Sources: JuD, FIF leaders have gone underground after Pakistan crackdown
Lahore: Except Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafeez Saeed, almost all leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) have gone underground after the Pakistan government placed the two outfits in the list of banned organisations, official sources said on Sunday.
Under immense international pressure, the Imran Khan-led government placed the Saeed-led JuD and its wing FIF in the list of proscribed organisations and arrested over 100 members of the outfits, including Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s son and his brother.
Pakistan also took control of the properties of the JeM, the JuD and the FIF, including seminaries and mosques, across the country. The government termed the action in accordance with the National Action Plan (NAP) and meeting the obligations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“Except the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack, Hafiz Saeed, almost all main leaders of the JuD and the FIF have gone underground and they will reappear once this dust settle,” an official source told PTI. He said JuD chief Saeed is keeping a low profile and currently living at his Lahore residence amid high security.
The JuD’s media team has also gone underground, as they are neither issuing any statement nor taking calls from the media persons. Even messages sent by PTI to JuD media team members Yahya Mujahid and Ahmed Nadeem asking if the JuD leadership has gone underground to escape arrests or waiting the dust to settle down, it remained unanswered.
For the first time in two decades Saeed was also not allowed to enter and deliver the weekly sermon at JuD headquarters in Lahore. “The Pakistan government is yet to take a decision on taking Azhar and Saeed into the protective custody,” the official said.
The government has upgraded a group of proscribed organisations to “high risk” and started monitoring and re-examining their activities and profiles under heightened security checks at all layers of legal, administrative, investigative and financial regimes to comply with the requirement of the FATF.
The Paris-based global watchdog against financial crimes had expressed dissatisfaction over considering these entities as “low” to “medium” risk by Islamabad, saying Pakistan did “not demonstrate a proper understanding of the terror financing risks posed by Daesh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Jud Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), LeT, JeM, Haqqani network (HQN), and persons affiliated with the Taliban”.
According to the government, all the entities have now been described as “high-risk” and will be subjected to greater scrutiny by all agencies and institutions of the state, starting from their registration to operations and from their fund collection to bank accounts and issuance of suspicious transactions, information sharing and so on. These decisions are being taken to comply with the FATF obligations. Recently, the Dawn said that merely making an announcement about a group’s proscription was not enough.
“If the state has evidence of the outfit’s involvement in militancy it should present the facts and pursue the legal course so that JuD’s leadership can face justice,” it said. “As has been witnessed for nearly two decades now, the state moves to ban militant outfits, but, in very little time they are back, up and running, with new names and the entire structure of violence intact,” it said.
Bangladesh cricket team escapes New Zealand mosque shooting: official
Christchurch: Bangladesh’s cricket team escaped unscathed after a deadly shooting at a mosque in New Zealand, an official said on Friday. Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said most of the team were bussed to the mosque in Christchurch and were about to go inside when the incident happened.
“They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel,” he told AFP. Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal wrote on Twitter: “Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.” Local media said multiple people were killed in the incident. “Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque,” tweeted another player, Mushfiqur Rahim.
“We r extremely lucky…never want to see this things happen again….pray for us.” Shrinivas Chandrasekaran, the team’s high performance analyst, posted: “Just escaped active shooters!!! Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere!!” Mazhar Uddin, a reporter for Bangladesh’s Daily Star who is travelling with the team, said they were told a shooting was going on when they arrived at Christchurch’s Masjid Al Noor. “The distraught Bangladesh players got inside a bus and laid down on the floor after the warning,” he reported.
Boeing halts deliveries of 737 MAX after fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash
Chicago [USA]: US aircraft manufacturer Boeing, announced on Thursday that it has paused deliveries of its 737 MAX planes, after the jet model was grounded across the world in the wake of a deadly crash involving one of its planes in Ethiopia, which killed all 157 people on board.
While no time frame was announced on when the deliveries might resume, the production of the 737 MAX jets will still continue. “We continue to build 737 MAX airplanes while assessing how the situation, including potential capacity constraints, will impact our production system,” Russia Today quoted a Boeing spokesperson as saying. The decision came after the 737 MAX aircraft were grounded and banned from airspace of several countries, including the US, Canada, Singapore, UK, Ireland, France, India, Egypt, Japan and the Netherlands.
Ethiopian Air pilot ‘faced flight control’ issues before Boeing 737 Max 8 jet crashed
A host of carriers like Jet Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Aeromexico, and Turkish Airlines have also grounded their fleets containing the said aircraft, citing customer safety. An aircraft of the same make was also involved in the Lion Airlines plane crash in the Java Sea near Jakarta, Indonesia last year. Here too, the aircraft crashed a few minutes after taking off, claiming the lives of all 189 people on board.
Shares of Boeing have plunged more than 10 per cent since the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 jet crashed on March 10, wiping more than 25 billion dollars off the company’s market value. Boeing said it remains confident in the safety of the jets, but that it recommended the shutdown itself “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety,” according to a statement from the company.
21-year-old woman passenger ordered to cover-up crop top she was wearing while boarding flight
In a bizarre incident, a 21-year-old woman passenger was ordered to cover up or she will be removed from a plane. Thomas Cook Airlines staff had asked the passenger to cover-up and threatened with being kicked off a flight because of her “inappropriate” outfit.
According to reports, Emily O’Connor from Solihull, West Midlands, was flying with her family from Birmingham Airport to the Spanish island. Emily wrote on Twitter that while preparing to fly from Birmingham in the United Kingdom to the Canary Islands that she was informed by Thomas Cook staff that her outfit was “inappropriate” and “causing offense.” Emily was wearing a cropped top with spaghetti straps and high-waist pants.
She tweeted about the incident, saying: “Thomas Cook told me that they were going to remove me from the flight if I didn’t ‘cover up’ as I was ‘causing offence’ and was ‘inappropriate’.”
When O’Connor refused to change, she says a manager left to get her bag in order to remove her from the flight. In an interview with The Sun, a tabloid based in the UK, O’Connor called the incident “the most sexist, misogynistic, embarrassing experience of my life.” Emily says she then put on a jacket lent by her cousin, who was also on the flight. She says was left “shaking” and upset by the incident, as comments were made over the plane’s speakers about the situation.
In a statement to The Post Wednesday, a spokesman for the airline said Thomas Cooks’s cabin services director spoke with O’Connor personally to offer an apology. Thomas Cook in a statement said, “We are sorry that we upset Ms. O’Connor. It’s clear we could have handled the situation better. In common with most airlines, we have an appropriate attire policy. This applies equally to men and women of all ages without discrimination. Our crews have the difficult task of implementing that policy and don’t always get it right.”
Ethiopian Air pilot ‘faced flight control’ issues before Boeing 737 Max 8 jet crashed
Addis Ababa: The pilot of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 told air traffic controllers that he was having control problems before the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet crashed, according to an account of cockpit voice recordings from the airlines Chief Executive Tewolde GebreMariam.
The pilot did not mention bird strikes or external problems, but requested permission to return to Bole Airport in Addis Ababa within minutes of takeoff on Sunday. The pilot “reported back to air traffic controllers that he was having flight control problems”, but cited no other issues, GebreMariam told the Wall Street Journal. The airline is planning to send the 737 Max 8 plane’s flight data recorder to Europe rather than the US for analysis, he said.
Flight 302 was bound for Nairobi when it plunged to the ground shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. It was the second crash involving the 737 Max 8 model in less than five months, after the Lion Air crash off Indonesia in which 189 people died in October. No evidence yet linked the crashes, but pilots on both planes reported problems moments after takeoff and sought permission to make emergency landings.
US issues emergency order to ground all Boeing 737 Max jets
European regulators have grounded the model, along with China, Australia, India and others around the world. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boeing and US airlines, however, maintain that the 737 Max is safe to fly. Pressure was growing in the US for regulators to act, with American and Canadian carriers now virtually alone in operating 737 Max flights, the Guardian reported. According to the Guardian, pilots on at least two US flights last year filed safety concerns about the aircraft after its nose tilted down suddenly when they engaged the autopilot. Their reports are part of database, compiled by NASA that does not reveal the airlines or locations.
The FAA said it was continuing to review all data from operators and pilots, but the review so far showed “no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action”. In the US, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines operate the Max 8 and United Airlines flies a slightly larger version, the Max 9. All three carriers vouched for the safety of Max aircraft on Wednesday. US crew unions, however, called for the planes to be grounded. According to the daily, many airlines had schedules planned around deliveries of the 737 Max, which could be affected by a prolonged grounding.
India, US agree to build six nuclear power plants in India
Washington: India and the US said they have agreed to build six American nuclear power plants in India, in a boost to bilateral civil nuclear energy cooperation.
The two countries said this in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the 9th round of India-US Strategic Security Dialogue, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Andrea Thompson, the US under secretary of state for arms control and international security, on Wednesday. “They committed to strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of six U.S. nuclear power plants in India,” the joint statement said.
India and the US signed a historic agreement to cooperate in civil nuclear energy sector in October 2008. The deal gave a fillip to bilateral ties, which have been on an upswing since. A major aspect of the deal was the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), that gave a special waiver to India enabling it to sign cooperation agreements with a dozen countries. Post-waiver, India signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with the US, France, Russia, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Sri Lanka, the UK, Japan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and South Korea.
On Wednesday, the United States also reaffirmed its strong support to India’s early membership in the 48-member NSG. Notably, China has blocked India’s pending membership to the elite grouping that seeks to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons. During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on a wide range of global security and non-proliferation challenges and reaffirmed their commitment to work together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and to deny access to such weapons by terrorists and non-state actors.
On March 12, Indra Mani Pandey, India’s additional secretary for disarmament and international security affairs, and Yleem D. S. Poblete, US assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, co-chaired the third round of India-US Space Dialogue. The two delegations discussed trends in space threats; respective national space priorities; and opportunities for cooperation bilaterally and in multilateral fora.
Six members of Indian family in Canada among 157 dead in Ethiopian Airlines crash
Ottawa: The “trip of a lifetime” to a safari park in Kenya turned into a nightmare for six members of a family from India in Canada who perished when the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.
The Boeing 737 took-off from Bole International Airport on Sunday and lost contact six minutes later before coming down near Tulu Fara village outside the Ethiopian town of Bishoftu, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board, including tourists and business travellers. The victims included Pannagesh Vaidya, 73; his wife Hansini Vaidya, 67; their daughter Kosha Vaidya, 37; her husband Prerit Dixit, 45; and their two children – Anushka and Ashka – Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown was quoted as saying by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
While the Surat-based Vaidya couple were Indian nationals, their daughter, husband and two children were Canadians of Indian-origin. The family who were living in Canada, heading for a safari vacation, were about to experience “the trip of a lifetime” in Kenya when the tragic loss happened. “This is an unbelievably tragic situation for this family,” Brown said in a statement.
US to take ‘immediate’ action on Boeing jet if needed: official
“As more details become known, I will provide a further update on how Brampton residents can assist this family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this time of sorrow and reflection.” The flags at city hall will remain at half-mast until further notice in honour of the family, Brown said in a message on Twitter. “It’s a huge tragedy,” Manant Vaidya, son of Pannagesh, said.
“I lost my parents, I lost my sister. I don’t have anyone else now.” Manant said his sister, who became a Canadian permanent resident in 2003, wanted to take her children to Kenya to visit her birthplace. “They thought March break was the perfect time for them to go over there, have fun,” he said. “It was going to be a really great trip for everybody.”
“I asked my dad why he wanted to go and he told me that in his life he wants to go one more time.” The Peel District School Board said Monday that two of our students Ashka and Anushka Dixit along with their parents and grandparents were passengers on the Ethiopian Airlines plane that was involved in a fatal crash over the weekend. This tragedy has brought great sadness to the students and staff at Centennial Sr. Public School and Chinguacousy Secondary School, the school board said.
“Tomorrow, the flags at @ChinguacousySS & @CentennialSrPS will be lowered to half-mast to remember and honour Anushka Dixit, Ashka Dixit, their parents and grandparents who lost their lives over the weekend,” the school board tweeted. Manant said he last saw his family Saturday morning when he dropped them off at Toronto Pearson International Airport for their 10 a.m. flight overseas.
Manant and his wife said they are currently speaking with consular officials overseas and waiting for more information on their family’s remains, the report said. People from 35 countries were reportedly on board the flight ET 302 when it ploughed into a field, 60-kilometer southeast of Addis Ababa. According to the Indian Embassy in Ethiopia, four Indian nationals were killed and they have been identified as Pannagesh Vaidya, Hansini Vaidya, Nukavarapu Manisha, a doctor based in the US, and Shikha Garg, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) consultant attached with the Environment Ministry.
Ethiopian Airlines said Kenya had the largest number of casualties with 32, followed by Canada with 18, Ethiopia nine, then Italy, China, and the US with eight each. Britain and France each had seven people on board, Egypt six, and Germany five. Twelve countries in Africa and 14 in Europe had citizens among the victims.
Won’t allow Bangladeshi soil to be used by any terror outfit: Sheikh Hasina assures PM Narendra Modi
Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday assured her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that her government would never allow the country’s soil to be used by any terrorist organisation under its “zero tolerance policy”.
Dhaka was firmly committed to stamp out terrorism from the South Asian region through bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation, she said after jointly inaugurating four projects of associated to healthcare, drinking water supply, public transport in Bangladesh with Prime Minister Modi through video-conferencing. Terming the spread of radicalism as a “grave threat” not only to the two countries but to the entire region, India and Bangladesh last year resolved to step up anti-terror cooperation.
“We remain steadfast in our resolve to root out the scourge of terrorism from our region and beyond through bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation,” Hasina said. The Bangladesh premier said her government would never allow Bangladesh soil to be used by any terrorist organisation under its “zero tolerance policy” against terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations”.
Bangladeshi man sentenced for altering photos of Sheikh Hasina, former Indian PM
Hasina also expressed her “utmost sympathy” for the family members of the Indian paramilitary police personnel who were killed in last month’s terror attack in Pulwama in Kashmir. “We reiterate our strong condemnation of this dastardly act,” she said. A suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14, the incident led to flaring up of tensions between India and Pakistan.
Hasina said that the relations between Dhaka and New Delhi is now a “role model” of good neighbours for the rest of the world as a result of multi-faceted and multi-dimensional cooperation. “I strongly believe this momentum will continue,” she said. The Bangladesh premier said over the last decade, two countries have witnessed remarkable progress on cooperation in different conventional and unconventional areas like security, power, trade and commerce, energy, connectivity, infrastructure development, environment, renewable energy, education, culture, people-to-people contact and health.
She said at the same time, the two countries have expanded cooperation in new areas like blue economy and maritime cooperation, peaceful uses of the nuclear energy, cooperation in outer space, internet bandwidth sharing, cyber security etc. The two prime ministers joined the video-conferencing from their offices in Dhaka and New Delhi and jointly inaugurated the four projects by unveiling the e-plaques.
The four projects launched on Monday include, supply of Double Decker and Single Decker AC and Non-AC Buses and Trucks to Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (under the second Line of Credit); 36 Community Clinics in five north and northeastern Bangladesh districts bordering India with an aid from Indian government; setting up of 11 Water Treatment Plants in two southwestern cities and the extension of India’s National Knowledge Network (NKN) to Bangladesh.
The NKN is a multi-gigabit National Research and Education Network (NREN) which provides a unified high speed network backbone for educational institutions in India. Apart from Hasina and Modi, Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen and his Indian counterpart Sushama Swaraj also spoke through video-conferenceing. Swaraj said the four projects, inaugurated by the two prime ministers “symbolise the breadth and depth of our partnership” and also an reaffirmation of our “Neighbourhood First Policy”. She said both the countries should set more ambitious targets which are aimed at preserving the special character of India-Bangladesh ties, as she had earlier said “Neighbours first, and among neighbours, Bangladesh first of all”.
Mike Pompeo, Vijay Gokhale say Pakistan must take ‘concerted action’ to dismantle terror groups
Washington: India and the US on Monday agreed that Pakistan must take “concerted action” to dismantle terrorist infrastructure and deny safe haven to all terror groups on its soil as Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale held talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here, the highest level meeting between the two countries after the Pulwama terror attack that escalated Indo-Pak tensions.
Gokhale arrived in the US on Sunday for the bilateral Foreign Office Consultation and Strategic Security Dialogue with his American counterparts, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson. During the meeting, Gokhale and Pompeo agreed that those who support or abet terrorism in any form should be held accountable, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
Pompeo was directly in touch with the leadership of India and Pakistan and monitored the developments after the Pulwama attack to ensure that the security situation in the South Asia region did not deteriorate. Gokhale and Pompeo expressed satisfaction over the significant progress and the quality of the India-US Strategic Partnership since Pompeo’s visit to India in September 2018 for the first ever Ministerial 2+2 Dialogue. The foreign secretary conveyed the appreciation to the US Government and to Pompeo personally for the firm support that India received from the US in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.
Secretary Pompeo expressed his understanding of India’s concerns regarding cross-border terrorism. “They agreed that Pakistan needs to take concerted action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and to deny safe haven to all terrorist groups in its territory. They also agreed that those who support or abet terrorism in any form should be held accountable,” the statement said. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said that in the meeting Pompeo affirmed that the US stands with the people and government of India in the fight against terrorism.
They discussed the importance of bringing those responsible for the attack to justice and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil, Palladino said. They noted the strength of Indo-US partnership and discussed ways to further enhance cooperation, including on counter-terrorism. Gokhale and Pompeo also discussed other issues of mutual interest including Afghanistan and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, US-India defence cooperation, and the growing US-India economic partnership, including joint efforts to expand bilateral trade in a balanced and reciprocal manner.
In response to Pompeo’s reference to bilateral trade matters, the foreign secretary underscored the significant reduction in trade deficit in the last three years and conveyed India’s willingness to remain engaged with the US for a meaningful and mutually acceptable package on trade issues. The trade deficit between India and the US has decreased by nearly seven per cent to USD 1.6 billion in 2018 as compared to the previous year, according to the latest official figures.
President Donald Trump recently notified Congress of his “intent to terminate” trade benefits for India and Turkey under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) eligibility criteria. India recorded a decrease in the deficit from USD 22.9 billion in 2017 to USD 21.3 billion in 2018, according to the figures revealed by the Bureau of Economy Analysis. The talks between Gokhale and Pompeo are considered significant in view of the escalated tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of India’s preemptive air strike on the largest terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Balakot in Pakistan and the subsequent developments.
Ahead of talks between Gokhale and Pompeo, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to US National Security Advisor John Bolton over phone and briefed him about the measures taken by Islamabad to de-escalate tensions with India following the Pulwama terror attack. Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based JeM terror group killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
India has provided a dossier to Pakistan, detailing the role of JeM in the Pulwama terror attack. India has also said that Pakistan has failed to take any credible action against JeM and other terrorist organisations, which continue to operate with impunity from Pakistan. Palladino, during his bi-weekly news conference last Tuesday, said Pompeo played an “essential role” in de-escalating tensions between India and Pakistan. Protocol-wise, it is quite unusual for Pompeo to meet Gokhale, but over the last few years, the US Secretary of State has met the Foreign Secretary, including his predecessor S Jaishankar.
The foreign office consultation and strategic security dialogue with the US are regular high-level dialogue mechanisms to review bilateral relations, exchange views on major foreign policy and security-related developments and coordinate respective positions on issues of common interest. Gokhale’s visit comes as India intensifies its efforts to declare Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist by the UN Security Council. Last month, the US, the UK and France made a fresh bid at the UN to ban Azhar. JeM is already a UN-designated terrorist organisation.
China grounds all Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets following Ethiopia Airlines crash
Beijing [China]: China grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets on Monday, a day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash which killed all 157 people on board. In fact, Sunday’s unfortunate crash is the second time in less than six months that a Boeing 737 MAX 8 was involved in a crash.
The specific Boeing jet was also involved in the Lion Air crash in October last year, which claimed the lives of all 189 people on board after it nosedived into the Java Sea near Jakarta, Indonesia. Notably, both incidents took place just a few minutes after taking off. “Given in both air crashes, the aircraftÂ were newly delivered Boeing 737 MAX 8, and both accidents occur during the take-off, they share certain similarities,” the Chinese government noted on Monday, according to CNN.
Ethiopian Airlines plane crash kills 157
All domestic Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets would be out of action until 6 pm (local time), the authorities also mentioned, adding that that decision was taken due to its principle of “zero tolerance for safety hazards”. Both Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration will be contacted to confirm “flight safety” issues before the planes are allowed to fly again, China outlined.
On Sunday, flight number ET 302 of the Ethiopian Airlines, with 149 passengers and eight crew members on board, crashed in Bishoftu just a few minutes after taking off from the Bole International Airport in Adis Ababa. There have been no survivors. Four Indians are amongst those who died in the unfortunate incident. Passengers belonging to 35 different nationalities lost their lives in the incident. In fact, many of the deceased worked for the United Nations.
Ethiopian Airlines authorities have outlined that the pilot had reported technical difficulties after takeoff and asked for clearance to return to Addis Ababa. The CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, added that the pilot had flown more than 8,000 hours and had an “excellent flying record.” The exact cause behind the crash is being investigated. Furthermore, it is not known if the black box from the crashed flight has been retrieved by the investigators.