Grace Young

Pakistan opposition party holds mass demonstration against PM Khan rule
Asia Pacific Focus

Pakistan opposition party holds mass demonstration against PM Khan rule

Under Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has faced censorship of media, economic crisis, critics, and opposition. However, the campaign against him tried to penetrate into discontent over the way he handled the economy, which was failing even before the global Covid-19 pandemic hit.

On Sunday, a huge number of people rallied in Pakistan’s biggest city of Karachi to protest for ousting PM Khan, whom they accused of being placed by the military in a fixed election in 2018.

PDM’s Karachi demonstration was as impressive as the one at Gujranwala. While Jinnah Garden’s was filled, several people who came late had to stand outside the premises and listen to the speech.

PM Imran Khan had many times stated that the majority of people knew the PML-N and PPP leaders were corrupt and could never gather for protest however the two rallies have tarnished the PTI’s narrative.

The protestors first rally was in Gujranwala on Friday, which was held by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance between 11 opposition parties that have joined to remove Khan from office.

The night prior to the march, the government set out on mass arrests of around 500 opposition leaders and activists, essentially from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.

It’s the first time in Pakistan that all opposition political parties (PDM alliance) have joined to challenge the military’s resistance in politics.

Pakistan’s desperate monetary situation was intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the nation’s economy contracting after many years.

Pakistan is viewed as having taken care of the pandemic moderately well up until this point, recording only 322,000 positive cases and 6,621 deaths in a populace of 220 million. However, there are concerns that if negligence continues then it will be tough to face the second wave.

On Friday’s rally, no social distancing was followed and no person in the group or politician was seen wearing the mask. Protestors were holding banners and masks of former PMs Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif during the demonstration.

Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of politician and former PM Nawaz Sharif in the rally speech slammed the ruling govt for snatching jobs from citizens and food for survival from people. And Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of late PM Benazir Bhutto, also stated on the plight of the farmers and their homes and our youth is disillusioned.

Maryam Nawaz and her husband are booked for formulating public disorder on the way to the Gujranwala rally.

Greece accuses Turkey of holding FM’s plane that the latter firmly denies
Middle East & Africa

Greece accuses Turkey of holding FM’s plane that the latter firmly denies

On Thursday, Greece censured Turkey for purposely holding up a official aircraft carrying its Finance Minister Christos Staikouras back from Iraq, leaving it hovering for 20 minutes before allowing it to cross Turkish airspace.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry representative Hami Aksoy reported in a statement that these claims are bogus. Greece had approached Turkey to give approval for the Finance Minister’s plane to travel to and from Iraq through Turkish airspace, Aksoy included.

He further stated that “The plane took off from Iraq without introducing a flight plan. At the point when the plane entered our air space, a flight plan was immediately requested from Iraqi officials, and the flight was securely completed after the order was initiated.”

Whereas, the Greek administration’s representative Stelios Petsas warned that the episode doesn’t happen again.

Pressures between the two NATO allies tightened in a dispute about maritime boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean have been boiling in the midst of allegations and counter-allegations to marine regions wealthy in natural gas.

Greece and Turkey have disagreed twice in the course of recent weeks – first, when Turkey changed the famous 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque, and afterward over the opportunity to exploring hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Relations between the two countries have worsened this year. In February, Turkey had permitted a huge number of migrants to cross the border into Greece and the European Union, angering the latter.

The two nations are a part of the 30-member NATO coalition, and Turkey is officially a nominee for full membership of the EU, of which Greece is a part.

For a long time, Greece and Turkey have differed over rights on the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, which has exceptional gas and oil deposits. On July 21, Turkey reported that the drilling vessel Oruc Reis would explore a disputed section of the sea for natural gas and oil. Greece reacted by alerting its coastguards, navy, and air force.

The French President Emmanuel Macron showed support for Greece and stated that Turkey ought to be “sanctioned” for its infringement in the Aegean region. Following the mediation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkey declared a week ago that it had ended the drilling operation and it’s ready to talk about the issue with Greece.

On Thursday, Germany, and France also blamed Turkey for continuing to incite the EU with its activities in the eastern Mediterranean and demanded an explanation of its positions in seven days.

Japan hopes to find an alternative to Aegis Ashore missile-defense system by the end of 2020
Asia Pacific Focus

Japan hopes to find an alternative to Aegis Ashore missile-defense system by the end of 2020

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi talked via telephone with the US Defense Minister Mark Esper, consenting to work on pushing ahead with a replacement for the scrapped deployment of the defense system. Japan is reviewing three ocean-based plans instead of the land-based systems, which was aimed at shielding the nation from the threat presented by North Korean projectiles.

The three options under consideration are the introduction of destroyers outfitted with an interception system, the use of vessels that are from a private sector, and a structure like those utilized to drill oil.

Nobuo Kishi reiterated in September that the significance of Tokyo’s partnership with Washington during the current “progressively harsh national security situation”, saying that he will visit the United States in the month of October, for discussing the deployment of a ballistic rocket defense system. 

On Wednesday, Kishi stated that he has informed Esper that Tokyo is looking forward to concocting an option in place of the rejected deployment of the Aegis Ashore system before the end of 2020. 

In June, the legislature under former PM Shinzo Abe, Kishi’s elder brother chose to prematurely end the arrangement to deploy the Aegis Ashore system in Yamaguchi Prefecture and Akita Prefecture because of tech issues and swelling costs.

In June, Japan had abruptly suspended the arranged dispatching of the Aegis Ashore ballistic rocket defense system, which could entirely modify the U.S. partner’s arrangements for protecting itself against threats. 

The then Defense Minister Taro Kono referred to the cost and technical problems as the reason behind the halting of Japan’s plans to deploy two Aegis Ashore systems at Akita Prefecture and Yamaguchi Prefecture. 

Taro Kono had clarified that the main reason was the need to guarantee that the rocket supporters the interceptor projectile, which are utilized to accelerate the rocket to supersonic velocities following their launch, will fall on its selected areas after detaching from the rocket. 

Japan’s Aegis Ashore deploy plans were confronting strong criticism by local government and citizens, however, since then it’s been in controversy. The residents also cited concerns about the radiation from the system’s Lockheed Martin Long Range Discrimination Radar.

However, Kishi, the current Defense Minister was appointed recently in September. In initial press meetings, he came across as an aggressive backer of the Aegis Ashore system and different matters that are related to the center of Japan’s six-decade security settlement with the US. 

However, as per political analysts, currently, Kishi lacks experience as a Defense Minister, and due to that, they doubt that his discussion with the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper might be limited.

The telephone conversation came a day after foreign ministers of the two nations, and Australia and India met in Tokyo, during which the members reaffirmed their oceanic security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific area during China’s developing threats.

Lebanon Parliament passes the Anti-Corruption Bill, however, critics doubt its Efficacy
Middle East & Africa

Lebanon Parliament passes the Anti-Corruption Bill, however, critics doubt its Efficacy

Lebanon has been famous for all the wrong reasons lately, because of its financial mismanagement and corruption. Since Oct, the people of Lebanon were holding an anti-government protest. However, political analyst and critics doubt the efficacy of the new law as Lebanon has been facing the challenges of systemic corruption by elite powers since the beginning. 

Finally, on Wednesday, the Lebanese Parliament cast a ballot by amending the existing law on illicit enrichment. The new law makes it simpler to press charges against high-level authorities and lawmakers, including sitting MPs and ministers. 

The law establishes the structure for future clarity, responsibility, and anti-corruption laws. It additionally sets an accurate definition regarding what comprises defilement and decides punishments for bribery. It Includes three years of detainment and a fine of around double the estimate of the bribe. 

The law also makes provision for creating the most long-awaited National Anti-Corruption Commission that would refer legal cases to the judiciary, examine allegations of defilement in the public sector, and administer the law. 

The new illicit enrichment bill revises the previous 1999 law, which was a merger of a 1953 law on illegal enrichment and a 1954 law on the declaration of asset. Authorities were allowed to keep their assets secret unless a panel of judges found evidence of any wrongdoing or crime.

Currently, the bill will be transferred to President Michel Aoun for his signatures. It will be a noteworthy improvement in a nation that is battling with its most terrible financial crisis.

New Zealand plunges back into coronavirus pandemic after 102 days
Asia Pacific Focus

New Zealand plunges back into coronavirus pandemic after 102 days

The growing covid-19 cases in Auckland would worsen before it shows signs of improvement”, says New Zealand’s PM, Jacinda Ardern. New Zealanders have been stunned by the return of the infection following 102 days without community transmission.

On Tuesday, New Zealand announced the first confirmed the coronavirus case, and Aukland reported around 19 positive cases. There are reports of around 17 active community cases.

The director-general of health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, stated that more cases were expected and we are prepared to fight it.

Police have been assisting in executing a three-day lockdown in Auckland since Wednesday as a team of health professionals rushed to determine the reason for a second flare-up. 

Though the New Zealanders have been stunned by the return of the virus following 102 days, Bloomfield said that the officials were anticipating it would happen.

On Friday, a Level 3 lockdown announcement is expected in the city. Auckland is approaching the end of a three-day level 3 lockdown in which individuals are encouraged to remain indoors unless it’s urgently required to travel.

UAE is successfully battling the pandemic with increased testing and Covid-19 vaccine trials
Middle East & Africa

UAE is successfully battling the pandemic with increased testing and Covid-19 vaccine trials

Since the Covid-19 spread in the UAE, in late January, the nation has made a quick response to the coronavirus pandemic. Until now, the UAE has the highest rates for COVID-19 testing on the planet, with more than 4,000,000 tests led by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention. The world is also racing to find a cure for coronavirus and around 150 vaccines are under development. The famous medical journal ‘The Lancet’ also praised the UAE for its efforts in battling the coronavirus crisis.

In Mid July, UAE started its first internationally recognized Covid-19 vaccine trials in Abu Dhabi. The head of the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, was the first to volunteer for the test.

The vaccine trial is generally divided into three stages, of which the first trial examines the safety of the vaccine. Phase 2 assesses immunogenicity, and Phase 3 studies the security and viability of the immunization in the larger population.

The trial will last somewhere in the range of three to six months and will be available to volunteers aged between 18 and 60 living in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi. Authorities stated that around 15,000 volunteers would participate, The Arab News reported.

Volunteers can enlist their details at the 4humanity.ae website. They will have to go for a medical test to see if they are fit to participate. Individuals from all backgrounds are urged to join in. The volunteers will be closely observed for up to a year and requested to keep an “antibody journal” to record any side effects. 

On 6 Aug, the first Phase III trials of an inactivated covid-19 vaccine marked an achievement with more than 5000 volunteers who got their first vaccine shot. A feeling of satisfaction and shared commitment has prompted more than 80 countries in the area already joining in, driven by the UAE Leadership’s promise to beat the pandemic through a worldwide collective effort. 

The Acting Under-Secretary of Department of Health, Abu Dhabi Dr. Jamal Al Kaabi stated that UAE reached more than 5000 vaccinations quicker than anticipated.

The tests of the inactivated vaccine are going faster than compared to trials that are undergoing around the world. I am grateful for the national spirit of volunteerism and the enthusiasm of the UAE’s healthcare system, Kaabi added.

He also added that he would like to encourage more UAE citizens to volunteer and chip in for tests conducted in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

According to Khaleej Times, a couple called Sujith Varughese and Meenu Mary Thomas, who had volunteered for the trial of the Covid-19 vaccine were very happy to be a part of the 4humanity program.

Meenu stated that amid the pandemic, this was the first time that she could be of any service and help. She encouraged if more people participate, then it will help in faster testing, analysis, and examination process of the vaccine.

On Sunday, UAE reports 225 new cases as a total recuperation rate increases to 90 percent, and the loss of life reached to 357. The UAE has become a top nation in conducting more than 5.5 million covid-19 tests since Jan.

Opinion Polls: President Macron’s popularity increases after the EU Recovery Deal and reshuffling of govt
Europe

Opinion Polls: President Macron’s popularity increases after the EU Recovery Deal and reshuffling of govt

French President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity increased by six points in the opinion polls that were done on July 21-23, especially, after the 27 EU members agreed on a 750 billion euro stimulus and the reshuffling of cabinet ministers in July.

President Macron called the marking of the EU Recovery Deal a ‘historic day for Europe’ that will support nations to recover from the novel Covid-19 pandemic.

As the meeting arrived on its fifth day, the 27 members of state and government finally consented to seal the EU Recovery Deal, the Guardian reported. 

Despite the opposition from a few states, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden that the deal was signed at 5:15 am 27 on Tuesday morning. 

According to BBC, the package will permit EU nations to manage to spend on the consequences of lockdowns that severely influenced the economy. It incorporates checks so that the assets won’t get misused. The beneficiaries will have to submit spending plans to the European Commission, and a dominant part of states will have the option to block plans. 

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said that the discussion lasting over 90 hours, had been “justified, despite all the trouble” and that the EU couldn’t be blamed this time for being late in executing what was needed.

South Korea to extend foreign workers’ stay permits to cope with a seasonal labor shortage amid pandemic
Asia Pacific Focus

South Korea to extend foreign workers’ stay permits to cope with a seasonal labor shortage amid pandemic

South Korea will try to extend stay permits for foreign workers that are stranded in the nation due to the coronavirus pandemic, in an offer to help the lack of seasonal workers in agriculture and various other sectors, the government agency stated on Wednesday. 

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said that they will discuss with the ministers about permitting migrant laborers whose stay permit has lapsed and engaged them in seasonal agricultural work amid the Covid-19 crisis.

PM Chung Sye-Kyun stated that the administration is intending to extend the stay for migrant workers and briefly permit them to help work on farmlands. 

The Korean government had earlier allowed workers to extend their stay for a maximum of 50 days as they were stranded due to flight restrictions.

The statement came after the anti-disaster headquarters talked about the issue during its general meetings with the PM Chung Sye-Kyun. 

During the meeting, Chung stated, South Korea likewise plans to enhance quarantine protocols on sailors arriving from Russia and various other nations that are on Seoul’s rundown of countries subject to isolate. The sailors will need to submit a medical fitness certificate when docking the South Korean soil, he added.

Article Credit: Korea Times/ The Korea Herald

Arrests under China’s controversial national security law for Hong Kong sparks international concerns
Asia Pacific Focus

Arrests under China’s controversial national security law for Hong Kong sparks international concerns

On Friday, the United Nations rights office communicated concerns in its tweet regarding the national security law passed by China for Hong Kong. UN Representative Rupert Colville told journalists that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was continuing to examine the new law after it came into power and its conformity with global human rights laws.

According to official reports, first person was charged with inciting separatism and terrorism under China’s new security law for Hong Kong. He was carrying a “Liberate Hong Kong” sign in protest as he drove a motorcycle on Friday, the Reuters reported.

The law explicitly condemns “subversion, secession, perpetration, and organization of terrorist movements, and clash with a foreign nation or with external elements to jeopardize national security, The Washington Post expressed. 

The United States and the United Kingdom have also denounced the new national security law and warned Beijing to either prepare for more sanctions.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed concerns over the new law and stated that Germany would raise China’s human rights situation during its administration of the EU that started this month, DW reported.

Despite severe international criticism and protests by Hong Kongers, Beijing passed the security law on the former British ruled state. 

UN representative Rupert Colville told reporters in a press briefing that he believes hundreds might be arrested since demonstrations started on Wednesday. We have heard that around ten people have been arrested under the new law. However, he didn’t have enough information to support the statement right now. 

 Colville expressed concerns about the “obscure and excessively expansive” definitions of certain offenses in the new law that had been received by China’s National People’s Congress. This may prompt oppressive or inconsistent analysis and sanction of the law, which could sabotage human rights security,” he added. 

The OHCHR High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet reiterated worries about constraints on the freedom of speech and expression. Such laws “never to be utilized in criminalizing expression and conduct that is secured under the international human rights law”, The UN News reported.

China’s Parliament took a major step by passing the national security law for Hong Kong
Asia Pacific Focus

China’s Parliament took a major step by passing the national security law for Hong Kong

On Tuesday, China’s Parliament took a major step by passing the national security law for Hong Kong, making way for the most extreme changes to the former British colonial law since it was returned to China after 23 years. 

China’s state news agency, Xinhua, affirmed that President Xi Jinping marked a presidential order proclaiming the law following its consent by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Furthermore, it will be added to Hong Kong’s constitution. 

Amid tensions, the enactment will squash the global financial hub freedom and rights, and the heaviest punishment would be life detainment. The law has ignited protests in Hong Kong since it was declared by Beijing in May. China says it needs to tackle tensions and instability and refuse criticism and interference in its internal matters.

With the new national security law, Hong Kong would need a new office to deal with cases, however, would likewise beget additional controls such as overseeing education. The city will surely need to establish its own national security commission to execute the orders, with a Beijing-appointed councellor.

The law is planned for controlling incendiary, secessionist, and terror exercises, and foreign interventions in nation’s internal matters. Since long, Hong Kong has been witnessing protests that on occasion turned violent between police and protestors. 

In the previous year, police have arrested more than 9,000 demonstrators, including activists and lawmakers who have regularly campaigned to carry international attention regarding Hong Kong. 

China’s measure towards national security law for Hong Kong shocked the international community and the Hong Kong residents, when it was first introduced in May, building new diplomatic tensions as nations were denouncing Beijing’s move. 

Political analysts, state that the law denotes Beijing’s full takeover of Hong Kong, which was guaranteed 50 years of “self-governance” after the handover by British.

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