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Nuclear threats can’t undermine need for India, Pakistan talks: Pakistani daily

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Islamabad, Jan 15: India Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s remarks that his force was ready to call Pakistan’s “nuclear bluff” and cross the border cannot “erase the core truth” that the two countries need to engage each other in dialogue, a Pakistani newspaper said on Monday.

Dawn, Pakistan’s influential newspaper, in its editorial “Aggressive remarks from India” recalled the recent meeting in Bangkok between the National Security Advisers of Pakistan and India, which it said, suggested that the two countries were aware that a total breakdown in communications was “not desirable”.

“But if hawks on both sides are to be prevented from dictating the tone and content of bilateral engagements, meetings held away from the media spotlight need to produce tangible results.”

The daily said Gen Rawat’s “hawkish and arguably reckless comments” appeared to suggest that the Cold Start doctrine had become a core part of the Indian military strategy against Pakistan.

“Crossing the international border is an act of war, and Pakistan would simply have no option but to respond.

“There is no scenario in which Pakistan can treat an Indian incursion on its soil as a temporary or acceptable move that does not merit a forceful and immediate response.”

The daily said Gen Rawat’s comments have underlined the dire state of Pakistan-India relations, further deteriorated by the Kulbhushan Jadhav controversy, frequent incidents of violence along the Line of Control.

“The difficulties are increasing and the opportunities for positive change are decreasing. Deep political divisions inside Pakistan ahead of a general election scheduled for later this year suggest that major initiatives in the relationship with India are unlikely until at least the end of the year.

“By then, India will be preparing for its own general election in 2019. If the last Indian general election is any indication of what the next campaign season could bring, BJP hardliners and sundry other politicians may explicitly base their election campaigns on anti-Pakistan rhetoric.”

It said the political climate in both countries appeared to suggest that the bilateral relationship may at best stay frozen or could further deteriorate as there were no hopeful times for those desiring the normalisation of ties between Pakistan and India ultimately.

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Earthquake – Magnitude 4.8 in Pakistan

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An earthquake of magnitude 4.8 on the Richter scale occurred at 4:14 am today in Pakistan: National Center for Seismology

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Pakistani PM Imran Khan writes to Facebook CEO seeking ban on Islamophobic content

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Imran Khan Pakistan PM

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content on the site, warning of an increase in radicalisisation amongst Muslims, the government said on Sunday.

In the letter, shared by the Pakistani government on Twitter, Imran Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” is encouraging extremism and violence across the world — especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.

“I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan said.

Facebook said this month it was updating its hate speech policy to ban any content that denied or distorted the Holocaust.

Facebook did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment on Khan’s letter.

“One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Khan said, adding that this was “reflective of prejudice and bias that will encourage further radicalisation”.

Khan in his letter made reference to the situation in France, where, he said, Islam was being associated with terrorism.

Earlier on Sunday, Khan said that French President Emmanuel Macron had “attacked Islam” by encouraging the display of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

Khan’s comments came after Macron paid tribute to a French history teacher beheaded by an Islamist radical who wanted to avenge the use of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression.

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Putin rejects Donald Trump’s criticism of Biden family business

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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he saw nothing criminal in Hunter Biden’s past business ties with Ukraine or Russia, marking out his disagreement with one of Donald Trump’s attack lines in the U.S. presidential election.

Putin was responding to comments made by Trump during televised debates with Democratic challenger Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Trump, who is trailing in opinion polls, has used the debates to make accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in Ukraine. No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Joe Biden has called them false and discredited.

Putin, who has praised Trump in the past for saying he wanted better ties with Moscow, has said Russia will work with any U.S. leader, while noting what he called Joe Biden’s “sharp anti-Russian rhetoric”.

Putin appeared less friendly towards Trump in remarks broadcast by Russian state TV on Sunday. In what may be seen by some analysts as an attempt to try to curry favour with the Biden camp, he took the time to knock down what he made clear he regarded as false allegations from Trump about the Bidens.

“Yes, in Ukraine he (Hunter Biden) had or maybe still has a business, I don’t know. It doesn’t concern us. It concerns the Americans and the Ukrainians,” said Putin.

“But well yes he had at least one company, which he practically headed up, and judging from everything he made good money. I don’t see anything criminal about this, at least we don’t know anything about this (being criminal).”

Putin also reacted with visible irritation when asked about comments Trump has made concerning Putin’s ties to the former mayor of Moscow, and to an alleged payment made to Hunter Biden by the ex-mayor’s widow. Putin said he knew nothing about the existence of any commercial relationship between Hunter and the woman. Joe Biden says the accusation about his son is not true.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump’s favour, an allegation Moscow has denied.

Russia has also dismissed accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with this year’s election too.

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