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‘508 Hindu refugees cleared for repatriation to Myanmar’

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Image Credit: Reuters

United Nations, Feb 14: Myanmar has said that 508 Hindus are among around 1,000 refugees cleared for the first batch to be repatriated to their homes from Bangladesh.

The list, which also includes 750 Muslims, has been handed over to Bangladesh authorities to “expedite” the process of repatriating refugees now in the neighbouring country, Myanmar’s Permanent Representative Hau Do Suan told the Security Council on Tuesday during a briefing on the situation there on Tuesday.

The repatriation process has not yet started, although he said that it was to have begun on January 23 under an agreement with Bangladesh.

Myanmar has provided Bangladesh side the resettlement plan covering livelihood assistance, access to basic services, and safety arrangement for verified returnees, he added.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, however, told the Council that the situation in Myanmar was not yet conducive for the return of refugees.

“An end to violence and destruction of property and granting humanitarian access throughout Rakhine State — as called for by the Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) — were critical, basic steps,” he said.

He acknowledged, though, that the flow of refugees to Bangladesh was significantly reduced.

Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative Masud Bin Momen disputed that assertion saying that the flight of Rohingya fleeing to his country continued unabated and that 1,500 had come over in the first ten days of February.

The Council session was marked by sharp divisions with mainly the veto-armed China and Russia taking a more conciliatory approach to Myanmar and the Western countries and Kuwait following a hardline accusing it of ethnic cleansing, precluding any action.

US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley, who insisted on referring to Myanmar as Burma, said, “The Security Council has so far failed in its responsibility to act in response to the clear threat to international peace and security that has resulted from recent events in northern Rakhine State.”

She said the Council must hold the military accountable for its actions and pressure State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to acknowledge the “horrific acts” taking place there.

She called on Guterres to appoint a special envoy for Myanmar.

There hasn’t been a pointperson on Myanmar since former Indian diplomat Vijay Nambia left the position of special adviser for that country when Ban Ki-moon completed his term in 2017 as Secretary-General.

Council President Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi of Kuwait also accused the Myanmar government of carrying out an ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas and said that refugees could not voluntarily return home unless confidence-buiding measures were undertaken.

Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy, however, said that the overall situation was under control because of the efforts of the Myanmar authorities.

He said relying on subjective and contradictory versions of events was not conducive to bringing peace to Myanmar.

China’s Permanent Representative Ma Zhaoxu said the objectives of ending hostilities, restoring order and finding solutions through dialogue had largely been achieved.

He said international community should acknowledge the difficulties in repatriating the refugees because of the complex situation in Rakhine state and be patient while extending support to the process.

The current crisis that sent about 700,000 refugees – most of them Rohingya Muslims – across the border to Bangladesh followed attacks on Myanmar security posts in August 2017 by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which is led by Karachi-born Ata Ullah leading to counterattacks by the armed forces and vigilantes.

Permanent Representatives Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue of Cote d’Ivoire and Anatolio Ndong Mba of Equatorial Guinea condemned the action of ARSA, even as they also condemned the Myanmar government for the attacks on the Rohigya.

Tanoh-Boutchoue said that he was concerned that the Islamic State and the Al Qaeda could exploit the situation.

Suan said that although there have been no major clashes during the last six months, “there is always a threat of ARSA terrorists who are taking refuge among innocent peoples” returning.

IANS

Tech

Rawalpindi cops banned from posting on TikTok

Police officers in Rawalpindi have been banned from posting on the short video-making app, TikTok, after a video went viral, the media reported on Tuesday

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Tik Tok

Police officers in Rawalpindi have been banned from posting on the short video-making app, TikTok, after a video went viral, the media reported on Tuesday.

The police department of the Pakistan twin city has warned that if a video of any officer goes viral on social media, irrespective of whether it is TikTok, Facebook or YouTube, strict departmental action will be taken, The Express Tribune reported.

The new rules were communicated on Monday in a letter issued by Rawalpindi CPO Ahsan Younas to divisional SPs, circle officers and station house officers.

The letter stated that posting videos on social media and going viral presents a negative image of the department.

After the video went viral, at least one officer has been suspended.

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India, US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security: Pompeo in New Delhi

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in the national capital said that India and the US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security in the Indian subcontinent and the Indo-Pacific

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mike pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in the national capital said that India and the US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security in the Indian subcontinent and the Indo-Pacific.

Speaking at the third India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi, amidst the ongoing face-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Pompeo discussed several issues from “cooperating on defeating the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region”.

As per an official statement of the US government, Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar at the meeting raised the issue of security threat India is facing from China. “In the area of defence we are challenged by reckless aggression on our northern borders,” he said at the bilateral dialogue.

The meeting assumes significance because the US secretaries of the Trump administration travelled to New Delhi amidst Coronavirus pandemic even as an intense ongoing campaigning for the Presidential elections due on November 3 was underway in the US.

“Our friendship and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific was clearly, clearly highly on display when we were in Tokyo this past week and a half for the Quad meeting that Minister Jaishankar and I had with our Australian and Japanese friends earlier this month,” Pompeo told his counterpart.

The US secretary of state said, “Today is real opportunity for two great democracies like ours to grow closer, as I said on my trip to India last year when I called for a new age of ambition in our relationship. I think we’ve delivered on that over this past year. There is much more work to do for sure.”

Together, India and the US are building a better future for “our people based on our shared set of values and our cultures, our defence ties, our scientific collaboration, and mutual prosperity. I thank you for your leadership to each of you to build what ought to be a defining partnership of democracies in the 21st century,” he added.

Jaishankar, at the 2+2 Dialogue said that as the global economy has taken a massive hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government has to quickly make up for the losses as economic downturn will have both domestic and external consequences.

According to the US Department of State statement, Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper, at the meeting with his counterpart Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pointed out that Tuesday marked the 15th anniversary of the first US-India Defence framework.

“We have strengthened our defence and security partnership considerably since then, especially over the past year, during which we advanced our regional security, military-to-military, and information-sharing cooperation. Our focus now must be on institutionalizing and regularizing our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” he said.

The two sides discussed key opportunities to expand their efforts on “regional security concerns” and to advance their “defence priorities”, to include increasing information sharing and mutual logistics operations between their militaries.

Jaishankar in his remarks said that at a time when it is particularly important to uphold a rules-based international order, the ability of India and the US to work closely in defence and foreign policy has a larger resonance. “Together we can make a real difference when it comes to regional and global challenges, whether it is in respecting territorial integrity, promoting maritime domain awareness, counterterrorism, or creating prosperity,” he added.

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7 dead, 70 injured in Peshawar madrasa blast

At least seven people were killed and 70 others injured during a blast at a madrasa in Peshawar, according to authorities

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Peshawar madrasa blast

At least seven people were killed and 70 others injured during a blast at a madrasa in Peshawar, according to authorities.

The incident took place “during a Quran class” in the Jamia Zuberia madrasa located in the city’s Dir Colony, reports Dawn news.

According to a spokesperson in Peshwar’s Lady Reading Hospital, four of the victims were students between the ages of 20 to 25.

Meanwhile, a senior police official confirmed that two teachers were among the wounded.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Mansoor Aman confirmed the explosion, saying that initial reports suggest an improvised explosive device (IED) was used.

“Five kgs of explosives were used in the blast,” Dawn news quoted Aman as saying.

No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

After visiting the blast site, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra told reporters that the focus was on providing the injured the best possible treatment to increase their chances of recovery.

Prime Minister Imran Khan “strongly condemned” the blast and prayed for the quick recovery of the injured.

Former Prime Minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif also condemned the blast, saying that those who targeted the madrasah “could not be Muslims”.

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