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Complete political, democratic freedom in Pakistan: Interior Minister

Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad Thursday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has been making efforts to make Pakistan a true Islamic welfare state on the pattern of the State of Madina. 

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Complete political, democratic freedom in Pakistan: Interior Minister
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Islamabad: Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad Thursday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has been making efforts to make Pakistan a true Islamic welfare state on the pattern of the State of Madina. 

While talking to media in Islamabad today, the minister said that there is complete political and democratic freedom in Pakistan. 

“Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence,” added minister.

Responding to a question about protest demonstrations by opposition parties, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said anybody can hold demonstration; however, if anyone takes law into his own hands, action will be taken against him.

Earlier addressing a passing out parade of police officials at Islamabad Police Lines, he said Shuhada Package of Islamabad Police has been made equal to that of Punjab Police.

“Prime Minister has allowed recruitment of one thousand additional personnel for Islamabad Police,” he said.

The Minister further added that drones will be used to make Islamabad safe and secure city.

Mehak Javed

Mehak Javed is immensely creative and an enthusiastic journalist, contributing in the publication of timely and accurate news. She is a skilled writer along proven history of achievement in the field with several years of professional experience. Mehak is working with GNN since 2020.

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Mali ex-president Keita dies two years after coup ouster

Mali’s interim government issued a statement hailing the memory of the illustrious Keita

Published by Faisal Waqas

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Mali ex-president Keita dies two years after coup ouster

Bamako: Mali’s former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who led the West African country from 2013 until he was ousted in a coup in 2020, died at the age of 76 in the capital Bamako on Sunday, his family said.

Looming over most of Keita’s presidency was the militant insurgency that has rocked the poor Sahel country since 2012, while his toppling marked the rise of the military junta which is now under regional sanctions for failing to restore civilian rule.

Mali’s interim government issued a statement hailing “the memory of the illustrious” Keita, adding that the former president died “after a long illness”.

Keita was forced out of office on August 18, 2020, by young military officers who staged an uprising at a base near Bamako before heading into the city, where they seized Keita and other leaders.

Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said he was “saddened to learn of the death of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita”, adding that “it is with great emotion that I bow before his memory”.

Macky Sall, president of neighbouring Senegal, said in a Tweet he was “saddened” by the news, while Niger’s ex-president Mahamadou Issoufou, a former comrade of Keita’s in the Socialist International, hailed him as “a cultured man, a great patriot and a pan-Africanist”.

Politicians and other public figures went to Keita’s home southwest of Bamako to offer their condolences, with police guarding the entrances, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

The government statement said funeral plans would be announced at a later date.

– Protests, coups –

In the weeks before the 2020 coup, Keita had been struggling with protests fuelled by his handling of the jihadist insurgency and failure to turn around Mali’s floundering economy.

Snail-paced political reforms, decrepit public services and schools, and a widely shared perception of government corruption also fed anti-Keita sentiment, driving tens of thousands of protesters into the streets.

Seized by the putschists, the junta that emerged from the rebellion — under pressure from the West African bloc ECOWAS — released Keita weeks later and returned him to his residence in Bamako, under surveillance.

He suffered a mini-stroke the following month and was sent to the United Arab Emirates for treatment. He had been based at his Bamako home since staying out of public life.

The ruling junta would stage another coup in May 2021, toppling a civilian transitional government.

The junta had vowed to hold elections next month to transition the country back to civilian rule. But at the end of the last year, the junta revised its timetable, saying it could stay in power for up to five years.

In response, ECOWAS agreed to sanction Mali earlier this month, imposing a trade embargo and shutting borders, in a decision backed by the United States, the European Union and former colonial power France.

Landlocked Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, is already feeling the effects of the sanctions, prompting thousands to protest in Bamako on Friday.

– Political veteran –

The son of a civil servant, Keita was born in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heartland of cotton production.

After studying literature in Mali, Senegal and France, Keita became an adviser for the EU’s overseas development fund before heading a development project in northern Mali.

He then rose through the ranks under Alpha Oumar Konare, the country’s first democratically elected president.

As a socialist prime minister between 1994 and 2000, he quelled a series of crippling strikes, earning a reputation as a firm leader and helping to set up his landslide election in 2013.

Keita was then re-elected in the 2018 elections, beating opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who died in December 2020 of Covid.

Cisse’s kidnapping by jihadists in March 2020 further illustrated Keita’s inability to stop the violence, with rising public outrage culminating in the coup months later.

Source: AFP

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‘Austria to make COVID vaccines compulsory for adults from Feb’

Nehammer, a conservative who took office in December, said those who didn t comply would face a hefty fine

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‘Austria to make COVID vaccines compulsory for adults from Feb’

Vienna: Austria will become the first European country to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for adults in February, Chancellor Karl Nehammer said Sunday, acknowledging that it was a “sensitive topic.”

Nehammer, a conservative who took office in December, said those who didn t comply would face a hefty fine.

“We will decide on compulsory vaccination as planned. It will come into force at the beginning of February for adults,” he told a news conference.

Since plans for compulsory jabs were first announced last year, Austria has seen impassioned debate both in parliament and beyond on the issue.

To date 71.5 percent of eligible Austrian residents have had their jabs -- several percentage points below many of the country’s EU neighbours.

Nehammer acknowledged the decision covered "a totally sensitive topic" but said it followed careful consideration.

He warned that after an "entry phase" for the policy, restrictions would be "tightened accordingly" in mid-March on those holding out against the jab, including fines of between 600-3,600 euros ($684-$4,100).

Saturday saw some 27,000 people demonstrate in Vienna against the measure which opponents dub an attack on personal freedoms.

On Thursday Parliament is due to pass into law a bill which initially was set to cover all people from 14 upwards but now will cover adults only.

Exceptions will be made for pregnant women and those who can show they have a medical exemption.

The government has widespread support for a policy which only the far-right is opposing.

Austria has to date seen almost 14,000 Covid-related deaths and 1.4 million cases in a population of some nine million.

Compulsory vaccinations against Covid remain rare worldwide, though Ecuador, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Micronesia have introduced such schemes.

Source: AFP

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North Korea fires two suspected ballistic missiles: S. Korea  

The projectiles were, reportedly, fired from an airport in North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang.

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North Korea fires two suspected ballistic missiles: S. Korea  

Seoul: North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) Monday—the fourth test this month to demonstrate its expanding missile arsenal, South Korea's military reported. 

The projectiles were, reportedly, fired from an airport in North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang.

Japan also reported the launch, with chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno condemning it as a threat to peace and security.

In less than two weeks, nuclear-armed North Korea has conducted three other missile tests, an unusually rapid series of launches. It said two of them involved single "hypersonic missiles" capable of high speed and manoeuvring after launch, while a test on Friday involved a pair of short-range ballistic missiles fired from train cars.

Monday's launch appeared to involve two SRBMs fired east from Sunan Airfield in Pyongyang, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

North Korea used the airport to test fire the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) in 2017, with leader Kim Jong Un in attendance.

As per reports, the missiles travelled about 380 km (236 miles) to a maximum altitude of 42 km (26 miles).

Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said the missiles appeared to have landed in the ocean near North Korea's east coast.

The U.S. military's Indo-Pacific Command said it assessed that the launch did not pose an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, but "these missile launches highlight the destabilising impact of North Korea's illicit weapons programme".

The pace of testing and the different launch sites suggests that North Korea has enough missiles to feel comfortable expending them on tests, training, and demonstrations, and helps reinforce its deterrent credibility by emphasizing the volume of its missile force, said Mason Richey, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.

North Korea has not tested its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or nuclear weapons since 2017, but after denuclearisation talks stalled in 2019, it began unveiling and testing a range of new SRBM designs.

Many of the latest SRBMs, including the hypersonic missiles, appear designed to evade missile defences. North Korea has also vowed to pursue tactical nuclear weapons, which could allow it to deploy nuclear warheads on SRBMs.

"Every tactical missile launch flaunts how little sanctions have constrained the Kim regime, and how the U.S. ... has failed to make North Korea pay a sufficient cost for short-range missile programme development," Richey said.

'Isolating and Stifling'

The latest launches have drawn both condemnation and an appeal for dialogue from a U.S. administration that has imposed new sanctions over North Korean missile launches and is pushing for more.

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration imposed its first new sanctions on Pyongyang on Wednesday, and called on the U.N. Security Council to blacklist several North Korean individuals and entities. It also repeated calls for North Korea to return to talks aimed at reducing tension and persuading it to surrender its arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

North Korea has defended the missile tests as its sovereign right to self-defence and accused the United States of intentionally intensifying confrontation with new sanctions.

In a statement before Friday's missile tests, the North Korean foreign ministry said that although the United States might talk of diplomacy and dialogue, its actions showed it was still engrossed in its policy of "isolating and stifling" North Korea.

South Korea's national security council held an emergency meeting after Monday's test, with members stressing that "above all else, it is essential to start dialogue as soon as possible in order for the situation on the Korean Peninsula to not become more strained and to restore stability", the presidential Blue House said in a statement.

The launches came as North Korea, more isolated than ever under self-imposed border closures aimed at preventing a COVID-19 pandemic, appeared to be preparing to open at least some trade across its land border with China.

Chinese brokers said they expect the resumption of regular trade with North Korea soon after a North Korean train pulled into a Chinese border town on Sunday in the first such crossing since anti-coronavirus lockdowns began in 2020.

Zhao Tong, a Beijing-based nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said North Korea had few reasons to hold back its missile development.

Leader Kim appeared to have little hope of a breakthrough with the United States, and China’s sympathy for North Korea and antipathy towards the United States could encourage North Korea to think that China was unlikely to support any effort by the international community to censure it for the tests, he added.

"North Korea may think this is a safe time to advance its missile development," Zhao said.

Last week, China criticised the new U.S. sanctions but also called on all sides to act prudently and engage in dialogue to reduce tensions.

China says it enforces existing international sanctions on North Korea, but has joined with Russia to urge the U.N. Security Council to ease the measures, saying they hurt the civilian population.

SOURCE: REUTERS 

 

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