Kosovo’s Thaci accuses international justice of ‘rewriting history’

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci attends a ceremony of security forces a day before parliament’s vote on whether to form a national army, in Pristina, Kosovo, December 13, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 26 June 2020

Kosovo’s Thaci accuses international justice of ‘rewriting history’

  • Hashim Thaci: Nobody can rewrite the history of Kosovo! I remain full of hope that the coming days will be the best for Kosovo and Albania
  • Special prosecutors at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague accused Thaci and others of war crimes and crimes against humanity

TIRANA: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci on Friday accused international justice of “rewriting history” after he was charged with war crimes linked to the 1990s conflict with Serbia by special prosecutors in The Hague.
Thaci said on Facebook he had landed in the Albanian capital Tirana and was on his way back to Kosovo where he will address his compatriots on Sunday.
“Nobody can rewrite the history of Kosovo!” he said in his first reaction to the charges.
Thaci was the former political leader of the ethnic Albanian guerillas — the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) — which launched a rebellion against Belgrade more than 20 years ago when Kosovo was a southern province of Serbia.
On Wednesday, special prosecutors at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague accused Thaci and others of war crimes and crimes against humanity linked to the 1998-99 war.
Until now Thaci’s only visible reaction was an update of the cover photo of his Facebook profile to feature the crest of the KLA.
In a Facebook message to his “sisters, brothers and wonderful friends,” Thaci, 52, said he would “address (them) on Sunday evening” from his office.
“I remain full of hope that the coming days will be the best for Kosovo and Albania,” he said.
After the bombshell announcement, Thaci canceled a planned trip to the US where he was set to discuss lingering tensions with Serbia.
Thaci has previously said he would comply with the court and that he is innocent and has “nothing to hide.”
The president and other suspects are accused of murder, enforced disappearance, persecution and torture against “hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents.”
The charges still needs approval from a pre-trial judge but the prosecutors said they made the news public because Thaci and others have been trying to “obstruct the work” of the tribunal, which operates under Kosovo law but has international judges.
Kosovo proclaimed independence in 2008, but Serbia still does not recognize the move.


Pakistan rolls out coronavirus surveillance app for incoming travelers

Updated 11 July 2020

Pakistan rolls out coronavirus surveillance app for incoming travelers

  • 246,351 cases registered since late February

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has developed a mobile app to keep track of travelers entering the country through land routes and airports to ensure a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for those testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

“The app will be rolled out in a few days,” Shabahat Ali Shah, CEO of the National Information Technology Board (NITB), told Arab News this week.

He said the app would help record symptoms of the incoming travelers and keep track of their location. It would also communicate coronavirus test results to them and check if they were violating the self-quarantine requirement.

The government was testing everyone entering the country until recently. Many travelers were kept at big isolation centers established in hotels and marquees for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to government officials, the new app will eliminate the costs associated with the old quarantine protocols and maintain a better record of people’s movements.

Pakistan has registered 246,351 coronavirus infections since late February and over 5,000 deaths.

The government has also been carrying out contact tracing to test suspected cases and sent over half-a-million text messages to those who have come into close contact with COVID-19 patients, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.

“We don’t share contact tracing numbers with the public since they keep changing on a daily basis,” Shah said, adding that people suspected to have the disease were requested to get themselves tested.

Discussing the projections, he said the numbers of coronavirus cases would keep changing but that the government’s actions had proved successful in bringing down the country’s infection rate.

“Smart lockdowns in different areas have helped reduce the disease,” Shah said, adding the decision to lock down virus hotspots was taken on the basis of data collected by the NITB.

He said that the COVID-19 curve would flatten if the government properly managed Eid Al-Adha and Muharram processions in the coming months.

According to independent IT analysts, the app would prove ineffective if “big data” was not properly analyzed.

“Developing an app is not a big deal,” Mustaneer Abdullah, an IT expert, told Arab News. “The real task is to extract useful information through the algorithms and break it down in specific categories to achieve the desired targets. The trouble is that government departments lack that kind of expertise.”

He also pointed out that such apps were hazardous to public privacy in the absence of data protection laws since they sought permission from users at the time of installation to access their photo galleries, locations and contact lists to work smoothly.

“The data collected through these apps can also be a goldmine for scoundrels. People working with government departments could leak user information to digital marketers or fraudsters with total impunity.”

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