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Pakistan enhances security ahead of general elections

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Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Islamabad, July 20 :The Pakistani government has enhanced security across the country, especially of the politicians and for public rallies ahead of the July 25 general elections, an official said on Friday.

The government held several high-level meetings last week over the security issues in which police, the Counter Terrorism Department and intelligence agencies were directed to step up security for prominent political figures under threat and sensitive installations in all provinces to thwart possible terrorist attacks.

Rallies, processions, demonstrations and public meetings have been banned except those which are allowed by the authorities and held in the secured premises, the government official told Xinhua news agency.

Vigilance has been increased at important places including airports, railway stations, bus terminals, markets, hospitals, schools, religious places and recreational sites.

Police have been asked to conduct surveys of residential areas, hostels, guest houses and hotels to ensure that no miscreant is hiding.

Pakistan is going to hold general elections for the National Assembly — the Lower House of the country’s Parliament — and four provincial Assemblies. Following the elections, the National Assembly will elect the country’s new Prime Minister.

Tensions have risen in the country since the jailing of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges last week. He was jailed for 10 years while his daughter and presumed political heir Maryam Nawaz received a seven-year sentence.

The three-time Premier claims that the military is aiding a “judicial witch-hunt” to prevent the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) from winning a second term in power.

Following a pro-Sharif rally in the city last week, Pakistani authorities launched an anti-terrorism investigation against PML-N leaders and opened criminal cases against nearly 17,000 party members.

Opinion polls indicate a close race between the PML-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), led by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the son of assassinated former Premier Benazir Bhutto, is expected to finish in third place, surveys say.

Security measures have been taken after a series of terrorist attacks at political rallies in Pakistan earlier this month, which have killed at least 180 people and injured over 200.

On July 13, at least 150 people lost their lives in a suicide blast targeting a convoy of a political candidate in Mastung area of the country’s Balochistan province. A strike on another politician the same day in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province killed four people.

Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) warned that the country’s key political leaders were facing security threats from extremists during the election period.

The Pakistani Army has announced that it would play its due role to support the Election Commission to conduct the polls in a peaceful atmosphere by deploying 371,388 security personnel at the 85,300 polling stations across the country to ensure security.

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No boundary dispute with China: Nepal Foreign Minister

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Pradeep Gyawali

Kathmandu, Sep 23 : Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali on Wednesday said that there is no boundary dispute with China, referring to recent media reports that said China had encroached on Nepalese territory and built 11 buildings in Humla district on the Nepal-China border.

Later in the evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement and denied any encroachment by the Chinese side. These clarifications came amid media reports that China has unilaterally constructed 11 cemented buildings in Nepalese territory recently and locals of the Lapcha area where the buildings were constructed brought it to the notice of the local Humla district administration and protested the move.

But the Nepal Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday that its attention has been drawn to the media reports about the alleged construction of buildings by China within Nepalese territory between the Nepal-China boundary pillars 11 and 12 at Humla district.

“The Department of Survey, Government of Nepal, based on the official records, reports of the joint field inspection and boundary maps, has verified and confirmed that the said buildings are not located within the Nepalese territory,” the statement said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a group of people had protested in front of Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu and chanted slogans against the land encroachment by the Chinese in Humla. The issue of Chinese buildings in question had also surfaced in 2016, the ministry added, an inter-ministerial team after the field inspection had concluded that the said buildings were located approximately one kilometre inside the Chinese territory from the Nepal-China border.

The ministry stated that the boundary between Nepal and China was delineated and demarcated based on the Boundary Treaty and Boundary Protocols signed between the two countries. Nepal and China have always maintained close communication on border matters, it said.

Addressing a press conference Gyawali who is also the spokesperson of Nepal government said that a probe committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Land Reform had later shown that the Chinese side had constructed buildings some 1 kilometre away from the Nepal-China border. New buildings were constructed by Chinese authorities for their border security personnel in the same area now.

Gyawali also said that a team led by Chief District Officer (CDO) of Humla district is currently in the Limi village and further details will be available once the team returns to the district headquarters. The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu also refuted the media reports stating that the buildings mentioned by the media are on the Chinese side and urged the Nepal to verify the construction.

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France’s Macron urges UN mission to visit China’s Xinjiang region

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,”

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Uighur Muslim rights

PARIS : France’s president on Tuesday called for an international mission under the auspices of the United Nations to visit China’s Xinjiang due to concerns over the Muslim Uighur minority.

U.N. experts and activists say at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping stamp out terrorism and extremism and giving people new skills.

“Fundamental rights are not a Western idea that one could oppose as an interference … these are the principles of our organisation, enshrined in texts that the member states of the United Nations have freely consented to sign and to respect,” Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,” he said.

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Disaster

Israel reports 2,445 new Covid-19 cases; 193,374 in total

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israel coronavirus

Jerusalem, Sep 23 : Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 2,445 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 193,374.

The total count of deaths from the coronavirus in Israel rose by 12 to 1,285, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 653 to 668, out of 1,352 patients currently hospitalised, Xinhua news agency reported.

The number of recoveries in the country increased by 3,971 to 140,751, while the number of active Covid-19 cases stood at 51,338.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli government approved a plan to expand the national economic safety net to deal with the pandemic’s impact.

“Expanding the plan will enable immediate economic assistance for businesses and wage-earners who are expected to be hurt by the current Covid-19 nationwide lockdown,” said a joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Ministry.

The expansion includes the lowering of damage threshold for businesses to receive fixed expenditure grants to 25 per cent, providing advances against the fixed expenditure grants, a comprehensive worker retention plan, and deferring the reduction in unemployment benefits.

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