Pakistan can live without US help, says Pakistan foreign minister

The foreign minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif said that Pakistan is making sure to maintain a balance in its relationship with the US and the government has made it clear that Islamabad can live without US’ help but will not compromise on national integrity. Speaking at the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Asif said that relations with the US were not normal after rants by US President Donald Trump, the News International reported on Thursday.

He also stressed that Pakistan could no more host millions of Afghan refugees. The minister highlighted that Pakistan has been again and again seeking help for repatriation of Afghan refugees and to work on border management with Afghanistan. The minister Asif told the meeting that constant jibes at Pakistan were “all accusations to put the responsibility of the US failures in Afghanistan on Pakistan”. “We have to stand up to those who accuse us of harboring terrorists,” the minister said.

The meeting was kept beneath the chairmanship of Senator Nuzhat Sadiq and was attended among others by Senators Farhatullah Babar, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Karim Ahmed Khawaja, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Daud Khan Achakzai and Haji Moin Khan Afridi among others.

Situation ‘tense’ at border, supervised troops to teach them a lesson, says BSF chief K K Sharma

Elaborating the condition along Indo-Pak border as “tense”, Director General of Border Security Forces K K Sharma said on Thursday that he directed his troops to retaliate with “full force” and “teach them a lesson”. “We can describe the situation as tense. Earlier, there had been firing along the Line of Control and now they have started firing along the international border as well,” said Sharma.

Following giving his tributes to BSF head constable A Suresh, who was killed in motiveless firing by Pakistan on Wednesday night, he said, “Martyrdom of A Suresh will not go waste”. Describing his death as “unfortunate”, Sharma said that the BSF constable was struck by a bullet that seemed to have crossed through a small gap in his bunker. “Is tarah ki yudh ki sithati mein, aap isko occupational hazards keh saktey ho (In such a war like situation, one can describe it as occupational hazards). To avoid casualties due to sniper fire, we have provisions for bulletproof helmets and jackets for the troops, but even then many parts of the body remain exposed,” Sharma said.

Sharma added that it is not the first time that Pakistani Rangers directed to unprovoked firing towards the Indian side. Indicating that the BSF never violates ceasefire but only retaliates to the violations from the other side, Sharma said that “we are a peace-loving country and we do not want to create war-like situation”. “However, we are more than prepared to meet any situation on the border, whether infiltration or ceasefire violation,” he added.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat to release pan-India as SC lifts by six states

On Thursday, the Supreme Court stayed the ban of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat in six states. The top court also said that states must ensure law and order are maintained and they cannot ban the movie mentioning it as a problem. Every state is constitutionally grateful to maintain law and order and prevent any problematic incident during the screening of the film all over the country, the bench hearing the matter perceived.

The CJI Misra said during the hearing that “If we go by this (arguments leveled against films), 60 per cent of literature, even classical literature of India cannot be read”. Debating for the states, Additional Solictor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that history could be distorted to the extent that Mahatma Gandhi can be displayed as “sipping whiskey”. ASG Mehta added that “That’s distortion of history. Country will never allow that”. “That is not even distortion of history,” replied senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing on the behalf of producers. The film producers filed a petition on Tuesday before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, following a day Haryana joined the list of states to ban the film.

Later, the producers moved to the apex court through senior lawyer Harish Salve and advocate Mahesh Agarwal and submitted that the movie has endured changes, including in its title, as suggested by the Central Board of Certification (CBFC). The bench approved to hear the issue today following the petitioners asked for an immediate hearing of the matter. The governments of Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, all BJP-ruled states, had announced that they will not allow the screening of the movie, which is set for release on January 25. Following making some recommendations including a change in the film’s title, the CBFC had cleared the film for release with U/A certificate.

UN must step up pressure on Pakistan: US diplomat Nikki Haley

Coming back from a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan, US Ambassador Nikki Haley underscored on Monday that the Kabul government wants world powers to raise pressure on Pakistan. She joined the 14 other council envoys for talks with top Afghan leaders in Kabul at the weekend as the government reflects holding peace talks with the Taliban to conclude decades of insurgency.

Haley told reporters at UN headquarters, “They feel confident that the Taliban will be coming to the table.” As the peace talks will be Afghan-led, the Kabul government did request that the Security Council have influence in to bring Pakistan onboard. “They did ask us for consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table and change their behavior,” the US Ambassador said. Haley said the Afghan government is making extended steps towards stability and added that “continue to make ten steps forward and with Pakistan, they feel like they continue to take steps backward”. “As long as they are supporting terrorism in Pakistan, the Afghan community is continuing to feel it is not safe,” Haley said.

However, Haley did not specify what measures could be taken to pressure Pakistan but the council does have the authority to enforce sanctions. Pakistan has been accused of supporting the Taliban and various militant groups in Afghanistan from a long time to the charges they deny continuously. The US President Donald Trump has stopped US payments of military help to Pakistan worth $900 million, claiming Pakistan is not doing enough to target Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani guerilla group. A question mark also looms over an additional $1 billion of US military equipment for Pakistan.

The US officials consider that Pakistan’s intelligence agency and military have long aided fund and arm the Taliban to fight increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan, whose government is backed by the US. The Afghan government also appealed council to help in addressing narcotics production and trafficking, looking at “every country that moves them,” said Haley.

India Vs SA Test series: Team India got a reality check of its performance in 5-day matches, many loopholes to work on

In the 3 Test match series with South Africa, India already loses first two test matches. Isn’t it shocking to see a world-class team like India losing these matches with such an ease? It is the same team that looks strongest the most on papers. India, in last some years, performing extraordinarily in every home series and was winning peacefully. But playing in South Africa is definitely not a bed of full roses for the team India. They not only have to learn from these easy defeats in these test matches but also work on many other things. We will talk about the most important places where team India really needs to work on.

World’s strongest batting line, but not used appropriately

There’s no question on the world-class batting line of team India. Actually, it’s the strongest part of our team. But it sounds unimaginable when we witness team India losing because of poor performances of Indian batsmen. Players like Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ravi Pujara and many more, again and again, failed to perform in the test matches against South Africa. The inconsistency in the performances of Indian players needs to be focused and analyzed on.

Indian Captain Virat Kohli’s inexperienced decisions

There is no doubt in the ability of Virat Kohli as a batsman. He’s the world’s best batsman and we believe in it. But he still needs to work on his captaincy skills. An ace Test match player like Ajinkya Rahane was being ignored by Kohli in the first two test matches and this decision of the Indian captain needs to be evaluated. Rahane is unarguably one of the finest test match player and his records convey the same. Even dropping India’s best current lot bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the second Test match was unexpected and shocking for all. The Indian captain has to look again at his decisions.

And the hunt for good Wicketkeeper/Batsman still goes on

The biggest setback team India is suffering from is a good wicketkeeper/batsman. There was a time when Indian team had Dhoni, who was not just a good wicketkeeper but also a great batsman and captain. Team India has to compromise on both now – a great wicketkeeper and a great captain. Parthiv Patel’s performance as a wicketkeeper in second test match showed how blessed team India was when MS Dhoni was the wicketkeeper. There’s no one who seems to even fit 20% of the place in the team as a wicketkeeper like MS Dhoni. The search for a good wicketkeeper still continues.

Padmaavat producers moved Supreme Court against ban of its release in four states

Following the ban in four states, the producers of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat have knocked the doors of Supreme Court after receiving clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for a normal release in every state. The governments of Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have banned the film saying its release may present law and order situation.

A Bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, measured the proposal of the counsel of the producer that the matter be heard instantaneously because of the ban by Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana mentioning law and order issues. The Bhansali’s film is based on Mohammad Jayasi’s poem Padmavat, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles. The film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali witnessed protests across India for allegedly distorting history, a charge that the makers of the film denied strongly.

The film was initially titled as ‘Padmavati’, which was later changed to Padmaavat as suggested by the CBFC. Padmaavat was cleared by the CBFC for release with U/A certificate and a set of five modifications. The film has been experiencing violent protests by the fringe group, Shri Rajput Karni Sena who guilt the ace filmmaker and lead actors of insulting Rajputs and the community’s honor. The protestors, on the other hand, also issued death threats against Bhansali and Deepika over allegations that the queen has a dream sequence with Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji in the movie, which was clearly denied by the filmmakers.

The makers of Padmaavat released a new poster on Monday with no faces, noting the changes in bold and comforting everyone that the film “upholds the honor of the Rajput community”. The Bhansali’s film is all set to release on January 25, set for a box office clash with Akshay Kumar’s PadMan.

Demonetized notes worth Rs 100 crore seized from Kanpur, biggest haul of demonetized notes

The National Investigation Agency and Uttar Pradesh police have found demonetized notes worth about Rs 100 crore from an under construction house in Kanpur, which has become one of the biggest hauls since old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes were banned in November 2016. The currency belonged to four-five “individuals or companies” including a distinguished detergent-maker, an NIA official said.

A UP police official said that a builder from Sisamau took the team to the site where the currency was held. According to the investigating agency suspicions, the cash was kept a secret with an intention of converting the money into legal currency through illegal ways. A senior NIA official spoke on the condition of anonymity, “We got the information that huge amount of demonetized currency was being stored in an under-construction house in the Swarup Nagar locality of Kanpur…Since there was no terror angle involved, the information was shared with the UP police and a joint raid was conducted.

Following the government banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes, hundreds of crores of the demonetized currency have been directed into the formal banking system of which a larger part of them is illegal. More than 99% of the demonetized notes have been returned to the banks, as per the RBI estimates. The Income Tax (I-T) department has been enlightened about the recovery and asked to find out how the money was to be exchanged. In November last year, the NIA had recovered Rs 36.34 crore in demonetized money in Delhi.