Pakistan celebrates National Day with military parade

Pakistani Air Force jets demonstrate an aerobatic performance during a full dress rehearsal of a military parade to mark Pakistan’s Republic Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 21, 2018. Pakistan will celebrate its Republic Day on Friday, March. 23, 2018. (AP/B.K. Bnagash)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Pakistan celebrates National Day with military parade

ISLAMABAD: Pakistanis are celebrating the National Day with a military parade that’s showcasing short- and long-range missiles, tanks, jets, drones and other hardware.
Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain used the occasion to promise to defeat militants who have killed thousands of people in attacks over the past 10 years.
As part of security measures for Friday’s parade in Islamabad, authorities suspended mobile phone services. Many homemade bomb attacks have been triggered remotely using phone devices.
Hussain will also honor 141 Pakistanis and foreigners with civilian awards. This year’s recipients include Cuba’s Fidel Castro for the work of Cuban doctors during Pakistan’s 2005 earthquake that killed 75,000 people.
Pakistan’s right activist Asma Jahangir will also get the top civilian award. She is known for her criticism of the military’s interference in civilian affairs.


Macron fires bodyguard filmed beating protester; critics say too late

Updated 1 min 37 sec ago
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Macron fires bodyguard filmed beating protester; critics say too late

  • Alexandre Benalla, who as Macron’s top bodyguard has long been a fixture by his side, was taken into custody for police questioning over the incident, which took place when Benalla appeared at May Day protests in a riot helmet and police tags.
  • Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident itself, the lenient initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary.

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron fired the head of his personal security detail on Friday but faced criticism for failing to act sooner, after a video was released showing the man posing as a police officer and beating a protester while off duty in May.
Alexandre Benalla, who as Macron’s top bodyguard has long been a fixture by his side, was taken into custody for police questioning over the incident, which took place when Benalla appeared at May Day protests in a riot helmet and police tags.
He had initially been suspended for just 15 days and allowed to return to work. Just days ago he was seen in public helping to organize security for celebrations for the return of France’s World Cup champion soccer team.
Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident itself, the lenient initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary.
In the footage, which was released on Wednesday by Le Monde newspaper, Benalla can be seen dragging a woman away from a protest and later beating a male demonstrator. On Friday, French media released a second video which showed Benalla also manhandling the woman.
He had been given permission by the president’s office to attend the protests as an observer of the security operation, but had no authorization to take part in police work.
The president’s office brushed off accusations that it had responded only because the nearly three-month-old videos had become public. It said the decision had now been taken to fire Benalla because the bodyguard had improperly obtained a document while trying to make his case over the accusations.
“New facts that could constitute a misdemeanour by Alexandre Benalla were brought to the president’s attention,” an official at the presidential palace told Reuters. “As a result ... the presidency has decided to start Alexandre Benalla’s dismissal procedure.”
Critics of Macron called the president’s delayed response a characteristic sign that he is out of touch. It follows controversies over government spending on official crockery, a swimming pool at a presidential retreat and cutting remarks by the president about the costs of welfare.
After hours of debate in the lower house on Thursday, lawmakers agreed to launch a parliamentary inquiry.
“Why did he protect this person? Does he head up a parallel police force? Refusing to answer makes (Macron) complicit in these acts of violence,” Eric Ciotti, a senior member of the conservative Republicans party, said on Twitter.