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Islamic World News ( 11 Feb 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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India Belongs To Mahmood Madani As Much As PM Modi, Mohan Bhagwat: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Chief

New Age Islam News Bureau

11 February 2023

 

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Chief Mahmood Madani addressed the 34th General Session- a three-day plenary session at the Ram Lila ground (Image: ANI)

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• ‘When I’m Among You, I’m Your Family,’ I Have Known Four Generations of the Syedna, PM Modi Tells Dawoodi Bohras

• Mullah Yaqoob, Sirajuddin Haqqani, and Mullah Baradar Do Not Trust Each Other: Brookings Institution of US

• Mosque in London Raises $70,000 to Help Quake-Hit Victims in Türkiye, Syria

• UAE and China Call For UN Security Council Meeting on Al-Aqsa Mosque Storming

 India

• Alleged Rise in Islamophobia: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Wants Separate Law to Punish Those Who Incite Violence against Minorities

• Hindu Organisation Names Hate Speech Makers From Muslim And Christian Community In Supreme Court

• Karnataka BJP leader challenges JD-S to field Muslim CM candidate

• 'Read Romila Thapar and...’ Muslim Cleric, Maulana Sajid Rashidi, Apologises for Comment on Somnath Temple after FIR

• Jamia Nagar Violence: HC Allows Urgent Listing of Police Plea Challenging Order Discharging Sharjeel Imam, 10 Others

• Gujarat litigants fined for opposing shop sale to Muslim

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South Asia

• Afghanistan withdrawal a dark chapter for UK: Tobias Ellwood

• Sweden, Denmark Grants Refugee Status to Afghan Women and Girls

• Taliban suppression of women’s rights may impact international financial support: EU Special Envoy on Afghanistan

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Europe

• Arsenal in touch with UK's Muslim community to help quake victims in Türkiye, Syria

• UN says threat from Daesh remains high

• Western Balkans leaders sign condolence books at Turkish embassy

• Dutch leader signs condolence book for Türkiye’s quake victims

• Netherlands cathedral plays Turkish national anthem in solidarity with quake victims

• French President Macron vows 'full support' for quake-hit Türkiye

• In wake of global criticism, US issues temporary sanctions waiver for Syria

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Arab World

• Turkey-Syria Earthquake: UAE Mosques to Hold Absentee Funeral Prayers for Victims

• Earthquake aid becomes political pawn as powers clash over Syria access

• UAE rescuers save 2, including child, from rubble 120 hours after Turkey earthquake

• Up to 5.3 million in Syria may be homeless after quake: UN

• Syria’s Assad regime approves aid to earthquake victims in areas outside govt control

• More aid arrives in Syria’s quake-struck northwest: Border official

• Lebanon’s embattled Central Bank chief says he will not seek new term

• UAE’s Emirates airline launches Air Bridge to transport aid to Turkey, Syria

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Mideast

• Children Found Alive As Turkey-Syria Quake Toll Tops 22,000

• Iran Exiled Opposition Figures in Talks to Unite Against Mullah Regime

• Muslims offer absentee prayers for Türkiye, Syria quake victims

• Iran’s top Sunni cleric calls for release of political prisoners, criticizes IRGC

• FM: Iran Ready to Send Humanitarian Aid Teams to Idlib

• Israel quake teams in Turkey should work through Jewish sabbath: Chief rabbi

• Israel might target Iran’s humanitarian aid shipments to Syria: Report

• Palestinian prisoners launch mass hunger strike after prisoner's death

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Pakistan

• Pakistan Economic Crisis: No Bailout Deal With IMF yet, Islamabad Inches Closer To Bankruptcy

• PM preaches ‘hard work’ to get Pakistan through ‘difficult time’

• Roadmap to reduce distortions in economy unveiled

• Will not betray Imran despite arrest threats, says Qureshi

• PM asks provinces to crush fresh wave of terrorism

• Imran calls for ‘internal military inquiry’ against Gen Bajwa

• Opposition in Sindh Assembly slams govt over rising street crime, drugs abuse in schools

• 2 soldiers martyred in IED blast in Balochistan’s Kohlu: ISPR

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Southeast Asia

• How Malaysia Can Help Facilitate Peace in Thailand’s Restive Muslim South

• Muslim pilgrims from Singapore to pay more for the haj in 2023

• Malaysia’s ex-PM Mahathir quits Pejuang party he founded, chooses GTA as new political platform

• Rafizi agrees govt must address Malaysia’s low pay, says high-income nation status achievable

• PM Anwar attends religious talk at Seri Perdana after arriving from Thailand

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Africa

• Tunisian President Decides To Strengthen Diplomatic Ties with Syria

• Morocco recalls ambassador to France amid simmering tensions

• Eritrean leader denies rights violations by his forces in Ethiopian war

• Jordan sends field hospital to help earthquake victims in Turkiye

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North America

• US Senator Denies Sanctions Target International Aid to Northwestern Syria Following Quakes

• US announces $85M in humanitarian assistance to Türkiye, Syria over earthquakes

• New York City Mayor Voices Support for Quake-Hit Türkiye

• Turkish Americans hold candlelight vigil in US capital to mourn victims of earthquakes

• US carrier positioned in eastern Mediterranean to assist Türkiye in earthquake response

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/madani-modi-bhagwat-jamiat-ulama/d/129083

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 India Belongs To Mahmood Madani As Much As PM Modi, Mohan Bhagwat: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Chief

 

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Chief Mahmood Madani addressed the 34th General Session- a three-day plenary session at the Ram Lila ground (Image: ANI)

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11th February 2023

New Delhi: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind president Mahmood Madani said India belongs to him as much as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Speaking at the inaugural plenary session of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind at Ramlila Maidan in the national capital, Maulana Madani said, “India is our country. This country belongs to Mahmood Madani as much as it belongs to Narendra Modi and Mohan Bhagwat. Neither Mahmood is an inch ahead of them nor are they one inch ahead of Mahmood.”

He further said that Islam is the oldest religion in this country. “This land is the first homeland of Muslims. Saying that Islam is a religion that came from outside is totally wrong and baseless. Islam is the oldest religion among all religions. India is the best country for Hindi Muslims,” Madani said.

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind chief said that they are against forced religious conversions adding that today people who are converting their religion voluntarily are also being sent to jail on false charges.

He said, “We are against religious conversion driven forcibly. Freedom of religion is a fundamental right. We are also against conversion by force, fraud and greed. There are many examples of agencies targeting the Muslim community, such as the ban on Namaz, police action on them, and bulldozer action.”

The three-day plenary session of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind began on Friday in Delhi.

According to Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, Uniform Civil Code, religious freedom and Muslim personal law and autonomy of madrassas are among some issues that will be discussed in the convention. Further, it said a proposal can be brought to provide reservation for socio-economically backward Muslims.

In the 34th session of Jamiat, the steps being taken to strengthen religious brotherhood and initiatives to prevent hate campaigns are also part of the agenda.

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind is a century-old organization and works for the protection of the civil, religious, cultural and educational rights of Muslims. Jamiat claims to be the largest organization of Muslims and socio-political and religious issues of Muslims remain on its agenda. The Jamiat believes in the Deobandi ideology of Islam.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/india-belongs-to-mahmood-as-much-as-pm-modi-mohan-bhagwat-jamiat-ulama-i-hind-chief-2524281/

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‘When I’m Among You, I’m Your Family,’ I Have Known Four Generations of the Syedna, PM Modi Tells Dawoodi Bohras

 

Photo: The Times of India

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Feb 11, 2023

MUMBAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he sees himself as a family member of the Dawoodi Bohras and lauded the strides the community has made in the fields of education, business and entrepreneurship.

“When I am among you, I am neither chief minister nor Prime Minister. I am your family. I have known four generations of the Syedna. The late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin too had blessed me,” Modi said, after inaugurating the Marol campus of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, a premier institute of the Dawoodi Bohra community. The institute has campuses at Surat, Karachi and Nairobi.

Patron of the Jamea (institution) and spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohras, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, presided over the ceremony which was attended by chief minister Eknath Shinde, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, a few diplomats and community members.

Earlier in the day, Modi flagged the CSMT-Solapur and CSMT-Sai Nagar Shirdi Vande Bharat Express trains from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and ‘remotely’ inaugurated two arms of the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road extension project and Kurar underpass on Western Express Highway.

Modi said during the Dandi March, Mahatma Gandhi had stayed in a “beautiful” bungalow, Saifee Villa. The late Syedna Taher Saifuddin had later gifted the bungalow to the nation on former PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s request. It is now a memorial, which Modi had inaugurated a couple of years ago.

Modi said he has always enjoyed the love and affection of the Bohras and whenever he is visiting other countries, members of the community come to meet him.

Congratulating the Syedna and members of the community for opening the Mumbai campus of Jamea, Modi said Dawoodi Bohras, who believe in development and legacy, have moved with the times and have always valued education, including for girls.

The PM said in the last eight years, India has opened one university and two colleges every week. Pointing out that the new education policy focuses on education in mother tongues and Indian languages, he said, “Now, medical and engineering education can be imparted in local languages too.”

Modi suggested that skill and technology, institute and industry need to be blended to create an ecosystem where employment can be generated. The government has ended 40,000 compliances to help entrepreneurs, he added.

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin thanked Modi for joining him on this “auspicious day” and spoke decades-old friendship and bond between the PM and his late father Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.

“India has been our home for centuries, and we are at peace here,” said the Syedna. He prayed that every child receives education and opportunity to grow and flourish.

The Syedna also thanked the PM for his numerous initiatives for the betterment of the nation, remarking specifically on his presidency of the G20.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/when-im-among-you-im-your-family-pm-modi-tells-dawoodi-bohras/articleshow/97809306.cms

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Mullah Yaqoob, Sirajuddin Haqqani, and Mullah Baradar Do Not Trust Each Other: Brookings Institution Of US

 

Photo: The Khaama Press

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By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 10, 2023

Research findings of the Brookings Institution of the United States indicate that Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada is an irreconcilable leader, whereas Mullah Yaqoob is a pragmatic person, and it is easier to engage with him for the West. 

It is also highlighted that the National Resistance Front’s (NRF) military resistance does not pose any immediate threats to the country’s ruling regime.

Vanda Felbab-Brown author and political analyst in the foreign policy programs at Brookings say that serious disagreements exist among the Taliban leaders over the group’s policies.

After contacting reliable sources in Afghanistan and the West, Brown claims that pragmatic figures such as Mullah Yaqoob, and Sirajuddin Haqqani do not oppose the Taliban supreme leader’s decrees fearing death penalties and the group’s division. 

Despite the Taliban’s negotiation team in Qatar repeatedly emphasizing that the group’s policies towards political factions and women have changed, they have restricted women from participating in education and work as they seized power in August 2021. Brown says by forming a ‘monopolistic Pashtun government’ the Taliban have kicked other political groups out of the government circle.

Brown belongs to those Western politicians and analysts who recently discuss ‘moderate and extreme’ Taliban members. They believe that the moderate group of Taliban would take control of power in Afghanistan and revise the group’s policies and engagement with the western world.

The political analyst reiterates that the Taliban council based in Kandahar led by Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada exclusively issues the implementation of extremist decrees in Afghanistan. This comes as the moderate branch of the Taliban believes that the introduction of such policies will weaken the current regime and lead to losing control of power in the long term.

Pragmatic Taliban want the group to sustain power in Afghanistan. As per their analysis, if the economic challenges and the international isolation of the ruling regime are not resolved, and the foreign cash aid ended, the group will not sustain itself in power for longer.  

According to Brown, Mullah Yaqoob, Defence Minister, Mullah Ghani Baradar, Deputy Prime Minister, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, Interior Minister are among the pragmatic Taliban Leaders. 

She further adds that the three senior Taliban leaders including Mullah Yaqoob, Sirajuddin Haqqani, and Mullah Baradar are not united and do not trust each other. Therefore, it is difficult for them to bring most of the Taliban commanders with them.

Meanwhile, the chances are high that these senior Taliban leaders might even lose their lives due to deep intergroup disagreements, which may lead to the division of the group.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/engaging-with-mullah-yaqoob-is-easier-nrfs-resistance-not-a-challenge-brookings/

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Mosque in London Raises $70,000 to Help Quake-Hit Victims in Türkiye, Syria

 

Photo: aa.com

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Burak Bir 

11.02.2023

LONDON

A London mosque raised £60,000 ($72,000) Friday to support earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

The East London Mosque, one of the largest in the UK, said, in partnership with Islamic Relief, Diyanet UK and other UK charity partners, it has been working to extend a helping hand to those who were affected by the powerful earthquakes.

"A fundraising collection took place after Friday prayers with Islamic Relief today after a passionate plea for donations by Islamic Relief’s UK Director, Tufail Hussain," it said.

The mosque noted that Umit Yalcin, Turkish Ambassador to the UK, sent a message of support which was read after Friday prayers.

"I am touched by the compassion of our sisters and brothers in the UK, especially from the East London Mosque, for collecting funds to aid the survivors of the recent earthquakes," said the ambassador.

The East London Mosque also said it will continue to fundraise for victims in the coming weeks to ensure vital aid can reach those who need it.

More than 20,200 people have died and over 80,000 injured after two strong earthquakes jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, according to the latest figures.

The 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes, centred in the Kahramanmaras province, have impacted some 13 million people across 10 Turkish provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

In neighboring Syria, the death toll has climbed above 3,300, with more than 5,200 people wounded.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/mosque-in-london-raises-70-000-to-help-quake-hit-victims-in-turkiye-syria/2815344

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UAE And China Call For UN Security Council Meeting On Al-Aqsa Mosque Storming

 

Diplomats say a UN Security Council meeting to discuss Itamar Ben-Gvir's visit will probably take place on Thursday. Photo: UN

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4 January 2023

The United Arab Emirates and China have called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss Itamar Ben-Gvir's storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque's courtyards in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel's far-right national security minister entered the courtyards on Tuesday accompanied by heavy security, in a highly provocative move that drew condemnation from his country's allies in the West and Middle East.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the holiest sites in Islam, and while it is similarly sacred to Jews, a longstanding agreement - as well as common Jewish practice - forbids Jewish prayer there.

According to diplomats, the Security Council meeting is likely to occur on Thursday.

Ben-Gvir's provocative actions have been compared to those of Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who made a similar trip to the site in 2000, sparking the Second Intifada Palestinian uprising.

Among those condemning the visit, which both the Palestinian Hamas movement and Israeli opposition warned could spark dangerous escalation, was the United States.

"The United States stands firmly... for preservation of the status quo with respect to holy sites in Jerusalem," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

"Any unilateral action that jeopardises the status quo is unacceptable."

Separately, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the visit "has the potential to exacerbate tensions and to provoke violence".

The United Arab Emirates, which normalised relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the US-backed Abraham Accords, also released a statement of condemnation.

"The UAE today strongly condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister under the protection of Israeli forces," said the statement.

It called on "Israeli authorities to assume responsibility for reducing escalation and instability in the region".

Jordan's foreign ministry also summoned Israel's ambassador.

"Jordan condemns in the severest of terms the storming of the Al-Aqsa mosque and violating its sanctity," the ministry said.

Religious importance

Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque draws tens of thousands of pilgrims from across Palestine and the wider Muslim world each year.

It is also the site of the Jewish temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the mosque, though prayer is prohibited and access to the Dome of the Rock shrine and Qibli prayer hall are restricted.

Since the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem began in 1967, the site has been the subject of contention between Muslim worshippers and those groups that want to restore full Jewish control over the area.

Since the 1967 Middle East war, Jewish prayer at the site has been forbidden, though far-right settlers such as Ben-Gvir have frequently prayed there under heavy security in recent years.

Source: Middle East Eye

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

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/china-uae-call-un-security-council-meeting-al-aqsa-mosque

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 India


Alleged Rise in Islamophobia: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Wants Separate Law to Punish Those Who Incite Violence against Minorities

Feb 10, 2023

NEW DELHI: Prominent Muslim organisation, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, on the first day of its three-day national meet at Ramlila Ground in Delhi on Friday flagged the concern over the alleged rise in Islamophobia and demanded that a separate law be enacted to specifically punish those who incite violence against minorities.

Steered by influential clerics, the Jamiat’s 34th General Session began here at the Ramlila ground under the Presidentship of its chief Maulana Mahmood Madani. The organisation passed many resolutions. One of these is on the alleged rise in the hate campaign and Islamophobia in the country. “The rise in Islamophobia, besides cases of hatred and incitement against the Muslims community, has increased to an alarming level in our country, in the recent past. The most regrettable point is that though the government is aware of these developments, it prefers to adopt an ostrich-like approach,” JUH alleged in its statement.

To deal with Islamophobia, the JUH has recommended that the government take strict action against those elements encouraging it and the media engaged in spreading hatred. “As recommended by the Law Commission, a separate law should be enacted to specifically punish those who incite violence against the minorities; in particular, efforts to isolate the Muslim minority socio-economically should be put to an end immediately,” the JUH statement emphasised.

In a sepatate draft resolution, the meet dwelled on measures to counter anti-Islam mindset and defamatory content regarding the Prophet. “It is a fact that lies die their own death, nevertheless, if blasphemous content is aired on any channel or social media or hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims, then a few selected people should take legal action and lodge an FIR against such channels and social media platforms.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/juh-wants-separate-law-to-punish-those-who-incite-violence-against-minorities/articleshow/97808150.cms?from=mdr

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Hindu Organisation Names Hate Speech Makers From Muslim And Christian Community In Supreme Court

Feb 11, 2023

NEW DELHI: Days after the Supreme Court ordered the Maharashtra government to ensure that no hate speech was made at ‘Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha’ at Mumbai, a Hindu organisation has moved the SC with a compilation of scores of incidents of hate speeches by Muslim and Christian community leaders and sought similar action against them.

A bench headed by Justice K M Joseph had directed the Maharashtra government to ensure that no hate speeches were made at the rally and to video-graph the proceedings to take to task anyone indulging in hate speech. When solicitor general Tushar Mehta had on February 4 said that the petitioner was from Kerala and would not know what is happening in Mumbai, Justice Joseph had said anyone can come to the court (on this issue).

Spurred by the SC’s proactive stance to root out hate speech in the country, a Lucknow-based NGO ‘Hindu Front for Justice’ led by Ranjana Agnihotri has moved a plea for similar directions for protection of Hindus from the constant hate speeches from the Muslim and Christian communities.

The plea filed through advocate Vishnu Jain gave details of eight processions taken out by Muslims at various places in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat giving ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ (beheading) calls openly to terrorize the Hindu community.

Recently, the SC had pulled up Delhi police for the delay in investigating into the FIRs lodged against those who had delivered alleged hate speeches at a Dharam Sansad organized at Delhi in December 2021 and ordered it to complete the probe and file chargesheet expeditiously.

The fresh plea annexed evidence of recent hate speeches made by Bihar education minister Chandrashekhar Yadav against Ramcharit Manas and the virulent hate speeches inciting violence against Hindus delivered in the last two years by Peerzada Taha Siddiqui of Furfura Sharif, Hooghly, West Bengal; Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan; Asaduddin Owaisi; Maulana Ilyas Sharafuddin; Ajmer Dargah khadims Syed Aaadil Chisti and Syed Sarwar Chisti; AAP MLA Amanutallah Khan; and, Waris Pathan.

It also provided evidence of hate speeches by pastor George Ponnaiah; preacher Mohan C Lazarus and Bishop Ezra Sargunum of Tamil Nadu and the mocking of Hindu gods and goddesses by stand up comedians Mnawar Faruqui, Alexander Babu, Aadar Malik, Surleen Kaur and Sanjay Rajoura.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/hindu-organisation-names-hate-speech-makers-in-supreme-court/articleshow/97816233.cms?from=mdr

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Karnataka BJP leader challenges JD-S to field Muslim CM candidate

11 February, 2023

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 10 (ANI): Karnataka Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar on Friday challenged JD(S) legislature party leader HD Kumaraswamy to field a Muslim candidate for Chief Minister’s post in the upcoming Assembly election.

“If Kumaraswamy has guts, he should announce a Muslim CM candidate. CM Ibrahim is a State unit president of JD-S, let Kumaraswamy announce him as a CM candidate,” he said.

The Karnataka Minister and BJP leader’s stinging remarks came in the wake of controversy created by Kumaraswamy over his alleged remarks against Brahmins.

HD Kumaraswamy recently gave fresh ammunition to the BJP leaders after he attacked Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, saying that if the BJP comes to power in the state this time, “a Brahmin” will be the Chief Minister.

While talking to reporters last week, Kumaraswamy said that “if the BJP comes to power in the state this time, a Brahmin will become the Chief Minister.”

Pralhad Joshi will be appointed Chief Minister, and 8 people have already been appointed Deputy Chief Ministers,” he added.

A meeting of RSS leaders was held in Delhi and the next CM was decided in the meeting and Prahlad Joshi will be the next Chief Minister, claimed Kumaraswamy.

Kumaraswamy appealed to the voters that the people of Karnataka “should not fall prey to RSS and BJP scams and false promises.”

“The Brahmin CM (Pralhad Joshi) decided by RSS is not the Brahmin of our old Karnataka. He (Joshi) belongs to the Peshwas of Maharashtra who demolished the Sringeri mutt.”

Kumaraswamy was also criticized by State Higher Education Minister minister CN Ashwath Narayan, who on Tuesday retorted to the JD-S leader’s remarks and said that the BJP is not engaged in caste-based politics, “but is a secular party”.

Sudhakar’s statement came after a meeting, conducted at the party office, as a part of preparations for the run-up to the Karnataka Assembly elections.

Source: The Print

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

https://theprint.in/politics/karnataka-bjp-leader-challenges-jd-s-to-field-muslim-cm-candidate/1366239/

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'Read Romila Thapar and...’ Muslim Cleric, Maulana Sajid Rashidi, Apologises for Comment on Somnath Temple after FIR

FEBRUARY 10, 2023

Muslim Cleric Maulana Sajid Rashidi on Friday apologised for his comment claiming Mahmud of Ghazni did not destroy the Somnath temple but stopped “immoral things" that were underway, after an FIR was filed against him in Gujarat on Thursday.

“It was not my intention to hurt anyone. I read historian Romila Thapar and accordingly made remarks," Rashidi, who is president of All India Imam Association, said. “I apologize to the Somnath Trustees as my intention was not to hurt anyone. Muslims ruled for 800 years and they donated land for temples and beautified them," he was quoted as saying by ANI.

In an interview aired by some news channels last month, Rashidi had purportedly claimed that Mahmud of Ghazni did not destroy the ancient temple of Somnath. “According to history, he learnt that immoral activities in the name of faith and Hindu gods were being done inside the temple….After confirming the facts, he invaded the temple. He did not destroy the temple. He only put an end to wrongdoings," Rashidi had said.

An FIR was registered against Rashidi at Prabhas Patan under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, language, etc.) and 295A (malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), after a complaint by General manager of the Shree Somnath Trust, Vijaysinh Chavda.

“We have learnt that he had made such provocative comments in the past too," District Superintendent of Police Manoharsinh Jadeja told reporters, adding that a probe was on.

Source: News18

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

https://www.news18.com/news/india/muslim-cleric-apologises-fir-somnath-temple-comment-7046365.html

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Jamia Nagar Violence: HC Allows Urgent Listing of Police Plea Challenging Order Discharging Sharjeel Imam, 10 Others

FEBRUARY 10, 2023

The Delhi High Court Friday allowed urgent listing of a plea by the city police challenging a trial court’s order discharging 11 people, including student activists Sharjeel Imam and Asif Iqbal Tanha, in the 2019 Jamia Nagar violence case.

The plea was mentioned by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta before a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad which allowed it to be listed for hearing on February 13.

The law officer said the court registry has raised certain objections in the petition.

The petition by police was filed on February 7 challenging the trial court’s February 4 order discharging 11 persons, holding that they were made “scapegoats" by police and that dissent has to be encouraged, not stifled.

The trial court, however, ordered framing of charges against one of the accused, Mohammad Ilyas.

An FIR was lodged in connection with the violence that erupted after a clash between police and people protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the Jamia Nagar area here in December 2019.

Imam was accused of instigating the riots by delivering a provocative speech at the Jamia Milia University on December 13, 2019. He will continue to remain in jail as he is an accused in the larger conspiracy case of the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.

The trial court had said there were admittedly scores of protesters at the site and some anti-social elements within the crowd could have created an environment of disruption and havoc.

“However, the moot question remains — whether the accused persons herein were even prima facie complicit in taking part in that mayhem? The answer is an unequivocal no," it had added.

Noting that the accused were merely present at the protest site and there was no incriminating evidence against them, the trial court had said dissent is an extension of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, subject to reasonable restrictions.

It had said investigative agencies need to discern the difference between dissent, which has to be given space, and insurrection that should be quelled.

It had also faulted the police for failing to produce any WhatsApp chats, SMS or other proof of the accused interacting with each other and criticised it for “arbitrarily" choosing to array some people from the crowd as accused and police witnesses, saying this “cherry-picking" by the police is detrimental to the precept of fairness.

The Jamia Nagar police station had filed the charge sheet against Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Safoora Zargar, Mohammad Qasim, Mahmood Anwar, Shahzar Raza Khan, Mohammad Abuzar, Mohammad Shoaib, Umair Ahmad, Bilal Nadeem, Chanda Yadav and Mohammad Ilyas.

The charge sheet was filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

Source: News18

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

https://www.news18.com/news/india/jamia-nagar-violence-hc-allows-urgent-listing-of-police-plea-challenging-order-discharging-sharjeel-imam-10-others-7045711.html

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Gujarat litigants fined for opposing shop sale to Muslim

Feb 11, 2023

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has imposed fines on neighbours for objecting to a Muslim person buying a shop in a Hindu-majority area, claiming that it could “lead to polarization” and “disturb the demographic equilibrium”.

Justice Biren Vaishnav imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 each on two sets of litigants who opposed permission for sale to a Muslim in the area, where the state government has imposed the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act (Distrubed Areas Act). This law introduces restrictions on property transactions and property sales cannot be effected without permission from the district collectorate.

On the other hand, the shop owner complained that other shopkeepers and people living nearby did not let him carry out renovation and he could not open his shop. He had to file two police complaints. This infuriated Justice Vaishnav and he called this a “disturbing factor” because the owner “is being hounded and thwarted in his attempt to enjoy the fruits of the property which he successfully purchased”.

The court further said that it had already made it clear that a neighbour’s opinion was immaterial and ‘free consent and fair consideration’ were the only criteria to permit a property sale under the Distrubed Areas Act.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-litigants-fined-for-opposing-shop-sale-to-muslim/articleshow/97809459.cms?from=mdr

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South Asia

 

Afghanistan withdrawal a dark chapter for UK: Tobias Ellwood

By Fidel Rahmati

February 10, 2023

The Chairman of the Commons Defense Committee referred to the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as a “dark chapter in Uk military history” as lawmakers released a report on the pullout.

According to the report, between 2001 and 2021, more than 150,000 members of the British Armed Forces deployed to Afghanistan. This resulted in 457 service-related deaths and a financial expenditure of £27.7 billion.

The report also stated that the withdrawal of US forces in line with the Doha Agreement made the subsequent collapse of the Afghan Government inevitable. On the other hand, thousands of Afghans eligible for evacuation to the UK are still living at risk in Afghanistan, and remain in Afghanistan, said Tobias Ellwood, head of the Defence Committee.

The 30-page report claims that the military establishment was “more surprised than it might have been” by how quickly the previous Afghanistan government crumbled.

The report also urged the Government of the UK to conduct an open, honest and detailed review of military operations and political decisions throughout the 20 years of UK involvement in Afghanistan, from September 11th 2001, to the evacuation from Kabul in August 2021, the report said. 

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence stated that, to date, more than 12,100 people had been moved under the programme. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Afghan nationals who worked for, or alongside, the UK armed forces in Afghanistan.”

The head of the Defence Committee also said that the committee was calling for a government review “to take an unflinching look at where we went wrong”.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-withdrawal-a-dark-chapter-for-uk-tobias-ellwood/

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Sweden, Denmark Grants Refugee Status to Afghan Women and Girls

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 10, 2023

Swede and Demark have announced to grant refugee status to Afghan women and girls amid the deteriorating living conditions under the Taliban-run administration in Afghanistan.

The rights groups have praised the two Scandinavian states’ move towards granting refugee status to Afghan women and girls, who have been living in complete desperation and limbo under the current regime in their country.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday appreciated the decision by Danish and Swedish Immigration Authorities for extending their helping hands to the isolated women and girls of Afghanistan during these difficult times and giving them refugee status in the Scandinavian countries. HRW said the two nations should be models for other countries around the world to follow.

HRW stated that although the scheme may not have any significant impact on the existing conditions of Afghan people, the decision opens a safe pathway for Afghan women and girls to resettle in those countries, and it represents an important moment to recognize that half of Afghanistan’s population face persecution under Taliban rule.

Last week, Denmark’s Appeal Board announced that the status of asylum seekers from Afghanistan will change “solely because of their gender” under Section 7, of the Aliens Act. The decision was made based on the continued worsening conditions for women and girls in Afghanistan. 

Similarly, Sweden in December announced that all women and girls from Afghanistan will be granted refugee status and a three-year residence permit.

The Swedish Migration Agency stated that It has now become extremely difficult for Afghan women and girls to study, earn a living, seek care, or get protection from violence that they can be considered to be persecuted on the basis of their gender.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/sweden-denmark-grants-refugee-status-to-afghan-women-and-girls/

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Taliban suppression of women’s rights may impact international financial support: EU Special Envoy on Afghanistan

February 11, 2023

SUHASINI HAIDAR

India and the EU need to speak up together about human rights in Afghanistan says the European Union’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson, who visited Delhi for consultations on the way forward.

In an interview to The Hindu, Mr. Niklasson said the Taliban’s increased restrictions on women and the ban on girl’s education is of particular concern for the EU, and may change its policy on engagement and assistance to the regime in Kabul, but that supporting armed opposition groups like the National Resistance Force (NRF) is not on the table at present.

How would you describe the situation in Afghanistan more than 18 months after the Taliban took over?

Afghanistan is going through a very difficult period. According to the U.N., about 28 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, and 6 million are in danger of starvation. We see virtually no investment in the country, no assistance going to the Taliban or going into the state budget, as we saw before. The central bank has its reserves frozen abroad. And there is a de facto government in place that, to a large extent, lacks the experience of running a country. On top of the governance challenges, the Taliban are taking decisions that prevent Afghans from contributing to economic growth. They prevent women from working, they disinvest in the future of the country by not allowing girls to go to school or to study at university. It’s a grim picture and Afghanistan is overall at a worse place today than last winter.

Has the Taliban’s reversal on women’s education and rights changed the view of the international community towards engaging the regime?

We could have managed to build a more constructive relationship with Taliban, or helped stabilise the Afghan economy if we would have seen any progress being made towards development and upholding of human rights. If we had seen, for example, secondary schools opening for girls in March last year, or the Taliban taking positive steps towards opening a political dialogue on specific issues, taking a less harsh position on journalists and being more successful in implementing their so-called amnesty for officials from the previous government, if they had taken steps towards either recognising the Constitution in place, or proposing a new one, and implementing rule of law. But the fact is, they have not, and we cannot be seen as helping to prop up an increasingly repressive regime.

There will be a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on February 20, the first occasion when our Ministers will talk about Afghanistan substantially in this format since September 2021. I think the question about whether we should give any assistance beyond humanitarian will be on the table. I expect that some member states would also like to have a discussion on possible human rights sanctions. I think there may also be a discussion on the strengthening of what we call accountability mechanisms for human rights. Examples would be the mandate of UNAMA, which monitors the human rights situation and reports on it. Special Rapporteur Richard Bennett has a specific mandate to look into the human rights situation in Afghanistan, and the International Criminal Court is ready to also look into acts of human rights violations or suspected acts of human rights violations, primarily by the Taliban and ISIS-KP.

Where do you see India’s role today — where it has a technical mission in Kabul, and is talking to the Taliban?

India has all this investment, not just financially, but culturally, the goodwill that was there in Afghanistan, strong and positive emotions toward India, and what India did, in terms of development projects throughout the country. India was the biggest regional donor, Afghanistan was the biggest recipient of Indian development assistance. There’s a need to keep that up somehow. But doing so in the current context is becoming increasingly political challenging due to the actions taken by the Taliban and some decisions not taken.

India has taken a similar position as the EU, by establishing limited presence in Kabul and saying we don’t want to close doors on engaging the regime, while not recognising it, of course. And we don’t want to sit back in Brussels and Delhi and tell ourselves that we don’t want to close doors. We actually want to be there to have a dialogue with Afghan entrepreneurs, with journalists, with civil society, with Afghan women, with Taliban, as needed. Because if we are not there, others remain. And I don’t mean to portray this as a power game, or game of influence. There are security risks. And we have seen over the last six months, attacks against two diplomatic missions, attacks against Chinese citizens and attacks against two Ministries in Kabul in high-security zones. So, deciding to be present in Kabul is not only politically risky, but also challenging from a security point of view.

During your visit here, is there something you are asking India to do?

India and the EU share and uphold common principles and values such as human rights, including women’s rights, democracy, and inclusive government. The European Union is often quite outspoken in public diplomacy and making statements to explain our positions and our expectations. India takes a different approach, I think, when it comes to public diplomacy. But it is essential we work together to defend our shared principles and values.

India has also denied most visas for Afghans, including students and medical patients since August 2021. Are you discussing that?

I would like to understand better what the Indian position is, and I would like to get the facts right as well. I don’t come with an agenda. These are issues that people have mentioned to me before I was coming here. And these are issues that also some of our Indian counterparts have raised with me, but as I said, my first point would be to have a better overview of the situation.

When it comes to alternatives to Taliban, what is the EU’s position on supporting the political opposition, or armed groups like Ahmed Massoud-led NRF?

For the EU, supporting armed groups, or military interventions is simply not on the table. I think any power considering doing so should consider the many risks: Supporting the wrong people, or the armed resistance not succeeding, or tainting any attempted armed resistance by making them be seen as supported from abroad. And if one actor would extend financial or political support to any specific group, other countries would most likely support other groups, and we would risk seeing again a spiral of violence inside the country.

Currently among Afghans abroad, most groups presenting themselves publicly as political alternatives seem to consist mainly of former ministers, politicians, ambassadors, and in some cases also Afghans referred to as warlords. We see a number of groups, formulating positions, who have approached the EU to organise platform meeting points for them.

So far, we are very cautious for a number of reasons. First, the international community collectively has a bad track record when it comes to proposing future leaders of Afghanistan. Secondly, these Afghans outside the country have resources, skills and contacts, and they should have these conversations amongst themselves. We are happy to come to listen, we are happy to engage in a dialogue, as long as armed resistance is not on the table. But we also see the risk that if any group were to be seen as set up, facilitated, pushed by us, it would be counterproductive. The truth is that many Afghans feel betrayed by those who left the country, especially the regime. Many don’t trust them, consider them part of a largely corrupt setup, see them as having ran away, and that they benefited from something which most Afghans didn’t. And that creates this trust gap that they will have to overcome. But regardless of that, and first of all, I would say that in the medium to long-term change will have to come from within Afghanistan.

In the Doha agreement, the Taliban had committed to not allowing foreign terror groups in Afghanistan. Is that promise being kept at all?

First of all, we have less intelligence, less information as the [NATO/US] troops are no longer there. Journalists cannot work freely the way they could. And there are fewer journalists present in the country. Many countries have closed embassies. Last summer, the leader of al Qaeda was killed in a building owned or controlled by senior Taliban members. And that is a clear indication that the Taliban have not delivered on one of their commitments in the Doha agreement.

Source: The Hindu

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

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/taliban-suppression-of-womens-rights-may-impact-international-financial-support-eu-special-envoy-on-afghanistan/article66496467.ece

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Europe

 

Arsenal in touch with UK's Muslim community to help quake victims in Türkiye, Syria

Burak Bir

10.02.2023

LONDON

London's Arsenal football club have contacted the UK's Muslim community to help victims of powerful earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria earlier this week and caused widespread destruction.

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London, said the English Premier League club reached out to them to take part in relief work.

"They contacted us, we have this good relationship with them. They offered to give food, some other material, necessary materials to the victims as well to those who are being affected by the earthquake," he told Anadolu.

Kozbar said they are working with the club to see how they can deliver the supplies to the disaster zones.

Earlier, Arsenal extended condolences to the victims on Twitter, saying: "We are truly saddened to hear of the tragic events ... Our thoughts are with all those who are affected."

Community shocked, but united

Kozbar said the Muslim community in the UK is united in aiding quake-hit victims in both Türkiye and Syria.

He said that like many people around the world, Muslims in London were also shocked when they first heard the news about the earthquakes, "a huge disaster" for the people of Türkiye and Syria, and a "shock for the Muslim community here in the UK."

"No one knew the scale of the disaster ... So many lives have been lost because of this earthquake. And this makes people feel really helpless and shocked," he added.

Donation drives

Kozbar said that people did not know how to help until the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella body with over 500 Muslim organizations, started to campaign, making "the Muslim community get together."

"They started sending messages through social media, emails and so on, telling people that they can be positive and they can help [with] whatever they can by giving money, make duas [pray], giving money as much as they can and also arranging for if they have any shelters, any clothes," he added.

The chairman explained that the communities have mobilized, and many activities and charity campaigns are underway and planned in London.

One of them is collecting donations after Friday prayers in mosques, he said, adding that he believes people will be generous enough to support the campaign.

"We are trying our best to help, I know that disaster is huge, it needs a lot of efforts. But if every one of us does even a bit of things Inshallah [if Allah wills], it will have an impact and help these people," he said.

Kozbar also mentioned that they are currently running an online funds collection campaign through a link, which they distributed on social media to those who would like to donate through the mosque.

He stressed that the raised amount will go to Islamic Relief as well, a member of the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee.

"We try our best to help our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria," Kozbar said.

At least 18,342 people were killed and 74,242 others injured in two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye earlier this week, according to the national disaster agency AFAD.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in Kahramanmaras province, have impacted some 13 million people across 10 Turkish provinces including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/arsenal-in-touch-with-uks-muslim-community-to-help-quake-victims-in-turkiye-syria/2814303

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UN says threat from Daesh remains high

February 11, 2023

NEW YORK: The threat posed by Daesh extremists remains high and has increased in and around conflict zones, and the group’s expansion is “particularly worrying” in Africa’s center, south and Sahel regions, the UN counterterrorism chief said.

Undersecretary-General Vladimir Voronkov told the UN Security Council that the group continues to use the internet, social media, video games and gaming platforms “to extend the reach of its propaganda to radicalize and recruit new supporters.”

“Daesh’s use of new and emerging technologies also remains a key concern,” he said, pointing to its continuing use of drones for surveillance and reconnaissance as well as “virtual assets” to raise money.

Voronkov said the high level of threat posed by Daesh and its affiliates, including their sustained expansion in parts of Africa, underscores the need for multifaceted approaches to respond – not just focused on security but on preventive measures including preventing conflicts.

Daesh declared a self-styled caliphate in a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq that it seized in 2014. The extremist group was formally declared defeated in Iraq in 2017 following a three-year bloody battle that left tens of thousands dead and cities in ruins, but its sleeper cells remain in both countries.

Some 65,600 suspected Daesh members and their families — both Syrians and foreign citizens — are still held in camps and prisons in northeastern Syria run by us-allied Kurdish groups, according to a Human Rights Watch report released in December.

Voronkov said the pace of repatriations remains too slow “and children continue to bear the brunt of this catastrophe.”

At the same time, he said, “foreign terrorist fighters” who joined the extremist group are not restricted to Iraq and Syria and “move between different theaters of conflict.”

Voronkov, who heads the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, said “foreign terrorist fighters with battlefield experience relocating to their homes or to third countries further compounds the threat” from Daesh.

Weixiong Chen, acting head of the Security Council CounterTerrorism Committee’s executive directorate, told members that the failure to repatriate foreign nationals from the camps provides Daesh “with ongoing opportunities to recruit from camps and prisons and facilitate radicalization to violence and the spread of terrorism.”

He said the threat from Daesh “presents a complex, evolving and enduring threat in both conflict and non-conflict zones.”

Chen pointed to Daesh’s continued exploitation of “local fragilities and intercommunal tensions” particularly in Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa and the expansion of its affiliates notably in parts of central, southern and western Africa.

He also cited Daesh’s revenue generation and fundraising through a wide range of ways “including extortion, looting, smuggling, taxation, soliciting donations and kidnapping for ransom” as well as its use of social media and gaming platforms. Daesh’s dominant means of moving money continues to be unregistered informal cash transfer networks and mobile money services, he said.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2248741/world

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Western Balkans leaders sign condolence books at Turkish embassy

Mustafa Talha Öztürk

11.02.2023

BELGRADE, Serbia

Leaders and senior politicians from Western Balkan nations signed condolence books Friday at Turkish embassies in their respective capitals to honor earthquake victims in Türkiye.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic signed the condolence book after being greeted by Turkish Ambassador to Belgrade, Hami Aksoy.

"The Republic of Serbia and its people share the pain and sorrow of the friendly Turkish people. We are ready to provide the necessary assistance,'' wrote Brnabic.

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic also visited the embassy and signed.

Officials from the Bosniak National Council (BNV), a representative body of the Bosniak national minority in Serbia, signed the book at the Novi Pazar Consulate General.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjartt signed the book in Budapest.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic signed in Podgorica.

"The people of Montenegro stand by the friendly country Türkiye. Türkiye is more than a friend to us,'' he wrote.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Foreign Minister Elmedin Konakovic signed in Sarajevo and conveyed patience to the survivors.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani visited the Pristina Embassy.

"We are with you and we will do much more in the days to come,'' said Kurti.

Albanian Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka, said his country offered aid to Türkiye from the very first moments and would continue to do so.

Meanwhile, absentee funeral prayers were held for victims in the region with many attending and donations collected during prayers at mosques.

Numerous charity organizations in the Balkans collected a large amount of aid for Türkiye and its victims.

People left flowers in front of the Turkish Embassy in Sarajevo to honor the victims.

Bosnia and Herzegovina sent 140 people to assist Türkiye. Albania sent 53; Serbia 45; Croatia 40; Kosovo 30 and 15 from Montenegro.

More than 20,300 people in Türkiye were killed and over 80,000 injured after the two strong quakes hit the southern region early Monday, according to the latest figures.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/western-balkans-leaders-sign-condolence-books-at-turkish-embassy/2815383

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Dutch leader signs condolence book for Türkiye’s quake victims

Burak Bir  

11.02.2023

LONDON

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited the Turkish Embassy in The Hague to offer condolences Friday for the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye.

Rutte, accompanied by Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, extended condolences to Türkiye and its people for Monday's powerful quakes.

"Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones, both in Türkiye and Syria," Hoekstra wrote on Twitter, sharing the words he wrote in the embassy's condolence book.

"Words will always fall short in describing the pain and grief caused by this week’s terrible disaster that hit Türkiye and caused such tremendous suffering. The shock and sadness felt by many in the Netherlands reflect the closeness between our two countries," wrote Hoekstra.

Maltese President George Vella and his wife Miriam Vella visited the Turkish Embassy in Valletta and signed the condolence books.

"Following the devastating earthquake that claimed thousands of lives, I have conveyed my condolences to the people of the Republic of Türkiye at this tragic moment," he wrote on Twitter.

Later on Twitter, the embassy thanked Vella for his visit.

More than 20,300 people were killed and over 80,000 injured after two strong earthquakes jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, according to official figures.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/dutch-leader-signs-condolence-book-for-turkiye-s-quake-victims/2815375

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Netherlands cathedral plays Turkish national anthem in solidarity with quake victims

Selman Aksünger 

11.02.2023

AMSTERDAM

A cathedral in the Netherlands played the Turkish national anthem Friday to show solidarity with the quake-hit nation.

The De Peperbus cathedral in Zwolle played the anthem at 11:30 a.m. local time.

Mayor Peter Snijders said there are many in the city whose loved ones were affected by the earthquakes that hit Türkiye.

Snijders wrote on Twitter that he visited the Diyanet Mosque in the city to show solidarity with Türkiye and convey his condolences to the Turkish people.

More than 20,300 people were killed and over 80,000 injured after two strong earthquakes jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, according to the latest figures.

The 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, have affected 13 million people across 10 Turkish provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/netherlands-cathedral-plays-turkish-national-anthem-in-solidarity-with-quake-victims/2815371

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French President Macron vows 'full support' for quake-hit Türkiye

Nur Asena Erturk 

10.02.2023

France stands ready to ramp up its support for Türkiye earthquake relief operations, President Emmanuel Macron said.

Two French teams with 140 members are already engage in rescue operations in southern Türkiye, Macron said at a press conference after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

“We are ready to intensify this emergency support according to priority needs,” he added, pledging France’s “full support.”

A Foreign Ministry statement said a French field hospital with the capacity to treat 100 patients per day will start operations in Türkiye’s Adiyaman province on Sunday.

The hospital will have an 87-member team, including surgeons, radiologists, biologists, and other specialists.

More than 20,210 people have died and over 80,000 others were injured after two strong earthquakes jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, according to latest official figures.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/french-president-macron-vows-full-support-for-quake-hit-turkiye/2815229

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In wake of global criticism, US issues temporary sanctions waiver for Syria

10 February 2023

Washington has issued a temporary sanctions waiver to allow earthquake relief funds to reach Syria, following widespread criticism that the bans are hampering international aid efforts in the country.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Friday issued the waiver for Caesar Act sanctions imposed on Syria, authorizing earthquake relief transactions for a period of six months.

Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury Department Wally Adeyemo said they issued the waiver to ensure the US sanctions would not get in the way of “life-saving efforts for the Syrian people.”

“While US sanctions programs already contain robust exemptions for humanitarian efforts, today Treasury is issuing a blanket General License to authorize earthquake relief efforts so that those providing assistance can focus on what’s needed most: saving lives and rebuilding.”

Syria has been a target of US sanctions since 1979. Following the start of the crisis in 2011, the US and its Western allies placed rounds of sanctions and restrictions on the Arab country. The sanctions intensified with the passing of the Caesar Act in 2019, which targeted any individual and business that participated either directly or indirectly in Syria's reconstruction efforts.

In the wake of the devastating earthquake, a storm of criticism was triggered against the impact of the US sanctions on the humanitarian situation in Syria, particularly on relief efforts following the quake. The US claims its sanctions have exemptions for humanitarian aid. However, experts say the sanctions intimidate countries against dealing with the Syrian government, and even when aid is involved, those who want to assist usually refrain from doing so due to the high risk of US consequences.

On Wednesday, Bassam Sabbagh, Syria’s permanent UN envoy, said international cargo planes have been refusing to land in Syrian airports due to the threat of sanctions.

Earlier, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement the sanctions prevent Syrians from importing rescue equipment. It said the Syrians are also denied access to medicines and medical equipment.

Other countries have also criticized the US bans, including China, which on Wednesday urged the US to put aside its “geopolitical obsession” and remove its unilateral sanctions on Syria.

Search and rescue operations continue in Syria and Turkey five days after the massive quake there, whose death toll has already passed 22,000 in both countries.

The World Health Organization has urged the global community to lend a helping hand to Syria as the country’s humanitarian needs are particularly high.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/10/697986/US-temporary-sanctions-waiver-quake-Syria

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Arab World

 

Turkey-Syria earthquake: UAE mosques to hold absentee funeral prayers for victims

10 February ,2023

Mosques across the United Arab Emirates will hold absentee funeral prayers for the victims of a major earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria, the country’s President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed announced on Thursday.

The president directed that the prayers be held after the Friday prayers in all mosques across the country, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

As of Friday morning, more than 21,000 people have died in the 7.8-magnitude quake that hit northern Syria and southwest Turkey, and officials say the death toll is expected to keep rising in the coming days.

Rescue teams – including ones from Saudi Arabia and the UAE – continued to scour through the rubble of collapsed buildings hoping to find any survivors in a race against time.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/02/10/Turkey-Syria-earthquake-UAE-mosques-to-hold-absentee-funeral-prayers-for-victims
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Earthquake aid becomes political pawn as powers clash over Syria access

10 February ,2023

Aid deliveries to tens of thousands of Syrians caught up in this week’s earthquake are being hampered by wrangling between rival powers in the country’s more than decade-long war.

“The devastation from the earthquake is unimaginable,” United Nations’ Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen tweeted after a meeting of the Syria Humanitarian Task Force on Thursday, as he appealed to countries not to politicize the response. “This is about putting people first,” he said.

While supplies have flowed into heavily damaged regions of neighboring Turkey, in Syria the areas hit are mainly controlled by anti-government forces that President Bashar al Assad has been battling since 2011.

That has raised tensions over aid provision that have embroiled Turkey, Russia and the US and Europe amid longstanding international sanctions on Assad and his government for atrocities committed since the start of the conflict, leaving quake victims as pawns in the wider struggle over the Middle East state.

US and European representatives clashed with their Russian counterpart over the sanctions at the closed-door talks in Geneva, according to a Middle East-based senior European diplomat who received the meeting’s minutes. A spokesperson for Pedersen’s office declined to comment.

The US and its allies should immediately lift sanctions because their “politicized approach hinders the provision of aid to earthquake victims,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing Friday in Moscow. “We emphasize the need for urgent international assistance to Damascus in close coordination with the Syrian government.”

The risk is Syria and Russia seek to spin the crisis in their favor as part of a disinformation campaign that’s distracting from the rescue efforts. Syrian government channels are spreading the message that US and European sanctions are impeding relief work, claims echoed in media outlets in Iran and Russia which both backed Assad in the conflict.

‘Lift Sanctions’

“All we want from Europe and the US now is to lift sanctions,” Assad’s adviser Bouthaina Shaaban told Sky News on Wednesday. “It is the sanctions that are making life here impossible and causing the death of people under the rubble.”

Aid workers and diplomats involved in the response reject this and accuse the government in Damascus of exploiting the situation for its own gain, saying most Syrian aid funded by Europe and the US goes through UN agencies and their local partners based in the capital. They pointed to Syria routinely blocking international aid to rebel-held areas in the north and siphoning supplies for the rest of the country.

With the death toll in Turkey and Syria together exceeding 23,000 and with tens of thousands still trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, rescue workers say there’s an urgent need for medical supplies and shelters to help survivors of the disaster.

The first convoy of humanitarian aid provided by the UN was only able to cross into northwest Syria from Turkey’s Cilvegozu border post on Thursday, but the shipment is small relative to the scale of devastation there. Turkey is trying to get agreement from Russia for new border crossings to be opened to deliver aid, according to Turkish officials.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn’t respond to a request to comment.

“Russia won’t be against this, providing it’s agreed with Damascus,” said Elena Suponina, a Moscow-based Middle East analyst.

Turkey and Russia are on opposing sides in northern Syria, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened in November to begin a long-delayed offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces that Ankara regards as controlled by terrorists. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sent his military to back Assad’s troops in 2015, wants Damascus to regain control of all the country’s territory from rebel forces.

While Russia last month supported a UN resolution to extend the use of the Cilvegozu, or Bab al-Hawa, border crossing as the sole point of entry for international aid shipments into Syria, it has opposed opening other checkpoints allowing material to flow to rebel-held territory.

Meanwhile, nearly 50 aircraft laden with humanitarian aid and medical supplies and equipment have flown into Damascus and Aleppo since Monday, according to the Syrian Ministry of Transportation. The United Arab Emirates alone, which restored diplomatic ties with Damascus in 2019, has airlifted 640 tons of relief to both Syria and Turkey, according to the country’s news agency WAM.

“The ball is in the Americans’ court,” said Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, who runs the UAE-based Emirates Policy Center. “The UAE has been open to Syria and bringing Syria back into the Arab fold but without removing the sanctions, no one can get help with reconstruction.”

Western powers say the main reason for the sanctions is to compel Assad to agree to meaningful political reforms, something he has refused to do.

Still, the US on Thursday said it was easing restrictions on money transfers to Syria until early August to facilitate earthquake relief. It also announced $85 million in humanitarian assistance to Turkey and Syria.

The European Union has activated its Civil Protection Mechanism which allows for aid to flow directly to government-controlled areas of Syria as well.

For thousands of Syrians whose lives have been shattered by the disaster and who urgently need assistance, the political maneuvering seems very distant from their concerns.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/10/Earthquake-aid-becomes-political-pawn-as-powers-clash-over-Syria-access

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UAE rescuers save 2, including child, from rubble 120 hours after Turkey earthquake

11 February ,2023

Emirati rescue workers from the United Arab Emirates have saved two people – including a child – trapped under rubble in Turkey more than 120 hours after the devastating earthquake that has killed more than 23,000 people across the region.

As part of the UAE’s ‘Gallant Knight/2’ operation, the 11-year-old and a man - thought to be aged in his 50s or 60s - were rescued from rubble after a lengthy search and rescue operation in the Kahramanmaraş province.

The team’s dramatic rescue defied the reality that the chances of finding many more survivors five days after the catastrophic earthquake are shrinking fast.

The survivors have been successfully treated by medical professionals, and they are currently in good health, state news agency WAM reported Saturday.

Earlier this week, Emirati rescue teams also pulled a Syrian family of four trapped under rubble in Turkey following a five-hour operation.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/11/UAE-rescuers-save-2-including-child-from-rubble-120-hours-after-Turkey-earthquake

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Up to 5.3 million in Syria may be homeless after quake: UN

10 February ,2023

Up to 5.3 million people in Syria may have been made homeless by the devastating earthquake which rocked the region this week, a United Nations official said on Friday.

“As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may have been left homeless by the earthquake,” the Syria representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sivanka Dhanapala, told a press briefing.

He said the UN estimated that 5.37 million people affected by the quake will need shelter assistance across the country.

“That is a huge number and comes to a population already suffering mass displacement,” he said.

“For Syria, this is a crisis within a crisis. We’ve had economic shocks, COVID and are now in the depths of winter.”

Quake survivors have flocked to camps set up for people displaced by nearly 12 years of war from other parts of Syria.

Many lost their homes or are too scared to return to damaged buildings.

Nearly 23,000 people have died across Turkey and Syria because of the quake, one of the worst disasters to hit the region in around a century.

The quake killed more than 3,300 in Syria, according to health ministry figures and a rescue group.

The conflict in Syria started in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global extremists.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/10/Up-to-5-3-million-in-Syria-may-be-homeless-after-quake-UN

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Syria’s Assad regime approves aid to earthquake victims in areas outside govt control

10 February ,2023

The Syrian government has approved humanitarian aid delivery across the frontlines of the country’s 12-year civil war, state media said on Friday, a move that could speed up the arrival of help for millions of people affected by Monday’s deadly quake.

Aid distribution will take place in cooperation with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, state media said, to “guarantee the arrival of this aid to those who need it.”

The UN has pushed for aid to flow more freely into Syria, especially into the country’s northwest - where it estimated more than 4 million people already required aid before the quake - via frozen frontlines and through crossings with Turkey.

More than 3,200 people have died in Syria from the earthquake, with many more injured and hundreds of thousands displaced. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that the death toll in Turkey had risen to 19,388.

Dozens of planeloads of aid have arrived in areas held by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government since Monday but little has reached the northwest, leading many residents to say they feel left alone.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/10/Syria-approves-delivery-of-aid-to-earthquake-victims-in-areas-outside-govt-control

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More aid arrives in Syria’s quake-struck northwest: Border official

10 February ,2023

A United Nations aid convoy crossed into war-torn Syria’s opposition-held northwest from Turkey on Friday, the second such delivery after a devastating earthquake hit the two countries, a border official told AFP.

The 7.8-magnitude quake early Monday has killed some 22,000 people in Turkey and Syria, according to officials and medics.

“A second aid convoy, coming from the United Nations, entered a short time ago,” said Mazen Alloush, media officer at the Bab al-Hawa crossing.

The convoy consisted of 14 trucks containing non-food items such as “humanitarian kits, solar lamps, blankets and other assistance,” International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Paul Dillon told reporters in Geneva.

The aid “will be sufficient for about 1,100 families in the quake-hit areas in Idlib” province in the country’s northwest, he added.

On Thursday, a first delivery carried “basic relief items... to cover the needs of at least 5,000 people,” the IOM had said.

The aid delivery mechanism from Turkey into opposition-held areas of Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing is the only way UN assistance can reach civilians without passing through areas controlled by Syrian government forces.

While the crossing itself was not affected by the quake, the road leading to it was damaged, temporarily disrupting operations, a UN spokesman said earlier this week.

The White Helmets rescue group that operates in opposition-held areas had expressed disappointment Thursday at the first batch of aid, saying it was part of “routine” deliveries.

“This is certainly not special aid and equipment for search and rescue teams,” the group said on Twitter.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/10/More-aid-arrives-in-Syria-s-quake-struck-northwest-Border-official

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Lebanon’s embattled Central Bank chief says he will not seek new term

10 February ,2023

Lebanon’s veteran central bank chief Riad Salameh said he would not seek a new term in office once his latest six-year stint at the head of the Banque du Liban ends.

“My decision is that, at the end of the term, it will be a page I turned in my life and I will move to work outside the central bank,” Salameh told Saudi Arabia-based Asharq News.

Salameh’s term is set to end in July.

Lebanese political sources say that there is not yet consensus around a replacement to Salameh, who has held his post for three-decades and retains the support of some of Lebanon’s most powerful politicians, including Speaker Nabih Berri.

The central bank chief, in office for three decades, is widely blamed for monetary policies that contributed to an unprecedented economic crisis in Lebanon, but he has dismissed such criticism.

France, Germany and Luxembourg last March seized assets worth 120 million euros ($130 million) in a move linked to a probe by French investigators into 72-year-old Salameh’s personal wealth.

Lebanon opened its own probe into Salameh’s affairs last year, after the office of Switzerland’s top prosecutor requested assistance with an investigation into more than $300 million allegedly embezzled from the central bank with the help of his brother.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/10/Lebanon-s-embattled-Central-Bank-chief-says-he-will-not-seek-new-term

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UAE’s Emirates airline launches Air Bridge to transport aid to Turkey, Syria

10 February ,2023

In the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, Emirates is setting up an airbridge with the International Humanitarian City (IHC), to transport urgent relief supplies, medical items and equipment to support on-ground aid efforts and search and rescue activities in both countries.

The first shipments are due to go out Friday on EK 121 and EK 117, consisting of high thermal blankets and family tents from UNHCR, followed by World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Food Program (WFP) relief cargo of medical kits and shelter items, co-ordinated by the IHC in Dubai.

In the coming days, more consignments of blankets, tents, shelter kits, flash lights, water distribution ramps and trauma and emergency health kits will be transported on Emirates.

Emirates SkyCargo plans to dedicate cargo space for around 100 tonnes of humanitarian relief goods over the course of the next two weeks across its daily flight operations to Istanbul.

The critical emergency supplies carried on Emirates will then be delivered by local organizations to affected areas in southern Turkey and northern Syria, supporting on-ground responders and providing much needed aid to the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by the earthquakes.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, Emirates’ chairman and chief executive, said: “We stand with the Turkish and Syrian people and are working with experts like the International Humanitarian City to help provide urgent relief to those affected and displaced by the earthquakes, as well as support the complex recovery efforts on the ground.”

“Emirates also supports the UAE’s ongoing humanitarian efforts to support Turkey and Syria, and Dubai’s unique position as the world’s largest international aid logistics hub means that we can efficiently reach disaster stricken areas and the most vulnerable people as quickly as possible.”

Earlier this week, the UAE pledged $100 million to Syria and Turkey, one of the largest sums yet following the catastrophic earthquake that to date has killed more than 21,000 people across both countries.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/02/10/UAE-s-Emirates-airline-launches-airbridge-to-transport-aid-to-Turkey-Syria-

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Mideast

 

Children Found Alive As Turkey-Syria Quake Toll Tops 22,000

Feb 10, 2023

KAHRAMANARAS: Rescuers pulled children alive Friday from the rubble of the Turkey-Syria earthquake as the toll surpassed 22,000 and bitter cold compounded the suffering of the homeless.

In the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, one of those hit hardest by the region's worst earthquake in nearly a century, the stench of death clung to the air.

But as crews entered a fifth day of peeling back flattened buildings, Turkish media reported rescues of young children, long after the expiration of the 72-hour window when survivors are considered most likely to be found.

In the 105th hour, rescuers pulled 18-month-old Yusuf Huseyin from the debris in the southeastern city of Antakya. Twenty minutes later, they rescued seven-year-old Muhammed Huseyin, NTV news channel reported.

Three-year-old Zeynep Ela Parlak was also rescued in Antakya on Friday, while in Adiyaman province, rescuers saved a 60-year-old Eyup Ak and in Gaziantep, two people were pulled out alive including a child whose age was not known.

"Half an hour ago, we managed to rescue two living people out of the rubble," the Czech fire service tweeted Friday of their teams in southeastern Turkey's Adiyaman.

On Thursday, rescuers pulled a 10-day-old baby and his mother out alive after 90 hours trapped in hard-hit Hatay province, Turkish officials said.

The baby boy named Yagiz Ulas was swiftly wrapped in a thermal blanket.

Bodies flown home

Turkey's miners, expert in rescuing their own colleagues, told how they rushed to help people trapped by Monday's 7.8 magnitude quake.

"Our hearts couldn't take this," said miner Ismail Hakki Kalkan.

Yet the bodies of seven Cypriot children, as well as two teachers and a parent killed by the earthquake in Adiyaman were flown home on Friday, with Turkish media reporting that 19 children in the group died.

Two dozen children aged 11 to 14 from the island, along with 10 parents, four teachers and a volleyball coach, were in Turkey for a school tournament and had been staying in a hotel that was destroyed.

In a region home to many displaced and traumatised by Syria's civil war, worries were growing over the many people left without shelter amid freezing temperatures.

UN aid and rescue teams have arrived, while the US Agency for International Development offered a $85-million package including food, shelter and emergency health services.

World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths have both announced upcoming visits.

"As this tragic event unfolds, people's desperate plight must be addressed," said the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric, who travelled to quake-hit Aleppo in Syria.

Outlawed Kurdish militants are temporarily suspending "operations" in Turkey after the massive quake in the country and Syria, a PKK leader said.

Aid reaches rebel areas

"Thousands of our people are under the rubble. Everyone must mobilise using all their means," leader Cemil Bayik was quoted as saying late Thursday by ANF, a news agency close to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The first aid deliveries to rebel-held northwestern Syria since the quake arrived on Thursday, an official at the Bab al-Hawa crossing told AFP.

A decade of civil war and Syrian-Russian aerial bombardment had already destroyed hospitals, collapsed the economy and prompted electricity, fuel and water shortages.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the Security Council to authorise the opening of new cross-border humanitarian aid points between Turkey and Syria.

"This is the moment of unity, it's not a moment to politicise or to divide but it is obvious that we need massive support," Guterres said.

Temperatures in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, located near the epicentre of the quake, plunged to minus three degrees Celsius (26 degrees Fahrenheit) early Friday.

Despite the cold, thousands of families have been living in cars and makeshift tents -- too scared or banned from returning to their homes.

Gyms, mosques, schools and some stores have opened at night. But beds are scarce, and thousands spend the nights in cars with engines running to provide heat.

'Quiet is agonising'

Monday's quake was the largest Turkey has seen since 1939, when 33,000 people died in the eastern Erzincan province.

Officials and medics said 18,991 people had died in Turkey and 3,377 in Syria from Monday's tremor, bringing the confirmed total to 22,368.

Experts fear the number will continue to rise.

Anger has mounted over the government's handling of the disaster.

"People who didn't die from the earthquake were left to die in the cold," Hakan Tanriverdi told AFP in Adiyaman province.

On a visit to the area, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted there had been "shortcomings" in the government's handling of the disaster.

In the devastated Turkish town of Nurdagi, close to the epicentre, emergency workers using drones and heat detecting monitors ordered silence when a potential survivor was found.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/children-found-alive-as-turkey-syria-quake-toll-tops-22000/articleshow/97804991.cms

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Iran exiled opposition figures in talks to unite against mullah regime

February 11, 2023

DUBAI: Eight Iranian exiled dissident figures discussed ways of uniting a fragmented opposition on Friday, amid pro-government events marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution inside the country.

Iran was rocked by nationwide unrest following the death in police custody of a young Iranian Kurdish woman in September after she was detained for flouting a strict Islamic dress code for women. The protests are among the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the revolution.

“The Islamic Republic has survived because of our differences and we should put our differences aside until we come to the polling booth,” Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi said in a video message to the prominent opposition figures’ gathering at Georgetown University in Washington.

US-based women’s rights advocate Masih Alinejad said: “We must agree on principles based on the declaration of human rights, on eliminating discrimination, and principles that every Iranian can see themselves in, and that depict the end of oppression.”

Alinejad expressed hope that an agreement on the opposition’s principles could be reached by the end of 2023.

Asked why there was only one Kurdish leader among the eight, Reza Pahlavi, the exiled son of the toppled Shah of Iran, said: “You don’t need to wait for an invitation in order to participate... This is a free bus!“

Iran’s opposition has long been split in numerous factions, both at home and abroad, including monarchists, republicans, leftists and organizations grouping ethnic minorities including Kurds, Baluchis and Arabs.

Meanwhile Iranian state media showed fireworks as part of state-sponsored celebrations, and people chanting the Islamic rallying cry “Allahu Akbar! (God is Greatest!).” But many could be heard shouting “Death to the dictator!” on videos posted on social media.

A video purported to be from Tehran’s Afsariyeh district showed distant fireworks while protesters could be heard shouting “Death to the Islamic Republic.”

Similar social media videos, which Reuters could not verify independently, carried anti-government slogans shouted from windows and rooftops by protesters who had stayed home in several cities.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2248816/middle-east

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Muslims offer absentee prayers for Türkiye, Syria quake victims

Thousands of citizens performed absentee prayers in mosques in Muslim countries on Friday for the souls of earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

In Palestine, thousands performed absentee prayers in West Bank mosques for the earthquake victims, followed by a collection of donations organized by the Ministry of Religious Endowments.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian worshipers also performed absentee prayers in both Al Aqsa Mosque in  occupied East Jerusalem, and the mosques of Gaza.

In the Emirates, worshipers performed, after Friday prayers in all mosques in the country, the absentee prayer for the souls of the earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria, in response to the invitation of the UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to Emirati newspapers.

Bahrain's capital Manama also witnessed absentee prayers for the earthquake victims in Syria and Türkiye, the daily Bahraini Al Ayam reported.

In Jordan, after Friday prayers, all mosques witnessed absentee prayers for the souls of the earthquake victims, according to a directive by the country’s Religious Endowments Ministry on Thursday.

In Lebanon, hundreds participated in absentee prayers in mosques in various regions, including the capital Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon, according to the Anadolu Agency correspondent.

In Yemen, hundreds of Yemenis performed absentee prayers in the southwestern city of Taiz for the souls of the earthquake victims.

At least 19,388 people have died and 77,711 others are injured since Monday’s powerful earthquakes in southeastern Türkiye, according to the latest official figures.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, have impacted some 13 million people across 10 Turkish provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

Source: TRT World

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https://www.trtworld.com/turkey/muslims-offer-absentee-prayers-for-t%C3%BCrkiye-syria-quake-victims-65330

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Iran’s top Sunni cleric calls for release of political prisoners, criticizes IRGC

10 February ,2023

Molavi Abdolhamid, Iran’s most prominent Sunni cleric, called on authorities on Friday to release all political prisoners and criticized the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the country.

“It is good that some prisoners were released, but we expect other political prisoners to be released too. Release all political prisoners,” Abdolhamid said in his Friday prayer sermon in the city of Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, where he is based.

Last week, state media reported that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners, including many arrested in recent anti-regime.

But rights activists have expressed skepticism, pointing out that many prominent figures remain in jail and activists continue to be arrested.

Abdolhamid also criticized the role of the IRGC in Iran, saying that the country was mostly controlled by the military and that political positions should be held by politicians and specialists in the field.

“There are many generals who are in political positions. The country should be run by politicians … Specialists and people who are capable in the field of politics should run the country,” he said.

Abdolhamid has been openly critical of the regime since nationwide protests erupted in Iran following the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody on September 16.

Following Friday prayers, protesters in Zahedan took to the streets again, continuing their weekly demonstrations with chants against Khamenei and the IRGC.

Videos posted on social media showed the protesters chanting “political prisoners must be freed” and “death to Khamenei.”

The protests took place as Iran prepared to mark the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution on Saturday. That revolution, led by Shia cleric Ruhollah Khomeini, toppled the shah and led to the establishment of the Islamic Republic.

Despite a brutal crackdown by security forces, Sistan-Baluchistan has witnessed protests weekly after Friday prayers since late September.

According to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, more than 400 people have been killed by security forces during the protests across Iran, with Sistan-Baluchistan having the highest number of fatalities.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/10/Iran-s-top-Sunni-cleric-calls-for-release-of-political-prisoners-criticizes-IRGC

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FM: Iran Ready to Send Humanitarian Aid Teams to Idlib

2023-February-10

Amir Abdollahian also congratulated Mirjana Spoljaric Egger on her appointment as the new president of the International Committee of the Red Cross and wished her good luck in the capacity.

As for the readiness of the Islamic Republic of Iran to help the quake-hit people in Turkey and Syria, Amir Abdollahian said since the tremors happened in the two countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken various measures to assist those who suffered losses as a result of the earthquakes.

The Iranian foreign minister pointed out that the measures include dispatching rescue teams to Turkey and Syria and announcing readiness to treat the wounded in Iranian hospitals.

The top Iranian diplomat described the humanitarian situation in Syria as difficult and stressed the need for international organizations to pay attention to the special situation in the country.

Due to the anti-Syria sanctions, he said, the situation of the Syrian people has further deteriorated following the quake.

Amir Abdollahian noted that the humanitarian situation in Syria’s Idlib province is critical and the number of deaths and people who suffered losses is high.

He underlined that Tehran is ready to immediately send relief teams along with humanitarian aid to Idlib, saying it is expected that the ICRC will make necessary coordination with Iran’s Red Crescent Society for the purpose of sending and distributing the aid in Idlib which is out of the control of the Syrian government.

ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, for her part, thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for its humanitarian efforts and measures in the quake zone. She said the ICRC will take drastic measures in Syria and, after assessing the situation, it will make necessary coordination with Iran regarding its valuable proposals and ways of implementing them.

Mirjana Spoljaric Egger also stressed the need for the ICRC to continue contact and interaction with Iranian institutions.

A 7.8 magnitude tremor, one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years, struck Southeastern Turkey and Northwestern Syria early Monday, killing at least 17,000 people, injuring tens of thousands more and reducing hundreds of buildings to rubble.

Freezing weather conditions are further endangering survivors and complicating rescue efforts, as hundreds of aftershocks have struck the region.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011121000235/FM-Iran-Ready-Send-Hmaniarian-Aid-Teams-Idlib

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Israel quake teams in Turkey should work through Jewish sabbath: Chief rabbi

10 February ,2023

Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, David Lau, ruled Friday that emergency teams deployed to Turkey to help in the earthquake response should work through the Jewish sabbath to save lives.

“So long as there is any hope of saving lives and finding survivors, operations should continue,” Lau said in a public letter to the rescue teams.

“The treatment being given to the wounded should not be interrupted,” he added.

Since the 7.8-magnitude quake devastated swathes of southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday, killing more than 22,700 people, Israel has deployed several hundred rescue specialists, doctors and nurses to Turkish towns and cities to assist in the relief effort.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/10/Israel-quake-teams-in-Turkey-should-work-through-Jewish-sabbath-Chief-rabbi-

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Israel might target Iran’s humanitarian aid shipments to Syria: Report

10 February 2023

An unnamed Israeli military official has told a Saudi-owned outlet that Tel Aviv will not hesitate to bomb Iran’s humanitarian aid shipments to the quake-hit Syria.

Speaking to Elaph online newspaper, the official claimed that Iran seeks to “take advantage of the tragic situation” to send weapons and equipment to the Lebanon-based resistance movement Hezbollah. 

The unnamed official also said Israel has “intelligence” to back up the claim, as the Israeli military has “intensified its monitoring by air, land, and sea of everything that Iran is transporting to Syria.”

Iran has been one of the leading countries providing humanitarian assistance to Syria since a 7.8-magnitude quake devastated the country’s northwestern region.

Israel regularly carries out airstrikes on various targets inside Syria, but it rarely comments on them.

The threat comes just two weeks after Israeli drones targeted an Iranian convoy of over two dozen trucks carrying foodstuff from Iraq into Syria.

In December, Israel’s then military chief of staff Aviv Kochavi confirmed the regime was behind an early November 2022 attack on an Iranian fuel convoy heading to Lebanon near the Syria-Iraq border. That attack targeted a convoy of 22 tankers carrying Iranian fuel that had just entered Syria from Iraq.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/10/697995/Israel-Iranian-aid-shipments-Syria

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Palestinian prisoners launch mass hunger strike after prisoner's death

10 February 2023

Palestinian prisoners have started a hunger strike in all Israeli prisons in protest against the death of a Palestinian prisoner due to deliberate medical negligence in a hospital in the occupied territories.

The move prompted the Emergency Committee of the Palestine Prisoners' Movement to announce a state of alert in all prisons of the Zionist regime on Friday morning and three days of public mourning following the martyrdom of Ahmad Abu Ali.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) announced in a statement that Ahmed Badr Abdullah Abu Ali, a resident of Yatta city in the south of the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil, died at Soroka Medical Center on Friday morning.

The 48-year-old Abu Ali, whose family says was suffering from chronic heart health failure, diabetes, and obesity, was admitted to the hospital after his health condition sharply deteriorated.

He was detained in 2012 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

The PPS held Israeli authorities fully responsible for Abu Ali’s death and for the fate of all ill Palestinian prisoners being incarcerated at the regime’s detention centers, stating that his death represents yet another crime that the occupying Tel Aviv regime is systematically perpetrating against Palestinians.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention.

Human rights organizations say Israel violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the Fourth Geneva Convention. They say administrative detention violates their right to due process since the evidence is withheld from prisoners while they are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/10/697970/Palestinian-prisoners-Israeli-prisons-Emergency-Committee-of-the-Palestine-Prisoners--Movement

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan economic crisis: No bailout deal with IMF yet, Islamabad inches closer to bankruptcy

Feb 10, 2023

NEW DELHI: Last-ditch negotiations between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) failed to unlock $1.1 billion in crucial funds that would have gone a long way in preventing the cash-strapped country from going bankrupt and defaulting on external loan repayments.

Experts said Pakistan needs the payout as soon as possible. "If this drags on for, say, longer than a month, things get more difficult as our forex reserves have reached a critical level," former central bank deputy governor Murtaza Syed told Reuters.

Fuel crisis: Petrol pumps go dry

Meanwhile, oil companies of Pakistan are on the verge of 'collapse' due to a reeling economic crisis and devaluation of the currency as a result of which most of the petrol pumps across the country have ran out of petrol. Some rural areas have not seen fuel supply in more than a month.

The situation appears to be worst in certain large towns such as Lahore, Gujranwala, and Faisalabad, where numerous petrol pumps have reportedly been running on a poor or nonexistent supply of petrol for many days as a result of pressure from the oil marketing companies.

IMF team leaves without deal

The IMF team, which had arrived in Islamabad on January 31 to work out a deal, left Pakistan on Friday.

Pakistan finance ministry officials and the IMF both said the talks did not result in a "board discussion", a meeting that would have led to the release of the funds that are part of a $6.5 billion bailout that Pakistan signed in 2019.

"Virtual discussions will continue in the coming days," assured IMF Pakistan mission chief Nathan Porter, adding "considerable progress had been made".

Finance minister Ishaq Dar said talks had "concluded successfully" and that a draft memorandum on broadly agreed policies had been shared by the lender.

Package repeatedly stalled

The $1.1 billion tranche was initially expected to be paid out last December. In addition to the stalled tranche, $1.4 billion remain of the $6.5 billion bailout programme, which is due to end in June.

The $6.5 billion bailout package was repeatedly stalled after the former PM Imran Khan-led government backed out on subsidy agreements and failed on its tax collection commitments outlined in the IMF deal. The Shehbaz Sharif-led government resumed the programme last year and received around $1.17 billion in August.

Pakistan govt wary of IMF riders

In order to unlock the latest tranche of funds, the IMF has set out several tough conditions for Pakistan that include market-based exchange rate of local currency, boosting low tax base, ending tax exemptions for the export sector, as well as raising artificially low petrol, electricity and gas prices.

During the policy-level talks, the lender also expressed its reservations over the projections made by Pakistan's finance ministry over external financing inflows from multilateral, bilateral creditors and commercial loans.

The IMF has also pushed for Pakistan to keep a sustainable amount of US dollars in the bank through guarantees of further support from friendly nations, as well as the World Bank.

The Shehbaz Sharif government, however, has been extremely reluctant in enforcing the IMF's bailout conditions, especially in an election year. PM Sharif previously called the conditions for the $1.1 billion loan instalment "beyond imagination".

But after months of holding out, the government began to bow to IMF pressure in mid-January, loosening controls on the rupee (a step that caused the currency to plunge to a record low), and hiking petrol prices by 16%.

The fiscal adjustments demanded by any deal, however, are likely to fuel record high inflation, which hit 27.5% year-on-year in January.

The IMF also highlighted the energy sector's almost $15 billion debt. Pakistan has submitted a plan to cut the debt in phases though price hikes and dividends from gas companies, but the IMF is demanding a clearer path forward.

Dar also said his government would discuss the fund's recommendations about energy sector reforms.

Bankruptcy and default on payments

Analysts have warned that rejecting the conditions could push Pakistan to the brink of bankruptcy and default on external loan repayments.

Pakistan's economy is in dire straits, stricken by a balance-of-payments crisis as it attempts to service high levels of external debt amid political chaos and deteriorating security.

Inflation has rocketed, the rupee has plummeted and the country can no longer afford imports, causing a severe decline in industry.

The IMF's loan is critical for Pakistan's economy as the State Bank of Pakistan-held foreign exchange reserves have dropped to $2.91 billion.

With Pakistan's reserves declining to such low levels, chances of default against commercial debt rises. In that case, the central bank would refuse repayment to commercial lenders or service their debt.

Since January, Pakistan has not issued letters of credit, except for essential food and medicine, causing a backlog of shipping containers at a Karachi port stuffed with stock the country can no longer afford.

Source: Times Of India

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PM preaches ‘hard work’ to get Pakistan through ‘difficult time’

February 11, 2023

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday urged the nation to work hard to get the country through a “difficult time”.

He made the remarks at a ceremony after he laid the foundation stone of the Bab-i-Pakistan project and an upgrade to Walton Road in Lahore.

“Today, once again we are at a historical place,” he said at the ceremony on Saturday morning. “In the past 20-25 years this is my eighth or tenth visit. This place reminds us of the millions of people who migrated here.”

He cited the historical significance of the place and harkened back to difficulties of Partition. He said: “People braved difficulties and there is no other example in history when it comes to sacrifices rendered by children and women. This led to the creation of our country. Thousands of migrants stayed at this point in Walton.

“There are disturbing tales of how people lost their lives and belongings wishing to reach Pakistan.”

He then described the winding journey of the project over the years, from 1997 to present. “We were supposed to make this venue a place to visit for international and local visitors,” he said. He also then spoke about the alleged graft in the project, but did not go into specifics.

He said he was told that Rs900 million worth of white granite was planned to be imported from Italy for the monument. “I asked the reason for it. The officer concerned said the creation of Pakistan could not be highlighted without importing that granite. I told him we have financial issues and have several projects to undertake. Should we spend Rs900 million on this thing? But he had no answer. But he said we have given an order. But I reminded him to follow my order that this stone will not be imported. He lodged my complaint with someone else.”

He described the contractor as a “fraud”. “He had no experience but he was given the contract without bidding,” the PM lamented.

He said he was at the project again after years but it was still in “ruins”. “I will talk about it when the IMF agreement reaches its conclusion. But I want to talk about the historical place that how billions of Pakistan rupees were misappropriated.”

He then asked why the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) never looked into the alleged graft in this project. “I wish no one goes to NAB’s akhuwat khana, not even my enemy. Innocent people were pushed against the wall. [But] this project, where billions were misappropriated, did NAB look into the elements who indulged in corruption in this project?”

He said until such a system was “buried”, the country cannot progress and see development. “The picture of the past that I painted today is to lay the facts before the nation. There are several other projects that were lost to corruption but no action has been taken.

“But we should not lose hope. We are also going through a difficult time, and if we endeavour round the clock and if the well-off do their part, this ship will reach its destination. The only condition is that we have to work day and night.”

He then thanked the National Logistics Cell chairman and expressed hope he would complete this project and work round the clock.

Source: Dawn

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Roadmap to reduce distortions in economy unveiled

Amin Ahmed

February 11, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank, in its latest report, has observed that Pakistan’s inability to allocate all its talent and resources to the most productive uses has stunted the economic growth.

Pakistan’s economy can grow sustainably only if the country introduces productivity enhancing reforms that facilitate a better allocation of resources into more dynamic activities, and of talent to more productive uses, according to the World Bank report, “From Swimming in Sand to High and Sustainable Growth”, released on Friday.

The report presents a roadmap to reduce distortions in the economy that are currently acting as a deterrent to productivity growth. Critical reforms include: harmonizing direct taxes across sectors, so that more resources flow into dynamic tradable sectors like manufacturing and tradable services, instead of real estate and non-tradables; reduce the anti-export bias of trade policy by lowering import duties and reversing the anti-diversification bias of export incentives.

“Pakistan’s economy is at a critical stage. It could be a turning point where long-term structural imbalances that have prevented sustainable growth for too long ought to be addressed urgently. The report puts forward a series of policy recommendations to achieve this in a sequenced way,” said Gonzalo J. Varela, senior economist and co-author of the report.

World Bank report suggests ‘smart interventions’ rather than ‘blanket subsidies’

“First, reduce distortions that misallocate resources and talent. Second, support growth of firms through smart interventions, rather than through blanket subsidies. Third, create a positive, dynamic loop between evidence and policymaking, strengthening feasibility analysis of publicly funded projects or programmes,” the World Bank official said.

Positive impact on productivity

The report urges Pakistan to maximise positive impact on businesses and productivity across the board by: reducing regulatory complexity; harmonizing the general sales tax (GST) across provinces; reforming investment laws to attract more foreign direct investment; and upgrading insolvency laws to reduce the costs of liquidating non-viable firms.

The report focused on how Pakistan has performed in three areas that are at the core of the growth process: productivity, growth of firms and investment, and female labour force participation.

It presents new evidence on firms’ productivity dynamics across different sectors of the economy, the patterns of firms’ growth and investment, and the allocation of female talent.

Women’s participation

Productivity is further affected by the fact that Pakistan does not tap into all of its talent. “Women in Pakistan have made progress in educational attainment, but this accumulated human capital is underused because of constraints they face to participate in the labour force,” said World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, Najy Benhassine.

Pakistan displays far lower female labor force participation rates than expected for a country at its level of development. Pakistan can accrue GDP gains ranging between 5pc and 23pc by closing the female employment gap relative to its peers, depending on the extent of implementation of complementary labor market policies.

About 7.3m new jobs would be created if Pakistan were to close its female employment gap with Bangladesh.

The report pointed out that aggregate productivity in Pakistan has been stagnant or declining during the past decade, mostly driven by firms and farms becoming less productive over time. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the decline in firms’ productivity, with a contraction of 23 per cent in 2020.

In the agriculture sector, focusing on Pakistan’s main crops, while yields have grown over the past decades, this has been due to a more intensive use of inputs. At the same time, total factor productivity has been falling for most crops, although, in this case, with provincial heterogeneity: Punjab and Sindh have been relatively good performers, compared with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan.

Crop productivity in Pakistan is highly susceptible to elevated temperatures and rainfall variations, putting the crop segment at severe risk due to climate change.

‘Zombies’

Part of the borrowing of the government that crowds out private investment is used to support firms that may be unviable without state support.

Pakistan exhibits a relatively large share of firms known as ‘zombies’, that is, firms that are loss-making for at least three consecutive years state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and family-owned domestic firms are more likely to be zombie firms, according to this definition, and to display low investment rates.

To increase investment rates and bring in large firms that could add dynamism to markets, the country could leverage its untapped FDI potential – estimated at $2.8 billion annually.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1736461

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Will not betray Imran despite arrest threats, says Qureshi

February 11, 2023

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said he and his family will not betray Imran Khan despite “threats of arrest and political victimisation for changing loyalty”.

Talking to media persons after visiting a returning officer in connection with scrutiny of his nomination papers to contest a by-election for NA-156, Multan, on Friday, the former foreign minister said his son Zain Qureshi was receiving threats of arrest, but they would not switch loyalty and are ready to court arrests during the ‘Jail Bharo’ (court arrest) movement.

Mr Qureshi alleged that the government and administration were trying to change election results, but democratic forces would not allow vote snatching.

He said resigning from assemblies and contesting by-elections were a strategy of his party and it would not leave the ground vacant for Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidates.

Commenting on retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s statement about the PTI government causing destruction in the country, Mr Qureshi said the public knows who caused the destruction and they will not listen to the former army chief.

He said the current economic condition of the country could not afford chaotic situations as these would further deteriorate the economy.

Claims his son is being threatened; accuses Punjab administration of trying to change election results

He said the government was involved in changing administration at a massive level to change the by-election results and it was a violation of the ECP’s code of conduct.

Mr Qureshi said the caretaker government could not delay elections more than 90 days as it would be tantamount to the violation of the Constitution.

He questioned the impartiality of the caretaker government in Punjab and said he would have been an opposition leader like Raja Riaz had he changed his loyalty.

He said the entire country had witnessed the clash between workers of two political parties outside the ECP office in Multan and its footage was also available, but cases under terrorism char­ges were registered against PTI’s former MNA Malik Aamir Dogar and the city president.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1736511/will-not-betray-imran-despite-arrest-threats-says-qureshi

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PM asks provinces to crush fresh wave of terrorism

Syed Irfan Raza

February 11, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday asked provinces to take all possible measures to crush a fresh wave of terrorism after a horrible picture was painted by the Punjab police chief and the chief secretary about the resurgence of terrorists in the country during a top-level meeting on the country’s security.

Presiding over the security meeting, the prime minister directed Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to visit all provinces to have a close coordination with the provincial governments to collectively fight the new wave of terrorism.

He directed the federal interior ministry and the provincial governments to rejuvenate counterterrorism departments, equip security personnel with latest weapons and gadgets, ensure close liaison among them and improve performance of Safe City Projects (network of CCTV cameras in cities).

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the premier also ordered implementation of decisions of the apex committee in letter and spirit.

Pledges support to Turkiye in wake of deadly earthquake

A source privy to the meeting told Dawn that the inspector general of police and Punjab chief secretary told the meeting that insurgents had penetrated major cities of the country, especially in Punjab.

They also gave a similar briefing to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja on Monday during a meeting held to review possibilities of provincial assembly’s elections in Punjab.

They quoted a recent abortive attempt by some terrorists at a police station in Mianwali on Feb 1 and said terrorists were hiding in a nearby mosque in the guise of women.

Earlier in Lahore, the prime minister said Pakistan would extend every possible support to Turkiye in the wake of a deadly earthquake and urged the people to donate generously in the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

The prime minister saw off a cargo plane carrying relief goods of 20 tonnes for the earthquake victims of Turkiye at the Lahore airport on Friday.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1736482/pm-asks-provinces-to-crush-fresh-wave-of-terrorism

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Imran calls for ‘internal military inquiry’ against Gen Bajwa

February 10, 2023

Former prime minister Imran Khan has called for an internal military inquiry against former army chief retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa for his alleged “admission” about being involved in the PTI government’s ouster.

In an interview with Voice of America Urdu aired on Friday (today), Imran once again said: “The PML-N, PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) and the establishment are all standing on one side … they all together removed our government and Gen Bajwa has admitted to the regime change since he has given his statement to a journalist about for what reasons the government was removed.”

Imran claimed that policies set in place by the former army chief were still continuing.

Imran was referring to Gen Bajwa’s remarks published in a column by Javed Chaudhry from a day ago in his interview. In it, Bajwa said his “crime” was not stepping in to save Imran’s government. He was also quoted as saying that “these people (the PTI) were dangerous for the country”.

“Now he has himself said that he ousted the government because, according to whatever he said, there was a danger to the country,” Imran reiterated.

When asked about the army chief’s acknowledgement of the military’s involvement in politics, Imran said: “There should be an internal army inquiry against him for the statements that he proudly and arrogantly gave that ‘I made the decision because the country’s conditions were such’, as if he was some economic expert.”

He said the army should internally reflect on what happened as a result, adding that distance was created between the people and the establishment.

“The whole nation [already] thought that the government was ousted because of Gen Bajwa, but he himself admitted it, so now he lifted the veil from the people’s suspicion and it became clear for them that the army chief removed the government.”

‘A danger’

Chaudhry claimed that he had asked the former army chief, “why did you overthrow Imran Khan’s government?” to which Gen Bajwa allegedly answered: “We did not overthrow his government. Our only crime was that why we did not save his government. Imran wanted us to step in and save his government.”

Chaudhry said he then told Bajwa that he should have done so since “you have been doing this before as well” to which the former army chief was quoted as saying it would have been the “most suitable” option for him if he was looking after his own “interest”.

“I would have kept supporting Imran Khan and would have respectfully retired after bidding him farewell but I sacrificed my image for my country. I took the correct but difficult decision,” Chaudhry quoted the former army chief as saying.

The columnist said he quizzed Bajwa on how that was the correct decision to which the latter said: “Our reading was that these people were dangerous for the country. If they remain then the country won’t remain.” He goes on to explain that the ex-PM allegedly used a Punjabi word for the Saudi crown prince.

The column claimed that according to Gen Bajwa, one of Imran’s own federal ministers related this to the Saudi envoy who then began getting the word translated by different people.

In another example, the column claimed that Gen Bajwa said: “We kept stopping them from trying to make Shaukat Tarin the finance minister. I told the prime minister: ‘Sir he (Tarin) couldn’t run his own bank, he will tank the economy,’ but he was not convinced.

“There was a Rs8 billion corruption case against Shaukat Tarin in NAB (National Accountability Bureau). Conversely, the prime minister asked us to finish this case. We were stuck with the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and IMF (International Monetary Fund) so we were forced and thus Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed got Shaukat Tarin’s NAB case quashed.”

The column further claimed that the former army chief said: “I got a phone call from State Bank of Pakistan governor Reza Baqir and he was very worried. According to him, Shaukat Tarin had heated up the economy and dollar reserves were fast decreasing and ‘we need your intervention’.

“Thus we were forced to go to the prime minister and Hammad Azhar, Asad Umar, Shaukat Tarin and Reza Baqir were also present in this meeting. I asked the prime minister: ‘Sir you are collecting 53 per cent tax from customs. This is wrong. We will get trapped,’ but he (Imran) said: ‘This is a good thing. Tax revenue is increasing,’ to which I said: ‘Sir you are collecting rupees by sending dollars abroad. The country will not be able to continue this way. You should stop Shaukat Tarin otherwise we will default.’

“Reza Baqir supported this and the prime minister agreed but did nothing practically. Asad Umar thanked me after the meeting and said: ‘You are correct. We ended up on the wrong track. We should have done the things you told us today in the past.’ You can ask Asad Umar if I’m saying anything wrong.”

In his last public address as the army chief in November, Gen Bajwa had acknowledged that the army for seven decades had “unconstitutionally interfered in politics”. He had said that the military’s interference in the political sphere by the military continued till February 2021 after which the military thoroughly deliberated on the matter and decided to stay out of politics.

‘Devastating and against Pakistan’s sovereignty’

Responding to Chaudhry’s column during a press conference in Lahore, PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said that the “confession” from Gen Bajwa was “devastating and against Pakistan’s sovereignty”.

Regarding the part about quashing Tarin’s case, he said it was a “serious intervention in Pakistan’s judicial system”.

On the column’s claims about economic matters and issues, the PTI leader said: “Which country’s army chief deals with the state bank’s governor or the finance minister’s approach? … you are not an economic expert.”

Source: Dawn

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Opposition in Sindh Assembly slams govt over rising street crime, drugs abuse in schools

Tahir Siddiqui

February 11, 2023

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday echoed with lawmakers’ concern over increasing incidents of street crime and drug use in educational institutions in the metropolis.

They asked the provincial government to take urgent measures to control the security situation.

Speaking on her call attention notice, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Adeeba Hassan said that the people of Karachi felt unsafe nowadays while travelling in streets.

She said that the law and order situation in the city was getting worse day by day and shocked the house members by informing them that she herself had been robbed in front of her house.

“Police are nowhere to be seen, extortion is on the rise in the city and street crime is a big concern,” she deplored and inquired the provincial government as to what steps had taken to curb street crimes.

Shah Nawaz Jadoon, another PTI MPA from Keamari, said that incidents of robberies were rampant in his constituency as well.

“Illegal internet cafes and drug trafficking are also on the rise in the area,” he added and asked what measures were being taken to eradicate these curses.

On a point of order, Grand Democratic Alliance lawmaker Shaharyar Mahar came down heavily on the provincial government for what he described as a complete failure to contain crime, particularly street robberies, in Sukkur and Shikarpur.

He said that the law and order situation in the two districts was worst as there was no security on roads for houses and businesses.

“Mugging incidents have become an order of the day on main Shikarpur Road,” he said adding that the provincial government should abolish the police department if it was not capable of controlling crimes.

Drugs in schools

Muhammad Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan on a point of order drew attention of the house towards an alarming increase in sale and use of drugs in educational institutions, including schools and colleges.

He alleged that deadly drugs such as ‘ice’, cocaine and heroin were being sold in schools, colleges and universities openly under the ‘patronage of police’ and drug mafia.

The lawmaker said that he knew several bright students who had scored straight ‘As’ in Cambridge exams had fallen prey to drugs, adding that the curse had put the future of the young generation at stake.

He urged the provincial government to take strict and effective measures against the drug mafia.

‘Govt taking action’

Responding to the lawmakers’ concerns over growing street crimes and use of drugs in educational institutions, Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said that the police had been asked by the provincial government to show its presence on the roads of Karachi to prevent street crime incidents.

He said that police had mobile vans and motorcycles to keep a check on criminal activities in the city.

The minister informed the house that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had held meetings with the provincial and city police chiefs on the issue of street crimes in the metropolis.

He told the concerned lawmakers that the law and order situation in Karachi had worsened to a great extent in the past and the provincial authorities overcame major crime incidents in the city, though the incidents of motorcycle theft and other such crimes were continuing in Karachi.

“Police and other law enforcement agencies have been working to tackle this issue,” he said.

As for the alarming increase in use of drugs in educational institutions, he said that collective efforts were required by all the stakeholders concerned to get rid of the issue of use of narcotics by students in schools, colleges, and universities in Karachi.

He said the provincial authorities would take up the issue with the administration of the educational institutions from where such complaints were received. “The provincial government also takes necessary action after receiving such complaints,” he said.

Wheat price

Responding to another call-attention notice, the labour minister said that the provincial government had issued the notification of fixing Rs4,000 per 40kg as the procurement price of wheat in the province for the new crop season.

He said the provincial government had set target of procuring 1.4 million tonnes of wheat in the present year.

He said that Pakistan had been importing wheat for the past many years. He said growers would be encouraged to grow more wheat by offering them attractive procurement price by the government.

Legislation

The assembly passed ‘The Sindh Prohibition of Interest on Private Loans Bill’ into a law.

Giving details of the new law, the labour minister said that it was aimed at eradicating exploitation of poor people at the hands of private money lenders.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1736512/opposition-in-sindh-assembly-slams-govt-over-rising-street-crime-drugs-abuse-in-schools

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2 soldiers martyred in IED blast in Balochistan’s Kohlu: ISPR

Ghalib Nihad | Naveed Siddiqui

February 10, 2023

Two Pakistan Army soldiers were martyred after an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in Balochsitan’s Kohlu area, the military’s media wing said on Friday.

“Based on credible intelligence, a sanitisation operation was initiated on Feb 10 in the Kohlu area of Balochistan to deny terrorists any liberty of action,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

During the ensuing sanitisation of the area, the ISPR said, an IED exploded close to the leading party.

“Resultantly, two officers — identified as Major Jawad and Captain Sagheer — embraced martyrdom and laid their lives in defence of the motherland against an externally perpetrated threat.”

The ISPR said that a sanitisation operation is under way in the area to apprehend perpetrators and enemies of peace.

“Such cowardly acts by inimical elements cannot sabotage the hard-earned peace and prosperity in Balochistan. Security Forces are determined to neutralise their nefarious designs even at the cost of blood and lives,” the statement concluded.

Earlier, the medical superintendent of the District Healthquarter Hospital (DHQ) Kohlu told Dawn.com that an emergency had been imposed at the medical facility.

All the medical staff, doctors and paramedics have been alerted, he added.

Today’s attack in Balochistan was the latest in a series of terrorist attacks which spiked since the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) rescinded the ceasefire with the government in 2021.

According to a report, January was the deadliest month since 2018, in which 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.

Last week, a Coast guard was martyred and seven others were injured in a landmine explosion and subsequent ambush by armed militants in the Jiwani area of Gwadar district.

On Feb 6, seven people were injured in two terrorist attacks in Quetta.

Five people, including an office-bearer of the Civil Secretariat Staff Association, suffered injuries in the first attack. The outlawed TTP later had claimed responsibility for the blast, saying that it was a suicide bombing.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1736391/2-soldiers-martyred-in-ied-blast-in-balochistans-kohlu-ispr

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Southeast Asia

 

How Malaysia can help facilitate peace in Thailand’s restive Muslim south

VIJAYA KUMAR

February 10, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Peace talks in Thailand’s restive south are likely to gain momentum under Malaysia’s new leadership, experts said on Friday, after Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim pledged to help solve the neighboring country’s decades-long insurgency.

Predominantly Buddhist Thailand for decades has been confronting a separatist movement from a Muslim and ethnic minority concentrated in its southern provinces. The mainly ethnic Malay communities continue to have a common sense of grievance that they were separated from their kin across the border in Malaysia after a treaty between British colonial powers and Siam, now the kingdom of Thailand, in the early 20th century.

Under the 1909 deal, the former Siamese tributary states of Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah and Perlis were incorporated into British Malaya, while Pattani and Satun were acknowledged as territory of Siam. The fixed border established at that time is the current boundary between Thailand and Malaysia.

The first armed resistance to the division emerged on the Thai side in the 1920s and was suppressed by the government. However, the secessionist movement has not stopped and several separatist revivals have taken place throughout the decades.

In 2004, there was an unprecedented increase in insurgent violence, involving militants who received training during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. More than 7,300 people have been killed since then in fighting between Thai security forces and groups seeking independence, mainly in the provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani and parts of Songkhla.

Malaysia has been helping to facilitate peace negotiations between separatist groups and the Thai government since 2013, but the talks have been repeatedly disrupted.

During his first state visit to Bangkok on Thursday, Ibrahim pledged during a meeting with his Thai counterpart, Prayuth Chan-ocha, to “do whatever is required and necessary to facilitate the (peace) process.”

The Thai government issued a statement after the meeting saying that both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to “seek new cooperation for Thailand-Malaysia border area to become peaceful and prosperous.”

Anwar, one of the most prominent Muslim leaders in Southeast Asia who took office in November, is likely to bring “vigor” into the new negotiations, Sivamurugan Pandian, professor of political sociology at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, told Arab News.

“Although it might take some time, constructive engagement can be used as a mechanism to vow support and get a win-win solution,” he said.

“Anwar has a strong personality and is loved by Muslim countries and regionally as well. He can use his strong leadership to facilitate, negotiate and mediate for neighboring countries, such as Thailand.”

Pandian added that Malaysia has a track record of being a mediator in regional conflicts involving Muslim separatist groups in non-Muslim countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines.

“As the closest border and considering religious element as well, Malaysia understands better the Muslim world and ASEAN world as well,” he said.

It also has the ethnic and religious leverage other countries in the region lack.

“Malaysia seems to have a disproportionate suasion over the southern rebels, freedom fighters, guerrillas, separatists, and the bilateral working relations with the Thais are cordial and pragmatic,” Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2248501/world

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Muslim pilgrims from Singapore to pay more for the haj in 2023

Gabrielle Chan

FEB 10, 2023

SINGAPORE - Muslim pilgrims planning to perform the haj in 2023 will have to pay $1,500 more on average, compared with the last five years.

The cheapest package for Haj 2023 – which will take place in June – is $8,490 per person. The average package price per person is around $14,150, excluding emergency medical assistance and airfare.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said on Friday that letters of offer will be sent out to 900 prospective pilgrims via SMS and e-mail. The places will be allocated to those who have already registered and can meet the conditions and requirements for the 2023 pilgrimage.

Those who receive the offer are to book their haj packages through 13 travel agents authorised by Muis, with a total of 30 packages on offer.

“Muis advises pilgrims to evaluate the approved haj packages carefully based on individual needs and affordability before deciding on their preferred haj packages,” the statement said.

It added: “Pilgrims are also advised to read and understand the contents of the Haj Package Purchase Contract, in particular the ‘payment schedule’, before signing it.”

The approved travel agents have also been advised to explain the full details of the contract.

The haj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and Muslims who are physically and financially able to do so are expected to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, at least once in their lifetime.

Muis announced in January that Singapore’s allocation for the annual pilgrimage in 2023 was 900 places, the same number as in 2022 and before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore was initially allocated 407 places in 2022, but that quota was later increased.

In January, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli signed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, an agreement for the 2023 pilgrimage with Saudi Minister of Haj and Umrah Tawfiq Bin Fawzan Al Rabiah.

“Dr Tawfiq assured me that he and his team understand the strong aspiration of our prospective pilgrims and will review Singapore’s requests for more haj places,” Mr Masagos said in a Facebook post then.

The authorised travel agents for Haj 2023 are AQ Travel & Tours, Azza Travel & Tours, Evershine Travel & Services, Hagel Travel & Tours, Hahnemann Travel & Tours, Halijah Travels, Hamidah Travel & Tours, Jalaluddin Travel & Services, Noor Mohamad Services & Travel, Nurhikmah Travel & Tours, Sha Travel & Tour, Shahidah Travel & Tours, and TM Fouzy Travel & Tours.

Source: Straits Times

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

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/muslim-pilgrims-from-singapore-to-pay-more-for-haj-in-2023

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Malaysia’s ex-PM Mahathir quits Pejuang party he founded, chooses GTA as new political platform

Ram Anand

FEB 11, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s former premier Mahathir Mohamad has quit Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang), a Malay party he founded just over two years ago, indicating a split in political direction with his son Mukhriz Mahathir, who currently heads the party.

Tun Dr Mahathir, 97, was one of 13 Pejuang members who sent in a notice to party secretary-general Amiruddin Hamzah on Friday that they were leaving the party and will now continue their political journey with Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), a coalition of Malay-Muslim parties and non-governmental organisations that Pejuang was previously a part of.

The resignation letter was shared by GTA secretary Marzuki Yahya, who was among those who quit Pejuang along with Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir founded Pejuang in 2020, and later founded GTA along with several other Malay-Muslim parties in August 2022, ahead of the 15th General Election that took place last November.

After the Pejuang-led GTA returned empty-handed from the national polls, with all their candidates – including Dr Mahathir – losing their deposits, he quit as Pejuang chairman. But he stayed on as GTA chairman amid reports that Pejuang was considering leaving GTA.

Pejuang, whose president is Datuk Seri Mukhriz, announced on Jan 14 that it was formally leaving GTA after coming to a consensus among its members at the party’s annual general meeting.

“The decision by Pejuang to cut ties with GTA automatically removes us from the party, as we are continuing our struggle under the GTA platform,” Dr Mahathir said.

Pejuang also resolved to open negotiation channels with the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) or opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalitions ahead of six state elections due in 2023.

Dr Mahathir has a frosty relationship with both PH chief Anwar Ibrahim – Malaysia’s current prime minister – and PN chief Muhyiddin Yassin, who succeeded Dr Mahathir as premier in 2020.

Dr Mahathir is Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, serving for a total of 24 years over two non-consecutive terms.

He led the Barisan Nasional government as PM from 1981 until 2003, before returning to power in 2018 after leading PH to its first victory in national polls, while leading Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

However, he lasted only 22 months on the job before abruptly resigning, leading to the collapse of the PH administration. He subsequently resigned as Bersatu chair, before being sacked by the party in May 2020. He then went on to form Pejuang.

Source: Straits Times

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

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-ex-pm-mahathir-quits-the-pejuang-party-he-founded-chooses-gta-as-new-political-platform

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Rafizi agrees govt must address Malaysia’s low pay, says high-income nation status achievable

By Rex Tan

10 Feb 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli today agreed that the country needs to create high and equal salaries while lowering costs of living by implementing programmes such as Menu Rahmah.

The Menu Rahmah initiative offers balanced, cooked meals for only RM5 at selected food outlets.

Around 12,000 premises have already offered Menu Rahmah, including restaurants affiliated with the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas), the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma), Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association (MCSPGA), and Mydin supermarket outlets nationwide.

“We have to address both the costs of living, but we also are looking at wages,” said Rafizi when asked by reporters about economic experts calling Menu Rahmah a “band-aid” for high costs of living and low wages.

He added that the country is seeking to become a high-income nation in the next few years by crossing the gross national income (GNI) threshold of USD 15,205 (RM57,050) while seeking to have a more equal income distribution.

Since achieving the middle-income nation status in 1985, Malaysia’s economic growth has lagged behind other nations and fallen into the “middle-income trap”, a notion used to describe countries that are unable to catch up with higher-income nations.

“We are at around US$13,000 plus, so if the growth rate is at about four to five per cent for the next three to five years. The high-income nation status is actually within the horizon.

“What we want to make sure is we don’t hit the status by per capita instead ensure the inequality gap is taken care of,” he said, adding that the government is looking into policy to calibrate equal wage growth among different income groups.

Rafizi said other government initiatives such as moving to a digital economy, upskilling, and reskilling are all aimed at creating high-income jobs.

Source: Malay Mail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/02/10/rafizi-agrees-govt-must-address-malaysias-low-pay-says-high-income-nation-status-achievable/54344

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PM Anwar attends religious talk at Seri Perdana after arriving from Thailand

10 Feb 2023

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 10 ― Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today attended the “Seri Perdana Religious Talk” at Seri Perdana here as soon as he arrived from his two-day official visit to Thailand.

Arriving at 9pm, he spent about 30 minutes with some 200 guests comprising community members residing around Seri Perdana.

Despite only having just touched down at the Bunga Raya Complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Anwar took the time to mingle with the guests amidst the recitation of the “selawat”.

One of those who attended, free-lance preacher Abd Hadi Bakri Abdullah, said Anwar shared with him stories of his visit to Thailand.

“He said the Malaysia Madani concept which he introduced was well received by the Muslim community in Bangkok.

“He then invited me to attend more religious and knowledge-based talks such as this one here,” he said.

Source: Malay Mail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/02/10/pm-anwar-attends-religious-talk-at-seri-perdana-after-arriving-from-thailand/54386

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Africa

 

Tunisian president decides to strengthen diplomatic ties with Syria

February 11, 2023

TUNIS: Tunisian President Kais Saied has decided to strengthen diplomatic ties with Syria, the presidency said on Thursday, the clearest sign yet of Tunisia’s intention to fully restore relations days after a deadly earthquake that has devastated large parts of Syria.

Tunisia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria nearly a decade ago to protest the government’s brutal crackdown on protesters and activists opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad.

After that, Tunisia reinstituted a limited diplomatic mission to Syria in 2017, in part to help track more than 3,000 Tunisian militants fighting in Syria. “The issue of the Syrian regime is an internal matter that concerns only the Syrians,” Saied said in statement following a meeting with his country’s foreign affairs minister.

He added that “the ambassador is accredited to the state and not to the regime.”

Assad is seeking political advantage from the earthquake that has devastated large parts of Syria and Turkiye, pressing for foreign aid to be delivered through his territory as he aims to chip away at his international isolation, analysts say.

Tunisia sent aid planes to Syria, including rescue and civil protection teams, which arrived at Aleppo airport under the control of the Syrian regime.

Since Saied took control of almost all powers in July 2021 when he closed parliament and dismissed the government, Tunisia has sent signals it was open to changing its diplomatic stance with Syria.

Assad made his first reported trip on Friday to affected areas since the earthquake, visiting a hospital in Aleppo with his wife Asma.

His regime also approved humanitarian aid deliveries across the frontlines of the civil war, a move that could speed up the arrival of help for millions of desperate people.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2248706/middle-east

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Morocco recalls ambassador to France amid simmering tensions

Khalid Mejdoup 

10.02.2023

RABAT, Morocco

Morocco on Friday called back its ambassador to France, the North African kingdom's Foreign Ministry announced.

The termination of Mohamed Benchaaboun's duties in Paris came in accordance with royal instructions, the ministry said in a statement without providing further details.

This move coincided with a crisis between Rabat and the EU and cooling relations with Paris.

Last January, the EU adopted a resolution criticizing the conditions of freedom of the press and expression in Morocco.

On Wednesday, the Moroccan parliament announced the formation of a parliamentary committee to reassess relations with the European Parliament.

The tensions between Rabat and Paris, meanwhile, is fueled by tightening visa restrictions against Moroccans, and talk of French companies' withdrawal from the North African country.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/morocco-recalls-ambassador-to-france-amid-simmering-tensions/2814847

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Eritrean leader denies rights violations by his forces in Ethiopian war

Andrew Wasike  

10.02.2023

NAIROBI, Kenya

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said Thursday that his country’s forces never committed any human rights violations or interfered in the war in northern Ethiopia, which has claimed over half a million lives.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Kenya’s capital Nairobi with his host Kenyan President William Ruto, Afwerki said that many reports pointing the finger at his troops' interference in the Tigray war are fabrications.

“I have no intention of interfering in this matter despite the disinformation campaign going on trying to disrupt the process of peace in Ethiopia,” Afwerki said while lauding the Nairobi and Pretoria peace processes that ended the war in Ethiopia.

“You talk about withdrawal or no withdrawal (of Eritrean forces), and we say this is nonsense. Why are we bothered if Eritrean troops were there or not there?” said Afwerki, who is on a two-day official visit to Kenya.

“Everybody talking about human rights violations (by Eritrean forces), rape, looting, this is a fantasy in the minds of those who own this factory that I call a factory of fabricating misinformation,” he added.

The Eritrean leader did not answer a question about the death toll of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia.

It has been widely reported by UN agencies and other non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia that Eritrean forces played a significant role in the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Eritrean troops are said to have crossed the border into Tigray and joined forces with the Ethiopian military to fight against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). The Eritrean government has officially denied involvement in the conflict, but a significant amount of evidence suggests otherwise.

The war between Ethiopian government forces and Tigray rebels erupted in November 2020 after the TPLF attacked federal army bases stationed in the northern region.

Hostilities subsided after the two warring sides in Ethiopia signed agreements in Pretoria and Nairobi in November last year.

The Tigray conflict has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more since November 2020.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/eritrean-leader-denies-rights-violations-by-his-forces-in-ethiopian-war/2814756

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Jordan sends field hospital to help earthquake victims in Turkiye

February 11, 2023

AMMAN: Jordan’s armed forces have sent a field hospital and the medical team to staff it to Turkiye to help treat victims of the earthquake that struck the south of the country on Monday.

Maj. Gen. Yousef Huneiti, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met the medics before they departed, passed on the greetings of King Abdullah, told them to help those in need, and urged them to be good ambassadors for the Jordanian Armed Forces, the Jordan News Agency reported on Friday.

“The field hospital was equipped in record time and under the direct supervision of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as time in such circumstances is an important factor,” said Brig. Gen. Hassan Shanatwah, the JAF’s director of military operations. “This reflects the high readiness of our armed forces to deal with such circumstances and developments.”

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2248711/middle-east

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North America

 

US senator denies sanctions target international aid to northwestern Syria following quakes

Rabia Iclal Turan  

10.02.2023

WASHINGTON

A US senator on Thursday denied claims that international aid cannot enter northwestern Syria in the wake of Monday's deadly earthquakes due to Western sanctions.

“Rumors that int'l aid cannot get into NW Syria because of Western sanctions are false,” Senator Jim Risch wrote on Twitter.

Syrian leader Bashar “Assad is the sole reason aid cannot get to those who need it most,” he added.

Calling on the UN Security Council to consider proposing a resolution to open more border crossings, he added that humanitarian organizations are “desperately” working in the field.

“It's time Assad & his cowardly backers help by opening additional border crossings for aid,” said the senator, who represents the US state of Idaho.

“Assisting humanitarians in delivering aid to a population already devastated by Assad is critical,” he added.

Stressing that calls for “sanctions relief” are only intended to ”avoid accountability for the (Assad) regime," he said, “Open the other crossings to alleviate conditions at Bab al-Hawa & prevent needless suffering,” referring to the sole border crossing for UN aid into Syria, located in Cilvegozu, Türkiye.

The US eased sanctions Thursday on Syria to allow the flow of humanitarian assistance following the deadly earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye on Monday, which left at least 3,300 dead in Syria and over 19,000 dead in neighboring southern Türkiye.

The US Treasury Department issued a license that authorizes for 180 days all transactions related to earthquake relief that would be otherwise prohibited by the Syrian sanctions regulations.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-senator-denies-sanctions-target-international-aid-to-northwestern-syria-following-quakes/2815111

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US announces $85M in humanitarian assistance to Türkiye, Syria over earthquakes

Servet Günerigök  

10.02.2023

WASHINGTON

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) said Thursday that it is providing $85 million in urgent humanitarian assistance to Türkiye and Syria after deadly earthquakes this week.

"USAID is providing emergency food and shelter for refugees and newly displaced people, winter supplies to help families brave the cold, critical healthcare services to provide trauma support, safe drinking water to prevent disease, and hygiene and sanitation assistance to keep people safe and healthy," the agency said in a release.

The statement recalled US efforts to assist Türkiye and Syria in the wake of the earthquakes, adding 200 people including disaster experts as well as 159 search and rescue members and 12 canines had arrived in Türkiye.

"The United States remains committed to supporting the government of Türkiye’s response and providing life-saving assistance to the Syrian people in responding to this devastating disaster," it added.

At least 17,674 people were killed and 72,879 others injured by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye earlier this week, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Thursday.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in Kahramanmaras province, were felt Monday by 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-announces-85m-in-humanitarian-assistance-to-turkiye-syria-over-earthquakes/2813880

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New York City mayor voices support for quake-hit Türkiye

Servet Günerigök 

11.02.2023

NEW YORK

New York City Mayor Eric Adams expressed support Friday for Türkiye in the wake of two powerful earthquakes that killed thousands of people.

Adams noted that Türkiye hosts Syrian refugees fleeing persecution during a visit to a Turkish mosque in Brooklyn where humanitarian donations are being collected for victims of the earthquakes that were centered in Kahramanmaras in southern Türkiye.

"You have always been there for other countries and we want to be here," Adams told reporters following Friday prayers. "We are all feeling the pain that Turkiye is going through right now."

Adams was welcomed by the Consul General of Turkey in New York, Reyhan Ozgur, who thanked the Turkish-American community for their assistance in helping quake victims.

Ozgur said the consulate has shipped more than 50 tons of humanitarian aid material to Türkiye and more than 200 tons of humanitarian assistance will be shipped from New Jersey.

At least 20,213 people were killed and 80,052 others injured by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Friday.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/new-york-city-mayor-voices-support-for-quake-hit-turkiye/2815357

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Turkish Americans hold candlelight vigil in US capital to mourn victims of earthquakes

Rabia Iclal Turan 

11.02.2023

WASHINGTON

A candlelight vigil was held Friday in Washington, D.C. to honor the victims of deadly earthquakes in Türkiye.

A group gathered in Lafayette Square next to the White House to mourn the victims of the massive earthquakes that killed at least 20,318 and injured more than 80,000.

The vigil was organized by the American Turkish Association of DC (ATA-DC) and was attended not only by Turkish Americans but Americans who want to show solidarity with those affected by the earthquakes. Türkiye's Ambassador to the US, Hasan Murat Mercan also attended the vigil.

A minute of silence was observed to honor the victims as attendees later expressed their feelings and sadness regarding the earthquake -- described by many as "the disaster of the century."

ATA-DC President Sitki Kazanci told Anadolu that the group has been collecting aid materials and donations for the victims.

“This is the least we can do. Everyone abroad is doing their best here,” he said.

He said everyone was “extremely emotional” at the vigil.

“One thing that makes us happy is that we are all together,” he said.“We support our country.”

American Kenneth Joholske, said he was “deeply moved” because he was part of the Turkish community in Washington DC.

He noted that he is involved with ATA-DC relief effort and said the aim of the vigil was to ”spread awareness” as well as community solidarity.

Turkish student in Washington DC, Melike Bolukbasi, attended and said that she has been helping fundraising efforts at the Turkish Embassy.

“It really touched my heart that we gathered here today like this,” she said.

Ceyda Ozoglan, a Turkish-American, said attending the vigil was necessary to fulfill the duty of being human.

“The pain is huge,” she said. “Thousands of people are still under ruins right now. I guess what we're doing here is just to feel ourselves there.”

Recalling the 1999 Marmara earthquake which killed more than 17,000 people, she said: “We must be tired of learning lessons from them (earthquakes) every time.”

The 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in the space of less than 10 hours.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkish-americans-hold-candlelight-vigil-in-us-capital-to-mourn-victims-of-earthquakes/2815387

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US carrier positioned in eastern Mediterranean to assist Türkiye in earthquake response

Rabia İclal Turan   

11.02.2023

WASHINGTON

The US European Command (USEUCOM) said Friday it has positioned military capabilities, including the George HW Bush carrier in the Mediterranean Sea to help Türkiye’s search and rescue efforts following deadly earthquakes.

“The George Herbert Walker Bush Carrier Strike Group arrived in the eastern Mediterranean Sea within hours of notification on Feb. 7, and stands ready to provide logistics, medical, and rotary airlift support,” USEUCOM said in a statement.

A source speaking on condition of anonymity told Anadolu that the US carrier was positioned off the island of Rhodes in international waters.

The statement said a team from USEUCOM arrived at the Incirlik Air Base in Türkiye on Feb. 9 to determine “how the U.S. military can rapidly respond” to the support assistance requested by the Turkish government through USAID.

The US Army rotary wing aircraft have also been flying missions out of the Incirlik Air Base and began transporting first responders to quake-hit areas Feb. 7, it said.

UH-60 Black Hawks helicopters transported injured civilians to a local medical facility, said USEUCOM.

“Additional aircraft, including Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinooks are being sent to Incirlik and will be postured for potential follow-on missions to support any requests from Turkish medical professionals,” it said.

It added that the Incirlik Air Base has received more than 1,337 international aircraft sorties in support of earthquake relief assistance following the quakes hitting the southern provinces of the country.

"When an Ally or partner nation faces moments of incalculable disaster and tragic loss of human life, there's never a moment of hesitation from the United States to quickly respond to the needs of that nation," US Army Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, who leads USEUCOM, said in a statement.

"From search and rescue to medical assistance and humanitarian aid, our command is working with other U.S. government agencies to provide assistance requested by the government of Türkiye in the aftermath of this natural disaster,” he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-carrier-positioned-in-eastern-mediterranean-to-assist-turkiye-in-earthquake-response/2815314

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