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Once among the most feared opening pairs in the world, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag had an adorable banter on the latter?s 39th birthday.

Tendulkar wished his former opening partner while pointing out his gung-ho attitude on the field.

?Happy birthday, viru! have a great start to the new year. you?ve always done ulta of what i have told you on field. so here?s one from me?? Tendulkar tweeted in a message written upside down.

Sehwag, not one to be left behind in Twitter wars, quickly replied: ?Thank you God ji.. Uparwala sab dekh raha hai, yeh to suna tha, par aaj samajh aaya, woh neeche waalon ke liye likhta kaise hai !?

Other teammates also took to Twitter to wish ?Viru? a very happy birthday.

163663_7621965_updates.jpgMufti Abdul Qavi. Photo: File 

MULTAN: The medical tests of Mufti Abdul Qavi have come back negative, according to doctors, however, it is unclear when he will be released from the hospital.

The police recently arrested Qavi, a suspect in the Qandeel Baloch murder case, over his failure to cooperate with the prosecution after his bail was cancelled.

Presently with the police on a physical remand, Qavi developed pain in his chest Thursday night and was then shifted to the Institute of Cardiology.

The hospital?s medical superintendent, Dr Zafar Ali, said Qavi?s tests came back positive but a team of senior doctors will determine whether to discharge him or keep him under observation.

He is presently in the hospital?s CCU ward. 

163663_7621965_updates.jpgMufti Abdul Qavi. Photo: File 

MULTAN: The test reports of Mufti Abdul Qavi have come back positive, according to doctors, however it is unclear when he will be released from the hospital.

The police recently arrested Qavi, a suspect in the Qandeel Baloch murder case, over his failure to cooperate in the case after his bail was cancelled.

Presently with the police on a physical remand, Qavi developed pain in his chest Thursday night and was then shifted to the Institute of Cardiology.

The hospital?s medical superintendent, Dr Zafar Ali, said Qavi?s tests came back positive but a team of senior doctors will determine whether to discharge him or keep him under observation.

He is presently in the hospital?s CCU ward. 


PESHAWAR: A drone strike near the Pak-Afghan border killed at least 12 suspected militants on Friday, reported Geo News. 

According to sources six terrorist hideouts were destroyed during the strike.

The attack took place in Khosh Kurram, Afghanistan and is the fifth strike this week. 41 deaths have been reported in the drone strikes including that of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar chief Umar Khalid Khorasani.

Pakistan Army said operations are being carried out against terrorists in Afghanistan, which involves air activity.

According to the ISPR, military operations are being conducted in Khost and Paktia province of Afghanistan, opposite Kurram Agency.

It added the Resolute Support Mission, the coalition forces operating in the country against the Taliban and Daesh, are sharing details about the operation within Afghan territory and the Pakistan Army is vigilant in its own area along the border area.


ISTANBUL: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday sought enhanced trade and economic partnerships with D-8 member states, as he represented Pakistan at the ninth D-8 summit being held in Istanbul from October 19 to 21.

?Connectivity-led growth is a good example of South-South cooperation. We seek similar partnerships with D-8 member states ? through road and rail routes, where possible, but also through stronger air and sea connections,? PM Abbasi said while addressing the opening session of the summit.

Pakistan, which remained the Chairman of this organisation of eight developing nations since 2012, also handed over the Chair to Turkey at the Summit?s opening session.

The 9th D-8 summit, with the theme ?Expanding Opportunities through Cooperation?, was attended by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev, Iran?s first vice president Eshaq Jahangiri and the vice president of Indonesia Jusuf Kalla.

Prime Minister Abbasi said as Pakistan celebrated 70 years of its independence, it was confronted with many challenges over the last decade. ?We faced unrelenting terrorism emanating from instability in our neighbourhood and the environment in the region and beyond.?

He, however, stressed that as a result of a comprehensive strategy and unwavering resolve, Pakistan had successfully turned the tide.

?Improved security has led to economic recovery. Pakistan?s economy has recorded a significant revival in the past four years. Over this time, we have focused on upgrading our communications and energy infrastructure, and enhancing regional connectivity,? he added.

The Prime Minister said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would further put the economy on an upward trajectory of robust growth. ?We are also working on energy connectivity projects. Pakistan?s integration into the Eurasian Belt and Road network will provide a firm foundation for Pakistan?s rapid economic development.?

He noted that the summit?s theme was in complete harmony with the post-2017 development agenda, visualising sustainable development as one of the core elements of people-centric development.

?Indeed, shared and joint prosperity is the only form of secure and sustainable prosperity. Inclusion based on collaboration ensures that there are no losers in the development effort ? all are winners.?


The Prime Minister said Pakistan assumed the Chair of D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation in November 2012 at the eighth summit in Islamabad, which adopted two landmark documents: the D-8 Charter and the Global Vision. These documents have provided the essential basis for our joint endeavours, he added.

Another significant milestone achieved during this period was the Observer Status for D-8 at the United Nations, he said, adding that this status enabled the organisation to closely interact with various UN agencies and affiliated institutions for cooperative arrangements in priority areas for Pakistan.

PM Abbasi said that 20 years ago, a shared vision motivated the leaders of the member states to establish this organisation to promote cooperation in the key areas of agriculture, industry, SMEs, trade, transportation, energy and tourism. ?However, the progress achieved so far falls short of our expectations, necessitating measures to accelerate momentum for stronger partnership,? he added.

The premier pointed towards the stagnation of intra D-8 trade, after an initial increase, adding that the apprehension is that the target of US $500 billion in 2018, envisaged in the 2008 Kuala Lumpur Summit Roadmap, might remain elusive.

?While it is imperative for the governments of member countries to facilitate trade and investment by adopting the necessary legal framework for investment protection and creating an enabling environment for business in their respective countries, it is the private sector that can make the best use of emerging opportunities for trade and joint ventures. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that we also actively promote entrepreneurship in our countries,? he said.

PM Abbasi handed over to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Chair of the D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation.

?Mr. President, I congratulate you on assuming the Chair of the D-8 Summit. I am confident that your wisdom, sagacity, dynamism and firm commitment will bring new vigour to the D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation,? he said.

The Prime Minster also said he and his delegation were deeply touched by the warm welcome and hospitality they received ever since their arrival.

Turkish President Erdogan also addressed the opening session of the Summit and spoke on various challenges faced by the Muslim world in general and the member states in particular, in different spheres of life including economic development. 


PESHAWAR: Two senior officials of the KP Oil and Gas Company have resigned after reports of corruption in the organisation.

The provincial-government owned company's chief financial officer has blamed the company's chief executive officer of corruption and embezzlement. 

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Senator Noman Wazir, who is heading a committee investigating the corruption, said their inquiry is ongoing and as of now there are no results. 

In a letter to the chairman of the board, the CFO says the CEO has not conducted any new exploration of oil and gas in the province and is instead using exploration of other companies by showing it as his own initiatives. 

Moreover, the letter claims there is serious mismanagement in the company's human resources section as well as embezzlement in the purchase of cars. 

The officers who have resigned are the board chairman Tariq Iqbal and technical committee chairman Khursheed Anwar.  


KARACHI: The wheels of the mega city's civic services may soon grind to a halt owing to a severe shortage of funds. 

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Commissioner Nawaz Waseem, on the directions of Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra, has written a letter to the Sindh Local Government (LG) Department. 

In the letter, sent to the LG department secretary, the KMC commissioner has asked for Rs1.3 billion for disbursement as salaries and pension to its staff. 

The letter also states that staff members hailing from the Hindu community were also not paid their salaries despite the occurrence of Diwali due to the funds' shortage. 

The letter states that the nursing staff of the KMC-operated hospitals, workers at the city's zoo and officials of the fire brigade department have been working without salaries due to the dearth of funds. 

Furthermore, the letter raises the fear that the staff may, in protest, halt its work at any time which could lead to a severe crisis. 

163654_5594237_updates.jpgMaryam Nawaz speaks to reporters after appearing before the Panama JIT on July 5, 2017 - AFP file photo  

LAHORE: Maryam Nawaz Sharif the daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took to Twitter on Friday calling the indictment of her father as a reminder of an era of dictatorship.

?This news reminds of an era of dictatorship when along with my mother in 1999 I was protesting against a dictator at a rally and a similar story came,? Maryam tweeted in Urdu.

Maryam?s tweet came after Nawaz Sharif was indicted in the Flagship Investment Ltd reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau.

On Thursday, Nawaz was indicted in the Azizia Steel Mills reference as well as in the Avenfield properties reference, in which his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar were indicted as well. 


QUETTA: Rescue authorities have recovered the body of a miner after an accident at a coal mine in Balochistan's Harnai District on Friday. 

One miner has also been rescued alive while five of his colleagues remain trapped inside. 

Chief Inspector Mines Iftikhar Ahmed said a landslide occurred at two spots on the Sharig Coal Mine in Harnai. 

He added that a rescue operation is under way to recover the five miners still trapped inside the mine. 

Last month, according to media reports, three coal miners were killed after poisonous gas accumulated inside a coal mine in Harnai.


LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) Cyber Crime Wing has summoned today teenagers arrested on suspicion of playing the Blue Whale challenge.

The parents of the suspects have also been summoned.

The agency's Cyber Crime Wing Deputy Director Shahid Hassan on Thursday, however, said that the teenagers were playing a different game called ?Snapshot?. The game revolves around users challenging each other to different tasks and setting bets.

He said that the teenagers had challenged their friend to rescue himself after tying him up.

As part of the game, the teenagers had tied the hands and feet of their friend, H*, taped his mouth shut and released their video on a social networking site. H was then put in the trunk of a car and tasked with freeing himself and getting out.

The initial investigation revealed that 14-year-old S*, took his mother's phone, made the video of the ?kidnapping? and uploaded it on social media.

Once the video surfaced, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation sprung into action and wrote a letter to the government of Pakistan through Interpol, asking for information regarding the video. 

The FIA nabbed the suspects on the directives of Ministry of Interior.

According to the FIA, since the suspects are under 15 years of age, special permission will be taken from DG FIA for their arrest.

On Wednesday, the FIA took into custody three suspects from Lahore for playing the Blue Whale game, who had confessed to having kidnapped a youth, the agency said.

*Names withheld to protect identities 


LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday that those levelling baseless allegations are not serving the country and the nation. 

He made the remarks after meeting members of the Punjab Assembly who called on him.  

"Those indulging in politics of negativity do not have any passion for serving the people," he said, adding that, "People are not served by hollow slogans".

The Punjab chief minister claimed that they have save saved billions of rupees while launching development projects. 

163641_8689879_updates.JPGLt Gen Aamer Riaz calls on Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif 

New corps commander calls on CM 

Lt Gen Aamer Riaz, the newly appointed corps commander of Lahore, also called on Shehbaz today. 

The chief minister wished Lt Gen Riaz well for his new assignment.

He said the nation is proud of its brave armed forces and the sacrifices they have rendered. 

"The war against terrorism was successful owing to the decisions of the civilian and military leadership," he said, adding that, the entire nation, including the civil-military leadership, is on one page regarding the war against terrorism.

Shehbaz further said that this war is for Pakistan's survival. 

Lt Gen Riaz was posted as the Lahore corps commander during a shuffle in the army's top brass on September 28 this year. He was serving as the head of the Southern Command in Quetta.

He has previously served as the head of the 111 Brigade in Rawalpindi and later as the Director General of Military Operations in GHQ. 


NEW YORK: Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan says US President Donald Trump is "jealous" of the NFL and trying to soil its image in "personal" attacks in an interview with USA Today published Thursday.

The 67-year-old Pakistani-born American billionaire, who also owns English football club Fulham, spoke at NFL owners meetings in New York, where team owners and players met to discuss Trump´s call for the league to force all players to stand for the pre-game playing of the US national anthem.

"This is a very personal issue with him," Khan told the newspaper, calling Trump "a divider, not a uniter" and noting Trump´s failed 2014 bid to purchase the NFL´s Buffalo Bills.

"He has been elected President, where maybe a great goal he had in life -- to own an NFL team -- is not very likely," Khan said. "So to make it tougher, or to hurt the league, it´s very calculated."

Khan, who purchased the Jaguars in 2011 for $760 million, linked arms with players during the US anthem in September in the days after Trump first spoke out against NFL players kneeling in protest during the anthem, calling for them to be fired.

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the protest kneel move last year to raise awareness of racial inequality and social injustice issues in the wake of several fatal police shootings of unarmed African-Americans.

Trump has accused players of insulting the flag, the nation and its soldiers by kneeling for the anthem while players have steadfastly denied any such motives. Many teams have interlocked arms in unity during the anthem with some players kneeling at games across the league, using the very freedoms the US flag represents.

Khan said the NFL issue is a lesser one compared to the ethic and religious insults and remarks Trump has uttered since starting his run for office.

"Let´s get real," Khan told USA Today. "The attacks on Muslims, the attacks on minorities, the attacks on Jews -- I think the NFL doesn´t even come close to that on the level of being offensive.

"Here, it´s about money, or messing with -- trying to soil a league or a brand that he´s jealous of."

Trump tweeted Wednesday in the wake of the NFL refusing to require players stand during the anthem that the league was showing "total disrespect" for the nation.

The NFL remains the most popular US sports league and the world´s richest sports league at $3.2 billion in total income, it´s 32 teams averaging $2.5 billion in value. The Dallas Cowboys are valued at a league-high $4.8 billion with a Bills at a low of $1.6 billion in Forbes magazine´s list of team worth published last month.

Khan was among seven NFL team owners who made financial contributions to Trump, donating $1 million to his inauguration fund, a move he says he does not regret.

"I have no regrets in life," Khan said. "This ugly, toxic side sours the whole experience."


[embed_video1 url= style=center]

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed has said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif should explain the existence of 19 companies hidden behind his Iqama (foreign work permit).

Nawaz was ousted as the prime minister by the Supreme Court in July this year for holding the work permit.

Speaking in Geo Pakistan Friday morning, Rasheed said if, according to Nawaz, being indicted is a 'murder of justice' then "Nawaz's politics has also been murdered".

The opposition leader said it remains to be seen what decision the around 40 ruling party lawmakers, "who are wearing joggers", will make, adding that the entire party leadership from south Punjab is ready to leave the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. 

Rasheed was one of the three petitioners in the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case. 

Nawaz has been indicted in the three corruption cases under way against him and his family in an accountability court in light of the Supreme Court's judgment in the Panama Papers case. 

Moreover, on Thursday, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada suggested that ex-prime minister step down as the party president until his problems disappear.

?It will be better for the PML-N if Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif takes over as the party president until Nawaz Sharif comes out of the problems,? said Pirzada, who hails from Bahawalpur.


ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities issued arrest warrants for 110 people from a seized company over alleged links to the US-based cleric who Ankara says orchestrated last year?s attempted coup, Dogan news agency and other media said on Friday.

It said the police operation to seize the suspects, who were managers, partners and employees of the publishing group Kaynak Holding and related companies, was focused on Istanbul but spread across 24 provinces.

Kaynak Holding was seized by the state in 2015 over links to the movement of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. He has denied involvement in the July 2016 abortive putsch.

Hundreds of firms like Kaynak, many of them smaller provincial businesses, were seized by authorities in a post-coup crackdown and are now run by government-appointed administrators.

Under the crackdown, more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial over alleged links to Gulen, while 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the military, public and private sectors.

In a separate operation centred in Ankara, 38 former employees from schools owned by the Gulen network were arrested on Friday, according to Turkish media.

The schools were closed by a decree after the failed coup.

The government dismisses rights groups? concerns about the crackdown, saying only such a purge could neutralize the threat represented by Gulen?s network, which it says infiltrated institutions such as the judiciary, army and schools.

163631_5680815_updates.jpg"´Thor Ragnarok´ is one of the funniest Marvel Studio movies thus far, definitely the best Thor film"

LOS ANGELES: It may not get the same affection lavished on "Iron Man" or "Captain America," but the "Thor" franchise looks set to complete a record year for Marvel on its opening weekend.

Bolstered by glowing early reviews, "Thor: Ragnarok" -- the third instalment of the God of Thunder´s intergalactic exploits -- is projected to take $90 to $100 million from Friday through Sunday.

If it hits the higher end of that estimate, the Disney-owned studio will celebrate its first hat-trick of $100 million-plus domestic openings in one calendar year -- following the success of "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

Indie director Taika Waititi´s quirky sense of humor is being credited with piquing interest in the franchise, four years after the listless "Thor: The Dark World" performed well at the box office but failed to wow critics.

"´Thor Ragnarok´ is one of the funniest Marvel Studio movies thus far, definitely the best Thor film," Peter Sciretta, owner of the SlashFilm entertainment website, tweeted after a preview screening.

Yahoo Entertainment writer Kevin Polowy described the movie as "hilarious & weird & offbeat & retro & sublime," adding: "Love how Marvel let Taika Waititi make a movie that´s Waititi-ish as hell."

The 17th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) -- a series of superhero films that have taken a combined $12.6 billion worldwide since 2008 -- opens with Thor imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer.

The Prince of Asgard finds himself in a race against time to get back to his homeworld and stop "Ragnarok" -- the end of Asgardian civilization -- at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.

New direction 

Chris Hemsworth ("Rush," "In the Heart of the Sea") plays the titular hero for a third time, joined by fellow returnee Tom Hiddleston ("The Night Manager," "Kong: Skull Island") as Thor´s duplicitous adopted brother Loki.

Two eye-catching newcomers are double Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine," "Carol") as the villainous Hela and a deliciously eccentric Jeff Goldblum ("The Fly," "Jurassic Park") as the dictatorial ruler Grandmaster.

First introduced by the now-legendary Marvel Comics duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962, Thor´s first two big screen outings in 2011 and 2013 earned a combined $1.1 billion worldwide.

But Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige was looking for a director who could redefine the tone of the franchise for the three-quel, to fully exploit Hemsworth´s arguably underused comic talents.

More known for independent, low-budget storytelling in the acclaimed comedies "What We Do in the Shadows" (2014) and "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" (2016), Waititi felt he´d made his mark in that world, and wanted to stretch himself.

The result is a breakneck space adventure with powerful, character-driven emotional interludes but more self-aware punchlines than almost any other entry in cinema´s rich canon of superhero movies.

Waititi told a news conference in Beverly Hills he assumed Marvel had "lost their minds" when they approached him and concluded that "they´re just hiring anyone now."

´Dream come true´

"It´s a huge, huge film. And what can be distracting on set is if you look over your shoulder, and you see 300 people standing there," he said.

"I just had to keep reminding myself what´s more important is what´s inside the rectangle and, usually, it´s two or three people trying to remember their lines."

The movie, which hits US theaters on November 3, features scene-stealing turns from MCU debutants Goldblum, who said his involvement was "a dream come true," and Blanchett, playing Marvel´s first lead female villain.

"Apart from working with these guys, obviously, the chance to finally, in my deep middle age, get fit and to wear that much lycra, was really exciting for me," she joked.

Thor also gets to kindle a cute comedy bromance with his bad-tempered ally The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), last seen rocketing into space aboard the auto-piloted Quinjet in "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

When Hemsworth suited up once again to play Thor, he was excited by the more brash, adventurous direction the Asgardian prince was being pushed in, he said.

The Norse hero has been largely deprived of his iconic hammer and shorn of his flowing flaxen locks, but Hemsworth said shedding familiar characteristics helped him make a fresh start.

""And I wanted it to be unfamiliar, and so everything from the hammer to the costume, the hair... forced me to move differently, and so that was a great thing," he said.

163630_2024781_updates.jpgQuentin Tarantino

LOS ANGELES: Quentin Tarantino has admitted knowing for decades about Harvey Weinstein´s alleged sexual misconduct, confessing in an interview published Thursday to feeling ashamed that he did not stop working with the mogul.

The explosive admission to The New York Times came with allegations of assault and harassment mounting against the disgraced Hollywood tycoon as Los Angeles police announced they were investigating a sixth *** attack allegation.

"I knew enough to do more than I did," Oscar-winning Tarantino, 54, told the paper of his friend and mentor, citing several episodes involving prominent actresses.

"There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn´t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things."

Weinstein, 65, is accused of decades of sexual abuse and harassment by around 40 actresses, including stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Mira Sorvino, Tarantino´s ex-girlfriend.

The veteran producer, who resigned from the board of The Weinstein Company this week, having already been sacked as its co-chairman, has so far denied all allegations of forcing himself on his accusers.

Tarantino said in the Times interview that he had heard about Weinstein´s behavior long before investigations published in that paper and the New Yorker which prompted a flood of further allegations.


"I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard. If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him," Tarantino said.

Sorvino, who dated the director in the mid-1990s, told him Weinstein had made unwanted advances while another actress made similar allegations years later that Tarantino also knew about, according to the Times.

The director said he was also aware that Weinstein had settled with the actress Rose McGowan.

"What I did was marginalize the incidents," Tarantino said, admitting that he had dismissed them as "mild misbehavior."

"Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse," added the filmmaker, who won best screenplay Oscars for black comedy western "Django Unchained" in 2013 and cult favorite "Pulp Fiction" in 1995.

163630_2244781_updates.jpgHarvey Weinstein

Weinstein and Tarantino have worked closely for decades since the producer distributed "Reservoir Dogs," in 1992.

The pair also collaborated on "Pulp Fiction," the "Kill Bill" films, "Inglourious Basterds" and "The Hateful Eight."

The Los Angeles Police Department told AFP detectives had interviewed a "potential sexual assault victim involving Weinstein" which allegedly occurred in 2013.

The opening of a probe in Los Angeles follows two *** crime investigations launched by police in New York, with London´s Metropolitan Police also pursuing allegations made by three women.

The new case takes Weinstein´s potential legal woes to a new level as it falls within the 10-year statute of limitations for the crime that existed at the time of the alleged incident, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Until now, most of the accusations Weinstein faced were more than a decade old.

´Without warning´

The Italian actress and model´s lawyer Dave Ring said in a statement that she had told detectives Thursday how movie producer Weinstein raped her in a hotel room near Beverly Hills in 2013.

"My client is grateful to all the courageous women who have already come forward to finally expose Weinstein," said Ring, vowing to share information about the case at a news conference planned for Friday.

"These women may not have realized it, but they gave my client the support and encouragement to hold Weinstein accountable for this horrible act."

The alleged victim, then 34, told the Los Angeles Times the incident occurred at the Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel after she attended the 8th annual Los Angeles, Italia Film, Fashion and Art Fest in February 2013.

He showed up "without warning" in the lobby and asked to come up to her room, she told the newspaper. She said she offered instead to meet him downstairs, but added that he was soon knocking on her door.

"He... bullied his way into my hotel room, saying, ´I´m not going to (have *** with) you, I just want to talk,´" the mother-of-three is quoted as saying.

"Once inside, he asked me questions about myself, but soon became very aggressive and demanding and kept asking to see me naked. He grabbed me by the hair and forced me to do something I did not want to do. He then dragged me to the bathroom and forcibly raped me."

She said she was too afraid to report Weinstein, instead telling a priest, a friend and a nanny what had happened, but decided to come forward at the request of her children. 

163622_675359_updates.jpgMovie poster

All over the world, parents are trying to wean their kids away from the internet. They are reducing screen time, blocking Facebook and restricting access. But in Advait Chandan?s ?Secret Superstar?, the problem is the solution.

The internet offers heroine Insiya an escape route from a stifling life. The shadow of an abusive father and the domestic violence she sees every day loom over her. What keeps her going is her love for music ? and her mother Najma. For all her submissive behaviour in front of her husband, Najma is a feisty woman ? she fights for her daughter to have the freedom she herself never had. She lets Insiya go out with boys, pursue her music, and buys her a laptop with an internet connection.

Insiya might live in Vadodara, not one of India?s biggest cities, but the internet is a great leveller. She records a few videos on YouTube wearing a burqa ? fearing her father will find out ? and in the magical ways of Bollywood, turns into an internet sensation overnight. She has millions of page views, fan pages waiting for her posts, but at home, none of that matters because her father can wreak havoc at any time.

163622_3613879_updates.jpgAamir Khan during a scene in the film 

To his credit, director Chandan doesn?t shy away from depicting domestic violence. There are scenes that are difficult to watch and the reality of domestic abuse and its effects on children are portrayed with more sensitivity and realism than usual for a Bollywood film. The bond between Najma and Insiya is also one of the film?s highlights, as is the track between Insiya and Chintan (Tirth Sharma), her classmate who harbours a very obvious crush on her.

The problem with ?Secret Superstar? is that it starts out with a good idea, but the film unravels because it wants to say too many things at once. Chandan seems determined that audiences should cry at every turn. Insiya and her journey to stardom are full of contrivances. Chandan isn?t bothered about authenticity or logic ? he just wants to make sure those tears are flowing.

Aamir Khan appears as Shakti Kumarr, the rather obnoxious and self-obsessed music director who turns into an unlikely saviour for Insiya, but this film is not about him. It is about Insiya, and Zaira Wasim puts in an inspired performance that rides over the several bumps in the script. She shares a wonderful chemistry with Meher Vij, who plays Najma, and the two of them are the life of ?Secret Superstar?. 

If only the film had shown as much restraint as they do, it might have been more deserving of ?superstar? status.

163617_1873912_updates.JPGNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on September 16, 2017. Photo: Reuters 

SYDNEY: North Korea has sent a letter to Australia?s parliament, warning it is a nuclear power and will not be cowed by US President Donald Trump?s threats to destroy it, according to a copy of the letter published in an Australian newspaper on Friday.

?If Trump thinks that he would bring the DPRK, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat, it will be a big miscalculation and an expression of ignorance,? said a facsimile of the letter, published by the Sydney Morning Herald and verified by Australia?s foreign ministry.

?Trump threatened to totally destroy the DPRK ... it is an extreme act of threatening to totally destroy the whole world.?

A spokeswoman for Australia?s Foreign Minister told Reuters the Herald report was accurate and the paper?s copy of the letter, dated September 28, was genuine.

Titled ?Open Letter to Parliaments of Different Countries,? the note said it was sent from North Korea?s Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Australia?s Embassy in the same city, as well as to other countries, without naming them.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People?s Republic of Korea, North Korea?s official name.

Tension has soared on the peninsula following a series of weapons tests by North Korea and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump, in a speech last month at the United Nations, threatened to ?totally destroy? North Korea if necessary to defend itself and allies and called the North?s leader Kim Jong Un a ?rocket man? on a suicide mission.

The letter calls for ?countries loving independence, peace and justice? to discharge their duty and keep ?sharp vigilance against the heinous and reckless moves of the Trump administration trying to drive the world into a horrible nuclear disaster.?

At a press conference in Sydney, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the note was an ?unprecedented? communication.

?It is not the way they usually publish their global messages. The collective strategy of imposing maximum diplomatic and economic pressure through sanctions on North Korea is working. This is a response to the pressure.?

163612_9122077_updates.JPGA salesperson attends to a customer (not pictured) inside a jewellery showroom, during Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold-buying festival, in Mumbai, India April 28, 2017. Photo: Reuters 

Demand for gold jumped in India this week on account of Dhanteras and Diwali, but high prices took some sheen off the yellow metal?s lure during the key festival period this year.

Demand in the world?s second largest gold consumer usually strengthens during the final quarter as the country gears up for the wedding season soon after the festivals when buying bullion is considered auspicious.

After poor sales during Dussehra festival, demand improved significantly over the last two weeks, but was still 15 per cent lower than last year?s Diwali, said Nitin Khandelwal, chairman of All Indian Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation.

?In some regions, demand was nearly 30 per cent lower than normal, but in others, it was at par compared with last year. Overall for the country, demand was down around 15 per cent.?

Local gold rates were at a premium of up to $2 an ounce over official domestic prices this week, unchanged from last week.

?Consumers were price sensitive and buying less gold than last year. They had a very tight budget,? said Mangesh Devi, a jeweller in the western state of Maharashtra.

Gold prices in India have risen nearly 8 per cent so far in 2017.

?This year, my husband?s business is down due to GST (Goods and Services Tax). That?s why I reduced spending on gold,? said Sangeeta Pardesi, a housewife, who buys gold on Dhanteras every year.

The launch of the GST in July, which transformed India?s 29 states into a single customs union, has hit small and medium-size businesses and consumers overall.

Elsewhere in Asia, there was a slight uptick in demand for physical gold, with benchmark spot gold rates headed for a weekly decline after touching a one-week low of $1,276.22 an ounce on Thursday, pressured by a firmer dollar.

?There was some buying as prices fell, especially around the $1,280 level,? said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.

However, investors remained cautious, awaiting direction on economic policy and market reforms during the 19th Communist Party Congress in China which kicked off on Wednesday and were also focused on the upcoming elections in Japan, he added.

In top consumer China, premiums charged ranged between $8 and $12 per ounce over the benchmark this week, compared with $9-$14 a week earlier.

Premiums of 50 cents were being charged in both Hong Kong and Singapore this week versus the 40 cents-$1.10 and 50-60 cents levels respectively in the previous week.

In Tokyo, gold continued to be sold flat versus the benchmark.

163611_541139_updates.jpgPakistan team celebrates during match against Sri Lanka 

Pakistan will look to extend their winning streak as they take on dispirited Sri Lanka in the fourth ODI at Sharjah today.

Sarfraz and his men have already wrapped up the five-match series 3-0, recording their seventh consecutive win in ODIs and the ninth victory in the last 11 matches after defeating Sri Lanka on Wednesday. The defeat was Sri Lanka's 10th in a row.

In the third ODI, a century on debut by opener Imam-ul-Haq and a career-best 5-34 by Hasan Ali helped Pakistan to beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets. Imam became only the second batsman from his country and 13th overall to score a hundred on ODI debut before he finally fell for 100 off 125 balls.

Imam had been brought in for opener Ahmed Shehzad, who failed to perform with the bat in the opening two matches of the series.

But on Thursday, Pakistan were dealt a blow when veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez was reported for suspect bowling action for the third time.

Hafeez was first suspended from bowling in December 2014. He was allowed to resume bowling in April 2015 after an independent reassessment of his bowling tests found his action to be legal. He was suspended for a second time after an independent assessment revealed that he had employed an illegal bowling action after being reported in the Galle Test v Pakistan in June 2015.

The fifth and final ODI will be played in Sharjah on October 23. The two teams will also play three T20 internationals, the first two in Abu Dhabi (October 26 and 27) and the last in Lahore (October 29).

163610_2228197_updates.jpgWomen and young children go through a lower level of security screening than men-Reuters

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: The Trump administration is considering tightening the vetting process for women and children seeking to enter the United States as refugees, a proposal that if adopted would bring security checks closer to those for adult men, three sources with knowledge of the plan told Reuters.

The plan could slow down refugee admissions even after the end of a 120-day ban on most refugees instituted by the Trump administration while it reviews vetting procedures. The vetting review is set to end on Oct. 24.

President Donald Trump came into office in January with a goal of sharply cutting refugee admissions, in line with the hard-line immigration policies that were a focal point of the Republican?s 2016 election campaign. Trump quickly issued temporary bans on refugees and travelers from some Middle Eastern and African countries that were challenged in court.

A US official told reporters last month that the administration is ?considering a wide range of potential measures and enhancements? to vetting.

Refugees currently undergo differing levels of security checks when applying for admission to the United States, depending on the perceived risk they might present, including running their biographic and biometric data against law enforcement and intelligence databases.

Women and young children go through a lower level of security screening than men, said the three sources with knowledge of the proposal, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The proposed changes would bring their security checks more in line with what is required for adult male refugees.

Successive Republican and Democratic administrations have focused most of their attention on adult men who tend to join militant groups such as al Qaeda and Daesh in greater numbers than women.

A State Department official declined to comment on any refugee vetting processes while the review is underway. The government is taking steps to ?further intensify? refugee screening ?to uphold the safety of the American people,? the official said.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Dave Lapan declined to comment, and said the administration is ?finalizing security enhancement recommendations as part of the 120-day review.?

A White House spokeswoman said there were ?no announcements at this time.?

All refugees referred for resettlement in the United States are run through a database with watch-list information, called the Consular Lookout and Support System, or CLASS. Refugees can be singled out for a higher level of review based on their age, nationality, or gender. Syrian refugees, for instance, undergo extra checks.

Of the nearly 85,000 refugees admitted to the United States in the 2016 fiscal year, about 72 percent were women or children, according to the State Department. Total processing time for refugees to enter the United States now averages about 18 to 24 months, according to the State Department.

Trump?s order to halt refugee admissions so his administration could determine whether additional checks are necessary was suspended for months by federal judges. The US Supreme Court eventually allowed it to go in effect for all refugees except those with close ties to the United States.

Trump also lowered the maximum number of refugees to be allowed into the United States in 2017 to 50,000 from the 110,000 originally set by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat. The 2018 level has been set at 45,000, the lowest number in decades.

163608_3729408_updates.jpgRussia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a session of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia October 19, 2017. Photo: Reuters 

SOCHI/MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin launched one of his most stinging critiques of US foreign policy on Thursday, listing what he called some of the biggest betrayals in US-Russia relations.

He declined to say if he would run for a fourth presidential term in an election set for March, though he is expected to stand after dominating Russian politics for 18 years.

Instead, he used a high-profile televised discussion with foreign academics in southern Russia to reach back to what he regards as the darkest days of US-Russia relations.

Opinion polls suggest that harsh rhetoric towards the West plays well with many Russian voters, who credit Putin for restoring national pride and standing up to what they see as Western encroachment.

Asked by a Germany-based academic to identify what mistakes Moscow had made in its relations with the West, Putin told the Valdai discussion forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi:

?Our biggest mistake was that we trusted you too much. You interpreted our trust as weakness and you exploited that.?

Visibly angry at times, Putin cast Russia as the wronged party and its post-Soviet leadership as too naive and trusting.

?Unfortunately, our Western partners, having divided the USSR?s geopolitical legacy, were certain of their own incontestable righteousness having declared themselves the victors of the ?Cold War,'? said Putin.

?They started to openly interfere in the sovereign affairs of countries and to export democracy in the same way as in their time the Soviet leadership tried to export the Socialist revolution to the whole world.?

Putin said US-Russia relations were in a lamentable state, referencing an ?unprecedented? anti-Russian campaign in the United States, the closure of Russian diplomatic facilities there and pressure on Russian media by US authorities.

He did not single out US President Donald Trump for personal criticism, but said Trump?s behaviour was unpredictable as a result of political foes who were preventing him from fulfilling almost all of his policy pledges.

Litany of US slights 

Putin said the United States was trying to squeeze Russia out of European energy markets with its latest batch of sanctions, which Trump grudgingly signed into law in August after Congress approved them.

?The recent sanctions package adopted by the US Congress was openly designed to push Russia out of European energy markets and to force Europe to switch to more expensive liquefied natural gas from the United States, even though the volumes there are not yet sufficient,? he said.

He criticised Trump?s predecessors, describing how he believed the United States had betrayed Russia in the 1990s by not reciprocating what he called the unprecedented access Moscow gave Washington to Russia?s secret nuclear facilities.

He said the United States had flouted nuclear and chemical weapons treaties, saying Moscow had diligently complied with the same pacts only to be repeatedly let down by the United States.

His speech and ripostes in a punchy question and answer session that followed often sounded like a history lesson.

The United States had tried to stir up separatism in southern Russia in the 1990s, said Putin, something he said he knew for a fact from his stint leading the FSB spy agency.

The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and NATO?s 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia were bad, he said.

And in comments that could have been drawn straight from the pages of the Cold War, Putin accused the United States of upsetting the strategic nuclear balance by modernising its arsenal of weapons.

Russia would develop new weapons systems, he pledged, if it was forced to, and if the United States withdrew from a landmark arms control treaty ? the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty ? Russia would hit back fast.

?From our side, the response will be instant, and I want to warn, symmetrical,? said Putin.

163607_5928901_updates.jpgBarack Obama

RICHMOND: Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail on Thursday, railing against the "politics of division" after keeping a low profile and avoiding direct confrontation with his White House successor since leaving office.

Speaking at a rally in New Jersey to support the Democratic Party candidate for governor, the 56-year-old former president took aim at the fear and bitterness that marked the 2016 campaign which led to Donald Trump´s presidency.

"What we can´t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before, that dates back centuries," Obama said at the event in Newark for Phil Murphy.

"Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That´s folks looking 50 years back," Obama added. "It´s the 21st century, not the 19th century."

Obama later appeared at an event in Richmond to support Ralph Northam, his party´s gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, at which he obliquely criticized the way Trump gained the White House.

"If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you´re not going to be able to govern them. You won´t be able to unite them later," Obama said.

"We are at our best not when we are trying to put people down, but when we are trying to lift everybody up," he said.

Voters in both New Jersey and Virginia will decide the contests on November 7, one year after Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton and stormed into the White House on a wave of anti-establishment fury.

The races are potential indicators of voter sentiment ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, which will be a major test for Trump and his Republican Party.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato said the New Jersey and Virginia governor races are the only "big elections" for 2017.

"What´s at stake is bragging rights headed into the 2018 midterm elections," Sabato told AFP.

Obama has remained largely detached from the political debate since leaving office on January 20, in keeping with presidential tradition.

Trump has meanwhile used his first nine months in the White House to methodically demolish key Obama administration policies.

After three months of vacation Obama began writing his memoirs. He has said little in public and granted almost no interviews.

Test for Trump

The few times Obama broke his silence was to comment on issues of national importance, such as immigration, health care and climate change.

In New Jersey, Murphy is the clear frontrunner to succeed Republican Governor Chris Christie, a Trump ally whose popularity has plummeted to record lows.

New Jersey "is a runaway win for the Democrats, so Virginia is the only competitive contest. Obama is needed much more in Richmond than Trenton," said Sabato, referring to the capitals of the two states.

Virginia is a pivotal state and the only southern US state that Clinton won in 2016. Its importance is amplified by its proximity to the capital Washington.

"If the GOP loses in Virginia, Trump will be widely blamed since he is so unpopular in a state carried by Hillary Clinton," Sabato said.

163607_2788280_updates.jpgUS president Donald Trump 

Should Republicans win Virginia´s governorship, "then Trump will not be viewed as such a liability for the GOP in 2018."

In Richmond, Obama backed Northam, the state´s lieutenant governor who was credited Wednesday with a slight lead over Republican Ed Gillespie in a Quinnipiac poll.

More than six hours ahead of the event in Richmond, student Lucas Anderton was in the queue for tickets.

"It´s important for me, he´s my hero and so it´s nice to see him out in the battle again," Anderton said.

"I am hoping that he does something to speak to the African-American population, I really do, because we are in need of a strong leader," said Nancy Atkins, who was waiting to enter the venue ahead of Obama´s Richmond speech.

"We need a Martin Luther King to step up, and I can see the former president Obama as being that leader," Atkins said.

Well aware of the vote´s importance, Trump has backed Gillespie and accused Northam of "fighting for the violent MS-13" Hispanic gang, as well as "sanctuary cities" that offer shelter to illegal immigrants.

Gillespie, a former advisor to president George W. Bush who has become a millionaire lobbyist, has so far kept cautious distance from the mercurial Trump, whose backing recently failed to ensure the election of his pick in a Republican Senate race in Alabama.

163606_5697170_updates.jpgFormer PM Nawaz Sharif. Photo: File 

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to be indicted in the Flagship Companies Ltd reference today by the accountability court conducting corruption proceedings against the Sharif family. 

The court is conducting the hearing of three references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in light of the Supreme Court directions in the July 28 Panama Papers case judgment. 

On Thursday, Nawaz was indicted in the Azizia Steel Mills reference as well as in the Avenfield properties reference, in which his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar were indicted as well. 

Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir indicted the three accused after dismissing their separate pleas to suspend proceedings and halt their indictment.

Nawaz, through his representative Zafir Khan, Maryam and Safdar rejected the charges by pleading 'not guilty' and vowed to contest the case.

The court has adjourned the hearing of the Avenfield properties and Azizia Steel Mills references until October 26 and directed the prosecution to produce its first witness at the next hearing.

Meanwhile, the former premier, who is presently in London, will be returning to the country on October 22 and has vowed to contest the charges. 

The references

The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court's orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.

The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court's order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.

The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.

Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar's bail in the Avenfiled properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.

Safdar was also directed to take the court's permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference ? spread over 53 volumes ? to Maryam and Safdar.

NAB's Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.

Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family's Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.

If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.  

163605_2713625_updates.jpgFederal Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada

ISLAMABAD: In a sign of revolt against the PML-N leadership, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada has suggested that ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif should step down as the party president until he comes out of all the problems.

Addressing ?Meet the Press? programme here on Thursday, he suggested that the Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif would be the best choice to lead the party. 

?It will be better for the PML-N if Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif takes over as the party president until Nawaz Sharif comes out of the problems,? he said. 

He said that there will be a vacuum in the party if Shehbaz Sharif was not made the president. Shehbaz Sharif?s advice to the party should be accepted, as he was dealing with the public opinion in a better way, he added. 

Pirzada questioned if the present form of democracy would continue in which politicians continue to follow their leaders irrespective of what they do. He complained that he, along with 36 other members, was declared a terrorist but none of them could get justice. 

?It is parliament and not the army which should give us justice,? he said. 

The minister said he feared one day a US drone will attack the parliament since 37 terrorists were sitting there. 

He further said injustice was increasing, causing unrest in the society. ?We have to run after our leaders for resolution of minor issues concerning the masses.?