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Dozens rally in Kabul against Iran’s president

KABUL (Pajhwok): Dozens of people staged a protest demonstration in Kabul against Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s recent remarks about dams’ construction in Afghanistan.

President Rouhani has voiced concern at the Afghan government’s plans to build more dams on the country’s rivers for agriculture development and electricity production.

Rouhani, during an international conference last week in Tehran, the capital of Iran, said: “Dams’ construction in Afghanistan and Sistan-Baluchestan Province (in Iran) play a role in the desiccation of rivers.”

Rouhani further added that “people will be forced to leave their homes; civilizations will be destroyed.” More than a hundred members of Hezb-i-Musharikat Milli (HMM) led by Najibullah Kabuli carried out a protest march from Shahr-i-Naw Park area until the vicinity of the Iranian Embassy in Kabul.

Najibullah Kabuli, addressing the demonstrators, said: “Iran equip and train terrorists, Taliban and Haqqani Network besides persuading some political circles within the Afghan government through financial support.”

Earlier similar rallies were carried out by civil society organizations against the Iranian president’s remarks. The protesters had suggested solution to the water issue through diplomatic channels and had asked Rouhani to apologize to the Afghans.

According to civil society institutes, the Afghan government should accelerate work on Kajaki, Salma, Kamal Khan and Bakhshabad hydropower dams, besides ensuring their full security as people stood by their security forces in defending of the country and its interests.

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India holds naval exercises with US, Japan

NEW DELHI (AFP): India began holding naval exercises with the United States and Japan off its south coast on Monday, seeking to forge closer military ties to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

The exercises come as Indian and Chinese troops face off in a remote and strategically sensitive part of the Himalayas where India, China and Bhutan meet.

India has a longstanding territorial dispute with its northern neighbour, which is also expanding its naval presence in the region.

It is the fourth consecutive year Japan´s Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) has taken part in the Malabar Exercise, conducted annually by the US and India in the Bay of Bengal since 1992.

In a statement, the US said the exercises had “grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific”.

The US navy is fielding the USS Nimitz, the world´s largest aircraft carrier, for the drills which go on till July 17.

China has stepped up its activities in the Indian Ocean in recent years, building ports in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The area also features heavily in Beijing´s new One Belt One Road initiative to revive ancient trade routes from Asia, which has caused concerns in New Delhi.

Troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbours have for weeks been engaged in a stand-off on a disputed section of land high near what is known as the trijunction, where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet.

China has alleged that the Indian troops are on its soil, but both Bhutan and India say the area in question is Bhutanese territory.

The maritime exercises come weeks after US President Donald Trump declared that ties between Washington and New Delhi had “never been stronger” as he held his first talks with India´s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Beijing already claims large swathes of the resource-rich South China Sea and East China Sea, putting it in competition with Japan and other countries in the region.

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Gilani expresses concern over Pak, India tension on LoC

SRINAGAR (Online): Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Gilani, has expressed serious concern over the increasing tension between Pakistan and India on the Line of Control.

According to KMS, Syed Ali Gilani in a statement issued in Srinagar said that the tension between Pakistan and India could lead to a war between the two countries in which no one would be a winner.

The APHC Chairman said that the unresolved Kashmir dispute had been a permanent threat to peace in South Asia and the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir was a sore wound for both India and Pakistan. “It is not a mere border issue between the two countries.

Kashmir relates to 15 million people and unless the aspirations of the Kashmiri people are taken into consideration, no peace and tranquility is possible in the South Asian region,” he said. He expressed grief over the loss of precious human lives along the LoC.

Syed Ali Gilani condemned the Indian authorities for their haughty and stubborn approach towards the Kashmir dispute and said that they were relying on their military might and their unrealistic attitude was the main obstacle in its peaceful and amicable settlement. “We (Kashmiris) are peaceful people. We have no enmity with Indian people nor (do we) nourish any animosity against their faith. We are pursuing our fundamental right.

However, Indian rulers are denying our right which they have promised to us on international forums,” he added. The APHC Chairman appealed to the international community to help resolve the lingering dispute in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations for ensuring durable peace in the region.

Continued use of pellets on Iok condemned: Pellet Victims Association (PVA) has strongly condemned the use of pellet guns on the peaceful demonstrations in Kupwara, Shopian, Pulwama and other areas of the Valley on July 8, the first martyrdom anniversary of Burhan Wani.

According to KMS, the PVA spokesman in a statement issued in Srinagar said that Javed Mir, Raja Waseem Najar and Irfan Ahmed Malik of Kupwara received pellets in both eyes and were struggling for their eyesight in hospital.

He said that over a dozen women were also injured in the pellet firing. Facebook has blocked the official Facebook page of ‘Kashmir Ink’ – a weekly from the publishers of Greater Kashmir.

According to KMS, “You’re temporarily blocked from posting,” Greater Kashmir in a report quoted an official message from Facebook. “This temporary block will last for 24 hours, and you won’t be able to post on Facebook until it’s finished.”

Facebook blocked the page Kashmir Ink Facebook after it had posted the cover image of its latest issue featuring popular youth leader, Burhan Wani.

Meanwhile, an independent journalist from Ganderbal district told media that his Facebook account was also blocked after he updated his display picture having Burhan Wani on it.

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Sushma hits out at Sartaj Aziz over Pak visa for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s Mother

NEW DELHI  (INP): Indian External Affirs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday used strong words to hit out at Pakistan’s foreign affairs head Sartaj Aziz for not having “the courtesy even to acknowledge” her letter to him urging he grants a visa to Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife.

Ms Swaraj tweeted that she had written a “personal letter” to Mr Aziz on the request of Avantika Jadhav to meet her son. “However, Mr Aziz has not shown the courtesy even to acknowledge my letter,” she posted.

Mr Jadhav, a former navy man and RAW agent arrested by Pakistan last year for spying, was sentenced to death by a military court earlier this year. Multiple requests from New Delhi for consular access have been denied. India has moved the International Court of Justice, which on May 18 restrained Pakistan from executing the death sentence.

The minister’s tweets followed reports that a Pakistani cancer patient had been denied a medical visa for her treatment in India. 25-year-old Faiza Tanveer, who has an aggressive tumour in her mouth, has reportedly claimed that she had applied for a medical visa to India but her request was rejected.

According to her family, the reason given was “deteriorating ties”. The Foreign Minister tweeted: “I have my sympathies for all Pakistan nationals seeking medical visa for their treatment in India.

I am sure Mr.Sartaj Aziz also has consideration for the nationals of his country. All that we require is his recommendation for the grant of medical visa to Pakistan nationals.” “I see no reason why should he hesitate to give his recommendation for nationals of his own country.”

The minister talked about how India too has a visa application pending “for an Indian national Mrs. Avantika Jadhav who wants to meet her son in Pakistan”. It takes a beat to realise she’s talking about the mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian national sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan “spying”.

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SBP sets rules for banks wanting to be fully sharia compliant

KARACHI (PPI): Pakistan’s central bank has issued guidelines covering how banks that want to be fully-fledged sharia compliant can achieve that status, setting a three-year time frame for applicants to complete the process.

The rules aim to accelerate the growth of Islamic banking in the Muslim-majority country. The sector enjoys double-digit growth but lags conventional banks in terms of size and profitability.

Islamic banks follow religious principles such as bans on interest and pure monetary speculation, ruling out the use of interest-based financial instruments such as bonds and treasury bills.

Eligible applicants must have existing Islamic finance operations and the conversion process must start within six months of approval, the central bank said in a circular.

After the conversion of conventional branches, the applicant can then apply for a full-fledged Islamic banking license.

Converting back to conventional banking operations will not be allowed, the circular said.

Such conversions are rare in Islamic finance but are seen as a way to increase the scale of Islamic banking and widen its reach into under-served rural areas.

Islamic banking in Pakistan, the second most populous Muslim-majority nation after Indonesia, currently includes five full-fledged Islamic banks and 16 conventional banks offering Islamic financial products.

As of March, they held assets worth 1.9 trillion rupees ($17.9 billion), a 16 percent increase from a year earlier and 11.7 percent of total banking assets.

However, their capitalization and profitability ratios remain below the industry average in Pakistan.

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Qatar Petroleum and Total to launch joint venture

DOHA (AFP): State-owned Qatar Petroleum and French energy giant Total will formally launch a 25-year joint venture to develop the Al Shaheen oil field this week, the companies said Monday.

The North Oil Company, to be launched on Tuesday, will be made up of a 70 percent stake from QP and a 30 percent stake from Total, which is taking over operations from Maersk Oil, according to a statement released by Qatar Petroleum.

The site it will develop is located some 80 kilometres (50 miles) off Qatar s northeast coast and lies over the North Field, one of the world s largest oil and gas fields.

While the contract was announced last year, the launch comes amid the worst crisis to hit Qatar, the world s largest exporter of natural gas, in years.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain last month cut diplomatic, political, and economic ties with Qatar, which they accuse of supporting Islamist extremism.

Qatar denies the charges.

Despite its regional isolation, Qatar has said it can survive what it has called a “blockade”. Qatar Petroleum last week announced it would increase natural gas production by 30 percent by 2024.

Central bank Governor Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saoud al-Thani also told US media at the weekend that Qatar has $340 billion in reserves to weather the crisis.

The signing of the Total contract also comes amid reports that Saudi Arabia and the UAE may pressure international companies to either do business with them or with Qatar.

The deal comes in the same month that Total defied US pressure to sign a multi-billion gas contract with Iran on July 3, the first by a European firm with Tehran in more than a decade.

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Jay-Z extends return to music with tour plan

NEW YORK (AFP): Rap mogul Jay-Z on Monday announced a tour across North America, extending his return to music after releasing an introspective and widely acclaimed album.

Jay-Z, who has devoted the past several years to business projects, will open the tour October 27 in Anaheim, California, and play a total of 31 dates across the United States and Canada through December, promoters said in an announcement.

The rapper will preview his tour with two previously announced headlining sets in September – Made in America, a Philadelphia festival that will partially raise money for charity, and The Meadows festival in New York.

Jay-Z last toured in 2014 in a series of shows with his wife, pop superstar Beyonce.

The tour announcement comes 10 days after Jay-Z released his 13th studio album, “4:44,” highlights of which include the rapper apologizing to Beyonce for infidelity.

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Mahira Khan dedicates international award to Pakistan

KARACHI (Web Desk): Pakistani actress Mahira Khan made the country proud after she won two awards at the 8th Beirut International Awards Festival (BIAF) held on Sunday night.

Speaking exclusively to, the actress said, “When you get awarded internationally you feel like your country is getting awarded. You are there because of the love and respect the people of your country have given you. Obviously, it’s the hard work we put in and our efforts get recognised but I am ‘Mahira Khan from Pakistan’ always.”

 She called it an award for her country and won over the hearts of her audience by trying to say “I love you all” in Arabic.

Mahira looked flawless in a Nicolas Jebran couture gown, her signature side swept hair, and nude-pink makeup.

The actor radiated elegance and grace on the red carpet.  She made it a point to share her victory with her fans on Twitter.

It comes as no surprise that the actress continues to get international recognition. She’s made headlines across the globe ever since she shared the silver screen with Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan in Raees.

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‘Namaste London’ sequel: Akshay Kumar out, Arjun Kapoor in

NEW DELI (Web Desk): The 2007-hit ‘Namaste London’ is set for a sequel, but this film will differ vastly from its predecessor. The massive success of the movie compelled director Vipul Shah to initiate the project ‘Namaste England’.

The sequel will have a new cast, with veteran actor Akshay Kumar replaced by newcomer Arjun Kapoor; not only that the leading lady will be new as well, replacing then newcomer Katrina Kaif.

The juiciest lead on the sequel is that it will continue with the theme based on the lives of expats, while keeping its Punjabi-Brit streak alive. Most of the film will be shot in Punjab and London.

Arjun Kapoor was excited to be a part of the sequel, being a hardcore fan of the first film.

Reportedly, Kapoor from his side tried to make sure first that Akshay had no reservations with him being the veteran actor’s replacement. Fortunately for the newcomer, Akshay and Vipul both mutually agreed to the decision to include Arjun as the lead.