Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s plane develops technical fault, returns to New York

Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s plane develops technical fault, returns to New York

New York: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his delegation returned to New York after the plane given to him by the Saudi Arabia government, developed a technical fault while it was heading back to Islamabad.

Khan had taken off from New York's Kennedy International Airport on Friday evening in a special jet placed at his disposal by the Saudi government, but it flew back in a couple of hours to have the problem fixed, reports The News International. Pakistan's Ambassador to UN, Maleeha Lodhi, who had earlier seen off Khan, rushed back to the airport.

The Prime Minister, who led the Pakistan delegation to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, waited at the airport for some time while technicians tried to fix the fault, but more work was needed which they would try to complete it by Saturday morning. Meanwhile, Ambassador Lodhi escorted the Prime Minister back to the Roosevelt Hotel where he was staying during his seven-day trip. Officials said if the plane was not fixed on Saturday morning, Khan would take a commercial flight back to Pakistan.

Voting begins in Afghanistan's presidential elections

Voting begins in Afghanistan's presidential elections

The polls come following a bloody two-month election campaign that was marred by repeated attacks across the war-torn country.

Kabul: Amid Taliban threats, voting began on Saturday to elect next president for Afghanistan. Almost 9.6 million people have registered to vote in the election, according to the Independent Election Commission.

The polls come following a bloody two-month election campaign that was marred by repeated attacks across the war-torn country.

Almost 445 polling centres out of 5,371 centres will be closed on the election day but the Ministry of Interior has assured that a safe environment will be provided to the voters, according to Tolo News.

Taliban has threatened voters to stay away from the election or face dire consequences. The road to the polls has been anything but certain, as a series of talks between the United States and the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha, threatened to derail the entire process, reports Al Jazeera.

The constant questioning of the polls continued until US President Donald Trump sent out a series of angry tweets declaring the talks dead after a Taliban-claimed bombing that resulted in deaths of at least 14 Afghan civilians and a US soldier.

Those tweets came just 20 days before the Afghan election. As candidates started to go from province to province and the airwaves filled up with campaign ads, the people's questions about the election went from "will there be an election" to "will you vote" and "for whom".

The Afghan voters have to decide among 16 candidates, including the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani. "I have a message for the Taliban: You should not prevent the people from their right.

If you are Afghans, allow the people of Afghanistan to vote so that a strong government is created and then you can attend to the peace negotiations with that government," Chief of Army Staff Gen. Bismillah Waziri said.

He added, "But it will not be possible if you want to hinder the process." The voting will end at 3 p.m. (local time), head of the commission, Hawa Alam Nuristani, said.

The New York Times reported that preliminary results of the elections are not expected to be announced until October 17 and final results until November 7.

"We cannot announce the final results at the end of the election day," Nuristani said, adding that at the end of the day, only the total number of voters will be announced.

"We are committed to providing a good environment for monitoring (the process on the election day)," head of the Election Commission's secretariat, Habib-Ur-Rahman, said.

He said that 144,146 national and international observers have been deployed for the election day.

Afghanistan's last presidential election, in 2014, was so stained by corruption, squabbling and fraud complaints that then-Secretary of State John Kerry stepped in to mediate a strained political marriage between the two top candidates, Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah -- the leading candidates in this vote, as well.

Last October, parliamentary elections descended into chaos amid shouting matches and cries of ballot-stuffing and political payoffs.

ICJ chided Pakistan for new ordinance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, says will 'lead to human rights violations'

ICJ chided Pakistan for new ordinance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, says will 'lead to human rights violations'

Geneva: International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has denounced promulgation of an ordinance by Pakistan government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which will extend certain powers of the armed forces and said that the implementation of the order will "lead to serious human rights violations and miscarriages of justice".

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Actions (In Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance, 2019, which was issued by the provincial Governor on August 5, gives sweeping powers to members of the armed forces, including the power to detain people without charge or trial on a number of vaguely defined grounds where it appears that such "internment" would be expedient for peace.

ICJ's Asia Director Frederick Rawski, in its statement dated September 27, said that Islamabad must reject the "dangerous, oppressive, and counterproductive strategy and instead strengthen its judicial process and law enforcement".

The new ordinance depicts Pakistan hypocrisy as the country is howling over India's action in Jammu and Kashmir. However, at the same time, hiding the facts of human rights violation they are committed in their country where minorities are subjugated.

The new order is almost a reproduction of two regulations promulgated by the president in 2011 for Fata and Pata through which legal cover was given to several detention centres set up during the military operations in different regions.

The ICJ also pointed out the same fact saying the regulations of 2011 were "extensively used as a legal cover for arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances".

"ICJ today denounced the promulgation of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Actions (In Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance, 2019, by the Governor of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on 5 August 2019.

The ICJ said that implementation of the Ordinance will lead to serious human rights violations and miscarriages of justice, contrary to the purported aims of the measures," the statement reads.

"The Ordinance is yet another example of Pakistan's resort to 'exceptional' measures that are grossly incompatible with human rights protections, ostensibly to combat terrorism and other serious crime," said Frederick Rawski, ICJ's Asia Director.

"Pakistan must reject this dangerous, oppressive, and counterproductive strategy and instead strengthen its judicial process and law enforcement in line with its domestic law and international human rights law obligations," he added.

The ICJ, an international human rights non-governmental organisation, also noted the ordinance provides that statements or depositions by members of the armed forces shall on their own be sufficient for convicting the detainees if they are tried for any offence.

The ordinance also provides wide immunity for armed forces for any action done, taken, ordered to be taken, or conferred, assumed or exercised by, before or after the promulgation of the Ordinance, it added In their review of Pakistan's implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT),

the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture in 2017 expressed concern about the Regulations, and recommended that Pakistan "review the Actions (in aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011 with a view to repealing it or bringing it into conformity with international standards."

PM Modi says behavioural change can help fight global warming, invites technology for coal gasification

PM Modi says behavioural change can help fight global warming, invites technology for coal gasification

New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said change in behaviour people can help meet the challenge of global warming and invited foreign technology for gasification of coal to reduce emissions from the natural resource.

The Prime Minister, who was speaking at an interaction session at Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, said India has set a new target of producing 450 Gigawatt of renewable energy.

"Indian lifestyle is an example for the world. We believe that the earth is our mother and we have no right to exploit it. We only have the right to milk it, not exploit. India is associated with a thought where there is no place for greed. I believe that only people's behaviour can take us out of the challenge of global warming, more than the efforts of governments. We should move ahead by associating human behaviour with nature," he said.

He said India had earlier set a target to achieve 175 Gigawatt of renewable energy. "I am happy we are way ahead of the time. We have already achieved the work of 120 Gigawatt. While I was speaking in the UN yesterday, I have set a new target of 450 Gigawatt of renewable energy," he said when former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked about a question on renewable energy.

"We have taken several policy initiatives and also given incentives. Our efforts are to empower the possibilities. We have a challenge of nuclear energy. Since we are not a member of NSG, we did not have the supply of fuel as we required. If that is resolved then we can work as a model in the renewable energy sector," he added.

Modi called for a change in the coal mining process to mitigate its effect on the environment and also suggested coal gasification. He said India has the third-largest coal reserves and cannot ignore the resource.

"India has the third biggest coal reserves. Being a poor country, we cannot ignore this. But there is a solution which is to change the way of mining and to start underground mining so that the environment does not get affected," he said.

"The second solution is coal gasification. It provides clean energy. We invite the world to come with technology. The gas can then be used for mobility as well as a source of energy. We are focusing to make coal mining environment-friendly," the Prime Minister added.

Modi referred to the government's initiative of Jal Jeevan Mission for water renewal. "Water is another issue other than climate change. India has taken an initiative of Jal Jeevan Mission. We want to run a campaign focusing on rainwater harvesting, recycling, reuse etc. We also want to revive our rivers," he said.

The Prime Minister said the government has prohibited the use of single-use plastic and said a nation-wide campaign will be held on October 2. "We have prohibited the use of single-use plastic. We have run a movement to discourage the use of plastic. A nationwide campaign against single-use plastic will be held on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary on October 2. We are working in various sectors at a time with an emphasis on climate and environment," he said.


Pakistan to observe 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' on September 27

Pakistan to observe 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' on September 27


Islamabad: The Pakistan government has announced that a 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' will be observed on Friday to show solidarity with the Kashmiris.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan has very kindly approved September 27, Friday, as Kashmir Solidarity Day for holding public rallies across Pakistan to express their feelings with the people of Kashmir," Dawn news quoted an Interior Minister notification as saying on Wednesday.

Khan is also scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on the same day. His speech will focus on Pakistan's perspective and position on the Jammu and Kashmir issue and on its current human rights and related dimensions.


India extends USD 150 million line of credit to CARICOM nations for climate conservation projects

India extends USD 150 million line of credit to CARICOM nations for climate conservation projects

New York: India on Wednesday (local time) extended a grant of USD 150 million as Line of Credit to the member states of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) for climate conservation projects.

Chairing the India-CARICOM Leaders' meeting here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced a USD 14 million grant for community development projects to the Caribbean nations.

Leaders of 14 CARICOM countries participated in the meeting that took place on the sidelines of the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly here. Prime Minister of St Lucia and current Chairman of CARICOM, Allen Chastenet, co-chaired the meeting with the Indian Prime Minister.

The meeting deliberated on the strengthening the political and institutional dialogue processes, boosting economic cooperation, increasing trade and investment and fostering greater and more robust people-to-people relations between India and the CARICOM countries.

Modi also emphasised on partnering with CARICOM countries in capacity building, development assistance and cooperation in disaster management and resilience.

It was the first-ever meeting of the Indian Prime Minister with the CARICOM leaders in a regional format and where he highlighted the steadily intensifying and deepening relations between India and partner countries of the Caribbean, not only in the bilateral but also in the regional context.

Modi reiterated India's firm commitment to strengthen its political, economic and cultural engagement with CARICOM. He recalled the presence of more than a million-strong Indian diaspora as a vibrant and enduring link of friendship with the Caribbean.

He invited the CARICOM countries to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The International Solar Alliance is a group of 121 solar resource-rich countries with headquarters in Gurugram, India.

The organisation aims to deploy over 1,000 gigawatts of solar energy and mobilise more than USD 1,000 billion into solar power by 2030, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Prime Minister also expressed his condolences on the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian in the region and the worst-hit island of Bahamas to which India has provided immediate financial assistance of USD one million.

He also announced the setting up of a Regional Center for Excellence in Information Technology in Georgetown, Guyana, and the Regional Vocational Training Center in Belize by upgrading the existing India-funded centers in these countries.

The Indian side also expressed support to specialised capacity building courses, training and deputation of Indian experts based on the needs and requirements of the CARICOM countries.

In addition, the meeting also focused on setting up of a Joint Task Force to expeditiously look into possible areas of cooperation and identify the way forward.

In his concluding remarks, the Prime Minister invited a Parliamentary delegation from CARICOM to visit India in the near future. Meanwhile, the CARICOM leaders, on their part, welcomed India's initiatives to strengthen engagement and cooperation between the two sides and reassured full support from their respective governments.

The meeting was attended by the Heads of Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Vice President of Suriname, and Foreign Ministers of Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Haiti and Guyana.


7 killed, 85 injured in Afghanistan truck bomb blast

7 killed, 85 injured in Afghanistan truck bomb blast

Kabul: At least 7 people were killed and 85 injured due to a truck bomb explosion near a government hospital in Afghanistan's Zabul province on Thursday, officials said

The blast took place at around 6 a.m. and a number of office buildings and houses were severely damaged, TOLO News reported.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) office is also located close to the hospital but officials say no NDS employee was killed or injured in the incident.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blast and said the target was the NDS office.


Nirav Modi to appear via videolink for UK remand hearing

Nirav Modi to appear via videolink for UK remand hearing

London: Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, wanted in connection with the nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case, will appear before a UK court via videolink from his London prison on Thursday for a routine "call-over" remand hearing.

The 48-year-old, who is fighting extradition to India at Westminster Magistrates' Court, is expected to be given a confirmed date for his trial, expected in May next year.

"No progress today, I'm afraid," Judge Tan Ikram said at the last call-over hearing on August 22, as he gave directions for the court clerk to seek a confirmation of the proposed five-day extradition trial to start on May 11, 2020.

There is also likely to be a case management hearing in the matter ahead of the extradition trial in February next year.

Modi has been lodged at Wandsworth prison in south-west London, one of England's most overcrowded jails, since his arrest in March on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on charges brought by the Indian government, being represented by the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in court.

Under the UK law, Modi is expected to be produced before the court within a 28-day period during his judicial custody pending trial. Since his arrest, his legal team, led by solicitor Anand Doobay and barrister Clare Montgomery, have made four bail applications, which have been rejected each time due to Modi being deemed a flight risk.

In her judgment handed down at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on his last bail appeal in June, Justice Ingrid Simler had concluded there were "substantial grounds" to believe that Modi would fail to surrender as he does possess the means to "abscond".

Reiterating similar concerns as those previously raised by Westminster Magistrates' Court during earlier bail attempts, Judge Simler ruled that after considering all the material "carefully",

she had found strong evidence to suggest there had been interference with witnesses and destruction of evidence in the case and concluded it can still occur.

"The applicant has access to considerable financial resources, supported by an increased [bail bond security] offer of GBP 2 million," the judge noted.

The High Court judge stressed that while it was not for her to take a "definitive view" on the evidence, she had proceeded on the basis that the government of India has acted in good faith in what is "undoubtedly" a serious case and a "sophisticated international conspiracy" to defraud, together with money laundering.

Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers on an extradition warrant on March 19 and has been in prison since. During subsequent hearings, Westminster Magistrates' Court was told that Modi was the "principal beneficiary" of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.


Maryam Nawaz's remand period extended by 7 days

Maryam Nawaz's remand period extended by 7 days

Islamabad: An accountability court has extended for seven days the remand period of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz, who has been in the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) custody since August 8.

Maryam Nawaz, who is detained at the daycare centre of NAB Headquarters in Lahore in connection with Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case, was presented in the court of Judge Ameer Muhammad Khan amid heightened security on Wednesday, along with one of her cousins, Yousuf Abbas, who is also one of the accused, reports The Express Tribune.

Maryam Nawaz is accused of not being able to explain the shares of the sugar mill which is worth millions.

NAB investigation officer (IO) told the court that Maryam, her mother Kulsoom Nawaz, grandfather Mian Sharif, brother Hussain Nawaz and some other members of Sharif family were members of the company's board of directors.

He said the PML-N Vice President also acted as the CSM's Chief Executive Officer in 2004. The company, he said, also took loans from various companies.

NAB has summoned record of the loans from all these companies as well as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). As NAB will interrogate the accused in the light of SBP report, it is requested that there remand period may be extended," he said.

Opposing NAB's request, Maryam Nawaz's counsel said the Bureau's report was contrary to facts. However, after hearing the argument, the judge extended Maryam's remand period.


Pakistan committed to send 1st astronaut by 2022: Minister Fawad Chaudhry

Pakistan committed to send 1st astronaut by 2022: Minister Fawad Chaudhry

Islamabad: Pakistan Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has said that the country was committed to send its first astronaut to space by 2022.

China would collaborate with Pakistan in its space mission, he said during an interview on Sunday, adding the selection process for the astronaut would start in 2020, reports The News International.

He revealed that initially, 50 individuals would be selected after which the list will be shortened to 25 in 2022. The Minister added that out of them only one would be sent to space.

The Pakistan Air Force, he said, would play an important role in the astronaut's selection.