Jan 102018
Journalist Taha Siddiqui beaten by '10-12 armed men', escapes 'attempted abduction'

Islamabad Police on Wednesday began investigating an "attempt by 10-12 armed men" to abduct journalist Taha Siddiqui.Siddiqui was "beaten [and] threatened with death", said journalist Asad Hashim in a tweet.Hashim, who accompanied Siddiqui to Koral police station, added that Siddiqui's belongings were also taken. According to informed sources, Siddiqui was piled into a car by the armed men but managed to escape by jumping out of the moving vehicle. Superintendent Police Dr Mustafa Tanveer confirmed that Siddiqui, who is the Pakistan bureau chief at World Is One News, approached police soon after the incident.Siddiqui posted a message via journalist Cyril Almeida's Twitter account, recounting the details of the kidnapping attempt. He started the tweet by identifying himself and clarifying that he was using Almeida's account.Siddiqui went on to say: "I was on my way to [the] airport today at 8:20 am when 10-12 armed men stopped my cab [and] forcibly tried to abduct me." Speaking to DawnNews, SP Tanveer reiterated that Siddiqui was in a private taxi when he was stopped by armed men. In his post, Siddiqui further said that he had managed to escape the kidnapping attempt and that he was "safe and with the police now.""Looking for support in any way possible," Siddiqui added, ending his tweet with the hashtag #StopEnforcedDisappearances.In May last year, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had issued a notice to Siddiqui, known for posting comments on social media against the military, and asked him to appear before its counterterrorism wing. Siddiqui had filed [Read More…]

Jan 102018
King Salman reaffirms Saudi support for independent Palestinian state

During a telephone conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul Aziz reaffirmed the Kingdom's support for an independent Palestinian state, Arab News reported on Wednesday. In his conversation with the Palestinian head of state, King Salman emphasised Saudi Arabia's support for the rights of the Palestinian people and their desire to have Jerusalem as their capital, Arab News reported, quoting the state-run Saudi Press Agency. Read: Trump’s decision on Jerusalem reflects the influence of powerful allies in his inner circlePresident Abbas thanked the king and expressed gratitude for Saudi Arabia's historic support for the Palestinians, Al Arabiya added.Last year, the Kingdom had called US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital an "irresponsible and unjustified" move. Trump's decision ended seven decades of US ambiguity on the status of the disputed city and prompted an almost unanimous diplomatic backlash across the world.“Palestinians have the right to East Jerusalem as their capital," King Salman had said on December 14 during an annual speech in which he outlined the Saudi government's priorities for 2018. “The Kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” he had added.However, the absence of the king and his son, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman ─ both of whom had remained in close contact with Trump over the Middle [Read More…]

Jan 092018
No court can try dictators in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif tells lawyers

"No court that can try a dictator has ever come into existence in Pakistan," ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, himself sent packing by the Supreme Court, complained to a group of lawyers gathered at Punjab House, Islamabad on Tuesday.Claiming that that he had been "persecuted" over the years and "pushed towards revolt", Sharif drew parallels between what he considers to be his own 'cornering' by the state and the events that led to the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan. "[Former Bangladesh prime minister] Sheikh Mujibur Rehman was not a rebel, but was made into one," Sharif remarked, referring to the tragic consequences that followed the state's refusal to allow a popularly elected leader to hold the prime minister's office.This is not the first time Sharif has invoked the spectre of 1971 ever since he was unceremoniously ousted from power by the Supreme Court's Panamagate decision. But "I want to forget all these wounds," he remarked. "I don't want to take them to a point where my emotions get out of my control." "What has been done to me, and to all the elected prime ministers in this country's history, is not correct," he continued. "What kind of return for service to the nation is this?" Demanding an end to the usurpation of democratically-elected governments, he asked that those involved in behind-the-scenes manipulation of the political order "repent for their sins and ask for forgiveness from the nation."Returning to the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan, the thrice-ousted prime minister said: "The [Read More…]

Jan 062018
Some forces want to 'wrap up' democratic set-up before Senate elections: Ahsan Iqbal

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has expressed the fear that some elements are attempting to undo the democratic set-up of the country ahead of the Senate elections scheduled to be held in March.Voicing his concerns during an interview with DawnNews on Saturday, Iqbal, without naming any institution, held "certain forces" responsible for the prevailing "uncertainty" and political crises in the country."There are some vibes that some forces are trying to wrap up the democratic set-up in the country before the Senate elections," he said. He said that the country is facing threats now more than ever in its history. "Unfortunately at a time when Pakistan is facing immense threats on the external front, the country's political dynamics are showing some very negative signs," he added. "We are trying to make PPP and other political parties realise that we need unity against the external threats," the minister said adding that it was not the time for sit-ins. The minister warned that politics of agitation and sit-ins would strengthen the agenda of US President Donald Trump against Pakistan.Talking about the looming political crises in Balochistan where some lawmakers have launched a no-confidence drive against the provincial chief minister, Iqbal said resignations from Balochistan were rendered under duress. Referring to his recent visit to the province, he claimed that lawmakers in Balochistan had informed him that they were being "pressurised". "Whoever is doing this is not serving the country, it would weaken the country and strengthen Trump's agenda," he remarked. He vowed that the [Read More…]

Jan 062018
11 Saudi princes arrested after holding protest in royal palace: reports

11 Saudi princes have been arrested after they held a rally to protest a royal decision to make princes pay for their electricity and water consumption, reported UAE publication Gulf News on Saturday.The princes also demanded financial compensation for a ruling against one of their cousins, said the Gulf News report, quoting Saudi news site Sabq and Al Marsad.The princes were informed that their actions were wrong and that they should vacate Qasr Al Hokm, a historic royal palace, but they refused to comply, added the report. According to a report in The National, also published on Saturday, "A royal order was issued to the royal guards … to intervene and they [the princes] were detained and put into Al Hayer prison in preparation to put them on trial."Dozens of princes, officials and businessmen were detained in Saudi Arabia on corruption charges in November last year, about 200 people questioned, and over 2,000 bank accounts frozen in the crackdown.In December, 23 of the powerful individuals detained were released after they reached deals with the government. Click for detailed story

Jan 062018
Indian news website retracts story confirming Kulbhushan Jadhav 'recruited by RAW as a spy'

Hours after running a story confirming Kulbhushan Jadhav being recruited as a spy by Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), The Quint retracted the article, saying it was "rechecking some of the information mentioned". The article, written by journalist and opinion editor at The Quint Chandan Nandy, said: "[…] it has come to light that two former chiefs of RAW, who headed the organisation sometime over the past 15 years, had put their foot down against recruiting him for operations in Pakistan".According to the article, Jadhav was employed as part of "renewed efforts to use human sources as deep penetration agents in Pakistan". The senior RAW officials were quoted as saying that Jadhav was “not a high-grade operative" and did not possess the required skills for collecting intelligence.Read: Who is Kulbhushan Jadhav?Nandy, on his Twitter page, had shared the story on Friday with the caption, "Calling a spade a spade!". Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal, on Saturday, shared an "update as reported" on Twitter, saying that Nandy had gone missing/into hiding. Certain Indian websites have called out The Quint for what they call "shoddy journalism", "selling their country to an enemy nation", and for being "on the wrong side".Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was arrested in Pakistan on espionage charges. He was captured by security forces on March 3, 2016, in Balochistan and sentenced to death by a military tribunal in 2017 for his involvement in terrorism and espionage. His appeals against the conviction [Read More…]

Jan 062018
PTI leaders reject report on Imran Khan's third marriage as 'ridiculous'

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders on Saturday rejected a report that party Chairman Imran Khan had allegedly married for the third time.The News in an article published on Saturday claimed that Khan married a woman, whom he regarded as his spiritual leader, in a secret ceremony on January 1. Mufti Saeed, who had officiated Khan's second marriage with TV anchor Reham Khan in 2015, reportedly performed the nikkah, according to The News.The report also mentions the location of the alleged marriage, saying it took place in "Sector Y of Defence Housing Authority, Lahore, at the residence of a close confidante of the bride who also happens to be a friend of a PTI leader". PTI's chief whip Shireen Mazari termed the report "ridiculous" and "pathetic", saying that Khan's "detractors" were making up stories about his marriage now that they could not accuse him of corruption after the Supreme Court gave the party leader a clean chit in the disqualification case last year. In a subsequent tweet, she reminded everyone that Khan's marriage was no one's business. Political secretary of the PTI chief, Awn Chaudhry, took to Twitter to vehemently deny the report, saying that he had "categorically denied the veracity of this planted gossip". In another tweet, he said that while he wished that Khan finds a life partner so he can get married, the matter was not related to politics. According to The News' report, Chaudhry denied that Khan's marriage had taken place. However, the story claimed that he was [Read More…]

Jan 062018
Former PAF chief Asghar Khan laid to rest in Abbottabad

Civil and military leaders attended the state funeral of Air Marshal retired Asghar Khan held at Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi on Saturday morning.Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, and Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, as well as other serving and retired officials were among those in attendance. His body was flown to Abbottabad in the afternoon where a second funeral was offered for the former chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). He was laid to rest in the Nawanshehr graveyard. A notification issued by the federal government said that the national flag would fly at half mast on Saturday to mark the passing away of the former PAF chief.A leading political figure of yesteryear, Khan passed away at the Combined Military Hospital early on Friday morning after a long illness. He was 96. Khan was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital on Dec 30 after his condition deteriorated, sources said. He was suffering from acute respiratory infection, dementia and ischemic heart disease.He leaves behind his wife Amina Asghar Khan, his son Ali Asghar Khan and four siblings.Asghar Khan: A soldier and an idealist politicianBorn in 1921 to a Kashmiri family in Jammu and Kashmir, Khan received his early education from Aitchison College Lahore. He joined the Indian Air Force and secured commission in 1940. His remarkable dedication towards his profession was such that he was given the command of a squadron in World War II [Read More…]

Jan 032018
History teaches us not to trust the United States, says Khawaja Asif

In response to US President Trump's tirade against Pakistan, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif through a series of tweets reminded the United States of the services Pakistan had rendered during the past several years, particularly in the war against terrorism. The foreign minister said, "The history teaches us not to blindly trust the US.""You have asked what did we do? A dictator surrendered [before the US] on a single phone call, our country witnessed the worse bloodbath, you carried out 57,800 attacks on Afghanistan from our bases, your forces were supplied arms and explosives through our soil, thousands of our civilians and soldiers became victims of the war initiated by you," he tweeted.The minister also highlighted the sacrifices rendered by Pakistanis in the war against terrorism. He also talked about the cost Pakistan paid for its participation in the said war. "We considered your enemy as our own, we filled the Guantanamo Bay, we served you with such an enthusiasm that we left our country with load shedding and gas shortage. We tried to please you on the cost of our economy, we provided tens of thousands of visas as a result of which the networks of Black Water spread across our country," he wrote in another tweet. "For the past four years, we have been clearing the debris. Our forces are fighting in an exemplary manner, there is an unending saga of sacrifices. The past teaches us not to blindly trust the US. We are feeling sorry as you are [Read More…]

Jan 032018
Misunderstandings between US and Pakistan will affect peace efforts in Afghanistan: Ghafoor

The chief of military's media wing, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, on Wednesday said Washington should realise that the misunderstandings between Pakistan and United States could negatively affect the security situation in the region, particularly in Afghanistan.The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general, while talking to GeoNews, said that Pakistan will never compromise on its prestige and integrity. He, however, stressed that the US and Pakistan were allies.The ISPR chief also pointed towards the Indian background of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. "US should find out the elements which are aiming at deteriorating the US-Pakistan cooperation," he said. Ghafoor said the new US policy for the region mentions that India would be provided with a lead role in security issues. "We don't need a security guarantee from anyone, we are a responsible nation and will continue our role in establishing peace in the region."The US has to realise that there is a context to our relations with India and we have unresolved issues, he said. "It would be impossible to establish peace in the region without resolving these issues," Ghafoor said.He further said that Pakistan has actively cooperated with the coalition forces in Afghanistan and the efforts should be enhanced to bring peace in Afghanistan.The ISPR chief maintained that India played a very negative role in connection with bringing peace in Afghanistan as well as the region. He alleged that India used the Afghan soil against Pakistan and supported terrorism in the country, which is evident from the [Read More…]

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