BEIJING: Death toll in China’s coronavirus has gone up to 1,631 with 143 new fatalities reported from all over the country, Chinese health officials said on Saturday.
Hubei Province, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reported 2,420 new confirmed cases and 139 new deaths on Friday, China’s National Health Commission said.
Two deaths were reported from Henan and one each from Beijing and Chongqing as the overall death toll reached 143 with 2,641 new confirmed cases of the infection being reported from 31 provincial-level regions, the Commission said.
The number of new cases included 1,138 clinically diagnosed cases, which have been seen as confirmed cases. The latest report brought the total confirmed cases in Hubei province to 54,406 cases.
The total number of cases in China have gone up to 67,535.
The attack comes after a pro-Iran mob this week laid siege to the US embassy following deadly American air strikes on a hardline Hashed faction.
Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US strike that targeted their car on Baghdad International Airport road.
Baghdad: Top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US strike on Baghdad’s international airport on Friday, Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force has said, in a dramatic escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran.
The Hashed’s deputy chief was also killed in the attack, the force added, which comes after a pro-Iran mob this week laid siege to the US embassy following deadly American air strikes on a hardline Hashed faction.
“The deputy head of the Hashed, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and head of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, were killed in a US strike that targeted their car on the Baghdad International Airport road,” the Hashed said in a statement early Friday.
The airport was hit in a volley of missiles just after midnight, Iraq’s military had announced.
Security sources told AFP the bombardment hit a Hashed convoy and killed eight people, including “important figures.”
The Hashed is a network of mostly-Shiite armed units, many of whom have very close ties to Tehran but which have been officially incorporated into Iraq’s state security forces.
The units joined forces to fight the Islamic State group in 2014 but many of them had built up years of fighting experience during Iraq’s war years, including against the US.
Muhandis is the Hashed’s deputy chief but widely recognised as the real shot-caller within the group.
Soleimani heads the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and also serves as Iran’s pointman on Iraq, visiting the country in times of turmoil.
Both have been sanctioned by the United States.
There was no immediate comment from the US on the developments, which come after an unprecedented attack on its mission in Baghdad.
A mob of Hashed supporters surrounded the US embassy on Tuesday in outrage over American air strikes that killed 25 fighters from the network’s hardline Kataeb Hezbollah faction, which is backed by Iran.
The US had acted in response to a rocket attack days earlier that had killed an American contractor working in Iraq.
US President Donald Trump blamed Iran for rocket attacks targeting US forces as well as the siege at the embassy, saying: “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”
On Thursday, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper told reporters there could be more attacks from Iran-backed groups but vowed American forces would respond.
“We are prepared to exercise self-defense, and we are prepared to deter further bad behavior from these groups, all of which are sponsored, directed and resourced by Iran,” he said.
The attack on the embassy highlighted new strains in the US-Iraqi relationship, which officials from both countries have described to AFP as the “coldest” in years.
The United States led the 2003 invasion against then-dictator Saddam Hussein and has worked closely with Iraqi officials since.
But its influence has waned compared with that of Tehran, which has carefully crafted personal ties with Iraqi politicians and armed factions, even during Saddam’s reign.
Both Washington and Tehran backed Iraqi security forces fighting the Islamic State group, but the two have been at loggerheads since the United States pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran in 2018.
Iraqi officials have feared that their country could be used as an arena for score-settling between Iran an the US.
Usman Khan, who killed two people in an attack near the London Bridge on November 29, was buried in his ancestral village in Azad Kashmir on Friday, two reporters in the valley told SAMAA Digital.
The reporter, who wished not to be named, said that Khan was buried in Kajlani village in Kotli district after Asr prayers.
He added that his family declined to speak to the media when they were contacted, saying they had already released a statement.
According to the BBC, his family said they were “saddened and shocked” and they “totally condemn his actions”.
Another reporter told SAMAA Digital that only Khan’s family and relatives attended his funeral prayers.
According to reports in the UK media, Khan was first arrested in 2008 but was released without being charged. He was arrested again in December 2010 and sentenced in 2012 to detention for eight years after he confessed to preparing terrorist acts.
He was released in 2018 and was ordered to wear a GPS tag so the UK police could monitor his movements.
However, the UK officials never said that he was radicalised in Pakistan.
According to the Guardian, Khan was inspired by the ideology of Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. The report said that the London bridge attacker was a “student” and “close friend” of al-Muhajiroun leader Anjem Chaudhry.
Raja Mushtaq Ahmed, a relative of Usman Khan and also a resident of ancestral village, told journalist Secunder Kermani a few days ago that Usman Khan was angry over “western injustices” in the Muslim world.
“He used to say this is injustice… conspiracies are being hatched against Islam,” Ahmed said in the video shared by Kermani. He said that he remembers Usman Khan visiting his village as a teen and they used to discuss religion.
“Muslims are being oppressed. Why did they do injustice to us? He used to ask,” recalled Ahmed. “I used to tell him that it should be stopped but we should make it stop by responding peacefully.”
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Page after page, the names stack up: 629 girls and women from across Pakistan who were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China. The list, obtained by The Associated Press, was compiled by Pakistani investigators determined to break up trafficking networks exploiting the country’s poor and vulnerable.
The list gives the most concrete figure yet for the number of women caught up in the trafficking schemes since 2018.
But since the time it was put together in June, investigators’ aggressive drive against the networks has largely ground to a halt. Officials with knowledge of the investigations say that is because of pressure from government officials fearful of hurting Pakistan’s lucrative ties to Beijing.
The biggest case against traffickers has fallen apart. In October, a court in Faisalabad acquitted 31 Chinese nationals charged in connection with trafficking. Several of the women who had initially been interviewed by police refused to testify because they were either threatened or bribed into silence, according to a court official and a police investigator familiar with the case. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution for speaking out.
At the same time, the government has sought to curtail investigations, putting “immense pressure” on officials from the Federal Investigation Agency pursuing trafficking networks, said Saleem Iqbal, a Christian activist who has helped parents rescue several young girls from China and prevented others from being sent there.
“Some (FIA officials) were even transferred,” Iqbal said in an interview. “When we talk to Pakistani rulers, they don’t pay any attention. “
Asked about the complaints, Pakistan’s interior and foreign ministries refused to comment.
Several senior officials familiar with the events said investigations into trafficking have slowed, the investigators are frustrated, and Pakistani media have been pushed to curb their reporting on trafficking. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals.
“No one is doing anything to help these girls,” one of the officials said. “The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. The authorities won’t follow through, everyone is being pressured to not investigate. Trafficking is increasing now.”
He said he was speaking out “because I have to live with myself. Where is our humanity?”
China’s Foreign Ministry said it was unaware of the list.
“The two governments of China and Pakistan support the formation of happy families between their people on a voluntary basis in keeping with laws and regulations, while at the same time having zero tolerance for and resolutely fighting against any person engaging in illegal cross-border marriage behavior,” the ministry said in a statement faxed Monday to AP’s Beijing bureau.
An AP investigation earlier this year revealed how Pakistan’s Christian minority has become a new target of brokers who pay impoverished parents to marry off their daughters, some of them teenagers, to Chinese husbands who return with them to their homeland. Many of the brides are then isolated and abused or forced into prostitution in China, often contacting home and pleading to be brought back. The AP spoke to police and court officials and more than a dozen brides — some of whom made it back to Pakistan, others who remained trapped in China — as well as remorseful parents, neighbors, relatives and human rights workers.
Christians are targeted because they are one of the poorest communities in Muslim-majority Pakistan. The trafficking rings are made up of Chinese and Pakistani middlemen and include Christian ministers, mostly from small evangelical churches, who get bribes to urge their flock to sell their daughters. Investigators have also turned up at least one Muslim cleric running a marriage bureau from his madrassa, or religious school.
Investigators put together the list of 629 women from Pakistan’s integrated border management system, which digitally records travel documents at the country’s airports. The information includes the brides’ national identity numbers, their Chinese husbands’ names and the dates of their marriages.
All but a handful of the marriages took place in 2018 and up to April 2019. One of the senior officials said it was believed all 629 were sold to grooms by their families.
It is not known how many more women and girls were trafficked since the list was put together. But the official said, “the lucrative trade continues.” He spoke to the AP in an interview conducted hundreds of kilometers from his place of work to protect his identity. “The Chinese and Pakistani brokers make between 4 million and 10 million rupees ($25,000 and $65,000) from the groom, but only about 200,000 rupees ($1,500), is given to the family,” he said.
The official, with years of experience studying human trafficking in Pakistan, said many of the women who spoke to investigators told of forced fertility treatments, physical and sexual abuse and, in some cases, forced prostitution. Although no evidence has emerged, at least one investigation report contains allegations of organs being harvested from some of the women sent to China.
In September, Pakistan’s investigation agency sent a report it labeled “fake Chinese marriages cases” to Prime Minister Imran Khan. The report, a copy of which was attained by the AP, provided details of cases registered against 52 Chinese nationals and 20 of their Pakistani associates in two cities in eastern Punjab province — Faisalabad, Lahore — as well as in the capital Islamabad. The Chinese suspects included the 31 later acquitted in court.
The report said police discovered two illegal marriage bureaus in Lahore, including one operated from an Islamic center and madrassa — the first known report of poor Muslims also being targeted by brokers. The Muslim cleric involved fled police.
After the acquittals, there are other cases before the courts involving arrested Pakistani and at least another 21 Chinese suspects, according to the report sent to the prime minister in September. But the Chinese defendants in the cases were all granted bail and left the country, say activists and a court official.
Activists and human rights workers say Pakistan has sought to keep the trafficking of brides quiet so as not to jeopardize Pakistan’s increasingly close economic relationship with China.
China has been a steadfast ally of Pakistan for decades, particularly in its testy relationship with India. China has provided Islamabad with military assistance, including pre-tested nuclear devices and nuclear-capable missiles.
Today, Pakistan is receiving massive aid under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global endeavor aimed at reconstituting the Silk Road and linking China to all corners of Asia. Under the $75 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, Beijing has promised Islamabad a sprawling package of infrastructure development, from road construction and power plants to agriculture.
The demand for foreign brides in China is rooted in that country’s population, where there are roughly 34 million more men than women — a result of the one-child policy that ended in 2015 after 35 years, along with an overwhelming preference for boys that led to abortions of girl children and female infanticide.
A report released this month by Human Rights Watch, documenting trafficking in brides from Myanmar to China, said the practice is spreading. It said Pakistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea and Vietnam have “all have become source countries for a brutal business.”
“One of the things that is very striking about this issue is how fast the list is growing of countries that are known to be source countries in the bride trafficking business,” Heather Barr, the HRW report’s author, told AP.
Omar Warriach, Amnesty International’s campaigns director for South Asia, said Pakistan “must not let its close relationship with China become a reason to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses against its own citizens” — either in abuses of women sold as brides or separation of Pakistani women from husbands from China’s Muslim Uighur population sent to “re-education camps” to turn them away from Islam.
“It is horrifying that women are being treated this way without any concern being shown by the authorities in either country. And it’s shocking that it’s happening on this scale,” he said. (AP)
Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed and Shahid Aslam in Islamabad contributed to this report.
There’s no safety, no refuge even for young children. In-fact, they are the most vulnerable and unsuspecting prey for the most vicious and vile sexual predators- men. This is exactly what happened to 4-year-old Jannat
When little Jannat went missing from her home in durband, Mansehra– her parents looked desperately for her everywhere but to no avail. She had been missing for 4 days now and her parents had lost all hope for her safe return. Until news of her being found came to them-unfortunately not all news is good news.
Tiny Jannat had been found but she was barely alive. After being abducted -from outside her home- a group of pedophiles, raped and then dumped her inside a barren 80-feet deep well, a few miles away from the village.
Jannat was a warrior who survived the soul-scarring incident at the hands of those barbaric men and somehow managed to regain consciousness inside the well. She kept crying and screaming for 4 days straight in the hope that someone would be able to save her from the hell that she had been thrown into.
Some locals heard her screaming for help and informed the authorities. Jannat was finally pulled out of the abandoned well but she was critical -hanging on for dear life. Shivering from the cold and starving from hunger she was taken to the nearest hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.
Her father, Mohammad Nazakat told the media that there were no proper facilities at King Abdullah Hospital (where his daughter was taken) which is why she could not get proper treatment. He also alleged that there were no doctors at the said local hospital when they took Jannat there and that the dispensers were unable to save her. The staff at the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Oghi did not help him either in regards to his daughters post mortem nor did the District Headquarters Hospital.
None of us can even begin to imagine what 4-year-old Jannat endured. At an age where she could not even in her wildest thoughts comprehend what was happening to her while it happened.
Pakistan’s Parliament on Tuesday blocked the introduction of a bill that would have allowed non-Muslims to become President or Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic.
The bill which was presented by a Christian member of Parliament Naveed Aamir Jeeva was blocked by a majority of the Muslim members. MNA Jeeva’s bill proposed the removal of the Muslim requirement for the office of President and PM under article 41 and 91 of the constitution.
Article 41 A person shall not be qualified for election as President unless he is a Muslim of not less than forty-five years of age and is qualified to be elected as member of the National Assembly.
Article 91 After the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, the National Assembly shall, to the exclusion of any other business, proceed to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be the Prime Minister
Pakistan’s Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad of PTI vehemently opposed the proposed legislation, and said that:
Pakistan is an Islamic Republic where only a Muslim can be assigned to the key post of the President and Prime Minister
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) member Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali appreciated the comments made by Muhammad Ali and said that “no law against Islamic values and teachings can be passed, introduced or even debated in the parliament”. (Rabwah Times)
Police had stopped thousands of participants of a “Freedom Long March” called by Sardar Mohammad Saghir-led faction of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in Dawarandi village of the Hajira area, when they were insisting to move ahead towards Tetrinote that lies in the closest proximity of the restive Line of Control (LoC).
Police resort to tear gas shelling to disperse marchers; 12 policemen injured in stone pelting, claims DIG
However, the marchers disregarded the commitment and insisted to go beyond the designated spot in Dawarandi, the DIG alleged. In the meanwhile, some of the marchers climbed the adjacent mountains and pelted stones on the police.
The DIG claimed that 12 police personnel were injured, one of them critically, due to stone pelting.
He admitted that police resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse the marchers, which rendered some of them unconscious for some time. They were rushed to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Hajira, for treatment.
The DIF alleged that four ambulances which the administration had placed on standby were damaged by the activists.
He said 25 people were taken into custody after midnight, but three of them were released for not being involved in the activity.
JKLF sources said Sardar Saghir had managed to reach Tetrinote where local activists had set up a sit-in camp on Saturday. The sit-in continued on the second consecutive day on Sunday.
Speaking to the activists in Tetrinote, Mr Saghir demanded “restoration of the revolutionary government of AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan” that he said was established on October 24, 1947.
“Pakistan should open the embassy of this government in Islamabad and then get it recognised from all friendly countries so that it may take the reins of freedom movement in its own hands,” he said.
The JKLF leader condemned the arrest of activists and demanded their immediate and unconditional release.
Alleging that the detainees had been “mercilessly” tortured by the police, he also called for a judicial probe into it.
PM Modi and Trump discussed various issues including Kashmir. Modi told Trump Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, and the US President expressed confidence that both the countries will sort it out themselves.