Islamabad, Sept 20 (UNB) – Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for the resumption of the peace dialogue between the two countries, reports The Dawn; citing Times of India.
"PM has responded to PM Modi, in a positive spirit, reciprocating his sentiments," shared Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal on Twitter, without specifying whether the communication was via a letter. "Let’s talk and resolve all issues. We await formal response from India."
According to Times of India, PM Khan specifically sought a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York later this month.
During yesterday's weekly briefing, Dr Faisal had said ─ while responding to a question about the chances of a bilateral meeting between the FMs on the sidelines of the UNGA ─ that no decision had yet been taken on it. "We are engaged in the matter," he said.
The letter from the premier is a response to Modi's communique earlier this month to PM Khan, seeking "meaningful and constructive" engagement between the two neighbours.
The TOI news report quoted diplomatic sources as saying that PM Khan in his letter called for the resumption of the comprehensive dialogue process between the two countries. Khan wrote that India and Pakistan should resolve all outstanding issues, including terrorism and Kashmir, through dialogue.
Last month, the then prime minister-elect Imran Khan in his victory speech had expressed his desire to "improve relations with India, if their leadership also wants it".
"If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but we at least need a start," he had said.
Subsequently, Indian premier Modi had telephoned him to convey that Delhi was "ready to enter a new a new era of relations with Pakistan".
Modi had said both countries should adopt a joint strategy for progress in bilateral ties. The PTI chairman had expressed same views during his first meeting with the Indian envoy after the July 25 election and had pushed for the "resumption of talks between Pakistan and India".
Last month, following a visit by Navjot Singh Sidhu to Pakistan for the prime minister's oath-taking ceremony, PM Khan took to Twitter to once again invite India to dialogue and pursue peace, terming it the "best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent".
"To move forward, Pakistan and India must dialogue and resolve their conflicts, including Kashmir," the premier was quoted as saying.
"The best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue and start trading."
Newly appointed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had also made clear in his first press conference after assuming office that he would pursue dialogue with the neighbouring rival as a way forward.
"Us coming to the table and talking peace is our only option. We need to stop the adventurism and come together. We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage," Qureshi had said. "We cannot turn our cheek. Yes we have outstanding issues. Kashmir is a reality; it is an issue that both our nations acknowledge."
"We need a continued and uninterrupted dialogue. This is our only way forward," he had stressed.
"We may have a different approach and line of thinking, but I want to see a change in how we behave," he had added. "India and Pakistan have to move forward keeping realities before them."
New Delhi, Sept 20 (AP/UNB) - A Jet Airways flight returned to Mumbai, India's financial capital, on Thursday after dozens of passengers complained of ear pain and nose bleeding due to the loss in cabin pressure.
Inside visuals of Jet Airways Mumbai-Jaipur flight that was turned back to Mumbai airport midway today after a loss in cabin pressure pic.twitter.com/j9S6oKIf01— TOI Mumbai (@TOIMumbai) September 20, 2018
An airline statement said Flight 9W697 with 166 passengers and five crew members landed normally in Mumbai. Medical help was given to 30 passengers.
Oxygen masks were deployed during the emergency aboard the Boeing 737, said Darshak Hathi, a passenger.
According to Flightradar24 aviation tracking site, the plane stopped climbing at 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) before returning to Mumbai.
Hathi also said there was a problem with the plane's air conditioning after it took off from Mumbai.
The Press Trust of India news agency quoted an official as saying the malfunctioning occurred during the plane's climb. The plane was heading to Jaipur, a tourist destination and the capital of Rajasthan state.
The airline said the flight's cockpit crew was taken off scheduled duties pending an investigation.
Tokyo, Sep 20 (AP/UNB) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected as head of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in a landslide Thursday, paving the way for up to three more years as the nation's leader.
Abe handily defeated his sole challenger, Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister. Abe won 553, or about 70 percent, of 807 votes.
The decisive victory may embolden Abe to pursue his long-sought revision to Japan's U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution, although the hurdles remain high and doing so would carry political risks.
"It's time to tackle a constitutional revision," Abe said in a victory speech. "Now the fight is over."
"Let's work together to make a new Japan," he added.
Abe also said he is determined to use his last term to pursue his policy goals to "sum up" Japan's postwar diplomacy to ensure peace in the country.
The 63-year-old Abe has been prime minister since December 2012. He has cemented control of his party and received support from conservatives for bringing stability and continuity to economic and diplomatic policies. With a third term as party leader, Abe is poised to become Japan's longest-serving leader in August 2021.
Abe has said he is determined to push for a revision to the U.S.-drafted 1947 constitution, a decades-old pledge of the Liberal Democratic Party since its foundation in 1955 and a goal that none of Abe's predecessors has been able to achieve.
Many conservatives see the constitution as a humiliation imposed on Japan following its World War II defeat.
While Abe won 80 percent of parliamentarian votes Thursday, support from regional rank-and-file party members was 55 percent, though it was within earlier projections.
Experts see a margin of victory in regional member votes as a more accurate indicator of general public sentiment than the parliamentarian votes. Abe's weaker showing in that segment means he will have to be more mindful of their voices in carrying out his policies.
Kuala Lumpur, Sep 20 (AP/UNB) — Malaysia's detained former Prime Minister Najib Razak will face at least two dozen fresh charges of abuse of power and money laundering over the multimillion-dollar looting of a state investment fund, police and the anti-graft agency said Thursday.
Najib was detained by the anti-graft agency Wednesday over the transfer of $681 million into his bank account and was expected in court later Thursday. Najib, who has since been transferred into police custody, has called the case political vengeance.
National deputy police chief Noor Rashid Ibrahim said in a statement that 21 charges prepared against Najib involve receiving, using and transferring of illicit funds.
Najib will also face several charges under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, according to the anti-graft agency. It didn't give details, but the section deals with the abuse of power.
Najib was earlier charged with multiple counts of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering over the scandal at the 1MDB fund, just months after his shocking electoral defeat. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is due to start next year.
Najib set up 1MDB when he took power in 2009 to promote economic development, but the fund amassed billions in debts and is being investigated in the U.S. and several other countries for alleged cross-border embezzlement and money laundering.
The 1MDB scandal first broke in 2015 when leaked documents showed that $681 million was transferred into Najib's bank account, leading to massive street rallies calling on him to resign. Najib fired critics in his government, including a deputy prime minister and the attorney-general, and muzzled the media to try to survive the fallout.
A new attorney-general cleared Najib in January 2016, saying it was a political donation from Saudi Arabia's royal family and most of it had been returned — an explanation that was met with widespread skepticism.
U.S investigators say Najib's associates stole and laundered $4.5 billion from the fund, some of which landed in Najib's bank account. Public anger over the 1MDB scandal eventually led to the ouster of Najib's long-ruling coalition in May 9 polls and ushered in the first change of power since Malaysia's independence from Britain in 1957.
The new government reopened investigations stifled under Najib's rule and barred him and his wife from leaving the country. Police also seized jewelry and hundreds of handbags and other valuables estimated at more than 1.1 billion ringgit ($273 million) from properties linked to Najib.
Police have said investigations show that $972 million had been transferred to Najib's bank account from three companies linked to 1MDB.
Najib, 65, has accused Malaysia's new government under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of seeking political vengeance and vowed to clear his name at his trial.
Manila, Sept 20 (AP/UNB) — A massive landslide buried dozens of homes near a central Philippine mountain Thursday, killing at least 10 people and sending rescuers scrambling to find survivors after some sent cellphone text messages pleading for help.
The avalanche surged down on about 30 houses in two rural villages after daybreak in Naga city in Cebu province, Roderick Gonzales, the city police chief, told The Associated Press by telephone as he helped supervise the search and rescue. Seven injured villagers were rescued from the huge mound of earth and debris.
Some victims still managed to send text messages after the landslide hit, Gonzales said, adding elderly women and a child were among the dead.
Naga city Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong said by telephone that at least 64 people remained missing.
"We're really hoping we can still recover them alive," she said.
The landslide hit while several northern Philippine provinces were still dealing with deaths and widespread damage wrought by Typhoon Mangkhut, which pummeled the agricultural region Saturday and left at least 88 people dead and 64 others missing. A massive search was still underway for dozens of people feared dead after landslides in the gold-mining town of Itogon in the north.
Rescuers were treading carefully in small groups on the unstable ground to avoid further casualties.
"We're running out of time. The ground in the area is still vibrating. We're striking a balance between intensifying our rescue efforts and ensuring the safety of our rescuers," Naga city Councilor Carmelino Cruz said by phone.
Cristita Villarba, a 53-year-old resident, told AP by phone that her husband and son were preparing to leave for work when the ground shook and they were overwhelmed by a roar.
"It was like an earthquake and there was this thundering, loud banging sound. All of us ran out," Villarba said, adding she, her husband and three children were shocked but unhurt.
Outside, she saw the house of her elderly brother, Lauro, and his family was buried in the landslide.
"Many of our neighbors were crying and screaming for help. Some wanted to help those who got hit but there was too much earth covering the houses, including my brother's," she said.
More than a dozen people live in her brother's home, mostly his family and grandchildren, she said, adding that many small houses in her community got hit.
It's not clear what set off the landslide, but some residents blamed limestone quarries, which they suspect may have damaged and caused cracks in the mountainside facing their villages. Villarba said a light rain stopped when the landslide hit and there was no rain on Wednesday.
The quarry nearest the landslide-hit villages was abandoned about a year ago, but a company still runs a government-authorized quarry not far away and villagers also profit from the limestone business, Angeline Templo, an assistant to the mayor, said by phone.
More than 300 villagers were evacuated for safety as search and rescue work continued, Templo said.
Naga is a coastal city with a population of more than 100,000. Cebu province was not directly hit by Mangkhut but the massive typhoon helped intensify monsoon rains in a large part of the archipelago, including the central region, where Naga city lies about 570 kilometers (353 miles) southeast of Manila.