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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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Pakistan celebrates Independence Day

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Pakistan
Representative Image

Islamabad, Aug 14 : People all across Pakistan on Tuesday celebrated the country’s 72nd Independence Day.

As the clock struck midnight, fireworks began across the county while buildings were lit up to celebrate Independence Day.

The day-long festivities began with thanksgiving prayers and the hoisting of the national flag at all important public buildings in the country, which had been decorated with bunting and lights ahead of August 14, reports Dawn online.

The day began with a 31-gun salute in the capital, followed by 21-gun salutes in all four provincial capitals.

Pakistan Rangers officials at the Wagah border crossing exchanged sweets with Indian Border Security Force personnel.

The main ceremony will be hosted at the Islamabad’s Convention Centre, where President Mamnoon Hussain is expected to hoist the national flag. Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, the three chiefs of the armed forces and other notable personalities will be in attendance.

Change-of-guard ceremonies were also held at the mausoleums of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal in Karachi and Lahore, respectively.

People across the country flocked to stalls that lined up streets to purchase national flags in different sizes, t-shirts, badges and other merchandise to display their national pride.

IANS

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Earth’s oldest known evolved rocks result of asteroids

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Sydney, Aug 14: The oldest evolved rocks on Earth are the consequence of asteroids colliding with the planet 4 billion years ago, an Australian research released on Tuesday revealed.

The study by the Curtin University suggests that the rocks, part of the Acasta Gneiss Complex in northwest Canada, are the result of asteroids smashing into the Earth and melting its crust, allowing evolved, or granitic, rocks to form, reports Xinhua news agency.

What led scientists to suggest that they were formed in this way was firstly, the composition of the rocks is different from the those typical of the Earth’s ancient crust.

“The only known evolved rocks from the Hadean eon are those in northwest Canada, which have chemical compositions clearly distinct from those that dominate ancient continental crust worldwide, suggesting they were formed in a different way,” research co-author professor Phil Bland said.

Secondly, the rocks were melted at very low pressures, equivalent to the uppermost few kilometres of crust, meaning the event happened closer to the Earth’s surface.

“The melting of these rocks at such shallow levels is most easily explained by meteorite impacts, which would have supplied the energy to attain the extreme temperatures required for melting,” lead researcher Tim Johnson said.

This period, around 4 billion years ago, was dominated by a barrage of asteroid impacts that would have caused widespread melting and recycling of the Earth’s surface.

“Consequently, there are almost no rocks preserved from Earth’s formative Hadean eon,” Bland said.

Meaning these rocks were rare survivors from a very different time on Earth.

IANS

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FBI fires agent for anti-Trump texts

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Washington, Aug 14: Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who said in a text message that he would help prevent US President Donald Trump from ever winning the White House, was fired by the agency, media reports said on Monday.

According to a statement issued by his attorney Aitan Goelman, FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich fired Strzok on Friday, although the head of the internal FBI office that generally deals with disciplining employees had decided Strzok only be demoted and suspended from his duties for 60 days.

The firing comes months after private texts surfaced in which Strzok and his girlfriend discussed Trump’s candidacy during the 2016 election campaign, Efe reported.

In those texts, an FBI lawyer with whom Strzok was pursuing a romantic relationship at the time asked him if Trump would ever become president and he responded that he would not because “we’ll stop” him.

Goelman said that the firing “isn’t the normal process in any way more than name,” adding “This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans”.

Strzok, a 22-year-old veteran of the FBI, helped lead the agency’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and participated in investigating the use of private e-mail servers by Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.

When the text exchange between Strzok and his then-girlfriend came to light, the FBI removed him from the Russia investigation, now being headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump has frequently used Strzok as a foil to attack the Mueller probe, which is examining alleged links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

True to form, Trump did not delay in reacting on Twitter to Strzok’s firing, tweeting: “Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped?”

In a subsequent tweet, Trump said that Strzok “was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation. It was a total fraud on the American public and should be properly redone!”

In early August, Strzok testified before Congress and asserted that there is “no evidence of bias in my professional actions”.

Although he had been escorted out of the FBI building in June and relieved of all duties at the agency, Strzok had remained on the FBI payroll until his recent firing.

IANS

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