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Musharraf says he invoked emergency after consulting Gen Kayani,Shaukat Aziz

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Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has for the first time claimed that he invoked the Nov 3, 2007 emergency after holding consultations with former chief of army staff retired Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the senior civilian and military hierarchy.

Musharraf, 72, is facing treason charges under a case launched in 2013 for suspending the Constitution by declaring emergency on November 3, 2007.

In a statement recorded before the joint investigation team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the former president described ex-army chief General Parvez Kayani as the principal offender in the case.

He said Kayani, who became the chief of army staff on November 27, 2007, did not revoke the emergency.

“By not revoking the same, General Kayani is also a principal offender,” he alleged.

The former military ruler insisted that in addition to Kayani he had consulted the senior military and civilian leadership, including the then prime minister Shaukat Aziz, before imposing the emergency.

He said since he acted upon the advice of the then Prime Minister and his cabinet in imposing the emergency, he was not responsible.

Musharraf said the summary moved by Aziz for emergency had “mysteriously” been removed from the official record by some “quarters concerned”.

Dawn reported that it is the first time that Musharraf has directly dragged retired Gen Kayani and the senior civilian and military hierarchy into the high treason case.

General Kayani retired in 2013 after being chief of army for six years and he has not responded so far to the allegations by Musharraf.

It is believed that Musharraf was not happy with Kayani, who was his handpicked army chief, for not playing active role to save him from humiliation when he was arrested and involved in several cases on his return from abroad in 2013 to contest the elections.

Former Prime Minister Aziz who was also the personal choice of Musharraf left the country on end of his term in 2007 and he never returned.

Under the 1973 constitution, abrogation of the constitution will be an act of high treason, liable to death under Pakistan’s treason laws. The military lives in Karachi as he cannot leave the country under a court order.

 

 

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Iran urges EU to defy US sanctions amid COVID-19 pandemic

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday censured US for maintaining its sanctions against Iran despite the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Tehran, April 5 : Iran’s envoy to Belgium on Saturday asked the European Union to oppose US sanctions on Iran amid the surge of COVID-19 pandemic, state TV reported.

The “unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran under the guise of its maximum pressure campaign undermine the country’s ability to effectively battle the virus without any international support in the long run,” Gholam Hossein Dehqani said in a letter to Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Xinhua reported.

Dehqani urged the European Union to defy “the inhumane” US sanctions as they infringe on the ordinary citizens’ rights to meet their basic needs.

On Friday, Iran’s envoy to the UN office in Geneva Esmaeil Baqaei Hamaneh said that the US “cruel and illegal” sanctions against Iran have resulted in difficulties for ordinary Iranians’ access to medicine and medical equipment and services as the country is engaged in the combat with the novel coronavirus.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday censured US for maintaining its sanctions against Iran despite the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country.

Iran’s health ministry on Saturday announced 55,743 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and a total of 3,452 deaths.

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CoronaVirus: US COVID-19 deaths surpass 8,000

Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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The total deaths of COVID-19 in the US topped 8,000 as of 2.30 p.m. on Saturday (local time), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

President Donald Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus press briefing on Saturday, “This will be the toughest week” in the U.S. fight against the pandemic.

“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” he said.

The president’s comments came as the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to over 300,000, with the number of deaths at more than 8,000, according to NBC News’ tally.

Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The CDC is recommending now that Americans wear cloth masks when out in public. And, New York, by far the hardest-hit state, is gearing up for the pandemic to peak there in an expected in four to 10 days. China is donating 1,000 ventilators to the state, and another 140 are coming from Oregon.

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COVID-19 claims over 15,000 lives in Italy, ICUs see first drop of patients

The death toll on Saturday was 681, bringing the total to 15,362 fatalities since the pandemic first broke out in northern Italy on Feb. 21.

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Rome, April 5 : The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 15,000 lives in locked-down Italy, as the total number of infections, fatalities and recoveries has risen to 124,632, according to the fresh data released by the country’s Civil Protection Department on Saturday.

Speaking during a televised press conference, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli confirmed that there were 2,886 new active coronavirus infections compared to Friday, bringing the nationwide total to 88,274 cases, Xinhua reported.

Of those infected, 29,010 are hospitalized, including 3,994 in intensive care, and the rest are quarantined at home, Borrelli said.

“Today for the first time we have a very significant element to report, which is that the number of patients in intensive care has decreased by 74 individuals,” Borrelli said.

“This is important news because it gives our hospitals some breathing room, and it is the first negative number since we began managing the emergency,” he said.

Borrelli added that there were 1,238 additional recoveries compared to Friday, bringing that total to 20,996.

The death toll on Saturday was 681, bringing the total to 15,362 fatalities since the pandemic first broke out in northern Italy on Feb. 21.

“The number of daily fatalities has been constantly decreasing” from a high of 969 deaths on March 27, Borrelli pointed out.

Among the latest coronavirus victims was a state police officer who served on Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s security detail.

“Today Giorgio Guastamacchia…aged just 51, passed away,” the prime minister wrote on Facebook on Saturday. “He had been recently hospitalized in Rome after contracting the COVID-19. This is a time of great sorrow for all of us who knew him.”

In an interview with RAI News 24 public broadcaster earlier in the day, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said that “we are still in the thick of battle, so we must not underestimate (the situation).”

“Right now the path of social distancing is the true weapon we have at our disposal,” Speranza said.

The minister also underlined the importance of scientific research in terms of vaccine and therapy.

“But at the moment, the truth is that there is no vaccine and there is no proven therapy, so the true path, the true solution right now is social distancing, which is still the only weapon that all the governments in the world are using to reduce the contagion,” Speranza emphasized.

About the life after the pandemic, the health minister said: “The premise for the economic recovery of our country is victory in this ongoing health care battle — the two elements cannot be placed in contradiction to each other.”

“Without this health care victory, there can be no economic and social recovery,” Speranza stressed.

He was echoed by Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri, who warned citizens in a press conference “to abstain from thinking that the time has already come to… go back to normal behavior.”

“For now, nothing has changed,” he emphasized.

Arcuri, who is also the CEO of Invitalia, a national business incentives agency owned by the Ministry of Economy, is in charge of ramping up production and distribution of medical supplies, bolstering the national health care system, and managing economic support for families, workers, and businesses affected by the coronavirus emergency.

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