PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) – Officials in Pakistan say violent rainstorms in the northwest have caused at least 15 deaths and injured dozens.
Latif Khan, a senior disaster management official, says Sunday that most of the deaths from the severe weather overnight were caused by the collapse of mud and stone walls and houses. He says the heavy rains also caused flash flooding in some places.
Another official, Inayatur Rehman, said the roof of a seminary collapsed in the Bajur tribal region, killing six children and injuring nine.
In the cities of Nowshera and Peshawar, motorists were killed and wounded by falling billboards and downed electrical cables
Khan says rescue and relief operations are ongoing, meaning the toll could rise.
UNITED NATIONS, US, May 5, (AFP): The United States failed Friday to win United Nations Security Council backing for a statement rejecting as “unacceptable” remarks by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas about Jews that included “vile anti-Semitic slurs.” Kuwait, a non-permanent council member that represents the Arab Group of countries, objected to the draft statement, arguing that Abbas had already apologized and that it was onesided, diplomats said.
The proposed statement expressed the council’s “serious concern” about Abbas’ remarks, which “included vile anti-Semitic slurs and baseless conspiracy theories, and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East.” It called on him to “refrain from anti-Semitic comments.” Security Council statements are adopted by consensus of all 15 members.
The Palestinian leader triggered global outrage after he suggested that hostility toward Jews in Europe was not linked to religious intolerance, but stemmed from their “social function related to banks and interests.”
Abbas made the remarks at a meeting of the Palestinian National Council on Monday, but on Friday he offered an apology and said he condemned the Holocaust “as the most heinous crime in history.” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman immediately rejected the apology and said Abbas was a “pathetic Holocaust denier.”
US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the council’s failure to agree on the statement “only further undermines the UN’s credibility in addressing” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Disgusting anti-Semitic statements from the Palestinian leadership obviously undermine the prospects for Middle East peace,” she said. The United States has twice blocked draft statements at the council expressing concern about the violence in Gaza, in which nearly 50 people have been killed by Israeli forces. The United States is pushing ahead with plans to open its embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that could further stoke violence.
New Delhi, May 6, 2018 (AFP) – Indian police said Sunday they have arrested the main suspect in the gang rape and gruesome murder of a teenage girl, in the latest of several high-profile sexual assault cases in the country.
The local village chief has also been detained while the 16-year-old victim’s family have been given special police protection.
Dhanu Bhuiyan was found at a relative’s house where he was hiding after he and accomplices allegedly burned the girl alive Friday in a remote district of the eastern state of Jharkhand.
Police said Bhuiyan became enraged after the local village council ordered him to do 100 sit-ups and pay a 50,000 rupee ($750) fine for the victim’s gang rape. Bhuiyan and his accomplices allegedly attacked the girl’s parents before setting their house on fire with the girl inside.
“The main suspect has been arrested from a relative’s place where he was hiding. We have also set up a medical board which will conduct the (victim’s) post-mortem,” police inspector general Shambhu Thakur told AFP.
“We are on the case and we promise the family that the guilty won’t be spared.”
Thakur said the village head has also been arrested since he “announced a punishment that led to the murder”.
Village councils of local elders often settle disputes in rural India, bypassing a lengthy and expensive judicial system. Although they carry no legal weight, they exert massive influence over village communities.
So far 15 people have been arrested in the case, Thakur said, adding that the accused and the victim seemed to know each other.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das has called for stringent punishment and announced compensation of 100,000 rupees ($1,500) for the victim’s family.
He has condemned the killing as “barbaric”.
Indian authorities have faced renewed pressure to act in the wake of several horrific sexual assault cases, including the recent gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl by a group of Hindus.
Amid mounting outrage, the government has changed the law to allow execution for child rapists.
India previously tightened the law following the 2012 rape and murder of a student on a bus in New Delhi, a crime that triggered mass protests.
Some 40,000 rape cases were reported in 2016, with many more believed to go unreported because of stigma attached to sex crimes in deeply patriarchal India.
Sinha quits BJP saying democracy in danger
MUMBAI, April 22, (Agencies): One of India’s best known politicians, former finance and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, quit the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party was undermining democratic institutions. Sinha, who served as a minister in the first BJP-led governments headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has frequently spoken out over how the Hindu nationalist party has evolved since then.
“Democracy in India is in grave danger,” Sinha said, announcing his decision to quit at a meeting of a new political action group attended by several opposition politicians in Patna, the capital of the northern state of Bihar. “From today, my relationship with BJP is over. I’m severing my ties with the party,” Sinha said. “I’m not going to be a member of any other political party,” he said, adding, “My friends and I will lead a movement to save democracy in India.” Sinha delivered his broadside as Modi prepares to lead the BJP into a general election due by next year, with high hopes of securing a second term. Aged 80 and no longer active in electoral politics, Sinha has criticised the Modi government on a range of issues, most recently through an open letter published earlier this week.
In that letter, Sinha urged the prime minister to speak and act more forcefully on vital issues, including recent horrific rapes that have refl ected badly on the BJP. In one case party members had appeared to support the Hindu men accused of raping an eight-year-old Muslim girl, and in another case in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh a BJP lawmaker is alleged to have raped a teenager.
Sinha also said that India’s religious minorities had become alienated, and the weakest sections of society, the scheduled castes and tribes had been “exposed to atrocities as never before” and the guarantees given to them in the constitution were threatened. Sinha, whose son is a junior minister for aviation, derided the government for making “tall claims” over India’s status as the world’s fastest growing major economy.
Aside from the plight of farmers and small businesses, high youth unemployment, and an increase in banks’ bad loans, Sinha noted savings and investment had fallen drastically over the past four years. Sinha had also taken issue with the government over Chief Justice Dipak Misra. Four Supreme Court judges made an unprecedented move by publicly airing their misgivings over Misra in January.
On Friday, seven opposition parties moved to have Misra impeached for bending to political pressure and other shortfalls in his conduct.
Th e internet is being cut for hours on end in Jammu as authorities try to halt protests that have grown in the winter capital since the rape-murder of an eight year old girl opened a new front in India’s Hindu-Muslim divide. With near daily protests held across the country over the brutal killing, Jammu police say the digital clampdown is to halt the spread of “rumours” that infl ame tensions.
Much damage has already been done in the city. Eight Hindu men are on trial for the rape and murder of the Muslim girl, or for trying to destroy evidence. On the streets, Muslims are demanding justice while Hindu radicals say the inquiry is biased. Th reats have been made and state politicians forced to resign. “Hang the real guilty,” read banners carried by about 100 mainly Hindu protesters on a Jammu road on Friday. Th e group were demanding a new investigation into the events in Kathua district about 60 kms (35 miles) from Jammu.
More than 40 speakers from 16 countries and modern history makers are taking part in IGCF
· Event is expected to welcome around 3,000 experts, government officials and media and communication professionals
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, March 28, 2018, (AETOSWire): Sean Spicer, former Whitehouse Press Secretary (2017), Nobel Peace Laureate Lech Walesa, former Polish President who played a leading role in the fall of communism in the Eastern Bloc, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia are among the many modern history makers speaking at Sharjah’s International Government Communication Forum that opened Wednesday (March 28).
Held with the support of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the event is being hosted by the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC), a subsidiary of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau, from March 28-29 at Expo Centre Sharjah.
The 7th edition of the IGCF, being held under the theme ‘Digital Millennium… Where To?, is expected to welcome more than 3,000 communication experts, decision makers, government officials, government communication professionals, civil society organisations media personnel and students of communication and journalism.
Around 40 speakers from 16 countries, including global industry influencers and international policy advisors are taking part in the Forum, presenting sessions on subjects as diverse as ‘Digital Diplomacy in Government Communication’, ‘Media Charisma’ and ‘New Media in Serving Humanitarian Issues’.
The event features 18 panel discussions and inspiring sessions, 6 interactive talks, 4 brainstorming sessions for children and young adults and 7 workshops for journalists, government communication experts and visitors to the Forum.
Launched in 2012 under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the event aims to highlight best practices to achieve more efficient and effective communication between the government and the public – a field in which the Emirate of Sharjah has played a leading regional role in terms of digital integration and smart government.
Jeddah — A significant number of expatriate families is preparing to leave the Kingdom in the coming weeks after the end of final examinations of their children.
Final exams in many community schools are ending in March and the school year in private schools is ending in May-June.
For most children, born and brought up in the Kingdom, saying goodbye to the country they consider their home is a tough call.
It is psychologically and emotionally draining for these children who are often found discussing among themselves the trauma of leaving Saudi Arabia.
“Nearly half of my class friends are saying that they will leave after the exams,” said Areeba Ahmed, an Indian student of grade 3 in a local school.
The imposition of dependent’s fee is the prime reason for most families to leave the Kingdom for good.
Private and community schools in the Kingdom are set to witness an exodus of students after the examinations.
“In some classes more than half of the pupils have informed that they are leaving the Kingdom,” said an official of a leading school in Jeddah.
Some schools are asking parents about the number of children who will continue classes and how many wish to leave.
“We are required to ascertain the strength of students for logistical reasons,” said a source in another leading school which is paying a huge rent for its premises.
The shrinking enrolment and increase in operational cost is impacting the very existence of many private schools.
Some schools are demanding a lump sum amount instead of monthly fee while others are offering incentives to stop children from quitting the school.
The enforcement of new building rules and the increased Ajeer fee are other factors that have affected many private schools.
“I have spent a wonderful time with my family in Kingdom. It is now time to send them back as I am not able to bear the dependent’s fee,” said Mohammed Nazeer, an Indian hailing from Hyderabad in Telangana.
THANK heavens Theresa May gave a warm welcome to the illustrious Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Majesty Mohammad bin Salman. For it is meet and right that she should do so. His Royal Highness is a courageous Arab reformer, keen to drag his wealthy nation into the 21st century in a raft of promises — women’s rights, massive economic restructuring, moderate Islam, further intelligence gathering on behalf of the West and an even more vital alliance in the “War on Terror”.
Thank God, however, that Theresa May — in her infinite wisdom — is not going to waste her time greeting an aggressive Arab crown prince whose outrageous war in Yemen is costing thousands of lives and tainting the United Kingdom with his shame by purchasing millions of dollars in weapons from May to use against the people of Yemen, who is trying to destroy his wealthy Arab brothers in Qatar and doing his best to persuade the US, Britain and sundry other Westerners to join the Saudi war against the Shias of the Middle East.
You see the problem? When it comes to money, guns and power, we will cuddle up to any Arab autocrat, especially if our masters in Washington, however insane, feel the same way about him — and it will always be a “him”, won’t it? And we will wash our hands with them if or when they have ceased to be of use, or no longer buy our weapons or run out of cash or simply get overthrown. Thus I can feel some sympathy for young Mohammad.
I have to add — simply in terms of human rights — that anyone who has to listen to Theresa ‘Let’s Get On With It’ May for more than a few minutes has my profound sympathy. The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, must surely feel the same impatience when he listens to the patently dishonest ramblings of his opposite number. Boris Johnson’s contempt and then love for the Balfour Declaration in the space of less than 12 months is recognised in the Arab world as the cynical charade that it is.
Human rights groups, Amnesty and the rest are angrily calling Crown Prince Mohammad to account this week. So are the inevitable protesters. Any constable who raises a baton to keep order will be “doing the Saudis’ work”, we can be sure. But I fear that the crown prince should be far more concerned by the government which is now grovelling to his leadership. For he is dealing with a Western power, in this case the Brits. And the only advice he should be given in such circumstances is: mind your back.
A walk, now, down memory lane. When Qadhafi overthrew King Idris, the Foreign Office smiled upon him. A fresh face, a safe pair of hands with an oil-bearing nation whose wealth we might consume, we thought Qadhafi might be our man. The Americans even tipped him off about a counter-coup, just as we much later helped Qadhafi round up his opponents for torture. Then he decided to be an anti-colonial nationalist and eventually got mixed up with the IRA and a bomb in a West Berlin nightclub — and bingo, he became a super-terrorist. Yet come the “War on Terror” and the invasion of Iraq, Qadhafi was kissed by the venerable Blair and became a super-statesman again. Until the 2011 revolution, at which point he had to become a super-terrorist once more, bombed by Nato and murdered by his own people.
Talking of Iraq, Saddam had a similar experience. At first we rather liked the chap and the Americans even tipped him off on the location of his communist opponents. He was a head-chopper, to be sure, but as long as he invaded the right country, he was a super-statesman. Hence we helped him in his invasion of Iran in 1980 but declared him a super-terrorist in 1990 when he invaded the wrong country: Kuwait. And he ended up, like Qadhafi, killed by his own people, albeit that the Americans set up the court which decided to hang him.
Yasser Arafat — not that we even think of him these days — was a Palestinian super-terrorist in Beirut. He was the centre of world terror until he shook hands with Yitzhak Rabin and Bill Clinton, at which point he became a super-statesman. But the moment he refused to deviate from the Oslo agreement and accept Israeli hegemony over the West Bank — he was never offered “90 per cent” of it, as the American media claimed — he was on the way to super-terrorism again. Surrounded and bombarded in his Ramallah hovel, he was airlifted to a Paris military hospital where he conveniently died. The Israelis had already dubbed him “our bin Laden”, a title they later tried to confer on Arafat’s luckless successor Mahmoud Abbas — who was neither a super-terrorist nor a super-statesman but something worse: a failure.
It should not be necessary to run through the other Arab transmogrification from evil to good to evil again. Nasser, who helped to overthrow the corrupt King Farouk, quickly became a super-terrorist when he nationalised the Suez Canal and was called the “Mussolini of the Nile” by Eden — a slightly measly comparison when you remember that Saddam became the “Hitler of the Tigris” in 1990.
Khomeini was a potential super-statesman in his Paris exile when the Shah was overthrown. Then he became a super-terrorist-in-chief once he established the Islamic Republic. The French Jacobins thought that Hafez al-Assad was a potential super-statesman but decided he was a super-terrorist when Bashar al-Assad — lionised in France after his father’s death — went to war on his opponents, thus becoming a super-terrorist himself. The Brits quickly shrugged off their loyalties to Omani and Qatari emirs when their sons staged coups against them.
Thus Mohammad bin Salman might be reminded by Adel al-Jubeir as he settles down in London: “Memento homo”, the gladiator’s reminder to every emperor that he is only “a man”. What if the Yemen war is even bloodier, what if the Saudi military become increasingly disenchanted with the war — which is almost certainly why the crown prince staged a putsch among his commanders last month — and what if his Vision 2030 proves a Saudi South Sea Bubble? What if the humiliated and vexatious princes and billionaires he humbled in the Riyadh Ritz Hotel come to take their revenge? What if — dare one speak his name? — a future British prime minister reopened the Special Branch enquiry into the Al-Yamamah arms contract? And, while we’re on the subject, what if someone discovers the routes by which US weapons reached the militant Islamic State group and their chums after 2014?
Or a real war breaks out with Iran? Please note, no mention here of the Sunni-Shia struggle, the 2016 killing of Shia opponents in Saudi Arabia — most described as “terrorists”, most of them decapitated — and absolutely no reference to the fact that Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist doctrines are the very inspiration of IS and Al Qaeda and all the other jihadi mumbo-jumbo cults that have devastated the Middle East.
Nope. The truth is, you can’t just tell who your friends are these days. Wasn’t it the Brits who double-crossed the Saudi monarchy’s predecessors in Arabia by promising them an Arab empire but grabbing Palestine and Transjordan and Iraq for themselves? Wasn’t it the Brits who published the Balfour Declaration and then tried to betray the Jews to whom they’d promised a homeland and the Arabs whose lands they had promised to protect? Wasn’t it — since we are talking autocrats — the Brits who gave Ceausescu an honorary knighthood and then took it back when he was deposed? We gave Mugabe the same gong and then took it back. Incredibly, we gave one to Mussolini too. Yes, we took it back in 1940.
So have a care, Crown Prince Mohammad. Don’t trust perfidious Albion. Watch your back at home, but also abroad. Thanks for all the arms purchases. And thanks for all the intelligence bumph to help us keep track of the lads who are brainwashed with the Wahabi faith which you abide by. But don’t — whatever you do — be tempted by an honorary knighthood.
—By arrangement with The Independent
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2018