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Thursday, 27 December 2018

27 Dec.ND: Triple Talaq Bill politically motivated, real purpose is to penalise Muslim men, says Opposition, demands to send it to joint select committee/ NIA’s claims of busting ISIS module exposed as Doval faces ridicule for presenting Diwali crackers as serious weapons to attack India;In Delhi, families of accused deny IS links /


NEWS DIGEST, Afternoon 
27 Dec. 2018:19 Rabiul-II 1440: Vol: 11, No:86
INDIA
Triple Talaq Bill politically motivated, real purpose is to penalise Muslim men, says Opposition, demands to send it to joint select committee
A united opposition in the Lok Sabha today, pitched for referring the triple talaq bill to a 'joint select committee' of Parliament, claiming its provisions were unconstitutional and that there was a need for a greater scrutiny of the draft law.Opposing the Triple talaq bill in its current form, Congress MP Sushmita Dev said in the Lok Sabha that the real purpose of the bill was not to empower Muslim women but to "penalise" Muslim men.Demanding that bill be referred to the joint select committee of Parliament, Dev said criminalisation of triple talaq goes against the Supreme Court verdict."In the name of empowerment you (Govt) has given nothing but a criminal case to women...the aim of the bill is not to empower Muslim women but to penalise Muslim men," she said.AIADMK MP A Anwhar Raajhaa, TMC's Sudip Bandyopadhyay, AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi and Supriya Sule (NCP) also made similar demands.RSP leader NK Premchandran has strongly disagreed with the passing of the bill and asserted that BJP Govt had brought this bill with some other “ulterior motives”. He said that other civil laws don’t have the provision to make a civil dispute a criminal offence. He also stated that the move was politically motivated with Govt keeping an eye on 2019 General polls. AIADMK MP A Anwhar Raajhaa said that the triple talaq bill went against the Sharia Law’s provisions. He said that the bill would only “break ties” and does not protect the rights of Muslim women. He called the bill a "direct infringement in Muslim personal law". Raajhaa said that his party sought changes in the current bill. TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay also said that the Bill be sent to the joint select committee with all the opposition parties sharing the same opinion.Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge said “This is a very important bill which needs detailed study. It is also a constitutional matter. I request the bill be sent to joint select committee Triple Talaq Bill” reported by ANI in a tweet.The fresh bill will supersede an earlier bill passed in Lok Sabha and pending in Rajya Sabha.The earlier bill was approved by the Lower House.But amid opposition by some parties in upper house, Govt had then cleared some amendments, including introduction of a provision of bail, to make it more acceptable. However, as the bill continued to face resistance in Rajya Sabha, govt issued an ordinance in Sept, incorporating the amendments.National Herald
 ‘Triple Talaq bill not against any religion,’ says Govt as debate begins in Lok Sabha
AIMPLB requests non-BJP MPs to reject talaq Bill
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has written to non-BJP MPs asking them to reject the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, which the board believes is anti-women and against the fundamental rights of an Indian citizen as guaranteed by the Constitution.The letter, signed by AIMPLB executive member Asma Zehra, argues that the Bill is anti-women as it criminalises an offence that is essentially civil as per Islamic law which will only lead to an increase in the number of abandoned women. According to the letter, the Bill does not answer the question of the livelihood of the woman who has been given instant triple talaq given that the offending husband will be in jail for a 3-year term. “As your party stands as champions of citizens’ constitutional rights and secular credentials,we request you to take active participation in defeating this Bill,” letter implores. indianexpress
NIA’s claims of busting ISIS module exposed as Doval faces ridicule for presenting Diwali crackers as serious weapons to attack India:JantaKa Reporter
 NIA went to town claiming that it had busted an ISIS module in India after the federal agency conducted raids across Delhi and UP and arrested 10 people. These people, all Muslims, are accused of planning to attack crowded places and political personalities. The arrested men are identified as Mufti Mohammed Suhail alias Hazrath, Anas Yunus, Rashid Zafar Raq alias Zafar, Saeed alias Sayeed, Saeed’s brother Raees Ahmad, Zubair Malik, Zubair’s brother Zaid, Saqib Iftekar, Mohammed Irshad and Mohammed Azam. The agency later flaunted the so-called weapons and explosives that it had recovered from the raids. ‘Recovered’ weapons included home-made revolvers also known as desi katta, dozens of bullets and low-intensity bombs that looked more like firecrackers, used in Diwali.NIA also recovered several A4 sized pages of ISIS logo printed on papers. These printouts can be taken with an access to Google and a printer. NIA even coined a name of an outfit, Harkat ul Harb e Islam, which it claimed was planning to wage a war against India with desi katta and firecrackers. Senior Govt officials familiar with the functioning of NIA said that Wednesday’s raids had taken place at the behest of NSA Ajit Doval.IG Alok Mittal, according to PTI, told reporters that the arrested men were in touch with foreign handlers, whose identity is yet to be established.Mittal said that searches were carried out in Delhi’s Seelampur locality, UP’s Lucknow, Amroha and Hapur districts where a huge quantity of explosives, a country-made rocket launcher,100 mobiles and 135 SIM cards were recovered.As expected, NIA and Doval became a butt of jokes among journalists on social media. Piyush Rai of TOI, who covers UP  for his organisation, posted 2 photos-one of ‘weapons’ recovered in Wednesday’s raids and other of weapons seized from a gang in Meerut some time ago. It was clear that the weapons seized from a small-time gang were of far more sophisticated quality than what NIA claimed were going to be used to attack India.He wrote, “The pic on left is the recovery from a local Meerut gang after a consignment was intercepted in Delhi earlier this year. The second pic (right) is recovery made during NIA raids at 16 locations in West UP from would be terrorists plotting country wide attacks.”Rai posted another photo of arms recovery from another gang in Meerut in the past. This looked more capable of causing large-scale devastation than the ‘weapons’ recovered by NIA. He wrote, “This recovery from another Meerut gang this year. I am sure such recoveries would surprise many but it is very common in this part of the country.”Soon the topic evoked responses from other journalists. Journalist-turned-filmmaker Vinod Kapri wrote, “NIA has busted a big planned attack by ISIS in India. Weapons recovered by NIA include sutli bomb used in Diwali, desi katta etc. These weapons are no used even by local gangs in Meerut.”Journalist Umashankar Singh of NDTV sarcastically wrote, “ISIS becomes so helpless after reaching India that it chooses to carry out fidayeen attack using the leftover firecrackers of Diwali. Congrats to NIA for averting such attack. By the way, how many mass killings have taken place in Syria using these Munger-made weapons?”Journalist Swati Chaturvedi wrote, “Thank you Doval, I feel so much safer knowing ISIS is armed with sutli bombs & local kattas. Less scary than the cow terrorists.”According to many, the defeat in the just concluded assembly polls for BJP has prompted the central Govt to go down the route of ‘India is in danger’ theory in a bid to whip up the sentiments of nationalism ahead of the next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
IS arresting: In Delhi, families of accused deny links
New Delhi:For Mohammed Ubaid, originally from Amroha in UP  and a resident of Jafrabad in northeast Delhi for the last 3 decades, it came as an early-morning bolt from the blue. Around 5 am on Wednesday, 15 men arrived at their home and identified themselves as NIA officers.“They assured us that we won’t be troubled and searched our two-storey house. They even checked the gas stove,” Ubaid said. He soon learnt that his younger brother, Mohd Suhail, 29, who studied in Deoband and began teaching in Amroha madrasa, was one of the men arrested on Wednesday.According to Ubaid, Suhail started teaching in the madrasa two months ago. “At the end of their search, they took mobile phones from us — at least 6 (phones)…and our SIM cards, memory cards. There was a broken charger at home — they took that, too. My father used to run an inverter manufacturing shop and I work there now. NIA officials came to the godown and took 2 push-button circuits used in inverters,” he said.According to NIA, Suhail had tasked others to buy arms explosives and other accessories to prepare IEDs and pipe bombs. “I don’t understand what explosives they are talking about…they got nothing from our house,” Ubaid maintained.At the home of another accused, Zafar, 22, in the same locality, his mother Sehnaz said NIA officials came at 4.30 am and did not allow anyone to enter or leave. Stating that the officials “behaved well”, she said, “We run a garment business, and 6 months ago we started another retail garment shop for Zafar. He used to sell men’s jackets procured from Jafrabad.”Claiming that Zafar never took part in any “illegal activity”, Sehnaz said her son undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca a year ago. About Zafar’s alleged involvement, she said, “He is too young — he might have known the other accused, but I cannot believe he was involved in any terror activities. We don’t know what to do now.” His friend Aamir said Zafar has completed class XII and kept a beard. He added, “That is how people are identified these days — maybe that’s why the NIA picked him up.”Another accused, Mohd Azam, 35, runs a medical shop in Jafrabad and stays with his wife and daughter. According to his nephew, Naved, the raid began at 4.30 am. Officials, he said, seized mobile phones, SIM cards and memory cards. Stating that Azam had gone to Mecca once, Naved said, “He knew Suhail, but not the others.NIA also came to the medical shop and checked all medicines, but did not take anything from here.”On NIA’s charge that Azam helped the mastermind in arranging weapons, Naved said, “My uncle was a peace-loving man. He did not know all this.” Brothers Zubair Malik and Zaid Malik’s father runs a business manufacturing and selling coolers and fan motors. While Zubair, 20, was a Delhi University student, Zaid, 22, worked with his father.NIA says siblings were part of the terror conspiracy. A family member dismissed the allegations as false.indian express
Delhi court sends suspects to 12-day NIA custody
New Delhi:A Delhi court today sent 10 people, arrested by NIA on suspicion of being part of an ISIS-inspired group, to 12-day of custody of probe agency. They were produced amidst tight security and with covered faces before Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey who ordered in-camera proceedings in the case.indianexpress
Jaitley: Would IS module bust have been possible without snooping?
New Delhi :Union Minister Arun Jaitley today lauded NIA for busting an alleged Islamic State plot in New Delhi and UP  but also took the opportunity to take potshots at the Opposition, who has been demanding the withdrawal of a recent Ministry of Home Affairs notification authorising investigative agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt information stored in any computer.He defended “snooping” order and asked if the crackdown on the terror module would have been possible without “interception of electronic communications”. “Well done for cracking the dangerous terrorist module,” he said.He added, “Would this crackdown of the terrorist module by NIA have been possible without interception of electronic communications?”Indian express
Govt’s surveillance order key to national security: MHA officials
A recent Govt order authorising 10 central agencies to access “any information” on computers within the country is crucial for national security and there are adequate safeguards against its misuse, officials in the ministry of home affairs said, citing statements made by ex minister P Chidambaram to Parliament and similar legislation in western countries. Claims come at a time when the opposition has accused Govt of trying to create a “police state” by issuing the Dec.20 order, which was also challenged in the Supreme Court earlier this week for being “illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires to the law”.“A needless controversy has been generated... Actually, Govt order will ensure prevention of unauthorised interception or monitoring by agencies not mentioned in the order or by unscrupulous ISPs,”an official of the ministry said, asking not to be named.HT
Amroha: 8 cops suspended after Dalit youth ‘dies in custody’
New Delhi: 8 police personnel have been suspended and an enquiry has been ordered after alleged custodial death of a 30-year-old Dalit man, three days after his arrest, in Amroha district.Balkrishna, who worked as a driver, was arrested for alleged car theft in Dhanaura, police said. He died on Wednesday during treatment at a district Govt hospital, where he was taken by police officials allegedly due to serious illness. Police personnel involved in his interrogation have been booked for murder after a complaint by Balkrishna’s family members, who alleged that he was beaten up badly on Tuesday night which resulted in his death. In a letter to the police, they alleged that Balkrishna was picked up on Sunday night when he lost his way on the highway due to fog. “Police officials demanded 5 lakh after arresting him and claimed that he would be charged with serious crimes if the money was not provided,” the letter read.In a purported video of his family members, Balkrishna’s wife and a relative can be seen holding wads of cash, alleging that police were demanding the money.An enquiry has been set up under ASP following which the date and time of arrest and the allegations on the part of the family will be looked into. 8 police personnel, including Dhanaura station in-charge Anand Mohan, a sub-inspector and constables, were suspended after a preliminary enquiry.Balkrishan’s family members along with residents of his native Basi Sherpur village staged a protest outside SDM’s office. indianexpress
Punjabi magazine hailing accused of targeted killings on sale at meet
Mohali:A Punjabi magazine with a cover on the ‘Referendum 2020’ and a report hailing a man arrested by the Punjab Police for his alleged involvement in targeted killings was on sale at the Shaheedi Sabha in Fategarh Sahib.The magazine, ‘Vangaar’ (Challenge), was on sale outside the stall of SAD(Amritsar).The same magazine was on sale last year too, with a cover on Burhan Wani, Kashmiri Hizbul Mujahideen militant who was killed by security forces in 2016. Punjab Govt, and CM Amarinder Singh, have underlined several times that attempts were being made by some to revive secessionist forces in Punjab. CM  has repeatedly linked Pakistan’s decision to open the Kartarpur Corridor to this, describing it as a scheme by ISI.Yet, radical magazine was being displayed and was for sale quite openly, even with all the police deployment at the congregation. The Sept. issue has a cover story justifying the so-called ‘Referendum 2020’. It also carries a report on the desecration incidents in Punjab.Oct.issue has a cover hailing targeted killing accused Ramandeep Singh Bagga for attacking Shiv Sena (Hind) leader Nishant Sharma in a Ropar jail in Sept.indianexpress
J&K: Sajad Lone accuses senior cop of bid to script wave in favour of ‘favourite’ leader
Srinagar:People’s Conference (PC) chairman and ex J&K minister Sajad Lone accused an unnamed senior police officer of indulging in “electoral politics” and attempting to “script a wave” in favour of a “favorite” political leader. Lone said that he would write to PM Narendra Modi and the Election Commission regarding the issue.Lone tweeted that he would soon name the rank officer. “IPS officer of the rank of ADGP indulging in electoral politics. Summoned Some SPs, DSPs deliberating how to script a wave for his fav leader. Will name him soon. But hope @PMOIndia @jandkgovernor @KVijayKumarIPS take note. give us an even play field. Is that too much to ask,” Lone tweeted, tagging the Twitter handles of J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik, Advisor to Governor K Vijay Kumar and PMO India.Lone hinted that ADGP is not from the state. indianexpress
Religious hate crimes in India rose to a decade-high level in 2018: Report
Hate crimes motivated by religious bias shot up to a decade-high of 93 in 2018, according to a multi-organisation project led by FactChecker.in. In 2018, 30 people were killed in such attacks – the most since 2009, when the project began tracking hate crimes – and at least 305 were injured. Eighteen victims were Muslim, 10 were Hindu and two were Christian. While there were almost as many deaths in 2017 (29), there were twice as many non-fatal injuries this year.Since 2009, 100 persons – including 65 Muslims, 27 Hindus and four Christians – have been killed in such attacks.Most attacks in 2018 – 27 – occurred in UP , where a BJP Govt  led by Adityanath is in power, followed by Bihar, where 10 such attacks were reported. A coalition of BJP and Janata Dal (United) runs the Govt in Bihar.scroll.in
"You'll Build Mosque?": Video That Likely Triggered Noida Namaz Diktat
Lucknow: Days after Noida police told multinational companies in Sector- 58 to direct their employees not to offer Friday prayers in a community park, a video showing a group of right-wing activists bullying a few Muslims in the park has emerged as the likely cause of the much-criticised diktat.The video starts with one of the right-wing activists asking the Muslim devotees whether they had come all the way from Bihar's Kishangarh to "build a mosque". When one of the devotees says that they are only observing the namaz, the activist accuses them of creating a commotion in plain sight of everybody. Even explanations that they gather in the park only on Fridays failed to cut ice with their detractors. The activist in question identified himself as Manoj Sharma, a local resident.While the people who shot the video were likely fringe activists, it did not take long for the city police to address their grievance by instructing at least 12 multi-national corporations -- including tech major HCL-- to forbid their Muslim employees from offering prayers at the park.ndtv
VHP leader Bansal calls offering namaz in open a ploy to grab land for Mosque
After namaz row in Noida ‘illegal’ pandal for katha event removed from Greater Noida ground
A makeshift pandal erected on a public ground in Greater Noida’s Sector-37 for a “katha” ceremony was removed on Wednesday by authority officials citing that the organisers had not obtained permission for it. The action comes just days after Noida police issued a notice to companies in the city that they would be held responsible if their employees were found offering namaz at a Sector-58 public park.On Wednesday, Greater Noida officials said they received a complaint from some residents of Sector-37 regarding the ceremony in Kasna area. Authority officials removed the pandal while the function was going on.HT
Aligarh: Vehicles taking stray cows to shelters attacked following cattle-slaughter rumours
UP Police have arrested four people in Aligarh district for allegedly attacking vehicles transporting 800 stray cattle, NDTV reported on Thursday. The administration was moving the cattle to shelters on Tuesday evening after farmers had locked them up on the premises of a Govt  school and a primary healthcare centre, claiming that the animals were damaging their crops.Protestors attacked the vehicles, allegedly because of rumours on WhatsApp that the animals were being taken for slaughter, SSP (Aligarh) AK Sahni told ANI. 2 cases have been filed and an investigation is underway, he added.Mathura Prasad Sharma, a farmer, said neither the district administration nor the state Govt had taken any action even though the animals destroy crops. Shyam Bihari, a resident of Gorai, told NDTV that villagers were staying awake at night to protect their farms. “We are also falling sick because of this,” Bihari said. “So we chose to lock the stray animals together in a health centre.”scroll.in
UP Police make arrests in Sanjali’s murder case; Bhim Army questions findings,asks for CBI inquiry
In a major breakthrough, UP Police claimed to have solved the gruesome murder of a Dalit girl who was burnt alive on Dec.18 in Agra District. The police said one of the deceased’s cousin and two other Dalit boys were responsible for the act and revealed that it had arrested two of the 3 accused. However, UP Police announcement has not gone down well with Dalit protesters who believe the announcement was only to stop countrywide protests in support of Sanjali, girl murdered and put the blame on Dalit community.UP Police actions also came into question because the third person accused-Yogesh-was a cousin of Sanjali, was questioned by Police and released later following which he committed suicide. Bhim Army supremo rejected the Police findings and asked for a CBI inquiry into the matter. He questioned why Yogesh was let free after questioning if he was an accused in the case and said it was police action that drove Yogesh to suicide. While police claims and actions are being questioned, what cannot be questioned is the effect that it had on plans for countrywide protests. According to ground reports, all protests have been cancelled for te time being which can only be seen as a positive for UP Govt .twocircles
After Kushwaha’s NDA exit, Apna Dal (S) leader Anupriya says BJP should not repeat same mistakes in UP
 BJP-led NDA ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) said the ruling Govt should learn from its defeats in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Irked by BJP’s Big Brother attitude, Apna Dal (S) leader and Union Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel said the saffron outfit should respect and give due importance to small parties. Mirzapur MP Anupriya said her party president has already expressed the party’s view and she stands by it.n December 26, Anupriya Patel skipped UP  CM  Yogi Adityanath’s programme in Deoria district, a day after her husband and party president Ashish Patel voiced concern over the treatment of smaller NDA allies. Expressing his party’s support for the NDA Govt  at the Centre in 2019 under the aegis of PM  Narendra Modi, Ashish Patel had said the BJP should learn from its defeats in the 3 states.Ashish even warned the BJP that SP-BSP alliance in UP  poses a serious challenge for NDA in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.Apna Dal (S) has its support base mainly among the OBC communities of the Varanasi-Mirzapur region in UP. As part of the NDA, Apna Dal (S) contested UP  elections with the BJP and bagged 9 seats with 851,336 votes.newsx
BJP veteran Laxmi Kanta Chawla censures PM, Rly. Minister for “apathy towards common man”
New Delhi:Ex-Punjab Minister and BJP leader Laxmi Kanta Chawla has rapped PM  Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for the alleged apathy towards the common man and urged them to forget about the “bullet” train.In a video that went viral on Wednesday, Ms.Chawla is seen aboard a train, appealing to Modi Govt  to “have mercy on the common man”. “I am on board the Saryu Yamuna Express for 24 plus eight hours. This train is running nine hours behind schedule. For God’s sake, forget about bullet train, focus on the trains that are already running,” she said.IANS
Probe ordered against PS of 3 UP minister’s after sting exposes graft talks
UP Govt has ordered a probe against personal secretaries of 3 senior ministers after a sting operation conducted by a TV channel showed them seeking bribes against favours like transfers, winging contracts in their favour, an official said today.Additional Chief Secretary Mahesh Gupta has ordered the probe and in all likelihood they would be suspended anytime now, the source said.In the sting operation, Om Prakash Kashyap, personal secretary of backward welfare minister Om Prakash Rajbhar is shown allegedly seeking Rs 40 lakh for a transfer.There are also alleged recordings of the secretariat staff assuring the reporter posing as a contractor that a school bag and uniform contract would be swung in his favour and for the deal, talks will be held with the husband of minister of state for basic education Anupama Jaiswal.The secretary of the minister is shown seeking commission in the tender of socks and shoes. The minister who is from SBSP has clarified that he has nothing to do with the whole incident and has asked principal secretary of his department to order a probe into the whole issue.IANS
AIUDF chief Ajmal apologises for abusing journalist, faces FIR
Guwahati: A day after abusing a journalist, and threatening him of “smashing his head”, Moulana Badruddin Ajmal expressed his apologies today, saying he respects media persons.Ajmal, MP from Assam’s Dhubri constituency, landed himself in a controversy on Wednesday over the episode. Ajmal, who leads AIUDF, faced condemnation from from different sections over the incident. Several media organisations have threatened to file FIRs against him. Apologising over the episode, Ajmal, who is also a perfume trader, wrote on Twitter: “Media is the fourth pillar of democracy and I have always respected media persons and everyone knows that. I have sincere regards for them.Mankachar incident was an unintentional aberration and I sincerely apologize for that to all concerned.”IANS
WORLD
Trump defends Syria pull-out during surprise visit to Iraq
In a surprise trip to Iraq, President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to withdraw American forces from Syria where they have been helping battle ISIS group. "We're no longer the suckers, folks," Trump told US servicemen and women at al-Asad Airbase, west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.Trump, who has faced growing criticism at home for not visiting troops in combat zones, said it's because of US military gains that he can withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria. He added, however, that he has no plans to pull soldiers out of Iraq."I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip ISIS of its military strongholds," Trump said in a speech to US troops clad in camouflage fatigues in a hangar at the airbase.Trump did not meet any Iraqi officials during his 3-hour visit. A planned meeting with Iraqi PM  Adel Abdul Mahdi was scrapped and the two leaders spoke instead on the phone.Mahdi's office said there was "disagreement over how to conduct the meeting", while Iraqi legislators said PM  declined Trump's request to meet him at the military base. White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the meeting was cancelled due to security concerns and the short notice of the trip, but she said they had a "great call" and that Mahdi accepted Trump's invitation to the White House in New Year.Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad after the cancellation of the face-to-face meeting between the two leaders, said there is a sense of "confusion" in Iraq in regard to US's policy in the region."They are very concerned in Iraq about the 2,000 troops pulled out of Syria," he said. "Baghdad is much more safe than it has been for a very long time and the Iraqis are very confident that they can deal with ISIL within their own borders - but what really concerns them is Syria and that's where they are less confident." Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria came despite objections from a number of politicians within his own party and Pentagon officials. Trump's trip to Iraq was shrouded in secrecy. Air Force One flew overnight from Washington, landing at an airbase west of Baghdad under the cover of darkness on Wednesday evening. US military says it has about 5,200 troops in Iraq, focused on training and advising Iraqi troops to ensure that ISIL does not re-emerge. aljazeera
Trump Declares End To US "Policeman" Role On Surprise Iraq Visit
Iraqi leaders denounce Trump's visit to US troops
Iraqi political and militia leaders have condemned US President Donald Trump's unannounced trip to Iraq as a violation of their country's sovereignty.Sabah al-Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of the Iraqi parliament "to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The US occupation of Iraq is over".Islah is headed by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who has long opposed the US presence in Iraq since a Washington-led invasion toppled the Govt  of Saddam Hussein in 2003 over weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda that both proved non-existent.Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died in the conflict, which many analysts call one of the major US foreign policy debacles in recent history and one of the most destructive invasions in modern history.Bina bloc, Islah's rival in parliament and led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, also objected to Trump's trip to Iraq."Trump's visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi Govt ," said a statement from Bina.aljazeera
US offers safety, job security to Taliban: report
Islamabad:US is eager to persuade the Taliban to join the peace process in Afghanistan and is offering a safety network that includes job opportunities for the insurgents, a media report said Thursday.As the US, Pakistan, China, Russia and other world powers expedite efforts to encourage the Taliban to join the Afghan peace process, US Defence Department has also outlined a plan for rehabilitating the rebels in a new Afghanistan, the Dawn reported. “Although some members of the Taliban may be weary of fighting and ready to lay down their weapons, they will only rejoin society if they believe their safety and the safety of their families are guaranteed, and if they have an opportunity to earn enough money to provide for their families,” the report said, quoting a Pentagon plan sent to Congress this week, along with the proposals for addressing US security concerns and the interests of Afghanistan’s neighbours. Pentagon, however, notes that while local leaders are developing programmes that may offer a path to peace on a small scale, “Afghan Govt has not developed a national reintegration programme,” it said. Eager to persuade Taliban to join the Afghan peace process, the US is offering them a safety network that includes creating job opportunities for the insurgents, the report said.While the Trump administration appears keen to start withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, the Pentagon advocates maintaining enough troops in Afghanistan to force Taliban to join peace talks.Over the past 16 months, US and its partners have used military force to drive Taliban towards “a durable and inclusive political settlement”, the report said.PTI
Israel 'advances plans' for nearly 2,200 settler homes
Israeli authorities have advanced plans for nearly 2,200 settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, an NGO and Israeli media said.A defence ministry committee with responsibility for such projects on Tuesday and Wednesday approved the plans, settlement watchdog Peace Now said in a statement.It said 1,159 housing units were given final approvals before building permits can be issued, while 1,032 were at an earlier stage.The Times of Israel website also reported the development, saying in total 2,191 settlement homes are expected to be advanced this week.It is the first such approvals since snap polls were called earlier this week, after the ruling right-wing Govt  led by PM  Benjamin Netanyahu collapsed.On Monday, Netanyahu agreed to dissolve parliament and call for early elections on April 9.The settlements, which play an important role in Israel's right-wing politics, have surged under Netanyahu. Earlier on Wednesday, he met settler leaders in Jerusalem.  "We'll see an attempt by the left-wing to overthrow our rule with the help of the media and others," he said, speaking of polls."They can't succeed, because if they do - that will pose a clear danger to the settlement movement."Israeli settlements have also long been viewed as a major roadblock to a viable Palestinian state.aljazeera
Russia slams Israel for 'gross violation' in Syria strikes
Russia has accused Israel of violating Syria's sovereignty and threatening two civilian flights after Israeli warplanes launched air raids in Damascus on Tuesday."We are very concerned by the attacks and how they were made. This is a gross violation of the sovereignty of Syria," Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Syrian state media said the country's air defences intercepted Israeli missiles near Damascus, while Israel said it was protecting itself from anti-aircraft fire."An [Israeli] aerial defence system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria," the Israeli army's official Twitter account later said.Moscow also said the Israeli attacks endangered two passenger planes."The provocative actions of the Israeli air force ... directly threatened 2 airliners," Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. He said the attack from over the Lebanese territory came as "2 airliners, not from Russia, were preparing to land at the airports of Beirut and Damascus".aljazeera
Mubarak testifies against Morsi in Egyptian court
2 former Egyptian presidents have appeared in the same Cairo courtroom with Hosni Mubarak testifying in the retrial of his successor Mohamed Morsi on mass jailbreak charges.  Overthrown during the 2011 protests that ended his 30-year rule, a frail, grey-haired Mubarak could be seen walking into the courtroom with a cane on Wednesday. During his testimony against Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, 90-year-old Mubarak claimed he could not answer most questions, saying he needed permission from the military and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Earlier in the month, Mubarak failed to make a court appearance in the case. His lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, had told the Cairo Criminal Court that the former president was a member of the military and that he had to obtain permission from the military to appear in court.Since his removal from power in a military coup staged by Sisi, Morsi has been tried in several different cases.In April 2015, he was sentenced to 20 years on charges of ordering the arrest and torture of protesters in clashes outside the presidential palace in 2012.aljazeera
25 Bangla Jamaat leaders have no bar to contest polls: Bangladesh HC
The Bangladeshi High Court today cleared the way for 25 Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leaders to contest the 11th parliamentary election on 30 Dec, reports UNB.The court declined to direct the election commission to treat Jamaat men disqualified for contesting the election. Following the HC order, Ruhul Kuddus Kajol, a counsel of the Jamaat leaders, said there will be no bar for the Jamaat leaders from contesting the upcoming election. The HC bench of justice JBM Hassan and justice Md Khairul Alam issued a rule asking the EC and the Govt  to explain in four weeks why the EC’s decision should not be declared illegal. Earlier on Wednesday, a writ petition was filed with the High Court challenging the election commission's decision to approve the candidacies of 25 Jamaat leaders for the upcoming 11th general election.Lawyer Tania Amir filed the petition on behalf of 4 people including btf secretary general Syed Rezaul Haque Chandpuri. The petition was filed as a supplementary writ challenging EC's decision that rejected an application for cancellation of Jamaat leaders' candidacy. Prothom Alo
Hodeidah ceasefire: UN monitors meet both sides in port city
A Yemeni Govt  delegation is in the port city of Hodeidah to oversee the implementation of the ceasefire brokered with the Houthi rebels under the supervision of the United Nations.The warring sides are meeting face-to-face yet again as the UN is hosting talks as part of the latest efforts to end the over 4-year-old conflict.A ceasefire in the city has been in place since Dec. 18, but both sides accuse each other of violating it.aljazeera
FLASH: VIEWS & NEWS
Correcting falsehood in textbooks should be a priority in Rajasthan:Jyoti Punwani
Militant Recruitment Data in 2018 Is Telling of the Centre's Failed Strategies in J&K:Azaan Javaid
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'Myanmar wants to drive out all Muslims': Q&A with Kyaw Hla Aung:Saif Khalid   & Sorin Furcoi
Transgender Persons Bill doesn't ensure them privacy, dignity:Faizan Mustafa
‘Taking kids to a temple, church or mosque shows them how all religions are equal’: Anuradha Varma

Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 7:03 PM)

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