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Qatar introduce visa-free entry program for 80 countries including India, Pakistan left out

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Earlier this month, Qatar introduced a visa-free entry program for 80 countries to attract more tourists and business people to the tiny emirate following the Saudi-led embargo that has isolated it within the Gulf Cooperation Council. The list included US and European countries, India, China, Russia, but curiously left out Pakistan, one of its close allies. Qatar’s action has drawn protests from Islamabad, but Doha has remained unmoved.

Kuwait, another GCC favourite, has placed visa restrictions on Pakistanis since 2011.

while they don’t call it a visa ban, Pakistanis have to go through much stricter scrutiny than other countries’ citizens. Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif personally intervened in March 2017 with the Kuwaiti leadership, but despite promises of review, Pakistanis continue to stay on the restricted list.

Is the Pakistan-Gulf relationship fraying at the edges? In 2015, Pakistan refused to join the Saudi alliance against Yemen prompting swift angry reprisals from the UAE authorities. Saudi Arabia, one of Pakistan’s biggest benefactors, virtually asked Pakistan to choose between Riyadh and Doha earlier this year, when the Gulf states hit out at Qatar for its alleged support to terrorists.
Pakistan, for a while, considered pulling out Gen Raheel Shareef as commander of the Saudi-led anti-terrorism alliance after Nawaz Sharif felt ignored and shunned in Riyadh during a visit by Donald Trump. Sharif was not allowed to deliver his prepared speech, nor could he meet Trump. To add insult to injury, Trump named only India as a victim of terror, when Pakistan insists it has paid the largest cost in human terms.
The Qatar decision this month was not a one-off. In November ’16, it introduced visas on arrival for tourists from India, Russia, China among others. In September, it liberalised its visa regime for Indian citizens with US Green Cards or UK permanent residents. Pakistan was not on either list. However, Qatar has just launched a new shipping route to Karachi which might mitigate Pakistan’s difficulties, after a 15-year LNG deal concluded in 2016.
The agreements are forcing Pakistan to choose between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The Kuwait visa ban on Pakistan has had other consequences — it has become difficult for its businessmen and executives to go to Gulf countries or work there, because of travel restrictions between GCC countries. It’s also making it difficult for them to be recruited in corporate sector. UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash was in Delhi sometime ago to assure India the ongoing crisis between GCC and Qatar would have no effect on India’s ties with either side.

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Bangladesh Abolishes Reservation In Govt Jobs After Thousands Of Students Protest

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Faced with massive protests by thousands of students, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced that she has decided to scrap the quota system for government jobs in the nation.

Prime Minister Hasina in a statement to Parliament quoted on Thursday said, “The quota system will be abolished as the students do not want it. They have demonstrated enough protests, now let them return home”.

While PM Hasina agreed to scrap the quota system, she specified that the government could make special arrangements for jobs for the people with disabilities and the backward ethnic minority ones.

Students began their protests on Sunday against the discriminatory reservation for certain groups in government jobs, with more than 5,000 protesters rallying at the Dhaka University campus itself and students from other private universities joining in as well.

Mobs of students blockaded major roads in Dhaka, bringing traffic to a standstill, and police was deployed to the Dhaka University where they were forced to use tear gas and rubber bullets, injuring more than 100 students.

Classes and examinations were suspended in all universities as the protests intensified against the government, calling for the abolishment of the system that reserved seats in government jobs for ethnic minority groups, women and decedents of freedom fighters.

During the protests, several government websites, including those of the Bangabhaban presidential palace and the premier’s office were temporarily hacked and had on display a message related to the quota reform and a picture of the ongoing protest.

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Facebook stumbles with early effort to stamp out fake news – Jammu Voice

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Facebook Inc.’s strategy to stamp out fake news is struggling.

The company outsources the process to third-party fact checkers who can only tackle a small fraction of the bogus news that floods the social network, according to interviews with people involved in the process. And screenshots obtained by Bloomberg reveal a process that some partners say is too cumbersome and inefficient to stop misinformation duplicating and spreading.

“There is no silver bullet,” Facebook said in a statement. “This is part of a multi-pronged approach to combating false news. We have seen real progress in our efforts so far, but are not nearly done yet.”

The flaws highlight a fundamental question that will be asked this week when internet companies testify in front of Congressional committees: How responsible should Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc. be for information others distribute through their systems?

Facebook started noticing fake stories trending on its network as early as the summer of 2016, and it took a long time for the company to take any responsibility.

 

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Missing Pakistan journalist recovered after two years – Jammu Voice

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A Pakistani woman journalist who was allegedly kidnapped while pursuing the case of an Indian engineer two years ago has been rescued, officials said.

Zeenat Shahzadi, a 26-year-old reporter of Daily Nai Khaber and Metro News TV channel, went missing on August 19, 2015, when some unidentified men allegedly kidnapped her while she was en route to her office in an auto-rickshaw from her home in a populated locality of Lahore.

Shahzadi was believed to have ‘forcibly disappeared’ while working on the case of Indian citizen Hamid Ansari, before her abduction. Ansari went missing within the country in November 2012.

Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) President Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal said last evening that Shahzadi had been rescued from an area on the Pakistan- Afghanistan border on Thursday night.

“Non-state actors and anti-state agencies had abducted her and she has been rescued from their custody,” Iqbal said, adding tribals from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces had played a key role in her recovery.

“Zeenat Shahzadi today has been reunited with her family in Lahore and we are happy for her safe recovery. I am thrilled that she is home safe,” rights activist Beena Sarwar said.

Unable to withstand the loss, Shahzadi’s brother Saddam Hussain committed suicide in March last year, making her disappearance the focus of headlines again.

“Helping an Indian prisoner — Hamid Ansari — in Pakistan has cost us dearly. My sister is missing and my younger brother (Saddam) who was deeply attached to her hanged himself after losing hope to get reunited with her,” Salman Latif, brother of Shahzadi, had told PTI.

“My sister has not committed any crime in helping an Indian national,” he said.

Two years ago, Shahzadi had filed an application with the Supreme Court’s Human Rights Cell on behalf of Fauzia Ansari, the mother of Indian national Hamid Ansari, who had gone missing in Pakistan since November, 2012.

She secured in August, 2013 a special power of attorney from Ansari’s mother. She also pursued his case in the Peshawar High Court.

Ansari, a Mumbai resident arrested in 2012 for illegally entering Pakistan from Afghanistan reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online.

Shahzadi submitted application to the CIED that ordered registration of the FIR in 2014. At the same time, she also filed a habeas corpus petition in the Peshawar High Court.

A writ of habeas corpus is used to bring a prisoner or other detainee before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful.

“Zeenat received threats from unknown persons who asked her not to pursue the case anymore. We also asked her not to put her life at risk but she said she wanted to help Ansari out of humanity. When she spoke to Ansari’s mother she literally cried along with her and vowed to help,” Latif said.

Ansari was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment reportedly by a military court on charges of illegally entering Pakistan and ‘spying’. He is still in jail.

The rights activists, especially former secretary general Human Rights Commission of Pakistan I A Rehman, have voiced for the release of Ansari, saying since he has served his sentence, he ought to be set free now.

 

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