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Islamic World News ( 15 Sept 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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'UPSC Jihad': Constitutional Conduct Group Move SC Over Sudarshan News Show, Urge Order on Scope of Hate Speech

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 September 2020


• Iranian Academics Ask European Counterparts to Reveal Institutionalized Distortion of Realities in West

• US Blocks Chinese Products from Uighur ‘Forced Labour’

• Christian Council of Sweden Condemns Quran Burning, Calling It ‘Barbaric’

• UAE, Bahrain Eye Manifold Benefits from Israel Ties Normalization

• Acting Minister of Interior Denies Forming Militia under ‘Security Charter’ in Afghanistan

• Moroccan Police: IS Cell Dismantled, Was Plotting Attacks

• Defense Secretary Esper: Since Sept. 11 Attacks, Our Heroic Military Has Successfully Fought Terrorism



• 'UPSC Jihad': Constitutional Conduct Group Move SC Over Sudarshan News Show, Urge Order on Scope of Hate Speech

• Assam Govt Replaces 7 Muslim Foreigners' Tribunal Pleaders with Hindus in Border District

• Uttar Pradesh: Kanpur Police Form SIT to Probe 'Love Jihad' Cases

• Amid Taliban Talks, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reaches Delhi

• Pakistan truce violations in 9 months highest in 17 years

• Kanpur police forms SIT to probe 'love jihad' cases

• Bengal BJP Sets Target of Inducting 20-Lakh Muslims By December 2020

• Encounter underway between security forces, terrorists in J-K’s Pulwama



• Iranian Academics Ask European Counterparts to Reveal Institutionalized Distortion of Realities in West

• Armed Resistance Sole Way to Liberate Palestine: Hezbollah Official

• Judiciary Strongly Blasts European Embassies’ Interference in Iran’s Internal Affairs

• 17 Bahraini Political Streams, Associations Oppose Normalization of Ties with Israel

• Israeli handed three life sentences for killing Palestinian family

• Turkish Red Crescent aid member killed in an attack in northern Syria


Southeast Asia

• US Blocks Chinese Products from Uighur ‘Forced Labour’

• Teachers’ Union Rejects Claims Public Schools ‘Too Islamic’ In Malaysia

• I’m not a terrorist, says Warisan candidate

• Muslims In the South in Peace Talks Urge Fridays Be Made Holidays



• Christian Council of Sweden Condemns Quran Burning, Calling It ‘Barbaric’

• Muftiyat Of Kyrgyzstan To Open Hotline for Consultations on Sharia Rules

• UN begins annual meetings with Kashmir on agenda

• Turkish protesters slam French magazine’s reprinting of offensive Prophet Muhammad cartoons


Arab world

• UAE, Bahrain Eye Manifold Benefits from Israel Ties Normalization

• UAE-Israel accord creates ‘new environment’ for Mideast peace: Official

• Hezbollah’s links with Irish terror group exposed

• Coalition strikes ISIS hideout in rural Kirkuk amid fresh attacks

• Suspected Israeli strikes kill 10 Iran-backed fighters in Syria: Monitor

• Four soldiers, one militant killed in Lebanon army raid: Military source

• Two more US convoys targeted by roadside bombs in Iraq

• Lebanese army kills terror cell ‘ringleader’ in raid that left 4 soldiers dead


South Asia

• Acting Minister of Interior Denies Forming Militia under ‘Security Charter’ in Afghanistan

• China Military: Years of Evidence Proves US Biggest Threat to World Order, Peace

• Afghan refugees hope peace talks will finally take them ‘home’

• Kabul presses ceasefire demand in Taliban talks

• Turkey hails Bangladesh for hosting Rohingya refugees

• Rohingya resettlement on ‘floating island’ risks repatriation: Experts

• Dispute on Terms Delay Intra-Afghan Talks



• Moroccan Police: IS Cell Dismantled, Was Plotting Attacks

• Somali army says kills 12 Al-Shabaab members in Lower Shabelle region

• Boat capsizes near Libya, 2 dozen migrants presumed dead

• Tunisia renews engagement with Libya, appointing envoy

• Armed men attack Nigerian village, kidnap 21


North America

• Defense Secretary Esper: Since Sept. 11 Attacks, Our Heroic Military Has Successfully Fought Terrorism

• US spy detained in Venezuela charged with terrorism, arms trafficking

• Trump vows ‘1,000 times greater’ response to any Iran attack

• US eager to see Gulf dispute end, Qatar blockade lifted

• Wolf says 'lone, homegrown' terror threat is top DHS focus 19 years after 9/11



• Zalmay Khalilzad In Islamabad To Discuss Irritants in Afghan Peace Talks

• Islamic finance important to end economic exploitation: president

• Pakistan’s efforts made Afghan talks possible, says Bajwa

• NA extends Jadhav-related ordinance for four months

• No compromise on independence of judiciary: CJP

• FO summons Indian envoy over 'mysterious' deaths of 11 Pakistani Hindus in Jodhpur

• New entrants cause rifts in Karak JUI-F

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 'UPSC Jihad': Constitutional Conduct Group Move SC Over Sudarshan News Show, Urge Order on Scope of Hate Speech

September 15, 2020


Supreme Court of India. PTI


New Delhi: Seven former civil servants have moved the Supreme Court to become parties to a pending plea seeking stay of telecast of Sudarshan TV's 'Bindas Bol' programme on the alleged “infiltration" of Muslims into the bureaucracy.

The Delhi High Court, on 11 September, had declined to stay the telecast of the series of programmes, whose promo had claimed that the channel would show the "big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service".

The former civil servants including Amitabha Pande and Navrekha Sharma have made an informal collective "Constitutional Conduct Group" and have filed the plea seeking to intervene in the pending petition of lawyer Firoz Iqbal Khan.

They said that the apex court should lay down an authoritative pronouncement on "hate speech" in view of the fact that it had expressed an intention to consider the balance between free speech and other constitutional values in the instant case.

The scope and meaning of hate speech should be decided so that the citizens, law enforcement authorities, and the courts have clarity on speech which is protected and the speech which falls outside such protection.

"There is no bright line between hate speech and offensive speech. Each case requires the application of judicial mind," it said.

Earlier, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph had said it has to first circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views.

"At this stage, we have desisted from imposing a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction on the basis of an unverified transcript of a forty-nine seconds clip. The Court has to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views. We note that under statutory provisions, competent authorities are vested with powers to ensure compliance with law, including provisions of the criminal law intended to ensure social harmony and the peaceful coexistence of all communities," the bench had said.

The apex court had issued notices to the Centre, Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and Sudarshan News on a plea filed by advocate Firoz Iqbal Khan against the programme.

The top court, which has posted hearing on 15 September, had said that it will consider appointing amicus curiae to assist it towards a resolution which advances the protection of constitutional rights.

The Delhi High Court is hearing a separate plea filed by former and present students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University challenging the nod given by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to Sudarshan News and its Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke to air the show.

The High Court has also issued notices to the Centre and others on the petition.

The High Court on 28 August had stayed the telecast of the programme which was scheduled the same evening.

On 29 August, it had disposed of the plea with a direction to the ministry to take a decision on the prohibition of the proposed Show pursuant to its August 28 show-cause notice.

Later, the government and the High Court allowed the telecast.


Iranian Academics Ask European Counterparts to Reveal Institutionalized Distortion of Realities in West

Sep 14, 2020


Hundreds of Iranian university professors in a letter to their European counterparts condemned the sacrilege of Islamic sanctities in the West as cultural terrorism


Your colleagues in Iran expect you not to leave reality alone and defenseless on the battlefield of fight against cultural terrorism and institutionalized distortion by the western governments, specially the Americans and the Zionists, said the letter signed by over 700 Iranian university professors and academics on Monday.

“We regret that we are again witnessing the repetition of cultural terrorism of a French magazine against the character of popular Islam's Prophet (PBUH) after 5 years,” it added.

The Iranian university professors called on their European counterparts to inform the western societies of their governments’ policies to implement the plots of capitalists in the world.

Supporters of right-wing Danish politician Rasmus Paludan, who leads the anti-Islamic group, Tight Direction (Stram Kurs), burned a copy of Holy Qur’an in the Southern Swedish city of Malmo during an illegal gathering on August 28.

Also, on September 1, the ill-reputed French Magazine Charlie Hebdo also republished blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet of Islam on the eve of the trial of suspects in a deadly attack on the paper’s office five years ago.

People across the world and different cities of Iran have held rallies to protest at the recent insulting moves against Islam Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the holy Quran in the European states, condemning French President Emanuel Macron for his support for the blasphemous acts.

A host of Iranian officials have also condemned the sacrilegious move.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qaibaf condemned Charlie Hebdo’s blasphemous act, and said that the Muslims of the world would unanimously deplore this "unforgivable and vile sin".

Qalibaf referred to the blasphemous move taken by Charlie Hebdo in insulting Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and wrote on his Instagram account that "the insult to the Prophet of Goodness once again showed the deep-rooted enmity of the arrogant criminals against the message of love and affection of the Messenger of God all over the world."

He reiterated that the Muslims of the world will unanimously condemn this unforgivable and vile sin.


US Blocks Chinese Products from Uighur ‘Forced Labour’

September 15, 2020


 WASHINGTON: The US announced Monday it would block a range of Chinese products made by “forced labour” in the Xinjiang region, including from a “vocational” centre that it branded a “concentration camp” for Uighur minorities.

“The Chinese government is engaged in systematic abuses against the Uighur people” and other minorities, said Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection agency.

“Forced labour is an atrocious human rights abuse,” he said.

The items include cotton, garments, hair products and electronics from five specific manufacturers in Xinjiang as well as adjacent Anhui.

It also included all products tied to the Lop County No 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Centre in Xinjiang, which Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said was a centre of forced labour.

“This is not a vocational centre, it is a concentration camp, a place where religious and ethnic minorities are subject to abuse and forced to work in heinous conditions with no recourse and no freedom,” Cuccinelli told reporters.

“This is modern day slavery.”

The actions announced consisted of “withhold release orders” or WROs, which empower the CBP to seize products from the blacklisted companies and organisations.

The US government is increasingly using such orders to pressure Beijing over its detention of more than one million members of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang for ostensible reeducation.

Calling attention to abuses

In July, the customs agency placed WRO blocks on hair products, used for wigs and extensions, from several companies operating in Xinjiang, and in August did the same for garments made and sold by the Hero Vast Group.

“The Chinese government needs to close its concentration camps,” said Cuccinelli.

The move came as rights groups and members of US Congress press the administration of President Donald Trump to take more resolute action over alleged Chinese repression of Muslims in the country’s vast west.

In July the US Treasury imposed sanctions on a major paramilitary group, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, accusing it of abuses against Uighurs and other mostly Muslim groups.

It also hit several officials with sanctions, including Chen Quanguo, the Chinese Communist Party chief for the Xinjiang region and architect of Beijing’s hardline policies against restive minorities.

“The Trump Administration has led the world in calling attention to the Chinese Communist Party’s egregious human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and we’ve taken action to back up our rhetoric,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.

CBP officials said they are currently studying a measure to place a block on all cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang.

In August the Investor Alliance for Human Rights called for a ban on all cotton-made goods linked to Xinjiang, which supplies the lion’s share of China’s cotton.


Christian Council of Sweden Condemns Quran Burning, Calling It ‘Barbaric’

Atila Altuntas  


The Christian Council of Sweden on Sunday condemned the burning of the holy Quran in Sweden in recent weeks.

Ten prominent Christian reverends of the Scandinavian country, including the Archbishop of the Swedish Protestant Church Antje Jackele, released a statement against the anti-Muslim acts.

The archbishop, together with other church leaders, strongly dissociated herself from "conscious violations of people's faith."

The group said that the actions by a Danish far-right racist group, were "barbaric."

Such attacks increase polarization between people "at a time when our country needs to gather around everyone's dignity and rights," it added.

The anti-immigration Hard Line (Stram Kurs) party on Thursday burned a copy of the Muslim holy book in Rinkeby, a pre-dominantly Muslim neighborhood of Stockholm.

It came days after a similar act in the southern Sweden city of Malmo.

The ensuing violence left several police officers injured, and at least 10 people were arrested.

Police also banned group leader Rasmus Paludan from entering Sweden for two years.

Even the International Union for Muslim Scholars, a Doha-based group, has condemned the violent acts.

Turkey and Pakistan also slammed the right-wing extremists in Sweden for their Islamophobic actions.


Acting Minister of Interior Denies Forming Militia under ‘Security Charter’ in Afghanistan

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

15 Sep 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Acting Minister of Interior Masoud Andarabi denied forming militia under “Security Charter”, after being summoned by the Parliament on Monday to respond to the allegation. 

Early July, Afghan government introduced the “Security Charter” in a bid to further strengthen its security measures throughout the country, while sources suggested the authorities are mobilizing “people in the fight against crime” by arming thousands of people in rural areas under the charter.

During the Parliament session, a number of MPs claimed the government has distributed weapons under the security charter plan to individuals who are suspected of crimes.

“All those who receive the guns are those who are suspected,” said the Second Deputy Speaker of the House Abbas Ibrahimzada, as quoted by TOLOnews.

“Those who hide their guns… are now being supported by the government,” said another MP Khan Mohammad Wardak.

Defending the allegation, the Acting Head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Ahmad Zia Saraj said people as part of the Uprising Forces are helping the government in their fight with insurgents; there is no “plot” in shaping them into militias.

“We have ‘irregular’ armed men in all provinces; therefore, we are trying to drive some of them to the right direction in order to keep them from going in the wrong direction,” he said as reported.

Meanwhile, Andarabi denied the allegation, saying “no one has been given weapons under the security charter plan.”

The speaker of the House of Representatives Mir Rahman Rahmani, in response to the government’s draft on security charter, said Monday it promotes and reinforces “militarization”, disregarding security bodies in the country.

In a plenary session of the parliament, Rahmani said the government should stop making unilateral decisions, which potentially affects relations between the executive and the legislature bodies of the government.

“The recent proposed security charter by the government has raised a number of serious concerns amongst the people and politicians, as it casts and reinforces militarization,” he said. “This is while the people of Afghanistan do not have happy memories of militarization.”

“Those who voluntarily work to apply security charter have discredited security institutions; and the government needs to strengthen these institutions, not those volunteers whose identities are still unknown and has worried our honorable people,” he added.

Rahmani’s remarks came months after the government introduced a new security plan called the “Security Charter” to eradicate criminal offenses, prevent terrorist attacks and mobilize people to provide security in their areas.

Although security officials assess the plan functional, it caused a mixed of reaction among some, considering the “Security Charter Plan” not as effective as it should be to address crimes in the country – mainly the Afghan capital Kabul.


Moroccan police: IS cell dismantled, was plotting attacks

11 September 2020

RABAT, Morocco -- Moroccan authorities say police arrested five people suspected of plotting suicide bombings and being part of an extremist network linked to the Islamic State group.

One suspect set off an explosive as police moved in during coordinated raids in four cities, and one officer was injured when another suspect attacked him, according to a statement Thursday from the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations cited by the state news agency MAP.

Authorities seized explosive belts, detonators, pressure-cookers loaded with nails, ammonium nitrate and other chemicals suspected of being used for explosives, and IS paraphernalia, the statement said. The police operations were carried out in Tangiers, Tiflet, Temara and Skhirat.

The statement said the suspects were in the “advanced stages” of plotting suicide bombings against unidentified sensitive targets.

More than 1,000 Moroccans are believed to have joined IS between 2013 and 2017 as it seized territory across Syria and Iraq. Moroccan authorities carry out periodic sweeps of terrorism suspects.


Defense Secretary Esper: Since Sept. 11 attacks, our heroic military has successfully fought terrorism

September 13, 2020

Exactly 19 years ago, Al Qaeda launched a vicious attack on our homeland by using four hijacked airlines as tools to murder nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children at New York City’s World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and on a quiet field near Shanksville, Pa.

No one could have fathomed on that bright and clear September morning just how much the world would change in the wake of the darkest and most vicious terrorist attack in our nation’s history. It was an evil assault on our citizens, our institutions, and on our fundamental ideals themselves — freedom, human rights and respect for the American way of life.

In their attempt to break the spirit of our people and fracture the foundation of our republic, the terrorists underestimated Americans’ resilience, resolve and determination to fight for our values. Almost two decades after that fateful day, we have dealt devastating blows to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world by eliminating key leaders, cutting off resources, and crippling their attempts to orchestrate future attacks.

In doing these things, we not only protect our nation’s people and everything they represent, but also continue to honor the rarified valor that emerged out of the devastation on Sept. 11, 2001. That day, the very best of America triumphed over the worst of atrocities, as Americans from every class, race, and creed united against evil with an outpouring of courage, compassion and sacrifice.

We will never forget the first responders, volunteers, colleagues and neighbors who ran directly into the fire and chaos without hesitation, risking their own lives to save complete strangers.

At the Pentagon, we commemorate the countless acts of heroism that prevented the human toll from becoming much worse, including the brave personnel who rolled in pools of standing water to protect themselves from intense fire and heat as they rushed back into the burning rubble and smoldering wreckage to help their colleagues.

Behind the scenes, engineers, mechanics and hundreds of others jumped into action, making sure the Department of Defense continued to operate and conduct vital national security missions at home and abroad. These efforts, among so many others, demonstrated to the world — especially our enemies — the unbreakable spirit of the American people.

In the months and years that followed, millions of Americans from all 50 states, territories and every walk of life stepped up, joining the U.S. military to hold the perpetrators accountable and prevent such an attack from ever happening again.

The men and women of our armed forces have been extraordinarily effective in the defense of the homeland. They’ve denied safe haven to terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, brought terrorist leaders to justice wherever they hide, destroyed ISIS’ physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and prevented violent extremists from gaining a foothold in Africa that they could use to attack our nation.

Now the U.S. and our growing coalition of allies and partners strike fear into those who would do us harm through a powerful network capable of targeting and defeating violent extremists anywhere, anytime.

We cannot forget that America’s safety over the past two decades has come at a great cost. Thousands of brave military service members — all committed to their solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution — have been killed in action, with many more bearing the scars of war, both visible and invisible.

President Trump understands the tremendous cost of overseas conflicts, and is committed to supporting those who put on the uniform every day and answer the call to serve.

We recognize all those who answered that call in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and honor the legacy of the men and women who laid down their lives to defeat the enemies of justice and freedom and secure the blessings of liberty.

Those who lived through Sept. 11, 2001, will always remember exactly where we were, who we were with, and what we were doing the moment the airliners struck the World Trade Center.

Every Sept. 11 we reaffirm a solemn vow to the victims and their loved ones that we will never forget their loss, and to do everything in our power to deter and defeat our every enemy.

And as we step closer to peace in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, space professionals, and Coast Guardsmen continue to stand ready to confront terrorists anywhere in the world, while America shines brighter than ever before as a beacon of hope, opportunity and liberty across the globe.





Assam Govt Replaces 7 Muslim Foreigners' Tribunal Pleaders With Hindus in Border District

Gaurav Das

September 15, 2020

Guwahati: Exactly a year ago, Assam finance minister and influential state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, while addressing local media, had expressed concern about the exclusion rate of people from the districts bordering Bangladesh in the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The rate was 6-7% for the districts. For those dwelling in the autonomous districts, it was 16%.

The minister essentially revealed that the ruling BJP and its government suspected possible irregularities in the NRC exercise, in the border districts.

Both the state government and the BJP had last year also wanted re-verification of 20% of the updated NRC figures in the border districts of Dhubri, Karimganj, South Salmara and Hailakandi. They had also asked for 10% re-verification in the other parts of Assam.

An affidavit was placed before the Supreme Court bench hearing the NRC case. The apex court had rejected the plea after then NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela said that 27% re-verification had already been done.

Cut to September 2020, seven assistant government pleaders (AGPs) – all with Muslim names and working at Dhubri, a border district – and associated with the local Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs), had their services terminated on September 8.

Also read: Explainer: What Do the MHA’s Changes to 1964 Foreigners Tribunals Order Mean?

Assistant government pleaders conduct cases on behalf of the government in the Foreigners’ Tribunals.

Most of these government pleaders belonging to the Muslim community have been replaced by people from the Bengali Hindu community. As per media reports, a large number of Bengali Hindus, considered a distinct vote bank of the BJP, have found themselves in the excluded list of over 19 lakh people after the final NRC was updated last year.

Some examples of the notice issued by the state government read:

“The Orders by the Governor Notification dated September 8 in the interest of public services, the services of Aminul Islam AGP, FT 1st Dhubri are hereby terminated with immediate effect. Rituparna Guha is appointed as Assistant General Pleader, FT 1st Dhubri vice Aminul Islam terminated.”

The format continued:

“Kamal Hussain, AGP, Dhubri FT 2nd terminated and Gokul Chandra Karmakar appointed. Nasir Ali Mondol, AGP,  FT 4th  Dhubri and Adhir Chandra Roy appointed. Rabial Hoque Mondol, AGP, FT 5th  Dhubri terminated and Aninda Paul appointed. Aftab Uddin, AGP, FT 8th, Dhubri terminated and Aninda Paul appointed. Aftab Uddin, AGP, FT 8th, Dhubri terminated and Shankar Prasad Chakraborty appointed.”

Only two newly appointed AGP in the FTs of that district are from other Hindu communities. As per the 2011 Census, Muslims are the largest religious group in the district and comprise 79.67% of the population, followed by Hindus at 19.92%.

According to a source in Dhubri, some of the terminated FT pleaders are now in consultation with respective legal counsel and may contemplate challenging the state government’s order in court.

Dhubri district had 10 FTs. Aside from the replacements, one such quasi-judicial body (FT 6th Dhubri) had a vacancy of a pleader and as per the September 8 notification, Sujit Kumar Saha had been appointed as an AGP. 

The Wire reached out to one AGP whose services were terminated. He preferred to be anonymous and said, “The government did it without prior information to us, no prior notice was served to us about it. The termination of our services should have gone through a proper channel adhering to the law and bureaucratic mechanisms. I feel incredibly sad and disappointed and I still fail to comprehend the reason behind it. I have been providing my services since March of 2016 and we were even given advance training by the government in 2017. In 2019, we were given training again on how to conduct cases in an FT court.”

He said, “Some of us have begun consulting advocates on the termination order and whatever action we may take will be based on legal counsel’s suggestions. If our case is valid and strong, we may even move court. We have not decided yet.”

On being contacted by The Wire, Guwahati-based lawyer Aman Wadud who had posted the state government’s notification on his Twitter handle, said, “Foreigners’ Tribunals decide the most important right in the constitution – the right to one’s citizenship, which is often called the right to have other rights. FTs often fail to meet the fair trial standard; this attitude of the government (to segregate lawyers as per religion) makes it very apparent that they don’t care about a fair trial.”

Masood Zaman, a lawyer from Dhubri district, called the move a “Sanghi-isation of the FT courts”.

“It is very disappointing that most of the AGPs have been replaced so abruptly and that too without any prior information dispensed to them. This is an attempt to paint the FT’s in a different colour. I feel quite sad as these seven AGPs have been serving for a few years,” he said.

Congress MLA and Opposition leader in the state assembly, Debabrata Saikia, told this correspondent, “This is quite unfortunate. The pleaders whose services were terminated should approach the Minority Commission. Rules must be followed according to our Constitutional values and everything should be based on these principles. The termination of services shouldn’t have happened.”


Uttar Pradesh: Kanpur police form SIT to probe 'love jihad' cases

Sep 14, 2020

KANPUR: An eight-member SIT formed by the Kanpur police is looking into allegations of forced conversion on the pretext of marriage and has come across over a dozen such cases, an official said.

The SIT was formed about a fortnight ago after some members of Hindu organisations met Kanpur IG Mohit Agarwal, alleging "love jihad" incidents.

The issue had surfaced after a Kanpur woman, Shalini Yadav, married a Muslim man recently. The couple, however, approached a Delhi court, denying allegations of forced conversion.

According to the official, the special investigation team (SIT) will investigate the alleged role of Islamic organisations in it.

The SIT led by Deepak Bhuker, superintendent of police, Kanpur (South), has been told to look into any fixed pattern or modus operandi behind the alleged incidents, the official said.

The SIT, which has till now come across at least a dozen such cases, mostly from the Juhi area in Kanpur, has decided to investigate if any Islamic organisation has a role in funding the "love jihad' racket in Kanpur, the official said.

There is a strong possibility that some Islamic outfits may be providing financial assistance to a handful of organisations involved in such anti-national acts, the official claimed.

Meanwhile, SP Deepak Bhuker said the help of a special SWAT team has been sought for surveillance, he added.

The SIT has contacted local police stations and sought details of all alleged "love jihad" cases reported in the past two years, he said.

Bhuker said the probe team has been extracting records related to a dozen phone numbers to establish links.

They have been gathering information about such couples, their bank accounts and recording statements of their family members, Bhuker said, adding that phone numbers of their aides have also been extracted.

Bhuker, however, said in the case involving Shalini Yadav, the couple had approached the Delhi high court and later appeared before a magistrate at the Tees Hazari court there, denying the allegations.

He said the woman had said that she was a major and married a man of her choice.

Since the woman is a major and there is nothing for police to do, a closure report will be sent to the court soon, the SP said.

Police are looking into the conspiracy angle to ascertain if youths involved in this are being funded from abroad, the SP said.

Police are also trying to find out if the youth in any case hid their identity, the SP said.

Recently, the Kanpur police had arrested two people-- Mohsin Khan and Aamir--in an alleged 'love jihad' case, said another senior official.

Mohsin Khan allegedly befriended a girl, posing as Sameer and then married her, the senior official added.

His friend Aamir became befriended a younger sister of Mohsin's wife but the girl realised their plan and stopped meeting him. She was then allegedly threatened with dire consequences if she did not marry Aamir.

Another case was reported from the Naubasta area where Fateh Khan possessed two Aadhaar cards, one of these in the name of Aryan Malhotra, said Kanpur's Govind Nagar circle officer Vikas Pandey.

The Hindu family in whose house he had rented a room for two years had later accused him of abusing their minor daughter.

Upon investigation, it was found that he had two identity cards, one of which was fake.

His real name was Fateh Khan and he is a resident of Bijnor. He was sent to jail on charges of rape, Pandey added.


Amid Taliban talks, US special representative for Afghanistan reaches Delhi

Sep 15, 202

NEW DELHI: As the formal intra-Afghan negotiations, Taliban's first ever direct talks with the Kabul government, commenced in Doha Monday, US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in India to hold discussions on the peace process which is crucial for the US plans for withdrawal from the war-ravaged country by 2021.

India had on Saturday participated in the inauguration of the dialogue with foreign ministers S Jaishankar addressing the gathering virtually and MEA joint secretary J P Singh, who handles Afghanistan, travelling to Doha to physically attend the event. Despite its reservations about the US' direct engagement of the Taliban, bypassing the elected government in Kabul, India had attended the US-Taliban peace deal in February this year too.

Khalilzad will call on Jaishankar Tuesday and also hold discussions with foreign secretary Harsh Shringla on recent developments in Afghanistan.

The US envoy arrived in India from Pakistan where he had a meeting with Pakistan army chief Qamar Bajwa. According to Pakistan, Khalilzad "greatly" appreciated Pakistan’s role in the ongoing peace process and said that it could not have succeeded without Pakistan’s "sincere and unconditional support".

While India, with its $ 3 billion development assistance commitment to Afghanistan, has been supportive of the peace talks in Doha, it remains concerned about Pakistan's links with the Taliban. Some of these concerns will be outlined before Khalilzad in the meetings Tuesday. In his address Saturday, Jaishankar had said India's expectation was that the Afghan soil will not be used for any anti-India activity.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted as saying in an interview on Monday that the US had two main objectives from the peace talks. "One is to get our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines — get everybody home. Stop getting people killed there...and the other is to protect the homeland. I think we’re, today, on our way to putting America in a place where we can do both of those things,” Pompeo told Breitbart News.


Pakistan truce violations in 9 months highest in 17 years

Sep 15, 2020

NEW DELHI: In yet another indicator of the collusive military threat along Indian borders, Pakistan has hugely cranked up cross-border artillery and mortar barrages as well as small arms firings in Jammu and Kashmir this year, amid the ongoing troop confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh.

Ceasefire violations (CFVs) by Pakistan across the 778-km-long Line of Control (LoC) in just the first nine months of this year have already beaten all annual records for the last 17 years.


Latest figures tabled in Parliament on Monday showed India recorded 3,186 CFVs along the LoC from January 1 to September 7. Another 242 incidents of ‘cross-border firing’ took place along the 198-km international border in J&K, which is largely manned by the BSF, in the January-August timeframe. As per Army records, the total CFVs along the LoC stood at 971 in 2017 and 1,629 in 2018. The number jumped to 3,168 in 2019, with major spikes being registered first after the Balakot air strikes and then the nullification of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K.

This year, the CFVs have averaged around 350-400 every month, with Pakistan keeping up the momentum ever since India’s military confrontation with China erupted after People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers intruded deep into eastern Ladakh at multiple locations in early May.

“Pakistan is obviously supporting its ‘iron brother’ China. It also wants to push as many terrorists and arms as possible into J&K before the mountain passes get blocked with snow. Our troops respond effectively to each and every CFV by Pakistan with targeted strikes,” a senior Army officer said.

The two-front challenge, with nuclear-armed neighbours, has become a grim reality for India. But though the Army’s attention is currently focused on the military confrontation with China, with as many as 50,000 soldiers each as well as tanks, howitzers and other weapon systems amassed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, it has not diluted its operational readiness along the LoC with Pakistan.

The clearly-demarcated LoC has been volatile for decades, with Indian troops permanently deployed in posts, bunkers and camps all along its length as well as in the hinterland for counter-terrorist operations.

But now, India will also have to cater for an ‘active’ LAC, which stretches 3,488-km from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. “If China wants to turn the LAC into something like the LoC, with stepped-up permanent troop deployments and posts, we are ready. Yes, it will be tough and expensive. But our troops are used to the harsh climate and terrain, unlike the PLA,” another officer said.

Apart from the LoC, Indian soldiers have also been deployed on virtually all the dominating heights in the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region since April 1984, when they pre-empted a similar move by Pakistani troops by launching ‘Operation Meghdoot’ in what is the world’s highest and coldest battlefield.


Kanpur police forms SIT to probe 'love jihad' cases

14th September 2020

KANPUR: An eight-member SIT formed by the Kanpur police is looking into allegations of forced conversion on the pretext of marriage and has come across over a dozen such cases, an official said.

The SIT was formed about a fortnight ago after some members of Hindu organisations met Kanpur IG Mohit Agarwal, alleging "love jihad" incidents.

The issue had surfaced after a Kanpur woman, Shalini Yadav, married a Muslim man recently.

The couple, however, approached a Delhi court, denying allegations of forced conversion.

According to the official, the special investigation team (SIT) will investigate the alleged role of Islamic organisations in it.

The SIT led by Deepak Bhuker, Superintendent of Police, Kanpur (South), has been told to look into any fixed pattern or modus operandi behind the alleged incidents, the official said.

The SIT, which has till now come across at least a dozen such cases, mostly from the Juhi area in Kanpur, has decided to investigate if any Islamic organisation has a role in funding the "love jihad' racket in Kanpur, the official said.

There is a strong possibility that some Islamic outfits may be providing financial assistance to a handful of organisations involved in such anti-national acts, the official claimed.

Meanwhile, SP Deepak Bhuker said the help of a special SWAT team has been sought for surveillance, he added.

The SIT has contacted local police stations and sought details of all alleged "love jihad" cases reported in the past two years, he said.

Bhuker said the probe team has been extracting records related to a dozen phone numbers to establish links.

They have been gathering information about such couples, their bank accounts and recording statements of their family members, Bhuker said, adding that phone numbers of their aides have also been extracted.

Bhuker, however, said in the case involving Shalini Yadav, the couple had approached the Delhi High Court and later appeared before a magistrate at the Tees Hazari court there, denying the allegations.

He said the woman had said that she was a major and married a man of her choice.

Since the woman is a major and there is nothing for police to do, a closure report will be sent to the court soon, the SP said.

Police are looking into the conspiracy angle to ascertain if youths involved in this are being funded from abroad, the SP said.

Police are also trying to find out if the youth in any case hid their identity, the SP said.

Recently, the Kanpur police had arrested two people-- Mohsin Khan and Aamir--in an alleged 'love jihad' case, said another senior official.

Mohsin Khan allegedly befriended a girl, posing as Sameer and then married her, the senior official added.

His friend Aamir became befriended a younger sister of Mohsin's wife but the girl realised their plan and stopped meeting him.

She was then allegedly threatened with dire consequences if she did not marry Aamir.

Another case was reported from the Naubasta area where Fateh Khan possessed two Aadhaar cards, one of these in the name of Aryan Malhotra, said Kanpur's Govind Nagar Circle Officer Vikas Pandey.

The Hindu family in whose house he had rented a room for two years had later accused him of abusing their minor daughter.

Upon investigation, it was found that he had two identity cards, one of which was fake.

His real name was Fateh Khan and he is a resident of Bijnor.

He was sent to jail on charges of rape, Pandey added.


Bengal BJP sets target of inducting 20-lakh Muslims by December 2020

14th September 2020

KOLKATA: The Minority Morcha of the West Bengal BJP has set an ambitious target of inducting 20 lakh Muslims by the end of the year, as part of its efforts to dent the vote share of the ruling TMC in the state, ahead of 2021 Assembly elections.

According to the Minority Morcha's state president, Ali Hossain, around 4.5 lakh people from the community have already joined the saffron party.

"We have set a target of inducting 20 lakh minorities by December. Of that, four lakh have already been inducted. In the next four months, the target will be achieved," he said.

Muslims constitute 28-30 per cent of the state's total vote share, and play a deciding factor in more than 120 of the 294 assembly segments in the state.

According to Hossain, opposition parties, for several years, have "misguided" the community members about BJP's intentions and generated a "fear psychosis".

"Many intellectuals and educated youths from the minority community have now joined the BJP as they have realized that the party believes in 'development for all'.

"Opposition camps have been misleading the Muslims about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Now people have come to realise that it has nothing to do with their citizenship," he said.

According to sources in the morcha, the saffron party plans to woo around 10 lakh Muslims from 120 minority- dominated Assembly constituencies in the state, and the rest from the remaining 174 segments.

"During this membership drive, we shall focus on the minority-dominated districts of North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Malda and Murshidabad," Ansari explained.

State BJP sources said the party had been trying to woo the minorities for quite some time, but its efforts received a setback following last year's vehement protests over the CAA and the proposed exercise to prepare the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Bengal.

"To win elections in West Bengal, it is necessary to secure a section of the minority votes or ensure that the minority votes of the TMC get divided. En bloc minority votes for a particular party can swing the elections.

"Over the last few years, the minorities have got disillusioned with the TMC government and restored their faith on the development agenda of the BJP," a senior saffron party leader here said.

The TMC, however, mocked the BJP's "game plan", and said minorities stand firmly behind the Mamata Banerjee-led party, as it is the most "credible secular force" in Bengal.

"The minorities would never trust a communal force like the BJP. The TMC is the most secular force in the state, which has worked relentlessly for the development of all communities," the ruling party's secretary-general, Partha Chatterjee, said.

The BJP, over the last few years, has made deep inroads and emerged as a prime challenger of the ruling TMC in Bengal, by pushing the traditional opposition parties the CPI (M) and the Congress to distant third and fourth positions.

The saffron camp reached its all-time high in Bengal politics last year, when it stunned political pundits by bagging 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, four less than the ruling TMC, and with a staggering vote share of 41 per cent votes.


Encounter underway between security forces, terrorists in J-K’s Pulwama

Mir Ehsan | Edited by Susmita Pakrasi

An encounter broke out between security forces and terrorists in Marwal area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district early on Tuesday, the police said.

An operation was launched jointly by police, Army and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) late last night on a specific information.

The security forces launched a cordon and search operation there, a police official said.

He said during the search, militants fired on the forces, who retaliated, leading to an encounter. The exchange of firing was going on and details were awaited, the official said.





Armed resistance sole way to liberate Palestine: Hezbollah official

15 September 2020

The deputy head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance says normalization with Israel has no benefit for the Palestinians and only serves the regime’s interests, describing armed resistance as the sole way to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation.

Sheikh Naim Qassem made the remarks in a virtual address to a summit held in the holy Iranian city of Qom on the strategies for ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

He said that the occupying entity enjoys military and political support from superpowers and thus cannot be eliminated through reliance on the laws they themselves have come up with.

The big powers, he added, see their interest in protecting and legitimizing the occupation; therefore, the situation would change in favor of Palestine and other regional states by begging those powers.

“We should make efforts for the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem al-Quds, and this will not be possible except through military resistance along with other forms of resistance, namely cultural, political, social resistance and etc, but the main focus of our work must be armed resistance,” Sheikh Qassem said.

“How could we take back the land of Palestine? We will take it back with our own hands, through fighting, jihad (endeavor for the sake of God) and resistance. This is the only way forward for us,” he stressed.

Sheikh Qassem also denounced as “a betrayal of Palestine and Jerusalem al-Quds” the latest moves by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain to normalize with Israel.

“Normalizing ties only serves the interests of Israel and has no benefit for Palestine and the Palestinian cause,” he said, adding that the measure is “a trump card in the hands of the Zionist regime to exert more pressure on the Palestinians in order to deprive them of their rights.”

The Hezbollah official also stressed that neither Persian Gulf Arab countries longing for normalization with Israel nor those conspiring against Palestine can decide for the oppressed Palestinian nation.

“The normalization challenge is an opportunity for us to separate the supporters of Palestine from the servants of Israel. The axis of resistance is the only axis that works in line with the interests of Palestine and will build the future. That is why the UAE and anyone who normalizes with Israel will get nothing but shame,” he underlined.

He further noted that the victories achieved by the resistance front in the region, including those of Yemeni, Syrian and Iraqi fighters, serve the Palestinian cause.

The Hezbollah official further emphasized the need for the axis of resistance to “maintain its cohesion and cooperation.”


Judiciary Strongly Blasts European Embassies’ Interference in Iran’s Internal Affairs

Sep 14, 2020

“If you (the European embassies) do not know anything about righteousness, justice and objectivity, at least respect the diplomatic norms and avoid shouting in a loudspeaker to spread lies like an opposition group,” Baqeri said, addressing a meeting of the Judiciary’s high council on Monday.

He underlined that foreign pressures on Iran’s Judiciary will neither prevent practice of justice nor decrease grant of Islamic mercy to the prisoners who deserve it.

His remarks came after some European missions and envoys to Iran, including the German ambassador, made comments in reaction to the execution of 27yearold Iranian Navid Afkari who had received a death sentence for murdering a citizens in 2018.

Based on Islamic Sharia Laws, the family of the victim decide the fate of the murderer after the convict is found guilty at the court under a judicial decree called Qisas, i.e. "retaliation in kind", "eye for an eye", or retributive justice; they could either receive ransom money or ask for hanging in retribution.

The family of the victim, Hassan Torkmani, a Water and Sewage Organization employee, had urged to practice their right of hanging in retribution.

But since Navid Afkari had also taken part in 2018 protests in some Iranian cities, opposition groups based in Europe and the US have been seeking to politicize the case.


17 Bahraini Political Streams, Associations Oppose Normalization of Ties with Israel

Sep 14, 2020

“No type of normalization of relations between certain countries and the Zionist regime has ever led to peace and restoration of the Palestinian nation’s rights and instead has encouraged the enemy to commit more crimes against Palestine and sanctities of Arabs and Muslims, including the holy Quds,” the statement said, the Arabic-language Arabi 24 news website reported on Monday.

It added that the peace agreement between Bahrain and Israel, brokered by the US, was a big shock to the Bahraini nation, political associations, civil society and all national figures.

US President Donald Trump tweeted the news of the Israel-Bahrain normalization deal on Friday after he spoke by phone to Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Following the announcement at the White House, Palestinian officials condemned the Israel-Bahrain normalization deal announced by US President Donald Trump as another "stab in the back" by an Arab state.

Friday's accord normalizing diplomatic ties between Israel and Bahrain comes one month after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to normalize ties with Israel under a US-brokered deal.

On August 13, President Trump announced a deal brokered by his government between Israel and the UAE which he said would lead to full normalization of ties between the two.

Critics see the deal as the latest attempt by Trump to save his presidential campaign against the Democrat Joe Biden


Israeli handed three life sentences for killing Palestinian family

14 September 2020

An Israeli court handed a Jewish settler three life sentences Monday for murdering a Palestinian toddler and his parents in an arson attack on their home in the occupied West Bank.

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Amiram Ben-Uliel was sentenced by the court in the town of Lod following his conviction in May for the 2015 killings.

He was also found guilty of two counts each of attempted murder and arson, along with conspiracy to commit a hate crime.

Ben-Uliel threw a firebomb through a window of the Dawabsha family home while they slept in the village of Duma.

Ahmed Dawabsha, who was four at the time, was severely burned in the attack which killed his 18-month-old brother Ali, his mother Riham and father Saed.

The murders shone a spotlight on Jewish extremism and sparked accusations that Israel had not done enough to prevent such violence.

In May 2019, another Israeli accepted a plea bargain over his role in the attack, confessing to a racially motivated conspiracy to commit a crime and vandalism.

The youth had admitted to staking out Duma ahead of the attack with Ben-Uliel, but was said not to have participated in it.

He has not been named, as he was 17 at the time of the killings and tried as a minor.


Turkish Red Crescent aid member killed in an attack in northern Syria

14 September 2020

An attack in northern Syria on a Turkish Red Crescent vehicle killed a member of the aid agency and wounded another, the group said Monday.

Armed masked men wearing camouflage clothing traveling in two cars without license plates attacked the Red Crescent vehicle as it traveled through al-Bab, a Turkish-controlled zone in northern Syria, the aid group said in a statement.

The Red Crescent said their vehicle was clearly marked with their logos. A third employee in the vehicle survived without injuries.

Turkey has held al-Bab since 2017 amid Syria’s years long conflict, which initially began as a civil war that later became a regional proxy fight. Turkey has backed opposition fighters against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Syrian Kurdish fighters and ISIS.



Southeast Asia


Teachers’ Union Rejects Claims Public Schools ‘Too Islamic’ In Malaysia

15 Sep 2020


KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Aminuddin Awang has rejected claims that national public schools are “too Islamic”, even as he admitted that Islamic rituals and recitals are an integral part of the schooling experience.

Aminuddin told Malay daily Utusan Malaysia that prayers for examinations, celebrating Muslim holidays such as Awal Muharram, Maulidur Rasul and Aidilfitri, nasyid competitions, and reciting the Quran are all part of the Ministry of Education’s system to provide holistic education for students.

“For me, the claim that public schools are too Islamic is inaccurate. The ministry strives to stay relevant to the times, especially to strengthen the learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in line with our Industrial Revolution 4.0 goals.

“Most of our programs are planned towards achieving an education philosophy that is balanced in all aspects be it physical, spiritual and intellectual,” he was quoted saying.

He also said that events involving Muslim celebrations are organised by schools to foster the unity and well-being of students.

Utusan sought his remarks in response to a forum on vernacular schools which involved social activist Arun Doraisamy,  Phun Teck Seng the vice-president of Malaysian Chinese Language Council, and panelist Sam Saad, a chemical engineer by trade.

In the forum, the panelists suggested that parents, including Malay-Muslim ones, are turning to vernacular schools because they have better syllabus and teachers, in addition to national schools being Islam-centric.


I’m not a terrorist, says Warisan candidate

September 13, 2020

SANDAKAN: Warisan’s Sekong candidate Alias Sani has denied allegations that he is a terrorist.

A social media post, which has gone viral in the state, claims that Alias is a former militant who has settled in Sandakan.

Speaking at an event here today, Alias said while he had been detained between 2003 and 2007, it was only a “preventive” measure and he was never tried or convicted.

“My arrest was only a preventive (measure), I have never supported any terrorist activities.”

The social media post also claimed that Alias was a Jemaah Islamiah member who was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Alias explained that in the 1990s, he had sought religious knowledge from certain people who were deemed a security threat though the lessons had no links to any crime.

He added he is a peace-loving Muslim.

Alias said while he was detained at the Kamunting Detention Centre, he improved his religious knowledge.

On his decision to enter politics, Alias said he wanted to offer voters leadership and that his participation in the election was not against the law.

He said many famous leaders had also been detained under the ISA before this.


Muslims In the South in Peace Talks Urge Fridays Be Made Holidays

14 SEP 2020

The head of a government team negotiating peace in the South will consider a proposal by local Muslim representatives to make every Friday a state holiday across the kingdom.

Gen Wallop Raksanoh, chief of the team, said on Sunday the representative asked for the government to declare Friday, already a holy day for Muslims, as a public holiday and rewrite village signs in Thai, Malay and English to open doors to Asean.

He said the representative also asked for the Malay language to be declared as the official language of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla provinces. The four provinces border with Malaysia, Thailand's southern neighbour.

Gen Wallop revealed the request after attending a meeting in Pattani's Nong Chik district with local Muslim representatives from the four provinces. He said the meeting was held to receive the proposal and listen to residents.

At the meeting, the representatives proposed people familiar with Islamic practices be put in charge of pilgrimage affairs, the drafting of Islamic laws for the four provinces and the development of a Halal industry.

Lt Gen Pornsak Poolsawat, the 4th Army Commander, said the meeting was a breakthrough, adding a committee will be formed to study the proposal in detail.





Muftiyat of Kyrgyzstan to open hotline for consultations on Sharia rules

15 September 2020

Religious leaders of Kyrgyzstan will take training courses at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in international relations, conflict resolution, modern information wars. Deputy Mufti Kadyr Malikov announced.

According to him, the agreement between the Spiritual Directorate of the Muslims of Kyrgyzstan (SDMK) and the university is planned to be signed in October.

«We are launching a special course for employees of the muftiyat and its subdivisions. It includes lessons on geopolitics, foreign policy of Kyrgyzstan, conflict management, modern information wars. The purpose of the course is to expand the worldview and familiarize with the current political processes in the world and the region with the participation of external factors. Upon completion, a state certificate of the diplomatic academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be issued,» Kadyr Malikov told.

He said that technical preparations were also underway to launch an anonymous hotline, where citizens could receive advice on Sharia rules or spiritual support at any time of the day. «A commission on ethics and discipline of the SDMK is being formed, issues of ethics, violations of the internal charter, family reconciliation are being considered,» the Deputy Mufti said.

A member of the Ulemas Council Kadyr Malikov was appointed Deputy Mufti in August.


UN begins annual meetings with Kashmir on agenda

Anwar Iqbal

15 Sep 2020

UNITED NATIONS: The annual meetings of the United Nations began in New York on Monday with Kashmir on the agenda as an unresolved dispute.

In doing so, the world body ignored India’s efforts to remove the 72-year old issue from the UN Security Council’s agenda for this year. The council’s Resolution 47, which calls for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute, was adopted on April 21, 1948.

In his speech to the 75th UN General Assembly (UNGA), Prime Minister Imran Khan “will once again project the cause of the Kashmiri people and call for international action to end India’s massive human rights violations,” said Munir Akram, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN.

The prime minister will also seek the undoing of illegal measures that India has imposed in Kashmir since Aug 5, 2019, when it forcibly merged the occupied territory with the union, he added.

Mr Khan will address the UNGA on Sept 25 and will also participate in a high-level meeting on Illicit Financing and the Summit on Biodiversity. All these are virtual events as the Covid-19 pandemic has prevented world leaders from physically attending the 75th UNGA.

Since the illegal merger, India has been continuously trying to get the Kashmir issue removed from the council’s agenda, but Pakistan has successfully thwarted its moves.

The Security Council’s agenda is set in accordance with the established rules and procedures and can only be changed by a consensus. A member state cannot change the agenda unilaterally.

“We hope the General Assembly will uphold the right of self-determination and that human rights bodies will demand access to investigate India’s violations,” Ambassador Akram said.

Besides Kashmir, Pakistan will also work with other Muslim countries to get decisions that denounce Islamophobia and protect Islamic religious sites.

Pakistan will also join other developing nations to promote their objectives in finance, debt relief, infrastructure investment and science and technology, Ambassador Akram said. Pakistan presently holds the Presidency of the UN Economic and Social Council.

“The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism,” is the theme for the 75th session of the UN.


Turkish protesters slam French magazine’s reprinting of offensive Prophet Muhammad cartoons

13 September 2020

Turkish protesters have rallied in the city of Istanbul to vent their anger against the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo for republishing offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The protest took place at Istanbul’s Beyazit Square on Sunday, with protesters holding placards warning Charlie Hebdo and French President Emmanuel Macron "will pay a heavy price".

The French weekly reprinted the blasphemous caricatures on the eve of the trial of suspects in a deadly gun rampage on its office five years ago.

In January 2015, two men barged into the newspaper’s Paris offices, killing 12 people, many of whom worked for the publication.

The attack, condemned by Muslims across the world, was allegedly a response to the magazine’s offensive cartoon of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) a few years earlier.

The terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo were French-born brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi. They claimed the attacks in the name of al-Qaeda. Both were killed in police raids at the time.

But 14 suspected accomplices are set to stand trial, for their alleged part in helping the attackers.

The blasphemous cartoons have drawn strong criticism from Muslim countries who call it an Islamophobic act.

However, in a move that was criticized by Muslims, including those in the European country, French President Emmanuel Macron refused to censure the move and claimed it was not his place to pass judgment about what he called a matter of free speech.

Turkish Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the magazine’s republication of the cartoons that “disrespect” Islam, adding that the approach of the French authorities, especially Macron, regarding the incident is also "unacceptable."

The French magazine’s offensive cartoons were originally published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

The republishing of the blasphemous cartoons has prompted condemnations and protests across the Muslim world.

The Muslims around the world have slammed both the weekly and the French president for their double standards when it comes to issues related to Islam and Muslims.

While France justifies the offensive anti-Islamic sketches as freedom of expression, protesters say France has mixed up the definition of press freedom with xenophobia, when it allows itself to harm the sentiments of millions of Muslims for what they are not responsible for.



Arab world


UAE-Israel accord creates ‘new environment’ for Mideast peace: Official


September 15, 2020

CHICAGO: The historic accord between the UAE and Israel, which will be signed this week at the White House, will create a “new environment” to achieve peace, the director of policy planning at the Emirati Foreign Ministry told Arab News on Monday.

The UAE remains committed to the interests of the Palestinians and to the two-state solution, said Jamal Al-Musharakh, adding that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is achievable.

“We haven’t abandoned the Palestinians,” he said. “With the involvement of the US in this peace process, conversations can be more honest. Opportunities and differences can be discussed. This is the point of dialogue — that we can really get past previous lack of clarity.”

The entire region will benefit from the UAE-Israel accord.

“There’s much optimism and hope in this agreement,” Al-Musharakh said. “It’s a strategic shift. The deal provides a more optimistic view of the future, and will result in benefits for all in the region, including the Palestinians. But the Palestinians need to engage in the peace process themselves.”

The foundation of the accord is based on “optimism and hope,” he added. “The region needs hope. It has been through much turmoil and despair.”

The accord “offers an opportunity for the Palestinians and the people of the Middle East to be able to look past previous pessimism and to have a more optimistic future,” he said.

The accord “will stand all challenges,” he said, adding that the UAE pursued it at the urging of leaders from the Middle East and the international community.

“The international community was concerned about Israel annexing Palestinian lands,” he said. “There was a lot of outreach to us to use our diplomatic efforts to reach a point that would preserve the two-state solution and thus halt annexation.”

The UAE-Israel deal comes 27 years almost to the day after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands on Sept. 13, 1993, at the White House.

US President Donald Trump said he will host a similar peace-signing ceremony this week at the White House between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, which also announced an agreement with Israel.

Al-Musharakh said he could not provide details of the signing, but emphasized that the UAE-Israel accord “creates an environment in the Middle East in which a genuine peace can be achieved.”

He added: “The UAE is home to over 200 nationalities. We expect to advance areas of education, health, business and the needs of the people, not just in the UAE but also in the region. This agreement is about the region.”

The UAE celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and will host the global mega-event Expo 2020 Dubai, the opening of which has been delayed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

Expo officials said the new opening date is Oct. 1, 2021, and it will continue through March 2022. “Israel will be a part of Expo 2020, and we look forward to it,” Al-Musharakh said.

In announcing the Expo, the UAE has promised to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. The peace accord comes as a result of that spirited thinking, he added.

“The accord has been met with broad international support. There’s clear recognition of our aim to safeguard the two-state solution and advance general prosperity,” he said.

“The message remains a hopeful one. The end solution lies in the hands of the Palestinians and Israelis themselves,” Al-Musharakh added.

“The UAE is committed, and always will be committed, to our longstanding commitment to the Palestinian people in advancing peace-making efforts to the region’s benefit,” he said.

“We’ll never abandon the Palestinians. They’re important and we support their rights. We stand by the two-state solution. We’re committed to Arab decisions about the Palestinians.”

The normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel is a historic step for progress in the region, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed meanwhile said, in a report from news channel Al-Arabiya on Tuesday.

The progress in establishing the Palestinian state is vital at this stage inasmuch as the agreement, which is about to be signed at the White House, stopped Israeli annexation activities in the West Bank, he added.

The White House said in a statement: “The Arab world is experiencing the most rapid geopolitical transformation in more than a generation.”

It added: “As more countries normalize relations with Israel, the region is becoming more stable, secure, and prosperous. Expanded business and financial ties between economies will accelerate growth and economic opportunity across the region. The United States will continue to stand with the people of the region as they work to build a brighter, more hopeful future.”


Hezbollah’s links with Irish terror group exposed

September 13, 2020

LONDON: Hezbollah provided the New IRA with finances and shipments of weapons, according to an undercover agent who infiltrated the Irish terror group.

Former British secret service operative Denis McFadden made the assessment after spying on the New IRA from within for more than 20 years.

Irish and British security services suspect that the New IRA’s links with Iran-backed Hezbollah may have led to the import of arms including mortars and assault rifles.

MI5 agent McFadden is now in witness protection after his work led to the arrest of 10 people in Northern Ireland on terrorism-related charges.

His operation found that Hezbollah and the New IRA opened communications around 2017. Members of the New IRA then traveled to Lebanon in 2018 to meet with Hezbollah representatives, where British security services suspect they procured the weapons.

Saoradh, the political wing of the New IRA, has been a long-time supporter of Iran, Hezbollah’s key international ally and patron.

In the aftermath of the US killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January this year, Saoradh representatives signed a book of condolences at the Iranian Embassy in Dublin.

Hezbollah is known to have fostered relationships with terrorist organizations and criminal groups across the Middle East and further afield.

The Counter Extremism Project notes Hezbollah’s extensive cooperation over the smuggling of “people and contraband” into the US with Mexican drug cartels, and their profiting off the Colombian cocaine trade.

Hezbollah also maintained a relationship with Spanish terror group Eta until it was disbanded.


Coalition strikes ISIS hideout in rural Kirkuk amid fresh attacks

September 14-2020

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The International Coalition against the so-called Islamic State on Sunday conducted an airstrike against a hideout of the terror group in rural parts of the disputed Kirkuk province, killing at least two suspected terrorists.

“On the order of the Joint Operations Command, the International Coalition Air Force carried out an airstrike on ISIS terrorist targets” in the Wadi al-Shai area, killing two suspected members of the terror group and destroying the hideout and a motorcycle, said a statement from the Iraqi military communication center.

Wadi al-Shai, a known hiding place for members of the Islamic State—as the Coalition has described it in the past—is located in the southeast of Daquq district of Kirkuk, a province disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal Iraqi government.

The valley area also has characteristically rugged, difficult to navigate terrain, which other militants in the past have used as their base of operations.

In recent days, Iraqi forces have conducted several operations, chiefly led by the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, against Islamic State members, with the military recently announcing the arrests and killings of multiple alleged leaders in the terrorist organization.

Attacks in Kirkuk

The campaign came amid renewed violence led by remnants of the Islamic State, especially in territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad. Kurdish officials have long warned a “security vacuum” in these vulnerable areas has allowed the terror group to plan future attacks and hampered the anti-terror fight.

Related Article: Coalition statistics show fight against ISIS continues

Last week, security sources reported that a civilian was killed in a mortar attack that targeted a funeral procession in the town of Bashir, about 27 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk city.

Bashir, inhabited by Shia Turkmen, fell to the Islamic State’s onslaught in June 2014, before the Peshmerga forces liberated it in 2016. The Kurdish forces withdrew from the area after Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militias attacked Kirkuk in response to the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum.

Even after the Islamic State’s territorial collapse in late 2017, Bashir has remained a constant site of terrorist attacks.

ISIS Officials Arrested, Killed

The federal interior ministry on Sunday announced the arrest of an individual it claimed had “admitted” that he is a member of the Islamic State, “producing videos of terrorist operations against security forces and citizens and broadcasting them through the ISIS Amaq Agency.”

The official statement did not reveal the identity of the suspect but noted that he was from an “ISIS family” whose father and brother were killed by the terrorist organization due to “financial disputes.”

Two days earlier, a Counter-Terrorism Service team arrested an Islamic State “leader” in Salahuddin province, the top military spokesman, Major General Yahya Rasool said then, without clarifying further.

The interior ministry on Tuesday also announced the detention of another member of the terrorist organization in Kirkuk who “worked in several positions” in the terror group, the last of which was creating explosive devices.

The detainee “explicitly confessed” to being a member of the Islamic State, the ministry claimed.

In a separate operation in Salahuddin province on Friday, the Iraqi military said in a statement that a security forces team killed four “of the most important leaders of the ISIS terrorist gangs” in Samarra district, close to the disputed territories.

The statement did not elaborate further but indicated that two of the alleged terrorists were wearing “explosive vests.”


Suspected Israeli strikes kill 10 Iran-backed fighters in Syria: Monitor

14 September 2020

Suspected Israeli air strikes in eastern Syria on Monday killed 10 pro-Iran fighters, most of them Iraqis, a war monitor said.

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The raids against militant positions south of the town of Albu Kamal in Deir Ezzor province took the lives of eight Iraqi and two Syrian combatants, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the strikes, which also destroyed munition depots and vehicles, were “likely” carried out by Israel.

The Observatory has previously reported suspected Israeli air strikes on Deir Ezzor, but these reports are rarely corroborated by Syrian state media or the Jewish state.

A US-led coalition is also present in the area after years of backing Kurdish forces in their fight against the Islamic State group.

On September 3, presumed Israeli air strikes on eastern Syria killed 16 Iran-backed fighters, the Observatory said at the time.

The monitor says it relies on flight patterns, as well as type of aircraft and ammunition involved, to determine who was behind an aerial bombing.

Along with Russia, Israel's nemesis Iran has been a key backer of the Damascus regime in its nine-year-long civil war.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile strikes on Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011, targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces as well as government troops.

The Israeli army rarely acknowledges individual strikes but did confirm on August 3 that it had used fighter jets, attack helicopters and other aircraft to hit military targets in southern Syria.

Syria's war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions more since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.


Four soldiers, one militant killed in Lebanon army raid: Military source

14 September 2020

Four Lebanese soldiers were killed overnight when they raided a house in north Lebanon in pursuit of a militant wanted in connection with a fatal shooting last month, a military source said on Monday.

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The militant was killed in the hours after the raid as he tried to flee, the source said.

The source identified the militant as Khaled al-Talawi, describing him as a former member of the ISIS group and leader of a cell behind the killing last month of three people in the north Lebanese village of Kaftoun.

The military said in a statement that an army intelligence patrol had been attacked with gunfire and a hand grenade in the Minyeh Jabal al-Bedawi area, near the city of Tripoli.

The statement said three soldiers had been killed and one wounded. The source said the fourth soldier later died of his wounds.


Two more US convoys targeted by roadside bombs in Iraq

14 September 2020

Two more military and logistics convoys of the US-led coalition have been targeted by roadside bombs in Iraq, the Iraqi government says.

A Monday night statement by the Security Media Cell, affiliated with the Iraqi prime minister's office, says the first roadside bomb exploded in a highway in the southern Iraqi province of Qadisiyah.

The second explosion also took place in Babil province in central Iraq.

“The two roadside bombs targeted the convoys of trucks carrying the international (US-led) coalition’s equipment,” the statement said, adding that the trucks were operated by Iraqi drivers and transportation companies.

The explosions have caused no damages, and the convoys have not been harmed, it added.

Rocket attack hits area near US embassy

Also on early Tuesday, a Katyusha rocket landed inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where the US embassy and many other diplomatic missions and government offices are located.

According to security sources, the rocket fell near the American embassy and sirens were heard from the building.

Meanwhile, a correspondent with the Amman-based Al-Hadath news agency claims at least three of the missiles fired at the Green Zone have been shot down by air defenses over the US embassy.

"Video captured nearby shows air raid sirens roaring as the embassy's counter rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) system engages the incoming targets."

No group has claimed responsibility for the fresh attacks yet, but they are the latest in a series of explosions that hit US occupation forces amid anti-American sentiment in the country. Unidentified militant groups have frequently targeted convoys belonging to the US-led coalition forces in Iraq especially in the past few months.

On Friday, commander of US military forces in the Middle East raised concerns about surging attacks against American installations in Iraq, linking it to Iran’s vow to drive out US forces from the region but rejecting it as the reason for a major US troop reduction in the region.

"We have had more indirect fire attacks around and against our bases the first half of this year than we did the first half of last year," said commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) Gen. Frank McKenzie in an interview with the US-based NBC News. "Those attacks have been higher."

"They have not been particularly lethal and that's a good thing, but they are continuing," McKenzie stated during the interview conducted while he toured the Middle East, and when asked why the attacks have not been lethal, he claimed: "They're not hitting us."

"For whatever reason, it may be by design, we don't know, they're just not that successful at hitting anyone. And that's a blessing," claimed the American commander "I don't know how long we can count on that continuing."

The allegations were made just hours after he declared the reduction of nearly half of US forces in Iraq by the end of this month, with almost 2,200 of them leaving the war-ravaged country.

The Iraqi-US relations have witnessed rising tension since January 3 when a US drone struck a convoy at Baghdad airport, assassinating the former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Deputy Chief of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi forces Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Just two days later, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously passed a bill mandating the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.

Iraqi resistance groups have pledged to take up arms against US forces if Washington fails to comply with the parliamentary order.


Lebanese army kills terror cell ‘ringleader’ in raid that left 4 soldiers dead

September 15, 2020

BEIRUT: The Lebanese army on Monday killed what it described as the “ringleader of a terrorist cell” during a raid on a house in a town near Tripoli which also left four soldiers dead.

Khaled Al-Talawi died after a force from the Military Intelligence Directorate closed in on an apartment where he had been hiding in Beddawi, northern Lebanon.

Sgt. Louay Melhem, and soldiers Charbel Jebili, Anthony Takla, and Nihad Mustafa were killed when the militant threw a hand grenade and fired at their patrol before fleeing the scene with three other people. Al-Talawi was later killed in the Zgharta district after he shot at soldiers. Units stopped another fugitive and chased two others.

Al-Talawi had been on the run from authorities after his car was used by armed men during the killing of three young guards in the town of Kaftoun on Aug. 21. The militants were part of a terrorist cell, led by Al-Talawi, linked to Daesh.

Since the attack, security services have carried out a series of raids, including one on the Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp, and Syrian refugee camps in the north.

Lebanese Army Command revealed that the cell’s members “had received military training, collected weapons and ammunition, which were seized, and carried out several thefts to finance their activities.”

Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Joseph Aoun, briefed President Michel Aoun on the military operation in a phone call.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron’s deadline for Lebanese parties to form a new government of specialists and nonpolitical ministers has expired with as yet, no solution.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib was unable to prepare a list of names following claims from the Amal Movement, Hezbollah, and the Free Patriotic Movement that he had not consulted with them.

After meeting President Aoun on Monday, Adib said he had visited the Presidential Palace “for further consultations,” and that over the next two days “we hope for the best.”

The French initiative, launched by Macron in Beirut two weeks ago, provided for the speedy formation of a government of specialists to implement the necessary reforms required to lift the country out of its severe economic crisis.

Macron intervened on Sunday night in an attempt to resolve a dispute over the finance portfolio that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri had insisted be allocated to a Shiite proposed by him.

“The (French) president is pressuring Lebanese politicians to fulfill their promises to form a new government this week and to pull the country out of its worst crisis since the civil war that took place between 1975 and 1990,” the French president’s office said on Sunday. “President Macron continues his contacts with various political actors in Lebanon.”

When Macron visited Beirut on Sept. 1, the Lebanese leadership promised to form a government of specialists without party loyalties within two weeks to tackle an economic meltdown made worse by the devastating explosion at Beirut port on Aug. 4.

On Monday, it was announced that Aoun had started meetings with “heads or representatives of the parliamentary blocs to promote a convergence of views on government developments.”

Mohanad Hage Ali, resident researcher at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, told Arab News: “It’s a new French 48-hour deadline that was given to the Lebanese parties after the expiration of the two-week deadline to come up with a formula agreed upon by all.”

Ali said: “The Amal Movement, Hezbollah, and the Free Patriotic Movement feel that the government rug has been pulled from under their feet. They are trying to position themselves in the middle. They refuse to participate in the government, but they cooperate with it.

“This is because they know that stopping state subsidies on fuel will soon come in light of the sharp drop in hard currency reserves, and therefore they do not want the street to explode in their face,” he added.

Leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil, received a phone call from Macron and another from Adib. He said on Sunday that the movement’s participation in the government was “not a condition for its support,” adding that “the constitution is clear that a ministry is not devoted to a sect.”

After receiving a similar call from Macron, Berri’s office said: “The problem is not with the French, the problem is internal. We informed the prime minister-designate of our unwillingness to participate in the government on the basis that he had laid, and we informed him of our readiness to cooperate to the fullest extent in all that is necessary to stabilize Lebanon and its finances, undertake reforms, and save its economy.”

Ali said: “The three opposing parties know that the age of this new government will not be later than the coming new year, awaiting the results of the American presidential elections, and that this government will not be able to propose solutions to the big problems despite the competencies of those who will be chosen for ministerial portfolios.

“On the other hand, these parties fear that this government will obtain external support to implement reforms that they will not play a role in formulating if they remain outside it.

“What the three parties will do within 48 hours is to negotiate half the nomination, meaning that the parties express their opinion on the names proposed by Adib only without undermining the formation,” Ali added.



South Asia


China military: Years of evidence proves US biggest threat to world order, peace

September 15, 2020

China’s Defense Ministry says many years of evidence shows that the United States is the biggest threat to global order and peace.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian made the remark in a statement on Sunday in reaction to an annual report by the Pentagon released on September 2 that said Chinese military developments and goals presented “serious implications for US national interests and the security of the international rules-based order.”

Wu called the report a “wanton distortion” of China’s aims and the relationship between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and China’s 1.4 billion population.

He said that US actions in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and other countries over the past two decades had led to the killing of over 800,000 people and the displacement of millions more.

“Rather than reflecting on itself, the US issued a so-called report that made false comments about China’s normal defense and military construction,” Wu said.

“Many years of evidence shows that it is the US that is the fomenter of regional unrest, the violator of the international order, and the destroyer of world peace,” the Chinese official said.

The US Defense Department’s nearly-150-page “China Military Power Report” surveyed the PLA’s technical capabilities, doctrines, and objectives, claiming that they included becoming a “practical instrument” of the country’s statecraft with an active role in advancing Beijing’s foreign policy and aimed “to revise aspects of the international order.”

It said that if the Chinese military achieved is objectives, there would be “serious implications for US national interests and the security of the international rules-based order.”

The United States has long held an anti-China posture, but it has been significantly ramping up tensions with the country in recent months.

Relations between China and the United States have hit their lowest point in decades amid aggressive US posturing over trade, technology, Taiwan, Hong Kong, human rights, and the South China Sea.

Much of the Pentagon’s annual report was devoted to analyzing China’s strategy toward Taiwan, a self-ruled, breakaway island that almost the entire world recognizes as subject to Chinese sovereignty. While the US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan, it has been increasingly supportive of the island’s current secessionist government.

The report also pointed to areas in which the 2-million-strong PLA — the world’s largest standing military — had overtaken the US, including in the size of its navy, now the world’s largest with approximately 350 ships and submarines versus the US’s nearly 293 warships.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this month acknowledged the military aspect of Washington’s rivalry with Beijing but said the main challenges posed by China — with a population of 1.4 billion people — were economic.

FBI Director Christopher Wray also alleged in July that the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China.”,-peace


Afghan refugees hope peace talks will finally take them ‘home’


September 15, 2020

KARACHI: With talks to end decades of armed conflict in Afghanistan currently underway in Doha, refugees at the New Saranan camp in Pakistan’s Balochistan province gathered on Sunday to discuss the repatriation process for nearly 5,000 displaced Afghan families.

Intra-Afghan talks between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the Taliban began on Saturday and are expected to yield a permanent cease-fire and a power-sharing arrangement.

“If the talks are successful, we will not care if it’s day or night, we will just embark on our journey,” Muhammad Agha Ishaqzai, an Afghan elder who left his home in Sar Pul province more than 30 years ago, told Arab News. “We are thirsty for our homeland like a person who has fasted during all hot summer days, waiting for a glass of water.”

The talks have raised hopes among Afghans scattered around the world including the 1.4 million who are registered as refugees in Pakistan, most of whom live in camps and urban centers of provinces bordering Afghanistan.

“We are watching the news and hope that Afghans will see peace after 40 years,” Zahir Pashtun, a youth activist who attended the Sunday meeting, told Arab News. “We Afghans have seen UN-brokered talks between the mujahideen and Najibullah,” he said, referring to the president of Afghanistan who held office from 1987 to 1992, shortly after which the mujahideen took over Kabul following the Afghan-Soviet war from 1979 to 1989.

He added that while all the talks so far, including those between the mujahideen and Taliban, had failed, Afghans were still hopeful.

At least three things should happen in order for Afghans to be repatriated, Pahstun said. “There should be an inclusive Afghan government, having representation of all ethnicities and sects. Ethnic divides should be removed, and lands and properties that refugees had left behind should be recovered so that they may start a new life.”

For many, however, returning home will not be easy.

“This has been the main agenda of our discussions now, and when I ask people if they will return, the majority say they have no reason to go back, even if the talks succeed,” Syed Mustafa, a teacher and a community elder in the refugee-dominated Al-Asif area of Karachi, told Arab News.

“A majority of over 60,000 refugees living in Sindh province were born and raised here. When they go back to the land of their parents, they would feel like in a strangers’ land. Those who had gone there in the recent past have come back.”

“I’m Afghan, but my wife and children all were born here, and for them, Pakistan is home,” Naemullah Rahimi, a vendor in Al-Asif, told Arab News.

Muneeba Hayatullah, an Afghan widow living in Karachi’s Metroville area whose daughter recently married, said the peace talks made her happy regardless of what the future brought for her.

“I want to see a peaceful Afghanistan, not one which is a graveyard,” she said. “But I don’t know if I will go back.”


Kabul presses ceasefire demand in Taliban talks

15 Sep 2020

DOHA: The Afghan government on Monday pressed its calls for a truce with the Taliban, reiterating its desire for a long-term ceasefire at historic talks in Qatar.

The two sides are in the early stages of meetings in Doha as they try to hammer out a deal that would bring 19 years of bloodshed.

The head of the peace process for the Afghan government, Abdullah Abdullah, suggested that the Taliban could offer a ceasefire in exchange for the release of jailed fighters.

Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi tweeted on Monday that the presence of government negotiators at the talks “is aimed at achieving a ceasefire, ending the violence and ensuring lasting peace and stability in the country”. The United States struck an agreement with the Taliban in February that will see it withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

The deal, which paved the way for the Doha negotiations, did not commit the insurgents to any reduction of violence, only requiring that it be “an item on the agenda” in negotiations.

Schedules and a code of conduct for the talks were discussed in meetings on Sunday and were due to continue on Monday, according to the government side, but talks on substantive issues are yet to get under way.

Afghan government delegates warned that negotiations, which take place even as fighting continues in Afghanistan, would be arduous and messy.

Nearly two decades since the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban, fighting still kills dozens of people daily and the country’s economy has been shattered, pushing millions into poverty.

Officials said six police were killed in a Taliban attack in Kunduz at the weekend, while five officers were slain in Kapisa province.

A roadside mine blast in the capital also wounded two civilians, while another blast hit Kabul district, .

During a speech at the opening event, Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar repeated the insurgents’ message that Afghanistan should be run according to Islamic law.

Kabul graveyard

As Taliban and Afghan government negotiators met in Qatar, around 50 families gathered at a graveyard in Kabul on Monday imploring them not to forget the rights of victims of violence.

Demonstrating families gathered at a cemetery where many of the victims of a 2018 bomb attack at a school in west Kabul were buried.

One boy cried next to the grave of a classmate, another waved a banner reading in Dari: “Who represents the victims in peace negotiations?”

Many of those gathered at the graveyard, some by the graves of their loved ones, called for lasting peace.

Raihana Hashemi, 28, whose sister was killed in a separate 2018 incident in which protesters were shot near a school, said that around two months ago she and other families had created a “National War Victims Network” to elevate concerns they were being forgotten during the peace process.


Turkey hails Bangladesh for hosting Rohingya refugees

Burak Dağ,Seda Sevencan  


Turkey's top diplomat praised Bangladesh on Monday for its efforts to host Rohingya refugees.

In a joint news conference following a meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart AK Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu thanked Dhaka for their hosting of millions of Rohingya refugees.

"We know that this is a huge burden and huge responsibility for Bangladesh. More than 4 million refugees are actually hosted by Bangladesh in total, so this is a huge responsibility on their shoulders. We appreciate their efforts," he told reporters in Ankara, Turkey's capital.

Cavusoglu said that Turkey, with its all organizations, stood by the Rohingya people and was helping Bangladesh.

He stressed that the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) also provides significant support to development projects in Bangladesh, besides its efforts for the Rohingya.

Underlining that Ankara also extended a helping hand to Dhaka during the COVID-19 outbreak, he said: "We will send additional medical supplies, including respirators, to Bangladesh at the directives of our president. We will continue to stand by our Bangladeshi brothers and sisters in the upcoming period."

Momen said Bangladesh and Turkey were two brotherly countries and that their relationship was based on historical connections, religious and cultural affinity and common aspirations for a peaceful world and prosperous Muslim world.

He underlined that Turkey stood by Bangladesh in the Rohingya crisis since 2017 and built the first hospital in the Rohingya camps.

Cavusoglu also said the two countries, also member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), would continue to work in solidarity in the OIC.

Hosting the Bangladeshi counterpart, Cavusoglu said they also exchanged views on the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation and added that they will continue their efforts to strengthen the D-8 and expand the group and even turn it into D-20.

Also pointing out the historical ties, Cavusoglu said: “We cannot forget the support our Bengali brothers gave during the War of Independence. Once again, I express our gratitude.”

He also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bangladesh's founding leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

On the trade ties, Cavusoglu said that the trade volume between Turkey and Bangladesh was around $1 billion, adding that this should be raised to $2 billion.

In their meeting earlier on Monday, the two officials discussed bilateral relations, trade and investment.

The D-8 organization was launched on June 15, 1997, after Turkey's then-prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, proposed the creation of an economic group consisting of eight emerging economies from the Muslim world, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey.



Rohingya resettlement on ‘floating island’ risks repatriation: Experts

Md. Kamruzzaman  


DHAKA, Bangladesh

The Bangladesh government’s plan to resettle Rohingya refugees on a remote island might delay or even harm the repatriation of Rohingya to their homeland west of Myanmar, according to experts.

But the plan has met with resistance from members of the ethnic minority who fled persecution in Myanmar. They say the relocation will prolong talks aimed at their long-sought return to ancestral homeland with rights and in safety and dignity.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced brutal military crackdown in the western Rakhine state in Myanmar, as more than 1.2 million people from the Muslim minority community took shelter in southeastern Bangladeshi district of Cox's Bazar.

“We appreciate Bangladesh’s hospitality toward us for years, and we are grateful to the country’s government for constructing nice settlements on an island for us, but we want to go back to our home country Myanmar, not to any other place,” Abdul Hamid, a community leader in Rohingya refugee camp, told Anadolu Agency.

Spending around 23 billion Bangladeshi taka (about $272 million) from its own resources, the host country has developed 120 cluster villages at Bhasan Char, which translates to “floating island”, to accommodate 100,000 Rohingya there in the first phase.

The remote Bangladeshi islet is located in the Bay of Bengal around 50 kilometers (31 miles) off its southwestern coast.

Citing the coronavirus pandemic, Bangladesh relocated 306 Rohingya to the island in May as they had been stranded at sea for months after failing to migrate to a third country.

The island is only accessible by boat, and it remains totally isolated during rough weather.

Among a group of 40 Rohingyas who visited the island last week during a three-day tour arranged by the Bangladeshi government, Hamid said that few people have been living there and “it would be difficult for us to return from the island if we settled there.”

“The Myanmar government will also misinterpret this resettlement as prolonging the ongoing negotiation process for our return to homeland Arakan [now Rakhine] as they still label us as illegal Bengalis,” Hamid said.

Bangladesh is also blaming Myanmar for not creating a favourable environment to take back its citizens.

“Unfortunately until today, none have gone back, and instead of creating a conducive environment, fighting and shelling is continuing in Rakhine state,” Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told the 27th meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum on Saturday.

‘Resettlement weakens minimum possibility of repatriation’

A high-profile delegation of the Myanmar government with its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi held several meetings with the Rohingya delegation in Bangladesh last year on the repatriation.

But the initiatives were futile as the delegation failed to assure the preconditions of repatriation including citizenship rights and a safety guarantee under the UN observers. Bangladesh has also signed three agreements with Myanmar on Rohingya repatriation.

But since the mass exodus of Rohingya in August 2017 following a brutal military crackdown in the Rakhine state, no Rohingya have returned home as they are unable to do so in a safe and dignified environment.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Khin Maung, executive director of the Rohingya Youth Association, said there is no positive signal from the Myanmar government to take back its citizens.

“They are prolonging the repatriation process whimsically,” said Maung of the Cox’s Bazar-based Rohingya rights body.

“In this situation, resettlement of us on any remote Bangladeshi island means the minimum possibility of repatriation under international supervision will be weakened.”

On the last week’s tour to Bhasan Char, Maung said: “Only less educated camp-based Rohingya leaders were selected for the visit and comparatively higher educated community leaders were excluded.”

“It’s a good initiative on behalf of Bangladesh, but our position is very clear, and we want to return to our own country with citizenship rights and safety,” he said.

In the ASEAN meeting, Bangladesh’s top diplomat said: “Rohingyas are not returning to their homeland primarily because they do not trust their government regarding their safety and security”.

In order to reduce trust deficit and build confidence, Momen suggested Myanmar engage non-military civilian observers from their friendly countries like China, Russia, India, of ASEAN, or other friends of their choice.

No interest in prolonging statelessness

Jumalida Begum, who was also part of the Rohingya group visiting island, told Anadolu Agency that “the settlements on Bhasan Char are obviously better than the crammed camps in Cox’s Bazar, but we are not interested in being settled here for long as stateless people.”

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

“I worry whether the supply of food and other basic needs will continue to be supplied to the island where we still do not see any activities of the UN or other aid agencies,” Begum added.

The UN Refugee Agency spokesman in Bangladesh, Mostafa Mohammad Sazzad Hossain, told Anadolu Agency that “comprehensive technical and protection assessments to evaluate the safety and sustainability of life on Bhasan Char are essential before any relocations to the island take place and any relocations should be voluntary.”

“UNHCR is aware of a go-and-see visit organized by the government of Bangladesh to Bhasan Char in the beginning of September. We have neither been involved in this visit nor requested to support it,” he added.

A prize-winning Rohingya female rights activist preferring not to be named told Anadolu Agency: “We Rohingya never ever will go to the Bashan Char island. That is not our land. We want to go back to our own land, which is Myanmar.”

Recalling Bangladesh’s humanitarian role toward the Rohingya, she added that “Bangladesh should not try to send our people to the island. This is not a solution. It is providing more room to the government of Myanmar to delay repatriation.”

“We don’t want to live inside a golden cage. Our dream goal is to go back to our land. If [we] don’t have a roof or wall, we will manage. Just give us our land back.”

Resettlement on voluntary basis

Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Md Mahbub Alam Talukder, however, told Anadolu Agency that the repatriation process will be held on a voluntary basis.

“It’s very natural that some may have different views, but we want to resettle Rohingya at the island for their better living conditions,” he said.

“We are always ready to start the resettlement process. Now we are waiting for the green light from the government. No Rohingya will be forced to shift to the Bhasan Char island.”


Dispute on Terms Delay Intra-Afghan Talks

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

15 Sep 2020

DOHA, Qatar – Members of the Afghan “contact group” said the scheduled first round of intra-Afghan negotiations on Monday were delayed due to controversies on talks’ agenda and terms, according to sources, pushing the country’s expectations further away.

Both the Afghan and the Taliban “contact group” have to decide on an agenda, the code of conduct and a due date for the first round of the intra-Afghan talks.

While sources suggested the groups have held two meeting by far: one Sunday evening and other on Monday morning, Afghan negotiator Habiba Sarabi said only one meeting held, adding “we should not expect decisions on everything in a short time.”

The second meeting of the “contact group” is scheduled Monday evening, she clarified.

“The agenda comes later (in discussions). First, we should decide on the principles of the negotiations,” said Matin Bek, a negotiator from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as quoted by TOLOnews. “Other topics might take time, but we have made good progress jointly.”

The delay came a day after sources said both side of the negotiations formed the “contact group” at a meeting held behind closed door on Saturday, after the opening of Intra-Afghan talks.

Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Nader Nadery, Zarar Ahmad Muqbil, Fawzia Koofi, Enayatullah Baligh, Mohammad Natiqi and Khalid Noor are the seven members of the contact group, representing Afghanistan.

While, the Taliban’s contact group members are Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, Abbas Stanekzai, Noorullah Noori, Shaikh Delawar and Shaikh Qasim.

On Saturday, the opening session of Intra-Afghan talks were held in Qatari capital Doha, where the Afghan and the Taliban delegation team, including international allies, came together to start the long-waited peace negations that will end the roughly two decades of war in Afghanistan.





Somali army says kills 12 Al-Shabaab members in Lower Shabelle region

September 14, 2020

The Somali National Army has announced killing 12 Al-Sbabaab members in a military operation near Barire area, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia.

The commander of SNA’s 143rd unit, Major Ahmed Hassan Siyad, has said that the troops killed the militants in a planned operation after they received information that the Al-Shabaab operatives were demanding money from residents living in villages near Barire.

Meanwhile, South West state’s security forces said they killed a senior Al-Shabaab commander in clashes in Bay region, southwest of the country.

The security agencies in the region announced that the notorious commander of the Al-Qaeda-linked group, Ibrahim Maalim Abdi aka Ibrahim Ganey, was shot dead in an operation the security forces carried out between Bardale and Awdinle areas in Bay region.


Boat capsizes near Libya, 2 dozen migrants presumed dead

September 15, 2020

CAIRO: The UN migration agency said Tuesday that a boat carrying migrants bound for Europe capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, leaving at least two dozen people drowned or missing and presumed dead, the latest shipwreck off the North African country.

Safa Msehli, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, told The Associated Press that Libya’s coast guard intercepted three boats on Monday, and one of them had capsized.

She said the coast guard retrieved two bodies, and survivors reported 22 others were missing and presumed dead.

At least 45 survivors on the three boats were returned to the shore. All migrants were men, with a majority from Egypt and Morocco, she said.

“This new tragedy signals yet again the need for increased search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean. Instead, we are seeing restrictions on NGOs and long, unnecessary stand-offs,” Msehli said.

The shipwreck was the latest maritime disaster involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

In August, a boat carrying dozens of migrants capsized leaving at least 45 people drowned or missing and presumed dead, marking the largest number of fatalities in a single shipwreck off the coast of the North African country.

Libya, which descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, has emerged as a major transit point for African and Arab migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe.


Tunisia renews engagement with Libya, appointing envoy

Yumna Salmi  



Tunisia is stepping up its engagements with Libya after nearly six years of diplomatic absence, with the country announcing the appointment of Assaad Ajili as its new ambassador to Tripoli.

The recent move is an indication of "new changes in Tunisia’s diplomacy in the official handling of the Libyan crisis," according to analysts and former diplomats who spoke to Anadolu Agency.

Similarly, some analysts believe that improvement in the internal Libyan security situation and the cease-fire have encouraged Tunisia’s renewed diplomatic relations with Libya.

Since Aug. 21, a cease-fire has been agreed in Libya, despite frequent violations by forces loyal to the warlord Khalifa Haftar.

Familiarity with Libyan crisis

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, former Tunisian diplomat Bashir Jouini said the appointment of the Tunisian ambassador to Libya is the first since 2014.

According to Jouini, Ajili is familiar with the Libyan crisis and was commissioned by the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 2019 to conduct studies and research on relations between the two countries.

The Tunisian embassy in Libya as well as the consulate general were closed in October 2014 and July 2015 respectively due to the deteriorating security situation and the kidnapping of Tunisian diplomats.

Prior to the recent appointment of Ajili, Ridha Boukadi was the last Tunisian ambassador to Libya, who submitted his resignation to late President Beji Caid Essebsi in February 2015.

The embassy and consulate were reopened in April 2016, and then Tawfiq Al-Qasimi was appointed consul general of Tunisia in Libya in 2018.

Indicators for resolving Libyan crisis

Tunisian former Foreign Minister Ahmed Wanis told Anadolu Agency that although Tunisia’s diplomatic representation in Libya has been absent, its efforts in resolving the political crisis have been persistent, especially considering the presence of a large Tunisian diaspora there.

Wanis pointed out that a number of Tunisia’s diplomats have been kidnapped or harassed in Libya while journalists have also been kidnapped.

In September 2014, two Tunisian journalists -- Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Al Qatari -- disappeared in Libya while they were conducting an investigation for the private television channel Frist TV about the Petroleum Facilities Guard in the region of Ajdabiya. Their whereabouts have been unknown since Sept. 8 of the same year.

A number of conflicting news reports have been circulating about their killing or detainment in prisons run by Haftar’s militia.

"Security was absent in Libya. Tunisia did not want to fall into the trap of terrorism and kidnappings, so it withdrew its diplomatic representation," Wanis added.

Progress towards ending the political crisis in Libya has encouraged Tunisia’s recent diplomatic move in the oil-rich country, said Wanis, adding Tunisia is keen to “influence the choices of the Libyan brothers by offering advice and expressing solidarity."

Recent talks between Libya’s warring rivals hosted by Morocco have raised hopes of ending the country’s 10-year conflict.

Return after Libyan settlement

For his part, Abdallah Al-Obeidi, a former Tunisian diplomat and expert on foreign relations, told Anadolu Agency that it is too early to comment on the impact of Tunisia’s diplomatic return to Libya.

“The assessment of the Tunisian government may be that the situation in Libya is heading towards a settlement and calm which allows the presence of an ambassador in Libya. We also have a community and Tunisian families in Libya that deserve some consular services," he said.

According to Al-Obeidi, Libya has been an important economic partner for Tunisia and the two countries share a border, which are factors that give Tunisia incentives to play a role in the Libyan political scene.

Presidential endeavors

On the other hand, the former ambassador Tawfiq Wannas believes that the diplomatic return has been steered by current President Kais Saied and has been facilitated by an improvement in Libya’s security situation and the ongoing cease-fire between the warring parties.

"Saied made efforts to bridge the gap between the Libyan factions and has met with Libyan representatives, UN officials -- including recently the head of the United Nations Mission in Libya Stephanie Williams -- and the commander of the American military command in Africa [AFRICOM]," said Wannas.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The Government of National Accord (GNA) was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to Haftar.

The UN recognizes the government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj as the country's legitimate authority as Tripoli has battled Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

Diplomatic efforts have been underway in recent weeks to reach a solution to the Libyan conflict following victories made by the Libyan Army against Haftar’s militias.


Armed men attack Nigerian village, kidnap 21

Zahir Sofuoglu 


Armed men abducted 21 people in a raid on a village in northwestern Nigeria’s Kaduna city, local media reported Monday.

The unknown assailants attacked the Udawa village late on Sunday, kidnapping 21 residents, including children, and leaving several injured.

Kaduna State Police spokesman Muhammad Jalige confirmed the incident and said the Nigerian authorities had sent reinforcements to the village after the attack.

He added that the authorities moved the injured to hospitals and were searching for the kidnapped villagers.

The country's northwestern region sees occasional clashes between the herder Fulani people -- one of the largest ethnic groups widely dispersed across West Africa -- and neighboring sedentary tribes.

The Fulani, who migrated to the south of the country to graze their animals, claim that farmers try to steal their animals and attack their people.



North America


US spy detained in Venezuela charged with terrorism, arms trafficking

15 September 2020

Caracas says the American spy it recently arrested near a Venezuelan oil refinery has been charged with terrorism and weapons trafficking.

In comments on Monday, Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Tarek Saab said the US citizen, Matthew John Heath, was plotting attacks against Venezuela’s oil industry and electricity system.

Saab said Heath was not carrying a passport and had entered illegally via the Colombian border, but that authorities found a passport photocopy hidden in one of his shoes.

He also noted that Heath was carrying a “coin” linking him to the Central Intelligence Agency, without providing details, and said he had previously worked for a private military contractor.

Saab said three Venezuelan citizens, including one member of the military, were arrested and charged with treason as part of the alleged plot.

“They tried to fill the country with blood,” Saab said. “The Venezuelan state has managed to neutralize the plans to attack the oil industry and national electric system.”

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the capture of the “American spy” with heavy weapons and money near two refineries in the country, which is gripped by an acute fuel shortage crisis as a result of illegal US-imposed sanctions.

"Yesterday we captured... an American spy who was spying in Falcon state on the Amuay and Cardon refineries,” Maduro said in a televised address in capital Caracas on Friday.

The individual, Maduro said, was a member of the US Marine Corps who worked with the CIA in Iraq, and was captured with “heavy, specialized weapons and a large amount of cash” in the northwestern state.

Venezuelan authorities have stepped up security at all refineries in the Latin American country after the incidents.

Two former members of the US military were detained in Venezuela earlier this year after a group of mercenaries attempted to intrude into the northern state of La Guaira on speedboats. The Venezuelan military foiled the attack, killing eight of the armed men and arresting several others.

Caracas last month sentenced the two former US soldiers to 20 years in prison for their role in a May incursion aimed at ousting Maduro.


Trump vows ‘1,000 times greater’ response to any Iran attack

September 15, 2020

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday vowed that any attack by Iran would be met with a response “1,000 times greater in magnitude,” after reports that Iran planned to avenge the killing of top general Qasem Soleimani in January.

“Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!” Trump tweeted after reports of an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa.


US eager to see Gulf dispute end, Qatar blockade lifted

Michael Hernandez  



The US is eager to see Qatar and its Gulf Arab neighbors end a three-year diplomatic crisis that has led to the blockade of the emirate, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.

Speaking at the opening of a third annual strategic dialogue session, the top US diplomat said an end to the row would facilitate greater regional cooperation between Washington and Doha, adding it is "past time to find a solution to the Gulf rift."

"The Trump administration is eager to see this dispute resolved, and to reopen Qatar’s air and land borders currently blocked by other Gulf states. I look forward to progress on this issue," he said at the State Department.

The comments come less than one week after David Schenker, the State Department's top official for the Middle East, said the blockade could be ended within "weeks" amid ongoing mediation between the parties hosted by the Kuwait with the US's backing.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have cut ties with Doha and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the country over allegations of supporting terrorism and meddling in their internal affairs. Qatar denies the charges, and has voiced openness to a dialogue to end the impasse.

US President Donald Trump initially sided in 2017 with the Saudi-led coalition before backtracking the following year by praising Qatar's efforts to combat terrorism and calling Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani a "friend of mine."

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani said "despite regional challenges," including the blockade, bilateral cooperation between the US and Qatar has "continually strengthened," and suggested the row with Qatar's regional neighbors has led Doha to strengthen its relations with the international community to "unprecedented levels."

Al-Thani, who also serves as Qatar's deputy prime minister, thanked Washington for supporting Kuwait's efforts "to resolve the blockade on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and independence of the state of Qatar."

The parties announced at the start of the two-day strategic dialogue session agreement on a cultural exchange, and their intent to support an investment forum in 2021.


Wolf says 'lone, homegrown' terror threat is top DHS focus 19 years after 9/11

September 14, 2020

Nineteen years after Al Qaeda attacked America, the terror threat to the United States has "changed and it's morphed over the years," Acting Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf told "Special Report" Friday.

"From a threat perspective, we still see a number of the traditional threats that we battled on 9/11," Wolf told host Bret Baier. "[We see in] counterterrorism some of the foreign terrorist organizations that are still certainly a threat to the homeland, but we see more of a domestic threat here in the country as well over the last several years.

"The threat has changed and it's morphed over the years," Wolf added, "but we continue to do the work at the department to confront all threats."

Baier noted that in February, FBI Director Chris Wray had confirmed that the FBI is engaged in active domestic terrorism investigations in all 50 states.

"The lone, homegrown offender that is going to do some kind of incident here in the homeland is certainly a concern for the department," Wolf agreed. "That's the threat we are focused on today.

"As you've seen in the last several years, most of the attacks on the homeland have come from lone offenders or small cells of individuals," he added. "And that's where the focus is and again, we do all threats at the department, so while we are focused on one, we certainly do focus on the wide range of threats based on the homeland."

Wolf also responded to a whistleblower complaint filed earlier this week that alleged the department suppressed reports concerning Russian election interference, calling it "completely false" and "a fabrication."

"We have been very clear regarding Russia interference in our elections ..." Wolf said. "We have produced over 227 different reports over the last 12 months, I believe three alone in the month of August. We provided over 40 different briefings, in-person briefings, to members of Congress ... about Russian interference in our elections. I have talked about it in media appearances such as this, I have talked about it in congressional testimony and I have talked about it even this week in my state of the homeland security address.

"We have been very clear about making sure that we call out Russia," he concluded. "The administration has been very clear on this."





Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad to discuss irritants in Afghan peace talks

Sep 14, 2020

Omer Farooq Khan

ISLAMABAD: The US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Monday to discuss with the Pakistan leadership irritants related to the Afghan peace talks.

Khalilzad, who had attended the inaugural sessions of the Doha dialogue between the Afghan government and Taliban, is accompanied by a three-member delegation of senior US officials. He and his team will hold consultations with Pakistan’s top political and military leaders on the reconciliation process.

Observers believe Khalilzad and US officials will ask Pakistan, specifically its military leadership, to influence the insurgents to give up violence, show flexibility in their stance and agree to a truce.

The US envoy, according to sources, will also discuss with Pakistani leaders the next phase of the peace process.

During the Doha talks, known as intra-Afghan negotiations, representatives of the two sides accused each other of staging fresh battlefield attacks. Officials in Afghanistan said that contrary to their expectations, the start of the peace dialogue in Doha had not reduced the insurgent violence. Scores of people were reportedly killed in clashes between the Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents, including combatants from both sides and civilians, on Saturday and Sunday. “Unfortunately, the level of Taliban violence and offensive attacks on ANDSF (Afghan National Defence and Security Forces) and Afghan civilians have not decreased,” said Fawad Aman, the Afghan defence ministry’s spokesperson.

Ending the violence in Afghanistan remains a major challenge for the negotiating teams of the Taliban and the Kabul government.

The Afghan government, the US and allies have stressed on a truce with the Taliban but the start of the peace dialogue in Doha had not reduced the insurgent violence.

The Taliban, however, did not mention a truce as they came to the negotiating table. Taliban officials insisted that establishment of “an Islamic government” in Afghanistan and the release of thousands of insurgent prisoners from government custody are the priority issues for them.


Islamic finance important to end economic exploitation: president

September 15, 2020

President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday said Islamic banking and finance offered a broad-based platform to end economic exploitation and stressed its implementation to uplift underprivileged segments of society.

Addressing at the 10th ceremony of Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) here, the president said fairness, equality, transparency and pursuit of social harmony constituted the principles of Islamic financing.

The President called for focusing on Islamic principles to prevent concentration of wealth in the society and eliminate exploitation by discouraging elitism.

Dr Alvi said Islamic finance contributed $2.7 trillion globally, however pointed that it was comparatively much less as compared to conventional banking.

He appreciated that 17 percent of Pakistan’s banks had turned to Shariah compliant instruments and commended the role of State Bank of Pakistan and also Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan in this regard.

He stressed the need for raising public awareness about Islamic finance, particularly the spirit leading towards its positive impact on society due to far bigger scope than just being limited to money lending. He said a justified profit-making and setting a suitable limit to avoid exploitation was a real challenge for banks.

He said the coronavirus pandemic posed financial problems worldwide that required adaptations in systems accordingly.

He mentioned that Ehsaas programme launched by the government provided financial assistance to the people during difficult economic situation.

He regretted that the world over, morality suffered at the hands of economic interests and mentioned the response of United Nations on several important issues based on same approach.

He urged upon the multi-national companies to think about the notion that profit-making should not be a lone factor in dealings, but welfare of consumers and employees as well.

He termed that exploitative financial mechanism prevailing in the country against the spirit of Islam and called for an in-depth deliberation to address the grievances of people.

President Alvi called for keeping in view the factors such as inflation while lending money to consumers, and mentioned the example of China which promoted white money through simplified system based on transparent scientific modules.

He said unless a country cared for its underprivileged and vulnerable, the goals of economic prosperity could not be achieved.

He said digital economy had prospects of benefitting many segments of society, particularly women and differently-abled persons.

Dr Alvi emphasized on diverting financial instruments towards welfare of society to realize the concept of State of Medina through uplifting the poor.

Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Reza Baqir briefed about the government’s framework on Shariah compliance and the related challenges and opportunities available with Islamic financing system.

He mentioned measures adopted by the government in the domain of Islamic finance including representation of three Islamic schools of thought in Shariah Advisory Committee for an inclusive approach, setting up of Shariah boards at banks and mandatory Shariah audit.

He said Islamic banking in the country covered 13 percent of Small and Medium Enterprises and six percent of agriculture sector, which offered immense opportunity to further explore these areas.

Founding Chairman GIFA Dr Hamayun Dar highlighted the salient features of the awards with its role to promote, regulate and supervise the Islamic banking and finance the world over.

Later, President Alvi gave away awards to banks working in Islamic finance for their significant performance in related fields.

Former Governor SBP Dr Shamshad Akhtar, foreign delegations including financial experts and representatives from banks attended the ceremony.

Meanwhile, President Alvi asked Ambassador-designate to Ethiopia Shozab Abbas to work for further improving bilateral relations between the two countries in fields particularly trade, economy and culture.

In a meeting with the envoy-designate here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the President said Pakistan attached great significance to its ties with Ethiopia and wanted to expand trade and commercial relations for mutual benefit. The President urged upon the ambassador-designate to encourage Ethiopian investors to invest in Pakistan, being an attractive place for foreign investment in view of its investment-friendly trade policy.


NA extends Jadhav-related ordinance for four months

Iftikhar A. Khan

15 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday extended the International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Ordinance meant to facilitate convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav through a voice vote for four months.

The ordinance that was set to expire on Sept 17 allows the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) operative, who was sentenced to death by a military court for fomenting terrorism in Pakistan, to file an appeal against his conviction in a high court.

The NA also adopted motions seeking to refer two Financial Action Task Force-related bills, which were passed by the lower house and rejected by the upper house of parliament last month, to the joint sitting of parliament for consideration and passage. The bills included Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Waqf Properties Bill.

The House also passed another FATF-related bill, the Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 without sending it to the relevant standing committee after the rules were suspended.

Opposition slams govt for protecting CCPO over motorway gang-rape

The bill is aimed at bringing more control and transparency in registration/regulations of Cooperative Societies in Islamabad and control terror financing through this channel.

On behalf of Interior Minister Brig (retired) Ijaz Shah, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan moved the bill to further amend the Cooperative Societies Act, 1925 [The Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the House.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill says that the FATF requires to amend the Cooperative Societies Act, 1925 in order to bring more control and transparency in Registration/ Regulations of Cooperative Societies in Islamabad.

Motorway gang-rape

Meanwhile, barbs flew in the National Assembly as the House held a debate on the recent motorway incident, with leader of the opposition Shahbaz Sharif demanding formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate delayed response by the relevant departments to the incident on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway, the controversial appointment to the office of Lahore CCPO and his egregious rape victim-blaming.

The PML-N president said Mr Khan’s criminal silence and his government’s gross mishandling of the heart-wrenching incident had brought shame to Pakistan in the entire world.

He said the prime minister had been missing in action for days and could not utter a single word to condemn this horrific incident. He said this was not the first time that Mr Khan had disappeared when the nation needed the leadership the most.

He also expressed outrage over the extensive delay in response to the incident as different departments tried to pass on the responsibility over the jurisdiction issue. He said priority should have been rapid response instead of procrastination by officials.

The opposition leader slammed CCPO Umar Sheikh’s remarks blaming the victim and said it was utterly shameful that the government tried to defend the CCPO instead of the victim.

He alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government appointed an official of questionable character to the important position of Punjab’s provincial capital police chief only to use him for political victimisation. However, he said the CCPO’s character was exposed within no time.

The PML-N president said he did not seek self-promotion but it was a fact that the state-of-the-art forensic lab that his government had established made it possible for police to identify and trace the culprits.

He reminded the House how the PTI and its leaders in the opposition had politicised the Zainab case during the previous PML-N government, but the entire opposition this time did not exploit the motorway gang-rape for political mileage. Understanding the gravity of the situation, the opposition was with the victim and the entire nation, he said, instead of protecting the controversial CCPO.

He also asked as to why the Punjab IGP’s letter written in July suggesting deployment of police on the motorway had been ignored. “This is criminal negligence,” he remarked.

He warned that such incidents would not stop if the federal government did not stop taking decisions of every provincial department with the only motive to persecute and victimise opposition parties, ripping meritocracy to shreds and appointing the most incompetent people to the highest posts. The country and its people could not be safe under an incompetent government and its incompetent appointees, he added.

The PML-N president said the PTI government had failed the country in every domain, from economy, to foreign policy, to disaster management and worst of all in maintaining law and order and ensuring the protection and security of the public life, property and dignity. “When the nation feels insecure the Prime Minister disappears,” he reiterated. He said the government would have to reset its direction, if it was serious about preventing reoccurrence of such incidents.


No compromise on independence of judiciary: CJP

15 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Monday asserted that no one under the ambit of law would be allowed to undermine the independence of the judiciary enshrined in the Constitution.

“The Constitution mandates in its preamble that the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured,” observed the CJP while speaking at the opening ceremony of new judicial year 2020-21.

The ceremony was also addressed by Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Abid Saqi and Supreme Court Bar Association president Syed Qalb-e-Hassan.

The Supreme Court chief justice said that neither justice could be delivered nor the fundamental rights of people protected unless judges were fully independent and under no external pressure.

The statement from the top adjudicator at this crucial juncture attains significance against the backdrop of widely accepted perception about the shrinking space for dissent and authority of the legal system, commented a senior counsel on condition of anonymity.

Says this year has been most challenging due to coronavirus pandemic

The CJP emphasised that under the Constitution and the law, no one was allowed to undermine the independence of judiciary, assuring that in the times to come, the judiciary at all levels would continue striving to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution to foster justice in all circumstances and ensure the rule of law in the country.

Referring to the concept of the judicial year, he said this occasion held great significance as it provided an opportunity to scrutinise the past performance, celebrate successes, discover shortcomings and ascertain the reasons to set new goals and devise new policies to achieve such objectives.

The chief justice asked why the courts were so very important for the functioning of the constitutional system and why the courts were tasked with protecting people’s basic and fundamental rights. He then went on to answer these by saying that “ours is a government of laws, not of men. Yet, laws, on their own, are of little use”.

The chief justice observed that every judge of the superior judiciary was under solemn oath to discharge duties honestly to the best of his ability and faithfully in accordance with the Constitution and the law and, in all circumstances, to do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

“I must say that it is not only a privilege to be a judge but a heavy duty is cast upon judges, even under the oath, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and not allow their personal interest to influence the official conduct or official decisions,” he observed.

The chief justice said this year had been one of the most challenging ones in the country’s history due to the coronavirus pandemic. Besides having been faced with other challenges like delay in disposal of cases, the pandemic posed a severe, unseen and intricate challenge to the court’s ability to function, he added.

“In the circumstances, we had to take wise and considerate decisions,” he said, adding that one among those was whether the court should remain open. Indeed, many, if not most, courts around the world chose to shut themselves off from the public, he said.

Referring to the overall institution and disposal of cases in the apex court, the chief justice said a total of 42,138 cases were pending at the beginning of the judicial year. During the pre-coronavirus period, about 8,817 fresh cases were instituted and about 6,752 decided. During the post-Covid-19 period, 7,046 cases were filed and 5,792 decided, leaving the closing balance of 45,455 cases.

“With the zeal to clear the backlog, judges volunteered to forego most of their vacations and continued to perform their duties. By adopting such measures, about 12,544 cases were disposed of during the previous judicial year,” the chief justice said.

Similarly, during the pre-Covid-19 period, from Sept 1, 2019 to Feb 29, 2020 (153 working days), 173 model criminal trial courts decided 21,553 murder and narcotic cases. During that period, 152 model trial magistrate courts decided 61,795 cases, while 119 model civil appellate courts decided 33,502 cases. In this way, total 444 modal courts, in all, decided a massive number of 116,850 cases in just 153 days. The pandemic has also hampered the progress of model courts. During the period between March 1 and Sept 11 this year, 437 modal courts could decide 16,487 cases in about 154 days.


FO summons Indian envoy over 'mysterious' deaths of 11 Pakistani Hindus in Jodhpur

Naveed Siddiqui

14 Sep 2020

Pakistan on Monday summoned the Indian chargé d'affaires to convey its serious concern over the deaths of 11 Pakistani Hindus, whose bodies were found in "mysterious" circumstances in a village field in India's Rajasthan state last month.

On August 9, the bodies of 11 people including children from a single family, who had migrated to India from Pakistan, were found in a field in Jodhpur district. According to reports, only one member of the family, which belonged to the Bheel community, now remains.

The Indian envoy was told that "despite repeated requests by the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi for details regarding the tragic incident, the Indian government continues to evade the issue, has disclosed only scant information about the case, and has failed to share any substantive details regarding the cause and circumstances of the deaths", the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.

The press release noted that a daughter of the deceased head of the family, Shrimati Mukhi, had made "highly concerning statements, implicating the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the murder of her father, mother and other family members, allegedly after [RAW] failed to convince them to spy on Pakistan and issue anti-Pakistan statements".

The envoy was told that it was of "utmost importance" for the Indian government to be fully transparent about the incident in the interest of justice to the family and also to "ensure the safety and security of other Pakistani nationals in India".

"It was emphasised that since the victims of 'Jodhpur incident' were Pakistani nationals, it was incumbent upon the Government of Pakistan to be fully aware of the circumstances under which its nationals died in India," the FO said.

It urged India to carry out a "comprehensive investigation" into the matter and provide access to the Pakistan High Commission to the surviving member of the family. New Delhi was also requested to share copies of the first information report and the initial investigation report and facilitate the presence of the Pakistani high commission's representatives during the post-mortem of the deceased family members "without further delay".

Initial reports had said traces of insecticide were found at the scene where the bodies were discovered.

A preliminary police investigation suggested that the incident may have been the result of a family dispute, a BBC Urdu report said at the time.

Locals had alerted officials after finding the bodies. The deceased had come to India some eight years ago.

According to police, the family had rented a piece of land and used to cultivate it to earn a living. It said 37-year-old Kewal Ram was the only surviving member of the family in India and was being questioned by the police.

The deceased included his parents, brother, three sisters, daughter and two sons, and 75-year-old Budha Ram, the head of the family.


New entrants cause rifts in Karak JUI-F

15 Sep 2020

KARAK: The joining of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl by two senior leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has caused divisions in the party in Karak district, insiders confided to Dawn on Monday.

They said recently PML-N’s former deputy general secretary Rehmat Salam Khattak joined the party, but his joining did not go well with Maulana Mirzaqeem, the party’s senior leader and former candidate for the lone National Assembly seat here.

The insiders said Mr Mirzaqeem felt threatened that Rehmat Salam was now the strong candidate for the NA seat in the district. Similarly, they said PTI’s Mansoor Khattak, who had joined the JUI-F some time ago, had also caused concerns for Malik Amad Azam, nephew of incumbent JUI-F MPA Malik Zafar Azam.

The party insiders said divisions among party leaders at the district level had also created unrest among the workers, putting at stake the party’s unity.

They said the matter had also been brought into the notice of the party’s provincial leadership, which had not yet taken a clear decision. They cautioned if the situation was not corrected the party would lose its ‘strong’ position in the upcoming general elections.

POLICE CHECKPOST SOUGHT: The residents of Kurd Sharif, Showanki and the adjoining localities have demanded setting up of a police checkpost in the area to ensure protection to the life and properties of the people.

Talking to mediapersons on Monday, elders Ikhtiarur Rehman, Khana Gul and others said proclaimed offenders and other criminals had made the area their safe havens.

They claimed that criminals sneaked into the hilly belt from Punjab province and carried out heinous activities. They said their cattle were frequently stolen by the criminals, adding since the area was remote bordering the Punjab province the writ of the Karak police was nowhere to be seen.

They demanded of the district police officer to order establishment of a checkpost on the Kurd-Mianwali Road to stop criminals from sneaking into the areas.




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