Thursday, October 22, 2020

Guterres reiterates call on UN Day for global ceasefire to fight COVID-19 together

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (File photo)


New York [US], October 22 (ANI/Sputnik): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated in a speech on the United Nations Day on Thursday that all hostilities worldwide should cease in order to direct joint efforts toward combating the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"On United Nations Day, I reinforce my appeal for a global ceasefire so we can devote all our energies to fighting COVID-19," Guterres said.

The UN Secretary-General also called on the international community to act together to prevent a climate catastrophe, support gender equality and pave the way for a healthier, safer and more sustainable world.

On October 24, the United Nations will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its Charter coming into force. (ANI/Sputnik)

Protests against Pakistan's 1947 invasion of J-K held in Tokyo

People protesting against Pakistan's invasion of Jammu and Kashmir on October 22, 1947, in front of the Pakistan Embassy in Tokyo on Thursday.


Tokyo [Japan], October 22 (ANI): A demonstration was staged on Thursday in front of the Pakistan Embassy in Tokyo to protest against the brutalities and horrors in Jammu and Kashmir during Pakistan's invasion of the state on October 22, 1947.

Several people held banners and posters reading '#22OCTBLACKDAY' and '22 October - A Day To Remember', during their protest against the Pakistani invasion of Jammu and Kashmir 73 years ago.

"Kashmir wants justice for killing of women, children by Pak Army in 1947," read one of the posters.

October 22, 1947, is observed as a 'Black Day', when Pakistan invaded Kashmir and brought in its wake horrifying stories of mass plunder and vandalism.

Thousands of men, women and children were killed while the raiders carried out a siege of the then bustling town of Baramulla.

European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), in a recent commentary, called October 22 as the "darkest day" in the history of Jammu and Kashmir when Operation Gulmarg was launched in a bid to seize the territory.

According to a European think tank, the tribal invasion had left between 35,000 and 40,000 residents dead, besides, a "grim mark" on the fate of J-K.

"The planners and perpetrators of the tribal invasion were, and remain, without doubt, the foremost enemies of the Kashmiri people. The day the invasion began on October 22, 1947, has to be the darkest day in the history of the J-K," the European think tank said. (ANI)

Saad Hariri becomes new Prime Minister of Lebanon

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Moscow, October 22 (ANI/Sputnik): Saad Hariri, who had previously twice assumed the position of the head of Lebanon's council of ministers, was re-elected on Thursday as the country's new Prime Minister in the wake of Mustapha Adib's resignation in late September, the office of President Michel Aoun said.

"President Aoun summoned Prime Minister Saad Hariri to task him to form a new government," the office wrote on Twitter.

A total of 65 lawmakers have backed Hariri's candidacy for the post of the prime minister, while another 53 abstained from voting and two were absent during the talks, according to the president's office. Lebanese media reported earlier that 64 parliament members voted in support of Hariri.

The cabinet, which had been under Hariri's leadership since 2016, resigned on October 29, 2019, amid mass anti-government protests triggered by the devastating financial and economic crises. Hariri also occupied the post of the government head from 2009-2011.

The new government was subsequently formed in January 2020, when Hassan Diab was appointed as the country's new prime minister. However, Diab's rule did not last long, as his government stepped down in August in the wake of the deadly blast in the port of Beirut, which left over 200 people killed and thousands of others injured.

Following that, Mustapha Adib, who had served as the country's prime minister after Diab for a month, resigned on September 26 after failing to form a new government in light of internal political disputes.

"President Aoun summoned Prime Minister Saad Hariri to task him to form a new government," the office wrote on Twitter.

A total of 65 lawmakers have backed Hariri's candidacy for the post of the prime minister, while another 53 abstained from voting and two were absent during the talks, according to the president's office. Lebanese media reported earlier that 64 parliament members voted in support of Hariri.

The cabinet, which had been under Hariri's leadership since 2016, resigned on October 29, 2019, amid mass anti-government protests triggered by the devastating financial and economic crises. Hariri also occupied the post of the government head from 2009-2011.

The new government was subsequently formed in January 2020, when Hassan Diab was appointed as the country's new prime minister. However, Diab's rule did not last long, as his government stepped down in August in the wake of the deadly blast in the port of Beirut, which left over 200 people killed and thousands of others injured.

Following that, Mustapha Adib, who had served as the country's prime minister after Diab for a month, resigned on September 26 after failing to form a new government in light of internal political disputes. (ANI/Sputnik)

Donald Trump warns of action against China if he is re-elected

US President Donald Trump (File photo)


Washington [US], October 22 (ANI): In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would "do plenty" with China if he is re-elected.

"Well, we're going to do plenty with China. What they did to us is a disgrace," Trump said during a media appearance published by the Sinclair Broadcast Group on Wednesday evening, Sputnik reported.

Trump's remarks came in response to being asked if he was in support of wearing facial coverings as a means to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease. He added that having to wear masks in public was China's fault.

"You're sitting there with that mask because of China, OK? It's disgraceful. It's a total disgrace, but you will find out," Trump told the interviewer.

As per Sputnik, Trump has time and again called COVID-19 the "China Virus", and his administration has urged the World Health Organization and other international bodies to take strong action after China became the first epicenter of the disease at the end of the past year.

The incumbent president is set to face off against Democrat candidate Joe Biden on November 3. (ANI)

European Parliament member Dominique Bilde says Pakistan a key player in 'security threats' through EU passport, visa sales

Dominique Bilde (Photo credit: EU website)


Brussels [Belgium], October 22 (ANI): Member of European Parliament, Dominique Bilde on Thursday presented a statement to a session, stating Pakistan to be a key player regarding the 'serious security threats' through the sale of EU passports and visas to criminals.

Speaking in the Parliament, Bilde said: "Should we be surprised about the Cypriot golden visas because the false accusation of passports or residence is only of use for nefarious means?.... We have seen, Pakistan are the leaders in fake passports and fake documents. They have received over 4 billion euros in aid since 2014. We deplore the impacts. We are supporting certain states and those who are clearly supporting Islamist terrorism. Visas are just a business, they have an impact on migration, it is possible for Bosnian visas to be sold to Pakistan where all nationals of this country could be suspected of terrorism."

According to her statement, Bilde raised her concerns in light of recent attacks in Paris, in particular to the event where two people were killed outside the former offices of Charlie Hebdo on September 25. The terrorist was a Pakistani man who had arrived in France illegally and acquired citizenship by falsifying his age, having persuaded immigration authorities that he was a minor.

Most of the Parliament members who intervened in the session spoke on the exploitations of these schemes by 'criminals, organised crime', and those who have exploited others. Several members specifically mentioned terrorists, jihadists and Islamic extremists.

Other members of the Parliament, Brudzinski, Zimniok, Villalda, and Dzhambazki all made comments relating to the threats of Islamic terrorists through the acquisition of golden visas/passports.

European Commissioner Didier Reynders had focused the debate on Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria with respect to 'EU values not for sale' in relation to golden passports and investment schemes.

Four people were injured in a knife attack in Paris near the former office of Charlie Hebdo outlet, said French Prime Minister Jean Castex on September 15. (ANI)

European Parliament urges France, EU to impose sanctions against terrorist activities in Pakistan

European Union Parliament. (Photo: ANI)


Brussels [Belgium], October 22 (ANI): Members of European Parliament, Ryszard Czarnecki, Fulvio Martusciello and Gianna Garcia on Wednesday wrote a letter of concern calling on the French government and the European Union to impose sanctions against unabated terrorist activities in Pakistan, ahead of the occasion of the 73rd anniversary of Pakistan's invasion of Jammu and Kashmir.

"This 22 October, we call on the French government and the European Union to introduce sanctions against the unabated terrorist activities emanating from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. France, Europe, and the world, cannot afford the murder of any additional innocent victims nor should it live in fear from the threats of terrorism," read the letter.

The letter was addressed to France President Emmanuel Macron, European Council President Charles Michel, and European Commission President Ursula Von de Leyen.

In the letter, the Parliament members stated that since its creation on August 14, 1947, West Pakistan, today known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has inflicted 'untold horrors' of the world.

"Pakistan observes 27 October each year as a 'Black Day' to mark the entry of Indian forces into the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. This is despite the fact that Indian forces had come to the state after the ruler had legally acceded to India by signing the Instrument of Accession. In fact, by doing so, Pakistan masked its own invasion of the state on 22 October 1947 using tribals. During the invasion, 35000 Kashmiri Muslim, Hindu and Sikh civilians were massacred. Thousands of women and children were raped and killed," said the members.

The letter also mentioned the incident of genocide in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), initiated by Pakistan, where the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias had killed between 300,000 and 3,000,000 people and raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bengali women. It said Bangladesh still awaits justice for the internationally recognised genocide.

The Parliament members also referred to the infamous New York attacks on September 11, 2001, which it claimed was celebrated in Pakistan. They further stated that the terrorist mastermind behind the attacks, Osama Bin Laden, was sheltered in the country.

"On 25 May this year, in a tribute to Bin Laden, Imran Khan, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan called Bin Laden 'a martyr' in the National Assembly of Pakistan," said the members of the European Parliament in the letter.

Speaking on the recent terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo offices, the members said: "The 7 January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris killed 12 innocent people. These deaths were celebrated in Pakistan and inspired a further terrorist attack by a Pakistani immigrant on 25 September 2020, father in Pakistan praised his son's actions."

The members also pointed out that Pakistan was re-admitted to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing grey list for its continued failure to comply with obligations to prevent terrorism financing.

On October 22, 1947, Pakistan invaded Kashmir and brought in its wake horrifying stories of mass plunder and vandalism.

Thousands of men, women and children were killed while the raiders carried out a siege of the then bustling town of Baramulla.

European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), in a recent commentary, called October 22 as the "darkest day" in the history of Jammu and Kashmir when Operation Gulmarg was launched in a bid to seize the territory.

According to a European think tank, the tribal invasion had left between 35,000 and 40,000 residents dead, besides, a "grim mark" on the fate of J-K.

"The planners and perpetrators of the tribal invasion were, and remain, without doubt, the foremost enemies of the Kashmiri people. The day the invasion began on October 22, 1947, has to be the darkest day in the history of the J-K," the European think tank said. (ANI)

Eight civilians killed in clashes, airstrikes in Afghanistan

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Taluqan [Afghanistan], October 22 (ANI/Xinhua): At least eight Afghan civilians were killed and eight others wounded during armed clashes and airstrikes in northern Takhar province Wednesday night, a local official said on Thursday.

"The clashes erupted between security forces and Taliban terrorists in Hazara Qeshlaq, an area between Baharak district and provincial capital Taluqan city during Tuesday night. The Afghan Air Force also supported security forces during the fightings," provincial government spokesman Mohammad Jawad Hajri told Xinhua.

Several Taliban terrorists were also dead or wounded, he added.

The area has been the scene of heavy clashes between government soldiers and Taliban terrorists in recent days. On Tuesday night, at least 28 security forces, including a senior provincial police official, and several terrorists were killed and many people from two sides wounded in Baharak.

Local villagers claimed that security forces attacked terrorists' position Wednesday night, to avenge the loss of security forces in the village. They said 10 civilians were killed and eight wounded during Wednesday night's airstrikes.

In the meantime, spokesman Hajri accused terrorists of using civilians as human shields and attacking security forces from villagers' houses.

Earlier on Thursday morning, five Taliban terrorists were killed and five terrorists and two soldiers were wounded after government security forces repelled a Taliban attack on a checkpoint in neighbouring Khwaja Ghar district, district chief Mohammad Omar told Xinhua.

Fighting rages across Afghanistan as Taliban terrorists have been attempting to take territory and consolidate their position as peace talks between the Afghan government delegation and Taliban representatives were underway in Doha, capital of Qatar. (ANI/Xinhua)

Indian High Commissioner meets Bangladesh Shipping Minister

Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami with Bangladesh Minister of Shipping (MoS), Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury. (Photo credit: Twitter Account of the High Commission of India in Bangladesh)


Dhaka [Bangladesh], October 22 (ANI): Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami on Thursday met Bangladesh Minister of Shipping (MoS), Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury.

The duo discussed various issues to increase cooperation between the two nations.

Issues of India-Bangladesh trade and connec
tivity through coastal shipping and inland waterways along with cooperation in shipbuilding were discussed.

"HC Sh. Vikram Doraiswami (@VDoraiswami) called on Hon'ble MoS for Shipping, Govt of #Bangladesh, H.E. Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury today 22/10/2020. Issues of trade &connectivity, through coastal shipping & inland waterways as also increasing cooperation in shipbuilding, discussed," High Commission of India in Bangladesh tweeted.

Recently, the two countries had agreed to initiate "air travel bubble" flights to meet the urgent requirements of certain categories of travellers on both sides during the pandemic. (ANI)

2 security personnel, six Taliban killed in clashes in Afghanistan's Balkh

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Kabul [Afghanistan], October 22 (ANI): Clashes broke out between the Taliban and security forces in the Chahar Bolak district of Balkh province on Wednesday, killing at least two security force members and six Taliban, local police officials said.

"At least two security force members and six Taliban were killed in clashes in Chahar Bolak district of Balkh province on Wednesday, said local police officials. #Afghanistan," TOLOnews reported. (ANI)

Pakistan should have sufficient resources to prevent money laundering, terror: Report

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Berlin [Germany], October 22 (ANI): Pakistan should ensure that they have sufficient resources devoted to monitoring the activities of anyone suspected of having been or still being involved in money laundering and terror financing to militant groups, said an anti-money laundering expert.

"All parties interested in putting a stop to global money laundering and terrorism financing would expect Pakistan to ensure they have sufficient resources devoted to monitoring the activities of anyone suspected of having been, or still being involved in any of these activities. This would clearly be true in Khanani's case," Graham Barrow told Germany-based DW.

Barrow remarks came after the recent revelation in FinCEN files, which has revealed that Altaf Khanani, a Pakistani fraudster, and his organisation reportedly moved an estimated $14 billion (EUR11.81 billion) to $16 billion annually for drug cartels and terrorist organisations like al-Qaida, Hezbollah and the Taliban, DW reported.

Commenting on recent revelation in FinCEN files impact on Financial Action Task Force decision on Pakistan, Barrow said "Khanani used a global network of shell companies, which means that it is unlikely that Pakistan will be dragged into it."

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money-laundering and terror-financing watchdog, is holding its plenary session from October 21 where it will decide the fate of Pakistan. The country is in grey-list since 2018.

Early this month, the FATF's Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering has kept Pakistan on "Enhanced Follow-up List" for its slow progress on the technical recommendations of the FATF to fight terror financing. Pakistan's progress has remained unchanged -- non-compliant on four counts.

The United States officials have long accused Pakistan of supporting terrorist groups to use them as proxies to destabilise Afghanistan. Islamabad denies these allegations and points to its role as a "facilitator" in the ongoing Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar.

Khanani was considered one of the world's most-wanted money launderers. He was involved in the illicit international movement of money between countries like Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, the US, the UK, Canada and Australia. His organisation also moved money for drug cartels and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and al-Qaida.

After a massive hunt involving five nations, Khanani was arrested in Panama in September 2015 by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He was later sent to the US, where a court sentenced him to 68 months in prison.

Khanani was released from prison on July 13, but there isn't much information about his current location.

Despite Islamabad's measures against the notorious money launderer, Khanani can still prove to be damaging for his home country.

"Khanani, the head of the Khanani MLO, and Al Zarooni Exchange have been involved in the movement of funds for the Taliban. Khanani is known to have had relationships with Lashkar-e-Taiba, Dawood Ibrahim, al-Qaida, and Jaish-e-Mohammed," the US Department of the Treasury said in a press statement in November 2015.

Osama Malik, an international economic law expert in Islamabad, told DW: "While the annual figure of $14 to $16 billion laundered by the Khanani network is startling, it was generated between 1999 and 2017. Unless there is something to indicate that Pakistan has shown an unwillingness or inability to deal with such suspicious transactions after being greylisted, FinCEN leaks should not adversely affect Pakistan's chances at FATF."

"However, the fact that known companies operated by Khanani, who is a convicted money launderer, held business transactions with reputable financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank, should indeed be a serious source of concern for Pakistan, the UAE and Germany," he added. (ANI)

114 people dead, 21 missing in central Vietnam's floods, landslides

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Hanoi [Vietnam], October 22 (ANI/Xinhua): Floods, landslides, and other natural disasters triggered by downpours have left 114 people dead and 21 others missing in central Vietnam since early October, the country's Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control said on Thursday.

The fatalities, up from 111 reported on Wednesday, were mainly reported in the provinces of Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, and Quang Nam, according to the committee's latest report.

As of 7:00 p.m. local time Wednesday, nearly 59,300 households with some 206,800 people in the localities of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, and Quang Tri had been evacuated.

Around 46,800 houses in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh remained inundated, the committee said, adding that more than 691,100 cattle and poultry animals have been killed or swept away.

Further search and rescue, post-disaster recovery, and relocation of people are underway, according to the committee.

Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade is providing essential goods to isolated areas while strictly monitoring commercial activities especially the prices of those goods, Vietnam News Agency reported Thursday.

Authorities under the ministry will direct the quick restoration of local markets to meet people's demand for goods in the affected areas, according to the report.

High risks of landslides and inundation may continue to threaten several areas in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien Hue, said the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting. (ANI/Xinhua)

Hyderabad man stuck in Kuwait, kin seeks help from Centre to bring him back

Mirza Mukheemuddin, brother of Hyderabad man stuck in Kuwait. (Photo/ANI)


Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], October 22 (ANI): The brother of a Hyderabad man, who was doing a job in Kuwait and is now stranded in the Gulf country, has urged the Central government to ensure his brother's safe return to India.

Mirza Mukheemuddin told ANI here on Wednesday that his brother Mirza Mujeebuddin has become jobless now after working in Kuwait since last 23 years. Mirza Mujeebuddin's kafeel (sponsor) has lodged a false case against him.

"My brother's name is Mirza Mujeebuddin, an Indian citizen and has been working in Kuwait for the last 23 years and with the recent employer, he had been working for the last 5 years. He had decided to leave Kuwait in January 2020 and come back to India as he has got into depression and anxiety issues and wanted to settle down in India, hence have asked his employer for his service money and release and for his passport," said Mirza Mukheemuddin.

Mirza Mukheemuddin said that his brother's employer since then has turned his and his family life into a nightmare.

"On January 30, 2020, Mirza Mujeebuddin's kafeel (sponsor) had raised a case of fraud and cheating in "Public Authority of Manpower" but due to coronavirus issue and lockdown the case was pending and on August 5. "Public Authority of Manpower" has called him for a hearing at Shoun Ahmadi and his case was rejected as his employer Mohammed Hadi Turki al Mutairi got strong references," the brother said.

"The employer then accepted to return my brother's passport in Shoun office on a condition that he must leave Kuwait in 15 days. My brother accepted the condition and took the passports and book the tickets to travel on September 13. He had spent a lot of money purchasing 5 tickets from Air INDIA but when he reached the airport on September 13 and did the baggage and proceeded towards the immigration, He had been stopped by the immigration authority stating that there's a travel ban on his passport and he cannot travel as a case of breach of trust has been filed by the employer," the brother added.

Mirza Mukheemuddin further said that now, Mohammed Hadi Turki al Mutairi is demanding a huge amount of money and forcing his brother Mirza Mujeebuddin to sign on unnecessary documents that he cannot even read and understand, to withdraw the case, and to remove the travel ban.

"Employer's partner Mohammed Hamdan has also been threatening to kill my brother. My brother feels unsafe as his employer got references everywhere my brother go. My brother had sold every single livelihood thing as he was prepared to travel. He is in need of help and would like to travel to our country as soon as possible. I kindly request Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to help my brother and to investigate and look into the issue and help and aid him to come out of the current situation. It has almost been a year that he is jobless and running everywhere to resolve this issue," he added.

Mirza Mujeebuddin, the man who has been stuck in Kuwait in a video said, "I somehow managed to send my family to India. But, I am stuck here. My kafil and employer had filed a case against me. I am trying to remove travel ban but I am not able to do so. I am requesting the Indian government and Prime Minister Modi to help me and bring me back to my country." (ANI)

US approves USD 1.8 billion in arms sales to Taiwan amid tensions with China

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Washington [US], October 22 (ANI): In a move that will irk China, the United States on Tuesday approved the potential sale of three weapon systems to Taiwan, including missiles and artillery, that could have a total value of USD 1.8 billion.

The formal notification to Congress by the State Department was for 11 truck-based rocket launchers made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), for an estimated cost of $436.1m, Al Jazeera reported.

The notifications also covered 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles and related equipment made by Boeing, for an estimated $1.008bn, and six MS-110 Recce external sensor pods made by Collins Aerospace for jets, at an estimated cost of USD 367.2ml.

The move comes at a time when tensions between China and Taiwan are heightened. The relations between China and the US have also deteriorated in recent times due to various reasons including Indo-Pacific and coronavirus pandemic.

Further congressional notifications are expected to follow, including drones made by General Atomics and land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing, to serve as coastal defence cruise missiles.

China has repeatedly threatened Taiwan with invasion and has adopted an aggressive policy to intimidate the self-governing island.

For decades, the Chinese government has claimed authority over Taiwan. Though Taiwan is not recognised by the UN, its government maintains a relationship with the US and does not accept the Chinese authority.

The formal notification gives Congress 30 days to object to any sales but there is broad bipartisan support for the defence of Taiwan. (ANI)

France honours beheaded teacher, govt launches crackdown against radical groups

French President Emmanuel Macron (Photo: Macron Twitter)


Paris [France], October 22 (ANI): French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday led a national tribute to the school teacher who was beheaded after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on free speech, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Samuel Paty was posthumously granted France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, and commemorated in the national ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

Speaking during the ceremony, President Macron called Paty "the face of the Republic," eulogising a man whose "apartment was a library" and whose "greatest gifts were books."

"We all have, in our hearts, in our memories, a teacher who changed the course of our existence," Macron said. "You know, this teacher who taught us to read, to count, to have confidence in ourselves. This teacher who not only passed on knowledge to us but opened a path for us," Washington Post quoted Macron as saying.

"Samuel Paty was one of those," he said, "one of those teachers who will not be forgotten, of these enthusiasts capable of spending nights learning history, a teacher who questioned himself a thousand times, as he did for a course on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience that he had been preparing since July," he added.

Last week, history teacher Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old teenager on the outskirts of Paris after he showed cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad during a lesson.

This apparently prompted outrage among some Muslim parents. The killer, a French citizen of Chechen descent, was subsequently shot dead by police.

The government has ordered the dissolution of the Sheikh Yassin Islamist association, whose founder, Abdelhakim Sefrioui, is currently in custody as a suspect in the case of the brutal killing of a history teacher in Paris, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.

An inquiry is still underway, with Sefrioui and six other suspects being probed on various related charges.

Shutting down groups spreading ideas linked to radical Islam is part of an urgent effort declared by Macron to fight the spread of religious radicalism in France.

The government also ordered a mosque in the Paris suburb of Pantin to close for six months for having shared on Facebook a video calling for action against Paty. The mosque deleted the video and expressed regret.

"There's no room for violence in our religion," the Pantin mosque said Monday in a Facebook statement. (ANI)

Another lockdown soon in Pakistan as authorities fail to 'strictly implement' COVID-19 guidelines

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Islamabad [Pakistan], October 22 (ANI): Another lockdown in the country might soon happen as the authorities are failing to "strictly implement" the standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent the spread of coronavirus, said Pakistan's National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC).

Citing a statement issued by the NCOC, Geo News reported, "NCOC is closely monitoring the situation. If there is no improvement in SOPs compliance observed, NCOC will have no choice but to revert to strict measures leading to re-closures of services."

Highlighting the "clear resurgence in coronavirus" in the country, the NCOC has asked the chief secretaries to "strictly implement" the SOPs.

This statement was issued after Minister for Planning Asad Umar had said that the death rate due to coronavirus has increased by 140 per cent in the last week, Geo News reported.

"We are collectively committing a blunder by recklessly ignoring all SOPs and the results have started to show," Umar said.

In a tweet, he said, "Last week daily COVID-19 mortality was 12. This is a 140 per cent increase vs few weeks back. We are collectively committing a blunder by recklessly ignoring all sop's and the results have started to show. If we do not change our current path we will lose both lives and livelihoods." (ANI)

Karachi: 5 people killed, 28 injured in building explosion

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Karachi [Pakistan], October 22 (ANI): At least five people were killed and 28 others sustained injuries in a massive explosion due to a gas leak in a multi-storey residential building near Maskan Chowrangi in Karachi's Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Geo News reported.

While all the injured people have been shifted to nearby hospitals, three have been reported to be in critical condition.

The intensity of the explosion had caused confusion regarding the cause of the explosion, however, an investigation by the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) concluded that the blast occurred due to leakage of natural gas, Geo News said.

"A stove burner was found at the crime scene. The burner has been handed over to area's police," the BDS was quoted as saying in its report.

The explosion has severely damaged the first two floors of the building.

Geo News reported that the authorities had faced difficulty in rescuing people stuck on the upper floors of the building as the staircase was damaged due to the blast. (ANI)

Multilateralism is in serious danger today: EAM S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.


New Delhi [India], October 22 (ANI): Multilateralism is in serious danger today as the bigger countries are focused on their own interest, said S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs on Wednesday.

Speaking at the launch of the book 'Portraits of Power: Half a Century of Being at Ringside', written by a former bureaucrat and current chairman of the Finance Commission N K Singh, Jaishankar said: "Multilateral is in serious danger today as bigger countries are focused on their own interest."

Calling for reforms at the United Nations, he said the UN needs to be reformed as it makes the organisation less credible.

He also spoke on the upcoming US Presidential elections and said everyone is looking at debates on issues like trade, immigration and security.

"The US was always known for its optimism. It is, however, singularly missing. Presently, we are looking at debates on issues like trade, immigration, security and how they relate to the world. We are also looking at the post globalisation politics of the world's premier economy. In a sense, we are looking at the impact on rebalancing -- economic rebalancing, political rebalancing, cultural rebalancing, geo-strategic rebalancing," he said.

"You can see the anxieties on rebalancing and globalisation and the weight of the US in the world today is reflected out there. What happens in the US is not just an American issue," Jaishankar added.

Apart from the External Affairs Minister, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das along with others, participated in the launch of the book. (ANI)

Indian diplomat Sushil Kumar Singhal appointed as next Ambassador to Solomon Islands

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New Delhi [India], October 22 (ANI): Sushil Kumar Singhal, a 2000-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, has been concurrently accredited as the next High Commissioner of India to the Solomon Islands.

According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Singhal will be residing in Port Moresby.

He is presently serving as the High Commissioner of India to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. (ANI)

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