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KP Governor House opens door for public for the first time

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR:The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Sunday opened the historic Governor’s House Peshawar for general public.

The provincial government announced to open the palatial building to public on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

A spokesman of the Governor House said initially the Governor’s House would remain open on Sundays. On the first day of its opening, students of two girls collages would visit the building, however, it would be open to families in future, PTV news reported.

Another historic structure Balahisar Fort, which currently serves as the Frontier Corps (FC) headquarters, would also be opened to general public.

On its opening day, students while visiting the building said, “We are very excited to have a chance to visit the Governor House,” Another student said, “This is the first time we have a chance to see what is inside the building. I am looking forward to it.”

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Sikh community protests against India following Sushma Swaraj’s UNGA speech

NEW YORK (AFP): The Sikh community protested outside the monumental building of United Nations (UN) Headquarters following Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj’s striking speech at the UN General Assembly session on Saturday.

Railing against India, the Sikh community raised slogans in favor of Khalistan and giving it a status of a new state.

The activists reminded India that their atrocities over Sikhs can not last longer, “the day is not far when a new state of Sikhs will be established”.

Calling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a killer of Sikhs and Muslims, the demonstrators demanded India to hold a referendum in 2020 in entire Punjab.

“If referendum is conducted then 90 percent of the Sikh community will vote for a separate state,” the protesters said.

Moreover, Sushma Swaraj, during her speech tried to mislead the international community by accusing Pakistan of sabotaging all opportunities for peace talks.

“We are accused of sabotaging the process of talks. This is a complete lie. We believe that talks are the only rational means to resolve the most complex of disputes. Talks with Pakistan have begun many times. If they stopped, it was only because of Pakistan’s behavior,” said Sushma Swaraj during her speech at UNGA.

The Indian minister acknowledged that Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi suggesting a meeting between foreign ministers in New York and that India accepted the proposal but again blamed Pakistan for India’s own refusal to hold talks.

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Indonesian quake toll jumps to 832 dead as rescuers struggle

PALU, Indonesia (Reuters): The toll from an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia soared on Sunday to 832 confirmed dead, with authorities fearing it will only climb as rescuers struggle to reach outlying communities cut off from communications and help.

Dozens of people were reported to be trapped in the rubble of two hotels and a mall in the city of Palu, which was hit by waves as high as six meters (20 feet) following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Friday.

A young woman was pulled alive from the rubble of the city’s Roa Roa Hotel, where up to 60 people were believed trapped. Hundreds of people gathered at the wrecked mall searching for loved ones.

With most of the confirmed deaths from Palu, authorities are bracing for much worse as reports filter in from outlying areas, in particular, Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and closer to the epicenter of the quake, and two other districts.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the toll could rise into the thousands.

President Joko Widodo visited a housing complex flattened when the quake liquefied the soil it stood on, and called for patience.

I know there are many problems that need to be solved in a short time, including communications,” he said.

The ruins would be rebuilt, he said, as aftershocks rattled the region 48 hours after the quake.

Scores of residents shouted “we’re hungry, we need food” as soldiers distributed rations from a truck in one neighborhood, while elsewhere television showed pictures of people making off with clothes and other items from a wrecked mall.

Internal affairs minister Tjahjo Kumolo, asked about reports of sporadic looting, said he had ordered authorities to help people get food and drink and businesses would be compensated.

National disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference the affected area was bigger than initially thought, though rescuers only had good access to one of four affected districts – Palu.

We haven’t received reports from the three other areas. Communication is still down, power is still out. We don’t know for sure what is the impact,” he said.

There are many areas where the search and rescue teams haven’t been able to reach,” Nugroho said, adding that teams needed heavy equipment to move broken concrete.

Five foreigners – three French, one South Korean and one Malaysian – were among the missing, he said. The 832 fatalities included people crushed in collapsing buildings and swept to their death by tsunami waves.

About 16,000 displaced people needed clean water, Nugroho said, while 540 were injured, many getting treatment in tents.

Donggala town has been extensively damaged, with houses swept into the sea and bodies trapped in debris, according to a Metro TV reporter on the scene. The Red Cross said it had heard nothing from the region.

This is extremely worrying,” it said in a statement.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government had allocated 560 billion rupiah ($37.58 million) for disaster recovery, media reported.

QUESTIONS ABOUT WARNINGS

Indonesia, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, is all too familiar with deadly earthquakes and tsunamis. In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean, killing 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Questions are sure to be asked why warning systems set up around the country after that disaster appear to have failed on Friday.

The meteorological and geophysics agency BMKG issued a tsunami warning after the quake but lifted it 34 minutes later, drawing criticism it had been too hasty. But officials said they estimated the waves had hit while the warning was in force.

Hundreds of people had gathered for a festival on Palu’s beach when the water surged ashore. A disaster official said the tsunami traveled across the sea at speeds of 800 kph (500 mph) before striking the shore.

Video footage on social media showed water and whirls of debris rushing in as people scattered.

Palu is at the head of a narrow bay, about 10 km long and 2 km wide, which had “amplified” the force of the wave as it was funneled toward the city, a geophysics agency official said.

Questions have been raised about what caused the tsunami, with speculation an underwater landslide was to blame.

The BMKG said its closest sensor, about 200 km (125 miles) from Palu, had only recorded an “insignificant”, 6 cm (2.5 inches) wave, while researchers said it was surprising the quake, which was recorded as a “strike-slip”, when tectonic plates move horizontally against each other rather than vertically, had generated a tsunami.

It may be that the shock of the quake triggered a landslide underwater,” Abdul Muhari, who heads a tsunami research team that advises the government, told Reuters.

Palu’s airport was damaged in the quake, but had reopened for limited commercial flights, authorities said.

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Palestinians ask UN court to revoke US Jerusalem embassy move

JERUSALEM (AFP): Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said Saturday the Palestinians have petitioned the UN’s top court, alleging that the US inauguration of an embassy in Jerusalem was illegal.

The Palestinians have filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) “for violating international law by moving its embassy in Israel to the occupied city of Jerusalem”, he said, quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

In December, US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Palestinian claims on part of the city and breaking with longstanding US policy.

Palestinians have since refused all contact with the Trump administration.

The US embassy was transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, a day marked by mass protest in the Gaza Strip, where about 60 Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli fire in border clashes.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem along with the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War and later declared the entire city its united capital.

Palestinians claim the predominantly Arab eastern area as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

UN resolutions call on countries to refrain from moving their embassies to the city until its status is resolved in an Israeli-Palestinian deal.

“The ICJ was asked to declare that moving the embassy to occupied Jerusalem constituted a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” WAFA wrote in English.

The court said the Palestinian suit, filed on Friday, called on the body “to order the United States of America to withdraw the diplomatic mission from the Holy City of Jerusalem and to conform to the international obligations flowing from the Vienna Convention”.

An official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said it was the first time Palestinians had petitioned the court against the United States.

In November 2012, the UN General Assembly recognised the Palestinian Authority as a “non-member observer state”.

This allowed the Palestinians to join UN bodies such as the ICJ and also the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is a separate institution.

Previously, the Palestinians had asked the UN General Assembly to seek a ruling on their behalf over Israel’s West Bank separation barrier.

In 2004, the court issued a non-binding ruling that the network of walls and fences was illegal and called for sections to be dismantled.

Israel said it had no intention of complying.

The ICC was set up in 2002 with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the world’s worst crimes including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Neither the United States nor Israel are signatories to the ICC.

Earlier this month, Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians had filed a petition there against Israel over its pending demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank.

They have previously filed suit to the ICC claiming Israeli war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

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How will the 73rd UN General Assembly meeting go down in history

Denis Bolotsky

For one week, world leaders took the stage of the most powerful international organization on the planet to voice their concerns and to address issues of utmost importance to their countries during the UN General Assembly debate.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a news conference at the UN Headquarters to talk about the results of his US trip. For Russia’s top diplomat this venue is a familiar place. He spent more than 10 years in New York in the 1990’s and the early 2000’s working as Russia’s representative to the UN.

At a news conference, Lavrov shared his views on a range of issues, such as peace in the Middle East, Iran’s nuclear dossier and the situation in Syria. He frequently switched from Russian to English, and almost had the audience rolling in the isles following his remarks about “fake news” and “Russian meddling.” When asked whether Russia was trying to “lure” South Africa’s Boer and Afrikaner minorities, Lavrov joked that Moscow just didn’t have time for that.

Every year the list of “buzzwords” at the UN General Assembly changes. In 2018 “Iran,” “DPRK” and “Syria” dominated the discussion, and the first thing that probably jumped to the minds of many observers was that “Russia” wasn’t in the vocabulary of US politicians and their allies, aside from some positive mentions.

A Russian senator, the head of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, told Sputnik that he was surprised by this sudden change of heart among Western leaders, which became particularly noticeable during Donald Trump’s General Debate speech: “I do hope that the speech of Mr. Trump was a kind of a confirmation that the American President personally, and, probably his team, are still ready to seek understanding with Russia, and, at least continue talking with Russia, which is, definitely the only way to proceed.”

Russian delegation had a busy schedule during this year’s General Assembly. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines. Besides the acting politicians, he had a chance to talk to those who left office decades ago, but know a lot about Russo-US relations.

Meanwhile, Trump’s administration seems be focused mostly on pressuring Iran. Russia, France and other key international players opposed America’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, but it seems like their words are falling onto deaf ears.

The US presidential foreign policy advisor Michael Bolton, Trump’s close ally Rudy Giuliani and other well-known figures recently have gone on long tirades about the “imminent regime change” in Tehran, while various Iranian-American anti-government groups rallied in front of the UN headquarters in New York.

While Washington’s attempts to intimidate the Islamic Republic are far from being successful, the situation on the Korean Peninsula looked much more promising for Trump and his administration, so the North Korean leader, who was once called “Rocket Man” by the US commander-in-chief, is now being described by the White House almost as a role model.

Secretary of State Pompeo is preparing for a trip to North Korea to organize the next Trump-Kim summit, although some critics have already pointed out that his previous journey to Pyongyang didn’t go quite well. America’s role in the Korean peace process was clearly noticed by world leaders, but Moscow and Beijing have criticized the US for the lack of trust-building efforts.

Sergei Lavrov is certain that positive developments in the DPRK will have to be reinforced by easing the pressure on Pyongyang. He sided with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the issue. The 73rd UN General Assembly started on September 18. Besides the General Debate sessions, world leaders also held meetings on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as on global politics, economics and environmental issues.

 

 

 

 

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Federal cabinet’s decisions

It is worth appreciation that in sharp contrast to the style of leadership of Nawaz Sharif, who did not give importance to holding cabinet meetings for decision making, Prime Minister Imran Khan has reset the precedent of regularly convening the meetings of his cabinet and some time its periodicity is increased. He gives maxim time to the day- to-day affairs of the state. The federal cabinet in its Thursday meeting took decision about formulating a policy about Afghan Refugees; pursuing tax defaulters; and proscribing Al-Rehman Trust.

A few days ago the Prime Minister hinted in his statement about the possibility of giving nationality to Aghan Refugees, which invited mixed response from the leadership of Pukhtun and Bloch Nationalist parties. Head of Baluchistan Nationalist Party, Sardar Akhtar Mengal opposed the idea of granting citizenship to Afghan refugees for the cogent reason that it will create a demographic imbalance in the restive Baluchistan province. The Chief of Awami National Party, Asfandiayr Wali ridiculed it by saying that Afghan Nationals do not need charity of granting nationality. Such a sweeping statement reflected his lost love for the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The repeatedly extended deadline for the stay of Afghan Refugees expires today; however, the government will issue a notification for extending it for further three months. While briefing the media after cabinet meeting, federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the legal stay period of Afghan Refugees will end in June, 2019. “Pakistan has two options. Either to continue with status quo or move forward to resolve the issue once for all,” the information minister told.

The data about the crimes like murders, kidnapping for ransom, money extortion from businessmen and terror attacks reveal the involvement of Afghan Refugees in these social evils. It is an established fact that terrorists from their sanctuaries sneaked into Pakistan, get morphed with Afghan refugees and carry out terrorist attacks. Before taking any decision about the fate of Afghan Refugees thorough consultation with state institution should be made. The fencing along Pak-Afghan border signifies curbing of illegal cross border movement of Afghan nationals and this factor must not be ignored. The repatriation of Afghan Refugees is on and 42000 Afghans have gone home over the past six month. The repatriation process needs to be expedited.

The Afghan nationals who hold permit of residency or the ones who are unregistered fall within the category of war refugees who must go back when war ends in Afghanistan through a political settlement, the prospects of which are emerging. Germany and other member countries of the European have decided to send back the war refugees from Syria and Afghanistan when peace returns to these war ravaged countries. How can a virtually bankrupt country like Pakistan afford the luxury of giving citizenship to 24 million plus refugees?

Launching of robust campaign against tax defaulters is long overdue. But there is a glaring contradiction in the government policy of expanding the tax base. The non-filers have been rewarded by allowing them to purchase expensive vehicles and valuable immovable assets by virtue of amended finance bill tabled in the parliament. There seems no justification to delay the usage of available data of 3.8 million wealthy people, who are out the tax net. The World Bank has repeatedly insisted on bringing these people into the tax net. In President Musharraf era, 2.4 million people paid direct taxes and now one million people pay tax out of 220 million. Poor people of the country are paying a barrage of regressive indirect taxes.

The futile modus operendi of proscribing trust organisations, which afterwards starts functioning under new nomenclatures, will not convince the international community about the decisive action of new leadership in Pakistan against the proscribed organisations. The half hearted actions against the proscribed organisations banned militant outfits and their political umbrellas and money laundering will not suffice to build a case for removing Pakistan from the FATF grey-list. A clear and comprehensive policy against money laundering and terror financing must be worked out and implemented by taking on board the opposition parties so that the entire political leadership should take its ownership.

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Trump says he and Kim Jong Un ‘in love’

NEW YOK (AFP): US President Donald Trump said he and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un have fallen “in love” –- their bromance fuelled by “beautiful letters” he received from the leader of the nuclear-armed state.

Trump on Saturday elevated his recent praise of Kim to new heights, at a West Virginia rally in support of local candidates for his Republican Party.

“And then we fell in love — OK? No really. He wrote me beautiful letters and they’re great letters. We fell in love,” Trump told the crowd.

On Monday at the United Nations General Assembly Trump lauded the North Korean strongman — who is accused by the UN and others of widespread human rights abuses — as “terrific”, one year after Trump eviscerated Kim from the same platform.

Trump followed those comments by saying Wednesday he had received an “extraordinary letter” from Kim, and sounded optimistic about prospects for a second summit between the two leaders “fairly quickly.”

Trump used his debut address at the UN General Assembly 12 months ago to threaten to “totally destroy” North Korea and belittle its leader as “rocket man,” prompting Kim to respond by calling the president a “mentally deranged US dotard.”

Those were among a series of playground-type slurs the leaders of the two nuclear-armed states hurled at each other, setting the world on edge.

Last August, after US media reported Pyongyang had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to fit into a missile, Trump warned Pyongyang not to threaten the United States or it would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Kim had earlier compared comments by Trump to the bark of a “rabid dog,” and Trump derided Kim as a “sick puppy” — before the apparent outbreak of puppy love.

Trump met Kim in Singapore in June for the first-ever summit between the two countries that have never signed a peace treaty.

The summit led to a warming of ties and a halt in Pyongyang’s missile launches, but there has been little concrete progress since.

North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho on Saturday told the UN there was “no way” that his country would disarm first as long as the US to push for tough enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang.

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Thousands in first big protest against Burkina leader

OUAGADOUGOU  (AFP): Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou on Saturday, the first major protest against the leadership of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

“No to insecurity, terrorism, to corruption, to unemployment,” chanted the protesters in the first such march organised by the opposition since the election of President Kabore in November 2015.

“We are here because the country is in danger,” said opposition leader Zephyrin Diabre, rejoicing in “the very, very strong mobilisation”.

Burkina Faso, which borders Mali and Niger, has been the scene of deadly jihadist attacks since 2015.

The north and east of the country have been the worst hit while central Ouagadougou has been targeted three times in two years, leaving 60 people dead.

Eight soldiers were killed by a blast in northern Burkina Faso on Wednesday, in the latest blow to the poor Sahel country.

On Sunday, three miners — a Burkinabe national, an Indian and a South African — were seized by armed men between Djibo and a local gold mine.

Hours later, three police officers deployed to help search for the trio were killed in a clash with armed men at Tongomael, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.

According to official toll figures published in mid-September, the jihadist attacks have cost a total of 117 lives, 70 civilians and 48 members of the security services.

Under former president Blaise Compaore, head of state from 1987-2014, the armed forces had a trained and disciplined unit, his personal guard.

But this unit was gutted by Kabore, leaving the country “without a military culture”, according to a senior official from France, which is anxiously monitoring the situation in Burkina.

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Rashid becomes king of ODI all-rounder’s rankings

KABUL (TOLONews): Afghanistan’s googly master Rashid Khan after his excellent performance at the Asia Cup 2018 has become No.1-ranked all-rounder in one-day internationals, according to ICC.

Rashid was sensational with the ball and did well with the bat in the Asia Cup. He topped the bowling charts, picking up 10 wickets from five matches, and also scored 87 runs at an average of 43.50.

Afghanistan were outstanding, beating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the group stage and then losing to Pakistan and Bangladesh in last-over finishes in the Super Fours before tying their game against India, according to ICC’s report.

For his efforts in Dubai and Sharjah, Rashid has gained six slots and earned 67 points, which put him on top of the MRF Tyres ICC ODI All-Rounder Rankings, toppling Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan. 

In the bowlers’ list, Rashid has retained his No.2 spot, while 17-year-old spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman has moved up 15 places to take the eighth place after finishing with seven wickets in the Asia Cup. Nabi, meanwhile has gained two slots to reach the 15th position.

Nabi has also risen in the batting rankings, up to No.53rd after gaining 13 points, while Khan is up by 21 slots and is now sitting in the 97th position. Afghanistan’s most impressive batsmen in the tournament, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Mohammad Shahzad, also made significant gains in the rankings.

Shahidi, who totalled 263 runs from five innings, moved up 64 spots to joint 91st with New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham, while Shahzad beefed up his tally with a blazing 124 in the game against India, and moved up 19 places to No.36, joint with Scotland’s Calum MacLeod and Sri Lanka’s Niroshan Dickwella.

The other man to stand out in the batting rankings was Liton Das, the Bangladesh opener who smashed 121 in the final. He rose a remarkable 107 spots to a career-best No.116.

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‘Women can change nation’s destiny through vote’

BAMYAN CITY (Pajhwok): Residents of central Bayman province say insecurity, low levels of public awareness and negative competition among some candidates will negatively impact women’s participation in the elections.

Abdul Samad Jafari, a resident of Bamyan, told Pajhwok Afghan News people’s awareness had improved but still abusive practices had created problems for women.

According to him, adherence to old traditions and negative attitudes toward women coming out of home are impeding their participation in the democratic process.

He claimed a large number of women would be unable to vote because they were without national identity cards. They could not get the cards as tazkira distribution centres were located away from their homes.

Siddiqa, one of the Bamyan women without the identity document that is a must for voting, said she could not acquire her ID card due to long queues and huge crowds at the distribution centre.

Fatima Muradi, a student of Bamyan University, called the participation of people in the elections vital to change in the nation’s destiny.

Shehr Bano, an independent Wolesi Jirga runner, told Pajhwok lack of awareness, independence and a conservative society dominated by men were the main obstacles to Bamyan’s women taking part in the electoral process.

Ali Shah Misbah, head of the provincial Independent Election Commission, acknowledged the participation of men in the parliamentary election process was lower than in the presidential poll, but women’s involvement had increased.

In the 2014 presidential election, he recalled, about 174,000 people took part — 42 percent of them women. However, 167,000 people — 50 percent of them women — have registered as voters for the upcoming elections.

About 188 polling centres had been set up in the 2014 election. This time around, 220 polling centres will be established, he concluded.