Friday, October 9, 2020

NAM countries must work to reduce the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable sections: V Muraleedharan

Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan


New Delhi [India], October 9 (ANI): NAM countries must work to reduce the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable sections of society, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said on Friday.

In his statement at the 75th United Nations General Assembly Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, Muraleedharan said that the strength of the NAM "family lies in its diversity", its shared developmental experience, and its youthful populations brimming with hope and aspirations.

"Today, as we contend with yet another grave challenge, it is these very principles of solidarity and cooperation that will guide the way. COVID-19 has reminded us of our interconnectedness, and dependence on each other. We cannot fight this adversary alone," he said.

He called for a coordinated fight against the pandemic.

"We must work to reduce the socio-economic impact of this pandemic on the most vulnerable sections of our society. NAM's unique tradition of promoting South-South cooperation can provide a way out as societies look to rebuild and regenerate in the wake of this crisis," he said.

"This was also the key message that Prime Minister Modi conveyed to the Movement when he participated in the Online Summit of the NAM Contact Group in response to COVID-19 held in May this year. Just a few days ago, at the General Debate of the 75th UNGA, he assured the world that India's immense vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting the crisis," he added.

The minister said the pandemic is not the only pressing challenge and the theme of the meeting and declaration today "compels us to introspect on how NAM can more effectively counter global threats which surpass our individual capacities".

"Terrorism and their enablers continue to spread their tentacles unabated. Misinformation and fake news are wreaking havoc on social cohesion and collective security. Climate change has become an existential threat, especially to the most vulnerable SIDS countries. Humanitarian emergencies are straining capacities. Cybersecurity threats and the uneven impact of frontier technologies are causing turbulence. Development concerns remain paramount for the vast majority of the world's population," he said.

Muraleedharan said if the movement is reduced for venting bilateral grievances, it will soon become a weak and irrelevant entity.

"On the other hand, if we take up issues that divide rather than unite us, reducing our Movement to a platform for venting bilateral grievances or for embarrassing fellow Members, we will soon become a weak and irrelevant entity, with no say at all in global decision making. Individual members must stop and think before raising issues that are not on the agenda and which find no resonance in the wider membership," he said.

The minister NAM never was and never can be a platform for pursuits aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of a state by another state.

He said NAM has the potential to take the lead in addressing the primary issues of the present times that demand global cooperation.

"When we stand together and speak in one voice, for instance in our Movement's steadfast commitment to the cause of Palestine, we can and do have a decisive influence on global outcomes - we can be a force for good," he said.

The minister said this year also marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark Bandung Conference that resulted in the adoption of the founding principles of the Non-Aligned Movement.

"The 65th anniversary is a good time to reflect. Even as we call for effective and reformed multilateralism, we need to introspect, reform and revitalize the current arrangements of our own Movement, to enable us to pursue a focused, positive and transformative agenda going forward," he said. (ANI)

Israeli PM Netanyahu, Ethiopian PM discuss Israel's peace agreements with UAE, Bahrain

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Tel Aviv [Israel], October 09 (ANI/Sputnik): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday was congratulated by his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed Ali on signing peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain, the Israeli prime minister's office said.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke today by telephone with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed; the two leaders discussed regional issues. Ethiopian PM Ahmed congratulated PM Netanyahu on the historic peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and said that PM Netanyahu had led a historic move, the magnitude and full positive ramifications of which will only be understood by future generations," the press service said on Twitter.

The two leaders also addressed the issues of agriculture and repatriation of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

Last month, the UAE and Bahrain officially reconciled with Israel by signing US-brokered peace agreements during a ceremony at the White House. According to Avi Berkowitz, special adviser to US President Donald Trump, another seven Arab or Muslim countries are likely to follow suit and conclude similar agreements with Israel. (ANI/Sputnik)

US Deputy Secy of State Stephen E. Biegun to visit India, Bangladesh next week

US Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen E. Biegun


Washington [US], October 9 (ANI): US Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen E. Biegun will be in India on a three-day visit next week that will focus on advancing the United States-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and how the two countries can work together to advance peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe.

He will be arriving on October 12. The deputy secretary will meet with senior government officials and deliver keynote remarks at the India-US Forum.

"Building on Secretary Pompeo's October 6 meeting with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar and ahead of the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue later this year, Deputy Secretary Biegun's engagements in India will focus on advancing the United States-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and how the United States and India can work together to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe," according to US State Department statement.

The statement said that Biegun will visit Dhaka from October 14-16 to meet with senior government officials and reaffirm the United States-Bangladesh partnership.

"The Deputy Secretary's engagements in Bangladesh will focus on advancing our common vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region with shared prosperity for all, US-Bangladesh cooperation on COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and sustainable economic development," the statement said. (ANI)

Manipur police seize arms, ammunition in search operation




Imphal (Manipur) [India], October 9 (ANI): Manipur police on Friday recovered arms and ammunition in a search operation in and around Nambol Khathong Maning Pat, said the state police department.

"On October 9, at about 5 am, a combined team of CDO-Unit, Bishnupur and a column of the 16 AR conducted an extensive search operation in and around Nambol Khathong Maning Pat," Manipur Police said in a statement.

According to the release issued by Manipur police, the arms and ammunition recovered included one AK -56 rifle, one AK 56 magazine, two 9 mm pistols, two 9 mm pistol magazine, one 22 mm pistol, one 22 pistol magazine, five Lethode bombs, one handheld set, 22 pieces of AK-56 ammunition, eight 9 mm ammunition, nine M-16 ammunition and one M-16 grenade.

The seized items were handed over to Nambol police station for further necessary action and a case has also been registered. An investigation is underway. More details are awaited. (ANI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulates Kuwait new Emir, crown prince

Prime Minister Narendra Modi


New Delhi [India], October 09 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday congratulated Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for assuming charge as the Emir of the State of Kuwait and Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for taking charge as the Crown Prince of the country.

He exuded confidence that under their leadership the historic India-Kuwait friendship will be further strengthened.

"Congratulations and best wishes to His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for assuming charge as the Amir of the State of Kuwait. I also congratulate His Highness Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on his taking charge as the Crown Prince," PM Modi tweeted.

"I am confident that the State of Kuwait will continue to play an important global role under their leadership, and the historic India-Kuwait friendship will be further strengthened," he added.

Sheikh Nawaf was sworn in as the new Qatari ruler on September 30 after the death of Emir Sabah IV who had led the country since 2006.

Early this week, Sheikh Nawaf has issued a decree that recommends nominating the candidacy of Deputy National Guard Commander Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as the country's new Crown Prince. (ANI)

A former RAW officer unravels the path to 1984 in his book `The Khalistan Conspiracy'

The book published by HarperCollins will be released on October 24.


New Delhi [India], October 9 (ANI): A former intelligence officer with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), GBS Sidhu has written how pro-Khalistan sentiments and Sikh extremism "were deliberately encouraged and then crushed with a heavy hand to draw political mileage".

The upcoming book `The Khalistan Conspiracy', is a first-person account that brings out little-known facts about the Khalistan movement and the role of senior politicians of the time "in creating and sustaining it".

The book published by HarperCollins will be released on October 24.

"The contents of this book revolve around a two-phased, top-secret operation, which I name "Operation Bhindranwale-Khalistan". It was initiated and managed by some senior and influential Congress leaders operating from the prime minister's residential office at 1 Akbar Road, New Delhi," said author GBS Sidhu.

"Normally, no records are kept of such operations, and everything is decided verbally. However, as that operation had some external ramifications, the RAW became involved in one form or the other. It was in that context that I had my own personal experiences and insights related to the operation, and they form the core of this book...," he added.

Sidhu, who served in R&AW for twenty-six years and retired as Special Secretary in 1998 said, "What was the final solution to the Punjab / Khalistan problem that the 1 Akbar Road group wanted? Was it to ensure maximum impact on their potential voters in the next general elections? Why was the hope of a negotiated settlement with moderate Akali Dal leaders kept dangling till the very end of May 1984, a few days before Operation Blue Star was launched?... Why were other comparatively less harmful solutions to capture Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple complex overruled?... The purpose of this book is to unravel the truth behind the developments leading to Operation Blue Star and its aftermath."

Swati Chopra, Executive Editor of Harpercollins India, said, "The anti-Sikh violence of 1984 following Indira Gandhi's brutal assassination, Operation Blue Star and its aftermath earlier that year, and the period of militancy that followed in Punjab form a dark chapter of our contemporary history. The author, who witnessed some of these events at close quarters and others from behind the scenes, has attempted to bring to light hitherto unknown facts, making this a brave and important book that everyone who cares about truth, justice and reconciliation must read."

With a timeline that moves seven years before to a decade after 1984, the book strives to answer critical questions that continue to linger till today.

The narrative moves from Punjab to Canada, the US, Europe and Delhi, looking to sift the truth from the "political obfuscation and opportunism, examining the role that the ruling party allegedly played", and the heart-rending violence that devoured thousands of innocent lives in its aftermath. (ANI)

PoK former PM Sardar Attique Khan condemns Pakistan govt plan to merge Gilgit Baltistan with Pakistan

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir former Prime Minister Sardar Attique Khan


Gilgit Baltistan [PoK], October 09 (ANI): Pakistan-occupied Kashmir former 'Prime Minister' Sardar Attique Khan has condemned Prime Minister Imran Khan's plan to merge Gilgit Baltistan with Pakistan and said the region is a part of Kashmir and not Pakistan.

Attique Khan warned that the recent move would compromise Pakistan's stand that the future of the Jammu and Kashmir should be decided by a plebiscite under the UN as agreed by India and Pakistan.

"Gilgit Baltistan is a part of Kashmir. How can you (Pakistan government) touch it? You (Imran Khan) talked about UN resolution on Kashmir during your United Nations speech and then you try to include the region in Pakistan," Attique said.

A wave of anger has swept towns and villages across the illegally occupied Gilgit Baltistan after the stooge administration launched a crackdown against the political activists, dissenting political leaders and anybody who hasn't fallen in line with the arbitrary orders of the government.

People across the region have taken to streets and are demanding the immediate release of activists who have been falsely implicated and have been awarded rigorous punishment.

Recently, Minister Ali Amin Gandapur said that the government has decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan to the status of a full-fledged province.

Preparations are underway to hold elections in the region and the PTI government has also taken the opposition on board to change the status of the region.

Gilgit Baltistan assembly has passed a resolution in favour a provincial status for the region and demanded that it be made as the fifth province of Pakistan and grant all the rights as enjoyed by the people of other provinces.

The European Foundation for South Asian Studies had reported that the decision could be seen as Khan's "belated response" to India's moves to scrap Articles 370 and 35A.

It said that decision to usurp Gilgit Baltistan could only have been made in Rawalpindi, not in Islamabad.

"More importantly, however, it is the constant Chinese pressure on the military establishment to ensure a proper legal cover under Pakistan's legal jurisdiction for its investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which enters Pakistan from China through Gilgit Baltistan, that has forced the establishment to act," the European think tank argued.

In response to Pakistan's decision to usurp Gilgit Baltistan, India had responded strongly saying that "any action by Pakistan to alter the status of the militarily occupied so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan' has no legal basis whatsoever and is totally void ab-initio. Our position has always been clear and consistent. The entire territories of the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been and are an integral part of India and would remain so. Pakistan has no locus standi to comment on India's internal matters." (ANI)

Calling India unsafe for women appears to be incorrect, says IIM Rohtak director

Representative Image


New Delhi [India], October 9 (ANI): The Hathras incident has drawn attention to violence against women, but calling India unsafe for women appears to be incorrect, and a comparative study of violence in different countries is needed, according to IIM Rohtak director Dheeraj Sharma.

Dheeraj Sharma, IIM Rohtak Director, said, "The recent case of violence against women in the small town (Hathras) of India has brought a great deal of attention to the scale of violence against women in India. The incident is undeniably unfortunate and calls for a probe; however, calling India an 'unsafe country for women' appear to be incorrect."

"To accurately understand the situation in India, one must engage in a comparative study to ascertain where India stands vis-a-vis other developing and developed countries as far as a crime against women is concerned. One must recognise that high crime against women reflects a poor standard of living in any country," he wrote in an article for EU Reporter, a Brussels-based European multimedia news platform.

The IIM director further said that the research team at IIM Rohtak "endeavored to study" data on the incidence of rapes across various countries and reviewed how India fares in managing crime against women.

"The research team examined the reasons for the under-reporting of rapes in a developed country. Finally, the research team examined the reasons for the under-reporting of cases in India," he added.

The rape rate is calculated as the number of rape incidents per 100,000 population. The data of rape rate in G-8 countries, other developed and developing countries shows that South Africa has the highest rape rate 132.4 while India is third last on the list with a rape rate of 1.8.

"While the rape rate in India is quite low (1.8) compared to other developed and developing countries. It must be noted that the highest rape rate exists in the United States has the highest rape rate of 27.3. However, one can argue that the rape rate in India may be low on account of underreporting," Sharma wrote.

"However, one can argue that the rape rate in India may be low on account of underreporting. Hence, it is important to understand the degree of under-reporting and what are the main reasons for under-reporting," he added.

"Consequently, we attempted to compare the Indian data with US data. According to Criminal Justice System report by RAINN ((Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), the rape cases go unreported due to victim shaming, fear of reprisal, fear of family knowing, cases not being taken seriously by law enforcement, and possible lack of prosecution for the perpetrator."

According to the data, only 9 per cent of rapists in the US get prosecuted and only 3 to 6 per cent of rapists will spend a day in prison. In India, the conviction rate is around 27%.

In order to study the Indian context, a survey was conducted across 1004 women in India. "All the women surveyed were from cities and were in the age group of 21 to 35 years. 74.5 per cent of the women stated that they would report any sexual violence immediately to the authorities.

"Next, the one who stated that they would not report such incidents were asked as what they believe would be the reasons for not reporting sexual violence to law and enforcement. Two interesting findings of the survey are that nearly 68 per cent of the women stated that they would report the matter to a non-law-enforcement official (Friend/Family/Relative/Acquaintance/Ombudsman)," he wrote.

Further, more nearly 49% of the reported self-blame by stating that one should not engage with a stranger and apparent deviants. Additionally, 21.4 indicated that they would not get family support to follow up with the reporting of the incident, he added. (ANI)

Pakistan bans Chinese app TikTok over complaints against 'immoral content'

Representative Image


Islamabad [Pakistan], October 9 (ANI): Pakistan on Friday became the latest country to impose a ban on TikTok, a Chinese short video making app, after receiving a "number of complaints from different segments of the society", the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said in a press statement.

According to the press release on Friday, several complaints were made "against immoral/indecent content" that was shared on the app, Dawn reported.

The PTA said it had earlier issued a "final notice" to TikTok and gave the application "considerable time to respond and comply with" instructions for the development of an effective mechanism for proactive moderation of "unlawful online content".

However, the company "failed to fully comply" with PTA's instructions, after which the authority decided to ban it in the country.

The ban by Pakistan comes at a time when there is an international outcry over the short video-making app for comprising the nations' security at the behest of China.

The statement added that PTA "is open for engagement" and would review its decision if TikTok develops a mechanism to moderate the content that is posted on the video-sharing platform.

The video-sharing app, which is owned by China's ByteDance, has been downloaded almost 39 million times in Pakistan and is the third-most downloaded app over the past year after WhatsApp and Facebook, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Recently, a civil miscellaneous application was filed in the Lahore High Court demanding an immediate ban on a famous mobile phone video application, TikTok.

Advocate Nadeem Sarwar moved the application on behalf of a citizen who is a petitioner in the main petition pending with the court, The Dawn reported.

The lawyer contended that hearing of the main petition against the TikTok had not been fixed so far and the matter was of great importance. He said more than 10 deaths had been reported in the country in incidents relating to the users of the application. (ANI)

Kolkata Police books Kailash Vijayvargiya, Mukul Roy, others over Nabanna Chalo Abhiyaan

A visual from the Nabanna Chalo Abhiyaan in Kolkata yesterday. (Photo: ANI)


Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], October 9 (ANI): A case was registered against BJP national secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, national vice president Mukul Roy, MPs Locket Chatterjee, Arjun Singh, Rakesh Singh and others by the Kolkata Police for unlawful assembly and violation of the COVID-19 restrictions over the Nabanna Chalo Abhiyaan on Thursday.

The Nabanna Chalo Abhiyaan, led by the BJP and its Yuva Morcha, was a march to the state secretariat on Thursday in a sign of protest against the deteriorating law and order situation, corruption, unemployment and syndicate raj in the state.

The police had used water cannon and lathi-charged to disperse the BJP workers in the city, who had gathered for state-wide 'Nabanna Chalo' agitation against the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led government.

According to the police, a case was registered on Thursday against 24 named and other unnamed individuals at Hastings Police Station in Kolkata under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Disaster Management Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

Apart from Kailash Vijayvargiya, national vice president Mukul Roy, MPs Locket Chatterjee, Arjun Singh, Rakesh Singh, others named in the FIR include Joy Prakash Majumdar, Bharati Ghosh, Biswajit Ghosh, Bipul Sarkar, Sujan Mondal, Samaresh Mondal, Satya Narayan Chatterjee, Pankaj Kumar Pati, Gautam Mondal, Santosh Yadav, Vivek Kumar, Rahul Singh, Prem Singh, Arun Kumar Das, Mahesh Ram, John Ray, Nikhil Singh, Amarjit Rabidas and Manoj Srivastav.

Those who participated in the Nabanna Chalo Abhiyaan have been booked for being members of an unlawful assembly, having their common object to approach Nabanna, and voluntarily causing hurt to those deployed for duty, applying criminal forces towards the police personnel.

The FIR also alleged that the members of the assembly also damaged government property like iron guard rails, wooden shields and iron face shields.

The police said that seven persons named in the FIR have been arrested in the case and further investigation is underway in the matter. (ANI)

Yoga getting popular in Cuba: AYUSH Ministry

Representative Image


New Delhi [India], October 9 (ANI): The AYUSH Ministry said on Friday that there is rising popularity of Yoga in Cuba and the "timeless gift from our ancestors is truly a universal inheritance" and is now finding disciples all across the globe.

An AYUSH Ministry release said that Indian Embassy in Havana has given information that Prof Eduardo Pimentel Vazquez, president and founder of Cuban Yoga Association, is a leading figure in yoga in that country.

He has been teaching Yoga in Cuba for 30 years and has trained 50 instructors.

"This is a significant contribution to the sustainable growth of Yoga in Cuba, a country with a population of 1.13 crore," the release said.

It said a recent interview of Pimentel Vazquez has been widely read in Cuba and it throws light on how Yoga has become quite popular in the country.

"People of all ages are spotted in parks, rooms, and museums performing yoga, and a visitor from India cannot be faulted for a brief illusion that he is back home in Mysuru or Haridwar. The number of participants in Yoga activities in Cuba is increasing every day," the release said.

As per the interview, it was a book that changed the life of Pimentel Vazquez. He was a chess player since he was 12 and he was gifted a book on Yoga and saw Yoga techniques in 1972.

He started practicing by following books and has not stopped studying Yoga since then.

The release said he defines Yoga as a philosophy more than anything else and notes that it is of immense interest to the western world, especially its physical practice.

Pimentel Vazquez has taught Yoga lessons in the United States, Brazil, and Mexico.

In his last book published in 2018, Tu session de yoga (Your Yoga session) he mentions that Yoga is a preventive system and that it has been acknowledged as a part of the Traditional and Natural Medicine Department of the globally acclaimed Ministry of Public Health of Cuba since 1995.

Pimentel Pimentel Vazquez believes that a single posture doesn't make a yoga session and recommends practising a series.

His favourite postures for releasing stress includes Trikonasana.

The release said International Day of Yoga (IDY) is observed in Cuba with considerable enthusiasm every year.

This year also the day was observed with the active involvement of the Embassy of India in Havana, it said. (ANI)

India remains committed to peace, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan: EAM Jaishankar after meeting Abdullah

Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the Afghanistan High Council for National Reconciliation, and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during the meeting on Friday. (Photo/Jaishankar on Twitter)



New Delhi [India], October 9 (ANI):
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the Afghanistan High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) on Friday and assured him of India's commitment to peace, prosperity and stability in the neighbouring country.

"Pleased to
 meet Chairman HCNR @DrabdullahCE. A good discussion on our bilateral cooperation and regional issues. Welcomed his insights and perspectives on recent developments. As a neighbour, India remains committed to peace, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan," Jaishankar tweeted.

After the meeting, Dr Abdullah tweeted, "As always pleased to meet HE @DrSJaishankar, the External Affairs Minister of India. We exchanged views on the Afghan Peace Process, bilateral relations and the regional support for peace efforts. He assured me of India's full support for peace in Afghanistan."

Dr Abdullah is here on a five-day visit. On Thursday, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval wherein he reaffirmed the long-term commitment to further deepen India-Afghan ties.

The HCNR chairman said the meeting with Doval was "constructive" and that the latter told him that India is in favour of a "democratic and sovereign Afghanistan, where no terrorists can operate".

His visit comes at a time when the Afghanistan government and Taliban are trying to negotiate a deal in order to restore peace in the country.

The peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban began on September 12 in Qatar's capital Doha. (ANI) 

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov declares state of emergency amid anti-govt protests

Representative Image


Bishkek [Kyrgyzstan], October 9 (ANI): Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov on Friday declared a state of emergency in Bishkek till October 21 amid anti-government protests, the presidential office told Sputnik.

"Kyrgyz Republic President Sooronbay Jeenbekov signed today, on October 9, a decree, according to which a state of emergency is declared on the territory of the city of Bishkek," a spokesperson for the presidential office said.

The spokesperson said the decidion was made due to mass rallies and subsequent violence, it is meant "to protect citizens life, health and safety and promote stabilization of the social and political situation."

Deputy Interior Minister Almazbek Orozaliev will serve as the commandant. A curfew will also be introduced in the city.

Under the decree, the Kyrgyz armed forces' General Staff is tasked with deploying "military units with military equipment" to Bishkek in order to "arrange checkpoints, suppress armed clashes, ensure law and order and protect civilians." (ANI)

11 Afghan security force members killed in Taliban attacks in Kunduz, Helmand

Representative Image


Kabul [Afghanistan], October 9 (ANI): At least 11 security force members were killed in Taliban attack in Kunduz and Helmand provinces on Thursday evening, Tolo News reported citing security sources.

Taliban attacked security outposts in Ali Abad district in the northern province of Kunduz on Thursday evening, a security source said, adding that eight security force members, including four policemen and four army soldiers, were killed.

The source said five army soldiers and two policemen were wounded in the attack. Four other forces were taken hostage by the Taliban, the source said.

Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack by posting photos from the hostages.

The group attacked two areas in Helmand on Thursday night: the Helmand highway and Nahri Saraj district, according to provincial governor's spokesman Omar Zwak.

Zwak said that three security force members were killed and three others were wounded in the Taliban attacks in the province. However, a security source said that at least 10 soldiers were killed in the attacks. (ANI)

Imran's defiance against opposition parties, sedition charges against so-called PM of PoK

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan


Islamabad [Pakistan], October 9 (ANI): Ahead of a major opposition rally, the Pakistan government has slapped sedition charges against Raja Farooq Haider, so-called Prime Minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), former Khan's predecessor Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam Nawaz.

On October 5, the Lahore police registered sedition charges along with several other serious charges against Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and 41 other leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) on the complaint of a citizen, Badar Rasheed, a resident of Khursheed Park of Shahdara.

The complainant had alleged Sharif of giving "hateful speeches" while addressing the All Parties Conference (APC), and his party's Central Working Committee (CWC) and Central Executive Committee (CEC) on September 20 and October 1, against the state, its institutions and the nation as well.

He further alleged that the party's senior leaders who attended the meeting supported the hateful speeches.

Citing the FIR, Dawn reported that the complainant has alleged that the purpose of calling these meetings and the speeches of the former PM and PML-N leaders was to endorse the policy of India aimed to get Pakistan declared 'a rouge state' and to keep its name on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Following the filing of the sedition charges, a Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir slammed Imran Khan and said, "PM @ImranKhanPTI always claimed to be an ambassador of Kashmiris but look at this FIR registered by Punjab police they booked elected PM of AJK @farooq_pm under treason charges along with @NawazSharifMNS and three retired Lt Generals of Pak Army."

Later, Raja Farooq Haider's name was removed from the FIR.

"We will strike off the name of Raja Farooq Haider from the FIR at the investigation stage. However, the investigation against others nominated in the case will proceed as per law," Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan told Dawn.

On the role of registration of sedition charges on Haider, the Minister said, "No...we have no role in its registration as police registered it on a complaint of a citizen." (ANI)

Data Policing: New Chinese algorithms to brand Uyghur 'extremists'

Representative Image


California [USA], October 9 (ANI): Digitisation is a double-edged sword; on one hand, it makes your life hassle-free while on the other it puts a tab on your privacy. Uyghurs are witnessing the second part which puts a check on their privacy.

In recent years, the Beijing government has begun using technology to conduct its own kind of genocide. By putting Xinjiang under a grid management system, China is now able to control every aspect of Uyghur's life.

A new digital forensics tools built by the Chinese tech giant Meiya Pico is helping the Dragon in its nefarious design against the Uyghurs. They are used to feed data about the digital histories of individuals into a region-wide system called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP). The IJOP identified suspects for local police departments based on patterns of suspicious behaviours and data it detected through surveillance systems.

The handheld devices and software systems scan through smartphones and other electronic devices in less than two minutes, attempts to match materials to a base dataset of as many as 53,000 flagged audio, video, picture, and text files that had been deemed related to religious extremism or terrorism. The Meiya Pico systems cracked the codes of private social media, email, and instant messaging applications to assess the phone owner's digital history and social network.

In a case study done by Darren Byler, an Uyghur youth Baimurat was recruited as an 'assistant police' by Public Security Bureau in Qitai County. It was a type of citizen policing role that the authorities described as a kind of supermarket or mall security guard position. He was recruited because of his qualifications and his Chinese language skills. Other Uyghur youth recruited were put through several weeks of boot camp. At first, it seemed too good to be true. Baimurat was given the highest possible salary of nearly 6,000 Yuan, or USD 1,000, per month -- much higher than the minimum wage of around 2,000 Yuan. But all his dreams were shattered when he discovered the fact that he was being used to spy upon his own people through the use of technology. The study vividly covers the journey of Uyghurs branded as 'extremists' by the Dragon (China).

"We were given police uniforms, and then we started doing different kinds of training. It was really strict as if we were planning for war", said Baimurat.

Uyghur and Kazakh Muslim populations are the groups that are targeted by the system. The job of these 'assistant police' was to watch cameras, perform spot checks of Muslim young people, and demand that they provide their state-issued ID and their phones for inspection via spyware apps and scanning devices. These young, low-wage workers were also responsible for monitoring face-scanning machines and metal detectors at fixed checkpoints said the author Darren Byler.

The Chinese state media began to represent Uyghurs and Kazakhs as 'venomous snakes' and 'disease-carrying insects' that needed to be exterminated, or as demons ridden with the metastasizing cancer of extremism, reported Noema.

The Chinese government began to identify 'signs' of Islamic extremism, including possessing digital files with Islamic content and using virtual private networks, as pre-criminal markers of terrorism 'intent.' Policing relied in part on netizens who were willing to report other internet users for cybercrimes. Local authorities offered rewards for reporting 'extremist, terrorist or separatist' online behaviour that resulted in detentions, reported Noema.

By combining this data with information collected through interrogations, the system helped to determine which Muslims were 'untrustworthy' and in need of further investigation. In just two years, nearly 350,000 people in the region were convicted of criminal offenses and given prison terms. Between 900,000 to 1.5 million more were sent to a newly organised network of reeducation camps to be cleansed of ideological 'viruses' of extremist thoughts, said Darren Byler.

Over 90,000 police contractors were hired to build and staff this network. Many were deputized young men like Baimurat and thus the dataset grew. Algorithms that 'identified,' extremism were honed. And a digital enclosure tightened over everyday life, reported Noema.

As the scholar Lilly Irani has noted, cutting-edge algorithms built by tech conglomerates around the world are often managed and monitored by low-wage technicians. Much of this work is done through platforms like the Amazon-hosted contractor network called Mechanical Turk. These 'data janitors,' as Irani refers to them, train software to recognize and digitize material objects, behaviours, and people.

Soon after Baimurat was hired, local authorities started building 'convenience police stations,' a type of surveillance hub set up every several hundred yards at intersections and entrances to parks, banks, shopping malls, and other high-traffic areas. Then, Baimurat and the other contractors were divided up and stationed in the different stations. Across the region, at least 7,700 such stations were built.

Inside these structures were banks of TV monitors that showed dozens of camera views. Some of the cameras were moveable using a little joystick, and the contractors could zoom in on faces.

Baimurat said that, at first, their assignment was just to watch the monitors. They themselves were being watched by multiple cameras in a centralised command centre. "If we stopped looking, we would be punished," he said.

Over time, the kind of surveillance they did began to shift. First, the contractors would be sorted based on their Chinese language ability and knowledge of counterterrorism laws. "They made us do other exercises like reciting rules about participating in the camp system," Baimurat recalled. "We had to learn these by heart."

Then, around the middle of 2017, they were tasked with actively fine-tuning the programming of the system using assessment tools called 'counterterrorism swords'.

The work the data police did not only affect the people it targets but also affects the data police themselves. Xinjiang data police like Baimurat suffer from traumatic stress disorders.

The justice for data policing in China is not simply a question of better work conditions or the freedom to quit. They exemplify a more fundamental question of whether people are the authors of their own lives, reported Noema. (ANI)

Afghanistan chief negotiator meets Jaishankar at Hyderabad House

Abdullah Abdullah, chief negotiator in the intra-Afghan peace dialogue with Taliban, with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday at the Hyderabad House. Photo/ANI


New Delhi [India], October 9 (ANI): Afghanistan leader and Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation, Dr Abdullah Abdullah on Friday met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar here at the Hyderabad House.

On October 8, Abdullah had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval wherein he re-affirmed the long-term commitment to further deepen India-Afghan ties.

The Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, who is here on a five-day visit, said the meeting with Doval was "constructive" and that the latter had assured him of India is in favour of a "democratic and sovereign Afghanistan, where no terrorists can operate".

"Had a constructive discussion with HE Ajit Doval, the NSA of India. We discussed the Afghan Peace Process, and the talks in Doha. He assured me of India's full support for the peace efforts, and that any peace settlement acceptable to Afghans, will have the support of India," read a tweet from Abdullah.

This is the first visit of Abdullah to India after the formation of a new government in Afghanistan.

His visit comes at a time when the Afghanistan government and Taliban are trying to negotiate a deal in order to restore peace in the country.

The peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban began on September 12 in Qatar's capital Doha. (ANI)

China along with its allies turn blind eye on persecution of Islam in East Turkestan

Representative Image


Washington [US], October 9 (ANI): The persecution of Islam in East Turkestan by China is unparalleled. The demolition of thousands of mosques and the prohibition of religious symbols go hand-in-hand with the establishment of concentration camps and human-rights violations qualify as genocide, said South Asian Democratic Forum members.

"Freedom of religion and Islamic practices was suppressed by China in East Turkestan. China had destroyed one-third of the region's mosque of the East Turkestan region. For how long could Muslim majority countries like Pakistan receive Chinese blood money as an investment," asked Rushan Abbas, Executive Director, Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU). She called on all countries not to be an accomplice in China's genocide.

The South Asian Democratic Forum (SADF) on October 8 organised a webinar on 'Persecution of Islam in East Turkestan' wherein the participants discussed the gross human rights violations carried out by China and its allies in East Turkestan.

The webinar was moderated by Paula Casaca, Executive Director, SADF called out the hypocritical silence of states like Pakistan, which proclaimed itself as the champion of Islam and Muslims, on the Uyghur issue.

Senge Sering, President of the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, said "Chinese and Pakistanis attacked the families, particularly women and children of the dissenters in Gilgit Baltistan. China's policy of economic exploitation and cultural genocide in Tibet and Xinxiang is now spreading, like coronavirus into the Pashtun areas, Gilgit Baltistan and Baluchistan in Pakistan. Wherever policies like China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) are in place, China is accentuating border conflict and tensions and pursuing a policy of divide and rule. China is forcing Pakistan to deny autonomy to Gilgit Baltistan and enabling it to annex it in contravention of international laws."

Sering said Pakistan denied even the basic rights to the people of Gilgit Baltistan and this was a replica of Chinese policies pursued in Xinjiang and Tibet.

Fazal-ur-Rehman Afridi, PTM Representative to European Union and United Nations, said that just like Sering, his family was also threatened in Pakistan for voicing the concerns of Pashtuns.

The speaker said, "Pakistan is persecuting Pashtuns in a similar way as Uyghurs are being persecuted in Xinjiang. Pakistan, which calls itself a champion of Islam, is criminally silent on the plight of Muslims in East Turkestan. Pakistan was not a champion of Islam and only invoking Islam to further its narrow strategic agenda. In the name of CPEC, the Pashtun resources were being plundered by both Pakistan and China."

"Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan's calls to condemn Islamophobia are hypocritical considering its conspicuous silence on the sordid plight of Uyghurs in East Turkestan. The silence on the Uyghur issue shows that Pakistan had no genuine concern on the right of self-determination. Islamabad's hypocritical stance on Uyghur issue signifies how Pakistani government is having close ties with religious hardliners such as Jammat ul Dawa, which too had maintained a silence on the persecution and genocide of Muslims in East Turkestan," said Seigfried O Wolf, Director (Research), South Asia Democratic Forum.

Member of European Parliament (MEP) Gianna Ganciasent in her statement on the issue said that the EU promotes human rights through its participation in multilateral forums such as the UN General Assembly's Third Committee, the UN Human Rights Council, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. The Union also actively promotes international justice, for example through the International Criminal Court. The international community cannot remain a silent spectator.

Eventually, it was concluded that Pakistan looked very selectively at human rights issues for their own interests and this explained their silence on the issue of persecution of Uyghur in East Turkestan. (ANI)

3 Afghan security force members killed, 3 injured in attacks by Taliban

Representative Image


Kabul [Afghanistan], October 9 (ANI): Three Afghan security force members were killed and three others sustained injuries in two separate attacks by the Taliban on Thursday evening here, TOLO News reported.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for Helmand governor was quoted as saying that three security force members were killed and three more were wounded in two attacks by the Taliban in Helmand's highway and Nahri Saraj district on Thursday evening.

Further details are awaited. (ANI)

CNN publishes chart mentioning Singapore as 'not a country', later removes it

Representative Image


Washington [US], October 9 (ANI): The CNN, which has been infamously called as "fake news" by US President Donald Trump, landed in trouble when it specified Singapore as "not a country".

According to a report by AsiaOne, CNN had published an article by veteran journalist Stephen Collinson wherein he had critiqued Trump's attempts to downplay the virus and the irresponsible approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, among other questionable issues concerning the president's administration.

However, the article showed a chart showing the key countries with fewer new COVID-19 cases that the White House in past 24 hours had Singapore mentioned as "not a country".

The fault was pointed out by the netizens. Among the other faults highlighted were -- Papua spelt as Papau, Sint Maarten as a sovereign country though it actually is a part of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

AsiaOne further reported that CNN has removed the chart with a correction note "A chart previously published in this article incorrectly stated Singapore was not a country. The chart has been removed". (ANI)

Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia launches coding campaign 'CODE-A-THON'

Manish Sisodia launches coding campaign 'CODE-A-THON'


New Delhi [India], October 9 (ANI): In a move to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the national capital, Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday launched the CODE-A-THON campaign, under which students of government schools will learn coding.

Speaking at the launch event here, Sisodia quoted Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple Inc., and said: "Coding is a new generation's liberal art, and everybody should learn computer coding because it teaches you how to think."

"It is not about programming, designing, or creating some videos, it is about creating art. It helps you think. That is why it is important to learn to code. Today, I could see how it is enabling our school children to start thinking," he said.

During the event, the Education Minister also interacted with the school children present at the event.

As part of the CODE-A-THON campaign, students will go through self-learning modules on coding and will get an opportunity to practise it. They will also take part in various quizzes. (ANI)

US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster condoles demise of Ram Vilas Paswan

Kenneth Juster with late Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. (Ken Juster/Twitter)


New Delhi [India] October 9 (ANI): US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster on Friday expressed grief over the demise of Union Minister and Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan.

In his tweet, Juster said, "Extremely sad to learn of the passing of Ram Vilas Paswan. His dedication to the citizens of India informed his important contributions to his country. My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies are with his loved ones."

Earlier today, the mortal remains of Paswan were taken to his residence in New Delhi from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where he breathed his last on Thursday.

Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) founder Ram Vilas Paswan passed away at the age of 74 on Thursday.

As a mark of respect to Cabinet Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who passed away on Thursday, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that the National flag will be flown at half-mast on Friday in the national capital and capitals of all States and Union Territories (UTs) where it is regularly flown, and also on the day of the funeral at the place where the funeral will take place. (ANI)

Other Posts