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US in habit of disrupting democratic process in Pakistan, says Khar

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Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar has accused the US government’s of supporting military regimes in Pakistan that led to the disruption of democratic process in the country.

“The US government has had a long history of immense fascination with the military of Pakistan,” Khar asserted in an interview

Defending Pakistan’s civilian leadership,Khar refused to concede that the Pakistani military “runs the show”, though she admitted that the “military has historically played a much a larger role than the Constitution should permit”.

The US, she said, was complicit in causing a constant disruption in Pakistan’s democratic process by propping up one military dictatorship after another.

She said that the US government’s preference of dealing with military regimes has resulted in the pre-eminence of military influence in Pakistan.

“When Ziaul Haq came in, when Musharraf came in, Pakistan got the best possible military and civil assistance ever possible (from the US),” she said.

Khar also lauded her time as foreign minister, saying that President Asif Ali Zardari-led government had done “humongous work” in that department.

“We didn’t need to have a great relationship with London, or with Washington DC, but we needed a great relationship with Kabul and Delhi,” she said.

After 35 years, she noted, how no other military or civilian government had showed the will to normalise trade with India.

Khar especially commended the Zardari-led government’s ability to shift Pakistan’s policy on India.

Previously, Pakistan and India were unwilling to discuss trade until the issue of Kashmir was resolved first – a condition that no longer applies to bilateral trade discussions between the two.

Khar dismissed accusations that Pakistan sponsored “good Taliban” at home and that proxies working for the government were attacking Afghan troops and civilians across the border.

“As far as sponsoring or funding them was concerned,” she said “I would like to believe that under our watch that was not the policy direction at all.”

Former Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, who was also part of the government during Khar’s term, recently claimed that the government was aware of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts.

But Khar, who was also a government minister at the time, claimed that the Pakistani government was not protecting Osama. However, she admitted that Pakistan “was guilty of being incompetent” when it came to tracking the slain al-Qaeda chief.

Disaster

Coronavirus information – Spain suffers its deadliest day

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According to government figures, 832 people died in Spain in the past 24 hours after contracting coronavirus, taking the total to 5,690 — a 17 per cent daily increase. The country has the second highest number of deaths in the world after Italy.

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But confirmed cases of Covid-19 rose at a lower rate than in recent days, reaching 72,248, a 13 per cent increase on Friday’s totals.

This compares with daily increases of 25 per cent or more at previous high points in the outbreak. The total number of people who have needed intensive care rose 10 per cent to 4,575, while the number of people who have recovered surged more than 30 per cent to 12,285.

Spanish government officials expressed hope that coming days will mark the peak of the spread of coronavirus, while cautioning that the peak in the deaths is likely to come later.

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Adviser runs out after UK PM tests COVID-19 positive

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London, March 28 (IANS) Dominic Cummings, a senior adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was seen running out of Downing Street after the latter announced that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, it was reported.

In a clip widely shared on social media, Cummings was seen running out of the back gate of Downing Street carrying a bag, the London-based Metro newspaper said in a report on Friday.

The camera zooms in on Cummings’ face as he looks away from the press and then makes a swift exit clutching the bag.

Cummings, seen as the Prime Minister’s key aide, was reported to have been behind the government’s initial strategy of “herd immunity”, to deal with the pandemic, the report further said.

On Friday, Prime Minister Johnson announced that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus but would continue to discharge his duties from self-isolation.

He became the second high-profile British leader to test positive for coronavirus in recent days after Prince Charles, the heir to the the throne.

Some ministers in the Johnson government and MPs have also tested positive for COVID-19, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock whose announcement came shortly after the Prime Minister’s.The UK has so far reported 14,751 confirmed coronavirus cases with 761 deaths.

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32,000 COVID-19 cases in France, nearly 2,000 deaths

“The epidemic continues to worsen. The entire hospital establishments in the country, public and private, are mobilized,” said Salomon, adding that 576 of them now receive COVID-19 patients.

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Paris, March 28 : The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in France has risen by 13 per cent within a day to reach a total of 32,964 as of Friday, the 11th day of national lockdown imposed to contain the outbreak, Health General Director Jerome Salomon said.

A total of 1,995 people had died, an increase of 299 from Thursday, Salomon added in an update, reported Xinhua news agency.

Further 1,828 people diagnosed with the COIVD-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, had received treatment in hospitals in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of hospitalized patients to 15,732. That included 3,787 serious cases, a daily jump of 472.

Some 5,700 infected people were recovered, up from 4,948 reported a day ago.

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