More than 200 MML candidates in election race despite denial of registration

1 / 3
President Milli Muslim League, Saifullah Khalid, along with other office-bearers addressing press conference at Karachi Press Club here on Wednesday, April, 4, 2018 (AN Photo)
2 / 3
President Milli Muslim League, Saifullah Khalid, along with other office-bearers addressing press conference at Karachi Press Club here on Wednesday, April, 4, 2018 (AN Photo)
3 / 3
Screen grab of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s list of symbols being allotted to 113 political parties, including AAT, which the MML has made an umbrella for contesting the general elections of 2018.
Updated 13 June 2018

More than 200 MML candidates in election race despite denial of registration

  • Candidates of the Milli Muslim League (MML), an offshoot of Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), will contest elections under the umbrella of little-known Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) from across Pakistan, after election commission denies registration
  • MML spokesman accuses government of creating obstacles in registration of MML because of Indian pressure

KARACHI: More than 200 candidates of the Milli Muslim League (MML) will contest seats in the national and four provincial assemblies of Pakistan under the umbrella of Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) canceled its registration as a political party.
“More than 200 candidates of the MML will contest elections with symbol of a chair and as candidates of AAT, with which we have made election alliance,” the MML Karachi spokesman and candidate for the constituency PS-111, Muhammad Asif, told Arab News.
According to the ECP website, the election body has allotted election symbols to 103 political parties. Allah-o-Akbar Party, present in the list at No-9, has been allotted a chair as the symbol.
Asif said the AAT was registered with the ECP some 15 years ago and contested the 2013 general elections with a cow as the party symbol.
According to an MML spokesman, the party is also in the process of forging an electoral alliance with different factions of Pakistan Muslim League sans??? Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N).
“We expect that election alliance will be announced in the next couple of days,” Asif said, adding that the party was also in talks with the Sindh’s Grand Democratic Alliance, led by Chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional Pir Pagara, Pir Sibghatullah Rashidi, for seat adjustments in Karachi.
On Wednesday, a four-member bench of the ECP decided against registering MML as a political party based on a report by the Interior Ministry which expressed reservations over the MML having links with Hafiz Saeed, chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which has been declared by the US as a terrorist organization.
The MML central spokesperson, Tabish Qayyum, rejected the Interior Ministry’s report. “Despite Islamabad High Court’s clear decision, it is highly regrettable not to enlist MML. Governmental officials are using illegal and non-constitutional ways to please foreign powers,” he told Arab News.
“The government is creating obstacles in the registration of MML due to Indian pressure,” he continued.
“MML is a peaceful political party and has the right to continue its political activities, which are exactly in accordance with the law and constitution,” Qayyum said.
Qayyum says the party will soon release a list of its candidates, but he confirmed that Muzammal Iqbal Hashimi and Talha Saeed from the top leadership will contest elections. Hashimi, along with MML central president Saifullah Khalid and five others, was placed on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists on April 2.
A day earlier, the MML announced the names of 24 candidates who would contest different national and provincial assembly constituencies of Karachi.
According to a handout sent to Arab News, the MML has fielded its central leader Muzammil Iqbal Hashimi in NA-242 and NA-243. Mudassir Chaudary Advocate and Ataullah will contest NA-244 and NA-250, while a female candidate will be the party’s contender for NA-251.
The party has fielded Muhammad Anees Ansar, Imran Saleem, Moiz Shehzad, Ali Gabol, Muhammad, Fahad Yusuf, Hakeem Sajid and Ubaid for the seats of the provincial assembly. Mudassir Chaudary Advocate, Muhammad Asif, Chaudary Ejaz, Amjad Islam Amjad, Nadir Khan, Imdad Ali, Zahid Anwar, Sher Bahadur, Naseer Ahmed and Abdul Waheed Bandhani and Ahsan Habib are also the party candidates on different provincial assembly seats.
The Milli Muslim League, a group proscribed by the US in 2018, had announced it would push for its registration as a political party with the Election Commission of Pakistan but if that failed it would field independent candidates from across Pakistan.


S.Africa’s COVID-19 cases could triple this week, says expert

Updated 6 sec ago

S.Africa’s COVID-19 cases could triple this week, says expert

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s daily COVID-19 infection rate could triple to more than 10,000 by the end of this week as the new Omicron variant spreads rapidly, a top infectious disease expert said on Monday.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, the government’s chief adviser during the initial response to the pandemic, also said that, while existing vaccines should be effective at preventing severe disease from the variant, South African hospitals could be under pressure from a flood of admissions within two to three weeks.
“Even if Omicron is not clinically worse, and certainly the anecdotes don’t raise any red flags just yet ..., we are going to see this (pressure on hospitals) in all likelihood because of the rapidity of transmission,” he told a news conference.
The discovery of the variant in southern Africa has caused global alarm, with countries limiting travel from the region and imposing other restrictions for fear it could spread quickly even in vaccinated populations.
The World Health Organization said on Monday that the variant posed a very high global risk of infection surges, though further research was needed to assess its potential to evade protection against immunity induced by vaccines and previous infections.
Abdool Karim, a professor at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal and Columbia University in the United States, said vaccines were still likely to confer good protection against Omicron because of T-cell immunity, different from the antibody immunity that often blocks infections.
“Even if there’s some escape from antibodies it’s very hard to escape T-cell immunity,” he said.
Doctors who have treated South African COVID-19 patients say Omicron so far appears to be producing mild symptoms, including a dry cough, fever and night sweats. But public health experts say it is too early to draw firm conclusions.
The government says it is doing everything possible to prepare health facilities to cope with the variant and is asking countries that imposed travel restrictions on southern Africa to reverse them, Health Minister Joe Phaahla told the same news conference.
So far, there hasn’t been a steep increase in hospital admissions or COVID-19 deaths since the variant was first detected in South Africa last week, in samples from earlier in November.
On Sunday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported 2,858 new cases, down from 3,220 on Saturday but compared to roughly 300 two weeks ago when the country, where around 35 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, was experiencing a lull after a third wave of infections.

US screened 2.45 million passengers Sunday, highest since early 2020

Updated 29 November 2021

US screened 2.45 million passengers Sunday, highest since early 2020

  • Despite fears the jump in demand could strain the system, US air travel was relatively smooth over the holiday period
  • Airlines are also worried about new travel restrictions that the United States imposed on eight southern African countries that bar nearly all foreign nationals in response to a new COVID-19 variant

WASHINGTON: The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 2.45 million airline passengers on Sunday, the highest number of daily passengers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said Monday.
The tally was the highest for one day since mid-February 2020. Volume for the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period was 20.9 million, about 89 percent of pre-pandemic travel numbers, TSA added, and more than twice the volume over 2020.
Despite fears the jump in demand could strain the system, US air travel was relatively smooth over the holiday period, in part due to favorable weather. US airlines have been racing to add more staff and flights to handle the rising number of travelers, offering bonuses and other incentives for current staff.
Airlines are also worried about new travel restrictions that the United States imposed Monday on eight southern African countries that bar nearly all foreign nationals in response to a new COVID-19 variant, and are concerned these curbs may expand to other routes with higher traffic.
On Nov. 8, the Biden administration lifted travel restrictions for fully vaccinated air travelers from 33 countries including China, Brazil and much of Europe.
Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said that in the week ended Nov. 14, US airline passenger volumes were 10 percent below pre-pandemic levels, with domestic air travel down 8 percent and international down 25 percent.
Travel group AAA had forecast 53.4 million people would travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13 percent from 2020, with most travelers going by car.


Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful

Updated 29 November 2021

Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful

  • Russia, the United States, France and China have all been experimenting with so-called hypersonic glide vehicles
MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it had carried out another successful test of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, as world powers race to develop the advanced weaponry.
Russia, the United States, France and China have all been experimenting with so-called hypersonic glide vehicles — defined as reaching speeds of at least Mach 5.
As part of “the completion of tests” of Russia’s hypersonic missile weapons, the Admiral Gorshkov warship launched a Zircon missile at a target in the Barents Sea at a range of 400 kilometers, the defense ministry said.
“The target was hit,” the ministry said, describing the test as successful.
The missile has undergone a number of recent tests, with Russia planning to equip both warships and submarines with the Zircon.
Putin revealed the development of the new weapon in a state of the nation address in February 2019, saying it could hit targets at sea and on land with a range of 1,000 kilometers and a speed of Mach 9.
Russia’s latest Zircon test came after Western reports that a Chinese hypersonic glider test flight in July culminated in the mid-flight firing of a missile at more than five times the speed of sound over the South China Sea.
Up until the test, none of the top powers had displayed comparable mastery of a mid-flight missile launch.
China denied the report, saying it was a routine test of a reusable space vehicle.
Russia has boasted of developing several weapons that circumvent existing defense systems, including the Sarmat intercontinental missiles and Burevestnik cruise missiles.
Western experts have linked a deadly blast at a test site in northern Russia in 2019 — which caused a sharp spike in local radiation levels — to the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’

Updated 29 November 2021

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’

  • Pair left the hotel where travelers who tested positive for the virus were staying after arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from South Africa

AMSTERDAM: A couple caught trying to escape from COVID-19 quarantine in the Netherlands after testing positive for the coronavirus have been transferred to a hospital where they were being held in isolation, an official said on Monday.
The pair, a Spanish man and Portuguese woman, left the hotel where travelers who tested positive for the virus were staying after arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from South Africa.
“They have now been transferred to a hospital elsewhere in the Netherlands to ensure they are in isolation. They are now in so-called forced isolation,” said Petra Faber, spokesperson for Haarlemmermeer municipality, where Schiphol is located just outside of the capital.
“We don’t know who tested positive for the new variant and we wouldn’t say because of privacy,” Faber said.
The couple fled the hotel on Sunday and had boarded a plane to Spain when they were detained by military police at the airport, said Faber. They were among 61 out of the more than 600 passengers who arrived on two flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town on Friday and tested positive for COVID-19.
At least 13 of those infected have the newly identified omicron variant of the virus, Dutch health authorities said on Sunday.
Security at the hotel has in the meantime been increased to ensure the quarantined guests stay in their rooms. It is being guarded by regular police and military police.
The discovery of omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year-old COVID-19 pandemic.
Dutch authorities are also seeking to contact and test some 5,000 other passengers who have traveled from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe.
In the Netherlands, tougher COVID-19 measures went into effect on Sunday to curb record daily infection rates of more than 20,000 and ease pressure on hospitals.


India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws

Updated 29 November 2021

India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws

  • Narendra Modi said this month his government would repeal the laws in the new session of parliament

NEW DELHI: India’s parliament on Monday passed a bill to repeal three laws aiming at deregulating agricultural markets, bowing to pressure from farmers who have protested for over a year to demand that the laws be rolled back.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration introduced the farm bills last year through an executive order, traditionally reserved for emergency legislation, triggering India’s longest-running farmers’ protest. Parliament then passed the legislation via a voice vote, drawing widespread criticism that it had rushed through the laws without proper debate.
In a bid to end the protests ahead of the state assembly election in India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state early next year, Modi said this month his government would repeal the laws in the new session of parliament.
As parliament reconvened for its winter session on Monday, both the lower and upper houses passed the bill to withdraw the laws meant to deregulate and open up agricultural markets to companies. Farmers have said the laws would leave them with scant bargaining power against big private purchasers.
The controversial laws saw tens of thousands of people, including many elderly growers and women farmers, brave extreme weather and a severe second wave of coronavirus infections to camp out on the outskirts of New Delhi over the past year.
In addition to their repeal demand, protesting farmers are also asking that Modi’s administration introduce a law to secure government prices for produces beyond just rice and wheat.
The government currently buys rice and wheat at state-set Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), but the subsidies only benefit about 6 percent of India’s millions of farmers.
Protesters are demanding MSPs for all crops – a move that has galvanized growers across the country and taken the protest beyond India’s grain-growing states of Punjab and Haryana.
The government has not yet made any comment on the protesters’ demand for MSPs.
Farmers celebrated the development but said the protest would only be called off when the government promised legislation on MSPs for all produce.