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Islamic World News ( 6 May 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Brunei Backs Away From Death by Stoning Under Islamic Law

New Age Islam News Bureau

6 May 2019

A police officer stands inside a training camp allegedly linked to Islamist militants in Kattankudy, near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, May 5, 2019. (Reuters)


 Brunei Backs Away From Death by Stoning Under Islamic Law

 Sri Lanka Expels 200 Islamic Clerics, From Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan,

 After Easter Attacks

 Sri Lanka Police Discover Suspected Training Camp for Extremist Militants

 Shared Meals and Torch-Lit Parades: Indonesia Muslims Welcome Ramadan

 Fasting Under the Northern Light: How Muslims in Scandinavia Cope With Long Ramadan Days

 No Record to Suggest That Some Sri Lanka Bombers Visited Kashmir: J&K Police Chief

 Pandit Returns to Restart Business In Srinagar, Gets Tumultuous Welcome By Fellow Traders

 Blackwater Starts Training of ISIL Terrorists at US Base in Western Iraq

 US May Review Ties with Countries Deemed Anti-Israel

 PM Imran Launches Al-Qadir University to ‘Teach Sufism, Create Future Leaders’

 Israel’s Ramadan Blitz in Gaza Kills More Than 20 Palestinians, Including Hamas Commander



 Brunei Backs Away From Death by Stoning Under Islamic Law

 Sudan Mediators Propose Two Transition Councils to Break Deadlock in Power Transfer Talks

 UN calls for week-long humanitarian truce in Libya as tensions rise

 Tunisia security forces kill three suspected militants


South Asia

 Sri Lanka Expels 200 Islamic Clerics, From Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan,

  After Easter Attacks

 Sri Lanka Police Discover Suspected Training Camp for Extremist Militants

 Taliban Suicide Bomber Leads Attack on an Afghan Police HQ, 20 Injured

 17 Taliban, ISIS militants killed in separate airstrikes conducted in Uruzgan and Nangarhar provinces

 Cardinal Bo Calls for Communal Harmony among Lankan Minorities

 Why main opposition in Bangladesh has become politically bankrupt?

 Afghan and Pakistani leaders discuss peace, security, regional prosperity over phone

 Afghan Special Forces identify, arrest a prominent Taliban leader in Mazar-e-Sharif city


Southeast Asia

 Shared Meals and Torch-Lit Parades: Indonesia Muslims Welcome Ramadan

 Indonesia: Muslim groups urge UN action against Israel

 In New Malaysia Declaration, DAP reiterates commitment to uplift all

 Baseless statements on Haj quota could affect Malaysia-Saudi relations, says Mujahid

 Now Malaysians can read Akyol’s banned book ‘Islam without Extremes’ for free online



 Fasting Under the Northern Light: How Muslims in Scandinavia Cope With Long Ramadan Days

 Imams Promoting Extremism In British Madrasas, Report Claims

 Danish far-right party calling for Muslim deportation to stand in election

 US says deeply concerned by Turkey’s intent to drill off Cyprus



 No Record to Suggest That Some Sri Lanka Bombers Visited Kashmir: J&K Police Chief

 Pandit Returns to Restart Business In Srinagar, Gets Tumultuous Welcome By Fellow Traders

 Rise in hoax bomb calls after Sri Lanka, Pulwama attacks

 US special representative for Afghanistan to hold talks with Sushma Swaraj

 At ground zero of suicide attack, fear casts shadow on polls

 SSDF stages protest against Mehbooba Mufti for advocating Ramzan ceasefire


Arab World

 Blackwater Starts Training of ISIL Terrorists at US Base in Western Iraq

 Qatar Tourism Official Says No Visas for Egyptians, Describes Them As ‘Enemies’

 Respect for other religions is vital for peaceful coexistence: MWL chief

 Tens of Civilians Arrested by US-Backed SDF in Deir Ezzur in Clampdown on Dissent

 Foreign domestic workers in Lebanon protest abuses

 Air strikes shut two hospitals in Syria’s Idlib

 Saudi King Salman calls for tolerance, moderation in Ramadan message


North America

 US May Review Ties with Countries Deemed Anti-Israel

 Bolton: US deploying carrier, bombers to Middle East to deter Iran

 Trump to impose additional sanctions against Iran: Report



 PM Imran Launches Al-Qadir University to ‘Teach Sufism, Create Future Leaders’

 80,000 Cops, Volunteers to Man Punjab's Worship Places during Ramazan

 Efforts On To Make Pakistan an Islamic Welfare State, Says PM

 Minor among 2 civilians killed in cross-border firing along LoC, says Pakistan Army

 Nisar puts end to 35-year association with PML-N

 Imran, Ghani Vow to Take Steps For Peace In Region

 PM accused of handing over country to IMF



 Israel’s Ramadan Blitz in Gaza Kills More Than 20 Palestinians, Including Hamas Commander

 Hamas says it doesn’t want a new war with Israel amid a UN call for restraint

 Israel kills Hamas commander in first targeted strike in years

 Israel, Palestine reach ceasefire agreement to stop Gaza attacks

 Israel signals cease-fire with Gaza to end deadly escalation

 UN regains access to Yemeni grain after reaching Hodeidah store

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Brunei Backs Away From Death By Stoning Under Islamic Law

By Shibani Mahtani May 6 at 6:24 AM

HONG KONG — The sultan of Brunei said his country would not impose the death penalty, appearing to back away from harsh punishments including death by stoning for gay sex and adultery under strict new laws that took effect last month.

Speaking Sunday in a televised address, his first comments since the laws were enacted amid significant international backlash, he noted that Brunei has had a “de facto moratorium” on the death penalty under common law.

This moratorium, he said, will also be extended to cases under the new sharia-influenced (Islamic law) penal code.

“I am aware that there are all sorts of questions and misconceptions on the implementation” of the laws, the sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, said. “For that, we have given clarification. We are conscious of the fact that these misconceptions may cause apprehension.”

The laws were met with swift condemnation when their latest phase took effect on April 3, implementing chilling punishments under the Islamic penal code after years of planning and preparation. Observers noted that the laws were incongruous with the Bruneian royal family’s reputation for wild partying and opulence and were indicative of the sultan’s desire to bring his country closer to more strict interpretations of Islamic law.

The United Nations called the laws draconian, and the move prompted calls for a boycott of Brunei-controlled hotels from Hollywood celebrities including George Clooney and Ellen DeGeneres.

Western governments had been quietly lobbying Brunei to refrain from implementing the laws, which they said would complicate trade deals with the oil-rich sultanate, and they have urged Brunei to uphold international human rights standards. A State Department spokesman, speaking soon after the laws went into effect, said the United States “regularly communicate[s] with the government of Brunei regarding human rights and encourage[s] it to uphold its international commitments on human rights.”

In his Sunday speech, Bolkiah also added that Brunei will be ratifying the U.N. Convention against Torture. It is unclear how the ratification of that treaty would affect other punishments under the Islamic penal code, which also call for amputation of hands and feet for stealing. The new laws also apply to children and foreigners who are not Muslim.

The sultan, however, continued to stand by the laws, which he said were part of Brunei’s “religious obligation to God as an Islamic country.”

“We are sure that once these misconceptions have been clarified, the merit of the law will be evident,” he said.

Home to fewer than half a million people, the tiny sultanate on the island of Borneo was not a comfortable place for the LGBT community even before the laws took effect. Homosexuality was punishable by jail terms of up to a decade, for example. Many in the community say it has been hard for them to express their concerns over the new rules for fear that they could be charged with apostasy.

Political opposition is virtually nonexistent in Brunei, where the sultan rules as head of state and serves as prime minister with full executive authority.




Sri Lanka Expels 200 Islamic Clerics, From Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan,

 After Easter Attacks

May 5, 2019

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has expelled over 600 foreign nationals, including around 200 Islamic clerics, since the Easter suicide bombings blamed on a local jihadi group, a minister told AFP Sunday. Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena said the clerics had entered the country legally, but amid a security crackdown after the attacks were found to have overstayed their visas, for which fines were imposed and they were expelled from the island.

"Considering the current situation in the country, we have reviewed the visas system and took a decision to tighten visa restrictions for religious teachers," Abeywardena said.

"Out of those who were sent out, about 200 were Islamic preachers." The Easter Sunday bombings that killed 257 people and wounded nearly 500 were led by a local cleric who is known to have travelled to neighbouring India and had made contact with jihadists there.

The minister did not give the nationalities of those who have been expelled, but police have said many foreigners who have overstayed their visas since the Easter attacks were from Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan.

"There are religious institutions which have been getting down foreign preachers for decades," Abeywardena said. "We have no issues with them, but there are some which mushroomed recently. We will pay more attention to them." The minister said the government was overhauling the country's visa policy following fears that foreign clerics could radicalise locals for a repeat of the April 21 suicide bombings, which targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels.

Sri Lanka has imposed a state of emergency since the attacks and given wide powers to troops and police to arrest and detain suspects for long periods. House-to-house searches are being carried out across the country looking for explosives and propaganda material of Islamic extremists.



Sri Lanka Police Discover Suspected Training Camp For Extremist Militants

May 05, 2019

KATTANKUDY: Sri Lankan police on Sunday discovered a 10-acre camp in the eastern town of Kattankudy, where extremist militants linked to the deadly Easter attacks are believed to have practiced shooting and bombmaking.

The walled terrain is nestled in a poor residential area on the outskirts of the home town of Zahran Hashim, who is believed to have been a key player in plotting the April 21 attacks. Daesh has claimed responsibility for the church and hotel bombings that killed more than 250 people.

The narrow, sandy plot is dotted with a cinderblock four-story watchtower, as well as mango trees, a chicken coop and a goat shed.

“They wanted to show this place was normal. If someone comes to see, it looks like a farm. But what they were doing is terrorism,” said a senior police officer in the Batticaloa area, asking to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Police found bullet holes in the wall on one side of the grounds, as well as long tubes suspected of holding bombs, the officer said.

Two owners of the plot of land have been arrested, the officer said.

Meanwhile, a city near Sri Lanka’s capital was placed under curfew by police Sunday, following clashes between Muslim and Christian mobs.

A senior police officer said the restrictions were imposed to prevent an escalation of violence after attacks occurred in Negombo — north of Colombo — where over 100 people died in a church bombing.

“About two motorcycles and a three-wheel taxi had been damaged in the clashes,” the police officer told AFP. “We declared a curfew till 7.00 am (0130 GMT) to contain the unrest.”

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The country’s main international airport is located in the area, but police said there was no disruption to airport traffic.

The officer said an investigation was underway into the clashes, the first violence between Muslims and Christians since the Easter Sunday attacks targeting three churches and three luxury hotels in the country.

The country has been under a state of emergency since the attacks. Security forces and the police have been give sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.



Shared meals and torch-lit parades: Indonesia Muslims welcome Ramadan

MAY 5, 2019

BANDA ACEH (AFP) - From cleaning up relatives' graves and sharing food with the poor to holding colourful torch-lit street parades, millions of Indonesians are getting ready to welcome the holy month of Ramadan in the world's populous Muslim-majority country.

Ramadan begins on Monday (May 6), with devotees fasting from dawn to dusk until Eid celebrations marking the end of the holy month.

In the conservative province of Aceh, Muslim families break their fast by eating meat together and sharing the meal with the poor, in a centuries-old tradition known as Meugang.

As customers lined up in wait, butchers in the western province were busy at work, chopping bones and slicing meat.

"It's a tradition that we must follow, I'll cook rendang and eat with my family," Ms Ramla, who like many Indonesians has only one name, told AFP, referring to a popular beef stew.

In the capital Jakarta, thousands of Muslims marked the holy month by visiting cemeteries to clean up their relatives' graves and pray for the departed so they would get peace in the afterlife.

Outside, flower sellers set up makeshift tents to sell blossoms to visitors so they could scatter petals on their relatives' graves.

"Before the fasting month begins we usually visit each other, but we don't only visit the living ones, we also visit the dead," said Mr Cepi Imamsyah Arian Tandjung, who was visiting the graves of his parents, brother and uncle.

About 90 per cent of Indonesia's 270 million people follow Islam, but influences from other religions are deeply ingrained in the country, including "Nyadran", a Javanese ritual heavily influenced by Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

In Temanggung in Central Java, over a thousand people joined Nyadran celebrations, carrying a round basket filled with food on top of their heads before sharing in a communal feast.

In Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, hundreds of locals bathed in a spring or a river, taking part in a cleansing ritual known as "Padusan" to purify oneself before entering the holy month.

In North Sumatra, locals including children wearing traditional dress chanted prayers as they held a torch-lit procession to mark the start of Ramadan.



Fasting Under The Northern Light: How Muslims In Scandinavia Cope With Long Ramadan Days

May 05, 2019

LONDON: Sofie Clausager Dar, 34, is looking forward to starting a new job during Ramadan in Denmark, where many Muslims will fast for more than 17 hours a day due to the late sunset.

The Danish convert to Islam will be juggling her full-time job, motherhood, and observing the traditions of the holy month — a particularly onerous task in Scandinavia at this time of year.

“You don’t really have much time for everything that you need to do,” said Dar.

“You need to eat maybe two meals, you need to pray (the sunset and evening prayers), and you need to pray Taraweeh (the optional night-time observation during Ramadan). The time goes so fast.”

Muslims observing Ramadan in Denmark and other countries such as Norway and Iceland will fast for far longer than those further south, where daylight hours are shorter. There are some places where the sun does not set at all at certain times of year — such as Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean that is bathed in 24-hour light from April to August, or the city of Tromsø on the mainland to the south.

Muslims who choose to fast in places that see the “midnight sun” have three options, according to Asim Mohammed, 31, a scholar and imam at a mosque in Oslo, Norway.

They can either fast according to dawn and sunset in the nearest city that does not have continuous daylight, the times in Makkah, or according to the times in their own area when the sun last actually set, said Mohammed.

Mohammed said that some members of his congregation will take holidays during Ramadan in order to cope with the long fast.

“It also depends on what type of work you do — if you’re an office worker, you don’t have a problem because you’re sitting inside with the air conditioning on, but if you work outside in the hot weather during May, June and July, it can be a bit difficult. Most of my congregation — both young and old — fast, and it’s fascinating how they cope,” he said.

Dehydration, fatigue and withdrawal symptoms are some of the consequences of fasting that Muslims may experience.

Dar said that “the lack of liquids, and feeling a bit dehydrated” are what she struggles with most.

“Sometimes you’re way too tired in the evening, you’ve had a long day, you haven’t slept much for a long time and then you end up falling asleep after eating. The next day can be really hard because you haven’t had enough to drink, you may have had only a few glasses of water,” she said.

“The lack of sleep can be really hard. My daughter is at school now and she has to be there at 8 a.m. every morning, so making sure that happens is very tough.”

However, fasting does become easier as the month progresses, Dar added.

“In the beginning it’s harder, but then your body gets used to it and it’s not so much of a struggle,” she said.

Dar highlighted the importance of eating suhoor, the meal eaten before dawn to provide energy for the day ahead. “Otherwise you’re only going to have one meal and one chance to have any liquids to make sure that you don’t become dehydrated,” she said. “Waking up before dawn is something that I always do. Sometimes I don’t sleep (and) take a nap during the day.”

When asked whether she has any strategies in place for her busy Ramadan schedule this year, Dar said: “You just get by. There is no point in worrying about it and thinking it’s going to be so hard.”

Of course, while Muslims in northern Europe face a long fast during late spring and summer, the opposite is the case during the winter months.

“In Norway, there is a huge difference between daylight hours in summer and winter. During winter months like December, sunset can be as early as 3:15 p.m. Of course, everyone prefers Ramadan in winter,” said Imam Mohammed.

During Eid Al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, creating a fun atmosphere for children can be a challenge in countries where Muslims only form a minority of the population.

Dar said that, while she tries to make Eid as fun as fun as possible for her children, it would be nice if they could experience more Ramadan and Eid traditions in Denmark.

“They could do with more traditions and activities, that would be positive for them,” she said. “We live in a country where Christmas is a big deal, but it would be nice if they could have the equivalent of that as Muslims.”

There are signs, however, that Muslim groups in northern Europe are increasingly clubbing together to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

“During the past two years, some of the Muslim organizations and mosques have started doing Eid together. They’ll hire a hall where they will perform the Eid prayer. After that, people can buy food and there are activities for kids and elders,” said Imam Mohammed.



No record to suggest that some Sri Lanka bombers visited Kashmir: J&K Police chief

May 5, 2019

Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh Sunday said there was no record to suggest that any of the suicide bombers, who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, had visited Kashmir as claimed by the Army chief of the island nation.

Talking to PTI, Singh said they have not received any information from the Island nation through diplomatic channel but the persons whose names appeared on social media have not travelled to Kashmir.

“We have checked and there is no information about them having visited here,” Singh said, adding immigration records were re-visited after the terrorist attacks and none of the bombers had visited Kashmir.

He was reacting to a day after claims were made by Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, on BBC that “they (the suspects) have gone to India, they’ve gone to Kashmir, Bangalore, they’ve travelled to Kerala state. Those are the information available with us.”

Singh said that the army chief of Sri Lanka should send whatever evidence they have, through diplomatic channels, and that he would look into it.

Some officials of the central security agencies said that about a dozen Sri Lankan nationals had come to Kashmir Valley this year and their credentials have been re-checked after the April 21 bombings in three churches and three luxury hotels killed 253 people and injured over 500 others.

However, there could be a possibility of the bombers visiting the state using pseudonym, one of the officials said, adding if Sri Lanka hands over some evidence, it can be verified from the ground.

Sri Lanka Army’s chief has said that some of the suicide bombers, who carried out the country’s worst terror attack, visited Kashmir and Kerala for “some sorts of training” or to “make some more links” with other foreign outfits.

It is the first time that a top Sri Lankan security official has confirmed the militants’ visit to India which had shared intelligence inputs with Colombo ahead of the attack.

Nine suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out the series of blasts.



Pandit returns to restart business in Srinagar, gets tumultuous welcome by fellow traders

May 1, 2019

SRINAGAR: A 74-year-old Kashmiri Pandit Roshan Lal Mawa, who survived bullet wounds when he was attacked in his shop in October 1990, reopened his wholesale provision store at Gada Kocha in Zaina Kadal in Srinagar downtown on Wednesday, almost three decades after he migrated from here after the attack.

“A pistol-borne young boy pumped four bullets into me. A bullet hit my head too. The attack happened at this very shop in Gada Kocha. My family took me to Delhi for treatment and we settled in Delhi and set up a wholesale dry fruits business at Khari Baoli in old Delhi,” recalls Roshan Lal Mawa, adding he was well-settled in Delhi but had chosen to come back.

Roshan Lal said his store, in the name of Nand Lal Maharaj Kishan, was doing well before the 1990s outbreak of militancy in J&K. Gada Kocha a business hub in Srinagar, “our shop was known as the wholesale store”.

“I’ve forgotten my past and am here to reopen my shop with tremendous love for my native place. Muslim shopkeepers around my shop not only welcomed me with open arms but even performed ‘dastarbandi’, and tied a pagdi. My son Sandeep was equally honoured by the shopkeepers here today,” a joyous Roshan Lal said.

Sandeep is among Mawa’s two sons and a daughter. One son an engineer in Bengaluru, Sandeep runs an NGO, J&K Reconciliation Front, a secular front which hopes to return the Pandits home. Sandeep said, “I requested my father Roshan Lal Mawa to return, and restart his business in Kashmir. Because charity begins at home, I started it from my home. I’m trying to bring back 100 more Pandit families....”

Mukhtar Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Gada Kocha said: “We’re delighted the Mawa family has returned to their business here. We appeal to Kashmiri Pandit traders to return and re-start their businesses here.”

Roshan Lal said he appealed to Pandits to return to the Valley “as there is no fear here”. Sandeep Mawa spoke of his efforts: “In 2016, I tried to get 50 such families back but that did not happen after the killing of Burhan Wani. My efforts have always been to resettle migrant Kashmiri Pandits in their homes here but some bad elements are trying to scuttle my efforts. My father’s return will encourage others to follow the path, which goes to their homes in Kashmir.”



Blackwater Starts Training of ISIL Terrorists at US Base in Western Iraq

May 05, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Saturday that Blackwater, along with other security firms, has returned to Iraq since the start of 2018 after Washington's heavy pressures on Baghdad to issue a relevant license.

According to the report, a source close to the US charge de affairs in Iraq Judy Hood said that Blackwater has transferred the US military equipment from Jordan to Western al-Anbar province in full coordination with Ein al-Assad base, adding that the company is now training the ISIL terrorists in the base.

Meantime, al-Akhbar quoted field sources as saying that trucks carrying ISIL militants, escorted by the US vehicles, were transferred from the town of Baqouz in Deir Ezzur to Ein al-Assad amid clashes in Baqouz region.

Iraq's security experts had earlier accused the US of training hundreds of ISIL terrorists in Al-Anbar province after relocating them from Syria to Iraq to prepare them for a new round of insecurity in the country.

"Between 700 to 1,000 ISIL militants are being trained by the US troops in al-Anbar province," the Arabic-language al-Maloumeh news website quoted Head of Badr Organization's Office in Al-Anbar Province Qusai al-Anbari as saying in March.

He pointed to the special conditions considered for the ISIL militants, and said that the US troops have specified redlines for third parties to avoid approaching the region.

This is while the Arabic-language Arabi Post recently disclosed that the US troops had been intensively training the ISIL terrorists in two military bases of Ein al-Assad and al-Habanieh in al-Anbar province under name of desert ghosts.

The sources said the US Army troops had equipped the ISIL terrorists with 200 military and non-military vehicles.



US may review ties with countries deemed anti-Israel

5 May 2019

The United States may review its ties with countries it deems as being anti-Israel after what a US envoy said on Sunday was a shift in policy towards equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a March speech that anti-Zionism - opposition to Israel’s existence as a homeland for the Jewish people - was a form of anti-Semitism, or hostility toward Jews, that was on the rise worldwide and that Washington would “fight it relentlessly.”

The State Department’s special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, said this US position could spell reviews of ties with foreign governments or leaders.

“The United States is willing to review its relationship with any country, and certainly anti-Semitism on the part of a country with whom we have relations is a deep concern,” he told Reuters during a visit to Israel.

“I will be raising that issue in bilateral meetings that I am undertaking all over the world,” he said.

“That is something we are going to have frank and candid conversations about - behind closed doors,” he added.

Carr declined to cite specific countries or leaders, or to elaborate on what actions the Trump administration might take.

“I obviously can’t comment on diplomatic tools that we might bring to bear,” he said.

Carr added: “Each country is a different diplomatic challenge, a different situation, number one. And number two, if I started disclosing what we might do it would be less effective.”

Some US political analysts say that President Donald Trump and other Republicans hope support for Israel will attract Jewish voters, including those disaffected by pro-Palestinian voices within progressive Democratic Party circles.

At the same time, critics have credited Trump’s confrontational, nationalistic rhetoric with encouraging right-wing extremists and feeding a surge in activity by American hate groups. The administration has flatly rejected that charge.

Carr said the administration’s equating of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism “certainly breaks new ground ... by making clear that something that a lot of us who are involved in the Jewish world and a lot of us who are proponents of a strong US-Israel relationship have known for quite some time, and that is that one of the chief flavors of anti-Semitism in the world today is the flavor that conceals itself under anti-Zionism.”



PM Imran launches Al-Qadir University to ‘teach Sufism, create future leaders’

May 5, 2019

SOHAWA: Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday broke ground for Al-Qadir University here what he said would create future leaders to counter Islamophobia and protect ideology of Pakistan.

Addressing the ceremony here, the prime minister said the university would teach the students the principles of State of Madina and Pakistan’s ideology as envisioned by Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

He was accompanied by Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Nurul Haq Qadri, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood and SAPM Zulfiqar Bukhari.

The concept of establishment of a university at Sohawa is to provide equal quality education to the youth across the country.

To be built at an area of 200 kanals, the institution would consist of a Sufi Academic Block with capacity of 800 students, Science Block for 700 students, hostel for 200 boys and girls, an auditorium and a library.

Since no university exists between Gujrat and Rawalpindi therefore the location of Sohawa has been selected to offer the youth of the area a quality seat of learning.

The prime minister said it was a private university that would be run on donations by philanthropists contributing in national cause to broaden educational base.

He said 35 percent of students would be given scholarships and get free education while rest 65 percent would fund their studies by themselves.

The prime minister said besides teaching contemporary sciences like artificial intelligence and technology, the main focus of the university would be research on Sufism and its connection with Islam.

“We have to groom our youth as leaders…We will create scholars who will respond to the anti-Islam tirade started after 9/11,” the prime minister remarked.

He said Chinese assistance would also be sought for teaching and research on technology-related subjects.

He said the university had been named after Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani who happened to be a top Sufi and had also established link between Islam and spirituality.

He said Sufism was a great science but contrary to western world, no university in Pakistan was holding research on the subject.

He said the previous leaders had buried the ideology of Pakistan which was meant to make the country an Islamic welfare state.

The prime minister said the nations ignoring their ideology could not exist.

He said the nations faced ups and downs but they should not give up their ideology.

He said Naya Pakistan would feature meritocracy, justice and education, minorities’ rights to its people on the pattern of Madina state.

He said what had been happening in Pakistan was never in accordance of Islamic welfare state.

He recalled that besides Indian role, the injustice to the people had also reasoned the disintegration of the country.

Citing the backwardness in Sindh and Balochistan, he said it was never had been the Islamic welfare state as had been envisioned by its forefathers.

He said after Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the political leaders had delivered nothing but establishing their properties abroad.

The prime minister said the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had highly stresses the importance of education as no society could progress without education.

He said unfortunately, the western culture had been influencing the young generation who needed to be taught basic Islamic principles, Islamic history and Pakistan’s ideology.



Israel’s Ramadan blitz in Gaza kills more than 20 Palestinians, including Hamas commander

May 05, 2019

GAZA/JERUSALEM:  Israel pounded Gaza with airstrikes and shelling Sunday killing at least 20 Palestinians, including two pregnant women and two babies, in the bloodiest fighting since a 2014 war.

Among those killed was Hamas commander Hamed Ahmed Al-Khodary, whose car was blasted in an airstrike, the first such targeted killing in five years. The Israeli military said Al-Khodary, a money changer, was responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.

Two members of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, Mohammed abu Armanah, 30, and Mahmoud abu Armanah, 27, were likewise killed in an airstrike in central Gaza.Israel said its tanks and planes hit about 260 targets in Gaza.

Israel said its strikes were in response to more than 450 rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad since Saturday, with Israeli air defenses intercepting more than 150.

At least four Israelis were killed in the rocket and mortar barrage. In the first Israeli civilian fatality since the 2014 war, a 58-year-old man died when a rocket hit a house in Ashkelon. Two other men were killed, one in Ashkelon and the other in the border settlement of Yad Mordechai,

With Palestinian militants threatening to send rockets deeper into Israel and Israeli reinforcements massing near the Gaza frontier, the fighting showed no signs of slowing down.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent most of the day huddled with his Security Cabinet. Late Sunday, the Cabinet instructed the army to “continue its attacks and to stand by” for further orders. Netanyahu also ordered “tanks, artillery and infantry forces” to reinforce troops already deployed near Gaza.

Israel and Hamas, a militant group that seeks Israel’s destruction, are bitter enemies that have fought three wars since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in 2007. They have fought numerous smaller battles, most recently two rounds in March.

While lulls in fighting used to last for months or even years, these flare-ups have grown increasingly frequent as a desperate Hamas, weakened by a crippling Egyptian-Israeli blockade imposed 12 years ago, seeks to put pressure on Israel to ease the closure.

The blockade has ravaged Gaza's economy, and a year of Hamas-led protests along the Israeli frontier has yielded no tangible benefits. In March, Hamas faced several days of street protests over the dire conditions.

With little to lose, Hamas appears to be trying to step up pressure on Netanyahu at a time when the Israeli leader is vulnerable on several fronts.

Fresh off an election victory, Netanyahu is now engaged in negotiations with his hard-line political partners on forming a governing coalition. If fighting drags on, the normally cautious Netanyahu could be weakened in his negotiations as his partners push for a tougher response.

Later this week, Israel marks Memorial Day, one of the most solemn days of the year, and its festive Independence Day. Next week, Israel is to host the Eurovision song contest. Prolonged fighting could overshadow these important occasions and deter foreign tourists.

The arrival of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins Monday, does not seem to be deterring Hamas.

But the group is also taking a big risk if it pushes too hard. During the 50-day war in 2014, Israel killed over 2,200 Palestinians, over half of them civilians, according to UN tallies, and caused widespread damage to homes and infrastructure. While Hamas is eager to burnish its credentials as a resistance group, the Gazan public has little stomach for another devastating war.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Israelis have "every right to defend themselves." He expressed hope that the recent cease-fire could be restored.

The UN Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, called for a halt in rocket fire and “a return to the understandings of the past few months before it is too late.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also called for a halt to “indiscriminate rocket attacks” from Gaza and expressed support for Egyptian and UN mediation efforts.

Previous rounds of fighting have all ended in informal Egyptian-mediated truces in which Israel pledged to ease the blockade while militants promised to halt rocket fire. Following a familiar pattern, the current round began with sporadic rocket fire amid Palestinian accusations that Israel was not keeping its promises to loosen the blockade.

On Friday, two Israeli soldiers were wounded by snipers from Islamic Jihad, a smaller Iranian-backed militant group that often cooperates with Hamas but sometimes acts independently. Israel responded by killing two Palestinian militants, leading to intense rocket barrages and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes beginning Saturday.

Islamic Jihad threatened to strike deeper into Israel, saying it "is ready to engage in an open confrontation and can open a broader front to defend our land and people.”

By Sunday, the Israeli military said militants had fired over 600 rockets, with the vast majority falling in open areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket-defense system. But more than 30 rockets managed to strike urban areas, the army said.

Palestinian medical officials reported 20 dead, including at least eight militants hit in targeted airstrikes. At least four civilians, including two pregnant women and two babies, were also among the dead.

Late Saturday, the Palestinians said a 37-year-old pregnant woman and her 14-month-old niece were killed in an Israeli airstrike. The army denied involvement, saying they were killed by an errant Palestinian rocket. There was no way to reconcile the claims.

Late Sunday, an Israeli airstrike hit an apartment building in northern Gaza, killing a couple in their early 30s and their 4-month-old daughter.

The Israeli deaths were the first rocket-related fatalities since the 2014 war, when 73 people, including six civilians, were killed on the Israeli side.

The Israeli military said it struck 250 targets in Gaza, including weapons storage, attack tunnels and rocket launching and production facilities. It also deployed tanks and infantry forces to the Gaza frontier, and put another brigade on standby.

“We have been given orders to prepare for a number of days of fighting under current conditions,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman.

Sirens wailed along Israel's border region throughout the day warning of incoming attacks. School was canceled and roads were closed. In Gaza, large explosions thundered across the blockaded enclave during the night as plumes of smoke rose into the air.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from the forces of internationally recognized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Despite his fierce rivalry with Hamas, Abbas appealed to the international community “to stop the Israeli aggression against our people.”





Sudan mediators propose two transition councils to break deadlock in power transfer talks

May 06, 2019

KHARTOUM: Sudanese mediators have proposed two transitional bodies in a bid to break a deadlock in talks on a power handover from the military rulers to civilians, a protest leader said Sunday.

The army and protesters are wrangling over how to replace the existing 10-member military council that took over after the generals ousted president Omar Al-Bashir on April 11.

The two sides agreed on forming a joint military-civilian last week, but have failed to hammer out the details on the makeup of the body.

Now a group of mediators including businessmen, journalists and other prominent figures from Sudanese society are trying to come up with other solutions.

“There is a proposal to have two councils, one led by civilians and the other by the military,” said Omar Al-Digeir, a senior opposition leader and member of the umbrella protest group the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

He told AFP the body headed by the military would also include civilian representatives and focus on “issues concerning the security aspects of the country.”

The “exact job description” of both the councils has yet to be decided, he said. “No final decision has been taken yet.”

Thousands of protesters remain camped outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, demanding the generals transfer power to a civilian administration.

The military has so far rebuffed calls to step aside and it remained unclear if both sides would agree to the new idea.

The military council’s spokesman Lt. Gen. Shamseddine said it had not received any proposals from the mediators.

He said the council will respond Monday to propositions on broader future power structures put forward earlier by the protesters.

The military and protest leaders have been at odds over the composition of any joint ruling body — with each party pushing to have a majority.

Digeir said the mediators have proposed an overall package that includes not just the proposed two councils, but also how executive and legislative bodies would work in a post-Bashir era.

But within the protest camp there was opposition to the new plan if it meant the generals maintaining a major role in running the country.

“We are completely against this idea. We only want a symbolic sovereign council with military representation,” said Siddig Youssef, head of the Sudan Communist Party, part of the protest movement.

“We want a parliamentary system with the authority in the hands of parliament and the cabinet,” he told AFP.

“The military should be confined only to a body tasked with matters related to security and defense.”

Protests initially erupted in Sudan on December 19 in response to a government decision to triple the price of bread, and quickly turned against Bashir’s thirty-year rule.

Despite the toppling of the iron-fisted leader protesters have stayed put around the army headquarters in Khartoum to keep up pressure on the military.

While there are deep divisions over the way forward, the economic problems that brought people out onto the streets against Bashir remain pressing.

On the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan Sunday hundreds of people formed long queues at petrol stations and bank machines in Khartoum.

“For more than a week now, there’s been no cash even in the ATMs installed in our company premises,” an employee of a leading industrial corporation in the capital told AFP.

A driver with a private tour operator said he got his car partially filled after waiting for an entire day at a Khartoum petrol station.

“People at fuel stations are really angry. They have to wait for six to seven hours in this hot sun to get fuel,” he said without giving his name.

Khartoum’s Arab allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have backed the military council, last month announced three billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) in financial aid for Sudan, including providing food, medicine and petroleum products.



UN calls for a week-long humanitarian truce in Libya

May 05, 2019

TRIPOLI: The United Nations called on Sunday for a week-long humanitarian truce in Libya where forces loyal to the eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar have been waging an offensive to take control of Tripoli for four weeks.

In a statement the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) urged the warring sides to implement a a truce starting Monday morning at 4 a.m. local time to coincide with the beginning of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

“UNSMIL calls on all parties to deliver of humanitarian aid to those in need and to ensure the freedom of movement for civilians during this truce,” UNSMIL said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from Hafta’s Libyan National Army (LNA) force nor from the internationally recognized government in the capital.

Full report at:




Tunisia security forces kill three suspected militants

May 05, 2019

TUNIS: Tunisian security forces have killed three suspected militants from a Daesh group affiliate in the center of the country, the interior ministry said Sunday.

A statement said “three of the most dangerous terrorists” from the Jund Al-Khilafa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) group were “eliminated” Saturday evening near the town of Sidi Ali Ben Oun, 230 kilometers (140 miles) southwest of Tunis.

It identified the men as Hatem ben Aid Basdouri, 40, Mohamed ben Ibrahim Basdouri, 35, and Montassar ben Khraief Ghozlani, 31.

Security forces seized weapons, ammunition, explosives and suicide vests, the authorities said.

In an earlier statement Saturday the ministry said it also had managed to “thwart terrorist projects” planned for upcoming Muslim holy month Ramadan after arresting another suspected militant.

Tunisian security forces regularly conduct search operations in the mountainous areas near the border with Algeria to hunt down Deash- and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

In March the interior ministry said security forces had shot dead three alleged Jund Al-Khilafa members accused of involvement in the grisly killings of shepherds in the restive Kasserine region.

Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has experienced multiple militant attacks that have killed dozens of members of the security forces and 59 foreign tourists.

Full report at:



South Asia


Taliban suicide bomber leads attack on an Afghan police HQ, 20 injured

5 May 2019

At least 20 people were injured after a Taliban suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed Humvee and blew himself up at the police headquarters in the northern Afghan city of Pul-e-Khumri, Afghan officials and the Taliban said on Sunday.

Many armed Taliban fighters entered the police headquarters after the blast and opened fire on security forces stationed there.

“Clashes have not stopped. 20 injured people were taken to the hospital from the blast site,” said Assadullah Shahbaz, a member of the Baghlan provincial council, adding they have sought immediate deployment from neighboring provinces.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the “big blast” and the clashes with the Afghan forces.

“Several other Taliban fighters are presently clashing with the Afghan forces,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman at the interior ministry in Kabul, said the Afghan forces have gunned down a Taliban fighter who tried to enter the police headquarters, but several Taliban fighters have penetrated the offices.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks on security installations to demoralize Afghan police and troops even as they are holding direct talks with the US officials to end the war in Afghanistan.

Intense fighting continues across the country with the Taliban controlling or influencing more territory than at any point since their ouster at the hands of US-led troops following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.



17 Taliban, ISIS militants killed in separate airstrikes conducted in Uruzgan and Nangarhar provinces

05 May 2019

At least seventeen militants affiliated with Taliban and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) were killed in separate airstrikes which were conducted in southern Uruzgan and eastern Nangarhar province.

Informed military sources said Sunday that 12 Taliban militants were killed in Uruzgan province while similar airstrikes left 5 ISIS-K militants dead in Achin district of Nangarhar province.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban and ISIS sympathizers have not commented regarding the airstrike so far.

The security situation in some of the districts of both Nangarhar and Uruzgan provinces have deteriorated during the recent years.

Full report at:



Cardinal Bo calls for communal harmony among Lankan minorities

May 3, 2019

Yangon, May 2, 2019: In the aftermath of the horrific Easter Sunday multiple bomb blasts by Islamic terrorists on 3 Churches and 3 luxury hotels in Sri Lanka claiming lives of over 250 people including 50 foreigners and injuring hundreds, the Churches were closed for services.

Lankan Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has now called for Churches to re-open for Sunday services from 5th May 2019.

In the context of retaliation from some Christian groups targeting innocent Muslims the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference president Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar wrote on 3rd May saying, “I condemn unequivocally the horrific unprovoked suicide bomb attacks against unarmed civilians in churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 in Sri Lanka.”

The 71 year old cardinal further condemned the trend of retaliation by some Christian groups saying, “The Church is deeply concerned by reports of revenge and the targeting of Muslim residents, refugees and asylum seekers in Sri Lanka. Many have fled persecution in their own lands, and are now being targeted again. Almost 900 have been reported to have been at risk of reprisal, 150 of these were forced to seek shelter in police stations.”

Myanmar Cardinal further warned both groups that “Terrorism is designed to breed hatred and sow discord, and the enemy of terrorism is love and community, peace and harmony. Is there any difference between us and the terrorists if we target innocent people based on hatred or for being different?”

He further reminded that “Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka are both minorities and have faced similar discrimination, intolerance and persecution. Turning against each other will only make their plight worse. Solidarity must prevail. The actions of a small group, representing an extreme interpretation of a religion, must not be used to judge the entirety of adherents to that faith.”

The cardinal also called upon religious and community leaders to foster a sense of solidarity and rebuild trust between the communities.

Spelling out detailed number of actions to be taken, the Cardinal called upon “the authorities in Sri Lanka to take action to stop hate speech, and protect the vulnerable.” He further warned, “ignoring this issue will only foster resentment, which is exactly what groups such as ISIS desire.”

The Cardinal concluded his press note with a prayer “to cover the victims and families of victims in prayer, praying for physical and emotional healing and that love may prevail. Let us not give hate a foothold in our lives. Instead, let love for one another reign.”

Full report at:



Why main opposition in Bangladesh has become politically bankrupt?

May 6, 2019

Damsana Ranadhiran

There always is a similarity between politics and chess. In chess, when a player makes a wrong move, s/he already takes the risk of losing the game. In 2016 US presidential election, despite popularity, Hillary Clinton finally lost the battle because of few minor mistakes. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces the risk of losing the ongoing general elections – because of mistakes. To my understanding, in Bangladesh politics, main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is already in the verge of bankruptcy because of some factors and of course few mistakes. When its chief Khaleda Zia landed in prison on February 18, 2018, everyone had an impression that she would be released within a couple of days. Her partymen were almost sanguine about her walking out of the prison like a ‘hero’. They were hoping support from the popular masses in favour of Mrs. Zia, without considering a plain fact, the leader of one of the two largest parties was convicted in corruption case – more precisely, for misappropriation of fund of an orphanage trust. The moment she was convicted, Khaleda Zia lost her moral grounds, as she already turned into a corrupt individual in the eyes of the people of Bangladesh. By now, more than a year has already passed and there is no sign of release of Mrs. Zia from the prison, even in next couple of years. From inside the prison, Khaleda Zia has been consistently claiming to be physically ill and her claim is not fake. Being an elderly person Mrs. Zia is suffering from numerous physical complications including problems in her knees, which might even turn her unable of walking on her own. BNP leaders are demanding proper treatment to Mrs. Zia and the ruling party has signaled even of a bail on parole on medical ground. But, BNP leaders are not willing in letting their party chief get medical treatment immediately by availing the provisions of bail-on-parole. Instead, they want the government either to set her free on bail or acquit her from the rigorous imprisonment without realizing a valid point – none of these options are within the capacity of the government. Instead, it is absolutely up to the judiciary in either setting Mrs. Zia free on bail or even acquitting her from the current convictions.

Another weak point for BNP is even more convoluted. The acting chairman of the party, Tarique Rahman has been living in the United Kingdom since 2008 and he had taken political asylum and even had surrendered his Bangladeshi passport. From Tarique’s side, there is no indication of his return to Bangladesh as he too is convicted in a number of cases. Supporters of Mr. Rahman may see a hero in him, but in reality, to most of the Bangladesh people, Tarique Rahman is already proved to be a coward and someone who is totally ineligible in heading a huge party like BNP.

Third weak point for BNP is its policy of patronizing anti-Semitism and supporting radical Islamic militancy groups like Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Leaders of this party have repeatedly pronounced their solidarity towards radical Islam, jihad and those Islamic militancy groups.

Fourth weak point for BNP is its America policy as well as China policy. When it was in power during 2001-2006, BNP committed a blunder by letting Taiwan open its trade office in Bangladesh. That decision certainly had hurt the sentiment, emotion and even esteem of the Chinese policymakers. On the other hand, because of its extra warmth in relations with several Arab countries as well as Iran, in the eyes of the Westerners, BNP is just another version of Muslim Brotherhood.

Fifth weakness of Bangladesh Nationalist Party is its alliance with pro-jihadist Jamaat-e-Islami as well as other radical Islamic groups in Bangladesh. Some of the prominent leaders of the party are clearly anti-America. They have serious hatred towards the Jews and the Jewish State. BNP leaders want to get every form of favour from the United States and the Jews in exchange of hostility and hatred.

Now the question is – whether it is a good for the ruling Bangladesh Awami League and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in seeing their political arch-rival BNP being gradually becoming a party without support from the masses? My reply is negative. We need to remember, Bangladesh currently is under the direct threat from Islamic State (ISIS), meaning this notorious jihadist outfit may align with local militancy groups and even may go further by forming alliance with Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), thus finally emerging a gravest threat to Bangladesh’s national security and democracy. On the other hand, it should also be remembered, key philosophy of Bangladesh Nationalist Party is Islamic nationalism – meaning it is mixing-up religion with politics. Although BNP may look a bit different than Jamaat-e-Islami from a distant look, a close analysis would only show similarities of ideology between these two parties. On the other hand, former military dictator Hussain Muhammed Ershad’s Jatiyo Party has already turned into a political sycophant of the ruling party. In other words, this is a party having no real support of the masses. Any national challenge may not be tackled having this party as the main opposition or as a loyal opposition. Here again, BNP too is not the party which can play any constructive role once Bangladesh faces threats from the jihadists – particularly ISIS.

Self-paradoxical actions of BNP:

Finally four of the members of parliament from BNP took oath after months of drama and melo-drama. Right after this, party’s Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters his party’s previous decision of not joining parliament soon after the December 30 general election was wrong. Mr. Alamgir tried to give credit to their fugitive acting chairman by saying, “We should keep it in mind that nothing can be achieved by chanting cheap slogans. Our acting chairman [Tarique Rahman] has taken the right decision as we have to fight both in and outside parliament.”

The BNP secretary general further said, “I don’t have any hesitation to say that our earlier decision of not going to parliament was not right at that moment. We must carry on our fight on all fronts.”

Here is the contradiction. It is known to all that BNP’s decision of not joining the parliament right after the December 30 general election was imposed from London by Tarique Rahman. Moreover, if party’s Secretary General was in agreement with his acting chairman, it may be asked as to why he did not take oath as he too was elected in the December 30 general election. The humiliating result for BNP was a consequence of Tarique’s mischief. Right before the election, instead of focusing on selecting proper candidates, he was making money by selling nominations to those who were capable of paying a higher bid for each of the constituencies. Right after the election, it was Tarique Rahman who instructed his partymen to refrain from joining the parliament. There even is rumor of a silent feud between Mrs. Zia and her son Tarique. BNP’s Secretary General has also hinted about an internet feud continuing in the party by saying, “I urge you all to talk about party problems in the party forums only.”

Full report at:



Afghan and Pakistani leaders discuss peace, security, regional prosperity over phone

06 May 2019

The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan discussed peace, security, and regional prosperity during a telephone conversation on Sunday.

According to a statement released by Prime Minister’s Office, President Ghani made a phone call to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday.

The statement further added that two leaders vowed to strengthen bilateral ties in a bid to restore peace, security, and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region.

PM Khan told President Ghani that the spirit of brotherhood defined Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan, the statement stated, adding that “The prolonged Afghan conflict has damaged Afghanistan and adversely affected Pakistan over the past many decades.”

The statement also added that PM Khan reiterated his vision for finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Full report at:



Afghan Special Forces identify, arrest a prominent Taliban leader in Mazar-e-Sharif city

05 May 2019

The Special Forces of the Afghan National Police identified and arrested a top Taliban leader who was in charge of organizing terrorist attacks, collecting Zakat (charity), recruiting militants and other destructive activities in Mazar-e-Sharif city and other parts of Balkh province.

The Ministry of Interior in a statement said the Taliban leader, Qari Aziz, was detained during an overnight operation carried out by General Command of Police Special Units (GCPSU) in Mazar Sharif.

“Qari Aziz was the main planner and organizer of terrorists and destructive activities, armed assault and explosions in Mazar Sharif and as well as in different parts of Balkh province,” the statement added.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Indonesia: Muslim groups urge UN action against Israel



The two top Muslim groups in Indonesia on Sunday urged the UN to crack down on Israel in the wake of its airstrikes razing the Anadolu Agency office in the Gaza Strip.

Abdul Mu'ti, the secretary of Muhammadiyah, said Saturday’s attack violated international law.

"Israel has clearly violated the sovereignty of other countries and media freedom," Mu'ti told Anadolu Agency.

The UN Security Council, said Mu'ti, must urge Israel to stop its aggression.

Likewise, Muslim countries and communities must not be silent in the face of Israeli violence, he added.

"They must show Islamic solidarity with political support for Turkey, press freedom, and the nation's integrity," Mu'ti said.

Bahtiar Effendy, Muhammadiyah’s top foreign policy official, said the attack should be condemned not only by sympathizers and supporters of Palestine but also those who believe in freedom of expression.

"This brutal act of Israel clearly wants to silence the mass media, which has been preaching the increasingly alarming condition of Gaza," Bahtiar said.

Despite its razed office, Bahtiar said Anadolu Agency will not shrink from reporting the facts of Israel violence on Palestine.

The attack will only confirm Anadolu Agency's confidence and commitment in carrying out its press functions, he said.

Muhammadiyah will always support the news opening the world’s eyes about what Israel is doing to Palestine, Bahtiar said.

- ‘Inhuman act’

Helmy Faishal Zain, the head of Nahdlatul Ulama’s (PNBU) Executive Board, said the attack was an inhuman act and wounded humanity.

"Violence in any form, and with any motives, is not justified, because it is a crime against humanity," said Helmy.

The PBNU, Helmy added, urged the UN to immediately investigate and take firm action against the perpetrators of the attack.

At the same time, added Helmy, the PBNU supports the Indonesian government taking proactive steps to help deal with extremism, terrorism, and conflict in the Middle East.

Robikin Emhas, a legal official at PBNU, hailed the press’ role in democracy, in informing and educating people.

"Threats and violence against the press cannot be justified and must be accounted for, both publicly and legally," Robikin said.

Israeli warplanes hit the Anadolu Agency building Saturday with at least five missiles after warning shots, reported the Anadolu Agency correspondent in Gaza.



In New Malaysia Declaration, DAP reiterates commitment to uplift all

06 May 2019

By Danial Dzulkifly

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — DAP today reaffirmed its commitment towards defending the rights of the Bumiputera, including the Malays, the sovereignty of the King and the Malay Rulers, the special status of Islam and dignifying the national language as part of the constitutional guarantees.

The component party in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) also acknowledged the need for a moderate “new vision” for Malaysia and reiterated its commitment to nation building in a statement it dubbed the New Malaysia Declaration following their national conference yesterday,

"We need to build a new narrative beyond racial framing for New Malaysia that brings every Malaysian together to scale greater heights as a nation,” it said in a statement.

It rejected its portrayal as a “non-Malay party or a Chinese party”, saying the party’s members comprised Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazandusuns, Dayaks, and Orang Asli since its founding in 1966.

“Lest we forget, since our first GE in 1969, Ibrahim Singgeh became DAP's first Malay state assemblyman for Tapah Road constituency,” it highlighted.

However, it also called its members and grassroots leaders to bear in mind their larger representation that encompassed the Malays as well as non-Malays.

“This must be the same spirit we hold for our allies in Pakatan Harapan that they too must think beyond merely representing Malay interests.

“In fact, we must think beyond Semenanjung interests to enable the sharing of new vision with our comrades in Sabah and Sarawak,” it said in its declaration.

The New Malaysia Declaration is DAP's 11th proclamation since its formation on March 18, 1966.

Previous declarations were the Setapak Declaration (1967), Petaling Jaya Declaration (1981) Tanjong Declaration (1991) Shah Alam Declaration (2012), and DAP@50 Declaration (2016).

Full report at:



Baseless statements on Haj quota could affect Malaysia-Saudi relations, says Mujahid

05 May 2019

PARIT BUNTAR, May 5 — All parties are urged not to make unfounded statements on the country’s haj quota as they could jeopardise the good relations between Malaysia and the Saudi Arabian government.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof stressed that it was Saudi Arabia’s right to set the haj quota and any additional quotas given based on appeal.

“Do not drag the issue of the additional quota of 10,000 haj pilgrims by alleging that the Pakatan Harapan government has not been good about Islam because this is a dangerous statement. Do not go overboard in the guise to defend Islam.

“In the last few years, Saudi Arabia did not give us that quota. Maybe they (Saudi Arabia) will give at the last minute and I see that he (Asyraf Wajdi) does not have any political capital and is saying that this was caused by the government,” he told reporters after the closing ceremony of a community programme Jumdesa 6.0 at Kampung Sungai Megat Aris, Bagan Tiang near here today.

Mujahid was commenting on a statement made by UMNO Youth Head Datuk Dr Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki yesterday alleging that Malaysia had lost the additional quota of 10,000 because of the sour relations between the PH government and Arab Saudi.

Asyraf’s statement made in an event in Mergong, Kedah last Friday was published by daily newspaper Utusan Malaysia.

Mujahid who is Parit Buntar Member of Parliament said Asyraf and Utusan Malaysia should apologise to the people of Malaysia for making a negative statement about haj pilgrims and the Saudi Arabian government.

He said it was the right of the Saudi Arabian government to give the additional quota to any country.

“I have gone to Saudi Arabia and there were no problems with the relationship between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:



Now Malaysians can read Akyol’s banned book ‘Islam without Extremes’ for free online

05 May 2019

By Terence Tang

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol has put up for free online the Malay translation of his book on liberalism and Islam that Malaysia had banned.

Akyol said he found Malaysia’s “authoritarianism” ridiculous after the High Court upheld last month the ban of his book Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, along with its Malay-language edition, Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan, on grounds that the book could hurt public order and alarm public opinion.

“The most shocking idea in my book that can ‘alarm public opinion’ is that Islam should not be coerced,” Akyol wrote on US-based public policy research organisation Cato Institute’s website, where Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan is available for free downloads.

“Or, as the Qur’an says, ‘There should be no compulsion in religion ’ (2:256) If there is something alarming in this whole scene, it is the very banning of such reasoned arguments on crucial matters about the practice of Islam in the modern world.”

Noting that his publisher, the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), has granted him publishing permission to share his book online, he said Malay-Muslims have a right to make up their own minds regarding the issue.

“Therefore, with the generous permission of the Islamic Renaissance Front, I have decided to share the Malay edition of my book, Islam without Extremes, here on the Cato Institute website. All Malaysians — and of course everybody else — are welcome to download Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan and read it for themselves.”

In October 2017, then Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi under the Barisan Nasional administration banned Akyol’s book and its Malay translation, claiming that it violated Malaysian societal norms.

In September 2017, Akyol was also detained by Malaysian Islamic authorities for a talk he was giving on the commonalities between the Abrahamic religions.

In a New York Times opinion piece back then, Akyol said he was only released partly because former Turkish president Abdullah Gul had pulled some strings with a Malaysian royalty.

Full report at:





Imams promoting extremism in British madrasas, report claims

May 5, 2019

Imams training in 48 British madrasas are promoting extreme ideas breeding intolerance and misogyny, according to a secret UK government report.

Among them is Darul Uloom, an organisation with a madrasas across the UK including London, Manchester and Glasgow.

The government document reportedly says that Quranic verses are interpreted in a hardline, literal interpretation by foreign-born imams who moved to the UK from other countries especially from the Indian subcontinent.

Schools regulator Ofsted has previously criticised four Darul Uloom madrassas for teaching its pupils that music and dancing were acts inspired by the devil, while boys were taught stereotypical views about women.

"British-trained imams are not any better than the ones trained in the Indian subcontinent because both are taught the same Dars-E-Nizami syllabus. The Darul Ulooms have a problem with extremism," anti-extremist expert Haras Rafiq told the Daily Mail.

It adds that the Darul Uloom High School in Birmingham as an example of an "extremist madrasa".

Darul Uloom's High School head teacher in Birminghan David Bone responded to criticism of the school.

"If you examine our latest Ofsted report, you will find that the school is rated as good in every area. In the past leaflets (on music) were found in the mosque that had been left by an outsider and these were removed and destroyed, as we would any such literature", he said.

"That Ofsted report has been superseded by more recent inspections which highlight the progress the school has made," said a spokesperson for the school.

"Inspectors said that teachers ensure pupils understand the importance of freedom of speech and individual liberty."



Danish far-right party calling for Muslim deportation to stand in election

5 May 2019

A far-right political party demanding the deportation of all Muslims and the preservation of the country for its “ethnic community” will be on the ballot paper in Denmark for the first time, in a general election due to be called within days.

The Stram Kurs, or Hard Line party, led by Rasmus Paludan – a lawyer who is currently appealing against a conviction for racism – is feared to be on track to gain MPs after recently passing a threshold of voter support needed to stand in the election.

A national election has to take place before 17 June under Danish law. Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, is expected to launch the campaign early this week.

Paludan, whose videos on YouTube, eccentric fashion sense and penchant for stunts have long earned him a following among teenagers, has emerged in recent weeks from relative obscurity to become headline news in Denmark.

Stram Kurs received the required 20,000 signatures of endorsement from voters to stand in the elections after he played a central role in fomenting riots over Easter in the ethnically diverse Nørrebro district of Copenhagen.

Paludan, who has taken to regularly provoking unrest through anti-Islam demonstrations in areas of the Danish capital where large numbers of Muslims live, had tossed a book in the air he claimed was the Qur’an and let it fall to the ground.

He is currently banned from commenting on Facebook following the posting of a picture the platform said broke its rules, which include a prohibition on hate speech aimed at people of a particular religion or ethnicity. He is also appealing against a conviction from April for expressing racist views about Africans in a video recording.

Such are the concerns over Stram Kurs’s potential foothold in Danish politics that the leader of the Social Liberal party, Morten Østergaard, a former government minister, has called for the mainstream parties to rule out the prospect of the party forming part of a future governing coalition.

“We need to point out that there is a distinction between us and those who want to cleanse selected communities based on their beliefs or race,” Østergaard said. “There must be something called right and wrong in the Danish society.”

In order to be represented in the parliament, the party must now either pass a threshold of 2% of the national vote in the election, or gain a district seat. Stram Kurs is currently standing at 2.2% in the polls.

Rasmussen’s centre-right Venstre party has run a minority government since 2015 with the support of the far-right Danish People’s party along with the Liberal Alliance and the Conservative People’s party.

But Østergaard said there was a profound difference between the anti-immigration Danish People’s party and Stram Kurs, which campaigns in favour of so-called “ethnic Danes” and the need to deport all Muslims.

“It’s not about them, but about myself, and what I want as a politician,” Østergaard said. “I do not want to legitimise people who point to Danish citizens and say that they must not be in our society because of their religious beliefs. I don’t want to legitimise them by working with them.”

Despite the controversy, some of the political parties appear loth to follow the example in Sweden, where the far-right party, the Swedish Democrats, were blocked out of coalition talks, leading to 133 days of party negotiations and the forming of an unstable minority administration earlier this year.

The Danish prime minister’s spokesman, Britt Bager, when questioned over Rasmussen’s attitude towards Stram Kurs’s potential involvement in a government, has refused to rule it out.

“Lars Løkke takes a position when we know the final election result,” she told the Danish newspaper Politiken. “We’re not going to take a stand now.”

The country’s justice minister, Søren Pape Poulsen, who is also leader of the Conservative People’s party, suggested that it would be a mistake to ignore the new party on the scene, although he insisted that he did not see any potential areas of cooperation.

A party spokesman, Naser Khader, told reporters: “You need to hear what he wants and what is to be negotiated.”

Prof Rune Stubager, from the department of political science at Aarhus University, said Stram Kurs would have to stand in all 10 Danish constituencies to gain representation in parliament.

He said: “One candidate from the party I saw is a pro-bono artist who makes his art by peeing in public. He has a conviction for peeing in public as the court didn’t see the art in it. Many more candidates of this type and it will surely count against them.”

Stubager said that Paludan was “a different sort of creature in the circus” of Danish politics.

“He will have to compete against the Danish People’s party and the New Right for the anti-immigrant vote and they are established parties,” he said.

But Stubager said the two rivals would be unlikely to be able to match Paludan’s demand for the forced deportation of Muslims.

Full report at:



US says deeply concerned by Turkey’s intent to drill off Cyprus

May 06, 2019

ISTANBUL: The US is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone, a State Department spokesperson said on Sunday.

Turkish media on Saturday cited Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying a Turkish ship had started drilling in areas for which northern Cypriot authorities had issued a permit, a move likely to stoke tensions with Cyprus and Greece.

Turkey and the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.

“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

“This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint,” the statement said.

Any escalation between Turkey and the United States could put more pressure on relations already strained on several fronts, including missile defense and military operations in Syria.

Cavusoglu had said in February that Turkey would soon begin drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus and on Saturday state-owned Anadolu news agency reported him as saying during a trip to northern Cyprus that drilling had begun.

Turkey launched its first drillship “Fatih” in October to drill off the coast of Turkey’s southern Antalya province. It said a second ship that it purchased would operate in the Black Sea, but was diverted to the Cyprus area.

Breakaway north Cyprus, which is supported by Turkey, says any offshore wealth also belongs to them, as partners in the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.

Full report at:





Rise in hoax bomb calls after Sri Lanka, Pulwama attacks

May 06, 2019

The number of hoax calls received at airports has more than doubled in the wake of the February 14 Pulwama attack and the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, three officials familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified.

One of them, an officer with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which provides security at most airports, said an average of 5-6 hoax calls are being received every month, compared to just two a few months ago. He said all calls are taken seriously. According to CISF, which provides security to 61 of the 100 operational airports in the country, about two dozen hoax calls are received every year. This year, the number has already crossed 24, the agency said.

Callers could be someone who wants to settle scores with someone else, a passenger who has been ill-treated by an airline, or just a prankster.

Sample this: A 30-year-old with mental illness was so consumed by his hatred of Pakistan after the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) attacked a CRPF convoy, killing 40 Indian troopers, that he placed an empty bag inside a dustbin near Terminal 3 of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on February 20 and made a call. Officials who deal with the terror threats in agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB), state police forces, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, and Railway Protection Force (RPF) said that the frequency of “hoax” or “mischievous” calls, emails, tweets or handwritten letters usually increases after any terror attack because of paranoia among people.

“Almost 80% of the alerts received in such times are usually bogus, but they increase the workload of security forces, bomb squads, dog units and the intelligence agencies. Every alert is checked properly as nobody wants to take a risk in case something happens,” said a senior IB officer.

A third official, who also works for CISF, said that at sensitive installations such as airports, the entire operation is stopped to ensure there is no breach of security, if any such call is received.

“Whenever a threat call is received, a bomb threat assessment committee is formed and they categorise it into specific or non-specific [threat]. If it is specific, every part of the airport is put on alert and the flight concerned is vacated and baggage of the passengers is checked again. In non-specific cases also, the entire airport is sanitised,” he said. In March, a Singapore-bound flight from Mumbai was escorted by two F-16 jets from the Singapore Air Force, after a caller claimed there was a bomb in the plane. The flight ultimately reached its destination safely and the bomb threat was turned to be a hoax. The caller was an Australia-based, non-resident Indian (NRI) allegedly upset at how his family had been treated by the airline.

Experts say stringent punishment is necessary to check the rising trend of prank calls.

“Once a call is received, security personnel cannot take a chance and will do the drill. The only way to stop this is to investigate the case and ensure maximum punishment for the accused. In some cases, the accused need to be booked under Aircraft Act which has provision for stringent punishment,” said Arvind Ranjan, former director general of CISF.

If a suspect is convicted under the Indian Penal Code, the maximum punishment is two to three years but under the Aircraft Act, it can go up to life.



US special representative for Afghanistan to hold talks with Sushma Swaraj

May 6, 2019

NEW DELHI: Amid the uncertainty in Afghanistan, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will make his second visit to India for consultations starting on Monday. While seeking support and ideas from India for the ongoing reconciliation, Khalilzad is also expected to brief Indian authorities about the progress made in the peace efforts in the past few months.

The US peace envoy for Afghanistan is likely to meet external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale. The last time Khalilzad was here was in January when India conveyed to him that there was a need to protect the existing structure in Afghanistan and to also not insist on the formation of an interim government.

Full report at:



At ground zero of suicide attack, fear casts shadow on polls

May 5, 2019

PULWAMA: Even as BJP has made the attack on CRPF jawans in Pulwama and the retaliatory IAF air strikes on Jaish-e-Muhammed's hub in Pakistan's Balakot a central theme of its poll campaign across the country, voters at the ground zero of the February 14 terror attack are indifferent to the elections which will be held here on Monday.

Massive fear of terrorists and disillusionment with New Delhi is a common element seen among voters in Pulwama and Shopian districts as one tries to strike a conversation with the. Both Pulwama and Shopian districts are part of the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, where the third and final phase of polling will be held on Monday. It is because of this fear of militants that electioneering was virtually non-existent in these areas. Besides militants, separatist groups, too, have asked for a poll boycott.

A pheran-wearing shopkeeper told TOI in a whisper that Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo has threatened to slit throats and pour acid on faces if anyone votes in Pulwama. "Even if we want to participate in the elections, we can't. We will get identified and targeted by militants," he added.

During the campaign, PDP and Congress rallies were nowhere to be seen. The National Conference (NC) flags-red and white plough-flickered, but that too just within the premises of the party office.

Many voters that TOI spoke to said they had "no faith in the system anymore". A 21-year-old said, "All the politicians have been lying and taking us for a ride. There is no point in voting."

NC vice-president Omar Abdullah blames the PDP-BJP coalition government for the alienation of Kashmiri voters. "Compare the 2014 elections with that of 2019. How is it that during 2014 elections, the voter turnout was up to 40% but this time it has come down to 5% at some places? They destroyed Kashmir in the last five years," Omar said while talking to party workers at NC office here.

He added that NC had warned PDP to "not ally with the Jan Sanghis but they went ahead for the sake of power and ruined Kashmir".

Full report at:



SSDF stages protest against Mehbooba Mufti for advocating Ramzan ceasefire

May 5, 2019

JAMMU: Activists of Shiv Sena Dogra Front (SSDF) on Sunday staged a protest and set ablaze an effigy of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti for advocating ceasefire in Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan here.

Mufti on Saturday had appealed to the Centre and the militants to announce ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir for the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan so that the "people get some relief".

"There is no need for ceasefire and we are on the roads because we are against any such move," SSDF chairman Ashok Gupta told reporters here.

He claimed that the attacks by terrorists doubled while 40 youths joined the militant ranks during the unilateral ceasefire by the Centre in the Kashmir Valley last year.

"When you were in power in the state and ceasefire was announced, the attacks by terrorists witnessed a surge which was evident from the data that 66 attacks including 22 grenade throwing and 12 weapon snatching incidents took place during the holy month compared to 33 in the previous month," Gupta said.

The Union government had in May last year directed security forces not to launch operations in the state during Ramzan to help Muslims observe the holy month in a "peaceful environment".

"When you were in power in the state and ceasefire was announced, the attacks by terrorists witnessed a surge which was evident from the data that 66 attacks including 22 grenade throwing and 12 weapon snatching incidents took place during the holy month compared to 33 in the previous month," Gupta said.

He said journalist Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead in Srinagar during Ramzan, while Army jawan Aurangzeb was abducted and killed on Eid day in south Kashmir.

Full report at:



Arab World


Qatar tourism official says no visas for Egyptians, describes them as ‘enemies’

5 May 2019

An event that was meant to promote a summer tourism campaign in Qatar took an interesting turn when the country’s secretary-general of the National Tourism Council, Akbar al-Baker, described the Egyptian people as “enemies”, announcing that they will not be given entry visas anymore, while simultaneously calling on residents to invite their friends and family on visa-free summer visits.

“We are open, as you already see I have made an announcement that we will even attract families and friends of people that live in Qatar and make for them visa-free arrival program at Mohammed International Airport,” al-Baker said.

Al-Baker later went on to say: “The visa will not be open for our enemies - it will be open for our friends,” al-Baker said of Egyptians looking to come. “Are visas open for us to go there? No. So why should we open it for them? Everything is reciprocal.” In 2017, Egypt announced the end of visas upon arrival for Qatari nationals, not a complete ban. They also announced an exemption from this for Qatari nationals with Egyptian mothers, those married to Egyptians, and Qataris studying in Egypt.

Qatar has not said it would deport Egyptian residents already in the country and the comments did not suggest a policy shift that could endanger their status.

A 2017 report by a private consultancy estimated Egyptian residents at 200,000, making up the largest Arab minority in Qatar. They have remained and make up a sizable portion of the tiny but wealthy country’s workforce.

While Qatar has a population of around 2.7 million, just over 300,000 are nationals, and it does not publish statistics breaking down the population by nationality.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the allegation.

Al-Baker said Qatar would not let Egyptians enter the country to take part in promotions aimed at boosting its tourism industry.

He added that this is the first time that the country launches a summer tourism promotion “of this magnitude”.

The comments were the first by a Qatari official since the nearly two-year rift began suggesting Qatar would no longer grant visas to people from Egypt, the most populous Arab country.

Many Egyptians say the visa process has been effectively closed to them since 2017, with narrow exceptions made for the immediate family members of residents and for specifically approved events.

“When you open your arms to Qatar, Qatar will open its arms even bigger for you. But if you become an adversary of Qatar, then we will also treat you as an adversary,” al-Baker said.



Respect for other religions is vital for peaceful coexistence: MWL chief

May 05, 2019

JEDDAH: The Responsible Leaders Summit at the UN in New York stressed the pivotal role of Saudi Arabia in maintaining global harmony and peace, as well as its global status as the spiritual leader of the Muslim world, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The Muslim World League (MWL) secretary-general, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, delivered the opening and closing remarks at the summit along with Bawa Jain, secretary-general of the World Council of Religious Leaders.

Al-Issa focused on the vital role that responsible leadership plays in facing the many challenges of the modern world.

“It is important for leaders to inspire others and provide them with positive energy,” he said. “No matter what the differences in our culture or religion may be, we all agree on the key humanitarian norms that constitute the framework of our natural law. Even 10 percent of this common ground is enough to bring about global harmony and peace.”

He went on to list several attributes central to responsible leadership, including strength and integrity; a knowledge of history and a willingness to learn from it; being proactive and constantly monitoring performance; and recognition that the “most important pillar of (one’s) own nation’s peace” is “world peace.”

Al-Issa noted that education is one of the main drivers of a sustainable, peaceful future, stressing that “preparing teachers is the main point of focus.”

Al-Issa also addressed the responsibilities of religious leaders. “These include countering hate speech and all theories of religious or ethnic extremism that lead to violence or terrorism, while strengthening the intellectual immunity of all — especially young people — through their spiritual influence,” he said. “Extreme religious and terrorist ideologies are not established by military force, but by religious people who choose to adopt radical ideologies.

“We say there is no such thing as a ‘radical religion,’ but there is also no religion that does not have some extremist followers,” he continued.

Respect for other religions and their followers, he said, is vital for peaceful coexistence. The efforts of certain isolated religious and sectarian groups to impose their ideals on others, and reject the rights of others to exist, have led to exclusion, hatred and hostility, he added.

“Such negative ideas have created extremism of all kinds, including the (rise of the) extreme right in some countries,” Al-Issa noted, adding that each and every case of extremism —  whether political, religious or intellectual —  is a threat to world peace.

“Evil grows with time, through its effects on unconscious emotions. All stable people are aware that extremist rhetoric has a painful end. They also realize that its quick gains are deceptive. (It is) a seed of evil that will backfire,” he said.

Full report at:



Tens of Civilians Arrested by US-Backed SDF in Deir Ezzur in Clampdown on Dissent

May 05, 2019

People in the towns of Dornaj and Qaranij in Eastern Deir Ezzur protested against the SDF and blocked the roads leading to these towns while calling for the exit of the SDF.

The SDF rushed to clamp down on protests arresting, at least, 60 people.

They pointed to people's fury due to SDF's measures against the population, and said that the number of people killed in SDF prisons has considerably increased over the past two weeks.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the SDF dispatched new military convoys to Deir Ezzur province in Eastern Syria to clamp down on rising public dissent in their occupied territories, sources said.

Hundreds of civilians poured to the streets in the towns of al-Shahil, Zaman, al-Shanan, and Gharanij in Eastern Deir Ezzur to show their protest against the presence of the SDF in Eastern Syria, and called for their swift exit from the region, battlefield sources in Eastern Syria said Saturday.

The sources, meantime, pointed to the death of a jailed civilian in SDF prison after being tortured by the Kurdish forces, and said that the people resumed their protests after the SDF refrained from releasing the jailed civilians.

Meanwhile, the SDF targeted people's protests with live bullets after sending military convoys to the villages of al-Tayaneh and al-Shanan as well as the town of Zabian in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

In the meantime, tens of civilians in the SDF-occupied refugee camp in Southeastern Hasaka held rallies in protest at SDF and lack of facilities. Reports from witnesses near the camp said the SDF clashed with the civilians and arrested a number of women and children.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that residents of different parts of Eastern Deir Ezzur have raised the demand in several contacts with the paper.

It underlined that residents of towns and villages of Deir Ezzur are highly dissatisfied with measures adopted by the occupying US forces and SDF, including detentions, torture of civilians and seizure of the civilian properties.

The newspaper said that the occupied areas in Hasaka and Deir Ezzur do not enjoy even the minimum living conditions, including electricity, adding that a large number of residents of the towns and villages in Eastern Deir Ezzur have been transferred to the Syrian army-controlled areas.

Full report at:



Foreign domestic workers in Lebanon protest abuses

6 May 2019

Hundreds of foreign domestic workers demonstrated in the Lebanese capital to demand the scrapping of a sponsorship system that they complain leaves them open to abuse from employers.

Lebanon hosts more than 250,000 registered domestic workers, the vast majority of them women, from countries including Ethiopia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

They are excluded from the labor law, and instead obtain legal residency through their employers’ sponsorship under the so-called “kafala” system.

The protesters marching in Beirut held up placards reading “No to slavery and yes to justice” and “Stop kafala.”

“We want the cancellation of this system. There are employees imprisoned in houses and they need to have days off,” Dozossissane, a 29-year-old Ethiopian, told AFP.

Lebanon’s labor ministry introduced a standard contract for domestic workers in 2009, but the forms are often written in Arabic, a language many cannot read.

Activists regularly accuse the authorities of failing to take claims of abuse seriously, with maids, and nannies left at the mercy of employers.

Amnesty International last month urged Lebanon to end what it called the “inherently abusive” migration sponsorship system and change the labor law to offer domestic workers more protection.

Full report at:



Air strikes shut two hospitals in Syria’s Idlib

5 May 2019

Air strikes by Syrian government ally Russia on Sunday forced the closure of two hospitals in the Syrian province of Idlib, a war monitor said.

It came on a day that eight civilians were killed in bombardment by the regime and Russia across the northwestern province, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Idlib and other adjacent territories of Syria held by extremists have faced intensifying bombardment in the past month.

On Sunday air strikes hit a hospital in Kafranbel and another located underground on the outskirts of Hass.

The raids were blamed on Russia by the Observatory. An AFP cameraman filmed the two facilities hit by strikes.

"The hospital in Kafranbel is out of order. The patients were transferred to other facilities in the region," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, adding one civilian was killed.

In Hass, air strikes blamed on Russia halted services at an underground hospital, said Syria Relief and Development, a non-governmental organization that runs the facility.

The facility had been evacuated shortly before the bombardments, he said, thanks to alerts from a warning system set up to analyze the flight paths of warplanes.

Full report at:



Saudi King Salman calls for tolerance, moderation in Ramadan message

5 May 2019

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on Sunday has called for a message of tolerance and moderation following the announcement on the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

“Our country took upon itself the service of Islam and Islamic issues, and all that contributes to spreading this religion of tolerance and moderation,” the King said in his message.

“After the world was afflicted by the ravages of extremism and terrorism, the Kingdom turned to them with all its might and determination, calling for dialogue, rejection of violence and uprooting the sources of terrorism,” he added.

Full report at:



North America


Bolton: US deploying carrier, bombers to Middle East to deter Iran

6 May 2019

The Trump administration is deploying a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East in response to troubling “indications and warnings” from Iran and to show the United States will retaliate with “unrelenting force” to any attack, national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday.

With tensions already high between Washington and Tehran, a US official said the deployment has been ordered “as a deterrence to what has been seen as potential preparations by Iranian forces and its proxies that may indicate possible attacks on US forces in the region.”

However, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States was not expecting any imminent Iranian attack.

Bolton - who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish US policy on Iran - said the decision, which could exacerbate problems between the two countries, was meant to send a “clear and unmistakable message” of US resolve to Tehran.

Though he cited no specific Iranian activities that have raised new concerns, Iran has recently warned it would block the Strait of Hormuz if it was barred from using the strategic waterway. About a fifth of the oil consumed globally passes through the strait.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces,” Bolton said in a statement.

It marked the latest in a series of moves by President Donald Trump’s administration aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Iran in recent months.

Washington has said it will stop waivers for countries buying Iranian oil, in an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. It has also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, taking the unprecedented step of designating it as a foreign terrorist organization, which Iran has cast as an American provocation.

‘Unrelenting force’

The Trump administration’s efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began last year when it unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal it and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.

“The United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” Bolton said.

Bolton did not provide any further details.

A US Navy statement issued early last month said the aircraft carrier and its accompanying convoy of ships had steamed out of Norfolk, Virginia, on April 1 “for a regularly scheduled deployment”, but it did not give any destination at the time.

While it is not rare for the United States to have aircraft carriers in the Middle East, Bolton’s language could increase tensions.

The threat late last month from the IRGC to close the Strait of Hormuz followed a US announcement that it would end exemptions granted last year to eight buyers of Iranian oil and demanding they stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions. European governments have opposed Washington’s reinstatement of sanctions on Iran.

A senior Trump administration official said at the time that any aggressive move by Iran in the strait would be unjustified and unacceptable.

Iran has made threats to block the waterway in the past, without acting on them.



Trump to impose additional sanctions against Iran: Report

May 6, 2019

The administration of US President Donald Trump will announce new sanctions on Iran this coming week, a report says.

The sanctions are expected to be announced on Wednesday, May 8, which marks the one year anniversary of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

The new sanctions are meant to have significant impacts on a new sector of the Iranian economy, Axios reported Sunday, citing two senior administration officials.

The officials, however, did not elaborate on the sector the sanctions would target, but did say it would not be energy, the news outlet added.

This comes as The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the US would impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, targeting its petrochemical sales.

The Trump administration also imposed sanctions on Iran's export of enriched uranium on Friday but at the same time renewed three key waivers that would allow European allies, Russia and China to cooperate with Tehran on civil nuclear program.

“Any involvement in transferring enriched uranium out of Iran in exchange for natural uranium will now be exposed to sanctions. The United States has been clear that Iran must stop all proliferation-sensitive activities, including uranium enrichment, and we will not accept actions that support the continuation of such enrichment," the State Department announced in a statement.

Also on April 22, the US administration said in a statement, in a bid to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero, buyers of Iranian oil must stop purchases by May 1 or would face sanctions.

The move ended six months of waivers, which allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers -- Turkey, China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan -- to continue importing limited volumes.

Full report at:





80,000 cops, volunteers to man Punjab's worship places during Ramazan

May 06, 2019

LAHORE: As many as 80,000 policemen and volunteers will perform security duty at 32,585 mosques and imambargahs across Punjab during Ramazan and all regional police officers (RPOs), city police officers (CPOs) and district police officers (DPOs) will personally monitor the security of churches.

Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) retired Capt Arif Nawaz was chairing a conference of RPOs, CPOs and DPOs at the Central Police Office on Sunday.

Additional Training Inspector General (IG) Tariq Masood Yasin, Addl IG (Operations) Inam Ghani, Addl IG (Welfare and Finance) Sardar Ali Khan, Addl IG Punjab Highway Petrol Manzoor Sarwar Chaudhry, Addl IG (Investigation) Abubakar Khudabaksh, Addl Elite Police Force IG Shahid Hanif, Lahore Capital City Police Officer BA Nasir, Addl IG (Logistics and Procurement) Ghulam Rasool Zahid, Punjab Constabulary Commandant Kunwar Shahrukh, and all RPOs, CPOs and DPOs were present.

Addl IG (Operations) Mr Ghani said a comprehensive security plan had been devised for the holy month of Ramazan and all available resources would be utilised to implement it. Under the plan, 80,000 police officers, officials and volunteers would perform security duty at 32,585 mosques and imambargahs of the province.

IGP Nawaz directed all DPOs to personally visit and monitor the security of mosques, imambargahs, Ramazan bazaars and other important buildings in their respective areas to ensure the security of citizens at all costs.

He said intelligence-based search, sweep and combing operations should be conducted in the vicinity of all worship places and educational institutes of the province on priority, adding that security of worship places should be tightened during Fajr and Taraveh prayers.

The IGP issued important orders regarding departmental discipline, management and security during Ramazan. He directed all the officers to prepare a list of top 20 criminal and anti-social elements in their respective districts and share a report with his office by June 5.

“I am personally monitoring the crime situation in all districts of the province and indiscriminate action will be taken if any contrary to the facts report is shared,” he added.

The IGP directed the officers to ensure their availability and remain accessible to the public during office hours by eliminating parchi culture. “Any officer delaying action on public complaints will have to face departmental action,” he said, adding that action would be taken against the DPOs without any leniency for causing inappropriate delay in registration of first information reports.

All RPOs gave detailed briefings about the crime situation in their respective regions, the performance of District Complaint Officers and other IT projects, including the front desk.

IGP Nawaz directed to launch a campaign against kite flyers and manufacturers of twine, aerial firing, violators of the loudspeaker act, drug peddlers and dealers in their respective areas. He said departmental and legal action would be taken against those investigation officers responsible for deaths in police custody, torture, helping culprits flee, flawed investigation or distortion of facts.

He said all checkpoints other than those at the entry and exit points of the city should be removed immediately and snap-checking started.



Efforts on to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state, says PM

Hamid Asghar

May 06, 2019

GUJJAR KHAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday his government was working to turn the country into an Islamic welfare state on the model of the State of Madina where wealth was not accumulated in the hands of a few individuals, but it used to be spent on the wellbeing and welfare of the masses and where members of the minority community enjoyed equal rights.

The prime minister was speaking at a ceremony after laying the foundation stone of a university named after Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, a prominent saint of Islam, near Sohawa town of Jhelum district.

The prime minister said that Islam and science were closely inter-linked and the golden era of Islam produced world’s renowned scientists who were torch-bearers of scientific learning. The prime minister said that founding such a university was his much-cherished dream when he had joined politics 23 years ago.

“Promotion of leadership qualities and spiritualism would be the main emphasis of learning at this university,” the prime minister said.

“The university has been named after Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, who linked science and spirituality. We consider spirituality a super science which needs research and that research will be conducted here,” Mr Khan said.

The prime minister said that 35 per cent students of the university would be given scholarships and the institution would be run on the pattern of NUML, adding that the institution was being set up through private fund raising and no government finance would be involved in it.

He quoted examples of some Scandinavian and European countries and said they were practicing a system closer to Madina’s Islamic Welfare State.

“We want to forge leadership qualities into our youth and it will happen only when they get to know principles of the Islamic Welfare State of Madina. We will also develop latest technologies at the university, for which we will seek China’s help,” Mr Khan said.

“It is sad that we deviated from our path, but now we must get back on track and institutions like the Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani University will serve as the first step towards renaissance of Islamic learning and Ideology of Pakistan.

APP adds: The prime minister said that the university would teach students principles of State of Madina and Pakistan’s ideology as envisioned by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Mohammad Iqbal.

He said that what had been happening in the country was contrary to the vision of an Islamic welfare state.

Referring to some tragic events of the past, including the dismemberment of the country, the prime minister said that besides the role played by India in that tragedy, the injustice to the people also played an important role in it.

Referring to poverty and backwardness of Sindh and Balochistan, the prime minister said that it had never been envisioned by the country’s forefathers.

He said that after late prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, political leaders of the country did nothing for the masses but amassed wealth and made properties for themselves in the country and abroad.

Speaking on the occasion, Religious Affairs Minister Pir Nurul Haq Qadri said that the establishment of university was a step towards accomplishment of objectives of Pakistan’s creation. He said it was a unique idea to teach the life of the holy Prophet, Sufism and science and technology at a single institution.

Mr Qadri said the university would also help dispel the notion that Islam had been spread by the use of force as education and intellect were behind Islam’s popularity and propagation among the masses. He said it was for the first time that the government had been setting up Seerat Chairs at universities to conduct research on the life and teachings of the holy Prophet (PBUH).

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Minor among 2 civilians killed in cross-border firing along LoC, says Pakistan Army

May 5, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army on Sunday said two civilians, including a minor, were killed in a cross-border firing with the Indian forces along the Line of Control (LoC) in Hotsprings and Kot Kotera sectors in Pakistanoccupied Kashmir.

An army statement claimed that the "Indian Army resorted to unprovoked firing" in Hotsprings and Kot Kotera sectors.

A 45-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy were killed, while another woman was injured in the firing, it said.

"Pakistan Army troops responded effectively and targeted those posts which initiated fire," the statement said.

Earlier in the day, Indian officials in Jammu said an Army officer and a porter were injured as Pakistan army resorted to heavy mortar shelling and small arms firing on forward posts and villages along the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

While the colonel-rank officer was injured in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district, the 25-year-old porter suffered splinter injuries when a mortar shell exploded near him in Keri sector of Rajouri district, they said.

A defence spokesman also said Pakistan violated ceasefire by resorting to unprovoked shelling and firing from across the border in the two sectors at around 11 am, prompting the Indian Army to give a befitting response.

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Nisar puts end to 35-year association with PML-N

Amjad Iqbal

May 06, 2019

TAXILA: Former interior minister and veteran politician Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday brought to an end uncertainty about his association with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and announced parting ways with his party of more than 35 years.

Addressing a press conference here at Wah Cantonment, he said: “I am not part of PML-N anymore.”

Chaudhry Nisar said he had taken a decision according to his conscience. The disgruntled leader said he cannot put himself for sale. “I have been part of the PML-N for a long time. I do politics of honour, not of power,” he added.

He said he had strong relationship with many senior leaders of the PML-N. But, he added, “I have said many times I am not anymore a part of the PML-N”. He said some senior leaders of the PML-N had differences and issues between them which had not been resolved.

The former federal minister said a conspiracy was being hatched against the country to weaken it on multiple fronts.

He held both the government and the opposition responsible for the ongoing political turmoil in the country.

PML-N local leader Sheikh Sajidur Rehman and Zeeshan Saeed were present on the occasion.

Chaudhry Nisar raised questions over the performance of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, saying that it had no policy how to solve the problems of the country and provide relief to poor people.

He said that the devaluation of the rupee against the US dollar and increase in the prices of petroleum products would have an adverse impact on the people of the country. He said by October a high rate of inflation might hit the country and make the life of poor people miserable. Such a situation could cause a mass movement against the government, he added.

He said despite the tall claims of the PTI leadership before coming into power, the government of the party had surrendered itself to international financial institutions, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. He claimed that the government was now taking dictations from these institutions.

Talking about the proposed bailout package from the IMF, he said the government had put the country on stake just for “peanuts”.

He said the PTI government should take measures for providing some relief to the poor.

The veteran politician also raised questions over the way the people in the government speak about opposition parties, saying that calling everyone dacoit and looter would not work. If the ruling party wanted to solve the problems being faced by people and give a direction to the country, it must have to take the nation into confidence.

Chaudhry Nisar termed the new local government system unconstitutional and claimed that the government had stopped functions of the local government institutions because it had no majority in them.

He opposed any type of interference in the working of the National Accountability Bureau and other institutions, saying that these institutions must be allowed to do their work independently.

Chaudhry Nisar — who had won a seat of the Punjab Assembly in the 2018 general elections, but had not taken the oath of it so far — said it would be a sheer hypocrisy if he took the oath of the provincial assembly’s seat.

He said being a member-elect of the provincial assembly it would not be justified for him to raise questions over the performance of the National Assembly.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan should be made accountable for making what he called false claims about discovery of oil reserves in the country.

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Imran, Ghani vow to take steps for peace in region

Syed Irfan Raza

May 06, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan on Sunday resolved to make efforts to benefit from their geographic location to enhance regional connectivity and realise their true economic potential for socio-economic development, alleviation of poverty and welfare of people.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made a phone call to Prime Minister Imran Khan and the two leaders exchanged views on matters relating to peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region, a statement released by the PM Office said.

The two leaders vowed to strengthen bilateral ties and restore peace in Afghanistan and the region.

Prime Minister Khan said that for the sake of the people of the two countries, the aim of the leadership should be to help build peace, promote economic activities and advance connectivity for regional prosperity.

The prime minister said that the spirit of brotherhood defined Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan. “The prolonged Afghan conflict has damaged Afghanistan and adversely affected Pakistan over the past many decades,” he was quoted as saying.

PM Khan reiterated his vision for finding a peaceful solution to Afghan conflict, fully owned and led by Afghans themselves. He assured President Ghani that Pakistan would spare no effort to advance the common objectives of building peace in Afghanistan and having a fruitful bilateral relationship between the two brotherly countries.

Prime Minister Khan reiterated his invitation to President Ghani to visit Pakistan for a comprehensive exchange of views on all issues of mutual interest. Dates for the visit would be decided though mutual consultations.

The latest interaction between PM Khan and President Ghani came four days after a terrorist attack from Afghanistan side that claimed lives of three Pakistani soldiers who were erecting fence on the border.

Seven other Pakistani soldiers were injured when a group of 60 to 70 terrorists from bases in Afghanistan attacked Pakistan Army troops in the Alwara area of North Waziristan tribal district on May 1.

Pakistani troops effectively responded and repulsed the attack, killing and injuring scores of terrorists.

Islamabad believes that while Pakistan security forces are solidifying border security through fencing and construction of forts to deny liberty of action to terrorists, Afghan security forces and authorities need to have more effective control in the border region to support Pakistan’s efforts and deny use of Afghan soil against Pakistan.

Pakistan has been erecting a fence along its western border to stop illegal influx of terrorists and smugglers from Afghanistan who often use unfrequented routes to enter Pakistan. However, the government in Kabul has been opposing the move.

Full report at:



PM accused of handing over country to IMF

Amir Wasim

May 06, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Conti­nuing its criticism over the appointments of Dr Reza Baqir of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as new governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as adviser to the prime minister on finance, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has feared that the country’s nuclear programme may come under threat after appointment in key positions of “IMF representatives”.

“Seeing the intentions of [Prime Minister] Imran Khan, the nation should be worried about Pakistan’s nuclear capability,” said PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement on Sunday.

Ms Aurangzeb, who served as information minister in the previous government of the PML-N, alleged the premier had handed over the country to “the East India Company”, a reference to the British trade company through which Britain established its rule in the Indian sub-continent in the 18th century.

However, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan defended the government’s decision and termed Dr Baqir a “pride of Pakistan”.

Late on Saturday night, the government had announced that Dr Baqir had been appointed as the SBP governor to serve for a three-year term.

An Aitchison alumnus, Dr Baqir earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in Economics and had been serving the IMF for the past 16 years. He was heading the IMF’s debt policy division and worked on IMF policies on external debt sustainability and restructuring of member countries.

He will be the second IMF official to head the State Bank as before him Dr Mohammad Yaqub had been brought from the IMF to head the SBP between 1993 and 1999.

Ms Aurangzeb said Pakistan’s sovereignty had been “compromised and this time the East India Company did not even need to fight because the incompetent prime minister dished it out to the IMF on a platter”.

Instead of negotiating a favourable and sustainable economic plan, she said the PM knew nothing better than to pass the entire country’s fiscal and monetary control to the IMF representatives by appointing their employees as heads of Pakistan’s State Bank and the finance ministry. “The insecure and complexed prime minister fired his best bet at negotiating a near favourable package and handed over the lock and key of the country’s treasury to the IMF,” she said.

The PML-N’s spokesperson said it was no secret that Dr Baqir excelled in the art of keeping countries buried under debt to pile up insane levels of interests for his original employer, the IMF. She said the PM had embarrassed the nation by not just bowing down to the IMF but kneeling to every single one of their orders no matter how unreasonable.

“(Imran) Khan doesn’t need to go to the IMF anymore because he has formally made the country’s top financial institution their office,” she added.

The former information minister said it was all making sense as why ex-premier Nawaz Sharif was being pushed out of the way by hook or by crook. “It is because he would have stood against such a shameful surrender of the entire country to a third party financial institution,” she stressed.

She claimed that the PML-N supremo gave Pakistan the multibillion dollar ‘gift’ of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while “the inept, incompetent and egocentric Imran Khan has yielded the country to its last penny to the IMF”.

“The country had not seen a day without a new disaster ever since Imran Khan and his regime have taken control,” she said, alleging that the Rs9 petrol bomb on the already crushed people before Ramazan had been bombarded at the behest of the IMF.

Govt response

Defending the appointment, the information adviser said the SBP governor, who studied in prestigious international institutions, had joined PM Khan’s finance team to steer Pakistan out of the economic crisis.

She claimed that Dr Baqir had tendered his resignation from the IMF to serve Pakistan.

Responding to the opposition’s criticism, she said the opposition wanted to close the doors on the intelligent Pakistanis working at prestigious international institutions who wanted to serve their motherland.

Full report at:





Hamas says it doesn’t want a new war with Israel amid a UN call for restraint

6 May 2019

The leader of Hamas says his group is “not interested in a new war” with Israel, after two days of heavy rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes on the blockaded territory.

Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement late Sunday that the militant group is ready to “return to the state of calm” if Israel stops its attacks “and immediately starts implementing understandings about a dignified life.”

Israel has fought three wars with Gaza militants since 2008 and has blockaded the territory for more than a decade.

On Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement that its forces killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip in what the military described as a targeted strike and Palestinians said was the first such action since the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave.

Palestinian witnesses said he was killed in an air strike on his car.

UN chief appeals for restraint in Gaza flare-up

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed on Sunday for “maximum restraint” following the escalation.

“He condemns in the strongest terms the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, particularly the targeting of civilian population centers,” a UN statement said.

“He urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint, immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months,” it said, according to AFP.

Guterres’s special envoy Nickolay Mladenov was “working closely with Egypt and all concerned to restore calm,” the statement said.



Israel kills Hamas commander in first targeted strike in years

5 May 2019

Israel killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in what the military described as a targeted strike and Palestinians said was the first such action since the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave.

A military statement said that Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudri had been responsible for transfering funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.

Palestinian witnesses said he was killed in an air strike on his car.

Full report at:



Israel, Palestine reach ceasefire agreement to stop Gaza attacks

May 6, 2019

Palestine says a ceasefire agreement has been reached with Israel, after 25 people were killed in three days of Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza enclave, which were responded to with homemade rockets from Palestinian groups.

That was announced both by two Palestinian officials familiar with the agreement and the Hamas Resistance Movement's media outlet.

"The ceasefire understanding will begin Monday 04:30 (01:30 GMT),” one of the officials told Reuters.

Earlier, Gaza's Health Ministry said at least 25 people have been killed and 154 others injured in the fresh flare-up of violence in the enclave.

Two pregnant women and a 14-month-old baby were among the fatalities.

The upsurge in violence came after the Israeli prime minister ordered the military to continue massive strikes on the enclave. Benjamin Netanyahu also said Israeli forces around Gaza would be reinforced.

Tensions erupted on Friday following the killing of four Palestinians, two in an Israeli air raid on southern Gaza and two during the regime’s live fire at anti-occupation protesters near a fence separating the blockaded coastal enclave from the occupied territories.

The Israeli military claimed that its initial aerial assault had come in response to the wounding of two of its soldiers by Palestinian gunfire near the Gaza fence.

The latest rocket fire from Gaza killed a 60-year-old Israeli man. A total of some 83 Israelis have also been wounded.

Full report at:



Israel signals cease-fire with Gaza to end deadly escalation

May 06, 2019

GAZA: Palestinian leaders in Gaza agreed a cease-fire with Israel on Monday to end a deadly two-day escalation in violence that threatened to widen into war, officials with knowledge of the deal said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the deal, but there appeared to have been no rocket fire or Israeli strikes after it was due to take effect, an AFP correspondent in Gaza said.

Egypt brokered the agreement to cease hostilities from 4:30 a.m. (0130 GMT), an official from the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas and another from its allied group Islamic Jihad said on condition of anonymity.

An Egyptian official also confirmed the deal on condition of anonymity.

The deal came after the most serious flare-up in violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war.

The escalation began Saturday with massive rocket fire from Gaza, drawing waves of Israeli retaliatory strikes, and continued throughout Sunday.

At least 23 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed.

Four civilians in Israel were killed, at least three of them Israeli citizens.

The flare-up came as Hamas sought further steps from Israel toward easing its blockade under a previous cease-fire brokered by Egypt and the United Nations.

Israel faced pressure to seek to restore calm and put an end to the rocket fire hitting communities in the country’s south.

It commemorates its Memorial and Independence Days later this week and is due to host the Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv from May 14-18, which is expected to draw thousands to Israel.

On the Gazan side, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is set to begin.

Palestinian officials in Gaza accused Israel of not taking steps to ease its blockade as promised under previous cease-fire deals.

The Islamic Jihad official said the new truce agreement was again based on Israel easing its blockade.

Among the steps, he said, were the relaxing of limits on fishing and improvements in Gaza’s electricity and fuel situation.


Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and the escalation brought them to the brink of another.

Sunday was particularly bloody, with 19 Palestinians and four civilians in Israel killed.

The Palestinian dead included a commander for Hamas’s armed wing who Israel said it targeted due to his role in transferring money from Iran to militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

It was a rare admission of targeted killing by Israel’s army.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he instructed the military “to continue its massive strikes on terror elements in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said in a statement on Sunday night that “returning to a state of calm is possible” if Israel committed to a “complete cease-fire.”

Without it, “the arena could face many rounds of confrontation,” he said.

Israel said its strikes were in response to Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing some 690 rockets or mortars across the border since Saturday, with Israeli air defenses intercepting more than 240 of them.

In addition to those killed and injured, the rockets repeatedly set off air raid alarms in southern Israel and sent residents running to shelters while also damaging houses. At least 35 of the rockets fell in urban areas, according to the army.

The army said its tanks and planes hit some 350 militant targets in Gaza in response.

It targeted militant sites and in some cases militants themselves as well as their homes if they were found to be storing weapons, military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

Several buildings in Gaza City were destroyed.

Israel said one of the buildings included Hamas military intelligence and security offices.

Turkey said its state news agency Anadolu had an office in the building, and strongly denounced the strike.

The Gaza health ministry said the dead from the Israeli strikes included a 14-month-old baby and a pregnant woman, 37. It first identified the woman as the baby’s mother, but the family clarified on Sunday that she was the aunt.

Israel strongly disputed the claim, with Conricus saying that based on intelligence “we are now confident” that the deaths of the woman and baby were not due to an Israeli strike.

“Their unfortunate death was not a result of (Israeli) weaponry but a Hamas rocket that was fired and exploded not where it was supposed to,” he said.

The Gazan ministry reported late Sunday that another four-month-old baby was among those killed in Israeli strikes in the northern Gaza Strip. Israel’s army had no comment.

Full report at:



UN regains access to Yemeni grain after reaching Hodeidah store

May 06, 2019

The UN regained access to donated grain stored in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah on Sunday, and began the task of salvaging food that could stave off starvation for millions of citizens before it rots.

Hodeidah, which has become the focus of a four-year war between government forces and the Iran-backed Houthis, is the entry point for most of Yemen’s humanitarian aid and commercial imports.

But World Food Program (WFP) grain stores there have been cut off for eight months, putting 51,000 tons of wheat at risk of rotting. The stores came under the control of government forces after fierce battles last year but a major frontline is only a few blocks away.

A WFP technical team arrived in the eastern outskirts of Hodeidah on Sunday to begin cleaning and servicing equipment in preparation for milling grain, a WFP spokesman told Reuters.

Sources familiar with the matter said the WFP-led team traveled from the government-held southern port city of Aden along the western coast, avoiding Houthi-held areas after the group denied them access from the north, which it controls.

Houthi militants did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The Houthis and the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi agreed in December to a UN-sponsored truce and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah. That deal has largely held but violence has escalated in some other parts of the country.

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said its priority was to begin cleaning and servicing milling machinery and fumigating the wheat.

The UN expects that process to take several weeks before starting to mill it into flour and distributing it to the Yemeni communities most in need.

An assessment carried out in February, when the UN was briefly granted access to the mills for the first time since September, concluded that around 70 percent of the wheat may be salvageable.

But the flour yield will be lower than normal as weevil infestation has caused hollow grains, the UN said, based on that assessment.

Talks aimed at securing a mutual military withdrawal from Hodeidah have stalled despite UN efforts.

Yemeni government officials accuse the Houthis of violating the peace deal.

Under the proposed withdrawal, a government retreat would free up access to the Red Sea Mills and humanitarian corridors would also be reopened.

Full report at:




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