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Imran Khan calls for dialogue to resolve Kashmir issue, says ready to improve ties with India

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Imran Khan

Islamabad, July 26: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief on Thursday said we have to solve Kashmir issue by sitting across the table, If India’s leadership is willing then the both of us can solve this issue through dialogue.

“Kashmiris are suffering for long. We have to solve Kashmir issue by sitting across the table, If India’s leadership is willing then the both of us can solve this issue through dialogue. It will be good for the subcontinent also”,  Khan stated in a televised address in Islamabad while declearing victory in the general elections.

Expressing displeasure over Indian media coverage, the cricketer-turned-politician said “I was saddened by the way Indian media recently projected me. I am one of those Pakistanis that wants good relations with India, if we want to have a poverty free subcontinent then we must have good relations and trade ties”.

Khan began his winning speech saying, “I thank god, after 22 years of struggle, my prayers have been answered. I have got the chance to fulfill my dream and serve the nation”.

The mandate has turned out to be largely in PTI’s favour as it is leading in over 110 seats in  Pakistan general election and while jailed rival Nawaz Sharif’s of PML-N has rejected the result as “blatantly” rigged.

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Middle East

Angered by Arab-Israel ties, Palestine quits chairing Arab League sessions

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Riyad al-Maliki
FILE PHOTO: Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki is seen during preparatory meeting for the GCC, Arab and Islamic summits in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

RAMALLAH, West Bank/GAZA: Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal relations with Israel.

Palestinians see the accords that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.

Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn member nations breaking ranks and normalising ties with Israel.

Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.

“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council (of foreign ministers) at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.

After initial remarks, Maliki read from a letter he said he sent to Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit informing him of the Palestinian move and criticising the UAE and Bahrain, both Gulf Arab nations that share Israeli concerns about Iran.

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The UAE’s deal with Israel “created a deep crisis in the Arab League” and the accord was followed “by a similar collapse by the Kingdom of Bahrain”, Maliki said, quoting from the letter.

In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Islamist Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.

Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.

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Health

UN must hold China accountable for unleashing Covid-19 plague onto world: Trump

Addressing the UN’s first virtual meeting of world leaders, Trump accused the Chinese government and the World Health Organization (WHO) of making a false declaration that there was no evidence of human to human transmission of Sars-Cov-2.

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Donald Trump

US president Donald Trump on Tuesday renewed his attack on China accusing it of spreading the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the world. He urged the United Nations to hold it accountable for “unleashing this plague onto the world.”

Addressing the UN’s first virtual meeting of world leaders, Trump accused the Chinese government and the World Health Organization (WHO) of making a false declaration that there was no evidence of human to human transmission of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes the deadly infection. He also said that the WHO is virtually controlled by China.

“As we pursue a bright future, we must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world – China,” Trump said at the 75th UNGA debate.

The US president said that in the earliest days of the outbreak, China locked down travel domestically while it continued to allow flights to leave the country and infect the rest of the world.

“China condemned my travel ban on their country, even as they cancelled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes,” he added.

Trump again used the term “China virus” that has so far infected 31,365,633 people across the world and claimed over 965,000 lives so far.

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Disaster

Covid-19 presages crises to come, warns UN Secretary General

In his centerpiece address to the historic and unprecedented 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday appealed for global solidarity to overcome the COVID-19, and again call for a global ceasefire during the pandemic, by the end of the year.

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, Sep 22 : Addressing the largely empty General Assembly Hall in New York, Mr. Guterres characterized the pandemic from the podium as “not only a wake-up call” but “a dress rehearsal” for challenges to come. 

“In an interconnected world, it is high time to recognize a simple truth: solidarity is self-interest.  If we fail to grasp that fact, everyone loses”, he said, delivering his annual report on the work of the Organization.   

The Secretary-General underscored the need for solidarity at this moment, particularly as countries least capable to address COVID-19 have received far too little assistance. He urged the UN’s 193 Member States to move forward in humility and unity in the face of the disease. 

“And we must be guided by science and tethered to reality”, he added. “Populism and nationalism have failed. Those approaches to contain the virus have often made things manifestly worse.”   

A world turned upside-down 

Due to COVID-19, most world leaders will not attend the annual gathering at UN Headquarters, known as the General Debate.  Instead, many have pre-recorded their speeches on video, although they have the right to deliver them in person – from their seat in the Hall, not from the podium.  

“In a world turned upside down, this General Assembly Hall is among the strangest sights of all”, Mr. Guterres remarked at the outset. “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our annual meeting beyond recognition.  But it has made it more important than ever.”   

He said the pandemic has exposed fragilities and inequalities across the globe.  It has generated “an epochal health crisis”, the biggest economic and job losses since the Great Depression, and dangerous new threats to human rights, among other challenges.   As of Tuesday, there were more than 31 million cases of the coronavirus disease worldwide, with over 962,000 deaths. 

Clock ticking on global ceasefire 

Mr. Guterres also used the occasion to repeat his call for a global ceasefire during the pandemic. The Secretary-General had initially issued the appeal back in March, when he urged warring parties to “end the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world”.  

Some 180 Member States have endorsed the appeal, as have religious leaders, regional partners and civil society networks. Several armed movements also responded, some of whom announced ceasefires, though they were not sustained.  

Mr. Guterres saw several reasons to be hopeful now, with the peace agreement in Sudan, and peace talks in Afghanistan, as just two examples. However, he feared terrorist and violent extremist groups will exploit the pandemic. 

“Now is the time for a collective new push for peace and reconciliation”, he charged. “I appeal for a stepped-up international effort – led by the Security Council – to achieve a global ceasefire by the end of this year. We have 100 days.  The clock is ticking.” 

Threats to peace, gender equality 

The ceasefire is not only critical to stop “hot” conflicts, he stressed, pointing to the need to avert a new Cold War. 

 “We are moving in a very dangerous direction.  Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a Great Fracture — each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities”, the Secretary-General warned. 

“A technological and economic divide risks inevitably turning into a geo-strategic and military divide.  We must avoid this at all costs.” 

COVID-19 could also see progress on gender equality pushed back by decades, he continued, as women and girls are overwhelmingly affected by the social and economic fallout, including in areas such as employment and education. 

“We must also stamp out the horrifying increase in violence against women and girls during the pandemic, from domestic violence to sexual abuse, online harassment and femicide”, said Mr. Guterres. 

“This is a hidden war on women. Preventing and ending it requires the same commitment and resources that we devote to other forms of warfare.” 

UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeSecretary-General António Guterres presents his annual report on the UN’s work ahead of the opening of the General Assembly’s 75th General Debate.

New Social Contract  

For the Secretary-General, recovering from COVID-19 must lead to a better future for all, anchored by inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies.    

He emphasized the need for what he labelled a New Social Contract, at the national level, and a New Global Deal, applicable internationally. 

Mr. Guterres explained that the New Social Contract has several components, such as ending exclusion, discrimination and racism, and establishing Universal Health Coverage and even a possible Universal Basic Income.  

It also entails having fairer tax systems, providing education for all, harnessing digital technology, and ensuring human rights as well as opportunities for women and girls. 

Take climate action, address historical injustice 

Speaking in French, Mr. Guterres said a sustainable New Social Contract means transitioning towards renewable energy to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, highlighting a longstanding message of his tenure. 

As part of their COVID-19 recovery, the Secretary-General encouraged countries to consider six climate-positive actions, ranging from green jobs and ending fossil fuel subsidies, to aligning any industry bailouts with international goals to limit global warming. 

The New Global Deal seeks to make sure power, wealth and opportunities are fairly shared. He said it must be rooted in fair globalization, while sustainable development principles should be integrated into all decision-making. 

The pact also must address historical injustices in global power structures. 

21st century multilateralism 

The Secretary-General believes that after more than seven decades, multilateral institutions need an upgrade to more equitably represent all the world’s people, rather than giving disproportionate power to some, and limiting the voice of others. 

He laid out a blueprint for this “21st century multilateralism”, saying it must be “networked” — that is, linking global institutions, such as development banks, regional organizations and trade alliances, across sector and geographies. 

Additionally, it, too, must be inclusive, and should draw on the capacities of civil society, academia, businesses and others. 

No going back 

Mr. Guterres made the case for more international cooperation in the face of COVID-19, stressing that there is no “going back to what was or withdrawing into national shells.” 

While the crisis has upended the world, it has also created the space for something new, he said.   

For this anniversary year, the General Assembly has asked the Secretary-General to report on a common agenda for the future, which he will do next year.  

“The pandemic has taught us our choices matter”, said Mr. Guterres.  “As we look to the future, let us make sure we choose wisely.”  

UN response to COVID-19 

Earlier in his speech, the Secretary-General spoke of the UN’s comprehensive response throughout the pandemic.   

The UN system, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), has assisted governments, particularly in the developing world, including through providing personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to more than 130 countries.  

The Organization also launched the ‘Verified’ campaign to fight the “toxic virus” of misinformation surrounding COVID-19. It is also supporting efforts to develop a fair and equitable vaccine against the actual coronavirus, as well as treatments and therapies. 

‘Vaccinationalism’  

However, Mr. Guterres warned against what he called “vaccinationalism”, as countries are reportedly making “side deals” for their own populations.  He underlined that “None of us is safe, until all of us are safe.” 

The UN has also pushed for a “massive” rescue package, equivalent to roughly 10 per cent of global economic output, to get economies back up and running.  Developed countries can afford it, he said. 

“But we need to ensure that the developing world does not fall into financial ruin, escalating poverty and debt crises,” he stated. “We need a collective commitment to avoid a downward spiral.” 

To this end, the Secretary-General will convene world leaders for a meeting next Tuesday to find solutions to finance development in the COVID-19 era and beyond. 

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