trust” between the countries, citing cooperation in fighting the pandemic. Their comprehensive strategic partnership is a model of “China-Arab, China-Africa and China-developing world solidarity,” Xi said, according to CGTN, the international arm of state broadcaster CCTV.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The Beijing meeting comes as al-Sisi's government is seeking closer ties with China while it distances itself from the US and other Western states critical of its human rights record.

“China and Egypt share similar visions and strategies in defending their own interests, pursuing common development, enhancing their people’s well-being and promoting fairness and justice in the world, as the world is undergoing changes unseen in a century,” Xi said.

The sides will “continue to support each other on issues related to core interests and major concerns,” he said.

Since taking power, al-Sisi has overseen a widespread crackdown on dissent and opposition, jailing tens of thousands and drawing international criticism.

In 2017, the government arrested dozens of Uyghur students studying at Cairo’s al-Azhar University and deported them to China amid Beijing's ruthless crackdown on Muslim minorities.

Egypt was the recipient of several free shipments of Chinese-made Sinopharm coronavirus vaccines and China says it helped set up Africa’s first vaccine production in the country.

Al-Sisi is one of more than 30 world leaders and heads of major international organizations who flew to Beijing for Friday's opening of the Winter Olympic Games.

Not having left China since 2019 amid the pandemic, Xi is holding a series meetings on the sidelines of the Games with leaders whose countries are anxious to strengthen relations with the rising superpower.

By around midday Saturday, Xi had also met with heads of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Serbia. The leaders of Argentina, Ecuador, Qatar, Poland and are also among those in town.

The meetings follow a mini-summit between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that underscored the growing alignment of their authoritarian countries’ positions as they push back against the liberal world order dominated by the US.

The two leaders oversaw the signing of more than 20 agreements covering trade, energy and other fields and issued a joint statement in which China backed Russia in opposing

NATO’s expansion, a move seen as signifying Xi’s growing perception of himself as a global leader.

“President Putin emphasized that the strategic significance of Russia-China relations is unprecedented,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said in a commentary on the meeting posted to the ministry’s website.

“Russia firmly supports China’s legitimate position of safeguarding its core interests,” Le said. “During the talks, the two heads of state reiterated that any attempt to harm the interests of China and Russia and divide China-Russia relations is doomed to failure.”

While China formally eschews all military alliances, the sides have held a series of joint war games, including naval drills and patrols by long-range bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. In August, Russian troops for the first time deployed to Chinese territory for joint maneuvers.

Putin has also noted that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China that helped significantly bolster its defense capability.

In his meeting Saturday with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Xi said China is “unswerving in its support for Kazakhstan’s safeguarding of its own independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

China issued strong support for Tokayev's government during deadly street protests last month, though unlike Russia, it did not send troops to help restore order.

“China is ready to deepen security cooperation with Kazakhstan,” Xi said, according to CGTN.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/02/05/President-Xi-says-China-Egypt-hold-similar-visions-strategies-

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Anti-drug judge shot dead in southern Iraq

06 February ,2022

An Iraqi judge specialized in drug cases was shot dead Saturday in southern Iraq, an area increasingly known as a trafficking hub, police and forensic sources said.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Judge Ahmed Faisal was headed home in his car in the city of Amara, the capital of Maysan province, when unknown assailants blocked his route and opened fire, a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A forensic source said the judge died of gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

Both sources said the victim had been shot 15 times with a Kalashnikov.

The killing was not immediately claimed.

In September, another anti-drug judge escaped an assassination attempt in the same province.

Security in the area has deteriorated, fueled by tribal conflicts and a settling of political scores.

Parts of southern and central Iraq bordering Iran have become important drug trafficking routes in recent years.

Security forces have intensified efforts to crack down on the trade, often announcing drug seizures and the arrest of traffickers.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/06/Anti-drug-judge-shot-dead-in-southern-Iraq

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Arab Coalition destroys missile launcher in Yemen: Statement

07 February ,2022

A ballistic missile launcher was destroyed in Yemen’s northern al-Jawf district, the Arab Coalition fighting in the country’s civil war announced on Monday morning.

The coalition earlier announced the beginning of a new military operation in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, which is being held by the Iran-backed Houthis.

The operation was enacted out of “necessity to protect civilians from hostile attacks,” a coalition spokesperson said via the official SPA news agency.

The Houthis regularly launch cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia using drones and ballistic missiles.

In January, the group launched unprecedented attacks on the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi.

Three foreign workers were killed in the first attack on January 17 after ADNOC oil tankers exploded, according to the UAE’s official WAM news agency.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 as part of the Arab coalition.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/02/07/Arab-Coalition-destroys-missile-launcher-in-Yemen-Statement

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Mideast

 

Iran Holds Trial of Ringleader of ‘Tondar’ Terrorist Group

2022-February-6

The trial of Sharmahd, the ringleader of the Tondar (Thunder), a terrorist group accused of committing terror attacks and anti-revolutionary operations against Iran, was held in a plenary court session presided over by Judge Abolqassem Salavati in the capital, Tehran.

The prosecutor's representative, the families of the victims of the group’s terrorist acts and the defendant and his lawyers were in attendance.

Judicial officials said Sharmahd will be tried in two legal and criminal courts.

The prosecutor's representative said in an address to the court on Sunday that Sharmahd intended to carry out 23 terrorist acts, but was successful in only five cases and failed in 18 others.

Behrouz Hassani Etemad said Sharmahd had confessed to committing terrorist acts and deadly explosions in a large religious gathering in Shiraz, Imam Khomeini's mausoleum, Sivand Dam and Jahan Hotel, and also plotting a bombing attack on the seminary of Iran's late prominent cleric, Ayatollah Lotfollah Saafi Golpayegani.

“The defendant had plans to conduct 23 terrorist acts, of which he succeeded in five. The bombing in Hosseinieh Rahpooyan in Shiraz on April 15, 2008 was designed and managed by him, which resulted in the martyrdom of 14 people and the injury of 300 people, 15 of whom were children,” Hassani Etemad said at the trial session.

The prosecutor's representative added that the Tondar terrorist group had leveled slanderous accusations against the noble religion of Islam by using visual, audio, and social media.

During the plenary court session, Hassani Etemad said American officials had contacted the defendant after the explosion in Shiraz, and as Sharmahd confessed, “His first contact with the FBI was after the bomb blast in Shiraz, where they mentioned some security points to the defendant.”

Pointing to Sharmahd’s other meetings with the Americans, the prosecutor's representative said, "The defendant's confession states that he met with two local senators and talked to them about the goals and actions of the Tondar group."

Hassani Etemad said Sharmahd had admitted to being in contact with nine members of the FBI and CIA, whose last meeting dates back to January 2020.

Stressing that Sharmahd had also been in contact with CIA members, the prosecutor's representative said, “The entire IDs and passwords of the group were in possession of the FBI officers and that the defendant also had correspondence with the secretary of state and the president of the United States.”

Hassani Etemad told the court that Sharmahd, through one of his agents, became acquainted with two Mossad members and tried to gain their support, saying he had met a person named Jacob and tried to send one of his plans for a terror operation to the Israeli regime.

The court said that the date for the next trial session of Sharmahd would be subsequently announced.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced in a statement in August 2020 that it had arrested the terrorist ringleader, who had directed "armed operations and acts of sabotage" in Iran from the US.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001117000766/Iran-Hlds-Trial-f-Ringleader-f-%E2%80%98Tndar%E2%80%99-Terrris-Grp

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Israel vows to ‘act freely’ against Iran's nuclear program

Ahmed Asmar 

06.02.2022

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowed on Sunday to continue acting against Iran’s nuclear program, according to local media.

"Whoever thinks an agreement will increase stability is wrong," Bennett said in statements cited by The Jerusalem Post newspaper during a weekly cabinet meeting.

"Israel will maintain freedom of action in any situation, with or without an agreement," he added.

The Israeli premier said that Tel Aviv is strengthening itself militarily against any possible threat from Iran.

The biggest "threat to the State of Israel is Iran," Bennett warned.

Iran and P4+1 (Russia, China, France, the UK, and Germany) held several rounds of talks in the Austrian capital, Vienna, to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal.

Under the agreement, Tehran has committed to limit its nuclear activity to civilian purposes and in return, world powers agreed to drop their economic sanctions against Iran.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israel-vows-to-act-freely-against-irans-nuclear-program/2495405

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Turkiye 'neutralizes' 8 YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria

Faruk Zorlu  

06.02.2022

ANKARA

Turkish forces “neutralized” eight YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria, the National Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

The terrorists were targeted while preparing to carry out attacks in the Operations Peace Spring and Euphrates Shield zones, the ministry said on Twitter.

Turkish authorities use the term “neutralize” to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/turkiye-neutralizes-8-ypg-pkk-terrorists-in-northern-syria/2495306

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Iranian President: US Expulsion to Establish Peace, Security in Region

2022-February-6

"All problems and issues in the region can be resolved provided that extra-regional powers stop their intervention," President Rayeesi said in a phone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Saturday.

"Regional problems are rooted in the Americans' excessive demands and if they are expelled from the region in a real way which is not a pretense, we will see that the countries of the region themselves can fully establish peace, stability and security in cooperation with each other," he added.

Rayeesi referred to the successful battle of Iran and Iraq against the ISIL and Takfiri groups, saying that the two countries can use such experience in strengthening regional security and stability.

Rayeesi added that Tehran has always attached importance to the expansion of relations with Baghdad, and said Iraq has a special position in the Iranian administration's foreign policy to promote ties with neighboring and regional countries.

Iran has always underlined the need for a strong and solid government and a powerful and united society in Iraq, he stated.

The Iranian president expressed the hope that the "political structure building in Iraq will materialize through national solidarity and unity in order to result in increasing stability and progress of the Iraqi nation".

He also pointed to the sufferings of the oppressed Yemeni people and expressed hope that the Iraqi government would be able to take the lead in a regional initiative to lift the siege on the impoverished country and restore the rights of the Yemenis.

The Iraqi prime minister, for his part, said his country attaches great importance to promotion of economic exchanges with Iran.

Al-Kadhimi added that Baghdad fully welcomes Tehran's policy of expanding relations with its neighbors and regional states, and hoped the two states would further promote cooperation.

In relevant remarks in September, Rayeesi said that Tehran and Baghdad can further broaden and deepen relations despite the opposition of their enemies.

“I hope that relations between the two countries will improve day by day, and despite the will of the enemies of the two countries, we will always see good relations between Iran and Iraq,” Rayeesi said in a press conference with al-Kadhimi in Tehran.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001117000236/Iranian-Presiden-US-Explsin-Esablish-Peace-Secriy-in-Regin

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FM: Only Practical Measures by US Matter to Iran

2022-February-6

The Vienna talks will definitely proceed only with expert opinions and in line with national interests, Amir Abdollahian said on Sunday.

Basically, the talks have a process which does not contain any precondition, he added.

Measures which are put down on paper could be good, said Amir Abdollahian said, meantime, stressing the importance of taking practical measures to remove anti-Iran sanctions.

The sole issue which is important to Iran is that practical measures should be taken by the US, he added.

The Iranian foreign minister went on to say that lifting of sanctions should be tangible and its effects should be felt.

Although the US officials repeatedly send messages through intermediaries to Iran and claim that they have good faith, Iran has seen no serious initiative during the current talks, he noted.

In response to a question on reports about a two-year and an interim agreement, the foreign minister said Iran is after a good agreement and not a temporary and limited one. 

Late in November last year, the participants in the Vienna talks aimed to remove sanctions against Tehran and revive Iran's deal with world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), resumed the talks for the first time under Iran’s new President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi. Since then, Iran has repeatedly emphasized that it seeks a “good agreement” in the Austrian capital.

The talks were launched last April over US President Joe Biden’s pledge to rejoin the JCPOA and rescind Trump’s “failed maximum pressure” campaign.

Over a year into his presidency, Biden has failed to re-enter the 2015 deal. Instead, he has kept Trump’s sanctions in place while adding new ones as well.

The US quit the deal in 2018 and returned the sanctions that the accord had lifted. Now, the talks are examining the potential of fresh removal of the sanctions.

Reports said on Friday that the Biden administration has restored a nuclear cooperation sanctions waiver to Iran, a senior State Department official said.

The waiver, which was rescinded by the Trump administration in May 2020, had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out non-proliferation work at Iranian nuclear sites.

The move came as Iran has been requesting removal of economic sanctions.

Shamkhani reacted to the news on Saturday by saying that Iran has the right to a peaceful nuclear program.

“Iran’s legal right to continue research and development and to maintain its peaceful nuclear capabilities and achievements, along with its security against supported evils, cannot be restricted by any agreement,” he tweeted.

Iranian senior analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm also discredited the US move, describing it as a deceitful measure aimed at prioritizing nuclear debates over economic sanctions in the Vienna talks.

In a reply tweet to a post left by the Russian representative at the Vienna negotiations, Mikhail Ulyanov who had welcomed the US waivers as a step forward, Khoshcheshm said the US continues its game against Iran and its recent move shouldn't be interpreted as softening tone.

Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi said earlier this week that his country does not accept lifting of the US embargos just on paper and all of them should be removed in practice.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001117000621/FM-Only-Pracical-Measres-by-US-Maer-Iran

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Iran: Vienna Talks Far from Balance in Commitments of Parties

2022-February-6

"Despite limited progress in the Vienna Talks, we are still far from achieving the necessary balance in the commitments of the parties," Shamkhani wrote on his twitter page on Sunday.

"Political decisions in Washington are required for balance of commitments to reach a good agreement," he added.

Late in November last year, the participants in the Vienna talks aimed to remove sanctions against Tehran and revive Iran's deal with world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), resumed the Vienna talks for the first time under Iran’s new president Ebrahim Rayeesi. Since then, Iran has repeatedly emphasized that it seeks a “good agreement” in the Austrian capital.

The talks were launched last April over US President Joe Biden’s pledge to rejoin the JCPOA and rescind Trump’s “failed maximum pressure” campaign.

Over a year into his presidency, Biden has failed to re-enter the 2015 deal. Instead, he has kept Trump’s sanctions in place while adding new ones as well.

The US quit the deal in 2018 and returned the sanctions that the accord had lifted. Now, the talks are examining the potential of fresh removal of the sanctions.

Reports said on Friday that the Biden administration has restored a nuclear cooperation sanctions waiver to Iran, a senior State Department official said.

The waiver, which was rescinded by the Trump administration in May 2020, had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out non-proliferation work at Iranian nuclear sites.

The move came as Iran has been requesting removal of economic sanctions.

Shamkhani reacted to the news on Saturday by saying that Iran has the right to a peaceful nuclear program.

“Iran’s legal right to continue research and development and to maintain its peaceful nuclear capabilities and achievements, along with its security against supported evils, cannot be restricted by any agreement,” he tweeted.

Iranian senior analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm also discredited the US move, describing it as a deceitful measure aimed at prioritizing nuclear debates over economic sanctions in the Vienna talks.

In a reply tweet to a post left by the Russian representative at the Vienna negotiations, Mikhail Ulyanov who had welcomed the US waivers as a step forward, Khoshcheshm said the US continues its game against Iran and its recent move shouldn't be interpreted as softening tone.

Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi said earlier this week that his country does not accept lifting of the US embargos just on paper and all of them should be removed in practice.

Source: Fars News Agency

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https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001117000347/Iran-Vienna-Talks-Far-frm-Balance-in-Cmmimens-f-Paries

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President Rayeesi Calls for Expansion of Iran-Sri Lanka Ties

2022-February-6

In his message, President Rayeesi congratulated President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the people of Sri Lanka on that country's Independence Day.

"I offer my sincerest congratulations to Your Excellency on the anniversary of Independence Day of your country," the Iranian president said.

The President also expressed hope that the relations between the two countries will be expanded in various fields and in the mutual interests of the two nations.

"I wish Your Excellency health and success, and the people of Sri Lanka prosperity and felicity," he added.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001117000308/Presiden-Rayeesi-Calls-fr-Expansin-f-Iran-Sri-Lanka-Ties

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Israeli, Palestinian figures propose two-state confederation

07 February ,2022

Israeli and Palestinian public figures have drawn up a new proposal for a two-state confederation that they hope will offer a way forward after a decade-long stalemate in Middle East peace efforts.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The plan includes several controversial proposals, and it’s unclear if it has any support among leaders on either side. But it could help shape the debate over the conflict and will be presented to a senior US official and the UN secretary general this week.

The plan calls for an independent state of Palestine in most of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel and Palestine would have separate governments but coordinate at a very high level on security, infrastructure and other issues that affect both populations.

The plan would allow the nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank to remain there, with large settlements near the border annexed to Israel in a one-to-one land swap.

Settlers living deep inside the West Bank would be given the option of relocating or becoming permanent residents in the state of Palestine. The same number of Palestinians — likely refugees from the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation — would be allowed to relocate to Israel as citizens of Palestine with permanent residency in Israel.

The initiative is largely based on the Geneva Accord, a detailed, comprehensive peace plan drawn up in 2003 by prominent Israelis and Palestinians, including former officials. The nearly 100-page confederation plan includes new, detailed recommendations for how to address core issues.

Yossi Beilin, a former senior Israeli official and peace negotiator who co-founded the Geneva Initiative, said that by taking the mass evacuation of settlers off the table, the plan could be more amenable to them.

Israel’s political system is dominated by the settlers and their supporters, who view the West Bank as the biblical and historical heartland of the Jewish people and an integral part of Israel.

The Palestinians view the settlements as the main obstacle to peace, and most of the international community considers them illegal. The settlers living deep inside the West Bank — who would likely end up within the borders of a future Palestinian state — are among the most radical and tend to oppose any territorial partition.

“We believe that if there is no threat of confrontations with the settlers it would be much easier for those who want to have a two-state solution,” Beilin said. The idea has been discussed before, but he said a confederation would make it more “feasible.”

Numerous other sticking points remain, including security, freedom of movement and perhaps most critically after years of violence and failed negotiations, lack of trust.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the Palestinian Authority declined to comment.

The main Palestinian figure behind the initiative is Hiba Husseini, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team going back to 1994 who hails from a prominent Jerusalem family.

She acknowledged that the proposal regarding the settlers is “very controversial” but said the overall plan would fulfill the Palestinians’ core aspiration for a state of their own.

“It’s not going to be easy,” she added. “To achieve statehood and to achieve the desired right of self-determination that we have been working on — since 1948, really — we have to make some compromises.”

Thorny issues like the conflicting claims to Jerusalem, final borders and the fate of Palestinian refugees could be easier to address by two states in the context of a confederation, rather than the traditional approach of trying to work out all the details ahead of a final agreement.

“We’re reversing the process and starting with recognition,” Husseini said.

It’s been nearly three decades since Israeli and Palestinian leaders gathered on the White House lawn to sign the Oslo accords, launching the peace process.

Several rounds of talks over the years, punctuated by outbursts of violence, failed to yield a final agreement, and there have been no serious or substantive negotiations in more than a decade.

Israel’s current prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is a former settler leader opposed to Palestinian statehood. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who is set to take over as prime minister in 2023 under a rotation agreement, supports an eventual two-state solution.

But neither is likely to be able to launch any major initiatives because they head a narrow coalition spanning the political spectrum from hard-line nationalist factions to a small Arab party.

On the Palestinian side, President Mahmoud Abbas’ authority is confined to parts of the occupied West Bank, with the militant group Hamas — which doesn’t accept Israel’s existence — ruling Gaza. Abbas’ presidential term expired in 2009 and his popularity has plummeted in recent years, meaning he is unlikely to be able to make any historic compromises.

The idea of the two-state solution was to give the Palestinians an independent state, while allowing Israel to exist as a democracy with a strong Jewish majority. Israel’s continued expansion of settlements, the absence of any peace process and repeated rounds of violence, however, have greatly complicated hopes of partitioning the land.

The international community still views a two-state solution as the only realistic way to resolve the conflict.

But the ground is shifting, particularly among young Palestinians, who increasingly view the conflict as a struggle for equal rights under what they — and three prominent human rights groups — say is an apartheid regime.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/07/Israeli-Palestinian-figures-propose-2-state-confederation

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Iran media report says man confesses to decapitating wife

06 February ,2022

Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency has reported that two brothers in police custody have confessed to decapitating the wife of one of them, after a gruesome video of the victim circulated online.

The report said the two men were arrested four hours after the killing on Saturday in the southwestern city of Ahvaz. Tens of thousands of people viewed the video on social media, which showed a man holding a large knife while carrying a severed head with long hair in another hand.

ILNA quoted a police officer, Col. Sohrab Hosseinnejad, as saying that “the defendants confessed to the murder during the police investigation and were introduced to the judicial authority.”

The report cited family problems as the likely motive, but added that the issue is under investigation. Police did not release the men’s names or elaborate further on the killing or who filmed the video.

Such violence is rare in Iran.

In April 2021, a 50-year-old man shot to death his nine-year-old son and seven of his in-laws in the city of Ahvaz.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/06/Iran-media-report-says-man-confesses-to-decapitating-wife

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Rare session of key Palestinian body could provide Abbas succession clues

06 February ,2022

A key Palestinian decision-making body convenes on Sunday for the first time in nearly four years in a session that could be a stepping stone for two potential successors to 86-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Central Council last met in 2018, hampered by internal divisions among Palestinians. Hamas and Islamist Jihad movements turned down an invitation to attend Sunday’s meeting, saying Abbas had to institute power-sharing reforms first.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Abbas heads the PLO and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. His main rival, Hamas, runs the Gaza Strip.

The elderly leader, who has a history of heart problems, has not proposed a successor. Both groups have accused Abbas, who hasn’t held a presidential election since 2005, of not doing enough to heal Palestinian divides which are holding up a ballot. Abbas blames Hamas for the current split.

The 141-member Central Council, meeting on Sunday and Monday, was widely expected to appoint two of Abbas’s confidants, Hussein Al-Sheikh and Rawhi Fattouh, to senior posts, effectively placing them on a short list to replace him, Palestinian analysts said.

Abbas, scheduled to speak at the opening session, wants 61-year-old Sheikh, now a key Palestinian liaison with Israel and the United States, to fill the post of secretary-general of the PLO’s Executive Committee, replacing the late Saeb Erekat, the analysts said.

Fattouh, 73, another Abbas aide, is his choice to head the PLO’s highest decision-making body, the National Council.

Both men are close to Abbas and are not expected to shift policies over the handling of the conflict with Israel.

But even if the appointments are ratified by the Central Council, the path to succeeding Abbas, elected in 2005 to replace the late Yasser Arafat as PA president, could prove complicated.

“There is a long list of successors to (Abbas) and there is a clear internal conflict,” said West Bank-based political analyst George Giacman. “If something happened to [him], there will be disputes.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/06/Rare-session-of-key-Palestinian-body-could-provide-Abbas-succession-clues

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Israeli premier, US president discuss 'regional challenges'

Gözde Bayar

07.02.2022

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to US President Joe Biden over phone and discussed a range of issues including regional challenges, his office said in a statement on Sunday.

Bennett congratulated Biden on the operation to eliminate Daesh/ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in northern Syria, saying that "the world is now a safer place thanks to the courageous operation of the US forces."

The two leaders also talked about the "growing Iranian aggression," "steps to block the Iranian nuclear program," and the current situation between Russia and Ukraine.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israeli-premier-us-president-discuss-regional-challenges/2495678

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Africa

 

South Sudanese want peace, stability after tough decade of self-determination

Benjamin Takpiny

06.02.2022

JUBA, South Sudan

South Sudanese urged their leaders to understand each other, put differences aside and focus on bringing stability as the country prepares to mark 11 years of independence from Sudan.

University student Peter Marial encouraged the government to work for lasting peace so South Sudanses can enjoy the fruits of their struggle as the country is set to celebrates 11 years since the announcement of referendum results on Feb. 7, 2011.

“The announcement of the referendum was very joyful to us as South Sudanese, such that we are going to be out of discrimination of Arabs. We enjoy it because we are going to have our own country but the political crises disorganized our happiness” Marial told Anadolu Agency.

“The political crises in the country disorganized our happiness and hope we have during the referendum results announcement. Now, we are still in the same crises that we had in Sudan. Although we are an independent country, we are still seriously suffering in our own country like we were in Sudan.”

He urged the nation’s leadership to put more effort into bringing stability so citizens can enjoy the fruits of their struggle.

“I want our leaders to bring stability in all the sectors like economic health, education among others,” he said.

Veteran journalist Jok Anyang said it was a joyful day when it became official that the country was going to be independent.

“It’s like crossing the river from a dry place to a green place. By then, we were hoping that we are going to enjoy what we were not enjoying in Sudan but now, no change -- things are still the same,” he said.

“As a young man by then, I have a lot of plans for myself, family and the entire nation but everything failed due to the conflict that happened in 2013. I want to achieve something by then but because of crises happening in the country everything failed. The crises let me down not to achieve what I want to achieve. When we separated from Sudan, I wanted to open a big center for training the youth but political crisis in the country didn’t allow me to do that,” said Anyang.

He had a request for political leaders: to put aside grievances and give young people a chance to achieve what they want achieve.

“We want to enjoy the fruits of our struggle, I want our leaders in the country to put aside their differences and give us a chance to do something for our country and the coming generation. We can’t be at war all the time,” said Anyang. “Let us put aside our difference and join our hands together to bring peace and stability in our country.”

South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to declare its independence in final results of the referendum, opening the door to Africa's newest state and a fresh period of uncertainty for the fractured region.

A total of 98.83% of voters from Sudan's oil-producing south chose to secede from the north.

The referendum was the climax of a 2005 North-South peace accord that set out to end Africa's longest civil war and instill democracy in a country that straddles the continent's Arab-sub Saharan divide.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/south-sudanese-want-peace-stability-after-tough-decade-of-self-determination/2495283

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Tunisia rescues 163 migrants off east coast

06 February ,2022

The Tunisian navy has rescued 163 would-be migrants, including women and children, off the country’s east coast, the defense ministry said on Sunday.

“As part of a joint operation with the coastguard, a naval unit rescued Saturday 163 illegal migrants,” the ministry said, adding that 162 were Tunisians while one was Moroccan.

It said nine women and 16 children were found aboard the boat 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) off the coast of Sfax - a key departure area for migrants seeking to make their way to European shores, usually in Italy.

The passengers were reportedly aged between eight and 48, the ministry said, and set off overnight Friday to Saturday “with the aim of surreptitiously crossing the maritime borders” to Europe.

The migrants were taken to the Sfax fishing port, where they were handed over to the coastguard.

Situated about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the Italian island of Sicily, Tunisia has seen its economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Tunisia and neighboring Libya have served as launchpads for migrants making desperate bids to reach Europe.

The Central Mediterranean route has become the world’s deadliest migration trail, according to humanitarian groups.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2022/02/06/Tunisia-rescues-163-migrants-off-east-coast

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African Union summit cancell decision to grant Israel an observer in pan-African organization

February 7, 2022

The African Union summit has cancelled a decision to grant Israel an observer status in the pan-African organization, an Algerian source said on Sunday.

Algeria is participating in the two-day AU summit, which opened in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Saturday.

“The summit decided to abolish the decision to grant Israel an observer status at the AU,” the source in the Algerian delegation was quoted as saying by the private Echorouk TV channel.

“The decision crowned efforts by Algeria and other countries” to cancel the decision, he added.

According to the source, a committee was formed of representatives of Algeria, South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, DR Congo, Rwanda and Nigeria to make recommendations on the issue to the upcoming AU summit.

There was no confirmation yet of the Algerian source’s statements.

In July, Israel announced that its ambassador to Ethiopia, Admasu Al-Ali, had submitted his credentials as an observer member at the AU, which was accepted unilaterally by Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the AU Commission.

Source: ABNA24

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://en.abna24.com/news//african-union-summit-cancell-decision-to-grant-israel-an-observer-in-pan-african-organization_1226797.html

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Moroccans in mourning after trapped boy’s death

06 February ,2022

An eerie silence fell on a Moroccan village on Sunday after the death of a five-year-old boy who had been trapped in a well for four days.

For days — and nights — the community of Ighran, a village in a mountainous area in northern Morocco, had gathered along the edges of the well, cheering on the rescue workers and volunteers digging deep into difficult terrain to reach the hole where the boy, Rayan, was trapped. They offered support to Rayan’s parents. Millions watched the rescue operation on state TV.

The boy was pulled out Saturday night by rescuers after a lengthy operation that captivated global attention. Convinced that Rayan was alive, the crowd was cheering as the child was rushed to an ambulance where his parents had been waiting.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Just minutes after the ambulance pulled away, a statement from the royal palace said the boy has died. Moroccan King Mohammed VI expressed his condolences to the boy’s parents, Khaled Oram and Wassima Khersheesh.

Messages of support, concern and grief for the boy and his family poured in from around the world as the news of Rayan’s death spread overnight Saturday.

Pope Francis on Sunday described as “beautiful” how people had rallied around efforts to save Rayan’s life. Francis expressed thanks to the Moroccan people as he greeted the public in St. Peter’s Square. He praised people for “putting their all” into trying to save the child.

The palace statement said Morocco’s king had been closely following the frantic rescue efforts by locals authorities, “instructing officials to use all means necessary to dig the boy out of the well and return him alive to his parents.” The king hailed the rescuers for their relentless work and the community for lending support to Rayan’s family.

Rayan fell into a 32-meter (105-feet) well located outside his home on Tuesday evening. The exact circumstances of how he fell are unclear.

For three days, search crews used bulldozers to dig a parallel ditch. Then on Friday, they started excavating a horizontal tunnel to reach the trapped boy. Morocco’s MAP news agency said that experts in topographical engineering were called upon for help.

Rescuers used a rope to send oxygen and water down to the boy as well as a camera to monitor him. By Saturday morning, the head of the rescue committee, Abdelhadi Temrani, said: “It is not possible to determine the child’s condition at all at this time. But we hope to God that the child is alive.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2022/02/06/Moroccans-in-mourning-after-trapped-boy-s-death-

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Exclusive interview: Malian premier says France responsible for Mali’s security situation, economic woes

Bilal Dinc and Umit Donmez

05.02.2022

BAMAKO, Mali

Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga spoke about a wide range of issues with the Anadolu Agency ranging from the security and political situation in his country, factors that led to the 2020 coup, to bilateral relations with several international actors, including Turkiye.

In this first part of the interview, the prime minister accused France of influencing decisions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc against Mali and the developments that led to Mali's enhanced collaboration with Russia.

Anadolu Agency (AA): In your comments on ECOWAS sanctions, you mentioned "geopolitical considerations. Can you shed more light on this? How did "geopolitical considerations" motivate the heavy sanctions against Mali?

Choguel Kokalla Maiga (CKM): For months, in all the international financial institutions -- France, the representatives of France -- have opposed the inclusion of any development project concerning Mali on the agenda. We noted that every time an ECOWAS summit is announced -- we do not know by what magic -- the French authorities are well informed about it, including knowing the exact date and possible sanctions. So, this led us to conclude that certainly, France is more informed about the outcomes of the summit than the ECOWAS heads of state.

For example, the French authorities had announced a month earlier that sanctions would be imposed on Mali by ECOWAS leaders at the Jan. 9, 2022 summit. The fact that the sanctions were eventually slapped on the government was a clear indication. That is why we have indicated that these sanctions certainly are one of the tactics to destabilize the government and ensure it fails in order to have a puppet government that would fall into line with the French authorities.

We have said it openly that the fact that they oppose everything that would breathe new life into the country's economy and systematically announce planned summits and sanctions raises questions about their intentions.

On military cooperation, the military agreements that bind us are violated by the French authorities. The proof is that in the north, there were French military bases that were set up as a result of the defense agreement between France and Mali. But abruptly, the French authorities decided that they were leaving these military bases without our notice. This drew our attention to the agreement because, in any case, if a party can violate it whenever it wants, it is better that we sit down together to reexamine it; remove what does not suit one of the parties to find common ground. And so for us, there is no doubt: the decisions taken against our country were not in the interests of the Malian people in particular and Africa at large.

It is incomprehensible that summits of heads of state are inspired by rumors and media reports from European countries to take resolutions against Mali. What is that? I want to be clear about that. You know, in Mali, the current leaders are analyzing the situation in the world, looking at what has happened elsewhere in terms of geopolitics and defense issues over the last 20 or 30 years and picking the lessons because those who do not learn from history, will learn it the hard way.

AA: What is your assessment of the current security situation in Mali and its development?

CKM: I will give you some scenarios before explaining where we are. We have observed that for 20 years, under the guise of the fight against terrorism, the 'international community' -- because when we talk about the international community, we are talking about a few countries that get along and speak on behalf of everyone -- has intervened in Afghanistan for 20 years. At the end of those 20 years, one day, they decided to leave. And we saw the Afghans in despair, clinging to planes. Our people have learned from this.

Won't everyone who is with us one day leave us? And this could be true in Mali, which has experienced an expansion of security forces. We have the Malian Armed Forces. You have the French Operation Barkhane, you have the United Nations operation, MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), you have the European operations (like EUTM EUCAP), you have the G5 Sahel, you have Takuba (European military task force).

Despite this 'security jam' year after year, the security situation is deteriorating. It's like a patient, the patient is there. The disease was diagnosed, a prescription and medication were prescribed. He is told that in two months, he will heal. After eight years, the disease, which had affected one part of his body, spread to other parts covering 80%. It raises questions whether the doctors are inefficient, the diagnosis was wrong, or the drugs are ineffective. That is what the government has done. We wondered why since 2013, when insecurity broke up, 80% of the territory had been invaded by terrorists, while there are all these international forces. Should we not look for another solution? Don't you have to change doctors? Change treatments and diagnosis, or both or all the three at once?

You know, there's a famous Chinese politician -- a very wise person -- [Deng Xiaoping] who said in the 1970s, when the Cultural Revolution was in full swing in this country, that "it doesn't matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice." Meaning a political system is only valid as long as it meets the needs of citizens. It cost him, but history proved him right when he came back to power as the founder of modern China.

This is an example that I give so that people can eventually understand our reasoning.

Looking at what we saw in Afghanistan, what we saw in Libya, where some countries obtained from the Security Council a resolution that allowed them to protect Benghazi from aerial bombardment by Muammar Gaddafi, overstepped that resolution to go and assassinate the president and sow disorder, we thought the situation in Mali could be the result of this disorder.

So you create chaos. You arm people. You tell them to go and divide Mali. The separatists clearly said that it was France that was behind the separatist movements of 2011 from Libya. The leaders of the movements said France had instigated them to invade northern Mali and divide it and create an independent state. We are not the ones saying that. It is the leaders of this movement who say so and are supported by French politicians.

We draw conclusions from that. In 2013, when the Malian government appealed to France to help it drive out terrorists, there was what is known as Operation Serval, which took place at the request of the interim government. As they say today that the government is not legitimate, the government that appealed to France in 2013 was a government in place after a coup. But let's move on. What was requested? In the letter that the Malian government addressed to the French government, of which there is no copy in the archives of Mali, neither in the defense nor to foreign affairs (ministries). We recently found it in France on the website of the French Senate. In that letter, France was asked for air support and intelligence. There were no plans to deploy French soldiers on Malian territory. The army was against it. France respected this until it set up a base in Kidal.

After arriving in Kidal, it blocked the way for the Malian army, creating an enclave where terrorists had years to reorganize. We are learning from that. They had to come and help us fight the terrorists. They zcreated the conditions for the sanctification of terrorism and the partition of Mali and the United Nations resolutions that it had come to defend because I say in passing that (former) French President François Hollande had clearly stated the objectives of Operation Serval: to destroy terrorism, restore state authority throughout the territory and implement the United Nations resolutions.

After nine years, we note that terrorism, which was residual in the north, has spread to 80% of the territory. State authority as of today is not restored throughout the national territory. The resolutions of the United Nations change every year. They are written by France. So much so that this year, our government opposed it.

It was in the Security Council Chamber that our ambassador discovered a draft resolution that called for an increase in the strength of MINUSMA by more than 2,000 troops. Our ambassador said that his government is not aware of it. We cannot, as they say in Africa, shave the heads of Malians in the absence of Malians. We cannot decide to send a military contingent to our territory without knowing its origins, missions, strengths, nationalities and objectives. So we opposed it. We have picked lessons from that too. We have what is called the "Takuba Force," which was installed in a somewhat cavalier way in 2019. It was after announcing it that African heads of state were summoned to sign their agreement in Pau, France (5 Sahel Summit of Jan. 13, 2019).

This operation has been there for almost two years. But zero points -- nothing to its credit in the fight against terrorism. But that is not the most serious thing. All the countries that have to send soldiers as part of Operation Takuba must have a written agreement with the Malian state. This is what was planned. The Malian government has sent an invitation to a number of countries. But when a country decides to come to Mali, it makes a written agreement that determines the conditions of engagement of the military on our territory. It is written in black and white.

We do not understand why some European countries, without having an agreement with Mali, decide to come. That is what happened with the Danish government. I explained to citizens so that the people would understand. When a Turk wants to go to Germany, you need an invitation. But when you have the invitation, it's not enough. You need a visa. That is what happened. Our government has invited the European states, but each state must have a specific agreement, a visa to be on our territory. And what we have not understood is why the Danish government came to our territory without a visa, without authorization. We have told them that we do not agree. And all the more so since recently, we feel there is growing French hostility against our government. I have explained to you all their obstructions aimed to suffocate the government economically.

We have seen all the games that have happened in the last nine years. We saw recently when they pushed ECOWAS to take unjust, illegal and illegitimate sanctions against the Malian state. Total embargo. While the embargo is being imposed, a French military plane enters our territory from an ECOWAS country, even though they have said that they are closing the borders. When they cross our territory, and they realize that we have sufficient means to detect their presence, they turn off the transponders so as not to be identified. Later, they turn off their radio so as not to be in touch with the control tower. They land on the part of our territory. They deposit whatever, and they return to this ECOWAS country.

The next day, it is MINUSMA planes that fly over Malian military bases for hours, while this is not the mandate of MINUSMA, and when our army interrogates, they say that it was France that asked for it. We have said that it is not the mission of MINUSMA to come and spy on military bases and therefore, we have clearly asked not to fly over our territory without authorization.

We have asked the Danish government to withdraw its forces until it complies with the agreements between us. When we did that, the French authorities, who want to govern Mali by proxy, described it as irresponsible acts. They throw all sorts of insults.

As a sovereign government, Mali felt that they had gone overboard. And I indicated in one of my last interviews that Mali has no problem with the European Union. But what we simply want the European Union to understand: France must not drag the countries of the European Union into their hidden agenda, which is different from the one they present to the European Union.

I also recall that the Western countries in 1885, precisely, on Feb. 28, 1885, at the Berlin Conference, had divided Africa into zones of influence. Mali gained independence in 1960. So there is no zone of influence. France cannot manage Mali's relations with the EU by proxy. Relations with Mali must be based on partnership. That is all we asked for. Because of this, they throw insults by talking about the legitimacy of the government. What I wanted to tell them is that when the government, which they called legitimate, was shooting in mosques to kill citizens by the dozens, we did not hear France speak at that time. And that cannot be disputed because UN reports have authenticated it. More recently, in 2021, Malians who were celebrating a wedding were bombed by French aviation. The UN report confirmed that the victims were civilians who were attending a marriage ceremony. France described it as terrorism, but who is telling the truth? So all these factors led us to say: we have to be careful. We can no longer allow foreign forces on our territory without a prior understanding of clear conditions.

We can no longer leave room for maneuver that can lead states to leave the commitments made with our state to go and accomplish an agenda that has nothing to do with what they have announced at the national level, to their public and to the international community. Well, it sparked what you know, and we were very clear, we must respect our people, we must respect their sovereignty. We are not asking for anything else.

AA: Mali does not hide its intentions to cooperate more with Russia, which has provoked the fury of France. Why this opening to Russia and why now?

CKM: Our country, our government, is in a position to collaborate with all those who want to help it restore security. What is not negotiable is the sovereignty of our country, its independence decisions, including on defense, and the dignity of our people.

This hullabaloo is due to the fact that, as I told you, we have all these doctors, all these militaries, more than 50,000 men on the ground, yet entire villages are exterminated. When we ask for the intervention of foreign forces, they tell us no, MINUSMA did not come to wage war. But right now -- what's going on? We want to buy planes from European countries, but we are blocked. We want to buy from the United States; we are blocked. The solution is to go to those who are not going to block us.

It's as simple as that. We went and concluded military cooperation agreements with Russia. We bought weapons from Russia and Russia is not alone as we are dealing with other partners. But due to the geopolitics geostrategic struggle between Russia and western countries, we are trying to sacrifice Mali on the altar of this battle that is not ours. Otherwise, Mali is working with other partners to equip its army at all levels.

So today, the results of this cooperation are tangible. In less than a month, our army has achieved spectacular results. The number of terrorists eliminated in less than a month is greater than what we have achieved in the last 30 years.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/exclusive-interview-malian-premier-says-france-responsible-for-mali-s-security-situation-economic-woes/2495064

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North America

 

Removal of US sanctions is its red line for revival of 2015 deal, says Tehran

07 February ,2022

Iran said on Monday removal of US sanctions is Tehran's red line in nuclear talks with world powers in Vienna to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman told a news conference, adding that talks will resume on Tuesday.

“The issue of removal of sanctions and Iran benefiting from it is Iran's red line in the talks,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister had said that a US move to restore sanctions waivers to Tehran was not enough and Washington should provide guarantees for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

Washington on Friday restored the waivers to allow international nuclear cooperation projects, as indirect US-Iranian talks on reviving the nuclear deal enter the final stretch in Vienna.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/07/Removal-of-US-sanctions-is-its-red-line-for-revival-of-2015-deal-says-Tehran

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Alleged leader of US-based Iran militant group goes on trial

06 February ,2022

The alleged leader of the militant wing of a US-based Iranian opposition group went on trial Sunday, state TV reported. He’s accused of planning a 2008 bombing at a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200.

In 2020, Iran’s intelligence service detained Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German national and US resident. Iran said he is the leader of Tondar, the militant wing of the opposition group Kingdom Assembly of Iran.

Sharmahd confessed to having a relationship with both the FBI and the CIA, state TV reported. It said he was in contact with nine FBI and CIA agents and his last meeting was in January 2020.

At the time of his detention, Iran alleged Sharmahd was behind the 2008 bombing that targeted the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in the city of Shiraz and that he was planning other attacks around Iran. Besides the 14 killed in the bombing, 215 were wounded.

Sharmahd, who supports restoring Iran’s monarchy that was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had been previously targeted in an apparent Iranian assassination plot on US soil in 2009.

Iran hasn’t said how it detained Sharmahd, which came against the backdrop of covert actions conducted by Iran amid heightened tensions with the US over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

The Kingdom Assembly of Iran seeks to restore Iran’s monarchy, which ended when the fatally ill Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country in 1979 just before the Islamic Revolution. The group’s founder disappeared in the mid-2000s.

Last week, Iran said its intelligence units arrested the number two leader of Tondar, or “Thunder” in Farsi, identified only as “Masmatus.”

Iran has also accused the group of being behind a 2010 bombing at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in Tehran that wounded several people.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/02/06/Alleged-leader-of-US-based-Iran-militant-group-goes-on-trial

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Israeli leader talks to Biden about ISIS, Iran

06 February ,2022

Israel's prime minister on Sunday congratulated President Joe Biden for last week's deadly raid in Syria that killed the leader of the ISIS group, the Israeli premier's office announced.

In a phone call with the president, Naftali Bennett told Biden that “the world is now a safer place thanks to the courageous operation of the US forces,” his office said.

Bennett and Biden also discussed Iranian military activity across the Middle East and efforts to block Iran's nuclear program, it said.

Israel and Iran are arch-enemies, and Israel has raised vocal concerns about US-led efforts to revive the 2015 international nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The deal unraveled after President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018. Israel objected to the initial deal and believes any attempts to restore it will not include sufficient safeguards to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. Israel also says any deal should address Iranian military activity across the region as well as its development of long-range missiles capable of striking Israel.

Earlier Sunday, Bennett said Israel is closely watching world powers' negotiations with Iran in Vienna, but reiterated his position that Israel is not bound by any agreement reached by them. Israel has repeatedly threatened to strike Iran if it believes it is necessary to halt the country's nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/02/06/Israeli-leader-talks-to-Biden-about-ISIS-Iran

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After Houthi attacks, senior US general in UAE to bolster defenses

06 February ,2022

US Marine General Frank McKenzie arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for talks on efforts to bolster the Gulf state's defenses after a series of missile attacks launched by Houthi fighters in Yemen.

In recent weeks, the Iran-aligned Houthis have waged an unprecedented string of largely failed missiles strikes on UAE targets that have triggered Emirati and US air defenses and seen American troops briefly taking shelter.

The attacks have thrown a spotlight on so-far unsuccessful UN-led efforts to broker an end to the war in Yemen, which since 2015 has pitted the Houthis against a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition that includes the UAE.

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McKenzie, who oversees US forces in the Middle East as head of Central Command, said he moved up his planned visit in response to the Houthi attacks, hoping to underscore the US commitment to the Gulf state's defense.

“I think it's a very worrisome time for UAE. They're looking for support. We're here to help them to provide that support,” McKenzie told reporters shortly before landing in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced a US deployment of advanced F-22 fighter jets and a guided missile destroyer, the USS Cole, to partner with the UAE navy ahead of a port call in Abu Dhabi.

McKenzie said the F-22s would provide the UAE with “one of the best look-down radars in the world,” capable of identifying targets including land attack cruise missiles and drones.

The USS Cole will operate in waters around the UAE, he said, keeping a lookout for shipments of illegal contraband.

The US military has so far described its support to the Emirates as bilateral and defensive assistance

Asked about the latest Houthi missile attacks, McKenzie said they could have been prompted by a range of scenarios, including as a response to battlefield setbacks.

“Hard to know all the Houthi reasons behind this,” he said. “I think the Houthis aren't used to losing ground in Yemen.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/02/06/After-Houthi-attacks-senior-US-general-in-UAE-to-bolster-defenses-

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