Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pakistan PM Imran Khan's silence on Safdar Awan's arrest annoys opposition

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan 

Islamabad [Pakistan], October 21 (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's silence over the arrest of Maryam Nawaz Sharif's husband Captain Safdar Awan from a hotel in Karachi has drawn the ire of opposition leaders such as former PMs Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Raja Pervez Ashraf, and former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Akram Khan Durrani, who have asked why the PM has not spoken on the matter.

"But did the prime minister deliver a speech? Did he issue a statement?" Abbasi asked at a press conference, as quoted by The News.

Addressing Khan directly, Abbasi asked: "Do you not care about the federation? Are you worried at all about the provinces?"

He further stated that the PM was completely unaware of the pain and misery of the common man, and further alleged that he was resorting to any means possible to torturing his political opponents.

"We condemn all of this," he declared.

Ashraf, addressing the media, also seconded Abbasi in questioning why there had been no statement from any government representative -- ministers or the prime minister himself, according to The News.

"The prime minister should have come forward and laid down the facts before the nation. He should have spoken to Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah," the PPP leader said.

He further stated that Khan instead "has gone into hiding and adopted an indifferent stance".

Meanwhile, Durrani said that the country is going through a "grave crisis". "Such incidents have never before occurred in the country's history."

Earlier, the police had "arrested" Safdar Awan, from the hotel they were staying in Karachi, hours after the PML-N vice-president had lashed out at Prime Minister Imran Khan and the PTI government at second power show of 11-party opposition alliance People's Democratic Movement (PDM), which was attended by thousands of people.

"Police broke my room door at the hotel I was staying at in Karachi and arrested Capt. Safdar," Maryam tweeted early Monday.

Several police officers on Tuesday applied for leave in order to "come out of the [...] shock" caused by the registration of an FIR and arrest of Safdar, according to Dawn. (ANI)

Deputy police chief killed, dozen security forces injured in Taliban offensive in north Afghanistan

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Takhar [Afghanistan], October 21 (ANI): Clashes broke out between the Taliban and the security forces in Takhar in northeastern Afghanistan on Tuesday night, which killed Takhar's deputy police chief, Raz Mohammad Doorandish, and "several security guards", local officials said.

The fighting began with Taliban attacks on security forces in Baharak district, according to local officials, TOLOnews reported.

Officials added that the Taliban has also endured massive casualties though no exact information is available.

According to a source, the number of security force members who were killed or are missing is large.

"Around 60 security force members were sent on an operation in Baharak district to clear the insurgents, but the bodies of 12 of them were wounded while 48 other security forces still missing," the source added.

As per TOLOnews, yhe local official has not yet commented on the number of casualties of the security forces.

The Taliban is yet to comment on the clashes. (ANI)

Putin says vaccination of Russians against coronavirus top priority, above vaccine export

Russia President Vladimir Putin (File photo)

Moscow [Russia], October 21 (ANI/Sputnik): Vaccination of Russians against coronavirus is the top priority, which is more important than export of vaccines, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"Vaccination in Russia, for us this is task number one. Exports and so on are important, but this is the second question," Putin said at a meeting with board members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

"The main task today is to create production capacities to increase output. And these production capacities should be aimed at vaccinating citizens of Russia in the first place. As for export work, this is an important task, but, of course, you can just sell it, but better decide how: let our partners create such production facilities in their countries, and we will organize for them the production of our vaccine there, at their production facilities," the president said. (ANI/Sputnik)

'Looking forward to meet with our Indian friends', Mike Pompeo on 2+2 India-US ministerial dialogue

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo at a press briefing. (Photo: ANI)

Washington [US], October 21 (ANI): US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday (local time) said that he is looking forward to the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue "with our Indian friends".

"I am looking forward to our 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue with our Indian friends. It was postponed because of the virus. I'm glad that we will be able to execute that in person in just a few days," said Pompeo during a press briefing here.

He added that during the meetings, the discussions would be focussing on thwarting the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

"I'm also sure that my meetings will also include discussions on how free nations can work together to thwart the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party," the US State Department secretary added.

India will host the third round of the strategic India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on October 27 in Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs announced today.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper in the national capital Delhi.

" India will be hosting the third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on 27 October 2020 in New Delhi," read a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs, which added that Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper will be visiting India on October 26 and 27 for the talks (ANI)

Libyan parties reach agreement during UN-sponsored joint military talks

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Tripoli [Libya], Oct 21 (ANI/Xinhua): The Acting Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General to libya, Stephanie Williams, on Wednesday proclaimed that the Libyan parties engaged in talks in Geneva have reached agreement on many important issues.

"After 2 days of the primary face-to-face direct talks between the 2 Libyan delegations to the 5+5 Joint certification ... the 2 sides have reached agreement on many vital problems that directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan folks," Williams aforementioned in an exceedingly statement.

The parties have united to open up all land routes that connect all the regions and cities of African nation with joint security arrangements, and to out-of-doors routes throughout the country, particularly to Sebha, the most important southern Libyan town, the statement aforementioned.

"They united ... to halt the employment of hate speech and urged the judicial authorities to require necessary measures to carry responsible the channels and social media platforms promoting hate and inciting violence, whereas guaranteeing that freedom of expression and speech is protected," the statement more.

They conjointly united to support this calm on the frontlines and to avoid any military increase, and to support efforts aimed to exchange detainees.

The eastern-based army and also the UN-backed government had been engaged in an exceedingly deadly armed conflict for quite a year in and round the capital Tripoli, that resulted in early June with the UN-backed government asserting takeover of all western African nation when withdrawal of the eastern-based army. (ANI/Xinhua)

Bangkok protesters moving to Government House, reach foreign ministry building

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Bangkok [Thailand], October 21 (ANI/Sputnik): The participants of the Bangkok anti-government protests have gathered near the Victory Monument, which is situated in the center of the Thai capital, and headed to the Government House, a Sputnik correspondent reported on Wednesday.

The protesters' actions were coordinated via Facebook, Twitter and Telegram. The mob was moving in a column formation, the head of which reached the Foreign Ministry building that is halfway to the Government House.

The protesters, which closed the rear, only left the Monument Square, when the column stretched for more than 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles).

The mob demanded that the powers of the king be curbed and called on Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who came to power after a coup in 2014, to resign.

The protesters chanted slogans, such as "Down with Prayut," "Away with feudalism, hail to the people!" and "Out with the dictatorship, long live democracy!"

The police blocked traffic near the foreign ministry building and constructed road barriers, but are expected to not prevent the protesters from moving further and instead ensure order. Meanwhile, security forces began to set up a barbed-wire fence around the Government House.

According to daily newspaper, Thai Rath, Prayut left the Government House earlier than usual.

The demonstrations were ignited back in February when the constitutional court banned opposition party Future Forward, which was popular among students. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and imposition of a lockdown in early April hampered the protest movement.

However, the pandemic has also affected the economic situation in the country and deepened public resentment with the authorities. The protesters demanded political reforms, namely the revision of the monarch's immunity from prosecution, and called on the prime minister, who had been the chief of the Thai army before the 2014 coup, to step down. (ANI/Sputnik)

Pakistan indulged in ethnic cleansing of local Kashmiris in October 1947, says CRPF medico

A billboard by Centre for Inclusive and Sustainable Development. (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi [India], October 21 (ANI): Pakistan's obsession with Kashmir has weakened its economy and polity and led to a "paranoid" domination of its military in all spheres of life, said Suneem Khan senior medico serving with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Srinagar, who also accused Islamabad of ethnic cleansing in Kashmir during the Pakistani invasion of October 1947.

"The constant peddling of the idea that Kashmir is not a part of India, just what Pakistan always claims, has been drilled into the narrative, the media discourse, the politics and the psychology of the valley and its residents. The Indian government is the 'interfering outside force', 'Hindus are snatching away jobs from us', 'Pandits were grabbing wealth', the central government is bringing 'other people to live here' etc are all the different notes of the same music that is being played for decades, to keep the populace constantly on the edge, to create an atmosphere of edgy distrust and hatred, to keep them isolated mentally, so that Pakistan and other extremist forces find easy clays to mould into their puppets," he wrote.

Recalling the book 'Raiders in Kashmir' by a former Pakistan Army General, he said that it presents the real narrative "otherwise unheard of earlier". "The author, a retired Maj Gen of Pakistan Army, Akbar Khan, is himself admitting the role of Pakistan in stoking the conflict in Kashmir. He minces no words to audaciously convey that Pakistan played the role of an aggressor and even justifies to his readers the pressing compulsions to adopt that military stance," he wrote.

He further wrote that Akbar "no longer kept it a secret" that at the beginning of September 1947 he was asked to prepare a plan as to how to take over Kashmir. "Serving at the time as director of weapons and equipment (DW&E) in GHQ, he was aware of the quantum of weapons and ammunition while some of it was brought from Italy after obtaining the concurrence of political leadership owing to the financial implications. These weapons were secretly diverted to the people of Kashmir," he said.

Akbar was appointed military adviser to the Prime Minister-to cover his absence from duty, Khan wrote further.

"The operation formally commenced on 22 October 1947, when the Pakistani forces crossed the border and attacked Muzaffarabad and Domel on October 24 from where the Dogra troops had to withdraw. These advancing troops moved forward in the Srinagar road the next day and again took on the Dogras at Uri. On October 26, they captured Baramulla, where out of 14,000 only 3,000 survived. It clearly indicates that these advancing forces indulged in ethnic cleansing of local Kashmiris. Thus, Pakistan has old record of ethnic cleansing in Kashmir," Khan said.

The senior medico wrote further that on the evening of October 27, the Prime Minister of Pakistan held a conference in Lahore to consider the situation arising out of Kashmir's accession and India's military intervention and said that the changed narrative in Kashmir required altering the military strategy at Pakistan's end.

Khan said the book is "full of several sensational accounts" that focus on how the wrong moves and misadventure of the Pakistani army and political leaders led them nowhere. "Over ambition and utter desperation to take Kashmir by sheer force were the reasons for its role as an 'aggressor'," he wrote.

"It seems that the Pakistani General has no remorse over the great loss of human lives and material wealth in Kashmir inflicted by Pakistan army. The book is a must-read for the young generation of Kashmir who have little or no knowledge of Kashmir's history and politics," he added. (ANI)

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