Karnataka results: Congress wins key India state election
KARNATAKA – India’s main opposition Congress party has defeated Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a crucial election in the southern state of Karnataka.
Experts say the win will give the Congress party a much-needed morale boost ahead of the national election due next year. Karnataka – the BJP’s only bastion in southern India and home to tech hub Bangalore was the first of five big states to go to the polls this year. According to the Election Commission’s website, the Congress has won more than 130 out of 224 state assembly seats, it needed a simple majority of 113 seats to form the government on its own. The BJP is ahead in less than 70 seats. Dozens of Congress supporters gathered outside the party headquarters in Bangalore and New Delhi, waving party flags and shouting victory slogans. “The market of hate has been shut, and shops of love have opened,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi told supporters in Delhi.
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continue for 5th day
Israeli airstrikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip continued for the fifth day as Palestinian armed groups strike back with rockets fired into Israel.
An Anadolu reporter in Gaza said that Israeli warplanes carried out strikes on several residences in various localities of the Gaza Strip early Saturday.
While the airstrikes leveled at least three residences, some other homes also suffered damage.
There has been no statement on the casualties of fresh attacks yet from Palestinian authorities.
On Friday, Israeli warplanes also destroyed a home belonging to the Taha family in the Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip.
However, in a written statement, the Israeli army claimed that Islamic Jihad group targets were hit in the airstrikes.
Some underground rocket positions of the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, were targeted during the airstrike, the statement added.
Meanwhile, Palestinian armed groups launched a barrage of rockets from Gaza, targeting several Israeli locations on the fifth day.
The Palestinian Health Ministry put the death toll from airstrikes at 33, including six children and three women. At least 93 Palestinians, including 32 children and 17 women, have also been injured, it said.
Regional and international powers have urged an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian factions, but have been unsuccessful thus far.
The Israeli army has said the airstrikes are part of its Operation Shield and Arrow, an offensive launched after rockets were fired from Gaza following the death of a Palestinian inmate who was on a hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
According to Palestinian figures, more than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of this year. At least 20 Israelis have also been killed in separate attacks during the same period.
Bangladesh, India to trade in local currencies to cut dollar dominance
Bangladesh and India decided to trade in their currencies, taka and rupee, respectively, to bypass the rising dollar, its dominance in trading, and to promote regional businesses, a Bangladesh Bank (BB) official told Anadolu.
The two neighbors made the decision, as many countries, including in the region, face a dollar crisis due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and the pressure on dollar reserves in central banks. The import process is being disrupted in Bangladesh due to the availability of dollars at commercial banks, according to media reports.
Transactions in takas and rupees, apart from the dollar, are fueling hopes of reducing pressure on dollar reserves and cutting the cost of trade, according to officials in both countries.
The two countries can directly exchange import and export prices using the taka and rupee.
Decision to boost regional trade, reduce business cost
Many countries started moving to this payment system convergence, allowing transactions in local currencies. Countries are doing this to promote bilateral or regional trade, reduce the cost of business and increase the speed of transactions, said the executive director and spokesperson for BB, Md. Mezbaul Haque, who shared details of the decision with Anadolu.
“India is a major trade partner of Bangladesh. Bangladesh imports a huge quantity of goods from India. Thus, such a decision will cut the cost of business, speed up transactions, and boost regional trading,” he said.
He said the decision will inspire more trade and business in South Asia.
Haque cited Singapore-India, Singapore-Malaysia, and Australia-South Africa as examples of conducting trade and transactions in local currencies.
“We have scrutinized the proposal of introducing payments in rupees offered by India and will allow the opening of a LC (Letter of Credit) in banks,” he added.
Haque also said that in traditional trading, the currency has to be converted several times at different stages, and that direct taka-to-rupee transactions are contemplated to minimize fluctuations.
Sonali Bank and Eastern Bank in Bangladesh have started the process of opening transaction accounts at the State Bank of India and ICICI Bank to implement the decision.
Syria’s Assad receives Saudi invitation to Arab summit
DAMASCUS – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received an invitation to next week’s Arab summit in Saudi Arabia, the presidency said Wednesday, the first since his country’s war began over a decade ago.
On Sunday, the Arab League welcomed back Syria’s government, securing Assad’s return to the Arab fold after years of isolation.
Assad received an invitation from Saudi King Salman “to participate in the 32nd Arab League summit which will be held in Jeddah on May 19”, the Syrian presidency said.Assad said the summit “will enhance joint Arab action to achieve the aspirations of the Arab peoples,” it said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Jordan, Nayef bin Bandar al-Sudairi, delivered the invitation, according to Saudi state news agency SPA
He conveyed the King and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “wishes to the brotherly government and people of Syria for security and stability,” SPA said.
First time Afghan Taliban made written pledge against terrorism: China
BEIJING – Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday that Afghanistan should not be excluded from the international community and the Afghan people’s well-being should receive due attention.
“As a traditional friendly neighbor of Afghanistan, we always believe that Afghanistan should not be excluded from the international community. Afghan people’s well-being should receive due attention,” Wang Wenbin said during his regular briefing when asked whether China believes that it would help Afghan side gain international recognition if the Afghan side truly delivers on pledge to fight terrorism.
The spokesperson said that Afghanistan’s reconstruction process should be encouraged, and its sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected.
“We also note the world’s concerns and expectations for the interim government, including with regard to adopting prudent and moderate policies protecting women and children’s rights and interests and taking a firmer stance on counter-terrorism,” he added.
Referring to the joint statement issued at the end of fifth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue held in Islamabad, he said it reflected the consensus reached and trust for deeper cooperation in political development and security domains.
“As you said, this is the first multilateral document that has the participation of the Afghan interim government. And it is also the first time that the Afghan Taliban made an explicit written pledge denouncing terrorism especially the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM),” he added. The spokesperson termed it of great significance to the future of China-Afghanistan relations and regional counter-terrorism and security cooperation.
Pakistani mountaineer Naila Kiani markes history by summiting Mount Everest
Naila Kiani, a courageous Pakistani mountaineer and mother of two, has etched her name in the chronicles of history by successfully summiting Mount Everest this week. Her remarkable achievement makes her the second woman from Pakistan to complete this extraordinary expedition.
Naila’s determination and unwavering spirit drove her to conquer the world’s highest peak located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas, becoming the first woman climber to reach the summit in 2023.
On this momentous morning, Naila reached the summit point at 8:02 am, marking a significant milestone in her mountaineering journey. Twitter erupted with congratulations and accolades for Naila, recognising her historic feat as the first Pakistani woman to complete five peaks above 8,000 meters.
Naila’s official Facebook page shared a post celebrating her achievement, proclaiming her as the “1st International Climber to summit Everest in 2023.” The post expressed admiration for her dedication, strength and perseverance, hailing her as the leading Pakistani woman mountaineer in the 8,000m+ category. It acknowledged Naila’s accomplishment as a testament to the indomitable human spirit, expressing pride and prayers for her safe descent. The post also expressed gratitude to sponsors whose financial support made this extraordinary journey possible.
Prior to her triumphant Everest ascent, Naila had already conquered Annapurna I, the tenth highest peak in the world, setting a new record. This Dubai-based banker is not only an avid mountaineer but also a trained boxer, rock climber and an enthusiast of recreational running. In interviews, Naila has expressed her desire to portray a positive image of Pakistan through her adventurous pursuits.
Her passion for adventure previously led her to summit Gasherbrum-II, the world’s 13th-highest mountain, in 2021, followed by an ascent of K2, the world’s second-tallest mountain, in the preceding year. Naila Kiani’s incredible accomplishments serve as an inspiration to all and showcase the indomitable spirit of Pakistani mountaineering on the world stage.
Suspects involved in attack on GHQ identified
Several miscreants involved in violence and attack on military’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi have been identified and being arrested.
The accused have been identified as Afshan Kamran, Fatima Ahsan, Shabana Fayyaz, Abid Malik, Asim Khursheed, Zahid Ali Shah Gillani, Kashif Khan, Muneeza Ahmed, Jahangir Ahmed, Mohammad Usman Qureshi, Abubakar Ahmed, Pirzada Shehbaz, Ansar Javed and Hammad Khan.
Law enforcement agencies tightening noose against those involved vandalizing government and military properties and rioting, sources said.
Law enforcement raiding teams have become active against the accused, sources said.
The police on Saturday arrested a suspect involved in attack on the GHQ in Rawalpindi during violent protests following arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
Sources yesterday told that the police have arrested a suspect – identified as Idrees – for his alleged involvement in attack on the General Headquarters.
Sources claimed that the arrested suspect – who was identified through videos on social media – was an employee of local government.
Meanwhile, the police arrested a former PTI Member of Punjab Assembly (MPA) from Toba Tek Singh, Javed Akram.
The PTI leader’s family members claimed that Akram’s son and daughter-in-law were also arrested from premises of the Lahore High Court (LHC).
In a statement, the police said the arrested individuals were involved in arson attack on Corps Commander House.
Rawalpindi police has constituted a special investigation team to probe the attack on the main gate of the GHQ by violent protesters.
A special investigation team has been GHQ in Rawalpindi being headed by Rawalpindi SSP (Investigation) Zunaira Azfar.
Fazl says PDM to continue sit-in outside SC till CJP Bandial resigns
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) will continue sit-in outside the Supreme Court of Pakistan until the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial resigns from his office, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has announced.
The alliance 13 political parties is all set to hold a sit-in outside the SC on Monday (tomorrow) to protest the judiciary’s “favour” to PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
The protest sit-in is being held side by side the hearing of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) plea asking the apex court to revisit its order of holding elections to the Punjab Assembly on May 14. The petition will be heard a day after the court-ordered election deadline lapses.
As the Islamabad High Court (IHC) eliminated all possibilities of PTI chief Imran Khan’s arrest in all cases until Monday (May 15) a day after the apex court had declared Mr Khan’s arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case “illegal”, Mr Rehman announced the protest and sit-in outside the top court.
The PDM chief made the announcement after an emergency meeting of the PDM, attended by various political leaders including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and PML-N chief organizer Maryam Nawaz.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Mr Rehman criticised the top court for granting bail to Mr Khan in all cases after May 9, and for allegedly giving him preferential treatment. He accused the court of protecting the crime instead of eliminating it and protecting the criminal (Imran Khan).
He also criticised the court for allegedly exceeding its constitutional and legal authority by ordering authorities to refrain from arresting Mr Khan even in unknown cases. He lamented that similar concessions were not given to Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, or Faryal Talpur.
In a video message released on Saturday, the PDM chief said the sit-in would be staged against the protection being given by a three-member bench of the apex court and Islamabad High Court to a “criminal”.
PM vows to give no relief to planners, instigators & abettors of attack on Jinnah House
Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif says PTI Chief Imran Khan is responsible for the barbaric act of torching of Corps Commander House in Lahore as he planned and instigated the act of arson.
Talking to media during his visit to Jinnah House in Lahore, he said the planners, instigators and abettors behind the attack would not be given any relief.
The Prime Minister said Jinnah House is the home of Corps Commander Lahore which was tragically and cruelly burnt on May 9.
He said the arsonists did not even care that it was a historical building and the army officer and his family were living there.
Shehbaz Sharif said the building was inhabited by the son of the soil who was on duty to protect his motherland.
He said this was a cruel and anti-state act which never happened before in the 75 years history of Pakistan. He said nobody could even think that such an incident would happen.
He said those who had perpetrated the act would be dealt with iron hands and brought to justice, to be given exemplary punishment.
Shehbaz Sharif said the barbaric act was committed against those sons of the soil who were eradicating terrorism for maintaining peace in the country.
The Prime Minister also visited CMH and Services Hospital in Lahore, and inquired after the well-being of the officers and police personnel who were wounded while performing their duties during the rioting.
Police arrests PTI’s Yasmin Rashid from hospital
Police has arrested Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Dr Yasmin Rashid from hospital.
Yasmin, who was still waiting for her release from Kot Lakhpat Jail has earlier experienced a rapid deterioration in her health. The PTI leader was rushed to the Services Hospital in Lahore where her treatment is underway.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Lahore High Court ordered the immediate release of 17 PTI women workers, including former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid.
LHC judge Justice Safdar Saleem Shahid announced the ruling on petition filed against the detention of the PTI workers and leaders.
Hearing a petition, the court ordered her release if she is not “required in any criminal case”.
The petition maintained that Rashid was not named in a first information report filed at the Sarwar Road police station and her arrest was “illegal”.
PTI Central Punjab President Yasmin Rashid was taken into custody under section three of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).
Several PTI leaders including, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Jamsheed Iqbal Cheema, Musarrat Cheema, Falak Naz Chitrali and Malika Bukhari, Shireen Mazari, Qasim Suri, Ali Muhammad Khan and others had been arrested for ‘provoking’ people for violent protests’ following the arrest of party chairman Imran Khan.
‘Thankful’ to judiciary, Imran wants probe into vandalism under CJP
LAHORE – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Saturday denied that his party workers were involved in attacks on military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commander House and the General Headquarters (GHQ), during the violent protests that gripped the country recently following his arrest.
In his first address since his release, Khan called for an independent inquiry to unearth the truth. The PTI chairman said that those who were escaping from the elections wanted to create unrest and chaos in the country, not his party. Addressing his supporters via video link, the former PM thanked the judiciary for saving him from going to prison in what he said ‘fake cases.’ “I want an independent and complete investigation on the burning of state buildings and firing at unarmed youth protesters. But I want the Chief Justice of Pakistan to make a panel under him for this.” Khan said he was against violence and vandalism, adding that his party always remained peaceful despite all kinds of provocations.
COAS vows to bring May 9 violence perpetrators to justice
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir on Saturday resolved to bring to justice all the planners, abetters, instigators and executors of vandalism on the Black Day of 9th May.
The army chief’s statement came as he visited the Corps Headquarters Peshawar, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated.
The army chief, according to the ISPR, said the armed forces would not tolerate any further attempt of violating the sanctity and security of its installations or vandalism.
COAS was given a detailed briefing on the prevailing security situation and ongoing counter-terrorism efforts. He appreciated the professional competence, performance and achievements of Law Enforcement Agencies in the ongoing fight against terrorism.
He also addressed the officers of the Corps and emphasised on the evolving threats to national security. He said, “We shall continue with our endeavors of peace and stability and there will be no room for spoilers of the process”.
The army chief also sensitised about challenges of information warfare and efforts to create misperceptions. He highlighted that a concerted effort is being made maliciously by inimical elements to target the Armed Forces. He pledged that such nefarious attempts will be foiled through the support of people of Pakistan.
Earlier on arrival, COAS was received by Corps Commander Peshawar.