Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in categorical terms on Monday that the dual policy of issuing public statements against drone attacks while (secretly) giving a go ahead to the US to carry on with the strikes will not be allowed to continue under his rule.
“The US government will also have to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan,” Nawaz Sharif said while addressing the maiden Cabinet meeting of the newly elected government.
The Premier said all the stakeholders will be consulted in formulating a policy in connection with the US-led drone strikes.
Earlier, during the meeting, the prime minister made it clear that corruption would not be tolerated and also stressed that the issue of loadshedding would be resolved. Prime Minister Sharif said he worked for the interest of the country and not for his own.
The prime minister also issued a warning to his federal ministers, telling them that their performance would be evaluated every three months. Prime Minister Sharif also directed the Federal Cabinet to chalk out its priorities and prepare an action plan within 15 days to overcome challenges faced by the country.

US to decide whether to arm Syrian rebels - reports

Washington may decide as early as this week on whether to arm Syrian rebels, a US official said on Monday. The question of whether to arm the rebels is on the agenda for White House meetings for the early part of this week, Reuters reported. US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly delayed a planned trip to the Middle East in order to attend the meetings in Washington.

Russia concerned over instability in Libya – Foreign Ministry

Moscow is concerned by an armed incident in Benghazi, Libya, in which about 30 people died and 100 were injured, according to a comment from the Russian Foreign Ministry’s information and press department.“Supporting the country's progress along the path of democratic renovations, we urge the Libyan sides to show self-control and good sense and step up efforts towards broad national consent on the future state model of post-conflict Libya,” Interfax said, citing the Monday statement. A protest near the headquarters of the first brigade of the Libya Shield militia in the second-largest Libyan city, Benghazi, on June 8 devolved into clashesbetween local residents, Libya Shield members and the police.

Students protest against Nepal's ex-king

Dozens of students staged a rare protest on Monday against Nepal's former king at the start of his private pilgrimage in the southeast of the country. Police arrested six protesters after they blocked roads and tore down banners welcoming Gyanendra Shah to Saptari district, in a rare demonstration against the monarchy that was abolished five years ago. They dismantled makeshift gates welcoming former monarch Rajendra Thakuri, a local Saptari district police officer told AFP. The students were angry at public displays of support for Nepal's monarch, particularly banners in the town of Rajbiraj that still proclaimed the former king as 'His Majesty King Gyanendra.'

Victims of Saddam-era gas attack seek French probe

Twenty victims of Saddam Hussein’s 1988 chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja are demanding a French judicial investigation of the companies that supplied the materials. Up to 5,000 people died in March 1988 in the deadliest-ever chemical weapons attack against civilians. Saddam suspected the non-Arab Kurds of siding with Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. The victims are demanding that the companies that knowingly supplied Saddam with the raw materials and equipment needed for chemical weapons take responsibility.

Assad may prevail in Syria’s civil war – Israeli minister

Syrian President Bashar Assad, backed by Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, may prevail in the uprising against him, Israel's intelligence minister said on Monday. “It might be the case that at the end of the day Assad, with a very strong Iranian and Hezbollah backing, might gain the upper hand,” Reuters quoted Yuval Steinitz, minister for international affairs, strategy and intelligence, as saying. The assessment was disavowed by others in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government. Steinitz is not a member of Israel's security cabinet, but does have access to intelligence updates. The minister believes Assad’s government “might not just survive but even regain territories” from the rebels.

Afghan rights group accuses police of violence against women

An Afghan human rights commission has accused the police of perpetrating widespread violence against women, Reuters reported. Nearly 15 percent of so-called 'honor killings' and sexual assaults were committed by police, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said in a report. This issue “can harm public confidence and trust” in the national police, the commission said.

Israel ‘would not oppose’ Russian peacekeepers in Golan Heights – official

Israel would accept “any force” that would take an “active part” in maintaining peace in the Syrian-Israeli border region of the Golan Heights, deputy head of the Israeli Interior Ministry Faina Kirshenbaum said. Israel“would not oppose” the sending of the Russian peacekeepers as well, Kirshenbaum added in a radio interview with Echo Moskvy, referring to an earlier suggestions by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moscow has proposed replacing Austria's UNDOF contingent, which withdrew from the Golan Heights, with about 300 Russian peacekeepers. However, the mandate of the UN mission does not formally allow Russia to participate.

Qatar to give Egypt five natural gas shipments

Qatar will gift Egypt five shipments of natural gas to help Egyptians get through the summer, the Egyptian Petroleum Ministry said on Monday. “Qatar will supply five cargos of liquefied natural gas as a gift to the Egyptian people during the summer months, with the first of these shipments beginning at the end of July [and continuing] until mid-September,” Reuters quoted Qatari Energy and Industry Minister Mohammed al-Sada as saying. The size of the shipments was not immediately disclosed.

Car bombs kill 22 at markets in central Iraq

Militants detonated explosives-laden cars around two busy markets in central Iraq on Monday, killing 22 people and wounding dozens. The deadly attack occurred in Diyala province when three parked car bombs exploded nearly simultaneously around a wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the town of Jidaidat al-Shatt, where the blasts killed 15 people and wounded 46. Shortly after midday, another car bomb went off near a fish market in the northern Baghdad suburb of Taji, killing seven shoppers and wounding 25, police said.

China pig farm 'pumped dissolved carcasses into river'

Authorities are probing a pig farm in central China for dissolving dead pigs in a chemical solution and pumping the resulting remains down its drains and into a river. Environmental protection and animal hygiene authorities in Changsha, Hunan province, are investigating the allegations, AFP reported. The farm claimed that using strong alkali to break down carcasses before flushing them away was a safe method of disposing of pigs that have died of disease. In March, thousands of dead pigs were discovered floating down a Shanghai river.

2 killed, several injured in Damascus mortar attack by Syrian rebels – SANA

Two people were killed and several others injured after Western-backed rebels fired three mortar shells at the al-Zablatani residential zone in Syrian capital Damascus. According to state news agency SANA, three children – aged between four and nine – were among those the injured. The blasts also damaged a number of buildings in the area. Over the past few months, mortar attacks have become a regular event in Damascus, as militant groups are holed up on the city's outskirts.

Pro-China Hong Kong lawmaker says NSA whistleblower should leave city

A senior pro-Beijing lawmaker said Monday that US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is reportedly hiding in Hong Kong after leaking details of a massive secret Internet surveillance program, should leave the city.“It’s actually in his best interest to leave Hong Kong,” AFP quoted Regina Ip, formerly the city’s top official overseeing security, as saying. The lawmaker said she did not know whether the Chinese government had received an extradition request.

6 receive lengthy jail terms for plot to bomb UK far-right rally

Six men who plotted to attack a rally by the anti-Muslim English Defense League (EDL) were given lengthy jail terms on Monday. The men, who pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses in April, had planned to attack the right-wing group's march through Dewsbury in northern England in June last year using guns, knives and a homemade nail bomb. But by the time they had arrived, the 450 EDL demonstrators had dispersed. Omar Khan, Jewel Uddin and Zohaib Ahmed were given jail sentences of 19 years and six months, while Mohammed Saud, Anzal Hussain and Mohammed Hasseen were given terms of 18 years and nine months, Reuters said.

Egypt adjourns trial of Mubarak until July 6

An Egyptian court on Monday adjourned until July 6 the retrial of former President Hosni Mubarak for his responsibility in the killings of protesters. Mubarak, his two sons Alaa and Gamal, former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli, six former top police officials and fugitive business tycoon Hussein Salem are facing retrial, Xinhua said. The charges include protester deaths, corruption, profiteering and illicit gains. The Cairo Criminal Court aslo ordered the release of Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, who will continue to be detained as they face other corruption-related charges.

Taliban militants behead 10-year-old boy – Afghan officials

A 10-year-old boy was beheaded by Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, a provincial governor’s office said. The incident occurred in Kandahar province, CNN reported, citing a statement issued on Monday. The militants reportedly caught and beheaded the boy after he had collected food waste from a trash bin near a security checkpoint. The Taliban has not commented on the report.

Turkey detains 13 bloggers in south

Turkish security forces have detained 13 bloggers in the southern city of Adana, media reports said. They have been accused of distributing “subversive information” on the Internet and planning “provocative actions,” according to officials. Bloggers who were detained earlier on similar charges were released by authorities.

Russian airborne troops form peacekeeping brigade for UN, CSTO missions

Commander of the Russian Airborne Troops Colonel-General Vladimir Shamanov said Monday that the 31st brigade is ready to fulfill peacekeeping tasks within both the UN, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). “The brigade is ready to fulfill the peacekeeping tasks in any region of the world,” Itar-Tass quoted him as saying. He also commented on previous media reports, saying that no orders had been given to dispatch the peacekeeping brigade to the Golan Heights.

Al-Qaeda leader tells Syrian, Iraqi wings to end dispute

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has reportedly intervened in a dispute between the Iraqi and Syrian branches of the network. A letter purportedly from Zawahri was posted on Al Jazeera’s website, where he annulled the merger declared by the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying each group was separate. Al-Qaeda in Iraq announced in April that it had united with Syria’s Nusra Front, which is fighting against President Bashar Assad. This upset Nusra, which affirmed its loyalty to Zawahri but said it had not been told of any merger.

France detains CEO of telecom company Orange in Lagarde-linked case

Stephane Richard, CEO of French telecom company Orange, has been detained by police, France 24 reported Monday. The arrest came in connection with a judicial investigation into a controversial payout made to French businessman Bernard Tapie. Richard was chief of staff at the time to then-Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who now heads the International Monetary Fund.

Iran won’t bar presidential candidates before vote – Guardian Council

Iran's Guardian Council said on Monday it was not considering barring any other presidential candidates in the run-up to the June 14 vote. Media reports earlier suggested that authorities were considering whether to disqualify the candidacy of moderate cleric Hassan Rohani. “A further review of the qualifications of candidates has not been raised and we deny such a thing,” IRNA news agency quoted Guardian Council spokesperson Abbas Ali Kadkhodai as saying.

4 teenagers arrested over London Islamic boarding school blaze

Scotland Yard have detained two 17-year-olds and two 18-year-olds on suspicion of arson following a fire at an Islamic boarding school. Almost 130 pupils and teachers were evacuated from the Darul Uloom London Islamic School in Chislehurst, southeast London, before midnight on Saturday. The fire comes days after an Islamic center in Muswell Hill was burned, and weeks after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said that patrols will be increased, and that a full range of policing tactics are being used to “to protect sites that might be vulnerable.”

6 dead in NATO convoy attack in Pakistan

At least six people were killed after militants attacked NATO supply trucks in northwest Pakistan with guns and mortars on Monday, officials said. Up to 20 armed militants in the Khyber district targeted at least three Afghanistan-bound vehicles loaded with military equipment, senior administration official Jehangir Azam said. “At least three NATO vehicles caught fire, four people died on the spot and two wounded in the attack expired later in hospital,” Azam told AFP. Another official, Asmatullah Wazir, said four NATO vehicles were hit and three caught fire in the attack in the Shagai region, 20km southeast of Landi Kotal, the district’s main town.

Iran ready to negotiate with Russia to resolve S-300 deal – envoy

Tehran is ready to work with Moscow to resolve a dispute around the sale of S-300 missile systems, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi said Monday. “As for the issue of whether this issue can be resolved through negotiation, definitely. We will make efforts to keep the doors to negotiations always open,”Interfax quoted Sajjadi as saying at a press conference in Moscow. The diplomat also said that Iran is not interested in substituting the Tor-M1E air defense systems in place of the S-300s, adding that the Tor cannot be integrated into Iran’s defense system. 

Russian, Iranian specialists repairing Bushehr nuke plant

Russian and Iranian specialists are eliminating a malfunction at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi said on Monday. The malfunction is linked to the plant's generators, and was not caused by a recent earthquake, Itar-Tass quoted the diplomat as saying. The plant is able to resist stronger quakes, Sajjadi added.

S. African govt says Mandela's health 'serious'

Former South African President Nelson Mandela was in hospital for a third day on Monday with a lung infection, and his condition had not improved from “serious but stable,” the government said. President Jacob Zuma repeated his call for the country to pray for the ailing 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero, Reuters said.

US Consulate, Hong Kong refuse comment on whistleblower Snowden

The US Consulate and Hong Kong officials declined to comment Monday on the case of Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower believed to be holed up in the city after leaking details of a secret US Internet surveillance program. The US and Hong Kong signed an extradition treaty in 1996, but any US attempt to repatriate Snowden will be a complicated process, with Beijing able to veto extraditions, AFP said. Snowden, 29, who worked as a consultant for the National Security Agency, described the consulate as a “CIA station just up the road.” The government contractor leaked top-secret documents on the PRISM spying program, which allegedly allows real-time online surveillance of US citizens.
Anand Sharma and President U Thein Sein Agree for India’s Help to Revive 300 Apparel Factories in Myanmar
Disha Myanmar to Emerge as Common Compliance Code
India has offered to help in revival of 300 apparel factories in Myanmar. During his meeting with the Myanmar President U Thein Sein last Friday, in Nay Pyi Taw, The Union Minister of Commerce Industry and Textiles, Shri Anand Sharma also offered US$ 5 million Line of Credit for revival of these factories. The South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) will provide technical assistance in formulation of revival plans for these factories. Private Sector companies will play a big role in revival and building joint ventures with these closed apparel factories. “A delegation comprising the experts, officials and businessmen will visit Myanmar within two weeks”, Shri Sharma informed the mediapersons after the meeting.

India will also cooperate with Myanmar in formulating a common compliance code for standards and also the best practices in the factories, said Shri Sharma. The Minister proposed to the Myanmar President a Common Compliance Code - Disha Myanmar with technical assistance from AEPC – to enhance compliance standards in Myanmar for exports to developed countries. Sponsored by Ministry of Textiles, and helmed by AEPC Disha is an initiative to driving industry towards sustainable human capital advancement. Disha attempts to educate apparel exporting members on a code of ethics that covers all critical social and environmental concerns like child labour, health and industrial safety, etc. For capacity building in Myanmar textiles sector, India has offered 2 scholarships for 2 slots under National Institute of Design (NID) and 250 scholarships for textile workers under Integrated Skill Development Scheme. Scholarships have been offered in National Institute of Fashion Technology and Institute of Foreign Trade also.

India will be setting up India-Myanmar Apparel Sector JVs in Thilawa SEZ in collaboration with other international brands, said Shri Anand Sharma . India will also set up a textiles trade show - Textiles Expo in Yangon for traditional textiles with Handloom Export Promotion Council (HEPC) as lead council. Enterprise India Show in Yangon as an annual event: As was agreed during Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Myanmar to conduct an annual trade promotion event. Shri Sharma announced that ITPO will undertake this event during November 2013. “We will also facilitate in return an exhibition of Myanmar industry in India organized by ITPO free of cost next year” said Shri Sharma.

Textiles sector appeared prominently during Shri Sharma’s three-day visit to Myanmar as NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, during her meeting with Shri Sharma, also expressed keen desire to establish linkages in the sector specially in handloom an silk. “Entire sector as such will be brought in for cooperation including silk”, Shri Sharma told mediapersons. 

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