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Govt slashes petrol price by 59 paisa per litre

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday has reduced petroleum product prices for the month of February 2019.

According to notification issued on Monday, petrol price has been slashed by 59 paisa per litre, whereas the price of High Speed Diesel remained the same.

The prices of kerosene oil and light diesel oil has also been reduced by Rs73 paisas and Rs25 respectively.

So the new price of HSD will be Rs106.68 per liter, SKO Rs82.25 per liter and LDO Rs75 per liter.

The new price of petrol will be Rs90.38 per liter.

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We’re not yet done, Khalilzad tells critics

KABUL (Pajhwok): US special envoy for reconciliation in Afghanistan on Thursday reiterated his claim of making significant progress in talks with Taliban negotiators and said there was still work to be done on other vital issues like intra-Afghan dialogue and a complete ceasefire.

In a series of tweets, Zalmay Khalilzad said skeptics rushed to judgment based on just the first part of a much larger effort.

“We’re not even finished with these issues yet, and there is still work to be done on other vital issues like intra-Afghan dialogue and a complete ceasefire.”

He said the path to peace did often run in a straight line and the situation in Afghanistan was complex.

“Like all sensitive talks, not everything is conducted in public. We made significant progress on two vital issues: counter terrorism and troop withdrawal. That doesn’t mean we’re done.”

He said the Afghanistan’s forty-year-old war could be be resolved in one meeting. “Even if that meeting runs for close to a week,” as he referred to his marathon talks with the Taliban in the UAE and Qatar.

“This is a moment for Afghans to begin to heal old wounds and chart a new course for their country. There are many players, many issues, and many moving parts. But we are on the right path, together.”

A day earlier, President Ghani said the keys to war were in Pakistan and by contrast the keys to peace were in Afghanistan.

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Taliban militants suffer casualties in NDS Special Forces raid in Kunduz

KUNDUZ (Khaama Press): At least 14 Taliban militants were killed or wounded during an operation of the Special Forces of National Directorate of Security (NDS) in northern Kunduz province.

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said the operation was conducted in the vicinity of Khanabad district of the province.

The statement further added that a compound of the Taliban was targeted during the operation which left at least 11 Taliban dead and 3 others wounded.

Three caches of weapons and munitions were also destroyed during the operations, NDS said, adding that Nikpai, Clinic, Syed Ramazan, Aab Garmak and Jang Bashi villages were cleared of militants.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the operation and the killings of the group’s militants so far.

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Afghan government has the key for peace, reconciliation: Ashraf Ghani

KABUL (Khaama Press): President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said that the Afghan government has the key for peace and reconciliation since a proper plan, program, and road map is available with the government.

He made the remarks during the national conference of youths and peace which was organized in Loya Jirga auditorium hall on Wednesday.

In the meantime, he emphasized that the government wants unconditional negotiations with the Taliban but reconciliation process has conditions.

This comes as efforts are underway to launch direct negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban group to end the violence in the country but the Taliban has so far rejected to hold talks with the government.

In response to Taliban’s stance for considering the government as illegitimate and refusing direct talks, President Ghani questioned the legitimacy of Taliban group and the justification the group offers for waging war.

President Ghani said the religious scholars have denounced the killings of civilians and suicide attacks during the gatherings in Mecca and Indonesia.

He explained that the authority of the president lies with the nation and has been specified by the constitution of the contry.

President Ghani also questioned if Taliban has any plan for peace and if the authority of the group lies with the leaders of the group or with the foreigners.

He also added that the government respects the views of Taliban and the group should also respect the will of the Afghan people.

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Dottin, Nation spoils Pakistan’s 100th T20I celebrations

KARACHI (PPI): Deandra Dottin and Chedean Nation spoiled Pakistan women’s cricket team’s 100th T20I celebrations with an unbroken third wicket century stand that guided the West Indies to a convincing 71 runs victory in the first match here at Southend Club on Thursday.

Dottin returned undefeated on a quickfire 90 and Nation scored a rapid 50 not out as the West Indies collected 160 for two after electing to bat first. In turn, fast bowler Shamilia Connell ran through the Pakistan top-order with figures of 4-0-29-3 as the home side was bowled out for 89 in 18 overs.

Prior to the start of the match, a minute’s silence was observed in the memory and respect of Sharmeen Khan, former Pakistan women’s cricket team captain and one of the pioneers of women’s cricket who passed last month. Pakistan women had big plans to celebrate their 100th T20I until Dottin and Nation with the bat and Connell with the ball gate-crashed the party.

Dottin clubbed eight fours and four sixes in an undefeated 60-ball 90, while Nation belted four fours and two sixes in a 35-ball 50 not out as the two batters put on 109 runs for the unfinished third wicket in around 12 overs to lift the West Indies from 51 for two to 160 for two.

The West Indies girls displayed their power-hitting abilities when they added 62 runs in the last five over, including 44 runs in the last three overs. Nation was more ruthless when she scored 36 of the 62 runs, while Dottin’s contribution remained 25 in 12 balls.

In turn, Connell broke the back of Pakistan top-order by accounting for Sidra Ameen (2), Javeria Khan (19) and Omaima Sohail (3) as the home side collapsed from 32 for one to 89 all out in 19 overs. While Connell finished with the figures of 4-0-29-3, Shekera Selman and Anisa Mohammed equally share four wickets between them conceding eight and 17 runs, respectively. Only captain Bismah Maroof gave some respectability to the Pakistan score when she scored almost a run-a-ball 38 with five fours. Javeria Khan scored 19 runs.

Dottin was happy with her match wining contribution, speaking at the post-match press conference she said, “I made use of the opportunities that came my way, I am happy that I contributed in my team’s win we started off very well and were able to sustain our performance throughout the game .”

Pakistan Coach Mark Coles was on the other hand disappointed with his team’s performance, “I am disappointed, I feel that the team can do a lot better, they need to take responsibility collectively, we have worked hard and maybe it was the nerves of playing a big game for the first time in 14 years at home, I hope we will have a better performance in the upcoming games.” The second match will be played at the same venue today (Friday).

The match will be broadcast live at GEO Super, while live-scoring will be available at www.pcb.com.pk.

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Boult blitz gives New Zealand comfortable win over India

HAMILTON (Agencies): New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult wreaked havoc with the new ball to bundle out India for 92 in Hamilton as the hosts cruised to a eight-wicket win in the fourth one-day international on Thursday.

Bowling his 10 overs at a stretch, Boult claimed 5-21 on swing-friendly conditions after captain Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to field at Hamilton’s Seddon Park. Having clinched the series with a hat-trick of victories and rested captain Virat Kohli for the remainder of the tour, India looked to test their bench strength in the build-up to this year’s World Cup in England and Wales. Shikhar Dhawan and stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma made a steady start and added 21 runs before Boult hit his rhythm.

The left-arm bowler first trapped Dhawan (13) leg before he caught Sharma (7), who was playing his 200th one-dayer, on his bowling follow-through. Shubman Gill, whom Kohli considers 10 times as talented as he was at 19, struggled to make an impact on debut and was dismissed for nine runs, giving Boult another return catch. Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik, competing for a middle order berth in the World Cup squad, were both dismissed for ducks by paceman Colin de Grandhomme, who finished with 3-26.

Boult later removed Kedar Jadhav for one and ended India’s hopes of getting to three figures by dismissing all-rounder Hardik Pandya (16) in the last over of his spell. Seamer James Neesham and leg-spinner Todd Astle claimed the final two wickets as India were bowled out in 30.5 overs for their lowest score in New Zealand.

“One of our worst performance with the bat in a long, long time,” Sharma said after India’s biggest ODI defeat in terms of balls left as New Zealand romped home with 212 balls to spare. It surpassed their eigh-wicket defeat by Sri Lanka with 209 balls to spare in 2010. “There is something to learn for us, when conditions are not easy what to do as a batting unit. You need to grind it out at time but we failed to do that today. I don’t think it was a bad wicket,” Sharma said.

The Kiwis lost the wickets of Martin Guptill and Williamson early in the chase but Henry Nicholls and in-form Ross Taylor ensured there were no further hiccups. The pair added 54 runs to wrap up the victory which surprised their skipper. “I don’t think we expected this much,” Williamson said. “It was just one of those days. At the same time, a lot of credit to the guys for the areas they bowled in, especially Trent.” The teams move to Wellington for the fifth and final ODI with India 3-1 ahead in the series.

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Qatar plot Japan ambush in Asian Cup final

ABU DHABHI (Agencies): While Japan have the Asian Cup pedigree, Qatar’s over-achieving players might just feel that their name is on the trophy after a record-breaking run to their first-ever final. Against the backdrop of simmering political tension, the Qatari players were pelted with plastic bottles — and even shoes — by furious local fans in a 4-0 semi-final thrashing of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi.

After surviving that ordeal, the 2022 World Cup hosts believe they have nothing to fear from Japan. “We have already realised a dream that the whole country had,” said striker Almoez Ali, who equalled Ali Daei’s record of eight goals in a single Asian Cup against the hosts on Tuesday. “We will need patience in the final but if we are patient, we have a chance of being champions.” Japan, who captured the last of their record four Asian titles in 2011, upset tournament favourites Iran 3-0 in Monday’s first semi-final and appear to be peaking at just the right time.

After threatening to bore crowds to death in their first five games, the Blue Samurai go into Friday’s final in the UAE capital unbeaten in 11 matches since Hajime Moriyasu took over as coach after last year’s World Cup. Yuya Osako’s controversial second-half double floored Iran, and consequently Moriyasu’s new-look Japan are suddenly being tipped to go all the way.

“We talked about going to war before we came out here,” said captain Maya Yoshida, part of the Japan side which scooped the title eight years ago. “We’re all fighting hard together for it.” Japan have never lost an Asian Cup final, while Qatar’s defence have kept a record six clean sheets. Though finely poised, the Qataris have yet to face a team as clinical as Japan or one with as much tactical nous.

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Sri Lanka look to shrug off injuries, off-field dramas

COLOMBO (Agencies): Sri Lanka were working to shrug off a series of injuries and off-field dramas, captain Dinesh Chandimal said Thursday, as they look to avoid a series defeat against Australia.

The visitors have endured a turbulent tour so far, losing the first Test at Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs inside three days. They now must play the second and last Test in Canberra from Friday without pace duo Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera, who have both returned home with injuries.

With fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep and all-rounder Angelo Mathews ruled out before the series started, they face a struggle on a Manuka Oval pitch regarded as one of the best batting decks in the country. Replacements for Kumara and Chameera have arrived in the form of left-armer Vishwa Fernando and uncapped bowling allrounder Chamika Karunaratne.

“We have to play positive and we need four bowlers to win a game,” Chandimal told reporters, while holding off naming his team until the toss on Friday. “We have to take more responsibility as a team. We have to score 300 runs batting first if we were to win a Test match. “This Test match I hope all the players will focus on what is required.” Keeping the focus on the match may not be easy, given the off-field disruptions.

Apart from an ongoing corruption investigation into Sri Lankan cricket by the International Cricket Council, coach Chandika Hathurasingha was stripped of his team selection duties after Brisbane. Batting coach Jon Lewis, meanwhile, has taken leave for “a family matter” and there has reportedly been a distracting social media spat between the wife of one-day skipper Lasith Malinga and star all-rounder Thiasara Perera.

Sri Lanka’s form has also been poor. They came to Australia having lost their recent series against New Zealand 3-0. Chandimal said it was important to put all the noise aside. “It’s always tough for us as players with so many things happening, but whatever happens off the field we need to keep aside and control what we can control,” he said.

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Over $106b recovered in anti-corruption drive: Saudi Arabia

RIYADH (Reuters): Saudi Arabia has ended a sprawling crackdown on corruption ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that it said had recovered more than $106 billion through settlements with scores of senior princes, ministers and top businessmen.

A royal court statement said the government had summoned 381 people, some as witnesses, under the campaign launched in November 2017, but it provided no names.

It said 87 people confessed to charges against them and reached secret settlements that included the forfeiture of real estate, companies, cash and other assets.
The campaign ended as abruptly as it began, despite speculation within the local business community that a new round of arrests was imminent.

The public prosecutor refused to settle the cases of 56 others due to existing criminal charges against them, and eight more who declined settlement offers stand accused of corruption, the statement said.

Detainees who were not indicted were freed.

For the first three months of the campaign, many of the kingdom’s economic and political elite were held in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Some detainees were reportedly tortured, which the authorities have denied. Critics called it a shakedown and power play by Prince Mohammed.

It unsettled some foreign investors that he is courting to diversify the country’s economy away from oil. The October killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate tarnished the crown prince’s reputation in the West and intensified criticism of Riyadh’s human rights record and its role in the Yemen war.

Prince Mohammad has defended the anti-corruption campaign as “shock therapy” as he tries to overhaul the economy. His social reforms, including the easing of such restrictions as bans on cinemas and women driving, have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including the arrests of dozens of clerics, women’s rights activists and intellectuals.

The original sweep netted cousins of Prince Mohammad such as billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, National Guard minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and former Riyadh governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah. Miteb was freed within weeks after agreeing to pay more than $1 billion to settle corruption allegations against him, a Saudi official said at the time.

Two months later, Alwaleed settled after reaching what he called “a confirmed understanding between me and the government.”

Turki has not been heard from since.

Also detained were senior officials, including ousted economy minister Adel Fakieh, who is believed to still be in detention, and former chief of the royal court Khalid al-Tuwaijri.

Top businessmen were held alongside them. Waleed al-Ibrahim and Saleh Kamel were released early on, while others including Amr Dabbagh and Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi only got out this month.

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8 dead as dangerous cold temps sweep US

WASHINGTON (AA): At least eight people were reported dead in the U.S. because of freezing temperatures brought in by a large swath of Arctic air known as the polar vortex.

The latest death was reported Wednesday, when the University of Iowa student Gerald Belz died after being found unresponsive in the cold, where the wind chill reached -51 degrees Fahrenheit (-46 C). Officials believe the death was weather-related.

In Illinois, an 82-year-old man died in the cold after falling while attempting to enter his home. Two other deaths were also reported in Michigan, as well as two in Indiana and another in Illinois.

A 55-year-old man in Wisconsin was found frozen to death in his garage after collapsing while shoveling snow, according to a local report.

The cold air has swept through the midwest with more than 200 million Americans feeling temperatures below freezing, and putting roughly 120 million people under a wind chill warning or advisory, according to MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins.

In the midwest and Great Lakes regions, residents have felt temperatures as cold as -63 F (-53 C), which, if exposed, can cause frostbite in under 5 minutes.

In Chicago, the temperature early Thursday went down to -21 F (-29 C) — close to breaking the record for the lowest ever recorded for the at -27 F (-33 C).

The cold air is headed toward the northeast U.S. Thursday, bringing below freezing temperatures to cities including Boston, New York and Philadelphia.