Pakistan PM orders probe into killing of rights activist

Updated 25 April 2015

Pakistan PM orders probe into killing of rights activist

KARACHI: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an investigation into the killing of prominent rights activist Sabeen Mahmud who was shot dead minutes after she hosted a seminar on abuses in troubled Baluchistan province.
Police said Mahmud, who runs The Second Floor, a cafe in Karachi that organizes debates and art events, was killed late Friday when gunmen attacked her car as she departed with her mother from the venue in the upmarket Defense neighborhood.
Mahmud was hit by five bullets and died at the scene, police said. Her mother was wounded.
Mama Abdul Qadeer, a prominent Baluch rights activist and a speaker at the seminar, said Mahmud had received threats before the event.
“The program organizers were already receiving threats.... it is very difficult to talk about Baluchistan in Pakistan,” Qadeer told AFP Saturday.
Police initially said it appeared to be “a result of personal enmity” but launched a probe after Sharif ordered an investigation into her killing.
“A team of three senior police officers headed by the deputy inspector general of police will probe the killing,” Atique Ahmed Shaikh, a spokesman for Karachi police, told AFP.
Tariq Dharajo, another senior police official, said no one had yet been arrested and police were investigating different angles.
He said Mahmud’s mother told police Saturday that attackers on a motorbike opened fire after they stopped their car at a traffic signal.
Mahmud had on Friday hosted a seminar about rights abuses in Baluchistan titled “Un-silencing Baluchistan Take 2,” featuring two prominent Baluch rights activists, Qadeer and Farzana Baluch, among other speakers.
Qadeer and Baluch were meant to speak at another seminar, “Un-silencing Baluchistan,” at the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences about two weeks ago, but rights activists said it was canceled apparently at the behest of the powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
Qadeer said he received death threats because of speaking against human rights violations in Baluchistan.
“I am constantly receiving threats from unknown telephone numbers. The situation is becoming worse. Now the agencies are meeting me directly and asking me to stop all this practice,” Qadeer told AFP.
“When you talk about the human rights you are considered as a traitor,” he added.
In March Qadeer was stopped from attending a conference in the United States to speak on the rights situation in his province.
Resource-rich Baluchistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.
Human rights groups allege the security forces commit abuses, accusing them of picking up non-militant separatists — including academics and students — torturing them and dumping their bodies on the streets.
The security services deny the allegations and say they are battling a fierce rebellion in the province.
Military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa condemned the killing as “tragic and unfortunate” and tweeted that intelligence agencies have been tasked to assist the investigation.
The killing comes as Beijing and Islamabad this week signed an agreement to create the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $46 billion project linking China’s restive west to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan as part of Beijing’s plans to expand its trade and transport footprint across Central and South Asia.
The project dwarfs previous efforts to assist Pakistan’s underperforming economy, but analysts have cautioned that the lion’s share of the returns would likely go to China.
But Baluch rebels oppose development of the key Gwadar port while Baluchistan is not independent and refuse for the time to reach a peace dialogue.


Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

Updated 03 August 2020

Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

  • The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago
  • Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience

MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one prepared at the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development.
“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” industry minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by TASS news agency.
“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Saturday said the Gamaleya vaccine had “completed clinical trials” and that documents were being prepared to register it with the state.
Another vaccine, developed by Siberia-based Vektor lab, is currently undergoing clinical trials and two more will begin human testing within the next two months, Murashko said.
Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Gamaleya’s vaccine employs the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.
The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago, with specialists criticizing the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience, particularly with advanced technology like viral vector.
Some Russian officials have boasted that the country will be the first to come up with the vaccine, even comparing it to the space race to produce the first satellite in the Soviet era.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.