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Pakistan acts on Pathankot attack, submits initial probe findings to India

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Pakistan on Monday submitted to India its initial findings on alleged Pakistani links to the Pathankot terror attack saying that the telephone numbers given by India were not registered in Pakistan, a news report said.

A Joint Investigation Team, formed following a directive of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, submitted the initial findings on the alleged Pakistani links to the terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force station in Punjab’s Pathankot district earlier in January.
Sharif had on Monday directed the Intelligence Bureau to probe the leads provided by India on the alleged Pakistani links to the Pathankot terror attack.
“According to sources close to the development, the investigation report has been handed over to Indian authorities,” reports said.

Indian authorities had provided Pakistan details of telephonic conversations that terrorists, believed to be Pakistanis, had had with their handlers and family members from the air base.

According to the Indian authorities, the terrorists who sneaked into Punjab and attacked the IAF base on January 2 were affiliated to the proscribed outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad.

The report quoted unnamed sources as saying that the telephone numbers given by India were not registered in Pakistan. “The investigation agencies were further investigating (leads) pertaining to Pathankot attackers,” it said.

A media report on Monday said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence were helping probe the suspected Pakistani link to the terror attack on the IAF base.

The ISI, the Military Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau were part of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed following a directive of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Express Tribune reported.

The decision to form the JIT was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Sharif “a few days ago”, it said.

Pakistani news reports on Friday had said that Sharif directed the Intelligence Bureau to probe the leads provided by New Delhi on the alleged Pakistani links to the January 2 terror attack in Punjab.

The pre-dawn attack on the Indian Air Force (IAF) station killed seven security personnel. Security forces killed all six attackers who were said to have sneaked into Punjab from Pakistan.

“Nawaz (Sharif) is taking an active role in getting to the bottom of the Pathankot incident,” a source in the Prime Minister’s House was quoted as saying.

“He (Sharif) also discussed the issue with army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and took him on board about the decision to form a JIT,” it added.

India has provided Islamabad “actionable information” on the terrorists’ alleged Pakistani links. New Delhi wants Sharif to crack down on those who planned the audacious terrorist attack.

After the terror attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that his government will act on information provided by New Delhi on the terrorists’ alleged Pakistani links.

“Nawaz (Sharif) has assured his Indian counterpart (Narendra Modi) that Pakistan will investigate the matter and make the results public,” the report said.

But Pakistani officials have told their media that the information given by India was not enough and may not stand scrutiny in a court of law.

The News International quoted “highly placed diplomatic sources” as saying that the foreign secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India could be deferred by New Delhi as there was no information so far about the visit of the Indian foreign secretary for the January 15 talks in Islamabad.

“It is likely that India would notify the postponement at the eleventh hour some time next week,” the daily said.

No communication has taken place between Islamabad and New Delhi on the foreign secretary-level talks since the Pathankot attack, it said.

Pakistan does not want the foreign secretary-level talks to get derailed as they were expected to pave the way for a comprehensive composite dialogue covering all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir, it added.

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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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Donald Trump

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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Coronavirus Treatment

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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