Pakistani police serve arrest warrants to former PM Imran Khan

Pakistani police serve arrest warrants to former PM Imran Khan
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Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan addressing a press conference in Lahore on Nov. 4, 2022. (Reuters/File photo)
Pakistani police serve arrest warrants to former PM Imran Khan
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Supporters of former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan gather outside his house in Lahore on March 5, 2023 to prevent police from arresting him. (AFP)
Pakistani police serve arrest warrants to former PM Imran Khan
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A supporter of Imran Khan stands guard outside the house of Pakistan's former prime minister in Lahore on March 5, 2023, ready for battle with police as they attempt to arrest him. (AFP)
Pakistani police serve arrest warrants to former PM Imran Khan
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Supporters of former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan gather outside his house in Lahore on March 5, 2023 to prevent police from arresting him. (AFP)
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Updated 06 March 2023
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Pakistani police serve arrest warrants to former PM Imran Khan

Pakistani police serve arrest warrants to former PM Imran Khan
  • The former cricket star led countrywide protest campaigns to press for an early vote last year and was shot at and wounded at one of the rallies
  • The government filed charges against him in an anti-graft court, which last week issued the arrest warrants after he  failed to appear in court 

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistani police on Sunday served arrest warrants to former prime minister Imran Khan to ensure his appearance in court on charges of misusing his office to sell state gifts, authorities said, after Khan’s supporters tried to prevent police entry into his home.
The election commission of Pakistan had in October found the 70-year-old cricket-hero-turned politician guilty of unlawfully selling gifts from foreign dignitaries.
The Federal Investigation Agency then filed charges against him in an anti-graft court, which last week issued the arrest warrants after Khan failed to appear in court despite repeated summons.




Supporters of former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan gather outside his house in Lahore on March 5, 2023 to prevent police from arresting him. (AFP)

Khan has been demanding a snap election since his ouster from office in a parliamentary vote early last year, a demand that was rejected by his successor Shehbaz Sharif, who has said the vote would be held as scheduled later this year.
He led countrywide protest campaigns to press for an early vote last year and was shot at and wounded at one of the rallies.
Referring to his absence from court and the shooting incident, Khan said on Sunday: “They (the police) know there is a threat against my life,” adding that the courts did not provide adequate security.
Khan’s aide Fawad Chaudhry said he couldn’t be arrested because he had secured a protective bail from a high court.
Chaudhry said the government wanted to sow political chaos and avoid an early election by arresting the former premier, who was still popular among the country’s youth and urban voters.
Islamabad police said in a statement that when Khan wasn’t found at his residence in Lahore, they served the arrest warrants.
Khan is required to appear in court on March 7. If he fails to do so, police will be required to arrest him and present him to court, according to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
 


Philippine protesters say ‘never again’ on anniversary of anti-Marcos uprising

Philippine protesters say ‘never again’ on anniversary of anti-Marcos uprising
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Philippine protesters say ‘never again’ on anniversary of anti-Marcos uprising

Philippine protesters say ‘never again’ on anniversary of anti-Marcos uprising

MANILA: Hundreds of Filipino protesters marched through Manila on Sunday, marking the anniversary of the uprising that ousted Ferdinand Marcos, while vowing to prevent his son from repeating the dictatorship.

Marcos Jr. won the presidency in a landslide in 2022, nearly four decades after a “People Power” uprising ended his late father’s 20-year rule and chased the clan into exile in the United States.

While Marcos Jr. remains popular, his campaign to alter the 1987 constitution has proved divisive.

Critics warn the effort could lead to the abolishment of term limits, with presidents currently allowed just one six-year stint in office.

“The theme of this protest is to reject Marcos’s charter change moves which is a move to remain (in) power ... which is basically what happened 38 years ago,” said economist Rosario Guzman, 58, who told AFP that she had also taken part in the 1986 uprising.

“No to Cha-Cha (charter change),” read a protest banner displayed behind a mock black coffin marked “Freedom and Democracy.”

Marcos maintains he is primarily seeking to amend the charter’s economic provisions to allow more foreign investment, and ideally create more jobs.

He has said the political aspects, including term limits, should be tackled later.

According to police in Manila, a few hundred people joined Sunday’s march, a far cry from the crowd that paralyzed the capital’s main avenue over four days in February 1986 until the military withdrew its support for the elder Marcos.

Rights groups say Marcos Sr.’s  regime jailed, tortured or killed tens of thousands of critics, including religious leaders, journalists and student activists, while corruption left the country impoverished.

At the 38th anniversary march, 21-year-old demonstrator Giu de Sagun said he felt like he was “watching history repeat itself.”

Some protesters wore shirts and hats vowing “never again.”


Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi government

Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi government
Updated 54 min 5 sec ago
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Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi government

Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi government
  • Thousands of students have been waking up at 3 am to help cook meals, load trailers with supplies before heading to the protest site
  • Protester demands are centered around guaranteed floor prices which will allow millions of other farmers to sell produce at fixed rates

SHAMBHU: Farmers in India’s northern Punjab state demanding higher prices for their crops from the national government are relying on young students to ensure the agitation’s momentum does not fizzle out.
Eighteen-year-old Simranjeet Singh Mathada is one of thousands of college students who have been waking up at 3 am for almost two weeks to help cook meals at community kitchens, fill tankers with potable water and load tractor trailers with supplies before heading to the protest site some 200 km (125 miles) from the capital, New Delhi.
“The protests are now about safeguarding the country’s agrarian economy and farmers of Punjab are determined to bring this reform at all costs,” said Mathada.
Protester demands are centered around guaranteed floor prices which will allow Mathada’s parents and millions of other farmers to sell their produce at fixed rates.
Even as negotiations between farmer unions and government have been underway, protests have sometimes turned violent.
On several occasions, scores of farmers have suffered injuries trying to force their way through concrete blocks and barbed wires installed by police to prevent them from marching on the capital.
Some police officials were also injured in these sporadic clashes.
“Our determination to bring about the change helps face the police every day,” said Mathada, who is studying for a degree in Arts.
Mathada and his father have been using swimming goggles and a metal shield to protect themselves from thick clouds of smoke and tear gas shells lobbed via drones by the police.
“It has been a shocking experience to see how the police can use force to stop farmers from marching toward Delhi...it has shown me how democracy can fade so quickly,” said Mathada.
Before the protests, Mathada helped his family cultivate crops on their ancestral land and manage a hardware shop.
“For now, the main occupation is to make sure Modi government accepts our demands,” he said, adding that attending college lectures has become secondary for him and some of his classmates.
The protests come just months before elections in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party is seeking a third consecutive term.
Last week, Modi said his government is committed to the welfare of farmers and is on a mission to make them entrepreneurs and exporters.
Mathada will be eligible to vote for the first time but is having doubts.
“I think about democracy and feel a bit disillusioned; I may not even cast my vote this time.”


Massive rise in Islamophobic incidents in the UK following Gaza war leaves Muslims in fear

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators wave placards and Palestinian flags at a mass rally in support of Gaza in London. (File/AFP)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators wave placards and Palestinian flags at a mass rally in support of Gaza in London. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 February 2024
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Massive rise in Islamophobic incidents in the UK following Gaza war leaves Muslims in fear

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators wave placards and Palestinian flags at a mass rally in support of Gaza in London. (File/AFP)
  • Islamophobia Response Unit said there was a 365 percent increase in reports of Islamophobia in October 2023, following Hamas’ attack on Israel that month

LONDON: An enormous rise in Islamophobic incidents against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war has led many Muslims in the UK to fear leaving their homes after dark, The Independent reported on Sunday.

Many of the Islamophobic incidents have involved people being targeted over their support for Palestine as the war in Gaza continues.

Muslims who spoke to The Independent said they had bricks thrown through their windows for displaying the Palestinian flag, and a 17-year-old was questioned by his teachers after he displayed a Palestinian badge on his bag at school.

Islamophobia Response Unit, a charity dedicated to supporting victims of Islamophobia, said there was a 365 percent increase in reports of Islamophobia in October 2023, following Hamas’ attack on Israel that month.

“Since October 2023, IRU has seen a sustained increase in reports to the unit,” said IRU CEO Majid Iqbal.

“It is clear that this is now developing into a long-term trend and is having a profound impact on those affected by it. IRU calls on the press and politicians to not demonize legitimate Palestinian activism and, by extension, British Muslims, to avoid feeding into the serious societal problem of Islamophobia,” he said.

Tell MAMA, another body that records anti-Muslim hate incidents, said there were 2,010 Islamophobic incidents between Oct. 7 and Feb. 7, more than triple the 600 reported during the same period the year before. 

The figures were released in the same week that Tory MP Lee Anderson was suspended by the Conservative Party after making comments about London Mayor Sadiq Khan that have been widely condemned as Islamophobic.

Anderson told GB News on Friday that “Islamists” had “got control” of the mayor of London and the capital city.

“I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London … He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates,” the former Tory deputy chairman said. 

Of the cases reported to IRU, a 17-year-old Londoner said he was interrogated by teachers about his faith and “his understanding of Hamas” after he put a Palestinian badge on his school bag.

The Year 13 student said he felt targeted because he was Muslim, which triggered an anxiety attack and led to exam failure.

“The numerous instances of being pulled out whilst studying to remove my badge made me feel like I was targeted because I was a Muslim, which made me feel like I was doing something wrong,” the boy said. 

“This feeling of being targeted intensified following the intimidating interrogation, which I was subjected to,” he added.

A 32-year-old doctor said he has been too scared to leave his home after an attack he believes stemmed from his support for Palestine.

He was awoken on Feb. 5 after a large rock smashed through a window at his Manchester home, which displayed a Palestinian flag. He said he was unable to sleep and took two weeks off work as a result of the incident.

“This event has been extremely traumatic and has had a significant impact on my well-being,” he told The Independent.

“I am not sleeping; I just pace around until 4 or 5 a.m. because I am too scared to sleep in the property. I no longer leave the house after sunset, as I am too frightened.

“I will soon be returning to work after two weeks off sick with stress, but I am very concerned about the impact this event will have on my professional performance as a doctor. I do not know how I can work with patients whilst I am this sleep-deprived,” he added.


UK’s governing Conservatives face pressure as London mayor blasts ‘tacit endorsement’ of Islamophobia

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. (File/Reuters)
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. (File/Reuters)
Updated 25 February 2024
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UK’s governing Conservatives face pressure as London mayor blasts ‘tacit endorsement’ of Islamophobia

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. (File/Reuters)
  • Sadiq Khan says ‘enough is enough’ following MP Lee Anderson’s claim that ‘Islamists’ have ‘got control’ of mayor
  • Deputy PM defends ex-Home Secretary Suella Braverman after she echoed Anderson’s sentiments

LONDON: London’s Muslim mayor has accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “tacit endorsement” of Islamophobia in his Conservative Party.

Sadiq Khan’s accusation came after the “belated” suspension of Conservative MP Lee Anderson, who refused to apologize for saying in a TV interview that “Islamists” had “got control” of the mayor.

“I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London,” Anderson told GB News. “He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

Khan said Muslims are considered “fair game” for prejudice by the Conservatives.

It comes amid a series of scandals for the governing party after its former leader Liz Truss attended a major conservative conference in the US where she appeared on a panel at which British far-right figure Tommy Robinson was praised, and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman penned an article for the Daily Telegraph suggesting “Islamists” are “in charge” of the UK.

Over the weekend, senior party figures failed to fully condemn Anderson despite his suspension, including Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden and Defense Secretary Grant Shapps.

Khan said: “Blatant anti-Muslim hatred is being tolerated from top to bottom of the party, with everyone from ministers to mayoral candidates failing to condemn even the most clear-cut examples of bigotry and racism.”

He added: “Anderson’s comments have poured petrol on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred … The message it sends is some forms of hatred and racism are acceptable. Enough is enough.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Sunak has “extremists” in his party acting “with impunity.”

Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds said in a letter to her Conservative counterpart Richard Holden that Anderson’s comments are “unambiguously Islamophobic, divisive and damaging.”

She cited other incidents of Islamophobia in the governing part, including London mayoral candidate Susan Hall’s suggestion that Jewish Londoners were “frightened” of Khan’s “divisive attitude” in October, and Conservative MP Nus Ghani saying she was told her “Muslimness” made “colleagues uncomfortable” by an unnamed party official in 2020.

Truss, meanwhile, has been criticized by former Chancellor Sir Sajid Javid for failing to address comments made by US conservative figure Steve Bannon at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which he called Robinson a “hero.”

Sir Sajid said: “I’d hope every MP would confront such a statement head-on … Liz should really know better.”

On Saturday morning, Shapps defended Anderson’s right to “speak (his) mind.” On Sunday, Dowden refused to condemn Anderson as a racist in an interview with Sky News in which he said Anderson had used “the wrong words.”

Dowden added: “I don’t believe the language used by Suella Braverman has crossed the line whereby she should apologize for it.”


Saudi tourism sees 50% surge in Indian visitors as promotion intensifies

Saudi tourism sees 50% surge in Indian visitors as promotion intensifies
Updated 25 February 2024
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Saudi tourism sees 50% surge in Indian visitors as promotion intensifies

Saudi tourism sees 50% surge in Indian visitors as promotion intensifies
  • India expected to become Saudi Arabia’s top tourism source market by 2030
  • Promotional strategy bears fruit with Indian tourists seeking out Kingdom’s heritage sites

NEW DELHI: The number of Indians traveling to Saudi Arabia has grown by 50 percent following a series of strategic initiatives in 2023, the Kingdom’s tourism authority said, as it participated in India’s main international travel show over the weekend.

The 2024 edition of the South Asian Travel and Tourism Exchange — Asia’s leading platform for the tourism and hospitality industry — took place in Noida in the Indian capital region on Feb. 22-24.

The Saudi Tourism Authority established a huge pavilion at the venue, promoting the Kingdom’s ancient heritage sites and new tourism destinations.

“This marks Saudi Tourism Authority’s third year participating in one of the most prominent tourism trade shows in South Asia,” Alhasan Aldabbagh, STA president for Asia-Pacific markets, told Arab News.

“SATTE has been successful as it gave us the opportunity to strengthen our partnerships, share insights and grow together with our trade partners with one unified goal, which is to bring Saudi to life and make its experiences and packages bookable.”

The Saudi exhibition this year was bigger than in the fair’s previous editions, also reflecting the increasing success of its promotional strategy in India.

“We hosted over 1.5 million Indian inbound travelers in 2023, making a substantial 50 percent increase in visitation from 2022. This surge is attributed to strategic initiatives, including a successful partnership with the Indian Premier League, (and) enhanced air connectivity,” Aldabbagh said.

Alhasan Aldabbagh, STA president for Asia-Pacific markets, speaks at the South Asian Travel and Tourism Exchange on Feb. 22, 2024. (SATTE)

In February last year, the STA signed a partnership agreement with the IPL — the men’s T20 franchise that is the world’s most-watched cricket league — becoming its official sponsor and tapping into a strong sports fanbase in both countries.

Saudi and Indian airlines have also added new flights in 2023, connecting Indian cities directly to the Kingdom, while immigration procedures have been streamlined with additional visa-processing centers.

“Last year, we opened 10 VFS Tasheel offices across India, with plans to expand into tier-two cities. We launched our first-ever free 96-hour stopover visa early last year in collaboration with SAUDIA and flynas, our national carriers,” Aldabbagh said, adding that it is now “easier than ever” for Indians to visit the Kingdom.

Indians have been drawn mainly to the growing number of cultural attractions, with archaeological works in full swing and the development of leisure infrastructure.

The top destinations are currently Madinah, Riyadh, Jeddah, and AlUla — one of the Kingdom’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites.

“Saudi has been promoting its rich cultural and historical heritage through key initiatives like the restoration and preservation of heritage sites such as AlUla and Diriyah and the development of cultural festivals and events,” Aldabbagh said.

“To offer Indian travelers a plethora of accommodation options and recreational activities tailored to their preferences, we have invested heavily in developing tourism infrastructure, including hotels, resorts, and entertainment facilities, to accommodate the growing number of visitors.”

Tourism is a booming sector in Saudi Arabia under the Vision 2030 diversification plan. A key part of the vision is to position the Kingdom as a dynamic, diverse, year-round tourism destination and market that will contribute 10 percent of the gross domestic product by 2030.

In the last three years, India has emerged as a key tourism source market, and the STA expects it to become its largest in the next few years.

“By 2030, India is anticipated to become the number one inbound market for Saudi, underlining the growing importance of Indian tourists,” Aldabbagh said.

“Our aim is to welcome 7.5 million Indian visitors by 2030, aligning with our ambitious goals to enhance and diversify the tourism sector while fostering stronger connections between the two nations.”