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Indian storekeeper wins 200,000 dirhams in Dubai raffle


Indian storekeeper wins 200,000 dirhams in Dubai raffle

An Indian storekeeper in the UAE has won a luxury car and a whopping 200,000 dirhams in a Dubai raffle, ending a decade-long wait to hit the jackpot, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Sreejith has been buying raffle tickets every year for the last 10 years, Khaleej Times reported.

The storekeeper claimed an Infiniti QX50 car as well as 200,000 dirhams (USD 54,448) cash prize in the Infiniti Mega Raffle, part of the 25th edition of Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), the report said.

Commenting on winning the jackpot, Sreejith said: "I couldn't believe my ears. I have diligently purchased a raffle ticket every year for the last 10 years, with the hopes to strike lucky one day. This win means so much to me and I now believe that dreams can come true. I have two boys and a third on the way and this money will ensure that my kids have a bright future ahead of them".

 
 
 



‘We had no other option but to step back’: Prince Harry


‘We had no other option but to step back’: Prince Harry

London: Prince Harry has said he and his wife Meghan Markle had "really no other option" but to step back as senior royals after "many years of challenges", even as he expressed "great sadness" after being stripped of their royal titles.

In his first personal statement on Sunday night after a formal split from the royal family was finalised by Queen Elizabeth II over the weekend, the 35-year-old Duke of Sussex said when he and his American actress wife were married they were "excited" and "hopeful".

He spoke of his "great sadness" at a decision which he said was not taken lightly and that the UK would always be his home even as the couple divide their time between Canada and Britain.

"The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly," the Prince said in a speech at a dinner event for charity Sentebale, co-founded by him in 2006 to support those affected by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana in southern Africa.

"It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven't always got it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option. What I want to make clear is we're not walking away, and we certainly aren't walking away from you," he said.

 
 
 



Iraqi ISIS founding member confirmed as new leader


Iraqi ISIS founding member confirmed as new leader

London: Intelligence services have identified the new leader of the Islamic State (IS) group as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, British newspaper The Guardian reported on Monday.

The paper, citing officials from two unnamed spy services, described him as one of the terrorist group's founding members and said he had led the enslavement of the Yazidi minority in Iraq.

It said he also oversaw operations around the world.

 
 

The organisation had named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi as its new head just days after its previous leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a raid by US special forces in October.

But some analysts suggested the group were caught off guard by Baghdadi's killing and that the true identity of its new leader remained uncertain.

The Guardian said Salbi was selected within hours of the death and that Quraishi was a nom de guerre not recognised by other senior leaders or intelligence agencies.

The newspaper described him as "a hardened veteran in the same vein as Baghdadi, unflinching in his loyalty to the extremist group".

It said he was born into an Iraqi Turkmen family in the town of Tal Afar, and is one of the few non-Arabs among the group's leadership.

Holding a degree in Sharia law from the University of Mosul, he rose through its ranks in part thanks to his background as an Islamic scholar, the paper added.

Salbi gave religious rulings that underwrote the attempted genocide of Yazidis by IS, it said.

In 2004 he was detained by US forces in Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq where he met Baghdadi, according to The Guardian report.

 
 
 



Pakistani activist stopped from leaving country


Pakistani activist stopped from leaving country

Lahore: A top Pakistani woman lawyer and human rights activist, supporting the minority Hazara community in the country, was stopped from taking a flight to the UK and detained for hours by immigration authorities at the airport here on Monday, citing her "anti-state activities", according to a media report.

Jalila Haider, who was listed as one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women across the world by the BBC last year, was stopped by airport authorities when she was boarding a flight to the UK where she had to attend a conference on feminism organised by the University of Sussex, she told the Dawn News.

When she asked why she was being stopped from boarding the flight, she was told that her name was on the no-fly list because of her "anti-state activities".

Haider, who hails from Balochistan and belongs to the minority Hazara community, told the daily that she was detained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for seven hours at the airport after which authorities returned her passport and told her that she can book another flight to the UK.

She added that she had not been involved in any "anti-state activity".

Haider is an advocate and the founder of We The Humans - a non-profit organisation which works to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children.

She is also vocal about the persecution of the minority Hazaras in the Muslim-majority country.

In 2018, she went on a hunger strike, demanding the state to address the violence against the people of the Hazara community, who she said faced persecution due to ethnicity and sectarianism.

Haider had demanded Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to visit Balochistan and console the thousands of widows and orphaned children left by the killing of Hazaras in Pakistan over the past two decades, the daily said.

News of her detention spread on social media after the activist posted on her Facebook page that she had been stopped at the Lahore airport. Her sister - who had come to see her off - and social media activists gathered at the airport, demanding Haider's release and holding placards.

The lawyer said that only names of people who are suspected in a case and are named in a first information report can be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). She further said that people whose names are placed on the ECL should be served with a show-cause notice, adding that she was not issued one.

 
 
 



Queen Elizabeth agrees to 'period of transition' for Harry and Meghan


Queen Elizabeth agrees to 'period of transition' for Harry and Meghan

London: Queen Elizabeth II announced on Monday that the Royal Family is entirely supportive of Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle's "desire to create a new life as a young family" and has agreed to a period of transition during which the couple will spend time in Canada and the UK.

In a statement, the Queen said that while she would have preferred the couple to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, she respects and understands their wish to "live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family." "Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives," the Queen said. "It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK." "These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming day," she added.

Last week, Harry and Meghan announced they would step back from their royal duties, seek financial independence and split their time between Britain and North America.

 
 
 



Lahore High Court annuls Pervez Musharraf’s death penalty


Lahore High Court annuls Pervez Musharraf’s death penalty

Lahore: In a huge relief for Pakistan's self-exiled former dictator, a top court here on Monday declared Pervez Musharraf's trial in the high treason case as "unconstitutional", leading to the annulment of the death sentence against the ex-Army chief by a special tribunal.

The special court in Islamabad on December 17 last handed down the death penalty to the 74-year-old retired general, now based in Dubai, after six years of hearing the high-profile treason case against him.

The case was filed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government headed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013.

A three-member full bench of the Lahore High Court comprising Justices Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Mohammad Ameer Bhatti and Chaudhry Masood Jahangir unanimously declared the formation of the special court against Musharraf as "unconstitutional".

 
 
 



All onboard passengers killed in Ukrainian airplane crash: Report


All onboard passengers killed in Ukrainian airplane crash: Report

A Ukrainian airplane carrying at least 180 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran's main airport. Now reports have surfaced saying that all onboard passengers were killed in the crash.

According to a report by breakingthenews.net, Iran Red Crescent said on Wednesday that there is no chance of finding survivors in a plane crash that happened earlier today. From Boeing Co, it was announced it is still gathering more information.

"Obviously it is impossible that passengers" on flight PS-752 "are alive," the head of Red Crescent told semi-official news agency ISNA, adding that 170 passengers and crew had boarded the plane, reported AFP.

A passenger plane had 180 passengers who were flying to the Ukrainian capital Kiev and crashed just a few minutes after taking off from Tehran’s main international airport.

The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport. The crash is suspected to have been caused by mechanical issues, without elaborating, Iranian state TV reported.

AGENCY 




United Methodist Church leaders propose plan for amicable separation


United Methodist Church leaders propose plan for amicable separation

Nashville: United Methodist Church leaders from around the world and across ideological divides unveiled a plan Friday for a new conservative denomination that would split from the rest of the church in an attempt to resolve a yearslong dispute over gay marriage and gay clergy.

Members of the 13-million-person denomination have been at odds for years over the issue, with members in the United States leading the call for full inclusion for LGBTQ people.

At a specially called meeting last February in St Louis, delegates voted 438-384 for a proposal called the Traditional Plan, which affirmed bans on LGBTQ-inclusive practices. A majority of US-based delegates opposed the plan, but they were outvoted by US conservatives teamed with most of the delegates from Methodist strongholds in Africa and the Philippines.

Methodists in favour of allowing gay clergy and gay marriage vowed to continue fighting. Meanwhile the Wesleyan Covenant Association, representing traditional Methodist practice, had already been preparing for a possible separation.

The Rev Keith Boyette, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and one of 16 people on the mediation team that developed and signed the separation proposal, said he is "very hopeful" the plan will be approved at the denomination's General Conference this year.

This is the first time that "respected leaders of groups from every constituency" have come together to form a plan, he said. "And this is the first time that bishops of the church have signed on to an agreement like this."

Boyette stressed that while the churches remaining in the United Methodist Church would keep the denomination's name, both the new church and the post-separation Methodist Church would be different from the current Methodist Church.

"This is not a leaving, but a restructuring of the United Methodist Church through separation," he said.

The proposal, called "A Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation," envisions an amicable separation in which conservative churches forming a new denomination would retain their assets. The new denomination also would receive USD 25 million.

"The undersigned, in recognition of the regional contexts and divergent points of view within the global United Methodist Church, propose separation as a faithful step with the possibility of continued cooperation around matters of shared interest, enabling each of us to authentically live out our faith," the proposal states.

 
 
 



Qamar Javed Bajwa emphasises maximum restraint after Soleimani's death


Qamar Javed Bajwa emphasises maximum restraint after Soleimani's death

Islamabad: Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa in a call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasised the "need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement" following the death of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in an American airstrike.

Maj Gen Soleimani was killed on Friday morning in the strike ordered by US President Donald Trump on Baghdad's international airport, in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries.

"COAS received telephone call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Regional situation including possible implications of recent escalation in Middle East was discussed," Dawn news reported citing the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) as saying in a tweet on Friday night.

COAS emphasised need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement by all concerned to de-escalate the situation in broader interest of peace and stability.

COAS also reiterated the need for maintaining focus on success of Afghan Peace Process," the ISPR added.

Besides speaking to Bajwa, Pompeo also made calls to German Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Following the development, the Pakistan Foreign Office earlier on Friday expressed "deep concern" over the tensions, urging all sides to exercise restraint, said Dawn news.

Pakistan has viewed with deep concern the recent developments in the Middle East, which seriously threaten peace and stability in the region," it said.

The Foreign Office urged all parties involved to "exercise maximum restraint, engage constructively to de-escalate the situation, and resolve issues through diplomatic means, in accordance with UN Charter and international law".

 
 
 



'Attack to end, not start war': Trump after US kills General Soleimani


'Attack to end, not start war': Trump after US kills General Soleimani

US President Donald Trump claimed that Soleimani, top Iran Army official was ‘terminated’ right before he could launch an attack on US diplomats. The president claimed that Soleimani had been planning to take down US diplomats for some time. However, Trump tried to assure that the US does not aim to harm any further or topple the Iranian government.

In a statement before television cameras in Florida, Trump said, "Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him."

Amidst escalation of tension with Iran, Trump claimed Soleimani's killing will not lead to war.

"We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war. I have deep respect for the Iranian people. They are a remarkable people with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change," Trump said.

"However, the Iranian regime's aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbours, must end and it must end now. The future belongs to the people of Iran, those who seek peaceful co-existence and cooperation, not the terrorist warlords who plunder their nation to finance bloodshed abroad," he said.




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