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Pak envoy visits Makkah to oversee Hajj plans2017/08/14
MAKKAH: The Ambassador of Pakistan to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and member Hajj Advisory Committee H.E. Khan Hasham Bin Saddique visited Makkah to oversee the Hajj arrangements for Hajj 1438H. 
The Ambassador was received at the Main Control Office Azizia by Director Hajj and other officers and officials of the Hajj mission ...

US spent $76bn on arming forces in Afghanistan: GAO2017/08/14
KABUL: The United States has failed to enable the Afghan security forces to operate independently despite spending $76 billion on arming them over the last 16 years.
Washington could maintain its support to Afghanistan because the country's "stability and security continue to face threats from the Taliban-led insurgency, criminal networks and terrorist organisations, including the militant Islamic State group.
A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the US began providing weapons, communication devices, and other security equipment to the Afghan security forces in 2002.
About 86 per cent of the funds - $66 billion of the $76 billion - were channeled through the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF), which was set up in 2005, according to the report.
Until April 2017, about $61 billion of the $66 billion of allocations made since 2005 have been disbursed. The largest expenditure was for sustainment, totalling 44 per cent (over $26 billions) of all ASFF disbursements.
Equipment and transportation accounted for almost $18 billion, or 29 per cent. About 81 per cent of weapons provided to the Afghan security forces were rifles and pistols.
The firepower funding also included more than 25,000 grenade launchers and almost 10,000 rocket-propelled weapons used by the Afghan Border Police. The Afghans were also given 162,643 pieces of communications equipment and nearly 76,000 vehicles.
The vehicles were primarily light-tactical vehicles like Ford Ranger pickups, cargo trucks and more than 22,000 Humvees. As many as 110 helicopters and 98 planes have also been delivered to the Afghans since 2007. - NNI

Kashmiris urged to observe full shutdown Aug 152017/08/14
SRINAGAR: Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik has called people to observe complete shutdown on August 15 (Tuesday), India's Independence Day and appealing to the teachers, students and their parents to boycott all functions related to the event. 
JRL also warned the government not to force teachers, students and their parents to participate in these functions.
Joint leadership appealed parents that they should stop their children from participating in the August 15, related functions.
"We are not against the freedom of any country and will provide them a chance to decide the future by allowing independent plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, till then it doesn't have any moral and constitutional right to organize the freedom celebrations on the soil of this state," joint leadership said in a statement.
"India itself attained freedom from British rule on 15 August 1947 and became an independent country but only after 72 days of this freedom, this country snatched the freedom rights of the Kashmiri people and forcibly occupied this region by landing its troops on 27 October and since then this occupation continues," JRL said.
"This country merely on the bases of its military might is riding on the shoulders of the Kashmiri people and have snatched the freedom of millions of the people of this region. They said that Kashmiri nation is continuously demanding from last 70 years that India should call back its forces from Kashmir and give us a chance to decide our future.
"Kashmir is an internationally acknowledged dispute and Delhi can neither succeed in changing the status and nature of this state by its rigid and stubborn policy nor can be this region kept permanently under the forced control, they said and added that any tinkering or fiddling in article 35A won't (state Subject law) be tolerated.
Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik said that New Delhi is desperate to tamper with the Muslim majority character of Jammu and Kashmir. Cautioning people against the nefarious designs of Delhi and its henchmen in state, JRL said that people in state won't allow anyone to alter or interfere with the integrity and special status of the state and will safeguard it at all costs.
"Our demand for Right to Self Determination is purely a democratic demand and India has also promised to fulfil that demand on national as well as international levels but this country backtracked from its promises and is now busy in suppressing the genuine and just voices of the Kashmiri nation," they added.
It only adds salt to our bleeding wounds when they celebrate their Independence Day in an occupied territory of Jammu & Kashmir, said they. Lashing New Delhi, the resistance leaders said that if their conscience is alive, then it is better for them to celebrate these events only in their own country, said JRL.
Paying glorious tributes to slain youth in Awenera Shopian gunfight, the resistance leadership said that they are laying their precious lives for sacred cause, extending their condolences with grieved families they said that haughty approach of Indian authorities for prevailing awful situations and continues bloodshed, JRL said that our youth are left with no option other than to resist this forced occupation. - NNI

Iran hikes missile funds to hit out at US sanctions2017/08/14
TEHRAN: Iran's parliament voted Sunday to allocate 520 million U.S. dollars to develop missile program to fight the U.S. "adventurism" and sanctions, state news agency IRNA reported.
A total of 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, out of the 244 parliamentarians present. The vote came after fresh U.S. sanctions in July against Iran, targeting Tehran's missile programme.
The bill mandates the government to allocate an additional 260 million dollars for the "development of the missile programme" and the same amount to the Revolutionary Guards's foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, state news agency IRNA said. 
The move follows a spike in tensions between Tehran and Washington since US President Donald Trump took office in January with a vow to get tough on the Islamic republic.
"The Americans should know that this was our first action," said parliament speaker Ali Larijani, after announcing overwhelming support for a package "to confront terrorist and adventurist actions by the United States in the region".Iran´s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said the bill passed on Sunday had the support of the government. The bill is "very smart particularly because it doesn´t violate the nuclear deal and doesn´t allow the other side to make excuses," he added. "Iran boasts potential and actual options to confront hostile US actions".
The United States has had no diplomatic ties with the Iran since 1980, and Trump has halted the direct contacts initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama. A string of close encounters between US ships and Iranian vessels in the Gulf in recent months has added to the tensions between the two countries.
Iran plans to develop research reactors for nuclear power production, Tehran Times daily reported Sunday.
Iran's Nuclear Power Production and Development Company has been tasked to design, construct and utilize research reactors, the daily said.
The project is in compliance with the goals and missions of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), it noted.
The news was announced Saturday in a directive by Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri to the AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi.
The AEOI said it will continue research and development plans in all sectors of peaceful nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment, in order to supply fuel for research reactors.
Meanwhile, Iranian Majlis (parliament) on Sunday overwhelmingly approved the generalities of a motion to counter what it called the U.S. "terrorist and adventurous" acts in the region.
The general outlines of the motion were passed with 240 votes in favor and 1 abstention during an open parliamentary session on Sunday morning.
The Majlis ratified the motion which had been prepared by the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Majlis in July.
It also seeks to impose sanctions on U.S. military and intelligence officials in the region.
The U.S. officials should know that the motion by Iranian parliament is the first step to counter U.S. adventurism in the region, the Majlis Speaker, Ali Larijani, said following the parliament meeting on Sunday.
If the United States imposes more sanctions on Iran, the Iranian government is obliged to take further necessary measures to counter Washington, Larijani said.
The legislative move by Iran follows the U.S. President Donald Trump's signing of a sanctions bill on Russia, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Aug. 2.
Sanctions against Iran is mainly in response to Tehran's growing missile program.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said Iran's missile program is for deterrent purposes.
The lawmakers' motion on Sunday also tasks the government to allocate an additional defense budget of 260 million U.S. dollars for the "development of the missile program."
The motion, once turns into a law, will grant the same amount to the Quds Forces of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
The Quds Force, also known as Qods, is a special unit of Iran's IRGC responsible for "extraterritorial" missions of the Corps.
The parliament will convene again next week to discuss the details of the motion and vote on the bill. - NNI

Coward attacks reinforce resolve to fight terrora2017/08/14
QUETTA: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday said that security forces have broken the backbone of terrorists and will soon eliminate the remaining militants who are carrying out cowardly attacks to make their presence felt. 
Accompanied by Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Khan Zehri and Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, the Interior Minister was addressing a press conference in Quetta a day after a powerful bomb blast hit an on-duty army truck at Pishin bus stop in Quetta on Saturday night, leaving at least 15 people including the personnel of the Pakistan Army dead and over 40 others injured.
Ahsan Iqbal said operations against terrorists will continue till the elimination of terrorism from Pakistani soil. "Such cowardly attacks reinforce the nation's resolve in the fight against terrorism. We become more determined with every such attack."
Taking aim at his political opponents, he said, some political elements wanted to weaken the country internally and divide the nation in the face of testing times. They were actually the enemies of the country, he added and asked them to shun their differences to unite in their fight against terrorism.
"We are in a state of war which warranted unity among all stakeholders and political parties", he added. He said that peace and development were interlinked as without peace the country could not progress. 
Operation Zarb-e-Azab and Raddul Fasaad showed the government's resolve to purge the country of terrorists, he added. He assured that the federal government will ensure its cooperation with all provincial institutions. "Without making coordinated efforts, we cannot defeat our enemy," he said.
Ahsan Iqbal, Balochistan chief minister and Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz visited the Civil Hospital in Quetta. They inquired after the health of the people injured in the suicide bomb attack. 
On the occasion, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri directed the health officials to provide all possible medical facilities to the people injured in the incident.
Earlier, a high level emergency meeting was held in Quetta to review law and order situation in Balochistan in the wake of suicide bomb attack on a security force's vehicle at Pishin Stop.
Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri presided over the meeting. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz, Provincial Home Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti and other high ranking civil and military officials attended the meeting. - NNI

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