Previous123456789...4546Next

Naya Pakistan, same old begging: Islamabad asks for Rs 294 crore loan from China for CPEC


Naya Pakistan, same old begging: Islamabad asks for Rs 294 crore loan from China for CPEC
 



3 slain Khalistani leaders, including Bhindranwale in Kartarpur corridor video released by Pakistan


3 slain Khalistani leaders, including Bhindranwale in Kartarpur corridor video released by Pakistan

New Delhi: A video song released by the Pakistan government welcoming Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib has created a controversy as it has pictures of three Khalistani separatist leaders, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the background in one part of the clip.

The video, released by Pakistan's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday, has posters of Bhindranwale, Major General Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa, all of whom were killed during Indian Army's Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984.

Bhindranwale was the head of Sikh religious sect Damdami Taksal. Singh was an Indian Army general, who joined the Khalistani movement in 1984 after he was stripped of his rank and court-martialled on charges of corruption just before his retirement.

Khalsa was a Khalistani student leader who headed the now-banned All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSD).

Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had raised concerns that Pakistan could use misuse the corridor to revive Sikh militancy in Punjab. Several Indian intelligence agencies and experts have also questioned Pakistan's intentions of opening the route.

A fringe Khalistani group based in the US called 'Sikhs for Justice' is attempting to promote the so-called 'Referendum 2020' movement by using the corridor with tacit support from Pakistan's spy agency ISI.

The video has surfaced just days before the Kartarpur Corridor is slated to be inaugurated. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor on the Indian side on November 8, his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan will open the route on the other side the following day.

India and Pakistan had, on October 24, signed an agreement on the modalities for operationalising Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, paving the way for its inauguration ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib. The route will connect Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan.

 
 
 



Never happening in India: Microsoft Japan's three-day weekend leads to 40% rise in productivity


Never happening in India: Microsoft Japan's three-day weekend leads to 40% rise in productivity

While Japan struggles to tackle the problem of excessive work affecting employees’ health, the US tech giant Microsoft tested out a four-day work week in its Japan offices and found as a result employees were not only happier – but significantly more productive.

The Japanese unit of the US IT giant closed its offices every Friday in August, giving all 2,300 full-time workers special leave. It also restricted meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes, and encouraged online chats as an alternative to face-to-face communications. The number of participants at meetings was limited to five, and workers were also encouraged to use online communication instead of emails, it said. The results were positive, with sales per employee rising almost 40 per cent in August from a year earlier, electricity consumption down by a quarter and paper usage being cut in half.

 
 

The trial, called the Work-Life Choice Challenge 2019, was an attempt to provide a better working environment through reduced working time.

In an attempt to promote work-life balance, the company also offered assistance for employee’s travel expenses and family vacations. The results were positive, with sales per employee rising almost 40 per cent in August from a year earlier, electricity consumption down by a quarter and paper usage being cut in half.

With the trial hailed as a success by 92 per cent of its staff, the company said that they are ready to launch a second Work-Life Choice Challenge. It plans to launch a similar programme this winter -- but won't offer special leave. Instead, employees will be encouraged to use their existing holiday days. The programme comes as Japan's government pushes for more "flexible work styles," urging business to accept telecommuting, different part-time schedules and off-peak commuting.

 
 
 



Pakistan complied with 36 of 40 FATF parameters: APG


Pakistan complied with 36 of 40 FATF parameters: APG

Islamabad: The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) has published its report on money-laundering and terror-financing in Pakistan which says that Islamabad has largely but partially complied with 36 of the 40 parameters set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at the time of the country's inclusion in the grey list.

The long-awaited 228-page report, titled "Mutual Evaluation Report 2019" was published on Saturday, a week before the FATF - the international money-laundering and terror-financing watchdog - is set to announce its decision to remove or retain Pakistan in its grey list, Geo News reported on Monday.

The repor would provide a basis for the FATF to make its decision in an upcoming Paris meeting scheduled for October 13-18, keeping in view Pakistan's compliance with the parameters it had set earlier.

However, it pointed out that Islamabad only missed four of the total 40 parameters that it was to follow in order to be effectively removed from the list.

The report said Pakistan's performance on international cooperation was moderate.

It also stressed on the country's weakness pertaining to risk, policy and coordination; supervision; preventive measures; legal persons and arrangements; financial intelligence; money-laundering (ML) investigations and prosecution; confiscation; terror-financing (TF) investigations and prosecution; TF preventive measures and financial sanctions; proliferation-financing (PF) financial sanctions.

Last month, a high-level Pakistani delegation led by Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar had attended a two-day meeting with the APG to discuss Islamabad's progress on the FATF action plan.

Earlier in August it was reported that out of 40 universal recommendations of FATF, Pakistan's rating was partially and non-compliant on 30 recommendations and performance was also below par on 10 as against 11 Immediate Outcomes, The News International said.

Out of total 11 Immediate Outcomes, only on one indicator effectiveness was found moderately effective and on rest of 10, the rating was ineffective.

The FATF review had placed Pakistan into grey list in June 2018 and had given 27 action plans till September 2019 to comply for coming out from the grey list.

This upcoming review of the FATF meeting in Paris will now decide the fate of the country with three possibilities -- excluding it from grey and put into green list, continuing it into grey list with extended period of nine to 12 months and thirdly in worst case scenario putting the country into blacklist, having dire consequences for the country's economy.

 
 
 



Police fire tear gas as large crowds defy Hong Kong mask ban


Police fire tear gas as large crowds defy Hong Kong mask ban

Hong Kong: Hong Kong was rocked by fresh violence Sunday as tens of thousands hit the streets to defy a ban on face masks, sparking clashes with police, street fights and vandalism across the strife-torn city.

Large crowds marched through torrential rain in peaceful but unsanctioned rallies on both sides of Victoria Harbour, condemning the government for deploying emergency powers to ban face masks at public gatherings.

But violence erupted as police dispersed crowds with tear gas, and then battled hardcore protesters in multiple locations plunging the finance hub into chaos once more.

"Two girls were hit by the car and one girl was trapped between the car and a shop," a witness, who gave his surname as Wong, told AFP, adding the crowd managed to push the car off the wounded woman.

An AFP photographer saw volunteer medics treating both the driver and the injured women before paramedics and police arrived. Protesters smashed up the taxi.

Earlier, a crowd ransacked nearby government offices, while multiple Chinese banks and subway stations were vandalised across the city.

Activists have staged three straight days of flashmob rallies and sprees of vandalism after Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam outlawed face coverings by protesters, invoking colonial-era emergency powers not used for half a century.

 
 
 



Paris climate activists kick off global protests


Paris climate activists kick off global protests

Paris: Hundreds of climate activists barricaded themselves into a Paris shopping centre for hours ahead of a planned series of protests around the world by the Extinction Rebellion movement.

Campaigners faced off against police and some inconvenienced shoppers as they occupied part of the Italie 2 mall in southeast Paris all day on Saturday, staying put into the early hours of Sunday.

They unfurled banners with slogans like "Burn capitalism not petrol" above restaurants and the window displays of fashion boutiques.

The protest comes ahead of planned disruption to 60 cities around the world from Monday in a fortnight of civil disobedience, from Extinction Rebellion (XR), which is warning of an environmental "apocalypse".

As the centre tried to close up on Saturday evening, security forces ordered the protesters to leave the area, activists told AFP. "I am with XR to say stop this crazy system before it destroys everything," one young woman told AFP, giving only her first name Lucie.

The demonstrators said they eventually chose to leave at around 4am (0200 GMT).

Other campaign groups also joined in with the Paris shopping centre demonstration, including some members of the "yellow vest" anti-government protest group.

Non-violent protests are chiefly planned by XR from Monday in Europe, North America, Australia, but events are also set to take place in India, Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Wellington.

Another protest was held in Berlin on Saturday, with campaigners setting up camp near the parliament building.

"To governments of the world: we declared a climate and ecological emergency. You did not do enough. To everybody else: rebel," XR said on its website ahead of its International Rebellion wave of activism.

 
 
 



Facebook encryption to make child porn rampant: FBI head Christopher Wray


Facebook encryption to make child porn rampant: FBI head Christopher Wray

Washington: If Facebook continues with its data encryption project, it will only help child pornographers flourish on the social networking platform without any control, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray has said.

In a speech at the US Justice Department on Friday, Wray said: "When it comes to protecting children, we're at a real inflection point and we risk falling off the cliff".

He said images and video of child pornography traded between abusers on Facebook could be lost if the platform encrypted communications, reports CNN.

"Facebook would transform from the main provider of child exploitation tips to a dream come true for predators and child pornographers: a platform that allows them to find and connect with kids and like-minded criminals with little fear of consequences," Wray told the audience.

Facebook plans to integrate chats among WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram with end-to-end encryption by 2020.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has also warned Facebook over its planned integration of chat services, asking the social media giant to provide it with an "urgent briefing" on the proposals. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, has repeatedly said that end-to-end encryption in messaging is the key.

US Attorney General William Barr and top officials from the UK and Australia on Friday shot a letter to Facebook to abandon its encryption project.

"Companies cannot operate with impunity where lives and the safety of our children is at stake, and if Zuckerberg really has a credible plan to protect Facebook's more than two billion users it's time he let us know what it is," the letter said.

Risks to public safety from Facebook's proposals are exacerbated in the context of a single platform that would combine inaccessible messaging services with open profiles, providing unique routes for prospective offenders to identify and groom our children," the letter added.

A Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying that the company "strongly oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of people everywhere".

Meanwhile, Facebook received support from over 50 civil liberties groups who urged the company not to end encryption.

"We encourage you to resist calls to create so-called 'backdoors' or 'exceptional access' to the content of users' messages, which will fundamentally weaken encryption and the privacy and security of all users," the groups wrote in an open letter to Facebook.

 
 
 



India calls for increased cooperation between UN, FATF to deal with terror groups


India calls for increased cooperation between UN, FATF to deal with terror groups

United Nations: India has called for increased cooperation between the UN and organisations such as the Financial Action Task Force to deal with the nexus of terrorist groups and transnational organised criminal networks that helps raise funds for terror financing and recruiting and other illicit activities across borders.

Speaking at a General Assembly Third Committee that deals with social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues, First Secretary in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi said transnational organised crimes continue to undermine efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, and threaten international peace and security.

"Terrorist organisations are increasingly drawing sustenance by using transnational organised criminal networks for illicit activities to raise funds. Crime syndicates are in cahoots with terrorists, providing them services such as counterfeiting, money laundering, arms dealing, drug trafficking and smuggling terrorists across borders," Tripathi said here on Thursday.

She said the activities of terror groups such as ISIL, Al Shabab and Boko Haram using extortion, human trafficking, extraction of natural resources, trade in cultural artefacts and illicit taxation in areas under their control, manifest the blurring of lines between crime and terror.

"There is also increasing evidence that narcotics are being used not just for terror financing but for luring youth to be recruited by the terrorists.

Revenue generated by illicit activities of terrorists and criminal groups are moved across borders and exchanged through open networks," she said at the committee's session on 'Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice, Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes & International drug control'.

Tripathi underscored that such a situation calls for far more coherent and resolute response and "the UN needs to increase cooperation with other bodies such as Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is playing a significant role in setting global standards for preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing."

"Its impact is not limited to rule of law and governance. Rather, its deleterious effect on domestic resource mobilisation through money laundering, corruption and other economic offences, impede development.

Symbiotic relationship between transnational organised crimes and terrorism adds complexity to this issue," she said. The Paris-based FATF is an intergovernmental organisation to develop policies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

Tripathi further said that the structure of organised crime groups is changing towards more loosely associated networks that are difficult to interdict.

"They are using an array of new and emerging technologies, including drones, virtual currencies, encrypted communications and artificial intelligence.

This requires increased sophistication and timely sharing of operational information among law enforcement agencies across jurisdictions and borders," she said.

Tripathi said that there is need for broader international cooperation based on criminal justice and health responses, given that today some 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders and 11 million inject drugs, of whom 1.4 million live with HIV and 5.6 million live with hepatitis C.

"A balanced approach is needed to address misuse of prescription drugs, while guaranteeing availability and access to such medicines," she said adding that India has recently initiated a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction that focuses on preventive education, awareness generation, capacity building, counselling, treatment and rehabilitation to ensure drug demand reduction by 2023.

With traffickers increasingly using internet and social media, Tripathi said there is need for stronger partnerships with civil society and private sector and more resources for law enforcement to address this phenomenon.

On the issue of cybercrime, she said it differs significantly from traditional crimes in terms of its nature, scope, means, evidence and activities and so information exchange in real time or near-real time is essential for evidence collection to bring cybercriminals to justice.

"There is also a need for greater multilateral cooperation in the field of cybercrime especially for facilitating swift information exchange essential for preventing cybercrime and for furnishing digital evidence in cybercrime investigations," she said.

 
 
 



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.




Previous123456789...4546Next
Top