Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday warned that he would not let Nawaz Sharif decide the selection of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) and reiterated his demand that the selection should be done on merit.
“The army chief should be selected on “merit” and the “thieves” should never be allowed to undertake the task,” Imran Khan said while addressing a lawyers’ convention in Lahore, reported The Nation. He also announced that the party would begin its ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ movement on Saturday, “I will give a call and we will get our country liberated in real terms,” said Khan.
Imran’s announcement comes after the incumbent government of Pakistan beefed up security arrangements in Red Zone areas of Islamabad, saying that “some people were headed towards Islamabad to have their political demands accepted”.
In his address yesterday, the PTI chief again said that those “issuing threats from unknown numbers” should be threatened back — something he had first mentioned in his speech in Chakwal on Monday, reported The Nation.
Earlier on Monday, while addressing a rally in Chakwal, PTI Chief said that when he says that the army chief should be selected on merit, it means Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz should not get to select the next COAS as they are the most corrupt people and do not rely on merit.
“Army chief should be appointed on merit and I believe only those nations prosper which follow merit. DG ISPR, you should have got me right about [army chief appointment comments],” said Imran while referring to his controversial remarks that angered the military.
“So if you want a prosperous Pakistan, the country that Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal had dreamed of, you must come out when I give the call,” said Imran Khan.
He criticised the incumbent government for its economic policies, saying the rupee had greatly depreciated against the dollar and caused inflation and unemployment to soar. He alleged that while the poor people were suffering, the wealth of those in the government was increasing.
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Woman arrested for eating at restaurant without hijab in Iran
According to her family, a woman was arrested by the Iranian security forces for eating at a restaurant in public without a hijab.
Donya Rad was arrested after an image of her and another lady eating in a restaurant in Tehran without wearing headscarves went viral online, according to CNN.
The image, which surfaced on Wednesday, depicts the two ladies having breakfast at a cafe that, like the majority of cafés in Iran, is generally frequented by men.
According to Rad’s sister, security agencies contacted Donya and summoned her to explain her actions.
“After visiting the designated place she was arrested, after a few hours of no news, Donya told me in a short call that she was transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison,” her sister told CNN.
The dictatorship imprisons political dissidents in Tehran’s notoriously harsh Evin Prison, which is only intended for inmates under the control of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.
According to reports, security officials have recently imprisoned a number of prominent Iranians, including the author and poet Mona Borzouei, the Iranian football star Hossein Mahini, and Faezeh Rafsanjani, the daughter of former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
According to the non-governmental organisation Iran Human Rights, Iranian artist Shervin Hajipour was also arrested this week after releasing a poignant song based on tweets shared by Iranians expressing their feelings about why people are demonstrating.
The song “For…” by Hajipour became extremely popular online, garnering millions of views and being extensively distributed among Iranians both inside and outside of their nation.
The killing of a Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini sparked the country’s first anti-government protests.
Mahsa, 22, passed away in police custody after being arrested for reportedly wearing a “improper hijab,” in violation of Iran’s stringent laws regarding women’s attire.
The government crackdown has continued after almost two weeks of protests, with dozens dying in clashes between security forces. Iran Human Rights estimates that at least 83 people including children, are confirmed to have been killed in protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, reported CNN.
More than a thousand people connected to the protests have been detained as of last weekend. At least 28 journalists arrested were arrested as of Thursday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In a statement released on Thursday, Amnesty International stated that they are “investigating the authorities’ mass arrests of protesters and bystanders, as well as journalists, political activists, lawyers, and human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists and those belonging to oppressed ethnic minority groups.”
Videos circulating on social media show protesters in the cities of Qom, Rasht, and Mashhad calling for the overthrow of the clerical establishment despite the rising death toll and a stern crackdown by the police, according to CNN report.
Iran : 19 people including guard colonel killed in anti-govt protest
In one of the deadliest clashes between police and protesters since Iran’s anti-government demonstrations began, nineteen people were killed on Friday. This was in response to the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly disobeying Iran’s strict dress codes for women by donning an “improper hijab.”
Iranian protesters and police had a violent confrontation in southeastern Iran. The confrontation happened as worshippers from Iran’s Sunni minority left Friday prayers at the Makki Grand Mosque in Zahedan, capital of Sistan and Balochistan province, reported Voice of America (VOA).
“Nineteen people were killed and 20 injured in the incident,” regional governor Hossein Khiabani told the state broadcaster.
“Provincial intelligence officer of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Colonel Ali Mousavi was also killed,” state television added.
Iranian state media earlier on Friday stated that security personnel had retaliated after armed men attacked a police station in the provincial capital of Zahedan.
The protesters were labeled as terrorists and separatists by the Iranian state media, who also charged them with shooting guns at police.
US envoy calls for serious national political dialogue in Afghanistan
US special envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West has called for a ‘serious’ national political dialogue in Afghanistan as the people continue to take the strain of Taliban atrocities and human rights violations in the country.
Thomas West underlined, “Without a serious national political dialogue about the future of the country among Afghans who have genuine support in their community, I really do fear…. we could see a return to civil war in time,” as he delivered his remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, lambasting Taliban for their cruelty on Afghans, TOLOnews reported. “We wish to see and to support the emergence of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan that never again harbours terrorists … in which the rights of all its people, women and men, boys and girls are upheld,” the US Special envoy said.
However, the Deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate, Bilal Karimi, said that there is no requirement for national dialogue in Afghanistan.
“There is peace and security in the country. All the challenges that previously existed are currently solved. The time for negotiations was when there was war in the country and there were many sides–there was an invasion–now here is a central government and the people are in a calm situation,” TOLOnews reported quoting the deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, Bilal Karimi.
Recently, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a recent report, outlining the human rights situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover.
Hurricane Ian pummels US state of Florida
Following a landfall on Wednesday, Hurricane Ian has caused severe destruction across the US State of Florida, leaving more than 2.5 million homes and businesses without power, media reports said.
Quoting the local authorities, Al Jazeera reported that a 72-year-old man who fell into a canal in the city of Deltona has died as a result of the storm whereas rescuers have been looking for missing persons.
During a speech on Thursday, US President Joe Biden said, “This could be the deadliest Hurricane in Florida’s history; the numbers are still unclear but we’re hearing early reports of what may be a substantial loss of life.”
Taking to Twitter, Biden wrote, “My message to the people of Florida is that at times like these, America comes together. We put aside our differences and pull together as one team. One America.”
“However long it takes, the U.S. Government will be there,” he tweeted.
On Wednesday, Twenty-three people were found missing after a boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of Florida due to Hurricane Ian, US Border Patrol said in a statement.
The survivors were later taken to the nearby hospital as they complained of exhaustion and dehydration.
Moreover, due to approaching Ian, the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, has asked his city to shut down Friday, Al Jazeera reported.
“There will be water tomorrow in this city,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said.
“Take this storm seriously,” Tecklenburg added, “tomorrow, stay home and stay out of harm’s way.”
Notably, Tropical Storm Ian which has caused widespread destruction in Florida is expected to become a hurricane again before making US landfall for the second time on Friday, the US National Hurricane Center has said, issuing a hurricane warning for the entire coast of South Carolina, according to Al Jazeera.
More than one million Florida residents have lost power after the powerful and several homes have been put under evacuation orders as the dangerous storm hit the US.
Subsequently, Cuba also started restoring power on Wednesday after the powerful hurricane knocked out the island’s electricity grid and wreaked havoc.
China’s crashing economy: effect of zero Covid policy
The World Bank concluded in its recent forecast that Beijing’s economy will grow at a slower rate than the rest of East Asia this year as China’s Zero Covid Policy has resulted in the shutdown of businesses in the country impacting hundreds of thousands of citizens.
Moreover, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on energy and food prices and supply is also weighing on China’s economy, Sydney Morning Herald reported. China has been trying tough to stimulate growth via infrastructure investment, and incentives, however, their draconian measures to curb covid via strict zero covid policy have added to the miseries of people.
The World Bank on Tuesday slashed China’s 2022 economic growth projection to 2.8 per cent, pointing to Beijing’s “zero-COVID” policy and real estate crisis.
Notably, the World Bank forecasted 5 per cent economic growth in April, The Strait Times reported.
The Zero Covid Policy of China under which full or partial lockdowns were imposed in major centres, has had a negative impact on businesses. More severe lockdowns were implemented in the country as it continued to report more coronavirus infections this year.
Many people have been unemployed and underemployed, especially in service industries, due to the repeated lockdowns in different parts of the country.
The lockdowns have affected factory production, and supply chains and caused goods shipment delays to the rest of the world and consumer prices in the country rose by 2.5 per cent due to the dampened demand.
China is one of the last places in the world still enforcing stringent zero-Covid measures. The heavy-handed approach has seen dozens of neighbourhoods across Shenzhen identified as “high-risk areas,” and placed under strict lockdown orders.
US Senate approves $12.3 billion aid for Ukraine
US Senate on Thursday approved emergency aid of USD 12.3 billion to Ukraine in its war against Russia. The measure will not only continue government spending for several weeks but will also help Ukraine in war to a greater extent.
According to the New York Times, the US Senate on Thursday approved a temporary spending package to keep the government funded past a Friday deadline.
Under the legislation, the measure would provide about USD 12.3 billion in emergency aid for war-torn Ukraine which includes USD 3 billion for supplies and arms for Ukraine’s military.
It also provides USD 4.5 billion for Kyiv to keep the country’s finances stable and keep the government running in order to provide basic services to the people of the war-torn country.
The aid for Ukraine comes straight after Congress approved approximately USD 54 billion in two previous packages.
On August 19, the US Defence Department announced that it would provide a new USD 775 million in additional military assistance to Ukraine, including HIMARS missiles, artillery, and mine-clearing systems.
Since 1993, the US has invested over USD 4.2 billion for the safe clearance of landmines and explosive weapons of war (ERW) as well as the securing and safe disposal of excess small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and munitions in more than 100 countries and territories.
In total, the United States has now committed approximately USD 9.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than USD 11.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.
Notably, Russia launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, which the West has termed an unprovoked war. As a result of this, the Western countries have also imposed several crippling sanctions on Moscow.
Moreover, Russia will hold a signing ceremony on Friday to incorporate the annexed four occupied regions of Ukraine at Kremlin, Moscow’s President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“Tomorrow in the Georgian Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace at 15:00 [1200 GMT] a signing ceremony will take place on the incorporation of the new territories into Russia,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday, as quoted by Al Jazeera.
He further added that Putin will make a speech at this event.
The referendum by the Russian authorities on the annexation of occupied territories of Ukraine was largely seen as a “sham referendum” and has been widely criticised by various countries.
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