National Assembly passes resolution urging India to reverse illegal actions of August 5, 2019
PM sets $5b target for Pak-Turk bilateral trade to reflect historic friendship
ANKARA, May 31 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Tuesday while assuring his government’s all-out support, urged the business community of Pakistan and Turkey to take the bilateral trade to the $5 billion mark within next three years.
“The $1.1 billion trade is nothing… Let us resolve to take the two-way trade to $5 billion… Let us do it speedily. The time and tide wait for none,” the prime minister said addressing a dinner reception hosted by the President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Riffat Hisarciklioglu in his honour.
The prime minister, along with a high-level delegation, is on his maiden visit to Turkey, since he assumed office on April 11, this year. A huge number of businessmen from Turkey Pakistan Business Forum, Turkish and Pakistani investors and officials from the Boards of Investment of Turkey and Pakistani attended the event.
The prime minister said the government had done away with all the impediments to the business sector and urged the Turkish investors to invest their capital in multiple sectors like agriculture, IT, dairy, textile, and many other fields. “My investors are my masters. Come to Pakistan. We will genuinely roll out the red carpet for them,” the prime minister remarked.
The prime minister also assured the Turkish investors that they would face no hurdles in their future ventures in Pakistan, as they had been doing over the last four years. He said under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey had achieved tremendous progress with its companies executing gigantic projects in multiple fields including dams and infrastructure building across the globe.
Speaking high of warm reception given to him and his delegation, the prime minister said the two countries enjoyed fraternal relations, dating back centuries.
He also thanked the Turkish people and the leadership for supporting Pakistan during the earthquake and floods, besides showing its unwavering support for the Kashmir cause. The prime minister also reiterated Pakistan’s stance to support Turkey on the Cyprus issue.
The prime minister said unfortunately the historic friendship did not reflect in the bilateral trade which currently stood at $1.1 billion. He also mentioned the contribution of the Turkish companies in Pakistan in the field of solid waste management and their keen interest in solar energy projects.
Referring to the recent launch of third PN MILGEM corvette for Pakistan Navy PNS BADR, the prime minister also called for deepening the bilateral defense ties, calling the enemy of Turkey an enemy of Pakistan. He urged the businessmen from both sides, attending the event, to have “heart to heart” talks for promoting bilateral trade and investment.
Regarding some issues faced by the Turkish businessmen with visa, the prime minister assured to work out an option of visa-on-arrival for the Turkish investors. “I guarantee you. The visa will not be an issue. You should come there and get stamped (visa) at the airport.”
Pakistan categorically rejects “malafide” sentencing of Yasin Malik; summons Indian diplomat
ISLAMABAD, May 25, 2022 (APP):President Dr Arif Alvi Wednesday strongly condemned the conviction and life imprisonment of Hurriyat Leader Yasin Malik, by the Special Court of the National InvestigatiPresidenton Agency in Delhi on the basis of false and politically motivated charges.
Terming the sentence as unfair and against the fundamental principles of justice, the President regretted that the Indian judiciary had always played second fiddle to the Indian political leadership by safeguarding the interests of extremist Hindutva ideology and denying justice to the Muslims. He said that the decision had exposed the Indian mindset towards the minorities that deeply shocked the Pakistani nation as well as the human rights organizations across the globe.
The President stated that Yasin Malik was struggling for the rights of the Kashmiri Muslims and the legitimate freedom struggle of Kashmiri Muslims could not be equated with terrorism. He reiterated that such oppressive measures could not weaken the resolve of the people of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and they would continue their struggle till the realization of their right to self-determination.
He urged the international human rights organizations and the United Nations to take serious note of the Indian oppressive and apartheid policies against Kashmiri Muslims and other minorities. He called upon the international community to put pressure on India to immediately release Yasin Malik and stop gross human rights violations in Kashmir.
ISLAMABAD, May 25, 2022 (APP): Pakistan on Wednesday summoned the Indian Charge d’Affaires (Cd’A) to the Foreign Office and conveyed Pakistan’s strongest condemnation and rejection of the malafide conviction and sentencing of Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik in a “grossly suspicious and contrived” case.
The case was registered under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC), dating back to 2017, by the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.
The Indian Cd’A was conveyed that the Government of Pakistan’s strong indignation over the highly reprehensible sentencing of Yasin Malik after his conviction on fabricated charges, denial of fair trial and inhuman incarceration despite his deteriorating health, in complete defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
It was highlighted that by implicating him in a concocted case and carrying out a bogus and one-sided trial, India has again misused the judiciary in the outrageous execution of political vendetta against the Kashmiri leadership.
It was conveyed that the abhorrent Indian attempts seeking to defile the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination as “terrorism” only substantiated India’s deeply etched credentials as a ‘serial violator’ of human rights and usurper of the fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiris.
The Cd’A was told that the Government of Pakistan remained deeply concerned over the inhuman conditions under which Yasin Malik has been detained in Tihar Jail since 2019.
Recalling the martyrdom of Hurriyat leader Ashraf Sehrai, last year in brutal Indian custody after his victimization and arrest under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA), the Indian Cd’A was conveyed Pakistan’s grave apprehensions regarding Yasin Malik’s well-being especially given the ruthless treatment meted out to him in the Indian jail despite his chronic ailments which has resulted in a sharp decline of his health.
The official was further asked to advise his government to acquit Yasin Malik from all baseless charges, ensure his well-being and arrange for his immediate release from the prison.
Moreover, the Government of India must release all Kashmiri leaders incarcerated on trumped-up charges, halt forthwith the gross and systematic persecution of Kashmiris in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), cease the use of state-terrorism as a policy tool.
India was also asked to let the people of IIOJK determine their own future through a free and impartial plebiscite under the United Nations auspices as enshrined in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Pakistan also asked the international community, cognizant of the worst human rights violations and the atrocities being perpetrated by India in the IIOJK, to take immediate stock of the aggravating situation in the IIOJK and press India to fulfill its obligations under the international humanitarian law and the Charter of the United Nations.
Climate change indicators hit record highs in 2021: UN
Geneva, May 18, 2022 (AFP/APP): Four key climate change indicators all set new record highs in 2021, the United Nations said Wednesday, warning that the global energy system was driving humanity towards catastrophe. Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification all set new records last year, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its “State of the Global Climate in 2021” report.
The annual overview is “a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption”, UN chief Antonio Guterres said. “The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe. “We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition before we incinerate our only home.” The WMO said human activity was causing planetary-scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for ecosystems.
The report confirmed that the past seven years were the top seven hottest years on record. Back-to-back La Nina events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures last year. Even so, it was still one of the warmest years ever recorded, with the average global temperature in 2021 about 1.11 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change saw countries agree to cap global warming at “well below” 2C above average levels measured between 1850 and 1900 — and 1.5C if possible.
“Our climate is changing before our eyes,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas. “The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come. Sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification will continue for hundreds of years unless means to remove carbon from the atmosphere are invented.” Four key indicators of climate change “build a consistent picture of a warming world that touches all parts of the Earth system”, the report said.
Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new global high in 2020, when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) globally, or 149 percent of the pre-industrial level. Data indicate that they continued to increase in 2021 and early 2022, with monthly average CO2 at Mona Loa in Hawaii reaching 416.45 ppm in April 2020, 419.05 ppm in April 2021, and 420.23 ppm in April 2022, the report said.
Global mean sea level reached a new record high in 2021, rising an average of 4.5 millimetres per year throughout 2013 to 2021, the report said. GMSL rose by 2.1 mm per year between 1993 and 2002, with the increase between the two time periods “mostly due to the accelerated loss of ice mass from the ice sheets”, it said. Ocean heat hit a record high last year, exceeding the 2020 value, the report said.
And it is expected that the upper 2,000 metres of the ocean will continue to warm in the future — “a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial timescales”, said the WMO, adding that the warmth was penetrating to ever deeper levels. The ocean absorbs around 23 percent of the annual emissions of human-caused CO2 into the atmosphere. While this slows the rise of atmospheric CO2 concentrations, CO2 reacts with seawater and leads to ocean acidification.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with “very high confidence” that open ocean surface acidity is at the highest “for at least 26,000 years”. Meanwhile the report said the Antarctic ozone hole reached an “unusually deep and large” maximum area of 24.8 million square kilometres in 2021, driven by a strong and stable polar vortex.
Guterres proposed five actions to jump-start the transition to renewable energy “before it’s too late”. Among them, he suggested ending fossil fuel subsidies, tripling investments in renewable energy and making renewable energy technologies, such as battery storage, freely-available global public goods. “If we act together, the renewable energy transformation can be the peace project of the 21st century,” Guterres said.
President approves reconstitution of CCI
ISLAMABAD, May 13, 2022 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Friday approved the reconstitution of the Council of Common Interests, on the advice of the prime minister. Approved by the president under Article 153 of the constitution, the CCI would be headed by the prime minister and would comprise the chief ministers of four provinces besides three federal ministers.
Three federal ministers would also be part of the Council as they were nominated by the prime minister. The federal ministers include Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar, and Railways and Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq.
UN slams Taliban order directing Afghan women to cover faces in public
UNITED NATIONS, May 08, 2022 (APP):The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has criticized an announcement made by the Taliban ordering all women to cover their faces in public in the country.
“UNAMA is deeply concerned with today’s announcement by the Taliban de facto authorities that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives,” the Mission said in a statement. According to information received by UNAMA, this is a formal directive rather than a recommendation, any violations of which will lead to the punishment of male relatives.
“This decision contradicts numerous assurances regarding respect for and protection of all Afghans’ human rights, including those of women and girls, that had been provided to the international community by Taliban representatives during discussions and negotiations over the past decade,” UNAMA said. Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, the Taliban assured that women would be afforded their rights, whether in work, education, or society at large.
News reports on the decree, which calls for women to only show their eyes and recommends they wear the head-to-toe burqas, say that this latest whittling of their rights in the country evokes similar restrictions from the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001. It also follows the reneging on an earlier promise to appease their hardline rule at the expense of further alienating the international community, which has been eager for signs that the de facto authority is ready for positive relations with the wider world.
After seizing power, the Taliban confirmed in September that secondary schools were reopening, but that only boys would be returning to the classroom. Women teachers throughout the country were also unable to resume work. Six weeks ago, the de facto authority decided again to postpone secondary schooling for Afghan girls –drawing wide international, regional, and local condemnation.
This latest decision by the Taliban threatens to further strain engagement with the international community. “UNAMA will immediately request meetings with the Taliban de facto authorities to seek clarification on the status of this decision,” the statement continued, adding that UNAMA would also engage in consultations with members of the international community regarding the implications of this latest decree.
Intense push-back against the Taliban have led to nations cutting development aid and enforcing strict sanctions on the country’s banking system, pushing Afghanistan towards economic ruin, it was pointed out. On August 30, 2021, the Security Council passed a resolution calling on the Taliban to provide safe passage for all those seeking to leave the country. During a high-level meeting in Geneva the following month, the international community pledged more than $1.2 billion in humanitarian and development aid to the Afghan people.
Meanwhile, the nation is becoming the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with needs surpassing those in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, leaving nearly 23 million people facing acute food insecurity. In January, the UN and partners launched a more than $5 billion funding appeal for Afghanistan, in the hope of shoring up collapsing basic services there.
Throughout, the UN has pledged to stay and continue to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid to the Afghan people across the country.
Acute food insecurity in parts of world: UN
UNITED NATIONS, May 04, 2022 (APP):The number of people facing acute food insecurity and requiring life-saving food assistance is growing at an alarming rate, creating urgency for tackling the root causes of food crises rather than just responding after they occur, according to a joint UN report released Wednesday.
“Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps on getting worse,” David Beasley, Executive Director of the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), said in a statement. The annual report from the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) – an international alliance of the UN, European Union (EU), governmental and non-governmental agencies – shines a light on the urgency of tackling root causes rather than just responding to emergencies after the fact.
The report focuses on countries and territories where the severity of the food crisis is outstripping local resources and capacities. It reveals that some 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 2021, representing an increase of nearly 40 million people compared with 2020’s already record numbers.
Of those, 570,000 people in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity, “catastrophe” phase 5, and required urgent action to avert widespread collapse of livelihoods, starvation and death. When looking at the same 39 countries or territories featured in all editions of the report, the number of people facing Phase 3 levels or above, nearly doubled between 2016 and 2021, rising unabatedly each year since 2018.
“The results of this year’s Global Report further demonstrate the need to collectively address acute food insecurity at the global level across humanitarian, development and peace context,” QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said. From conflict to environmental and climate crises, and economic to health crises with poverty and inequality as underlying causes, these worrying trends are the result of multiple drivers feeding into one another.
Weather extremes have crippled over 23 million people in eight countries/territories, an increase from 15.7 million in 15 countries/territories. And economic shocks have affected over 30 million people in 21 countries/territories, down from over 40 million people in 17 countries/territories in 2020 – mainly due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity, having pushed 139 million in 24 countries/territories into acute food insecurity – up from around 99 million in 23 countries/territories in in 2020. “Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm,” Beasley said.
“Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation,” he added appealing for “urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it’s too late”. While the analysis predates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the report finds that the war has already exposed the interconnected nature and fragility of global food systems, with serious consequences for global food and nutrition security.
Countries already coping with high levels of acute hunger are particularly vulnerable to the risks created by the war in Eastern Europe, notably due to their high dependency on imports of food and agricultural inputs and vulnerability to global food price shocks, notes the report. “The tragic link between conflict and food insecurity is once again evident and alarming,” QU said.
“While the international community has courageously stepped up to the calls for urgent famine prevention and mitigation action, resource mobilization to efficiently tackle the root causes of food crises due to, among others, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, global hotspots and the war in Ukraine, still struggles to match the growing needs”.
The report’s findings demonstrate the need for a greater prioritization of smallholder agriculture as a frontline humanitarian response. Furthermore, it advocates for promoting structural changes to current external financing, to reduce humanitarian assistance over time through longer-term development investments, which can help tackle the root causes of hunger.
In parallel, humanitarian assistance must be provided more efficiently and sustainably. “The situation calls out for at-scale action to move towards integrated approaches to prevention, anticipation, and better targeting to sustainably address the root causes of food crises, including structural rural poverty, marginalization, population growth and fragile food systems,” the Global Network founding members said in a joint statement with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank.
PM Shehbazphones political bigwigs to extend Eid greetings
ISLAMABAD, May 4, 2022 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday telephoned President Dr Arif Alvi, chief ministers of different provinces, leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, and senior political leaders to extend Eid greetings to them. A day after his similar telephonic conversations with the Muslim world leaders, the prime minister communicated with the local leadership and exchanged Eid greetings besides discussing the country’s political situation. The prime minister telephoned Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Tanvir Ilyas and conveyed greetings to the people of the territory.
Moreover, he also condemned the ban on Eid prayer congregations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support till the Kashmiri people got their right to self-determination. He also interacted with the chief ministers of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan as well as the acting governor of Balochistan. However, he could not converse with the Balochistan chief minister as he was abroad.
The prime minister telephoned ex-President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and extended Eid greeting. They thanked the prime minister for the telephone and reciprocated the Eid greetings. Prime Minister Sharif also phoned the PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who congratulated him on his successful visits of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In his conversation with Jamat-e-Islami leader Sirajul Haq, the prime minister exchanged Eid greetings and discussed the country’s political situation.
Shehbaz Sharif also telephonically interacted with Communications Minister Maulana Asad Mahmood, Mohsin Dawar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Allama Sajid Mir, Khalid Magsi, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Ali Nawaz Shah, Shahzain Bugti, Aslam Bhotani and Chaudhry Salik Hussain. The prime minister inquired from Chaudhry Salik about the health condition of Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and expressed good wishes for his early recovery.
US begins training Ukrainian forces in Germany
WASHINGTON: The US has begun training Ukrainian forces on new military systems at American military installations in Germany, the Pentagon announced on Friday. Ukrainian forces are being trained on howitzer artillery, radar systems and armoured vehicles the US is supplying to Kyiv amid its effort to defend against an over two-month long Russian offensive.
Defence Department spokesman John Kirby thanked Germany for its support, and said the training in Germany and elsewhere "is in direct support of recent US security assistance packages that are designed to help Ukraine win their battles today, and build strength for tomorrow." "These new systems, and the associated training will strengthen Ukraine's ability to counter Russia's renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine," he told reporters.
About 160 members of the Florida National Guard are carrying out the training. It comes on the heels of US President Joe Biden announcing over $1.6 billion in military assistance for Ukraine over the past three weeks. He requested Congress provide an additional $20.4 billion in new military and other security assistance as existing funding is running dry.
The US has provided Kyiv with droves of armaments to aid its battle, include drones, anti-tank and anti-air munitions and heavy artillery. The package Biden requested on Thursday includes additional artillery, armoured vehicles, anti-armour and anti-air capabilities, as well as what the US says are "accelerated cyber capabilities and advanced air defence systems." It has not specified the systems.
According to UN estimates, at least 2,899 civilians have been killed and 3,235 injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, with the actual figure feared to be much higher. According to the UN refugee agency, more than 8.3 million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries.