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  1. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/0f5f1c0de93618fa95ec410c04c696c9.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9My8xOS8yMDE4IDY6NDY6NDcgQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT1id29JOE12b1FtdFpZTStqWHRHNVBnPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court summoned on Monday the interior minister and secretary in a case pertaining to charging an extra fee from expatriates for their identity cards. A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar, heard the suo-motu case regarding the government charging extra fees for the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP). The bench comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. During the court proceedings, the chief justice questioned, ?What is the reason for sending the summary regarding the change in prices of identity cards? On what basis has the government sent this summary?? The chief justice then summoned the interior minister and interior secretary to provide the reasoning behind the decision. The court was later informed that the interior minister and secretary have gone to Gwadar for a two-day visit. Responding to this, the chief justice said that the case should be adjourned till Monday (March 26). He suggested that a commission should be formed to review the fee structure for identity cards. On March 21, 2017, the top judge had taken suo motu notice over the exorbitant fee being charged for the issuance of NICOP and cancellation of the Pakistan Origin Card (POC). The issue came into court's notice after a non-resident Pakistani complained that the issuance fee for a POC had been increased to Rs22,000, and the cancellation fee to Rs31,500. According to the complaint, the POC fee was earlier increased to $150 from $100 and then to Rs22,000 for preparation and Rs31,500 for cancellation of the card. The complainant alleged that the National Database and Registration Authority's (NADRA) move has discouraged overseas Pakistanis to opt for the POC. Reasoning the fee hike, NADRA representatives had claimed before the apex court last month that the price of the new chip-based smart identification card was comparatively high due to its distinctive features.
  2. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi retained his job and was also promoted to a state councillor on Monday, meaning he now has the country?s two top diplomat roles, in a vote of confidence for his strong defense of China?s interests. Photo: REUTERS1 BEIJING: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi retained his job and was also promoted to a state councillor on Monday, meaning he now has the country?s two top diplomat roles, in a vote of confidence for his strong defense of China?s interests. Sources had previously told Reuters that Wang would probably become a state councillor with responsibility for foreign affairs and that he may also keep his job as foreign minister. He has been likened to a ?silver fox? in China?s state media, and online, for his looks and his staunch defense of Chinese positions, which has won him a loyal following. Foreign diplomats say he can be suave and charming, as well as tough. Unusually friendly to the foreign media for a senior Chinese official, Wang has won plaudits in China for his tough line on issues like the disputed South China Sea and quick-witted - sometimes bad-tempered quips - to counter criticism of China. Wang, 64, has been China?s foreign minister since 2013. A career diplomat and fluent Japanese speaker, Wang has also served as China?s ambassador in Tokyo and head of China?s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office. The country?s largely rubber stamp parliament approved Wang?s job in a mostly ceremonial vote in the Great Hall of the People with reporters present. State councillors, who report to the Cabinet, are more senior than the ministers responsible for the same portfolio. While unusual, it is possible to be both a minister and state councillor at the same time. It was not immediately clear what position former state councillor Yang Jiechi would get. Diplomatic sources said previously he may have become a vice premier, but his name was not included in the list for that position. Yang still sits on the Communist Party?s Politburo, the second-largest of the party?s elite ruling bodies, meaning he will retain an influential voice in China?s foreign policy. Previously China?s foreign minister himself, Yang speaks perfect English but has a low-key public profile and rarely talks to foreign reporters. Yang has served as one of China?s main go-betweens with the Trump administration, with his deep knowledge of the United States coming from previous stints in the Chinese embassy in Washington, including as ambassador from 2000-2004. Newly appointed Vice President Wang Qishan, a key ally of President Xi Jinping, is likely to have to handle the Trump administration and festering trade tensions between the two countries as part of his job. China also gets a new defense minister, Wei Fenghe, who already sits on the Central Military Commission which runs China?s armed forces. Wei has been appointed to a state councillor as well. The defense minister is more of a figurehead position, as real power rests with Xi and the Central Military Commission. Wei is the fourth-ranked member of that seven-man body.
  3. German Chancellor Angela Merkel jokes beside Horst Seehofer. Photo: AFP German Chancellor Angela Merkel´s hardline new interior minister declared that Islam is not "part of Germany" in an interview published Friday, setting off a political storm two days into her fourth term. Asked by the top-selling Bild daily whether the influx of Muslim migrants and asylum seekers to Europe´s top economy meant that Islam now belonged to the fabric of the nation, Horst Seehofer replied "no". "Islam is not part of Germany. Christianity has shaped Germany including Sunday as a day of rest, church holidays, and rituals such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas," he said. "The Muslims who live among us are naturally part of Germany. But that of course does not mean that we, out of a false sense of deference, should sacrifice our traditions and customs." Germany´s Muslim community is estimated to count about 4.5 million members, around 1.8 million of whom are German citizens. Most are descendants of Turkish so-called "guest workers" invited to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. The community grew again with the arrival since 2015 of more than one million asylum seekers from war-torn Muslim-majority countries such as Syria and Afghanistan. Seehofer´s provocative comments come just two days after Merkel was sworn in for a fourth term with a new right-left "grand coalition" government. The outspoken Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel´s Christian Democrats, is new to the cabinet. His expanded interior super-ministry also covers "Heimat" or homeland affairs, intended to recapture claims to patriotism and national identity from the far-right AfD, which won nearly 13 percent of the vote in September´s general election. Powerful conservative Wolfgang Schaeuble said in 2006 that Islam was part of Germany and Europe as interior minister in Merkel´s first cabinet, provoking little reaction. Christian Wulff, then president of the country, revived the phrase in 2010, this time touching off a heated national debate, with right-wing conservatives accusing him of denying Germany´s Judeo-Christian roots. Merkel has come down firmly on the side of inclusion, repeatedly stating that Islam and Muslims belonged in Germany, and vocally defending the stance at the height of the refugee influx. Seehofer´s comments are likely to prove divisive in the fledgling coalition, which only came together when the reluctant SPD got on board after months of political paralysis. Juergen Trittin of the opposition Greens sharply criticised Seehofer, saying a stance of exclusion would be "catastrophic" and only benefit the anti-immigration AfD. Bavaria is holding a state election in October, when the CSU is expected to face a strong challenge from the far-right.
  4. PML-N leader and state interior minister Tallal Chaudry outside the Supreme Court today. Photo: Geo News ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court indicted on Thursday State Interior Minister Tallal Chaudry's for contempt of court. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan read out the charges against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, to which Chaudhry pleaded not guilty. Chaudry had been summoned in person for today's hearing after his indictment was deferred for a day on Wednesday. Chaudry's counsel Kamran Murtaza argued that the charges against his client do not fall under the purview of contempt of court. However, the bench observed that his client will be given a chance to defend himself. Justice Ejaz remarked that the court will not pursue the case if it feels it is not warranted. The hearing was then adjourned until March 27, when the defence will present its arguments. Contempt case: SC to indict State Interior Minister Tallal Chaudry on March 14 Chaudry is facing contempt proceedings in the Supreme Court over his controversial speeches about the judiciary On Wednesday, the court had provided Chaudry a copy of the charge-sheet before adjourning the hearing. On February 24, the minister had requested the court to withdraw the case, stating that scandalising the court or doing anything that tends to bring the court into ?hatred, ridicule or contempt? is ?not even the last thing on the respondent?s mind.? ?Whatever has been said might have been taken into account without relevance to the context due to media reporting,? Chaudry had written in his initial response. SC indicts Federal Privatisation Minister Daniyal Aziz for contempt A three-member bench of the apex court will hear the case against the federal privatisation minister and PML-N leader The apex court had initiated contempt proceedings against Chaudry on account of "derogatory and contemptuous speeches/statements" with regard to the court, according to a notification issued on February 2. Earlier this week, PML-N leader and privatisation minister Daniyal Aziz was indicted for contempt whereas the Supreme Court has restarted contempt proceedings against former PML-N senator Nehal Hashmi after sentencing him for the same earlier.
  5. Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari chairs PPIB meeting in Islamabad/ Picture: APP ISLAMABAD: Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari said on Wednesday that current transmission network needs to be strengthened and made reliable to support the government?s aim of achieving sustainability in the system, according to a press release. The federal minister was chairing the 115th meeting of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) held here today. In the meeting, he said that the Government of Pakistan realises the importance of transmission lines in supporting the upcoming power generation projects. He stated that the GoP is working on upgrading the existing transmission network to make it more reliable and efficient, adding that the National Transmission & Dispatch Company (NTDC) has been asked to take the requisite measures. At the same time, the private sector is being encouraged to contribute in network expansion, he said. So far, Pakistan?s first ever HVDC Transmission Line project has already been initiated in the private sector under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), while several other projects are being planned to launch through international competitive bidding, said the federal minister. Managing Director PPIB Shah Jahan Mirza briefed the board on various projects being implemented under the CPEC. In today?s meeting, the Board approved extension in Financial Close deadline of +660 kV HVDC Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line, being processed under the CPEC, said the press statement. The board also allowed extension in Financial Close deadlines of Thar coal based power projects under the CPEC, which include 330 MW Project by Thar Energy Limited and 330 MW Project by ThalNova Thar Pvt. Ltd. The federal minister said that the current government believes in the policy of facilitating investors, and extending full support to them for processing and timely completion of their projects. Managing Director PPIB Mirza, while briefing the Board on the performance of PPIB, stated that extensive efforts are being done to cultivate Thar coal and hydro potential for power generation. Mirza briefed the board that the PPIB is successfully meeting the challenging and ambitious timelines of the current government for the addition of huge quantum of power generation capacity in the national grid. He said that the progress is evident from the fact that within a period of less than one year, two projects of 1467 MW have started commercial operations while another four projects of 5000 MW cumulative power capacity have achieved partial commissioning as well, as per the statement. The federal minister remarked that sustainability in power system is a must-do task of the GoP, next to balancing the demand-supply situation, adding that merely providing additional megawatts would not be sufficient to gain real goals. Pakistan?s future lies in the indigenous and renewable energy for which serious efforts are being put in the National Electricity Plan and a new energy policy are the measures to consolidate these efforts, which will act as a guide for future capacity expansions as well as choice of fuels etc, he said. The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Power Ch. Abid Sher Ali, Mr. Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, Secretary Ministry of Energy (Power Division), Mr. Arif Ahmed Khan, Secretary Ministry of Finance, Mr. Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform, Lieutenant General Muzammil Hussain, Chairman WAPDA, representatives of Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) (Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan provinces and AJ&K), a private sector member, besides, Executive Director and Directors of PPIB and other senior government officials.
  6. ISLAMABAD: Minister for Power Division Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari issued direction to assess the performance of distribution companies (DISCOs) and their CEOs in order to eliminate any mismatch in tariff, an official press release said on Tuesday. The performance of the DISCOs will be assessed on the basis of their success to bridge the gap in the sold and billed units, said the press statement. A performance review meeting was held today, following which the notification was issued. Leghari directed the CEOs of all DISCOs to submit quarterly tariff adjustment petitions during March with the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA). This will also help in reducing the gap in billed and recovered amount by the DISCOs, said the statement. The federal minister directed the CEOs to ensure replacement of defective meters within seven days after it is has been declared defective, besides clearing the backlog of defective meters in their respective DISCOs by March 31, 2018. Leghari, also gave instructions to all the chairmen of the Board of Directors to make proper procurement plan for the next fiscal year and get it approved by April 15, 2018.
  7. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaking on Geo News programme Capital Talk. Photo: Geo News screen grab 1 ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the Iranian government provided Pakistan with all the intel they had on Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav. Zarif, who is visiting Pakistan on a diplomatic tour, was speaking to Geo News anchorperson Hamid Mir on Tuesday. He shared that there were "two suicide attempts" near Pakistan and Iran border last night but they were countered with efforts of both the countries. "We had excellent cooperation from Pakistani armed forces. We are very happy with the level of cooperation that exists today," he remarked. Javad Zarif reiterated his commitment towards improving relations between the neighbouring countries and stressed that Iran will not allow its land to be used for activities against Pakistan. He said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had tried to improve relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia but the attempts did not receive a positive response from Saudi Arabia. The full interview will be aired on Geo News programme Capital Talk at 8:05 pm tonight.
  8. The Supreme Court had sent a contempt of court notice to sent to Federal Privatisation Minister Daniyal Aziz on February 2 over his ?controversial speeches and statements made during television shows?. Photo: Geo News1 ISLAMABAD: A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed is set to indict Federal Privatisation Minister Daniyal Aziz today on contempt charges. Hearing the case last week, the bench, which includes Justices Mushir Alam and Mazhar Alam Miankhel, expressed dissatisfaction with Aziz's response to the court's show-cause notice and fixed his indictment for March 13 (today). Aziz's counsel had informed the court that the media reports of his client's 'anti-judiciary' speech were false. The minister's response to the court had stated that being a parliamentarian he could not even think of disrespecting state institutions. The reply further said that Aziz believes in the supremacy of the Constitution and respects state institutions, including the judiciary. ?Media ran my comments out of context,? the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader had stated in the response. He had also pleaded to the court to take back the show-cause notice issued to him in the case. The apex court had issued the show-cause notice to Aziz on February 19, after a contempt of court notice was sent to him on February 2 over his ?controversial speeches and statements made during television shows?.
  9. Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak. Photo: File Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak announced his resignation Monday following tensions sparked by the murder of an investigative journalist probing links between the government and the mafia. "I think to fulfil my mandate I have to do everything to preserve stability in Slovakia," Kalinak told reporters. "For this reason I have decided to resign as deputy prime minister and interior minister." Last month´s murder of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee prompted huge protests against the government of Prime Minister Robert Fico, with tens of thousands of Slovaks turning out for rallies in Bratislava on Friday. Following the protests, Fico´s Smer-SD party, to which Kalinak also belongs, came under fire from small coalition partner Most-Hid, which threatened to quit if the minister stayed. The bodies of Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, both 27, were found on February 25 at their home near Bratislava. The couple, who were to have married in May, had both been shot dead. Police have said Kuciak´s death was "most likely" related to his investigation resulting in an article on ties between Slovakia´s top politicians and Italy´s notorious ´Ndrangheta mafia, which his employer posthumously published. The murder and the article sparked a wave of anti-government sentiment in the EU and NATO member of 5.4 million people. On Friday, some 40,000 people gathered in Bratislava to protest against Fico and his government, making it Slovakia´s biggest protest since the 1989 Velvet Revolution that toppled Communism in former Czechoslovakia. Thousands of others also rallied in other cities across Slovakia, with parallel demonstrations also taking place in Prague and Berlin.
  10. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will hold talks with Pakistani leadership during a three-day visit to the neighbouring country. Photo: file1 ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will hold talks with Pakistani leadership during a three-day visit to the neighbouring country. Zarif, who arrived early Monday morning, received a warm welcome by senior officials of foreign minister at Islamabad airport. The Iranian foreign minister is heading a 30-member delegation, which will hold talks on mutual of bilateral interests. During the meetings, the Iranian delegation will discuss matters pertaining to trade, energy, culture, people to people contacts besides discussing other matters of mutual interest. Zarif is also expected to hold meetings with President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. He will also hold meetings with the Pakistani leadership and address a think tank on mutual relations of Pakistan and Iran.
  11. ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Friday that the United States wants to make Pakistan its proxy state, adding that Pakistan will never become a proxy of the US. He made the remarks while addressing the National Assembly. "The enemy has crossed the ocean and is fomenting conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and other states while leaders of the Muslim World facilitate the enemy," said Asif, in an apparent reference to the US. "Pakistan is being targeted specifically since it enjoys a leadership status in the Muslim World," he explained further. Talking about the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan, Asif said the terrorist outfit has not been wiped out but has only changed its address. The foreign minister said Pakistan did not take part in the Yemen war, adding that it wants Iran and Saudi Arabia to end their differences. We will not protect any other power but safeguard our own interests, he asserted. With regards to the US-led war on terror, he claimed that Pakistan's leaders sold off the country to safeguard their positions. "We fought a 'made in America' jihad and created jihadis ? what have we done to ourselves," said the minister. Asif also wished to see a peaceful Afghanistan.
  12. Tallal Chaudhry (left) outside the Supreme Court last month. Photo: Geo News ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court decided on Thursday to indict State Interior Minister Tallal Chaudry in a contempt of court case. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan heard the contempt case against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader today. The bench decided to frame charges against the minister at the next hearing on March 14, when Chaudry has been summoned in person. At the last hearing on Tuesday, Chaudry appeared before the court where his counsel, Kamran Murtaza, said Chaudry submitted his response to the court's show-cause notice. SC accepts Tallal's request for digital record of contemptuous speech Contempt hearing against state interior minister adjourned until March 8; Chaudry granted exemption from appearing The hearing was then adjourned for March 8 (today), and Chaudry was granted an exemption from appearing owing to a commitment. On February 24, the minister had requested the court to withdraw the case, stating that scandalising the court or doing anything that tends to bring the court into ?hatred, ridicule or contempt? is ?not even the last thing on the respondent?s mind.? ?Whatever has been said might have been taken into account without relevance to the context due to media reporting,? Chaudry had written in his initial response. The apex court had initiated contempt proceedings against Chaudry on account of "derogatory and contemptuous speeches/statements" with regard to the court, according to a notification issued on February 2.
  13. ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry has put former federal minister for railways and communication Lt-Gen (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi on the Exit Control List (ECL), sources said on Monday. According to sources, former chairman railway board Lt Gen (retd) Saeed-ul-Zafar has also been placed on the list. Former general manager railways Maj Gen (retd) Hamid Hasan Butt and Brig (retd) Akhtar Ali were also placed on the ECL. The National Accountability Bureau had requested placing the names of the former federal minister and other officers on the list. The officials face allegations of transferring railway land to Royal Palm Golf Club, sources said, adding that they allegedly caused a loss of more than Rs2 billion to the national exchequer.
  14. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/dbe8d7774425fea9deb26266473f99f8.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9Mi8yMC8yMDE4IDEwOjQzOjU1IEFNJmhhc2hfdmFsdWU9SFBRYld2Sm55eE45MXA4aGxGVHdoUT09JnZhbGlkbWludXRlcz02MCZpZD0x style=center] Video: Geo News ISLAMABAD: State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Tuesday that all institutions should remain within their constitutional limits. Speaking in the National Assembly, the minister agreed with Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah?s remarks on Monday that mistakes have been made. Listing those ?mistakes?, Aurangzeb said politicians were booked for stealing cattle, sweets were distributed after Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto?s hanging and oaths were taken under military dictators. ?Should we not learn from these mistakes and move on,? she asked. The minister said they respect the courts as guardians of the Constitution. ?Sending a prime minister packing and referring to him as ?Godfather? and ?Sicilian Mafia? is a rejection of the people?s opinion,? Aurangzeb asserted. She added that criticising the judgment [of Nawaz?s disqualification] is her right, as it is Nawaz?s. Better to debate in Parliament to avoid confrontation among institutions: PM Elected representatives are termed 'thieves, robbers and Godfather' in courts, Abbasi laments in his NA address Addressing the National Assembly on Monday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that to avoid confrontation among institutions it was better for the House to debate on the matter. The prime minister's comments followed his directives to members of PML-N parliamentary party that the conduct of judges will now be discussed in the Parliament. He had said that elected representatives are termed "thieves, robbers and Godfather" in the courts, lamenting that government officials are humiliated. "Does this House not have the right to legislate," Abbasi questioned. "Or will we have to seek permission to legislate.
  15. ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani expressed reservations over the briefing given by Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir to the upper house of parliament on Monday regarding deployment of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia. The defence minister in his briefing, shed light on the cooperation between the two countries and the terms of engagement under which the troops will be sent to the kingdom. Dastgir said that 1600 Pakistani troops are currently deployed in Saudi Arabia and 10,000 Saudi troops are currently receiving training in Pakistan. He added that more than 1,000 troops will be deployed in Saudi Arabia over a few months? time, bringing the tally of Pakistani troops deployed to 2,600. While shedding light on the fraternal relations between the two Muslim countries, Dastgir said that the armed forces of Saudi Arabia were even present in the Defence Day parade in Pakistan last year. The chairman Senate took the defence minister?s briefing with a grain of salt, calling it ?inadequate?. Raza Rabbani said that the briefing is not enough to satisfy the house and raises many questions. ?Where will be the troops deployed? Will they be inside cities or on borders?? said the chairman Senate. ?What are the terms and conditions of the agreement?? he further said, while in the same vein, offering the defence minister a camera sitting on the subject as well. On Friday, Rabbani had summoned Defence MinisterDastgir to appear before the Upper House of Parliament with regards to the army?s announcement of sending troops to Saudi Arabia. In the previous session, Pakistan Peoples? Party Senator Farhatullah Babar told that the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), had said the troops? contingent would be less than a division?s. The senator said that the announcement was made following a meeting of the army chief with the Saudi ambassador in Pakistan. The ISPR had earlier said that the troops to be deployed, or the ones already there, will not be stationed outside the Kingdom. Last year, former Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif was appointed as the head of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition based in Riyadh. The alliance includes 41 Islamic countries, excluding Iran, Iraq and Syria. In November, the summit held its first meeting of defence ministers and other senior officials from the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, which officially identifies as a "pan-Islamic unified front" against violent extremism. In his address, Gen (retd) Raheel Shareef had emphasised that the sole objective of IMCTC was counter-terrorism and it was not against any country or any sect.
  16. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski MUNICH: Moscow on Saturday dismissed as "blabber" and "fantasies" allegations that it interfered in the election that brought President Donald Trump to power, denials that drew immediate scorn from US officials. The traded barbs, made at the Munich Security Conference, came a day after the United States indicted 13 Russians for running a secret campaign to sway the 2016 vote. "I am amazed that... the Russians come, send someone every year to basically refute the facts," US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said. Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Munich attendees about the US charges: "So as long as we don?t see facts, everything else is blabber." The indictments, which include the first charges laid by US special counsel Robert Mueller for election interference, detailed a stunning operation launched in 2014 in a bid to sow division and influence American politics "including the presidential election of 2016". Mueller alleges that by mid-2016, the campaign ? under the direction of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin ? became focused on boosting Trump and demeaning his rivals including Democrat Hillary Clinton. It allegedly involved hundreds of people working in shifts and with a budget of millions of dollars. Three companies were also indicted. ?Simply fantasies? Mueller charges that members of the group posed as US citizens on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, posting content that reached "significant numbers" of Americans. The indictments made no judgement however on whether the alleged Russian efforts had altered the outcome of the election. When asked to comment on the charges at the gathering in Germany, Lavrov stressed that US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, had in the past "denied that any country influenced results of the election". Former Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak was equally dismissive when he took to the stage at the top security gathering in Munich. "We didn?t meddle in the American political life," said Kislyak, who was posted in Washington when Trump?s White House win stunned the world. "Whatever allegations are being mounted against us are simply fantasies that are being used for political reasons inside the United States in the fight between different sides of the political divide," he added. Kislyak?s own name has popped up in Mueller?s probe as part of his inquiries into contacts between Russia and the Trump team. In December, Mueller announced that former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying about his conversations with then-ambassador Kislyak in 2016. ?Incontrovertible? evidence Despite the vehement Russian denials, US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, speaking in Munich immediately after Lavrov, said "evidence" of such attempts to "interfere in our democratic process" would become harder to hide. "We?re becoming more and more adept at tracing the origins of this espionage and subversion, and as you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and in the public domain," McMaster said. While in the past, investigators were wary of divulging their IT intelligence capabilities, "now that this is in the arena of a law enforcement investigation, it?s going to be very apparent to everyone," McMaster said. Trump meanwhile has seized on the indictments as proof that his campaign team did not conspire with Moscow. "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for president," he tweeted Friday. "The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!" None of the 13 Russian suspects are in US custody.
  17. A joint military exercise by Pakistani and Saudi troops in Riyadh. Photo: File ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani has summoned Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir to appear before the Upper House of Parliament on Monday with regards to the army?s announcement of sending troops to Saudi Arabia. Speaking in the Senate today, Pakistan Peoples? Party Senator Farhatullah Babar said the army?s media wing, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), has said the troops? contingent will be less that a division?s. He added that the announcement was made following a meeting of the army chief with the Saudi ambassador in Pakistan. Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir-Khan - BBC Later, the Senate chairman summoned the defence minister to explain the details of the decision on Monday. Following Thursday's announcement, the ISPR explained that the troops to be deployed, or the ones already there, will not be stationed outside the Kingdom. The ISPR said that the military contingent is part of the ongoing Pakistan-Saudi bilateral cooperation, under which a number of Pakistani troops are already stationed in Saudi Arabia for advisory roles. However, the number of troops being deployed at present has not been disclosed. "Pak Army maintains bilateral security cooperation with many other GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and regional countries," the ISPR had said further, in a perceived assurance to Iran and Turkey owing to the hostile relationship of Iran with Saudi Arabia and Turkey's siding with Qatar in its conflict with Riyadh and other GCC countries. Iranian, Turkish envoys call on army chief Army chief and the Turk envoy discussed matters of mutual interest, including regional security issues On Monday, the newly appointed Turkish ambassador to Pakistan, Ishan Mustafa Yurdakul, called on Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The same day, the army chief met Iran's ambassador to Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost. For both meetings, ISPR had issued its customary press releases, stating that issues of mutual cooperation were discussed between the army chief and visiting envoys. COAS Gen Bajwa meets Saudi crown prince in Riyadh, discusses bilateral ties Bilateral military relations among matters of mutual interest discussed in the meeting In what may be a related development, the army chief visited Riyadh at the start of this month where he met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Saudi Commander of Ground Forces Lieutenant General Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz. Any details of the visit were not shared by ISPR but reported in news outlets of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan Army to send contingent to KSA for training, advisory mission The troops, or the ones already there, will not be employed outside the kingdom, says ISPR Earlier in December, Pakistani and Saudi special forces took part in a joint counter-terrorism exercise ?Al-Shehab-2? in Prince Naif Security City, Riyadh. A Pakistani contingent comprising 68 officers and soldiers of Special Services Group participated in the exercise. The Pak-Saudi joint exercise helped the participating troops from both sides to learn from each others? experiences in the counterterrorism field, ISPR had said. Saudi-led military coalition not against any country, sect: Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif Former COAS said that the IMCTC would support its partners mainly through intelligence sharing and capacity building Last year, former Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif was appointed as the head of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition based in Riyadh. The alliance includes 41 Islamic countries, excluding Iran, Iraq and Syria.
  18. KATHMANDU: The leader of Nepal´s largest Communist party was sworn in as prime minister Thursday, two months after leading his party to a thumping victory in landmark elections billed as a turning point for the impoverished Himalayan nation. KP Sharma Oli will head the first government elected under a new national constitution that cements Nepal´s transformation from Hindu monarchy to a federal republic 11 years after the end of a brutal Maoist insurgency. An alliance of Oli´s main Communist party and the former Maoist rebels trounced the incumbent Nepali Congress party in last year´s polls, winning a strong majority in both houses of parliament and six of the seven provincial assemblies. The Communist leader was sworn in as prime minister by President Bidya Bhandari on Thursday afternoon. Nepal´s post-war charter sets out a sweeping overhaul of the political system, devolving significant power from the centre to the seven provinces. But the handover of power after last year´s polls was delayed by disagreements over how the new election rules in the constitution should be implemented. The long delay has dampened the optimism that accompanied the polls, when many voters cast their ballots hoping a new government would bring much-needed stability and development. Nepal has cycled through 11 prime ministers since the civil war ended in 2006, allowing corruption to flourish and growth stagnate. Sher Bahadur Deuba, who resigned as prime minister earlier Thursday, spent just eight months in office. Rules under the new constitution make it harder to oust the premier, raising hopes that the next government could last a full five year term. Regional relations During Oli´s last term in office in 2015, relations between Kathmandu and its traditional ally Delhi soured after protests over the constitution led to a blockade of the Nepal-India border. The blockade caused a crippling shortage of goods in the landlocked Himalayan nation as it was still reeling from a devastating earthquake that hit earlier that year killing nearly 9,000 people. Oli blamed the blockade on Delhi and tilted Nepal´s diplomatic relations towards China, stoking nationalistic sentiment. Beijing responded by pumping vast sums of money into Nepal in the form of large-scale infrastructure projects. Analysts say Oli will likely take a more pragmatic approach to balancing relations with Nepal´s two giant neighbours this time around. "He used the nationalistic platform for elections. Now he doesn´t need to bait India to get support," said Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times newspaper. Both Oli and New Delhi appear keen to rebalance relations between the neighbours. India´s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj was recently in Kathmandu for meetings with the government-in-waiting and there has been talk of a visit to Nepal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Where Oli makes his first overseas visit will be closely watched. He is expected to continue to court Beijing, with an eye on investment for a long-mooted Himalayan rail link and energy-staved Nepal´s hydropower system. The 65-year-old´s health is a cause of concern within political circles. He had a kidney transplant about 10 years ago and regularly flies to Bangkok for health checkups. Some say he downplays the severity of his health problems.
  19. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends the second day of an international conference for the reconstruction of Iraq. -AFP KUWAIT CITY: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday pledged $5 billion in loans and investment for Iraq's reconstruction after its devastating three-year war with Daesh. Kuwait, which is hosting an international donors' conference to raise funds for Iraq, pledged $2 billion in loans and investment. Saudi Arabia said it would allocate $1 billion for investment projects in Iraq and $500 million to support Iraqi exports. Qatar said it would allocate $1 billion in loans and investments, while the United Arab Emirates pledged $500 million in investment. Those sums - together with $495 million from the European Union and $100 million from Australia - bring the total pledged so far to over $10 billion on the third and final day of the donors' conference, still in progress. Baghdad says it needs nearly $90 billion to rebuild after a three-year war against Daesh which devastated homes, schools, hospitals and economic infrastructure, displacing millions of people.
  20. Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir. -File ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir, responding to belligerent statements from his counterpart in India, said on Tuesday that Pakistan will pay India in its own coin in case of any misadventure from the country's eastern neighbour. India's defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, had accused Pakistan of an attack on an army base in Indian-occupied Kashmir which killed 10 people, including five Indian soldiers. Any Indian aggression, strategic miscalculation, or misadventure regardless of its scale, mode, or location will not go unpunished and shall be met with an equal and proportionate response, said a statement issued by the defence minister. Referring to India's usual practice of blaming Pakistan after every attack by Kashmiri freedom fighters, Dastagir further said that instead of knee-jerk reactions and blaming Pakistan, India should answer for its state-sponsored espionage against Pakistan. "India has failed to deliver justice to the 42 Pakistanis murdered in the Samjhota Express terrorism eleven years ago this week," said the defence minister. Dastagir, criticising India further, said the country is destabilising regional peace through its "irresponsible statements on nuclear deterrence and through its bloody, five-fold escalation in 2017 of attacks on unarmed civilians on the line-of-control and working boundary". Expressing full confidence in the armed forces of Pakistan, he maintained that Pakistani forces are vigilant and fully capable of defending the country's territorial integrity. "An aggressive Pak-centric doctrine and arrayed forces under a belligerent regime leading to a possible strategic miscalculation by India will seriously impact the strategic stability in South Asia," added Dastagir. A firefight erupted Saturday when freedom fighters stormed the base in occupied Jammu. The attack lasted for two days before Indian forces declared the army base clear and ended its combing operation.
  21. Sanaullah addressing the media after the Punjab CM had left. Photo: Geo News LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah assured to remove all the barricades pointed out by the Supreme Court today. Addressing the media outside the court's Lahore Registry after the chief justice ordered the removal of barricades, Sanaullah said the government will complete the task before the deadline. He explained that a suicide bombing attempt was averted due to the barriers outside Shehbaz?s Model Town office. Earlier today, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar ordered the authorities to remove barricades outside Nawaz's Jati Umra residence, Shehbaz's Model Town residence and office, Governor House, Aiwan-e-Iqbal, the residence and seminary ? Jamia Al Qadsia ? of Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, residence of late Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, Qilla Gujjar Singh Police Station, passport office and other sites. The court also ordered the home department to assure the court that the barricades will be removed by midnight tonight Talking to the media, Sanaullah said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) respects the courts and any perception to the contrary is wrong. When asked to respond to the chief justice's comment today that Shehbaz should be made the prime minister, Sanaullah said if the PML-N wins the next general elections, the next premier will be made on the wishes of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, not the chief justice. 'Provision of justice also important' Talking to the media outside the court before the hearing commenced, Sanaullah said the provision of justice is as important as provision of clean water, adding that the government will make sure to follow the apex court?s directions on this issue. "It is most important for people to have access to basic justice in my opinion," he added. Responding to a question, Sanaullah said "there are some elements misusing the court's remarks for their own cause," adding that remarks which can be used by someone?s opponent for their own benefit should not be made in court proceedings.
  22. Goa is one place in the country which is on everyone's holiday list. You could be a college student in Delhi or a bank employee in Bangalore, Goa has always been that one plan with our friends that we want to fulfill, and why not? it has something to offer to everyone who comes visiting. Even though the beaches and the people of the place might be warm and entice you to make another trip just because it is such a friendly, beautiful place, the ministers in the state don't really feel the same. Let me clarify that we understand that people elect a governing body which is state friendly and works for the development but seems like Vijai Sardesai, the minister for town and country planning in Goa has unfiltered thoughts about domestic tourits which are quite bitter in taste as well. © Twitter According to a report in TOI, Mr. Vijai addressed the vital issue of garbage dump in Goa and all the problems that the heavy influx of tourists was causing. While his concern for sanitation and cleanliness was absolutely valid, his choice of words has now earned him major back lash. "We cannot make Goa another Gurugram. The north Indian states are responsible for the problems that Goa has today. The people coming from those states actually want to recreate Haryana in Goa," he said. He also expressed his dismay about how toruists are not concerned about the cleanliness and only contibute in making the beaches dirty. "How are you going to control these people? The north Indian states are responsible for the problems that Goa has today. The people coming from those states actually want to recreate Haryana in Goa", he said. Twitterati was quick to respond to these reports which obviously infuriated a lot of people. Shameful: The Goa minister, Vijai Sardesai, calls North Indians the scum of the earth who are trying to create a Haryana in Goa. — Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) February 10, 2018 Vijai Sardesai & His party Goa Forward is really filled with scum. His one minister called Kannadigas "Harami" now he calls North Indians Scum. One more Minister said he don't want domestic tourists in Goa & their supporters call South Indians Ghantis. This party should be banned — Ganesh (@me_ganesh14) February 10, 2018 Mr. Viaji took to Twitter and tried to clarify how he was 'misqouted' but the damage was already done. Quoted out of context by media whilst reporting my speech @ yesterday's GoaBizFest. #Goemkars believe that a certain section of #tourists who have no civic sense & create nuisance , are not welcome to the state. I haven't generalised or have been xenophobic Only spoken for #Goa! pic.twitter.com/MQ6AZ4dYRQ — Vijai Sardesai (@VijaiSardesai) February 10, 2018 No @VijaiSardesai you can't hide behind misquoting by media. You said it, own it up now. You ought to apologise for calling tourists "scum of the earth". You brought down the dignity of the @manoharparrikar@goacm govt. Shame! https://t.co/2sG8n1f612 — Rajesh Menon (@RajeshMenon70) February 10, 2018 People are not liking how he is favouring international tourists and taking a pathetic dig at domestic tourists. I hope he understands that he is also an Indian before being a minister and discrimating regions and using foul language will over shadow any good intentions he might have for Goa. Many are infuriated and are even questioning him if he holds a European passport that is allowing him freely to make remarks about his own country. @manoharparrikar Sir does your scum of the earth minister @VijaiSardesai hold an Indian or a European passport like half of your cabinet to make a #racist comment against #Indians? Any answers ? @narendramodi_in @PMOIndia @smritiirani — HRS (@The_H_R_S) February 10, 2018 Everyone wants peace to prevail and while sanitation and educating the tourists about cleanliness is extremely important, calling someone scum or speaking ill for the people you serve is stooping low. We hope he gets an opportunity to clean up the words and the sentiments that his words have hurt, and can we please have the Goa we love from the 'Dil Chahta Hai' days?
  23. LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Wednesday that the only way the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police were able to arrest the suspect involved in the brutal murder of four-year-old Asma was through the DNA results provided by the Punjab Forensic Science Agency. KP Police claimed the arrests of two suspects for their alleged connection in the Asma murder case on Wednesday. The prime suspect, 15-year-old Muhammad Nabi, worked in a local restaurant and was also a relative of the deceased. The case was resolved by tracing a drop of blood on a leaf in the sugarcane field where the minor was killed, the police claimed. KP Police claim arrest of prime suspect in Asma murder case KP Police says that the case was resolved by tracing a drop of blood on a leaf in the sugarcane field where the minor was killed Sanaullah said that the suspect lived in the same locality where police are stationed for the last three weeks but they failed to trace him on their own, adding that it was only through the DNA report from Lahore that the law enforcement authorities were able to trace him. Taking a jibe at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, the law minister said at least today Imran should publically appreciate the role of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency. He added that the KP Police attempted to misdirect the case earlier by claiming that the minor had died of natural causes.
  24. British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip visit Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai, China, February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song SHANGHAI/BEIJING: British Prime Minister Theresa May landed in China earlier this week fending off questions about her future amid mounting accusations of poor leadership, boring policies, and weakness over Brexit. By Friday, the 61-year old leader was basking in a warm reception from the leaders of world?s second-largest economy, while concerned Chinese citizens affectionately nicknamed her ?Aunty May? and worried if her legs were warm enough in the Beijing cold. ?What?s past is prologue,? said President Xi Jinping during his one-to-one meeting with May, quoting British playwright William Shakespeare to signal his hopes for strengthening ties. The three-day trade visit has seen May earn assurances from China that Brexit will not affect the country?s enthusiasm for the so-called ?golden era? of relations and a promise to open up Chinese markets to new British business. While words will mean little if not backed up with action, and there are scant details about the headline announcement of 9 billion pounds of trade deals signed during the trip, the mood music for May?s visit pointed to a Chinese state seeking to rally support around her. ?Her political style is known for being pragmatic and strong and deft at decision making. She?s Britain?s Iron Lady,? said the Hubei Daily, an official regional newspaper, referring to the nickname of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. There was no sign of a hangover from the 2016 diplomatic spat between the two nations caused by May?s decision to delay a part Chinese-funded nuclear plant over concerns about foreign investment in key British infrastructure. ?China really respects Britain,? said the influential Global Times tabloid - the same newspaper, which, in 2013, dismissed Britain as ?just an old European country apt for travel and study? in a scathing editorial during a visit by May?s predecessor David Cameron, who had infuriated China by meeting the Dalai Lama. One Chinese official remarked dryly to Reuters: ?Nobody would call him Uncle Cameron?. Asked by Chinese state television about her new moniker ? a common Chinese term of endearment for respected women ? May said she was honoured and her officials were privately thrilled that the name had stuck. By contrast, the front page of this week?s Spectator ? a British political magazine ? reads ?Lead or go?, above a stark, unflattering cartoon of May, hunched and bow-legged. Rival suitors But Britain is not the only state looking to woo China. Last month France?s energetic young President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Beijing with an attention-grabbing gift, a rare horse, although his tough words over Xi?s signature plan to create a trillion-dollar modern-day Silk Road raised eyebrows. Diplomatic sources say while China has expressed concern about Brexit, it has also been reassured by messages that Britain?s door is wide open to Chinese investment - a marked contrast to the suspicious reception Chinese companies have recently received in Germany. May brought up awkward issues like democracy in Hong Kong, human rights and ethical concerns about Xi?s Belt and Road initiative, but was praised as ?pragmatic? by the Global Times for not pressing the issue in public. ?For the prime minister, the losses outweigh the gains if she appeases the British media at the cost of the visit?s friendly atmosphere,? the paper wrote in an editorial on Friday. On Chinese social media, concern about May?s visit focused on less weighty issues - like whether her exposed legs were warm enough after a photograph of her with husband Phillip inside Beijing?s Forbidden City. ?Theresa, you really know how to stand up to the cold,? wrote one of over 17,000 users to comment on her official Chinese-language Weibo account.
  25. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal/File photo ISLAMABAD: A high-level Afghan delegation comprising the country?s interior minister and the chief of National Directorate of Security (NDS) is on a visit to Pakistan to hold talks on bilateral cooperation, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson said on Wednesday. ?Afghan government had requested that a high level delegation comprising Interior Minister and NDS chief would like to visit Pakistan with a message from Afghan President and for discussions about cooperation between the two countries. Delegation is here and will have talks today,? FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal tweeted. A renewed wave of terrorist attacks has hit Afghanistan in the recent weeks, as the Taliban and Daesh escalate their offensive. On Monday, Kabul suffered its third major assault in recent days when a suicide attack on an Afghan army battalion killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded 16. On Saturday, a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew up in a crowded area of Kabul, killing at least 103 people ? mainly civilians ? and wounding 235, in one of the worst bombings in the city in recent years. Also read: US claims Haqqani network behind Kabul ambulance bombing And, on January 20, Taliban fighters stormed Kabul?s landmark Intercontinental Hotel and killed at least 25 people ? the majority of them foreigners ? in an assault lasting more than 12 hours. Pakistan has strongly condemned the terror attacks and conveyed its condolences at the bloodshed, with the FO spokesperson stressing that "terrorism is not the way forward".