The World at a glance

The new Pakistan President, Arif Alvi. (AP)

Imran party leader elected Pakistan President

Islamabad: Arifur Rehman Alvi was Tuesday elected as 13th President of Pakistan in a process marking the culmination of the transfer of power that began after July 25 parliamentary election. A close ally of Prime Minister Imran Khan and one of the founding members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, the 69-year-old former dentist defeated Pakistan Peoples Party candidate Aitzaz Ahsan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz nominee Maulana Fazlur Rehman, reported The Hindu.

He shares an interesting connection with India as his father was a dentist to India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, according to the short biography of the President on the website of his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party.

Pompeo seeks ‘reset’ in strained ties with Pakistan

Washington: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he wants to “reset” strained relations with Pakistan when he travels to the South Asian nation Wednesday and meets with its new prime minister. Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Imran Khan, a longtime critic of the U.S., and powerful army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. Pompeo will be accompanied by Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Trump administration has cut military aid over dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s commitment to assisting the U.S. strategy for pressuring the Afghan Taliban, whose leaders use Pakistan as a sanctuary. The Pentagon said it has taken final steps to cancel $300 million in assistance, in addition to $500 million already canceled.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister said he will “have exchanges” with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over Washington’s cancellation of a $300 million disbursement for the Pakistani military when he visits Islamabad on Wednesday.

Adopting a tougher line with an ally that U.S. President Donald Trump considers unreliable, the United States halted the disbursement of Coalition Support Funds (CSF) due to Islamabad’s perceived failure to take decisive action against Afghan Taliban militants operating from Pakistani soil.

The U.S. has now withheld $800 million from the CSF so far this year. The latest move comes just as the less-than-one-month-old government of Prime Minister Imran Khan faces a looming balance of payments crisis that could force it to seek a fresh bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or other lenders.

2+2 talks: India buying Russian missile system not primary focus of says Pompeo

India buying a missile defence system from Russia and oil from Iran would be part of the 2+2 dialogue, but not the talks’ primary focus, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.

Mr. Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis are headed to India for the talks on September 6 with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. This is the inaugural 2+2 dialogue between the two countries.

The visit comes as the US tilts away from Pakistan, while deepening strategic and economic ties with India in a bid to counter China’s increasing influence in the “Indo-Pacific” region — Pompeo’s preferred term for the area that stretches from the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India.

“They are [missile system purchase from Russia and oil from Iran] part of the conversation. They are part of the relationship. They will certainly come up, but I don’t think they will be the primary focus of what it is we are trying to accomplish here,” Mr. Pompeo said on Tuesday to a question from reporters who are travelling with him to Pakistan and then to India.

India is expected to convey to the U.S. during the dialogue that it is going ahead with the Rs. 40,000 crore deal with Russia to procure a batch of S-400 Triumf air defence missile system.

Founder of militant Afghan Haqqani network dies: Taliban

Islamabad: Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of Afghanistan’s much-feared Haqqani network and a former U.S. ally turned fierce enemy, died after years of ill health on Monday, a Taliban spokesman said. Jalaluddin Haqqani was 72.

The elderly founder of the outlawed Afghanistan-based organization, once hailed as a freedom fighter by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, had been paralyzed for the past 10 years. The Haqqani network came to be during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The US and Pakistan reached out to Jalaluddin Haqqani for his military prowess, and funded him with arms and money to fight the Russians. Haqqani helped Osama bin Laden set up terror training camps and launch his efforts for global jihad. After 9/11, the Haqqani Network turned against the US, fighting against US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan government. While it operates in Afghanistan, the group’s leadership is based in Pakistan.

The Haqqani network attacked the Indian consulate in Jalalabad twice in 2007, and bombed the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008, in which 58 people were killed. The group attacked the embassy again in 2009, killing 17 people. It also carried out several attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan. The group exploded a truck bomb in the middle of a crowded intersection in Kabul in 2017, killing over 150. The network has also been accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped Westerners for ransom.

However, Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said Jalaluddin Haqqani’s death was not expected to mean any major change for the Haqqani Network. “Operationally, his death will not have an impact on the group,” he said, adding that Haqqani’s role in recent years was ideological rather than practical.

Saudi Arabia declares online satire punishable offence

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will punish online satire that “disrupts public order” with up to five years in prison, the public prosecutor said on Tuesday. “Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media… will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($8,00,000),” the public prosecution tweeted late Monday.

Official defends Suu Kyi’s silence over jailing of reporters

Yangon: A global outcry over the jailing of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar has been greeted with silence by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a stony response that an official defended on Tuesday as a reluctance to criticise the judiciary. Aung Hla Tun, a former Reuters journalist who now works for the government as Deputy Minister of Information, defended Ms. Suu Kyi’s reticence. “Criticising the judicial system would be tantamount to contempt of court,” he told AFP. “I don’t think she will do it.”

A seven-year jail sentence was awarded to two Reuters journalists – Wa Lone (32) and Kyaw Soe Oo (28) – for covering the state-sponsored massacre of Rohingyas, most particularly the killing of ten Rohingyas by soldiers and Buddhist villagers at Inn Din in the state of Rakhine. Several Myanmar news outlets and dozens of civil society groups denounced the jailing of the two reporters, calling it a travesty of justice and an unabashedly severe blow to the certitudes of press freedom. The privately owned Myanmar Times carried a full, front-page back-and-white photograph of Kyaw Soe Oo, in handcuffs and surrounded by reporters as he left the court, saying the verdict was a “blow to press freedom”. The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported the facts of the verdict in four paragraphs on an inside page. It did not mention any criticism of the ruling but noted that the defence could appeal.

Typhoon Jebi makes landfall in Japan; 8 dead, over 600 flights cancelled

A truck sitting at an angle after being blown over by strong winds caused by Typhoon Jebi on the Seto Ohashi bridge in Sakade, Kagawa prefecture on Japan’s Shikoku island. (Photo: AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS AND Kagawa Prefectural Police)

Tokyo: Typhoon Jebi, the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years, made landfall in Tokushima Prefecture on Tuesday afternoon,inundating the region’s main international airport and blowing a tanker into a bridge, disrupting land and air travel and leaving thousands stranded. At least eight people died and scores were injured.

It was off the northern coast of Fukui on Tuesday evening with sustained winds of 126 kilometers per hour (78 miles per hour) and gusts up to 180 kph (110 mph), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The typhoon has heavily disrupted transportation services, causing cancellation of flights and rail services, as well as some commercial facilities’ operations, Xinhua news agency reported. People stranded at a flooded offshore airport overnight returned by boat and bus to the Japanese mainland on Wednesday morning

More than 1 million households remained without power on Wednesday morning. A tanker that was mooring slammed into the side of a bridge connecting the airport to the mainland, damaging the bridge and leaving people stranded overnight, transport ministry official Mitsuo Nakao said. The tanker was also damaged, but its 11 crewmembers were not injured, according to the coast guard.

 

 

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