Pakistan Army given nod to respond ‘decisively’ and ‘comprehensively’ to any ‘aggression’ by India


Pakistan Army given nod to respond ‘decisively’ and ‘comprehensively’ to any ‘aggression’ by India

written by Sajjad Hussain FPJ Islamabad: Even as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan banned the terror outfit JuD, he authorised the military to “respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure” by India. Khan, who chaired a key meeting of the National Security Committee, said the Pakistan government was “determined to demonstrate” that it is capable of protecting its people.

The meeting also concluded that “Pakistan is not involved in any way, means or form in Pulwama incident and it was conceived, planned and executed indigenously”, according to the statement.

It further said Pakistan has offered to seriously investigate the “incident.” ‘‘We expect India to positively respond to these offers,” the statement said, adding that based on the investigation or any tangible evidence provided, Pakistan shall take action against anyone found using its soil. The NSC further urged the global community to play its part in resolving the Kashmir issue.

In a video message on Tuesday, Khan had assured India that he would act against the perpetrators of the Pulwama terror attack if New Delhi shares “actionable intelligence”, but warned against any “revenge” retaliatory action. Ahead of the NSC meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Khan and Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa held a one-on-one meeting during which they discussed region’s security situation.




UN chief calls on India, Pakistan to take ‘immediate steps’ to defuse tensions


UN chief calls on India, Pakistan to take ‘immediate steps’ to defuse tensions

United Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on India and Pakistan to take “immediate steps” to de-escalate tensions between the two nations following the Pulwama terror attack, reiterating that his good offices are available if both sides ask.

The already sour relations between India and Pakistan have worsened over the past week as New Delhi blamed Islamabad for the Pulwama attack by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Both countries have called back their envoys for “consultations.” “The Secretary General stresses the importance for both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps to de-escalation, and his good offices are always available should both sides ask,” the UN chief’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Tuesday at the daily press briefing.

Dujarric was asked about a meeting Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN has sought with the Secretary General and about Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi saying the UN must step in to diffuse tensions between the nations. “Looking at the situation in general between India and Pakistan, we are deeply concerned at the increasing tensions between the two countries in the wake of the attack on Indian security personnel on February 14 in Pulwama,” Dujrraic said.

He said Pakistan’s mission at the UN requested for the meeting with the Secretary General. In a separate issue, Dujjaric said that in response to questions on a recent incident involving the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, known as UNMOGIP, the observer group reported on February 16 that a UN vehicle in the city of Jammu was surrounded by a group of protesters who placed a Pakistan flag in front of the vehicle.

“The vehicle attempted to bypass the flag but was unable to do so. The Mission has informed both Indian and Pakistani authorities of this regrettable and unavoidable circumstances of the incident. The Mission also requested India to provide additional escorts and will be conducting an investigation,” he said.




Mongolia shuts KFC over food poisoning


Mongolia shuts KFC over food poisoning

laanbaatar: Mongolian authorities have temporarily closed all KFC restaurants in the country after more than 200 customers suffered food poisoning symptoms and dozens were hospitalised. The first cases emerged earlier this month, with 16 people showing symptoms of food poisoning, including diarrhoea, vomiting and high fever after eating at the fried chicken franchise.The department decided to shut down the country’s 11 KFC restaurants — all based in the capital – while it investigates what happened.

A preliminary investigation found that 35 employees at a restaurant were not thoroughly vetted to handle food, with most of them having blank medical examination reports, which is illegal. The restaurant also lacked internal hygiene management. A strong bacteria known as Klebsiella spp was detected in water at the restaurant. Traces of E-coli were also found in a soda machine, and four people contracted the Shigella germ – which causes diarrhea and fever — after coming into contact with KFC staff.




Iran summons Pakistan envoy


Iran summons Pakistan envoy

Tehran: Iran’s foreign ministry on Sunday summoned the Pakistan ambassador after Tehran accused Islamabad of harbouring a jihadist group, which it says is behind a deadly suicide attack on its security forces. “The Islamic Republic of Iran expects Pakistan’s government and army to seriously confront the terrorist outfits that are active on its border with Iran,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The suicide bombing on Wednesday killed 27 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards travelling on a bus in the volatile south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, which straddles the border with Pakistan. Iran Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari on Saturday blamed Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency for sheltering the jihadists. “

The government of Pakistan must pay the price for harbouring these terrorist groups and this price will undoubtedly be very high,” Jafari told mourners gathered at funerals for the dead in the city of Isfahan. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also linked the perpetrators of Wednesday’s attack to “the spying agencies of some regional and trans-regional countries




Sex abuse summit: World bishops head to Vatican


Sex abuse summit: World bishops head to Vatican

Vatican City: Pope Francis gathers bishops from around the world at the Vatican this week for a hotly-awaited summit on tackling the wave of child sex abuse scandals assailing the Catholic Church.

The heads of around 100 bishops’ conferences from every continent will convene from Thursday to Sunday for the meeting on the protection of minors, with victims’ groups demanding that a concrete action plan on fighting paedophilia be drawn up.

The pope, who asked the bishops to speak to victims of abuse in their respective countries before the Rome convention, has tried to dial down “inflated expectations” for a cure-all. Several victims were also invited to the Vatican.

“I ask you to pray for this meeting,” the pope said Sunday, adding that he wanted the meeting “as an act of strong pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge of our time.” The conference aims to be an opportunity to improve awareness of the global phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors within the Church, despite many in Africa, Asia and the Middle East being in denial of what they call “a Western problem”.




China closes Mt Everest base camp to combat garbage issue


China closes Mt Everest base camp to combat garbage issue

Beijing: China has banned the entry of visitors who don’t have climbing permits into the core zone of the Mount Everest National Nature reserve in Tibet to better conserve the environment of the world’s highest mountain. But for travellers, who have a climbing permit, the mountaineering activities will not be affected, according to the reserve, which was set up in 1988.

Covering an area of around 33,800 square km, including a 10,312-square km core zone, the reserve is home to one of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems. Recently, a report went viral online claiming the Qomolangma base camp was “permanently closed due to heavy pollution.”

In Tibet, the the 8,848-metre high Mount Everest is called as Mount Qomolangma. The deputy director with the reserve’s administration, Kelsang said ordinary tourists are banned from areas above Rongpo Monastery, around 5,000 metres above sea level. A new tent camp will be set up nearly two-km away from the original one, the state-run Xinhua news reported.

Though ordinary visitors can’t go beyond the monastery, it won’t affect them from appreciating the mountain. Travellers who have a climbing permit can go to the base camp at an altitude of 5,200 metres, and mountaineering activities have been approved by the regional forestry department.




US asks Pakistan to freeze funds of designated terror groups, supports actions against JeM


US asks Pakistan to freeze funds of designated terror groups, supports actions against JeM

Washington: US on Friday asked Pakistan to “freeze without delay” the funds and other financial assets of the UNSC-designated terrorist networks and their leaders. It also said it fully supports “actions to prevent” the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed “from conducting future attacks”.

Pakistan-based JeM has claimed responsibility for the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday that left at least 45 CRPF soldiers dead and five others critically wounded. A State Department spokesperson told PTI, “Pakistan outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2002.  However, the group still operates in Pakistan. The US designated JeM as a foreign terrorist organization in December 2001, and we fully support actions to prevent them from conducting future attacks.”

In addition, the UNSC designated JeM on its 1267 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qa’ida Sanctions List in 2001, the official noted. “We expect Pakistan to uphold its responsibilities pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions to deny safe haven and support for terrorists and to freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of individuals and entities on the UNSC 1267 sanctions list,” the spokesperson said in response to a question.

The official, however, did not divulge if the US has taken up the issue with the Pakistani leadership directly after the Pulwama terrorist attack. In various statements and on social media, the Trump administration has asked Pakistan to deny safe haven and end support to terrorist organizations.

The spokesperson also refrained from making any comment over China blocking India’s move to designate Jaish chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. “Our views on Masood Azhar and Jaish-e-Mohammed are well known. The JeM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability,” the spokesperson said. “UN Sanctions Committee deliberations are confidential, and as such we do not comment on specific matters,” the official said.




China, US trade talks begin


China, US trade talks begin

Beijing: US and Chinese officials on Thursday began a two-day meet here to sort out their trade differences as the March 1 deadline for the truce in their festering trade war draws near. If the two sides fail to patch up before March 1, Washington will raise the existing 10 per cent tariffs to 25 per cent on Chinese goods worth $200 billion, taking the spat to the next level.

So the Chinese and the US officials are racing against time to avert such a scenario, which, experts worry, will also have an impact on the global economic growth. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met China’s Vice Premier and its point man on trade Liu He, Xinhua news agency reported. Lighthizer and Mnuchin are also likely to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the last day of the parleys.

Even though US Prez Trump has said he might extend the deadline if something substantial is achieved, experts say a deal in this meeting looks far-fetched. “If we’re close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal and it’s going to get done, I could see myself letting that slide for a little while. But generally speaking, I’m not inclined to do that,” Trump said earlier this week.

The world’s two largest economies are locked in arguably the biggest trade war in history with both sides slapping each other’s goods with tariffs worth $360 billion. Trump accuses China of arm-twisting American companies to transfer technology to their Chinese counterparts and ballooning trade deficit. Beijing denies these charges and accuses Washington of containing it. The bruising trade dispute has hurt the already flagging Chinese economy which grew at 6.5 per cent in the third quarter, the slowest since 2009.




‘Suicide attack suspects will be hunted down’


‘Suicide attack suspects will be hunted down’

Tehran: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday that the masterminds behind the deadly suicide bomb attack against the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that claimed 27 lives will be brought to justice. At least 13 others were injured when a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying IRGC members on a highway near the city of Zahedan, located close to the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province. According to the semi-official news agency Fars, Jeish al-Adl, a Sunni extremist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.




Indonesian police use snake during interrogation process


Indonesian police use snake during interrogation process

Jakarta: Police in Indonesia admitted using a snake to terrorise a detainee during interrogation in Papua province, after a video of the incident went viral on social media. The video shows the detainee, accused of theft, with his hands tied behind his back and a snake wrapped around his neck while he screams in fear.

The officials interrogating him laugh and bring the snake’s head near his face, reports Efe news. Papua Police spokesperson Suryadi Diaz said action has been taken against the officials but he also justified the use of the reptile as part of the interrogation.

“Inhumane treatment against West Papuans is regularly reported. The culture of impunity makes West Papuans just let it go and not pursue further,” human rights lawyer Veronica Koman told Efe. Koman added that the use of snakes in interrogations has been reported on previous occasions, also against activists calling for the independence of the provinces of Papua. The western half of the island of New Guinea belongs to Indonesia, a territory rich in natural resources and the scene of a separatist conflict since its independence from the Netherlands in 1963.




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