D8 Summit begins in the shadow of violence

Updated 23 November 2012
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D8 Summit begins in the shadow of violence

ISLAMABAD: Muslim leaders attended a rare summit in Pakistan yesterday after militant attacks killed 36 people across the country in some of the deadliest violence claimed by the Taleban for months.
The string of attacks on Shiite Muslims and police and troops underscored the immense security challenge in a country where Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked extremists bitterly oppose the US-allied government.
Twenty-three people were killed and 62 wounded overnight in Rawalpindi, the twin city of summit venue Islamabad, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the summit guests.
Police used lamps and torches to work through the night and confirmed the final death toll after daybreak. It was the deadliest bombing in Pakistan since 29 people were killed in the northwestern district of Khyber on June 16 and the worst attack on Shiites since Feb. 17, when a suicide bomber killed 31 people in northwestern Kurram.
The Pakistani Taleban claimed responsibility for the attack. It also claimed an explosion Wednesday that killed two people near a mosque in Karachi, and attacks targeting security forces in the northwest which officials said left five police dead.
The Taleban has been fighting an insurgency against security forces since 2007, one of the chief reasons why Pakistan so rarely hosts international events.
“It seems the new breed of religious zealots wanted to tell the D8 dignitaries all about the mess the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been turned into,” said the country’s independent human rights commission in a statement.
But Pakistan has been determined that the Developing Eight summit will present a different image of the country as it gathers together Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan to promote trade.
The summit opened more than three hours late with an address from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan intended to hand over chairmanship of the D8 to Pakistan.
Islamabad has said it wants the summit to strengthen its international standing and help “remove misconceptions (about the country) created in a section of international media.”
The capital was in lockdown to safeguard the event. Thousands of extra police and paramilitaries deployed and schools were closed, yesterday was declared a partial public holiday and motorcycles were banned close to government installations.
India yesterday also asked Pakistan to increase security at its Embassy in Islamabad, fearing possible demonstrations or reprisals over its execution of militant Mohammed Qasab for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The Pakistani Taleban has threatened to avenge the execution and demands that Kasab’s body be repatriated, the spokesman told AFP by telephone.
Aside from the unrest in Pakistan, eight days of violence between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas will loom large over the D8 proceedings.
Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi — who was thanked by the United States for helping to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas — bowed out of the talks as his office said he would now stay home to monitor the truce.
Among nations in the D8, which was founded in Istanbul in 1997, Nigeria is the only member which is not majority-Muslim. Its population is roughly divided between Muslims and Christians.


Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

Updated 22 April 2018
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Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

  • The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
  • The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.

WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious. 
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June. 
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
'Politically correct'
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.