Jan 102018
 
Trump likely to extend sanctions relief for Iran

US President Donald Trump is expected this week to extend relief from economic sanctions to Iran as part of the nuclear deal, citing progress in amending US legislation that governs Washington's participation in the landmark accord, according to US officials and others familiar with the administration's deliberations.But Trump is likely to pair his decision to renew the concessions to Tehran with new, targeted sanctions on Iranian businesses and people, the six people briefed on the matter said. The restrictions could hit some firms and individuals whose sanctions were scrapped under the 2015 nuclear agreement, a decision that could test Tehran's willingness to abide by its side of the bargain.The individuals two administration officials, two congressional aides and two outside experts who consult with the government weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. They cautioned that Trump could still reject the recommendation from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R McMaster and that no final decision had been made. They said heated discussions were going on within the administration and with key Republican lawmakers.The State Department and White House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Trump must decide by Friday to extend the nuclear-related sanctions relief for Iran's central bank or re-impose the restrictions that President Barack Obama suspended two years ago.The old, central bank sanctions largely cut Iran out of the international financial system, and are considered to be the most powerful of the penalties imposed by the [Read More…]

Jan 102018
 
Pakistan names 15-member squad for T20 series against New Zealand

Ahmed Shehzad – File Photo LAHORE: Pakistan on Wednesday named its 15-member squad for T20 series against New Zealand.The three-match series will commence from January 22 and conclude on January 28, 2018.“Imad Wasim was yet to recover from his knee injury and was told to continue his rehabilitation at the NCA. Mohammad Nawaz has been named to replace Imad Wasim. Sohaib Maqsood was not considered for selection due to a back injury, and will undergo rehabilitation at the NCA,” said chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.Pakistan’s 15-member T-20I squad1) Sarfraz Ahmed (C)/W-K2) Fakhar Zaman3) Ahmed Shehzad4) Babar Azam5) Shoaib Malik6) Harris Sohail7) Muhammad Hafeez8) Muhammad Nawaz9) Shadab Khan10) Faheem Ashraf11) Amir Yamin12) Muhammad Amir13) Hasan Ali14) Rumman Raees15) Umar Amin Click for detailed story

Jan 102018
 
Diplomats in Islamabad briefed on Pakistan's counter-terrorism efforts

Amid increasing criticism and suspension of security aid for Pakistan by the United States, the foreign diplomats stationed in Islamabad were briefed on Pakistan’s achievements and challenges in its counter-terrorism efforts by the top civil-military leadership on Wednesday, the Foreign Office said in a statement.Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Chief of General Staff (CGS) Bilal Akbar, director general military operations (DGMO), director general military intelligence (DGMI) and the foreign secretary briefed the ambassadors and heads of missions of different nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Welcoming the envoys, the foreign minister said that the briefing had been arranged to "inform the diplomatic corps about the massive counter-terrorism efforts that Pakistan [has] undertaken in the last 16 years, more so the developments in the last 4 years", the FO statement read.See: Pakistan’s losses in war on terror fail to impact US discourseThe attendees were provided details of operations Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad in eliminating terrorism in Pakistan and apprised of threat "emanating from safe havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan".They were briefed "on how Indian belligerence and unhelpful posturing is distracting Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts" and that the nexus of Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies is contributing to instability in the country. The FO said the diplomats were also shown evidence of an Indian campaign of "unprecedented ceasefire violations, provocations and insinuations including terrorism in the form of IED attacks against innocent civilians on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control and the Working Boundary". "These Indian activities constitute an unfortunate 'new normal' [Read More…]

Jan 102018
 
Banned INGOs free to work until final decision is taken: Ahsan Iqbal

Fata-based INGOs told to employ locals or risk expulsion The Ministry of Interior on Wednesday allowed previously disbarred International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) to keep working until a final decision is taken on their appeals.The directive was issued by Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal "keeping in view the operational affairs of the INGOs and country's image at international level."In December 2017, the federal government had ordered 21 foreign-funded groups to wrap up their activities and prepare to leave after they failed to re-register under the tougher regulations introduced two years ago.It is pertinent to mention here that INGOs whose registration is cancelled are entitled to an appeal within 90 days. If the appeal is rejected, however, they will have to leave the country within 60 days.The decision to ban the 21 INGOs had been condemned by activists, academics, non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers and civil society organisations, who said the move would have a negative impact on an already under-developed country which needed international support to improve basic necessities such as health and education.The government has long treated foreign-aid groups in the country with suspicion, fearing they could mask efforts to spy on the country.Fata-based INGOs told to employ locals or risk expulsion Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions has asked INGOs operating in Fata for their own and workers' records, alleging that these INGOs have started operating "without oversight.""These INGOs obtain funds in Fata's name but they neither utilise the funds properly nor employ any locals," Senator [Read More…]

Jan 102018
 
Two Chinese men arrested in Karachi over suspicion of ATM fraud

Karachi police on Wednesday took two Chinese men into custody from the Zainab Market area of the metropolis over suspicions they were stealing data of bank customers through ATM skimming devices.Police said they had recovered ATM skimming machines and other equipment from the possession of the suspects.The officials said the suspects had been roaming the area suspiciously close to the ATM of a private bank when they were asked to stop by bank employees.Upon being asked to stop, the two men tried to flee but were caught by citizens and handed over to the police.Saddar Superintendent of Police Tauqeer Naeem informed DawnNews that the Chinese men had also visited the same ATM three days ago."There has been a sharp rise in ATM fraud in Karachi, and the devices that the two men were carrying are similar to the devices used in other cases," SP Naeem said.He said police has gotten in touch with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the suspects had been handed over to the agency.Incidents of ATM skimming fraud have made headlines recently, with HBL Bank confirming that over Rs10 million had been stolen from 559 of its customers' accounts through compromised cards.The transactions had been traced to Indonesia, China, and other countries, HBL had said.The FIA suggests that the use of “obsolete technology” by banks for ATMs and decades-old security systems employed at ATM booths have made them an easy target for any “organised foreign group”. Click for detailed story

Jan 102018
 
Djokovic back with a bang at Kooyong

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic stretches to hit a shot during his match against Austria’s Dominic Thiem/REUTERSMELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic returned to competitive tennis with a bang on Wednesday, bringing a six-month spell on the sidelines to an end with a thumping 6-1 6-4 win over world number five Dominic Thiem at the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament.Six-times Australian Open champion Djokovic pulled out of a tournament in Abu Dhabi last week because of continuing problems with his right elbow and wore a sleeve over the joint during his round robin match against the Austrian.In a huge boost for Melbourne Park organisers, who have already lost Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori to injury, Djokovic showed no obvious discomfort as he broke Thiem three times to win the first set in just 21 minutes.“It was a great start, it feels really good to be back on the court,” a beaming Djokovic said in an on-court interview after his first competitive set since Wimbledon last year.“I can´t stop laughing outside and inside.It´s a great joy, I love this sport, it´s a great passion of mine so I missed it.“I wasn´t that nervous, although I had that matchplay attitude .. I wanted to be back on court, unfortunately the elbow wouldn´t let me last week.”The 30-year-old, who won the year´s first grand slam five times in six years until 2016, did not have it all his own way in a tighter second set and it went with serve to 5-4 when Djokovic broke again to wrap up [Read More…]

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
 
IHC upholds restrictions on Aamir Liaquat's media appearances

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday rejected a petitioner's appeal to withdraw his request for a ban on televangelist Aamir Liaquat and upheld an interim ban on the television host who is accused of using television, social media and print media to allegedly spread discord and hatred in the country.Petitioner Mohammad Abbas' lawyer, Barrister Shoaib Razaq, had argued in court in the last hearing of the case in December 2017 that Liaquat does not have any Islamic degree or certification and yet calls himself an aalim (religious scholar) — a title he seems to have appropriated since hosting television show Aalim Online.He urged the court to ban the televangelist from appearing on television and social media or using print media to spread his views."Liaquat used that show for a number of years to create social and religious divide in the country," the petitioner had alleged, adding that the televangelist has handed out fatwas (religious edicts) on kufr (cardinal sin) and treason which have put the lives of a number of people in danger.The petitioner's counsel had also pointed out that the TV show host had repeatedly violated the Pakistan Electronic Media Authority's (Pemra) code of conduct, and accused the media watchdog of failing to do its job. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who is hearing the case, had passed an interim order stopping Liaquat from appearing on various media "until further notice". During the hearing today, Justice Siddiqui rejected Abbas' appeal against the IHC's restrictions on Liaquat and upheld its [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…]

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