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India ready to do more for Sri Lankan Tamils: Mukherjee

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday India was willing to provide even more assistance for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the Tamils in the north of Sri Lanka.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said India was willing to provide even more assistance for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the Tamils in the north of Sri Lanka, over and above the assistance of Rs 500 crore announced by it earlier.

"India is doing and will continue to do whatever it can to assist Sri Lanka in this critical phase of its history," Mr Mukherjee said in the 4th Lakshman Kadirgamar Lecture in Colombo on the theme, "Economics as driving force of International Relations".

India is helping the Sri Lankan government in various ways in rehabilitation and resettlement of the Tamils after the Sri Lankan army decimated the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"The effective elimination of terrorism and secessionism from Sri Lanka offers you such an opportunity; an opportunity to shape history; an opportunity to permanently change the complexion of the relationship between the majority community and the minorities; an opportunity to address the legitimate grievances of all communities; and an opportunity to bring permanent peace and stability to this nation," he said.

"These are sine qua non for building the Sri Lanka of the future – a future in which all communities will live side by side and enjoy the same rights and privileges and get the same opportunities," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said that it was natural that, after freeing the Tamils from terrorist forces, it was natural that the first and primary focus of the Government of Sri Lanka had been to ensure the immediate welfare and safety of its citizens.

"Thousands of Tamils have come out of the conflict zone traumatized by the conflict and harbouring deep concern and fear of what the future holds for them. These citizens need reassurance. They yearn to return to their homes and resume their livelihood. Several thousand Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have indeed been resettled recently and we welcome this development. However, many more await their turn for resettlement in camps. We are confident that their speedy return is receiving the highest consideration of the Government," he said

"India has not hesitated to come to Sri Lanka’s assistance at this crucial juncture. This is only natural," he said.

The Finance Minister said India was moving from purely relief efforts to a broader rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. Its assistance had so far covered humanitarian supplies such as food, medicines and other essential supplies. It set up an emergency field hospital and four Indian de-mining teams are presently working in Northern Sri Lanka. Three more are on their way.

He said India was also sending additional shelter material and providing assistance to revive agriculture and livelihood in the North. He said both sides were also discussing assistance in reconstruction of critical civil infrastructure in Sri Lanka, including railways. They were now discussing larger projects for the population in key cities who were traumatised by the conflict.

Mr Mukherjee said they had, at the same time, not lost sight of the urgent requirements in the Eastern Province as well as of the Indian origin Tamils in up-country areas.

The lecture series is held in memory of former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, who served under then President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Mr Kadirgamar was assassinated, allegedly by an LTTE sniper, in August, 2005.

Mr Mukherjee recalled the vision which Mr Kadirgamar had, both for close fraternal relations between India and Sri Lanka and for the future of Sri Lanka itself.

"It was he who dreamt of a world in which India and Sri Lanka would work together to build on our shared geography, history and culture in a relationship defined in his eloquent words by 'irreversible excellence'. It was also Lakshman who believed that Sri Lanka should remain united, and that its people should live together in an atmosphere of confidence and trust," he said.

He pointed out that Mr Kadirgamar believed that durable peace in Sri Lanka should be based on a constitutional arrangement acceptable to all communities in the nation based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

He recalled that the late Foreign Minister had said that it was important for all communities of Sri Lanka to realise that a political settlement was not a zero-sum game. It need not and should not come at the cost of another, he said.

He said Mr Kadirgamar's vision also drew upon the experience of the working of the Indian model. He believed that the Indian experiment with democracy was relevant in that India had chosen a democratic system which was designed to preserve the unity and integrity of the country without allowing for its disintegration.

The Finance Minister said there were many things in common between the two nations in terms of history, culture, philosophy and customs.

He said economics and international relations had a two-way relationship. "The economic strength of a country furthers international relations and vice-versa, creating a virtuous circle of growth and empowerment. The relationship has not changed though the (global economic and financial) crisis has brought in lessons that are likely to redefine the link in the interest of promoting global stability, he said.

According to him, the present crisis would be another watershed in the evolution of economics and is expected to bring about radical retooling of the theory.

He said there was a need for "visible hand" of oversight and regulation, without compromising market efficiency. Macro-prudential norms that aim at avoiding systemic risk through a watchful eye on asset price bubbles and imbalances, together with early warning indicators would be the key to this effort, he said.

Mr Mukherjee said developing countries are more vulnerable to crisis, as they have fewer cushions against shocks.

According to him, to resuscitate growth in the developing countries, the lost export demand had to be replaced by expanding other components of domestic demand.

"The best option is to expand investment. An obvious area where additional investment is required is infrastructure, including energy, transport and other public services. These investments can be made ahead of requirements and therefore are an ideal form of countercyclical activity," he observed.

He listed the various steps the Indian government had taken to cope with the crisis. He said the Indian economy had shown remarkable resilience to the crisis because the financial system had no exposure to the toxic assets.

He said the Indian growth was largely domestic economy driven, with merchandise exports accounting for only about 15 per cent of GDP.

"The extent of globalization however has increased over the years, which has been responsible for the setback that the economy received due to external shocks. The crisis hit the Indian economy initially through slowdown and reversal of capital flows, which impacted the stock market and the exchange rates. Thereafter, especially after the Lehman crisis, the real economy was affected through slowdown in exports, reduced investment activity and general risk aversion," he said.

He said that economic growth was expected to be in the range of 6-7 per cent in 2009-10, despite the setback due to the poor monsoon. The effort now was to bring the economy back on the growth path of 9 per cent per annum.

Mr Mukherjee expressed satisfaction that the Sri Lankan economy had also exhibited considerable resilience in the first few months of 2009 despite shocks from the global recession and the resultant slowdown in domestic economic activity.

He said the world economy was showing signs of recovery and global output was expected to expand by 3.1 per cent in 2010.

"The risks however, remain and the recovery would be razor edge walk, especially because signs of asset price bubble and heightened carry trade activity are re-emerging," he said.

"Against this backdrop of our shared inheritance lie the sobering realities of the current economic crisis. Global economic and financial slowdown has put the spotlight squarely on Asia as a region which can lead the global economic revival. Developing countries were in no way responsible for the crisis but have been the hardest hit. India has also been affected but fortunately not as bad as some others," he said.

The Finance Minister said India and Sri Lanka could show the way for Asia by cooperating even more with each other, building on the success of their Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He noted that the two sides had already initialed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) last year.

"I can assure you one thing – at a time when global players are investing in India to leverage their synergies with us, including in services, CEPA can only be a win-win situation for both India and Sri Lanka," he stressed.

"There are, however, hopeful signs that the future is closer to us than we think," he remarked, pointing to the fact that one of Sri Lanka’s largest companies, Brandix, has started a fully integrated textile city in Vishakapatnam.

He said Sri Lankan Airlines is already the largest foreign airline in India. Colombo Port and Colombo Dockyard feed on substantial Indian business. Many other Sri Lankan companies have realized the potential India offers. Many Indian corporations are also investing in Sri Lanka, the most prominent being Tata, Ceat, Indian Oil, Airtel, Ultratech and NTPC. Indian banks and an insurance company operate in Sri Lanka as well, he said.

He also said the two countries were looking at power-grid interconnectivity. There are more than 100 flights a week between the two countries. India already accounts for the largest number of tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka.

"Our development partnership has expanded to include several projects which India is taking up in Southern Sri Lanka including the Southern Railway corridor. Trade, connectivity, tourism and exchange of information and ideas are the key to greater economic engagement, he said.

"The future of peace, security and development of our region has to be fortified through common economic prosperity. We are already engaged in this process through SAARC, which has moved from a declaratory to an implementation stage. The challenge today is to build inter-dependencies which not only integrate our region but also create a strong interest in each other’s stability and prosperity. Critical to this is connectivity of goods, people and ideas. India and Sri Lanka have the will and determination to take a leadership role in this quest," he added.

NNN

Obama to host first state dinner for Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay an official state visit to the United States on November 24, the first state visit to be hosted by President Barack Obama, the White House announced on Friday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay an official state visit to the United States on November 24, the first state visit to be hosted by President Barack Obama, the White House announced here on Friday.

"This visit will be the first state visit of the administration and will highlight the strong and growing strategic partnership between the United States and India, and the friendship between the American and Indian people," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibb said.

Mr Gibb said the two leaders were expcted to discuss a range of global, regional, and bilateral issues of shared interest and common concern.

"The two leaders will also likely discuss the strategic dialogue that was launched in July and review progress made in the dialogue," the statement said.

President Obama and Mrs Michelle Obama will also host Dr Singh and Mrs Gursharan Kaur for an official state dinner on the night of November 24.

"President Obama looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Singh to Washington and working with him to strengthen and enhance their partnership for the benefit of the people of both nations, and the world," Mr Gibb added.

The invitation from Mr Obama to visit the United States was hand-delivered to Dr Singh by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Delhi in July.

The United States and India have come closer to each other in recent years and the two countries signed a landmark civil nuclear cooperation agreement in July, 2005 during the tenure of President George W Bush.

Since then, the relationship has strengthened further and Mr Obama has said that India was a "major foreign policy priority" for the United States. He has promised to take the nuclear deal forward and said that he sees India as a "critical partner" on issues from climate change to combating terrorism.

NNN

Obama unveils strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan

President Obama unveiled his much-awaited new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan with the "clear and focused goal" of destroying the terrorist group Al Qaeda in both countries and prevent their return in the near future on Friday.

US President Barack Obama today unveiled his much-awaited new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan with the "clear and focused goal" of destroying the terrorist group Al Qaeda in both countries and prevent their return to either country in the near future.

In a sombre speech at the White House, Mr Obama said the "comprehensive and new strategy" marked the conclusion of a careful policy review that he had ordered as soon as he took office in January this year.

He spoke about the perilous position faced by the US in Afghanistan and the threat that would arise should safe havens for the al Qaeda in Pakistan go unchallenged or should the Kabul government fall to the Taliban again. He also stressed that 2008 was the deadliest year so far in the war against terror.

"The situation is increasingly perilous," Mr Obama said. "The world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos or al Qaeda operates unchecked."

The US President said intelligence reports had warned that the al Qaeda, said to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks, was planning more attacks on the US from safe havens in the mountainous border regions of Pakistan.

"For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world. But this is not simply an American problem. The safety of the world is at stake," he said.

"Many people in the United States -- and many in partner countries that have sacrificed so much -- have a simple question: What is our purpose in Afghanistan? After so many years, they ask, why do our men and women still fight and die there? And they deserve a straightforward answer," Mr Obama said.

"So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That's the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just," he explained.

The President there was a need for a comprehensive strategy in the two countries, including a "standing, trilateral dialogue among the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Expressing his profound respect for the Pakistani people and their history, Mr Obama pledged that the US would do all it could to help Pakistan fight against the terrorists who have so often attempted to destablilise the country, and had killed so many people, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Similarly, he expressed his admiration for the people of Afghanistan and went on to describe the shift coming on the ground in that country.

"Our troops have fought bravely against a ruthless enemy. Our civilians have made great sacrifices. Our allies have borne a heavy burden. Afghans have suffered and sacrificed for their future. But for six years, Afghanistan has been denied the resources that it demands because of the war in Iraq. Now, we must make a commitment that can accomplish our goals.

"I've already ordered the deployment of 17,000 troops that had been requested by General McKiernan for many months. These soldiers and Marines will take the fight to the Taliban in the south and the east, and give us a greater capacity to partner with Afghan security forces and to go after insurgents along the border. This push will also help provide security in advance of the important presidential elections in Afghanistan in August," he said.

Mr Obama said the US would simultaneously strengthen the civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari in Pakistan where he said the al Qaeda and allied terrorist groups had become a "cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within."

He said Washington would step up military assistance to Islamabad to help it fight the al Qaeda and give it more economic assistance in coordination with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

He said the assistance given to Pakistan for years had yielded only "mixed results."

"We will not provide a blank check. Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al Qaeda and other violent extremists within its borders," he said.

Mr Obama said the US would shift the emphasis of its mission in Afghanistan to training and increasing the size of the Afghan security forces so that they could eventually take the lead in securing their country.

"That's how we will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our own troops home.

"For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training. And those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq. Now, that will change. The additional troops that we deployed have already increased our training capacity. And later this spring we will deploy approximately 4,000 U.S. troops to train Afghan security forces. For the first time, this will truly resource our effort to train and support the Afghan army and police. Every American unit in Afghanistan will be partnered with an Afghan unit, and we will seek additional trainers from our NATO allies to ensure that every Afghan unit has a coalition partner. We will accelerate our efforts to build an Afghan army of 134,000 and a police force of 82,000 so that we can meet these goals by 2011 -- and increases in Afghan forces may very well be needed as our plans to turn over security responsibility to the Afghans go forward," he said.

Mr Obama said this push must be combined with a dramatic increase in America's civilian effort.

"Afghanistan has an elected government, but it is undermined by corruption and has difficulty delivering basic services to its people. The economy is undercut by a booming narcotics trade that encourages criminality and funds the insurgency. The people of Afghanistan seek the promise of a better future. Yet once again, we've seen the hope of a new day darkened by violence and uncertainty.

"So to advance security, opportunity and justice -- not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces -- we need agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers. That's how we can help the Afghan government serve its people and develop an economy that isn't dominated by illicit drugs. And that's why I'm ordering a substantial increase in our civilians on the ground. That's also why we must seek civilian support from our partners and allies, from the United Nations and international aid organizations -- an effort that Secretary Clinton will carry forward next week in The Hague," he said.

Pointing out that at a time of a global economic crisis, the President said it was tempting to believe that the US could shortchange this civilian effort. But he The President emphasised that US efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan would fail if it did not invest in the future of the two countries.

He said there would be a new regime of accountability in the execution of this war, beginning with contractors, and stretching to demanding clearly understood goals:

"There is an uncompromising core of the Taliban. They must be met with force, and they must be defeated. But there are also those who've taken up arms because of coercion, or simply for a price. These Afghans must have the option to choose a different course. And that's why we will work with local leaders, the Afghan government, and international partners to have a reconciliation process in every province. As their ranks dwindle, an enemy that has nothing to offer the Afghan people but terror and repression must be further isolated. And we will continue to support the basic human rights of all Afghans -- including women and girls.

"Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable. We’ll consistently assess our efforts to train Afghan security forces and our progress in combating insurgents. We will measure the growth of Afghanistan’s economy, and its illicit narcotics production. And we will review whether we are using the right tools and tactics to make progress towards accomplishing our goals," he said.

Mr Obama said that the US would form a contact group on Afghanistan, involving countries that had a stake in the security of the region, including Iran, Russia, India and China.

INT

Karnataka CM misses Governor's second deadline for floor rest

Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy on Friday missed the second deadline of 6 pm set by Governor Vajubhai Vala to prove the Congress-JD(S) coalition government's majority in the Assembly.
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy speaking after moving a confidence motion in the state legislative assembly, in Bengaluru on July 18, 2019.
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy speaking after moving a confidence motion in the state legislative assembly, in Bengaluru on July 18, 2019.
Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy on Friday missed the second deadline of 6 pm set by Governor Vajubhai Vala to prove the Congress-JD(S) coalition government's majority in the Assembly.
 
"As the debate on the confidence motion moved by the Chief Minister on Thursday did not conclude in the Assembly, Speaker K. R. Ramesh Kumar could not conduct the floor test by the 6 pm deadline set by the Governor for the second time," an official told IANS.
 
The Governor directed the Chief Minister to prove the majority by 6 pm after the 1:30 pm deadline he set on Thursday night lapsed, as the discussions on the motion did not conclude by then even as the Speaker adjourned the House till 3 pm.
 
In response to the demand of the ruling Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) lawmakers to allow them to participate in the discussions, the Speaker said that he would extend the session's time for a couple of hours, but pleaded with them to end the debate by Friday and conclude the floor test.
 
The opposition BJP insisted on conducting the floor test by Friday night itself.
 
Kumaraswamy and Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Krishna Byre Gowda appealed to the Speaker to extend the debate to Monday, assuring him to complete the floor test.
 
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah also sought time till Monday.
 
"The Chief Minister failed to prove majority in the Assembly by 1:30 pm, the deadline set by the Governor on Thursday," opposition BJP leader B. S. Yeddyurappa told the Speaker after the first deadline lapsed.
 
When the former three-time BJP Chief Minister urged the Speaker to conduct the floor test forthwith, Kumar said that he would do it after the discussions on the confidence motion were completed by the treasury and the opposition members.
 
"Voice vote on the confidence motion only after discussions on it by the treasury and opposition members. Division of votes will be looked into if anyone demands for it after the voice vote," said Kumar.
 
In a letter issued on Thursday night, Vala had directed the Chief Minister to prove majority by 1:30 pm on Friday, a time set in response to BJP's complaint to him on the dilatory tactics of the ruling allies on the confidence motion Kumaraswamy moved on Thursday.
 
"I require you to prove your majority on or before 1:30 pm tomorrow (Friday)," said Vala in the letter after his Thursday's order to complete the floor test by the end of the day also lapsed.
 
Resuming the inconclusive debate on the motion, stalled six times due to ruckus between the lawmakers of the ruling allies and the BJP, Kumaraswamy said that it was for the Speaker to decide on the Governor's order as to when he should prove the majority on the floor of the House.
 
"It is not for me to decide by when I should prove the majority. It is the Speaker who is the custodian of the House and has the supreme authority to decide how the session should be conducted," said Kumaraswamy.
 
Intervening in the debate, Byre Gowda said the Governor cannot give such an order on the motion which was being debated by the ruling parties and the opposition members.
 
"We fail to understand how the Governor could direct the Chief Minister to prove majority in a limited timeframe without completing the debate by both sides and hearing the reply on it by the Chief Minister as mentioned in the rule book," said Gowda.
 
A restive BJP told the Speaker not to allow the ruling combine to further delay the floor test as there was no stay on it from the Supreme Court on the trial of strength.
 
Rejecting the BJP's demand, ruling lawmakers asked the Governor to go back and accused him of being a BJP agent who was converting the Raj Bhavan into a BJP office.
 
About 20 legislators, including 14 from the Congress, 3 from the JD-S and 3 Independents, were absent in the 225-member Karnataka Assembly when the session began on Friday.
 
IANS
 

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After ICJ rap, Pakistan agrees to grant consular access to Jadhav

Kulbhushan Yadav
Kulbhushan Yadav
Acting on the International Court of Justice ruling, Pakistan has agreed to grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav "according to Pakistani laws", the Pakistan Foreign Office said.
 
In a statement released post-midnight, the Pakistan foreign office said it has informed Jadhav of his rights to consular access under the Vienna Convention.
 
However, the statement said that Pakistan will grant consular access to Jadhav "according to Pakistani laws".
 
"As a responsible state, Pakistan will grant consular access to Commander Kulbushan Jadhav according to Pakistani laws, for which modalities are being worked out," it said.
 
The move comes after the ICJ rapped Islamabad for continually denying Jadhav, incarcerated in a military jail in an unknown location in Pakistan, consular access in accordance with the Vienna Convention.
 
India on Thursday had asked Pakistan to "act immediately" on the ICJ verdict and grant consular access to Jadhav.
 
The ICJ has directed Pakistan for continued stay on the death sentence of Jadhav and to provide him consular access. Pakistan had refused to allow Indian officials to meet Jadhav ever since his "arrest" in March 2016 for alleged espionage. India had approached the ICJ after he was in April 2017 sentenced to death by a military court.
 
Islamabad's move comes ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Washington, where he is to meet President Donald Trump at the White House on July 22.
 
Pakistan also arrested Mumbai attacks mastermind and Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed on Wednesday, in another move ahead of the Imran-Trump meeting.
 
While acceding to the ICJ ruling on Jadhav, Pakistan has maintained that it will "proceed as per law".
 
The Foreign Office said after the ICJ ruling: "Having heard the judgment, Pakistan will now proceed as per law", which was also echoed by Imran Khan in his tweet on Thursday. 
 
"(I) appreciate ICJ's decision not to acquit, release & return Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to India. He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law," the Pakistan Prime Minister tweeted.
 
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday said that India expects Pakistan to "act immediately" on the ICJ ruling and allow consular access to Jadhav.
 
"When the court says immediate action, it means 'immediate' and Pakistan should take immediate action. We are waiting for Pakistan to act," he had said.
 
Kumar said the ICJ in its verdict ruled that Pakistan "should take all measures to provide for effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentencing of Jadhav, and that this should include enacting appropriate legislation".
 
IANS
 

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23 killed in suspected arson attack at Japan anime studio

 
At least 23 feared dead after a fire at a Japanese animation studio
At least 23 people were killed and dozens injured in a suspected arson attack at a renowned animation studio in Japan's Kyoto city on Thursday, officials said.
 
According to the police, a man broke into the Kyoto Animation Co studio in the morning and poured what appeared to be gasoline around the studio and set it on fire. The 41-year-old suspect was detained and taken to hospital with injuries.
 
The Kyoto Fire Department had earlier said that 13 people died in the three-storey building, where about 70 people were believed to have been working when the fire erupted at around 10.35 a.m. 
 
It said that 10 people were later found with "no vital signs" inside the building. Reports said that at least 36 people were in hospital, some of them in a critical condition.
 
The police said some people witnessed the suspect screaming "drop dead" as he set fire to the building. Many bodies were found on the second floor of the building. Knives were also found at the scene.
 
Eyewitnesses said they heard a series of explosions and saw black smoke billowing out of the building. People were later seen being carried out of the studio covered in blankets, Kyodo News reported.
 
"A person with singed hair was lying down and there were bloody footprints," a 59-year-old woman who lives nearby told Kyodo News.
 
"I heard a bang. The black smoke rose and the burning smell was awful," said a hair salon manager.
 
Kyoto Animation, known for short as "KyoAni" in Japan, has produced popular TV animation series including "K-On!" and "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu), which depict the daily lives of high school girls.
 
On social media, many fans expressed their shock and posted pictures of their favourite KyoAni shows.
 
A GoFundMe campaign titled "Help KyoAni Heal" was also started, with more than $50,000 raised in an hour.
 
IANS

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Huge win for India: ICJ orders stay on Jadhav's execution

In a big victory for India and reprieve for Kulbhushan Jadhav, the International Court of Justice at the Hague on Wednesday ordered Pakistan not to execute him and asked it to reconsider the sentence awarded to him by a military court.
Kulbhushan Yadav
Kulbhushan Yadav
In a big victory for India and reprieve for Kulbhushan Jadhav, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday ordered Pakistan not to execute him and asked it to reconsider the sentence awarded to him by a military court.
 
The world court, while rejecting all objections raised by Pakistan, directed it to grant consular access to Jadhav "without further delay", while holding that it had "breached" the Vienna Convention by denying him this right.
 
Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was kidnapped by Pakistani agencies on March 3, 2016, from Iran where he was in connection with his business.
 
Pakistan had claimed that Jadhav was arrested from its restive province of Balochistan and labeled him as a spy. It notified India about it through a press release on March 25, 2016, 22 days after he was picked up.
 
Jadhav, who hails from Powai in Mumbai and is 49 years old now, was subjected to an opaque military trial, which sentenced him to death on April 10, 2017, even as Pakistan government kept rejecting India's repeated pleas for consular access.
 
The ICJ, which was moved by India on May 8, 2017, gave a detailed verdict on Wednesday, rejecting all the objections of Pakistan, including one unanimously on the admissibility of the case and also the claims by Islamabad that India had not provided the actual nationality of Jadhav.
 
In the judgement, the ICJ said it was satisfied that Jadhav was an Indian national and that the fact had been acknowledged by both Pakistan and India.
 
The court, in its ruling by 15-1, ordered "a continued stay of execution" on Jadhav, saying it "constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence" of the accused.
 
It said it "finds that the appropriate reparation in this case consists in the obligation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to provide, by the means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, so as to ensure that full weight is given to the effect of the violation of the rights set forth" of the Vienna Convention on consular access.
 
Earlier on May 18 this year, the world court had ordered a stay on Jadhav's execution till the final verdict was delivered in the case.
 
The court, in its verdict on Wednesday, said it found that Pakistan deprived India of the "right to communicate with and have access" to Jadhav to "visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation, and thereby breached the obligations incumbent upon it under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
 
The world court said that by not notifying the appropriate consular post of India in Pakistan without delay of Jadhav's detention, India was deprived of the right to render assistance provided for by the Vienna Convention to the individual concerned.
 
Pakistan "breached the obligations incumbent upon it" under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, it observed.
 
The court said Pakistan is "under an obligation" to inform Jadhav "without further delay of his rights and to provide Indian consular officers access to him" in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
 
India, while moving the world court on May 8, 2017, had rubbished Pakistan's claim that Jadhav was a "spy" and sought immediate suspension of the death sentence awarded to him and his release.
 
It had sought direction to the Pakistan government to annul the decision of the military court, failing which the ICJ should declare the sentence "illegal", being violative of the international law and treaty rights.
 
India had said Pakistan had resorted to a "brazen defiance" of the international law and provisions of the Vienna Convention which guarantee certain civil and political rights to a prisoner.
 
It contended that it was not informed of his detention until long and that Pakistan also failed to inform the accused of his rights.
 
It further told the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, that Pakistan, in violation of the Vienna Convention, denied India its right of consular access to Jadhav despite its repeated requests.
 
India told the ICJ that it learned about the death sentence against Jadhav from a press release.
 
On May 18, 2017, the ICJ asked Pakistan to "take all measures at its disposal" to ensure that Jadhav is not executed, pending its final judgment in the case.
 
In its order indicating provisional measures, which was adopted unanimously, the ICJ also stated that the Pakistan government shall inform it of all measures taken in implementation of that order.
 
Later in December that year, Pakistan allowed Jadhav's mother and wife to meet him in a Pakistani jail, an event which India said "lacked any credibility".
 
India said the overall atmosphere of the meeting was "intimidating" as Jadhav's mother and wife were not allowed to speak to him in their mother tongue Marathi and that they were forced to change their clothes. The wife's shoes were not returned.
 
India has maintained that Jadhav was tortured in the Pakistani jail and an alleged "confession" was extracted from him through coercion.
 
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing India during a public hearing in the case in the ICJ, said Pakistan had no clinching evidence against Jadhav.
 
IANS
 

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Big win for India: ICJ orders continued stay on Jadhav's execution

In a huge victory for India, the International Court of Justice at The Hague on Wednesday ordered Pakistan not to execute Kulbushan Jadhav and asked it to reconsider the sentence awarded to him by a military court.
Kulbhushan Yadav
Kulbhushan Yadav
In a huge victory for India, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday ordered Pakistan not to execute Kulbushan Jadhav and asked it to reconsider the sentence awarded to him by a military court.
 
The world court also directed Pakistan to grant consular access to Jadhav, while holding that it had "breached" the Vienna Convention in this regard by denying him this right.
 
The court rejected all the objections of Pakistan, including one unanimously on the admissibility of the case and also the claims by Islamabad that India had not provided the actual nationality of Jadhav.
 
The ICJ, in its detailed judgement read out by its President said it was satisfied that Jadhav, who was arrested in March 2016 and sentenced to death by a military court on charges of spying in April 2017, was an Indian national.
 
It observed that even Pakistan, along with India, had acknowledged the fact that Jadhav was an Indian national.
 
The court, in its ruling by 15-1, declared "a continued stay of execution" on Jadhav, saying it "constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence" of the accused.
 
It said it "finds that the appropriate reparation, in this case, consists in the obligation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to provide, by the means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, so as to ensure that full weight is given to the effect of the violation of the rights set forth" of the Vienna Convention on consular access.
The President of ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf delivers judgment on the merits in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at ICJ at The Hague in the Netherlands on July 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS/UN)
The President of ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf delivers judgment on the merits in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at ICJ at The Hague in the Netherlands on July 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS/UN)
 
The court had in May 2017 ordered a stay on Jadhav's execution till the final verdict in the case after India approached it against the Pakistani military court's award of death sentence in an opaque trial.
 
The court found that Pakistan deprived India of the "right to communicate with and have access" to Jadhav to "visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation, and thereby breached the obligations incumbent upon it under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
 
The world court said that by not notifying the appropriate consular post of India in Pakistan without delay of Jadhav's detention, India was deprived of the right to render assistance provided for by the Vienna Convention to the individual concerned.
 
Pakistan "breached the obligations incumbent upon it" under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, it observed.
 
The court said Pakistan is "under an obligation" to inform Jadhav "without further delay of his rights and to provide Indian consular officers access to him" in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
 
IANS
 

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26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed arrested in Pakistan

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed
Hafiz Saeed, one of the most wanted terrorists by India, the mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai attack and several cases of terror crime in the country and Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief, was arrested in Pakistan by the counter-terrorism unit on Wednesday, Geo TV reported.
 
The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) arrested Saeed while he was travelling from Lahore to Gujranwala. The CTD officials are expected to hold a news conference later in the day regarding the arrest. 
 
Sources in Islamabad confirmed that Saeed, co-founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, another banned terror outfit, who was to appear in an anti-terror court in Pakistan relating to a case of terror funding, was arrested earlier in the day.
 
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Monday had granted pre-arrest bail to the Mumbai terror attack mastermind and three others in a case pertaining to the banned outfit's alleged illegal use of land for its seminary.
 
IANS

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Pakistan reopens airspace for civil aviation

Pakistan has reopened its airspace for all types of civil traffic, the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced on Tuesday.
 
The news was confirmed to Radio Pakistan by a CAA official.
 
"With immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes," according to a notice to airmen (NOTAMS) published on the CAA's website. 
 
Pakistan had fully closed its airspace after after the Indian Air Force's February 26 Balakot strike.
 
In March, Pakistan had partially opened its airspace but kept it closed for Indian flights.
 
Tuesday's development comes after Pakistan Aviation Secretary Shah­rukh Nusrat told a parliamentary committee last week that Islamabad would not open its airspace until India de-escalates.
 
"The Indian government approached asking us to open the airspace. We conveyed our concerns that first India must withdraw its fighter planes placed forward," Dawn news reported citing Nusrat as telling the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation
 
IANS

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Massive power outage hits New York City

 
Broadway cast entertains fans during NYC blackout
A massive power outage hit New York City, leaving more than 50,000 customers without electricity, a majority of them in Midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side.
 
According to power service company Con Edison, the outage hit the city at 8.30 p.m. on Saturday.
 
The impacted area stretched from 40th Street in the south to 72nd Street in the north, and from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River.
 
Many of the famous Times Square billboards went black as a result. 
 
Local media reported that all restaurants have gone dark in Hell's Kitchen. There are also no working street lights in the affected sections of the city.
 
The city's subway system was also affected to a great extent as four stations were without power and closed to public.
 
Signals on the Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue were affected, thus disrupting services of D, F, M, A, C, E lines, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said on Twitter. 
 
It added that there is only limited service on the numbered lines.
 
"Our entire system is affected by the Con Edison outage. In Manhattan, the bus is your best bet," MTA tweeted.
 
Several Broadway and off-Broadway shows said they have cancelled performances, including the well-known Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked, Waitress, and Mean Girls.
 
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that NYC Emergency Management is working with the police and fire departments and other city agencies to respond to power outages due to a manhole fire. 
 
IANS
 

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Indo-Pak civil society-led dialogue held in Islamabad, first after Pulwama

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Improving cross-border connectivity and trade, people-to-people exchanges and educational collaboration were among the subjects discussed at the two-day civil society-led Track-II dialogue between India and Pakistan in Islamabad, the first such initiative after the Pulwama terror attack that soured relations between the two neighbouring countries.
 
The dialogue, titled 'Beyond Politics and Polemics New Beginning on a Difficult Trail', has been convened by the Islamabad-based Regional Peace Institute (RPI).
 
According to media reports, six delegates from India are participating in the dialogue that concludes on Saturday.
 
"There is no official-level representation from India. It is a purely a civil society-led initiative," a source told IANS here.
 
Raoof Hasan, founder of the Regional Peace Institute, was quoted as saying: "Track-II diplomacy is the first step to improve relations between the governments of both the countries," and added that the main objective of the talks was to bring the youth of the two countries towards peace.
 
Hasan also tweeted: "Here we are finally trying to untangle the tricky knot! It is always the scent of possibilities that sustains my hope for the future. Let's do a toast to a tomorrow of peace and reconciliation."
 
Pakistan's Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas, addressing the talk on Saturday, stressed on greater people to people contacts between the two neighbours to normalise the bilateral relationship.
 
Abbasi said the 770 million youth on both sides of the border are a "ray of hope" and by bringing them together a paradigm shift can be brought in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
 
She also said that great trade potential exists between the two nations which needs to be explored.
 
Abbasi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has consistently been giving the message of peace to India, adding that war is not a solution to any problem and conflicts can only be resolved through peace and negotiations.
 
The second round of the dialogue will be held in New Delhi in September this year.
 
The theme of the first session was 'With young leading the charge -- discovering new paths for reconciliation & progress', while the second session was on 'Moving to overcome challenges -- formulating a vision of the future'.
 
Another session was themed 'Commonality of stakes -- Connectivity as the gateway to development.'
 
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood is slated to address the participants of the dialogue later on Saturday, media reports said.
 
The dialogue comes ahead of a meeting on Sunday between the officials of both sides at Wagah on the Kartarpur corridor.
 
IANS
 

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Dubai to offer free 30-day alcohol licence for tourists

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Dubai, one of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is offering a free 30-day alcohol licence for tourists which will ensure that they will not be breaking local laws if they consume liquor during their visit to the city.
 
Alcohol retail outlet Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI), a subsidiary of the Emirates Group, has a separate section on its website with instructions for tourists on the process of applying for the licence, the English-language Khaleej Times said.
 
The free alcohol tourist licence is valid only for visitors who are non-Muslim and 21 years and over, the newspaper said.
 
Tourists are instructed to visit any MMI store with their original passports and complete and sign a form confirming that the buyer is a tourist.  Furthermore, the store will take a copy of the passport as well as the entry stamp and each visitor will be issued guidelines about responsible behaviour in Dubai.
 
"Please ensure that you read this to ensure you are respectful of the country, its rules and its people that you are visiting." The tourist code of conduct includes a list of five instructions, including no consumption in public places, no drinking and driving and do not be intoxicated in public places.
 
Presently, Dubai resident visa holders are eligible for a two-year licence that allows them to buy alcohol from shops and store it at home. Also, anyone drinking in the city's bars and restaurants should technically have a licence, though they do not usually ask to see one, the report added.
 
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Arianespace's Vega mission, carrying UAE's FalconEyeI satellite, fails

European commercial satellite launch company Arianespace today said that its Vega mission, Flight VV15, carrying the UAE's FalconEye1 satellite, had failed today.
 
"Approximately two minutes after the Vega launcher’s liftoff from the spaceport in French Guiana, a launcher anomaly occurred shortly after ignition of the Zefiro 23 second stage – leading to the premature end of the mission," a press release from Arianespace said.
 
"Data analyses are in progress to clarify the reasons for this failure. An independent inquiry commission will be set up in the coming hours," the release added.
 
The flight had taken off from Kourou in French Guiana at 10:53 pm (local time) on Wednesday (5:53 am UAE time and 7:23 am IST).
 
The flight was due to last 57 minutes from liftoff to separation of the FalconEye1 high-performance optical Earth observation satellite, which was to be placed into a Sun-synchronous orbit.
 
FalconEye1 was meant to be the first of two spacecraft in the UAE's FalconEye satellite system, which is for two primary purposes: supporting the country's needs of its armed forces and supplying the commercial market with imagery.
 
The satellite was produced by Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor and Thales Alenia Space as co-prime contractor.
 
Earlier, the launch of the satellite was postponed twice, on July 5 and July 7 (French Guiana time) because of continuing adverse weather conditions, including high-altitude winds above the spaceport.
 
The follow-on FalconEye2 spacecraft, also manufactured by the Airbus Defence and Space/Thales Alenia Space teaming, was scheduled to be orbited before the end of 2019 on a separate Vega mission.
 
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Two military training planes collide in Qatar

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Two Qatari military training aircraft collided in mid-air, but the pilots managed to eject safely, the Qatari defence ministry said on Wednesday.
 
"A collision occurred between two training planes and the pilots were able to safely get out by using the ejection seat," the ministry said on its Twitter account.
 
The ministry did not say when the collision took place or identify the types of the aircraft involved in the accident.
 
The US Air Force Central Command on Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar said they were not asked for support after the collision, according to media reports.
 
IANS

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7.1-magnitude earthquake hits southern California

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A massive earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale jolted southern California, just a day after a 6.4-magnitude temblor hit the US state, the strongest in 20 years.
 
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter of the quake that hit the state at 8.19 p.m. on Friday was near Ridgercrest, a city located 272 km north of Los Angeles, Xinhua news agency reported. 
 
Thursday's quake jolted a remote area in California's Searles Valley. It produced more than 1,400 aftershocks, scientists said.
 
IANS

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UAE to give free SIM cards to all tourists

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Tourists arriving in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will receive free mobile phone SIM cards with free data, international calling minutes and text messages, authorities said here.
 
The free tourist friendly SIM cards will be valid for a month and they will get automatically renewed if the tourist extends their visa, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship announced.
 
The agreement between the authority and TeleKomNow was signed at the authority's headquarters in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday by Colonel Khamees Al Kaabi, executive director for Musanada Services at the authority and Charbel Fawaz Litany, chairman and CEO of TeleKomNow, reports Gulf News.
 
"Tourists will get the SIM card from the passport control officer on arrival as a gift," Litany told Gulf News on Thursday. "It will contain data and talk time, which they can recharge anywhere in the country."
 
Etisalat and du will be the service providers for the new facility to tourists and the services will remain the same throughout the year, Litany added. 
 
"It will be valid as long as the tourist stays in the country, and upon the extension of their visa the card will automatically get validated until the expiry of the visa.
 
"Tourists don't need to do anything and no documentation is required to obtain the card," he added.
 
Handed out at immigration, once the tourist inserts the card and enters their identification and arrival dates their service will be immediately activated and within two minutes the tourist can use the facility.
 
The initiative is the first of its kind in the world. 
 
IANS

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Now do shopping at Dubai Duty Free in Indian rupee

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In a relief for thousands of passengers, Dubai Duty Free has begun accepting the Indian currency for financial transactions.
 
The Indian rupee, that become the 16th foreign currency to be accepted at Dubai Duty Free, will be accepted at all point of sales (POS) in Terminal 3, Terminal 1, Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport and in Al Maktoum International Airport, reports Khaleej Times.
 
The change, however, will be handed over in UAE dirhams.
 
"At present, the following denominations are being accepted: 100s, 200s, 500s (only the new one as earlier one is out of circulation) and 2000's," Duty Free officials said in a statement.
 
"When paying Indian rupee, the change will be in UAE dirham. 
 
"Only US Dollar, Euro and Sterling Pound are being exchanged in the same currency," the statement added. 
 
The decision has already been implemented from July 1.
 
Indian passengers accounted for 18 per cent of the sales at Dubai Duty Free in 2019 that recorded $2.015 billion in total sales.
 
IANS
 

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Lee Iacocca, father of Ford Mustang, dies

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Lee Iacocca, the car industry legend who created the iconic Ford Mustang and also saved Chrysler from bankruptcy, has died at the age of 94.
 
He died at his home in Los Angeles from complications from Parkinson's disease, the BBC reported.
 
Iacocca is also remembered for his appearances in Chrysler ads in the US, pointing at viewers and telling them: "If you find a better car, buy it!"
 
In a statement, the company said it was "saddened" by the news of his death.
 
"He played a historic role in steering Chrysler through crisis and making it a true competitive force. He was one of the great leaders of our company and the auto industry as a whole," the firm, which is now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), said.
 
"Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today - one that is characterised by hard work, dedication and grit."
 
Born to Italian immigrant parents in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1924, Iacocca began his career as an engineer at the Ford Motor Company in 1946, before moving into sales.
 
He had a natural flair for marketing, and his first campaign in the mid-1950s caught the eye of the company's executives. Shortly afterwards, he was relocated to its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
 
In 1964, he cemented his place in history by designing and launching the Ford Mustang, which sold 4,19,000 units in its first year and would later become known as one of America's most iconic cars.
 
However, he was fired by the company in 1978 after being accused of plotting to oust Chairman Henry Ford II and take over his position.
 
But a year later, in 1979, Iacocca took over Chrysler Corporation. The company was on the verge of collapse, and so he led it through a strict restructuring process that included taking $1.5 billion in federally guaranteed loans. Iacocca famously accepted a salary of just $1 a year while the company was recovering.
 
It eventually paid off. In 1983, he announced with pride that they were repaying the government loans seven years early.
 
But the sheen started to fade at the end of the decade, when the company once again took a downturn, and thousands of workers were laid off. When it became profitable again in 1992, Iacocca left the firm.
 
Iacocca was married three times. His first wife, Mary, died of diabetes in 1983 - something that prompted him to open a family foundation to fight the condition.
 
IANS
 

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5 Pakistani soldiers killed in blast near LoC: Army

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Five Pakistani Army soldiers were killed and another injured in an explosion near the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday, the country's Army said.
 
The nature of the incident that took place in Chamb sector was being investigated, Pakistan armed forces' media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement cited by local media.
 
It claimed that the incident was "an evidence of state-sponsored terrorism".
 
The ISPR identified the dead as Subedar Muhammad Sadiq, Sepoy Muhammamd Tayyab, Naik Sher Zaman, Sepoy Zohaib and Sepoy Ghulam Qasim.
 
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40 migrants killed in air strike in Libya

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At least 40 migrants were killed and more than 80 injured in an alleged air strike by forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Haftar that hit a detention centre in Libya's capital, a source within the UN-backed government said on Wednesday.
 
According to the source, the attack was carried out overnight by F-16 fighter-bombers taking part in Haftar's military advance toward Tripoli, reported Efe news.
 
"The relief teams are working at the site of the attack. There are dozens of victims," a spokesman for the 'Volcano of Rage' operation launched by the so-called Government of National Accord to beat back Haftar's onslaught on the capital region told Efe.
 
Haftar, a strongman declaring himself Libya's supreme leader, encircled Tripoli on April 4 with the apparent aim of sending a clear message to the international community that his primary objective was to sabotage the current peace plan in place.
 
Since then, constant fighting has been taking place in the rural areas of southern Tripoli. The clashes have killed nearly 600 people, injured more than 5,000 and forced more than 30,000 families to leave their homes and become displaced.
 
The armed clashes have also severely affected thousands of migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, who are in the vicinity of the capital waiting to attempt to illegally migrate to Europe or who are being held in detention centres after failing to do so.
 
According to several GNA officials, Haftar has intensified bombing in response to the loss several days ago of the town of Gharyan, located some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tripoli and the base that his troops used for the siege of the capital.
 
Libya is a failed state that was thrust into chaos and civil war after NATO helped various rebel groups overthrow the long dictatorship of Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi.
 
Since 2015 it has had two competing governments, one supported by the UN in Tripoli, which barely controls the capital and some small towns in the west of the country, and the other led by Haftar, who controls the rest of the vast territory and most of the oil resources.
 
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Mallya gets reprieve from UK HC, can appeal extradition ruling

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya
The UK High Court on Tuesday allowed Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya, charged with fraud and money-laundering back home, to appeal against his extradition to India, local media reported.
 
Mallya, whose extradition order had been upheld by the Westminister Magistrates' Court last year and his appeal against it rejected earlier this year, had moved the High Court in a last-ditch bid to stop being sent to India. 
 
According to the reports, had his appeal failed, he would have been on his way back home shortly. 
 
In the hearing on Tuesday, his lawyer Clare Montgomery argued that Mallya was being targeted on political considerations and had been "deliberately set up as a lightning rod of public anger at India's bad debt". It was unlikely he would get a fair trial in these circumstances, she added.
 
She also argued that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who had cleared Mallya's extradition last year, had made "very serious errors of fact and law".
 
The 63-year-old Mallya, chairman of now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, left India on March 2, 2016 after defaulting on loans amounting to Rs 9,000 crore. He has repeatedly denied fleeing, and said that he is ready to pay back the money he owed to the Indian banks.
 
India had in 2017 filed for Mallya's extradition.
 
A consortium of 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India, has initiated loan recovery proceedings against him in a special court in Mumbai under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
 
The Enforcement Directorate had also moved the Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act Court last year to get Mallya declared a "fugitive economic offender" and confiscate his properties, estimated at more than Rs 12,000 crore, making it the first such case of its kind under the new law. 
 
IANS

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50 killed in Nigeria fuel tanker explosion

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At least 50 people have been killed and 70 others injured after a fuel tanker exploded in Nigeria'a Benue state, authorities said on Tuesday.
 
Eyewitnesses said the petrol tanker flipped over when the driver was trying to dodge a bump in the road and exploded in Ahumbe village on Monday.
 
State police spokeswoman Catherine Anene told Efe news that many people died as a result of the fire that spread to nearby homes.
 
Government spokesman Christopher Avi was cited by local media as saying that 50 people were burned to death while the wounded sustained serious injuries.
 
This type of accident is frequent in Nigeria due to the bad conditions of state infrastructure, poor vehicle maintenance and reckless driving.
 
Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer and most populous country with some 200 million people, imports much of its fuel because its four refineries produce below capacity.
 
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34 killed in powerful Kabul blast

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At least 34 people were killed and 68 others injured after a powerful blast rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul on Monday, authorities said.
 
A witness told Xinhua news agency that militants had entered an under-construction building in the high security Pul-i-Mahmoud Khan area and were exchanging fire with the security forces who reached the area to control the situation.
 
According to the witness, the militants first detonated their explosives-laden car and then began firing.
 
The area is close to a branch of the the Defence Ministry building, a sports stadium, a branch of the Information and Culture Ministry and houses.
 
Following the explosion, which could be heard several kilometres away, a huge rising column of smoke could be seen, reports Efe news.
 
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
 
Monday's attack comes when a Taliban delegation and US representatives are carrying out the seventh round of meetings in Qatar to discuss peace negotiations in Afghanistan.
 
Both sides are seeking a way out of nearly two decades of armed conflict in the nation, although, so far the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government.
 
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US: 10 killed in plane crash at an airport in Dallas

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At least ten people have died after a small aircraft crashed at an airport in Dallas, Texas.
 
All ten people on board were killed after it crashed at Addison Airport at 9:10 a.m local time on Sunday, Mary Rosenbleeth, spokeswoman for the city of Addison, was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
 
The twin-engine small plane had just taken off when it crashed into a hangar at the airport, about 25 km north of downtown Dallas, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson Lynn Lunsford said. The fire destroyed the aircraft.
 
Authorities have not released information about the identities of the people who were killed. Addison fire spokesman Edward Martelle said authorities had not identified the plane's owner.
 
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA were sending investigators to the scene, local media reported.
 
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