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Islamic World News ( 19 Dec 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian Citizenship Path To Be Eased For Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, Buddhists And Jains From Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 December 2022


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• Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Attacks Pakistan from ‘Within Its Territory’, Claims TTP Chief

• US Concerned by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Threat To Pakistan's Security: Top US General

• Muslim World’s First World Cup Draws To A Close, Outshines Controversies

• ‘Sheikh’ Messi Leads Argentina To World Cup Win In Doha



• Minorities Rights Day: BJP Leaders Say Only Their Party Cares For Muslims

• Muslim votes are being 'chewed like chewing gum', says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi



• Two policemen killed as Taliban militants take hostages in northwest Pakistan

• Imran Khan Promises To Take 'No Action' Against Former Army Chief After Coming To Power

• Pakistan's Economic Crisis May Worsen In Future: Report

• LHC seeks details of Toshakhana gifts obtained by political leaders, bureaucrats since 1947

• FM Bilawal arrives in US capital today for talks

• Two officials martyred as held terrorists seize Bannu CTD building


North America

• US says 'significant success' achieved at Africa leaders summit

• US-Africa Leaders Summit ends with Biden speech


Arab World

• Islamic State group gunmen kill nine Iraqi police officers

• At least nine Iraqi police officers killed in bomb blast near Kirkuk: Source

• Qatar warns EU corruption investigation may harm relations

• KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in Nigeria, Yemen and Jordan

• Saudi Arabia condemns terror attack on Iraqi security forces

• Saudi, Indonesian ministers discuss increasing Umrah trips



• EU Parliament Clampdown Poses Threat To Doha Relations: Qatari Diplomat

• Iran says won't ‘seek permission’ to boost Russia ties

• Danish TV Channel Apologizes For Comparing Monkey Family To Moroccan Footballers

• Türkiye, Germany, Greece hold talks in Brussels

• Lithuanian comments on Karabakh region 'regrettable': Azerbaijan

• Türkiye, Bulgaria continue efforts against migrant smuggling


South Asia

• Islamic Emirate Seeks Removal of Sanctions on Afghanistan

• Pakistani Delegation of Ulema to Visit Afghanistan to Discuss Cross-Border Hostility

• Fuel tanker tunnel blast kills at least 19 in Afghanistan

• International Migrants Day and the Plight of Afghan Refugees

• Meeting With Iranian Deputy Ambassador, Muttarqi Reiterates Trade & Economic Relations



• Hamas, Islamic Jihad Call To Step Up ‘Resistance’ Attacks Against Israel

• Hopes of sailing free of war and poverty dashed for Gazans as bodies return in coffins

• Houthi-controlled court sentences 16 Yemenis to death, 13 others to prison

• Iranian Senior Officials Call For Dealing With Riots Based On Legal, Sharia Principles

• Inmate killed in Iran prison riot: Rights group

• Israel deports French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri over security concerns

• Erdogan says courts will fix any mistakes after Istanbul mayor’s sentencing

• Protest-hit Iran arrests lawyer of jailed journalists: Report

• Israel draws condemnation as deported human rights lawyer arrives in Paris



• Polling Units Removed From Politicians’ Homes, Churches, Mosques – Independent National Electoral Commission

• Three Jordanian policemen killed during a raid: Statement

• Polls open in Tunisian vote boycotted by opposition

• Three Jordanian police killed in raid on hideout of suspected killers of officer


Southeast Asia

• RM2 Billion Education City For Islamic-Based Education In Melaka

• Minister for religious affairs to meet relevant ministries to discuss issues concerning Muslims

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Indian Citizenship Path To Be Eased For Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, Buddhists And Jains From Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh 

Representational Image


December 18, 2022

The Centre is all set to ease the citizenship process for minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on valid documents, but whose passports and visas have since expired.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is expected to rejig the citizenship portal to accept expired passports and visas as supporting documents to process the citizenship application for members of six minority communities — Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, Buddhist and Jain — from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, according to a government source.

The citizenship portal run by the MHA currently accepts expired passports as supporting documents only for those Hindu and Sikh applicants from Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31, 2009. In 2018, after reports of corruption emerged during manual screening, all citizenship processes were moved online.

Facing hurdles

According to Hindu Singh Sodha, president of the Seemant Lok Sanghathan (SLS), an organisation that works for the rights of Pakistani minorities in India, the portal does not accept expired Pakistani passports for people who came on or after January 1, 2010.

“For a Pakistani Hindu who entered India in 2010, the online system does not accept the expired passport, leading to the application not being accepted. The person or family has to then rush to the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi who charge a hefty sum to renew the passports and sometimes reject it on flimsy grounds. Even though the person is eligible to get Indian citizenship under the 1955 Act, as he or she has spent around 12 years in India, they face hurdles,” Mr. Singh said.

Exempt from criminal charges

In 2015, MHA amended the Citizenship Rules and legalised the stay of foreign migrants belonging to these six communities who entered India on or before December 31, 2014 due to religious persecution, by exempting them from the provisions of the Passport Act and the Foreigners Act even as their passports expired. Though they were exempt from facing any criminal action for illegally staying in India, the online portal still does not accept the expired documents to process their citizenship applications.

“Changes will be made to the online portal so that foreign passports and visa that have passed their validity can be accepted as a supporting document to apply for citizenship,” the source said.

People seeking Indian citizenship either come on long term visas (LTV) or pilgrim visas. LTVs given for five years are considered a precursor to citizenship.

CAA not yet in force

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, that intends to grant citizenship to undocumented (or illegal) migrants from these six non-Muslim communities from the three neighbouring countries who entered India before December 31, 2014, is yet to come into force as the rules that govern the law are yet to be notified.

The CAA could have helped the documented minority migrants in fast-tracking their applications as it reduces the mandatory requirement of 11 years aggregate stay in India to five years, to be eligible for citizenship. Many Pakistani Hindus who entered India legally and have spent more than 11 years in India also await citizenship.

Thousands waiting

According to Mr. Singh, there are 18,000 registered Pakistani Hindus who await citizenship.

The MHA informed the parliament in December 2021 that between the years 2018-2021, the government received 8,244 citizenship applications from the minority groups and granted citizenship to 3,117 applicants.

According to the MHA’s annual report for 2021-22, in the COVID-19 affected year of 2021, from April-December, as many as 1,414 citizenship certificates were granted to members of the minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The MHA has also delegated powers to grant Indian citizenship by registration or naturalisation, in respect of the six minority communities who entered India on valid passports and visas, to district collectors of 31 districts and the Home Secretaries of nine States. As many as 2,439 LTVs were granted by the MHA for minority communities between March and December 2021. Of these, 2,193 were from Pakistan, 237 from Afghanistan, and nine from Bangladesh.

Source: The Hindu

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Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Attacks Pakistan from ‘Within Its Territory’, Claims TTP Chief 

Representational Image/


By Saqalain Eqbal

December 18, 2022

In an attempt to dispel the notion that his group receives support from the administration in Afghanistan, Noor Wali Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, asserted that the group targets and attacks Pakistan from “within its territory.”

In an interview with CNN, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief stated that the group is fighting Pakistan’s war from within the country’s territory, “using Pakistani soil.”

“We have the ability to fight for many more decades with the weapons and spirit of liberation that exist on the soil of Pakistan,” Noor Wali Mehsud said.

After 20 years in the country, the US withdrew its troops on the condition that the group on the other side of the Afghan delegation negotiation table, if they returned to power, would not serve as a sanctuary for terrorist organizations.

The recent collapse of an already tenuous year-long truce in neighboring Pakistan between the TTP and Pakistan, however, poses some unsettling doubts about the viability of that commitment.

A months-long ceasefire with Islamabad was broken by the Pakistani Taliban, a rebel group that has been charged with carrying out a series of deadly strikes, in late November, and its militants were ordered to resume attacks across the country.

In addition to the prospect of increased violence in Pakistan, the termination of the truce may also result in an uptick in tensions between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, reflected in the recent border clashes.

He responded, “When we don’t need any help from the Afghan Taliban, what is the point of hiding it,” when questioned if he was being defensive about the assistance they were receiving from the authorities in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is one of the countries that have urged the Afghan government to respect its pledges to prevent the resurgence of terrorist groups and the use of its soil as a launchpad for strikes.

This comes as Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari warned against cross-border terrorism on Friday, saying that his country reserved the right to take direct action against the TTP or other militant groups.

Source: Khaama Press

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US Concerned by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Threat To Pakistan's Security: Top US General 

During the visit, General Kurilla traveled to Peshawar to visit the XI Corps headquarters.(AP File)


Dec 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A top US military commander has said the United States is concerned by the threat posed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the south Asian country's security amid the surge in violence perpetrated by the outlawed group in the country.

"We value our bilateral relationship and welcome opportunities to expand our cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as counterterrorism and border security," Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), General Michael E Kurilla was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune newspaper.

General Kurilla made these remarks in response to a question about the possibility of the US extending support to Pakistan in dealing with the terror threat.

This comment comes on the backdrop of the CENTCOM commander's visit to Pakistan this month where he met with senior military leaders, and observe conditions and operations along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border vicinity of the Khyber Pass.

During his visit, the leaders discussed security cooperation, security along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the threat posed by terror groups in the region, ongoing operations, and opportunities to increase cooperation between CENTCOM and the Pakistan Army.

During the visit, General Kurilla traveled to Peshawar to visit the XI Corps headquarters. The XI Corps is the Pakistani Army unit assigned to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, with security responsibility for approximately half the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

According to a CENTCOM press statement, General Kurilla and XI Corps leaders traveled by helicopter to visit the Big Ben post overlooking the Khyber Pass. There, they observed border security and discussed the cross-border threat of terror groups operating in Afghanistan.

The statement added that the visit provided General Kurilla valuable insight into multiple aspects of the Pakistan Armed Forces, the threats faced by Pakistan, and, most importantly, the opportunities ahead to strengthen the military-to-military relationship.

"Pakistan and the US have longstanding defense ties dating back 75 years," Kurilla said. "We remain committed to combating shared threats to regional security. CENTCOM views the US-Pakistan relationship through its own bilateral merits and potential to improve regional stability. We are committed to strengthening the military-to-military relationship."

This was General Kurilla's second visit to Pakistan in the last four months.

Source: Times Of India

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Muslim World’s First World Cup Draws To A Close, Outshines Controversies


Qatar’s World Cup 2022 has ended with a night of drama on the pitch for both Argentina and France, providing one of the all-time grand finals to crown a fantastic tournament.

It was one of the greatest finals of all time, capping off a fantastic tournament with commanding performances from two top players on the grandest platform - the night was filled with high emotion and swings in fate.

After a thrilling 3-3 draw in which Lionel Messi scored twice, and Kylian Mbappe had a hat-trick, Argentina defeated France 4-2 on penalties to win their third World Cup.

Nearly 89,000 spectators watched the action in Lusail Stadium, one of three stadiums built especially for the tournament in Qatar, with a population of 2.5 million people, the first Arab country to host the game.

Messi's penalty and Angel Di Maria's goal in the first half placed Argentina in command, but Mbappe converted a penalty in the 80th minute and volleyed in an equaliser a minute later to send the game into extra time.

Messi put Argentina back in the lead, but Mbappe tied the game with another penalty, making him the second player in World Cup final history, after England's Geoff Hurst in 1966, to score a hat-trick.

As a result, the game was decided by a shootout. Argentina's Emiliano Martinez stopped Kingsley Coman's attempt, and Aurelien Tchouameni missed the mark, allowing Gonzalo Montiel to win, which he did.

“What a game, that is all I can say. This World Cup ended with the best game of all time. We are all in awe,” Mohammed Faisal, a Bangladeshi Argentina fan, told TRT World.

And with that dramatic final on Sunday, Qatar - which garnered criticism on human rights but overcame fears that it could successfully host such a global event - closed the curtain on the World Cup on its national day.

Critics also questioned how football officials could pick a country which had never before qualified for the finals, was too hot to host summer matches, and would need to build most of its World Cup stadiums from scratch.

In the run-up to the games, restrictions on alcohol sales also drew much attention, but fans eventually shrugged off the issue, with the majority, mainly female fans, saying this decision has led to a safer experience at the tournament.

There has been hardly any violence or arrests throughout the tournament.

Laws on homosexuality and the display of LGBTQ symbols also drew negative attention to the football tournament.

FIFA's decision to penalise teams wearing "One Love" armbands, German players pointedly putting their hands over their mouths for a pre-match photo, and German politician Nancy Faeser wearing the ‘one love’ armband further inflamed the issue.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani fired back, saying to a German newspaper that Berlin has no issue regarding energy agreements and investments with us, hinting at the 15-year deal to supply Germany with natural gas.

Qatari officials also refer to labour law improvements passed since 2018 as evidence that the nation has been unfairly and inaccurately criticised for a decade.

And that feeling of being mistreated resonated with many people in Qatar, who said controversy and the western media coverage of the tournament promoted a stereotypical negative image of the region.

“Before placing such judgement, you must be familiar with the environment. To find out the truth, you must visit the location, interact with the residents, observe the local culture, and do some research,” Abdelaziz Abdulrehman, a Qatari national, told TRT World.

“The western media coverage of Qatar was very exaggerated and biased.”

But the three weeks of heroism and heartache on the pitch overshadowed the controversies as underdogs defeated football giants and gave people the power to believe.

Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Japan, Ecuador, Cameroon, Tunisia, and Croatia are just a few teams with limited football histories that have surprised the world in Qatar. They contributed to eliminating World Cup favourites from the competition, including Brazil, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and others.

“I have to be honest here, each win was a surprise, a good one. Of course, we always hoped that Morocco would win every match, but deep down, I knew we had got so lucky to come this far, so if they lose, it will be ok,” Sanae, a producer from Morocco, told TRT World.

“So every time they won it was a great surprise for all the Muslim and Arab nations, that's the thing about Morocco, their win gathered a lot of people because as a country, its not only an African country but an Arab country too.”

Back at Lusail Stadium, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, draped Messi in a bisht, a traditional men's cloak used for hundreds of years, to underline the unique and mark history — a World Cup hosted by a Muslim and an Arab country.

Source: TRT World

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‘Sheikh’ Messi Leads Argentina To World Cup Win In Doha


Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani wraps a robe around Lionel Messi on stage next to the FIFA World Cup trophy after Argentina won the Qatar 2022 World Cup final. (Reuters)


December 18, 2022

DOHA: Lionel Messi led Argentina to World Cup glory on Sunday, scoring twice against France in one of the all-time great finals with the South Americans holding their nerve to triumph in a penalty shootout.

Messi finally crowned his record-breaking career by claiming football’s biggest prize with a performance that will go down in World Cup history, scoring a first-half penalty and netting again in extra time.

France had fought back from 2-0 down in the last 10 minutes as Kylian Mbappe scored twice to equalize and force extra time in a pulsating match watched by an 89,000 crowd in Lusail Stadium.

Messi seemed to have decided the match in extra time with his second goal of the game before his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Mbappe completed only the second World Cup final hat-trick to bring the score to 3-3 and force penalties.

Gonzalo Montiel swept home the decisive spot kick to win the shootout 4-2 for Argentina — but this was Messi’s moment.

He had tasted bitter defeat in the 2014 final against Germany but in his fifth and final World Cup, the 35-year-old finally emulated Argentina idol Diego Maradona by leading his nation to World Cup glory for the first time since Maradona’s victory in Mexico City in 1986.

Tens of thousands of blue and white-shirted Argentina fans rose to salute Messi as he told them “we’re champions of the world!” on the stadium microphone.

Later he told Argentine television: “Obviously I wanted to finish my career with this. I can’t ask for any more.

“My career is coming to end because these are my final years. What more could there be after this?“

But he said he would continue with the Argentina squad. “I want to keep experiencing a few more matches as world champion,” he added.

FIFA will be delighted with a pulsating final that capped one of the most controversial World Cups in history, with the Qatari organizers having to face persistent questions about the country’s treatment of migrant workers and its laws on homosexuality.

Neutrals will be happy that Messi has finally won a World Cup. However, with his hat-trick — and the Golden Boot for top scorer at the tournament with eight goals — Mbappe surely showed he is ready to inherit the mantle of the world’s best player.

Argentina, now three-time world champions, dominated the first half of the final as Messi scored a 23rd minute penalty after Ousmane Dembele tripped Angel Di Maria.

The mercurial Messi was then part of a superb move that led to Di Maria sweeping home Argentina’s second goal after 36 minutes.

They appeared to be cruising to a straightforward victory as France, who had battled a virus in their camp in the past few days, were completely overrun.

But the defending champions finally got back into the game in the second half as Randal Kolo Muani was dragged down by Nicolas Otamendi in the penalty area and Mbappe converted from the spot with only 10 minutes left.

A minute later, Mbappe scored a superb volley to bring France level.

In extra time, Messi forced a diving save from French keeper Hugo Lloris in the final minutes and Lautaro Martinez could have put Argentina ahead but Dayot Upamecano superbly intervened to snuff out the danger.

Messi knocked in the rebound when Lloris parried Martinez’s saved shot in the 108th minute to give Argentina the lead once again.

But when Mbappe’s shot hit Montiel’s outstretched arm, the referee pointed to the penalty spot to the Argentinians’ disgust and Mbappe stroked it home to become the first player to score a World Cup hat-trick since England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966.

A superb match went to penalties and Montiel scored the decisive spot kick to win the shootout 4-2.

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who saved Kingsley Coman’s attempt in the shootout, said the victory was “destiny.”

“All that I have dreamed of has been achieved. I have no words for it. I was calm during the penalty shoot-out, and everything went as we wanted.”

France coach Didier Deschamps rued the failure to become the first team in 60 years to retain the trophy.

“I don’t want to take any merit away from Argentina but there were lots and lots of emotions and it was cruel at the end because we were so close,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Minorities Rights Day: BJP leaders say only their party cares for Muslims

Dec 19, 2022

Several Muslim leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came together on the ‘Minorities Rights Day’ in Lucknow on Sunday.

They called upon the minorities to support the BJP, which, they claimed, was the only party that cared for them without using them as a “vote bank.”

Former Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who attended a function organised at the Ganna Sansthan auditorium here, said: “For decades, Muslim votes were chewed like chewing gum and chucked like castaway.”

The BJP is wooing Muslims in a big way after having won three constituencies - the Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha and the Rampur assembly seat - since June. All three seats have a sizeable Muslim presence.

The BJP is now planning to field sizeable number of Muslim candidates in the urban local bodies polls and has lined up a series of ‘pasmanda backward)’ Muslim meets to woo the community.

At the function organised by state’s minorities commission in Lucknow, Naqvi said, “India has become the flagbearer of inclusive empowerment by crushing the curse of communalism as the Modi-Yogi era has ensured ‘Amar, Abdul, Anthony’ become equal partners.”

He further said that today the time has changed, the environment has changed and the mood of the country has changed.

“Those who say that the development of minorities and the development of the country are separate from each other are perpetrating a fraud to keep the minorities away from the mainstream,” he claimed.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Muslim votes are being 'chewed like chewing gum', says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Dec 18, 2022

LUCKNOW: Senior BJP leader and ex-cabinet minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday that for decades, Muslim votes are being "chewed like chewing gum" and "chucked like castaway".

Addressing 'Minorities Rights Day' programme, organised by Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission in Lucknow, Naqvi said that the "crook contractors of votes" have committed "cruel, communal, criminal conspiracy" against the minorities to "hijack" their socio-economic and educational empowerment.

Naqvi added, "Today, India has become the flagbearer of inclusive empowerment by crushing the curse of communalism."

Naqvi said that the "treacherous traders of votes" are responsible for economic, educational and social backwardness of some sections of the Muslim community.

Naqvi added that today the time has changed, the environment has changed and mood of the country has changed.

The 'Modi Magic' has replaced the 'praxis of polarisation' with 'politics of prosperity', he said.

Along with majority communities, the minority communities have been benefitted equally by the positive atmosphere of "development with trust" in the governments led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Source: Times Of India

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Two policemen killed as Taliban militants take hostages in northwest Pakistan


At least two policemen were killed and many others injured when Pakistani Taliban militants seized a counter-terrorism centre and took some people hostage in the Bannu district of Pakistan's troubled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

One of the militants, who had been arrested and being interrogated at Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police station inside the cantonment, on Sunday snatched an AK-47 from the police and opened fire.

He then freed other suspects being held at the building who took control of the compound. They also took several policemen hostage.

The situation is still tense 17 hours after the incident as a military operation is going on.

Two policemen were killed in the shooting, sources said.

Akram Khan Durrani, a former chief minister of the province, and sitting provincial minister Malik Shah Muhammad have reached Bannu to initiate talks with the militants.

Both Durrani and Muhammad hail from Bannu.

Militants have demanded the security forces to provide them with a helicopter to reach Afghanistan safely.

Mohammad Iqbal, the District Police Officer (DPO) Bannu, said that there was no attack from outside and one of the militants snatched the rifle from police during interrogation and neutralised the guards deployed at the building, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

"They are in control of the building and we have cordoned off the entire Bannu cantonment," he added.

The Internet services in the Bannu cantonment have been suspended.

Banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a statement said that several of its members were among those who took Bannu CTD Staff hostage.

It asked the government to shift prisoners either to South or North Waziristan where the TTP has hideouts otherwise army will be responsible for all damages.

Source: Telegraph India

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Imran Khan promises to take 'no action' against former Army chief after coming to power

Dec 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, on Sunday, promised that although he has a "personal" dispute with former Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa he will not take any action against him if he comes to power again, The Express Tribune reported. While addressing the meeting of a delegation of Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, Khan said that the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir himself has said that he will remain neutral.

However, he added that holding elections within three months after the dissolution of assemblies will be the biggest test of his neutrality.

The former prime minister said that he explained to Bajwa about Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's involvement in Rs16 billion worth of corruption cases, according to The Express Tribune.

"I told Gen Bajwa that if we catch 10 to 12 top corrupt people, everything will get back on right track," he added. However, he added, he later came to know that corruption was not an issue for General (retd) Bajwa.

Imran said that Pakistan's economy would have performed even better if there wasn't a coronavirus pandemic and China was not locked down for two years.The economy of the country is on a decline and the income of people is low then how can loans be returned in this situation, he questioned. "A country cannot prosper if there is no rule of law," he added.

Talking about the Toshakhana case, the PTI chief said that if there was corruption during his tenure, then the opponents would have raised it rather than highlighting the Toshakhana issue only, according to The Express Tribune.

"Toshakhana is not a museum. If I had not bought the watch it would have been bought by someone else during an auction," he said, adding that Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari too bought expensive cars from Toshakhana.

Earlier, Imran Khan said that the "gang of corrupt" got clean chits under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) II granted to them by the former army chief, local media reported.

The former Prime Minister made the remarks in the backdrop of Salman Shehbaz's return to the country after ending over four years of self-imposed exile in London, according to The News International.

Khan said that Gen (retd) Bajwa committed cruelty by granting an NRO-II to the "gang of corrupt" elements.

Slamming the former army chief, the PTI chief reiterated that his government was toppled under a conspiracy and thieves were imposed on the country, the report said.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan's Economic Crisis May Worsen In Future: Report

19 December, 2022

Pakistan's economy is still in crisis and several economic indicators indicate that things could get worse. Food scarcity, depletion of energy and depletion of foreign reserves may exacerbate the problem in the coming winter.

Pakistan's recent decision not to purchase oil and gas from Russia, despite a shortage in the country, may not have been made solely to appease the US. According to Islam Khabar, the decision may have been made as a result of Pakistan's economic downturn.

According to Islam Khabar, such a large purchase will necessitate a large cash outflow, as Russia desperately needs cash due to its ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

According to the newspaper, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stated to “PBS Newshour” on 14 December that the country will not receive any oil or gas from Russia. This came just a week after Pakistan's Energy Minister, Musadik Malik, completed negotiations and signed documents with their Russian counterpart. As a result, Pakistan will now have to turn to Gulf countries to meet its energy needs.

According to a Dawn newspaper report, Pakistan's central bank reserves have fallen from USD 15 billion to USD 6.7 billion. Foreign loans will default as a result of these dropping foreign incidents. And the amount remaining in the reserves may only be enough to cover one month's worth of imports.

Despite the fact that the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations rushed in to help with the floods that hit Pakistan this year, only one-third of Pakistan's donation needs were met, which will end in January 2023.

The UN had requested USD 816 million, but UN NGOs had only received USD 262 million in international assistance, according to Islam Khabar.

The industrial sector's situation is also critical, with the large manufacturing sector dropping by 7.75 per cent, according to a Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) report, which includes textiles and automobiles, which contribute significantly to the country's foreign reserves.

Pakistan's agriculture has been in a precarious state for a long time, owing to poor government policies, a lack of investment and a lack of automation.

All of this eventually leads to lower crop yields, lower farm incomes and rural poverty. And, even before the floods, Pakistan was an importer of food and cotton for its large textile industry.

Source: Business World

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LHC seeks details of Toshakhana gifts obtained by political leaders, bureaucrats since 1947

Rana Bilal

December 19, 2022

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday directed the federal government to submit details of Toshakhana gifts received by political rulers and bureaucrats from foreign dignitaries since the creation of Pakistan.

The court directed the government to submit the details by January 16 and also sought records pertaining to the purchase of these assets since 1947.

The directives were issued as Justice Asim Hafeez took up a plea seeking court orders for making public the details of Toshkhana gifts, as well as information about persons/officials who have obtained the assets after making a payment.

Established in 1974, the Tosha­khana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.

The department has been in the news in recent days in light of proceedings against former prime minister Imran Khan for “not sharing details” of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale and his eventual disqualification for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.

According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

During today’s hearing, the government’s lawyer, Sheraz Zaka, contended that details related to Toshakhana were classified and could not be made public.

At that, the court enquired how could the details not be disclosed. “Submit the details to the court and the court will decide whether or not they are classified,” the judge directed, seeking a report from the federal government.

After the hearing, PTI leader Pervez Khattak noted in a tweet that the high court had sought the entire record of Toshakhana gifts and commented: “What’s there to hide in it? Why different standards for yourself?”

The plea

The plea seeking the details was filed by lawyer Munir Ahmad through Advocate Azhar Siddique last week.

The plea stated: “The right to information is an integral part of a progressive democratic state and the same has been elaborated by the superior courts saying the right to information in all matters of public importance is indisputably a fundamental right guaranteed under Article(s) 19 and 19-A of the Constitution.”

According to the petitioner, the right to information stems from the requirement that members of a democratic society should be sufficiently informed that they may intelligently influence the decision which may affect them.

Therefore, he argued, the people of Pakistan had the right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way, by public functionaries and their chosen representatives.

The petitioner contended that people at large were entitled to know details of every public transaction and acquire information in all matters of public importance.

“This enables people to contribute in debate on social and moral issues and matter of public importance.”

The plea urged the court to order the respondents to make public the details of assets gifted to rulers as well as bureaucrats and also provide the names, details, information, documentation and materials in respect of the persons/officials who have obtained the assets by making the payment.

The petitioner also sought details of the methodology used to determine the price of the Toshakhana articles.

Source: Dawn

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FM Bilawal arrives in US capital today for talks

Anwar Iqbal

December 19, 2022

WASHINGTON: As Foreign Min­ister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari arrives in the American capital on Monday, he has a difficult mission: underlining the need for stronger ties with the United States without disturbing its close relationship with China.

The foreign minister completed his four-day visit to the UN headquarters in New York on Friday and then went off-the-radar for the weekend, stirring wild speculations in the Pakistani American community. Pakistan’s diplomatic missions in Washington and New York offered no explanation on his weekend engagements.

Asked if Mr Bhutto-Zardari would also meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his three-day stay, the State Department said, “We do not have anything to share at this time.”

The foreign minister, however, did talk about his efforts to improve US-Pakistan relations in interviews to various US media outlets. In an interview to NPR’s Amna Nawaz, he explained how Islamabad was trying to maintain good relations with both Beijing and Washington.

“China is our neighbour. We have a long history with them. And we have a lot of cooperation, particularly on the economic front,” he said. “But we also have a historical relationship with the United States that stretches back to the 1950s. And we have partnered over the course of history.”

He said he believed that “whenever the United States and Pakistan have worked together, we have achieved great things. And whenever there’s been a distance developed between us, then we have faltered.”

Going back to the theme of maintaining good ties with both, he said, “I do think it’s absolutely possible for the United — for Pakistan to engage with both China and the US.”

The foreign minister also spoke about Pakistan’s efforts to mend its ties with Russia but denied reports that Islamabad was buying oil from Moscow.

“As far as Russia is concerned, we aren’t pursuing or receiving any discounted energy, but we are facing an extremely difficult economic situation, inflation, pump prices,” he said.

But he reminded NPR’s American audience that “we do have energy insecurity. And we are exploring various avenues to expand our areas where we can get our energy from.”

The remarks irked Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik, who had first announced discussing an oil deal with Russia and still maintains that Pakistan is pursuing Russian oil at discounted rates.

Diplomatic sources in Washington say that Pakistan is still far from concluding an oil deal with Russia, though both sides are exploring the possibility of doing so. The dispute, however, exposed the difficulties that Pakistan faces in maintaining its partnership with both China and the United States while exploring the possibilities of improving relations with Russia.

Source: Dawn

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Two officials martyred as held terrorists seize Bannu CTD building

December 19, 2022

BANNU: Two officials of the KP Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) were martyred and many more injured when terrorists, who had been arrested previously and being interrogated at CTD police station inside Cantonment, snatched an AK-47 from police and opened fire in Bannu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday afternoon.

The police and rescuers informed that one of the miscreants snatched rifle from police during interrogation and neutralised the guards deployed at the building.

District Police Officer (DPO) Bannu Dr Iqbal also confirmed that there was no attack from outside and one of the miscreants snatched rifle from police during interrogation and neutralised the guards deployed at the building.

He then freed all the suspects being held at the building and who took control of the compound. They also made several policemen hostage.

“They are in control of the building and we have cordoned off the entire Bannu cantonment. They have been kept busy by means of negotiations,” he added. “We have our own plan which cannot be shared at the moment,” he said.

Militants released at least three videos in which they could be seen armed with AK-47 rifles and medium machine guns. In one video they showed a hostage and demanded the security forces to provide them with a helicopter to reach Afghanistan safely and in return they would not harm their hostages.

The affiliation of the terrorists could not be ascertained immediately.

A spokesman for the TTP did not immediately confirm or deny a link with the militants in the compound.

Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Special Assistant for Information Barrister Saif has denied that CTD facility had been attacked in Bannu, saying that some suspects attempted to snatch weapons from the security forces.

He said that the situation was “completely under control” and security forces have cordoned off the affected area.

Saif said that an operation was underway against the miscreants which will be completed soon.

Source: Pakistan Today

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North America


US says 'significant success' achieved at Africa leaders summit

Michael Gabriel Hernandez  



The US demonstrated "significant success" in achieving its goals during a three-day summit with African leaders, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.

"We made significant, tangible progress across every one of our priorities this week, building on the momentum that we've generated over the past two years," Blinken told reporters as the summit closed out in the nation's capital.

"America will not dictate Africa's choices. Neither should anyone else. The right to make these choices belongs to Africans, and Africans alone. But we will work relentlessly to expand their choices," he added.

Still, the top diplomat maintained that while he believes Washington achieved "significant success" in realizing its goals, "the ultimate judgment has to be in the days to come, the weeks to come, the months to come. Are we making good on what we said we would do?"

The comments come at the conclusion of a summit marked by the signing of a number of multilateral agreements on a range of areas, from space to food security, and the announcement that the Biden administration will invest, in partnership with Congress, at least $55 billion in Africa over the next three years.

President Joe Biden also announced that he would be making the first visit to sub-Saharan Africa by a sitting US president in nearly a decade. He did not, however, specify a date or the countries he will visit.

In all, 49 African leaders attended the summit, as well as the head of the African Union (AU). Biden on Thursday threw his support behind adding the AU to the G-20, the multilateral group of global powers that is focused on issues pertaining to the global economy.

The president also reiterated his announcement in September during the UN General Assembly in which he expressed “full support” for reforming the UN Security Council to include permanent representation for Africa.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US-Africa Leaders Summit ends with Biden speech

Rabia İclal Turan  



US President Joe Biden announced Thursday that his administration will provide an additional $2 billion in urgently needed humanitarian assistance to address food insecurity in Africa.

In his closing remarks at the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Biden said the food assistance “is going to help ensure that children and families don't have to go to bed hungry.”

The three-day summit ended Thursday, hosting 49 African leaders in the US capital. Issues concerning the African continent were discussed in both public sessions and bilateral meetings.

The leaders spoke on a variety of topics, including food security, sustainable development, trade and energy.

The summit came as the Biden administration aims to increase its influence in the region amid increasing competition from China and Russia.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World


Islamic State group gunmen kill nine Iraqi police officers

19 Dec 2022

KIRKUK (Iraq), Dec 19 — Islamic State group jihadists said yesterday they had carried out an attack in northern Iraq killing nine police officers, setting off a roadside bomb before machine-gunning survivors.

The attack in the Kirkuk area — which police said left nine federal officers dead — is one of the deadliest in Iraq in recent months.

IS fighters attacked “a police patrol... detonated an explosive device then attacked them with machine guns and hand grenades,” the group said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

A federal police officer, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the bomb blast hit a vehicle transporting members of Iraq’s federal police near the village of Shalal al-Matar.

It was then followed by “a direct attack with small arms”, the officer added.

“An assailant has been killed, and we are looking for the others,” the officer said.

IS jihadists seized large swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” where they ruled with brutality before their defeat in late 2017 by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led military coalition.

IS lost its last Syrian bastion, near the Iraqi border, in 2019.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani condemned the violence as a “cowardly terrorist attack”.

Security forces should show “vigilance, carefully inspect the roads and not provide any opportunity for terrorist elements”, he said.

Sleeper cells

The US-led anti-IS coalition continued a combat role in Iraq until December last year, but roughly 2,500 American soldiers remain in the country to assist in the fight against the jihadists.

IS cells, however, remain active in several areas of Iraq.

On Wednesday, three Iraqi soldiers were killed and three others wounded when a bomb exploded as their patrol vehicle passed through farmland in Tarmiya, a rural municipality about 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the capital Baghdad that is a known hotspot for IS sleeper cells.

Last month a machine gun attack on a remote northern Iraqi military post killed four soldiers near Kirkuk, a military source said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Iraqi security forces continue to carry out counter-terrorism operations against the group, and the deaths of IS fighters in airstrikes and raids are regularly announced.

Despite the setbacks, which has left IS a shadow of its former self, the group has “maintained its ability to launch attacks at a steady pace”, a January report by the United Nations read.

Source: Malay Mail

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At least nine Iraqi police officers killed in bomb blast near Kirkuk: Source

18 December ,2022

At least nine Iraqi federal policemen were killed on Sunday after a bomb struck their convoy southwest of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, two security sources told Reuters.

The blast took place near the village of Safra, which lies about 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, said the source, adding that two other policemen were critically wounded.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has ordered a hunt for the “terrorist elements” who carried out the attack, dispatching the federal police commander to the area for further investigation, his office said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but ISIS militants are active in the area. Iraq declared victory over the group, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017.

Iraqi police officers said ISIS militants were involved in the attack, using roadside bombs to target the police force which was patrolling the area.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Qatar warns EU corruption investigation may harm relations

Ahmed Asmar  


Qatar on Sunday renewed its denial of involvement in any corruption case involving people linked to the European Parliament, saying a Belgian investigation threatens to harm relations.

Four people were arrested by Belgian authorities as part of an investigation into allegations that Doha lavished them with cash and gifts to influence decision-making.

The Belgian investigation has caused to suspend of Qatar’s access to the European Parliament, including visa liberalization, an EU-Qatar aviation agreement, and planned visits.

In a statement, Qatar warned that the investigation and suspension of its access to the EU parliament will negatively impact relations and gas supplies.

"The decision to impose such a discriminatory restriction that limits dialogue and cooperation on Qatar before the legal process has ended, will negatively affect regional and global security cooperation, as well as ongoing discussions around global energy poverty and security," said a statement by a diplomat from Qatar’s mission to the EU.

"We firmly reject the allegations associating our government with misconduct," the statement added.

The Qatari diplomat also criticized the Belgian authorities, saying they used inaccurate information during the investigation.

"Qatar was not the only party named in the investigation, yet our country has been exclusively criticized and attacked,” the statement said. "We have observed this week's selective condemnation of our country with great alarm.”

Last week, the Qatari Foreign Ministry rejected any attempt to associate it with the corruption case.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in Nigeria, Yemen and Jordan

December 19, 2022

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s (KSRelief ) humanitarian efforts in Nigeria, Yemen and Jordan continue with the provision of educational training, medical care and shelter.

At the Zaatari camp in Jordan, the Saudi relief agency, represented by the Saudi Center for Community Service, has provided educational programs and training courses for 747 individuals for the year.

In Yemen, KSRelief mobile clinics stationed in Hajjah governorate conducted provided the necessary medical care to 774 patients suffering from various medical conditions while 387 individuals were issued medications.

Mobile medical clinics at Waalan camp for displaced people in Hajjah governorate meanwhile received 290 individuals with various health conditions, and provided them with the required treatments while providing 145 patients with medications.

KSRelief also distributed shelter aid, including 50 tents, in Aden governorate, benefiting 50 families.

This comes within the framework of the efforts exerted by Saudi Arabia, through the KSRelief, to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, state news agency SPA reported

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Arabia condemns terror attack on Iraqi security forces

December 19, 2022

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has condemned a terrorist attack which targeted Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk on Sunday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack that killed nine federal officers.

The ministry of foreign affairs affirmed Saudi Arabia’s rejection of all forms of violence and terrorist activities and reiterated the Kingdom’s support for eliminating terrorism and extremism in all its forms and dismantling its funding, said a statement carried by SPA on Sunday.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi, Indonesian ministers discuss increasing Umrah trips

December 18, 2022

MAKKAH: Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Sunday received Indonesian Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi and his accompanying delegation in Makkah to discuss the affairs of pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom from Indonesia.

The meeting came as part of the efforts to raise the quality of services provided to pilgrims so they can perform their rituals more smoothly and enrich their religious and cultural experience.

The two parties discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, as well as issues of common interest, including increasing the number of trips to enable the largest number of Indonesians to visit the Kingdom and perform Umrah.

Sumadi expressed appreciation to the Saudi government for providing various digital services for Muslims in general and Indonesian Muslims in particular, which resulted in the success of the Hajj season last year.

Source: Arab News

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EU Parliament clampdown poses threat to Doha relations: Qatari diplomat

18 December 2022

Qatar has denounced a corruption investigation by Belgium involving people linked to the European Parliament and the suspension of the Persian Gulf country's access to the EU institution.

In a statement released on Sunday, a diplomat from Qatar's mission to the European Union singled out Belgian authorities for criticism and insisted that "inaccurate" information had been used in the probe. It could "negatively" impact ties and natural gas supplies .

“The decision to impose such a discriminatory restriction that limits dialogue and cooperation on Qatar before the legal process has ended, will negatively effect regional and global security cooperation, as well as ongoing discussions around global energy poverty and security,” the statement read.

“We firmly reject the allegations associating our government with misconduct.”

It said "preconceived prejudices" led the parliament to vote on Thursday to suspend all work on legislation involving Qatar and to bar Qatari representatives from its premises.

The suspension affects legislation linked to visa liberalization, an EU-Qatar aviation agreement and planned visits until the allegations have been confirmed or dismissed.

Belgian authorities have charged four people linked to the European Parliament over allegations World Cup host Qatar lavished them with cash and gifts to influence decision-making. Qatar has denied any wrongdoing.

Eva Kaili, a Greek MEP, is one of six people arrested after raids that uncovered at least $1.6 million in cash.

Greece on Monday froze assets of the key suspect in the case, 44-year-old Eva Kaili, a European Parliament vice-president and Greek socialist Member of European Parliament (MEP), after Belgian prosecutors charged her with corruption. Greek authorities also froze the assets of Kaili’s relatives.

Three associates of the parliament's vice president were also charged after bags of cash were found in Kaili’s home shortly after she returned from an official visit to Qatar. A second MEP's house has been searched.

As part of the investigation, Belgian prosecutors searched 16 houses and seized 600,000 euros ($631,800) in the capital Brussels on Friday, when Kaili was arrested.

Source: Press TV

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Iran says won't ‘seek permission’ to boost Russia ties

18 December ,2022

Iran's foreign ministry said Sunday it would not “seek permission from anyone” to expand relations with Russia, dismissing US concerns over a growing military partnership between Tehran and Moscow.

Western countries have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia, allegedly used to attack Ukraine, and slapped sanctions on Tehran, which denies the allegations.

CIA chief William Burns told PBS television on Friday the military cooperation between Iran and Russia “poses real threats” to US allies in the Middle East.

Nasser Kanani, spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, called the comments “baseless” and said they were part of a “US propaganda war against Iran”.

Tehran “acts independently in regulating its foreign relations and does not seek permission from anyone”, Kanani said in a statement Sunday.

Iran's “national interests” dictate its policies, he added.

“Cooperation between Iran and Russia in various fields including defense is expanding within the framework of common interests... and is not against any third country.”

According to Kanani, “American officials continue their baseless political claims and illegal actions against the Islamic republic of Iran, questioning the conventional defense and military cooperation between Iran and Russia.”

White House national security spokesman John Kirby on December 9 called the Tehran-Moscow military partnership “harmful” to Ukraine, Iran's neighbors and the world.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Danish TV channel apologizes for comparing monkey family to Moroccan footballers

Ebad Ahmed 



A Danish television station apologized on Twitter over the weekend for airing derogatory comments comparing players on Morocco’s national football team and their families to a family of monkeys.

TV 2 NEWS host Christian Høgh Andersen attempted to transition from a story featuring images of Moroccan players hugging their mothers and celebrating after winning matches at the World Cup in Qatar to the next news segment about animals and how they gather together to keep warm by holding up a picture of monkeys.

“In continuation of the talk about Morocco (players) and their families in Qatar, we also have an animal family gathering to keep warm,” he said.

The station expressed its deep regret over the incident.

“We’re extremely sorry for the comments linking to the next program about animals. We apologize deeply for this,” said the tweet.

TV 2 also issued a statement on its official website saying that Andersen drew a link between staying together as a family to the next topic about animals.

“This can be perceived as a racist comment, and both TV 2 and Christian Høgh Andersen would like to offer a profound apology for that,” it said.

TV 2 News’ editor-in-chief Anne Mette Svane admitted that the comments were “both wrong and offensive.”

“Although it was not the intention of the host, it is a remark that both our host and TV 2 dissociate from. This was a clear mistake. We apologize for it,” she said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Türkiye, Germany, Greece hold talks in Brussels

Mumin Altas  


Türkiye, Germany, and Greece on Friday held talks in Brussels to revitalize the communication channels between Ankara and Athens.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, German Chancellery Foreign and Security Policy Adviser Jens Ploetner, and Greek Prime Ministry Diplomatic Office Director Anna-Maria Boura attended the meeting.

No further information was released about the meeting.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Lithuanian comments on Karabakh region 'regrettable': Azerbaijan

Burc Eruygur  


Azerbaijan on Sunday criticized as "regrettable" a Lithuanian statement on the Karabakh region and recent developments around the Lachin corridor, which connects the region to Armenia.

“It is surprising and regrettable that Lithuania, a Pribaltika (Russian term for ‘by the Baltic Sea’) country with which Azerbaijan has had extensive partnership relations for many years and which attaches special importance to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of international law in interstate relations and always adheres to these principles, made such a statement,” said Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said Lithuania’s comments create a “misunderstanding in the context of various discussions held” during a May visit to Azerbaijan by Gitanas Nausada, Lithuania’s president.

It added that Lithuania should bear in mind “that there is no territorial unit called ‘Nagorno-Karabakh’ on the territory of Azerbaijan. Just as Lithuania is no longer called a ‘Pribaltika’ state, it is unacceptable to call the Karabakh Economic Region of Azerbaijan by the past names formulated during the Soviet Union.”

It added that Azerbaijan is worried that Lithuania is applying a “biased and one-sided approach” to the issue rather than protesting violations made by Armenia in the region, such as “illegal economic activity, looting of natural resources, as well as the use of Lachin road for military provocations, the transfer of landmines to the territory of Azerbaijan, and for illegal economic activity.”

“Regarding the claims on the humanitarian situation in the region, we once again declare that Azerbaijan is always ready to meet the humanitarian needs of the Armenian residents living in the territories of Azerbaijan, and there is no need for the intervention of a third party in this matter,” it concluded.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

In the fall of 2020, in 44 days of clashes, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages, and settlements from Armenian occupation. The Russian-brokered peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.

Since Monday, Azerbaijani ecologists representing NGOs have been protesting Armenia’s illegal exploitation of natural resources in the region, where Russian peacekeepers have been stationed since the aftermath of the fall 2020 conflict.

Last Sunday, Azerbaijan sent a diplomatic note to Russia concerning the "illegal exploitation" and mining of natural resources in the liberated Karabakh region, as its officials had been prevented from entering the area.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Türkiye, Bulgaria continue efforts against migrant smuggling

Diyar Guldogan  


Türkiye and Bulgaria will continue to work against the scourge of migrant smuggling, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Sunday.

"We have been working together for a long time, especially on migrant smuggling, human smuggling, and border security to stop the migration flow and to prevent it," Soylu told a news conference with his Bulgarian counterpart Ivan Demerdzhiev in Istanbul.

"In this respect, we have a common agreement to exchange information and to continue the same efforts without letup.”

Soylu said Ankara and Sofia also took steps together to fight drug smuggling.

Joint cooperation against terrorist groups, including the PKK, YPG/PKK, and FETO – the terrorist group behind the defeated 2016 coup in Türkiye – continues resolutely, he added.

Demerdzhiev thanked Soylu for providing "great support" to neighboring Bulgaria in the fight against immigration and said the EU also sees this cooperation as the two countries protect the EU’s external borders.

"I am confident that the EU will take steps to further support these great efforts of both countries," he added.

Cooperation on the fight against terrorist groups will continue, Demerdzhiev said, ensuring Bulgaria will arrest the terrorists and hand over them to justice.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the European Union, and the US, and is responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the terrorist PKK’s Syrian branch.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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South Asia


Islamic Emirate Seeks Removal of Sanctions on Afghanistan

The Islamic Emirate urged the international community to remove sanctions on Afghanistan and solve issues through diplomatic efforts.

“I think it is the time to remove obstacles and solve issues through diplomatic channels and facilitate the support to the people of Afghanistan,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

Recently, the deputy minister of economy, Abdul Latif Nazari, said the existing sanctions have caused economic issues in the country.

“The sanctions and freezing of Afghan assets have left a negative impact on the livelihood of the Afghan people,” he said.

Analysts said that the sanctions should be lifted to address the current problems in the country.

“Looking into the global experiences, imposition of sanction is not a solution. It is important that organizations should work jointly with the current government,” said Najibullah Jami, a political analyst.

These individuals who are leading the Islamic Emirate and are sanctioned by the international community want the right of the Afghan nation from the world,” said Mohammad Khalid Musleh, a political affairs analyst.

This comes as the UN Security Council extended the mandate of “Team Monitoring Sanctions against Taliban-Linked Entities in Afghanistan.”

Source: Tolo News

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Pakistani Delegation of Ulema to Visit Afghanistan to Discuss Cross-Border Hostility

By Saqalain Eqbal

December 18, 2022

Following clashes along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the latest one which left one civilian dead and 15 others injured, a reconciliation delegation of 4 Pakistani Ulema will visit Afghanistan to hold talks on ending cross-border hostility.

According to Pakistan’s Geo News, which cited Pakistani authorities, the four-member reconciliation delegation of Pakistan will visit the Afghan capital, Kabul, and Kandahar, to put an end to the clashes along the border amid news of the establishment of a joint committee to address the border tensions surface.

The Afghan border forces fired indiscriminately and without provocation at the civilian area in Chaman city of Pakistan’s Balochistan, for the second time in five days, using heavy weapons.

Shehbaz Sharif, the Pakistani premier, condemned the Afghan Border Forces’ “unprovoked shelling” of civilians in Pakistan’s Chaman district, in response to the first of the twin border clashes in a week and urged the Afghan side to make sure that such occurrences “not repeated again.

The Pakistani Ulema, according to the Chaman district administration, will reportedly meet with officials of the Afghan Ministry of Defense, and other key authorities of the Afghan administration in Kabul and Kandahar.

The Ulema delegation’s departure, the Pakistani authorities said, caused the flag meeting of Pakistani and Afghan border security personnel to be postponed, while normal operations were resumed in the civilian areas of both regions.

Source: Khaama Press

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Fuel tanker tunnel blast kills at least 19 in Afghanistan

Dec 18, 2022

KABUL: At least 19 people were killed and 32 injured when a fuel tanker exploded in a tunnel north of the Afghan capital Kabul, a local official said on Sunday.

The Salang Tunnel, which is around 80 miles north of Kabul, was originally built in the 1960s to assist the Soviet invasion. It is a key link between the country's north and south.

According to Said Himatullah Shamim, a spokesman for Parwan province, Saturday night's tunnel explosion killed at least 19 people, including women and children.

He said survivors remain trapped under rubble and that the number of casualties could rise.

It was not immediately clear what caused the incident, which happened at around 8.30 pm.

Parwan's health department has received 14 dead and 24 injured so far, according to local official Dr. Abdullah Afghan.

There are five women and two children among the dead, he said, and the rest are men who are severely burnt and cannot be recognised.

Source: Times Of India

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International Migrants Day and the Plight of Afghan Refugees

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 18, 2022

Each year, December 18 marks International Migrants Day. The day aims to draw attention to the human rights of migrants and highlight their contribution to society.

International Migrants Day is celebrated throughout the globe to highlight the contributions of migrants to their respective communities. The movement of humans from one country to another for different purposes including education, treatment, work, seeking safety and more is normal and is considered the right of every human being.

The upheavals, war, and political instability have caused people to migrate either legally or illegally to safer destinations. The people of Afghanistan, unfortunately, got adversely affected by the late regime change in their country. After the Taliban’s takeover of power, thousands of Afghans left their country in search of safety and a better life mostly through illegal pathways. 

Thousands of Afghan refugees and migrants are currently residing in Pakistan without any clear legal status. Neither the Pakistani government nor the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (HUNHCR) provides them with legal resident permits or identification cards. This makes their life extremely difficult.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan have tons of problems to deal with. Extending their stay visas and permits takes months, and they even have to pay commission or bribe to the local authorities to get their visas extended. Unemployment, discrimination, and lack of support from refugee advocacy organizations put them in complete desperation. Worst of all the government of Pakistan has already warned twice that Afghan citizens without visas or legal documentation beyond December 2022 will face serious consequences such as imprisonment and deportation.

Source: Khaama Press

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Meeting With Iranian Deputy Ambassador, Muttarqi Reiterates Trade & Economic Relations

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 18, 2022

Amir Khan Muttaqi the acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan met with Iran’s deputy ambassador, diplomats, and representatives of the Iranian state and private media earlier today in Kabul.

In a meeting with Hussain Mortazavi, the deputy ambassador of Iran and Iranian representatives from media outlets discussed the facilitation of economic and bilateral trade relations and other sociocultural issues in the two countries, the foreign ministry said.

The purpose of Iranian media representatives’ visit to Afghanistan is to review the situation in the country and reflect it realistically to the outside world, the deputy minister of foreign affairs in a tweet said.

Mr. Muttaqi’s meeting with Iranian media representatives comes as the authorities of Afghanistan’s interim regime have imposed a range of restrictions on private media outlets, which led a large number of media outlets and news agencies to close their doors.

Also, since the takeover of Kabul in August 2021, the Taliban have detained and tortured several journalists and social activists, coming under the attention of free journalism advocacy agencies and other international organizations.

Source: Khaama Press

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Hamas, Islamic Jihad call to step up ‘resistance’ attacks against Israel


DECEMBER 18, 2022

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leaders have called for stepping up attacks against Israel, especially in the West Bank.

The call was made during a meeting in Beirut between Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas Politburo, and PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh.

The meeting took place on Saturday night and was attended by several representatives of the two Iranian-backed Islamist groups.

It took place amid mounting violence in the West Bank and a Palestinian Authority security crackdown on members of the two groups.

It also came ahead of the formation of a new Israeli governing coalition headed by Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The two sides affirmed the joint cooperation in strengthening and activating the resistance of our people in all of Palestine in the face of the Israeli occupation and criminality,” Hamas said in a statement after the meeting. “They also emphasized the importance of rallying around the resistance in all its forms.”

Resistance and confrontation

Hamas and PIJ use the term “resistance” to refer to the use of violence and armed attacks against Israel.

Hamas said the two sides stressed the importance of “confronting Zionist schemes that aim to undermine the resistance and liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Meanwhile, Abu Obeida, spokesman for Izzadin al-Qassam, the so-called military wing of Hamas, on Sunday hinted that his group was planning to kidnap IDF soldiers.

“The decision to increase the number of soldiers held by the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades remains effective and is being carried out,” he said in an interview with a Hamas-affiliated website to mark the 35tth anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

He was referring to the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

“The [Israeli] enemy will regret its intransigence regarding a new prisoner-exchange deal,” he said, regarding Israel’s alleged refusal to release thousands of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails in return for the bodies of the soldiers.

Two Israeli civilians who reportedly entered the Gaza Strip on their own, Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu, are also being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Last week, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said his group would give Israel “a limited time to complete the [prisoner-exchange] deal.” Otherwise, Hamas “will close the file of the four enemy prisoners forever and find another way to liberate our prisoners,” he said in a speech to mark the Hamas anniversary.

Abu Obeidah said in the interview that the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades “forms the nucleus of the Palestinian Liberation Army.”

The rising tensions and violence in the West Bank was the most significant action in the past 15 years and would have “strategic consequences on the future of the Zionist entity,” he said.

Addressing the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Abu Obeidah urged them to “continue escalating the resistance because we are facing an existential battle.”

Source: J Post

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Hopes of sailing free of war and poverty dashed for Gazans as bodies return in coffins

December 18, 2022

GAZA: Months ago, Talal Al-Shaer bid his two sons safe travels as they set off from the Gaza Strip on a tortuous route that they prayed would bring them new lives in Europe, free of poverty and war.

But the boat taking them across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya sank soon after leaving. One son drowned, his body recovered. The other was lost.

Rather than regaling friends about their successful migration, Al-Shaer received condolences on Sunday.

“A whole generation is lost, suffering, blockade, scarce jobs, bad mental health. That is what pushes them to migrate,” he said ahead of the funeral for his son Mohammad, whose body was returned along with those of seven other Palestinians.

Three others, among them his son Maher, they remain missing.

The eight young Palestinian men who drowned off the coast of Tunisia nearly two months ago tried to sail to new lives in Europe.

Gaza’s 2.3 million people are no strangers to hardship, after decades of war with Israel, economic clampdowns aided by neighboring Egypt that starve the economy and splits between Palestinian factions. According to the World Bank, unemployment in Gaza runs at about 50 percent and more than half its population lives in poverty.

But among the thousands attending the migrants’ funerals, there was added outrage and despair at the October shipwreck.

While dangerous migrations to Europe have picked up pace in recent years from across the Middle East, Palestinians feel especially driven to hazard them — and vulnerable to smugglers.

“Human-trafficking gangs are behind these illegal migration trips and they exploit these youths, charging up to $10,000 per person,” Palestinian Foreign Ministry official Ahmad Al-Deek said. “These are death trips.”

He said the total number of Palestinian migrants was unknown. The young men who were buried on Sunday crossed Egypt before flying to Libya where they waited months to set sail. Deek said smugglers sometimes sank boats themselves if they felt threatened and deceived people about the risks.

Source: Arab News

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Houthi-controlled court sentences 16 Yemenis to death, 13 others to prison


December 19, 2022

AL-MUKALLA: A Sanaa-based attorney said that a Houthi-run court has condemned 16 Yemenis to death on grounds of working with the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen and the militia’s Yemeni opponents.

Abdul Majeed Sabra, a Yemeni lawyer who defends abductees held in Houthi prisons, said that the Specialized Criminal Court of First Instance has commuted the death sentences of 16 Yemenis, including seven held by the Houthis, and sentenced 13 others to prison terms of varying lengths after convicting them of communicating with the coalition and sending the locations of military facilities and leaders.

All 29 people hail from Saada, the Houthi movement’s heartland.

The same group of individuals was placed on trial for the first time in October, when a Houthi court accused them of communicating with the coalition and Yemeni governments between January 2014 and December 2020.

Sabra told Arab News that the ruling is the primary one and that he filed an appeal against it, adding that the convicts being detained by the Houthis are civilians, including teachers and farmers.

“The trial and appeal will go before the same court, and if it sustains the judgment, we will file an appeal with the Supreme Court,” he said.

A Yemeni government official and other activists have branded the charges as “malicious” and intended as retaliation against Yemenis who oppose the militia and the confiscation of their property in Houthi-controlled regions.

Faisal Al-Majidi, undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Justice, accused the Houthis of using the court system to punish Yemeni government supporters and to legitimize rampant looting of the property of militia opponents.

“The court is used as a glove to settle rivalries with individuals who oppose the ideology of the Houthi militia, and their money is taken on the pretext of communicating with the aggressors,” Al-Majidi told Arab News.

“These acts of mass killing expose the Houthi group's criminal attitude against the Saada population.”

Since the first day of their military coup against the Yemeni government in late 2014, the Houthis have abducted hundreds of Yemenis, severely tortured them in jail, and charged them with collaborating with the Yemeni government and the coalition.

A large number of politicians, including the former president, top government officials, activists, journalists, and military and security personnel were also punished in absentia by the Houthis, who took their houses and property in Sanaa and the other places they control.

The province of Saada in Yemen’s north has been home to the Houthi militia for almost two decades, and it has been the site of six wars between the Yemeni government and the Houthis since 2004, when the Houthis initiated a military insurrection against the government.

Separately, the UN’s International Organization for Migration reported that 9,849 Yemeni families (59,094 individuals) had been displaced from their homes in war-torn provinces from Jan. 1 to Dec. 10, 2022, despite the significant cessation of hostilities over the past eight months as a result of the UN-brokered ceasefire.

Eighty percent of the displaced individuals in Marib, Lahj, Dhale and other Yemeni cities were forced from their homes owing to safety concerns, while 20 percent left for economic reasons, according to the organization.

Source: Arab News

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Iranian Senior Officials Call For Dealing With Riots Based On Legal, Sharia Principles


December 18, 2022

Furthermore, the chiefs of the three branches underscored that rioters' cases should be handled in accordance with legal and Sharia guidelines.

President Ebrahim Raisi, Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, and Judiciary Chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Eje'i further urged all authorities and others involved in the affairs of the three government branches to continue their efforts to serve the people and develop public confidence.

Source: Tehran Times

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Inmate killed in Iran prison riot: Rights group

18 December ,2022

A prison inmate in Iran has been shot dead and over a dozen wounded in a riot that erupted when detainees protested an imminent execution, a rights group said Sunday.

The unrest at the central prison in the northern city of Karaj began Saturday when prisoners protested the transfer of an inmate to solitary confinement ahead of execution, the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said.

Iranian authorities have offered a different account, saying conflict erupted between prisoners convicted of drug offences, with one person killed after a stone was thrown at him.

It is the third major incident in an Iranian jail since the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini that sparked a nationwide protest movement.

IHR reported prisoners had chanted slogans against the regime including “death to the dictator”, referring to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

They also blocked entrances to the Karaj prison and broke surveillance cameras during the riot, IHR said.

It identified the slain inmate as Mohsen Mansouri, saying he had been shot in the head.

Seventeen others had been hospitalised with injuries, the group added.

The judiciary said several inmates had minor injuries.

The identity of the inmate transferred to solitary confinement and their possible execution date were not immediately clear.

Karaj, capital of Alborz province, has been a major centre for protests.

Some people arrested in the authorities' crackdown are held in the city's central prison, but so are many convicted on unrelated offences.

Many of the protesters arrested in Karaj are held in the notorious Gohardasht prison on the city outskirts, also known as Rajai Shahr.

Alborz province's judiciary chief Hossein Fazeli Harikandi said the conflict had started in the narcotics offences ward and a fire began when prisoners set blankets alight, adding that calm had since been restored.

In October, a fire ripped through part of Evin prison in Tehran and a riot erupted at a facility in the northwestern city of Rasht.

Iranian authorities have arrested at least 14,000 people in the crackdown on the protest movement, according to the United Nations, in mass detentions activists say have caused immense overcrowding in jails.

Amnesty International said on Friday that at least 26 people were at risk of execution in connection with the protests.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel deports French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri over security concerns

18 December ,2022

Israel deported French-Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri on Sunday, accusing him of security offenses against the state of Israel, the Israeli interior ministry said in a statement.

Hamouri was escorted to the airport early on Sunday morning where he boarded a flight to France with his campaign saying there was no legal recourse for him to take.

Hamouri, 37, a Jerusalem resident without Israeli citizenship, had his residency status revoked on December 1 on charges that he was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), classified by Israel and its Western allies as a terror group.

“During his life he organized, inspired and planned to commit terror attacks on his own and for the organization against citizens and well-known Israelis,” a statement from the interior ministry said.

A statement from the Hamouri campaign called the deportation a “war crime” and said it constitutes a breach of international law.

“Wherever a Palestinian goes, he takes with him these principles and the cause of his people: his homeland carried with him to wherever he ends up,” Hamouri said in a statement.

Hamouri was most recently detained by Israel under administrative detention without charge on March 7 until December 1 when Israel revoked his residency and stated he would be deported.

He was previously detained by Israel between 2005 and 2011 after being accused of attempting to assassinate Sephardi rabbi Ovadia Yossef, the founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, but has always maintained his innocence.

Hamouri was released in December 2011 as part of an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier released in October 2011 after five years in captivity in the Gaza Strip at the hands of Hamas.

Hamouri holds citizenship of France through his mother.

France’s foreign ministry denounced his deportation and said that the French government had actively sought to defend his rights and has been in contact with Israeli authorities multiple times.

“We condemn the Israeli authorities’ decision against the law to deport Salah Hamouri to France,” the ministry said in a statement.

The overwhelming majority of East Jerusalem’s more than 340,000 Palestinians hold Israeli residency permits but few have citizenship in Israel, which considers the entire holy city as its eternal, undivided capital. The Palestinians have long sought the city’s east, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally, as capital of a future state.

Jessica Montell, executive director of HaMoked which represents Hamouri, told Reuters that other Jerusalem residents have been charged with breach of allegiance and had their residency revoked in the past but could not be deported as they hold no other citizenship.

Hamouri’s case, therefore, sets a precedent for the deportation of Jerusalemites who hold alternative citizenship, Montell said.

“Because he holds a second nationality, that makes him more vulnerable to deportation,” said Montell, adding that she expects similar cases will emerge more frequently with a new right-wing coalition expected to form Israel’s next government.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Erdogan says courts will fix any mistakes after Istanbul mayor’s sentencing

17 December ,2022

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the courts would correct any mistakes in an appeal process after the jailing of Istanbul’s opposition mayor, and in the meantime Turks had no right to ignore legal rulings.

In his first direct comments on Wednesday’s conviction of Ekrem Imamoglu - a potential challenger to Erdogan who was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison and handed a political ban - Erdogan said he did not care who is the opposition candidate in next year’s elections.

Imamoglu was prosecuted for insulting public officials in 2019, when he criticized a decision to cancel the first round of municipal elections that he won against the 25-year incumbent government of Erdogan’s AK Party.

“There’s still no final court decision yet. The case will go to the Court of Appeals and the Court of Cassation,” Erdogan said. “If the courts have made a mistake, it will be corrected. They’re trying to pull us into this game.”

Imamoglu’s conviction has rallied the opposition bloc around what it sees as a fight for democracy, the rule of law and justice. Thousands have gathered at rallies led by Imamoglu, who has said he plans to appeal his conviction.

“There have been many court rulings that we have harshly criticized ourselves, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to insult judges or to ignore court rulings,” Erdogan told a rally at Mardin in Turkey’s southeast.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Protest-hit Iran arrests lawyer of jailed journalists: Report

17 December ,2022

Iran has arrested the lawyer of two female journalists jailed after covering the death in custody of a young woman that sparked three months of protests, a newspaper said Saturday.

The Islamic Republic has been rocked by protests since Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, died on September 16 after her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s dress code for women.

“Mohammad Ali Kamfirouzi, the lawyer for several activists and journalists, has been detained,” the Ham Mihan newspaper said.

The arrest brings to 25 the number of lawyers detained in connection to the protests, according to the newspaper.

Kamfirouzi’s lawyer Mohammad Ali Bagherpour was cited as saying his client had not received a summons, was unaware of the charges he faced and that he had been detained without any legal formalities.

Ham Mihan quoted Kamfirouzi’s brother as saying that his arrest had occurred on Wednesday, as well as that the judiciary was “responsible for protecting my brother’s life and health.”

Among Kamfirouzi’s clients were Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, the two female journalists arrested after covering Amini’s death and its aftermath.

Hamedi, who works at Shargh newspaper, was detained on September 20 after visiting the hospital where Amini had spent three days in a coma before her death.

Mohammadi, a journalist at Ham Mihan, was taken into custody on September 29 after she traveled to Amini’s hometown of Saqez in Kurdistan province to report on her funeral.

The pair were charged on November 8 with propaganda against the state and conspiring against national security -- capital crimes under Iran’s sharia law.

Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed concern about their fate and demanded their immediate release.

Iran said on December 3 that more than 200 people have been killed in the protests -- which officials describe as “riots” -- including dozens of security personnel.

Norway-based group Iran Human Rights said Iran’s security forces had killed at least 469 people in the protests, in an updated toll issued on Saturday.

Thousands of people have been arrested over the protests. Eleven have been sentenced to death, and two have already been executed.

Meanwhile, Iran this week released two teenagers who had been arrested on allegations of taking part in the demonstrations, two newspapers said on Saturday.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel draws condemnation as deported human rights lawyer arrives in Paris


December 18, 2022

RAMALLAH: France has condemned Israel’s expulsion of French Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri, who had been held in an Israeli prison without charge since March after being accused of security offenses.

Hamouri, 37, had been held in Israel under a controversial practice known as administrative detention, which allows suspects to be detained for renewable periods of up to six months.

He arrived at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on Sunday morning — the culmination of a lengthy judicial saga after his deportation.

“I have changed location but the fight continues,” Hamouri said at the airport, where he was welcomed by his wife Elsa, politicians, NGO representatives and supporters of the Palestinian cause.

The former prisoner was deported after Israel revoked his Jerusalem residency two weeks ago based on allegations that he was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, according to the Israeli Interior Ministry.

His father, Hassan Hamouri, described the deportation as a “war crime of the first degree.”

In remarks to Arab News, Hassan accused Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who signed the decision to deport Salah two weeks ago, of being a “failure” and “wanting to show an achievement” before leaving government after losing recent elections.

Hamouri expressed his disappointment that France did not make efforts to prevent his son’s deportation.

He said that it was “not enough” that the French Embassy and consulate did not inform the Hamouri family of the deportation decision on Sunday morning, but instead turned off their phones so that it was impossible to contact them.

Salah’s mother, a French national, told Arab News that she felt her country had disappointed the family by abandoning the 37-year-old.

France’s Foreign Ministry said that the deportation was “against the law,” adding that officials had been working “to ensure that Salah Hamouri’s rights are respected, that he benefits from all means of recourse and that he can lead a normal life in Jerusalem, where he was born, resides and wishes to live.”

A statement said: “We condemn today the Israeli authorities’ decision, against the law, to expel Salah Hamouri to France.”

It expressed France’s “opposition to the expulsion of a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, an occupied territory under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Palestinian officials expressed their concern that the Hamouri deportation would set a precedent that Israel would use to relocate other Palestinian prisoners.

“Deporting a Palestinian from their homeland for breach of allegiance to the state of Israel is a dangerous precedent and a gross violation of basic rights,” Israel-based human rights organization HaMoked said in a statement.

HaMoked previously appealed the decision to revoke Hamouri’s residency and requested an injunction to prevent the deportation. The Supreme Court rejected both pleas.

The organization said that it would file a new petition to the High Court once the new Israeli government takes power in the coming weeks.

Hamouri was born in Jerusalem to a Palestinian father and French mother. He was brought up and taught in Palestinian schools and universities.

Israeli authorities began to pursue him several years ago, with repeated arrests and summons, preventing him from entering the West Bank and deporting his French wife to her country “despite the legality of her presence” in Jerusalem.

Hamouri was rearrested and his administrative detention renewed three consecutive times at the beginning of this year.

With the approaching end of the detention period, Hamouri was informed of the decision to deport him to France.

He was transferred from Hadarim Prison to Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday morning.

“During his life, he organized, incited and planned to carry out terrorist attacks himself and for the organization against citizens and prominent figures in Israel,” an Israeli Interior Ministry statement claimed.

In a voice message posted on the Instagram account of the official Palestinian civil society campaign for Hamouri, the lawyer said that he was being “forcibly deported and uprooted from my homeland.”

Hamouri added in the message: “I leave you today from prison to exile. But rest assured that I will always remain the person you know. Always loyal to you and your freedom.”

The 37-year-old, who had been in the Israeli prison since March on administrative detention without formal charges, has denied involvement in terrorist organizations.

Human rights groups have condemned Israel’s actions.

Hamouri has always maintained his innocence.

In 2005, he was tried and convicted of working on a plan to assassinate Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, founder of the Shas ultra-orthodox political party.

He was released in 2011 as part of an exchange of 1,027 Palestinian and other Arab prisoners held by Israel as part of a deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whom Hamas kidnapped in 2006.

He had since been living and working as a lawyer in Jerusalem, including working as a human rights lawyer for Addameer, an organization that helps Palestinian prisoners. Israel outlawed Addameer in a move condemned by UN officials.

The Palestinian National Initiative Movement condemned the deportation of Hamouri.

“This disgraceful criminal behavior is a dangerous precedent that contradicts all human and international norms and is a war crime committed by Israel,” said the movement.

The condemnation came as PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Hussein Al-Sheikh said that calls from extremist Israeli groups to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque to light a menorah aimed to “perpetuate the temporal and spatial division” of the mosque.

Extremist groups began storming Al-Aqsa Mosque in large numbers on Sunday.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it was continuing international political, diplomatic and legal action to end Israeli violations, in full coordination with Jordan.

Also on Sunday, hundreds of Palestinians took part in the funeral of the two brothers, Mohammed, 37, and Muhannad Youssef Matir, 19, in Qalandia camp.

They were run over and killed by an Israeli settler near the Za’tara military checkpoint south of Nablus on Saturday evening.

The incident took place as the two brothers stood on the side of a road to repair a tire, accompanied by members of their family.

Mourners at the funeral chanted angry slogans condemning the Israeli occupation and settler movement.

A comprehensive strike to mourn the death of the brothers spread to the town of Kufur Aqab and Qalandia camp.

Source: Arab News

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Polling Units Removed From Politicians’ Homes, Churches, Mosques – Independent National Electoral Commission

December 19, 2022

By Francis Ugwu

As the 2023 general elections draw close, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says it has removed polling units from shrines, churches, mosques, and homes of powerful politicians.

It said the development is to ensure electoral integrity.

This was disclosed yesterday by the INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

Okoye urged voters to support the commission’s efforts to ensure free and fair elections in the forthcoming elections.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Three Jordanian policemen killed during a raid: Statement

19 December ,2022

Three Jordanian police personnel were killed in a raid on hideout of suspected killers of a policeman in the southern city of Maan, a police statement said on Monday.

The police said one of the suspects believed to be a militant was killed. The statement gave no further details.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Polls open in Tunisian vote boycotted by opposition

17 December ,2022

Polls opened on Saturday in a Tunisian parliamentary election that is being boycotted by political parties which have accused President Kais Saied of mounting a coup.

Voters will be choosing a parliament largely defanged by a new constitution, approved with a low turnout in a July referendum.

Saied shut the previous parliament down last year.

The vote appears to have stirred little interest among a population jaded by political dysfunction and struggling with economic hardship.

Voting is due to take place from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. (0700 GMT-1700 GMT).

Saied, a former law lecturer who was a political independent when elected president in 2019, has described the election as part of a roadmap for ending the chaos and corruption he says afflicted Tunisia under the previous system.

His opponents including the Islamist Ennahda party meanwhile accuse him of a coup, and have rejected the ballot along with all the president's other moves since last summer, when he dissolved parliament and began ruling by decree.

The election is taking place against the backdrop of an economic crisis that is fueling poverty, leading many to attempt the perilous journey to Europe aboard smugglers’ boats.

With the main parties absent, a total of 1,058 candidates - only 120 of them women - are running for 161 seats.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Three Jordanian police killed in raid on hideout of suspected killers of officer

December 19, 2022

AMMAN: Three Jordanian police personnel were killed in a raid on hideout of suspected killers of a policeman in the southern city of Maan, a police statement said on Monday.

The police said one of the suspects believed to be a militant was killed. The statement said investigations were ongoing on the incident.

The Public Security Directorate mourned the death of three officers and the wounding of five others during a raid this morning, a statement carried by Petra News Agency said.

Tensions have mounted in Maan and several cities in southern Jordan in particular after sporadic strikes by truck drivers protesting against high fuel prices.

Brigadier General Abdul Razzaq Dalabeh, the deputy police chief of Maan province and who was posthumously promoted by the Jordanian Cabinet, was shot in the head on Thursday as rioters clashed with security forces who had entered a neighborhood of the desert city of Maan to quell riots.

The government vowed to take tough steps and redeploy more anti-riot police against people who protest violently against a squeeze in living conditions.

Police said over forty security personnel were wounded in the clashes where protesters smashed cars, burnt tires and mounted roadblocks to close a highway in some of the most widespread civil unrest in recent years.

Source: Arab News

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Southeast Asia


RM2 billion Education City for Islamic-based education in Melaka

December 18, 2022

ALOR GAJAH: An Education City for Islamic-based education, involving an investment of over RM2 billion, is to be developed in Melaka over the next 15 years.

Melaka chief minister Sulaiman Ali said the D-8 Education City in Taboh Naning here would be developed in three phases and cover an area of 150 hectares.

“The first phase is in progress and is expected to be completed within five years,” Sulaiman said.

He said the development of this education city was an initiative of the D-8 Malaysia foundation, following a strategic collaboration finalised in December 2018 between the D-8 Organisation and Al-Hidayah Group.

Sulaiman said D-8 is an organisation for development cooperation among eight Muslim countries — Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt and Nigeria.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Minister for religious affairs to meet relevant ministries to discuss issues concerning Muslims

18 Dec 2022

MELAKA, Dec 18 — Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Senator Datuk Mohd Na'im Mokhtar will hold a meeting with relevant ministries soon to discuss issues concerning Muslims in the country.

He said the meeting would also discuss matters concerning vaccines and medicines that were often raised by the Muslim community in the country.

The ministries would include the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Education, he told reporters after flagging off the “Konvoi Amal @ Promosi Baitulmal” at the Al-Azim Mosque, Bukit Palah here today.

Source: Malay Mail

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