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Nawaz Sharif to send SIT to India for Pathankot probe

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Pakistan is considering sending a Special Investigation Team to Pathankot as more information would be required to carry forward the process of cooperation with India.

Pakistan today detained Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and “several individuals” belonging to his dreaded outfit, which is suspected to have engineered the Pathankot terror attack, and sealed its offices after India demanded action, linking it to the fate of the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

Lt Gen (retired) Abdul Qadir Baloch, minister for frontier regions, confirmed that “Azhar was arrested”. Azhar was taken in protective custody to probe the Pathankot attack, Baloch was quoted as saying by Geo TV.

Azhar’s brother Abdul Rehman Rauf has also been detained, Geo TV said.

Officials said Azhar, one of the three terrorists released from Indian prisons in 1999 in exchange for the release of 155 passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane, has been taken into protective custody after raids on several JeM offices.

The Pakistani action, which was reviewed at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, come as the fate of the FS-level talks scheduled for Friday hung in balance with just two days for Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to go to Islamabad for talks with his counterpart on resuming the bilateral dialogue process.

Terrorists belonging to the JeM are believed by India to be behind the Pathankot terror attack on January 2 in which seven security personnel were killed.

A PMO statement issued after the meeting today said it noted with satisfaction that as part of Pakistan’s commitment to eliminate terrorism from its soil and the expressed national resolve not to allow its territory to be used for acts of terrorism anywhere, “considerable progress has been made in the investigations being carried out against terrorist elements reportedly linked to the Pathankot incident”.

“Based on initial investigations in Pakistan, and the information provided, several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad have been apprehended. The offices of the organisation are also being traced and sealed. Further investigations are underway,” the statement said.

In the spirit of cooperative approach, the statement said, it was also decided that “in order to carry the process forward, additional information would be required for which the government of Pakistan is considering sending a Special Investigation Team to Pathankot in consultation with the Government of India”.

“The meeting reiterated that in line with our decision to counter and completely eliminate terrorism, Pakistan would remain engaged with India on this issue,” the statement said.

Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, Director General ISI Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other senior officials attended the meeting.

Disaster

Israel reports 16,757 COVID-19 cases, 281 deaths

Earlier in the day, the Israeli transport ministry announced the full resumption of the state’s railway system on June 8.

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Jerusalem, May 26 : The Israeli health ministry has reported 17 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number in the country to 16,757.

After four consecutive days without death cases, the ministry on Monday reported two new fatalities, bringing the death toll from the COVID-19 to 281, Xinhua reported.

The number of patients in serious condition decreased from 44 to 41, out of 115 patients currently hospitalized, the lowest number of hospitalized patients since March 12.

The number of recoveries increased by 154 to 14,457, while the active cases decreased to 2,019.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli transport ministry announced the full resumption of the state’s railway system on June 8.

China and Israel have cooperated on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. On February 11, the Tel Aviv Municipality Hall, a landmark in the Israeli city, was illuminated with the colours of China’s national flag, showing solidarity with China in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

On March 19 and April 1, two video conferences were held between Chinese doctors and Israeli counterparts to share experience in containing the virus’ spread and treatment of the infected patients.

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Politics

UK PM’s approval rating drops by 20 pts after aide scandal

At a press conference on Monday, Johnson admitted he regrets the “confusion and pain” the scandal has caused the British public.

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London, May 26 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnsons approval rating has dropped 20 points to -1 per cent after he refused to sack his chief aide, Dominic Cummings for allegedly breaking coronavirus lockdown rules, it was reported on Tuesday.

According to Savanta, a coronavirus data tracker which looks at how the UK population is responding to the pandemic, the Prime Minister’s rating was previously +19 per cent just four days ago, the Metro newspaper reported.

It stated that the overall government approval rate is now at -2 per cent, having dropped 16 points in a day.

Johnson’s approval rating is now also the lowest of all the individuals examined, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s the second lowest at 4 per cent.

Cummings’ rating has not been tracked.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s approval rating also lifted to 12 per cent on Monday, while Chancellor Rishi Sunak dropped from 35 per cent four days ago to 20 per cent.

Cummings has been accused of breaking lockdown rules he helped make after it emerged he travelled from London to his parents home in Durham when his wife fell ill with suspected coronavirus in March, reports the Metro newspaper.

The Prime Minister’s chief adviser has refused to step down over the allegations, admitting he never considered resigning and he doesn’t regret his actions.

At a press conference on Monday, Johnson admitted he regrets the “confusion and pain” the scandal has caused the British public.

But he said that he believed Cummings acted “legally” and “with integrity”.

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Blog

445 people died from Australia bushfires smoke: Experts

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

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Arogya Setu App

Canberra, May 26 : Smoke from Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires killed at least 445 people, health experts revealed on Tuesday.

Fay Johnston, a public health expert from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, told the bushfire royal commission on Tuesday that her team estimated that 445 people died as a result of the smoke that blanketed much of the nation’s east coast, reports Xinhua news agency.

It takes the total death toll from the 2019-2020 bushfire season, which has been dubbed the “Black Summer”, to nearly 480 after 34 people lost their lives directly.

According to modelling produced by Johnston and her colleagues, 80 per cent of Australians were affected by the smoke at some point, including 3,340 people who were hospitalized with heart and lung problems.

“We were able to work out a yearly cost of bushfire smoke for each summer season and… our estimates for the last season were A$2 billion in health costs,” Johnston said.

“There’s fluctuation year to year, of course, but that was a major departure from anything we had seen in the previous 20 years.”

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

Commissioners also heard on Tuesday that the increasing frequency of significant bushfire events in Australia meant that survivors no longer feel safe during the recovery phase.

“Disasters are no longer perceived as rare events, they are often seen as climate change, and they’re part of our new reality,” Lisa Gibbs, a child welfare expert from the University of Melbourne, said.

“We don’t know how that is going to affect recovery because the seeds of hope are a really important part of people’s ability to deal with what has happened and to get back on track.”

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