Pakistan hits 'terrorist hideouts' in airstrike on Iran

The IRGC have launched missile attacks on multiple “terrorist” targets in Syria and in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, Iranian state media reported on January 16. (AFP)
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Updated 18 January 2024
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Pakistan hits 'terrorist hideouts' in airstrike on Iran

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan conducted strikes inside Iran on Thursday, targeting separatist Baloch militants, its foreign ministry said, two days after Tehran said it had attacked the bases of another group within Pakistani territory.
The neighbors have had rocky relations in the past, but the strikes are the highest-profile cross-border intrusion in recent years, for which Tehran has demanded an explanation, the semi-official Tasnim news agency said.
The Iran-Pakistan exchange deepens worries about instability across the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas started on Oct. 7, with Iran’s allies also entering the fray from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-haq Kakar will cut short a visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos and return home, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.
Earlier, Iranian media said several missiles hit a village in the Sistan-Baluchestan province that borders Pakistan, killing three women and four children, all non-Iranians.
“A number of terrorists were killed during the intelligence-based operation,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said, describing it as a “series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts.”
“Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the ministry added in its statement.
“The sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s own security and national interest, which is paramount and cannot be compromised.”
Tehran has asked Islamabad for an explanation about the strikes, Iran’s Tasnim news agency said, citing an unidentified official. Pakistan’s charge’d affaires, its most senior diplomat in Tehran, has been summoned, Iranian media said.
A Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters the strikes were carried out by military aircraft.
“Our forces have conducted strikes to target Baloch militants inside Iran,” said the official in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
“The targeted militants belong to BLF,” he added, referring to the Baloch Liberation Front, which seeks independence for Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
Iran said on Tuesday it had hit Israel-linked militant bases inside Pakistan. Both targeted groups are ethnically Baloch, but it was not clear if they co-operate.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan said civilians had been hit and two children killed, warning of consequences for which Tehran would be responsible.
Islamabad recalled its ambassador from Iran on Wednesday in protest against what it called a “blatant breach” of its sovereignty.
Escalation fears
Iran had been flexing its muscles in the region, even before its cross-border incursion into Pakistan.
It launched strikes on Syria against what Tehran said were Islamic State sites and Iraq, where it said it had struck an Israeli espionage center. Baghdad recalled its ambassador from Tehran.
The neighbors had appeared to be improving ties, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and Pakistan’s Kakar meeting at Davos this week, before the Iranian strikes on Pakistan.
Pakistan’s comments after its retaliatory strikes signal a desire to keep the row contained, but analysts warned it could get out of hand.
“Iran’s motivation for attacking Pakistan remains opaque but in light of broader Iranian behavior in the region it can escalate,” Asfandyr Mir, a senior expert on South Asia security at the US Institute of Peace, told Reuters.
“What will cause anxiety in Tehran is that Pakistan has crossed a line by hitting inside Iranian territory, a threshold that even the US and Israel have been careful to not breach.”
Khwaja Asif, Pakistan’s defense minister until August, said the action was retaliatory.
“A measured response has been given and it was important,” he told Geo TV. “There should be ongoing efforts on the side that this doesn’t escalate.”
Both targeted militant groups operate in an area that includes Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan and Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province. Both are restive, mineral-rich and largely underdeveloped.
The BLF, which Islamabad targeted inside Iran, is waging an armed insurgency against the Pakistani state.
This includes hitting Chinese citizens and investments in Balochistan, which is Pakistan’s largest province by land mass, but its least populated and developed. Large portions are lawless.
The Jaish al Adl (JAA), which Iran targeted, is also an ethnic militant group, but with Sunni Islamist leanings that primarily Shiite Iran sees as a threat.
The group has carried out attacks in Iran against its powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In its previous incarnation as Jundallah, the group had pledged allegiance to Iraq- and Syria-based jihadist group Daesh.


Pure Beverages Industry Company brings world-first water treatment technology to Saudi Arabia

Updated 11 min 44 sec ago
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Pure Beverages Industry Company brings world-first water treatment technology to Saudi Arabia

Pure Beverages Industry Company has announced the launch of a world-first water treatment technology in Saudi Arabia, in partnership with German company Krones AG.

The move is in line with PBIC’s commitment to bringing the latest technologies to the Kingdom and Vision 2030, which aims to enhance innovation in the Saudi market. The company’s developmental efforts have led to providing pure and high-quality water by applying the highest international standards. Every drop of Ival and Oska, PBIC’s water brands, goes through a rigorous monitoring process to produce premium bottled water.

This new water treatment technology constitutes a milestone in the water sector as it enhances the company’s ability to provide innovative products that meet the aspirations of customers in the Kingdom and abroad.

Saad bin Ajlan Alajlan, general manager of PBIC, praised the successful cooperation with Krones AG, stressing the company’s commitment to achieving leadership in providing pure and healthy water to consumers.

Dr. Roland Fellner, head of water treatment units at Krones AG, highlighted the high quality of the technology provided and its support for the PBIC’s goals in achieving excellence and innovation.

“This latest upgrade to water treatment technology will be another major milestone for PBIC to achieve excellence in the quality of bottled water and become the first company in the world to possess the greatest possible know-how of the advanced water treatment process globally,” he said.

PBIC has a wide distribution network across Saudi Arabia, comprising a fleet of more than 850 vehicles.


West Ham’s Paqueta charged over alleged betting breaches

Updated 9 min 41 sec ago
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West Ham’s Paqueta charged over alleged betting breaches

  • Paqueta has been charged with four breaches of FA rules in relation to his conduct in West Ham’s Premier League matches
  • The 26-year-old has also been charged with two further breaches in respect of alleged failures to “comply pursuant to FA Rule F2“

LONDON: West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta has been charged with alleged breaches of Football Association betting rules after a probe into claims the Brazilian deliberately earned yellow cards.
Paqueta has been charged with four breaches of FA rules in relation to his conduct in West Ham’s Premier League matches against Leicester in November 2022, Aston Villa in March 2023, Leeds in May 2023 and Bournemouth in August 2023.
The 26-year-old has also been charged with two further breaches in respect of alleged failures to “comply pursuant to FA Rule F2.”
Paqueta was interviewed by the FA in September and gave the English game’s governing body access to his phone.
The FA investigation started after suspicious betting patterns surrounding Paqueta’s booking for shoving Bournemouth’s Illia Zabarnyi in the closing minutes of a 1-1 draw on the opening day of this season.
“West Ham United’s Lucas Paqueta has been charged with misconduct in relation to alleged breaches of FA Rules E5 and F3,” an FA statement said on Thursday.
“It’s alleged that he directly sought to influence the progress, conduct, or any other aspect of, or occurrence in these matches by intentionally seeking to receive a card from the referee for the improper purpose of affecting the betting market in order for one or more persons to profit from betting.”
Paqueta has until June 3 to respond to the charges, subject to any request for an extension to the deadline.
Writing on his Instagram page, Paqueta was quick to deny the charges.
“I am extremely surprised and upset that the FA has decided to charge me,” he said.
“For nine months, I have co-operated with every step of their investigation and provided all the information I can.
“I deny all the charges in their entirety and will fight with every breath to clear my name. Due to the ongoing process, I will not be providing any further comment.”
In their own statement, West Ham said: “The club acknowledges receipt of the FA charge received by Lucas Paqueta for alleged breaches of their Rules.
“Lucas categorically denies the breach and will continue to robustly defend his position.
“The club will continue to stand by and support the Player throughout the process and will make no further comment until the matter is concluded.”


New Murabba’s Mukaab signs piling contract with HSSG Foundation Contracting

Updated 33 min 39 sec ago
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New Murabba’s Mukaab signs piling contract with HSSG Foundation Contracting

In a significant milestone that propels the ambitious Mukaab forward, the New Murabba Development Company, a PIF company, has announced the signing of the “Mukaab Piling Works Contract” with HSSG Foundation Contracting LLC, known for providing technically advanced foundation solutions.

This marks a pivotal step in the development of the Mukaab, which is set to become the centerpiece of the New Murabba, Riyadh’s transformative downtown destination. Once completed, the Mukaab will be one of the largest built structures in the world, measuring 400 meters in height, width, and length.

The contract was formalized by Michael Dyke, chief executive of New Murabba Development Company, and Ali Korhan from HSSG Foundation Contracting, bringing together two leading organizations in a historic commitment. The partnership underscores HSSG Foundation Contracting’s experience and strong reputation and will leverage its extensive expertise in complex foundation engineering for the successful realization of the Mukaab project.

The contract awarded to HSSG Foundation Contracting, and other partnerships that to date have been established, represent a significant leap forward in the realization of the vision for the Mukaab, and the creation of the largest modern downtown in the world, in line with Vision 2030.

Piling, as an initial phase of construction, is fundamental to the structural integrity and longevity of any major development. For the Mukaab, this will mean establishing a strong base that will support its innovative architectural vision and ambitious scale. By securing this contract, New Murabba Development Company has reaffirmed its commitment to laying a resilient groundwork that will uphold the future vibrancy and dynamism of Riyadh’s new downtown.

As development continues for New Murabba and the iconic Mukaab, the New Murabba Development Company and its partners are laying the foundations for a lasting legacy — a vibrant, dynamic, downtown that will captivate the world and start a new chapter for Saudi Arabia’s bright future. 


Group of graduates walk out of Harvard commencement chanting ‘Free, free Palestine’

Updated 37 min 2 sec ago
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Group of graduates walk out of Harvard commencement chanting ‘Free, free Palestine’

  • Student speaker Shruthi Kumar said “this semester our freedom of speech and our expressions of solidarity became punishable,” she said to cheers and applause
  • “I am deeply disappointed by the intolerance for freedom of speech and the right to civil disobedience on campus”

CAMBRIDGE: A group of graduates walked out of the Harvard commencement chanting “Free, Free Palestine” after weeks of protests on campus.
School officials announced Wednesday, the day before Thursday’s graduation, that 13 Harvard students who participated in a protest encampment would not be able to receive degrees alongside their classmates.
Some students chanted “Let them walk, let them walk walk,” during Thursday’s commencement, referring to allowing those 13 students to get their degrees along with fellow graduates.
Harvard University held its commencement address Thursday following a weekslong pro-Palestinian encampment that shut down Harvard Yard to all but those with university ties and roiled tensions on the campus.
Those tensions were ticked up a notch on Wednesday when school officials announced that 13 Harvard students who participated in the encampment won’t be able to receive degrees alongside their classmates. Some students chanted “Let them walk, Let them walk,” during commencement.
Student speaker Shruthi Kumar said “this semester our freedom of speech and our expressions of solidarity became punishable,” she said to cheers and applause.
She said she had to take a moment to recognize “the 13 undergraduates in the class of 2024 who will not graduate today,” Kumar said to prolonged cheers and clapping. “I am deeply disappointed by the intolerance for freedom of speech and the right to civil disobedience on campus.”
Over 1,500 students had petitioned, and nearly 500 staff and faculty had spoken up, all over the sanctions, she said.
“This is about civil rights and upholding democratic principals,” she said. “The students had spoken. The faculty had spoken. Harvard do you hear us?”
Those in the encampment had called for a ceasefire in Gaza and for Harvard to divest from companies that support the war.
Also on Thursday, the leaders of Northwestern University and Rutgers University are expected to testify at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing about concessions they gave to pro-Palestinian protesters to end demonstrations on their campus. The chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, also was scheduled to appear at the latest in a series of hearings looking into how colleges have responded to the protests and allegations of antisemitism
The decision by the school’s top governing board follows a recommendation Monday by faculty members to allow the 13 to receive their degrees despite their participation in the encampment.
Harvard’s governing board, the Harvard Corporation, however said that each of 13 have been found to have violated the university’s policies by their conduct during the encampment protest.
“In coming to this determination, we note that the express provisions of the Harvard College Student Handbook state that students who are not in good standing are not eligible for degrees,” the corporation said in a written statement.
The statement left open the possibility of an appeals process saying the corporation understands “that the inability to graduate is consequential for students and their families” and supports the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ intention to provide an expedited review of requests for appeal.
“We care deeply about every member of our community — students, faculty, staff, researchers, and alumni — and we have chosen a path forward that accords with our responsibilities and reaffirms a process for our students to receive prompt and fair review,” the statement added.
Supporters of the students said the decision not to allow them to receive degrees at commencement violated a May 14 agreement between interim President Alan Garber and the Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine coalition that would have allowed the students to graduate.
Protesters against the war between Israel and Hamas voluntarily dismantled their tents after they said university officials agreed to discuss their questions about the endowment, bringing a peaceful end to the kinds of demonstrations that were broken up by police on other campuses.
The group issued a statement late Wednesday saying the decision jeopardizes the post-graduation lives of the 13 students.
“By rejecting a democratic faculty vote, the Corporation has proved itself to be a wholly illegitimate body, and Garber an illegitimate president, accountable to no one at the university,” the group said.
“Today’s actions have plunged the university even further into a crisis of legitimacy and governance, which will have major repercussions for Harvard in the coming months and years,” the group said,
There was a noticeable presence of police officers around the campus Thursday mixing with soon-to-be-graduates, their family members and sidewalk flower sellers.
A small plane circled above trailing an Israeli and US flag. A truck was parked outside the campus with an electronic billboard with the names and images of some of the pro-Palestinian protesters under the banner “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites.”
At Drexel University in Philadelphia, protesters packed up their belongings and left a pro-Palestinian encampment Thursday after the school announced a decision to have police clear the encampment. A wave of pro-Palestinian tent encampments on campuses has led to over 3,000 arrests nationwide.


Arab News takes home 18 Society for News Design awards

Updated 46 min 32 sec ago
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Arab News takes home 18 Society for News Design awards

  • Honors continue newspaper’s winning streak

LONDON: Arab News secured 18 awards at the prestigious 45th edition of the Society for News Design’s competition, continuing its streak of recent accolades.

Saudi Arabia’s first English-language daily won awards of excellence in several categories, including page design for “Spotlight regional year-end collection” and “Events that shook the Arab world.”

The newspaper also received awards for infographics such as “The Kingdom vs. landmines” and the business year-in-review page design for “Beating the global financial turbulence.”

Other awards were received for: “Diriyah E-Prix: New teams, new brand” page design; “New era of Saudi football kicks off” page design; “Hajj 2023: The fast track to Makkah” page design; “Hajj 2023: The step-by-step guide to Hajj” infographics; “A defense industry trailblazer” Spotlight page design; “Egypt feels shark attack’s bite” Spotlight page design; “The ice menace” Spotlight page design; “Opinion Year-End Collection” Opinion page design; “Onions’ tears and inflation fears” Spotlight page design; “Douglas Okasaki” portfolio award; “Saudi Arabia Founding Day 2023” front page design; “King Charles III coronation” front page; “Accession to the British throne” page design; and “Saudi National Day: Why Riyadh?” cover wrap design.

The last two also received Awards of Excellence at the sixth Newspaper Design competition earlier this month.

Omar Nashashibi, head of design at Arab News, said: “Having had the privilege of serving as a judge at SND’s 44th Annual Creative Competition, I’ve seen the exceptional quality of entries firsthand.

“Winning 18 awards, doubling our tally from last year’s competition, is a remarkable achievement for Arab News and our design team, who should be very proud. These awards wouldn’t be possible without their talent and dedication, the world-class illustrators we collaborated with for our Opinion Year-End Collection, and Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas’ support and unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of our coverage.”

Founded in the US in 1979, SND annually recognizes the best examples of visual journalism worldwide across graphic design, illustration, web design, and infographics.

This year’s competition included entries from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, South China Morning Post, and Bloomberg.

The total number of accolades now won by Arab News has reached 143 under the leadership of Abbas.

Past recognition encompasses a range of special projects, including multiple international awards for “Saudi’s animal kingdom,” “The Kingdom vs. Captagon” deep dive, and the “FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022” special edition.

For more information about Arab News and its award-winning projects, visit https://www.arabnews.com/greatesthits.