Qatar to buy 24 jet fighters from UK

AFP

DOHA: Qatar on Sunday signed an agreement to buy 24 Typhoon fighter jets from Britain, a second major defence deal signed by Doha during its lengthening diplomatic dispute with its neighbours.

Qatari defence secretary Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and his British counterpart Michael Fallon signed a “statement of intent” for the UK to sell the planes, according to statements released by London and on social media.

“This will be the first major defence contract with Qatar, one of the UK’s strategic partners,” Fallon said. “This is an important moment in our defence relationship and the basis for even closer defence co-operation between our two countries,” he said.

The British ambassador to Doha, Ajay Sharma, took to Twitter to announce the deal, which he called a “major step” in defence relations between the countries.

 

There was no immediate comment from Qatar.

The agreement to supply the planes brings to a close a lengthy negotiating period. Fallon said a deal was “on the table” back in March 2016. It follows a separate major purchase from Washington.

In June this year it was announced that Qatar had agreed to buy F-15 jets from the US in a $12 billion (10 billion euros) deal.

And in 2016, Qatar agreed to buy 24 Dassault Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth a reported 6.7 billion euros.

But the timing of the UK and US deals was particularly crucial for Doha.

On June 5 — ten days before the US contract was announced — regional kingpin Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their Shia rival Iran.

Qatar denies the charges, claiming the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty. Analysts say the diplomatic crisis shows no sign of ending.

The deal also comes as Britain seeks to explore further trade deals outside Europe after voting to leave the European Union.

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Paying heed to ECP’s ‘final’ warning, PTI submits financial records of past 7 years

DAWN.com

After months of foot-dragging over the issue, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Monday finally submitted details of party accounts and foreign funding received in the last seven years to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Unhappy with the constant defiance of its orders, the ECP had last week given PTI yet another final opportunity to submit financial documents and details of funds received from abroad, as well as the party’s accounts, by September 18 [today].

On Monday, the party submitted financial documents and details of funds received from abroad, as well as the party’s accounts of past seven years in five sealed volumes.

The PTI counsel once again urged the five-member ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza, not to give details of party accounts to the petitioner, Akbar S. Babar — a former PTI member.

Hearing this, the chief commissioner remarked that according to a Lahore High Court ruling, the details of assets should be published online. He directed the PTI counsel to get the financial documents verified through concerned officials.

When the bench asked the counsel whether the financial records were the same as what the party had submitted in the Supreme Court, counsel Faisal Chauhdry said that there were additional documents as well.

The bench subsequently adjourned the hearing till October 16.

The ECP bench had made it clear during the hearing of the PTI foreign funding case that this was the last and final chance, failing which the commission would go ahead with ex-parte proceedings.

Prior to last week, the ECP had given numerous chances to PTI to submit financial details over the course of the hearings. On December 1 last year, the ECP had ordered the PTI to submit its accounts or face ‘legal consequences’. Instead of complying with the orders, the party had accused the ECP of ‘political bias’ which led to a contempt application against Imran Khan filed by petitioner Akbar S. Babar.

Long-drawn case

The case was filed on Nov 14, 2014 by Babar, after he developed differences with the PTI chief over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.

The petitioner had alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Imran Khan’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi’ channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees. He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

In April 2015, after scrutinising PTI’s annual audit reports, the ECP had ordered that the party had failed to disclose the sources and details of foreign funds received.

But instead of submitting the accounts, the PTI had challenged the ECP’s jurisdiction to scrutinise its accounts.

In July, the Islamabad High Court rejected PTI’s plea to prevent the ECP from hearing Babar’s petition, saying that the case has been going on since 2014 and has already once been referred back to the ECP.

PSL’s newest team is Multan, worth $41.6 million

The Pakistan Super League (PSL) on Thursday welcomed its newest outfit, Multan, which will feature in the third edition of the tournament to be held in 2018.

Dubai-based Schon Group met the reserve price of $5.2 million per year for an eight year contract, in a contest that had 10 bidders. The total contract is therefore worth $41.6 million.

Multan is Pakistan’s fifth largest city. For its rich Islamic and Sufi tradition, it is known as the City of Saints.

Karachi Kings was until now the most expensive team, with the ARY Group purchasing it for $2.6m per year for 10 years.

The other teams of PSL Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators were purchased for $2.5m, $1.6m, $1.5m and $1.1m respectively.

The Schon group is managed and owned by Nasir Schon and his two sons, who have their family roots in Pakistan.

With the inclusion of a sixth team, the number of matches played in the PSL is also set to be increased. PSL Chairman Najam Sethi is aiming to host at least four matches of the PSL’s third edition in Pakistan.

DAWN.com

Blast in eastern Saudi Arabia kills two: State TV

AFP

At least two people were killed when a car exploded in Saudi Arabia’s eastern city of Qatif on Thursday, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television reported.

It said initial reports indicated the victims were “fugitives”, a term that suggested people being sought by the kingdom’s security services.

The channel had earlier said the blast was caused by a car bomb. Its website posted images of thick black smoke rising from a street.

A resident contacted by telephone by Reuters said he had heard a blast and saw smoke rising above an area that police had blocked off. Saudi authorities were not immediately available for comment.

Photos sent over social media showed a body apparently completely burned being pulled from the wreckage of a car. The authenticity of the photos could not immediately be verified.

Qatif, home to a large Shi’ite Muslim population, has been a flashpoint between the Sunni Muslim government and Shi’ites complaining of discrimination.

DAWN.com

Explosions, gunshots heard at resort in Philippines capital

AFP

Gunfire was reported at a hotel and a casino resort in the Philippine capital on Friday, the operator of the complex said, and the militant Islamic State group (IS) quickly claimed responsibility.

“Resorts World Manila is currently on lockdown following reports of gunfire from unidentified men,” the company said on its Twitter account.

“The company is working closely with the Philippine National Police to ensure that all guests and employees are safe.”

IS said “lone wolf soldiers” from its group carried out the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group that monitors terrorist organisations.

Police confirmed there were reports of gunfire at Resorts World, which is across a road from one of the main terminals of the Philippines’ international airport.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities or injuries.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law last week across the southern region of Mindanao to crush what he said was a rising threat of Islamic State there.

He declared martial law shortly after militants went on a rampage through the southern city of Marawi, which is about 800 kilometres (500 miles) south of Manila.

Security forces are still battling the militants in Marawi, and the clashes there have left at least 171 people dead.

Duterte said last week he may need to declare martial law across the rest of the country if the terrorism threat spread.

DAWN.com

#Khaadi Has FINALLY Responded To Those Allegations With Their Side Of The Story

ARY NEWS

Renowned clothing brand Khaadi on Monday issued a clarification regarding a social media campaign against the brand.

The brand which was under fire for allegedly mistreating and firing its workers is facing a boycott campaign on social media after rumours one of its workers attempted suicide after being fired.

In a short statement, the brand categorically confirmed  hat it has not terminated 32 of its employees and the story regarding apparent attempted suicide of a young female worker is baseless.

“We categorically confirm that Khaadi has NOT terminated 32 of its employees. Another malicious story being spread and linked to the above is of the apparent attempted suicide of a young female worker. Why anyone should spread this outright lie is beyond understanding, but this just goes to show how some vested interests will stop at nothing to premeditatedly plan to try and cause reputational harm to Khaadi,” said the statement issued by the brand.

The statement adds that Khaadi, being a responsible corporate citizen, has always endeavoured to maintain and adhere to the highest standards in all operations-which also includes following best practices with regard to its biggest assets, the brand’s employees.

The brand also appealed to all social media users not to share or spread news that is pure hearsay, or base your comments on speculative news, no matter shared by who, without fully knowing the facts yourself.

A number of social media activists started calling for boycott of Khaadi after video of protest by people claiming to be workers of the brand went viral on social media.

A hashtag #BoycottKhaadi is also trending on the Twitter with social media activists calling for the nationwide boycott of Khaadi.

World needs to talk to N. Korea, not threaten it: Putin

Reuters

BEIJING: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, but that the world should talk to North Korea rather than threaten it.

Putin, speaking in Beijing, said nuclear tests of the type that Pyongyang had been carrying out in recent weeks were unacceptable, but that a peaceful solution to rising tensions on the Korean peninsula was needed.

“I want to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear powers, including with the Korean Peninsula and North Korea,” said Putin, who said any such move would be “harmful and dangerous”.

“But at the same time, we understand that what we have observed in the world recently, and specifically flagrant violations of international law and incursions into the territory of foreign states, changes in regime, lead to such kinds of arms races.” Putin did not specify what countries he had in mind, but he has in the past repeatedly criticised the United States for military operations in Iraq, Libya and Syria, and accused it of trying to oust legitimate governments.

“In this connection, we need to act in a joined-up way, (and) strengthen the system of international guarantees with the help of international law and with the help of the UN Charter,” said Putin.

“We need to return to dialogue with North Korea and stop scaring it and find ways to resolve these problems peacefully.” The Russian leader said he thought such an approach was possible because of what he called “the positive experience” of holding talks with Pyongyang in the past.

“If you recall, there was a time when North Korea announced it was suspending this kind of (nuclear) programme, but unfortunately certain participants in the negotiations process did not have enough patience. I think we need to return to this.” Putin said he was briefed by his defence minister after North Korea’s latest missile test.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2017