Islamabad, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — Polling has started in Pakistan to elect a president, a process likely to strengthen the grip of the ruling party whose nominee is expected to easily become the new ceremonial head of state.
The president is indirectly elected by lawmakers from the National Assembly, the Senate and four provincial assemblies.
Tuesday's election comes two weeks after Pakistan's cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan became prime minister following the July 25 national elections, which saw his Tehreek-e-Insaf party come into power.
Khan's candidate Arif Alvi faces little challenge from Aitzaz Ahsan from the opposition Pakistan People's Party and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is a pro-Taliban, anti-U.S. radical Islamic leader.
Washington, Sep 3 (AP/UNB) — When President Donald Trump pulled the plug on an upcoming trip to North Korea by his secretary of state, he pointed a finger of blame at China and the global superpower's trade practices.
In his recent trade breakthrough with Mexico, Trump praised the country's outgoing president for his help on border security and agriculture.
Both developments offered fresh evidence of how Trump has made trade policy the connective tissue that ties together different elements of his "America First" foreign policy and syncs up them with his political strategy for the 2020 presidential election.
Trump's 2016 triumph was paved in part by his support among blue-collar voters in Midwestern manufacturing states that narrowly supported him over Democrat Hillary Clinton, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
His aggressive trade tactics, epitomized by tariffs and standoffs with longtime economic partners and allies, are aimed at reversing what he has long viewed as unfair trade deals while maintaining support among largely white, working-class voters who have been hurt by the loss of manufacturing jobs.
"Trump understands that economic policy is foreign policy and vice versa," said Stephen Moore, a former Trump campaign adviser and visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation. "The most important element of foreign policy is to not just keep the world safe but to also promote America's economic interest. That's what Trump does — this is America First."
It's also good politics, in Trump's view.
"It's a populist position. But it's also a popular position with a lot of Americans," Moore said.
As he puts a high premium on trade gains, Trump is intertwining the issue with a host of top foreign policy concerns.
Trump, asked by reporters last week about North Korea living up to its commitments to denuclearize, said "part of the North Korean problem is caused by our trade disputes with China," pointing to the U.S. trade imbalance with China.
"We have to straighten out our trade relationship because too much money is being lost by us," Trump said. "And as you know, China is the route to North Korea."
Trade has been a common refrain at the president's rallies, where he has vowed to pursue "fair and reciprocal trade."
"We don't want stupid trade like we had for so long," Trump said during a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, in June.
Trump's second year as president has been marked by a number of trade disputes with traditional U.S. allies and global rivals alike, an approach cemented by his tweet that "trade wars are good."
He imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in March, prompting retaliation from the European Union and other American allies. Later in the month, Trump announced tariffs on China to combat what he called the theft of U.S. technology from a wide range of goods and services.
China struck back with its own sanctions on a variety of U.S. products, including Midwest farm-produced soybeans in a way to hit hard against the president's base of voters. The two sides have clashed during the spring and summer, raising the stakes in their trade fight.
In late July, Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reached a temporary deal at the White House to avert tariffs on automobile imports and a ramping up of their trade dispute — although the threat still remains.
After a breakthrough with Mexico, Trump's team has been engaged in talks with Canada aimed at creating a new version of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.
While previous administrations have often used a carrot-and-stick approach to trade as a way to forge agreements, before Trump's arrival trade agendas had emphasized multi-lateral and bilateral deals aimed at maintaining U.S. leadership around the world, promoting American values and improving human rights.
This administration, by contrast, "is leveraging foreign policy tools to achieve its trade goals," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.
Critics say Trump's insistence on trade concessions could hamper his ability to move forward in other areas.
On North Korea, for example, Trump has sought to turn his meeting with Kim Jong Un into a vivid example of how his unconventional style can bring longstanding U.S. adversaries to the bargaining table.
But by raising China's trade practices as essential to any progress to ensuring North Korea gets rid of its nuclear weapons, Trump runs the risk of getting bogged down in both areas — and having little to show for it.
Mixing foreign policy and trade policy introduces so many variables it's "virtually impossible to close on a precise policy decision," said Daniel Ujczo, a trade attorney with Dickinson Wright PLLC in Columbus, Ohio. "You're constantly chasing after the next issue as opposed to having a very targeted approach to the objective."
Dhaka, Sept 3 (UNB) – BNP on Monday alleged that its acting chairman Tarique Rahman has long been in exile being subjected to the government’s political vengeance.
“Today, we remember the day when Tarique Rahman was released from Jail. I think, he is not yet physically fit as he has long been in exile and he can’t return home as he was implicated in various false cases,” said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
Speaking at a press conference, he further said, “Tarique Rahman has also been implicated in the August 21 grenade attack case out of a political conspiracy. It has manifested the government’s political retribution.”
BNP arranged the press conference at its Nayapaltan central office marking the day when Tarique Rahman was released from jail in 2008.
Tarique, arrested on March 7 after the 1/11 political changeover, was released on bail on September 3 the following year.
About Khaleda Zia’s conviction in Zia orphanage trust case, Fakhrul said their chairperson has been kept in jail unlawfully in a ‘false’ case.
“She is not being released even after bail granted by the High Court,” said the BNP leader.
The government sent Khaleda to jail through a planned legal process as it fears her immense popularity.
“We would like to say Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman have become the victims of an individual’s serious anger and revenge,” he said.
Dhaka, Sept 3 (UNB) – BNP on Monday voiced frustration over the Prime Minister’s comment on the 11th parliamentary polls, saying it has manifested the government’s intention of establishing one-party rule instead of ensuring an inclusive election.
Talking to reporters after attending a programme at Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) auditorium, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the nation has got disappointed with Sheikh Hasina’s press conference comments as she turned down people’s main demand of holding the next polls under a non-party administration.
“The Prime Minister is pursuing a path of establishing a one-party rule. We didn’t find her intention of accepting people’s verdict. She also has no plan to take steps for creating a level-playing field and equal scope for all the parties to ensure a participatory election,” he said.
The BNP leader alleged that the government has again started arresting BNP leaders and activists across the country to hold a lopsided election. “A fair election can’t be held if you (Awami League) carry out unilateral campaign by arresting opposition leaders and activists.”
Fakhrul said people had an expectation that the Prime Minister at her Sunday’s Press conference would come up with some positive comments on creating a democratic atmosphere for holding a credible election in the greater interest of people, but she has failed to do so.
“The Prime Minister’s comments over people’s rights and the national election have frustrated the entire nation. Holding a fair election under an impartial government is now people’s main demand, but she has rejected it as she said everything will happen as per the constitution,” he observed.
The BNP leader said the constitution is a manmade document, and it can be amended anytime in people’s interest. “You (govt) have repeatedly amended the constitution to protect your own interests.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a press conference said she will neither take any step for bringing BNP to the election nor obstruct it from joining the polls. “There's no question of holding discussions with them (BNP), no matter who says what.”
She also turned down BNP’s demand of holding the next polls under a non-party administration, saying Bangladesh will follow the system practised in India and Britain.
The press conference was arranged to brief the media about the outcomes of her just-concluded visit to Nepal for attending the 4th Bimstec summit.
Sought his comment on the Prime Minister’s refusal to hold any dialogue with BNP, Fakhrul said she did the same in 2012-13, but finally forced to invite Khaleda Zia for talks.
He also said they will unite people and realise their all demands by foiling the government’s all ‘evil designs’. “People are our strength.”
Earlier, speaking at Youth Forum’s Bangladesh Youth Parliament programme at the SCBA auditorium, Fakhrul urged the young generation to come up to take the country forward, and build a happy prosperous and democratic Bangladesh.
He criticised the government for what he said repressing those students who waged movements seeking quota reform and safe roads.
Fakhrul urged the youth to turn around braving all obstacles to take the country to the right track.
Dhaka, Sept 2 (UNB) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to address a press conference on Sunday about the outcomes of her just-concluded visit to Nepal for attending the 4th Bimstec summit.
The press conference will be held at her official residence Ganobhaban at 4:00 pm, PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said.
The Prime Minister visited Nepal on August 30 and 31 to attend the two-day summit of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec).