His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will leave for Bahrain today leading a Kuwaiti official delegation to attend the 37th Summit of the GCC Supreme Council and GCC leaders’ meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The summit is held amid quite significant regional challenges, affirmed Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the GCC Secretary General. These political, security and economic challenges warrant solidarity and cooperation among all the GCC member states and relentless action to attain merger among them, Zayani said in an interview broadcast by the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA) yesterday.
He indicated that agenda of the GCC summit, due on Tuesday, includes various files related to political, economic, security and social cooperation, as well as examining reports filed by the Ministerial Council, committees and the General Secretariat.
Current economic conditions constitute some of the major challenges facing the GCC states, he said. The GCC countries had already taken steps at this level, endorsing the joint economic treaty, setting up the common market and the customs union.
Elaborating, Zayani re-affirmed the GCC states’ resolve to face security threats. “They will not hesitate to take all necessary measures to safeguard their security, stability and defend their sovereignty and interests,” he stressed.
The GCC countries have taken an unwavering approach for upgrading their security and military potentials for defense purposes and safeguarding achievements that have been made throughout the years, Al-Zayani added.
He rejected, anew, foreign intervention in the regional countries’ affairs for such meddling contradicts with international laws and threatens the Gulf security and stability, noting the UN prime role in this regard.
On the Syrian refugees’ plight, he underscored the GCC countries’ efforts at the public and private levels to help them, noting that the GCC states along with other countries had pledged more than $7 billion to aid the Syrians. Kuwait had hosted three international conferences grouping countries pledging support for the Syrians affected by the war. A fourth one was held in London.
Regarding Yemen, Al-Zayani said the GCC countries had given substantial financial support for the legitimate government to help it deliver relief supplies to those in need in the war-stricken nation. For its part, Saudi Arabia had established King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid to coordinate humanitarian operations in Yemen, with a special budget estimated at one billion Saudi riyals.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah yesterday expressed confidence that the summit will come up with resolutions to promote the pan-GCC integration, and joint action. These will be topped with carrying on with implementation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s ‘Vision 2030’ for accelerating the pace of cooperation among the member states, and enhancing the bloc’s joint action, Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifah said in a press statement.
He noted that the GCC Ministerial Council in 2016 approved measures for the completion of the Monarch’s wise vision, and the leaders endorsed the formation of a joint commission to reactivate economic and development.
The Bahraini chief diplomat pointed to the pivotal role the GCC member states play on the regional and international scenes. The 37th Summit will be a good chance to consolidate this role, and further boost security and stability in the region, to maintain unity, development, and prosperity in the region.
Concluding the statement, Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifah praised the Saudi King’s presidency of the 36th Summit held in Riyadh in December 2015, which has helped achieve remarkable steps for the GCC march, to continue with strong resolute in the Manama summit till the bloc realizes the aspired integration and unity.
In the meantime, MPs of the Bahraini Council of Representatives have affirmed the importance of the upcoming GCC Summit in facing the rising political, security and economic tension in the region. The MPs agreed in various statements that the current unstable conditions in the Arab World, mainly the escalation of terrorism and the economic situation in the Gulf countries due to the drop in oil prices, require the GCC states to unite.
Creating unity between the GCC countries will prevent any outer intervention in the Gulf’s own issues, said MP Nasser Al-Qaseer. The Gulf states have the ability to become one of the top economic powers, as they possess huge financial abilities, strong infrastructure and opportunities for attracting foreign investments, he added.
MP Mohammad Al-Amadi said meanwhile that the GCC citizens are looking forward for the outcome of the 37th summit, hoping the leaders would take measures to create a Gulf union to face the growing challenges and threats in the region. Sharing one language is a key factor to create a strong economic union, he said.
On this matter, he mentioned the successful experience of the European Union (EU), despite countries of different languages and backgrounds. Meanwhile, MP Jamal Dawoud noted the importance of discussing means of resolving the unemployment issues among youth through executing joint-GCC economic projects.
In the meantime, Bahraini Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sheikh Humoud bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are heading towards a level of unity and further development. He further stressed the importance of the 37th GCC Summit to be held in Riyadh tomorrow, amidst the rising political, economic and security tension in the region. The ambassador hoped the summit will result in establishing the sought and the long-awaited Gulf union to face the challenges and threats and boost economy among the GCC states. – KUNA
A protest against release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat in Gujarat turned violent on Tuesday evening when groups of people vandalised shops at a mall and a cinema hall in Ahmedabad and targeted vehicles parked. Nearly a dozen two-wheelers, many of them belonging to a fast-food chain, were gutted.
The fresh round of violence – police had to fire two shots in the air to disperse the mob – comes on a day state governments were ticked off by the Supreme Court for trying to cite law and order problems to block screening the movie set to be released on Thursday.
After the top court’s unequivocal order, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria declared that the state was left with no option but to maintain law and order. In Haryana’s Gurgaon, the district authorities have banned protests or large gatherings within 200 metre radius of cinema halls under Section 144 of the criminal procedure code.
Signs that the state governments might enforce law appeared to have led the Karni Sena and other Rajput associations to focus on persuading cinema hall owners to decline to screen the movie voluntarily. In most cities of Rajasthan where the protests against the 190-crore movie had originated, Karni Sena said they were reaching out to cinema hall owners to give the movie a pass.
Maharashtra minister Jaykumar Rawal appeared to back this line. He appealed to people not to watch the film because, as he put it, the filmmaker had tampered with history to earn money.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, according to news agency Press Trust of India, said most theatre owners in the state had voluntarily decided not to screen the controversial movie.
Big Cinema, one of the two theatres attacked on Tuesday evening, was also one of them but it didn’t help the theatre.
“We had put up boards saying we won’t screen the film. Still the mall was attacked by a horde of men,” the mall manager Rakesh Mehta said, according to news agency ANI.
There were also reports of protests targeting cinema halls from Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur and Madhya Pradesh.
In Kanpur, a police officer said some people barged into a cinema hall. “They tore film posters, damaged property and manhandled the mall staff,” he told news agency PTI. Protests against the film were also held in Indore, Morena and Gwalior. Police had to use force in some places in Ujjain where the protesters turned violent.
A top Mumbai police official said makers of the film Monday approached the police, seeking security at multiplexes where the Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed period drama will open on January 25.
Police personnel will be stationed at cinemas from January 24 to 26 to ensure the film releases smoothly and any attempt to disrupt its screening is foiled in Mumbai, he said
Department of Water Operation and Maintenance at the Ministry of Electricity and Water on Friday evening will carry out maintenance work at the Subhan Water Pumping Plant, and the operation will lead to weak supply of water to eight residential areas, reports Al- Rai daily. Assistant Undersecretary for Water Operation and Maintenance Engineer Khalifa Al- Furaij said the affected areas include Khaitan, Farwaniya, Omariya, Yarmouk, Qurtoba, Shuhada, Salaam and Surra. He noted the work will start from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am on Saturday. He explained the maintenance work at the water networks is part of the periodic maintenance policy of the ministry. He urged residents of the affected areas to call hotline 152 or water emergency centers for further enquiries. Meanwhile, Minister of Oil, Electricity and Water Engineer Bakhit Al-Rashidi recently held a meeting with executive members of the workers union at Ministry of Electricity and Water to discuss some problems facing some employees within the ministry. Chairman of the union Engineer Abdullah Hujeilan said the minister indicated readiness to cooperate with Civil Service Commission to resolve problems related to wages for casual workers, which was canceled sometime ago. He affirmed the meeting was positive, noting the issue concerning wages of casual workers was tabled for discussion and the minister asked about the reasons for its cancellation and the mode of disbursement to recipients. He expressed appreciation to the minister for his positive initiatives and interest shown by listening to their grievances.
A group of Philippine employment agencies in Manila has written to the Philippines Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello requesting him to allow them to send trained workers to Kuwait and those who were on vacation abroad, reports Al- Rai daily.
In what is seen as a new development, in the letter which was published in the Philippines by a newspaper, the agencies said the administrative decision No. 25 issued by the Philippine government is only concerned with domestic employment.
The letter stated the agencies be allowed to send techno specialists, market managers, electricity and maintenance technicians, plumbers and carpenters as soon as they receive tickets from their sponsors in Kuwait. “The Labor Secretary confirmed last Friday that Filipinos who have tickets and business contracts can travel to Kuwait and complete their work,” the Philippine news agency said.
DAVOS: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked PM Modi for the meeting held between the two leaders on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos today, saying that India and Canada share special bonds of history, friendship and trade. Mr Trudeau, who is scheduled to visit India on February 17, also tweeted that he would be seeing his Indian counterpart “very soon”.
“Canada & India share special bonds of history, friendship and trade. Thank you PM @narendramodi for the meeting today – we’ll see you in India very soon,” Mr Trudeau tweeted.
The two leaders had earlier today discussed issues of mutual interest in where PM Modi earlier in the day delivered the opening plenary address.
Tweeting about the meeting held on the sidelines of the WEF summit, a spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said the two leaders discussed issues of mutual interest.
“A strategic partnership underpinned by shared values of democracy and pluralism!,” the spokesperson tweeted.
PM Modi also met Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.
The two leaders discussed steps to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, the MEA spokesperson said.
Yesterday, PM Modi also held a bilateral with Swiss President Alain Berset and is likely to have further meetings here in Davos.
In a relief for thousands of Indian workers forced to illegally extend their stay in Kuwait due to non-payment of salaries, the Kuwaiti government on Tuesday announced that it won’t impose any penalty on them.
The amnesty has been granted from January 29 to February 22.
“This comes as a great relief for the Indian workers,” said social worker Shaheen Sayyed who had taken up their cause.
A worker, Naresh Naidu, who was employed with Kharifi National and had extended his stay to demand his salary dues, is one among those keen to make use of the amnesty.
Naidu, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, told TOI that he went to the Indian Embassy in Kuwait today and submitted his details so that he could return home. “I found many workers from Telugu states eager to return home,” he said.
The penalty for overstaying in Kuwait is two Kuwaiti Dinars, i.e. Rs 424. The unpaid workers, who had overstayed by several months, could not afford to pay the fine.
The amnesty granted by the Kuwaiti government comes in the wake of Union minister of state for external affairs VK Singh’s recent visit to the country. Singh had taken up the issue of the workers who had not been paid by Kharafi National Company. He also spoke to a Kuwaiti minister to waive penalty for those who wanted to return to India.
The amnesty also means that the workers can once again go back to Kuwait legally to take up jobs.
In another development, Indian workers employed with Kharafi National and those who had quit when salaries were being denied, have reportedly received an offer from the company. An Indian worker, Irfan, said that a company representative had offered 25 per cent to 33 per cent of their salary dues. However, workers did not respond to the offer as they want all their dues to be cleared. Some are making use of the amnesty to return without salaries as they are desperate to go back to their families in India and don’t want to suffer more uncertainty.
A 23-year-old neighbour has been arrested in the brutal rape and murder case of 7-year-old Zainab in Kasur city in Pakistan’s Punjab province, days after the heinous crime sparked a national outrage.
Police sources confirmed suspect Imran Ali had confessed to his crime before an investigation team.
Ali was known to the girl’s family and would also frequent her house, police sources said.
They said Ali had been taken into custody over two weeks ago but was let go on the victim family’s plea that ‘he could not be a culprit’.
Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad told PTI that Ali had confessed to his crime but it would be confirmed whether he is the culprit or not after a DNA test.
“Imran Ali’s DNA test is underway and hopefully we will have the report later in the day,” Ahmad said, adding the suspect has been arrested from Pakpatan district of Punjab.
On January 5, the girl had gone missing while going to a religious tuition centre near her house in Kasur city, some 50km from Lahore. Her parents had been in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and she had been living with her maternal aunt.
After her abduction, a CCTV footage showed her walking with a stranger near Peerowala Road.
On January 9, her body was recovered from a heap of trash near the Shahbaz Khan Road. Autopsy report had confirmed rape.
Police have carried out DNA test of more than 1,000 suspects. The Pakistan Supreme Court on last Sunday gave a 72-hour deadline to Inspector General of Police to arrest the culprit.
Violent protests gripped the Kasur city following the girl’s murder that claimed two lives. The incident also stirred a national outcry demanding justice for her.
Last year, 4,139 incidents of child abuse took place in the province where 43 per cent of them were acquainted with perpetrators.
A magnitude 8.2 earthquake hit the Gulf of Alaska in the early hours of Tuesday, prompting authorities to warn people in the area to move away from the coast in case it causes a tsunami.
The quake hit 256 km (157 miles) southeast of Chiniak, Alaska at a depth of 10 km at 0931 GMT, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
“If you are located in this coastal area, move inland to higher ground. Tsunami warnings mean that a tsunami with significant inundation is possible or is already occurring,” Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said in a warning for Alaska and British Columbia.
Tsunami warnings for parts of Alaska and Canada and a tsunami watch for the entire U.S. west coast and Hawaii were issued.
“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Japan’s meteorological agency said it was monitoring the situation but did not issue a tsunami alert.
Despite frequent ceasefire violations and heavy exchange of fire with Pakistan forces on the international border and across Line of Control, Union minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj helped a Lucknow boy, living in the bylanes of Old City, tie the knot with his Pakistani fiancee last Friday.
The ‘nikah’ of Naqi Ali Khan (27), an engineer from Agha Mir Deodhi area near City Station and Sabahat Fatima (24) from Karachi, was solemnised by senior Shia cleric and vice-president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq.
The couple got married on Friday and their reception was held on Saturday.
The marriage of Naqi Ali Khan and Sabahat Fatima had been fixed almost two years ago but cross-border tension caused visa hassles for the bride.
A TOI report from Lucknow in July about a similar case kindled hopes and Sabahat took to social media and contacted Sushma Swaraj last year. The minister helped the couple and granted visa to Sabahat.
“Our families are related. But were divided when the two countries underwent partition. The groom’s maternal grandmother and the bride’s paternal grandmother were sisters and lived together in Lucknow before partition,” said Naqi’s elder brother, Muzaffar.
Incidentally on Sunday, the couple watched a Bollywood movie in which the female lead plays the role of a Pakistani and the male lead is an Indian.
“Both of us are extremely grateful to Sushma Swaraj for this great gift. We are hopeful that the Indian government will help us in getting Sabahat Indian nationality as well,” said the couple.
A 22-year-old woman was dragged out of a car and sexually assaulted as her husband and brother-in-law were held at gunpoint in Gurgaon on Sunday night, in the latest rape horror to emerge from Haryana this year. Four persons have been arrested, the police said on Monday.
The family was returning from a function in the woman’s brother-in-law’s car when they stopped near the Business Park Tower in Sector 56. The woman’s husband got out of the car to use the toilet.
Two cars stopped near them and four men, apparently drunk, came out and asked why they had stopped there. They started thrashing the woman’s husband.
On spotting the woman inside the car, one of the men pulled her out, dragged her to the bushes and raped her, according to her police complaint. The other three men held guns to her husband and brother-in-law the entire time, said senior police officer Manish Sehgal.
Before running away, the men warned the woman and her family against going to the police. But the woman’s husband managed to jot down the registration number of one of the cars, Mr Sehgal said.
This helped the police track down the attackers yesterday. The young man who allegedly assaulted the woman is a water tanker supplier, the police say.
“The accused were arrested from their residences in Johalka village near Sohna in Gurgaon and a case has been registered against them,” the officer said.
Haryana has been struggling to cope with incidents of crime against women in the past few days. In three of the worst cases, young girls were raped, tortured and killed.
India has emerged as the fifth most attractive market for investments and the optimism over global economic growth is at a record level, a survey of CEOs by global consultancy PwC said.
The findings come on a day when the rich and powerful are meeting in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual summit.
“The US remains the top spot for global investment, while India moves into the top 5,” PwC’s 21st CEO Survey said, adding that there is surprising faith and optimism among chief executives in the economic and business environment worldwide, at least over the next 12 months.
Around 46 per cent of global CEOs consider the US as one of the three most important countries for growth, followed by China (33 per cent) and Germany (20 per cent) at second and third places, respectively. At the fourth spot is the UK (15 per cent).
“India (9 per cent) bumps Japan (8 per cent) as the fifth most attractive market in 2018,” it noted.
PwC India Chairman Shyamal Mukherjee said backed by definitive structural reforms, the India story has been looking better in the past one year.
“Most of our clients are optimistic about their growth. The government has made efforts to address concerns around areas like infrastructure, manufacturing and skilling, although newer threats like cybersecurity and climate change are beginning to play on the minds of our clients,” he noted.
As per the survey, 54 per cent of the CEOs plan to increase their headcount this year while only 18 per cent expect to reduce their staff.
The sectors having the highest demand for new recruits are health care (71 per cent), technology (70 per cent), business services (67 per cent), communications (60 per cent), hospitality and leisure (59 per cent).
Notwithstanding the optimism in the global economy, 40 per cent of CEOs are ‘extremely concerned’ about geopolitical uncertainty and cyber threats while 41 per cent feel so about terrorism.
Other factors for concerns are availability of key skills (38 per cent) and populism (35 per cent). “These threats outpace familiar concerns about business growth prospects such as exchange rate volatility (29 per cent) and changing consumer behaviour (26 per cent),” the survey said.
Further, terrorism is seen as among the top ten threats to growth whereas only 20 per cent felt so in 2017.
“The threat of over-regulation remains the top concern for CEOs (42 per cent extremely concerned), and over a third (36 per cent) remain concerned about an increasing tax burden,” it added.
SPwC conducted 1,293 interviews with CEOs spread across 85 countries between August and November 2017. Besides, the sample is weighted by national GDP to ensure that CEOs’ views are fairly represented across all major countries.
The revenue of 40 per cent of the companies was at least $1 billion and 35 per cent of firms’ revenues ranged between $100 million and $1 billion. Around 20 per cent of the companies had revenues of up to $100 million while 56 per cent of the entities were privately owned.