Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hazar Khan Khoso appointed Pakistan caretaker PM

Hazar Khan Khoso appointed caretaker PM as Pakistan gears up for election,

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)after two and a half hours of long deliberations finally gave its verdict in favour of the government nominee Justice (retired) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso from Balochistan, who now stands appointed as caretaker PM. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retired) Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim is in the chair, while the four members representing the four provinces attending the meeting.They are member Punjab Justice (retired) Riaz Kiyani‚ Member Khyder Pakhtunkhwa Justice (retired) Shahzad Akbar Khan‚ Member Balochistan Justice (retired) Fazl-ur-Rehman and Member Sindh Justice (retired) Roshan Essani. Caretaker PM appointment matter has been referred to ECP under the relevant provisions of the Constitution‚ it has to make a decision today.Hazar Khan Khoso appointed as caretaker PM, today  Musharraf too  return after the first elected civilian Government in Pakistan completed its five year term, the nation is in election mode.
Political parties are gearing up for getting popular support to form new government.
Imran Khan’s party Tehrik-e-Insaf is projecting him as a hopeful for the post of Prime Minister.His rally on Saturday at the Minar-e-Pakistan drew a large crowd including people from the middle class and youths.Kan and his party are trying to capitalize on widespread discontent with traditional parties including Pakistan People’s party and Pakistan Muslim Laegue-Nawaj.
Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Sunday left for home after more than four years in self-exile to take part in the historic elections in May despite a Taliban death threat.Musharraf, 69, announced that he would fly into the southern Pakistani city of Karachi at 1 pm and address a gathering in the evening despite authorities scrapping permission for a public meeting due to security concerns.
In a message posted on Twitter shortly before he boarded a flight from Dubai to Karachi, Musharraf wrote: “I will arrive in Karachi today, March 24th, at 1pm & address a public rally at the airport at 5 pm in the evening.”
The former President, who is set to end over four years of self-exile, tweeted a photo of him leaving his Dubai home, clad in a white shalwar-kameez.He later tweeted another photo of himself “settled in my seat on the plane to begin my journey home”.Hours before his return, authorities in Karachi cancelled permission for a meeting that was to be addressed by Musharraf at a ground near the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Sindh police spokesman SSP Imran Shaukat said that the no-objection certificate for the public meeting to be addressed by Musharraf had been withdrawn due to “serious security threats” to the former President.
The police had officially informed Musharraf’s party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, about the decision, Shaukat said.”The APML has agreed to cancel the public meeting,” he said.The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan said it had formed a squad of suicide bombers to target Musharraf on his return.
In message posted on Twitter, Musharraf said Pakistan “must crush terrorism and extremism”.
Musharraf left Pakistan in early 2009 after a string of civil and criminal cases were filed against him in courts across the country. Several of the cases related to steps he had taken during the emergency he imposed in late 2007.
Two courts have issued arrest warrants for Musharraf in connection with the killing of former premier Benazir Bhutto and Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti.Musharraf obtained pre-arrest bail from the Sindh High Court ahead of his return

Netanyahu apologised to Erdogan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised to Turkey for a deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla and announced a full resumption of diplomatic ties as well as compensation.US official says US President Barack Obama was present when Netanyahu spoke to Erdogan. Turkish officials reportedly accepted the apology and the two countries agreed to normalize ties.This breakthrough, ends a nearly three-year diplomatic rift is an effort by US President Barack Obama at the tail end of a historic three-day visit to the Holy Land, the first of his presidency. Speaking soon after Air Force One departed for Amman, a senior US official said the Israeli leader had apologised to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a special telephone call from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.
“On behalf of Israelis he apologised for any deaths those operational mistakes might have caused,” the official said. Turkish “Prime Minister Erdogan accepted the apology on behalf of Turkey,” he added, commented Obama had also spoken with the Turkish leader.Israel and Turkey confirmed the apology, with Netanyahu’s office announcing a resumption of full diplomatic ties between the former close allies.
Erdogan’s office said the premier had accepted the apology “in the name of the Turkish people” and had underlined the “vital and strategic” nature of the relations between the two countries.
“The two prime ministers agreed on concluding a compensation deal” for the victims’ families and on “working together to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.”
Ties between Israel and Turkey plummeted in May 2010, when Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on the six-ship flotilla to Gaza headed by the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed. This assault triggered an international outcry and a bitter diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel, with Ankara demanding a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victims.
Until now, Israel had refused, in part for fear that it could open the way for the prosecution of commandos who took part in the raid.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland commented: “It has been of great concern to the United States for some time now that our two allies Israel and Turkey were not getting along well with each other.”In virtually every meeting that every senior American has had with the Israeli side or the Turkish side, we have encouraged them to try to work this through.”
Israeli’s senior official in Netanyahu’s office said the two leaders spoke and “agreed to normalization between the countries including returning ambassadors, and cancelling legal proceedings against IDF (army) soldiers.” He was referring to the high-profile trial in absentia of four top Israeli military chiefs by an Istanbul court that opened in November.
Israeli leader “made clear that the tragic outcome of the Mavi Marmara incident was not intended by Israel and that Israel regrets the loss of human life and injury,” his office said in a statement.
“In light of Israel’s investigation into the incident which pointed to a number of operational mistakes, the prime minister expressed Israel’s apology to the Turkish people for any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury and agreed to conclude an agreement on compensation/nonliability.”
Islamist Hamas movement, which rules Gaza, said the apology “showed Israel’s fear of the regional changes” under way since the Arab Spring of 2011 that have seen Islamists brought to power in Egypt and Tunisia.
“Netanyahu’s apology was late, and he should immediately end the siege on Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu told media.A Hamas official said Erdogan phoned exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Friday evening and briefed him on the details of Netanyahu’s apology.
Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who for years opposed an Israeli apology, called Netanyahu’s move a “grave mistake”.”Such an apology demoralises IDF soldiers,” said Lieberman, who now heads the parliamentary foreign and defence committee.But armed forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz welcomed the move, saying he hoped it would boost the countries’ security and strategic ties.
Newly sworn-in Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, who in the past was opposed to an official apology or direct compensation, on Friday supported the apology, his spokesman told.
The rapprochement comes at a time of increased instability in neighboring Syria and other Middle East countries since the Arab Spring uprisings in 2010.

World News of Sunday 24 March 2013

NASA,ISRO relationship holds promise for future: Bolden

NASA has applauded India's success in its space endeavours, saying the growing relationship with Indian Space Research Organisation holds great future.

"It is wonderful to see how the relationship between NASA ISRO has grown and evolved, the agreements we have signed since this group last convened, and the great promise our relationship holds for the future," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in his address to the fourth US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group meeting on Thursday.
The value of bilateral cooperation was well reflected, for instance, through the inclusion of two NASA instruments on the successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission, which led to significant discoveries about lunar surface characteristics, he said.
"Earth observation data and information yield a broad range of societal benefits, and through cooperation between our agencies, we've embarked on a number of collaborative activities in this area," Bolden said in his address to the top officials from both the countries to discuss the ways and means to take the collaboration between the two countries to the next phase.
"Our active cooperation on Oceansat-2 data utilisation is certain to yield deeper understanding of our world's oceans in all their complexity, and cooperation in the Global Precipitation Measurement / Megha-Tropiques mission, with the goal of better understanding tropical meteorology and climate, will also advance our knowledge," Bolden said.
"We applaud India's success in all its space endeavours, including new activities in astrophysics, heliophysics, and other areas. From the recent launch of the SARAL oceanographic satellite to your upcoming planned first mission to Mars, you have our very best wishes for continued success," said the NASA Administrator.
"I know we've already been taking steps to bring together scientists and mission developers to examine capabilities and potential approaches for future collaborative missions, to look at ways we can work together in a number of areas," he said in his address to the India and US officials.
Bolden commended the US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group for its continued focus on the many and varied issues before it and for keeping this work alive across the years.
According to the joint statement, existing cooperation, in the use of US and Indian earth observation satellite data, has produced information yielding a broad range of societal benefits including improved weather and monsoon forecasting, disaster management and response, improved agricultural and natural resource use and better understanding of climate change.
Through expanded cooperation between their technical agencies that operate earth observing satellites, the two sides agreed on a number of measures that will improve the use of this data to promote sustainable development, it said.
Building on NASA's collaboration in India's highly successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission in 2008, NASA and ISRO agreed to explore further cooperative space exploration work, including future missions to the moon and Mars.
To this end the working group agreed to continue discussions in planetary science and Heliophysics to identify areas of potential cooperation.
Noting that continued progress is being made in promoting compatibility and interoperability between the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), the joint statement said further work in this area will take place bilaterally and in multilateral bodies such as the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG).

ONGC to invest Rs 4,051 cr in Mumbai High

State-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has said it will invest over Rs 4,051 crore in revamping infrastructure at its key oil and gas fields off the Mumbai coast.

The company also said it has made three oil and gas discoveries in Krishna Godavari basin and Tripura.
ONGC said it will invest Rs 2,913.10 crore in revamping 48 ageing platforms at Mumbai High and Neelam & Heera oil and gas fields.
After the recent redevelopment efforts, these fields are expected to be in production till at least 2030 but the existing infrastructural facilities will not last that long.
"Hence revamping/retrofitting of these facilities in a phased manner is essential to maintain the production of oil and gas from Mumbai High and Heera fields," ONGC said in a statement on Thursday.
The company board in its meeting on Wednesday approved revamp of 48 platform on these fields by mid of 2016.
Also, the board approved Rs 1,138.50 crore revamp of BPA and BPB process complexes on the giant Bassein & Satellite gas fields in the western offshore.
The two process complexes, which handle and process acidic and corrosive gas before the fuel is dispatched to Hazira Gas processing plant of ONGC, were commissioned in 1987 and 1989 respectively.
"Both the complexes have already covered the normal design life of 25 years," ONGC said.
"As per prevailing Refurbishment Policy based on recommendations of statutory bodies, it is proposed to carry out revamping for various static equipment and pipelines of these two complexes."
While the revamping job of BPB is planned to be completed in 2013-14, the same for BPA is scheduled for completion in 2014-15. ONGC said it has made an oil discovery in a KG basin block in Andhra Pradesh.
Exploratory well Vanaduru South-1 in West Godavari block of KG Onland Basin, 8 km north-west of Bantumillli town of West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh found very high quality oil.
In shallow waters of KG basin, its exploratory well Saveri-1 in NELP block KG-OSN-2004 flowed gas and condensate.
"This high potential discovery augments the hydrocarbon volumes established through two earlier discoveries namely Chandrika South and Alankari in the block and is a significant boost to ONGC's efforts towards attaining critical hydrocarbon volumes for viability of a possible 'cluster based development' for the block," the statement said.
In Tripura, gas was discovered in an exploratory well AD-37, 12 km south-west of Agartala in Tripura.
"This discovery results in consolidation of play met in earlier discovery in AD-30 well and opens western flank of Agartala Dome up to Konaban for further exploration," ONGC added.

Cyprus lawmakers approve key bills for bailout

Lawwmakers in Cyprus approved three key bills on Friday that aim to raise enough money to qualify the country for a broader bailout package and help it avoid financial ruin in mere days.

A total of nine bills were approved, including a key one on restructuring the country’s ailing banks, which lost billions on bad Greek debt; one on restricting financial transactions in times of crisis; and one that sets up a ‘solidarity fund’ into which investments and contributions will flow.
More bills to meet the total target of 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) Cyprus needs to secure an international bailout will be brought for a vote over the weekend.
They include a crucial one that would impose a tax of less than 1 percent on all bank deposits, said Averof Neophytou, deputy head of the governing DISY party.
“We are voting for the least worst option,” Neophytou said in a speech. “We owe an apology to the Cypriot people because we all share in the responsibility of bringing this place to this state.”
Approval of the tax would come just days after Parliament decisively turned down a plan that would have seized up to 10 percent of people’s bank deposits.
The plan triggered an outcry from people who condemned it as an unfair grab of their life savings, while politicians saw it as causing irreparable damage to the country’s financial centre status.
Nonetheless, ordinary Cypriots have said they would willingly sacrifice a portion of their savings to save the country just as long as somebody doesn’t impose it on them.
“If we have Europe’s support so our banks won’t collapse, I wouldn’t have a problem with a deposit tax,” said pensioner Demetrakis Papanicolaou, 64.
“But we need to hear this not only from our government, but from the Europeans.”
Cyprus’ president, Nicos Anastasiades, will travel to Brussels on Saturday to present the revised package to the country’s prospective creditors, its fellow countries that use the euro currency and the International Monetary Fund. There has been no indication yet that they will accept it.
Cyprus has been told to raise 5.8 billion euros to qualify for 10 billion euros in rescue loans from the eurozone and the IMF.
Passage of the bills allows Cypriots to breathe a little easier as the country faces a pressing Monday deadline, when the European Central Bank has said it will stop providing emergency funding to the country’s banks if a new plan is not in place.
Without the ECB’s support, Cypriot banks would collapse on Tuesday, pushing the country toward bankruptcy and a potential exit from the 17-country eurozone.
But eurozone officials said they had still not seen all the details and would have to discuss whatever final plan Cyprus presents.
Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said there had been “consultations all day” with representatives of the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission collectively known as the troika who monitor and vet adherence to bailout conditions.
The most important bill passed Friday is aimed at restructuring the country’s second largest and most troubled bank, Laiki, and restricting some financial transactions once banks, which have been closed since Saturday, reopen on Tuesday.
Worried Laiki employees gathered near parliament for a second day to protest the bank’s restructuring, which would break the lender in two.
“The bank is finished, we’ll lose our jobs and I’m worried about my kids,” Laiki employee Nikos Tsiangos said.
“They’ve brought us to the brink. The Europeans wanted to destroy our economy, and they’ve done it.”
The restructuring of Laiki and the sale of the toxic—laden Greek branches of Cypriot banks is expected to cut the amount the country needs to raise to about 3 billion euros instead of 5.8, Neophytou said.
With the deposit tax back in play, Neophytou said discussions were continuing on what percentage of accounts above the guaranteed 100,000 euro ($130,000) limit would be seized, in exchange for bank bonds.
That will happen for deposits in Laiki and other banks including the country’s largest, the Bank of Cyprus, which also took significant losses on Greek debt
Laiki bank’s acting CEO, Takis Phidias, condemned the plan. “I’m certain that there will be chaos after these bills are approved.”
Phidias said the initial plan to seize deposits across all Cypriot accounts “would have more evenly shared the burden and certainly, it would have safeguarded both large banks. I’d like to believe that there’s still time to carry out this negotiation.”
The Bank of Cyprus said it backed the idea of confiscating some percentage of all bank deposits over 100,000 euros because there were no immediate alternatives.
The bank warned Cypriots that “a potential collapse of the banking sector could lead to the total loss of all deposits above 100,000 euros and the immediate sale of all collateral accompanying non—performing loans.”
Meanwhile, Cypriot efforts to clinch a contribution from Russia appeared to have failed. Russia is a key player in the crisis, as Russian depositors have parked around 20 billion euros ($25.8 billion) in the country.
Cyprus’ finance minister, Michalis Sarris, returned to Cyprus on Friday night after spending three days in Moscow trying to drum up support.
“We will only be ready to discuss various ways of support for that state only after the EU nations and Cyprus work out a final settlement,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told a news conference.
Russia’s finance minister, Anton Siluanov, said the Cypriots were seeking investment from Russian companies in a Cypriot state-owned firm that will manage revenue from the island’s newfound offshore gas. The Russian investors, however, were not interested.
Cyprus also offered stakes in some of its banks, but there were no takers in Moscow for that, either.
Siluanov also said they were not discussing providing a new loan to Cyprus, as the EU has set a debt limit for Cyprus.Europe also turned up the pressure on Cyprus. Luxembourg’s finance Minister Luc Frieden told Germany’s Inforadio that Cyprus “certainly must change a very great deal in its financial sector..... I see among some euro states little financial room for more concessions to Cyprus.”

Bangladesh tornado claims 23 lives, injures 500

The death toll from a tornado that swept through some 25 villages in eastern Bangladesh, rose to 23 with rescuers finding three more bodies in debris, a day after the deadly storm which also left nearly 500 people injured.

The storm which hit the area yesterday, left a trail of destruction in 20 villages of Brahmanbaria sadar, Bijoynagar and Akhaura upazilas.

Three more bodies were recovered today

62 Myanmar refugees dead in Thailand fire

At least 62 Myanmar refugees have been killed and over 200 injured when a fire swept through their camp in northern Thailand, with officials fearing that the toll could rise further.

Earlier, 30 refugees were reported killed when a fire broke out last evening at the Mae Surin refugee camp in Mae Hong Son province.
32 more bodies were found in the burnt camp and the death toll could rise further, chief of the Mae Hong Son Public Health Office Paisarn Thanyawinitchakul said
Most of the victims died of suffocation and over 200 people were injured.
More than 3,000 refugees, mostly from Myanmar's Karen minority, live at the camp.
Over 100,000 refugees live in camps near the Myanmar border on the Thailand, mostly ethnic Karen who have fled fighting between Karen rebels and the government.
The blaze was apparently sparked by an unattended cooking flame that razed hundreds of huts, mostly made of bamboo, before bringing it under control this morning.
Most of the dead were women, the elderly and children, media reports said, quoting a senior national intelligence official.

Myanmar imposes emergency in riot city

Myanmar declared a state of emergency on Friday for a riot-hit town where 20 people have been killed in Buddhist-Muslim violence that has sparked fears of spreading unrest.

Swathes of Meiktila, located 130 kilometres north of the capital Naypyidaw, have been reduced to ashes as the authorities struggle to establish control after three days of clashes and arson.
"At least 20 people have been killed. We estimate that it could be higher but it is also difficult for us to gather all the figures," a police officer who did not want to be named told the news agency.
The president's office said the state of emergency would enable the military to help restore order.
The situation was extremely tense today with groups of men including Buddhist monks armed with knives and sticks prowling the streets.
Many of the town's Muslim residents have fled their homes.
A journalist saw the incinerated remains of two victims on a roadside, just one of several reports of bodies in the town, as flames raged from torched mosques and houses while other buildings smouldered unattended.
"The situation is getting worse," a local resident said.
"People are destroying buildings. Many people have been killed. We are scared and trying to stay safe at home."
A group of reporters were stopped at knife-point by a gang of young men and monks and forced to hand over their camera memory cards, according to one of the journalists.
It is the worst communal violence since a wave of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year that left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.
A local lawmaker said that about 25 people had been killed in Meiktila, where more than one-third of the population of about 80,000 people is Muslim, but it was not possible to verify his figures.
"The situation is not good... although the government has said everything is under control," parliamentarian Win Htein, of the opposition National League for Democracy party, told the news agency. 
He said hundreds of Muslims had taken shelter at a football ground and police compound while Buddhists had sought sanctuary in monasteries.
As international alarm grew, a senior UN official said authorities needed to act "to prevent further loss of life or spread of violence" in the Buddhist-majority nation.
"Religious leaders and other community leaders must also publicly call on their followers to abjure violence, respect the law and promote peace," Vijay Nambiar, special advisor to UN leader Ban Ki-Moon, said in a statement.
The violence comes as Myanmar struggles with worsening tensions between Muslims and Buddhists that have marred international optimism over dramatic political reforms since the end of military rule two years ago.

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