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Sidhu’s Pakistan visit no less than a crime: BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday launched a scathing attack on the Congress party over its party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Pakistan visit and said that his visit was “no less than a crime”.

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NEW DELHI, India: The Indian leading party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a scathing attack on the Congress Party over its leader Naviot Singh Sidhu’s decision to attend prime minister Imran Khan’s oath taking ceremony.

Addressing a press briefing, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “It is no less than a crime that a Congress member and cabinet minister in Punjab government went to Pakistan for the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan and acted in a certain way.”

Also read: Pakistan’s debt, liabilities touch Rs30 trillion

Patra also attacked Sidhu for sitting next to the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Masood Khan and hugging Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gerenal Qamar Bajwa.

“Navjot Singh Sidhu is not just an individual but also a member of a political party and a cabinet minister in the Punjab government. The Congress needs to answer some serious questions in this regard. As per the protocol, Sidhu was not going to sit with AJK President. Initially, Masood Khan was sitting at the back but was later brought to the front and made to sit with Sidhu. Navjot must have known that this man is the alleged President of AJK. He should have objected from sitting next to him,” Patra added.

On the Sidhu-Bajwa hug, Patra said, “Hugging General Bajwa is a bigger crime.”

Recalling statements made by some other Congress leaders in the past, the spokesperson said, “Salman Khurshid, one of the former minister and diplomat went to Pakistan on 13th November 2015 and said that Pakistan is working towards peace whereas India is hindering the process.

On 17th November, Mani Shankar Aiyar gave an interview in Pakistan and asked for bringing down the Modi government. On 21st June 2018, Ghulam Nabi Azad also made a similar controversial statement by claiming that, ‘when Indian army tries to kill terrorists, it hardly kills one terrorist and eliminates 20 civilians’.”

Also read: Top 10 schools of Pakistan

Patra also demanded Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s stance on Sidhu’s visit and asked him whether the Punjab cabinet minister would be sacked before his return to India. “We demand Rahul Gandhi to answer whether he granted permission to Navjot Sidhu to go to Pakistan or not?” Patra asked.

Earlier today, Sidhu attended the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad and later addressed the media.

Pakistan News

Independence Day: Sale of Kashmiri flags on the rise

Sale of Kashmiri flags, badges and other decoration items have gained impetus ahead of Independence Day after the federal government had announced to observe August 14 as Kashmir Solidarity Day.

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MUZAFFARABAD, Azad Kashmir/KARACHI, Pakistan: Sale of Kashmiri flags, badges and other decoration items have gained impetus ahead of Independence Day after the federal government had announced to observe August 14 as Kashmir Solidarity Day, ARY News reported on Thursday.

As marking of 73rd Independence Day is right around the corner, the preparations have gained momentum as a huge rush of people were seen at different stalls of Kashmiri flags, national flags buntings, badges, set up by vendors in different areas of Karachi.

READ MORE: Top 10 schools of Pakistan (2018-19)

All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Ateeq Meer said that people are very enthusiastic and passionate for purchasing celebratory items to mark Independence Day.

It must be noted that government has decided to observe Independence Day; 14 August, as Kashmir Solidarity Day and 15th of this month as Black Day to express harmony and solidarity with Kashmiris in their recent plight caused by the Indian government.

The national flag will fly half-mast on 15th of this month. A notification to this effect has been issued by the Ministry of Interior.

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Pakistan News

Maryam’s interview “stopped forcefully:” Nadeem Malik

An interview of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a vice president of the PML-N, was “forcefully” taken off air soon after it was run, it was reported on Thursday.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: An interview of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif was taken off air forcefully seconds after it started.

“Just came to know Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s interview has been stopped forcefully just [a] few minutes after it started live,” tweeted show host Nadeem Malik.

Hum News, the channel on which the interview was aired for a few brief moments, released a statement shortly after the incident, saying: “Hum News believes in a free and responsible media. Protecting freedom of expression is one of our core values. At the same time, we stand for the respect and dignity of [the] judiciary in line with our ethical values and the Constitution.”

The development comes days after AbbTakk TV24 News, and Capital TV all had their broadcasts cut after screening a press conference by Maryam Nawaz.

Authorities say the three channels were unavailable due to “technical issues”, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a global media watchdog, described the outage as an act of “brazen censorship”.

It slammed the local authorities over the removal of three television channels from the country’s airwaves, saying the move was “indicative of disturbing dictatorial tendencies” as pressure mounts on journalists in Pakistan.

READ MORE: Arrest me if you want to, I won’t run away like your master Musharraf: Hamid Mir

Maryam is the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — who is currently behind bars for corruption — and a recent press conference she hosted featured a judge reportedly claiming he had been blackmailed into convicting the former premier.

The move came as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration vowed to block any media coverage and interviews of politicians “who are convicts and under trial”.

Earlier this month, Geo News TV abruptly took an interview with former president Asif Ali Zardari off air shortly after it began.

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Several dead and dozens injured in Pakistan train collision

A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.

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RAHIM YAR KHAN, Pakistan: A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.

The incident on Thursday took place at the Walhar railway station, located about 35km south of Rahim Yar Khan.

“The Akbar Express [passenger train] going from Bahawalpur to Quetta hit a freight train that was parked there at 7.40am,” a local police official told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.

Senior police official Umar Salamat told local media the collision took place because the passenger train was diverted onto the incorrect track at the station, hitting the parked freight train.

Rescue operations were under way at the collision site, with workers using equipment to get to some of those trapped in the train wreckage, local media reported.

The injured were taken to a nearby government hospital and to a more advanced facility in Rahim Yar Khan, hospital officials said.

Nine of the dead were taken to the government hospital, with more than 60 people injured in the wreck also treated there, Liaquat Chohan, a senior hospital official, told Al Jazeera.

“The injuries were of multiple types – many had fractures, others had bleeding wounds. Some were crushed under objects,” he said.

At least one dead body was also taken to the Sheikh Zayed hospital in Rahim Yar Khan, where 11 of those wounded in the accident were being treated, hospital official Ilyas Ahmer told Al Jazeera.

“One person’s leg was cut off [in the collision], and another is having serious chest surgery,” he said.

‘Emergency steps’

Pakistan’s aging railway network carries both passengers and goods across the country, but suffers periodic derailments and other accidents due to aging infrastructure.

A major Chinese investment in the country is seeking to upgrade the main railway line that connects the length of the country, raising speeds and safety standards.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences for those who were killed and injured, and ordered Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad to speed up work on the country’s rail infrastructure.

“Have asked Railways Minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure & ensure safety standards,” Khan tweeted after the accident.

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