Tourists flock to Australia’s Uluru for last ever climb

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Tourists are seen climbing Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory on October 25, 2019. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch/via REUTERS)
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A man wearing a T-shirt saying "I chose not to climb" stands next to tourists lining up to climb Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory, Australia, October 25, 2019. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch/via REUTERS)
Updated 25 October 2019

Tourists flock to Australia’s Uluru for last ever climb

  • A permanent ban on scaling Uluru — also known as Ayers Rock — comes into place on Oct. 26
  • This is in line with the long-held wishes of the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land, the Anangu

ULURU, Australia: Hundreds of tourists flocked to Uluru on Friday for one last chance to climb the sacred site ahead of a ban, despite heavy winds preventing early attempts to scale the giant red monolith.
A permanent ban on scaling Uluru — also known as Ayers Rock — comes into place Saturday in line with the long-held wishes of the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land, the Anangu.
This has led to a surge of climbers in recent months.
Hundreds were left waiting for hours early Friday due to safety concerns over heavy winds, before rangers allowed climbers to head up the rock at 10 a.m. local time.
Parks Australia said they would reassess the weather conditions throughout the day to determine if climbers could continue to mount the rock.
More than 395,000 people visited the Uluru-Kata National Park in the 12 months to June 2019, according to Parks Australia, about 20 percent more than the previous year.
Around 13 percent of those who visited during that period made the climb, park authorities said.

Uluru has great spiritual and cultural significance to indigenous Australians, with their connection to the site dating back tens of thousands of years.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt likened the surge of people rushing to climb Uluru with “a rush of people wanting to climb over the Australian War Memorial.”
“Our sacred objects, community by community, are absolutely important in the story and the history of that nation of people,” he told national broadcaster ABC.
Saturday marks 34 years since that the park’s title was handed back to the traditional owners.


Pakistan stays on FATF terrorism financing ‘gray list’

Updated 21 February 2020

Pakistan stays on FATF terrorism financing ‘gray list’

  • FATF urges Islamabad to swiftly complete full action plan by June 2020
  • Says it will ‘take action’ if Pakistan fails to comply

KARACHI: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money-laundering and terror financing watchdog, on Friday gave Pakistan until June 2020 to improve its anti-terrorism financing measures.
“The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by June 2020,” the global body said in a statement issued at a plenary meeting in Paris.
This is the second four-month extension given to Pakistan to implement the agreed action plan.
The global watchdog decided to keep Pakistan on its gray list until the country’s next progress review in June.
The FATF said it would “take action” if Pakistan failed to make progress in prosecuting and penalizing terrorism financing.
In response to the FATF decision, the Pakistani government reiterated its commitment to taking all necessary action required.
“A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance said in a statement.
“(The) FATF reviewed progress made by Pakistan toward implementation of the Action Plan, while acknowledging the steps taken by Pakistan toward implementation of the Action Plan and welcoming its high level political commitment,” the statement read.
The ministry said that during the last reporting period, Pakistan had made “significant progress” in the implementation of the 27-point FATF plan, which was demonstrated by the completion of nine additional action items.
While noting the improvements, the FATF expressed concerns over Pakistan’s failure to complete the action plan in line with the agreed timelines and “in light of the TF (terrorism financing) risks emanating from the jurisdiction.”
“Pakistan was required to completely ban terror outfits, take measures to control cash flows, and make laws to curb money laundering,” Muzamil Aslam, a Pakistani economist, told Arab News. “Now it is political will to take measures by June 2020 to get the country out of gray list.”
Ahead of the FATF meeting, Pakistan sentenced Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed to five and a half years in prison on terrorism financing charges. The move was seen as a demonstration of compliance with FATF recommendations.
Pakistan managed to avoid the FATF’s balcklisting thanks to support from friendly countries, including Malaysia, Turkey and especially China.
Ahead of the FATF summit, Pakistan’s de facto finance minister, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, said that “China and other brotherly countries have supported Pakistan throughout the process in terms of guiding the country to improve its frameworks.”
Pakistan was placed on FATF’s gray list of countries with inadequate control over curbing money laundering and terrorism financing in 2018.

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