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Two Temple Committees In Kerala's Malappuram District Host Mass Iftar Party For Ramadan

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 April 2023

Mass iftar organized at Sree Puthuveppu Manaliyarkavu Bhagavathi Temple, Othalur, in Malappuram, Kerala.


• GCC Security Council, UAE, Saudi FM’s Welcomes Bahrain-Qatar Diplomatic Ties

• Judiciary Official: 90k Prisoners Pardoned Under Iranian Supreme Leader’s Amnesty Decree

• Pakistan Warns Kabul That It Will Strike Terror Hideouts Inside Afghanistan

• Muslim Ticket Forced On Nigeria, Boko Haram, ISWAP State-Sponsored – Biafra Agitator Writes UN



• For 48 Years, This Hindu Family In UP Has Kept Ramadan Tradition Alive

• Telangana: Muslim Man Forced To Chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ At Dhaba In Toopran

• ‘Shaky, Flawed’: SC Slams Karnataka Order Scrapping Muslim Quota

• Population Of Muslims Fast Declining vis-a-vis Hindus: Congress's Digvijaya Singh

• NIA court cites Elgar Parishad accused Navlakha nexus and complicity with Pakistani intel outfit ISI

• 'Have direct connections with Pakistan's ISI, Lashkar-e-Taiba': UP Police chargesheet mentions Atiq Ahmed's statement

• Islamic Scholar, AIMPLB President And Nadwa Rector Maulana Rabe HasaniNadvi Passes Away At 94


Arab World

• Qatar PM Says Original Basis For Syria's Exclusion From The Arab League Still Stands

• Qatar and Bahrain re-establish relations

• Saudi FM meets senior US officials after call between Crown Prince, top Biden aide

• Why The Marble Flooring Of Saudi Arabia’s Two Holy Mosques Remains Cool Even In Summer

• Zakat al-Fitr: The obligatory Eid donation to be made by the end of Ramadan

• Ramadan Season Revives The Saudi Identity Through HawiyahHayah Nights

• Al-Sudais: Over 21 million worshipers attend Prophet’s Mosque during first two-thirds of Ramadan



• Resistance Leaders Reiterate Liberation Of Palestine On Quds Day Eve

• Iran: Power Balance Not in Favor of Israel

• Iran Blames Afghan Drug Trafficking on West-Spawned Int'l Mafia

• Iran Lashes Out at West for Keeping Mum on Israeli Crimes Against Palestinians

• Heavy rains in Iran trigger flash floods, killing at least two

• Countdown to Israel’s ‘collapse’ has begun, Iran’s military says ahead of Quds Day

• Houthi self-contradiction delays signing of peace pact


South Asia

• Iran Says Afghanistan’s Current Issues Need Regional Solution

• Muttaqi Heads to Samarkand to Attend 4th Ministers’ Meeting

• Turkey Deports 138 Undocumented Afghan Migrants

• 2 More Helicopters Repaired, Says Afghan Air Force

• Taliban share rare, months-old audio from supreme leader Akhundzada



• Turkey, Egypt say they will cooperate more closely on Libya

• IMF forecasts slower Middle East, North Africa growth in 2023

• Tunisia should get some IMF funds before reforms: Italy

• Sudan’s military warns of conflict after rival force deploys

• Libya detains second American for preaching 'evangelism'



• Pakistan Warns Of Strikes On Terrorist Hideouts In Afghanistan

• Political parties urged to work for creation of Hazara province

• ‘Patience, reciprocity’ needed in dealing with Kabul: Khar

• Pakistan court grants Imran Khan interim bail till May 4 in three cases

• PPP names panel to prepare ground for talks with PTI

• UAE gives financial pledge of $1bn to IMF for Pakistan: Dar

• Two TTP militants shot dead in Lower Dir

• Cash-strapped KP govt won’t pay employees before Eid

• 3 terrorists killed in intelligence-based operation in Balochistan’sGishkore: ISPR

• Pakistan's government reiterates completion of all IMF requirements for bailout


Southeast Asia

• Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan Call on US to Shoulder Responsibility for Afghan Situation, Lift Anti-Kabul Sanctions

• China ‘Concerned’ About Impact Of Afghan Policies On Women’s Rights


North America

• US Personnel Targeted In Iraq Drone Strike Were On Mission To Defeat Daesh/ISIS: Pentagon

• US sanctions Turkish companies for ‘helping Russian war effort’



• Iran Calls For Intl. Probe Into US-Funded Biological Laboratories In Ukraine

• Tory Peer Fears Backlash Against British Muslims As Result Of UK Home Secretary’s ‘Racist Rhetoric’

• Ex-Conservative leader joins calls for UK government to help former Afghan personnel

• Bosnia And Herzegovina Counts OnSpain's Support For Its EU Bid: Minister

• Azerbaijan, Bosnia hail 'new era' in bilateral relations

• EU will not open detention centers for irregular migrants in Bosnia: Envoy

• Italy, Tunisia agree to counter irregular migration in Mediterranean

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Two Temple Committees In Kerala's Malappuram District Host Mass Iftar Party For Ramadan

14th April 2023

By Vishnuprasad KP

Mass iftar organized at Sree Puthuveppu Manaliyarkavu Bhagavathi Temple, Othalur, in Malappuram, Kerala.


MALAPPURAM: Setting an example of communal harmony, two temple committees in Malappuram organised mass Iftar for Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

Committees of the SreePuthuveppuManaliyarkavu Bhagavathi temple in Othalur and ChathangaduSreeMaha Vishnu Temple in Vaniyannur near Tirur hosted the mass Iftar on the premises of the respective temple grounds on April 7 and March 28, respectively.

Both events saw the mass participation of Muslim believers. “It was an initiative taken by a group of

youngsters in the area. Our aim is to strengthen the bond between people from the Hindu and Muslim communities. Religious harmony is important and we want to celebrate every festival together in a peaceful and jovial atmosphere,” said Krishnan Pavittapuram, secretary of the SreePuthuveppuManaliyarkavu Bhagavathi temple.

No space for hatred, says IUML leader

Dijith K, one of the youngsters behind the feast, said a person from the Muslim community had sponsored the annadanam during the temple’s annual installation festival, which fell during Ramadan this year.  “We will continue to organise the mass Iftar in the coming years,” Dijith said.

For the ChathangaduSreeMaha Vishnu Temple, this is the second Iftar they have hosted.

“Like the previous year, people from the Muslim community could not attend the annadanam this year as our annual installation festival fell during the Ramzan month. So, we organised the mass Iftar a day after the annual festival. We will organise it next year if the date of the annual installation festival falls during Ramzan month,” said Lakshmanan K K, temple committee secretary.

Panakkad Rasheed Ali Shihab Thangal, an IUML leader who attended the Iftar at Vaniyannur, appreciated the temple’s move.

“The temple has set a model for others to follow. All communities should live in harmony in the country. We should move forward while respecting and helping each other. There should be no space for hatred in our hearts,” he said.

Source:New Indian Express

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GCC Security Council, UAE, Saudi FM’s Welcomes Bahrain-Qatar Diplomatic Ties

14 April ,2023

Qatar's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani hold a meeting at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 7, 2023. (Reuters)


The GCC Security Council and the foreign ministries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have welcomed the resumption of diplomatic ties between Bahrain and Qatar.

The two GCC states announced Wednesday they will resume their diplomatic relations, in statements carried by both Bahrain news agency (BNA) and the Qatari foreign ministry.

The move comes over two years after an Arab boycott of Qatar was lifted.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in January 2021 ended a three-and-a-half year embargo of Qatar but all but Bahrain restored travel and trade links in 2021.

On Wednesday, the Bahraini-Qatari Follow-up Committee held its second meeting at the headquarters of the GCC General Secretariat in the Saudi capital where the decision was made, the two countries said in separate statements.

Saudi Arabia has led efforts to rebuild ties with Qatar and, along with Egypt, re-established diplomatic relations.

On Friday, the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi welcomed the resumption of diplomatic ties between Bahrain and the Qatar.

He said it stems from the directives of the leaders of the GCC countries that were issued at the "Sultan Qaboos and Sheikh Sabah Summit", which was held in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, in January 2021, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported Friday.

He added that those instructions “embody the GCC leaders' keenness to secure the future and protect the cohesion of the Council in line with key attributes of the links connecting the Council member states, including the bonds of kinship, friendship, brotherhood, history and common destiny, and unity which are the pillars of the GCC”, SPA said.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also welcomed the reestablishment of ties, SPA said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs applauds this constructive step, which affirms the robustness of relations among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and advances joint Gulf action that achieves the aspirations of the region's states and peoples,” it reported.

The UAE’s state news agency WAM also carried a statement from Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, who also welcomed the efforts to establish ties.

He said that it is an important step towards supporting the efforts to advance joint Gulf action, for a “brighter future for the GCC countries to achieve prosperity and benefit the two nations in serving their common interests”, WAM reported.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Judiciary Official: 90k Prisoners Pardoned Under Iranian Supreme Leader’s Amnesty Decree


TEHRAN (FNA)- Deputy Head of the Iranian Judiciary Sadeq Rahimi said that nearly 90,000 prisoners have been pardoned at the order of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei issued two month ago.


Rahimi stated on Wednesday that some 90,000 people have been pardoned following Ayatollah Khamenei's landmark mass amnesty decree on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in February.

According to reports, a significant number of prisoners have been released as part of the decree while officials are continuing to examine the cases of inmates.

Back in early February, Ayatollah Khamenei agreed to pardon or commute the sentences of thousands of convicts, including large groups of detainees found guilty of involvement in the recent unrest in Iran.

The prisoners, who were granted clemency, had had their verdicts issued at courts of common pleas and Islamic Revolution tribunals, the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces and the State Discretionary Punishment Organization.

The convicts to whom the amnesty applies should not be facing charges of espionage for outsiders, direct links with the foreign intelligence services, murder or intentional injuries, as well as vandalism or arson attack on governmental, military and public sites, and also should not be involved in a suit filed by a private plaintiff.

The clemency, however, does not apply to certain types of convicts, including those who have been sentenced for their role in the armed smuggling of narcotics, arms trafficking, kidnapping, acid attacks, rape, armed robbery, bribery, embezzlement, counterfeit money forgery, money laundering, disruption of economy, smuggling of alcoholic drinks, and organized smuggling of commodities.

Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi has stated that his government had been authorized to use the pardon power to release university students, cultural, sports and media figures who have been arrested because of their involvement in the riots.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of MahsaAmini who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent.

An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization announced that Amini’s controversial death was caused by an illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

The unrest has claimed the lives of dozens of people and security forces, while also allowing acts of terror and sabotage across the country. Iran's Interior Ministry has confirmed the enemy waged a hybrid war against the country to weaken national solidarity and hinder the country's progress, stressing that some 200 people lost their lives in the riots sparked by separatist and terrorist groups.

The US, the UK and the European Union (EU) have imposed a slew of sanctions against Iranian individuals and legal entities since the September death in police custody of an Iranian woman. Iran has returned the adversarial measures and meddlesome statements with sanctions against European, American and British officials and institutions.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Pakistan Warns Kabul That It Will Strike Terror Hideouts Inside Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

April 13, 2023

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. Photo/ Screengrab from Voice of America interview


Pakistan’s Defense Minister, Khawaja Asif, asked the de factor rulers in Kabul to crack down on anti-Pakistan militants.

Pakistan’s defence minister, Khawaja Asif, said in an exclusive interview with the Voice of America on Wednesday that Islamabad has warned the Taliban that it will strike terrorist hideouts inside Afghanistan if the Taliban fail to root out anti-Pakistani militants in the country.

“If that is not done, at some point we’ll have to … resort to some measures, which will definitely — wherever [terrorists] are, their sanctuaries on Afghan soil — we’ll have to hit them,” he said. “We’ll have to hit them because we cannot tolerate this situation for long,” Asif said.

Since the takeover of the country’s Taliban-led government, Pakistan has seen a resurgence in terror attacks by militant groups, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), reportedly said an ideological ally of the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan has raised its concerns about TTP sanctuaries inside Afghanistan and conducted attacks on several Pakistani provinces, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The report shows that 262 terrorist attacks took place in Pakistan last year, including 14 suicide bombings, which resulted in the killing of 419 people and more than 734 were wounded.

However, the Taliban repeatedly rejected the allegations and said they would not allow any group or individual to use Afghanistan soil against neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Asif said he hopes the security threat to his country will not escalate to a point where “we have to do something which will be not to the liking of our neighbours and our brothers in Kabul.”

Source: Khaama Press

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Muslim Ticket Forced On Nigeria, Boko Haram, ISWAP State-Sponsored – Biafra Agitator Writes UN

April 13, 2023

By Wale Odunsi

Biafra agitator, Simon Ekpa has stated that “powers that be” in Nigeria have refused to create a level playground for all citizens.

In a memo dated April 13 to the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, Ekpa said forces were trampling upon others and calling the shots at will.

“They have also violated the principle of secular state status by allowing (a) Muslim-Muslim ticket”, the letter seen by DAILY POST reads.

Ekpa stated that the people of Biafra were determined to exit Nigeria, lamenting how “innocent Biafra youths are rounded up and jailed without trial”.

He said some are extrajudicially killed, though “no terrorist Fulani herdsman, Boko Haram, ISWAP, terrorists is in jail because they are being sponsored by the State”.

Ekpa alleged that terrorists arrested during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration have been released and “rewarded with job positions in the Nigerian military”.

The secessionist told the UN that Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was extradited from Kenya to Nigeria in 2021.

Kanu, accused of treason by the Nigerian government, has been in the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS, since his repatriation.

But Ekpa said the court discharged the case, with the UN working group on arbitrary detention requesting his freedom within six months.

“The 6 months ultimatum expired in February 2023, yet the jihadist, terrorist, and democratic-dictatorial government of Buhari and APC refused to release him.”

Ekpa accused Information Minister Lai Mohammed of “bribing, censoring, and terrorizing media houses in Nigeria never to report the atrocities going on”.

He said the Biafra Republic Government in Exile, BRGIE, wants UNGA to prevail on the authorities to grant an unconditional release of Kanu and “all Biafrans held captive”.

The former Radio Biafra anchorman equally demands the conduct of a peaceful democratic referendum “to enable a peaceful and bloodless exit of Biafra”.

The letter noted Biafra people have demonstrated their willingness to leave “through various sit at home civil disobedience for the past two years”.

“The every Monday sit at home civil disobedience has lasted for two years uninterrupted,” said the Finland-based agitator arrested in February.

Ekpa further referred to the March 2018 controversial comment by former Army chief, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Danjuma, who accused the military of colluding with jihadists.

“The army is in cooperation with these jihadists, the armed forces are not neutral, hence all should rise and defend yourselves,” Danjuma said at an event.

Source: DailyPost Nigeria

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For 48 years, this Hindu family in UP has kept Ramadan tradition alive

13th April 2023

By Namita Bajpai

LUCKNOW:  One does not need to make a spectacle to express one’s benevolence. However, small gestures can be enough to create a bonhomie. The case of Gulab Yadav of Kauria village in Mubarakpur town of Azamgarh district in eastern UP, is not very different. He is setting an example of mutual respect by serving ‘Rozedaars’ (practioners of fast) in the holy month of Ramzaan in his own novel way.

Like a custodian of the much talked about Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb of Uttar Pradesh, forbearance and comity come naturally to Gulab Yadav who has been willingly following a 48-year-old tradition set by his father Chirkit Yadav in the village in 1975.

Gulab, along with his son Abhishek, has been carrying his father’s legacy with pride — he makes it a point to wake up all the Muslims residing in his village for ‘Sehri’ (morning refreshment before starting day-long Roza).

He follows the practise religiously, without a miss, on all the days of the holy month of Ramzaan. As per Gulab Yadav, he gets out of his house in the dead of night at around 1 am daily with a baton in one hand and a lantern in the other and visits the localities where Muslim families live.

Even the residents of Kauria village claim that it is not that only a few families of Muslims live there. Over 200 Muslim families live in the village and Gulab visits every door daily without fail, as his duty to wake up the Rozedaars (practitioners of fast) for ‘Sehri’ so that they don’t miss the time.

As per the villagers, Gulab is a labourer working in other states to make both ends meet. However, he ensures to return to the village with the advent of the holy month of Ramzaan to serve the Rozedaars.

“Every night, he starts knocking at every door of Muslim families, calling them by their name and asking them to wake up for Sehri. He is so particular that Rozedaars don’t have to worry about the Sehri time,” says a villager Hari Om Yadav. Another adds that the prayers and wishes which Gulab gets from Muslim families are his biggest earnings.

Yadav, reluctant to come on a call for the interview as he thinks his gesture is not an extra-ordinary one, believes that the tradition started by his father brings the two communities closer. They have been living together for ages in each other’s thick and thin.

Source:New Indian Express

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Telangana: Muslim man forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ at Dhaba in Toopran

13th April 2023

Hyderabad: A Muslim man was allegedly attacked and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ by miscreants in Toopran, Medak district on Tuesday.

According to reports, the Muslim man had come to drink tea at a dhaba, at 11:30 pm, where the accused from the Hindu community were also present.

The Muslim man went to the washroom to relieve himself when he found himself surrounded by four Hindu men. They allegedly attacked him and forced him to chant Jai Shri Ram. Terrified, the Muslim man dialled 100 for help.

Speaking to, the Toopran sub-inspector said that by the time the patrolling party arrived at the spot, the Hindu men had left the place.

“The police patrolling party searched the area but could not find the alleged accused. The Muslim man also refused to file a complaint. Hence no FIR has been lodged,” the SI said adding the Muslim man hailed from Kamareddy district and had arrived from Hyderabad.

When asked if an attack took place, the SI replied negatively. “No assault or attack took place. No one was injured,” the police officer said.

It may be recalled that a few days ago, three Muslim fruit vendors were attacked and allegedly forced to drink alcohol in Patancheruvu in Sangareddy.

“The event was not motivated by hatred, but rather by a disagreement over fruit costs. According to him, the dispute resulted in a few individuals attacking the fruit sellers,” Patancheru DSP Bheem Reddy was quoted by India Today.

Source:Siasat Daily

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‘Shaky, flawed’: SC slams Karnataka order scrapping Muslim quota

Apr 14, 2023

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday shredded the Karnataka government's controversial March 27 decision ending 4% Muslim quota in the state and said the "foundation of the order is shaky" and appeared to be "based on absolutely fallacious assumptions".

Hearing appeals against the order, a bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna said, "The order could not have been passed based on an interim report of the commission. The state could have waited till a final report."

Sensing that the court was inclined to stay the order, the Karnataka government gave an undertaking that the decision would not be implemented till Monday. The matter will be heard next on Tuesday.

Delay in deciding mercy petitions frustrates death penalty: SC

By the impugned order, the state had shifted Muslims from the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs) to the economically weaker section (EWS) to end the 4% reservation they had since 2002. The 4% quota so freed was distributed equally among Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities.

During the course of the hearing in the SC, the bench said, “On the basis of the documents and materials produced before us, it appears that Muslims were backward and then suddenly it has changed.”

Retired district judge among 12 picked by SC collegium for post of HC judge

Senior advocates Dushyant Dave, Kapil Sibal and Gopal Shankaranarayanan appeared for petitioners from the Muslim community and said the government had not carried out any study and there was no data available to justify denying quota to Muslims.

"The Muslim community needs protection from the Supreme Court," Dave said. He went on to argue that several commissions had repeatedly categorised Muslims as one of the most backward communities deserving reservation. The March 27 order, which erased the 4% quota enjoyed by Muslims for more than two decades, was not based on any in-depth study and was arbitrary, he said.

"Muslims are being deprived of their constitutional rights because of their religion. The government thinks Muslims are dispensable. What was the hurry to pass an order on the eve of elections? They are being put in the general category to avail EWS quota at a time when their literacy and employment rates are the lowest compared to other communities," Dave said.

Sibal, Shankaranarayanan and Ravivarma Kumar supported Dave and said irreparable damage would be caused if the state's order was not stayed.

Appearing for the state government, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said, "Granting reservation on the basis of religion, even if it was wrongly done earlier, is per se unconstitutional. The Constitution does not permit reservation on the basis of religion."

The Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities, through senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, supported the government and said the court could not stay the March 27 order without hearing the two communities, which would be robbed of their additional reservation granted through the new notification.

The bench repeatedly told the SG that if the state government gave an undertaking not to act on the March 27 order, it would not order a stay. The SG told the SC that he would not give any statement except request the court to give time to the state till Monday to file a detailed reply presenting the correct picture on the impugned decision.


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Population of Muslims fast declining vis-a-vis Hindus: Congress's Digvijaya Singh

Apr 13, 2023

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Thursday claimed that contrary to the BJP and the RSS's "false propaganda" that the population of the Muslim community was increasing in the country, the number of the minority community members vis-a-vis Hindus was fast declining, and added that he could prove it.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to counter him as it accused him of indulging in politics of appeasement and giving false statements to divide the society.

Singh made the claim here while replying to reporters' query about his party's stand on conducting a census.

"The propaganda of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that the Muslim population is increasing in the country is completely false, wrong and unverified because the minority community's population is decreasing at a faster pace as compared to Hindus and I can prove it," Singh said.

"My stand on the census is that it should be conducted, and its results should come out on the basis of the Other Backward Classes (OBC). Till now, only the results of the 2011 census are available. The figures after that are not yet released by them. Census should be conducted," the former chief minister said.

When asked whether the Congress will include in its manifesto the demand for conducting a caste-based census, Singh said there was no need for it as it was as per rules and law.

Asked further about the caste-based census in Bihar, Singh said, "Census should be held at the national level."

Reacting to Singh's remark on the Muslim population, state Medical Education Minister Vishvas Sarang said the Congress leader was indulging in politics of appeasement and spreading false statements to divide the society into the lines of caste and religion.

Denying the charge that Congress indulges in vote bank politics, Digvijaya Singh said that since 1952, the party has worked for the welfare of the Scheduled Caste (SC) and the Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities as well as deprived sections of the society.

The Rajya Sabha member questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on sensitive matters, especially on people spreading hatred in the country through their inflammatory statements and acts, and added that the PM expresses concern even when a player suffers an injury on his finger.

Terming the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh due by the year-end and the next year's Lok Sabha polls as crucial for the party, Singh said that although the main contest is between the Congress and the BJP, parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AlMIM), Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will also be in the fray to help the BJP in dividing the Congress's votes.

"But they won't be able to come to power. The fight is between Congress and BJP," he said.

Replying to a question whether the Congress got weakened after JyotiradityaScindia, who is currently the Union minister from the BJP, quit the party, Singh said, "After he left, there is peace and unity in Congress, while there is unrest and disunity in BJP now."

Singh also criticised Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for launching populist schemes like 'Ladli Behna', and questioned why the BJP did not remember people of the state when it was in power for the last more than 18 years and why it is doing so in the election year.


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NIA court cites Elgar Parishad accused Navlakha nexus and complicity with Pakistani intel outfit ISI

Apr 14, 2023

MUMBAI: In a detailed order rejecting the bail plea of Elgar Parishad case accused Gautam Navlakha, a special NIA court cited his nexus and complicity with the Pakistani intelligence outfit ISI, pointing out he was introduced to an ISI general for recruitment by a man named ‘Ghulam Nabi Fai’.

The bail plea by Navlakha, who is under house arrest, was rejected on April 6 and the detailed order copy was made available about a week later.

Special judge Rajesh J Katariya said the NIA chargesheet says Navlakha, a lawyer and activist, had visited the US thrice to address Kashmiri American Council (KAC) conferences organized by Fai. “He was in touch with Ghulam Nabi Fai via email… and sometimes via phone. Ghulam Nabi Fai was arrested by the FBI in July 2011 for accepting funds from ISI and the Pakistan government. Applicant had written a letter to the…judge of the US court trying Ghulam Fai’s case for clemency,” he said. “It prima facie shows nexus between applicant and Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai.”

Denying the allegations, the 69-year-old Navlakha’s lawyers submitted that a document allegedly recovered from co-accused Surendra Gadling claims Navlakha collaborated with a person of an “intercontinental NGO funded by the imperialist forces” on Kashmir. The document alleged in 2009, when the protests in Kashmir were at its peak, Navlakha and the person from the NGO tried to create rifts among the leadership by using members of the Coalition of Civil Society. The document added that they went to Srinagar and met with MasratAlam, who was organising massive youth protests with stone pelting, when he was in hiding to evade arrest.

They submitted another document allegedly recovered during investigations that showed Navlakha was against the ideology of CPI (Maoist) and was criticising it. They pointed out the party had a deep hostility towards him for his strong criticism of violence perpetrated by them and suspected him of being an agent of the government.

Referring to these submissions, the judge said: “Though there appears to be some deviating conduct on part of the applicant as pointed by advocate…, same cannot grant any benefit to applicant for bail.”

Source: Times Of India

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'Have direct connections with Pakistan's ISI, Lashkar-e-Taiba': UP Police chargesheet mentions Atiq Ahmed's statement

Apr 13, 2023

PRAYAGRAJ: Gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed said in a statement to Uttar Pradesh Police that he has direct connections with "Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba".

Prayagraj Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on Thursday sent Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf to four-day police custody in the Umesh Pal murder case.

The police custody of the duo started from 5 pm on 13 April till 5 pm on 17 April.

Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf were brought to the CJM Court in Prayagraj on Thursday morning.

The Uttra Pradesh Police chargesheet filed before the court mentioned a recorded statement of Atiq Ahmed.

"...I have no dearth of weapons because I have direct connections with Pakistan's ISI and terror organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba. Weapons from Pakistan are dropped on the Punjab border with the help of drones and local connection collects them. Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir get weapons from this consignment. If you take me with you, I can help you recover that money, arms and ammunition used in the incident," the chargesheet mentioned Atiq's statement.

Meanwhile, Atiq Ahmed's son Asad and his aide Ghulam, both of whom were wanted in the Umesh Pal murder case, were killed in an encounter by Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) in Jhansi on Thursday.

Each of them carried a reward of Rs 5 lakhs. The police said that foreign-made weapons were recovered.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting on 'law and order' after the killing of Asad and Ghulam in an encounter.

CM Yogi also lauded the 12-member STF team involved in the shootout.

On March 28, Atiq Ahmed was convicted by an MP-MLA court and sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment in the abduction case of now-deceased Umesh Pal.

Atiq Ahmed and his family came under the scanner in the Umesh Pal murder case.Atiq Ahmed, who has over 100 cases against him over the last 43 years, has been convicted in the same case.

Delhi Police's Special Cell arrested three people from the national capital for allegedly aiding jailed gangster Atiq Ahmed's son Asad and planning Umesh Pal's murder. The three arrested people were identified as Jawed, Khalid and Jeeshan.

During the course of the investigation, Khalid and Jeeshan disclosed that they had also provided shelter to Asad and Ghulam, who are wanted accused in the infamous Umesh Pal murder case.

Source: Times Of India

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Islamic Scholar, AIMPLB President And Nadwa Rector Maulana Rabe HasaniNadvi Passes Away At 94

Apr 13, 2023

By Mohd.Rafique

LUCKNOW: Maulana Rabe HasaniNadvi, one of the most respected Islamic scholars of India, passed away at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama — a prominent Islamic seminary in Lucknow — on Thursday after a prolonged illness.

He was 94. The cleric is survived by his three daughters.

Maulana Nadvi was the president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Rector (chancellor) of Nadwatul Ulama.

As the head of two important organizations — AIMPLB which represents Muslims in legal and social issues and Nadwatul Ulama which is instrumental in imparting Islamic education — Nadvi played a significant role in upholding the rights of the Muslim community in India.

Given his contribution to the community, Maulana Nadvi was named among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by surveys done by various organizations.

Born in Rae Bareli, he started his career as a teacher of Islamic studies at Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow. In 2000, he was appointed as the Rector of the institution — the post he held until his death.

Nadvi was the nephew of author-reformer and Nadwatul Rector Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, who was popularly known as ‘Ali Miyan’, and proved to be a worthy successor of his uncle by managing the organization skillfully after Ali Miyan’s death.

"His death is a big loss to humanity. Having known him for years, both as a doctor and a social observer, I can say that I have never seen such a well-read person who was so down to earth. World may remember him as an Islamic scholar but he was more of a humanist," said Dr Kauser Usman, professor of medicine at KGMU.

Reminiscing his contribution towards Islamic education, jurisprudence, and interfaith dialogue, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, chairperson of Islamic Centre of India, said, "As president of AIMPLB for over two decades, he undertook many reforms for the community. He was an able educationist and administrator."

"His contribution towards the community is unparalleled, and it will not be easy to fill the void," Mahali said.

Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad described him as a well-respected figure who had contributed immensely to the community. "Having represented India at many international forums, Maulana Nadvi left a lasting impression on people with his knowledge and thoughts. Death of such a great scholar is a great loss to the Muslim world which cannot be compensated," he added.

"Throughout his life, Maulana RabeyHasaniNadvi tirelessly advocated for the advancement of Muslim education," said Mazhar Farooqui, founder of a charitable organization. "He inspired people to work harder towards the goal of empowering future generations through education," he said.

Nadvi was also an accomplished author and had written several books on Islamic theology, including a commentary on the Quran. He also headed several organisations in India and abroad.

He was the vice-president of Riyadh’s AalamiRabitaAdab-e-Islami and a founding member of the Muslim World League.

"He was also well travelled and had participated in several conferences and seminars across the world. His contribution in promoting understanding and cooperation between different religious communities is immense," said Mohd Gufran Naseem, member of Youth Sunni Federation.

He was also an active member of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella body of Muslim organizations in the country.

Source: Times Of India

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Arab World


Qatar PM says original basis for Syria's exclusion from the Arab League still stands

13 April ,2023

Talk of Syria returning to the Arab League is speculation as the reasons for its expulsion still exist, the prime minister of Qatar said Thursday.

Qatar has been an outspoken critic of Bashar Al-Assad's government which will be at the center of talks between nine Arab countries in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Diplomats say that Syria's return to the Arab League and presence at an expected summit in May will be discussed.

However, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, who will be at the talks, said nothing has been proposed.

“It is all speculation about Syria (returning) in the Arab League, and the decision is up to the Syrian people,” Al-Thani said in a nationally televised interview.

“Qatar's position is clear that there were reasons to suspend Syria's membership, and these reasons still exist,” he added.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 months after Assad ordered a brutal crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising.

Qatar has supported opposition groups and been a major aid donor to Syrian refugees.

“The war has stopped, but the Syrian people are still displaced,” the prime minister said.

“We do not want to impose solutions on the Syrian people, and there must be a political solution.

“We do not take any step without a political solution, and each country has its own decision and sovereign right.”

Ministers and top officials from the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan will gather at Saudi Arabia's request on Friday.

Syria has been diplomatically isolated since the start of the war, in which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Qatar and Bahrain re-establish relations

April 14, 2023

DOHA: Qatar and Bahrain announced late on Wednesday that they had agreed to end a long-running diplomatic feud and re-establish relations.

Bahrain in 2017 joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in imposing a diplomatic blockade on Qatar. The countries’ rivalry goes back even further, however, and Bahrain is the last to renew ties.

Agreement on the reconciliation was reached in talks at the Gulf Cooperation Council headquarters in Saudi Arabia, Qatar’s foreign ministry said.

The neighbours “decided to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries according to the principles of the United Nations charter”, said a foreign ministry statement.

“The two sides affirmed that this step stems from the mutual desire to develop bilateral relations and enhance Gulf unity and integration,” it added. Bahrain’s foreign ministry released a similar statement, the country’s state news agency reported.

Source: Dawn

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Saudi FM meets senior US officials after call between Crown Prince, top Biden aide

13 April ,2023

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan held a meeting with two senior Biden administration officials in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Prince Faisal and US National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk discussed strategies to further enhance joint coordination between the two countries, as well as exchanged views on regional and international developments, the Saudi foreign ministry said in a tweet.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar, and US Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein, according to photos shared by the ministry.

The meeting comes two days after US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss Yemen and Iran.

The White House said Sullivan “welcomed Saudi Arabia’s extraordinary efforts to pursue a more comprehensive roadmap for ending the war (in Yemen) and offered full US support for those efforts.”

Sullivan and Crown Prince Mohammed also discussed de-escalation in the region, “while underscoring the need to maintain deterrence against threats from Iran and elsewhere,” added the White House.

“Mr. Sullivan reaffirmed President Biden’s unwavering commitment to ensure Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon.”

The US has been working with Saudi Arabia and other partners to find a political solution to the years-long war in Yemen, where the Iran-backed Houthi militia has been fighting against the internationally recognized government of Yemen.

Efforts for a permanent ceasefire are underway, and Saudi and Houthi figures have met in recent days.

The US special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, left for the Gulf region on Tuesday, according to a statement from his spokesperson, who said “Yemen is witnessing an unprecedented opportunity for peace.”

Lenderking “will meet with Yemeni, Saudi, and international partners to discuss the necessary steps to secure a durable ceasefire and inclusive, UN-mediated political process,” the statement added.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Why the marble flooring of Saudi Arabia’s Two Holy Mosques remains cool even in summer


April 13, 2023

MAKKAH: For centuries, the Two Holy Mosques at Makkah and Madinah have welcomed pilgrims from across the world. To the pleasant surprise of visitors, the glistening white marble floor that surrounds the Kaaba in Makkah remains cool beneath their feet, even during the hottest days.

While some have claimed that hidden cold-water pipes under the floor are responsible for its coolness, the real reason lies in the mosque’s unique choice of building material.

Marble from Thassos, an eastern Greek island near Kavala in the Aegean Sea, has one of the rarest characteristics ever found in the stone. Due to its pure white appearance and high reflection of light, Thassos marble — sometimes called “snow white” marble — has one of the lowest heat absorbances of any marble.

The stone has been quarried from the island since ancient times, and is still used all over Greece today. It has formed the walls, floors, and statues of some of history’s greatest sites, including the ancient Macedonian tomb at Amphipolis (the largest ever discovered in Greece) and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

The stone’s unique properties see its frequent use in luxury villas and interior decoration, though it does not come cheap. Individual tiles can range between $250 and $400 per square meter, according to Indian marble supplier RMS Marble.

For decades, Saudi Arabia has imported the unique dolomitic marble for exclusive use at the Two Holy Mosques to provide relief and avoid unsafe surface temperatures, as mosque visitors are required to enter barefoot.

Undersecretary-general for technical, operational, and maintenance affairs at the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Eng. Fares Al-Saedi, told Arab News that Thassos marble is characterized by its extreme coldness, despite intense heat that may reach 50-55 C in the summer months.

Al-Saedi added that the Kingdom’s leadership decided to import the self-cooling stone for the construction of wide yards and open spaces where millions of pilgrims pass annually.

Al-Saedi explained that the General Presidency supervises marble maintenance work across the area by treating, restoring, and then polishing the marble or replacing old and unusable tiles.

“Maintenance is carried out 24/7 by over 40 engineers and technicians … each marble slab is five centimeters thick, and what makes it stand out is its ability to absorb moisture through its delicate pores during the night and release that moisture during the day, making it cooler under high temperatures,” he said.

According to a study published in the international journal Construction and Building Materials in 2021, the thermophysical features of the stone both reflect and dissipate solar insolation heat.

The study found that Thassos marble has an uncommonly high level of high solar reflectance and a high rate of thermal conductivity relative to limestone, another stone commonly used in Islamic architecture.

Collectively, these properties have proven to be capable of sustaining cool surface temperatures even during hot summer periods, and provide an overall reduction in night-time convective shedding of thermal energy into the overlying atmosphere.

At the same time, the marble adds to the mosques’ artistic ambiance, which provides an exceptionally memorable experience.

Another study carried out by a joint Saudi-Egyptian team and published in the Arabian Journal of Geosciences in 2018 referred to the marble as “heat-dissipating smart marble,” attributing its high whiteness purity to the stone’s dolomite-rich crystal formation.

Writer and heritage researcher Abdullah Al-Batati told Arab News that the unroofed and paved stone floor of the mataf (the place where pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba) was slightly curved and filled with pebbles and stones smaller than the size of a bean before the pavement.

“Omar Ibn Al-Khattab was the first to stone the Mosque’s floor after the expansion of the mataf in 119 AH (737-738 AD); during the reign of Al-Walid bin Abdul-Malik, the mataf was covered in marble. In 145 AH (762-763 AD), the old floor was covered in marble in the era of Abu Jaafar Al-Mansour, and was tiled with marble in the era of Abbasid Caliphate in 284 AH (896-897 AD),” said Al-Batati.

“In 1003 AH (1594-1595 AD), flint stones were replaced with alabaster stones, while white bright marble covered the mataf’s floor in 1006 AH (1597-1598 AD) during the reign of Sultan Mohammad Khan. In 1344 AH (1925-1926 AD).”

He noted that during the reign of King Saud, the old marble tiles were removed from the old mataf, and the new mataf was leveled and paved. The two were separated by a dividing line of black marble which was brought in from several quarries across Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Salma Hawsawi, professor of ancient history at King Saud University, told Arab News that King Abdulaziz carried out expansions at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, which lasted until King Khalid’s reign in the 1970s and 1980s. The latter issued an order to expand the Grand Mosque in its current form and tile its floor with heat-resistant marble imported from Greece in 1978.

King Khalid ordered the tiling of Makkah’s Holy Mosque using heat-resistant white marble to level the site and remove pebble stones so that the mataf could comfortably accommodate the increasing number of worshippers and pilgrims.

“The second expansion of the Grand Mosque occurred between 1985 and 1986 during King Fahd’s reign, who also ordered the tiling of the courtyard around the Kaaba and the squares surrounding the Grand Mosque using cold white marble in a circular and lined manner, making it suitable for prayers,” Hawsawi told Arab News.

In continuation of past expansion projects, King Salman continued developing the services of the two Holy Mosques, as he ordered the completion of the third expansion, in addition to developing many projects, according to Hawsawi.

Hawsawi stated that the marble is imported from Thassos in the form of large blocks of stone, which are then processed and manufactured in the Kingdom’s factories by the Binladen Group, a leading contracting company supervising the construction and development of Makkah’s mosques.

“Engineers and technicians carry out regular inspection visits and maintenance works with high proficiency, and marble tiles that are no longer in good condition and have lost their coolness characteristics are replaced with new ones. The type of marble is natural, and neither the Kingdom nor Greece inserts any additives, nor does it have any impurities.

Source: Arab News

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Zakat al-Fitr: The obligatory Eid donation to be made by the end of Ramadan

13 April ,2023

By the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are obligated to pay Zakat al-Fitr, also known as Sadaqat al-Fitr. Zakat al-Fitr is a small amount of money given to the poor and needy before the Eid al-Fitr prayer.

The purpose of this donation is to help those in need celebrate and enjoy the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the month of Ramadan.

Zakat a-Fitr is a form of charity distinct from Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam. While Zakat is calculated based on a person’s wealth and is usually paid once a year, Zakat al-Fitr is paid per person and is a fixed amount determined by Muslim legal scholars.

The amount for Zakat al-Fitr varies depending on the region and the price of food. In most countries, it is equivalent to the cost of one meal or one kilogram of rice or wheat. The amount is usually paid on behalf of every household member, including children and the elderly.

For those living in the UAE and Saudi Arabia the amount to pay for Zakat al-Fitr is $7. Meanwhile in the US, the amount is $12.

Another type of donation is something called “Fidya.” This is a set amount a person must pay for every day he or she can’t face due to illness, old age, etc.

Zakat al-Fitr can be paid in cash or in other ways, such as food or clothing. It is important to note that Zakat al-Fitr should be paid before the Eid prayer, and it is not permissible to delay it. This is because the purpose of Zakat al-Fitr is to help those in need celebrate and enjoy Eid. Delaying the payment would defeat this purpose.

Zakat al-Fitr goes to the poor and needy, including widows, orphans, refugees, and people experiencing homelessness. Giving Zakat al-Fitr to those who live in the same community as the giver is preferable, strengthening the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood among Muslims.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Ramadan Season Revives The Saudi Identity Through HawiyahHayah Nights

Haifa Alshammari

April 13, 2023

RIYADH: In conjunction with World Art Day on April 15, the Saudi Ministry of Culture and the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts organized the HawiyahHayah Nights event for the second time in Riyadh to introduce traditional crafts during Ramadan.

The event provides workshops and entertaining shows to explore surrounded by Ramadan decorations and a traditional atmosphere.

TRITA was established two years ago in Riyadh and began as a program by the ministry to combine culture and heritage, to invite people to discover some of Saudi Arabia’s more fascinating aspects.

The institute was later separated into an independent institute offering three programs to teach traditional Saudi artwork, crafts, and textiles to revive the identity of the Saudi heritage.

HawiyahHayah Nights was a product of the collaboration between the ministry and the institute, in partnership with the Theater and Performing Arts Commission.

“I wanted to check the Saudi identity, the Najd identity, and how they did everything regarding carpets, crafting, and everything related to the Saudi identity,” said Fouad Hassan, a visitor at the event.

Moreover, one of the programs offered by TRITA is the continuous learning program, where students are introduced to various forms of Art to preserve their identity.

Examples of activities done by the institute include performed arts and visual arts.

The event included a storytelling session with a narrator telling popular traditional tales, and a play illustrating a Saudi traditional game called alqaees. The play was a participation by the Theater and Performing Arts Commission at the event.

NourahAlshuhail, a student at TRITA, who was also participating in the event, talked about her experience at the institute and what led her to join the event. “I joined the institute because I love arts. I am originally an artist, I draw,” she said.

“I registered for the embroidery program, in drawing by embroidery, in a two-week session. Then, it was very joyful for me. So, I continued learning with the institute since,” she added.

The event included multiple forms of Saudi Arabian traditional arts, including performed arts, embroidery, woodcraft, wicker crafts, Al-sadu, and Najdimaqtaa.

Al-sadu is a traditional woven textile used for tents that were known to be made by Bedouins in the past. The Nadji maqtaa is a traditional garment women used to wear in the central Najd region in Saudi Arabia.

The event also offered two types of metalwork workshops, metal accessories and metal coffee pots.

Aline Fleihab, a consultant by profession and a visitor to the event, said: “I frequently come to the diplomatic quarter, and today I knew about the event, so I came to check it out because I am interested in Saudi culture.”

“It’s very nice how they are engaging people and reviving the culture. It’s great,” she added.

Source: Arab News

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Al-Sudais: Over 21 million worshipers attend Prophet’s Mosque during first two-thirds of Ramadan

April 13, 2023

MADINAH: Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said that over 21 million worshipers have attended the Prophet’s Mosque during the first two-thirds of Ramadan, an increase of 49 percent over the same period last year.

He noted that the total number of worshipers from the start of the month of Muharram this year has so far reached more than 169 million worshipers.

Source: Arab News

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Resistance leaders reiterate liberation of Palestine on Quds Day eve

13 April 2023

The secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement says International Quds Day constitutes the main part of the struggle for liberation of the occupied Palestinian territories from the clutches of the apartheid Israeli regime.

Speaking in a televised speech on the eve of International Quds Day, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated that the event comprises the integral component of the Muslim world’s battle to liberate al-Quds and entire Palestinian lands.

Nasrallah said that the Axis of Resistance is at the forefront of such a campaign, emphasizing the centrality of al-Quds throughout the struggle.

“Many developments took place this year both at international and regional arenas as well as inside the Israeli-occupied lands, which were in favor of the Axis of Resistance and its battle against the occupying Israeli regime and the US hegemony,” the Hezbollah chief said.

Nasrallah highlighted that the world is moving towards the formation of a multi-polar system that will end the uni-polar hegemony of the United States.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Nasrallah also appreciated recent China-brokered reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, stating that Tehran-Riyadh rapprochement thwarted potential conspiracies, reflected desire for clam and underscored the need for dialogue in order to resolve current discords.

The Hezbollah leader stated that the latest regional developments foiled divisive plots which would harm the Muslim world and serve the best interests of the Israeli regime, noting that restoration of Syria’s natural role in the Arab world would negatively affect Israel’s normalization process and its attempts to form an alliance with certain Arab states against the Axis of Resistance.

Nasrallah stated that Hezbollah has gloriously and proudly emerged triumphant over problems in the past years, describing the extent of internal crises that the Zionist regime is currently facing as unprecedented since 1948.

He went on to note that Palestinians in the West Bank are at the forefront of defending Islamic and Christian sanctities, emphasizing that special emphasis must be laid on providing generous support to resistance fighters in the occupied territory.

Moreover, the leader of the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad resistance movement said, “International Quds Day summarizes history and geography, and is an occasion when the Muslim Ummah displays its absolute certainty of the liberation of Palestine, al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque.

Ziad al-Nakhalah expressed serious concern over the persistent oppression and bloodshed in al-Quds and the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, arguing that Zionist occupiers are constantly trampling on the sanctities of the Palestinian nation.

Nakhalah then called on Arab and Muslim nations to broaden their understanding of the status quo in the Palestinian territories, and join resistance groups in the fight against the usurping Israeli regime.

Houthi: Zionist enemy moving towards destruction, certain collapse

Additionally, the leader of Yemen's Ansarullah resistance movement called for concerted efforts to expel Zionists from the occupied Palestinian lands, terming severance of diplomatic relations and struggle against the occupying Israeli regime as a religious and humanitarian duty.

“Imam Khomeini designated the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as International Quds Day in order to keep the issue of Palestine alive in the hearts and minds of all Muslims,” Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said in a televised speech broadcast live from the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a on Thursday evening.

Houthi stated that the Yemeni nation has not retreated from its position to support the Palestinian nation, saying, “Our nation is trying to fulfill its religious duty and participate with Muslim freedom fighters in the decisive war against the Zionist enemy.”

He stated that the battle against the Israeli regime and US hegemony forms the cornerstone of Islamic teachings, noting that the fight against Zionism is an important factor in the rise of the Muslim world.

The leader of Ansarullah stated that the Zionists are afraid of the uprising of Muslim nations and their mobilization.

Houthi pointed out that the spirit of resistance within the Palestinian nation and the steadfastness of Muslim nations have started the countdown to the collapse of the Zionist regime,.

He emphasized that the Zionist enemy is moving towards destruction and inescapable downfall.

Source: Press TV

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Iran: Power Balance Not in Favor of Israel


"The balance of power has changed into the interests of the Palestinian nation; and the coherence in the Resistance front is felt today much more than any other time," Kana'ani wrote in Persian on his Twitter account on Thursday.

Such a coherence is souvenir of the Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force commander who was martyred by the US in Iraq in January 2020, the spokesman added

Undoubtedly, the photos shared below carry different messages to the Zionist regime and the Palestinian nation, the senior official continued.

Since the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli regime has imposed strict restrictions on the entry and exit of Palestinians to and from the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Amid heightened tensions with Palestinian worshipers, Israeli settlers also press ahead with their frequent incursions and provocative rituals at the holy site.

Israeli troops stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on successive days last week, firing tear gas and stun grenades and preventing Palestinian worshippers from entering the mosque for dawn prayers. Israeli troops also beat worshipers with batons and riot guns, wounding many, before arresting hundreds.

Dozens of rockets have been launched from Southern Lebanon into the Israeli-occupied territories in retaliation for Tel Aviv's raids.

Last Friday, Secretary General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement Sayed Hassan Nasrallah met with a delegation of senior Hamas officials in Beirut, as tensions simmered across the occupied Palestinian territories over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Nasrallah issued a warning last Thursday to Israel over the regime’s escalation at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in the occupied Old City of Al-Quds.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Blames Afghan Drug Trafficking on West-Spawned Int'l Mafia


Amir Abdollahian stated on the sidelines of the meeting of Afghanistan's neighbors on Thursday that the quartet meeting with participation of Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China reviewed the concerns about the situation in Afghanistan.

The minister emphasized the importance of joint regional cooperation between the four countries and stated that Afghanistan's neighbors are more concerned about its future than any other actor.

The production and trafficking of drugs in Afghanistan was not solved during the 20 years of US occupation but also the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics in the Asian country multiplied, the senior diplomat stressed.

He added that the Western mafia network is behind the expansion of this "black trade".

Amirabdollahian expressed concern about terrorism and extremism and criticized the United States for its wrong policies that have led to the development of terrorism and insecurity in Afghanistan.

The top official called for more regional cooperation and solutions instead of intervention from the West, especially the US. He also highlighted the responsibility of Washington and its allies for the situation in Afghanistan.

Regarding the economic situation in the neighboring country, Amir Abdollahian underlined the need for managing it and stated that economic pressures have led to an increase in the migration of refugees. He also mentioned that some insecurities have arisen towards neighboring countries due to these migrations.

The Iranian minister called for regional and international cooperation with a focus on the interim ruling body of Afghanistan to address these issues.

He also expressed concern about the educational deprivation of women and girls in Afghanistan and offered Iran's assistance in providing education to Afghan girls and women with the help of the United Nations.

The foreign minister underscored the importance of encouraging the temporary governing body to fulfill its promise to form an inclusive government with the participation of all Afghan ethnic groups. In conclusion, he called for an end to tensions in the common borders with Afghanistan's neighbors.

For decades, Iran has been fighting a relentless battle against international drug networks, but the war has cost it the loss of many lives and finances. Iranian security forces confiscate tons of narcotics every year in ambush operations against drugs traffickers.

The war on drug trade originating from Afghanistan - the major supplier of the vast majority of the world’s opium and heroin even during the 20-year occupation of the county by US-led forces - has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers over the past four decades.

The head of the Iranian anti-narcotics police has said in late June European countries owe Tehran a lot for blocking the transit of drugs destined for Europe, adding that the country confiscated over 1,200 tons of illicit narcotics last year.

Majid Karimi, however, slammed Europe for depriving Tehran of the latest technology to fight drug trafficking in line with sanctions spearheaded by the US, while they directly benefit from Iran’s anti-drugs measures.

“If the Islamic Republic of Iran stops the fight (against drugs) for only a month, the European countries will have to gather every gram of the huge hauls of drugs from their streets,” he warned.

Iran’s Interior Minister has also criticized the Western governments for their “poor performance” in the fight against narcotrafficking.

Ahmad Vahidi stated in late June the main culprits behind the promotion of drug use are some Western intelligence agencies and Western politicians.

He noted that the production of industrial drugs is a lucrative business for the Western countries.

He demanded that Western banks control the financial operations of narcotrrafickers, saying it’s questionable that financial institutions in the West turn a blind eye to the issue.

Vahidi underlined Iran is now going it alone in the fight against narcotics but instead of being thanked, it’s getting accused by its adversaries under various pretexts.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Lashes Out at West for Keeping Mum on Israeli Crimes Against Palestinians


Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday to mark International Quds Day, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan which was named by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic, more than four decades ago.

“Now, Palestine and holy Quds have turned into the symbol of unity in the Muslim world and represent the cause of the world’s right-seeking oppressed and freedom seekers from any race and religion,” it said.

The ministry criticized the so-called advocates of human rights who are indeed supporters of the occupying Israeli regime, such as the US and some European countries, for keeping a shameful silence on crimes and murders committed by Israel, which has killed about 100 Palestinians, including women and children, in the first three months of 2023 alone.

It stressed that the Islamic Republic’s “principled and unchangeable” policy of supporting the liberation struggle and legitimate resistance of the Palestinian nation and the necessity of effective and deterrent confrontation with the Israeli regime.

The ministry “asks all the Muslim governments and nations as well as world’s freedom seekers to become united to confront this cancerous tumor and disrupter of regional and international stability and security and to render real support and assistance to the oppressed people of Palestine".

It once again emphasized the legal obligation of international organizations and human rights entities to support the Palestinian people’s rights and terminate Israel’s savage crimes in Al-Quds and other occupied territories of Palestine and the regime’s aggressions and role-playing in the region.

The statement pointed to the move by the forces of the short-lived Zionist regime in recent days to violate the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the first qibla of Muslims across the globe, and kill worshipers in this sacred place, adding that such actions once again portrayed the “vicious face of this apartheid regime before the global public opinion".

It noted that the Israeli regime continues its crimes, blatantly violates the primary principles of human rights and desecrates religious and Muslim sanctities, particularly Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging Muslims “to get united and consolidated once again and support the heroic resistance of the Palestinian nation with the ultimate objective of liberating all the occupied territories of Palestine from the sea to the river and forming an integrated Palestinian establishment with holy Al-Quds as its capital".

As reiterated by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the ministry said, the main policy of hegemonic powers and Zionism is to undermine the significance of the Palestinian issue in the minds of Muslims across the world so that it falls into oblivion.

Israeli troops stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on successive days last week, firing tear gas and stun grenades and preventing Palestinian worshippers from entering the mosque for dawn prayers. Israeli troops also beat worshipers with batons and riot guns, wounding many, before arresting hundreds. Several Muslim countries and organizations have strongly condemned the latest aggression, calling on international bodies to stop Israeli crimes and protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Iran describes Israel as the root cause of the region’s instability and insecurity, but also stresses Israel's US-supported barbarity will not change the inevitable fate of the Tel Aviv regime.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Heavy rains in Iran trigger flash floods, killing at least two

13 April ,2023

Heavy rains have triggered flash flooding in northern and western Iran, killing at least two people, Iranian state television reported Thursday.

According to PirhosseinKoulivand, the head of the country’s emergency services, one fatality was reported in Qazvin province and the other in Ilam province in the past 24 hours, the state TV said. Kolivand also reported a third fatality, in West Azerbaijan province, where a person died from a lightning strike.

Iran’s meteorological department has warned of the seasonal rains in many areas across the country, including in the capital of Tehran.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Countdown to Israel’s ‘collapse’ has begun, Iran’s military says ahead of Quds Day

13 April ,2023

Israel will cease to exist in the near future as the country faces an “unprecedented chain of crises,” Iran’s top military body said on Thursday, ahead of the annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day.

In a statement carried by state media, the General Staff of the Armed Forces, responsible for coordinating between Iran’s conventional army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said that “Islamic resistance” from outside and internal protests are “challenging the nature of the Zionist regime” – the term used by Tehran to refer to Israel – and that “the countdown to the collapse of Zionism has begun.”

“By God’s grace, there will be no such thing as the Zionist regime in the not too distant future.”

The statement came ahead of Quds Day, an annual event that was launched in 1979 by former supreme leader and founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini. It is held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which falls on April 14 this year.

Marches on Quds Day traditionally feature demonstrators chanting “death to Israel” and “death to America” and burning the flags of the two countries.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Houthi self-contradiction delays signing of peace pact


April 13, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis have made additional demands in order to accept Saudi peace mediation, including an agreement between the militia and Saudi Arabia, dashing expectations of striking a peace deal to end the war in Yemen before the conclusion of Ramadan.

A Yemeni government official told Arab News that Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber delayed his return to Riyadh after the Houthis rejected Saudi Arabia as a mediator and demanded that the Kingdom execute a peace agreement with them instead of the group signing the agreement with the Yemeni government.

The Saudi ambassador rejected this demand. “Negotiations (in Sanaa) are difficult and complex and require more time,” a Yemeni government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.

Over the weekend, Saudi delegations led by Al-Jaber and others from Oman arrived in Sanaa to discuss with the Houthis a semi-final text of a peace agreement, endorsed by Yemen’s internationally recognized government, to end the war.

The agreement includes a six-month extension of the UN-brokered truce, inter-Yemeni talks for six months, a two-year transitional period, the payment of public employees in Houthi-controlled areas, the lifting of restrictions on Sanaa airport and Hodeidah ports, and the lifting of the Houthi siege of Taiz.

Houthi sources told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday that the militia was hesitant to accept Saudi mediation because certain Houthi religious and political figures perceive Riyadh as a participant in the conflict rather than a mediator and that a peace deal before the end of Ramadan was unlikely.

“The talks between the Saudi delegation and the Houthis did not reach a final result yet to complete an agreement that was expected to be signed at the end of Ramadan,” the AFP quoted a Houthi source as saying.

“The Saudis presented their vision of a solution and wanted to be mediators in resolving the crisis alongside the Omanis, but the Houthi political and religious leaders insisted that Riyadh be a party to the agreement and not an intermediary.”

The Yemeni government has long warned that the Houthi group’s “radical” faction would thwart any efforts to establish peace in Yemen.

A prominent Houthi leader provided a contradictory statement to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper on Thursday, saying that the atmosphere of their discussions with the Saudi and Omani delegates was “positive” and that a peace agreement might be signed “soon, as many points of contention have been resolved and the movement does not demand a Saudi Arabian agreement.”

The Houthis’ contradictory statements regarding talks in Sanaa surfaced as the prisoner exchange between Yemeni parties was postponed until Friday.

Without elaborating on the reason for the delay, Yahya Kazman, head of the Yemeni government’s delegation in prisoner exchange discussions, said the three-day operation would begin on Friday, with over 880 inmates being transported between Yemeni and Saudi airports.

Yemeni sides agreed last month to trade around 880 captives during the holy month of Ramadan. During the second major prisoner exchange since the start of the war, the Houthis would surrender 181 captives, including troops from the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, for 706 of their prisoners held by the Yemeni government.

Meanwhile, Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, who arrived in the area on Tuesday, said Yemen was enjoying a unique opportunity to reach an agreement to bring an end to the war.

Source: Arab News

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South Asia


Iran Says Afghanistan’s Current Issues Need Regional Solution

By Fidel Rahmati

April 13, 2023

Iranian Foreign Minister on Thursday said Afghanistan’s current issues need regional cooperation.

Hossein Amir Abdollahian made the remarks during a quadrilateral meeting with Chinese, Russian, and Pakistani envoys on the sidelines of the foreign ministers’ meeting among the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s website.

He expressed Iranian concern over the spread of terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan as well as the persistence of the wrong U.S. policies there, and he argued that the country now requires regional cooperation and solutions rather than the United States and Western intervention that has pushed the Asian country toward poverty and instability.

He stressed that the United States and its allies should be held to account as the occupiers of Afghanistan that had oppressed the country for two decades and as UN members to be answerable for the current situation in the country.

On the other hand, the four countries, China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, released a joint statement after the quadrilateral meeting, urging the Taliban authorities to form an inclusive government with the participation of all Afghan ethnic groups and lift all the restriction measures against women and religious groups in the country.

Source: Khaama Press

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Muttaqi Heads to Samarkand to Attend 4th Ministers’ Meeting

By Fidel Rahmati

April 13, 2023

Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister, left Kabul for Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to attend the fourth meeting of foreign ministers among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, Deputy Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, tweeted on Thursday that Muttaqi is expected to meet with the Foreign Ministers of Regional countries on the sidelines of the Samarkand meeting.

On Thursday, the fourth meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries will occur in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

In the meeting, Russia, including six neighbouring Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, will attend to discuss Afghanistan and the current regional situation.

An earlier statement said the meeting’s main focus would be to assist in a political settlement in Afghanistan and stabilize the country’s socioeconomic and humanitarian crisis.

Wednesday, the spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign minister responded to a question by saying that China hoped to have an in-depth discussion about the state of affairs in Afghanistan with the parties present at the meeting, strengthen the consensus among the neighbouring nations on the issue, and steadfastly carry out the decisions and agreements reached third meeting.

Source: Khaama Press

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Turkey Deports 138 Undocumented Afghan Migrants

By Fidel Rahmati

April 13, 2023

Turkey Immigration authorities announced on Wednesday that they had sent 138 undocumented Afghan citizens to Afghanistan.

The Turkish media reported on Wednesday that as part of the country’s crackdown on illegal immigration, a group of Afghan nationals were deported to their home country via a chartered flight.

Most Afghans have fled to neighbouring countries like Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey since the Taliban came back to power, either for economic reasons or to avoid persecution by the de facto regime.

Most Afghan immigrants entered the country illegally, and now, after months of waiting and not knowing what would happen, they live in constant fear of being deported and imprisoned.

Afghan refugees who cannot prove they have legal status in their destination country face deportation or imprisonment in Iran and Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan has reportedly locked up hundreds of Afghan refugees, including women and children.

Source: Khaama Press

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2 More Helicopters Repaired, Says Afghan Air Force

By Fidel Rahmati

April 13, 2023

The Minister of Defense of Afghanistan (MoD) announced on Thursday that it had repaired two more aircraft, which are now ready to fly by the engineering team of the Afghan Air Force.

According to a statement from the National Defense Ministry, the Air Force’s technical, professional teams and engineers have successfully repaired two additional Russian M-17 helicopters and one American Black Hawk chopper.

Mawlavi Abdul Ghafar Mohammadi, the commander of the Air Force, pledged to repair more aircraft while acknowledging the technical teams’ and engineers’ work.

Earlier, the Ministry of Defense claimed that the Afghan air force had repaired more than sixty helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft rendered unusable by technical issues.

Among the sixty repaired aircraft, three transport aircraft, two An-32s and one An-26, have also been repaired and are now ready for operation.

Earlier, the US defence ministry said that following the previous administration’s fall, the former government’s military transferred 46 helicopters to Uzbekistan and 18 helicopters to Tajikistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban share rare, months-old audio from supreme leader Akhundzada

April 13, 2023

The Taliban have shared a rare, months-old audio message from their reclusive supreme leader in which he purportedly says that Afghanistan would be “ruined" without justice handed out by the country's new rulers.

The Taliban leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, an Islamic scholar, almost never appears in public and hardly ever leaves the Taliban heartland in southern Kandahar province. He surrounds himself with other religious scholars and allies who oppose education and work for women. Only one known photo of him, years old, exists.

He was named the Taliban leader in 2016, after a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan killed his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

Since the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021, Akhundzada has travelled to Kabul only once, to give a speech to a gathering of clerics. However, he was not shown in the media at the time and appeared with his back to the audience.

The audio recording was shared on Twitter by the main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, on April 12. In it, a voice that Mujahid says belongs to Akhundzada declares that justice is an instrument for the survival of the Taliban government.

The Associated Press has not been able to independently verify that the voice on the audio message is Akhundzada’s.

“But if there is no justice, and there is oppression, selfishness, murders and revenge, as well as killings without courts, this country will be ruined,” says the voice, then adds that this "can be prevented through the right decision of religious scholars and its proper implementation by the government.”

According to the spokesman, the recording was from a speech given five or six months ago to Taliban officials at an unspecified location. There was no word on why the recording was released at this time.

Pakistan-based journalist Ahmed Rashid, who has written several books about the Taliban, said the clip addressed none of the issues facing the Taliban, such as women's rights and the country's deepening humanitarian crisis.

“There doesn't seem to be a political purpose to this clip. It's very unusual to hear from him," Rashid said, adding that it's “irrelevant to the population.”

In January, Mujahid tweeted that Akhundzada met religious scholars from different provinces. He also tweeted about the leader's February meeting with commanders and other high-ranking security officials.

Source: TheHindu

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Turkey, Egypt say they will cooperate more closely on Libya

13 April ,2023

Ankara and Cairo will cooperate more closely regarding Libya, where they back opposing sides, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, marking another step in the rapprochement between the two regional powers.

Cavusoglu's comments come as the two countries work to mend ties after being at odds for a decade, having cut diplomatic links following the overthrow of Egypt's then president and Ankara ally Mohamed Mursi.

Cavusoglu visited Cairo last month while Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry previously came to Turkey to show solidarity after February's massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

Among the disputes between the two countries was the conflict in Libya.

“We will cooperate more closely regarding Libya from now on. In our meeting today, we (saw) that our views are not essentially very different but that we think differently on some methods,” Cavusoglu said during a news conference in Ankara.

The two countries will work on a roadmap to hold elections in Libya and can work on training and reinforcing a joint military between forces in the east and west of Libya, he said.

“We share a common desire with Turkey to hold elections in Libya,” Shoukry said.

Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, and it split in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions, with the last major battle of the conflict ending in 2020 with a ceasefire.

The political process to resolve the conflict, however, has been stalled since the collapse of a scheduled election in December 2021 over disputes about the rules, including the eligibility of major candidates.

The last major international attempt to break the deadlock, via a 2020 political forum, led to formation of the current interim government and the roadmap for the December 2021 election that was thwarted by internal political disputes.

Cavusoglu and Shoukry also said the two countries would take steps to re-appoint ambassadors and hold a summit between their leaders.

Source: Al Arabiya

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IMF forecasts slower Middle East, North Africa growth in 2023

13 April ,2023

GDP growth in the Middle East and North Africa region will slow to 3.1 percent in 2023, from 5.3 percent a year ago, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Middle East and Central Asia department director Jihad Azour said on Thursday.

Growth among MENA oil exporters will slow to 3.1 percent in 2023 from 5.7 percent in 2022, with the non-hydrocarbon sector expected to be the main driver of growth, Azour told a news briefing.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Tunisia should get some IMF funds before reforms: Italy

April 13, 2023

ROME: Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said Thursday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should approve an initial, unconditional bailout package for Tunisia, with further payments dependent on reforms.

Tunisia reached a deal in principle in October with the IMF for nearly $2 billion to shore up its sinking economy but the bailout still needs approval by the IMF board, which is pressing for reforms, primarily on the economy.

“Our proposal is to start financing Tunisia through the Monetary Fund, and deliver, after a first tranche, a second tranche as the reforms proceed,” Tajani said after a meeting with his Tunisian counterpart, Nabil Ammar.

“But not utterly conditional on... the conclusion of the reform process. Start financing, encourage the reforms,” he told reporters.

Ammar “assured me the reforms are proceeding,” Tajani added.

Tunisia is heavily indebted and facing high inflation and unemployment.

In recent days, EU leaders including Italian Prime Minister GiorgiaMeloni have warned of the risks of an economic collapse which could drive more people to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

Migrants from across Africa and Tunisia itself regularly use Tunisia’s coastline, less than 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the Italian island of Lampedusa, as a springboard for attempts to reach Europe.

“Sceptical or negative messages about Tunisia... do not help the Tunisian economy and fuel all the problems, including illegal migration,” Ammar said Thursday in joint statements to the press.

“Helping the Tunisian economy also means fighting migration,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Sudan’s military warns of conflict after rival force deploys

April 13, 2023

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s military on Thursday warned of potential clashes with the country’s powerful paramilitary force, which it said deployed troops in the capital and other cities.

Tensions between the military and the Rapid Support Forces have escalated in recent months, forcing a delay of the signing of an internationally-backed deal with political parties to restore the country’s democratic transition. In a statement, the military said the buildup of the RSF in Khartoum and elsewhere in the country has come without “the approval of, or coordination with” the armed forces’ leadership.

It said the RSF measures “have stirred up panic and fear among people, exacerbated security risks and increased tensions between regular forces.”

The military said it has attempted to “find peaceful solutions to such violations” to prevent an armed conflict with the RSF.

The military’s statement came as the RSF deployed troops in the Northern Province on the border with Egypt. Local media reported that the paramilitary force has attempted to build a military base there.

The RSF said its deployment across the country aims at “achieving security and stability and fighting human trafficking and illegal migration.”

Recent tensions are rooted in the integration of the RSF into the military. The RSF, led by powerful Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, grew out of former militias that executed a brutal crackdown in Sudan’s Darfur region over the past two decades.

In a statement issued Thursday, Sudan’s National Umma Party — one of the country’s largest political groups — called for restraint and urged other political forces not to escalate the situation.

“All political forces must refrain from issuing any statements or support for one of the parties,” the group said. The groups have arranged an emergency meeting Thursday morning and invited leaders from both forces to attend.

Sudan has plunged into chaos since a 2021 military coup removed a western-backed, power-sharing administration and dashed Sudanese aspirations for democratic rule after three decades of autocracy and repression under Islamist President Omar Al-Bashir.

Source: Arab News

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Libya detains second American for preaching 'evangelism'

13 April 2023

The Libyan Internal Security Agency says police have detained a US citizen for inviting to convert to Christianity.

The American was arrested for "inciting our children to renounce Islam and convert to Christianity," the agency said in a statement on Thursday. It accused the American of operating "in the company of his wife as a missionary on behalf of the organization 'Assemblies of God' in order to seduce the sons of our Muslim people."

Assemblies of God is a missionary organization based in the state of Arkansas.

The arrest came a day after another American citizen in Tripoli was detained on a similar ground. While security forces have not named the man arrested on Wednesday, Libyan media identified him as Jeff Wilson,

Two Libyans were also arrested for conversion to Christianity. They have confessed how they were convinced by foreigners to convert.

Source: Press TV

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Pakistan warns of strikes on terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan

Apr 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s defence minister, Khawaja Asif, said Islamabad has warned the Afghan Taliban it will strike terrorist hideouts inside Afghanistan if Kabul is unable to rein in anti-Pakistan militants.

In an interview with the Voice of America, Khawaja Asif said that during his visit to Kabul in mid-February, he reminded the Taliban leaders to live up to their cross-border security commitments forbidding terrorists from using their soil for attacks on Pakistan and, that, Islamabad would take action otherwise.

“If that is not done, at some point we’ll have to ... resort to some measures, which will definitely — wherever (terrorists) are, their sanctuaries on Afghan soil — we’ll have to hit them,” he said, adding, “We’ll have to hit them because we cannot tolerate this situation for long.”

Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Pakistan has seen a resurgence in terror attacks planned and conducted by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), having deep roots with the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaida, and the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K).

According to Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank, the country recorded at least 262 terror attacks in 2022, of which the TTP was responsible for at least 89.

Last November, the group ended a unilateral ceasefire after talks with Islamabad broke down. Since then, Pakistan has seen near-daily attacks, most of them targeting military and police personnel.

When asked if he believed Kabul's assertion that the TTP is not operating from Afghan soil, Asif said, “They still operate from their soil.”

The minister claimed the Taliban leadership “responded very well” to the recent warning. Asif said he believes that the Afghan Taliban are trying to “disentangle” from the TTP.

The minister also criticized former Pakistan prime minister, Imran Khan, and the previous military and intelligence leadership, for allowing thousands of Taliban fighters and their families to return to Pakistan in a bid to continue negotiations with the militants. Intelligence reports said the decision allowed the terrorists to regroup.

Pakistani government and security officers allege the TTP fighters attacking Pakistan are using arms and equipment left behind by the US troops at the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Asif said the TTP is using light weapons, assault rifles, ammunition, night vision goggles, and sniper rifles that the US troops had left behind.

When asked if Pakistan had shared any evidence with Washington, Asif questioned how that would help Islamabad as “Washington left ... that sort of hardware on foreign soil because they couldn't carry it.”

Alluding to the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan after two decades of fighting the US and coalition troops, Asif questioned Washington’s ability to fight terrorism successfully or the need to request its help to fight terrorism in Pakistan.

Source: Times Of India

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Political parties urged to work for creation of Hazara province

April 14, 2023

MANSEHRA: Lawyers, traders and religious scholars on Thursday urged mainstream political parties to jointly work for the creation of Hazara and other provinces in the country.

“We call for legislation by mainstream parties for Hazara and more provinces,” Tehreek-i-Sobah Hazara convener Mushtaq Khan told a function here. People from different walks of life attended the event.

Trader leaders Haroonur Rasheed and Mohammad Hanif said members of their community would continue supporting the cause of Hazara province.

Lawyer Iftikhar Alam said the county faced political and economic crises to the misery of the people.

He said political parties should legislate to create more and more federating units to strengthen the federation.

Jamiat ulema-i-Islam-Fazl leader Maulana Wasiur Rehman said the Constitution was required to be amended for Hazara and other provinces.

The participants also demanded punitive action against police officials involved in the killing of seven people during the April 2013 peaceful rally in Abbottabad for Hazara province.

Dues demanded: Contractors of government projects on Thursday called for the immediate payment of dues.

“Though the Election Commission of Pakistan hasn’t banned the release of payments to us [contractors] for the work done on development projects, the secretary to local government board illegally withheld our dues after the dissolution of the provincial assembly in January this year,” leader of the Government Contractors’ Association Raja Ishtiaq told reporters here.

Accompanied by members of the association, Mr Ishtiaq said contractors in the province were struggling to make ends meet due to nonpayment of dues amid record inflation.

He said the ECP had yet to notify the schedule for the KP Assembly elections but the LG board’s secretary had blocked the contractors’ payments by overstepping his authority.

Association leader Usman Iqbal said if those payments were withheld any further, contractors could stop work on development projects.

He said the ECP banned the transfer and posting of government officials as well as the inauguration of development projects and schemes after the election schedule was announced, so denying contractors dues even before that happened was unfair.

Source: Dawn

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‘Patience, reciprocity’ needed in dealing with Kabul: Khar

Iftikhar A. Khan

April 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan once again warned the international community against abandoning Afghanistan, which is currently facing a humanitarian crisis and needs urgent assistance to survive.

Speaking at the Ministerial Meeting of the Neighbours of Afghanistan in Samarkand on Thursday, Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar called for ‘patience’ and ‘reciprocity’, saying that the international community should continue to engage with the interim Afghan government. “We need to be flexible. This process should be appropriately incentivised,” she suggested.

She said Pakistan firmly believed that humanitarian support should remain delinked from any political considerations.

She mentioned Kabul’s decision to suspend education for women and girls and to prevent female staff members from working for national and international NGOs.

Says Pakistan believes aid should be delinked from political considerations

The minister regretted that some of the policies and actions of the interim Afghan government didn’t provide an incentive for engagement.

Ms Khar said people were questioning the utility of engaging with the interim Afghan government as she called these approaches “misplaced and need to be re-assessed”.

“The international community currently finds itself at a standstill with Afghanistan. The cascade of unmet expectations has meant that critical support needed by Afghanistan to stave off a grave humanitarian crisis, prevent an economic meltdown and combat terrorism has been withheld”, she said.

“We cannot talk of the Afghan people without talking to them. Constructive engagement with the Interim Afghan Government remains imperative. As friends and neighbours, we don’t have the luxury to disengage with Afghanistan”, she said.

Noting that connectivity has remained a pipe dream for far too long, Ms Khar advocated for turning this ‘constraint’ into a conduit for regional peace and prosperity.

Connectivity projects such as CASA-1000, Trans-Afghan Railways, TAPI and others, were not merely economic undertakings, they were strategic investments for a shared future, the minister noted.


On the sidelines of the conference, Ms Khar met with the foreign ministers of China, Russia and Iran.

During her meeting with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Amb Qin Gang, the two sides reaffirmed the commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

In her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the two sides agreed to further bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, energy and food security.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan court grants Imran Khan interim bail till May 4 in three cases

Apr 13, 2023

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Thursday extended interim bail to Imran Khan till May 4 in three cases related to the clashes between his supporters and the police during an operation to arrest the former premier in the Toshakhana corruption case last month.

Lahore's Anti-terrorism court (ATC) granted one-time permission to Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), to appear for the hearing via video link in the case.

Imran had filed petitions for bail in three FIRs registered with the Race Course police station under anti-terror laws.

Khan, 70, has been repeatedly claiming that his life is under threat because of which he was abstaining from attending court hearings.

ATC judge Ejaz Ahmad Bhutta asked Khan's lawyer Salman Safdar what he had done for which he was facing threats to his life.

To this, Safdar said those who were behind a gun attack on his client (in last November) could answer this.

"If Imran Khan is assassinated Pakistan will descend into chaos like what had happened after the murder of former premier Benazir Bhutto," he said.

"There are credible reports that Mr Khan can be targeted by snipers on his way to courts and these can be verified from the law enforcement agencies," he said.

In November last year, Khan survived an assassination attempt on his life.

After hearing arguments, the judge allowed Khan to mark his attendance in court through a video link and extended his pre-arrest bail till May 4, a court official said.

The Lahore police had booked Khan and hundreds of his party workers in three terrorism cases during clashes with police last month in an operation to arrest him in the Toshakhana case.

Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana, and selling them for profit.

He was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan in October last year for not sharing details of the sales.

The election body later filed a complaint with the district court to punish him, under criminal laws, for selling the gifts he had received as prime minister of the country.

Khan has vehemently denied those charges.

The other case is related to the killing of a PTI worker in which Khan was booked for attempted murder.

Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician, is currently facing over 140 cases registered against him under treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder, blasphemy, and other charges.

Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.

Since his ouster, he has been demanding early elections to remove what he termed an "imported government" led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Source: Times Of India

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PPP names panel to prepare ground for talks with PTI

Zulqernain Tahir

April 14, 2023

LAHORE: After Asif Zardari’s proposal that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should initiate ‘unconditional’ talks with the opposition PTI, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday formed a three-member body to persuade allies in the government to start the process with the Imran-led party.

According to a PPP statement, Senator Yousuf Raza Gillani, Federal Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar and PM’s Adviser on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira will “engage with allies in the coalition government to reach consensus on dialogue with all political parties”.

The main task of the three PPP leaders is to persuade the PML-N and JUI-F to hold talks with PTI on all issues, including elections, to end the ongoing crises.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Kaira said PPP is primarily concerned about “deadlock” among the political players.

Three-member body faces uphill task of persuading PML-N, JUI-F to sit down with opposition party

“First, we will speak to our allies and try to convince them on holding talks with the opposition. Once we succeed in it then we will talk to the PTI to respond to the government’s offer of dialogue,” Mr Kaira said.

When asked if PML-N was reluctant to sit with PTI, Mr Kaira said: “PM Shehbaz had earlier offered PTI chief Imran Khan to sign the charter of economy. It was because of Mr Khan’s response to that offer which made the PML-N leadership bitter.”

Asked if the establishment is playing any role to bring the government and opposition on the table, Mr Kaira said: “I would say that we don’t have the blessings of the establishment but every saner element would like to see dialogue between the government and the opposition so that the ongoing crises come to an end.”

However, the Sharifs do not want elections in Punjab on the Supreme Court’s order and therefore see no point in holding talks with PTI.

PPP’s senior leader from south Punjab Haider Zaman Qureshi told Dawn his party believes that if mandated it can play a positive role in convincing all players to sit together and sort out all thorny issues relating to elections and economy.

In a recent development, ousted prime minister Imran Khan has shunned his ‘hard stance’ of not sitting with what he calls “thieves”, saying he is willing to hold talks, including with the establishment, on the issue of elections.

It was after Mr Khan’s green signal that PTI leader and former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser declared his party was ready to go for a one-time constitutional amendment to hold polls in October, 2023.

“Imran Khan’s disqualification and return of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and nothing short of it will be acceptable to us before polls. After that, doors to talks [with PTI] will be open,” a senior PML-N leader from Punjab told Dawn, requesting anonymity.

“Holding talks with Mr Khan means conceding to his demand for elections. Even in October [polls] do not suit us in the current scheme of things. So let the PTI wait for an appropriate time for talks.”

Federal Minister Javed Latif said: “How come we go into elections if our leader — Nawaz Sharif — is not allowed to return. There should be a level playing field for the elections and let him come before the polls,” said Mr Latif.

Talking to Dawn, senior analyst Dr Hasan Askari commented that Nawaz Sharif and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman have taken a “very hard line” of not sitting with PTI.

Source: Dawn

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UAE gives financial pledge of $1bn to IMF for Pakistan: Dar

April 14, 2023

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Friday that the United Arab Emirates has confirmed its commitment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its bilateral financial support of $1 billion to Pakistan.

“UAE authorities have confirmed to IMF for their bilateral support of US $1 billion to Pakistan,” Dar said in a tweet today.

Source: Dawn

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Two TTP militants shot dead in Lower Dir

April 14, 2023

LOWER DIR: The district police on Thursday claimed to have killed two militants affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (Bajaur) during an encounter with police at Khat Kalay area of Talash here late on Wednesday night.

Briefing the local journalists at his office, Lower Dir district police officer Tariq Iqbal said that both the terrorists identified as Burhanuddin and Hafeezullah alias Umar, residents of Alladand, Malakand, were involved in the murder of a traffic police officer, Bakht Zamin, who was martyred in Talash Bazaar on April 4.

The DPO said that police were informed about the presence of the two suspects at Khat Kalay in Talash Wednesday night.

He said when the police team reached the place, the accused hurled a hand grenade at a police van which did not explode. The militants also fired at the police personnel but they remained unhurt.

In retaliation, both terrorists were killed on the spot. The DPO said the bodies were brought to the THQ hospital Talash and later dispatched to Malakand district.

Police also recovered two pistols, six cartridges, a hand grenade, two mobile sets and a motorcycle from the militants’ possession. Responding to queries, the DPO said the accused belonged to the TTP Bajaur group and were also wanted in several other cases.

Source: Dawn

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Cash-strapped KP govt won’t pay employees before Eid

Umer Farooq

April 14, 2023

PESHAWAR: The caretaker government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday decided that it won’t pay next salary ahead of Eidul Fitr due to the unavailability of funds.

Finance minister Himayatullah Khan told reporters following a cabinet meeting here that the provincial government required Rs48 billion to pay its employees before the imminent post-Ramazan Eid festival but it was too cash-strapped to do so.

“Our [KP’s revenue] shortfall totals Rs90 billion,” he said.

Mr Himayatullah said that different unions of government employees had opposed the salary payment in advance fearing that officials would face serious financial issues in the next month.

Minister claims province’s revenue shortfall totals Rs90 billion

The minister complained that the province didn’t receive a single penny from the federal government on account of net hydel profit.

He said that the province generated six per cent of its revenue by itself and that the centre had to pay Rs62 billion hydel profit dues to it.

Mr Himayatullah said that for loan, the International Monetary Fund had set the condition of framing rules for the imposition of general sales tax on goods and services.

He said that the companies registered in cities including Karachi and Lahore would pay taxes to the respective provinces, but the National Tax Commission agreed that that tax would be equally distributed to provinces.

The minister said that tax issues had been resolved for IMF loan deal.

“The cabinet has approved the formulation of rules for the Sales Tax on Services Act, 2022, which will help KP collect an additional revenue of Rs5 billion annually,” he said.

Earlier, caretaker Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan chaired the cabinet meeting, according a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s House.

Mr Khan said that Rs238 billion worth “federal transfers” to KP were due by the centre.

He said that the provincial government had written several letters to the federal government and even held multiple meeting on the issue.

The chief minister said that he hoped that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would help the province claim its due payments from the centre.

He said that the caretaker government had taken several austerity measures in view of its financial issues, while needless expenses were also being controlled.

In the cabinet meeting, the caretaker chief minister directed authorities to finalise the proposed economic measures to improve the province’s economic condition and put them to the cabinet in its next meeting for approval.

Source: Dawn

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3 terrorists killed in intelligence-based operation in Balochistan’sGishkore: ISPR

Iftikhar Shirazi

April 13, 2023

Three terrorists were killed during an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in Balochistan’sGishkore area, the army’s media wing said on Thursday.

According to a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), an IBO was conducted to clear a terrorist hideout linked with firing incidents on security forces and civilians, as well as planting of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on Turbat-Hoshab road in general area Gishkore.

“As a result of continuous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance of the area, a location of terrorists was identified and security forces were heli-inserted,” the ISPR said.

“While the establishment of blocking positions to cut escape routes was under way, terrorists opened fire [on] security forces,” the statement said, adding that three terrorists were killed in the heavy exchange of fire that ensued.

The ISPR said a cache of arms and ammunition, including IEDs, had been recovered during the operation.

“Security forces, in step with the nation, remain determined to thwart such attempts aimed at sabotaging the peace, stability and progress of Balochistan,” the statement said.

A day earlier, three terrorists were killed by security forces during an IBO in the Loesum area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bajaur district.

The ISPR had said the slain terrorists were “actively involved in multiple terrorist activities against security forces as well as extortion and target killings of innocent citizens”.

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Since the talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) broke down in November last year, the militant group intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.

According to statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank, January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, as 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan's government reiterates completion of all IMF requirements for bailout

Apr 13, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan has completed all requirements to receive critical bailout money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country reiterated following a meeting with the lender on Thursday.

Pakistan has less than a month's worth of foreign exchange reserves and is awaiting a bailout package of $1.1 billion from the IMF that has been delayed since November over issues related to fiscal policy adjustments.

The funds, which can only be released after signing a staff level agreement (SLA), are part of a $6.5 billion bailout package the IMF approved in 2019, which analysts say is critical for Pakistan to avert defaulting on external payment obligations.

“The Finance Minister further shared that all prior actions for 9th Review under the Extended Fund Facility have already been completed and Government of Pakistan is fully committed to fulfill its obligations as agreed with the IMF," said the Finance Ministry in a press release.

The statement said discussions included economic and financial policies, reforms and initiatives to implement ongoing IMF programs.

It added that Antoinette MonisoSayeh, deputy managing director at the IMF, supported continuing to work together and was confident of signing of SLA very soon.

Source: Times Of India

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Southeast Asia


Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan Call on US to Shoulder Responsibility for Afghan Situation, Lift Anti-Kabul Sanctions


The foreign ministers of the regional quartet issued a joint statement on Thursday following their meeting in Uzbekistan’s city of Samarkand, within the framework of a ministerial conference of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries.

According to the statement, the four foreign ministers stressed the importance of respecting Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, expressing their support for the principle of “Afghan ownership and Afghan leadership” to determine the political and development path of the country.

They said all members of the international community would benefit from a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, a country that should be a venue for international cooperation instead of geopolitical competitions.

The ministers voiced their concern over the security situation in Afghanistan, stating that all terrorist groups based in the country, including Daesh (ISIS or ISIL), East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Jaish ul-Adl pose a serious threat to regional and international security and stability.

They called on Afghan officials to take effective measures to improve the security, safety and legitimate rights of its citizens and institutions outside the country.

The ministers voiced their strong objection to the re-establishment of military bases inside Afghanistan, which would not be useful for regional peace and stability, and called on Afghan officials to maintain cordial foreign relations, observe international law, and co-exist peacefully with other countries.

The four ministers expressed their readiness to support Afghanistan’s reconstruction, trade and economic exchanges, and investment in cooperation with regional states. They also called on the international community to send more humanitarian aid to the country.

The second quadrilateral meeting of Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan on Afghanistan in Samarkand was held on the sidelines of the fourth meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboringcountries. Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan – Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Sergei Lavrov, Qin Gang and Hina Rabbani Khar, respectively – took part in the meeting.

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 following the September 11 attacks, despite the fact that no Afghan national was involved in the raids. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans died in the US war of aggression on the country. American forces had occupied the country for two decades on the pretext of fighting against the Taliban.

The Taliban, who had previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, took power again in August 2022 as the US was in the middle of a chaotic troop withdrawal. The group announced the formation of a caretaker government weeks later. Following the Taliban’s takeover, the US and its allies rushed to cut off Afghanistan’s access to international aid and froze nearly $10 billion in assets belonging to the country’s central bank.

Several countries, including Iran, Russia and China, have repeatedly stressed that the United States seeks to shift responsibility for the crisis situation in Afghanistan, and making statements about the need for other countries to reconstruct the nation. They announced that Washington has no right to shift the burden of responsibility for the situation in the war-torn country onto other states.

Source: Fars News Agency

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China ‘concerned’ about impact of Afghan policies on women’s rights

14 April ,2023

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said his country is “concerned” about the impact of recent policies introduced by Afghanistan’s Taliban government on the rights of women, state media reported on Friday.

Qin’s comments at a regional summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan come after a decision by the conservative Taliban authorities to bar women from working for the United Nations sparked international outrage.

“China and other friendly neighbors of Afghanistan are concerned about the recent policies and measures taken by the Afghan side and their possible impact on the basic rights and interests of Afghan women,” Qin told reporters on Thursday, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

But the foreign minister added that while the issue of women’s rights and interests is very important “it is not the whole issue of Afghanistan, nor is it the core or root cause of Afghanistan’s problems.”

“We should neither turn a blind eye to this problem nor ignore it,” he said.

Under their austere interpretation of Islam, Taliban authorities have imposed a slew of restrictions on Afghan women since seizing power in 2021, including banning them from higher education and many government jobs.

Taliban officials have argued that their extension of curbs on female employment to include the UN’s operations in the country -- announced by a spokesperson for the international body on April 4 -- is an “internal issue.”

Since the chaotic withdrawal of United States troops in August 2021, the Taliban government has failed to establish formal diplomatic relations with any other nation.

China harshly criticized what they saw as a hasty and ill-planned departure of US military personnel, saying at the time that they were ready to enter “friendly and cooperative” relations with the new government.

Ahead of Qin’s visit to Central Asia this week, China’s foreign ministry released a position paper on Afghanistan, affirming that it “respects the independent choices made by the Afghan people, and respects the religious beliefs and national customs.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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North America


US personnel targeted in Iraq drone strike were on mission to defeat Daesh/ISIS: Pentagon

Rabia İclalTuran



US personnel in Iraq's Kurdistan region were there as part of the mission to defeat Daesh/ISIS when the convoy they were traveling in was targeted last week, Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said Thursday.

The convoy of YPG/PKK ringleader Ferhat Abdi Sahin, codenamed Mazloum Abdi, was targeted on April 7 by a drone strike near Sulaymaniyah International Airport. Three US personnel were in the convoy. The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) reported no injuries.

"On April 7, a convoy, including US personnel, was fired upon while in transit within the Iraqi Kurdistan region in the area near Sulaymaniyah," Ryder confirmed, adding that US forces are in Iraq and Syria in support of the "defeat ISIS mission."

"It struck more than 100 meters from the convoy and CENTCOM is currently investigating the incident," he added.

When asked what was the mission of the US personnel, he responded: "We're supporting the Iraqi security forces as part of the defeat ISIS mission. As you know, we have forces in Iraq. They're not conducting combat operations. They're advising and assisting the Iraqis. And then we have forces in Syria that are supporting the SDF."

He was referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces, the US's partner in Syria in the fight against Daesh/ISIS. The YPG/PKK terrorist group rebranded itself as the SDF to have a voice in talks on Syria.

In response to a question about the SDF's relation with the PKK, he said: "We have partnered with the SDF since 2014 as part of the defeat ISIS mission. We have a longstanding relationship with them. They are not the PKK."

The US policy on Syria has been one of the most challenging issues between the two NATO allies as Türkiye has never accepted the US’s backing of the YPG because of its ties to the PKK, which has been recognized as a terrorist organization by both Türkiye and the US.

The US on the other hand sees the YPG, which was renamed as the SDF, as a partner in the fight against Daesh/ISIS in Syria and does not recognize it as a terrorist group, although it does acknowledge the PKK as such.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US sanctions Turkish companies for ‘helping Russian war effort’


April 13, 2023

ANKARA: The recent US announcement to impose export controls on several Turkish companies for allegedly doing business with Russia has stirred debate on the effectiveness of these sanctions and whether Ankara, with elections looming, should respond in some manner to protect its rising trade relations with Moscow.

This is the first time Washington has sanctioned Turkish companies for allegedly helping Russia evade sanctions. Last year, the Turkish branch of a Russian company, called MMK, which owned two steel facilities, was sanctioned by the US.

The US Commerce Department said on Wednesday it has imposed new export controls on 28 companies based in China, Turkiye and other countries for supplying Russia’s military and defense industries with US-origin items, which it deemed violated America’s sanctions regime.

The sanctioned companies include Azu International, a Turkiye-based electronics firm that was established in March 2022, shortly after the Ukraine invasion, and which allegedly shipped to Russia foreign-origin electronics technology, including computer chips.

Also on the list is DexiasTurkiye, based in Turkiye and headed by Alim KhazishmelovichFirov, which allegedly procured US-origin electronic components as an intermediary for Radioavtomatika, a Russian defense procurement firm.

Since February 2022, there have been more than 400 entities added to the list that intends to restrict “Russia’s ability to sustain, repair and resupply its weaponry,” the US Commerce Department said in February.

“As the Kremlin seeks ways around the expansive multilateral sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia for its war against Ukraine, the United States and our allies and partners will continue to disrupt evasion schemes that support Putin on the battlefield,” said Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

“Today’s action underscores our dedication to implementing the G7 commitment to impose severe costs on third-country actors who support Russia’s war.”

This move also coincides with the latest statement by James O’Brien, head of the US State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination, cautioning that Turkiye has pledged to ban the re-export of sanctioned Western goods to help Russia’s war efforts.

SonerCagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, thinks this is just the beginning and tougher US measures against Turkiye firms may follow.

“In the upcoming period, US sanctions will target even harder several companies doing businesses with Russia,” he told Arab News.

“This is the policy of the Biden administration ahead of the elections in the US, that aims to deliver a foreign policy win and it requires these sanctions to really work,” he said.

“So far the US government followed the path of compliance going through companies. Maybe this latest move is doubling down these efforts,” Cagaptay added.

In line with this warning, Turkiye’s government recently provided Turkish companies in the ferrous and non-ferrous metals sector with a list of foreign goods that are prohibited from being sent to Russia. In addition, Ankara has also given verbal guarantees to the European Commission that sanctioned goods will not be transited to Russia from March 1, to comply with Western sanctions.

However, experts have cautioned about the negative impact on Turkiye, a NATO member, and its repercussions for the international community.

According to Cagaptay, the US government is also acting carefully and does not want to interfere with Turkiye’s economic stability and politics in these critical times.

“But this is the tip of iceberg. In the post-elections period, the US would require more stringent demands on Turkish companies to not trade with Russia, and that will definitely have an impact on Turkiye’s trade volume with Russia,” he said.

Russia is still one of Turkiye’s major partners, with trade rising last year when Turkiye was in desperate need of foreign exchange earnings because of the currency crisis.

Trade between Turkiye and Russia has increased since the Ukraine invasion despite Western sanctions, with hundreds of Russian companies having opened branches in Turkiye — a financial haven for Russians — to circumvent sanctions.

Trade volume between the two countries climbed to $68.2 billion last year, while in March, Turkiye’s exports to Russia increased by 285 percent to $1.1 billion.

Sinan Ulgen, director of the Istanbul think tank EDAM, thinks the recently announced US sanctions on these Turkish companies is an indication that the sanctions regime adopted by Washington can also have consequences for a NATO ally like Turkiye.

“But we have to essentially contextualize this measure. All Turkish exports to Russia will not be affected by this measure,” he told Arab News.

“The sanctioned entities have been found in violation of US sanctions for a range of critical technology products. This is indeed the area of concern of US policymakers given that these products are seen to be helping the Russian war effort,” he said.

But at the same time, Ulgen added, this measure demonstrates that there is indeed a concern about the re-export of some critical technology products.

“This is where pressure is likely to be also sustained also on Turkiye, but for this specific range of products,” he said.

According to Ulgen, so far there has been a modus vivendi between Turkish and US authorities on the implementation of sanctions.

“Turkiye has been quite cautious in not crossing some critical red lines set by the sanctions regime,” he said.

“For instance, in the past, when there were clear complaints about the Russian Mir payment system where the Turkish banking system accepted transactions based on Russian credit cards, Turkiye ultimately withdrew from this system,” he said.

“There is a good collaboration between Turkish and US authorities regarding the sanctions and this will continue,” Ulgen added.

Source: Arab News

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Iran Calls For Intl. Probe Into US-Funded Biological Laboratories In Ukraine

13 April 2023

The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry has called for an international investigation into reports of US-funded biological laboratories in Ukraine and elsewhere across the world.

“The published news about US military biological laboratories in Ukraine and some other countries of the world is deeply worrying. Such activities are in contradiction to the international obligations of the United States, especially the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and pose a threat to humanity," Nasser Kan’ani wrote in a post published on his Tweeter page on Thursday.

He added, “The matter requires an impartial international investigation.”

A Russian parliamentary commission investigating Washington's military-related biological activities at laboratories across Ukraine concluded on Wednesday that Washington is developing a "universal" genetically-altered bioweapon comparable to that of a "nuclear winter."

The commission added in its 207-page report that the probe into the manufacturing of the highly-damaging bioweapon was based on findings made public by Russia's Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops over the past year.

"The United States aims to develop a universal genetically engineered biological weapon capable of infecting not only people but animals as well as agricultural crops. Its use involves, among other things, the goal of inflicting large-scale and irreparable economic damage on the enemy," the commission said.

"The covert and targeted use of such a weapon in anticipation of a positive inevitable direct military confrontation could create a significant advantage for US forces over the adversary, even against those who possess other types of weapons of mass destruction," it said.

"The possession of such highly effective biological weapons creates, in the view of the US military, the real prerequisites to change the nature of contemporary armed conflicts," it added.

Soon after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, Russian Ambassador to the UN VassilyNebenzia stated that secret American labs in Ukraine had been engaged in biological warfare. The US and Ukraine, however, denied the charges.

In October last year, Russia asked the UN Security Council to establish a commission to investigate its claims that Washington and Kiev were violating the convention prohibiting the use of biological weapons as a result of alleged activities being carried out at biological laboratories in Ukraine.

‘West seeks to prolong Ukraine conflict’

Also on Thursday, Kan’ani categorically dismissed a recent report by Politico magazine that China and Russia are in advanced secret talks with Iran to replenish the Islamic Republic’s supply of a key chemical compound used to propel ballistic missiles.

Kan’ani told IRNA that such reports are aimed at prolongation of the Ukraine war.

Source: Press TV

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Tory peer fears backlash against British Muslims as result of UK home secretary’s ‘racist rhetoric’

April 13, 2023

LONDON: Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has expressed concern for the safety of her family, due to fears of a backlash against British Muslims following what she described as “racist rhetoric” from Home Secretary Suella Braverman, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

Warsi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants who was the first Muslim appointed to the UK Cabinet and the first Asian person to serve as chairperson of the Conservative Party, slammed Braverman for her race-based comments about child abuse grooming gangs.

The home secretary recently said groups of “vulnerable, white English girls” were being “pursued and raped and drugged and harmed by gangs of British Pakistani men who’ve worked in child abuse networks.”

On another occasion, Braverman said the main perpetrators of gang-based sexual exploitation were British-Pakistani men “who hold cultural values totally at odds with British values, who see women in a demeaned and illegitimate way and pursue an outdated and frankly heinous approach in terms of the way they behave.”

Warsi, who was appointed to the House of Lords by the Conservative Party in 2007, told The Guardian she had urged her father not to walk home alone from the mosque, amid her concerns about the potential consequences of Braverman’s comments.

“I’ve had to warn my son that if people start swearing and shouting, to just remove himself from the situation to avoid it escalating into an attack,” she added. “Why should I be having these conversations with my son?

“If you look at the interviews she did, she gave no caveats; Ms. Braverman basically said group sexual exploitation is a British Pakistani problem. At no point in those interviews did she say it was a small minority of British Pakistanis committing these crimes.

“Suella Braverman needs to understand that when she opens her mouth she’s speaking as a home secretary. She can’t use loose language. This kind of ‘shock jock’ language is becoming a pattern with her. It feels like she is more interested in the rhetoric and the noise of creating a culture war than the actual job.”

Warsi called on Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose family is of Punjabi descent, to discourage such race-based comments.

“I do not believe Sunak shares Braverman’s extreme views,” she told the Guardian. “In his own statement on government plans to tackle child sexual exploitation, he did not use the same language as Braverman and looked uncomfortable when questioned about it.

“But as head of the party, the responsibility stops with him. As the first prime minister from an ethnic minority background, he should not want to be remembered for presiding over a government that engaged in racist rhetoric.”

A Home Office spokesperson told the Guardian: “The home secretary has been clear that all despicable child abusers must be brought to justice. And she will not shy away from telling hard truths, particularly when it comes to the grooming of young women and girls in Britain’s towns, who have been failed by authorities over decades.

“As the home secretary has said, the vast majority of British Pakistanis are law-abiding, upstanding citizens but independent reports were unequivocal that in towns like Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford, cultural sensitivities have meant thousands of young girls were abused under the noses of councils and police.

Source: Arab News

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Ex-Conservative leader joins calls for UK government to help former Afghan personnel

April 13, 2023

LONDON: A former leader of the governing Conservative Party has joined a campaign urging UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to do more to help former Afghan servicemen seeking refuge in Britain.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith said there needs to be greater “flexibility” in letting people apply for the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy, following news that a former Afghan Air Force pilot, described as a “patriot” by coalition colleagues, had been threatened with deportation to Rwanda for entering the UK illegally.

He added that the UK has a “moral obligation” to people who had served alongside British forces in Afghanistan, including the pilot, who claims to have been “forgotten” by the West.

The pilot, whose identity has been kept secret to protect him and his family, has written to Sunak asking for assistance.

Last week, Sunak told MPs that he would “make sure the Home Office has a look” at the case.

“With all schemes there needs to be flexibility,” Sir Iain told The Independent, the newspaper running the campaign. “It’s smart always to be flexible on these things. We have established a safe route with the (ARAP) Afghan scheme, so it shouldn’t take too much to move him across to the scheme.

“If there is evidence he (the pilot) is what he claims to be, then I assume the government can look at it under the existing safe routes, and act accordingly.”

ARAP has come under intense scrutiny since the pilot’s case emerged, with criticism that its criteria are too strict to allow people who did not work directly for the UK government to use it.

Just 3,399 applications to seek refuge in the UK by Afghans have been deemed eligible under the scheme, with 18,946 people rejected.

Several politicians with military backgrounds have spoken in favor of making it easier for former Afghan military personnel to travel to the UK.

Labour MP Clive Lewis, who served with the British Army in Afghanistan, said the pilot’s potential deportation is “overwhelming(ly) wrong because it’s someone who has risked their life alongside British forces, and then gets thrown to the wolves.”

He added: “The very narrow parameters of the Afghan resettlement scheme highlights that the government’s rhetoric doesn’t match up with reality.

“There are thousands of others fleeing persecution who still deserve to be given refuge in this country.”

Tobias Ellwood MP, an army reservist and the chair of the House of Commons Defense Select Committee, warned that there is “no functioning process that allows Afghans to apply for asylum from abroad.”

Conservative MP Julian Lewis, former chair of the committee and a former naval reservist, told The Independent that “special consideration should also be given to genuine former military personnel who were our allies in the fight against Islamist extremists.”

Source: Arab News

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Bosnia and Herzegovina counts on Spain's support for its EU bid: Minister




Bosnia and Herzegovina believes in Spain's support as the country strives to become a member of the European Union, Bosnia’s foreign minister said Thursday.

ElmedinKonakovic's remarks came after a meeting with his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares in the capital Sarajevo.

The relationship between the two countries is at a "good level," Konakovic told a press briefing, adding he hopes to increase the amount of talks they have with Albares.

Albares for his part said that Spain attaches importance to the Western Balkan region as well as to the EU membership of its countries, noting that both items are among his nation’s "priorities."

He added that he also discussed Russia's war on Ukraine with Konakovic and reiterated that his country will continue to support Kyiv.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was the Spanish foreign minister's second stop after Serbia, which he visited Wednesday.

"I will convey Spain's renewed interest in the region. We will address its European accession and its relationship with the EU during the Spanish presidency. We will strengthen the friendship between Spain and the Western Balkans," he said as he began his visit to Serbia.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Azerbaijan, Bosnia hail 'new era' in bilateral relations

Talha Ozturk 



Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev on Thursday said that a new era has begun in relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Aliyev's remarks came during his first-ever official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina after a series of meetings in the capital Sarajevo.

Speaking at the press conference, Aliyev thanked Bosnia and Herzegovina for support during Azarbeijan's operation to liberate Karabakh territory from Armenia.

"We are grateful to you for this friendship and brotherhood. Today, a new era begins in our relations. We will strengthen the relations in the economic field. There will be activities between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Azerbaijan in the strategic field," said Aliyev.

In the fall of 2020, during 44 days of heavy fighting, Azerbaijan liberated a significant part of Karabakh, and a Russian-brokered peace agreement was subsequently signed, which was considered a triumph in Baku.

Aliyev was welcomed with an official ceremony by the Croat, Bosniak, and Serb members of the tri-partite Presidential Council.

Aliyev said that they agreed to cooperate in the field of energy and infrastructure.

"We have invested a lot in infrastructure projects in many countries. It is important for us to connect the Caucasus and the Balkans. I believe we will take concrete steps in this direction. We also talked about deepening intercultural dialogue. We can do good work in this field because there are differences in the ethnic structure of the two countries. Baku and Sarajevo, they were sister cities in the times of Yugoslavia and the USSR. I am sure that our friendship will increase even more after this meeting," said Aliyev.

Zeljka Cvijanovic, chairman of the Presidential Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, described the visit as historic for the beginning of a new era.

"Let's call it a new era," said Cvijanovic.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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EU will not open detention centers for irregular migrants in Bosnia: Envoy

Talha Ozturk 


The European Union will not set up a detention center for immigrants in the city of Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the country is facing the most pressure from irregular migration, said the EU ambassador to the country on Thursday.

There is no question of opening a detention center for immigrants in the Lipa Migrant Camp near Bihac, Johann Sattler said after meeting with Mustafa Ruznic, prime minister of the Una-Sana Canton.

He added that there will be a small shelter “for 12 people, where people with problems can stay for up to 3 days. These people will then be sent to Lukavica, near (the capital) Sarajevo.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Italy, Tunisia agree to counter irregular migration in Mediterranean

Ahmet Gencturk


Italy and Tunisia agreed to counter the flow of irregular migration in the Mediterranean, which led Italy to declare a state of emergency earlier this week, local media reported on Thursday.

Rome and Tunis consider the fight against human smuggling to be fundamental, said Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani during a joint press conference with his visiting Tunisian counterpart Nabil Ammar, according to the public broadcaster RAI.

He said there are already cooperation agreements between the two countries, and these will be seriously implemented to address the growing problem.

Tajani, moreover, revealed that Italy favors more aid to Tunisia for the reforms the country will implement and will help it secure funds from IMF.

He also claimed that it is not the business of others to decide who would govern Tunisia.

“We are not colonizers," Tajani said.

Ammar, for his part, said: “Tunisia is willing to strengthen cooperation with all partners to combat human trafficking and to protect migrants. We are ready to do everything possible.”

He, however, stressed that medium- and long-term solutions are of economics.

“We need to rehabilitate our economy and are counting on Italy, an EU member,” Ammar said.

Italy declared a six-month state of emergency Tuesday to help it deal with a surge in the number of migrants arriving in the country via the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent weeks, Italy has seen a significant rise in the number of migrants and refugees arriving on its southern shores from North Africa, with over 3,000 coming in the last three days alone.

Frontex on Thursday remarked that the Central Mediterranean route became the most active illegal crossing route to the EU, with some 28,000 crossing in the first quarter of the year.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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