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Pakistani Foreign Minister embarks on 2-day visit to UAE

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Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday embarked on a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for talks on bilateral matters, according to an official statement issued here.

The Foreign Ministry statement said Qureshi will hold discussions with the UAE leadership on all areas of mutual interest including regional and global issues, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The Foreign Minister will exchange views on bilateral cooperation, in particular, trade, investment and the welfare of Pakistani diaspora,” it said.

The UAE is home to the second-largest Pakistani community abroad.

The visit is part of the high-level exchanges between Pakistan and UAE, according to the statement.

“High-level visits are an important feature, which not only exhibit cordial ties between the two countries but also accord the leadership an opportunity to give further impetus to strengthening bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues,” it added.

International News

Saudi Arabia approves security plan for Haj

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Haj-2021

Saudi Arabia has approved the security plan for this year’s Haj pilgrimage, while taking into account precautions against Covid-19.

According to the plan issued on Sunday by the Interior Ministry that aims to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims, a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyals ($2,666) will be imposed on anyone who attempts to enter the ritual sites without permission, reports Xinhua news agency.

The ministry calls on all citizens and residents to obey the special regulations of this year’s Haj season.

Meanwhile, police officers will be deployed on all routes leading to the Grand Mosque and holy sites.

Saudi Arabia announced last month that the 2021 Haj season would be limited to domestic pilgrims only and allows a maximum of 60,000 individuals.

It will be the second Haj season with no foreign pilgrims in order to prevent the further spread of the pandemic.

More than 13 million worshippers wearing masks and observing physical distancing rules have visited the mosques since the seven-month prayer and Umrah suspension was lifted last October.

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Crime

Sindh High Court issues notice as Pakistan political worker abducted

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Sindh-High-Court

The Sindh High Court (SHC) in Pakistan on Friday issued notices to the Sindh police chief, Sindh Rangers director-general, the provincial government and the Federation of Pakistan on a petition seeking the recovery of a missing Awami Workers Party (AWP) activist, dawn has reported.

Seengar Noonari was allegedly taken away from his home in Naseerabad in Sindh last week, following which his wife filed a petition in the SHC to seek his production.

Fozia Seengar claimed in the petition that they were asleep in their house on the night between June 25 and 26 when, at around 3 a.m., about 15-20 people, including some wearing security personnel uniforms, forcibly entered into the house by breaking open the main door with weapons and also fired shots “to spread terror”, the report said.

According to the petition, the individuals wearing uniforms blindfolded the AWP worker and took him away along with books and other material, while his brother was left at home.

The petitioner’s lawyer informed the court that she had submitted an application regarding Seengar’s alleged abduction in the Naseerabad police station.

The plea requested the court to order the respondents and officials working under them to produce the activist before the court and order his immediate release.

Taking up the petition, the SHC ordered the issuance of notices to the respondents, including the Sindh police and Rangers chiefs and the station house officer of the Naseerabad Police Station, as well as the deputy attorney general and additional attorney general, seeking their response to the application by July 13.

The petitioner’s counsel was also directed to file a copy of the CNIC or other official identification documents of the “missing person”.

Seengar is the labour secretary in the national committee of AWP, while Fozia is the finance secretary of the party’s women’s wing, the Women Democratic Front.

Fozia said her husband had also remained the chairman of the ‘Shehri Ittehad’ in Naseerabad highlighting civic issues and was elected as a councillor as well. He had also contested on a seat for the provincial assembly from Naseerabad, the report said.

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International News

Dominica PM calls claims of hatching plot to bring Mehul Choksi ‘total nonsense’

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Roosevelt-Skerrit

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said that his government’s hands are clean with regard to the ‘mysterious’ arrival of fugitive Indian businessman Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, to the Caribbean island nations, local media reported.

According to Dominica News Online, Skerrit has labelled the claims of hatching a plot with the governments of Antigua and India as “total nonsense”.

“To say that the government of Dominica and the government of Antigua along with India colluded in any way, give me a break, that’s total nonsense. We don’t get ourselves involved in those kinds of activities, those practices, not at all. I mean, that is absurd and we reject it and it is unfortunate that anybody would want to propagate this unsubstantiated claim by a gentleman who is before the courts,” he contended.

Skerrit further vowed that his government will evenly apply the law irrespective of who is accused of committing crime.

He said that such was the case with the Iranian born, Dominican citizenship holder and diplomat, Alireza Zibahalat Monfared, who was wanted by the Iranian government for allegedly embezzling billions of dollars while the country evaded international oil sanctions.

Monfared was arrested in the Dominican Republic in 2017 following a lengthy international manhunt.

“You saw all this talk about Monfared. Had he stayed in Dominica at the time that the Iranian government had asked for him, we would have apprehended him,” Skerrit stated, adding “There was a discussion and a decision to apprehend him so that the Iranian authorities could present to us the charges. Mr Monfared was a Dominican citizen but we hold a brief to the international law, our responsibilities and our obligations.”

Earlier, opposition leader from the United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, had alleged that the Dominican government was involved in a cover-up on behalf of the Iranian national and ex-Dominican diplomat, who was arrested on allegations of being involved in his country’s biggest-ever corruption scandal.

He had claimed that the government of Dominica had refused to cooperate with the government of Iran on the extradition of Monfared to face trial.

Linton had alleged that the Iranian authorities had made their interest in Monfared known to the government of Dominica prior to January 20, 2016. He maintained that Monfared lived in Dominica until September 2016, months after January 20, 2016 on which date the government had said his diplomatic passport was revoked.

After the news of Monfared’s arrest broke, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had released a statement on his status, saying that he became a citizen of Dominica, and eventually a diplomat, following a comprehensive due diligence investigation.

Skerrit went on to urge his political opponents, mainly the UWP supporters and its leader, to not be selective in matters they support, especially when it’s of a similar nature.

“I’m hearing Dominicans, especially the opposition, talking about Mr Choksi. There’s a young boy from Grand Bay facing extradition to the US, but we heard nothing from the opposition in that matter. So we cannot want to be treating different people differently depending on who they are or how much money they may have. All of us are subject to the law, irrespective of our position or how much money we have or we don’t have,” Skerrit argued.

The Prime Minister said that his government will allow the court to carry out its process with regard to Choksi and gave the assurance that his rights and obligations will be respected by Dominica.

Skerrit also expressed support for the government of Antigua in its move to revoke Choksi’s citizenship.

Choksi, who is wanted in India by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), had gone missing from Antigua on May 23, sparking a massive manhunt. He was later captured in Dominica.

His lawyers have contended that he was abducted forcibly, and was subjected to physical torture. Choksi is facing charges of entering Dominica illegally.

On June 25, during the hearing at the Magistrate’s Court, Choksi was denied a ‘doctor of his choice’ as was requested by his legal team in Dominica.

Choksi had acquired Antiguan citizenship in 2017 through the investment programme. He had left India on January 4, 2018, days before the CBI registered a case into the PNB fraud case. He along with his nephew Nirav Modi is wanted in the case.

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