Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Intolerance against media increased in Pakistan since Imran Khan became PM: Report

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Brussels [Belgium], October 21 (ANI): Journalists and the media are a priority target of Pakistan's military and inter-intelligence services to subjugate freedom of speech, EU Chronicle reported, adding that such actions of intolerance towards independent journalism has increased dramatically since July 2018 when Imran Khan became prime minister.

In a report, EU Chronicle said the murder of a Pakistani journalist Sajid Hussain had all the hallmarks of a Pakistani extra-judicial killing. Sajid Hussain is just one example of the horrendous treatment of journalists inside and outside of Pakistan, it added.

Sajid (39), the editor-in-chief of the Balochistan Times was found dead in a river by police in Uppsala. He was missing since March 2.

He left Pakistan in 2012 and had been living as a refugee in Sweden since 2017.

Sajid Hussain was the nephew of Shaheed Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, the founder of the Baloch National Movement.

"Sajid Hussain is just one example of the horrendous treatment of journalists inside and outside of Pakistan. Journalists and the media are a priority target for Pakistan's "deep state", constant manoeuvring by the military and inter-intelligence services to subjugate freedom of speech," the report read.

"Such actions of intolerance towards independent journalism has increased dramatically since July 2018 when Imran Khan became prime minister. Of course, Pakistan is just one of many countries where such examples can be found, and who despite their signature and ratification, are failing to comply with commitments and respect for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)," it added.

A press freedom charity had suggested Pakistani intelligence was behind Hussain's disappearance in early March, according to a report.

A leaked Pakistani government internal memo, about stopping the "rhetoric against Pakistan", specifically targets six journalists based abroad. The murder of Sajid Hussain had all the hallmarks of a Pakistani extra-judicial killing.

According to confidential information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, a list of Pakistani dissidents who are now refugees abroad has been circulating within Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, the most powerful of Pakistan's intelligence agencies. (ANI)

Indian Ambassador calls on Madagascar PM, discusses ways to deepen bilateral cooperation

Indian Ambassador to Madagascar Abhay Kumar with Prime Minister of Madagascar Christian Ntsay and Defence Minister of Madagascar. (Photo Credit: India in Madagascar and Comoros Twitter)

Antananarivo [Madagascar], October 21 (ANI): Indian Ambassador to Madagascar Abhay Kumar called on Prime Minister of Madagascar Christian Ntsay on Wednesday during which they discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

India in Madagascar and Comoros said in a tweet, "Ambassador Abhay Kumar called on the Hon'ble Prime Minister of Madagascar H.E. @NtsayC today. They discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation between #India and #Madagascar."

"H.E. Leon J R Rakotonirina, Defence Minister of Madagascar was also present during the meeting," the tweet read further. (ANI)

China chides US official meeting with Tibet govt-in exile

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Beijing [China], October 21 (ANI): The Chinese government has asked the US to stop interfering in China's internal affairs or undermining the development and stability of the country's Tibet region after Tibetian President-in exile Lobsang Sangay met with the US special coordinator for Tibetan issues Robert Destro.

Lobsang last Friday has tweeted saying it was the first time a president of the exiled government, called the Central Tibetan Administration, had been formally invited inside the State Department.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing on Tuesday that Destro "violated the commitment and the policy stance of the US side on not supporting Tibet's independence and not acknowledging this government in exile."

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman termed the Tibetan government in exile as a "separatist political organization" that is "organized and has a program that vainly seeks to achieve 'Tibet independence.'"

"It completely violates the Chinese Constitution and laws and has not been recognized by any country in the world. As its leader, Lobsang Sangay is a complete anti-China separatist. China firmly opposes Lobsang Sangay's anti-China separatist activities in any country in any capacity and in any name, and firmly opposes any contact between officials of any country in any form," Zhao said.

The US, time and again, has expressed concerns with the People's Republic of China's repression of the Tibetan community and severe restrictions on Tibetans' religious freedom and cultural traditions within China. (ANI)

Australia should embrace closer defence ties with India: Report

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (Photo: ANI)

Canberra [Australia], October 21 (ANI): The deterioration in both India and Australia's relations with China has inevitably brought the two countries together and as Beijing has threatened to dial back its economic engagement, Canberra have looked to New Delhi as an attractive alternative, said Australia-based professor Salvatore Babones.

India on Monday announced Australia''s participation in the upcoming Malabar exercise along with the US and Japan, effectively making it the first military-level engagement between the four-member nation grouping -- the Quad.

In an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, Salvatore Babones, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, writes that for years concerns over Chinese displeasure prevented Australia's participation in the Malabar exercises, alternately due to Indian or Australian skittishness about offending China. With both countries facing security threats from China, defence co-operation is a great place to start, she added.

"The deterioration in both India and Australia's relations with China has inevitably brought the two countries together. There's certainly no problem with the trade relationship. Australia enjoys a massive trade surplus with India, mainly driven by minerals exports, but (until the coronavirus hit) increasingly by education, too," she writes.

"As China has threatened to dial back its economic engagement with Australia, government, universities and businesses have looked to India as an attractive alternative," she added.

Australia and India have signed an agreement on logistical access to each other's military facilities as part of a broader maritime partnership negotiated at last month's virtual summit between Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Chinese and Australian relations have deteriorated after Canberra called in April for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus without first consulting Beijing.

Beijing has since imposed a large anti-dumping duty on Australian barley, banned beef exports from five abattoirs and instigated anti-dumping and subsidy investigations into cheap Australian wine in China.

Meanwhile, tensions between India and China have escalated as troops of both countries are engaged in a standoff along Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The professor said minority Muslims in Hindu-majority India have greater freedoms and civil rights than they do in Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In its South Asian neighbourhood, Pakistan struggles to overcome military rule, Bangladesh is essentially a one-party state and Sri Lanka still hasn't come to terms with the legacy of a brutal civil war. All were once British colonies, but only India seems to have inherited Britain's tradition of the rule of law.

Farther afield, the situation is even worse. The less said about neighbours and near-neighbours like Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, and (of course) China, the better. In fact, The Economist gives India the highest democracy rating of any country on the Eurasian landmass, which stretches from South Korea to Greece. (ANI)

3 people killed, 15 injured in Karachi explosion

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Karachi [Pakistan], October 21 (ANI): At least three people were killed and 15 others suffered injures in an explosion near Maskan Chowrangi in Karachi's Gulshan-i-Iqbal area on Wednesday, according to officials from the Edhi Foundation

All injured and deceased have been taken to Patel hospital, the officials added, Dawn reported

Nature of the blast has not yet been ascertained. However, Mubina Town police SHO said that it "seems to be a cylinder blast", adding that the bomb disposal squad is arriving to verify the cause of the explosion.

The blast is suspected to have taken place on the second floor of a building. Eyewitnesses reported that windows of nearby buildings as well as some vehicles were also damaged.

A day earlier, five people were wounded when a bomb exploded at the entrance of a bus terminal near Sheerin Jinnah Colony. (ANI)

'Demoralized, shocked' Sindh Police in open revolt against Pak Army over IGP 'kidnapping', jittery Bajwa orders inquiry

PPP's Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, visited the residence of the IGP Sindh Mushtaq Mehr (Picture: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Twitter)

Karachi [Pakistan], October 21 (ANI): It is not just political parties in Pakistan who are protesting against the 'deep state' in the country, police officers in the Sindh province are also revolting against the atrocities of the powerful army.

Recently, political parties under the banner joint opposition alliance---Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-- protested against the 'puppet' government of Prime Minister Imran Khan and demanded his resignation. Thousands of people participated in the rally in Karachi.

Following the rally, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz's husband Safdar Awan was arrested from his hotel room.

Almost all police officers in Singh Police applied for leave in protest against the humiliation meted out to the Sindh IGP Mushtaq Mehr, during the PML-N leader Safdar Awan's arrest saga, The News International reported.

PML-N leader and spokesman for Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz's and former Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair that the IGP Sindh was 'kidnapped' by Rangers who forced him to file an FIR for Safdar's arrest.

The development caused extreme bitterness among the police officers who retaliated by submitting leave of absence.

Almost the entire top brass of the police, including three Additional IGs, 25 DIGs, 30 SSPs and dozens of SPs, DSPs and SHOs across Sindh, tendered leave applications, as a protest against the "resentment and heartache caused to all ranks of the force" by the unfortunate incident of October 18/19. The incident sent shockwaves in top Army brass with Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa himself stepped in and order an inquiry into the 'Karachi incident'.

In a tweet, the Sindh Police termed their reaction of filing leave application "as a spontaneous and heartfelt reaction and made on an individual basis rather than on a collective basis."

Following a low key letter of leave by the IGP Mushtaq Mehr, Additional Inspector General of Police, Special Branch, Sindh, Yaqoob Minhas submitted his. Minhas in his application submitted to the IGP that during the recent episode of registration of FIR against the PML-N leader, "the high command of the Sindh Police was ridiculed and mishandled, which has left the entire provincial police force demoralized and shocked."

Asking to proceed on leave, Minhas said: "In such a stressful situation, it is quite difficult for me to discharge my duty in a professional manner. In order to come out of this shock and settle down, I may kindly be granted 60 days earned leave."

The senior police officers were extremely annoyed and upset with the way their IGP was treated.

They warned that they could tender resignations if it is for their dignity.

They asserted that the police force was the first line of defence and thousands of cops have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and how this force has been treated is unfortunate.

"Right now, we are going on leave but we can tender our resignations too," warned a frustrated a senior police officer who wished not to be named. "How can we work in this stressful environment where there is no respect for us".

Later in the night on Tuesday, Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, visited the residence of the IGP Sindh Mushtaq Mehr where a large number of PSP officers had also gathered, to defuse the situation and to express solidarity with the police force and appreciate their role as a frontline force against crimes and terrorism.

On the occasion, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari informed them of his telephonic conversation with Bajwa in which General Qamar Javed Bajwa had assured him of a transparent inquiry into the incident and hoped its results would be announced soon.

Following the meeting with the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto at the IGP's residence, the IGP deferred his own leave and ordered his officers to set aside their leave applications for 10 days in the larger national interest, pending the conclusion of the inquiry.

Meanwhile, Sindh Police spokesperson issued a statement via Twitter appreciating Bajwa for realising the sense of hurt that prevailed within a uniformed force and instituting an impartial inquiry to restore the prestige of the Sindh Police. He also expressed gratitude to the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and CM Sindh for expressing solidarity with the police leadership. (ANI)

Ukraine's Naftogaz supports expansion of US sanctions against nord stream 2 gas pipeline

Russia's Nord Steam 2 project. (File Photo)

Kiev [Ukraine], October 21 (ANI/Sputnik): Ukraine's Naftogaz has supported the US decision to expand sanctions against Russia's Nord Stream 2 project, the company said.

The United States has broadened the scope of its sanctions on Nord Stream 2 to allow for targeting companies that provide services or funding for vessels working on the pipeline project, the State Department said in a notice on Tuesday.

"Naftogaz supports the US decision to expand sanctions against Nord Stream 2. The State Department today released new sanctions instructions that expand the list of actors supporting Russian pipe-laying vessels involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2," Naftogaz said.

Naftogaz said it intended to continue cooperating with international partners on the issue.(ANI/Sputnik)

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