2019, June, Newsletter

World Newsletter June 12, 2019

World News June 12

SRI LANKA MPS DEFY PRESIDENT TO RESUME EASTER ATTACK PROBE

Sri Lanka’s Parliament on Tuesday defied President Maithripala Sirisena and
resumed investigations into security lapses surrounding the Easter suicide
bombings that killed 258 people, officials said, as a political crisis in
the country deepened.
The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) began hearing testimony from Muslim
leaders who claimed they repeatedly alerted the authorities to dangerous
radicalisation, a parliamentary official said.
In what appeared to be a tit-for-tat move, Mr. Sirisena did not call the
routine weekly Cabinet meeting to discuss the day-to-day running of the
administration.
The Opposition Sri Lanka People’s Front said the standoff between the
President and the Cabinet, controlled by Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe’s party, meant the government was at a standstill.
“The current standoff effectively means that there is no government in Sri
Lanka from today,” Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLPF) leader Gamini Lakshman
Peiris told reporters in Colombo.
There was no immediate word either from the President or the Prime Minister
on why the scheduled cabinet meeting was not held.

SHAHBAZ SHARIF’S SON HAMZA ARRESTED BY NAB OFFICIALS OUTSIDE LAHORE COURT

Opposition leader in Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz was arrested
on Tuesday outside the Lahore High Court by the officials of the country’s
anti-graft body in cases related to money laundering and corruption.
The arrest took place after a two-member Lahore High Court (LHC) Bench
dismissed bail applications filed by Hamza, 44, after his lawyer opted to
withdraw the pleas in two corruption cases.
Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) vice president is under investigation
by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Ramzan Sugar Mills, Saaf
Paani project and assets beyond known means of income cases.
He is accused of laundering money through his front men who are already in
NAB’s custody.
Hamza, the son of PML-N president and National Assembly opposition leader
Shahbaz Sharif, told reporters prior to his arrest that the vindictive
government of “puppet Prime Minister (Imran) Khan” could not even prove a
one rupee corruption against him and his other family members.
His arrest comes a day after former President Asif Ali Zardari was arrested
by NAB in Islamabad.
The supporters of both PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) held
demonstrations in Lahore and other parts of Punjab province against the
arrest of their top leaders

‘UAE PAID BUSINESSMAN TO SPY ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’

A UAE businessman linked to a probe of illegal donations to Donald Trump’s
political campaign was paid by his country’s intelligence agency to spy on
the U.S. President’s administration, The Intercept reported Monday.
Rashid al-Malik received tens of thousands of dollars a month for gleaning
information on Trump administration policy toward West Asia in 2017, the
website said, citing a former U.S. official and documents.
He reported back to the UAE’s National Intelligence Service on topics of
interest to the oil-producing Gulf state – including U.S. efforts to mediate
a Gulf feud involving Qatar – as well as meetings between U.S. officials and
Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, The Intercept
said.
Late last year, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported that
U.S. federal prosecutors were investigating whether foreigners illegally
funnelled donations to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee and a pro-Trump
fundraising super PAC. Mr. Al-Malik, chairman of the investment firm Hayah
Holdings, was interviewed by special counsel Robert Muller’s office as part
of the probe, according to the New York Times.
The Times cited people familiar with the inquiry as saying it focused on
whether people from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE used straw donors to
make contributions in the hope of buying influence over U.S. policy. The
report was denied by Mr. al-Malik’s lawyer, who told The Intercept that his
client was “not an intelligence operative.”

FRANCE SMASHES NEO-NAZI CELL OVER PLOT AGAINST JEWS, MUSLIMS

The French police have smashed a neo-Nazi cell accused of plotting attacks
on Jewish or Muslim places of worship, legal sources said on Tuesday.
Five members of the group, who were “close in ideology to the neo-Nazi
movement” were charged between September and May over the alleged plot, a
source close to the investigation said.
“The investigation suggested they were developing an ill-defined plot to
carry out an attack, likely to target a place of worship,” the judicial
source said. The sources gave no details of specific targets or motives.

ZARDARI HANDED OVER TO ANTI-GRAFT BODY FOR 10 DAYS

A Pakistani court handed over the country’s former President to a national
anti-graft body on Tuesday for questions regarding a multi-million dollar
money laundering case.
Asif Ali Zardari will be held for 10 days pending investigation on
corruption charges. He will appear in court again on June 21, when the
anti-graft body is expected to press or drop charges.
The court order came a day after Mr. Zardari was arrested after the
rejection of his and his sister’s bail applications. However, authorities
did not arrest Faryal Talpur; no explanation was given.
Both the former President, currently a member in the lower house of
Parliament, and his sister had been accused by the National Accountability
Bureau of holding dozens of bogus bank accounts. They have denied any
wrongdoing.
Mr. Zardari’s Opposition Pakistan People’s Party claims the charges against
him were politically motivated, which the government denies.

HONG KONG EXTRADITION: PROTEST MOUNTS AS CONTROVERSIAL BILL DEBATED

Thousands of protesters and police in Hong Kong are engaged in a standoff as
anger grows over plan to allow extradition to China.
Early on Wednesday protesters, some wearing face masks and helmets, blocked
key roads around government buildings.
Police in riot gear responded by using pepper spray on protesters to
disperse them and said they were prepared to use force.
The Legislative Council is set to debate the bill within hours.
Despite widespread opposition the government has said it will continue to
push for extradition. A final vote is expected on 20 June where the
pro-Beijing Legislative Council is expected to pass the bill.

MQM FOUNDER HELD IN LONDON

Altaf Hussain, the exiled leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), one of
Pakistan’s biggest political parties, was arrested on Tuesday by Scotland
Yard in London over his anti-state speeches, especially the one in 2016 in
which he said Pakistan was the “epicentre of terrorism” and “a cancer for
entire world”.
The Metropolitan Police would only confirm that a man in his 60s had been
held in an investigation into speeches related to his MQM party.
The MQM has dominated politics in Karachi for three decades because of its
support in the densely populated working class neighbourhoods of
Urdu-speaking Muhajirs, descendants of Muslims who migrated from India when
Pakistan was created in 1947.
Following his arrest, Karachi city police chief Amir Ahmed Shaikh issued
directions for stepped up patrolling and vigilance with anti-riot squads and
equipment in Karachi.
Hussain was arrested on Tuesday morning and taken to a south London police
station. Fifteen officers took part in a dawn raid at his north London home,
Geo News reported.

NO CHANGE IN PAK’S DEFENCE BUDGET AMID AUSTERITY DRIVE

Pakistan on Tuesday announced that its defence budget for the next fiscal
year (2019-20) will remain the same as the last year’s Rs 1,150 billion amid
an austerity drive by the government to solve the cash-strapped nation’s
financial woes.
Pakistan’s military, in a rare move, early this month decided to voluntarily
cut the defence budget for the next fiscal year and assured the nation that
there would be no impact to its “response potential” due to the voluntary
cut in the budget.
Minster of state for revenue Hammad Azhar on Tuesday presented in Parliament
the austerity driven budget for fiscal year 2019-20, which starts from July
1.
The government unveiled Rs 7,022 billion for the year 2019-20, setting
growth target of 4 per cent. “Defence budget will remain unchanged at Rs
1,150 billion to the level of last year,” he said.
The minister, however, added that it will in no way impact the defence
capability of the country because defence of the country is sacred for the
government.

NYT TO CEASE POLITICAL CARTOONS AFTER ANTI-SEMITISM ROW

New York: The New York Times has announced it would no longer include daily
political cartoons in its international edition, weeks after apologising for
publishing a caricature of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu deemed
anti-Semitic. The cartoon, published in April, depicted Netanyahu as a guide
dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind Donald Trump, who was
wearing a kippah, or a Jewish skullcap. It prompted an uproar within the
Jewish community. The decision will come into effect on July 1, Bennet said.

HALAL SURFING: WEB BROWSER TARGETS 1.8 BILLION MUSLIMS

A Malaysian tech firm claims to have developed the world’s first mobile and
desktop browser that is compliant with Islamic values to target the worlds
1.8 billion Muslims by offering them a safe and ethically-sensitive online
experience.
Among other features, SalamWeb has a clock showing prayer timings as per
your geographical location, a compass indicating the direction that a Muslim
must face while praying and signals warnings when you try to open a website
that may be forbidden according to Islam’s teachings, Efe news reported.
The multilingual browser with a simple interface to which its user can add
other linked applications, all in accordance with Sharia, made its debut
earlier this year.
“Generation M, the younger Muslims who have a strong belief in their faith
and are technology savvy, is looking at more practical solutions to support
their needs,” Hajjah Hasni Zarina, the Director General of SalamWeb
Technologies, told the news agency.

PAKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN HOLD TALKS TO IMPROVE COOPERATION

Pakistan has assured support for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan as
delegations from the two nations held the first review session of a
bilateral engagement framework to improve cooperation in different fields.
The first Review session of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace
and Solidarity (APAPPS) was held in Islamabad on June 10, the Foreign Office
said.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Idrees
Zaman led their respective multi-agency delegations in the meeting.
The Foreign Secretary during the meeting reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to
further deepen close brotherly relations with Afghanistan based on mutual
trust to the benefit of the two peoples.
“The Pakistan side reiterated its commitment to a peaceful, stable, united
and prosperous Afghanistan, at peace within and at peace with its
neighbours,” the Foreign Office said.
“Pakistan also emphasised that durable peace and stability could be achieved
only through an inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and
reconciliation process.”

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