Foreign

Pakistan promises support for Afghan peace talk

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Pakistan on Friday promised support for a fresh U.S attempt to begin direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.


Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his country would use all its influence on the militia to convince them to seek peace through dialogue with the Kabul administration.

Qureshi said at a meeting with U.S special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad “we will go to any extent for Afghan peace.”

The envoy would brief Pakistani leaders about his latest negotiations with Taliban leaders in Doha.

The first contact between the sides since U.S President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the previous talks in September.

Earlier Khalilzad said on social media that both the U.S and Taliban negotiation teams had taken a brief pause after several days of talks to consult their leaders.

The announcement from the U.S envoy came after the Taliban’s attack on the Bagram U.S military base which killed two Afghan civilians and wounded more than 70 others.

Khalilzad expressed his outrage over the attacks on Twitter, writing that the “#Taliban must show they are willing and able to respond to Afghan desire for peace.

“We are taking a brief pause for them to consult their leadership on this essential topic.’’

The spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, Suhail Shaheen, tweeted that the talks had been positive and good.

The militants have so far refused to hold direct talks with President Ashraf Ghani’s government, calling it puppets of Washington.

Pakistan and its spy agency, which are often blamed for harbouring Afghan militants, are said to have considerable influence on the militia.

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Ali Baba-Inuwa

(NAN)

https://nnn.ng/pakistan-promises-support-for-afghan-peace-talk/

Coronavirus

Red Cross warns coronavirus is driving discrimination in Asia

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Thursday warned the novel coronavirus is driving discrimination towards vulnerable communities in Asia, including migrants and foreigners.


The humanitarian agency surveyed 5,000 people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Pakistan and found about half blamed a specific group for spreading the coronavirus, with many mentioning Chinese people, immigrants and foreigners.

“It is particularly concerning that both national migrant and foreign workers are blamed for the spread of COVID-19 as they are quite vulnerable already,” Dr Viviane Fluck, one of the lead researchers and the agency’s Asia Pacific community engagement and accountability coordinator, told Reuters.

She said there should be more focus on combating rumours that are linked to underlying power dynamics and structural issues of inequality.

Over half of the Indonesians surveyed blamed “foreigners and rule-breakers” while in Myanmar, the groups most often thought to be responsible were people from China and other foreigners.

“In Malaysia, two-thirds blamed a specific group, most frequently mentioning migrants, foreign tourists and illegal foreigners,’’ the researchers said.

Malaysian authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented migrants and refugees in May in a crackdown the United Nations said could push vulnerable groups into hiding and prevent them from seeking treatment.

Police said at the time the operation was aimed at preventing people from travelling amid movement curbs.

In Pakistan, most people surveyed blamed inadequate government controls on the Iranian border, followed by nationals including pilgrims coming back from Iran and then people from China.

In all four countries, higher education had a small impact on whether respondents blamed a specific group, with university graduates slightly less likely to hold certain people responsible, the researchers said.

ACO/

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/red-cross-warns-coronavirus-is-driving-discrimination-in-asia/
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Defence/Security

NDLEA intercepts 1.6 kilograms of hard drugs en-route Turkey 

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Special Area Command, has intercepted 1.6 kilogramme of controlled drugs suspected to be Tramadol and Flunitrazepam.


The Head of Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mr Jonah Achema, disclosed this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja.

Achema said that the drugs, which were destined for Istanbul, Turkey, barely few days after resumption of international flights, was an unusual drug trafficking trend.

He said that the command made the seizure from Mr Michael Chukwuka, during the outward clearance of passengers boarding the Turkish Airline flight to Istanbul, Turkey.

According to him, the usual trend is the illegal importation of Tramadol from Pakistan and India into the country and not the exportation of illicit Tramadol.

“The seizures are made up of 1.250 kilograms of Tramadol and 350 grams of flunitrazepam and were concealed in two Ghana-must-go bags.

“The Tramadol are in 200, 225 and 250 milligrams, respectively. These are above the 100 milligram threshold permissible for legitimate use and anything above is illegal.

“Chukwuka, aged 36 and an indigene of Imo State, claimed to be ignorant of the content of the bag.

“And that he was given the bags at the Airport entrance in Abuja to deliver to a Nigerian woman who deals in food stuff in Istanbul.

“He said he did not know the woman but one Mr Paul, her husband in Warri, gave the consignment to one man to bring to him at the airport,” Achema quoted him as saying.

Achema, however, said that the suspected drug trafficker who worked in a Cargo Office in Istanbul, had lived there together with Paul for many years.

He said that the suspect travelled to Nigeria in March and got trapped by the Coronavirus pandemic during which period, he equally became cash-strapped and had to reach out to friends to enable him validate his return-ticket.

The Commander, NDLEA, Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Mr Kabir Taskuwa, said that the arrest and seizure coming less than a week after the resumption of international flights at Abuja International Airport was a clear indication that the drug traffickers were desperate.

According to him, we are equally determined. Most importantly, we need to be extra-vigilant because smuggling Tramadol to Turkey was strange.

“This is suggesting that there is an emerging tramadol market in some of these countries,” Tsakuwa noted.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Idonije Obakhedo
Source: NAN

 

 

 

https://nnn.ng/ndlea-intercepts-1-6-kilograms-of-hard-drugs-en-route-turkey/
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COVID-19

Pakistan’s educational institutions reopen after 6-month break over COVID-19 – Reports

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All the educational institutions across Pakistan reopened on Tuesday after a six-month break over the spread of the coronavirus infection, media reported.


The decision to shut schools, universities and other educational institutions was made by the country’s government back in March in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, while the Sindh province took the same measure in February after detecting the first case.

Earlier in September, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced that all higher education institutions would reopen from Sept. 15, with children studying from the ninth to 12th grades also returning to school the same day, the Geo News broadcaster reported.

The decision also applies to over 30,000 religious seminaries across the country that also gradually resumed operations from Tuesday.

At the same time, the use of masks remains mandatory for all teachers and students, while all educational institutions need to ensure the supply of hand sanitiser at the entrance, as well as social distancing measures, the broadcaster added.

Coronavirus lockdown measures have partially or fully closed schools for over 60% of the world’s student population across 186 countries and territories, according to UNESCO.

After closing schools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a handful of countries like Denmark, Japan, and the United States have started reopened them.

Reopening strategies range from keeping windows open for ventilation to spacing desks six feet apart and resuming classes for students of a certain age.

While reopened schools have been mostly successful in avoiding any further coronavirus outbreaks among younger students so far, as  The Washington Post story stated, doctors and public health officials warn that there is still a lot we don’t know about how the virus spreads in schools, and asymptotic children aren’t likely to be tested.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim

Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/pakistans-educational-institutions-reopen-after-6-month-break-over-covid-19-reports/
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COVID-19

Pakistani students return to school as COVID-19 caseload drops

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Tens of thousands of students in Pakistan returned to educational institutions on Tuesday after a six-month break, as the country’s new coronavirus caseload continues to decline.


Universities and colleges reopened and school classes for the ninth and 10th grade restarted in the first phase of a three-stage plan announced by the the government earlier this month.

School classes for younger pupils were set to resume by the end of September, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said.

A sharp decline in new COVID-19 infections since July has encouraged authorities to reopen educational institutions under strict guidelines for teachers and students, including the wearing of face masks.

“It was a difficult decision but we have to take it sooner or later,” said Saeed Ghani, Education Minister in the worst-hit southern province of Sindh.

Student unions in the conflict-ridden provinces of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan welcomed the resumption of in-person learning, as many students had not been able to join online classes due to a lack of internet access.

Pakistan had ordered schools to close in February, following the lead of other countries in the region, after the first COVID-19 infections were reported.

The country has reported more than 300,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 6,000 related deaths.

More than 95 per cent of patients have recovered.

The ratio of new infections among those tested recently declined to 2 per cent, according to health authorities.

The minister said the government would order schools to close again if infections spread once more.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza
Source: NAN

 

https://nnn.ng/pakistani-students-return-to-school-as-covid-19-caseload-drops/
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