United Nations: Arab nations have deftly outmanoeuvred the US at the UN to defeat a resolution it sponsored condemning Hamas by requiring a two-thirds majority for it to pass, rather than the simple majority it received.
But a counter-motion proposed by Ireland calling for an end to Israeli occupation of lands seized after the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six Day War, passed in the General Assembly with an overwhelming support in a setback for Washington, which found itself isolated with only five others joining it to vote against this resolution.
India voted for the Irish resolution and abstained on the US resolution on Hamas but voted with Washington against the procedural requirement for a two-thirds majority.
US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley pushed hard for the anti-Hamas resolution that was to have capped her two-year campaign in support of Israel and against its foes before she leaves her cabinet-level post at the end of the year.
The resolution sought to condemn “Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk” and demand that it, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other militant groups end all provocative and violent actions.
Its passage would have been a symbolic victory for Haley after Washington’s isolation on Israel-related resolutions, especially one last December critical of US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem when only eight others joined Washington in voting against it.
The anti-Hamas resolution received 87 votes in favour and 57 against it, with 33 abstentions.
But the US was robbed of its victory by the clever ploy introduced before the vote by Kuwait on behalf of the Arab states to require a two-thirds majority contending it was a matter of international peace and security.
That procedural manoeuvre received 75 votes, with 72 against it and 26 abstentions and nullified the US resolution on Hamas that followed it despite the simple majority it received.
Hamas, which effectively controls the Gaza Strip that was taken by Israel from Egypt in the 1967 war, has carried out suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks and is designated a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the US.
By singling out Hamas for its “ugliest cases of terrorism in the world”, Haley had corralled a simple majority for the resolution and this led to the Arab counter-strategy.
Because of the terrorist legacy of Hamas, many countries like India did not join the Arabs to vote against the US resolution and abstained, while others like Singapore voted for it.
India kept its delicate balance by voting with the US against the two-thirds majority requirement, while abstaining on the resolution itself to avoid confronting the Arabs.
The Ireland-sponsored resolution, which passed 156 for to six against with 12 abstentions, also reiterated support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue based on the pre-1967 borders and adherence to UN resolutions.
23 killed as thunderstorms, dust storm lash Pakistan
Islamabad: Massive thunderstorms and a dust storm lashed Pakistan’s Punjab and Sindh provinces, killing at least 23 people, injuring scores of others, according to media reports
Heavy rain and storm caused by a westerly wave uprooted electricity poles and trees in different parts of the country and also damaged properties on Monday.
Intermittent downpour in western, central and northern parts of the country for the past few days has rendered mud houses susceptible to the collapse, while land slide and flash floods in some areas have already made several roads dangerous for travel, Dawn reported.
Thunderstorm in Punjab province resulted in the collapse of several buildings, leaving at least nine persons, including two women, dead. Four deaths were reported in Khanewal district; three in Hasilpur area of Bahawalnagar district; and two Dunyapur tehsil of Lodhran district. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Chitral valley, a woman and two men died when the roof of their house collapsed and fell on them.
In Balochistan province, authorities declared emergency on Monday after torrential rains and flash flooding wreaked havoc and killed at least nine persons, including a child. Heavy rainfall in Quetta, Gwadar, Chagai, Harnai, Duki, Jewani, Jaffarabad, Kohlu, Sibi, Barkhan, Chaman and other districts of Balochistan caused flooding in nullahs and drains which severed land link in various parts of the province, the Express Tribune reported.
The low-lying areas had been submerged due to continuous rainfall in Kohlu and adjoining areas. In separate incidents related to the dust storm that hit Karachi, four persons, including two young girls died, an equal number of fishermen went missing and dozens of others suffered injuries, according to officials and rescue services.
Gusty winds also uprooted several trees, poles and signboards, broke windowpanes of some high-rise buildings and damaged the walls of schools and homes in Karachi.
Iran’s legislature labels US troops in Mideast as terrorist
TEHRAN: Iran’s lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill labelling US forces in the Middle East as terrorist, a day after the US terrorism designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard formally took effect, state TV reported.
Defence Minister Gen. Amir Hatami introduced the bill authorising the government to act firmly in response to “terrorist actions” by US forces. It demands authorities use “legal, political and diplomatic” measures to neutralise the American move, without elaborating.
The US move aims at “thwarting Iran’s influence,” and shows that America’s longstanding sanctions against Iran have become ineffective, Hatami told lawmakers.
During the debate, some hard-liner lawmakers had demanded listing the entire US army and security forces as terrorist.
The TV report said 204 lawmakers approved the bill, out of 207 present at the session in the 290-seat chamber. Two lawmakers voted against the bill and one abstained.
However, it remains unclear how the bill’s passage in parliament would affect the Gourd’s activities in the Persian Gulf, where the US Navy has in the past accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing American warships.
The Revolutionary Guard has forces and wields influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and is in charge of Iranian missiles that have US bases in their range.
The Guard’s designation the first-ever for an entire division of another government adds another layer of sanctions to the powerful paramilitary force and makes it a crime under US jurisdiction to provide it with material support.
US asks its citizens to reconsider travel plans to Pakistan
Washington: The US has advised its citizens to reconsider their travel to Pakistan due to terrorism and asked them not to travel to restive Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), identified as the most dangerous areas due to terror attacks.
While Pakistan in general has been placed in “Level Three” category in the latest travel advisory issued by the US , several parts of the country, including Balochistan, KPK province, PoK and India-Pakistan border, have been placed in the most dangerous “Level Four” category, in which US citizens are asked not to travel due to high risk areas.
“Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or near Pakistan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR),” the State Department said in the travel advisory.
Asserting that terror groups continue plotting possible attacks in Pakistan, the State Department said that terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, military installations, airports, universities, tourist locations, schools, hospitals, places of worship and government facilities.
“Terrorists have targeted US diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past, and information suggests they continue to do so,” it said.
Terrorist attacks continue to happen across Pakistan, with most occurring in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Large-scale terrorist attacks have resulted in hundreds of casualties, it said.
“Do not travel to Balochistan province,” the State Department said, adding that active terrorist groups, an active separatist movement, sectarian conflicts and deadly terrorist attacks against civilians, government offices and security forces destabilise the province.
Similarly, in the PoK, it warned that militant groups are known to operate in the area and the threat of armed conflict between India and Pakistan remains. “Indian and Pakistani military forces periodically exchange gun and artillery fire across the Line of Control (LoC),” it said.
Noting that India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the border, the travel advisory said the only official Pakistan-India border crossing point for persons who are not citizens of India or Pakistan is in the province of Punjab between Wagah and Attari.
“Do not travel to KPK province, which includes the former FATA,” the advisory said.
Active terrorist and insurgent groups routinely conduct attacks against civilians, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government offices, and security forces. “These groups historically have not discriminated between government officials and civilians. Assassination and kidnapping attempts are common, including the targeting of polio eradication teams,” it said.