Pakistan closes borders with Afghanistan, Iran

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By closing the borders, we are making sure that no infected person enters Pakistan, says Dr. Zafar Mirza. (AFP)
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On the outskirts of Quetta, workers of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Balochistan carry food for pilgrims at a quarantine camp prepared for people returning from Iran via the Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan. (AFP)
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Updated 14 March 2020

Pakistan closes borders with Afghanistan, Iran

  • Closure will be effective from Monday
  • Educational institutions to be closed until April 5

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan announced on Friday that — from Monday — it will seal its borders with Afghanistan and Iran for an initial period of two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement was made after a meeting of the country’s National Security Council (NSC) in Islamabad, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by key ministers and all military service chiefs. The decision was taken, according to a statement, “in the best interest of all three brotherly countries.”
It was the first time in the history of Pakistan that the NSC has met to discuss the nation’s response to a contagious disease.
The move to seal the Afghanistan-Pakistan border will potentially affect millions of people, as there are huge numbers of Afghan refugees living on the Pakistani side of the border. Afghanistan also relies heavily on food imports from Pakistan.
Alongside the border closure, Shafqat Mahmood, the education minister, announced that all educational institutions in Pakistan, including religious seminaries, will be closed until April 5. International flights into Pakistan are not expected to be affected at this time, AFP reported.
Pakistan’s response is in keeping with that of many other countries around the world as governments attempt to slow the global spread of coronavirus, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization this week.
Pakistan has, at the time of writing, recorded 21 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and no deaths. Two people are known to have recovered from the virus.
However, fewer than 500 of the country’s estimated 215 million people have reportedly been tested, and Pakistan’s health care has repeatedly been found to be inadequate in many areas of the country.
Amid all the fears, quarantines and stockpiling of food, it has been easy to ignore the fact that more than 60,000 people have recovered from the coronavirus spreading around the globe.
The disease can cause varying degrees of illness and is especially troublesome for older adults and people with existing health problems, who are at risk of severe effects, including pneumonia. But for most of those affected, coronavirus creates only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, with the vast majority recovering from the virus.

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Top Kazakh family wins court ruling on London mansions

Updated 1 min 45 sec ago

Top Kazakh family wins court ruling on London mansions

  • Evidence that Dariga Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies that owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them
  • Properties located across London, including one on a wealthy street known as Billionaires’ Row and another which campaign group Transparency International says is worth £31m

LONDON: The daughter and grandson of a former Kazakhstan president won a British court ruling Wednesday over plans to seize three multimillion-pound London properties from the family.
The UK’s National Crime Agency had obtained unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) against the luxury properties, said to be worth a total of around £80 million ($96 million), last May.
UWOs, brought into force in January 2018 under so-called “McMafia laws” — named after a BBC organized crime drama — allows the NCA to seize assets if they believe the owner is a “politically exposed person” and unable to explain the source of their wealth.
The NCA said the properties’ purchases were funded by Rakhat Aliyev, a former senior member of the Kazakh government who died in an Austrian prison in 2015 while awaiting trial on two charges of murder.
However, in a High Court judgment, given remotely, judge Beverley Lang overturned all three UWOs, ruling that “the NCA’s assumption” that Aliyev was the source of the funds to purchase the three properties was “unreliable.”
The ultimate beneficial owners of the three properties — Aliyev’s ex-wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the current chairwoman of the senate in Kazakhstan and daughter of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and her son, Nurali Aliyev — had applied to the High Court to discharge the UWOs.
The judge added that there was “cogent evidence” that Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies that owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them.
Following the ruling, Nurali Aliyev said the NCA had carried out a “flawed investigation.”
“The NCA deliberately ignored the relevant information I voluntarily provided and pursued a groundless and vicious legal action, including making shocking slurs against me, my family and my country,” he said in a statement.
“Today we have been vindicated.”
The properties were located across London, including one on a wealthy street known as “Billionaires’ Row” and another which campaign group Transparency International says is worth £31 million.
A Nazarbayeva representative said the court decision left her “entirely vindicated” and showed she had “not been involved in any wrongdoing.”
“Dr. Nazarbayeva is also deeply disappointed that the NCA thought it appropriate to use the cloak of these court proceedings to make damaging attacks on her reputation and her country, unfairly insulting Dr. Nazarbayeva and her 18 million compatriots.”