Nat Geo’s famed ‘Afghan girl’ Sharbat Gula refuses to stay in Pakistan

Nat Geo’s famed ‘Afghan girl’ Sharbat Gula refuses to stay in Pakistan

Nat Geo’s famed ‘Afghan Girl’ Sharbat Gula on Tuesday refused to stay in Pakistan in response to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s offer to stop her deportation from the country.

A special anti-corruption and immigration court had earlier ordered the deportation of Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed “Afghan Girl” whose 1985 photo in National Geographic became a symbol of her country’s wars, after finding her guilty of illegally obtaining a Computerised National Identity Card.

The court had also sentenced her to 15 days imprisonment and fined her Rs110,000.

Sharbat Gula and Afghan government, in an application submitted to the KP government, pleaded for her departure from Pakistan to Afghanistan on completion of her 15-day sentence on Wednesday [November 9].

The ‘Afghan Girl’ had pleaded guilty to six charges against her, including her illegal stay in Pakistan, forgery, cheating, tampering with documents and violation of the Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority) Act.

A day after her arrest, the United Nations High Commissioner distanced itself from Sharbat Gula, claiming that she was not a registered refugee.

The decision of stopping her deportation was taken on Saturday by the provincial government on humanitarian grounds and as a goodwill gesture towards Afghanistan.

Take a look: Afghan Girl

KP lawmaker Shaukat Yousafzai while talking to DawnNews said, “We had taken steps to stop Sharbat Gula’s deporation but if she wants to leave, it is her decision”.

“A delegation of KP assembly will meet Sharbat Gula on Tuesday to express good wishes,” he added.

Sharbat Gula will leave for Afghanistan on Wednesday through Torkham border.

New Delhi schools closed for three days

New Delhi schools closed for three days

NEW DELHI: Schools in the Indian capital would be closed for the next three days, the Delhi state government said on Sunday, as the city struggled with one of the worst spells of air pollution in recent years.

“Emergency measures are needed to solve this problem together,” state chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

“All construction and demolition in the city will be banned for next five days. All schools will be closed for the next three days in Delhi,” he added.

Thick smog has blanketed the capital for days, with local and central authorities meeting to resolve the crisis.

Kejriwal, who chaired an emergency meeting of the state cabinet, advised people to stay indoors as much as possible and work from home if they could.

Other measures announced by the government include fighting fires at landfill sites, sprinkling water on main roads to suppress dust and shutting down a power plant.

The chief minister, who on Saturday compared the state to a “gas chamber”, has blamed crop-burning by farmers in neighbouring states for the smog.

Most of Delhi’s neighbouring states are largely dependent on agriculture, with farmers resorting to crop-stubble burning before each sowing season, which worsens air pollution over Delhi and its satellite towns.

“One can’t expect relief (from pollution) over the next few days as more crop burning will happen in the next few days,” Kejriwal said on Sunday.

India’s environment minister Anil Madhav Dave, who met the state leadership on Saturday, is expected to discuss a solution to the crop burning issue with leaders of neighbouring states this week.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2016

Australian woman kidnapped in Kabul

Australian woman kidnapped in Kabul

KABUL: An Australian wor­king for a non-governme­ntal organisation (NGO) in Afghanistan was reported ki­d­­­napped in the capital Ka­bul on Saturday, officials said.

“The Australian Embassy in Kabul is making urgent enquiries into reports an Australian has been kidnapped in Kabul,” a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra said in an emailed statement on Sunday. “Due to the nature of the incident we will not be commenting further.”

Afghan television station Tolo News said on Sunday the Australian woman was abducted at gunpoint in the Qala-i-Fatullah area in the centre of the city.

Kidnapping has long been a major problem in Afgha­nistan, affecting Afghans more often than foreigners, with ransom often the motive. However, there have been several abductions of foreign aid workers, including at least two Australians this year alone.

Kerry Jane Wilson, who was abducted from the office of a charity in the eastern city of Jalalabad in April, was freed in August.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2016

May warns lawmakers against blocking Brexit

May warns lawmakers against blocking Brexit

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May warned lawmakers on Sunday not to block Brexit, after the High Court ruled that she cannot start the process of leaving the European Union without parliament’s approval.

“MPs and peers who regret the referendum result need to accept what the people decided,” May said in her first comments since Thursday’s controversial judgement.

The Conservative government is appealing the court’s finding that parliament must agree to the triggering of Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which begins formal negotiations on Britain leaving the bloc.

The ruling prompted outrage among Brexit supporters, amid speculation that pro-European lawmakers would seek to water down the break with the EU and derail May’s plans to begin formal exit talks by the end of March.

In a statement issued ahead of a trade mission to India, the prime minister said she was focused on getting the best outcome from Brexit following the June referendum vote.

“That means sticking to our plan and timetable, getting on with the work of developing our negotiating strategy and not putting all our cards on the table,” she said.

The ruling sparked attacks on the judges involved, with one newspaper calling them “Enemies of the People”, while one of the claimants in the case has received online rape and beheading threats.

UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage warned that the political temperature was “very, very high”, and said there would be public outrage if parliament sought to undermine the Brexit vote.

“We will see political anger the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever witnessed in this country,” the leading Brexit campaigner told the BBC.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party has 231 MPs in the 650-seat House of Commons, said this week that he would not seek to reverse the referendum result.

But the Sunday Mirror tabloid reported that he would vote against Article 50 unless May agreed to press for continued access to the European single market and guarantee EU workplace rights after Brexit.

“These must be the basis of the negotiations. And it doesn’t necessarily cause a delay,” Corbyn told the paper.

The leftist leader later sought to clarify his position on Twitter, saying: “We won’t block Article 50 but will fight for a Brexit that works for Britain.”

May has said one of her priorities will be cutting EU immigration, a goal that EU leaders have warned is incompatible with continued membership of the single market.

The High Court decision has fuelled speculation that May might call a snap election to strengthen her support in the House of Commons before the vote on Article 50.

Corbyn said his party was preparing for the election to be brought forward from 2020, although Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt played down the idea.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2016

BD police launch crackdown after attacks on Hindus

BD police launch crackdown after attacks on Hindus

DHAKA: Police in Bangladesh have arrested dozens of people following fresh violence against Hindus, a senior officer said on Sunday, after a spate of attacks prompted concerns the authorities were not doing enough to protect the country’s biggest minority.

Hindu homes and temples in the Brahmanbairs district of eastern Bangladesh have come under attack during the last week, after a local youth allegedly shared a Facebook post that Islamic hardliners said denigrated Makkah’s Masjid al Haram.

Muslim’s protested and demanded action against the Hindu youth, who denies sharing the post. Police arrested the youth for hurting religious sentiment, but the arrest failed to defuse tension and quell the rioting.

Abu Zafar, the officer in charge of Nasir Nagar police station in the district, told reporters that so far 53 people had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in attacks.

Attacks on Hindus, who make up around eight percent of the population, and other religious minorities are not unco­m­mon in this mostly Muslim country, but the scale of the recent anti-Hindu violence is unusual.

Bangladesh’s Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation into the attacks.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2016

British PM arrives in India on key visit

British PM arrives in India on key visit

NEW DELHI: Britain’s prime minister arrived in India late on Sunday on her first bilateral visit outside the European Union since taking office, as she looks for a post-Brexit trade deal with the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Theresa May landed in smog-covered New Delhi, which is battling with one of its worst pollution spells in recent years.

She will set the tone for the visit when she addresses business leaders, followed by discussions with her counterpart Narendra Modi, in the capital on Monday.

The two sides are expected to discuss key issues including closer economic and defence sector ties, terrorism, visa regimes and technology.

On Tuesday, May is scheduled to travel to India’s southern tech hub of Bangalore, where she will meet state leaders, visit an industrial area and meet a business delegation before flying back to London.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2016

Police chief of held Kashmir says situation still fragile

Police chief of held Kashmir says situation still fragile

SRINAGAR: Chief of the Jammu and Kashmir police has said that situation in the India-held region is still grim.

The director general of police (DGP), K. Rajendra, told a meeting of top civil and police officials chaired by Chief Minister Meh­booba Mufti that situation in the held Valley had improved a bit since the death of Burhan Wani in July, which set off massive unrest there.

DGP Rajendra said that even though the “intensity and spread of the situation has come down”, it continued to be extremely fragile.

He claimed that between 250 and 300 militants were active in the disputed region. “Given the present situation, we need to have a roadmap for the next two to three months,” he said.

The DGP said at least 70 buildings had been set ablaze during the ongoing unrest in the Valley. “Of these 70 buildings, 53 have been destroyed,” he said.

At the meeting, deputy commissioners and SSPs of the Kashmir division made detailed presentations on the ongoing development works, some of which have been affected due to the situation.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2016

For American women, Clinton could end a very long wait

For American women, Clinton could end a very long wait

WASHINGTON: Estelle Liebow Schultz, who is 98, was born before her fellow countrywomen had the right to vote.

Now she has proudly cast a ballot for the candidate she hopes will make history as the first American woman elected president.

Hillary Clinton hopes to become that woman on Tuesday, breaking the ultimate glass ceiling after having become, at the Democratic nominating convention in July, the first female candidate for a major party.

Schultz was born in June 1918, two years before American women gained the vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

“To see such an accomplishment in my lifetime is momentous,” said the retired teacher, who lives in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Maryland.

Having cast an early vote — as several states permit — she hopes to see the inauguration in January of the first woman president, following the succession of 44 men that began with George Washington in 1789.

It has been a long road, starting with the presidential campaign in 1872 of Victoria Woodhull — who at 34 was technically a year too young to become president — as candidate of the Equal Rights Party. History books list the vote totals won by her male rivals, but not hers.

Britain, Germany, Croatia, Norway, Chile and South Korea have women leaders; Israel, Brazil, Argentina and Pakistan have been led by women.

“We are very late compared to many other countries around the world,” said Jeanne Zaino, a political scientist at Iona College in New York.

Only two women have made it onto major party presidential tickets: the Republican Sarah Palin, who was John McCain’s running mate in 2008, and Geraldine Ferraro, who joined Walter Mondale on the Democratic ticket in 1984. Both lost.

Some women failed to survive the brutal primary election process, chewed up by the big parties’ political machines. Others became historical footnotes in the quixotic campaigns of splinter parties.

“When you don’t support women in a structural way, you have fewer women who can rise to the top, in politics and other arenas,” Zaino said.

Parliamentary or multi-party systems are more favourable to women, pushing parties to establish diverse lists of candidates, which helps women climb within a party to top leadership positions, said Robert Shapiro, a political scientist with Columbia University in New York.

Candidate Clinton has sometimes presented herself as a mother or a grandmother, but the 69-year-old has used the “woman card” sparingly, intent on being judged first for her competence and experience.

‘Lock her up’

At the same time, her Republican opponent Donald Trump has not hesitated to draw on stereotypes of women, describing the former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state as weak and lacking stamina.

Whether out of misogyny, partisan hatred or some combination of the two, supporters of the Republican regularly break into chants of “Lock her up” whenever Trump describes her as corrupt.

“Hillary Clinton is consistently treated differently than just about any other candidate I see out there,” President Barack Obama said recently during a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

Addressing himself to men in the audience, he asked them to “kind of look inside yourself and ask yourself if you’re having problems” with Clinton’s candidacy because she is a woman.

“How much of it is that we’re just not used to it?” he asked.

“I’m proud to be a woman running for president,” Clinton recently told a New York radio host. “I’d be just incredibly humbled and honoured to be the first woman president…

“But I have a lot of work I want to do. And I hope that people will say, ‘Hey, she’s getting it done.’”

The idea of electing the nation’s first woman president has generated less excitement than the election eight years ago of Obama as the first African-American president.

Roughly half of Americans in a recent survey said they would have preferred that history be made by someone other than Clinton, whose popularity ratings are low.

But if she is elected, “there will be many tearful faces,” Shapiro predicted.

“Before I die, by God, I want to have a woman president. Yes, it’s very important,” 64-year-old lawyer Moira Hahn told AFP.

It would be “wonderful”, said Nancy Murphy, 58, a retired teacher, while worrying aloud: “I don’t know how a lot of the nation will feel about that.”

If elected, Clinton hopes to celebrate in New York’s Jacob K Javits Convention Center — a glass-enclosed building on the banks of the Hudson River.

It would be a sly wink to the “glass ceiling” she would be breaking on that momentous day.—AFP

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2016

Ten Iranian pilgrims among 25 killed in Iraq suicide attacks

Ten Iranian pilgrims among 25 killed in Iraq suicide attacks

TIKRIT: Suicide bombers driving ambulances packed with explosives detonated their vehicles at a checkpoint and a car park for Shia pilgrims in two Iraqi cities on Sunday, killing at least 25 people, officials said.

Suicide bombings claimed by the militant Islamic State group wounded more than 50 in two cities north of Baghdad on Sunday, officials said.

One bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at the southern entrance to Tikrit, while another other blew up an ambulance at a car park in Samarra, possibly in concert with a third bomber.

The Iranian news agency ISNA quoted an Iranian official as saying that ten Iranian pilgrims were killed in a suicide attack in Iraq’s holy city of Samarra. Pilgrimage official Mohammad Javad Daneshyar said the Iranians were getting off a bus when an ambulance carrying the suicide bomber approached them and blew up.

The Tikrit attack killed at least 15 people and wounded at least 33, while at least 10 died and at least 25 were wounded in Samarra, security and medical officials said.

Iranian pilgrims were among the victims in Samarra, which is home to a major Shia shrine that was bombed in 2006, setting off a wave of brutal sectarian violence.

IS issued a statement claiming Sunday’s attacks, but said there were three suicide bombers: two who struck Samarra and the third who attacked Tikrit.

Iraqi troops and security forces battled to retake the northern city of Mosul from the militant Islamic State group that has controlled it for more than two years.

They appeared to be part of a series of diversionary attacks by the ultra-hardline Islamists, who have struck the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk, the capital Baghdad and a western desert town during the three-week Mosul campaign.

In Tikrit, a bomber detonated his explosives-laden ambulance at the southern entrance to the city during the morning rush hour, killing 13 people, police and hospital sources said.

Another attacker detonated a vehicle in a car park for pilgrims visiting Al-Askari mosque in Samarra, south of Tikrit.

The bomb killed at least eight people, local officials said, including Iranian pilgrims. The local operation command, a joint military and police unit, said the vehicle used in Samarra was also an ambulance.

Authorities in both cities declared curfews, fearing possible further attacks.

Iraqi troops and security forces, backed by a US-led international coalition, are battling the militant Islamic State group in the northern city of Mosul.

Special forces have entered eastern districts, where they faced fierce resistance from the militants who deployed car bombs, snipers and mortar fire against them.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2016

Ex-Senator Faisal Raza Abidi arrested over Patel Para killings: police

Ex-Senator Faisal Raza Abidi arrested over Patel Para killings: police

Former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Faisal Raza Abidi was arrested during an early morning raid at his Karachi residence on Saturday, police said.

Confirming his arrest to Dawn, Jamshed Quarters SP Tahir Noorani said Abidi was taken into custody in connection with the killing of two men who belonged to the Tableeghi Jamaat in Patel Para area of the metropolis a day earlier.

“We have arrested Faisal Abidi for his alleged involvement in the double murder case,” said SP Jamshed Quarters Tahir Noorani.

But in the evening, a top-ranking police officer said that Abidi was “detained” and being investigated in some previous cases of sectarian killings. “He will be released if found innocent,” he said, asking not to be named.

Abidi is now in custody of the police investigation department for interrogation, the police official said.

The murders happened yesterday as armed pillion riders shot the two men dead near the Fatima Bai Hospital and rode away. A spokesman of the outlawed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) had yesterday claimed that the two victims were their supporters, however, the area SHO said the men killed hailed from Khuzdar and were associated with the Tableeghi Jamaat.

The FIR (379/2016) for the double murder was registered at Jamshed Quarters police station on Friday night under Section 302 (murder) and 7-ATA (anti-terrorism act of 1997) on complaint of the victims’ relative Ghulam Mohammed, said SHO Inam Hasan Junejo. The case was registered against unknown suspects, the official added.

The double murder was followed by killings of three members of ASWJ at Shafiq Mor in North Karachi and a prayer leader in Hyderi Market.

Counter-Terrorism Department official Raja Umer Khattab told Dawn that the same group was involved in all six murders of Friday as the police’s forensic lab report confirmed that the same weapon was used in three separate incidents.

Before his arrest, police and Rangers personnel arrived at the former Senator’s residence in the city’s New Rizvia Society in at least 10 vehicles at around 2:30am, sources told DawnNews.They searched Abidi’s house for about half an hour before taking him into custody.

The firebrand PPP leader had resigned from his Senate seat in 2014 after developing differences with his party.

Abidi, once among the most trusted lieutenants of former president Asif Zardari, was accused of violating party discipline and repeatedly issuing statements in favour of martial law.

The Dawn News source