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Barelvi Ulema Call For Ban On Popular Front Of India Support Govt Action Against Radical Outfit

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 September 2022


NIA accused PFI of having links with several left-wing extremist organisations that run fake campaigns on police atrocities, encounters, imprisonment in terror cases, and UAPA.(PTI)


• Bhagwat’s Mosque Visit Part Of ‘Systematic Outreach To Fight Muslim Fanatics’, Says RSS

• Iran Arrests Activist, Journalist Who Helped Expose Case Of Mahsa Amini: Reports

• ‘Simply Islamophobic’: Muslim Rights Group Slams ‘Democratic’ Attacks On Rashida Tlaib

• Islamic State in Khurasan Province Exploits Tajik Martyrs to Recruit in Central Asia


• PFI Encouraged Youth To Join ISIS, Let, Commit Violent Jihad To Establish Islamic Rule In India: NIA Report

• ATS: Booklet seized from PFI member outlined plan for implementing Sharia law

• All Jamath Federation Protests Against NIA and ED Action Against PFI

• Meeting with Muslims: Bhagwat calls it selfless communication

• Dalit Christians, Dalit Muslims can’t be compared to Buddhist converts, says Centre’s 2019 affidavit

• All India Muslim Jamaat chief calls PFI 'radical group', seeks ban

• Mayawati asks if RSS chief Bhagwat’s mosque visit will change BJP attitude to Muslims

• Mohan Bhagwat Meeting Head Of Imam Body No Deviation From Sangh Line: RSS Leader



• Marchers denounce ‘rioters’ as state-organized pro-hijab protests kick off in Iran

• At least 50 killed in crackdown on Iran protests: NGO

• Israel no longer ‘partner’ for peace, Palestinian president tells UN

• Protests storm security HQ in Iran amid unrest over Mahsa Amini’s death: Sources

• 2 top PKK/KCK terrorists nabbed, brought back to Türkiye


North America

• Dozens of US Republican lawmakers push to stop Biden from return to Iran nuclear deal

• No positive developments on JCPOA but US still committed to deal: State Dept

• US Takes Steps To Expand Internet Access To Iranians After Government Crackdown


South Asia

• Prominent Afghan Political Figure Leaves Council of Resistance Against Taliban

• Blast Near Kabul Mosque Sparks Intl, Domestic Reactions

• Blast near Kabul mosque after Friday prayers kills at least seven people

• Sheikh Hasina on Rohingya crisis: Affects Bangladesh's stability, security



• Imran Khan Asks Pakistanis To 'Wage Jihad' And Support His ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ Movement

• Pak Taliban employs extortion tactics in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as control grows

• Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif raises Kashmir at UNGA

• Pakistan school expels 4 Ahmadi students for ‘their faith’

• Pakistan emerges as ‘global leader’ in enforced disappearances

• Hindu Girl, 13, Allegedly Kidnapped In Pakistan's Sindh: Report

• Pakistan seeks climate justice, not damages, says Bilawal

• Two ‘IS militants’ killed in Khuzdar

• Pakistan FM Zardari: Islamic Emirate Should Fulfill Promises


Arab World

• Statement From Israel PM On Two-State Solution Positive: Saudi FM

• ‘No one wants to be drawn into blocs,’ Saudi FM tells New York MENA Forum

• Saudi FM: Yemen truce ‘must be extended’ but signs not positive

• Saudi prince’s mediation signals ‘useful’ ties with Russia

• Saudi Crown Prince meets with senior US officials in Jeddah: SPA

• Death toll from Lebanon migrant boat at least 76: Minister



• Burkina Faso Coup Leader Defends His Military Takeover

• Kenya rescues citizens from suspected organ traffickers

• Confirmed, suspected Ebola Sudan cases at 8 in Uganda amid lack of vaccine

• Sudan ruling general ‘will not run in elections for civilian-led govt’


Southeast Asia

• Malaysia’s Islamic Fintech Will Continue To Grow, Says Banking Association

• Abolish Security Council’s veto power, Ismail tells UN

• Court grants bid by Bung Moktar, wife to halt corruption case

• Draft an asset declaration law, anti-graft group urges PM



• Ukraine to slash ties with Iran over ‘unfriendly’ drones supply to Russia

• Ukraine says it downed four Iranian drones, Zelenskyy raps Tehran

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Barelvi Ulema Call For Ban On Popular Front Of India Support Govt Action Against Radical Outfit


NIA accused PFI of having links with several left-wing extremist organisations that run fake campaigns on police atrocities, encounters, imprisonment in terror cases, and UAPA.(PTI)


Sep 24, 2022

The Barelvi Ulema has called for a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) for its alleged terror-related activities which prompted nationwide raids by NIA, ED and state police at premises linked to its leaders. Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi Barelvi, the president of All India Muslim Jamaat, issued a recorded statement in which he stressed that the raids have made it clear that the Islamist fundamentalist organization has been “involved in communal riots in various states across the country.”

“That's why, I urge all Sunni, Sufi, and Barelvi Muslims to not keep any relation with this organisation,” he said.

The Barelvi sect from Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly demanded the central government to impose an immediate ban on such organizations to protect the unity and integrity of the country. Maulana Barelvi also supported the action taken by the government to tighten the noose around terror activities across India.

“It is important to ban such organisations,” he said, adding that the actions taken by the government of India have his “full support.”

The statement came after NIA arrested scores of PFI leaders following simultaneous raids on the PFI-SDPI network in 15 states. A total of 106 people, including PFI chairman OMS Salam, were held in a massive exercise with coordination between NIA, 86 platoons of para-military forces, intelligence agencies and the state police.

The raids followed a meeting chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah with the concerned enforcement and security chiefs to review the evidence collected and mull over the future course of action. The government is likely to take a strong decision on the status of the outfit as the clamour for a blanket ban grows.

The PFI may call itself a socio-religious organization but the Islamist group’s larger aim is no different from the Islamic State—to establish an Islamic Caliphate in India. With a cadre of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) at its core, the PFI has meticulously spread all over India from Kerala with funds from West Asian countries where the Muslim Brotherhood is a dominant force like Qatar, Kuwait, and Turkey.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Bhagwat’s Mosque Visit Part Of ‘Systematic Outreach To Fight Muslim Fanatics’, Says RSS


File photo of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat | ANI


Madhuparna Das

24 September, 2022

New Delhi: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Bhagwat’s mosque visit Thursday is not an isolated incident but part of a “systematic” outreach, which has been ongoing for the past year to “fight Muslim fanatics, separatists and protect the nation”, ThePrint has learnt.

Bhagwat visited a mosque and a madrasa in Delhi on an invitation from the All India Imam Organisation (AIIO). During the visit, the RSS chief, along with Sangh functionaries Krishna Gopal and Indresh Kumar, held a meeting with AIIO chief Umer Ahmed Ilyasi at his office inside the mosque in Kasturba Gandhi Marg. He then reached Madarsa Tajweedul Quran in north Delhi’s Azadpur and interacted with students there.

In August, Bhagwat had met a group of five Muslim intellectuals — former chief election commissioner S. Y. Quraishi, former Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung,  Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Shahid Siddiqui, former vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University Zameer Uddin Shah, and businessman Saeed Shervani — in the national capital.

According to RSS functionaries, the outreach is aimed at “fighting separatists and hardliners”.

“Sarsanghchalak ji has been saying for long that Hindus and Muslims have the same DNA and same ancestry. We may have different ways to worship, but all of us are Indians. It is a positive sign that the Muslim organisations are inviting us, and we are also responding in an affirmative way. This will work in the national interest,” RSS’s all-India publicity head Sunil Ambekar told ThePrint.

In July last year, while addressing a programme organised by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (an RSS affiliate), Bhagwat had said Hindu or Muslims of India share the same DNA and that the ancestors of all communities living in the country are the same.

A year later, in June this year, addressing another programme in Nagpur, he asked RSS cadres and affiliates to stop looking for a “Shivling” under every mosque.

The statement came in the midst of the ongoing Gyanvapi mosque controversy, and some Hindutva organisations claiming that many mosques were built by demolishing temples in the country.

Political experts said, however, that the outreach should not stop at “symbolism, but be reflected in ground-level decisions”.

“There is very little information available about these meetings as almost all of them are closed-door meetings. People who have been meeting Mohan Bhagwat more than he met them should understand whether or not the RSS’ ideological position is along the political line of the ruling party [the BJP]. Are they neutral, flexible and malleable? These issues can only be judged in due course of time,” former union minister Salman Khurshid told ThePrint.

We would like to know what is the stated position of the RSS? There is no such instance of their stated position that can be taken as a reference. Has there been any instance when the RSS was seen giving comfort to the minorities who have been subjected to all sorts of atrocities? If their purpose is to find a closure to the attempts to divide the communities, nobody will complain. But for that, we need to wait and watch, and also go by instincts and not by prejudices,” the Congress leader asserted.

‘Outreach should reflect in on-ground action’

While RSS functionaries called Bhagwat’s mosque and madrasa visits as a step towards ending “conflicts between communities” and a call to Muslims to feel and act like Indians, senior political experts highlighted the Modi government’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” slogan and added that Bhagwat’s “same DNA” statement should be reflected in the actions of the RSS cadre and fringe Hindutva elements.

“This is a very important step forward and commendable, too. It should go beyond symbolic visits and meetings. The outreach and the results should reflect on the ground. The symbolism needs to be strengthened with visible actions,” said Sandeep Shastri, a senior political scientist and director of the Bengaluru-based Jain University’s Centre for Research in Social Sciences and Education.

A senior RSS functionary told ThePrint that the Sangh has been planning such outreach programmes for a long time and that it has been receiving a “positive response” from the Muslim community.

“Muslims are part of this country. We never support those who call them Pakistani. We will try to weed out such fringe elements that vitiate the country’s environment. But our efforts have to be reciprocated equally by Muslim organisations and community leaders. If that happens, we can call the outreach successful,” said the RSS functionary.

Some political experts, however, said that the RSS outreach was nothing but a “spin” on the “good Muslim, bad Muslim narrative”.

“Dialogues are important in a democracy. But, in the delegation of Muslim intellectuals and imams who met Mohan Bhagwat, none of them represent the whole of Indian Muslims. Muslims are not homogeneous in nature in any case, and these five [intellectuals] have been criticised by other members of the Muslim intelligentsia. The question to ask if either side altered their position or stance after the meeting,” asked Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author and journalist.

He added: “Will Bhagwat lead RSS into abandoning their theory of the existence of an Islamist conspiracy to reduce Hindus into a minority? S. Y. Quraishi’s book last year debunked the RSS theory on excessive Muslim population growth. Does Bhagwat remain unchanged, or has his stance changed? Is RSS going to cease their campaigns or take action against the documented atrocities on Muslims? These are the grey areas. And I have mixed sentiments about such outreach. Bhagwat must restrain hardliners in his own camp. Not enough to say ‘this should not happen’ and remain silent when Muslims are attacked.”

According to Mukhopadhyay, it was “paradoxical to see Mohan Bhagwat and all Sangh Parivar leaders, including those in BJP, who have previously been critical of many Imams speaking on political issues, to meet one now”.

“So this is another spin, creating the binary of ‘good’ imam and ‘bad’ imam. Just like they have played the ‘good Muslim and bad Muslim’ narrative. I do not have many expectations from this process.”

Source: The Print

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Iran Arrests Activist, Journalist Who Helped Expose Case Of Mahsa Amini: Reports


A newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic Republic’s morality police is seen in Tehran, Iran, on September 18, 2022. (Reuters)


23 September, 2022

Iranian security forces have arrested one of Iran’s most prominent civil society activists and a journalist who played a key role in exposing the case of Mahsa Amini that sparked nationwide protests, reports said Friday.

The arrests come as protests intensify over Amini, who was pronounced dead on September 16 - three days after being arrested by Tehran’s morality police, with activists saying at least 36 civilians have been killed in a police crackdown.

Majid Tavakoli, an activist who has been repeatedly imprisoned in Iran in recent years including after disputed 2009 elections, was arrested overnight at his home, his brother Mohsen wrote on Twitter.

Another prominent activist still based in Iran, Hossein Ronaghi, was giving an interview to London-based channel Iran International when security agents came to his home, the channel said.

A video published by the channel shows Ronaghi looking anxious but insisting the interview carried on.

It said the activist, who campaigns for freedom of expression, and contributes to the Washington Post, managed to escape arrest by slipping out via his building’s car park and later issued a video message from an undisclosed location.

Meanwhile Nilufar Hamedi, a Tehran journalist who went to the hospital where Amini lay in a coma and helped expose the case to the world, has been arrested, the Shargh daily newspaper, for which she works, wrote on Telegram.

Photojournalist Yalda Moaiery was this week also arrested while covering protests in Tehran, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Thursday.

“Iranian authorities must immediately release all journalists arrested because of their coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death and the protests that have followed,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour.

Activists had accused the Iranian authorities of being in the throes of a crackdown even before the protests began, with two of the country’s most acclaimed filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof both arrested.

Source: Al Arabiya

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‘Simply Islamophobic’: Muslim Rights Group Slams ‘Democratic’ Attacks On Rashida Tlaib


US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib speaks at a press conference on July 18, 2022 in Washington DC. (File photo by AFP)


23 September 2022

A leading Muslim rights organization in the United States has slammed “Islamophobic attacks” on Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib which came after she said supporting the “apartheid” Israeli regime is incompatible with progressive values.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a statement on Thursday called on all Democratic offices in the US House of Representatives to “not to engage in dishonest, Islamophobic attacks” on Tlaib for her stance.

“Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, have all recently recognized that the Israeli government’s decades-long human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, including physical segregation and different laws based on race, constitute a system of apartheid,” CAIR said.

The statement further referred to the Israeli army’s murdering of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and pointed out that the regime in Tel Aviv has already declared that it would not launch a criminal investigation into the deliberate killing.

“The only reason for ignoring this murder, which was caught on camera, is that this American citizen was a Palestinian,” it said.

“Yet instead of calling on the Israeli government to uphold human rights, several House Democrats have spent the past week engaging in bad-faith attacks against the only Palestinian-American Muslim woman in Congress, simply because she reminded her colleagues that apartheid as a system of governance will forever remain incompatible with democratic values.”

Progressive vs. pro-Israel

Tlaib told an online Palestine advocacy event on Tuesday: “I want you all to know that among progressives, it becomes clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel‘s apartheid government.”

Tlaib, a Palestinian American, has repeatedly called for accountability in the case of the Israeli army’s killing of Abu Akleh and pressed for a US-backed probe.

Abu Akleh’s killing “opened the eyes of many of my colleagues and countless decent people around the world to the brutal reality of living under apartheid Israel,” she said in her Tuesday speech.

“It’s nothing short of outrageous that our government continues to refuse to hold Israel accountable for these killings.”

Her remarks were harshly criticized by fellow Democrats in Congress, with the former head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, charging that it was “shameful and dangerous” for Tlaib to make those remarks.

“The outrageous progressive litmus test on Israel by [Tlaib] is nothing short of antisemitic,” tweeted Wasserman Schultz.

She added: “Proud progressives do support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. Suggesting otherwise is shameful and dangerous. Divisive rhetoric does not lead to peace.”

Silencing critics of Israel as ‘anti-semitic’

Democratic Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Ritchie Torres, among others, also piled on, censuring Tlaib’s criticism as offensive.

“I fundamentally reject the notion that one cannot support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive,” Nadler wrote in a tweet.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said via Twitter: “In one sentence, [Tlaib] simultaneously tells American Jews that they need to pass an anti-Zionist litmus test to participate in progressive spaces even as she doubles down on her #antisemitism by slandering Israel as an apartheid state.”

“It’s absolutely reprehensible and does nothing to advance the cause of peace. We call on people of good will and leaders across the political spectrum to make clear that such #antisemitism will not be tolerated,” he added.

CAIR, however, said the claim that Tlaib said something anti-semitic is a blatant and dangerous lie, elaborating that this is not the first time that members of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives have leaped to the worst possible interpretation of what one of their Muslim colleagues said.

“This is simply Islamophobic,” it said. “The fact that this scenario has occurred with such frequency over the past several years points to the need for Democrats in Congress to address the issue of Islamophobia within their own ranks. The marginalization and silencing of elected Muslims and Arabs who speak the truth to their lived experiences is discriminatory and incompatible with democratic values.”

Abu Akleh was shot in the head and killed by the Israeli army forces on May 11 while she was covering their raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. At the time of her killing, the 51-year-old journalist was wearing easily-recognizable press attire.

In a recent joint investigation, Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and London-based research group Forensic Architecture concluded that Abu Akleh was intentionally targeted by Israeli troops, dismissing the Israeli regime’s account that the killing was unintentional.

The findings come as Abu Akleh’s family submitted an official complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to demand justice for her cold-blooded murder.

Earlier this month, the Israeli military admitted that there was a “high possibility” Abu Akleh was killed by its troops, but concluded that it was an accident and said it would open no criminal investigation into the brutal killing.

Shatha Hanaysha, a Palestinian journalist who was beside Abu Akleh when she was killed, recounted the harrowing incident in an exclusive interview with Press TV, during which she said, “I still cannot fathom why it happened, why Shireen was killed, why they tried to kill us.”
Source: Press TV

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 PFI encouraged youth to join ISIS, LeT, commit violent jihad to establish Islamic rule in India: NIA report

September 24, 2022

Kochi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has claimed that the documents seized during the nationwide raids conducted at offices of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its leaders contain highly incriminating materials targeting prominent leaders of a particular community.

In a remand report submitted before the NIA special court seeking custody of 10 people in connection with a case, the agency alleged that the radical Islamist outfit encouraged youth to join terrorist groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The report, which was submitted on 22 September, also claims that the outfit conspired to establish Islamic rule in India by committing terrorist acts as a part of violent jihad.

It said the PFI spreads “dis-affection against India by wrongful interpretation of government policies to the particular section of people” to create hatred against the state and its machinery.

“During the investigation, based on materials collected, it has been disclosed that the accused named in the FIR were actively involved in the organised crimes and unlawful activities repeatedly, to terrorise other religious sections of the society, besides creating fear in the mind of the general public based on the larger conspiracy hatched among themselves and others,” the report said.

In near-simultaneous raids across the country, a multi-agency operation spearheaded by the NIA on 22 September led to the arrest of 106 activists of the Popular Front of India in 11 States for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.

“The seized documents also contain highly incriminating materials related to the targeting of prominent leaders of a particular community. The Hit List seized clearly shows that the PFI, which is working through its leaders, members and associates have gone far ahead in creating atrocities among the community,” the report said.

It said with an intention to disrupt public tranquillity and propagate an alternative justice delivery system, “the PFI encouraged youths to join terrorist organisations” including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaida and “also conspired to establish Islamic rule in India by committing a terrorist act” as a part of violent jihad.

“The case involves key players of the society, and they are highly influential even to the effect of stalling the community and its progress by a mere call. The common man stands threatened by the stand taken by the accused and their henchmen,” the report added.

The agency said the devices confiscated from the accused and from the offices of the PFI needed to be analysed at CDAC in Thiruvananthapuram.

The probe agency had produced 10 accused before the court and sought custody of them to “unearth larger conspiracy hatched by the accused/cadres and office bearers/leaders of PFI”.

It said the Ministry of Home Affairs had on 16 September directed it to probe the matter following which a case was registered on 29 September under various sections of the IPC and the UAPA.

The NIA court had remanded the accused to judicial custody.

Source: Firstpost

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ATS: Booklet seized from PFI member outlined plan for implementing Sharia law

Sep 24, 2022

Mumbai: Of the five men arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) as part of series of raids by central, federal and state agencies against Popular Front of India (PFI) functionaries on Thursday, a booklet allegedly outlining a plan to achieve the implementation of Sharia Law in the country by 2047 was seized, ATS officials said.

The booklet, titled 2047, was seized from the residence of Mazhar Khan, 54, vice president of the Maharashtra unit of PFI, ATS officials said.

The booklet reportedly outlines the organisation’s objectives for the next 25 years. Khan’s family however refuted the ATS’s claim and said that the document found and seized from Khan’s home were published by Empower India Foundation and was titled, India 2047: Empowering the People.

“My father was socially active and he worked for the development of marginal communities,” Afnan, Khan’s 20-year-old daughter. “[During the raid, officials] asked my father about PFI. They also asked my brother where my father hid weapons in the house. My brother said we are not criminals and do not keep weapons,” she added.

“Working in PFI is not illegal and if the PFI is doing anything illegal then obviously the government would have banned it. The current government wanted to ban the PFI so they are arresting PFI members and harassing their family members, Khan’s wife, Ruksana said.

Khan, a Kurla resident, holds a diploma in engineering and had a wholesale clothes business supplying to local shops. After suffering a stroke, he had been paralysed for a few years, his family said. While the ATS claimed that Khan received financial help from PFI and exhorted youth to join the organisation, his family said that Khan worked for social causes as part of the PFI.

“He also runs a YouTube channel where he uploads his videos related to news and create awareness in society,” Ruksana said.

Five PFI members from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, one each from Panvel, Bhiwandi, Kandivali, Malad and Kurla were arrested and remanded to five days in police custody on Thursday. The suspects were booked under sections 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 121(A) (conspiracy to overthrow the Central or any State government by use of criminal force), 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) of the Indian Penal Code, and section 13(1) (b) (advocating, abetting, advising or inciting the commission of unlawful activity) of the UAPA.

The National Investigation Agency, the Enforcement Directorate and other state agencies conducted raids across 15 states and one Union territory, arresting 102 people including 45 PFI leaders and cadre.

Among those arrested in MMR, 38-year-old Mohammad Moinuddin Momin, is wanted in 2006 riots case in Bhiwandi in which two policemen were killed following protests over the construction of police station near a mosque.

Momin, a resident of Bangalpura area in Bhiwandi, is a wholesale supplier of biscuits and chocolates. ATS officials claimed to have found several incriminating documents, including posters of PFI, at his residence.

According to the officials, Momin, who sustained a bullet wound in the riots, fled and reportedly went underground. He was traced and arrested in February 2019, but came out on bail, the official added.

Shaikh Sadiq Isaac Qureshi, 42, another PFI cadre arrested in Malad, is a lawyer who practices in the Sessions court. According to ATS officials, Qureshi offered religious preaching and conducted PFI meetings in Mumbai. Mohammed Iqbal Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, 38, a resident of Kandivali, the fourth person arrested, worked as a sound technician in film studios.

Asif Aminul Husain Khan Adhikari, a 46-year-old Panvel resident was picked up from his residence in the wee hours of Friday and detained by the NIA. According to the police, he was the MMR district president of PFI, and operates a tour business.

“He got associated with PFI around two years back. In the recent times, he conducted protests against Nupur Sharma for her controversial remark over Prophet Mohammed. When the news spread about NIA reaching his residence, other supporters of PFI also reached his place and declared they too are ready to accompany NIA wherever they want to take as they have done nothing wrong and there is nothing to hide,” said Adhikari’s neighbour who did not wish to be named.

Source: Hindustan Times

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All Jamath Federation Protests Against NIA and ED Action Against PFI

SEPTEMBER 24, 2022

‘The raids were not against PFI but against the entire Muslim community’

The action of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the Popular Front of India (PFI) and the Social Democratic Party of India and their leaders on Thursday sparked protests on Friday by Islamic organisations that operate under All Jamath Federation at Washermanpet in Chennai.

The protesters accused the NIA and the ED of acting against the interests of Muslims. Many of those who spoke at the protests said the raids were not against the PFI but against the entire Muslim community. The protesters recalled how the agencies had already raided the PFI office premises and found nothing. The PFI had wrongly been accused of furthering ‘Love Jihad’ and forced conversions without any proof, they said.

Source: The Hindu

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Meeting with Muslims: Bhagwat calls it selfless communication

September 23, 2022

On his meeting with Muslim religious leaders and intellectuals, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Dr. Mohan Bhagwat said that when they communicate selflessly despite being powerful everyone would listen. This is the law of the world.

He said that when people talk about weakness, people will consider it a compulsion, but when they talk about friendship with strength, people will say that yes they do not have black in their mind. This process of dialogue should grow and grow as it is the need of the day. Fighting with each other is not good. This is not a contract of anyone, everyone has to fulfill their responsibility.

Addressing the lecture series-2020 organised by Sankalp Foundation and the Former Civil Services Officers Forum at Dr. Ambedkar International Center, he said, “The British made distinctions between castes and sects under a well-planned conspiracy. Its result came out in the form of Pakistan, but in the earlier united India, no one is happy except today’s India. The process of joining them again in a garland will have to be repeated.”

Mohan Bhagwat said although he fears that his identity will be erased, our tradition does not erase any identity. Rather, it magnifies it and accepts it with recognition. Therefore it is necessary to be afraid.

He said the talk of unity with the idea that vote bank, selfishness or crisis is meaningless. Unity is there which is on the strength of intimacy and it is also necessary to be strong to protect it. Otherwise, Gandhiji had also said these things, but behind him was a confused society, which was scattered.
Source: The Statesman

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Dalit Christians, Dalit Muslims can’t be compared to Buddhist converts, says Centre’s 2019 affidavit

Abhinay Lakshman

SEPTEMBER 24, 2022

The affidavit goes against the 2011 recommendation of National Commission for Scheduled Castes

With the Supreme Court awaiting the Union government’s present position on including Dalit Christians as members of Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Narendra Modi government’s latest standing on this aspect has been to reject any such proposition, according to an affidavit filed by the government in November 2019, which also said Dalits who converted to Buddhism could not be compared to those who converted to Islam or Christianity.

This position goes against the most recent stand taken by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) before the top court in a 2011 affidavit, when it recommended providing reservation to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims, provided they fulfil two criteria: If they continue to practice their traditions and customs as they did prior to conversion; and if they continue to face social disabilities due to untouchability.

And while the NCSC acknowledged the lack of an independent study into the status of such converts, it had recommended that until such a study is completed, Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims be included in the SC category.

This NCSC recommendation had come after the then National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had in 2000 and 2003 respectively rejected proposals to include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims as SCs. Since 2011, the NCSC has not made any submissions in the matter before the court. In a separate affidavit, the National Commission for Minorities too had in 2011 supported extending SC benefits to Dalit Christians and Muslims.

Lack of studies

In its 2019 affidavit, the Union government cited the lack of any comprehensive studies into the social status of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. It added that while Dalits who converted to Buddhism did so "voluntarily on account of some innate socio-political imperatives" after Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s call in 1956, those who converted to Islam or Christianity "might have converted on account of other factors".

Further, the government said the original caste/community of Dalit Buddhists can be located while that of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims cannot since these conversions have been taking place for centuries. It added that Dalits who converted to Islam or Christianity “ameliorated their social status” by way of their conversion and “cannot claim to be backward” since untouchability is a feature of Hindu religion and its branches alone.

This affidavit was filed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment before the Supreme Court on a batch of petitions seeking the removal of the religion criteria from determining whether a community can be included in the SC list. Currently, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 provides for recognising only communities that practice Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism as SCs.

RGI’s approval

Sikh communities were included by an amendment in 1956 and Buddhist communities by an amendment in 1990 — neither of which required the approval of the Registrar General of India (RGI) as per the rules at the time. The RGI’s approval for inclusion of communities was made mandatory in the modalities framed in 1999.

In a note prepared in March 2001, the RGI had while presenting its opinion on why Dalit Christians cannot be included in the list of SCs, compared Dalit Christians to Dalit Buddhists — which stands in contrast to the position taken by the Union government in its 2019 affidavit. The RGI’s office had said that in both cases people from multiple Scheduled Caste communities had converted to these respective religions and that they cannot be recognised as a “single ethnic group” for inclusion as provided for in Clause (2) of Article 341 of the Constitution. It concluded that Dalit Christians and Dalit Buddhists lose their caste identity after their conversion and added that it had presented a similar opinion to the then Ministry of Home Affairs in 1978, despite which the amendment to include Buddhist converts was made in 1990.

The RGI had similarly concluded that Dalit Muslims cannot be included as SCs in Bihar, according to an April 2001 note.

However, the Centre has justified the inclusion of the Buddhist converts based on Explanation II of Clause 2(b) of Article 25 which defines Hindus to include Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists to provide for “social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus”.

“Now, reports say the government will set up a commission to study the status of Dalit Christians and Muslims but there are already a bunch of commissions and independent inquiries that have recommended the inclusion of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the SC list repeatedly,” said advocate Franklin Ceasar Thomas, who is representing the National Council for Dalit Christians, the United Front for Dalit Christian Rights and other petitioners in the top court. The Supreme Court is expected to take up this matter for next hearing on October 11.

Source: The Hindu

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All India Muslim Jamaat chief calls PFI 'radical group', seeks ban

Sep 23, 2022

BAREILLY: All India Muslim Jamaat president Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi on Friday called upon the Muslim community to stay away from the Popular Front of India (PFI) calling it a "radical group" and urged the central government to impose a ban on it.

Maulana Razvi welcomed the arrest of the PFI leaders across the country.

"PFI is a radical organisation. Its members follow a radicalised ideology. I would appeal to all Sufi and Sunni Muslims to stay away from this organisation. The PFI has been named in many incidents across the country. It is necessary that there should be a ban on these kinds of organisations," said Razvi.

"The central government took appropriate action against PFI. I support the action of the government. I would request the government of India to ban PFI in order to safeguard the unity and sovereignty of the country," said the All india Muslim jamaat president dargaah alahazratMaulana Shahbuddin Razvi Barelvi.

A total of 106 PFI cadres were arrested yesterday in a joint operation conducted by the National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate and state police forces across 15 states in the country's multiple locations, according to the sources.

The states where the raids were conducted included Andhra Pradesh (4 places), Telangana (1), Delhi (19), Kerala (11), Karnataka (8), Tamil Nadu (3), Uttar Pradesh (1), Rajasthan (2), Hyderabad (5), Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Bihar and Manipur.

The searches were conducted in connection with five cases registered by the NIA following "continued inputs and evidence" that the PFI leaders and cadres were involved in the funding of terrorism and terrorist activities, organising training camps for providing armed training and radicalising people to join banned organisations.

A large number of criminal cases have been registered in different states over the last few years against the PFI and its leaders and members for their involvement in many violent acts.

A day after PFI leaders were arrested in a massive country-wide raid, the outfit called a dawn-to dusk bandh in Kerala on Friday and incidents of stone pelting and attack on vehicles including KSRTC buses by protesters were reported from various places in the state.

The shutdown in Kerala has been called by the PFI to protest against the arrest of its members in nationwide raids by the National Investigation Agency yesterday.

In various other parts of the state, the roads were seen deserted this morning with few people on the roads.

According to the police, stone-pelting incidents were reported at various places in the state.

Two police officers were attacked earlier today by the hartal supporters at Pallimukku in the Kollam district.

Visuals showed hartal supporters pelting stones at the Kerala State Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus at Panamaram village in Wayanad district. The bus was going to Kozhikode.

KSRTC buses were also attacked in Kozhikode, Kochi, Alappuzha and Kollam.

In the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, an autorickshaw and a car were seen in a damaged state after being attacked in Poonthura.

Further, two miscreants on a bike at Pallimukku in the Kollam district abused police officials and hit them after they attempted to stop them, police said.

A petrol bomb was hurled at the RSS office in Mattannur, Kannur during the protest against the arrest of PFI's state leaders. A two-member group reached on a scooter, threw the petrol bomb, and broke the window panes.

Police took five PFI workers into custody after the members of the outfit allegedly vandalised shops and obstructed vehicles in Kochi on Friday.

According to police, PFI workers tried to forcefully shut the shops They also vandalised some shops which were not ready to shut down.

Further, two miscreants on a bike at Pallimukku in the Kollam district abused police officials and hit them after they attempted to stop them, police said.

A petrol bomb was hurled at the RSS office in Mattannur, Kannur during the protest against the arrest of PFI's state leaders.A two-member group reached on a scooter, threw the petrol bomb, and broke the window panes.

Releasing a statement, the PFI state committee said that it considered the NIA's arrest of PFI national and state leaders "unjust" and "part of atrocities by the state".

"A hartal will be held in the state on September 23, Friday against the RSS-controlled fascist government's move to use central agencies to silence dissenting voices," it said.

The PFI also called upon the "democratic believers" to make success the strike against the "fascist regime that crush the civil rights".

Source: Times Of India

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Mayawati asks if RSS chief Bhagwat’s mosque visit will change BJP attitude to Muslims

September 23, 2022

A day after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat visited a mosque at the All India Imams Organisation (AIIO) headquarters in New Delhi and met its chief, Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, BSP president Mayawati questioned if it would help change the BJP’s “negative attitude” towards Muslims, madrasas and mosques.

“After RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat visited a mosque/madrasa in Delhi yesterday and met the ulemas and then got himself called the ‘rashtra pita and ‘rashtra rishi’, will there be a change in the negative attitude and behaviour of the BJP and its governments towards the Muslim community and their mosques and madrasas?” Mayawati tweeted in Hindi on Friday.

“The UP government is unable to tolerate the compulsion of offering namaz for a few minutes alone in an open space and is bent upon intervening in (the functioning) of private madrasas also, while ignoring the government madrasas. But there is also a need to think about what meanings are being derived from the silence of the RSS chief on this issue,” she tweeted further.

Earlier this month, Mayawati hit out at the BJP government for its decision to conduct a survey of unrecognised madrasas across Uttar Pradesh. She accused the government of oppressing Muslims and trying to interfere in the functioning of madrasas funded “by qaum ke chande (donations from the community)” with the “unfair” survey.

The AIIO claims to represent half a million imams across three lakh mosques in India. It also claims to be the largest Muslim organisation in the country.

Source: Indian Express

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Mohan Bhagwat Meeting Head Of Imam Body No Deviation From Sangh Line: RSS Leader

September 23, 2022

New Delhi: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's visit to a mosque and his meeting with the head of an organisation of Imams were not a deviation from the outfit's line, its senior leader Indresh Kumar said on Friday.

He slammed the Congress for saying Mr Bhagwat's meeting with All India Imam Organisation chief Umer Ahmed Ilyasi was due to the "impact" of the party's "Bharat Jodo Yatra".

The Congress has misunderstood the Sangh's line, and it should "repent" for it, Mr Kumar, a national executive member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised to mark the 104th Haifa Victory Day at the Teen Murti Chowk here.

His remarks came a day after Mr Bhagwat, taking forward his outreach to the Muslim community, visited a mosque and a madrassa here and held discussions with Mr Ilyasi, who termed him "rashtra pita".

The Congress said the RSS chief's meeting with Mr Ilyasi was due to the "impact" of its "Bharat Jodo Yatra" and requested Mr Bhagwat to walk with party leader Rahul Gandhi in uniting the country "with a tricolour in hand".

"There has been no change in the Sangh's line. It remains the same as it was and will remain so in the future. That is eternal. People have misunderstood it as they have been misled. Efforts have been made to create a misunderstanding," Mr Kumar said while replying to a reporter's question.

He said Mr Bhagwat's meeting with Mr Ilyasi was part of the Sangh's initiative to hold a dialogue with the minority communities, which began more than 20 years ago under the leadership of the outfit's former chief, KS Sudershan.

"And if anyone is trying to claim the credit for it now, I want to say that the Congress must repent for launching attacks and hurling all the abuses at the Sangh. Its misunderstanding of the Sangh will be cleared if it repents," Mr Kumar said, when asked about the opposition party's reaction to Mr Bhagwat's meeting with Mr Ilyasi.

The RSS "sarsanghchalak" went to a mosque in central Delhi's Kasturba Gandhi Marg and followed it up with a visit to the Madarsa Tajweedul Quran in north Delhi's Azadpur. This was Mr Bhagwat's first ever visit to a madrassa, an RSS official accompanying him during the visits said.

During his visit to the madrassa, Mr Bhagwat interacted with children and heard them reciting the Quran. The children raised the slogans of "Vande Mataram" and "Jai Hind", the Sangh functionary said.

He said the RSS chief told the children about the need to know more about the country and stressed that while the modes of worship could be different, all religions must be respected.

"With this visit of Bhagwat, a message should go out that all of us want to work towards strengthening India. For all of us, the country comes first. Our DNA is the same, it is just that our religion and methods of worshipping the god are different," Mr Ilyasi said, echoing the RSS chief's words.

Source: ND TV

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Marchers denounce ‘rioters’ as state-organized pro-hijab protests kick off in Iran

23 September, 2022

State-organized demonstrations to counter nationwide anti-government protests triggered by the death of a woman in police custody kicked off in several Iranian cities on Friday, with marchers calling for the execution of rioters.

Demonstrators condemned the anti-government protesters as “Israel’s soldiers,” live state television coverage showed. They also shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” common slogans the country’s clerical rulers use to try and stir up support for authorities.

“Offenders of the Quran must be executed,” the crowds chanted.

Iranians have staged mass demonstrations over the case of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died last week after being arrested by the morality police for wearing “unsuitable attire.”

Amini’s death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.

Iran’s army on Friday sent the toughest warning yet from the authorities to protesters enraged by the death, saying they would “confront the enemies” to ensure security.

The army said “these desperate actions are part of the evil strategy of the enemy to weaken the Islamic regime.”

The military said it would “confront the enemies’ various plots in order to ensure security and peace for the people who are being unjustly assaulted.”

Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi also on Friday warned “seditionists” that their “dream of defeating religious values and the great achievements of the revolution will never be realized,” according to the AsrIran website.

Iran’s clerical rulers fear a revival of the protests that erupted in 2019 over gasoline price rises, the bloodiest in the Islamic Republic’s history. Reuters reported 1,500 people were killed.

Source: Al Arabiya

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At least 50 killed in crackdown on Iran protests: NGO

23 September, 2022

At least 50 people have been killed in a crackdown by the Iranian security forces on protests that erupted following the death of Mahsa Amini who had been arrested by the morality police, an NGO said on Friday.

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) NGO said the rise in the toll came after six people were killed by fire from the security forces in the town of Rezvanshahr in the northern Gilan province on Thursday night, with other deaths recorded in Babol and Amol, also in northern Iran.

There had been protests in some 80 cities and other urban centres since the demonstrations started one week ago, it added.

Rights groups have also pointed to deaths in the northern Kurdistan region where Amini was from.

“At least 50 people have been killed so far, and people continue protesting for their fundamental rights and dignity,” IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told AFP.

“The international community must stand by the Iranian people against one of our time's most repressive regimes,” he added.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel no longer ‘partner’ for peace, Palestinian president tells UN

23 September, 2022

Israel is deliberately impeding progress toward a two-state solution and can no longer be considered a reliable partner in the peace process, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas told the United Nations on Friday.

Repeating grievances against Israel’s government and security forces, Abbas said the Jewish state has acted with “total impunity” against people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and that Palestinians' trust in the prospects for peace is “regressing.”

Israel “is, through its premeditated and deliberate policies, destroying the two-state solution,” the Palestinian Authority president said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

“This proves unequivocally that Israel does not believe in peace,” he added.

“Therefore, we no longer have an Israeli partner to whom we can talk.”

Abbas, 87, said Israel has been engaged in a campaign of land confiscation in the occupied territories and was giving the military “total freedom” to kill or otherwise use excessive force against Palestinians.

“This is the truth: they are an apartheid regime,” he said.

In demanding the international community hold Israel accountable “for the massacres they have committed,” Abbas accused members of the United Nations of “protecting Israel” from such accountability.

He reiterated the Palestinians’ position that the case of Israel be brought before the International Criminal Court so that it is forced to “shoulder its legal, political, moral and financial responsibilities.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Protests storm security HQ in Iran amid unrest over Mahsa Amini’s death: Sources

24 September, 2022

Protests have expanded in Iran as unrest triggered by the killing of Mahsa Amini by the morality police intensified, with reports of protesters storming the Basij Resistance Forces headquarters in the city of Qom and setting the building ablaze.

Al Arabiya reported on Friday that protesters have called on residents in Iran to take to the streets as videos of security forces shooting at protesters in several areas surfaced.

Al Arabiya said, quoting local media reports, that the Kurdish-majority city of Ashnawiya had also fallen to protesters.

Earlier, a Norway-based NGO confirmed on Friday that least 50 people have been killed a crackdown by the Iranian security forces on protests that erupted following the death of Amini, 22, who died last week after her arrest by the Islamic Republic’s feared morality police for allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an “improper” way.

The Oslo-based Human Rights Iran said the high toll came after six people were killed by security forces fire in the town of Rezvanshahr in the northern province of Gilan on Thursday evening, with other deaths recorded in Babylon and Amal (north).

There had been protests in some 80 cities and other urban centers since the demonstrations started one week ago, it added.

Rights groups have also pointed to deaths in the northern Kurdistan region where Amini was from.

“At least 50 people have been killed so far, and people continue protesting for their fundamental rights and dignity,” IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told AFP.

“The international community must stand by the Iranian people against one of our time's most repressive regimes,” he added.

Source: Al Arabiya

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2 top PKK/KCK terrorists nabbed, brought back to Türkiye

Baris Gundogan  



Two PKK/KCK terrorists have been apprehended and brought back to Türkiye by Turkish intelligence forces, a security source said on Friday.

Atilla Cicek, codenamed Lehenk, and Huseyin Yildirim, codenamed Aliser, were captured by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in operations near the border, said the source, requesting anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Cicek was in the highest category of the Interior Ministry’s list of wanted terrorists.

He carried out deadly terror attacks on Turkish soil, including one in 2012 that killed seven people, including six soldiers, in the eastern Tunceli province.

Another more recent attack was in 2020 in Dogubayazit, a district in the eastern Agri province, that killed two soldiers, said the source.

As for Aliser, the source said he was involved in terrorist activities in Iraq and Syria.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


Dozens of US Republican lawmakers push to stop Biden from return to Iran nuclear deal

23 September 2022

Nearly 50 Republicans in the US Congress have renewed an effort to stop President Joe Biden’s administration from return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and removal of sanctions against Tehran.

Senator Joni Ernst and Congressman Mike Waltz, along with 25 Senate Republican and 20 House Republican co-sponsors, on Wednesday introduced an act, which would prevent the withdrawal of US sanctions on Iran until Secretary of State Antony Blinken certifies to Congress that Iran had not supported any attempts to target US citizens or Iranians living in the country for at least five years.

Ernst said in a statement that “President Biden should not provide a dime of sanctions relief” to Iran, alleging that the Biden administration continues to cozy up to the Islamic Republic in hopes of a nuclear deal.

The new bill is the latest congressional effort to prevent a return to the nuclear deal.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of 50 House lawmakers sent a letter to Biden, expressing opposition to Washington’s return to the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The lawmakers, 34 Democrats and 16 Republicans, referred to several points they believed should sway Washington against the agreement, and urging the Biden administration to provide Congress with the full text of any potential deal.

“We urge you not to return to any deal with Iran prior to releasing the full text of the agreement and any side agreements to Congress, to provide us with an in-depth briefing on the matter, and to consult with all key stakeholders,” the letter, led by Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer, read.

The United States, under former president Donald Trump, abandoned the Iran deal in May 2018 and reinstated unilateral sanctions that the agreement had lifted.

The talks to salvage the agreement kicked off in the Austrian capital city of Vienna in April last year, months after Biden succeeded Trump, with the intention of examining Washington’s seriousness in rejoining the deal and removing anti-Iran sanctions.

Despite notable progress, the US indecisiveness and procrastination caused multiple interruptions in the marathon talks.

Iran FM: Agreement on JCPOA revival possible if US exhibits necessary willpower

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister says an agreement to revive the JCPOA is still available in case the United States shows the necessary willpower.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday evening.

Amir-Abdollahian highlighted that a final agreement in the Vienna talks on the removal of sanctions and revival of the JCPOA is still within reach if there was the necessary will from Washington.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should act on the basis of its technical duties and responsibilities, and distance itself from political approaches and double standards regarding Iran's peaceful nuclear program,” the top Iranian diplomat said.

Amir-Abdollahian also voiced Tehran’s readiness to deepen and expand cooperation with Oslo, stressing the need for the utilization of diverse capacities that exist between the two countries.

Source: Press TV

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No positive developments on JCPOA but US still committed to deal: State Dept

23 September, 2022

A senior State Department official on Friday lamented the lack of progress on a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but stressed that the Biden administration remains determined to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“This administration remains categorically committed to mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA,” the official told reporters on a phone call. “We assess that to be strongly in the US national interests, and we’ll continue to work with our allies and partners to try to conclude and to begin that reimplementation.”

Prior to this week’s UN General Assembly, US officials played down the prospects of any breakthroughs in talks as senior officials from Washington and Tehran would both be in New York. There was still a glimmer of hope for some officials who continue to strike an optimistic tone about the ability to reach a deal.

“We didn’t hear anything particularly positive in New York this week,” said the official who was speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official pointed to Iran’s demand that the UN nuclear watchdog closes its probe into undisclosed nuclear activities inside the Islamic Republic. “Our bottom line here is very clear: the IAEA has asked some questions that Iran needs to answer… That is the absolute heart of the IAEA mandate… and we are 100 percent supportive of their independent efforts to execute that mandate,” the official said.

Biden administration officials have defended efforts to reach an agreement with Iran, saying that problems in the Middle East would not become easier to solve without a nuclear deal with Tehran.

But as indirect talks have gone on for over 16 months, critics and many Democratic lawmakers have called on the US president to walk away from the table.

On multiple occasions, it appeared that a deal was within reach. However, according to Washington, Iran repeatedly threw in last-minute demands and reneged on previous promises.

And in a bid to ramp up pressure on Iran, the Biden administration levied sanctions against various Iranian sectors, including its drone program and other security apparatuses.

This week, the US sanctioned Iran’s so-called morality police after a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman died in custody after being detained for “improper hijab.”

This sparked nationwide anti-government protests and led the Iranian government to restrict or cut off internet access for many Iranians.

On Friday, the US Treasury Department issued general licenses to expand the range of internet services available to Iranians after Ebrahim Raisi’s government cracked down.

The State Department official said the Biden administration would continue to use all of the tools it has to address concerns about Iran “whether we’re negotiating to return to the JCPOA, in the JCPOA, or not.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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US Takes Steps To Expand Internet Access To Iranians After Government Crackdown

23 September, 2022

The Treasury Department issued licenses on Friday to expand the range of internet services available to Iranians after Ebrahim Raisi’s government cut off access for most of Iran.

The Iranian regime’s crackdown on freedom of expression has come in the wake of nationwide anti-government protests after the killing of Mahsa Amini. Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, fell into a coma shortly after being arrested by Iran’s morality police last week for “improper hijab.” She died on Friday, prompting protests on social media and on the streets.

Internet monitoring outlets and foreign diplomats inside of Tehran have said that internet access has been restricted or blocked in many parts of the country.

“As courageous Iranians take to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, the United States is redoubling its support for the free flow of information to the Iranian people,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said.

He said the US was helping Iranians be better equipped to counter the government’s efforts to censor them. “In the coming weeks, OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] will continue issuing guidance to support the Administration’s commitment to promoting the free flow of information, which the Iranian regime has consistently denied to its people,” Adeyemo added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the licenses would allow technology firms to provide more digital services to people in Iran, such as cloud computing services, to improve their online security and privacy. “It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people,” Blinken said.
Source: Al Arabiya

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South Asia


Prominent Afghan Political Figure Leaves Council of Resistance Against Taliban

By Saqalain Eqbal

24 Sep 2022

Mohammad Younus Qanooni, a former Afghan vice-president, and a former chairman of the lower house of the parliament of Afghanistan announced his resignation from the Supreme Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan (SCNRSA), in a statement.

According to the announcement made on September 22, Qanooni resigned from his membership because of major disagreements among the council’s members.

“Since I was unable to come to an agreement to resolve my recent serious disagreements with the methods and policies of senior council’s members in the areas of preserving and consolidating national unity, ensuring peace and security, and strengthening regional and international relations, I felt it was necessary to resign from the council,” Qanooni said in the statement.

Members of anti-Taliban SCNRSA include well-known political figures such as Abdul Rasool Sayyaf, Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, Mohammad Mohaqeq, Almas Zahid, Mir Rahman Rahmani, Mohammad Alam Izedyar, Hazrat Ali, Mohammad Younus Qanooni, Karim Khalili, Salahuddin Rabban, Mohammad Ismail Khan, Atta Mohammad Noor, most of whom held key positions in the government and parliament of Afghanistan.

The council’s mission is to restore sovereignty to the people by establishing a government and system based on collective will, and by holding free and fair elections.

Source: Khaama Press

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Blast Near Kabul Mosque Sparks Intl, Domestic Reactions

September 24, 2022

The blast in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul city has faced strong reactions internationally as well as domestically.

On Friday afternoon a blast occurred nearby the Wazir Akbar Khan mosque, killing nine people and wounding 41 others, including children.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI), Abdul Nafay Takor, said that the blast was due to a car bombing.

The Islamic Emirate’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid on Twitter condemned the blast and said attacking mosques and targeting worshippers is a "major and unforgivable crime."

Former President Hamid Karzai also "strongly" condemned the blast and called it a "terrorist act" that was against both Islamic and human principles.

The US embassy for Afghanistan on Twitter said that Washington "strongly condemns today’s vicious attack on worshipers outside the Wazir Akber Khan mosque in Kabul."

"Such an attack against people professing their faith is unjustifiable," the embassy said on Twitter. "We offer condolences to the families of the victims and hope those injured recover swiftly."

Source: Tolo News

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Blast near Kabul mosque after Friday prayers kills at least seven people

September 23, 2022

KABUL, Sept 23 (Reuters) - At least seven people were killed and more than 40 injured on Friday by a blast near a mosque in the Afghan capital which struck as worshippers were streaming out of afternoon prayers, police said.

The explosion was the latest in a deadly series targeting Friday prayers at mosques in recent months, some of them claimed by the militant group Islamic State.

"After prayers, when people wanted to come out from the mosque, a blast happened," said Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran. "All casualties are civilians."

He later confirmed the death toll was seven, including children, and said 41 people had been injured.

Italian-NGO run Emergency Hospital said it had received 14 people hurt by the explosion, of whom four were dead on arrival.

"Feeling appalled by today's Kabul blast and learning about ... (casualties) this detonation has caused," Raffaella Iodice, the deputy head of the European Union's Delegation to Afghanistan said in a tweet.

The explosion took place in Wazir Akbar Khan, an area formerly home to the city's "green zone" - the location of many foreign embassies and NATO - but now controlled by the ruling Taliban.

Source: Reuters

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Sheikh Hasina on Rohingya crisis: Affects Bangladesh's stability, security

Sep 24, 2022

Bangladesh's prime minister said Monday that the prolonged stay of more than 1 million Rohingya refugees in crowded camps in the country has become a serious security and stability concern.

“Apart from their own miseries, their prolonged presence is causing a serious impact on the economy, environment, security and sociopolitical stability of Bangladesh,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said at the opening ceremony of a three-day meeting of military officials from 24 countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

The United States is the co-host of the gathering, called the Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar, along with the Bangladesh army.

While the militaries of the participating countries are discussing disaster management, transnational crime, security issues and women's empowerment, Bangladesh is using the platform to highlight the issue of Rohingya refugees who have fled from violence in Myanmar.

Participants in the meeting, including the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Vietnam, will visit the sprawling Rohingya refugee camps to see their plight firsthand, said Gen S M Shafiuddin Ahmed, chief of Bangladesh army.

Ahmed said the military leaders are being taken to the camps in Cox's Bazar district to give them “a clear perception” of the gravity of the refugee crisis and why their repatriation to Myanmar is necessary.

Last month, the refugees marked the fifth anniversary of a mass exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh who were fleeing a harsh crackdown by Myanmar's military. In total, Bangladesh is hosting more than 1 million Rohingya refugees.

Hasina has said that repatriation is the only solution to the crisis, but that Bangladesh would not force them to go back to Myanmar.

Bangladeshi officials have expressed frustration after at least two attempts to repatriate the refugees failed under a bilateral agreement brokered by China. The Muslim Rohingya have said that conditions remain too dangerous in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they face extensive discrimination.

Charles A Flynn, commanding general of the US Army Pacific, told reporters that he could not reply to policy questions such as how militaries can help repatriate the Rohingya to Myanmar, but thanked Bangladesh for arranging the trip for the delegation to the refugee camps.

“What I will say is this. I am thankful that the chief of the Bangladesh army has found a way in the programme to bring us to Cox's Bazar and to see the magnitude of the humanitarian assistance that Bangladesh has provided for five years to that situation,” he said.

The Rohingya crisis has gone to international courts, where Myanmar has denied any wrongdoing.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Imran Khan asks Pakistanis to 'wage jihad' and support his ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ movement

September 23, 2022

ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Friday urged the nation to wage jihad for the sake of bringing about ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ (true freedom).

During his address at a convention organised by the women's wing of the Insaf Student Federation (ISF) in Islamabad, the PTI chief said that 80 per cent of women in rural Sindh are deprived of their rights.

While criticising the situation in Sindh, Khan said: “Slavery in Sindh is worst. [We] will have to wage jihad for ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ (true freedom) and for the sake of future generations.”

The former PM slammed the ruling coalition leadership and said that even caliphs appeared before courts in Raisat-e-Madina.

“In all poor countries, people like Nawaz Sharif and [Asif] Zardari take money abroad,” he said, questioning how the country would progress if thieves begin to rule.

Khan further remarked that thieves had taken over our country and that their crimes are being forgiven every day.

“If this has to be done, then others should also be released from jails,” the PTI chairman demanded.

Source: The News Pakistan

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Pak Taliban employs extortion tactics in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as control grows

24 September, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], September 24 (ANI): Amid a stalled peace deal between Islamabad and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the return of members of the outlawed group in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has raised alarm bells.

Entrepreneurs and other businesses hoping to recover from years of Taliban violence and a government military operation in past years have been left dejected with the resurgence of the TTP that is employing extortion tactics, Gandhara news reported.

One such businessman is Jamshid Khan (named changed) who invested millions in his native Khyber, hoping that his factories and other facilities in the provincial capital, Peshawar, would create steady jobs for his people and bring him handsome profits. But the return of TTP has dashed his hope.

“Ignore this at your peril,” Khan was quoted as saying by Gandhara. This was a key message in the threatening WhatsApp texts he received last month. Khan was threatened to pay more than USD 100,000 in extortion money or prepare to be attacked.

TTP, popularly known as the Pakistani Taliban, recently set alarm bells ringing in Islamabad after the outlawed group reappeared in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat valley.

Taliban militants reportedly had occupied hilltops of Swat district’s Matta subdivision a few months ago which created panic in a number of neighbouring districts, The News International reported.

The Taliban’s unexpected appearance led to anger among the people and caused damage to tourism as the day Taliban were reported to have arrived in the valley, the report added.

Initially, both the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Shehbaz Sharif governments kept quiet on the issue. After the issue came to the limelight, Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that they were in touch with the Afghan government about the Taliban’s appearance in Swat.

For several months, the Shehbaz Sharif government has failed to come up with a plan to deal with the potential resurgence of the outlawed TTP.

Pakistan began negotiating with the TTP out of compulsion, The Express Tribune newspaper reported. The report added that they entered into talks with the TTP as the Afghan Taliban were reluctant to take any military action against the outfit.

Recently, the ongoing peace talks between the TTP and Pakistan government reached a stalemate after the outlawed group refused to give up its demand for the reversal of the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Despite a series of meetings between the two sides in recent weeks to break the impasse, there has also been a stalemate over the issue of TTP laying down their arms in case of a peace deal, The Express Tribune reported.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Pakistan has increasingly complained of attacks across the border from Afghanistan, an issue that has become a source of diplomatic tension.

Source: The Print

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Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif raises Kashmir at UNGA

Sep 24, 2022

Pakistan is looking for peace with all its neighbours, including India, but sustainable peace and stability in South Asia are contingent on a solution to the Kashmir dispute, Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Shehbaz claimed that India's "illegal and unilateral" actions on August 5, 2019 to change the special status of Jammu and Kashmir further undermined the prospects of peace and inflamed regional tensions. "I think it's high time India understood this message loud and clear that both countries are armed to the teeth. War is not an option. Only peaceful dialogue can resolve these issues..." he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan school expels 4 Ahmadi students for ‘their faith’

September 24, 2022

Four students belonging to the Ahmadi community were expelled from a school for “their faith” in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Friday, the latest incident of discrimination against members of the minority community.

Pakistan’s Parliament in 1974 declared the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims. A decade later, they were banned from calling themselves Muslims. They are banned from preaching and from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.

“Four students Huzaifa Nasir, Aneela Aqib, Abeer Ahmad Saifi and Nimra Qureshi of Grade III, VI, IX and X respectively have been expelled by the administration of the school (Educators) for their faith in Attock city (some 400 km from Lahore),” Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya Punjab spokesperson Amir Mahmood told PTI.

He said such incidents had taken place in the country in the past and it was unfortunate that the school in question told the parents of the children that “they have been expelled because of their faith”.

Mahmood said this was a “dangerous trend” set by the educational institutions. “Such a trend will hamper the studies of Ahmadi students in Pakistan,” he said.

In the relieving letter, principal of the school Kulsoom Awan said: “The above students are being withdrawn from the school on the basis of Qadianiat (Ahmadi) religion.” The school administration said the expelled students were, otherwise, performing well in their studies.

According to an official, the school administration has taken the step on the complaints of some parents who said: “their children will not study in the class where Ahmadi students are present.” Minorities, especially Ahmadis, are very vulnerable in Pakistan and they are often targeted by religious extremists.

A 62-year-old man from the Ahmadi community was stabbed to death by a “religious fanatic” for refusing to praise a controversial cleric in Pakistan’s Punjab province last month.

Abdul Salam, a member of the Ahmadi community, was brutally stabbed to death apparently for his faith in May this year.

Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul Haq had made it a punishable offence for Ahmadiyyas to call themselves Muslims or to refer to their faith as Islam.

In Pakistan, around 10 million out of the 220 million population are non-Muslims. According to the 2017 census, Hindus constitute the largest religious minority (5 million) in Pakistan.

Source: India Today

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Pakistan emerges as ‘global leader’ in enforced disappearances

23 September, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], September 23 (ANI): Pakistan has emerged as a global leader in cases of enforced disappearances as hundreds simply ‘disappear’ in the country every month as over 8,000 people have gone missing in the country since 2001, according to a report by Islam Khabar.

This comes after the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), the non-government watchdog, expressed concern over citizens’ faulty disappearances. Over 6,500 Baloch and 5,000 Pashtuns remain on the ‘missing’ list and their whereabouts remain unknown.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has admitted to people going ‘missing’ but has refrained from taking names at all times.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sanaullah admitted “limits to govt writ” in missing persons’ cases and said that the state is responsible for recovering citizens who disappeared by force and termed the issue “more painful than death.”

“There’s no denying and we all know how much writ successive governments have had and it still has in this regard,” he said talking to reporters after meeting coalition partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P) at the party’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad, apparently conceding the fact that government had limited writ in this regard, reported Dawn.

He said disappearing people by force had tarnished the country’s image the world over and attracted serious questions from global organisations on Pakistan and its affairs.

As per the report by Islam Khabar, the Islamabad High Court in January 2021 ruled in a 2015 disappearance case that the prime minister took entire responsibility as the state failed terribly in protecting its citizens.

Moreover, in October 2017, the apex court of Pakistan ordered the interior ministry to provide a detailed account of everyone being held however the cases of disappearances only skyrocketed, the report added.

People being forcibly disappeared is a severe and longstanding issue in Pakistan.

Hundreds of thousands of people from all spheres of life started to disappear. In March 2011, the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIOED) was formed to work on the issue.

According to recent figures released by COIOED in July 2022, 8,696 missing person cases have been reported. While 6,513 of these cases have been solved, 2,219 are still pending, as per DW news.

Despite efforts by civil society, there is no end to the issue of enforced disappearances in Pakistan, as the state continues to use it with impunity.

Source: The Print

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Hindu Girl, 13, Allegedly Kidnapped In Pakistan's Sindh: Report

September 24, 2022

Islamabad: A 13-year-old girl belonging to the Hindu community in Pakistan's Sindh province has reportedly been abducted last week while she was returning from the market.

According to reports, the victim's family alleges that the police have refused to file an FIR in the case.

Earlier, another Hindu married woman was also abducted and forcibly converted to Islam and is being allegedly held captive by one Muslim family in the province.

Pakistan's dilemma of forced conversions and marriages put minority women at risk and the issue of securing rights for minority women has become particularly complex in the country.

As Pakistan moves in an increasingly conservative Islamist direction, the situation for Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities, especially that of women, is worsening, reported International Forum for Right and Security (IFFRAS).

The situation faced by the Hindu and Christian groups in Pakistan is bad in general, but women from these communities are the worst victims of discriminatory attitudes of the authorities, political groups, religious parties, the feudal structure and the Muslim majority.

Religious minority women and girls are abducted, forcibly converted, forcibly married and abused, and their families are unsuccessful in their attempts to challenge these crimes using legal avenues, reported IFFRAS.

While the abductions, forced conversions, forced marriages and abuse are perpetrated by individuals, the fate of religious minority women and girls is often sealed as the existing laws or handling of such cases deem any legal recourse unavailable or ineffective.

Human rights groups have documented the plight of Pakistan's religious minorities for years, but it is only recently that these minorities have become the focus of popular discourse because of revelations on social media regarding their treatment, reported IFFRAS.

On the evening of August 20 in the Buner district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, Dina Kaur, a teacher belonging to the Sikh community, was forcibly abducted and converted to Islam. Despite massive protests by the Sikh community in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province over the incident, local police have failed to initiate any investigation into the abduction and forcible conversion of Dina Kaur.

Source: ND TV

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Pakistan seeks climate justice, not damages, says Bilawal

Anwar Iqbal

September 24, 2022

NEW YORK: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Friday Pakistan was looking for realistic justice for the climate-induced disasters it is facing, not reparations.

“We are not actively seeking climate reparations,” he told journalists at a news conference at UN headquarters in New York. “No one has thus far been successful in getting reparations. It’s a tall ask. We are seeking realistic climate justice.”

The foreign minister also referred to the UN secretary general’s recent suggestion of a climate-swap, countries trading their debt for climate-friendly policies.

As a UNDP report circulated by the media on Friday suggested that cash-strapped Pakistan needs to restructure its debt to avoid a default, Mr Bhutto-Zardari explained that Pakistan was not seeking restructuring of its debts as it could cause some to speculate that the country was going to default. “Let me make it clear. We’re nowhere near a default,” he said.

Says Imran removed from office through democratic process

Explaining the fine difference between reparations and justice, his own address to the 77th UNGA focused on underlining the sufferings of his nation.

The foreign minister, while addressing a gathering of US scholars and experts at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Thursday, also sought world’s support for flood victims in Pakistan. “The scale and magnitude of flood losses in Pakistan is huge and the international community’s support is vital to complement rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts,” he said. “More than financial assistance, Pakistan needs climate justice and a green plan to rebuild its infrastructure and economy.”

Responding to a question about the removal of the PTI government, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said: “For the first time in our history, a prime minister was not hanged or removed from office and sent in exile, [rather] he was removed through the democratic, constitutional process of a vote of no confidence.”

The PDM government, he said, has created a balance, setting up a democratic and peaceful system in the country. “But unfortunately the powers, which have never wanted democracy in Pakistan and never wanted this transition to take succeed, are consistently trying to undermine and reverse this progress,” he said.

He said Mr Khan wanted to bring the army, intelligence agencies and the judiciary under his personal control.

About the recent floods, he said Pakistan was the eighth most vulnerable country to climate change, with initial estimates pointed to losses in excess of $30 billion. He also highlighted the government’s measures in dealing with this calamity, despite challenges.

Appreciating the solidarity and support extended by the US for the flood survivors, the minister reiterated the importance Pakistan attached to its longstanding ties with the US and its commitment to reinforce this bilateral relationship. He also said Pakistan would continue to work with the international community to achieve peace, development, and stability in Afghanistan.

While reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to peace, he said rampant discrimination and persecution of Muslims in India, driven by the violent extremist ideology of Hindutva, was a matter of great concern.

He said in the occupied Kashmir, India was making demographic changes and disenfranchising the Muslims by redrawing the electoral constituencies.

Source: Dawn

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Two ‘IS militants’ killed in Khuzdar

Saleem Shahid

September 24, 2022

QUETTA: The provincial counterterrorism department (CTD) said two “most wanted terrorists” of the militant Islamic State (IS) group were killed after both sides exchanged fire during an intelligence-based operation in the Sorgaz area of Khuzdar district.

The department found a large quantity of arms and ammunition during the operation, a spokesperson for the CTD Balochistan said in a statement on Friday.

On being alerted that militants were present in the mountainous area of Sorgaz, the CTD dispatched a team to the site and intercepted the armed men travelling on motorbikes. They were trying to enter Balochistan from Shahdadkot town of Sindh to target a sensitive installation in Khuzdar, the department said.

As they saw security officials, the suspected terrorists opened fire using heavy weapons and also hurled hand grenades.

The CTD team also took positions and returned fire.

“Two most wanted terrorists were killed in the exchange of fire,” the CTD spokesperson said, adding that three other militants managed to escape under the cover of darkness.

One of the militants killed in the operation was identified as Matiullah alias Bismillah, who carried head money of Rs1 million and his name was placed in the Red Book.

Both militants belonged to the banned IS outfit, the official said. The other militant couldn’t be identified.

The arms and ammunition recovered from the terrorists included a sub-machine gun with 34 rounds, a 9mm pistol with 12 rounds, 5kg explosives, five-metre detonating cord, a remote-controlled device and a motorcycle.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan FM Zardari: Islamic Emirate Should Fulfill Promises

September 24, 2022

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistani foreign minister, expressed regret over the Islamic Emirate’s decision to deny Afghan girls access to secondary schools.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a recent interview with FRANCE 24, said that the Islamic Emirate has not fulfilled their promises to the international community, and this had precluded recognition of their government.

“It would help the government of Afghanistan gain legitimacy and perhaps a path to recognition if they were to live up to those expectations, one of which is female education. Now, our Afghan neighbors do say that as far as primary education is concerned they allow girls to go to primary schools...what we are waiting for is secondary education,” said Zardari.

In reaction to Zardari’s speeches, the Islamic Emirate said it has fulfilled all the conditions needed for official recognition.

“We have fulfilled all the conditions that are required, so these speeches are not true, where someone says we have not met the conditions,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

Meanwhile, political analysts believe some parts of the Doha agreement have been violated by the Islamic Emirate and the United States of America.

“Details of the agreement are violated by both sides, not one side, but there are some internal issues that the Taliban are seeking to address,” said Aziz Maarij, a former diplomat.

“The Islamic Emirate faces many problems, in the meantime, the world is making excuses,” said Ahmad Khan Andar, political analyst.

Source: Tolo News

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Arab World


Statement from Israel PM on two-state solution positive: Saudi FM

23 September, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told Al Arabiya TV on Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s statement on the two-state solution with Palestinians was “positive” if it was translated into actions.

Peace needed direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud added.

Lapid called on Thursday for a two-state solution to decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

His mention of a two-state solution, the first by an Israeli leader in years at the United Nations General Assembly, echoed US President Joe Biden's support in Israel in August for the long-dormant proposal.

“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel's security, for Israel's economy and for the future of our children,” Lapid said on Thursday.

He added any agreement would be conditioned on a peaceful Palestinian state that would not threaten Israel.

Lapid spoke less than six weeks before a November 1 election that could return to power the right-wing former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longstanding opponent of the two-state solution.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza - areas that Palestinians seek for an independent state - in a 1967 Middle East war. US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

Palestinians and rights groups say Israel has entrenched its control of the occupied Palestinian territories through its military rule over millions of Palestinians and persistent settlement construction.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Reuters that Lapid's words “mean nothing.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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‘No one wants to be drawn into blocs,’ Saudi FM tells New York MENA Forum

September 24, 2022

NEW YORK: At a time of heightened global polarization, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Friday called for more cooperation, saying: “No one wants to be drawn into blocs.”

His comments were made at New York’s MENA Forum, hosted by the Middle East Institute and Think Research and Advisory, on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly.

“We need to discuss how we can strengthen our cooperation, how we can work closer together, how we can build an alignment that can insulate against this polarization, because none of us want to be drawn into blocs or into making choices,” he said.

“We want to talk about investment. We want to talk about innovation. We want to talk about progress. And we hope that our international partners will focus on that as well,” he added.

“We (Saudi Arabia) have made a decision to focus on a path of sustainable development and prosperity for our people, and we don’t want that to be derailed by politics.”

The Kingdom recently brokered a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine that saw almost 300 people, including 10 foreigners, returning to their homelands.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the move was based on the support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and in continuation of his efforts to adopt humanitarian initiatives toward the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

When asked about the Saudi stand on Lebanon, the foreign minister said: “The Kingdom still cares about Lebanon, but the people of Lebanon have to decide what path they want to embark on, as clearly the current path isn’t working.”

Another key issue he touched on was food security in the region. “Food security is very much part of the conversation today,” he said. “Coming from a water-poor country, we’ve been dealing with these issues for many years.”

Source: Arab News

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Saudi FM: Yemen truce ‘must be extended’ but signs not positive

September 24, 2022

RIYADH: The truce in Yemen must be extended, but the actions of the Houthi militia seem to indicate they do not want to lengthen the ceasefire beyond its expiry, the Saudi foreign minister said on Friday.

“We think it must be extended. However, the signs are not positive at this point,” said Prince Faisal bin Farhan. “Unfortunately, the indications we are seeing from the Houthis are that they do not intend to cooperate in an extension.”

He said the Iran-backed militia had failed to fulfil the commitments of the current agreement, and have now put forward demands that are unreasonable.

“I am very concerned by these developments because we will lose the momentum,” he added. “We are fully engaged with the UN representative and with others who are trying to convince the Houthis to extend the truce. Right now, the indications are worrying.”

A truce between the Houthis and the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen was brokered by the UN in April and is set to end on Oct. 2.

The truce has brought a semblance of normality for Yemenis, and has enabled the government to begin providing more services to the public.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Rashad Mohammed Al-Alimi, chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, said diplomacy has been wasted on the Houthis, who have repeatedly disregarded their treaty commitments.

Prince Faisal said the truce had created the possibility for wider peace in Yemen. “We have an opportunity here to build on a truce to work towards a permanent ceasefire, towards political dialogue. It is hard for me to understand why the Houthis would turn this down,” he said, adding that the militia’s proposals indicate “that they are looking for an excuse.”

The build-up of armaments as well as probing attacks on the frontlines by Houthi fighters indicate that they are seriously considering not renewing the truce, he told France 24 in New York.

When asked if war was back on the horizon in Yemen, he said: “Unfortunately, this seems to be what the Houthis want.”

The foreign minister reiterated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to finding a political solution to the conflict in Yemen, but said his country will do what is needed to defend its people if the Houthis return to hostilities.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi prince’s mediation signals ‘useful’ ties with Russia

September 24, 2022

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has won a diplomatic victory by securing freedom for foreign fighters captured in Ukraine, signalling the value of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s alliance with Russia to Western partners seeking to isolate Moscow over the war there, analysts say.

Prince Mohammed may also find that the initiative — intentionally or otherwise — helps take him a step nearer international rehabilitation after the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi damaged his reputation, they say.

With the prince’s mediation, Russia on Wednesday released 10 foreigners it had captured in Ukraine, including five Britons and two Americans.

The move, apparently made possible by Prince Mohammed’s carefully nurtured ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, coincided with a prisoner exchange involving 215 Ukrainians and 55 Russians and pro-Moscow Ukrainians that Turkiye helped broker.

Kristian Ulrichsen, a political scientist at Rice University’s Baker Institute in the United States, said the working relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia appears to have been a crucial element in the choice of intermediary.

“By sanctioning this mediation and delivering results, Mohammed bin Salman is able to present himself as capable of playing the role of regional statesman in a way that counters the narrative of the crown prince as an impulsive and disruptive actor,” Ulrichsen said.

In remarks to the BBC, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the motivation behind Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the prisoner release was humanitarian. He denied the Crown Prince had become involved to rehabilitate his reputation.

“That didn’t factor into it. I think that’s a very cynical view,” he said. He added that on the conflict itself, his country wanted to see a negotiated solution and Riyadh was committed to trying to help secure that outcome.

Prince Faisal said the crown prince had engaged with President Putin to work out a prisoner deal since April, when he “understood” the issue of the five British citizens following a visit to by then British prime minister Boris Johnson.

“His Royal Highness was able to convince President Putin that this is a humanitarian gesture that is worthwhile, and this is how we achieved this result,” Prince Faisal told Fox News.

The freed prisoners, who included a Croatian, a Moroccan, and a Swedish national, were flown to Riyadh on a Saudi plane where officials lined up to greet them.

US citizens Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, both from Alabama, are expected to leave Saudi Arabia within days, officials said. The importance of Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, to both Washington and Moscow has grown at a time when Russia’s war in Ukraine is roiling global energy markets.

Source: Dawn

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Saudi Crown Prince meets with senior US officials in Jeddah: SPA

24 September, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with senior US diplomats on Friday to discuss energy security, regional developments, and Riyadh’s mediation efforts that secured the release of American prisoners of war from Russia, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

White House coordinator for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, Energy Advisor Amos Hochstein, and Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking all met with the Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah.

The SPA reported that bilateral ties were discussed as well as “the active follow up from the Jeddah Summit, particularly in the fields of energy security and investment in the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.”

Yemen was also a point of discussion with the UN-mediated truce scheduled to expire on Oct. 2 and the Iran-backed Houthis refusing to discuss an extension of the ceasefire.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Death toll from Lebanon migrant boat at least 76: Minister

23 September, 2022

At least 76 people died when the migrant boat they were aboard sank off the Syrian coast after sailing from Lebanon this week, the Lebanese transport minister said, as search operations continued on Friday.

It marks the deadliest such voyage yet from Lebanon, where mounting economic desperation has led many to board often rickety and overcrowded boats in the hope of reaching Europe.

Syrian authorities began finding bodies off the coast of Tartus on Thursday afternoon. The Syrian transport ministry has quoted survivors as saying the boat left from Lebanon’s northern Minyeh region on Tuesday with between 120 and 150 people onboard, bound for Europe.

There were reported to be around 45 children on the boat, none of whom had survived, Lebanese transport minister Ali Hamiye said, though he could not confirm the number.

The family of Mustafa Misto, a Lebanese man who was on the boat with his wife and three young children, were accepting condolences at their apartment in the impoverished Bab Al-Ramel neighborhood of the northern city of Tripoli.

“We have no one but God,” an elderly relative cried as mourners paid their respects.

People who feared their relatives were among the dead gathered at the border crossing with Syria, awaiting the bodies.

Dozens of people on the boat came from the Nahr al-Bared camp for Palestinian refugees near Tripoli, Mahmoud Abu Heid, a camp resident said. Already difficult living conditions for Palestinians had worsened during the economic crisis that has devastated Lebanon for the last three years, he added.

Hamiye said 20 survivors were being treated in Syrian hospitals, the bulk of them Syrians - around 1 million of whom live in Lebanon as refugees.

Hamiye said the boat was “very small” and made of wood, describing such sailings as an almost daily occurrence organized by people who did not care for safety.

The spate of such voyages has been fueled by Lebanon’s financial collapse in the last three years - one of the worst ever recorded globally. Poverty rates have sky-rocketed among the population of some 6.5 million.

Cyprus scrambled search and rescue crews late on Monday and Tuesday when in the space of hours two vessels carrying migrants from Lebanon put out distress signals; there were 300 in one vessel, 177 in the other. In those cases, all on board were rescued, the island's Joint Rescue Coordination Center said.

The number of people who have left or tried to leave Lebanon by sea nearly doubled in 2021 from 2020, the United Nations refugee agency told Reuters earlier this month.

It rose again by more than 70 percent in 2022 compared with the same period last year.

In April, a migrant boat that set off from near Tripoli sank during an interception by the Lebanese navy off the coast.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Burkina Faso coup leader defends his military takeover

September 24, 2022

NEW YORK: Burkina Faso’s coup leader-turned-president defended his military takeover on Friday, though he acknowledged it was “perhaps reprehensible” and inconsistent with the UN’s values.

Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba said the overthrow of the democratically elected president in January was “necessary and indispensable.”

“It was, above all, an issue of survival for our nation,” he said. That’s even if it was “perhaps reprehensible in terms of the principles held dear by the United Nations and the international community as a whole.”

Burkina Faso’s coup came in the wake of similar takeovers in Mali and in Guinea, heightening fears of a rollback of democracy in

West Africa.

None of the juntas has committed to a date for new elections.

Many in Burkina Faso, however, supported the military takeover, frustrated with the previous government’s inability to stem extremist violence that has killed thousands and displaced at least 2 million.

Yet the violence has failed to wane in the months since Lt. Col.  Damiba took over.

Earlier this month, he also took over the position of defense minister after dismissing a brigadier general from the post.

The Burkina Faso leader said on Friday that his transitional government will remain in power for almost two more years despite calls from West African neighbors for a quicker return to democratic rule.

But Lt. Col. Damiba gave no precise date for the holding of new elections in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

He warned, however, that the insurgency embroiling Burkina Faso has security risks for the rest of the world too emphasizing that Europe “is the closest continent to Africa.”

“No precautions or prevention measures will prevent terrorism from crossing the Atlantic if the Sahel is abandoned,” Damiba said.

Source: Arab News

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Kenya rescues citizens from suspected organ traffickers

Andrew Wasike 



Kenya’s Foreign Ministry on Friday said it rescued 24 trafficked Africans, mostly Kenyans, in cooperation with authorities in Laos and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Foreign Ministry in Kenya said that there is worrying intelligence information on organ extraction of workers tied to the case.

“It is now emerging that there could be hundreds of mostly young Kenyans working in 'Fraud Factories' in South East Asia, more worrying is intelligence information that some of the factories may be facilities for extracting and storing human organs,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The 24 people (22 Kenyans, a Ugandan and a Burundian) had contacted authorities back home raising the distress calls that saved them after being duped of being given employment opportunities in the Asian country.

"Public sensitization campaigns remain the best weapon to raise awareness and thereby reduce this new threat to the safety and well-being of Kenyans," the Kenyan Ministry added.

The ministry noted that the human trafficking menace, once considered an endemic problem in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is now going global, warning that the cartels are now venturing into other parts of the world, particularly Africa and South Asia, luring a new breed of victims.

The new breed includes young and techno-savvy individuals, well-educated, computer literate, and multilingual youth.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Confirmed, suspected Ebola Sudan cases at 8 in Uganda amid lack of vaccine

Hamza Kyeyune 



The number of confirmed and suspected Ebola deaths in Uganda stands at 8 on Thursday, according to the Health Ministry which declared an outbreak of the Sudan variant in the country earlier this week.

“We have isolated 11 suspected cases and listed at least 43 contacts and reactivating district taskforces of 10 districts we suspect to be at risk,” a spokesman told Anadolu Agency.

This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda has recorded the Ebola Sudan strain. The East African country last reported an outbreak of the Ebola Sudan strain in 2012 when 17 people were killed in 24 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which contributed to containing the virus at the time.

Unlike Ebola Zaire, there is no vaccine for the Sudan strain.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said a Johnson and Johnson vaccine that may be effective has yet to be specifically tested against the Sudan strain.

Five members of one family died at separate intervals two weeks ago with Ebola-like symptoms. But because no autopsy was conducted to establish the causes of the deaths, officials in worry that the disease is likely widely transmitted.

The WHO and partners are supporting the National Rapid Response team to investigate and respond to the outbreak.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Sudan ruling general ‘will not run in elections for civilian-led govt’

September 24, 2022

NEW YORK: Sudan’s ruling military general, who mounted a coup nearly a year ago, said he will not run in future elections for a civilian-led government, but offered no timeline on when a vote might happen in order for him to relinquish power.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan spoke with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. It marked nearly one year after he mounted a coup that upended the Arabic-speaking African nation’s short-lived transition to democracy after three decades of repressive rule by strongman Omar Bashir.

Asked if he would consider running in future elections, Gen. Al-Burhan replied: “I don’t think so.”

When pressed further, he said: “I do not have a desire to put myself forward (as a candidate) nor do I want to continue in this work.”

Underpinning last year’s coup were tensions that had been building between supporters of military rule and those who support civilian rule — with both sides frustrated by the country’s worsening economic conditions.

Sudan has been mired in political turmoil for over three years.

Its economy has teetered and inflation was expected to hit a staggering 245 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Since the coup last October, pro-democracy protesters have marched through the streets demanding the generals hand over power to civilians.

They’ve denounced Al-Burhan’s takeover, which occurred when the military dissolved the transitional government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok as well as the Sovereign Council, a power-sharing body of military officers and civilians that had been ruling Sudan since late 2019.

Troops have opened fire at protesters, killing some of the marchers and detaining hundreds.

While no police or security forces have been convicted in the deaths, Al-Burhan said around five or six are under investigation.

“No one killed protesters in the way that’s being depicted,” he said.

“Protesters clashed with police, and the police dealt with them according to the law to protect public property.”

Gen. Al-Burhan said that once an elected government is in place, the armed forces would be another institution of that government rather than retain a higher status.

During the interview, Gen. Al-Burhan said he would not run in future elections.

But he stopped short of giving a date for when elections will be held, despite previously saying a vote could be held in July 2023.

Instead, he said the gridlock lies with political groups that need to agree on a date for the vote.

He insisted the military had no role in that discussion.

“We are talking about political participation and widening that participation, whether that is Hamdok or someone else, this person will not succeed without a wide base to rule Sudan,” Gen. Al-Burhan said.

“The only authority to rule is through elections, with no one imposing their will on another.”

He also brushed aside strains within his own transitional government, denying there were any disagreements with the deputy chief of Sudan’s ruling military council, Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, better known by his nickname Hamedti.

Local media over the past weeks reported disputes between the two generals. Dagalo has also acknowledged the failure of the October military’s takeover.

Amid the political upheaval, millions of Sudanese are suffering from high prices and a currency that’s dropped dramatically in value against the dollar. The ruling military leader blamed countries and institutions, which he did not name, for being behind Sudan’s deteriorating economic situation.

Sudan is in the midst of a deepening food crisis caused by “a cocktail of factors,” according to the country’s World Food Programme representative, Eddie Rowe, who spoke at a UN press conference.

Sudan has seen two years of poor harvests, a summer of devastating flooding and is struggling to access vital grain imports from eastern Europe following the war in Ukraine.

In response to October’s coup, many major UN donors have withdrawn funding from the country.

To help ease Sudan’s crisis, Rowe called for lasting peace, a reliable government, and further international aid and support.

Following the coup, the administration of President Joe Biden suspended $700 million in financial assistance intended to support Sudan’s transition to a fully civilian government.

The State Department said the full aid package, which may have included other aid beyond the $700 million, had been put on “pause” pending a review of developments in Khartoum.

Source: Arab News

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Southeast Asia


Malaysia’s Islamic Fintech will continue to grow, says banking association

24 Sep 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — The Islamic financial technology (fintech) industry in Malaysia has reached maturity and will continue to grow in the coming years through the development of policies, technology and talents to support the ecosystem.

The Association of Islamic Banking and Financial Institutions Malaysia (AIBIM) president Mohd Muazzam Mohamed said the industry is more mature here compared to other countries, with assistance from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and government agencies such as the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

“We must also give credit to the availability of resources and our talents, as well as the fact that Malaysia has a good base where the talent and financial services can be exported,” he told a media conference on the upcoming Global Islamic Financial Forum 2022 (GIFF 2022), which will be held in October.

Mohd Muazzam said Islamic finance is the backbone of the economic recovery and growing consumption power and as one of the leading powers of change, it is critical that Malaysia uphold the values and principles of Islamic finance towards achieving common prosperity, sustainability, and inclusivity.

“Social financing also remains a critical mechanism for us to promote social trust, cooperation, and solidarity.

“In Malaysia, through value-based intermediation (VBI)-aligned initiatives, we have contributed significantly to our country’s socio-economic recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic by distributing social finance to the vulnerable segment, particularly the B40s and the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” he added.

According to Moody’s, the economic recovery in key Islamic finance markets would boost credit growth and demand for Shariah-compliant products, and Islamic banks’ asset growth is expected to continue to outperform their conventional peers.

The economic recovery is also driving an increase in Muslim consumption power, with the world’s population of 1.9 billion (Muslims) spending the equivalent of US$2 trillion (RM9.2 trillion) in 2021 across the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, fashion, and travel sectors.

Muslim spending is forecast to reach US$2.8 trillion by 2025, Moody’s said.

Citing the Global Islamic Economy Indicator, the rating agency said Malaysia remains the global leader in Islamic finance and is ranked first among 81 countries for the ninth consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the chairman of GIFF 2022 Arsalaan Ahmed said there are three key developments that would further strengthen Malaysia’s leadership in the sector.

“Firstly, the Financial Sector Blueprint 2022-2026 aims to advance value-based finance through Islamic finance leadership.

“Secondly, the issuance of digital banking licenses will accelerate the deployment of new technologies to serve the unbanked and underserved communities, and lastly, Islamic fintech is growing exponentially in Malaysia with 33 per cent of the world’s Islamic fintech companies headquartered here,” he said.

AIBIM vice-president Datuk Mohamed Rafique Merican Mohd Wahiduddin Merican said the issuance of the digital banking licenses would definitely require the Islamic fintech to up its game.

“We saw in the last two years during the pandemic for example, that we were able to actually serve the needs of our customers better during the lockdown because we invested in those platforms.

“With the digital bank licence, we can actually serve you on a more personalised basis as opposed to the current way of going to our branches. The way we serve has started to evolve,” he noted.

BNM in April announced five successful applicants for digital bank licences.

The Global Islamic Finance Forum 2022 (GIFF2022) will be held from Oct 5-6 October in Kuala Lumpur.

Source: Malay Mail

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Abolish Security Council’s veto power, Ismail tells UN

September 24, 2022

NEW YORK: Malaysia has called for the veto power of the United Nations (UN) Security Council to be abolished in line with the principle of one country one vote.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said as an organisation that brings the spirit and symbol of democracy to the world, the UN needs to return to its foundation.

Clad in a traditional baju Melayu and delivering Malaysia’s national statement in Bahasa Melayu at the 77th session of the UN general assembly (UNGA) here, Ismail said the conflicts and crises that occur in the world, including in Ukraine, Palestine and Myanmar, cannot be resolved due to the debility of the global governance system and the UN.

He said the biggest problem in the UN is the Security Council, where the power of veto is often misused to favour the world powers that have it.

“It is not democratic and violates the principles of democracy. This makes it impossible for conflicts to be resolved by any of the permanent members of the Council,” he said in his second appearance at the UNGA, which is being attended by more than 150 world leaders.

The prime minister said conflicts will only result in negative effects for the whole world. It is due to conflicts that we are now facing various problems, such as lack of nutrients and food resources.

In facing this, he said all countries should emphasise the issue of food security to guarantee sufficient food resources for all.

He said the theme of this year’s UNGA, “A Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions to Interlocking Challenges”, is most apt for the situation the world is going through together now.

“Peace and stability are crucial in overcoming every major challenge of today, whether it is the climate change crisis, global poverty or the lasting effects of the pandemic.

“No matter how great our plans may be, they will not measure up to the destruction and waste that come with modern warfare. This is the truth that we should not forget,” he said.

In his speech which lasted 20 minutes, Ismail said a high level of commitment and pledge to work together was heard at the last UNGA, which had given hope to the world.

“Numerous statements were issued, all giving hope, including for me, that the spirit of a World Family will be able to put aside the differences that exist among us,” he said.

He added that Malaysia does not agree with the isolation of a country from international organisations as such a measure is against the principle of multilateralism and hinders dialogue.

Meanwhile, on the situation in Ukraine, he said it proved that the price to be paid for war is high.

“The effects are felt not only by the people and the country but also by the world. This conflict has threatened peace, global security and the economy, and undermined food security,” he said.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Court grants bid by Bung Moktar, wife to halt corruption case

Ho Kit Yen

September 23, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has stayed the RM2.8 million corruption trial of Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin and his wife, Zizie Izette, pending disposal of their application to review a lower court order requiring them to answer the charges brought against them.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah granted the order after deputy public prosecutor Faridz Gohim Abdullah said the prosecution would not object to the couple’s bid to suspend their trial.

The couple was represented by lawyers M Athimulan and K Kumaraendran.

Today was initially fixed for hearing, with the couple expected to enter their defence.

Bung, who is also Kinabatangan MP and a Sabah deputy chief minister, was charged under Section 17(a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, while Zizie faces a charge under Section 28(1)(c).

Earlier this month, the sessions court ordered them to enter their defence to the charges.

Bung was charged with two counts of receiving bribes amounting to RM2.2 million and RM262,500 as gratification to secure Felcra’s approval for a RM150 million investment in Public Mutual unit trusts in June 2015. He was Felcra’s chairman at material time.

Zizie faces three charges of abetting her husband in the matter.

The couple filed a motion, asking the High Court to review the sessions court’s order directing them to enter their defence.

They claim that two key prosecution witnesses – Madhi Abdul Hamid and Norhaili Ahmad Mokhtar – were treated as hostile witnesses, and that “this was contradictory to the findings made by the sessions judge”.

Sessions court judge Rozina Ayob had acknowledged on Sept 2 that she was aware and cautious of the fact that Madhi and Norhaili had given statements to MACC which contradicted their testimonies in court.

“After due consideration, I accepted other parts of the evidence given by them,” she said, adding that the court considered testimonies by other witnesses.

Thirty prosecution witnesses, including Madhi and Norhaili, testified.

The sessions court said it had taken note of the stay order, with Rozina deferring the trial to another date.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Draft an asset declaration law, anti-graft group urges PM

September 23, 2022

PETALING JAYA: The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) has urged Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to draft an asset declaration law to show his commitment to battling corruption.

While C4 welcomed making heads of government-linked companies (GLC) and government-linked investment companies (GLICs), as well as members of the judiciary declare their assets, it said a law was needed to legally require politicians and civil servants to also do so.

C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel also said her organisation remained unconvinced by the current administration’s commitment to the anti-corruption agenda.

“Ismail must put word to deed and prioritise the enactment of an Asset Declaration Act as a matter of immediate urgency to assure Malaysians that such a law will come into force in the near future,” she said in a statement.

She also said the new law must apply to family members and close associates of politicians, as well as heads of public institutions.

“All 13 state governments must enact their own Asset Declaration Act and it must be enforced upon those that take up public office, as well as on their family members.

“And the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) must initiate investigations and proceedings into big culprits and offenders who have shown obscene levels of unexplained wealth.”

Cynthia said a Dewan Rakyat motion passed by the Pakatan Harapan government in 2019 compelling MPs to declare their assets did not lead to any legal repercussions.

She added that some MPs did not comply, the motion was no longer being enforced, and all records of assets declared were no longer on MACC’s website.

She said an “all-encompassing anti-corruption” legal framework must include an Asset Declaration Act, Procurement Act and Freedom of Information Act.

She also urged Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to prove his commitment towards combating corruption by declaring his own assets following his acquittal on all 40 charges of corruption involving the foreign visa system.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Ukraine to slash ties with Iran over ‘unfriendly’ drones supply to Russia

23 September, 2022

Ukraine said on Friday it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran and strip the ambassador of his accreditation over what it called Tehran’s “unfriendly” decision to supply Russian forces with drones.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine said it had downed four Iranian-made “kamikaze” unmanned aerial vehicles, prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to complain Tehran was harming Ukrainian sovereignty and its citizens.

Ukraine and the United States have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia, something Tehran has denied.

“Supplying Russia with weapons to wage war against Ukraine is an unfriendly act that deals a serious blow to relations between Ukraine and Iran,” said a statement on the foreign ministry’s website.

“In response to such an unfriendly act the Ukrainian side has decided to deprive the ambassador of Iran of his accreditation and also to significantly reduce the number of diplomatic staff of the Iranian embassy in Kyiv.”

The message was handed to the acting ambassador since the permanent envoy, Manouchehr Moradi, is not currently in Ukraine.

Military authorities in southern Ukraine said in a statement they had shot down the Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles over the sea near the port of Odesa.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Ukraine says it downed four Iranian drones, Zelenskyy raps Tehran

23 September, 2022

Ukraine said on Friday it had downed four Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones used by Russia’s armed forces, prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to complain that Tehran was harming Ukrainian citizens.

Military authorities in southern Ukraine said in a statement they had shot down the Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles over the sea near the port of Odesa.

Ukraine and the United States have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia, something Tehran has denied. Zelenskyy has asked his foreign ministry to respond to the use of Iranian equipment, spokesman Serhii Nykyforov said.

“Such actions by Iran are considered as steps against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and also against the lives and wellbeing of Ukrainian citizens,” he said in a statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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