Layalpur Post

National Assembly passes resolution urging India to reverse illegal actions of August 5, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat

October 26, 2022
Ottawa, Ontario

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who is visiting Canada for the first High Level Dialogue between Canada and the African Union Commission.

The Prime Minister highlighted the historic nature of this event as an important step in the development of a structured partnership between Canada and the African Union Commission, and as a sign of the commitment of Canada and the African Union to engage further and work closely together to address the global challenges of our time.

The two leaders discussed shared priorities on the agenda for the Dialogue, which is co‑organized by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, and Chairperson Faki, and is being held in Ottawa on October 27 and 28. Among those priorities are democracy, gender equality, economic growth, trade and investment, the fight against climate change, and peace and security.

Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated Canada’s support for the economic recovery efforts of African countries in the post-pandemic context, including for the economic empowerment of women, agricultural transformation, financial inclusion, and access to market value chains. He also reiterated Canada’s readiness to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Prime Minister Trudeau and Chairperson Faki discussed their commitment to protecting and strengthening democracy and the key role of the African Union Commission in that regard. The Prime Minister emphasized Canada’s commitment to strengthening its partnerships with African countries, institutions, and stakeholders to advance democracy and protect human rights.

The two leaders noted the urgency to act in response to the climate change crisis, which disproportionately impacts African countries. They discussed Canada’s commitment to supporting African states in their climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. A few days ahead of COP27, which will be held in Egypt, the Prime Minister emphasized that Canada recognizes the importance of the issues that will be discussed at the conference, and he reiterated Canada’s commitment to contribute to its success.

Prime Minister Trudeau commended the Commission’s leadership role toward resolving peace and security issues on the African continent and expressed Canada’s determination to continue its partnership with the Commission in seeking and implementing solutions to these issues. Prime Minister Trudeau and Chairperson Faki discussed the situation in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, security and humanitarian challenges in the Sahel, and the threat of terrorism and food insecurity across the continent.

The two leaders talked about the consequences of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, which are impacting the entire globe. Prime Minister Trudeau underscored the fact that the contributions made by African nations in multilateral forums such as the United Nations in condemning Russia’s violations of international law are important and very much appreciated. The Prime Minister noted that Canada recognizes the significant and lasting impact of the crisis on African countries and that he remains determined to work with Africans to meet those challenges.

In closing, Prime Minister Trudeau and Chairperson Faki indicated they are very confident that the first High Level Dialogue being held in Ottawa this week will yield productive discussions to advance the common interests of Canada and the African Union and lay the foundation for a strong partnership that will benefit Canadians and Africans in the years to come.

Canada to implement new measures against the Iranian regime

Ottawa, Ontario, October 7, 2022 (LPC): Canada stands with the brave women, students, and the people of Iran who are peacefully protesting the tragic killing of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Iranian regime’s so-called ‘morality police.’ The Iranian regime’s brutal repression of these protests – killing, beating, and arresting protesters – is once again demonstrating its blatant disregard for human rights and human life. We are listening to and joining our voices with those who are demanding better.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that Canada will take significant, further action against the Iranian regime. We intend to:

  • List the Iranian regime, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its top leaders – more than 10,000 officers and senior members – as inadmissible to Canada for their engagement in terrorism and systemic and gross human rights violations, by pursuing a designation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This will deny them access to Canadian territory.
  • Significantly expand sanctions against those responsible for the Iranian regime’s egregious human rights abuses by building on our existing sanctions, including those announced this week, to implement the most robust and comprehensive set of sanctions in the world against the IRGC. We will also introduce a new tailored regulation to ensure no sanctioned individual connected to the IRGC can enter Canada, pending the passage of Bill S-8.
  • Invest $76 million to strengthen Canada’s capacity to implement sanctions and ensure we can move more quickly to freeze and seize sanctioned individuals’ assets, including through a dedicated bureau at Global Affairs Canada and additional support to the RCMP to investigate and identify assets and gather evidence. This builds on new authorities introduced in Budget 2022.
  • Pursue all the tools at our disposal, including the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), which enables restrictive financial and property measures for foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of human rights.

Taken together, this new suite of measures will help hold the Iranian regime to account for its egregious actions. These new measures build on our previous actions, which were already some of the strongest in the world against the Iranian regime, including designating the state of Iran as a state supporter of terrorism. Earlier this week, Canada also announced additional sanctions against senior Iranian officials and prominent entities that directly implement repressive measures, violate human rights, and spread the Iranian regime’s propaganda. These sanctions effectively froze any assets these individuals may hold in Canada. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to implement the most robust sanctions against the Iranian regime in the world.

Canada will continue to work with our international partners to ensure the Iranian regime is held accountable for its heinous conduct, including for the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which killed 138 people en route to Canada, including 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents.


“The Iranian regime continues to demonstrate its blatant disregard for human rights and human life. Canada unequivocally stands in solidarity with people marching in the streets of Iran, and the streets of cities around the world, in the name of freedom and justice. To the strong, resilient, and proud Iranian Canadian community:

We hear your voices, we hear your calls for action. That is why today, we’re using the most powerful tools we have to crack down on this brutal regime and the individuals responsible for its heinous behaviour. Our government will continue to use every single tool at our disposal, including the Magnitsky sanctions.” The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada “The IRGC leadership are terrorists.

The IRGC is a terrorist organization. Today, Canada is formally recognizing that – and acting accordingly. The actions we are taking today to hold senior members of the IRGC to account will ensure that Canada will never be a haven for its money, for its leaders, or for their henchmen. Canada is proud to stand with the brave people of Iran.” The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Quick Facts

  • These new measures, combined with previous actions against the Iranian regime, are in line with our allies who are strongest on Iran, like the United States.
  • Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, died last month while in custody of Iran’s so-called ‘morality police.’ Ms. Amini’s death was a direct result of the systemic harassment and repression that women face in Iran.
  • Nine other regimes have previously been designated inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, paragraph 35(1)(b) for terrorism, systemic or gross human rights violations, genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Iran could be the first regime to be designated since 2003. The designation of a regime is a permanent decision.
  • On October 3, 2022, Canada imposed new sanctions on Iran under the Special Economic Measures Act, in response to gross human rights violations that have been committed in Iran, including its systematic persecution of women and in particular, the egregious actions committed by Iran’s so-called ‘morality police’ and its leadership.
  • In 2017, Canada expanded the scope of the Special Economic Measures Act to allow the government to impose sanctions in response to gross and systemic human rights violations.
  • On October 4, 2022, Canada marked the 1,000th day since Iran’s egregious downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, killing 176 innocent people on board – including 55 Canadians, 30 permanent residents, and a total of 138 people en route to Canada. Canada is working with our international partners to hold Iran accountable in accordance with international law.

Germany repatriates 12 IS-linked citizens from Syria

BERLIN, October 5, 2022: The group included four women, seven children and a man who was brought to Syria when he was 11. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the adults in the group will have to "answer for their alleged actions." The women from the Roj camp were detained upon their arrival back in Germany

The German government has repatriated several women in Syria suspected of supporting the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) along with their children, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced on Wednesday. The operation involved four women, seven children and a young man who had been taken to Syria when he was 11 years old. All had been living in the Roj camp in northeastern Syria, which is largely under Kurdish control.

"I am especially relieved because the children are not responsible for their parents' fateful choices," Baerbock said, adding that they "are ultimately also victims of IS." The five adults among the group were detained when they arrived back in Germany and will have to "answer for their alleged actions," she added.

 According to international NGO Save the Children, there are thousands of foreign-born children who remain at the Roj camp in Syria. A total of 26 women and 76 children with suspected links to IS have been repatriated from Syria to Germany in recent years. Some have been tried and jailed for crimes committed during the war.

"I am relieved because this action has allowed us to close almost all the known cases," Baerbock said. However, the German Foreign Office said there have been some instances where women in Syria have chosen not to return to Germany.

Germany-Spain summit: Pyrenees pipeline project is of 'paramount importance'

Germany's Olaf Scholz and a contingent of top ministers are in Spain for talks on the spiraling energy crisis in Europe. The two sides hope to breathe new life into a pipeline project, despite opposition from France. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz presented a united front on reviving a gas pipeline project that would require support from France.

Sanchez and Scholz met Wednesday following a day of bilateral talks that were dominated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and energy concerns in Europe. The German-Spanish government summit, which was last held in 2013, is taking place in the northwestern Spanish city of A Coruna. Security, defense and energy issues were at the forefront of the bilateral talks. One of the biggest topics was Spain and Germany's determination to develop a pipeline across the Pyrenees mountain range.

"Thus, the construction of a sufficiently big hydrogen-ready gas pipeline across the Pyrenees to be operative by 2025 is of paramount importance in order to achieve a truly robust internal energy market within the EU, accelerate the green transition and reinforce EU's strategic autonomy," a joint action plan said.

The two sides also agreed to "significantly strengthen our deterrence and defense for the long term" in line with the agreements reached at a NATO summit in June. "Europe is not at peace," the governments' statement said, adding that Berlin and Madrid stand in full solidarity with the Ukrainian government in the face of Russia's invasion.

Germany and Spain also underscored their commitment to a "feminist foreign policy" aimed at strengthening rights and representation for women and marginalized groups. Accompanying Scholz at the talks were top Cabinet ministers, including Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Finance Minister Christian Lindner.

They were set to sign numerous bilateral agreements with their Spanish counterparts later on Wednesday evening. Germany, in particular, is eager to shore up natural gas pipeline alternatives to Europe. Russia was Germany's main supplier of natural gas, but Moscow has severely reduced the flow of Russian gas to Europe.

Madrid and Berlin want to revive the MidCat gas pipeline that would link the Iberian peninsula to the rest of Europe by running through France. "Unfortunately, due to a lack of connections, we have not yet been able to make Spain's full capacities in liquefied natural gas and electricity available to the rest of Europe," Sanchez said.

The French government, however, is less enthusiastic about a possible pipeline project. The original MidCat project was launched in 2013, but was suspended in 2019 amid environmental concerns and after it was found to be financially unviable. Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his opposition to the MidCat pipeline, saying that two already existing pipelines that run across the Pyrenees are currently under-utilized.

However, Scholz said following his meeting with Sanchez that he did not believe Paris had ruled out the pipeline. "We do not have the impression it has been ruled out," Scholz said. "Some connections are maybe not economic every day, but they can become it."

The German and Spanish governments want to revive the MidCat project and expand it so that it could be used to transport renewable gases instead of just natural gas, saying it could help make Europe more energy independent and boost the renewable energy transition. Scholz said that Germany was also building its own LNG terminals, which would allow it to supply other countries in Central Europe. He added that the infrastructure could later be used for hydrogen.

While Spain and Germany are showing a united front in energy, the topic of defense is more fraught. It is unclear whether they will discuss Germany's suggested European anti-missile defense shield. Spanish media earlier reported that Germany invited Spain to take part in the defense project, but the Spanish government later issued a statement saying it hadn't received an invitation from Berlin.

In August, Scholz proposed creating a Germany-led missile defense system in eastern and northern Europe. Germany's Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told Reuters news agency last month that Berlin hopes to make a deal on an air defense system with other NATO members during a meeting in mid-October.

Movie on China’s evacuation of overseas Chinese leads National Day box office, shows national pride and confidence in turbulent world

BEIJING, Movie on China’s evacuation of overseas Chinese leads National Day box office, shows national ride and confidence in turbulent world. One movie that took the lead in both the box office and the viewers’ ratings for the National Day holidays was Home Coming. The movie tells a story of two unarmed Chinese diplomats delving into a rebel force-controlled area in a fictional war-wrecked African country to lead 125 Chinese citizens safely back home, and it has sparked a strong sense of national pride and confidence amid a turbulent world experiencing major changes.

Some moviegoers may have entered theaters expecting a Warrior Wolf-like movie, but were offered the cruelty of war and the most difficult part of diplomatic and consulate work in contrast to the traditional impression that diplomats are “clean and decent.” However, the two main characters’ deep love for their country and their people, strong sense of responsibilities and the greater group of Chinese diplomats in the new era they represent, touched many viewers.

The movie, starring veteran actor Zhang Yi and idol Wang Junkai, not only showed how the two diplomats, one seasoned and one new, protected their people with courage and wisdom, but also depicted different roles of common people, including stranded Chinese compatriots and locals in the fictional African country with whom Chinese people stationed there have developed deep emotional bond.

Some diplomats engage in fierce wars of words with their foreign counterparts, some are stationed abroad and interact with local communities on behalf of China, some have their life in danger in a war-hit country, but they all speak and work for the interests of China and the Chinese people, read one comment on social media platform Sina Weibo.

“There are not many cool action scenes, but thrilling in a sense that the story is in a fictional setting but not really fictional,” another Weibo user posted. Home Coming prompted many people to recall Chinese Embassy's evacuation of more than 30,000 Chinese nationals from turmoil in Libya in 2011. Behind this sentence were many heroic stories and unswerving efforts of many Chinese diplomats. Many news reports have revealed some details of the eye-catching evacuation, and people are curious of how those touching moments can be translated into screen language.

A viewer, who gave the movie 5/5 on Chinese rating site Douban, recalled his personal experience 11 years ago of being evacuated safely from a different country “because of holding a Chinese passport.” “We are the lucky ones because we are well protected, because we have a strong motherland,” the viewer said. The movie is not perfect in terms of some parts of the storytelling and acting, but it struck a chord among viewers at the timing of National Day holidays, Shanghai resident Gu Sen told the Global Times on Tuesday after watching.

The stronger the bond between Chinese overseas and local people in Numea (the fictional African country), the more tragic when the rebellion pushed friends’ fate onto two different paths, one to home and the other to homelessness and even deaths, the moviegoer said. A comment liked many times on Douban reads, “Chinese passport might not get you anywhere you want, but it can always bring you back home.”

A Beijing-based movie critic who preferred not to be named told the Global Times on Tuesday that the “industry cold winter” has encouraged many insiders to make quality main melody works and such genre has been leading National Day holidays box office for many years.

The success of Home Coming not only proves big theme can be delivered by down-to-earth roles and stories, but is also attributed to the growing national pride and confidence Chinese have in their country at a time when unrest occur every so often worldwide, the critic said. Home Coming has raked in 600 million yuan ($84 million), topping the National Day holidays box office ahead of newly released movie Ordinary

EU will have to recognize betrayal by allies — Russian MFA about Nord Stream emergency

MOSCOW, October 5, 2022 /TASS/. The EU countries will have to face the truth and admit that they were betrayed by their allies in the situation involving the Nord Stream incidents, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel on Wednesday.

She drew attention to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak’s statement that Russia was ready to supply gas through the undamaged Nord Stream 2 pipeline string. "Will someone dare say after that our country is behind the act of sabotage? I do agree that it is very difficult to realize the truth. But someday the EU countries will have to do this and to admit that they were betrayed by their allies," she said.

Nord Stream incidents

On September 27, Nord Stream AG reported unprecedented destruction that occurred the day before on three strings of the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 offshore gas pipelines, which were discovered within a few hours. Swedish seismologists later specified that on September 26 they registered two explosions on the Nord Stream routes. Russia’s Prosecutor General's Office launched criminal proceedings over an act of international terrorism.

The operation of Nord Stream has been suspended since the end of August due to problems with repairs of Siemens turbines stemming from Western sanctions, but the pipeline remained filled with gas. Nord Stream 2, completed in 2021 but never put into operation, had been filled with gas, too.

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 29, 2022 (APP):Two powerful cyclones are bringing misery to millions of people in opposite parts of the world — Hurricane ‘Ian’ in western Cuba as it heads for the US state of Florida, and Typhoon Noru hit the Philippines en route to Vietnam, the UN Meteorological agency has said. The tropical cyclones came quick on the heels of Hurricane Fiona, which caused deadly flooding in the Caribbean and was the strongest storm on record to hit Canada. Typhoon Nanmadol, prompted the evacuation of nine million people in Japan.

Pakistan was hit by climate-induced floods last month, killing more than 1,500 people and displacing 30 million, besides causing huge infrastructure damage. Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WHO) has reminded that climate change is expected to increase the proportion of major tropical cyclones worldwide, and to increase the heavy rainfall, causing sea level rise and worsening the impact of coastal flooding.

“The human and socio-economic impacts of these cyclones will be felt for years,” warned Cyrille Honore, WMO Director of Disaster Risk Reduction and Public Services branch. More than three million people have been affected, according to the UN. According to WMO, Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel said that the damage caused by Hurricane ‘Ian’ will likely be significant, though only preliminary assessments have been carried out.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. But there was severe damage to infrastructure, housing, agriculture, and telecommunications, with power reportedly lost to the entire country. Pinar del Rio, the hardest hit province, is home to 75 per cent of the country’s tobacco production – a key export for Cuba – and about 40 per cent of the nation’s bean production.

Ian is intensifying rapidly and is now a very strong category 4 hurricane (maximum sustained winds near 155 mph with higher gusts). It is expected to maintain this intensity.Ian is the first hurricane to make landfall in mainland United States this season. The US national weather service warned of catastrophic wind damage near the core of Ian when it moves onshore and of life-threatening storm surge and catastrophic flooding.

The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline, according to expert forecasts. The water could reach up to 12 to 16 feet in the worst affected areas. Heavy rainfall will spread across central and northern Florida through Thursday as it is forecasted to slow its forward motion. Ian is forecast to reach portions of the US Southeast later this week and this weekend (1-2 October).

Catastrophic flooding is expected across portions of central Florida with considerable flooding in, northern Florida, south-eastern Georgia and coastal South Carolina.“Ian poses an exceptional threat because of its size, its strength and its landfall in a heavily populated, low-lying area”, WMO has warned.

Meanwhile, in the eastern hemisphere, Typhoon Noru, known in the Philippines as Karding, hit the northeastern part of the Philippines on 25 September as a “super typhoon” with sustained winds of 195 121 mph before tracking across the main island of Luzon on 25 September.

More than two million people live in the worst affected areas, according to a disaster analysis, and nearly 430,000 people were directly impacted. Despite the relatively short space of time for mobilization, thousands of people were successfully evacuated, limiting loss of life. From 26-27 September, typhoon Noru made its way towards Vietnam, and intensified once again.

WMO underscored that accurate early warnings and coordinated early action are proving key to limiting casualties during extreme weather events such as Hurricane Ian, Fiona and Thyphoon Noru. “It is more important than ever that we scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities,” WMO Secretary-General, Prof. Petteri Taalas, said.

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 24, 2022 (APP):A Pakistani diplomat has categorically rejected India’s allegations about Pakistan’s involvement in terrorist acts, citing instances of the Indian sponsorship of terrorism and aggression against all its neighbours that makes New Delhi the “principle perpetrator, sponsor, financier and abettor” of terrorism in South Asia.

“The myth of terrorism against Pakistan, created and propagated by India, cannot and will not hide the stark reality that people of Pakistan, the Indian Illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and its own minorities are victims of its state-sponsored terrorism,” Saima Saleem, counselor at the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations, told the UN General Assembly on Friday night.

Ms. Saleem was exercising her right of reply to Indian delegate Mijito Vinito’s allegations about Pakistan sponsoring cross-border terrorism and accusing it of making ” untenable territorial claims against neighbours”– an obvious reference to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian delegate made that statement in response to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speech to the 193-member Assembly in which the Pakistani leader drew world community’s attention to New Delhi’s grave human rights violations in occupied Kashmir and called for resolving the UN-recognized dispute in accordance with Security Council resolutions.

In her remarks, the Pakistani delegate said that India has sponsored and perpetrated terrorism and aggression against all its neighbours by creating terrorist groups, and destabilizing and blockading neighbours to do its strategic bidding.

In Pakistan, she said India was funding and supporting terrorist organizations like the TTP (Tehreek-i-Tliban and the BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army), whose attacks have resulted in the killing of thousands of innocent Pakistanis.

“Since the Hindutva inspired RSS-BJP Government’s unilateral and illegal actions on August 5, 2019 termed as ‘Final Solution’, India’s 900,000 occupation forces in occupied Kashmir – the ‘densest’ occupation in history – have escalated their oppression of 8 million Kashmiri men, women and children in the world’s largest ‘open-air prison’,” the Pakistani delegate said.

She accused India of extra-judicial killings in fake encounters; enforced disappearances of 15,000 young Kashmiri boys; incarceration of the entire Kashmiri leadership; bringing about demographic change by issuing millions of fake domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris; gerrymandering of electoral boundaries for reducing Muslim representation; curbing religious freedom and media and internet blackout.”

Since 1989, Indian occupation forces had committed over one lakh extra-judicial killings, around 162,000 cases of arbitrary arrests and torture, over 25,000 pellet gun injuries, 11,250 cases of rape and gang rape, and 8652 unmarked mass graves, attesting to the genocide which is being committed in occupied Kashmir.

“Yet, we fear that these discoveries of Indian crimes are but the tip of the iceberg,” Ms. Saleem said. “If India has nothing to hide, it must grant access to Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to human rights mechanisms, accept a UN Commission of Inquiry and agree to implement the Security Council resolutions.”

Highlighting India’s reign of terror against its minorities, the Pakistani delegate said, Islamophobia has penetrated into the very foundations of the Indian state, where 200 million defenceless Muslims are lynched by cow vigilantes and killed in pogroms led by RSS “brown-short” thugs.

Noting that public calls of the desecration of mosques is the state agenda, she said adding that rich Muslim culture and heritage is being destroyed and history being re-written.

The Citizenship Amendment Act aims to purge India of its Muslim minority, she said, pointing out that Hijab is banned; anti-Muslim social media trolls of “Corona Jihad” rule the internet; the ruling RSS-BJP leaders call Muslims “termites” and the “green virus”.

Also, houses and shops of Muslims are being bulldozed; and derogatory remarks against Holy Prophet (PBUH) are being made by top leadership of RSS-BJP dispensation as a matter of state policy to hurt feelings and sentiments of not only Indian Muslims but also of Muslims across the world.

“Other minorities in India, including Christians, Sikhs and Dalits, also face persecution and churches and gurdwaras are torched by Hindu fundamentalists,” Ms. Saleem said.

“Let me emphasize that no quantum of brutality of Indian occupation forces can break the will, perseverance and courage of the Kashmiris to demand their inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with Security Council resolutions.

“Like Martin Luther King, the Kashmiris also have a “dream” that they shall see the dawn of freedom one day,” she added.

PM for fully operationalizing Uzbekistan-Pakistan transit, preferential trade agreements

SAMARKAND, Sept 15, 2022 (APP): Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday underscored the significance of enhancing bilateral political ties and fast-tracking trade and economic cooperation by fully operationalizing Uzbekistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (UPTTA) and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).

The Prime Minister expressed these views during a bilateral meeting with President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held here on the sidelines of the annual Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The two leaders exchanged views on Pakistan-Uzbekistan relations, and regional and international issues.

The wide-ranging talks covered bilateral cooperation, with a special focus on trade and economic relations, and regional connectivity through rail, road and seaports. The Prime Minister thanked President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for his sympathies and condolences on sending humanitarian aid to the flood affected people. He highlighted the devastation caused by the climate induced floods in Pakistan in terms of loss of human lives and damage to crops, livestock, housing and critical infrastructure.

The Prime Minister underlined the need for closer defence and security cooperation, and further increasing collaboration in the fields of education, culture and tourism. He emphasized that liberalized Visa Regime would encourage business community of both countries to boost bilateral trade and investment. The Prime Minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the timely completion of Trans-Afghan Railway project and expressed satisfaction at the successful completion of field expedition inside Afghanistan by the technical teams from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Once completed, this project would effectively link the Central Asian countries with the world through the seaports of Karachi and Gwadar, he added. The two leaders agreed to early convening of the Inter-Governmental Commission to formulate specific proposals and projects to further deepen and broaden Pakistan-Uzbekistan cooperation across the entire spectrum. The Prime Minister extended an invitation to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to visit Pakistan. The Uzbek President invited the Prime Minister to visit Uzbekistan at an early date.

Pakistan keen for timely completion of CASA-1000 power project: PM

SAMARKAND (Uzbekistan), Sep 15, 2022 (APP, LPP): Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday expressed Pakistan’s resolve for the timely completion of the important CASA-1000 power project, aimed at the transmission of electricity from the Central Asian state. In a meeting with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon on the sidelines of the SCO Heads of Council meeting in Samarkand, the two leaders held wide-ranging talks covering all aspects of the mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation including regional and international issues.

The prime minister emphasized the expansion of cooperation in the field of road transportation and underscored the importance of connectivity. He underlined Pakistan’s readiness to facilitate the provision of access to Gwadar and Karachi to Tajikistan. President Rahmon extended profound sympathies and condolences over the loss of human lives and devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan and assured of Tajikistan’s full support in the efforts for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people.

PM Sharif thanked Tajikistan for its support to the flood-affected people in Pakistan and shared details of the devastation caused by the massive floods, induced by climate change. The prime minister expressed satisfaction over the growing political, trade, economic, and cultural cooperation between the two countries. He underscored the need for a strategic partnership aimed at boosting security, mutual trust, countering the current global threats and challenges, enhancing regional stability, and expanding political, trade and economic cooperation.

Both leaders accorded particular focus on further strengthening of reliable and constructive high-level contacts, inter-parliamentary ties, defence and security relations between the two countries. The prime minister underlined the importance of regular meetings of bilateral institutional mechanisms and establishment of mutually beneficial cooperation in the implementation of energy projects.  

The leaders also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest and agreed to work together to strengthen peace, stability and security in the region, particularly in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and senior officials were present.

Japanese minister condoles with Pakistani envoy on losses in floods

TOKYO, Sep 15, 2022 (APP, LPP): Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei Shunsuke visited the embassy of Pakistan here on Thursday and expressed condolences on behalf of the government of Japan, on losses in devastating floods in Pakistan. During a meeting with Pakistan’s Charge d’ Affaires Ismat Hassan Sial, he expressed grief and sympathy on the loss of precious lives and displacement of millions in Pakistan during the torrential rains.

Besides flood related matters, various issues on bilateral matters were also discussed during the meeting. To express solidarity on behalf of the Government of Hyogo Prefecture of Japan, Imago Motohiko, Director General, Hyogo Prefectural Government, also visited the embassy of Pakistan. He pledged a donation of Japanese Yen One million for flood affectees. Ismat Hassan expressed gratitude for the sympathy and donation by the government of Hyogo Prefecture. Further ways of enhancing future relations were also discussed.

Pakistani traders to participate 19th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, China

BEIJING, Sept 11, 2022 (APP): Pakistan, like previous years, will participate in the 19th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit to be held in Nanning, Capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region of China, from September 16 to 19. The relevant authorities have completed all the arrangements in this regard, a senior official said on Sunday.

Pakistani traders and industrialists will display handicrafts, furniture, auto parts, gem stones, carpets, sports goods, agricultural machinery and surgical instruments during the expo. Themed in sharing new opportunities of the RCEP and jointly advancing version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, the events will showcase the new achievements and highlights of the economic and trade cooperation between the two sides.

Covering an area of 102,000 square meters, this year’s exhibition for the first time will feature several sections on new energy vehicles, culture and tourism, healthcare and cross-border e-commerce.
As many as 21 high-level forums and more than 80 economic and trade promotion activities will be held during the expo.

China has remained ASEAN’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years. During the first seven months of this year, their trade with each other surged 13.1 percent year-on-year to $544.9 billion, accounting for 15 percent of China’s total foreign trade during the period. As of the end of July, bilateral investment between China and ASEAN had exceeded $340 billion, while the turnover of Chinese enterprises from project contracts in ASEAN countries exceeded $380 billion.

Canadian think tank’s report endorses Khalistan Referendum

LONDON/TORONTO: September 10, 2022 (LPP):Two leading international authorities on the right of self-determination have said that the Sikh advocacy group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) are rightly campaigning to raise awareness and pressurize India to hold an official referendum on the creation of Khalistan.

In a press conference in Toronto and online discussion, the chairman and members of the Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC) a panel of non-aligned experts on direct democracy who is supervising and monitoring the Khalistan Referendum Voting released the report “From Golden Temple to Punjab Independence” jointly published by Quebec based Research Institute on Self-Determination of Peoples and National (IRAI). The report reviewed the validity of the ongoing Sikh secessionist referendum under international laws and established democratic norms.

The Khalistan Referendum is a global initiative launched by SFJ in which Sikhs across the world are voting on the question: “Should Indian Governed Punjab Be An Independent Country?” Experts Matt Qvortrup and Dane Waters, the chair of the Punjab Referendum Commission, explained the significance of the referendum at a press conference.

Qvortrup said that the referendum is being held in a free, fair and transparent manner and according to international standards. He said that referendum voting in the UK and European capitals had been a huge success and registered as a new model of campaigning. He said the model followed by SFJ can serve as a beacon for all those nations, ethnicity and groups who want to obtain their right to self-determination through peaceful ways.

According to experts, the referendum is unofficial but it will have a political impact and symbolic value as a democratic process that will send a signal and solidify support on the issue of Khalistan. They said the process of the referendum is hugely important as people express their opinion through voting. The experts said the referendum will be an opportunity for Sikhs in Canada to express their opinion.

The panelists said if India wanted to be seen as a democracy in the world, then it has to act as a democracy. They also regretted that India has blacked out the news about the Khalistan issue. Paul Jacobs, President of Citizens in Charge and Citizens in Charge Foundation and a member of the commission, said the issue of self-determination in a referendum was very consequential. “We believe in the power of the vote,” said Jacobs.

He quoted Winston Churchill who once said that: “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried. Our goal is to help make the referendum as good as it can be.” SFJ spokesperson Gurpatwant Singh Pannun welcomed the release of the report and termed it a major intellectual contribution to the legitimate struggle for Khalistan.

Pannun reiterated SFJ's position that the "Khalistan Referendum is not about re-establishing Maharaja Ranjit Singh's ruled country but liberation of Punjab from Indian occupation and reclaiming Shimla as headquarters as was in 1947 when Punjab was governed under the Indian Rule." "It’s India and not Pakistan where Sikhism is denied separate identity and where Sikhs have been subjected to multiple genocides.

Pakistan recognises Sikhism as a separate religion and there are around 20,000 Sikhs in Pakistan who are living there in peace and prosperity and hence Khalistan Referendum is for the independence and liberation of Indian occupied Punjab," said Pannun. Pannun also stated that the “road for liberation of Kashmir runs through Punjab”. “Once Khalistan is liberated, it will pave the way for Kashmir to be free from Indian occupation," said the spokesperson. 

Mid-Autumn Festival Gala by CMG to present high-tech visual feast to global audience tonight

ISLAMABAD, Sep 10, 2022 (APP): China Media Group (CMG) will be broadcasting the 2022 annual Mid-Autumn Festival during prime time on Saturday, providing a high-tech visual feast through state-of-the-art technologies and spreading the festive cheer among Chinese people across the globe. 

Produced by CMG, this year’s annual gala will open in Zhangjiagang, a county-level city in Suzhou City of east China’s Jiangsu Province. Through a combination of ingenuity, art and technology, the grand event will demonstrate China’s cultural charm and spectacular landscapes to the audience. The gala will be available on various China Central Television (CCTV) channels, new media platforms, radio programs, as well as overseas social platforms. 

This year, the astronauts of the Shenzhou-14 crewed space mission, Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, who are on a six-month stay in orbit, will become the first Chinese ever to spend the Mid-Autumn Festival in China’s space station. The three Chinese astronauts will record an exclusive video for the CMG gala, sending their Mid-Autumn Festival greetings to the Chinese people all around the world. 

The gala, featuring a star-studded lineup, will stage an assortment of fantastic performances, including symphony, opera, dances, as well as songs, many of which adapted from Chinese classical poems. Folk art will also be highlighted in the show demonstrating the glamor of traditional Chinese culture, with one song incorporating the element Lord Rabbit, known as Tu’er Ye, which symbolizes health and safety in the culture of ancient Beijing. 

Technological effects will be another highlight of the gala. The stage, integrating outdoor scenes, extended reality (XR) views and real scenes of mountains and rivers, will transport the audience to various scenes in the twinkling of an eye. The gala will be aired in 8K ultra-high-definition (UHD) and 3D audio for the first time, and displayed on over 270 giant UHD screens installed in 70 cities across the country, offering the viewers a fantastic audio and visual feast. 

This year’s gala has already attracted widespread attention from domestic and overseas media, and many overseas mainstream media have republished relevant reports regarding the event. This year, CCTV Video News Agency (CCTV+) under CMG will provide live feed of the gala to multiple overseas media outlets in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Malaysia and other places.

The Hong Kong Television Broadcasting Company (TVB), Teledifusao de Macau (TDM), and Macau Cable Television (MCTV) will also broadcast the show. For thousands of years, the Mid-Autumn Festival has been celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when the moon is full. Often known as the Mooncake Festival and second in importance only to the Chinese New Year, it falls on Sept 10 this year. 

WKAF uses digital trucks messages to highlight HRs abuses in IIOJK

ISLAMABAD, Aug 7, 2022 (APP): Trucks carrying digital advertising to highlight the gross human rights abuses committed against Kashmiri people by the Indian army in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), rolled on the main boulevards, shopping malls and city intersections across Washington DC, United States.  

The World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF), used these digital advertising trucks in connection with the observance of ‘Youm-e-Istehsal’ to highlight Indian illegal and unilateral steps of August 5, 2019, over IIOJK. ‘Hold India accountable for war crimes, Kashmir under siege: knocking at world conscience, stop demographic terrorism in Kashmir, India stop state terrorism in Kashmir, end Indian colonization in Kashmir and implement UN resolution on Kashmir,’ were the messages displayed on trucks.

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.