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Nawaz Sharif to appear before accountability court on Aug 13

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Islamabad, Aug 9: An accountability court here has summoned deposed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to appear before it on August 13 in two pending corruption references against him and his family.

It was the first hearing of the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment graft cases after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) shifted the references from the court of accountability judge Mohammad Bashir to the court of judge Arshad Malik, Geo News reported.

The trial against the Sharifs commenced on September 14, 2017 after Pakistan’s anti-corruption body NAB filed cases relating to the Avenfield, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, and offshore companies, including Flagship Investment Limited on the Supreme Court’s directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict.

The officials of National Accountability Bureau told the court on Thursday that Sharif, who was supposed to appear before the court, could not be produced due to security concerns.

The court then ordered the prosecution to present Sharif, Panamagate Joint Investigation Team head and prosecution’s key witness Wajid Zia for the hearing on August 13.

On July 6, accountability court Judge Mohammad Bashir had announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference handing 10-year jail term to Sharif for owning assets beyond declared income, seven years to his daughter Maryam Nawaz for abetment and one year to his son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar Awan.

Later, the three-time Premier, through his counsel Khawaja Haris, had filed an appeal in the IHC for the transfer of the other two references to another accountability court since the arguments in both cases were similar to the ones given in the Avenfield reference.

Following that, Judge Bashir recused himself from hearing the pending references.

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Late US President Bush secretly sponsored Filipino child

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Washington, Dec 19:  Former US President George H.W. Bush, who passed away in November, has sponsored a seven-year-old boy in the Philippines for 10 years under a pseudonym, a non-profit who connected them has revealed.

Through Compassion International that uses churches to help children in poor communities around the world, Bush sponsored Timothy for a decade, the CNN reported.

The 41st US President, who passed away at the age of 94 years on November 30, sent funds that went toward Timothy’s education, extracurricular activities and some of his meals. The organisation has shared some of Bush’s letters with CNN.

The Bush family was not available to comment on the letters, but Jim McGrath, a spokesperson for the Office of George H.W. Bush, confirmed the letters’ authenticity.

Once the sponsorship began, Bush began writing to the boy right away. He said in his first letter, send on January 24, 2002, that he loved Timothy from the get-go.

“Dear Timothy, I want to be your new pen pal. I am an old man, 77 years old, but I love kids; and though we have not met I love you already. I live in Texas – I will write you from time to time – Good Luck. G. Walker”, a letter that perhaps was the first, read.

Despite concerns over his security breach, Bush continued his philanthropic mission and his letters to the child were some of the most endearing ones, Wess Stafford, the former president of Compassion International told CNN.

Timothy never caught on to the hints in Bush’s letters, and did not find out who his sponsor was until he had graduated from the program.

“After a while, my executive assistant, Angie Lathrop, took over the sponsorship, and after Timothy graduated at 17, she flew to the Philippines to meet him,” Stafford said. “That’s when she told him who his sponsor really was.”

Timothy was stunned, Stafford said. He really could not believe the man he had been writing letters to was once the President of the US.

Stafford said that Timothy told Lathrop he had no idea, and that the revelation was life-changing.

That was the last time the non-profit heard from Timothy, despite efforts to locate him, Stafford said.

Compassion International works through partnerships with over 7,000 churches in 25 countries around the world.

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Late rights activist Asma Jahangir wins UN Human Rights Prize for 2018

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Asma Jahangir (File Photo)

United Nations, Dec 19: Late lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir has been awarded the UN Human Rights Prize for 2018. Her daughter Munizae Jahangir received the prestigious award on behalf of her mother.

The award is given to individuals and organisations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights. Asma Jahangir was announced as one of the four winners of the quinquennial prize in October.

Receiving the award for her late mother, Munizae Jahangir dedicated it to Pakistani women and their courage. The ceremony was held at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

Other prize winners included women’s rights activist in Tanzania, Rebeca Gyumi; activist for the rights of indigenous Brazilian communities Joenia Wapichana and Ireland’s human rights organisation Front Line Defenders.

Previous winners include Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and Malala Yousafzai, the News International reported.

Asma became the fourth Pakistani woman to be awarded the UN Human Rights Prize. Before her, Begum Ra’Ana Liaquat Ali Khan (1978), Benazir Bhutto (2008) and Malala Yousufzai (2013) had been accorded the honour.

Asma, who died in February, was known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights as well as for remaining undaunted in the face of extreme pressure and opposition.

She is also remembered as a champion of the disenfranchised and for her services towards building a democratic and more inclusive Pakistan.

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Pentagon to establish ‘Space Command’

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Washington, Dec 18: While the Space Force would need congressional approval but US President Donald Trump issued an order on Tuesday directing the establishment of a “Space Command.”

Vice President Pence announced on Tuesday that the White House had directed the Pentagon to form a Space Command, a significant step toward the administration’s ultimate goal of establishing a department known as the Space Force that would become the first new branch of the Armed Services since the Air Force was created in 1947.

Trump said the new command will be created as a “unified combatant command” that will oversee all US military activities in space, according to his memo to Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

The president has asked Mattis to recommend officers for the command’s leadership, the one-page memo said.

It added that a comprehensive list of authorities and responsibilities for the Space Command will be included in the next update to the Unified Command Plan.

Trump has been pushing to establish a Space Force by 2020, an idea that has been questioned by Pentagon officials and military experts worried about adding cost and bureaucracy.

 

Pence was speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he was to watch the launch of a SpaceX rocket with a military cargo.

 

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