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US cuts Pakistan’s aid by USD 440 million

The agreement was signed in 2010 to make operational the Kerry Lugar Berman (KLB) Act that was passed by the US Congress in October 2009 to disburse $7.5 billion to Pakistan over a period of 5 years.

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Washington, Aug 17 (IANS) The US has cut its aid to cash-strapped Pakistan by $440 million, bringing its commitments to just $4.1 billion.

The decision to cut Pakistan’s economic assistance was officially conveyed to Islamabad about three weeks before the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the US, the Express Tribune reported.

The aid was disbursed under Pakistan Enhanced Partnership Agreement (PEPA) 2010. The agreement was signed in 2010 to make operational the Kerry Lugar Berman (KLB) Act that was passed by the US Congress in October 2009 to disburse $7.5 billion to Pakistan over a period of 5 years.

However, soon after PEPA agreement was made effective the relations between Pakistan and the US started deteriorating and reached nearly its lowest ebbs in decades. This also affected the actual commitments and disbursements under the KLB Act.

The report said the commitments under the KLB earlier stood at nearly $4.5 billion. Now, after the cut the aid will come down to $4.1 billion.

The KLB was aimed at making investments in Pakistan’s economic infrastructure, particularly in energy and agriculture, to help the country recover from its energy and water crises, improve the daily lives of the Pakistani people and increase opportunities for economic growth.

In September 2018, the US military cancelled $300 million in aid to Pakistan over its failure to take action against militant groups.

Washington has long complained that Pakistan provides a safe haven to militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network and Al Qaeda, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

During his meeting with Imran Khan in July, US President Donald Trump had hinted that he was unlikely to lift the freeze of security assistance to Islamabad till the time he was satisfied with Islamabad’s actions against terrorist network.

“We were paying $1.3 billion to Pakistan in aid for many years. The problem was Pakistan was not doing anything for us,” Trump had told Khan.

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Cybercriminals can hack e-bikes to eavesdrop on riders

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New York: As governments including in India plan more e-bikes on roads to help tackle traffic congestion, like any Internet-connected device, hackers can cause a series of attacks in e-scooters, including eavesdropping on users and even spoof GPS systems to direct riders to unintended locations, warn researchers including some of Indian-origin.

Vendors of Micromobility vehicles can also suffer denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and data leaks, said researchers from University of Texas at San Antonio.

“We have identified and outlined a variety of weak points or attack surfaces in the current ride-sharing, or micromobility, ecosystem that could potentially be exploited by malicious adversaries right from inferring the riders’ private data to causing economic losses to service providers and remotely controlling the vehicles’ behaviour and operation,” said Jadliwala.

The micromobility e-scooter analysis was conducted by Jadliwala alongside graduate students Nisha Vinayaga-Sureshkanth, Raveen Wijewickrama and post-doctoral fellow Anindya Maiti.

The global e-Bike market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.01 per cent to reach $38.6 billion by 2025 from an estimated $21.1 billion in 2018, according to marketsandmarkets research firm.

Computer science experts at the university have published the first review of the security and privacy risks posed by e-scooters and their related software services and applications.

According to the review, to appear in the proceedings of the 2nd ACM Workshop on Automotive and Aerial Vehicle Security (AutoSec 2020), hackers can cause a series of attacks.

Some e-scooter models communicate with the rider’s smartphone over a Bluetooth Low Energy channel.

Someone with malicious intent could eavesdrop on these wireless channels and listen to data exchanges between the scooter and riders’ smartphone app by means of easily and cheaply accessible hardware and software tools such as Ubertooth and WireShark.

Those who sign up to use e-scooters also offer up a great deal of personal and sensitive data beyond just billing information.

According to the study, providers automatically collect other analytics, such as location and individual vehicle information.

This data can be pieced together to generate an individual profile that can even include a rider’s preferred route, personal interests, and home and work locations.

“Cities are experiencing explosive population growth. Micromobility promises to transport people in a more sustainable, faster and economical fashion,” said Jadliwala.

To ensure that this industry stays viable, companies should think not only about rider and pedestrian safety but also how to protect consumers and themselves from significant cybersecurity and privacy threats enabled by this new technology,” the authors noted.

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World

Plane carrying 83 crashes in Taliban-held Afghanistan area

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Kabul: A Boeing jet belonging to state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines caught fire and crashed in central Ghazni province in Afghanistan on Monday, a media report quoted officials.

The passenger plane had 83 people on board when it crashed due to technical reasons, Mail Online report quoted officials on the incident. There was no information as yet on the casualties.

Arif Noori, a spokesman for provincial governor’s office in Ghazni city, said: “A Boeing plane belonging to the Ariana Afghan Airline crashed in Sado Khel area of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province around 1.10pm (local time).”

The crash site was around around 130km south west of Kabul and reported to be under Taliban control.

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Middle East

Iraqi PM condemns rocket attack on US embassy in Baghdad

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Adel Abdul-Mahdi

Baghdad, Jan 27: The Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Sunday condemned the rocket attack on the US embassy in the Green Zone in central Baghdad.

An attack occurred once again against a foreign diplomatic mission when Katyusha rockets landed inside the campus of the US embassy, said a statement by Abdul Mahdi on his official Twitter Page, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“We denounce the continuation of these condemned and outlaw acts that weaken the state and undermine its sovereignty,” the statement said.

Abdul Mahdi, commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, said that he has ordered the Iraqi forces to deploy and look for the attackers, as well as launching an investigation into the incident, in order to arrest those who fired these rockets, according to the statement.

“The continuation of such irresponsible act, which makes the entire country to bear its consequences and serious repercussions, would lead to damage the country’s higher interests and its relations with its friends, which may turn Iraq to a battlefield,” the statement added.

Abdul Mahdi also confirmed that his government is “committed to protecting all diplomatic missions and take all necessary measures in accordance with the law.”

Abdul Mahdi statement came after an Interior Ministry official said that four Katyusha rockets landed in the evening near the US embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Later on, a statement by the media office affiliated with the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said that five rockets hit the Green Zone, without giving further details.

The heavily fortified Green Zone has been frequently targeted by insurgents’ mortar and rocket attacks. The roughly 10 square km zone is located on the west bank of the Tigris River, which bisects the Iraqi capital.

On Friday, the Iraqi prominent Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for a scheduled withdrawal of US troops from Iraq through peaceful means.

The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq on January 5, two days after a US drone strike on a convoy at Baghdad airport, which killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

Over 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against the Islamic State militants, mainly providing training and advising to the Iraqi forces.

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