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25 killed, including 23 students as fire breaks out at Malaysia school

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New Delhi, Sep 14: At least 25 killed including 23 students, when a fire tore through an Islamic boarding school in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Thursday morning. 

The fire at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a “tahfiz” boarding school where students learn to memorise the Koran, was reported around 5.40 am local time (2140 GMT Wednesday), according to a statement from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department, The Indian Express reported.

Incident is considered to be one of the country’s worst fire disasters in the past 20 years.

A victim list released by the authorities showed 22 of the deceased were students while three others were religious teachers.

Officials said fire engines were at the site within minutes, and the blaze was put out within an hour.

In Islamic tahfiz schools — where children study the Quran — students often live in the schools.

However the cause of blaze is not clear yet, probe is underway.

Wefornews Bureau 

South Asia

Pakistan Supreme Court orders ex-PM Nawaz Sharif removed as head of his political party – judge

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ISLAMABAD: In another blow to the ruling PML-N, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ruled that a disqualified individual cannot head a political party.

The apex court elaborated that a person disqualified under Article 62, 63 of the Constitution can not head the party. As a result of this verdict, all decisions taken by Nawaz as PML-N’s president stand null and void.

As a consequence, Senate tickets issued by Nawaz are also declared void, throwing the fate of March 3 Senate elections in doubt.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar concluded on Thursday the hearings of several petitions against the recently-passed Elections Act 2017.

A three-member bench had been hearing several petitions challenging specific clauses of the act that led to Nawaz Sharif’s appointment as party president following his dismissal as prime minister last year.

During today’s hearing, the chief justice remarked that the country’s leadership is respectable, adding that the media misreported the court’s remarks.

Chief Justice Nisar also observed that there is no reason for the apex court to use words like thief, adding that the fallout of the issue is unacceptable.

Addressing the Pakistan Peoples Party counsel Latif Khosa during the hearing, the chief justice remarked that there would be a difference in rallies held by you or [slain party leader and former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto.

Another petitioner’s counsel, Farogh Naseem, argued that there is a precedent of a court order against a political party’s head.

The chief justice remarked that in other countries intra-party elections are held but the situation is different in Pakistan.

“The party head is an important position,” the chief justice observed, adding that in Pakistan people are willing to sacrifice their lives for their leaders.

Disqualification to party president
Following Nawaz’s disqualification as prime minister in July 2017 in the Panama Papers case, the ruling party managed to amend the Constitution to allow the former premier to retain his chairmanship of the PML-N.

As a result, the Elections Act 2017 was passed by Parliament bringing Nawaz back as the party president despite his disqualification from the National Assembly.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, MNA Jamshaid Dasti, National Party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), among others, challenged the law for allowing a disqualified parliamentarian to become a party head.

The petitions, challenging specific clauses of the Elections Act 2017, state that Nawaz’s appointment as party president is in violation of Clause 5 of the Political Parties Order 2002 and Article 17 of the Constitution.

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250 dead in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta in 48hrs: Rights

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Damascus, Feb 21: At least 250 civilians have been killed by shelling and air strikes in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta in the past 48 hours, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said Tuesday.

The death toll included 58 children and 42 women, the group said in what was termed as the deadliest attack in the city in the last few years.

More than 100 were killed and another 1,200 people were wounded by the Syrian regime shelling and air strikes on Monday on the besieged Damascus suburb, the rebel-held town of Hamouria, the CNN said.

The SOHR activists and residents described it as “being under constant bombardment”. The rights group said at least 106 of the civilian deaths took place on Tuesday.

The monitoring group said the death toll is the highest since the 2013 alleged chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta, which activists say killed approximately 1,400 people.

“These are the worst days of our lives in Ghouta,” Eastern Ghouta hospital director and pediatrician Amani Ballour said. “We in Ghouta have been getting hit by air strikes for more than five years and this is not new to us … but we have never seen anything like this escalation.”

Various Islamic rebel groups control Eastern Ghouta, including the Al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which was previously known as Jabhat al Nusra before renouncing its ties to Al Qaeda.

Doctors said medics were working round the clock treating hundreds of injured people. Several medical facilities in Eastern Ghouta were reported to have been struck on Monday, the CNN report said.

Medical supplies were already in short after years-long siege of the area that began in 2012.

Now, Syrian regime forces are accelerating their offensive against the suburb, one of the last rebel-controlled areas in the country.

“I can tell you that the situation is very catastrophic … there were four hospitals that were destroyed…,” said Fares Ouraiba, a doctor from the Damascus suburb. He said most of the dead were women and children.

Besides, 13 more people were killed and 77 others wounded when militants in Eastern Ghouta fired 114 rocket and mortar rounds on several neighbourhoods here on Tuesday, said Syria state-run SANA news, citing police.

SANA added that the Syrian army responded to the attacks with “precise strikes”, destroying rocket launchers and fortified positions used by the armed groups.

IANS

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Israeli minister meets Palestinian PM for peace talks

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Jerusalem, Feb 20: Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Palestine’s West Bank city on Monday, and called on to renew the long-stalled peace talks.

The rare meeting was attended also by the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Major General Yoav Mordechai, and Deputy Finance Minister Itzik Cohen, Xinhua reported.

The meeting was focused on security and financial issues, including the activity of Palestinian banks, building new industrial zones in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and creating new jobs in the unemployment-stricken area.

Kahlon urged the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with the United States as a mediator.

“The Americans are the only honest broker in the region,” he said, adding that the talks should be restarted through the involvement of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt.

The Palestinians denounced the White House as a biased broker following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6.

The meeting marked a rare talk between Israeli and Palestinian officials, after the last round of peace talks reached an impasse in 2014.

IANS

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