Sunday, August 30, 2020

Pension Camp makes life easier for Bharatiya Gorkha Sainik in Western Nepal

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Palpa [Nepal], August 30 (ANI): Bidur Bahadur Thapa is a retired Bharatiya Gorkha Sainik who now is spending his time by engaging in agricultural business. Before Seven years, the scenario for him was different, he had to go to Gorakhpur in every three months to receive a pension but now it has been solved.

"The establishment of Pension Camp here in Tansen made it easier for us. Because of which I am able to start my business and take very good care. My plants at that time use to receive less attention, been over 7 years that I have been able to focus entirely on them and the produces are good," Thapa said.

"We use to face a lot of problems while returning to Nepal. We had to go to Kurahghat of Gorakhpur to receive a pension. In every three or six months, we use to travel back and forth which also increased our expenses. The incurring expenses of going and returning back from Gorakhpur also decreased with increased saving," Thapa added.

Not only Thapa, but other retired Bharatiya Gorkha Sainik of Palpa benefit from pension camp which now is in their own district and State Bank of India has been handling their transactions.

"Receiving pension from our own territory makes us feel secure. Traveling back and forth Gorakhpur sometimes might not be possible as we were growing old and we also fear for the wealth which we bring along with," Tara Bahadur Rana, another retired Bharatiya Gorkha Sainik claimed.

Palpa, the Hilly District of Nepal is home to about One Thousand Bharatiya Sainik who receive a pension from the Pension Camp in Tansen, the district headquarter.

The former Gorkha soldiers in the Western District of Palpa had been employed with the Indian Army for over 35 years and with the pensions received from the Indian side, they are able to go on with their daily needs and working out on their own economic sector of development. (ANI)

President Ram Nath Kovind extends greetings on eve of Onam

President Ram Nath Kovind.(File Photo)

New Delhi [India], Aug 30 (ANI): President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday extended greeting on the eve of Onam and said that the festival is a symbol of the country's rich cultural heritage.

"On the auspicious occasion of Onam, I extend my heartiest congratulations to all my fellow citizens especially to brothers and sisters of Kerala," the President said in his message.

A statement from President's Secretariat read, "The festival of Onam is a symbol of our rich cultural heritage. It is also an expression of our gratitude to Mother Nature at the arrival of new crop."

"In the times of Covid-19 pandemic, while celebrating festivals, we must take care of people from the weaker sections of the society and take adequate measures to protect and safeguard our families and society at large. May this festival strengthen the sense of cooperation and brotherhood in our country and pave the way for prosperity while living in harmony with Mother Nature", President Kovind added.

Onam festivities, which started on August 22, will continue till September 2.

Onam falls in the month of Chingam, which is the first month according to the Malayalam calendar. The celebrations spread over 10 days mark the Malayalam New Year and conclude with Thiruvonam. (ANI)

MQM leader Altaf Hussain's SOS appeal to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

MQM Founder Altaf Hussain (File photo)

London [UK], August 30 (ANI): Founder and leader of MQM, Altaf Hussain has SOS (Save Our Soil) appeal to the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres to save salvage Sindh province and the people of Karachi and rest of Sindh who is facing deplorable and life-threatening condition due to heavy rainfall and flood.

In his latest letter to the UN Secretary-General, Hussain said that heavy rain and flood has shaken the entire infrastructure of Karachi; the financial hub of Pakistan that provides 70 per cent revenue to the national exchequer which is the highest rate in Pakistan. The entire financial and economic infrastructure of the city has been collapsed due to this disaster.

Hussain said that if immediate attention and assistance is not provided to the people of Karachi and the other part of the province of Sindh, there is an imminent threat of large scale of death and famine as Covid-19 still lingers around the city.

He further said that it would rather be foolish to expect any assistance from the corrupt Military Establishment of Pakistan, the Federal government or even Sindh government as they have completely failed in maintaining law & order. Due to their failure, the sewage water mixed with rain and entered into the homes and streets of Karachi.

Hussain said that in the past; it has been observed by local and international media that any aid given to Pakistan in the name of calamity, such as the one in Karachi right now has always fallen in the pockets of powerful corrupt Military establishment of Pakistan and was never utilized for the actual purpose of helping humanity in need.

Hussain humbly requested to the UN Secretary-General to take immediate actions and release aid for the starving people of Karachi and Sindh on an emergency basis with the caution to supervise the aid under United Nations observers and not the Pakistan government and Army officials.

"I am addressing you as a last resort to save the precious lives of the people living in Karachi and Sindh as they have nowhere else to look but the United Nations," he further said to the UN Secretary-General. (ANI)

Sindhi leader accuses Pakistan State for rising incidents of enforced disappearances

Shafi Burfat, the chairman of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM). Photo/ANI

Frankfurt [Germany], August 30 (ANI): It's a common practice for fascist Pakistani spy agencies to abduct a 16-year-old boy Aqib Chandio to 70 years old Sain Bachal Shah. Historic nations in Pakistan are subject to worst subjugation, violence, and Holocaust while political activists are enduring worst state torture and terrorism, said Shafi Burfat, the chairman of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) on the International Day of the Missing Persons.

"People go missing because of various reasons but most prominent of them is the state inflicted enforced disappearances. In various countries of the world, the enforced disappearances are subject to different government policies but particularly in China and Pakistan thousands of the people mainly political activists belonging to the oppressed historic nations have been abducted and enforced disappeared by the states' spy agencies on dissenting against the oppressive policies of these governments and resisting the imperial occupation of their lands and resources by these rogue imperialist states", said Burfat, who is living in exile in Germany.

The reasons for these disappearances are purely political, he added.

"The terrorist Pakistani state has been using fascist torture and terror to crush the political movements for the freedom of the historic Sindh and Balochistan nations from the yoke of Pakistani imperialist occupation. The Pakistani fascist army is committing the Holocaust of oppressed Sindhi and Baloch nations to suppress their voice for the emancipation of their nations from the worst colonization of our national history", said the exiled Sindhi leader.

He added, "Just like China is brutally subjecting Uyghurs to worst psychological and physical torture in the concentration camps; Punjab (Pakistan) is also repeating the same state terrorism, barbarism, and torture against Sindhi and Baloch youth."

Thousands of Sindhi and Baloch political activists have been abducted and enforced disappeared by the Pakistan army and ISI so far, who are enduring worst psychological and physical torture in their secret torture cells. Thousands of mutilated bullet-riddled dead bodies of Sindhi and Baloch political activists have been dumped by ISI in deserted areas of Sindh and Balochistan. The Sindhi and Baloch nations have been coping with such circumstances for decades now.

Burfat told ANI, "Pakistan is an unnatural terrorist and rogue state which has forcibly occupied the historic Sindhi and Baloch nations through its military might and deception of democracy and Islam".
It has been committing heinous atrocities and gross human rights violations against Sindhi and Baloch historic nations. To strengthen its grip over lands, resources, and seas of Sindh and Balochistan, Pakistani fascist state has been constructing illegal settlements in these lands to convert the native people in minority and committing brutal genocide.

To see the success of its multi-billion project i.e CPEC China has also become an accomplice to Pakistan's crimes against humanity. The Pakistani army has tripled its military presence and brutal genocidal operations in Sindh and Balochistan. They abduct enforced disappear, inhumanly torture, extrajudicially kill, mutilate dead bodies of these political activists and throw them on the barren roadsides or the piles of trash in the streets in broad daylight.

These shameless fascists even don't spare elderly women and children and have been abducting and torturing them to pressurize the political activists resisting the foreign occupation of their land by Chinese and Punjabi imperialist nexus. Hundreds of cases of rape and pillage have also surfaced in the past decade.

"The Pakistani army is playing the role of worst savage rogue terrorist mercenaries in the Sindh and Balochistan the same as China is doing in the Uyghur and Tibetan territories.

Pakistan and China weigh equal on the scale of human rights violations and brutal genocides of the historically oppressed nations.", said Burfat.

He added, "The UNO and international community must take a serious note of the Chinese and Pakistani crimes against humanity. This is a tragedy that secular political Sindhi and Baloch national movements for freedom are proscribed by Pakistani fascist state while extremist terrorist Islamist organizations are being sponsored by the Pakistani state." (ANI)

200 Pak nationals stranded in India to return on September 3

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Lahore [Pakistan], August 30 (ANI): Around 200 Pakistani nationals stranded in India due to coronavirus induced travel restrictions will return to their country on September 3, according to media reports.

They will be travelling back home through Wagah-Attari border crossing which will be specially opened for their return, reported ARY News.

As per the report, the Pakistani nationals got stuck in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Pakistan's High Commission in Delhi made efforts to ensure their repatriation to the country after being approached.

According to the latest data available on Dawn, the number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan stand at 295,636 while the death toll stands at 6288. (ANI)

PM expresses happiness over states' response to make India toy production hub

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], Aug 30 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday expressed happiness to see the states' response in making the country a toy production hub.

In a tweet earlier today, the Prime Minister said, "Happy to see the states responding enthusiastically to the clarion call of making India a toy production hub."

PM Modi quoted Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's tweet where he had posted a plan to make the state's Koppal city India's first toy manufacturing cluster.

"In line with PM Narendra Modi's vision of Vocal For Local and boosting toy manufacturing, Koppala will have India's first toy manufacturing cluster. With the eco-system to support toy cluster in place, this 400 acres SEZ will have top-class infra and generate 40,000 jobs in five years," Yediyurappa tweeted.

Earlier in the day, PM Modi, during his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' radio programme, had talked about making 'toys for the world' and highlighted the ability of India to become a 'toy hub'.

"There has been a rich tradition of local toys in our country. There are many talented and skilled artisans who possess expertise in making good toys. Toys are very important for the development of children. Even Rabindranath Tagore has spoken about the importance of toys. India has the talent and the ability to become a toy hub by making toys for the entire world," he had said.

"You will be surprised to know that the global toy industry is over Rs 7 lakh crores. However, India's share in the global industry is very small. It is not right for us to have such a small share, we have to work towards improving this. I urge our start-ups to 'Team up for Toys', this also matches our call for Vocal for Local," he had added. (ANI)

Growing calls for UN to probe gross human rights violations in Xinjiang

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Ottawa [Canada], July 21 (ANI): During a hearing before the House of Commons human-rights subcommittee, several experts called out China for human rights violation in Xinjiang where Beijing has locked up millions of Uyghurs.

Multiple experts called the Chinese out on systematic destruction of Uyghur identity, history, religion, culture, language; use of concentration camps, termed as re-education camps; use of prisoners to harvest organs and use of prisoners to make beauty products.

They also pointed out the forced nationalism training and indoctrination, teaching Mandarin Chinese and Han agents living with Uyghur families to indoctrinate them.
There have been allegations of Chinese Communist Party keeping its members in families whose men have been sent to prisoner camps.

China has also faced allegations of children being sent to state-run orphanages. With high-tech 24/7 surveillance, China has virtually converted the entire province into a prison.

Several Islamic countries including Pakistan and Iran have not criticised China for its actions in Xinjiang. Pakistan, in particular, has refused to do that.

Speakers, which included - Dr Adrian Zenz, Olsi Jazexhi, David Kilgour, Dr Raziya Mahmoud, Jacob Kavalio, Garnett Genius and David Sweet pointed out about the blatant abuse of human rights being carried out in Xinjiang.

They pointed out the massive drop in population growth rate in the province. The speakers noted how people are deprived of communicating from their families.

They also mentioned about the systematic oppression against Uyghurs in the CCP regime and unprecedented scales of oppression with up to 3 million people locked up where they undergo torture and brainwashing.

The CCP has turned the region into a "brutal totalitarian police state" and everything unique about Uyghurs is "systematically targeted".

There have been growing calls for action against the Chinese officials involved in human rights violations in Xinjiang. The US had recently imposed sanctions and visa restrictions against senior officials over human rights violations in Xinjiang.

What was Lebensraum for Nazi, is now China's aggressive foreign policy, said some of the speakers. Other noted how the prisoners are forced to work as labour for the companies. (ANI)

Plea in Supreme Court seeks re-opening of religious places of all faiths

Supreme Court of India

New Delhi [India], Aug 24 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to re-build the religious places, situated within the Telangana State Secretariat Building, that were allegedly demolished with the Secretariat Building.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan refused to entertain the plea saying, "It is a misconceived prayer. We cannot allow all this under Article 32." The plea was then withdrawn by the petitioner.

The PIL was filed by advocate Khaja Aijazuddin, a practicing lawyer at Telangana High Court. He had approached the apex court alleging that two mosques and one temple, situated within the vicinity of the Secretariat Building were damaged during the demolition process.

The plea said that even though the petitioner was not concerned with the demolition of the Secretariat, the religious places situated therein have existed since a long time and their demolition amounts to deprivation of citizens' fundamental rights enshrined under Articles 14, 21, 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India.

The government is statutorily bound to protect these religious places and it is incumbent upon them to rebuild the structures, at the same place where they previously stood, the plea said.

Earlier, the Telangana High Court had refused to interfere with the state government's decision to modify/ demolish the old Secretariat Building to construct a new one. Thereafter, an appeal was filed in the top court against High Court order, which was also dismissed. (ANI)

Sushant Singh Rajput death case: Congress questions Sandeep Singh's alleged links with BJP

New Delhi [India], Aug 30 (ANI): Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Sunday while referring to Sushant Singh Rajput death case, raised questions regarding film-maker Sandeep Singh's connections with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"With whom in the BJP, does the suspect Sandeep Singh have links with? Who is protecting him? BJP is being exposed," Singhvi said while speaking to media persons here.

"Is this the same Sandeep Singh who made 53 calls in the last two and a half months to the BJP office? Who is his mentor? Who will reveal this secret?" he further questioned.

The Congress spokesperson further said: "It is the same Sandeep Singh who made a film on Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the Lok Sabha elections of 2019."

"The then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis went to release the poster of this film," he added.

Singhvi further said that on March 29, 2018, a case was registered against Sandeep Singh in Mauritius for allegedly molesting a Swiss minor. These things reveal the trick character face of a person close to BJP, he added.

"In 2019, the Gujarat government had signed a contract with Sandeep Singh for Rs 177 crores. At that time, Singh's company was running at a loss of Rs 4 lakhs," Singhvi said.

The Congress spokesperson went on to say that the issue of drugs came up during 2017-18 when the Fadnavis government was in power in Maharashtra.

"Was BJP eager for CBI investigation due to Sandeep Singh?" Singhvi questioned. (ANI)

BSF apprehends man for 'smuggling' mobile phones into Bangladesh

A visual of the seized mobile phones in West Bengal. (Photo: ANI)

North 24 Parganas (West Bengal) [India], July 7 (ANI): The Border Security Force (BSF) on Monday arrested a Bangladeshi national, who was hiding inside a cargo train at Petrapole railway station. The BSF suspect it is a case of human trafficking.

On being questioned, the man revealed that his name was Mohammad Abu Tahir and was a resident of Burburia, Komila in Bangladesh. The 41-year-old further disclosed that he came to India with the help of a middleman to work in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal.

Petropole is the Indian side of checkpoint between India and Bangladesh. "Human trafficking is done at large scale here as brokers try to extract the sizeable amount of money from innocents. The human smugglers have started this new method of hiding inside cargo trains for illegal intrusion in the country," the BSF said.

"We have asked the railways to properly seal coaches when the goods trains are emptied, so as to prevent illegal intrusion," it added.

At least six Bangladeshis have been taken into custody in five different incidents since June 20. Among them, two were children who were being trafficked to India, while three others hiding in bags inside a cargo train. (ANI)

SAI to open shooting facility for development group athletes from Sept 2

SAI logo

New Delhi [India], Aug 30 (ANI): The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has decided to open up its shooting facility for developmental group athletes from September 2 as India enters Unlock 4.

SAI has been opening up its facilities for sporting activities in a phased manner after the Government of India announced Unlock 1.

"In the first leg, SAI has geared up to open up sporting activities for shooters of the Target Olympic Podium Developmental Group and athletes of National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) at the Karni Singh Shooting Range (KSSR) from September 2," SAI said in a statement.

Earlier, in the first phase, Olympic and Paralympic-bound athletes began sporting activities at SAI's sporting facilities.

The decision to open up sporting facilities in a phased manner has been taken to ensure that safety and training continuity of athletes can move hand in hand. Separate slots have been reserved for the Olympic-bound core group of elite shooters to ensure continued training in a safe environment.

Guidelines of the Health Ministry and SAI's Standard Operating Procedure will be followed strictly during training of developmental group athletes. (ANI)

Prashant Bhushan contempt case:122 law students appeal SC reconsider judgment

Supreme Court of India

New Delhi [India], Aug 30 (ANI): Around 122 law students from across the country have written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and other judges of the Supreme Court to reconsider the judgment on senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan in the contempt of court case.

The Supreme Court had earlier this month held Bhushan guilty of contempt of court over his tweets and reserved its order on the quantum of punishment. The apex court is scheduled to pronounce the sentence on Monday.

In the letter, the law students made an emotional appeal to the CJI and other judges to reconsider sentencing against lawyer Bhushan in the contempt case.

"The judiciary ought to reply for criticism by the restoration of public confidence. The judiciary ought to reply for criticism by changing its case. The judiciary ought not to charge for contempt of court when criticism arises out of anguish and love for justice, from a person aiding in the profoundness of the same justice he asks for others," the letter said.

The law students said that they have witnessed Bhushan in courts fighting for transparency, accountability, environmental protection, and human rights, also against corruption for years.
His contribution to our fraternity and nation-building is undoubtedly cherished by all in the legal fraternity, the open letter said.

They said that the two tweets, over which Bhushan was held guilty of contempt, have layered anguish represented for the voiceless and marginalized community. Those tweets don't hurt the sanctity of the court as it depends on the approach of judges towards justice, the letter said.

"I quite realise how hard it is to resist, with sage silence, the shafts of acid speech: and, how alluring it is to succumb to the temptation of argumentation where the thorn, not the rose, triumphs. In contempt jurisdiction, silence is a sign of strength since our power is wide and we are prosecutor and judge," the law students said in the letter, quoting a judgment of Retired Judge Justice VK Iyer.
The law students further said that to criticise the judge fairly, albeit fiercely, is no crime but a necessary right, twice blessed in a democracy.

Bhushan was earlier this month held guilty of contempt of court by the Supreme Court for two of his tweets, the first one posted on June 29, related to his comment/post on a picture of CJI Bobde on a high-end bike.

In his second tweet, Bhushan expressed his opinion on the role of the last four CJIs amid the state of affairs in the country. Meanwhile, another contempt of court case against Prashant Bhushan is also pending before the Supreme Court. (ANI)

Female Pakistani lawyer tortured for giving speech against Army

Flag of Pakistan

Minsk [Belarus], Aug 30 (ANI): Authorities have stripped the accreditation of 15 Belarusian journalists working for foreign media outlets, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).

The move comes after these journalists were reporting on the protests which erupted across Belarus after longtime President Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth term in a disputed presidential election, which critics say results were rigged, CNN reported.

In a statement, BBC confirmed to CNN that the licenses of two journalists, working for its Russian service in Minsk, were taken away with immediate effect.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this stifling of independent journalism. We call upon the Belarusian authorities to revoke this decision and allow our journalists to continue doing their jobs," Charlotte Morgan, the BBC's Head of Communications, told CNN.

The BAJ said that 50 journalists were detained by Belarusian authorities in another move against press freedom. Of the journalists who were detained, all of them except four, who did not hand over their phones, were released later.

Earlier on Friday, EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell reiterated that the bloc "does not recognise the result of the election" and criticised the Belarusian government's crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

"We once again express our full support to Belarus' sovereignty and independence and condemn the violent repression of the Belarusian people," Borrell was quoted as saying by CNN.

He said the EU will impose sanctions on several Belarusian officials for the alleged role in the "fraudulent" presidential polls and in the crackdown against demonstrators. "This designation shall include individuals at the high political level," he added.

Protests in Belarus have been ongoing since August 9 after Lukashenko won over 80 per cent of the vote as opposed to his key contender Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who managed less than 10 per cent in the presidential election, according to the official figures. The Belarusian opposition refused to recognise the results and people took to the streets to demand the president's resignation.

Lukashenko has been the President of Belarus since 1994 and is often referred to as "Europe's last dictator". (ANI)

Post-Galwan clash, Indian Navy quietly deployed warship in South China Sea

Representative picture of an Indian Navy warship

By Ajit K Dubey
New Delhi [India], August 30 (ANI): Acting swiftly after the Galwan valley clash on June 15 in Eastern Ladakh, the Indian Navy sailed out its frontline warship for deployment in the South China Sea much to the displeasure of the Chinese who raised objections over the move during the talks between the two sides.

The Chinese have been objecting to the presence of Indian Navy ships in the region where it has significantly expanded its presence since 2009 through artificial islands and military presence.

"Soon after the Galwan clash broke out in which 20 of our soldiers were killed, the Indian Navy deployed one of its frontline warship to the South China Sea where the People's Liberation Army's Navy objects to the presence of any other force claiming the majority of the waters as part of its territory," government sources told ANI.

The immediate deployment of the Indian Navy warship in the South China Sea had a desired effect on the Chinese Navy and security establishment as they complained to the Indian side about the Indian warship's presence there during the diplomatic level talks with the Indian side, the sources said.

During the deployment in the South China Sea where the American Navy had also deployed its destroyers and frigates, the Indian warship was continuously maintaining contact with their American counterparts over secure communication systems, the sources informed.

As part of the routine drills, the Indian warship was being constantly updated about the status of the movement of military vessels of other countries there, they said adding that the entire mission was carried out in a very hush-hush manner to avoid any public glare on Navy's activities.

Around the same time, the Indian Navy had deployed its frontline vessels along the Malacca Straits near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the route from where the Chinese Navy enters the Indian Ocean Region to keep a check on any activity of the Chinese Navy. A number of Chinese vessels also pass through the Malacca Straits while returning with oil or taking merchant shipments towards other continents.

The sources said the Indian Navy is fully capable of checking any misadventure by the adversaries on either the eastern or the western front and the mission-based deployments have helped it to control the emerging situations effectively in and around the Indian Ocean Region.

The Navy also has plans to urgently acquire and deploy autonomous underwater vessels and other unmanned systems and sensors to keep a close eye on the movement of PLAN from Malacca Straits towards the Indian Ocean Region, the sources said.

The Navy is also taking care of the Chinese vessels present around the Djibouti area and has deployed its assets in the vicinity for protecting national interest.

The Navy has also deployed its MiG-29K fighter aircraft at an important Air Force base where they are practicing missions for conflict over land and mountainous terrain, the sources said.

The Navy is also going to fast track the procurement of 10 Naval Shipborne Unmanned Aerial Vehicles under a deal expected to be worth over Rs 1,245 crore. (ANI)

15 Belarusian Journalists working for foreign media lose accreditation

Flag of Belarus.

Minsk [Belarus], Aug 30 (ANI): Authorities have stripped the accreditation of 15 Belarusian journalists working for foreign media outlets, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).

The move comes after these journalists were reporting on the protests which erupted across Belarus after longtime President Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth term in a disputed presidential election, which critics say results were rigged, CNN reported.

In a statement, BBC confirmed to CNN that the licenses of two journalists, working for its Russian service in Minsk, were taken away with immediate effect.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this stifling of independent journalism. We call upon the Belarusian authorities to revoke this decision and allow our journalists to continue doing their jobs," Charlotte Morgan, the BBC's Head of Communications, told CNN.

The BAJ said that 50 journalists were detained by Belarusian authorities in another move against press freedom. Of the journalists who were detained, all of them except four, who did not hand over their phones, were released later.

Earlier on Friday, EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell reiterated that the bloc "does not recognise the result of the election" and criticised the Belarusian government's crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

"We once again express our full support to Belarus' sovereignty and independence and condemn the violent repression of the Belarusian people," Borrell was quoted as saying by CNN.

He said the EU will impose sanctions on several Belarusian officials for the alleged role in the "fraudulent" presidential polls and in the crackdown against demonstrators. "This designation shall include individuals at the high political level," he added.

Protests in Belarus have been ongoing since August 9 after Lukashenko won over 80 per cent of the vote as opposed to his key contender Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who managed less than 10 per cent in the presidential election, according to the official figures. The Belarusian opposition refused to recognise the results and people took to the streets to demand the president's resignation.

Lukashenko has been the President of Belarus since 1994 and is often referred to as "Europe's last dictator". (ANI)

Death toll in Beirut blast rises to 190

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Beirut [Lebanon], Aug 30 (ANI/Sputnik): The number of those killed in the powerful blast in the port of Beirut in early August has risen to 190 and over 6,500 have been injured, the Lebanese government said on Sunday.

Previous reports indicated that more than 170 people were killed in the explosion.

According to the authorities, three people are still missing, while 300 others were left homeless and more than 50,000 houses were damaged by the blast.

The massive explosion that erupted at the port of Beirut on August 4 destroyed half of the city's buildings. The authorities say the improper storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in the port was the reason behind the blast. (ANI/Sputnik)

Death toll in China hotel collapse reaches 29

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Shanxi [China], Aug 30 (ANI/Sputnik): The death toll in the collapse of a hotel in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi has risen to 29 and the search and rescue operation is over, China Press newspaper reported on Sunday.

On Saturday, local emergencies authorities said that 17 people were killed and 28 others were injured when a two-floor hotel came down in the Linfen urban district. The collapse occurred on Saturday morning.

Initial reports put the death toll from the tragic incident at five.

The search and rescue operation completed in the early hours of Sunday. According to the China Press newspaper, the death toll stands at 29 and another 28 were wounded (seven of them sustained grave injuries, while 21 others were only lightly injured).

The cause of the collapse is still under investigation and a special commission has been created for the purpose. (ANI/Sputnik)

Global COVID-19 cases surpass 25 million: Johns Hopkins University

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Maryland [US], Aug 30 (ANI/Xinhua): The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world has surpassed 25 million, according to Johns Hopkins University on Sunday.

With the total COVID-19 cases around the world reaching 25,009,250, the death toll worldwide has risen to 842,702 as of 7 am (GMT), the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University showed.

The United States reported the most COVID-19 cases and deaths, which stood at 5,961,582 and 182,779 respectively, accounting for almost a quarter of the global confirmed cases, and more than one-fifth of the global death toll.

Brazil recorded 3,846,153 cases and 120,262 deaths, second only to the US. India, following Brazil, has confirmed more than 3.5 million cases.

Countries with over 500,000 cases also include Russia, Peru, South Africa, Colombia and Mexico, while countries with over 40,000 deaths include Mexico, India and the United Kingdom, according to the CSSE. (ANI/Xinhua)

Dawood Ibrahim not our citizen, says Dominican govt

Underworld don and India's most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.

New Delhi [India], Aug 30 (ANI): The government of Commonwealth of Dominica has said that underworld don and India's most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim is and has never been a citizen of the island country.

"Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar is not, nor has he ever been, a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica, neither through the Citizenship by Investment Programme nor any other means. As such, any publication by any media or by any person purporting otherwise is strictly false," said the Dominican government in a statement.

"It has long been the responsibility of the Citizenship by Investment Unit to safeguard the integrity of the Citizenship by Investment Programme through the use of sophisticated due diligence and vetting procedures. The Citizenship by Investment Unit applies a multi-tiered system of due diligence, involving both internal and external checks by reputable, top-tier, international due diligence firms based in the United States and the United Kingdom," it said.

The statement added, "These external firms perform thorough checks, including on-the-ground research, to produce exhaustive due diligence reports. In this way, Dominica maintains a firm commitment to professional ethics and ensuring the safety of Dominican citizens."

Dawood Ibrahim is wanted in India to face the law of the land for carrying out serial blasts in Mumbai in 1993, in which scores of people were killed and injured. India has asked Pakistan several times to hand over Dawood Ibrahim.

Pakistan has been denying that it has sheltered Dawood Ibrahim. However, a Pakistan government document recently revealed Dawood Ibrahim's location that was related to a list of 88 terrorists sanctioned by Islamabad. His address on the document is White House, Karachi.

The development comes ahead of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary meet in October, which will review whether Pakistan would be blacklisted if steps are not taken in curbing terror financing on its soil. The country has been repeatedly asked to take action against terror funding and is been on the FATF grey list since June 2018. (ANI)

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary to join race for succeding Abe

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (File photo)

Tokyo [Japan], Aug 30 (ANI): Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will join the race to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who would, in turn, become the next country's premier, a source familiar with the matter told Kyodo News Agency on Sunday.

Suga, the chief spokesperson for the government, informed LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai about his desire to contest the party's leadership election, a day after Abe announced he would step down as the Prime Minister due to health concerns, the source said.

Some senior members of the LDP have lauded Suga for his crisis management abilities, underlining that it is crucial to maintain policy continuity in the fight against COVID-19, the source added.

According to senior party lawmakers, the election is slated to be held on or around September 15.

LDP policy chief and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba have also indicated their intention to participate in the election.

The Prime Minister has directed Nikai to make decisions regarding the party leadership race.

Suga, who has been serving as the government's top spokesperson since Abe assumed power in 2012, is one of the Prime Minister's closest aides and was considered a potential contender.

He had earlier ruled out succeeding Abe, saying he "never thought about it," according to Kyodo News Agency.

Abe, the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister, is stepping down due to ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease which earlier forced him to resign from the post of the premiership in 2007.

The 65-year-old leader said on Friday that he will continue to carry out his duties until the LDP elects its new leader, who will subsequently become the new prime minister. (ANI)

2 Russian aircraft intercept US Air Force bomber in unsafe manner

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Washington [US], Aug 30 (ANI): A US Air Force B-52 bomber was intercepted by two Russian aircraft in an "unsafe" and "unprofessional" manner over the Black Sea and in international waters, US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs said in a statement citing CNN.
The incident took place on Friday.

The Russian pilots crossed within 100 feet of the US Air Force bomber's nose several times and caused turbulence to the B-52, thereby limiting its ability to manoeuvre, the statement said.

"Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules," said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, in the statement.

"While the Russian aircraft were operating in international airspace, they jeopardised the safety of flight of the aircraft involved. We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent accidents," he was quoted as saying.

Earlier on Friday, the B-52s flew over 30 NATO countries "to demonstrate NATO solidarity, enhance readiness and provide training opportunities aimed at enhancing interoperability for all participating aircrews from the US and NATO allies," read a statement from US European Command, according to CNN.

This comes amid tensions between the US and Russia and questions over Washington's commitment to the alliance in the wake of a recent decision to cut US troop levels in Europe.

US President Donald Trump had earlier criticised NATO member countries for not meeting the alliance target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence. Trump then asked the Pentagon to reduce the number of American troops in Germany, citing Berlin's failure of committing to spend 2 per cent of its GDP on defence. (ANI)

In boost for intra-Afghan talks, Ghani approves 48 Reconciliation Council members

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. (File Photo)

Kabul [Afghanistan], Aug 30 (ANI): Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday (local time) approved 48 members of the High Council for National Reconciliation, led by Abdullah Abdullah, in a major development towards preparing for the much-anticipated intra-Afghan negotiations between the government and Taliban to end the two-decades-old war in the country.

In a decree, Ghani asked religious scholars, Parliament, private sector, provincial councils and media to introduce their picks for the membership of the council within a week, TOLOnews reported.

Members of council named in the decree are -- former president Hamid Karzai, former mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former vice president Mohammad Karim Khalili, former deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq, former vice president Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, former vice president Mohammad Yunus Qanooni, former foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani, former mujahideen leader and former minister of energy and water Mohammad Ismalil Khan, former Balkh governor and CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami Atta
Mohammad Noor, head of Maaz-e-Milli party Sayed Hamid Gailani, Zabihullah Mujaddedi, political and religious figure Sayed Mansoor Nadery, political and religious figure Enayatullah Shahrani, former deputy chief executive and political figure Engineer Mohammad Khan, head of Afghanistan's Ulema Council, former head of the Administrative Office of the President Sadiq Modabir, Mohammad Ismail Ghazanfar and Mawlawi Khodaidad Saleh.

Members of the council from the government include -- First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh, Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar, National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, Meshrano Jirga Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar, Wolesi Jirga Speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani, presidential adviser Almas Zahid, state minister for peace affairs (that has not been appointed so far) and presidential advisor Mawlawi Jora Tahiri, according to the decree.

Women members of the council are -- civil society activist Safia Sediqqi, former MP Najiba Ayubi, a member of the Afghan Women's Network Mari Akrami, civil society activist Zia Gul Rezaee, member of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission Alia Yulmaz, former higher education minister Farida Mohmand, chairperson of medical council of Afghanistan Nasrin Oryakhil and civil society activist Zarqa Yaftali.

The leadership members of the council include -- Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdul Salam Rahimi deputy head of the council, Enayatullah Farahmand deputy head of the council, Asadullah Saadati deputy head of the council, Zuhra Mutahari former deputy governor of Paktia, member of Afghanistan Ulema Council Atta-Ur-Rahman Salim, head of Hizb-e-Islami Nawin Din Mohammad, political figure Akram Khpulwak, head of the negotiation team Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, special presidential envoy Noor-Ul-Haq Olumi, the decree said.

Ghani authorises members of the High Council for National Reconciliation by issuing a decree, according to a political agreement signed between the Afghan President and Abdullah in May.
Based on the agreement, the High Council of Government will be established for ensuring political consensus in Afghanistan. Political leaders and national figures will be the members, according to TOLOnews.

The development comes after Abdullah said on Thursday that intra-Afghan talks are expected to start this week. The first round of negotiations is scheduled to be held in Doha in Qatar. (ANI)

Closure of nuclear test site reduces threat to international community: Kazakh President

Kazakh President Kashym-Jomart Tokayev. (File photo)

Nur-Sultan [Kazakhstan], Aug 30 (ANI/Xinhua): Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Saturday (local time) that denuclearising the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site has largely reduced the threat of nuclear proliferation to the international community.

Semipalatinsk was the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons, with over 450 tests carried out since 1949. On August 29, 1991, then-Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed an executive order to shut down the site.

Tokayev said the Semipalatinsk site near northeastern Kazakhstan's Semey city had caused intensive radioactive contamination of the surrounding areas of 300,000 square kilometres, with more than 500,000 people exposed to direct radiation.

After the closure of the test site, the Kazakh government has prioritised the social rehabilitation and long-term safety of the area, said Tokayev, adding that a comprehensive environmental survey covering 18,500 square kilometres will be completed next year.

In 2009, the UN General Assembly declared August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. (ANI/Xinhua)

Sydney: Brawl between two communities over social media post

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Sydney [Australia], Aug 30 (ANI): A brawl erupted between members of two communities hailing from India in western Sydney's Harris Park, Australian media reported.

According to 9News, the pre-planned fight between the two groups was first organised and then broadcast through Chinese video-sharing application TikTok. The brawl had reportedly broken out due to some alleged anti-India comments being shared by one group on social media.

A group of between 30 and 40 people were involved in the "organised" fight on Wigram Street. Dramatic video footage of the brawl showed punches being thrown and people being kicked repeatedly on the ground, reported.

Traffic movement in the area was also affected as the brawl spilt out onto the street with people seen creating ruckus in the video. Police and riot squad rushed to the spot to stop the violence.

One man has been rushed to a hospital for "minor injury" to his head.

"It was not good what has happened. It is really bad for the community here," business owner Nitin Setia told 9News.

Echoing similar sentiments, a community member named Amar Singh told 9News, "This does not represent our community. Harris Park is a great hub for multicultural food. We totally condemn it as a community -- it should not have happened."

So far, no arrests have been made in the case and the police are examining the video footage. (ANI)

Over 3 million people recover from COVID-19 in Brazil

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Brasilia [Brazil], Aug 30 (ANI/Sputnik): Brazil has now more than three million confirmed recoveries from COVID-19, while the country's coronavirus death toll stands at over 120,000, according to the latest data from the Health Ministry.

Brazil's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 3,846,153, with 41,350 new cases having been registered in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. Over the same period, 758 new deaths were confirmed, bringing the country's total death toll to 120,262.

The total number of recovered individuals stand at 3,006,812.

On Friday, Brazil reported 855 new deaths from COVID-19 and 43,412 fresh cases.

A week ago, Brazil's coronavirus death toll stood at around 114,000 and the number of recoveries was at over 2.7 million.

The United States and Brazil are the top two countries in terms of the total number of coronavirus cases and fatalities. The US has registered over 5.9 million coronavirus cases and more than 182,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. (ANI/Sputnik)

UN stresses need for return to political process in Libya

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Tripoli [Libya], Aug 30 (ANI/Xinhua): The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Saturday (local time) stressed the need for an inclusive return to the political process in the country.

"Libya is witnessing a dramatic turn of events that underlines the urgent need to return to a full and inclusive political process that will meet the aspirations of the Libyan people for representative government, dignity and peace," the UN body said in a statement.

It urged calm, application of the rule of law and the preservation of the rights of all citizens to peacefully express their views.

"Across Libya, UNSMIL is registering an increase in reports of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detention, restrictions placed on freedom of movement and expression, as well as on the right of peaceful assembly and protest," the mission said.

The UNSMIL expressed concern about the excessive use of force in Tripoli against demonstrators, as well as the arbitrary arrest of a number of civilians.

The mission also voiced concern about reports of ongoing human rights violations and abuses in the city of Sirte, some 450 kilometres east of Tripoli, which include the killing of a civilian, the arbitrary arrest of several others, and the illegal forced entry into private properties.

"The prolific use of hate speech and incitement to violence appears designed to further divide Libyans, increase polarization and tear at the country's social fabric at the expense of a Libyan-Libyan solution," the mission warned.

Libya has been plagued by escalating violence and political instability ever since the fall of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. (ANI/Xinhua)

Trump to visit Kenosha amid protests over shooting of African-American man

US President Donald Trump. (File Photo)

Washington [US], Aug 30 (ANI/Sputnik): US President Donald Trump will visit Kenosha, Wisconsin on September 1 to meet with local law enforcement and assess the damage caused due to the unrest following the shooting of an African-American man, the White House said on Saturday.

"President @realDonaldTrump will visit Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday to meet with local law enforcement and survey damage from the recent riots," White House spokesperson Judd Deere tweeted.

When asked about the possibility of a visit to Kenosha earlier on Saturday, during an event in Texas, Trump said that it was likely to happen.

"Probably so. We have had tremendous success as you know. We were finally able to get the go-ahead from the local authorities to send in the National Guard," Trump said at a briefing in Orange, Texas.

He added, "Within a few minutes of the guard, everybody cleared out and it became safe."

Protests against racial injustice erupted this week in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the US after 29-year-old African-American Jacob Blake was shot in the back several times by a police officer in Kenosha. The incident, which occurred on August 23, left Blake paralysed.

According to the Kenosha Professional Police Association, Blake forcefully resisted arrest and refused to drop a knife he was carrying.

During this week's protests in Kenosha, two people were killed and another was injured in a shooting. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois resident, has been arrested in connection with this separate shooting.

Over 1,000 National Guard members have been deployed to help stabilise the situation in Kenosha.
On Saturday, hundreds of people participated in a protest march in Kenosha. (ANI/Sputnik)

Three terrorists gunned down, police killed in Srinagar encounter

Visuals from the spot deferred by unspecified time. (Photo/ANI)

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Aug 30 (ANI): Three terrorists were gunned down by security forces in an encounter that broke out at Pantha Chowk in Srinagar last night, police said.
In the encounter, one police personnel has lost his life.

"Three terrorists gunned down by security forces in an encounter that began at Pantha Chowk in Srinagar last night. One police personnel lost his life. The operation is still underway," police said.
According to the Kashmir Zone police, Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Babu Ram lost his life in the encounter which began after terrorists opened fire at a joint naka of police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Pantha Chowk area.

Following this joint parties of the police and CRPF cordoned off the area and began a search operation.

During the search, terrorists again opened fire upon the search parties, leading to an encounter, according to the police. (ANI)

China puts drones, laser tech on restricted export list amid trade tussle with US

Chinese Flag

Beijing [China], Aug 30 (ANI): Amid rising tension with the United States, China has included drones and lasers among the nearly two dozen technologies added to its restricted export list.

On Friday, the ministry had said that 23 areas of innovation - ranging from space materials to 3D printing, encryption and large-scale high-speed wind tunnel design - had been added to the restricted export list.

The South China Morning Post reported the China's Ministry of Commerce as saying, "The main purpose is to regulate technology exports, promote scientific and technological progress and economic and technological cooperation, and maintain national economic security."

Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China from ING Wholesale Banking was quoted in the SCMP as saying that the revision of list was response for "the US ban on Chinese tech companies".

"These new restrictions reflect that China owns some hi-tech patents that could disrupt other economies' manufacturing," Pang said.

According to the Chinese Ministry, "With the rapid development of science and technology and the continuous improvement of China's scientific and technological strength and industrial competitiveness, it is imperative to adjust the list in a timely manner in line with international practices."

On Friday, the ministry had said that 23 areas of innovation - ranging from space materials to 3D printing, encryption and large-scale high-speed wind tunnel design - had been added to the restricted export list.

Additionally, Beijing has also revised details for 21 technologies that are already either restricted or banned, including chemical raw material production, crop breeding and biological pesticide production. (ANI)

Long history of enforced disappearances in Balochistan

People protesting against the enforced disappearances of Balochs in Pakistan. (Photo: ANI)

By Riaz Baloch
Balochistan [Pakistan], Aug 30 (ANI): There is a long history of enforced disappearances in Pakistan occupied Balochistan. While thousands of Balochs have been abducted and disappeared since its illegal occupation, hundreds of others have been eliminated in the line of Pakistan's "kill and dump" policy. Thousands still remain unaccounted for.

Due to the silence and numbness of the civilized world and Human rights organizations and lack of the media or other means in Balochistan, this issue has been suppressed until this day.

Enforced Disappearance has been used as a tool by the Pakistani state to silence the oppressed people of Balochistan since the very first day of its occupation. While countless Abductees have been killed, many of them are still facing inhuman torture in army secrets cells. Humanity is bleeding at the hands of the Pakistani state. Baloch people have taken to the streets. Families of the disappeared people suffer significant harm, they live with continuous uncertainty about the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones, often utterly disrupted by the disappearances.

Some of these missing persons' relatives have passed away with the pain and suffering in their chests but their loved ones have never returned back to them and they died waiting.

United Nations, International Court of Justice, Human rights organizations may not be able to fathom the plight of the families of missing persons. Baloch mothers, sisters, widows and their children are suffering from severe spiritual mental distress.

Pakistan's Inhuman atrocities in Balochistan are never exposed as there is a total media Blackout.

Voice for Baloch missing persons or VBMP's peaceful protest camp has been going on for more than 4050 days in Quetta, demanding Justice for Baloch missing persons. Thousands of people visit this camp on a daily basis. But the army state never understands and respects a democratic way of struggle for rights.

Enforced disappearances have been a long stain on Pakistan's human rights record. Despite the pledges of successive governments to criminalize the practice, there has been a very slow movement on legislation which is equal to nothing, while people continue to be forcibly disappeared with impunity.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is now practising the method of enforced disappearance in abroad on the Baloch Diaspora as well. Recently, a prominent Baloch journalist and activist Sajid Hussain was disappeared from a European country Sweden on March 2, 2020. His body was later found in a river of Uppsala on May 1, 2020. Sajid Hussain was a significant voice of the Baloch in the diaspora. He used to work on Human rights issues happening in Balochistan, dedicated to documenting enforced disappearances by the Pakistani agencies.

According to a report issued by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in Sweden, they suspect that the Sajid Hussain might have been abducted by Pakistani ISI.

Previously, another Baloch Social activist Rashid Hussain was arrested and disappeared from Sharjah, by UAE secret agencies on 26 December 2018, Rashid had been living and working in UAE for several years.

Later on, news issued through Pakistani electronic media that Hussain was a suspect in the Chinese consulate attack in Karachi. After six months Rashid Hussain was illegally deported and handed over to Pakistani authorities by UAE.

This news was also published by Pakistani media houses, but since then Rashid has not been given access to any court. On the contrary, Pakistan's anti-terrorism court has declared Rashid as a fugitive. Now his family is more concerned about his life. Pakistani agencies are trying to harm him in their custody.

According to a report released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, there has been an increase in cases of Baloch women being targeted by security forces. Human rights observers have noted that the absence of explicit legislation criminalizing enforced disappearances in domestic law only aggravates the situation.

Baloch women and even children are being detained by forces in their local army camps, some of them get released after a few days, but before that, they are harassed and tortured. A 23 years old school teacher Zarina Marri was abducted by security forces from the Kohlu area of Balochistan, In December 2005, and her whereabouts are still unknown.

Hundreds of political leaders, activists, Engineers, doctors, lawyers are missing in Balochistan for years. Dr Deen Mohammad Baloch, an official doctor and dispenser at Ornach Khuzdar was abducted on June 28, 2009 and is still missing.

Zakir Majeed, a student leader was abducted on June 8, 2009 and still missing, While Zahid Baloch, Shabir Baloch and many such cases of disappearance are there to be practised and solved.

Baloch nation is facing the worst Human rights abuses by Pakistani forces and agencies in this modern era, where a plethora of human rights organisations exist.

World Human rights organisations and the International courts of justice must implement legislation criminalizing Pakistan over enforced disappearances without delay so that prosecutors have appropriate tools to prosecute those responsibly.

We request the civilised world, international community, international court of justice, the United Nations and other human rights organisations to take this as a matter of urgency, to end unlawful abductions and incommunicado detentions. Enforced disappearances are a tool of intimidation that grossly violates human rights laws. (ANI)

Mike Pompeo thanks Shinzo Abe for playing pivotal role in US-Japan alliance

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Photo: ANI)

Washington DC [US], Aug 30 (ANI): US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday (local time) thanked Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister who stepped down recently, for playing a pivotal role in improving US-Japan relationship and making the ties between the two countries the strongest it has ever been.

Abe had on Friday announced that he was resigning because of poor health.

The US Secretary of State said that Abe advanced a free and open Indo-Pacific by working with the United States to build a network of partnerships across the region.

"The United States deeply values the enduring contributions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in making the U.S.-Japan relationship the strongest it has ever been. He championed our Alliance as a cornerstone of peace and security, and he advanced a free and open Indo-Pacific by working with the United States to build a network of partnerships across the region," Pompeo said in a statement.

"We thank him for his many years of dedicated service and wish him a speedy and complete recovery," Pompeo said.

US President Donald Trump on Friday had heaped praise for Abe and said they both share a "great relationship."

"We've had a great relationship and I just feel very badly about it, because it must be very severe for him to leave," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. "He loves his country so much and for him to leave, you know, I just can't imagine what it is," the US President had said.

Abe, who has battled ulcerative colitis disease for years had on Friday said he was told in June this year that were signs of recurrence of his chronic condition and he was stepping down because his worsened condition and treatment could threaten the decision-making process.

Addressing a press conference he said: "I did my best at work, while taking medicine. But starting middle of last month, my physical condition changed, and I felt very exhausted. Recurrence of the disease was confirmed at the beginning of this month."

"In politics, getting results is the most important thing. Facing illness and treatment and being in poor physical form, I could not let myself make mistakes in important political decisions and fail to achieve results," he said further.

Abe said he would continue to carry out his duties until the ruling party elects its new leader, who would subsequently become the new prime minister. The elections are expected to be held in mid-September. (ANI)

Trump accuses Congress members of leaking classified information from security briefings

US President Donald Trump.

Washington DC [USA], Aug 30 (ANI/Sputnik): US President Donald Trump says Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has decided to stop briefings on election security issues for Congress because somebody, possibly House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, has been leaking classified information.

On Saturday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that there would be no more briefings for Congress members and both House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence on security issues relating to the upcoming presidential elections.

"Director Ratcliffe brought information into the committee and the information leaked. Whether it was Shifty Schiff or somebody else, they leaked the information ... and what's even worse they leaked the wrong information. And he [Ratcliffe] got tired of it, so he wants to do it in a different form, because you have leakers on the committee, obviously, leakers that are doing bad things," Trump said at an event in Texas on Saturday.

Schiff said after Trump's remarks during the Texas briefing that the US president was "projecting."

"As usual, President Trump is lying and projecting. Trump fired the last DNI for briefing Congress on Russian efforts to help his campaign. Now he's ending briefings altogether. Trump doesn't want the American people to know about Russia's efforts to aid his re-election," Schiff wrote on Twitter.

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations of interfering in the US political system, saying such acts run contrary to the principles of the country's foreign policy.
In July, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs said the United States was not seeing the same level of hacking from foreign adversaries in this year's upcoming presidential election compared to the one held four years ago. (ANI/Sputnik)

PM Modi to address nation through 'Mann Ki Baat' today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], Aug 30 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation through his radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat' at 11 am on Sunday.

Earlier on August 18, Prime Minister Modi had asked people to share their inputs and ideas for the 68th edition of his monthly radio programme 'Mann ki Baat'.

Speaking at the 67th edition of 'Mann Ki Baat', which coincided with the 21st anniversary of 'Kargil Vijay Diwas', Prime Minister Modi had criticised Pakistan and said it undertook the misadventure with sinister plans to capture India's land and to divert its ongoing internal conflicts.

He also said that Pakistan tried to backstab in response to India's friendly endeavours. The Prime Minister had urged the youth to share stories of valour of soldiers during the Kargil war.

He also asked people to visit the website - - saying they will get to know a lot about the braves and their valour.

"When you share these with friends, they will also get inspired," he had said. (ANI)

Canada scraps Covid-19 vaccine trial with Chinese pharma company

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Beijing [China], Aug 30 (ANI): Canada has decided to cancel a coronavirus vaccine development agreement with the Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino due to delay in the shipping of drugs.

According to the South China Morning Post, it is unclear if political tensions between the two countries had anything to do with the snag at the Chinese customs.

China's National Research Council said that "The agreement between the NRC and CanSino had been reviewed prior to signature by CanSino's collaborators in the Chinese Government - the Beijing Institute of Technology and the Ministry of Science and Technology - who had provided funding to CanSino."

"Due to the delay in the shipment of the CanSino Covid-19 vaccine candidate doses to Canada and as CanSino has now completed phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials elsewhere, this specific opportunity is over and the NRC is focusing its team and facilities on other Covid-19 priorities," the council said.

The Council said it has turned to its North American partners for collaboration and will go ahead in its COVID-19 vaccine development programme.

"We are also actively pursuing discussions with other partners to collaborate on other vaccine candidates and will announce these collaborations as they are confirmed," it said.

CanSino, earlier this week, had refuted that ties had been cut, however, the government-funded body has now confirmed that clinical trials of vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV would not go ahead in Canada.
According to the South China Morning Post, Ad5-nCoV, developed by China military scientists is among the leaders to produce a Covid-19 vaccine.

The National Research Council had signed an agreement with CanSino to conduct phase 1 trials in May. (ANI)

Trump visits hurricane-affected states, approves disaster declaration to help people impacted by storm

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a briefing at Lake Charles Fire House as he visits nearby areas damaged by Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S.

Washington DC [US], Aug 30 (ANI): US President Donald Trump on Saturday (local time) visited Louisiana and Texas which have been ravaged by hurricane Laura, a category 4 storm that slammed the states located at the Gulf Coast.

According to the White House statement, President Trump has approved a major disaster declaration to help individuals and business owners impacted by the storm.

"President Donald Trump is in Orange, Texas, for an update on emergency operations and ongoing relief efforts. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is on the ground with water and meals, and the private sector is hard at work restoring power to thousands of residents," White House tweeted.

During Trump's visit, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told him that: "You have been there for us every step of the way, helping us. Never have I seen such a swift response to a request."

Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing critical supplies to those in need--2.6 million litres of water and 1.4 million meals have been delivered thus far.

FEMA said that it is working Laura response and recovery efforts with four rescue teams are working to ensure the safety of everyone in damaged areas.

On Thursday, Trump had announced that he will travel to Louisiana and Texas after the two US Gulf states were pummeled by Hurricane Laura.

"We'll probably be going on Saturday or Sunday, and we'll be heading to Texas and Louisiana and maybe an additional stop," Trump said.

Trump had also said he was ready to postpone his scheduled acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention tonight and deliver his address on Monday instead.

Moreover, he had pledged a huge national effort to rescue victims of hurricane Laura and expressed readiness to lend the US government's backing for rebuilding and repair efforts to follow. (ANI)

Joe Biden's leade over Trump narrows after Republican National Convention: poll

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump

Washington DC [USA], Aug 30 (ANI): Ahead of US Presidential elections in November, Democratic nominee Joe Biden's national polling lead over Donald Trump has dwindled after this week's Republican National Convention.

As per a Morning Consult survey reported by The Hill, Biden is leading with 50 per cent support among likely voters, compared with 44 per cent for Trump, with another 7 per cent undecided.
The current margin is lower than the 52-42 lead Biden had attained in the same poll on August 23, the day before the Republican Convention kicked off.

The poll surveyed 4,035 likely voters on Friday and has an error margin of 2 percentage points.
Although Trump has managed to narrow the lead, Biden still holds a larger lead over the former in other major polls.

According to The Hill, the convention has benefited Trump's standing, cutting Biden's lead with suburban voters and expanding Trump's lead among white voters.

Earlier today, Trump mocked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden telling him to "get out of his basement and return to the campaign trail."

"Now that Biden's Polls are dropping fast, he has agreed to get out of his basement and start campaigning, in ten days. Sadly, that is a very slow reaction time for a President. Our beloved USA needs a much faster, smarter, and tougher response than that. Get out there today, Joe!" Trump tweeted.

The US Presidential Elections are set to take place on November 3 this year. (ANI)

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