Friday, September 4, 2020

India-Bangladesh Relationship towards a Healthy Hike

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By Professor M. Shahinoor Rahman, Phd
Dhaka [Bangladesh], September 4 (ANI): Bangladesh shares a common socio-political heritage with its biggest neighbour India. The people of the countries are from common ancestors and they participate in similar cultural activities.

So, it is presumable that despite being torn apart by geopolitical boundaries, the people of the two countries cherish more affinities than detachment, which is why India invested tremendous efforts for the cause of the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, and Bangladesh has always been very thankful to India for such a significant role during the liberation war.

There have been minimal disturbances and discrepancies in India-Bangladesh relationship since then, and a strong fraternal unity has kept the two countries tied in sweet harmony for decades.

Especially, after the advent of the Awami League Government led by the well competent daughter of Bangabandhu, the honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the second time in 2008, the relationship between India and Bangladesh has become so strengthened that even changes in the political scenario of India and rise and fall of parties from power have not been able to mar or stain the bilateral relationship between the two neighbours. Instead, it has been cemented further towards having a rock-solid foundation.

It is really wonderful that the present Bangladesh Government under the able and judicious leadership of Bangabandhu's worthy daughter Sheikh Hasina has been able to settle so many issues with India which remained unsettled since its liberation. In the last twelve years, the India-Bangladesh relationship has undergone a complete change in comparison to that during the previous governments. None would have conjectured about the pacts, treaties and MoUs that both Bangladesh and India have signed in order to settle issues and to work together towards a promising and prosperous future in these few years.

Exchange of enclaves between both countries, allowing India transit through Bangladesh highways, giving permission of using the Chottogram and Mongla sea-ports, settlement of marine boundary, joint ventures against terrorism, bilateral trade and commerce, assistance in railways and aviation transport, easing up visa processing and so on are the worth mentioning areas in which we see wonderful progress that concern both the countries.

The government of India has categorically applauded Bangladesh's zero-tolerance attitude to terrorism and expressed solidarity with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's relentless efforts to keep peace, security and stability in the border area and bidden fair to work together to uproot any kind of terrorism from this region. It is mentionable in this regard that the foreign ministers of both the countries had extended successful talks on forming intensive assistance on the part of both governments against fundamentalist groups of any sort, terrorists, black marketers, fake-note dealers and other organized criminals.

Both the countries are intent on making the process of travel for people on both sides simple and easy. Bangladesh government has already made an appeal to the Indian counterpart to remove all sorts of restrictions for Bangladeshi citizens while entering India by road or railways. The Indian government has made a promise to remove the restrictions gradually.

India, with utmost priority, took a favourable decision with a view to relaxing visa limitations for the people of Bangladesh above sixty-five years of age and below thirteen years of age in the year 2014. They were allowed five-year multiple entry visas as against the one year visa available earlier. In 2018, under the Revised Travel Arrangement (RTA)-2018, freedom fighters were added to the list to get the same facilities. In return, Bangladesh also relaxed visa rules promising five-year visas for students, senior citizens and patients. They also made provisions so that Indians would be able to enter the neighbouring country in private cars under the BIMSTEC agreement.

Both the countries celebrate the exchange of enclaves between them with a view to settling the long-debated India-Bangladesh international border issue, which needed 42 long years to settle. It is a glorious example of deep fraternity between the two countries and friendly attitudes of the ruling governments e.g., BJP in India and the Awami League in Bangladesh.

BJP-led Indian government showed its honesty and courage to pass the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) Bill on 07 May 2015 and consequently a fruitful agreement called the Land Boundary Agreement was signed by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Premier Narendra Modi in June 2015. On 01 August 2015, India and Bangladesh exchanged control of some 162 pockets of land formerly known as enclaves. The move was branded as akin to the fall of the Berlin Wall by politicians across the world, and it boosted the India-Bangladesh relationship farther ahead.

With the settlement of mutual land-border issues, both Bangladesh and India have agreed to create a stable, peaceful and crime-free borderline between them and have emphasized on pro-active and effective frontier management in this regard. In a summit in October 2019, the two Premiers agreed that any loss of lives at the border areas is unexpected and avoidable, and they promised to make the border-keeping forces of both the countries work together in this regard.

Both leaders have highlighted the need to develop mutual transport facilities to enhance economic cooperation in the north and eastern states of India and other regions with Bangladesh. Both countries have agreed to introduce standard operating system rules for transporting goods from Chottogram and Mongla ports in Bangladesh to other parts of India including north-east India. Again, they are thinking seriously about the huge potential of transporting goods through the inland waterways and coastal areas.

A decision has been made to start a water-transport trade route through the Dhulian-Gargari-Rajshahi-Doulatdia-Aricha along the inland rivers. The Daudkandi-Sonamura route will also be added under the protocol. The transport of goods using the maritime ports of Bangladesh will immensely increase the financial benefits of both countries. So, both countries have seriously taken the matter.

A road transport agreement called BBIN MVA among India, Bangladesh and Nepal (and Bhutan as observer) was signed on 15 June 2015 in which all the countries agreed for allowing passage of motor vehicles carrying people and goods of other participants through their motorways. As active major participants in this treaty, India and Bangladesh have shown profuse interest in finalising the protocols for the enactment of the treaty. Accordingly, representatives of the countries met in New Delhi last February to finalise the draft protocols. At the meeting, Additional Secretary to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Vikram Doraiswami stressed the need to expeditiously finalise the passenger and cargo protocols.

Bangladesh and India have far railway transits across the borders and they are used for the passage of freight trains carrying different food items and raw materials between the two countries. In the current Covid-19 situation, the railway is being considered to be very effective for cargo transportation. As a matter of fact, Bangladesh has by far imported 50 locomotives and 120 passenger coaches from India which is also eager to help Bangladesh develop its railway infrastructure. This year, India has handed Bangladesh ten Broad Gauge diesel-based locomotives funded by the Ministry of External Affairs, India, as a part of the commitment made last year between India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh has already begun using locomotives for transporting onions from India.

Last year the Prime Ministers of the two countries inaugurated a project of importing large quantities of cooking gas from Bangladesh to Tripura by truck. This is expected to increase the energy business across the border. In the meantime, Bangladesh's trade across the Indian border has gone past 1 billion US Dollars which is an effect of India's initiative of importing tax-free and quota-free Bangladeshi products in the Indian market. The total amount of trade between India and Bangladesh stood at $10.25 billion in 2018-19.

India and Bangladesh have been intensely banking on their healthy bilateral relationship in the development of mutual trade and commerce. Sometimes they are collaborating in some fields so that both the countries can be benefitted from those projects. There is an instance of Bangladesh's signing the paper for purchasing electricity of 718 megawatts from Reliance Power of India over the next 22 years. On the other hand, Reliance makes plans to finance almost $1 billion to structure a regional plant by 2022 to deliver electricity. The plant will be built at Meghnaghat in Narayanganj.

Therefore, the reciprocal mode of relationship between Bangladesh and India continues to be healthier over the years and the governments of both countries are very mutually eager to carry on with this relationship farther ahead. When Bangladesh Prime Minister met her Indian Counterpart in a top-level meeting in October 2019, they both promised to work together as members of different international organisations including the UNO and to increase partnership to keep regional peace and harmony and to make collaborative observation into the possibility of signing an extensive CEPA between the two countries in near future. This has been possible for the sincerest eagerness from the corners of both the leaders of the two vibrant neighbours. We hope the healthy relationship between the two countries will continue increasing further in the days to come.

Disclaimer: The author of this opinion article is Professor M Shahinoor Rahman, PhD. He is a columnist, writer, researcher, Professor of English and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Islamic University, Kushtia, Bangladesh (ANI)

India mobilizes efforts to assemble two teams of medical specialists to be deployed in hospitals in DRCongo and South Sudan

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New York [US], September 4 (ANI): Responding to the request from the UN Secretary General, India has mobilized all efforts to assemble two teams of medical specialists to be deployed in the Hospitals at the UN Missions in DRCongo and South Sudan respectively, India's Permanent Mission at UN said on Friday.

"This gesture has been welcomed," the Mission said.

As per the release, in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Secretariat has set up a System-Wide Medical Evacuation Task Force to ensure high quality treatment facilities for people serving the UN in field locations.

"Accordingly the UN Secretary-General had decided to scale up the Level-2 and Level-3 hospital facilities in UNMISS (South Sudan) and MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of Congo) respectively, managed by Indian peacekeepers, to mitigate and contain the COVID-19 outbreak at these two locations. Based on a request received from the Secretariat, India will be deploying two medical teams of 15 medical personnel each at Goma (DRC) and Juba (South Sudan) in the second half of September 2020," the release said.

It stated that the main hub of command and control centre of MONUSCO is located in Goma, DRC and the Hospital by India in Goma, operational since January 2005, has 90 Indian nationals including 18 specialists.

"Given the rising COVID cases in the area, the "Level-3" facility, which is the highest level of medical care provided by a deployed UN unit, will now further be upgraded to a Level-3 Plus facility," the release informed.

The "Level-2 plus" Hospital by India in Juba, South Sudan (UNMISS), operational since December 2016, has 77 Indian nationals including 12 specialists, it said while adding that the Indian facility in Juba is presently the one of highest level of medical facilities existing in South Sudan.

"This facility will now be upgraded from Level-2 plus to a Level-3 facility," said the release.

Stressing that India has along history of participation in various UN peacekeeping Missions, the release said women of the Indian Armed Forces Medical Services headed to the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Republic of Congo (ONUC) in 1960 to assist with the set up of a 400-bed hospital.

"In terms of current deployment to UN peacekeeping operations, India is the largest contributor in UNMISS (2,420 troops of 16,306 total) and second largest in MONUSCO (2,030 troops of 15,159)," India's Permanent Mission at UN said. (ANI)

Nepal Finance Minister Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada resigns

Finance as well as Communication Minister of incumbent government in Nepal, Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada has resigned. Photo/ANI

Kathmandu [Nepal], September 4 (ANI): Finance as well as Communication Minister of incumbent government in Nepal, Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada has resigned from his post.

Khatiwada had tendered his resignation to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Friday late afternoon which was accepted by evening, Press Advisor to Oli, Surya Thapa confirmed.

"His resignation comes as per the constitutional provisions. Prime Minister Oli accepted his resignation; both the Ministries which Khatiwada was administering has come under Premier Oli," Thapa told ANI.

The jurisdictions of now vacant ministry to Prime Minister Oli also has been acknowledged and approved by the President, a release issued by Office of the President stated.

Earlier in day, Khatiwada who held ministerial portfolio of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology along with Finance Ministry had informed media about his step in a press briefing.

"Later today, I will be resigning from the post of Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. In today's cabinet meeting I informed Prime Minister about my step and will support government staying out of it. I will contribute in the field of national interest and for its development, to uplift the status of common Nepali and to bring prosperity," Khatiwada said.

During farewell address, Khatiwada claimed that he was able to lay a concrete foundation of the country's economy even during the most difficult days. While stating that the days ahead are challenging due to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, Khatiwada said that he was able to bring significant improvements in the country's revenue during his two and half year long stint as the finance minister.

Although Prime Minister Oli wanted to retain him as finance minister by nominating him as a member of National Assembly, he was forced to give in to the demand of the rival faction within the party to nominate NCP Vice-Chairman Bam Dev Gautam as a member of National Assembly.

Earlier on Friday, a cabinet meeting held at the residence of Prime Minister Oli in Baluwatar had decided to recommend the name of Gautam to President Bidya Bhandari for the appointment of a member of the National Assembly. The post was vacant after Khatiwada's two-year term expired six months ago. (ANI)

Amid border tension, Rajnath Singh meets Chinese counterpart in Moscow

Rajnath Singh meeting the Chinese Defence Minister, General Fenghe in Moscow, Russia (Photo tweeted by Defence Minister) 

Moscow [Russia], September 4 (ANI): Amid the ongoing border tension between India and China, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart in Moscow, Russia on Friday.
"Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh meeting the Chinese Defence Minister, General Fenghe in Moscow," Office of Defence Minister said in a tweet.

According to sources, China requested for the meet yesterday.

India has urged China to sincerely engage with it to restore peace and tranquillity in border areas through complete disengagement and de-escalation.

Speaking at the weekly briefing on Thursday, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the way ahead is negotiations both through diplomatic and military channels.

The situation with China has been tense and India is continuously engaging with them at the military and diplomatic level, Army Chief General MM Naravane said earlier today, who visited Ladakh to review the situation.

"Situation has been little tensed for the last two to three months. We have been continuously engaging with China both at the military and diplomatic level. These engagements are ongoing and will continue in the future as well. We are very sure that through this medium of talks, whatever differences we have, will be resolved and we will ensure that status quo is not changed and we are able to safeguard our interests," Naravane told ANI in an exclusive interview.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

At least two rounds of Brigade-Commander level talks have taken place ever since China tried to unilaterally change the status quo. Singh is on a three-day visit to Russia to attend the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of SCO.

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala.

The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June.

The talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far. (ANI)

Never had this kind of situation since 1962: Foreign Secretary on 'unprecedented' India-China border issue

Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla. (Photo: ANI)
New Delhi, Sept 04 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla during the Indian Council for World Affairs webinar on September 04 spoke on the India-China issue. Harsh V Shringla said, "It is an unprecedented situation; we have never had this kind of situation since 1962. We have lost for the first time, lives of soldiers, which have not happened in the last 40 years.

As far as we are concerned, there will be no compromise in our sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the same time, as a responsible nation, we are always willing to talk. Our communication lines are open."

Activist approaches Islamic community to protest Uyghur Muslims from Chinese oppression

Uyghur American and rights advocate Rushan Abbas. (Photo: ANI)

Washington D.C. [US], September 4 (ANI): Uyghur American and rights advocate Rushan Abbas demand OIC and other Muslim countries to watch what Pakistan and China doing to Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

In a video statement, she said, "The world continues to turn a blind eye to the genocide that communist China is perpetrating against Uyghur Muslims".

"Uyghur Police are dismissed and discredited. Meanwhile, China's propaganda is met with blind faith. By virtue of this faith, millions of Uyghurs are imprisoned in concentration camps. Our religion is outlawed, our organs are harvested, our hair is sold and our people are facing genocide", she said.
Rushan is the founder and executive director of the non-profit, Campaign for Uyghurs.

She said, "Uyghurs are forced to make your Nike shoes, your Zara dresses, Calvin Klein purses as slaves while forsaking their ethnicity and their religion".

"A promise for never again was made but that promise is being broken. You hear the cries of agony from the millions facing brutality, from the children who scream out for their parents, the sobs of women who are raped, sterilized and are forced to abort, still the most deafening is the silence from the world community in particular from our Muslim brothers and sisters", said the activist.

Rushan Abbas said, "The Gulf States remain indifferent to this genocide because of China's Belt and Route initiative accompanied by short term economic profits, but in the end, China will be the only one who truly benefits. China will do unto all Islamic countries what it is doing to east Turkistan enforce atheists' communist ideology and will kill off Islam".

The activist is unhappy with Pakistan's failure to raise the Uyghur issue with China, its close ally. She said, "Pakistan naively sees its ties to China as mutually beneficial. This is folly! It's becoming China's colony. As the Chinese language is taught at schools and that the Chinese military is seen on the streets of Pakistan, it's clear what developing".

The CCP is turning Islamic countries into puppets with their mouths, eyes and ears covered by China's blood money.

The people of these nations are our Muslims brothers and sisters and their silence stabs our hearts. Their faith will be the same as ours if they do not awaken soon.

Rushan said, "While, the OIC has changed its position to support China's genocide, siding with these Chinese Communist Party's bullies, we plead with the Ummah to take up the cause of saving Uyghur Lives and concurrently protecting Islam from china's war on religion, china's war on Islam as is our obligation as Muslims".

"This modern day's genocide isn't just the mass killings to the level of extermination. It means the obliteration of the people to extinction. It's our duty to make sure that this genocide ends and it is Muslims duty to defend Islam", she added while concluding, "Don't abandon your Uyghur Muslim brothers and sisters. Please stand up with your faith".

China has been accused of interning one million Uyghurs in "re-education" centres in Xinjiang.
Uyghurs do not accept that Xinjiang is part of China, citing the evidence that Uyghur people lived in the area before Chinese Han and Tang dynasties set up protectorates.

Xinjiang, as it is now, came under Chinese Qing dynasty rule in the 18th century, but there have been many times in its history when it was not under Chinese control. (ANI)

Activists join hands against China's aggression and Pakistan's Islamic terrorism

Shafi Burfat

Frankfurt [Germany], September 4 (ANI): China's aggression, war frenzy and Pakistan's Islamic terrorism pose a serious threat to regional peace and global security, Shafi Burfat, the Chairman of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) has said.

"China, with its aggression, war frenzy, and irresponsible approach is conspiring to plunge the entire region into the fires of war, while Pakistan's religious terrorism has become a menace against peace in the region, posing a serious threat to world peace and security", said Burfat.

He added, "Global peace and regional stability are under constant threat from China's aggression and Pakistan's Islamic terrorism. The whole world and historical nations must work together against them".

The body believes that the national independence of Sindh, (Sindhu Desh) Balochistan, PoK, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Pashtunistan is the only and permanent solution to China's growing war aggression and fanaticism in the region and to stop Pakistan's religious terrorism. The body has decided to convene an international conference in Germany to discuss and address this serious issue.

Shafi Burfat told ANI, "The aim of this conference is to discuss, address, and highlight the concerns and stance of historical oppressed nations that are suffering under the tyrannical yoke of Chinese aggression and Pakistan's terrorism. The conference will host the political leaders of the Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun, Tibetan, Uighur nations, while the intellectuals and parliamentarians from the European Union, the USA, Canada, and the UK will also be invited".

He added, "In this regard, the body decides to liaise with Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun, Tibetan, Uyghur leaders and intellectuals in connection with the convening of the conference, for liaison with the leaders of all historical nations of the region, intellectuals, journalists A coordinating committee comprising Shahnawaz Bhutto Ali Sindhi has been formed under the leadership of party leader Sajjad Shar to discuss and liaise with national leaders and intellectuals of historical nations of the region, after which the final date and venue of the conference will be announced. Each leader will be contacted directly, intellectuals, and journalists from India will also be invited to attend the conference".

Altaf Hussain, Quaid-e-Sindhudesh are expected to preside over the conference and address the participants via Skype.

Shafi said, "The body understands that if the United States, and the world's democracies, are to stop China's growing aggression, war frenzy, and Pakistan's Islamic terrorism on a permanent basis, then the historical oppressed nations of Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Sindh, Balochistan, POK, Pashtunistan, Seraiki Des must be liberated and Taiwan must be recognized by the international community as a separate independent state.


This is the only solution that can thwart China's aggressive intentions regionally as well as globally. On the other hand, the disintegration of the fascist, rogue and terrorist Pakistani state is the only solution to put a permanent end to the menace of Islamist extremism and terrorism in the region and bring the world more closely to an establishment of global peace". (ANI)

Rajnath Singh to meet Chinese counterpart in Moscow

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. (Photo: ANI)

Moscow [Russia], September 4 (ANI): Amid the ongoing border tension between two countries, Chinese Defence Minister is scheduled to meet Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Moscow at 9.30 IST tonight, sources said.

According to sources, China requested for the meet yesterday.

India has urged China to sincerely engage with it to restore peace and tranquillity in border areas through complete disengagement and de-escalation.

Speaking at the weekly briefing on Thursday, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the way ahead is negotiations both through diplomatic and military channels.

The situation with China has been tense and India is continuously engaging with them at the military and diplomatic level, Army Chief General MM Naravane said earlier today, who visited Ladakh to review the situation.

"Situation has been little tensed for the last two to three months. We have been continuously engaging with China both at the military and diplomatic level. These engagements are ongoing and will continue in the future as well. We are very sure that through this medium of talks, whatever differences we have, will be resolved and we will ensure that status quo is not changed and we are able to safeguard our interests," Naravane told ANI in an exclusive interview.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

At least two rounds of Brigade-Commander level talks have taken place ever since China tried to unilaterally change the status quo. Singh is on a three-day visit to Russia to attend the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of SCO.

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala.

The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June.

The talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far.
(ANI)

UN Experts: Pakistan Must End Enforced Disappearance Of Human Rights Defender

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Geneva [Switzerland], September 4 (ANI): UN human rights experts today called on the Pakistani authorities to end the secret detention of human rights defender Idris Khattak, who has not been heard from in more than nine months.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the enforced disappearance of Khattak by Pakistan," the experts said. "The mere acknowledgement that he is in custody does not absolve Pakistan of its human rights obligations. Pakistani authorities must produce him and guarantee him a fair trial."

The experts are seriously concerned for his life as he has not had contact with the outside world since he was taken into custody by Pakistani Military Intelligence on 13 November 2019.

"The concealment of Khattak's fate and whereabouts to this day constitutes a continued offence of enforced disappearance," the experts said.

Khattak is a former consultant for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and has worked on a number of reports on disappearances in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He was abducted and disappeared for seven months before the Government acknowledged custody of him. His case is emblematic of the many enforced disappearances occurring in the country.

"We are concerned that Khattak's human rights are being violated," the experts said. He has not been allowed to speak to his lawyer, family and he allegedly has not been given a medical examination by an external independent doctor.

He reportedly is facing charges under the Official Secrets Act and Army Act as a civilian. Use of the Official Secrets Act is yet another means of silencing dissent from human rights defenders including those working on minority issues in Pakistan, the experts said.

"The flagrant abuse of authority and lack of cooperation by the Military Intelligence to produce Khattak before the Peshawar High Court during the habeas corpus petition is a violation of their obligations under international human rights law," said the experts.

The High Court dismissed his case, saying it did not have jurisdiction, and the Joint Investigations Tribunal constituted to probe into cases of enforced disappearances, closed the Khattak case reportedly because he was no longer considered a missing person.

The experts are concerned that the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances disposed of the case prematurely without an adequate investigation or recommendation to the respective authorities for criminal responsibility or ordering compensation.

"We urge authorities to conduct an independent and thorough investigation into the institutional and criminal responsibilities for Khattak's disappearance and arbitrary detention with a view to end impunity," they said. "The victim and the family also have a right to redress, rehabilitation and compensation."

The experts will continue to engage with the authorities and closely monitor the situation. (ANI)

Activist urges OIC to convene special session to discuss human rights violations in Xinjiang

Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza (File Photo)

Glasgow [Scotland], September 4 (ANI): A political activist from Mirpur Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) has appealed to OIC to convene a special session to discuss human rights situation in Xinjiang.

"Appeal to OIC to convene a special session to discuss human rights situation in Chinese occupied East Turkistan also know as Xinjiang," Amjad Ayub Mirza said in a tweet.

In a video which he attached with his tweet, citing a media report, he said that at the moment, the incarceration camps have doubled in China in last one year and more than one million people are incarcerated in these camps.

"It is like a prison camp. They are being subjugated to severe mental torture. They are forced to eat pork, forced to drink alcohol, they are told to renounce Islam and they are forced to communist songs for hours and hours each day and this is a stark violation of human rights," he said.

"I think the time has come when the UN must pay attention to these issues. Several deaths have also been reported due to torture. I appeal to OIC to hold a special session and condemn the Chinese atrocities in Xinjiang," he added.

China has been criticised for cracking down on Uyghurs by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forceful re-education or indoctrination. (ANI)

Taiwan refutes 'rumours' of shooting Chinese Su-35 fighter jet

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Taipei [Taiwan], September 4 (ANI): Taiwan on Friday dismissed reports that a Chinese Su-35 fighter jet has been shot down by its air defence systems and termed it fake news.

"In response to rumours online that claim a Chinese Su-35 fighter jet had been shot down by Taiwan air defence systems, #ROCAirForce would like to categorically state this is fake news. We urge netizens to not spread it and strongly condemn this malicious act," said Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense in a tweet.

The Ministry in a statement said Air Force Command pointed out that it strongly condemns such malicious acts by deliberately creating and disseminating false information on the Internet. (ANI)

Non-Aggression, Peaceful Resolution Of Differences Imperative For Regional Peace: Rajnath Singh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addresses the Combined Meeting of Defence Ministers of SCO-CSTO-CIS Member States in Moscow, Russia (Pic source: Defence Minister's Office)

Moscow [Russia], September 4 (ANI): Amid the ongoing border tension with China, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that a climate of trust, non-aggression, respect for international rules and peaceful resolution of differences is imperative for the security and stability in the SCO region.

While addressing the Combined Meeting of Defence Ministers of SCO-CSTO-CIS Member States in Moscow, Russia, Rajnath Singh said:"Peaceful, stable and secure region of SCO member states - which is home to over 40 per cent of the global population, demands a climate of trust and cooperation, non-aggression, respect for international rules and norms, sensitivity to each other's interest and peaceful resolution of differences."

Rajnath Singh emphasised, "I reaffirm today that India is committed to the evolution of a global security architecture which will be open, transparent, inclusive, rules-based and anchored in international laws."

"We need the institutional capacity to deal with both traditional and non-traditional threats-above all, terrorism, drug-trafficking and transnational crime. As you all are aware, India unequivocally condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations, and condemns its proponents," said the Defence Minister.

"If I may borrow an idea articulated by our Prime Minister in a different context, our goal should be 'Security and Growth for all in the Region'." he added.

The Defence Minister said India values the works of SCO Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS). "We laud RATS' recent work in the cyber domain to prevent the spread of radicalism and extremism. The adoption of anti-terror measures by the SCO Council to counter extremist propaganda and de-radicalisation is a significant decision."

Singh expressed his deep concern about the situation in the Persian Gulf Region. He said, "India has vital interests and links of civilisation and culture with all States in the Gulf. We call upon countries in the region - all of which are dear and friendly to India, to resolve differences by dialogue based on mutual respect, sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of each other."

Speaking about the situation in Afghanistan, Rajnath Singh said the security situation in Afghanistan remains a concern.

He said India will continue to support the efforts of the people and Government of Afghanistan for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled inclusive peace process. "The SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan is useful for exchanging notes among the SCO Member States."

Singh, who is on a three-day visit to Russia reaffirmed India's commitment to the evolution of a global security architecture which will be open, transparent, inclusive, rules-based and anchored in international laws. (ANI)

'Kshama Puja' performed in Nepal's Lalitpur held day after deadly clash

Locals of Lalitpur clash with Police over Chariot procession. (Photo/ANI)

Lalitpur [Nepal], September 4 (ANI): A day after locals and police clashed over pulling of Rato Macchindranath Chariot, Kshama Puja or Worship for Forgiveness has been held on Friday with clamping of curfew in the city.

Procession on Friday was held in front of chariot which was dragged by locals which set off a clash with police, injuring dozens. The chariot now stands on road side after being dragged some meters down from point where it was built and kept there since 3 months.

"This procession had to be performed because the pandemic has been rising and in order to appease the constellations to make them calm. We faced a lot of problems, the usual rituals has been confined inside the home and we had kept God in the chariot for about 3 months and we must perform the Kshama Puja. Yesterday, an unfortunate incident was witnessed, rumors has been set off in the market so we decided to hold a Kshama Puja and held it today," Laxmi Bajracharya, one of the ritual performers told ANI.

The District Administration Office (DAO) Lalitpur on Thursday evening decided to clamp down curfew in the city (inside Ring Road) beginning 4 AM today which has deadline till 10 PM on Friday. "Aajus," or the "Priests" witnessed the puja which was held during the curfew.

After performing the Kshama Puja, the chariot procession can be held which will be very brief this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Without performing the Kshama Puja we cannot pull the chariot and there was such an incident yesterday. We Bajracharya will perform the ceremony asking for forgiveness, the Guthiars will decide over holding the procession. As per the rituals we should take our lord back," Bajracharya's the highest in the Newari caste group claimed.

The Guthiars, have decided to tour Lord Rato Macchindranath around the city confirming appropriate astrological timing. It is expected to be concluded by September 11 by fast tracking the ceremony.
Locals of Lalitpur district in Kathmandu valley on Thursday afternoon clashed with Police over pulling the chariot of Macchindranath Jatra despite the prohibitory orders.

A large number of locals, specially the youths pulled the chariot of Macchindranath to few meters down from the place where Lord Macchindranath was accessioned on 25th July this year.

Police and Security personnel tried to control people asking them not to proceed ahead despite the prohibition ordered by the local authorities which ultimately led to use of force.

Police failing to retort the locals defying the lockdown rules used water canyons, batons and fired some shells of teargas to disperse the crowd but local retorted by pelting stones.

Chariot procession of Rato Macchendranath also called as "Bunga Dugh" in Newari meaning the God of Rain and Harvest is longest Jatra in Nepal which runs on for months depending widely on astronomy.

It should have started on April, as earlier years but coronavirus pandemic pushed back the dates twice-once in April and again in June.

Dates were differed twice in April as lockdown imposed on by government was in place which had restricted mass gathering and public processions to be held.

But with end of lockdown on July, construction of chariot was expedited by "Guthi" or social organization assigned to hold on traditional processions and festivals in society.

Though ascension of Lord Macchendra was performed on 25th of July, chariot procession still was in limbo.

One of the popular legend states that once "Guru Gorkhnath" came to city of Patan and wasn't acknowledged by people living on there. As the commoners didn't offer him food and ignored him, Guru Gorakhnath captured all the Serpents and held them captive under his sitting. For being "Naags" or serpents responsible for the precipitation held captive by Guru Gorakhnath, Patan experienced drought which drive on famine in the city.

Advisors of the then, king of Patan Narendea Dev was asked onto bring the teacher of Gorakhnath- Lord Macchendranath from Assam. Hearing about teacher's presence in the town, Guru Gorakhnath stood up from his seat letting the serpentines loose which brought in rain in the city ending the drought.

Adoring, Rato Macchendranath for his feast, locals of Patan started a chariot procession in the city since 897 AD which is held annually and taken around the city reminding people about his deeds.
Chariot procession of Rato Macchendranath earlier was stalled due to the earthquake of 2015 which went on for nearly half-a-year and the Corona pandemic this year also had invited similar kind of situation.

There is a belief residents of Bhaktapur can pull on the chariot to their place and keep the god for 6 months if the procession fails to take place before Dashain- the major fortnight festival observed in Nepal during the month of October. (ANI)

Rajnath Singh attends joint meeting of Defence Ministers of SCO, CIS, CSTO

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the joint meeting of the Defence Ministers of SCO, CIS and CSTO members in Moscow (Picture tweeted by Defence Minister)

Moscow [Russia], September 4 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday attended the joint meeting of the Defence Ministers of CIS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Moscow.

"Attending the joint meeting of the Defence Ministers of SCO, CIS and CSTO members in Moscow," Singh said in a tweet.

Russia has reiterated its policy of no arms supply to Pakistan following India's request on the same, according to sources.

Russia made the commitment during the meeting between Singh and his Russian counterpart Gen Sergey Shoigu in Moscow, sources said.

Singh is currently on a three-day visit to Russia for attending the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and participating in the 75th anniversary event to commemorate Victory Day.

The one-hour meeting between Singh and his Russian counterpart at the Russian Ministry of Defence covered a broad range of areas of cooperation between the two countries including defence and security. (ANI)

Rajnath Singh likely to meet Chinese Defence Minister on sidelines of SCO meeting

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (File photo)

Moscow [Russia], September 4 (ANI): Amid the ongoing border tensions between India and China, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to meet Chinese Defence Minister on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Moscow, sources said.

According to sources, China requested for the meet yesterday.

India has urged China to sincerely engage with it to restore peace and tranquillity in border areas through complete disengagement and de-escalation.

Speaking at the weekly briefing on Thursday, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the way ahead is negotiations both through diplomatic and military channels.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

At least two rounds of Brigade-Commander level talks have taken place ever since China tried to unilaterally change the status quo.

Singh is on a three-day visit to Russia to attend the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of SCO. (ANI)

Rajnath Singh visits Russian armed forces' cathedral in Moscow

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Main Cathedral of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Museum Complex in Moscow on Friday. (Photo credits: Rajnath Singh Twitter)

Moscow [Russia], September 4 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid a visit to the Main Cathedral of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Museum Complex in Moscow on Friday.

"Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh visited the Main Cathedral of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Museum Complex in Moscow this morning," the Defence Minister's Office said in a tweet.



The Main Church of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is an Orthodox Christian cathedral dedicated to the armed forces. It was opened in June this year.

Singh also visited the Garden of Peace at the main cathedral complex, where he planted a sapling.

"Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh planting a sapling in Moscow during his visit to the Garden of Peace at the complex of Main Cathedral of the Russian Federation," the Defence Minister's Office tweeted.




The Defence Minister also posed for a photograph with the head of delegations attending the SCO Defence Ministers' meeting.

"With the Head of Delegations attending the SCO Defence Ministers' meeting in Moscow. Looking forward to productive deliberations," Singh tweeted.




Singh is currently on a three-day visit to Russia. During the visit, he met Russian counterpart Gen Sergey Shoigu covered a broad range of areas of cooperation between the two countries including defence and security. (ANI)

Bahrain opens airspace to all UAE flights

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Manama [Bahrain], September 4 (ANI/Xinhua): Bahrain announced on Friday that it will allow all flights to and from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to cross its airspace.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency quoted an official source from the Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry stating that Civil Aviation Affairs had approved a request from its UAE counterpart.

The source did not mention the flights between the UAE and Israel, which have been recently launched.

The new development follows the US-brokered historic UAE-Israel normalisation deal. (ANI/Xinhua)

Freed Taliban by Afghan government returning to resume 'Jihad'

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Kabul [Afghanistan], September 4 (ANI): Hundreds of Taliban, who were freed in a move to bring peace in Afghanistan, are reportedly resuming their 'jihad' or holy war to overthrow the US-backed Afghan government.

Foreign Policy said a confidential research obtained by this magazine shows that the majority of Taliban prisoners released under an agreement signed by insurgent leaders and the United States are taking up arms to fight Afghan forces and continue their "jihad" to overthrow the US-backed Afghan government and replace it with an Islamic emirate.

"Taliban prisoners released by the Afghan government as part of a deal brokered by the United States aimed at ending almost 20 years of war are returning to the battlefield as commanders and fighters, in direct contravention of pledges made by the insurgents to the White House," it said.

In an unreleased paper written for the Afghan Peace Dialogue Project at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Taliban experts Michael Semple and Felix Kuehn found that former Taliban prisoners were "participating in combat, being killed fighting, being taken prisoner and one case of an ex-prisoner being involved with revenge assassinations."

A majority, 68 per cent, of the 108 former Taliban prisoners profiled for the research "have already been re-integrated into the Taliban and have resumed active roles in the conflict, or are in Taliban groups intent on resuming fighting, or are occupying military or political positions, which are fundamentally linked to the Taliban war effort," Semple and Kuehn write.

"A number of ex-prisoners have been appointed to direct command positions since their release," they found. "Two ex-prisoners have re-assumed their former military command positions where brothers or sons had taken over temporarily. ... A number have already assumed official positions within the Taliban shadow administration. The appointment of ex-prisoners as uluswals -- which are essentially in charge of military affairs and oversee civilian matters at a district level -- is now widespread."

Another 8 per cent of the interviewees wished to return to the battle but were "being held back by family opposition," mostly by their wives. A further 27, or 24 per cent, "will categorically not re-join the conflict" for various reasons, mainly because they wished to return to civilian life.

A senior Afghan official, who did not wish to be identified, said the report's findings "comport with what we have observed."

The research appears to confirm doubts about the value of Taliban promises to reduce violence, keep their men off the battlefield once released from prison and comply with other conditions in their agreement with the United States, including renouncing ties with al-Qaeda. Critics of the deal suspect the Taliban are interested only in a return to power that will facilitate their ultimate goal of establishing an Islamist government, hand in hand with al-Qaeda.

The revelations of Taliban deception come as an Afghan security official confirmed that all prisoners have been released from both sides. An Afghan government delegation is preparing to leave for Qatar on Friday, he said, speaking confidentially, to prepare for direct talks with the Taliban leadership, which maintains a political office in the emirate.

The United States signed a bilateral deal on February 29 with the Taliban, in which Washington agreed to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and end almost 20 years of war following the al-Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001. In return, the insurgents agreed to cut ties with al-Qaeda and stop attacks on US forces in Afghanistan. (ANI)

Kazakh President allocates 150 billion tenge incentive bonuses to medical workers

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during his address to the nation on September 1 (Photo: ANI)

Nur-Sultan [Kazakhstan], September 4 (ANI): Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that the government will allocate 150 billion tenge for the payment of incentive bonuses to medical workers for the second half of the year.

In his address to the nation on September 1, Tokayev said the importance of the medical profession must be supported financially.

"I instruct to allocate 150 billion tenge (USD 357 million) for the payment of incentive bonuses to medical workers for the second half of the year when the budget is revised soon. We are doing this now, during the crisis, and we must continue to do this on a systematic basis. By 2023, medical wages will be twice the average wage in the economy," he said.

He stated that all basic medicines and medical devices should be manufactured in Kazakhstan and domestic pharmaceutical industry should be self-reliant.

"The issues of the supply of medicines have been resolved, but the domestic pharmaceutical industry needs to be put on its feet. All basic medicines and medical devices must be manufactured in Kazakhstan. This is a national security issue. From next year, I expect concrete results in this area," Tokayev said.

The Kazakh President informed that 13 new hospitals focusing on infectious diseases will be built in the regions of the country by the end of the year. By 2025, 20 modern multifunctional healthcare facilities will be commissioned, he added.

"This means an inflow of about one and a half trillion tenge of investments in health care," Tokayev said.

The Kazakh President stressed that two multidisciplinary medical centres will be established in Nur-Sultan and Almaty.

He said primary healthcare should be more mobile and accessible to a wide range of the population, including those living in the countryside.

Tokayev said, "To create effective rural healthcare within three years, it will be necessary to provide all rural villages with feldsher-obstetric stations and medical outpatient clinics."

He outlined that measures for the further development of national healthcare will make it possible to fully equip all medical organisations with the necessary equipment, to update the hospital beds fund by 50 per cent, replace outdated infrastructure and increase the life expectancy to 75 years.

Calling for the change in approaches to public administration, personnel policy, decision-making system and responsibility for their implementation, Tokayev said he decided to create an Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms, which will report directly to the President.

He said the transfer of most government officials to work remotely in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic showed that the state apparatus can and should be reduced.

"I instruct to speed up the timing of the reduction of the state apparatus and workers of the quasi-public sector. This year they should be cut by 10 per cent, and next year by another 15 per cent. Thus, we will solve the problem of reducing officials by 25 per cent in 2021," he said adding that the saved funds will increase the salaries of the remaining employees.

Tokayev called for the introduction of a digital "social wallet" for every citizen, as well as create an appropriate distribution system.

Highlighting the issue of teachers getting low salaries, Tokayev stated he made a decision to increase the salaries of teachers by 25 per cent from January 2021 and the increase will continue in the future. "For these purposes, an additional 1.2 trillion tenge (USD 2.8 billion) will be allocated over the next three years," he said.

"We need to solve the problem of the all-round development of children before they enter school. I have set a task to ensure by 2025, 100 per cent coverage of preschool education and teaching for children under 6 years of age," he added.

Tokayev further said the government should reorient the entire vocational education system towards the formation of competencies that are in demand in the labour market.

He said a new anti-corruption restriction will be introduced for civil servants, deputies, judges regarding their ownership of accounts, storage of cash and valuables in foreign banks from 2021. "If civil servants or heads of quasi-state organisations have dual citizenship, they are subject to dismissal from their positions," he said.

The Kazakh President proposed that powers of local government bodies and local self-government bodies will be gradually differentiated.

He stated that more than two billion trees will be planted in the countryside and 15 million in cities and towns over the next five years. (ANI)Nur-Sultan [Kazakhstan], September 4 (ANI): Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that the government will allocate 150 billion tenge for the payment of incentive bonuses to medical workers for the second half of the year.

In his address to the nation on September 1, Tokayev said the importance of the medical profession must be supported financially.

"I instruct to allocate 150 billion tenge (USD 357 million) for the payment of incentive bonuses to medical workers for the second half of the year when the budget is revised soon. We are doing this now, during the crisis, and we must continue to do this on a systematic basis. By 2023, medical wages will be twice the average wage in the economy," he said.

He stated that all basic medicines and medical devices should be manufactured in Kazakhstan and domestic pharmaceutical industry should be self-reliant.

"The issues of the supply of medicines have been resolved, but the domestic pharmaceutical industry needs to be put on its feet. All basic medicines and medical devices must be manufactured in Kazakhstan. This is a national security issue. From next year, I expect concrete results in this area," Tokayev said.

The Kazakh President informed that 13 new hospitals focusing on infectious diseases will be built in the regions of the country by the end of the year. By 2025, 20 modern multifunctional healthcare facilities will be commissioned, he added.

"This means an inflow of about one and a half trillion tenge of investments in health care," Tokayev said.

The Kazakh President stressed that two multidisciplinary medical centres will be established in Nur-Sultan and Almaty.

He said primary healthcare should be more mobile and accessible to a wide range of the population, including those living in the countryside.

Tokayev said, "To create effective rural healthcare within three years, it will be necessary to provide all rural villages with feldsher-obstetric stations and medical outpatient clinics."

He outlined that measures for the further development of national healthcare will make it possible to fully equip all medical organisations with the necessary equipment, to update the hospital beds fund by 50 per cent, replace outdated infrastructure and increase the life expectancy to 75 years.

Calling for the change in approaches to public administration, personnel policy, decision-making system and responsibility for their implementation, Tokayev said he decided to create an Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms, which will report directly to the President.

He said the transfer of most government officials to work remotely in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic showed that the state apparatus can and should be reduced.

"I instruct to speed up the timing of the reduction of the state apparatus and workers of the quasi-public sector. This year they should be cut by 10 per cent, and next year by another 15 per cent. Thus, we will solve the problem of reducing officials by 25 per cent in 2021," he said adding that the saved funds will increase the salaries of the remaining employees.

Tokayev called for the introduction of a digital "social wallet" for every citizen, as well as create an appropriate distribution system.

Highlighting the issue of teachers getting low salaries, Tokayev stated he made a decision to increase the salaries of teachers by 25 per cent from January 2021 and the increase will continue in the future. "For these purposes, an additional 1.2 trillion tenge (USD 2.8 billion) will be allocated over the next three years," he said.

"We need to solve the problem of the all-round development of children before they enter school. I have set a task to ensure by 2025, 100 per cent coverage of preschool education and teaching for children under 6 years of age," he added.

Tokayev further said the government should reorient the entire vocational education system towards the formation of competencies that are in demand in the labour market.

He said a new anti-corruption restriction will be introduced for civil servants, deputies, judges regarding their ownership of accounts, storage of cash and valuables in foreign banks from 2021. "If civil servants or heads of quasi-state organisations have dual citizenship, they are subject to dismissal from their positions," he said.

The Kazakh President proposed that powers of local government bodies and local self-government bodies will be gradually differentiated.

He stated that more than two billion trees will be planted in the countryside and 15 million in cities and towns over the next five years. (ANI)

On India's request, Russia reiterates policy of no arms supply to Pakistan

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russia counterpart Gen Sergey Shoigu in Moscow. (Photo: ANI)

Moscow [Russia], September 4 (ANI): Russia has reiterated its policy of no arms supply to Pakistan following India's request on the same, according to sources. Russia made the commitment during the meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Gen Sergey Shoigu in Moscow, sources said.

Singh is currently on a three-day visit to Russia for attending the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and participating in the 75th anniversary event to commemorate Victory Day. The one-hour meeting between Singh and his Russian counterpart at the Russian Ministry of Defence covered a broad range of areas of cooperation between the two countries including defence and security.

"Excellent meeting with the Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow today. We talked about a wide range of issues, particularly how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries," Singh tweeted on Thursday. Meanwhile, the 11th edition of exercise Indra Navy, a biennial bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Russian Navy is scheduled in the Bay of Bengal from September 4 to 5.

The Defence Minister noted that these exercises demonstrated the common interests of both countries in maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region, according to a statement by India's Defence Ministry. "There was a substantial commonality in positions with respect to challenges at the regional and international levels in the areas of peace and security, reflective of the deep trust and confidence that both sides enjoy as strategic partners," it said.

Singh conveyed appreciation for the steadfast support provided by Russia consistent with the defence and security needs of India, and in this context, particularly noted the timely manner in which the Russian side had responded to requests for procurement of particular weapon systems. Both sides would continue to maintain contacts to ensure the timely delivery, the statement said.

The Defence Minister briefed Gen Shoigu on the 'Make-in-India' defence programme in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Aatma Nirbhar Bharat vision. Both sides welcomed the advance stage of discussions for the establishment in India of an India-Russian Joint Venture for the production of AK203 assault rifles, which are considered one of the most modern weapons available for infantry forces. "This provides very positive basis for further engagement of Russian defence industry in 'Make-in-India' programme. Gen. Shoigu reiterated commitment of the Russian side to engage actively with Ministry of Defence, Government of India to ensure the success of 'Make-in-India' programme including substantial participation in the forthcoming Aero India Exhibition to be held in February next year," the statement said.

Singh extended an invitation for his Russian counterpart to visit India for the next meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission for Technical and Military Cooperation,, which is expected to be held towards the end of this year. (ANI)

Nepal Foreign Minister signs condolence book for Pranab Mukherjee

Nepal Foreign Minister signing the condolence book for former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at Indian Embassy in Kathmandu on Friday. (Photo source: Nepal Foreign Ministry Twitter)

Kathmandu [Nepal], September 4 (ANI): Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali on Friday paid his respects to former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and signed the condolence book on behalf of the Nepal government.

"Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep K Gyawali went to Embassy of India in Kathmandu today and signed the book of condolences on behalf of the government and people of Nepal on the sad demise of former President of India Pranab Mukherjee," the Nepal Foreign Ministry said in a tweet.

Mukherjee, who had tested positive for coronavirus, breathed his last on Monday, weeks after his brain surgery. He was 84.

In his long political career, he held several top posts including that of External Affairs Minister, Defence Minister and Finance Minister.

The former President was cremated with full state honours on Tuesday.

Several leaders in India and across the world expressed grief over the demise of Mukherjee.
The Government of India has announced seven-day official mourning. (ANI)

Chinese President's visit to Pakistan postponed

Chinese President Xi Jinping (File photo)

Rawalpindi [Pakistan], September 4 (ANI): The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan has been rescheduled in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing.

The Pakistani and Chinese governments are currently working on a plan to finalise the new date for the trip, which will be announced soon, Yao was quoted as saying by The News International on Thursday while interacting with media persons at Giga Mall here.

The Ambassador said that the Chinese President was invited by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Pakistan.

The visit, if it had taken place, would have come in the backdrop of border tensions between China and India in eastern Ladakh for the last few months.

On the intervening night of August 29-30, the Indian Army thwarted an incursion attempt by the Chinese troops to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala.

The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June.

The talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far. (ANI)

COVID-19 cases in Brazil surpass 4-million mark

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Brasilia [Brazil], September 4 (ANI/Sputnik): The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil has increased by 43,773 to 4,041,638 within the past 24 hours, the national Ministry of Health said on late Thursday.

The death toll has risen by 834 to 124,614 within the same period of time. The number of recovered patients has reached 3,247,610.

A day earlier, Brazil reported 46,934 new cases of coronavirus and 1,184 new fatalities.

Brazil comes second in terms of coronavirus cases after the United States, which has recorded more than 6.1 million COVID-19 cases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11. To date, more than 26.1 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 865,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University. (ANI/Sputnik).

5.0 magnitude quake strikes Japan's Fukui Prefecture, no tsunami warning issued

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Tokyo [Japan], September 4 (ANI/Xinhua): An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 on Friday struck the Reihoku District of Japan's Fukui Prefecture, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The temblor occurred at 9:10 am (local time), with its epicentre at a latitude of 36.1 degrees north and a longitude of 136.2 degrees east, and at depth of 10 kilometres.

The quake logged 5 lower in some parts of Fukui Prefecture on the Japanese seismic intensity scale which peaks at 7.

So far, no tsunami warning has been issued. (ANI/Xinhua)

Dr Neena Malhotra named India's next envoy to Italy

Dr Neena Malhotra is a 1992-batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and is presently additional Secretary in the ministry (ANI)

New Delhi [India], September 4 (ANI): Diplomat Dr Neena Malhotra has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Italy, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

Malhotra is a 1992-batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and is presently Additional Secretary in the ministry.

She is expected to take up the assignment shortly, according to the MEA. (ANI)

Nepal: Protesters defy COVID-19 lockdown orders, clash with police over chariot procession

The clash between protesters and police in the Pulchowk area in Lalitpur, Nepal on Thursday. (Photo: ANI)

Lalitpur [Nepal], September 4 (ANI): Hundreds of protesters, who defied COVID-19 lockdown norms to participate in a chariot procession, clashed with police in the Pulchowk area in Lalitpur on Thursday.

Around 800 people had gathered to pull the chariot of Rato Machindranath Jatra, said Senior Superintendent Tek Prasad Rai, chief of Lalitpur Metropolitan Police Range.

Police tried to stop them from carrying out the chariot procession in view of the prohibitory orders issued to contain COVID-19 spread, subsequently leading to clashes, The Kathmandu Post reported.
"Since people had arrived in huge numbers, police alone were unable to control the crowd. So we sought the help of the Nepal Army," Rai said.

Police used teargas and water cannons to control the situation. So far, no injuries have been reported.
On Wednesday, the Lalitpur District Administration Office renewed the prohibitory orders in the district for a week, along with the district administration offices of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, citing the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the valley. Under the norms, all non-essential services have been banned.

Rai said that people had first initially gathered in Pulchowk to pull the chariot in the morning.
"Security personnel managed to turn them away. But later people gathered in huge numbers in the afternoon," Rai added.

The Machindranath chariot procession was to begin on April 24 this year. However, it was postponed as Nepal has been under lockdown since March 24 to combat the spread of coronavirus, according to The Kathmandu Post.

Chandra Maharjan, who coordinates in the chariot pulling festival, said discussions were held on whether to go ahead with the procession.

"We were in a meeting with a committee in charge of the festival when we heard that people were pulling the chariot. We were not part of what happened earlier today. Today's incident does not involve the main stakeholders and we do not recognise those who attempted to pull the chariot," Maharjan told the publication.

The situation is under control, according to Rai.

"The chariot, however, is now in the middle of the road. Local authorities will decide whether to pull it back to its original location or move it forward," Rai said. (ANI)

China's 'Malacca dilemma' remains

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Bangkok [Thailand], September 4 (ANI): Amid the border standoff between India and China, the latter has suffered a severe blow from Thailand, which said it will scrap the Kra Canal project that Beijing wanted to build to shorten its access to the Indian Ocean, according to a media report.

Not only that, the Thai government has also given in to the public pressure and delayed the purchase of two Chinese submarines worth USD 724 million.

As per a TFIPOST report, China was pinning its hopes on the Kra Canal project, a proposal to construct a 120-kilometre mega canal cutting through the isthmus of Kra in Thailand.

The Thai canal could have been a crucial strategic asset for China, allowing its navy to quickly move ships between its newly constructed bases in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean without diverting over 1,100 kilometres south to round the tip of Malaysia.

"This was in line with Beijing's long-term ambitions to bypass the Strait of Malacca, a narrow chokepoint between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra that divides the Indian and Pacific Oceans," TFIPOST wrote.

As things stand, Thailand no longer wants the Kra Canal as it is turned out to be infeasible both economically and politically.

Firstly, economical reasons: The Kra Canal project was unlike Suez Canal or Panama Canal that would have helped reduce a substantial amount of time or expenditure. Kra Canal as an alternate route through the Malacca, Sunda or Lombok Straits would not have generated very limited revenue, which would not have justified its construction cost.

Besides from the economical reasons, a Thai canal would pose a little threat to the US and its allies, including India, which can effectively counter Chinese expansionism with the up-gradation of domestic forward bases in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

"The real concern is that it would further undermine the independence of poor southeast Asian countries like Myanmar and Cambodia, which have comparatively weak civil societies that are highly vulnerable to Chinese interference. And it absolutely imperils Thailand," a report in the Foreign Policy.

Along with the decision to scrap the canal project, the Thai government has dropped the purchase of Chinese-made military submarines for a year following public outrage over the controversial agreement.

The Royal Thai Navy asked the parliament's budget committee to slash the submarine procurement funding to zero for this fiscal year. Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who also holds the post of Defence Minister, told the Navy to postpone the agreement until the fiscal year 2022.

The decision comes as a setback for the Thai government amid protests by the youth who are seeking political reforms and protections for civil liberties. It also comes as the country's economy has witnessed a slump due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two Yuan-class S26T submarines were supposed to cost a total of 22.5 billion baht (USD 720 million) over seven years. An allocation of 3 million baht as initial payment was sought by the government in the 2021 budget. But, the decision invited strong opposition from the public, with critics saying the money should be spent to revive the flattened Thai economy.

As per the TFIPOST report, China has lost all its friends in the Indo-Pacific region. "Thailand itself, for example, is a part of the Milk Tea Alliance- an online democratic solidarity movement run by internet users from Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong," it added.

Amid the growing public pressure, China could also find itself ruled out from the land pathway project which Thailand is considering as an alternative to the Kra Canal project, leaving behind Bejing in the age-long "Malacca Dilemma". (ANI)

China claim Uyghurs 'happiest Muslims in world'; evidence point to genocide

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New York [US], September 4 (ANI): The world is slowly waking up to the scathing realities of China, especially its crimes against humanity of the ethnic minority group Uyghur, whom Chinese Communist Party officials claim are the "happiest Muslims in the world."

However, evidence of the human tragedy unfolding in Xinjiang province in northwest China point out that the amount of human depredation is at par with North Korean totalitarianism and South African apartheid, according to a report in the National Review. The author Jimmy Quinn says new reports and fresh evidence have even led to comparisons to the Holocaust.

Approximately, over a million Uyghurs and other members, are estimated to have been detained while a total of 3 million people to have been swept up in various "reeducation" and "vocational training" facilities.

"Beijing, which charges these people with bogus crimes, claims that it is stamping out extremism, however, under the shroud of its true aim, it is solidifying Han Chinese dominance over Xinjiang," the National Review report said.

Beijing's sophisticated disinformation efforts and its investments in other countries have granted it near-impunity to act against the Uyghurs, it added.

Researchers and journalists, who worked on the issue have called it "cultural genocide," a term that carries a "blistering significance." This term also unmasks CCP's intent to wipe out Uyghur culture and traditions.

Earlier in June, Adrian Zenz, the German anthropologist came forward with a groundbreaking study on forced birth control in Xinjiang mass-detention camps.

When Zenz's study on forced birth control came out in June, official media had vilified him and said Beijing is "considering suing" him for libel, while the foreign ministry denounced him.

Hospitals in Xinjiang have been forced to abort and kill babies born in excess of family planning limits, Radio Free Asia reported citing an Uyghur obstetrician who worked in multiple hospitals in China's northwest province.

"Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins," CCP religious-affairs official was quoted as saying by the Nation Review in an article published in 2019.
And that not even it, what is more, astounding is "Beijing's sophisticated disinformation efforts and its investments in other countries have granted it near-impunity to act against the Uyghurs."

"The CCP has achieved the remarkable feat of not just convincing other countries to turn a blind eye but even pressuring many to endorse its actions. At the U.N. Human Rights Council, 46 countries praised the Xinjiang detention drive in the immediate wake of the forced-sterilization report, congratulating Beijing for its "remarkable achievements" and its work to fight terrorism. Many of the 46 are developing countries in Africa and the Middle East that have received significant Chinese investment and believe Beijing's narrative about extremism," Nation Review said.

According to a latest report, Chinese President Xi Jinping uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to tighten his government's totalitarian control and is exporting the technology to other countries across the world.

Xi wants to build an all-seeing digital system of social control, patrolled by precog algorithms that could identify potential dissenters in real-time. While China has already installed hundreds of millions of cameras in place, the Chinese government hopes to soon achieve the full video coverage of key public areas, writes Ross Andersen, a deputy editor of The Atlantic.

Every person who enters a public space in the future can be instantly identified by AI, matching them with their personal data, including their every text communication, and their body's one-of-a-kind protein-construction schema.

"In time, algorithms will be able to string together data points from a broad range of sources -- travel records, friends and associates, reading habits, purchases -- to predict political resistance before it happens," Andersen added.

Amid the grave situation surrounding the Uyghurs, activists around the world have urged the current US administration to bring forth the tales of survivors such as Mihrigul Tursun.

In 2018, Tursun testified in the Congressional-Executive Committee on China, saying: "Please take an action against the Chinese officials responsible for my torture, and the death of my little boy, and the deaths of so many innocent Uyghurs in the camps." (ANI)

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