Spain PM rejects ousted Catalan leader’s call to meet

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a Popular Party (PP) meeting of the national executive committee held at the PP headquarters in Madrid, on Dec.22, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 22 December 2017
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Spain PM rejects ousted Catalan leader’s call to meet

MADRID: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday rejected a call by ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to meet after separatists won a parliamentary majority in crucial regional polls.
“The person I should be meeting with is with the one who won the elections, and that is Mrs.Arrimadas,” Rajoy said, replying to a journalist who asked whether he would respond to Puigdemont’s invitation for a meeting.
Rajoy was referring to centrist, anti-independence candidate Ines Arrimadas, whose Ciudadanos party won the best individual result in Thursday’s poll — even as the bloc of separatist parties maintained its absolute majority.


Pakistan orders custody for Hindu girls at center of quarrel with India

Updated 26 March 2019
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Pakistan orders custody for Hindu girls at center of quarrel with India

  • The teenagers left their home in mostly Muslim Pakistan’s southeastern province of Sindh on March 20 to be married in Punjab province
  • Police have detained ten people in the case over their marriages

KARACHI, Pakistan: A court in Pakistan on Tuesday ordered the government to take custody of two Hindu sisters allegedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam, police said, a case that triggered a quarrel with Hindu-majority neighbor India.
Police say the teenagers left their home in mostly Muslim Pakistan’s southeastern province of Sindh on March 20 to be married in Punjab province, where the law does not bar marriages of those younger than 18, unlike Sindh.
“The girls appeared before Islamabad High Court on Tuesday morning,” Farrukh Ali, a police official in their home district of Gothki, said by telephone.
“The court has directed the deputy commissioner to take their custody,” he added, referring to an administration official in the Pakistani capital.
The court set a deadline of next Tuesday for the submission of a report into an inquiry ordered by Prime Minister Imran Khan, and directed that the girls not return to Sindh until the case was resolved, broadcaster Geo Television said.
Police have detained ten people in the case over their marriages and registered a formal case of kidnapping and robbery by the teenagers, after complaints from their parents.
The incident prompted a rare public intervention by a top Indian official in its neighbor’s domestic affairs, when Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter she had asked India’s ambassador in Pakistan for a report on news of it.
Pakistan was “totally behind the girls,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on social media in response to Swaraj’s Sunday message, but asked India to look after its own minority Muslims.
At a news conference on Sunday, he referred to religious riots in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.
In Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, Pakistan accuses India of human rights violations, a charge New Delhi denies.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will seek a second term in a general election starting next month. He has taken a tougher stand toward Pakistan in the past five years.