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Pakistan moves doctor who helped CIA track Osama to safer location

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Islamabad :The Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track and kill Osama bin Laden has been moved by authorities from a prison in the country’s northwest to an unknown safer location, an official and family member said.

Shakil Afridi has been languishing in a prison in the city of Peshawar for almost seven years after his fake vaccination programme helped US agents track and kill the Al-Qaeda leader.

A top prison official in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the main town, told AFP that Afridi was moved by intelligence officials to the safer place.

 

When asked the reasons behind moving the doctor, the official told AFP, “I was informed in writing that they are moving him due to security reasons”.

Jamil Afridi, the doctor’s brother, confirmed to AFP that he had been informed by government officials that “Shakil has been moved to a safer place”.

Afridi was sentenced to jail for 33 years in May 2012 after he was convicted of ties to militants, a charge he has always denied.

Some US lawmakers said the case was revenge for his help in the search for the Al-Qaeda chief.

Afridi, a former senior surgeon believed to be in his mid-50s, had been living in solitary confinement in a small room in Peshawar’s Central Jail, his lawyer Qamar Nadim told AFP.

In 2016, a US threat to cut aid to Pakistan saw a tribunal slice 10 years off his sentence — but since then US pressure for his release has tapered off.

US President Donald Trump vowed during his election campaign that he would order Pakistan to free Afridi.

“I’m sure they would let them (him) out. Because we give a lot of aid to Pakistan,” Trump told Fox News at the time, adding that Pakistan “takes advantage like everybody else”.

The comments sparked a blistering rebuttal from Pakistan, whose interior minister at the time branded Trump “ignorant” and stated the “government of Pakistan and not Donald Trump” would decide Afridi’s fate.


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Death toll due to Nepal floods reaches 67

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Kathmandu: The death toll from the monsoon floods and landslides in Nepal has increased to 67, while 32 people were reported missing and over 40 others injured, officials said.

The Nepal Police said in a statement that the victims comprised 41 men and 26 women, reports Xinhua news agency.

“At least 1,445 people from different districts have been rescued successfully and evacuated to safer destinations,” the statement said.

 

According to the Home Ministry, around 35,000 people were affected by the disasters particularly in the low-lying areas known as Terai region. More than 20 of Nepal`s 77 districts were worst-hit due to the floods and landslides.

The Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force were deployed in the disaster-hit districts to carry out rescue and relief operations.

Residents were displaced after the swollen rivers breached the embankment and gushed into human settlements, especially in Province 2. Over 13,000 families were displaced in Province 2 alone where around 3,500 houses were completely damaged.

The provincial governments announced separate relief packages for the victims, including cash for the families of those who lost their members and free treatment of the injured. The local governments in coordination with different agencies distributed food items, clothes and tarpaulins to the highly affected communities.

The Health Emergency Operation Centre said that different medical teams with doctors were mobilized in the hard-hit districts to ensure health services to the affected people.

“There is a high risk of possible outbreaks of different water-borne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, dengue, typhoid among others,” Ghanashyam Pokharel, health official at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, told Xinhua.

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US says asylum seekers from India rising as Trump adds yet another roadblock

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New York/Washington: The Trump administration unveiled a new rule to bar almost all immigrants from applying for asylum at the southern border, requiring them to first pursue safe haven in a third country through which they had travelled on the way to the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security, in a statement issued with the Department of Justice, said the rule would set a “new bar” for immigrants “by placing further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the United States.”

The American Civil Liberties Union called the new rule “patently unlawful” and vowed to file a lawsuit against it, while a host of experts also questioned its legality.

 

“The interim regulation violates the clear language of the law in several respects,” Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Reuters in an email.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it was “deeply concerned” about the measure, saying it would “put vulnerable families at risk” and undermine international efforts to find a coordinated solution.

Designated an “interim final rule,” the measure goes into effect, potentially shifting the burden onto poorly equipped countries like Mexico and Guatemala to process asylum claims.

The rule would make it all but impossible for asylum-seekers to gain legal entry to the United States unless they first apply for asylum in a “third country.”The proposed changes represent the latest effort by the Trump administration to crack down on immigration, the signature issue that helped propel Trump to the White House in the 2016 election and one already figuring prominently in the 2020 campaign.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Trump administration had overreached its authority and violated the law.

“The President is devastating lives, dishonouring our values and departing from decades of precedent and law in his haste to destroy the lifeline of asylum in America,” Pelosi said in a statement.

While Democratic politicians have sought to portray the Trump policies as inhumane, the president`s supporters are certain to be pleased at another gesture making good on campaign promises to sharply curtail immigration.

Trump on Monday declared “very successful” what he had billed as a sweeping operation to arrest undocumented immigrants this past weekend. US authorities launched small-scale operations aimed at about 2,000 recently arrived families in about 10 cities.

The operations come as the Trump administration faces criticism for housing immigrants in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, and there are concerns about migrant children being separated from adults by US authorities.

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Iran says may ‘reverse’ nuclear programme to pre-deal status

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Tehran: Iran’s atomic energy agency said it could reverse its nuclear programme to its status before curbs were imposed under a landmark 2015 agreement with world powers.

“If the Europeans and the Americans don’t want to carry out their duties… we will decrease our commitments and… reverse the conditions to four years ago,” agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said, quoted by IRNA state news agency.

“These actions are not out of obstinacy. It is to give diplomacy a chance so that the other side come to their senses and carry out their duties,” he added.

 

The deal promised economic benefits and sanctions relief to Iran, but US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in May 2018 and reimposed tough punitive measures against the Islamic republic.

Angered that its beleaguered economy is not receiving the relief it believes it was promised under the deal, Iran has intensified sensitive uranium enrichment work.

European foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels on Monday for crisis talks on the deal.

The European parties to the deal — Britain, France and Germany — called for dialogue as tensions further intensified between Iran and the United States.

In a statement, the so-called E3 expressed concern the deal was at risk of further unravelling but said it was up to Iran to ensure its survival.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to leave the deal unless the remaining parties to the agreement bypass US sanctions and deliver the promised benefits.

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