At a wind-swept camp for those displaced by Yemen’s war, a young Yemeni woman named Leemi, who supports her child and eight others, gratefully accepted aid from Saudi Arabia.
That’s even after she said a Saudi-led airstrike destroyed her home near Sirwah, some 30 kilometres from the tent she now calls home in Marib province.
Leemi’s story reflects the two faces of the kingdom in the nearly 3-year-old war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia says it has spent nearly a billion dollars in aid to Yemen and plans with its partners to spend another $1.5 billion.
Meanwhile, the campaign by the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen’s Shia rebels, known as Houthis, has been a major cause of the country’s humanitarian disaster, rights groups say. The kingdom’s devastating air campaign repeatedly has struck markets, medical facilities and civilian targets, drawing international criticism.
The coalition’s blockade on ports under Houthi control has been a main factor pushing the country into near starvation, according to United Nations (UN) agencies and rights groups.
Saudi relief officials, however, stress their role has nothing to do with the ongoing military fight and say they also try to get their aid into Houthi-controlled territory as well.
“They are our neighbours,” said Abdullah al-Wadei, the assistant director of medical and environmental assistance at the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. “They are human beings first.”
Associated Press journalists recently travelled into Yemen as part of a tour for foreign reporters organised by the Saudi-led coalition to highlight their relief efforts.
Even before the war, Yemen was the Arab world’s poorest country and one of the world’s most water-scarce places. Since the war, Yemen’s 28 million people have been pushed to the brink of famine. Its poor water situation led to a cholera epidemic. There’s been an outbreak of diphtheria, a potentially fatal disease that primarily infects the throat and airways.
A Saudi-led airstrike in 2015 destroyed cranes at the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida, a major entryway for a country that imports 90 per cent of its food. The coalition maintains a blockade on Hodeida and other Houthi-controlled ports, an effort it says aims to prevent weapons from reaching the rebels.
Rights groups like the Norwegian Refugee Council say Saudi Arabia must allow “unhindered” commercial imports into Yemen to ease the crisis. The Saudi-led coalition says it wants to increase importing capacity at the ports, but it is not clear if the Houthis will cooperate. Saudi officials also accuse Houthi militants of diverting or stealing aid.
“Yemen is slowly choking and millions of Yemenis are at risk of dying of hunger, cholera or any other consequence of the conflict in a severely impoverished country already on the brink of collapse prior to the current crisis,” the UN’s Development Program wrote an analysis in late January.
To speed relief, the Saudis have run some 20 aid flights with secondhand American C-130 military transport planes into Marib, about 115 kilometres east of Sanaa. The aid has included rice, flour, sugar, salt, oil, beans and other foodstuffs, as well as blankets, tents, carpets and other material for those in need, said Fahad al-Osemy, the director of urgent aid at the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.
“There’s different people here because there’s more safety in Marib,” al-Osemy said. “You have people coming from Sanaa, Dhamar, and they need more than anyone [as they’ve been forced from their homes].”
The Saudis also provide food for Houthi-controlled territory in unmarked boxes that get distributed by local partners, he said. The Houthis control the capital, Sanaa, the north, and much of the central region and the western Red Sea coast.
From May 2015 until this January, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center says it has spent $854 million on aid to Yemen, much of it on health care and food. In January, the kingdom announced the coalition will give another $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid funding for distribution across UN agencies and other relief organisations.
Medical care for wounded soldiers backing the internationally recognised government and civilians also remains a priority, Saudi officials said. At a Saudi-funded hospital in Marib, workers make prosthetics for those who have lost limbs in the conflict, their patients evenly split between soldiers and civilians.
The UN has accused the Houthis of planting land mines and the Saudi-led coalition of using cluster bombs, both of which can lay dormant for long periods before killing and maiming civilians.
“The injuries are to the women, the children, the old men and the military,” said Haida Ali al-Nasseri, a 26-year-old woman who works at the hospital’s prosthetic department. “Everyone is coming.”
Nearby, a 24-year-old soldier for Yemen’s government who gave his name as Hamas waited for a prosthetic for his left foot. He said he lost it to a Houthi land mine near Sanaa.
Asked about the conflict, he thought for a moment and said: “We don’t need this war, but they kicked us out of our home.”
Makeshift tent camps have sprung up throughout Marib, home to some of Yemen’s two million people displaced by the war. Some 112 “spontaneous settlements” are in Marib province alone, about 35 per cent of all those throughout Yemen, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
At one such camp where Leemi lives, Yemeni men carrying Kalashnikov rifles, their traditional curved “janbiya” daggers tucked at their waist, greeted Saudi aid workers. Camp residents lined up for the aid, crowding around a desk where a relief worker kept track of the disbursements.
The sun soon set behind the western mountains that mark the war’s front line, bringing armed soldiers and militiamen to the side of visiting journalists.
“It’s not safe here,” they said, guiding the reporters away as night approached.
Reham Khan, a former TV anchor and ex-wife of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, has reportedly left Pakistan “amid threats by unknown individuals”, according to media reports.
GeoNews, late Sunday night, said that Reham while speaking to anchorperson Muneeb Farooq “confirmed she had left Pakistan on Sunday night and was receiving threats through phone calls made to her staff”.
The daily added that Reham had also reportedly shared a voice recording of the coordinator of Reham Khan Foundation telling her that he had received threats not to work for the foundation.
Dawn.com has reached out to Reham for confirmation but has received no response as yet. On Twitter, Reham hasn’t mentioned leaving the country; she, however, shared journalist Murtaza Solangi’s tweet in which he expressed shock over her “leaving the country”.
Sad and shocked to find out that @RehamKhan1 had to leave the country in an environment of intimidation and harassment. Shame on those responsible for creating toxic environment against her.
— Murtaza Solangi (@murtazasolangi) February 5, 2018
The news of her departure comes in the wake of her recent interview to India TV in which she commented on her former husband’s alleged third marriage. Reham is also set to release a book which, according to her, focuses on her own life and experiences.
Looks like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is back to recording songs for Bolly films!
The singer has recently completed a series of concerts worldwide, paying tribute to his legendary uncle, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Now, RFAK is back in the studio and his latest track for Bollywood film Welcome to New York is out.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has teamed up with singer Dhvani B for ‘Ishtehaar’ and according to Mumbai Mirror, he was impressed by her vocals!
“‘Ishtehar’ is a soulful rendition and it was a pleasure to sing to the music of Shamirji. It’s great to witness a young girl like Dhvani who has a lovely voice making her debut and sing besides me,” said RFAK, adding, “Shamirji has beautifully composed the song with Charanjeetji’s lyrics, giving it that magical touch.”
Welcome to New York stars Sonakshi Sinha, Diljit Dosanjh, Karan Johar, Boman Irani and Lara Dutta. The film is slated for release February 23.
Gunmen fired at Indian police officers and freed a suspected militant being transported to a hospital for a medical checkup on Tuesday in the Indian-held Kashmir, police said.
Police officer Ghulam Hasan Bhatt said two police officers suffered bullet injuries in the attack and both died later in Srinagar. The attackers escaped with the alleged insurgent.
The militant, belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, was arrested by police in 2015.
Several militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with neighbouring Pakistan since 1989. Around 70,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population, with most people supporting the separatists’ cause.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that he will not be party in the proceedings of a case which seeks to determine the time period of disqualification of a holder of public office under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.
A five-member bench of the apex court ─ headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah ─ has taken up 17 appeals against the disqualification of lawmakers.
Article 62(1)(f), which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous), had provided the grounds for the disqualification of the former premier from holding public office in the July 28, 2017, judgement on the Panama Papers case handed down by the apex court.
In a response submitted to the apex court today, the ex-PM said that he had decided not to participate in the court proceedings after consulting leaders of the PML-N. He recalled that time to hold the consultations had been sought from ─ and granted ─ by the SC when his lawyer had appeared before the bench on January 31.
The former premier noted in his reply that the matter ─ one of “far-reaching consequences relating to the body politic of the country” ─ has been taken up by the court on the “motion of many other aggrieved parties”.
He added that his participation in the case may bring “prejudice” to the proceedings.
Nawaz also said that if he had decided to participate in the proceedings, he would have asked Justice Saeed and Justice Ahsan to recuse themselves from the case as they had served on the bench that disqualified him in the Panama Papers case.
It is pertinent to mention that four of the judges hearing the case, excluding Justice Shah, have given either observations or judgements in the Panama Papers case.
Expanding the scope of investigation against Kulbushan Jhadav, Pakistan has demanded access to the self-confessed Indian spy’s whole network from India, Express News reported.
According to Express News, Pakistani authorities want to record statements of more than 24 people involved in Jadhav’s spying network and have been pondering over to include charges of “crimes against Pakistan” apart from the terrorism charges he already faces. This matter will be brought up in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where the trial is underway.
How Kulbushan Jadhav led India’s covert war in Pakistan
Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016 from the outskirts of Balochistan. He confessed to being a commander of the Indian Navy who was deputed to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the premier spy agency of India.
Jadhav has been involved in terrorist activities across Karachi and Balochistan whereas he is blamed for transferring millions of dollars to banned outfits.
The spy was awarded death sentence by a military tribunal in April last year after he was found guilty of espionage as well as subversive and terrorist activities. His mercy petition is pending before army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has yet to take a decision on it.
However, it is clear that convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav is under no threat of immediate execution until the ICJ trial is underway.
ICJ sets new timeline for submitting pleadings in Jadhav case
Subsequently, the wife and mother of Jadhav met him on December 25 last year on humanitarian grounds and were accompanied by an Indian diplomat.
Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing on Saturday said that Baloch militant organisations the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), while sitting down for an interview with BBC Urdu.
He added that members of such militant groups were “not true Pakistanis”.
Jing assured that the Gwadar port would be transformed into one of the world’s trading hubs owing to the improving security situation in the country in the last few years.
“If they [Baloch militants] are true Pakistanis, they should work in the interest of Pakistan,” he said.
He discounted their capacity to become a threat to the CPEC project.
The envoy also expressed his satisfaction with the security dispensed to 10,000 Chinese nationals working on various projects in the country.
Govt struggles to defend tax waiver to Chinese firm
Back on December 9 of last year 70 Baloch separatist militants, including commanders, renounced violence and laid down their arms on Saturday at a ceremony Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri and Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa were among the participants.
The Ferraris belonging to Baloch separatist groups announced submitting to the writ of the state and becoming part of the national mainstream.
At least 70 Baloch separatist militants, including commanders, renounced violence and laid down their arms on Saturday at a ceremony with then Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri and Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa were among the participants.
The Ferraris belonging to Baloch separatist groups announced submitting to the writ of the state and becoming part of the national mainstream.
Police has acquired the mobile phone data of Chen Zhu, the Chinese national who was shot dead in broad daylight in the city’s upscale neighbourhood, Express News reported.
The incident took place on Monday near Zamzama Park. As per the statement issued by South Zone police station, Zhu, 46, was employed at a private shipping firm in Karachi.
He and his coworker Ye Fan, another Chinese national, had left their office for lunch at a restaurant in Block-2 Clifton. They were in a white Honda when an unidentified assailant opened fire at them, leaving Zhu critically injured.
Chinese national shot dead in Karachi
Both Chinese nationals were shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where Zhu succumbed to his injuries.
Making headway, the police investigators have begun geo-fencing the area where the attack took place. Police sources also revealed details of the forensic report, saying the 9mm pistol recovered from the crime scene had never been used before.
The sources further informed the data from Zhu’s mobile phone as well as Fan’s mobile phone have also been acquired.
“We are getting details of the route of the victims with the help of a tracker installed in his car,” said District South police chief SSP Javed Akbar Riaz. “We are also looking for the CCTV footage of the entire area as well as looking for the victim’s call record.”
SSP Riaz further said that the case was being investigated from different angles, including business concerns and personal enmity.
The nuances of CPEC
The slain Chinese national’s body is stored in a morgue until the completion of the investigation, following which it will be flown to China.
Zhu was a resident of Lalazar Drive on the Beach Luxury Hotel Road where the company’s office is also located. He was serving as the managing director of the company since the last two years.
Following the incident, security has been tightened for foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals across the province. Hundreds of Chinese citizens are working in Pakistan as part of projects in CPEC project while over 4,000 police personnel have been deployed on their security.
Referred to as Salman Khan’s rumoured girlfriend, Iulia Vantur has often been photographed with the superstar at multiple occasions. Despite being seen with Khan’s family, Romanian actor Vantur prefers to not talk about her appearances with the actor, reported Hindustan Times.
Vantur revealed, “I never talk about him because I usually keep my personal life for myself. I feel this is the only area one should keep sacred. Our work anyway gives us all the exposure but what’s so intimate and private in your life, should be there only for you and your loved ones. That’s the reason I’ve not been speaking about it. There are things that are so precious that you want to protect them.”
The 37-year-old actor also spoke on the rumours surrounding the two. “Some rumours are out of this world. Sometimes when I hear or read about them, they’re just unbelievable. But what can you do? You can’t stop them. So, you learn to live with them and you start ignoring them,” shared Vantur.
Adding further, she stated that she’s used to the rumours considering that she is exposed to press and public in Romania. “It happens in every country. So, in a way, it’s normal. But being in India, I’ve learned to live with it and ignore it most of the times. Otherwise, it can get very bothering,” she expressed.
However, the actor also mentioned that she gets worried about her parents when it comes to such rumours as it can sometimes upset them.
Pakistan and China on Monday signed Executive Programme of Cultural Agreement for further consolidating cultural relations and promoting people-to-people contacts between the two states. Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Chinese Minister of Culture Luo Shugang signed the agreement on behalf of their respective countries. Ambassador of Pakistan to China and senior officials of both the countries were also present on the occasion.
In her meeting with the Chinese Minister of Culture before the signing ceremony, the Minister of State said that the relations between the iron brothers and strategic partners were deeper than oceans and higher than mountains and were based on mutual trust and respect. She expressed the confidence that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would take the bilateral relations between the two countries to new heights. Marriyum said that people of both countries wanted to enhance the cultural collaboration and added that President Xi Jinping’s vision of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was a historic milestone not only for the countries along the belt and road but also the region and beyond. The MOS said that relationship between Pakistan and China had been further strengthened by CPEC, a flagship project of BRI.
Abbasi assures world CPEC would be financially, environmentally sustainable
She said that after signing the agreement, there was a greater responsibility on both the countries to strive for time bound implementation process. She said that during the 19th Congress of the China Communist Party (CPC), President Xi Jinping stressed upon cultural exchanges as the fourth core component of the BRI. The Minister of State said that the economic cooperation, infrastructure development, energy projects and the people to people exchanges would enhance contacts and share & promote the heritage of both countries.
She said that the relationship between Pakistan and China had been embedded into our culture, adding that the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National History and Literary Heritage was actively pursuing the cultural contacts between the two states. She informed her host that during the last year, CPEC Cultural Caravan was organized from Xinjiang to Gwadar. Chinese group of visual artists and performing arts also participated. She observed that today’s agreement would translate into extensive cultural contacts between the two countries and also impart sustainability to the cultural ties.
The Minister of State proposed mutual photography exhibition at the Pak-China National Culture Center in Islamabad w had already been established and also the grant of cultural scholarship to students in universities. She also proposed to establish a FM Radio with an access along the CPEC route in Pakistan. Marriyum Aurangzeb particularly mentioned the Chinese Cultural Counselor in Pakistan who made this agreement a reality.
Chinese Minister for Culture Luo Sugang welcomed the minister and her delegation and said that China and Pakistan had special relations and friendly bonds particularly after the visit of President Xi Jinping to Pakistan in 2015. In culture, both the countries shared progressive relations and would enrich cultural relationship in future. He said that CPEC as flagship project of BRI was not only a corridor for economic and trade activity but it also was a conduit to enhance cultural exchanges between the two brotherly countries. He invited the Minister of State to attend the Silk Road Cultural festival scheduled to be held in China in September this year.
Baloch militants can’t endanger CPEC project: Chinese envoy
He also thanked the government of Pakistan for helping in establishing China Cultural Center which was inaugurated in Islamabad last year, adding that, till now 38 different types of events including exhibitions and performing arts had been introduced in less than a year. The Chinese Culture Minister said that the two countries could work together in archaeology and heritage preservation and offered Chinese assistance for establishment of archaeology and heritage center in Pakistan. He said “We can provide training to archaeological professionals in this centre,”.
Among other things Marriyum Aurangzeb and Luo Shugang discussed the future plan in regards to the establishment of Pak-China National Cultural Centre, Cultural Film Academy and Pak-China Cultural Sister College and University. The proposal of holding International Cultural CPEC Conference as well as exhibition of Pakistani movies in Chinese Cinemas also came under discussion. Minister of State and Minister of Culture, China both emphasized the need of formal agreement in establishing archeological centre in Pakistan and joint production of Pak-China cultural documentaries.
“CPEC being a route of peace and prosperity is also a cultural corridor and would further encourage people to people contacts”, MOS said.
Earlier, talking to media, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Pak-China friendship was a part of our culture and as a nation all the segment of Pakistani society had consensus on it. She opined that China was now altering the world’s economic map and said the way it was progressing; it would soon become number one economy of the world. Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the infrastructure development and energy projects focused on the people of two countries, adding, the development and progress would change the lives of the people of the two countries as well as the region.
The Minister of State said that the socio-economic condition of the people was getting better due to job opportunities under the CPEC and the people-oriented project would also have positive impact on the coming generations. Lauding the role of Pakistani media regarding CPEC, she said it created awareness among the people about the project adding, the print media contributed a number of editorials and articles while the Expo at Gwadar was telecast live by news channels of Pakistan.
She said that more than 5,000 businessmen and representatives of different countries participated in the Gwadar investment Expo which was a big success for the country. While commenting on Pak-China friendship, she said it was an example for the world as relations between both the countries were based on shared prosperity and mutual trust. She said that China’s Spring Festival was celebrated with great enthusiasm in Pakistan as well. A number of cultural activities were also arranged at the schools and cultural centers across the country.