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  1. 5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio (R) receives his ballot as he prepares to cast his vote at a polling station in Pomigliano d'Arco, near Naples, Italy March 4, 2018. REUTERS ROME: Italians waited in long queues at polling booths on Sunday to vote in an election that could bring political gridlock after a campaign marked by anger over the listless economy, high unemployment and immigration. Pollsters have predicted that former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi?s center-right party and his far-right allies will emerge as the largest bloc in parliament but fall short of a majority. The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement looks set to be the biggest single party, feeding off discontent over entrenched corruption and growing poverty, while the ruling center-left bloc led by the Democratic Party (PD) is seen in third place. Berlusconi and 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio both had to wait in queues to cast their votes as new election procedures slowed the process at several polling stations. At Berlusconi?s voting station in Milan, a Femen activist bared her chest in front of the former premier and shouted,?time?s up? before being hauled away. ?She passed so quickly I didn?t get a chance to see her,? quipped Berlusconi, who has a history of being caught up in *** scandals. TURNOUT Berlusconi also said he was concerned about the queues. ?There will be queues as well this evening. I am worried that there might be some situations in which some people will not be able to vote,? he said. The turnout by noon was a little more than 19 percent. That was higher than five years ago, when Italians voted over two days, but slightly lower than a 2016 referendum in which the final turnout exceeded 68 percent. Heavily indebted Italy is the third-largest economy in the 19-member euro zone and, though investors have been sanguine ahead of the ballot, prolonged political stalemate could reawaken the threat of market instability. Polling stations close at 2300 (2200 GMT), with exit polls due immediately afterwards. The vote is being held under a complex new electoral law that could mean the final result will not be clear until late on Monday. Confusion over the new system led to 200,000 ballot papers having to be reprinted overnight in Palermo, where some polling stations delayed opening amid protests from voters. There were also reports of misprinted ballots at one polling booth in Rome. The campaign has marked the return to frontline politics of 81-year-old Berlusconi, who was forced to quit as prime minister in 2011 at the height of a sovereign debt crisis and was widely written off after *** scandals, legal woes and ill health. A 2013 conviction for tax fraud means he cannot hold public office and he has put forward Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, as his candidate for prime minister. POPULIST POWER Tajani?s moderate profile is aimed at allaying fears in Europe about his populist allies, notably the League, whose leader Matteo Salvini has promised to deport the 600,000 boat migrants who have arrived in Italy over the past four years. Some pollsters say the League could overtake Berlsuconi?s Forza Italia party on Sunday. Populist parties have been on the rise across Europe since the 2008 financial crisis, but mainstream parties in Italy have found it especially hard to contain voter anger, with the economy still 6 percent smaller than a decade ago and unemployment stuck at about 11 percent. The 5-Star Movement, led by 31-year-old Di Maio, has been particularly successful at tapping into the disaffection in the underdeveloped south and has promised a monthly universal wage of up to 780 euros ($960) for the poor. ?I think 5-Star will win ... but I?m also worried that there won?t be a winner. Both scenarios look catastrophic to me,? said Giuseppe Ottaviani, who voted in Amelia, central Italy. Although all party leaders have ruled out any post-election alliances with rivals, Italy has a long history of finding a way out of apparently intractable political stalemate. But if, as expected, no one clinches clear victory on Sunday, it might take weeks before a government deal is reached.
  2. Advisor to the chief minister Khawaja Ahmad while visiting the project. LAHORE: The Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project was run on a trial basis on Monday. The train, as part of its trial run, was run near its depot and authorities said that a 12km long portion of the track, from Dera Gujran to Lakshmi Chowk, will be completed during the current week. Advisor to the chief minister Khawaja Ahmad also visited the project and said four more train sets have reached Lahore for the project. Earlier in December, the Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) halting work on selected sites of the OLMT project. Although the apex court has allowed the Punjab government to go ahead with the project at the same speed, the bench has set 31 conditions to ensure the project's transparency. The conditions include strict monitoring of the construction as well as a dedicated trial period before train operations begin; placement of high-tech devices and hiring of expert monitors to ensure vibrations from the construction don't damage the heritage sites and various measures for the beautification and restoration of the sites. The apex court has also ordered the formation of a five-member experts' committee and three-member technical committee to oversee the project and ensure the protection of the heritage site under question. A Rs100 million fund will also be established by the government to maintain the heritage sites, according to the court order. The $1.6 billion project Launched in May 2014 by Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in collaboration with a Chinese company, the project is set to be the country?s first metro line, but it got embroiled in a legal battle in LHC which ordered a stay on several sites as the development was trampling over heritage sites in Lahore. A single train within the 27-kilometre rail line has the capacity to carry 1,000 people, out of which 200 can be seated while 800 can commute while standing. The project, which was included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor earlier in the year, is expected to run on electricity and transport up to 250,000 passengers a day. The capacity is set to be increased to 500,000 passengers by 2025. The original deadline for the project was December 25, 2017.
  3. US President Donald Trump makes a speech as he and the first lady host a National African American History Month reception at the White House in Washington, US, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis WASHINGTON: A group of US Senate Republicans and Democrats promoted an immigration proposal on Wednesday to step up border security and protect young illegal immigrants, but its prospects appeared uncertain as President Donald Trump urged Congress to support a tougher measure. The developments underlined the difficult path any immigration plan faces as Washington remains starkly divided on one of Trump?s signature issues. Congress has repeatedly tried and failed to overhaul immigration policy over the past decade. The new bipartisan plan would protect from deportation 1.8 million immigrants, known as ?Dreamers,? brought into the United States illegally as children, according to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the senators who crafted the plan. Graham said the parents of the Dreamers, also in the country illegally, would get no such safeguards, a concession to the White House. Democrats and some Republicans want to provide legal status for the Dreamers. Senate legislation that Trump supports would protect the Dreamers and give them a path to citizenship, but he also is seeking to scale back legal immigration, a red flag for many lawmakers. The bipartisan plan does not embrace Trump?s call to significantly cut legal immigration levels, according to senators involved in the discussions. The bipartisan proposal would open the door to building at least part of a wall along the US-Mexican border that Trump has called for as a candidate and as president. It would provide $25 billion to bolster border security, Graham said. That could pay for additional border patrol officers, fencing and electronic surveillance, among other options that have been widely discussed among lawmakers. In a statement released by the White House, Trump urged the Senate to support legislation offered by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley that would also scale back two immigration programs that bring more than 300,000 people into the United States each year. Grassley?s bill would restrict the ability of US residents to bring family members from overseas and end a visa lottery program aimed at bringing in more immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and other countries with low US immigration rates. ?I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill,? Trump said. Republican Senator Jeff Flake, one of the bipartisan plan?s architects, said he would try to advance the bill despite Trump?s opposition. ?He can veto it or he can sign it. But we?ve got to pass it,? Flake told reporters. Democrats said Trump?s demand was frustrating efforts to reach a narrower deal they could support. Republicans control the Senate 51-49 but immigration legislation would need 60 votes to pass, meaning some Democratic support is required. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, said, ?President Trump is trying to force his hard-line immigration agenda down the throats of the American people.? He called the Grassley bill ?extreme.? ?Clear the way? Trump in September announced he was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ? created in 2012 under his Democratic predecessor President Barack Obama ? that protects Dreamers from deportation and offers them work permits. About 700,000 are currently protected by the DACA program. Those protections are due to start expiring on March 5, but federal judges have blocked Trump?s bid to end DACA while litigation over the matter continues. If the bipartisan immigration plan passes the Senate, it faces an uncertain fate in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a larger majority. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he will not bring up a bill for a vote if it does not have Trump?s support. Ryan said on Wednesday the House ?clearly? must address legislation next month to deal with the Dreamers. He told reporters Trump ?did a very good job of putting a sincere offer on the table.? The White House said on Wednesday it also opposes another bipartisan immigration measure proposed by Senators John McCain and Chris Coons, saying it would boost illegal immigration and fail to fix other immigration practices opposed by Trump.
  4. Just a few months ago, Xiaomi launched their uber sexy Mi Mix 2 and it looks like the company is already looking to releasing its next version. The Mi Mix 2 was one of our favourite smartphones last year and you can read our review here. It had great form factor with a ceramic/glass back and it also sported a true bezel-less screen. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The successor is expected to be called Mi Mix 2S and what the name suggests is that the overall design of the smartphone is not going to change anytime soon. According to a new rumour out of China, the Mi Mix 2S is expected to sport Qualcomm's latest top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 SoC. Xiaomi is currently looking to announce the smartphone before MWC kicks off in Barcelona. There's a high chance that the Mi Mix 2s might be the first smartphone with Qualcomm's latest chipset. © Twitter Earlier, it was expected that Samsung's S9 and S9+ may the be the first smartphone with the chipset, but it looks like Xiaomi wants to steal the thunder right from under them. Samsung uses Qualcomm's latest chipset for certain regions and Xiaomi may be able to claim the 'world's first' title if they announce the smartphone sooner. © Youtube The Mi Mix 2s is not expected to change much in terms of design, however, we can expect it to pack a punch just like its predecessor. It is expected to have an edge-to-edge screen and could feature dual cameras for better picture quality. The smartphone is expected to use the new Sony IMX363 sensor, which is a much-improved sensor when compared to the Mi Mix 2. The smartphone is supposedly going to be unveiled in a few weeks and we will know more about the device once it's been made official. Source: GizmpChina
  5. US President Donald Trump speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington, US, January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday aligned himself solidly with conservative Republicans on immigration, criticizing a proposed bipartisan deal as ?horrible? on US border security and ?very, very weak? on reforms for the legal immigration system. The Senate proposal ? aimed at addressing Democrats? demands for protections for young adults brought to the US illegally as children and dubbed ?Dreamers? ? fell far short of what most Republicans believe needs to happen, the president said. ?It?s the opposite of what I campaigned for,? Trump told Reuters in an interview. The plan was presented to Trump last week by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin. Trump drew international condemnation after reports emerged that he had questioned the value of taking immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean nation of Haiti during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers at the White House last Thursday, referring to them as ?shithole? countries. Trump has denied using that word. Trump in the interview on Wednesday declined to say what specific words he used. ?I?m not going to get into what I said, but I will tell you, it was a tough meeting,? Trump said. Many Democrats have said they will not vote for spending legislation to keep the federal government funded past a Friday deadline without an immigration deal, and Republicans will need at least some Democratic votes to pass the funding extension in the Senate. Trump said he thinks a deal on immigration is still possible. ?Time is running out,? he said. Democrats said the negotiated plan addressed Trump priorities, including $2.7 billion for additional border security funding. ?The president can?t seem to take yes for an answer and is heading toward a shut down, which would fall squarely on his back,? Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement emailed to Reuters. Trump said a federal government shutdown ?could happen? at the end of the week, insisting Democrats would be blamed if that occurs even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. The White House has said it backs a short-term spending measure by a Friday deadline to prevent a shutdown. 'He meant well' Trump in September announced he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects the Dreamers, which was begun by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, effective in March. The program currently protects roughly 700,000 people, mostly Hispanic young adults, from deportation and provides them work permits. Trump has said he is open to finding a solution to help the Dreamers. But he said he became unhappy when Graham and Durbin, who had told him they had a compromise on the Dreamers issue, presented the details. But Ben Marter ? a spokesman for Durbin ? said on Friday that following an initial telephone conversation with Trump about the deal, the senator had been ?encouraged? by Trump?s reaction and had expected further progress on the legislation at a White House meeting that day. Trump said he had called Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue and Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte to join that meeting at the White House, describing them as ?smart guys, with more of a conservative bent, more of a bent like I have.? As Graham and Durbin began describing the deal, Trump said, it was immediately clear it would be unacceptable to most Republicans. ?It?s horrible for the security of our country,? Trump said, noting there was not enough funding for the wall he has promised to build on the US-Mexican border, a project opposed by Democrats. The proposal was ?very, very weak? on curbing visas for extended family members of immigrants, and failed to end a diversity visa lottery program. ?Lindsey ? he meant well ? but I said, ?Well, how many Republicans agree with this?'? Trump said. Trump blamed Durbin for leaking the language he used in the meeting, a disclosure that prompted critics to denounce Trump as a racist, an accusation he denied. ?I?ve lost all trust in Durbin,? Trump said. Trump campaigned for president in 2016 promising a hard line on immigration, including deporting all of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country and a ?total and complete shutdown? of the entry of Muslims into the US. As president, he has signed three orders banning entry of most people from several Muslim-majority countries as well as rescinding DACA.
  6. Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif remarked that political opponent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf caused a 22-month delay in the Orange Line Metro Train project. Photo: file1 LAHORE: Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif remarked that political opponent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf caused a 22-month delay in the Orange Line Metro Train project. Sharif was speaking to the media during a visit to the construction site of Orange Line Metro Train project early Sunday morning. He also remarked that the work on the project should be expedited and labourers must work around the clock. Punjab CM arrived at the construction site in a coaster without any protocol and visited different sites for the project in his 2-hour long visit. He also reviewed the civil, mechanical and electrical aspects of the project, alongside visiting the underground parts of the project. On October 8, last year, Shehbaz Sharif had unveiled the mega-transport scheme, Orange Line Metro Project, in Punjab?s capital. CM Punjab unveils Orange Line Metro Train project Before the event, Shehbaz Sharif sent messages on social media lauding the project While addressing the event, he remarked that people levelling false allegations are wasting the time of nation. When metro bus project was under construction, our opponents called it 'jangla bus' and claimed that money has been embezzled. Interestingly, our opponents then announced metro bus project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. "However, there is no sign of metro bus in Peshawar," he claimed. "It was alleged that corruption worth Rs70 billion occurred in metro bus project. However, our opponents could not even prove Rs35 billion corruption," remarked Shehbaz. "If the corruption is proven then the nation can hold me accountable."
  7. Although incidents of terrorism have decreased compared to their peak around a decade ago, the year 2017 witnessed several attacks ? including suicide bombings and cross-border assauls ? in which security officials gave the ultimate sacrifice. The Pakistan Army lost several of its brave officers and soldiers in terrorist attacks from Afghanistan as well as during anti-terrorist operations inside the country. Similarly, the civilian law enforcement agencies, especially the police, also shared the brunt of terrorism, with several junior officials being shot dead in Karachi and seniors killed in suicide attacks in Balochistan and KP. Here, Geo.tv remembers some of those who laid down their lives in the line of duty this year. May they rest in peace. DEC 25 Three Pakistan Army soldiers were martyred when Indian forces opened fire along the Line of Control, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated. The incident occurred in the Rakhchikri sector of the Line of Control (LoC). One other soldier was injured in the incident of unprovoked firing. DEC 22 The FC troops martyred in Mohmand Agency. Photo: ISPR Three troops of the Frontier Corps (FC) were martyred in cross-border firing from terrorists on the Pak-Afghan border, the ISPR said. The FC personnel were busy constructing a new border post when the attack took place in the Shunkrai area of Mohmand Agency. DEC 12 Two officials of Pakistan Army were martyred in a terrorist attack in North Waziristan Agency, according to the ISPR. The army's media wing said that Second Lieutenant Abdul Moeed and Sepoy Basharat were martyred after terrorists fired on their vehicle from the surrounding mountains. Sepoy Basharat, 21, hailed from Danyor village of Gilgit-Baltistan while Moeed, also 21, hailed from Burewala, Vehari. Moeed had recently graduated from the PMA and belonged to the Northern Light Infantry regiment. Second Lieutenant Abdul Moeed (left) and Sepoy Basharat were both 21 years old. Photo: ISPR DEC 1 A soldier was martyred in an IED blast in Chamarkand area of Mohmand Agency, informed security officials. The soldier was martyred on his way to the check post while carrying water for his comrades. Another soldier accompanying the deceased was injured in the incident. NOV 24 AIG Noor had earlier served as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elite Force AIG. Photo: Geo News Senior police official Mohammad Ashraf Noor was martyred in a suicide attack in the Hayatabad area of Peshawar. Noor, the Additional IG Headquarters, was en route to work when a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle rammed into his vehicle near Tatara Park. Eight policemen were also injured in the attack. Noor hailed from Gilgit-Baltistan and joined the police force in 1989. NOV 22 Major Ishaq Shaheed. Photo: ISPR An army major embraced martyrdom in an exchange of fire during a search operation at a terrorist hideout in Kulachi, Dera Ismail Khan, Director General ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted. The 28-year-old martyr, Major Ishaq, belonged to Khushab, Punjab, and left behind a widow and an infant. NOV 21 A security official was martyred in a search operation in Turbat, Balochistan, informed security officials. The operation was being conducted by the FC on information regarding the presence of militants in the area. Three security personnel were also injured during the operation. NOV 15 SP Investigation Mohammad Ilyas and his three family members were martyred when unidentified gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in Quetta. The sister-in-law of the martyred SP at Civil Hospital, Quetta. Photo: Online The wife, son and grandson of the officer were also martyred in the attack which took place in the Nawa Kali area of the provincial capital. The deceased were travelling in their vehicle when they were targetted by gunmen riding motorcycles. NOV 13 A cross-border attack by terrorists from Afghanistan in Pakistan's Bajaur Agency led to the martyrdom of two Pakistan Army officials, the ISPR said. The cross-border attack had also resulted in the killing of 8-10 terrorists. Photo: ISPR Captain Junaid Hafeez and Sepoy Raham were martyred in the attack on a border post. Four other troops were injured in the incident. NOV 9 DIG Hamid Shakeel was among three officials martyred in a suicide attack on Quetta's airport road. Around eight others, including police officials, were said to be injured in the attack. Shakeel is survived by three sons. Photo: File Shakeel, who was heading the motor transport and telecommunications department, was killed when his convoy was targetted in a bomb attack. OCT 20 A police official was martyred during an operation at a drug runner?s hideout in Malir 15 area of Karachi. According to SSP Korangi Noman Siddiqui, police raided the den of a suspected drug runner, Shahzad, and arrested him. However, an exchange of fire took place later between the police party and Shahzad?s accomplices, in which police official Bilal was killed. OCT 18 Eight police officials were martyred when attackers rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a truck carrying Elite Force personnel in New Sariab area of Quetta early morning. Rescue officials clear the truck. Photo: AFP Over 20 others were wounded in the bombing, according to hospital authorities. OCT 15 Four security officials, including a captain, were martyred and three injured in an IED blast in Kharlachi, Kurram Agency. Three officials were killed instantly while three were reported injured, according to the political administration of the agency. The martyred officials were identified as Captain Husnain and sepoys Saeed Baz, Qadar Khan and Juma Gul while the injured as Naik Anwar, Sepoy Zahir and Lance Naik Sher Afzal. The martyred officials. Photo: ISPR OCT 13 One policeman was martyred and two others, along with a boy, were injured in a firing incident on Faqir Mohammad Road of Quetta. According to the SSP operations, the deceased policeman was in critical condition when he was brought to the hospital and later passed away while the boy injured in the incident was a bystander. The deceased was identified as Mohammad Ali. Naib Subedar Azhar Ali Shaheed - ISPR OCT 3 A soldier of the Pakistan Army embraced martyrdom after terrorists fired from across the Afghan border on a border post, the ISPR said. The incident occurred at the recently cleared area around Mustil Pass, an important passage from Afghanistan into Rajgal, in Khyber Agency. The martyred soldier was identified as Naib Subedar Azher Ali. SEP 30 A junior commissioned officer (JCO) and two civilians were martyred in unprovoked firing from Indian forces in Rakh Chikri area of Rawalakot, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The JCO was identified as Naib Subedar Nadeem. Lt Arsalan was 22 years old. Photo: ISPR SEPT 23 Lieutenant Arsalan Alam embraced martyrdom during firing by terrorists from across the border in Rajgal, Khyber Agency. ISPR said that terrorists from across the border fired on the newly established Pakistani border post in Rajgal, martyring Arsalan who was commanding the post. AUG 11 Two officials of the traffic police were martyred in the line of duty in Karachi. Rescue officials said unidentified attackers opened fire on the official vehicle of the Liaqatabad deputy superintendent of police in Azizabad. As a result, DSP Mohammad Hanif, 56, and his driver/gunman Sultan, 54, died on the spot. AUG 9 A major and three soldiers of the Pakistan Army laid down their lives during a military operation in KP, according to the ISPR. According to the army's media wing, Major Ali Salman ? who belonged to a 'secret agency' ? was leading a team in an anti-terrorist operation in Timergara, Dir when they were killed in a suicide bombing. Major Ali belonged to an intelligence agency and was leading the operation. Photo: ISPR The deceased were identified as Maj Ali, Havaldar Ghulam Nazir, Havaldar Akhtar and Sepoy Abdul Karim. JULY 24 Nine policemen were among at least 26 people martyred in a suicide attack in the Ferozepur area of Lahore, according to DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf. A scene of the incident. Photo: File Around 57 people were also injured in the attack, which targetted a police picket. JULY 24 A traffic police official was martyred and another injured in a gun attack in the Abul Hasan Isphani road area of Karachi. The officials, posted at the Gulzar-e-Hijri traffic section, were performing their duty when they were attacked. JULY 21 Three police personnel were martyred when their vehicle was fired upon by unidentified assailants in the Korangi area of Karachi. A 10-year-old child also lost his life in the attack. JULY 20 A soldier, identified as Jabbar, was martyred during Operation Khyber-IV, the ISPR said. The martyred soldier, Jabbar. Photo: ISPR Operation Khyber-IV was launched in July in the Rajgal area of Khyber Agency to clear the area of remaining terrorists and stop their cross-border movement from Afghanistan. JULY 16 Four Pakistan Army officials were martyred when their vehicle was targetted by Indian forces from across the LoC in the Athmaqam area of AJK. After being fired upon, the vehicle plunged into the Neelum River, according to the ISPR, killing all onboard personnel. JULY 13 Four policemen, including Quaidabad SP Mubarak Shah, were martyred when unidentified gunmen targetted the SP's official vehicle near Killi Deeba area of Quetta. Mubarak Shah Shaheed. Photo: File The three policemen guarding the SP died on the spot, while Shah succumbed to wounds later in a hospital. JULY 12 Mazari Ghot Station House Officer Sajjad Rambani was martyred along with a civilian during an exchange of fire with bandits in Rojhan Tehsil of Rajanpur, Punjab. SHO Sajjad died while fighting bandits. According to the police, the shootout also wounded four policemen and six civilians. JULY 10 SSP Sajid Khan Mohmand was martyred in a terrorist attack after his convoy was targeted with an explosive device on Boghra Road of Quetta. Around a dozen police personnel and civilians were also injured in the attack. The SSP always led from the front. Photo: File Deputy Commissioner Qaiser Khan said that a suicide bomber, riding a motorcycle, attacked the SSP's convoy. JUNE 24 Seven policemen were among fourteen people martyred in a suicide car bombing near the office of the Balochistan inspector general of police on Gulistan Road, Quetta. The attack took place near the office the Balochistan IGP. Photo: File The bodies and the 21 people injured in the attack were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta. JUNE 23 Four police officials, including an assistant sub-inspector (ASI), were martyred in a gun attack by unidentified assailants in Karachi's SITE area. The policemen had stopped at a local eatery for Iftar when three assailants on a motorcycle, their faces covered with helmets, opened fire and fled. A view of the police officials' vehicle. Photo: Geo News The martyred policemen were identified as ASI Mohammad Yousaf, Constables Raja Shabbir, Khalid and Asrar. MAY 20 Two police officers were martyred and one seriously injured in a firing incident near the Dhoraji area of Karachi. Security officials revealed that a police vehicle was shot at, resulting in the instant deaths of ASI Iftikhar and Head Constable Younus, while another official was injured. A view of the officials' vehicle. Photo: Geo News MAY 3 A policeman was martyred when unidentified persons opened fire on him in Lakki Marwat, KP. The deceased policeman, Momin Khan, was travelling to the mosque from Tijori Police Station when unidentified persons opened fired at him near Tijori Bazaar. APR 23 Four FC officials were martyred and three injured when a roadside IED exploded near their vehicle in Balochistan, the ISPR stated. The incident occurred in Gawak area in Turbat when the vehicle was on routine patrolling. APR 5 Four military personnel were among at least six people martyred when a suicide bomber targeted a population census team in Lahore's Bedian Road early morning. The attack had cast a shadow over the ongoing census exercise. Photo: AFP The attack had also left 15 people wounded. MAR 17 On March 17, two FC officials were martyred in an attempted terrorist attack on an FC check-post in Khyber Agency. MAR 17 One FC soldier embraced martyrdom while another was injured when suicide bombers stormed an FC training centre in Shabqadar, Charsadda at around 6am, the ISPR said. The funeral of the martyred official. Photo: Geo News The martyred soldier was identified as Lance Naik Naeemullah. MAR 7 Two soldiers embraced martyrdom during an exchange of fire in Malikabad, Swabi. Captain Junaid and Sepoy Amjad were taking part in an intelligence-based operation when they were killed, according to security officials. Capt Junaid (right) and Sepoy Amjad. Photo: ISPR MAR 6 As many as five soldiers embraced martyrdom while foiling an attack on three border checkpoints in Mohmand Agency, according to the ISPR. The martyred soldiers were identified as Sanaullah, Safdar, Altaf, Nek Muhammad and Anwar. MAR 5 An inspector was martyred while a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) was injured in an encounter between counter-terrorism department (CTD) personnel and terrorists in Sahiwal, Punjab. CTD officials said they had received a tip-off about the presence of terrorists in Harrapa village of Sahiwal. During the raid, the terrorists opened fire at the officials, killing inspector Fida Hussain and leaving the DSP injured. MAR 2 Lt Khawar Shaheed had won a gold medal in boxing during his time in PMA. Photo: ISPR Two Pakistan Army personnel, including an officer, were martyred in an exchange of fire with terrorists in Frontier Region Bannu. Security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation in Mullagano area of Jani Khel when terrorists hiding in the vicinity opened fire. Lieutenant Khawar Shahab and Naik Shehzad embraced martyrdom during the gunfight. FEB 16 Three Pakistan Army officials, including a captain, embraced martyrdom in an IED blast near an army convoy in Balochistan?s Awaran district. FEB 13 Two personnel of the bomb disposal squad were martyred and 11 others injured in a blast near the Saryab Bridge in Quetta. FEB 13 geo_embedgallery Chief Traffic Officer Syed Ahmed Mobin and Senior Superintendent of Police Zahid Gondal were among at least 14 people martyred in a suicide bombing on Lahore's Mall Road. A suicide bomber exploded himself near the Punjab Assembly when hundreds of people had gathered for a demonstration. The powerful explosion also left over 70 people injured. Title image: Military personnel carry the coffin of a soldier during a funeral ceremony in Peshawar. Photo: AFP
  8. File Photo KARACHI: Two labourers died when they fell into a ditch Tuesday night and got buried under dug-up soil here in the metropolis' Bhains Colony No. 11.5 locale, police officials said. The law enforcement agencies explained that the two victims were engaged in digging up land so that a water pipeline could be installed. Drug den raid LEAs raided late last night a drug den in Karachi's Sharafi Goth area, Rao Anwar ? the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) for Malir ? stated, adding that one suspect was taken into custody following the operation. Anwar noted that a case has been registered against the detained drug dealer, who was identified as Jan Sher.
  9. The apex court had dismissed the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) halting work on selected sites of the project LAHORE: Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday visited the Orange Line Metro Train project site to have an overview of the work, a day after the Supreme Court allowed the provincial government to continue construction work on the project. The apex court on Friday had dismissed the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) halting work on selected sites of the project. Shehbaz said that the project will provide people with improved transportation services and the delay will be compensated for by hard work and commitment. On Friday while talking to media the chief minister blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf for the 22-month delay caused in the construction of the project. "The PTI had submitted an application to the Supreme Court. Then, as hidden enemies strike, they did the same in the Lahore High Court. The revenge they have taken is not from me. They have taken revenge from the poor people of the city." The chief minister added that the project was to be inaugurated on Dec 25 according to the original plan. When asked when the project would be operational, Shehbaz said he would inform of the date at a later date. "But PTI and Imran Khan Niazi's team delayed the project for 22-months." He elaborated that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had a stay order on the project for 14 months and the apex court announced its verdict eight months later. Shehbaz added that the PTI did not want the people to benefit from an efficient and cheap mass transit system. "The project was to run from Dec 25, now, due to the delay we are absolutely out of line." Criticising the opposition party further, Shehbaz said they have been unable to even lay a brick for the metro project in Peshawar after a passage of four and a half years. Punjab's chief minister further said if the project had been built on time and not subject to delays, it would have lessened thousands of cars on the road and could have led to less severe smog in the provincial capital. "The tickets for the metro project would be reasonable and the price would be set keeping the common man in mind." The apex court accepted the appeal of the Punjab government and others against the LHC decision with conditions and ruled by a 4-1 judgment that it observed no illegalities in the multi-billion rupee project. A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, had reserved its verdict in the case on April 17 this year. Although the apex court has allowed the Punjab government to go ahead with the project at the same speed, the bench has set 31 conditions to ensure the project's transparency. PTI responsible for delay in Orange Line project: Shehbaz Sharif Chief minister Punjab says he would inform at a later date when the project would be operational The conditions include strict monitoring of the construction as well as a dedicated trial period before train operations begin; placement of high-tech devices and hiring of expert monitors to ensure vibrations from the construction don't damage the heritage sites and various measures for the beautification and restoration of the sites. The apex court has also ordered the formation of a five-member experts' committee and three-member technical committee to oversee the project and ensure the protection of the heritage site under question. A Rs100 million fund will also be established by the government to maintain the heritage sites, according to the court order. The $1.6 billion project Launched in May 2014 by Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in collaboration with a Chinese company, the project is set to be the country?s first metro line, but it got embroiled in a legal battle in LHC which ordered a stay on several sites as the development was trampling over heritage sites in Lahore. A single train within the 27-kilometre rail line has the capacity to carry 1,000 people, out of which 200 can be seated while 800 can commute while standing. The project, which was included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor earlier in the year, is expected to run on electricity and transport up to 250,000 passengers a day. The capacity is set to be increased to 500,000 passengers by 2025. The original deadline for the project was December 25, 2017.
  10. LAHORE: Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif on Friday blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf for the 22-month delay caused in the construction of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project. The chief minister was speaking to media in Lahore, shortly after the Supreme Court?s orders which cleared the way for completion of Orange Line Metro without any delay. The Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) halting work on selected sites of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project. "The PTI had submitted an application to the Supreme Court. Then, as hidden enemies strike, they did the same in the Lahore High Court. The revenge they have taken is not from me. They have taken revenge from the poor people of the city." The chief minister added that the project was to be inaugurated on Dec 25 according to the original plan. "But PTI and Imran Khan Niazi's team delayed the project for 22-months." He elaborated that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had a stay order for 14 months and the apex court announced its verdict eight months later. Shehbaz added that the PTI did not want the people to benefit from an efficient and cheap mass transit system. The apex court accepted the appeal of the Punjab government and others against the LHC decision with conditions and ruled by a 4-1 judgment that it observed no illegalities in the multi-billion rupee project. A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, had reserved its verdict in the case on April 17 this year. Although the apex court has allowed the Punjab government to go ahead with the project at the same speed, the bench has set 31 conditions to ensure the project's transparency. The conditions include strict monitoring of the construction as well as a dedicated trial period before train operations begin; placement of high-tech devices and hiring of expert monitors to ensure vibrations from the construction don't damage the heritage sites and various measures for the beautification and restoration of the sites. The apex court has also ordered the formation of a five-member experts' committee and three-member technical committee to oversee the project and ensure the protection of the heritage site under question. A Rs100 million fund will also be established by the government to maintain the heritage sites, according to the court order.
  11. A view of the construction of the project. Photo: File ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered on Friday the continuation of work on the Orange Line Metro Train in Lahore, albeit with some conditions. With a majority of four to one, the five-member bench hearing the appeal against the Lahore High Court decision partially stopping the project's construction around 11 historical sites ruled that the project will proceed subject to the following conditions and directions: Supreme Court dismisses LHC order, clears tracks for Orange Line Metro Train SC had reserved its verdict in the case in April this year, after hearing petitions filed by Punjab govt against LHC's partial stay on the project 1) The appellant shall make all necessary arrangements to ensure that the monuments remain stable and undamaged in all respects during the execution of the Project as specified in the HIA and Study of Control of Vibration, Noise and Foundation; 2) Vibration monitoring shall be undertaken as a part of the monitoring plan using the crack measure devices such as Avongard Standard Tell-Tale throughout the construction period and for an additional period of 10 weeks from the date of commencement of commercial operation of the train or such further time as may be directed by the Director General, Archaeology. In case, it is found that vibration levels at any stage of the construction or operation are exceeding safe limits, construction work/operation shall immediately be discontinued and remedial action shall be taken to ensure that such levels are brought down to acceptable limits. Such actions may inter alia include use of one piece of equipment at a time, during the construction phase, adjustment of train speed, addition of buffers and such other remedial and mitigating measures as may be recommended by the experts; 3) Technical experts shall be present at the sites during the construction phase in the vicinity of the antiquities and special premises with all necessary equipment for monitoring vibration levels. In case, vibration levels exceed the acceptable limits, work shall immediately be stopped, remedial measures taken to the satisfaction of experts and further work shall not commence unless written clearance for resumption of work is given by the experts; 4) An independent and experienced Conservation Engineer shall be appointed to monitor the Project, both during the construction and operation phases. He shall submit monthly reports to the Advisory Committee which shall Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project 112 make such further recommendations to the Director General, Archaeology as may be required to ensure that the Project as a whole is meeting all technical requirements meant to preserve, protect and conserve the antiquities or protected premises; 5) On completion of the project, the train shall be operated on experimental basis for at least 2 weeks on the entire length of the route and the vibration levels shall be monitored to ensure that the same are within the acceptable limits. Commercial operation shall not commence unless written clearance is given by the experts confirming that vibration levels have consistently been found to be within acceptable limits; 6) The speed of the Train shall be reduced while passing near the monuments as recommended by the Directorate General of Archaeology from time to time on the basis of data made available to it; 7) State of the art vibration measuring equipments shall permanently be installed at suitable places in and around the antiquities and special premises to monitor levels of vibration created by operation of the train. Records of the same shall be maintained and regularly checked by a responsible officer deputed to do so; 8) Special teams consisting of qualified experts will be set up which will periodically inspect all antiquities and special premises to detect any damage or deterioration at the sites. Proper records and logbooks shall be maintained for this purpose; 9) Any damage or deterioration shall be reported to the Director General, Archaeology in writing who shall take remedial steps necessary to ensure safety of the buildings and structures; 10) Recommendations of the Advisory Committee (already set up) shall be placed before the Directorate General of Archaeology, who shall take necessary steps to ensure that the same are complied with in letter and spirit by all concerned agencies, contractors, sub-contractors and operators; 11) Where excavation is necessary it shall be carried out in a way that it would not affect any structure or foundation of Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project 113 the antiquities or special premises. Where necessary special arrangements shall be made to stabilize and strengthen the structure of the antiquities and special premises. All necessary safety arrangements shall be made in accordance with the best engineering expertise during excavation, construction and execution phases of the Project; 12) The executing agency shall install accelerometers, velocity transducers, noise detectors and vibration measuring equipment near the antiquities and special premises. The appellant shall ensure implementation of additional mitigation and remedial measures as mentioned in vibration analysis report by NESPAK, Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) as well as in the reports submitted by Dr Uppal and Dr Rogers; 13) Excavation would be carried out in a way that would not affect any of the exposed or buried structure of the Special Premises; 14) In case of any adverse impact to the antiquities or special premises during excavation, construction or execution, the appellant and all other related agencies shall immediately and forthwith stop and discontinue further work, take all possible actions to protect and conserve the antiquities and special premises and in this regard, involve such experts and consultants as may be necessary to ensure that the causes and effects of the adverse impact are effectively removed; 15) A dedicated hotline shall be set up, telephone numbers whereof shall be prominently displayed in public areas around all antiquities and special premises for reporting damage or deterioration observed by members of the public or tourists; 16) In case, any information/report is received by the Director General, Archaeology the same shall be investigated within 7 days and after receiving recommendations (if any) from experts repair/renovation work shall be commenced within 30 days; 17) No building material or equipment shall be stored/stockpiled within protected area of the monuments; 18) No change shall be made in the alignment of the track which brings any part of it nearer to the monuments than the distances set out hereinabove; 19) Dust pollution during construction shall be controlled through extensive sprinkling of water on regular basis and taking such other steps including but not limited to covering the monuments with protective sheets in order to avoid any damage from dust; 20) The design of the viaduct and nearby stations in terms of colour and designing shall be in harmony with the setting and appearance of the monuments; 21) The Hydraulic Tank of Shalamar Garden shall be restored, as far as possible, to its original position and the surrounding area will be converted into a green area; 22) Structures on the southern side of the Shalamar Garden shall be camouflaged through construction of a wall in consultation with the Directorate General of Archaeology. All practicable efforts shall be made to create a Buffer Zone around Shalamar Garden as per proposal already pending in the Directorate General of Archaeology and other competent forums; 23) The decorative motifs of Shalamar Garden would be replicated on the train station near the Shalamar Garden to create harmony with the Garden; 24) The tile mosaic motifs of the Gulabi Bagh Gateway would be replicated on the nearby station of the Gateway to create harmony with the historic Gateway; 25) The area around the Chauburji Gateway would be properly attended and developed into a greenbelt; 26) The decorative motifs of the Chauburji Gateway would be replicated on the nearby station of the Chauburji Gateway to create a harmony with the historic Gateway; 27) The area around the Zaib-un-Nisa?s Tomb would be properly attended and developed; 28) The decorative motifs of the Zaib-un-Nisa?s Tomb would be replicated on the nearby station of the Zaib-un-Nisa?s Tomb to create harmony with the historic; 29) The Respondents shall in consultation with UNESCO and other international agencies prepare phase-wise plan to control and monitor urban encroachments and the process of creating buffer zone around the Shalamar garden; 30) All future projects which directly, indirectly and incidentally involve antiquities or heritage sites shall in the first instance be widely publicized through print and electronic media at least 6 months prior to proposed date of commencement of the project and public hearings shall be conducted to hear objections, if any against such project; and 31) For all future projects, NOCs, licences, approvals and permissions as required by law shall be obtained before work on the project site is commenced.
  12. Punjab CM inaugurates the first set of bogies of the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train during a ceremony/File photo:APP LAHORE: The Supreme Court of Pakistan will announce its verdict regarding the Orange Line Metro Train project on Friday (today). The proceedings regarding the project had begun in the Supreme Court after the Punjab government had filed petitions in the apex court following Lahore High Court?s (LHC) verdict ordering halting of Orange Line construction in the city. A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, had reserved the verdict in the case on April 17. The provincial government had filed an appeal against LHC?s August 2016 order suspending construction of the $1.6 billion Orange Line Metro Train within 200 feet of 11 historical sites in the city. A single train within the 27-kilometre rail line has the capacity to carry 1,000 people, out of which 200 can be seated while 800 can commute while standing. The project, which was included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor earlier in the year, is expected to run on electricity and transport up to 250,000 passengers a day. CM Punjab unveils Orange Line Metro Train project Before the event, Shehbaz Sharif sent messages on social media lauding the project The capacity is set to be increased to 500,000 passengers by 2025. Launched in May 2014 by Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in collaboration with a Chinese company, the project would have been the country?s first metro line, before it got embroiled in a legal battle in LHC which ordered a stay on several sites as the development was trampling over heritage sites in Lahore.
  13. BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri rescinded his resignation on Tuesday, drawing a line under a month-long crisis triggered when he announced from Riyadh that he was stepping down and remained outside Lebanon for weeks. His coalition government, which includes the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, reaffirmed a state policy of staying out of conflicts in Arab states. Hariri?s Saudi allies accuse Hezbollah of waging war across the Middle East as agents of Iran. Hariri?s shock resignation had thrust Lebanon to the forefront of the regional quarrel between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has been played out on battlefields in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Lebanese officials said Saudi Arabia had coerced Hariri, a long-time Saudi ally, into resigning and put him under effective house arrest until an intervention by France led to his return to Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Hariri have denied this. President Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, refused to accept his resignation while he remained abroad. Saudi concern over the influence wielded by Iran and Hezbollah in other Arab states had been widely seen as the root cause of the crisis, which raised fears for Lebanon?s economic and political stability. The Lebanese policy of ?dissociation? was declared in 2012 to keep the deeply divided state out of regional conflicts such as the civil war in neighbouring Syria. Despite the policy, Hezbollah is heavily involved there, sending thousands of fighters to help President Bashar al-Assad. In its first meeting since Hariri?s resignation, the cabinet on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to the policy. ?All (the government?s) political components decide to dissociate themselves from all conflicts, disputes, wars or the internal affairs of brother Arab countries, in order to preserve Lebanon?s economic and political relations,? Hariri said. PARIS MEETING Lebanon, where Muslim, Christian and Druze groups fought a civil war from 1975-1990, has a governing system designed to share power among sectarian groups. Hariri, a wealthy Sunni businessman with long ties to the kingdom, had denounced Iran during his resignation speech and said he was outside Lebanon because he feared for his family?s safety. His father, an ex-prime minister, was assassinated in 2005. In a speech during the cabinet session, Hariri warned that the tensions in the region could easily drag Lebanon down a dangerous route, and the issues which had led to the crisis could be ignored. ?Developments in the region suggest a new wave of conflict ... Perhaps the conflict is nearing the end, and Lebanon cannot be plunged into chaos on the finish line. ?If we are rejecting interference by any state in Lebanese affairs, it cannot be that we accept that any Lebanese side interferes in the affairs of Arab states,? Hariri said, an apparent reference to Hezbollah. ?We have to address this issue, and take a decision announcing our disassociation, in words and deeds,? he said. Hariri?s resignation was accompanied by a sharp escalation in Saudi statements targeting the Lebanese state, with Riyadh at one point accusing the Beirut government of declaring war against it. Western governments, including the United States, stressed their support for Hariri and Lebanon. Hariri will be in Paris on Friday for a meeting of the International Lebanon Support Group, a body that includes the five members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. The meeting, to be opened by French President Emmanuel Macron, aims in part to put pressure on Saudi Arabia and Iran to desist from interference in Lebanon, diplomats said.
  14. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/39ebceea6e0ac5957d1a8582859477c4.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MTEvMjIvMjAxNyAzOjI4OjEzIFBNJmhhc2hfdmFsdWU9WVIvbjBkWjRnN2ttUGRreDg4MUdrQT09JnZhbGlkbWludXRlcz02MCZpZD0x style=center] KARACHI: Governor Sindh Mohammad Zubair said on Wednesday the delay in completion of Green Line bus project in Karachi is due to the provincial government, however, added the project would become operational by May, next year. The statement was made as the Sindh governor interacted with newsmen during his visit to Karachi's Hyderi area, where he reviewed progress of work on the project. Zubair said Karachi used to be considered as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. "The megapolis has witnessed a miraculous change over the last four years, with major crimes eliminated from the city." He said Rangers performed brilliantly in the city and the purpose to have the paramilitary force in the megapolis is to not allow the law and order situation to deteriorate again, and for the people to remain satisfied. The Sindh governor further said a major chunk of the Karachi package has been allocated for the city's infrastructure. He said the Green Line bus service would be operational by April or May, 2018.
  15. A Iranian precision-guided ballistic missile is launched as it is tested at an undisclosed location on October 11, 2015. ? Reuters FILE PARIS: France said on Wednesday it wanted an ?uncompromising? dialogue with Iran about its ballistic missile program and a possible negotiation over the issue separate from Tehran?s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Paris has already suggested that new European sanctions against Iran could be discussed over its missile tests, something EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini seemed to dismiss on Tuesday, keen not to raise risks to the hard-won deal that curbed Iran?s disputed nuclear activity. On Sunday, Iran rejected a call by French President Emmanuel Macron for talks on its missiles, saying they were defensive in nature and had nothing to do with its nuclear energy work. ?France is concerned about the continued pace of the Iranian missile program, which does not conform with (UN) Security Council Resolution 2231 and which is a source of destabilisation and insecurity for the region,? Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told reporters in a daily briefing. Resolution 2231, which enshrined the nuclear deal, calls on Iran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs, including launches using such technology. It stops short of explicitly barring such activity. ?France wishes to examine all the diplomatic options: a frank and uncompromising political dialogue with Iran; investigations by the UN General Secretariat; if necessary, new European sanctions against Iranian entities or individuals involved in the ballistic program; and finally opening a negotiation on the subject,? she said. President Donald Trump, who has resumed a confrontational US approach to Iran in contrast with predecessor Barack Obama?s policy of detente, has said Iranian missile activity should be curbed and wants to punish Tehran over its role in Yemen and Syria. Trump has also dealt a blow to Iran?s nuclear deal - agreed with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States under Obama - by decertifying Iranian compliance with its terms, contradicting the findings of UN nuclear inspectors. The US Congress now has until mid-December to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran that had been lifted in exchange for limiting its nuclear program in ways meant to prevent it from developing an atomic bomb. But the EU, which normally coordinates closely with Washington on international sanctions, has been lobbying hard to keep the nuclear pact alive, saying it should be kept separate from missile and regional security matters. France?s tougher line on the missile issue appears to reflect a concern that Iran might eventually try to arm a missile cone with a nuclear bomb, should it ever build one. Tehran has repeatedly denied any intent to do so. Romatet-Espagne reiterated the view that the nuclear deal should be kept separate, but said the ballistic missile issue was being discussed with fellow EU governments and Mogherini?s foreign service. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian had been due to visit Tehran before the end of the month, although that has now been pushed back to later in the year due to a busy schedule, a diplomatic source said. Any EU-wide sanctions action requires the unanimity of all 28 member states but there is no consensus on new punitive steps against Iran, a fact made clear by Mogherini on Monday. ?We didn?t discuss, not today, not last week [and] I don?t foresee any discussion also in the future, further sanctions from the EU side on Iran,? she said, alluding to Macron?s remarks, after a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
  16. LAHORE: Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif is to unveil a mega-transport scheme, Orange Line Metro Project, in Punjab?s capital on Sunday. Sharif will also address the unveiling ceremony of the mass transport system as the first train arrived in the country from China recently. Before the event, he sent messages on social media lauding the project. Sharif also said that the project is meant to make the underprivileged feel that ?they have equal rights on the state resources as their rich counterparts? it aims to create equality.? The management has finalised the arrangements for the event. The 27 trains are likely to cover the distance as per the route built up until December 25 ? when the project is set to be launched. A single train has the capacity to carry 1,000 people, out of which 200 can be seated while 800 can commute while standing. The project has also been included in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, it was decided in the Economic Coordination Committee meeting held in January. Orange Line Metro to become part of CPEC ?All train projects in other provinces will also become part of the CPEC,? the statement added. The metro train is expected to run on electricity and to transport up to 250,000 passengers a day. The capacity will be increased to 500,000 passengers by 2025. Launched in May 2014 by the Punjab chief minister, in collaboration with a Chinese company, the project will be the country?s first metro line. The construction for the project began in 2015 and was personally supervised by Sharif. Costing a whopping $1.6 billion, the 27-kilometres rail line was set to be up and running by mid-2017 but got embroiled in a legal battle in the Lahore High Court which ordered a stay on several sites as the development was trampling over heritage sites in Lahore.
  17. BRUSSELS: Google will treat its own shopping service the same as rivals when they bid for ads at the top of a search page, the company said on Wednesday, as it seeks to comply with an EU antitrust order and stave off fresh fines. The European Commission slapped a record 2.4-billion-euro ($2.8 billion) fine on the world´s most popular internet search engine in June and told the firm to stop favouring its shopping service. Google, a unit of US firm Alphabet, has until Sept. 28 to halt this anti-competitive practice or face a penalty up to 5 percent of its average daily worldwide turnover. The company said competitors would be able to bid for ads in the shopping box via an auction, confirming a Reuters report on Sept. 18."We´re giving comparison shopping services the same opportunity to show shopping ads from merchants on Google´s search results pages as we give to Google Shopping," spokesman Al Verney said. "Google Shopping will compete on equal terms and will operate as if it were a separate business, participating in the auction in the same way as everyone else," he said. The changes will go into effect on Thursday and apply only in Europe. The shopping service will operate as an independent unit, with one team working with competing sites and another with merchants, and subjected to regulatory monitoring. The EU competition authority said it had hired auditor KPMG and marketing firm Mavens to help with the task. "It would be premature at this stage for the Commission to take any definite positions on Google´s plans. As (European Competition) Commissioner Vestager said, ´this issue will remain on our desks for some time´," Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said. Lobby group FairSearch, whose members include Google rivals such as British shopping comparison site Foundem and US travel site TripAdvisor, said it would keep a close eye on developments. "We will be watching closely to see if this remedy ends the abuse so that consumers get the best prices and most relevant results, and competitors have an opportunity to innovate," its lawyer Thomas Vinje said. About a dozen rivals out of an estimated 200 to 300 comparison shopping services in Europe have already provided feeds to Google. Several have criticised the proposal for not addressing the regulatory concerns. Deutsche Bank analysts estimate the European product listing ads (PLAs) business should generate between $4 billion to $5 billion in 2017, representing about 5 percent of the company´s total ad revenue. Analyst Lloyd Walmsley estimated that if Google was forced to make changes, it could lop 30 percent off of these revenues, or about 1-2 percent of Alphabet´s total revenue. Google is also under EU fire over its smartphone operating system Android, as well as its AdSense for Search platform.
  18. Photo: File SIALKOT: Two wildlife officers of the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department were shot dead by poachers on Sunday. Inspector Manzoor and Constable Mushtaq from the special squad in Gujranwala region were killed by poachers armed with automated weapons near Sialkot. The officers, according to a statement by the WWF Pakistan, were killed while intercepting an attempt of illegal poaching of migratory birds. WWF-Pakistan strongly condemned the killing of the two officers. "WWF Pakistan stands with the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department and the families of martyrs in solidarity and strongly condemns this inhumane act," the organisation tweeted. "WWF Pakistan urges stringent punishments against those found culpable and assures its full support." The brutal killing of the two officials is extremely sad and shocking news for the entire team of WWF Pakistan, CEO Hammad Naqi Khan said. Commenting on the challenges faced by the field staff of the wildlife and forests departments, Khan added that 'they work tirelessly to protect endangered and iconic wildlife species and their habitats' most of which are in demand in the illegal wildlife trade market. "These unsung conservation heroes regularly pay with their lives while trying to keep our natural treasures safe," Khan said. The situation prevails in Asia and Africa in particular. According to an assessment of the International Ranger Federation (IRF), over 100 field rangers (wildlife and forest staff) died on duty during 2015 alone, of which 40 percent were killed by poachers. This is further intensified by loopholes and low penalties in the provincial wildlife protection laws against the poachers and wildlife traffickers making it a low risk and high-profit business.
  19. source: Huffington Post TEHRAN: A Chinese state-owned investment firm has provided a $10 billion credit line for Iranian banks, Iran´s central bank president said Saturday. The contract was signed in Beijing between China´s CITIC investment group and a delegation of Iranian banks led by central bank president Valiollah Seif. The Iran Daily said the funds would finance water, energy and transport projects. Iran is vital to China´s trade ambitions as it develops its trillion-dollar "One Belt, One Road" strategy aimed at dramatically boosting its ties to Europe and Africa. In addition to the credit line, the China Development Bank signed preliminary deals with Iran worth $15 billion for other infrastructure and production projects, Seif announced. The contracts reflect "a strong will for continuation of cooperation between the two countries," Seif said. The credit line will use euros and yuan to help bypass US sanctions that have continued despite the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2015. China was a signatory to the deal that lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran´s nuclear programme. President Xi Jinping visited Iran a week after it came into effect, vowing to boost bilateral trade to $600 billion within a decade. Although trade was just $31 billion in 2016, it has jumped more than 30 per cent in the first six months of 2017. China is already Iran´s biggest oil customer and accounts for a third of its overall trade. Since the lifting of sanctions, Beijing has opened two credit lines worth $4.2 billion to build high-speed railway lines linking Tehran with Mashhad and Isfahan, Iran Daily reported. The latest move follows an eight-billion-euro credit deal signed with South Korea´s Exim bank last month. European banks remain wary of penalties from Washington for working with Iran, but talks are said to be at an advanced stage for $22 billion in credit deals with banks from Austria, Denmark and Germany. China´s new $10 billion credit line will go to Iran´s Refah Kargaran, San´at va Ma´dan, Parsian, Pasargad and Tose´e Saderat banks.
  20. US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks on health care during an event to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2017, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, September 13, 2017. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP WASHINGTON: Former US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will Wednesday introduce a plan for government-sponsored universal health care, a notion long shunned in America that has newly gained traction among rising-star Democrats. But while support for such a scheme has surged among prominent Democrats ? including several who may launch presidential bids in 2020 ? the party's leaders are not on board with the liberal independent senator. Sanders, whose so-called "single payer" health insurance proposal was a key part of his run against Hillary Clinton for the White House nomination, said his bill has 15 co-sponsors plus himself ? representing one third of the Senate Democratic caucus's 48 members. A handful of others, including Joe Manchin and Chris Murphy, are openly considering it. "The last time I introduced this bill, it lacked a single co-sponsor," Sanders said Wednesday in an email to supporters. "This is a struggle whose time has come." Six of the backers ? senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Al Franken and Sanders himself ? are considered potential contenders in the race against Republican President Donald Trump three years from now. "Health care should be a right, not a privilege," Gillibrand said in a statement announcing her support for Sanders's "Medicare for All" bill. The legislation, which Sanders said would expand coverage to all uninsured people, simplify a complicated system for families and reduce administrative costs for businesses, has virtually no chance of passage with Trump's party running Washington. Republicans control Congress, and on Wednesday they were unveiling their own bill in the Senate, one that would effectively turn control of the health care markets over to the 50 US states. "Bernie, this ends your dream of a single-payer health care system for America," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said as the bill was presented. But the level of Democratic backing for Sanders' plan reflects his influence within the party's progressive wing. Senator Tammy Baldwin's support is noteworthy. She once kept the Sanders proposal at arm's length, but has now embraced it one year before she stands for re-election in Wisconsin, a state Trump narrowly won in 2016. Supporting the Sanders bill helps Democrats broadcast their progressive bona fides to the millions of voters who backed his White House bid. Sanders' single-payer plan ? in which the government directly shoulders medical costs for its citizens ? would mark a fundamental shift away from the country's current system built largely around private insurance. His plan would dramatically expand Medicare ? the health insurance program for Americans age 65 and above, whose costs are largely covered by government ? to create perhaps the most ambitious social welfare initiative in US history. If the Democrats' 2020 presidential nominee ends up backing such a plan, it could frame a titanic clash with Trump, who campaigned heavily on his pledge to repeal and replace Barack Obama's signature health reforms that expanded coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. In a sign of the shift within the party, a majority of House Democrats have now signed on to a single-payer bill that congressman John Conyers has been introducing regularly for years. No 'litmus test' Their enthusiasm is not shared by Democratic party leaders. "I don't think it's a litmus test," top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi told The Washington Post. Her immediate mission is "protecting" Obama's Affordable Care Act, which Republicans could again try to repeal this month, following several failed attempts in 2017. Democrats have expended much political capital defending Obamacare, and leaders are unlikely to want to relitigate such a costly fight for a more progressive plan. "What we want is to have as many people as possible, everybody, covered, and I think that's something that we all embrace," Pelosi said. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has also been non-committal. A crucial hurdle is money. Sanders has not explained how much his proposal would cost, but the tab is sure to be hefty. "Nobody's figured out how you can afford it yet," House Republican Tom Cole told reporters. "I think they're making the mistake of a lifetime," Cole said of Democrats. "But I think that's where their party's moving." Some supporters of the bill acknowledge that passage is unlikely at this point in time, but hope it can serve as a marker in the US political landscape "This bill is aspirational," Franken said in a statement. "I'm hopeful that it can serve as a starting point for where we need to go as a country."
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  22. File Photo KARACHI: Four people were electrocuted to death, while one was severely wounded in a rain-related incident Friday night here on Jinnah Road in the Sher Shah area, Geo News reported. The victims of electrocution were reportedly the owners of road-side swings, law enforcement agencies said, adding that they were passing via Jinnah Road when their ride came into contact with a fallen power cable. The deceased have been identified as Arshad Ghulam Yaseen, Akhtar Rafiq, Sabir Ashiq, and Nawaz Sohara, while the wounded person is Asif ? son of Ghulam Farid, police explained. Residents of the locality, however, mentioned that a complaint had been filed with K-Electric three days ago, but no one turned up to fix it. "K-Electric did not send anyone even after we filed a complaint with them," one of the residents said. Condemning the incident, they said the power supply company only sent a team after four lives were lost.
  23. Background Image: South West Trains LONDON: Commuters were left in a flap on Thursday when a swan waddled onto train tracks blocking the line to Waterloo station, a transport hub currently undergoing a huge revamp. "New - Due to a swan on the line, some lines are blocked between Egham and Ashford," operator South West Trains wrote on Twitter at 7:14 am (11:14 AM PST). The unexpected rush-hour interruption dismayed many on the social media site, with one person suggesting the driver should "just run it over". "How long does it take to remove a Swan???? Not exactly an elephant is it?" another asked. It was more than 20 minutes before the trespassing bird was taken to safety, delaying trains, with South West Trains later posting a photo of the dishevelled swan with dirtied feathers. Commuters have already been advised to avoid Waterloo for most of August, with the rail operator advising them to take holiday or work from home, as a massive station upgrade gets under way. While the £800-million ($1 billion, 883 million euros) revamp has been well publicised, including the expected delays, there was a doubt that the swan tale would be accepted by employers. "You expect my boss to believe that?" wrote one Twitter user. Swans have a notable place in British history, with the monarch in the 12th century claiming ownership of all mute swans in England to ensure a supply of meat for banquets and feasts. Queen Elizabeth II only exercises her right over certain stretches of London's River Thames and its tributaries ? and the royal family no longer eats the birds. Just hours after the swan incident, South West Trains reported a line near the south coast had been blocked by cows. "We hope to have them moooved soon," the rail operator joked.
  24. Since 2003, almost 22,000 civilians and nearly 7,000 Pakistani security forces have been killed as a result of militancy, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal. Photo: Reuters President Donald Trump's administration appears ready to harden its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on Pakistan-based militants launching attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan, US officials tell Reuters. Potential Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding US drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Some US officials, however, are skeptical of the prospects for success, arguing that years of previous US efforts to curb Pakistan's support for militant groups have failed, and that already strengthening US ties to India, Pakistan's arch-enemy, undermine chances of a breakthrough with Islamabad. US officials say they seek greater cooperation with Pakistan, not a rupture in ties, once the administration finishes a regional review of the strategy guiding the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan. Precise actions have yet to be decided. The White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the review before its completion. Pakistan's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "The United States and Pakistan continue to partner on a range of national security issues," Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said. But the discussions alone suggest a shift toward a more assertive approach to address safe havens in Pakistan that have been blamed for in part helping turn Afghanistan's war into an intractable conflict. Experts on America's longest war argue that militant safe havens in Pakistan have allowed Taliban-linked insurgents a place to plot deadly strikes in Afghanistan and regroup after ground offensives. Although long mindful of Pakistan, the Trump administration in recent weeks has put more emphasis on the relationship with Islamabad in discussions as it hammers out a the regional strategy to be presented to Trump by mid-July, nearly six months after he took office, one official said. "We've never really fully articulated what our strategy towards Pakistan is. The strategy will more clearly say what we want from Pakistan specifically," the US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Other US officials warn of divisions within the government about the right approach and question whether any mix of carrots and sticks can get Islamabad to change its behaviour. At the end of the day, Washington needs a partner, even if an imperfect one, in nuclear-armed Pakistan, they say. NATO soldiers after a suicide car attack at a NATO vehicle in Kabul in 2015. Photo: Reuters The United States is again poised to deploy thousands more troops in Afghanistan, an acknowledgment that US-backed forces are not winning and Taliban militants are resurgent. Without more pressure on militants within Pakistan who target Afghanistan, experts say additional US troop deployments will fail to meet their ultimate objective: to pressure the Taliban to eventually negotiate peace. "I believe there will be a much harder US line on Pakistan going forward than there has been in the past," Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan ambassador to the United States, told Reuters, without citing specific measures under review. Kabul has long been critical of Pakistan's role in Afghanistan. Pakistan fiercely denies allowing any militants safe haven on its territory. It bristles at US claims that its spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, has ties to Haqqani network militants blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan. "What Pakistan says is that we are already doing a lot and that our plate is already full," a senior Pakistani government source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The source doubted the Trump administration would press too hard, saying: "They don?t want to push Pakistan to abandon their war against terrorism." A policeman stands at the site of a suicide attack on Lahore's Mall Road in 2017. Photo: AFP Pakistani officials point towards the toll militancy has taken on the country. Since 2003, almost 22,000 civilians and nearly 7,000 Pakistani security forces have been killed as a result of militancy, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, which tracks violence. Experts say Pakistan's policy towards Afghanistan is also driven in part by fears that India will gain influence in Afghanistan. Is Pakistan an ally? Nuclear-armed Pakistan won the status as a major non-NATO ally in 2004 from the George Bush administration, in what was at the time seen in part as recognition of its importance in the US battle against al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents. The status is mainly symbolic, allowing limited benefits such as giving Pakistan faster access to surplus US military hardware. Some US officials and experts on the region scoff at the title. "Pakistan is not an ally. It?s not North Korea or Iran. But it?s not an ally," said Bruce Riedel, a Pakistan expert at the Brookings Institution. But yanking the title would be seen by Pakistan as a major blow. "The Pakistanis would take that very seriously because it would be a slap at their honour," said a former US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council, co-authored a report with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington, in which they recommended the Trump administration warn Pakistan the status could be revoked in six months. "Thinking of Pakistan as an ally will continue to create problems for the next administration as it did for the last one," said the February report. It was unclear how seriously the Trump administration was considering the proposal. The growing danger to Afghanistan from suspected Pakistan-based militants was underscored by a devastating May 31 truck bomb that killed more than 80 people and wounded 460 in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul. Afghanistan's main intelligence agency said the attack - one of the deadliest in memory in Kabul - had been carried out by the Haqqani network with assistance from Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. Washington believes the strikes appeared to be the work of the Haqqani network, US officials told Reuters. US frustration over the Haqqani's presence in Pakistan has been building for years. The United States designated the Haqqani network as a terrorist organisation in 2012. US Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, then the top US military officer, told Congress in 2011 that the Haqqani network was a "veritable arm" of the ISI. The potential US pivot to a more assertive approach would be sharply different than the approach taken at the start of the Obama administration, when US officials sought to court Pakistani leaders, including then army chief General Ashfaq Kayani. Admiral Mullen and General Kayani at a NATO conference in 2011. Photo: Reuters David Sedney, who served as Obama's deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia from 2009 to 2013, said the attempt to turn Islamabad into a strategic partner was a "disaster." "It didn't affect Pakistan's behaviour one bit. In fact, I would argue it made Pakistan's behaviour worse," Sedney said. More drones, cash cut-off Pakistan has received more than $33 billion in US assistance since 2002, including more than $14 billion in so-called Coalition Support Funds (CSF), a US Defense Department programme to reimburse allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-insurgency operations. It is an important form of foreign currency for the nuclear-armed country and one that is getting particularly close scrutiny during the Trump administration review. Last year, the Pentagon decided not to pay Pakistan $300 million in CSF funding after then-US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter declined to sign authorisation that Pakistan was taking adequate action against the Haqqani network. US officials said the Trump administration was discussing withholding at least some assistance to Pakistan. Curtis' report also singled out the aid as a target. But US aid cuts could cede even more influence to China, which already has committed nearly $60 billion in investments in Pakistan. A US Air Force MQ-1 Predator drone. Photo: Reuters Another option under review is broadening a drone campaign to penetrate deeper into Pakistan to target Haqqani fighters and other militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan, US officials and a Pakistan expert said. "Now the Americans (will be) saying, you aren't taking out our enemies, so therefore we are taking them out ourselves," the Pakistan expert, who declined to be identified, said. Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa last week criticised "unilateral actions" such as drone strikes as "counterproductive and against (the) spirit of ongoing cooperation and intelligence sharing being diligently undertaken by Pakistan".
  25. CARDIFF: Bangladesh and New Zealand head into their final group match of this year´s Champions Trophy desperate for victory but knowing even a win in Cardiff on Friday may not take either of them into the semifinals. Both teams have a point apiece in the one-day international tournament after they were each well beaten by England, while their respective matches with Australia ended in rain-induced no results. England are already into the last four and Australia will join them there if they defeat the tournament hosts in the final Group A fixture at Edgbaston on Saturday. It all leaves Bangladesh and New Zealand needing to win in Wales and then hope England put one over their archrivals, assuming more bad weather does not disrupt those calculations. New Zealand should have the edge over Bangladesh when it comes to local knowledge given their 87-run defeat by England in Cardiff on Tuesday. "When it´s not seaming and it´s not swinging, obviously we need to look at different measures," New Zealand paceman Trent Boult told reporters at Cardiff on Thursday. "I think we all know the importance of getting wickets early in the innings and putting the team under pressure is where you can really set the game up. "That´s the challenge tomorrow. I´m sure we´d love to come hard at the top order, which has been playing very well." New Zealand captain Kane Williamson made a brilliant hundred against Australia before following up with 87 against England -- a match where he was fined but not banned for a dreadfully slow over-rate. Bangladesh´s Tamim Iqbal also started the tournament with a century, against England, before making 95 against Australia. For both sides the innings has tended to fall away following the exit of their key batsman, with New Zealand losing their last eight wickets for 65 against England following Williamson´s dismissal. "Yes, he is in great form but we cannot focus only on Williamson," said Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza at his pre-match press conference. "They have players like Martin Guptill who can change the game." Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza/Reuters Bangladesh were just four overs away from all but certain defeat and tournament elimination when rain came to their rescue against Australia. Their most recent meeting with the Blackcaps saw Bangladesh beat New Zealand by five wickets in a warm-up match in Dublin. New Zealand, however, were without several key players in Guptill, Williamson, plus pacemen Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne. "We have beaten their strongest team at home (in Bangladesh) but maybe not so strong in Ireland," Tamim told reporters in Cardiff on Wednesday. "They have serious quality players. If we want to repeat the result again, we have to execute well," he added. It was at Cardiff, now a much-changed ground, where Bangladesh caused arguably the biggest of all ODI upsets by beating a powerful Australia side in 2005. Defeating New Zealand would not be such a shock, but it would be a huge boost to the current Bangladesh´s side standing in world cricket. "We knew before the tournament that we had to produce something special, otherwise it wouldn´t be easy to beat teams like England and Australia," said Mortaza. "But we are a team that wouldn´t let go of a chance, so if one is coming up tomorrow, we will have to make sure we don´t let it slip."