Nawaz Sharif flying back to Pakistan with his daughter

In this photo released by Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistani deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, center, arrives at an anti-corruption court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, September 26, 2017. (File photo: Pakistan Muslim League via AP)
Updated 22 April 2018

Nawaz Sharif flying back to Pakistan with his daughter

  • The former premier and his family are facing corruption charges in the wake of the apex court’s verdict against them in the Panama case
  • PM Abbasi says the Sharifs will not choose self-imposed exile

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and his daughter, Maryam, will reach Pakistan tonight after spending a few days in London.
The two most prominent leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party had flown to the United Kingdom on Wednesday to visit the ex-premier’s ailing wife, Kalsoom Nawaz, who is undergoing cancer treatment in that country.
Some of their political rivals had criticized their departure from Pakistan, claiming that they were facing serious financial allegations and their prolonged absence from the country could jeopardize the accountability process against them.
Maryam Nawaz, however, assuaged these fears when she tweeted on Sunday: “At the Heathrow, leaving for Islamabad shortly.” She added that she “will arrive [in Pakistan] in the wee hours to be at the court.”

On Saturday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also rejected the possibility that Sharif and his daughter would take advantage of their visit to the UK and turn it into a self-imposed exile.
Sharif had also issued a similar statement, saying: “I will not act like Pervez Musharraf and will return to the country soon.”
While the primary purpose of his visit to London was to meet his wife and interact with her doctors, the former premier also met Abbasi, who was invited to a Commonwealth conference, and discussed with him the issue of choosing the interim prime minister.
Once the Sharifs return to Pakistan, they will face court cases again and continue their party’s struggle to win the next general elections.


11 million North Koreans are undernourished: UN investigator

Quintana said collective farming and the failure to allow farmers to benefit from individual plots of land is further exacerbating food insecurity. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

11 million North Koreans are undernourished: UN investigator

  • The resumption of Mt Kumgang tours has been repeatedly mentioned as a possibility by South Korean President Moon Jae-in in recent years

UNITED NATIONS: Food insecurity in North Korea “is at an alarming level,” with nearly half the population — 11 million people — undernourished, the UN independent investigator on human rights in the country said Tuesday.
Tomas Ojea Quintana told the General Assembly’s human rights committee that 140,000 children are estimated to be suffering from “undernutrition,” including 30,000 who “face an increased risk of death.”
Quintana said the government, which has primary responsibility for ensuring access to food, “is violating its human rights obligations due to its failing economic and agricultural policies.”
In addition, he said, “climate conditions, infertile land, natural disasters and the negative impact of sanctions have contributed to further food insecurity.”
More broadly, Quintana said he has seen no improvement in North Korea’s human rights situation during his three years as special rapporteur.
“The country’s economic resources are being diverted away from the essential needs of the people,” he said. “Pervasive discrimination in the public distribution system means that ordinary citizens, especially farmers and people in rural areas, have not been receiving any rations.”
Quintana said collective farming and the failure to allow farmers to benefit from individual plots of land is further exacerbating food insecurity.
“At the same time, the government has failed to put in place conditions where people can securely engage in trade and exchange in marketplaces without facing criminalization, extortion and other forms of abuse,” he said. Nonetheless, he added, the vast majority of North Koreans “are now engaged in such market activity for their survival.”
Ironically, he said, the government’s failure to regulate nascent market activity is creating increasing inequality based on wealth, “where only those with money have access to basic rights such as education, health care, freedom of movement and adequate housing.”
Quintana said severe restrictions on basic freedoms continue to be widespread, including surveillance and close monitoring of civilians.
“North Korean people continue to live in the entrenched fear of being sent to a political prison camp,” called a kwanliso, he said.
“If you are considered to be a spy of the hostile countries or a traitor, when in reality you are simply exercising your basic human rights, you can be suddenly taken by agents of the Ministry of State Security to a kwanliso and never be seen again,” Quintana said. “Suspects’ families are never informed of the decisions or of the whereabouts of their relatives.”
On the issue of North Koreans who have fled to China, Quintana said in the past six months he has received information from family members living in South Korea of an increasing number of these escapees being detained in China.
He said any North Korean who escapes should not be forcibly returned because there are substantial grounds they would be tortured or subjected to other human rights violations.
“I appreciate the government of China’s increased engagement with me on this concern, and I hope that this will lead to greater compliance with international standards,” he said.
Quintana said North Korea has accepted 132 recommendations from other UN member states, including one “to grant immediate, free and unimpeded access to international humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to the most vulnerable groups, including prisoners.” He said this could lead to the first international access to places of detention, “and could therefore be an opportunity to improve prison conditions.”