Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Bahrain activist Maryam al-Khawaja released

Authorities in Bahrain have released Shia political activist Maryam Abdulhadi al-Khawaja but the charges against her still stand, the Gulf state's interior ministry said in a statement.
Al-Khawaja, arrested after arriving at Manama airport last month and accused of assaulting a police officer, was released dependent on a guarantee of her place of residence and is banned from travelling, Thursday's statement said.
"The lawyer of the accused requested her release after she was arrested on charges of assaulting a female officer and a policewoman at the Bahrain International Airport on August 30," the statement said.
If convicted, al-Khawaja can spend several years in prison. She denies all accustions, and confirmed upon her release that she will not stop speaking out against human rights violations in the kingdom.
"Before leaving prison, I informed them that I will continue my human rights work," al-Khawaja said on her Twitter account.
Al-Khawaja, a director of the Beirut-based Gulf Centre for Human Rights, also holds Danish citizenship and is a daughter of jailed Shia opposition icon Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. The family played a pivotal role in anti-government protests in 2011 and in sporadic anti-government protests that followed. The father is on a hungerstrike to protest his arrest since 2011 for his peaceful role in the upheaval.
In 2011, Bahrain was caught up in the so-called "Arab Spring" and thousands of protesters from the country's Shia majority sought to topple the ruling Sunni Muslim Al-Khalifa dynasty.
Earlier on Thursday, more than 150 civil society organisations from more than 60 countries called on King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa to immediately and unconditionally release Al-Khawaja.
Life imprisonement
The signatories to the letter also urged the Bahraini ruler to release imprisoned human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience and cease all undue and unwarranted restrictions on civil society activism.
Since the 2011 protests, dozens of Bahraini Shia have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms after being convicted of involvement in violent protests.
Before al-Khawaja's release, a Bahraini court has handed down a punishment of life inprisonment to 14 Shia protesters after they were convicted of attempted murder of policemen. The defendents were found guilty of participating in unauthorized protests, and detonating an improvised explosive device during a 2013 anti-government protest, AFP quoted an unnamed judicial source as saying. Several policemen were wounded, some seriously, at the incident.
"If the international community could secure my release, that gives me hope that we can do the same for the thousands of political prisoners," al-Khawaja tweeted following her release.

Under the unofficial rules governing Saudi Arabia’s strict fundamentalist society, women are forbidden from driving automobiles. Although the Quran, which is the basis for Saudi laws, could not possibly address such a subject, as it was written well over one thousand years ago, most Saudi clerics have determined that women driving automobiles is haram (forbidden). Saudi Arabia’s unofficial religious policemen (Haia) have taken it upon themselves to enforce this primitive custom. This week, Aliyah Al Farid was pulled over by police and fined after driving herself to the hospital for a medical emergency. Well aware of Saudi Arabia’s mandates against women driving, she said that there was no one around the house to drive her to the ER, so she took it upon herself to get behind the wheel. Al Farid is a human rights activist who has in the past tried to expose Saudi Arabia for its barbaric treatment against women. She said of the incident, “I told the traffic officers that I had to drive because it was an emergency case. I didn’t do it on purpose and I’m not after fame or media hype. I was very sick and that was it.” “We can’t leave an epileptic patient convulsing on the ground while waiting for our male driver to come and transport him to the hospital,” she added. “I have to get behind the steering wheel to do it.” Not only are women forbidden from driving cars, they must also receive permission from a mahram (close male relative such as a son or husband) simply to be able to travel outside the boundaries of their home. According to Saudi Arabia’s Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid, a well-respected cleric in the Islamic world, women should not be allowed to drive for the following reasons:
1. Driving the car necessitates that women remove the niqab, which covers the face. Women must wear the niqab in Saudi Arabia, mostly for fear of punishment should the religious police see them without full cover. The niqab is a black full-body cloth with a thin slot for the eyes.
2. Driving requires women to leave the house, “but their homes are better for them.”
3. They lose their modesty, so it protects them from “fitnah” (temptations).
4. Divorced women will be able to go wherever they want.
5. It is a means of “rebellion.”
6. She may cause an “immoral man” to “take advantage of her in return for helping her” if her car breaks down.
7. It will lead to “overcrowding in the streets.”
8. Women won’t be able to stop buying new fashion items because women“by their nature--like to make themselves look good with clothing etc,” and they will keep buying new cars “whenever a new model appears.”

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Video Report : Too close to call: Scotland referendum polls close - world waits

Scots independence polls close, UK's future in the balance

Scotland has voted on whether to stay within the United Kingdom or declare independence to break the 307-year-old union in a finely balanced referendum with global consequences.
Scotland's verdict on the union should be clear around breakfast time on Friday, but a YouGov poll of 1,828 voters previously polled indicated 54 percent of Scots would back the union while 46 percent would seek independence.
"This YouGov poll indicates the union has prevailed," YouGov research manager Laurence Janta-Lipinski told Reuters of the survey carried out on Thursday which was not an exit poll. "It looks like the union will remain intact for the time being."
Polling booths closed at 2100 GMT from remote highlands and islands to the tough city estates of Glasgow with surveys suggesting Scots were almost equally divided in a vote watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad.
Recent opinion polls gave the "No" campaign - those in favor of remaining in the United Kingdom - a slight edge. But as many as 600,000 people undecided up to the last moment held the key.
The final poll of polls by the non-partisan “What Scotland Thinks” website, put the No campaign on 52 percent, the Yes camp on 48. That measure has never given the independence campaign a lead despite a sharp narrowing in recent weeks.
The gap is sufficiently close that if the pollsters have got it marginally wrong, Scotland could go its own way.
Financial markets lodged a raft of late bets that Scots would reject independence, pushing the pound and Scottish-based stocks higher in the final hours of polling.
Analysts say that means there will be a far more dramatic market reaction to a “Yes” vote than if Scotland opts to stay part of the United Kingdom.
French President Francois Hollande said the vote would be decisive for Europe as well as Britain. "After half a century of building Europe, we risk entering a period of deconstruction," he said on Thursday.
Those in favor say such fears are overblown. They say Scots, not politicians in London should rule Scotland and see a bright future for an independent Scotland in Europe, a fairer society and strong ties with London.
Those opposed say a split would slow economic growth, diminish the United Kingdom's international standing, threaten the unity of other countries and tip the balance in favor of people who want Britain to leave the European Union.
Many people see the choice, which has divided families and friends but also electrified a country of 5.3 million, as one of hearts versus heads.
Tennis star Andy Murray sent a powerful last-minute message in support of the pro-independence "Yes" vote, tweeting "Let's do this".
Alex Salmond, the 59-year-old nationalist leader, told hundreds of supporters in Perth at a final rally: "This is our opportunity of a lifetime and we must seize it with both hands."
Salmond has said Queen Elizabeth should stay on as Queen of Scots. She has remained above the fray, in keeping with the constitution, but said on Sunday she hoped Scots would choose "carefully".
Electoral officials said the result will be announced around sunrise on Friday when all regional votes have been submitted. But partial results will give a strong indication after the count of cities such as Glasgow are declared around 0400 GMT. With more than 486,000 voters, Glasgow is crucial. Edinburgh and Aberdeen, which with Glasgow make up nearly a quarter of the electorate, are also expected around about that time.
Some currency traders in London prepared to stay up all night to buy or sell sterling on the result.
The prospect of breaking up the United Kingdom, the world's sixth-largest economy and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has prompted citizens and allies alike to question what would be left, while the financiers of the City of London have warned of market turmoil.
British politicians, banks and businessmen have closed ranks to warn of economic hardship, job losses and investment flight should Scots decide to go it alone.
Defense would also be a big question. Britain's submarine-borne nuclear arsenal, part of NATO's defenses, is based in Scotland's Firth of Clyde and the nationalists want it gone.
The United States has made clear it wants the United Kingdom, its main ally in Europe, to remain together.
"The UK is an extraordinary partner for America and a force for good in an unstable world. I hope it remains strong, robust and united," U.S. President Barack Obama said.
Facing the biggest internal threat to the UK since Ireland broke away nearly a century ago, Prime Minister David Cameron will inevitably face calls for his head should he lose Scotland.
Salmond has employed a mix of shrewd calculation and nationalist passion to haul the "Yes" campaign from far behind to within a whisker of winning his dream of an independent Scotland.
The 47-year-old Cameron has conceded his privileged English background and Conservative politics mean he is not the best person to win over Scots, although he has made emotional appeals for Scotland to stay in Britain's "family of nations".
That has left the leadership of the unionist case to the opposition Labour party, the only party with the local support capable of checking the secessionist Scottish National Party.
Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scot who has in recent days led the battle cry for the union, warned Scots on Wednesday that Salmond was "leading us into a trap".
"Say to your friends, for reasons of solidarity, sharing, pride in Scotland, the only answer is vote 'No'," an emotional Brown thundered, fists clenched, to cheers from unionist supporters.
In the event of a vote for independence, 18 months have been inked in to decide the terms of separation but there is no agreement on key issues such as whether Scotland could retain the pound and how to carve up North Sea oil revenues.
European leaders have warned that an independent Scotland would have to apply to rejoin the European Union and could face resistance. Spain has been especially vocal, fearing it would further inspire separatists in Catalonia and the Basque Country.
Scotland says it will use the pound after independence, but London has ruled out a formal currency union.
Salmond has accused London of orchestrating business leaders to spook Scots after firms from oil giant BP to financial services group Standard Life cautioned about the risks of independence and banks said they would move south.
To blunt Salmond's argument for breaking away, Britain's rulers promised to guarantee Scotland high levels of state funding and grant Scots greater control over finances.
That pledge has angered Westminster lawmakers.
British leaders accept that whichever way the vote goes, the United Kingdom's structure will have to change, as granting more powers to Scotland will provoke calls for a less centralized state from voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Pakistan: Disaster management PML-N style

Of the seven major floods that brought large scale destruction in 1955, 1973, 1976, 1988, 1992, 2010 and 2011, one occurred when the PML-N was holding power at the centre and three when it ruled Punjab. One had expected that the government would have, by this time, prepared a proper strategy to deal with the disaster.
The PML-N leadership only wakes up to a problem after the worst has happened. There was absolutely no homework or planning when the over flooded Chenab entered the plains of Punjab.
The government was duly forewarned about the devastation that could take place. Hazrat Mir, Director General Met Office, recently told media that “Last month, we warned authorities of heavy rains during the first week of September and said that it would be “an extreme event”. Had they taken adequate measures in time, the devastation could have been prevented to some extent.”
Strengthening the organisations related to flood control, or undertaking planning and formulating SOPs enjoy no priority with the Sharifs. When the disaster occurs, they run around helplessly and end up treating it as a God sent opportunity for self- projection.
The party leadership’s kneejerk reaction after every disaster or tragic happening is to take out wads of money and distribute them among those affected under the glare of TV cameras. It thinks that by doing this it has performed its duty. The rape victims are offered money while little is done to stop the widespread incidence of the heinous crime by improving the police system or going for deterring legislation. The roof of a mosque collapses in Lahore because of substandard construction. No action is taken to enforce construction regulations. Shahbaz Sharif appears at the scene with the camera team and orders paying Rs200,000 to the immediate relatives of those killed. The compensation differs from place to place depending on the mood of the chief minister.
After police brutality in Model Town that deprived 14 PAT activists of their lives, the chief minister announced compensation of Rs3 million each for the heirs of those who died. No one was meanwhile arrested for ordering the firing. The underlying assumption is that the victims or their relatives would forget the atrocity after receiving the money. Thus state exchequer must bear the burden of the government’s gross mismanagement.
The PML-N leadership is again trying to make political use of the floods as it did in 1992, 2010, and 2011. When Nawaz Sharif visited Rawalakot and Forward Kahuta to meet the flood victims he made sure he was carrying the cheque book with him. He also ensured media presence when he handed over the cheques. A more judicious way to provide financial help could have been by fixing the amount of compensation for various categories of losses and send the cheques by post. Among other things this would save the recipients from the humiliation of waiting long for the prime minister and receiving the money in public. But this would have deprived Nawaz Sharif of publicity. T
he relief is offered by the PML-N almost as alms that must be delivered by hand. In 2010 Shahbaz Sharif would personally toss food packets from the helicopter to the marooned people while TV cameras showed the display of the philanthropy. Personal delivery not only provides projection as a leader who cares for the people but is also supposed to ensure greater reward hereafter for the virtuous act.
The PML-N leaders act like emperors while dispensing relief. The chief minister visits a flood affected area where people are complaining of neglect by the government. He instantly decides what one of the flood victim deserves. Shahbaz Sharif spent 10 hours on a single day visiting Jhang, Chiniot, Wazirabad and Sargodha. He travelled by boat to selected places and personally distributed food items and relief goods. At Midh Ranjha he gave a cheque of Rs6 lakh to the father of a young man who had lost life as a result of the natural calamity. Scores of young men have died in the floods. Why this case alone deserved the particular amount while others were given far less or altogether denied compensation is known only to the emperor.
The PML-N government made little preparations for dealing with the floods. Many are wondering why the present calamity was not better predicted, flood warnings were not issued with more urgency, and mitigation measures not undertaken speedily.
Adhocism, the hallmark of PML-N’s style of governance, was the major reason. The water and power ministry has to take the lead in putting the flood relief agencies into action. The minister simultaneously holds two portfolios, that of water and power and of defence, each requiring a full time minister. Fourteen months in power and the prime minister has yet to appoint a water and power minister who is required solely to look after the job. Human tragedies and national losses are bound to take place due to negligence caused by adhocism.
The Federal Flood Commission (FFC), under the ministry of water and power, has to play a key role in flood control. It is responsible for integrated planning for flood control at the national level and arranges financial resources for the implementation of flood management projects on countrywide basis. The flood communication cell of FFC is required to remain in operation on round-the-clock basis for the entire flood season (July-October) and a flood situation report is to be issued on daily basis to all concerned. A meeting of the flood control committee was told last week that the FFC issued a daily flood situation report early in the morning, but did not update it until the next day. In the past, a flood control centre worked round the clock and issued latest updates.
Adhocism rules supreme in the FFC also. Two years back its chairman was simultaneously holding two posts. He was the chief of FFC and also chairman IRSA. Currently, besides being the chairman FCC, he also holds the office of CEO Alternate Energy Development Board. There is no shortage of competent people in the country but the top positions in over a score of federal government corporations and autonomous bodies remain without permanent chiefs. Despite the floods becoming a regular feature in the country the PML-N did not care to appoint a full time flood commissioner.
The National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC), which is supposed to formulate a unified national disaster response plan, has not met since 2012. A 10-year plan formulated at the last NDMC meeting in the wake of the 2010-2011 floods, aimed at improving the country’s capacity to cope with future disasters, has yet to be ratified because the body has not met since. Also, district disaster management authorities have not been activated as yet because they are being run without permanent heads and staff.
As the floods play havoc in AJK, KP and Punjab, the federal agencies supposed to jointly manage the disaster are blaming each other for whatever goes wrong. The rapid filling of Mangla Dam has been questioned, so is the poor coordination among the flood protection agencies as well as acting on ‘unreliable’ information about flood data supposedly provided by India. The exercise is bound to create the perception that there is something wrong with the working of the government, which cannot make the agencies tasked to mitigate the ravages of nature perform their duties honestly.
The sole function of the PML-N government is to commiserate with tens of thousands of flood victims who have lost all that they had on account of its incompetence.

Pakistan: FLOODS - A Flood Of Excuses

In ancient times, when a war was lost, or a famine ravaged the land, the kings would blame it on the gods and their capricious favour and that would have been the end of that. Unfortunately for Mr Nawaz Sharif, times have changed; now we can scientifically analyse heaps of data and can pinpoint why something went wrong. It is becoming increasingly clear that sheer ineptitude, apathy and laziness has significantly contributed to the magnitude of the floods. The Meteorological Office of Pakistan issued warnings of medium to high level flooding in Ravi and Chenab as early as 14th August. Despite repeated warnings, neither the Ministry of Water and Power nor the Indus River System Authority felt the need to react. IRSA, up till 5th September, continued to operate the dams normally and not under flood protocol. Had the stored water been released from these dams earlier, there would not have been a massive surge that is now sweeping through the land. These are hard, cold facts; these conclusions are based on data taken from the state’s own departments, yet the Prime Minster continues to pretend that nobody in government knows what happened. The much bandied around fact that Indian Kashmir was flooded as well, does not prove that this was an unpreventable, across the board phenomena; a cursory examination proves India too is at fault.
The government needs to own up to its failings. Pakistan suffers from almost annual flooding, not having built enough dams and chronic departmental failings. If we refuse to even admit that there is a problem, how do we begin addressing it? If we continue to maintain that the floods are caused by events beyond our control, how do we generate the political impetus to build the Kalabagh dam or any other project? The government needs to care a little bit less about its own skin and perhaps a tad bit more about the people’s.
This is not the only problem; elements such as Hafiz Saeed, leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, are stoking hatred by pinning the blame on India. These notorious organisations are sweeping the affected areas providing relief and then filling those grateful ears with tales of how India uses its dams upstream to practice ‘water terrorism’ by releasing huge amounts of water into Pakistan. With no official explanation provided to contradict these claims, coupled with a deep seated suspicion of India, people are easily convinced, and the very real, ongoing discourse regarding Indian water aggression is damaged by dubious spokespeople. The dire circumstances the affectees are facing, along with propaganda, is a recipe for minting radicals. We need the state to own up, to officially provide an explanation. Not only because it is practically necessary but also because the state owes it to the thousands whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed.

Pakistan - Growing terrorist threat

Cross-border attacks, denials of Pakistani involvement in terrorism in Afghanistan, and an operation against tribal area militants; these are familiar tropes in Pakistan’s news cycle. On the surface they appear ordinary by now. On Tuesday a group of militants from Afghanistan attacked a Frontier Constabulary (FC) border post in North Waziristan (NW). Reports say 11 militants were killed and one captured, while three FC men died. On the same day the military said it had killed 23 terrorists in airstrikes in Khyber Agency.
The number of terrorists killed in the operation is now over 1,000 and military losses number near 100, according to recent ISPR statements. The ten-to-one ratio again appears positive, but when one considers the bulk of militants have escaped to other Agencies or across the border, these numbers come into perspective. This fight has not been easy or less costly despite the armed forces’ critical access to airpower and overwhelming ground support when needed. At the same time apparently random incidents of terrorism continue around the country. Karachi police yesterday killed seven terrorists in Sohrab Goth, which has long been a haven for drug and weapons smuggling. Police repelled an attack on a check post in Swabi by 12 militants; no casualties were reported after the militants melted away. The nature of these and other attacks over the summer indicate militant attempts to probe defensive preparedness. They are getting ready to go on the offensive when NATO leaves. Yet the military is still trumpeting victory. Yesterday 40 militants were reportedly killed in airstrikes in NW, while the ‘turning’ of former Punjabi Taliban chief Asmatullah Muawiya is being hailed as a sign of Zarb-e-Azb’s success.
However, Muawiya’s statement that he will continue fighting in Afghanistan indicates that the policy of trying to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ militants that infuriated the US and Afghanistan is continuing. Pakistan’s sponsorship of religious extremist proxy groups is an open secret. We have used them in Kashmir and Afghanistan in pursuit of strategic goals that would have been better served using sound diplomatic strategy. After our use of proxies was exposed, it destroyed whatever diplomatic credibility and capital the country had. Afghanistan again levelled the accusation on Tuesday, which the Foreign Office (FO) rejected with ‘dismay’. Since Muawiya’s case substantiates Afghan claims, the FO’s ‘dismay’ seems filled with rank disingenuousness. What is more troubling about Muawiya is that he, like many terrorists, has switched sides before. The Taliban too were effectively out of Pakistani control by 9/11. There is no guarantee that proxies used today will not do the same if they achieve success in Afghanistan. Unlike an elected Afghan government, they will not adhere to the system of international law. It would be far wiser to work above board with a government in Afghanistan that may become friendly if we help it, than to rely on proxies whose ideological proclivities will eventually turn them against us and towards pan-Islamic radical groups like the Islamic State.

Pakistan's Shia Genocide : KU Islamic Studies Dean Dr Auj Killed After Madrassah Issued A Fatwa
Pro-Taliban and pro-ISIL Takfiri terrorists today shot and killed Dean of Islamic Studies at the University of Karachi Professor Dr Shakeel Auj in Gulshan-e-Iqbal area of Karachi after after a Madrassah issued a fatwa relating to alleged blasphemy against Dr Auj.
According to reports, Dr Shakeel Auj was critically injured when four takfiri terrorists assailants ambushed his car near Baitul Mukarram Mosque in Gulshan-e-Iqbal area. He was rushed to Agha Khan Hospital but succumbed to his injuries.
He was accompanied by Professor Dr Tahir Masood when he was attacked and was on his way to Khana-e-Farhang to attend a ceremony organized to honor him. Fortunately, Dr Tahir Masood remained safe during the incident and shifted his injured colleague to the hospital who couldn’t survive the attack.
It is pertinent to mention that the government of Pakistan had recently announced to honor both the scholars with the second highest civilian award, Hilal-e-Imtiaz. According to reports, Dr Auj was shot three times in the neck and chest.
Top police official, SSP Pir Mohammad Shah told BBCUrdu that a madrassah in Karachi had issued a fatwa relating to alleged blasphemy against Dr Auj.
The SSP added that following the fatwa, a message declaring the professor as ‘wajibul qatl’ (liable to be killed) was made public via SMS messages. Taking notice of the incident, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad has ordered Inspector General of Sindh Police Ghulam Hyder Jamali to submit a report on the incident.
As news of Dr Auj’s death was confirmed, it was announced that Karachi University would remain closed for three days.
Dr Mohammad Shakeel Auj was an author, a professor and dean at Karachi University’s faculty of Islamic Studies. He also used to edit Al-Tafseer — an HEC-recognised research journal on Islamic Studies.
He has been associated with KU for 19 years and had been heading the Islamic Studies department since February 1, 2012. According to the university’s website, Dr Auj has written 15 books.

Video Report - Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visits flood affected areas of Punjab

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visits... by maleeha-manzoor-9

Bangladesh empowers parliament to impeach judges

Bangladesh s parliament now has the authority to impeach Supreme Court judges after lawmakers late Wednesday voted to approve a much-debated amendment to the constitution.
The amendment passed unanimously in a voice vote of 327-0, with support coming from the ruling Awami League.
Critics of the amendment, including senior jurists, said it was a thinly veiled way for the ruling party to keep the judiciary under control. But Law Minister Anisul Hoque, who proposed the change, said the amendment allows parliament to impeach judges on grounds of "misbehavior or incapacity."
Previously a council of senior judges led by the chief justice was assigned to deal with any case of misconduct by judges. Bangladesh s judiciary, often riddled with corruption, enjoys relative freedom but the appointment of senior judges is often influenced by authorities. Major opposition parties opposed the government s move to amend the constitution, saying authorities will systematically influence the judiciary, especially when it comes to politically sensitive cases.
The law minister has denied the allegation and said with the changes will not undermine the judiciary s independence. Clashes between the government and judiciary are rare in Bangladesh, although recently Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina criticized two judges for a ruling that asked authorities to arrest members of an elite law enforcement agency to face murder charges in the death of seven people in a single incident.
Sheikh Hasina s Awami League has three-fourths of the seats in the parliament. A two-thirds majority is needed to pass any bill.

Pakistan: Bilawal Bhutto visits Sukkur to review flood situation

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visited the embankments at Sukkur Barrage to review the flood situation on Thursday, Dunya News reported. Bilawal Bhutto was briefed about the flood risk in the province of Sindh.
Panicked at the devastation caused by massive floods in Punjab, Bilawal Bhutto reviewed the situation at the Sukkur Barrage to take precautionary measures, in case of floods. He was accompanied by Shery Rehman, CM Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, Syed Awais Muzafar, provincial ministers and Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Major General Said Aleem.
Bilawal Bhutto closely assessed River Sindh and parts of the Sukkur barrage. Babur Afandi secretary Irrigation briefed Bilawal about the flood situation in Sindh. He told that the risk of a high flood in River Sindh has lessened, however, low-level flood tides are raging from both Sukkur and Guddu barrage. He informed that the precautionary measures have already been taken against floods after 75 villages have been inundated near the Kashmore-Kandhkot district.
Forty-five embankments have been termed as sensitive. The dykes in Larkana can also be considered sensitive in case a high flood hits the nearby areas. The Irrigation Secretary said that rural areas including Kashmore, Kandhkot, Shikarpur, Sukkur, Khairpur, Naushero Feroze are at a higher risk of damage caused by floods, therefore people have been asked to shift to safer places. On this occasion, Chairman NDMA Major General Aleem, talking to the media also said that currently the flood situation has been brought under control through strict protective measures in Sindh.

Pakistan: Bilawal Bhutto visits Chiniot meets flood victims

Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto on Thursday visitedChiniot and distributed food items among flood victims. He was accompanied by Opposition Leader in National Assembly Khurshid Shah, former information minister Qamar Zaman Qaira, Manzor Watto and others. Addressing to politicians, Bilawal Bhutto said it is not the time to make political statements but to concentrate on flood affected people. He asked MNAs and MPAs to visited their respective constituencies and addressed their needs. He also called on Chief Minsiter Sindh Qaim Ali Shah to make comprehensive strategy to address flood victims problems.

China - India - Xi visits Modi's home state, extends birthday wishes

Wearing traditional Indian vest presented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Modi's home state of Gujarat Wednesday, and extended wishes to his 64th birthday.
Both leaders called for advancing bilateral ties "step by step" and "inch by inch" in their second meeting in about two months. The two met in July in Brazil at a summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS.
"I am very delighted to come to your home state as soon as I land on the Indian soil," Xi told Modi in a brief meeting shortly after he arrived in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat Wednesday afternoon.
"This is where eminent Chinese monk Xuan Zang went by during his trip to India to seek Buddhist scriptures in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and thus enjoys a special position in the long history of friendly exchanges between our two countries," he said.
China and India are important neighbors to each other, Xi said, noting that both are ancient civilizations and large developing countries, and are committed to development and national rejuvenation.
The two countries should respect each other, learn from each other, build good-neighborly and friendly relations, and go forward hand in hand, the Chinese president said.
"My visit is a trip of friendship and cooperation. Thank you for specially coming here to accompany me in visiting your hometown," Xi told Modi, who had served as chief minister of Gujarat for over a decade before becoming India's prime minister in May.
It is Xi's first trip to India since he took office in March 2013, and also the first state visit in eight years by a Chinese president to the country.
Citing an ancient Chinese famous line "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," Xi called for a down-to-earth and persistent manner to press ahead with the China-India relations.
"I would like to make concerted efforts with you to accomplish this mission," Xi said.
For his part, Modi said the people in Gujarat felt very honored as President Xi started the India visit from his home state.
Recalling their first meeting in Brazil, Modi said he and Xi had very good talks and he shared Xi's feeling that the meeting was like between "old friends."
The prime minister said his remarks that China and India are one mind with two bodies are widely circulated in India, as the two countries share the same aspiration for development and have every reason to strengthen cooperation.
To welcome President Xi's visit to India, Modi said, he wrote an article for Indian newspapers, describing the potential of India-China ties as "INCH (India and China) towards MILES (Millennium of Exceptional Synergy)."
In the presence of the two leaders, China and India clinched the deals of setting up an industrial park in India focused on building power transmission equipment, and establishing sister province-state relations between China's Guangdong and Gujarat and sister city relations between China's Guangzhou and Ahmedabad.
Also Wednesday afternoon, Modi accompanied Xi's visit to the former residence of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of India's national independence movement.
Xi pointed out that the Chinese and Indian peoples sympathized with and supported each other and forged profound friendship in the fight against colonialism for national independence, stressing that "we must carry forward the friendship."
As they walked along the Sabarmati River in the city, Modi briefed Xi on the Sabarmati riverfront development project, saying it is the largest shantytown renovation project in India.
Modi and Xi celebrated the prime minister's 64th birthday together, which Modi said was very meaningful and unforgettable.
India is the last stop of Xi's four-nation tour in Central and South Asia, which has already taken him to Tajikistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. In Tajikistan, he also attended a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

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Video News : Scotland Goes to the Polls for Independence Vote

Video - 'Yes' campaign leader Salmond votes in independence referendum

#voteYes for a better future for #Scotland

#YesScotland - Tennis player Andy Murray has declared his support for the Yes campaign

The Scot had previously remained silent on the issue, but posted a message on Twitter just hours ahead of the polls opening, to state his position.
He tweeted: "Huge day for Scotland today! no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. excited to see the outcome. lets do this!"
The Wimbledon champion has been quizzed on the issue previously but dodged the question, although in an interview in June he did criticise Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond for waving the country's flag at the tournament last year.
Murray will not have a vote as he is not currently resident in Scotland, but he has generally been seen as a firm Scottish nationalist - drumming up controversy in 2006 when he said he would support "anyone but England" in the World Cup.
Last month he told the Guardian that he did not think it looked likely the result would be a Yes, but he added that his preference would be to represent Scotland if the country became independent.
"If Scotland became independent, then I imagine I would be playing for Scotland," he told the newspaper.
"I haven't thought that much about that yet because I don't think it's looking too likely that it's going to happen. But if it did happen, then it would be pretty much the first time in my life that I would have ever (had the chance to play for Scotland)."
He added that he did not like making his views on politics known as previous comments had "caused me a headache ... and a lot of abuse".