A prominent Pakistani television journalist who went missing last week, apparently because of his public support to former Prime Minister Imran Khan, returned home early Tuesday after being released by his captors, his family and his employer said. Sami Abrahim's brother, Ali Raza, took to Twitter to confirm his release. BOL TV confirmed his release in a news announcement. Abrahim went missing Thursday when eight people in four vehicles intercepted his car on his way back home from work in the capital, Islamabad, and took him away, according to his family and BOL TV where Abrahim works. No one had claimed responsibility for Abrahim's abduction, but it is widely believed that he was being held by the country's security agencies, which are notorious for abducting, harassing and torturing journalists. Abrahim has long publicly opposed the government of Khan's successor, Premier Shahbaz Sharif. Khan, a former cricket star who became an Islamist politician, was in office in 2018-2022 and was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last year. Another pro-Khan TV journalist, Imran Riaz, went missing earlier this month and was yet to be freed.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) member (tax information) Mohammad Jahid Hasan said at least 1.16 crore people enjoy taxable income, but only a small proportion of them, roughly 1 in 4, submitted returns last year. He said this at a workshop on “Customs, VAT and Income Tax management” organized by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) as the chief guest on Saturday. He also said that businessmen are the partners of NBR and the NBR is relentlessly working on reforms and modernization of various regulations to ease business. Last year only 25.30 lakh people submitted their returns out of 83 lakh TIN holders which to Jahid is 'unsatisfactory'. Read more: NBR extends income tax returns submission date to Dec 31 DCCI President Rizwan Rahman in his speech said that considering various needs, the government sometimes has to make a few changes in the finance bill, VAT, and Tax system through SROs, and as an entrepreneur, a businessman has to have a clear knowledge on these issues. “We have seen a few changes like increasing cash transaction limit, mandatory return submission for 38 categories, central VAT registration system, 5 percent VAT exemption on locally produced chemical, VAT increase for importing computer accessories, TAX and VAT exemptions for safeguarding local businesses for the fiscal year 2022-23,” he informed. The business community should have knowledge of these changes to maintain their books of accounts, he said. Read more: Govt struggles to lift tax-GDP ratio to double digits
Sri Lanka’s ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who returned home after seven weeks in exile following protests over economic hardships, could face legal action over forced disappearances of activists now that he has been stripped of constitutional immunity, a lawyer said Saturday. Rajapaksa flew to Colombo around midnight Friday from Thailand and was escorted under military guard to his new home in the capital. He has no pending court cases because he was protected by constitutional immunity as president. A corruption case against him during his time as a top defense official was withdrawn soon after he was elected in 2019. However, Rajapaksa will be served a summons next week to appear at the Supreme Court, where his immunity from testifying on the forced disappearance of two young political activists is challenged, said lawyer Nuwan Bopage, who represents the victims’ families. He said Rajapaksa fled the country when he was about to be served a summons in July. The disappearances took place 12 years ago soon after the end of the country’s long civil war when Rajapaksa was a powerful official at the Defense Ministry under the presidency of his older brother. At the time, Rajapaksa was accused of overseeing abduction squads that whisked away rebel suspects, critical journalists and activists, many of them never to be seen again. He has previously denied any wrongdoing. Rajapaksa escaped from his official residence when tens of thousands of people, angry over economic hardships when the country slipped into bankruptcy and faced unprecedented shortages of basic supplies, stormed the building on July 9. Days later, he, his wife and two bodyguards flew about a military plane to the Maldives. A day later he went to Singapore, and later Thailand. Sri Lanka has run out of dollars for imports of key supplies, causing an acute shortage of essentials like food items, fuel and critical medicine. The foreign currency shortage has led the country to default on its foreign loans. Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt exceeds $ 51 billion of which $ 28 billion must be repaid by 2027. Read: Sri Lanka’s ousted president Rajapaksa returns home The International Monetary Fund on Thursday agreed to provide Sri Lanka $ 2.9 billion over four years, subject to management approval that will come only if the island nation’s creditors give assurances on debt restructuring. Economic difficulties led to monthslong street protests, which eventually led to the collapse of the once-powerful Rajapaksa family that had controlled the affairs of the country for the most part of the last two decades. Before Rajapaksa resigned after fleeing, his older brother stepped down as prime minister and three other close family members quit their Cabinet positions. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took over from Rajapaksa, has since cracked down on protests and dismantled their main camp opposite the president’s office. Some protesters said they were not opposed to his return as long as he faces justice. “Whether he is president or not, he is a citizen of Sri Lanka and he has the right to live in this country,” said Wijaya Nanda Chandradeva, a retired government employee who had voted for Rajapaksa and then participated in protests to oust him. He said Rajapaksa should be given necessary protection if there is a threat to his safety. “I reject him because we elected him and he proved himself to be unsuitable,” said Chandradeva. Bhavani Fonseka of the Center for Policy Alternatives, an independent think tank, said although Rajapaska is not going to be seen favorably, “the anger we saw in July has diminished. But there are still many questions about his role in the economic crisis and the call for accountability is still there.”
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia returned home on Wednesday evening from the capital's Evercare Hospital after staying there for three days for tests. The BNP chief left the hospital at 5:30pm and reached her Gulshan residence around 6:45pm, said her media wing member Shamsuddin Didar. "Madam (Khaleda) was admitted to the hospital for some tests as per the advice of her medical board. The tests were completed and the board discharged her from the hospital as her condition improved a little," said Dr AZM Zahid Hossain, a personal physician of the BNP chief. He said the BNP chief will now receive treatment at home under the overall supervision of medical board. Zahid said Khaleda urged the country’s people to pray for her recovery. He said the medical board made some changes in her treatment after reviewing the reports of her latest medical tests at the hospital. Read: Khaleda to return home from hospital this evening On Sunday night, Khaleda was admitted to Evercare Hospital for some more medical tests, six days after she had several tests in the same hospital. On August 22, Khaleda underwent an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ECG), ultrasonography (USG), X-ray and blood tests after coronary angioplasty. Reviewing the reports of those tests, the medical board recommended admitting the BNP chief to the hospital for some more tests. Khaleda, a 77-year-old former prime minister, has been suffering from various ailments, including liver cirrhosis. On June 10, the BNP chief suffered a heart attack due to a 95 percent block in her left artery and a stent was placed there by removing the blockage at the same hospital the following day. Khaleda spent some time in Old Dhaka Central Jail as a lower court sentenced her to five years' imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8, 2018. Later, she was found guilty in another corruption case the same year. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the government temporarily freed Khaleda from jail through an executive order suspending her sentence on March 25, 2020, on conditions that she would stay at her Gulshan house, and would not leave the country. The BNP chief was admitted to Evercare Hospital six times after she had tested positive for Covid in April 2021. Khaleda's family submitted several applications to the government seeking permission to send her to an advanced centre abroad for the treatment of her multiple health complications, but the government has rejected it every time as she was convicted of corruption by the court in two cases.
Teachers and students welcomed science teacher Hriday Mandal with flowers and a rally of harmony on Tuesday as he returned to his school nine days after he was freed on bail in a case over “hurting religious sentiment.” “I am very happy today. I’m back to my school and can take classes again,” said Hriday about his feelings on returning to Binodpur Ramkumar High School in Munshiganj after spending 19 days in prison. “I’ve no issue with my beloved students,” he said adding, “But I think those who provoked them should be taken to task.” On Tuesday he also took science and math classes as per routine. The students are also happy as the teacher has returned. Earlier on April 13, he came to the school to meet the probe committee. Alamgir Hossain, president of the school’s Managing Committee, said those who wanted to harass Hriday did not succeed. “The way the students of this school have welcomed him today is proof of their failure.” “This incident happened in my absence as I was out of the country. And I’m very sorry for this.” Meanwhile, Headmaster Alauddin Ahmed said, “The reputation of my school was also tarnished for some students. They realized their mistake. “We will soon put an end to the incident ensuring that such incident can never happen.” Munshiganj Municipality Mayor Mohammad Faisal Biplob said the gathering of all teachers and students will definitely help in curbing the evil power in the area and the school. “We have also come together in ‘Harmony rally’ to end the inertia of students and teachers.” He also instructed the managing committee to install CCTV cameras at Hriday’s residential quarter and the surrounding area. READ: Hriday Mandal walks out of jail Meanwhile, a one-member probe committee formed by the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education has not submitted its report even after five working days. The report was due to be submitted on Tuesday. However, the only one member of the committee Principal of Government Harganga College Prof Abdul Hai Talukder said the report will be submitted to the director general of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education on Wednesday. On April 10, Hriday was released from Munshiganj jail after securing bail. He was arrested on March 22 after Asad Mia, an electrician of the school, lodged a complaint with Sadar Police on charge of hurting religious sentiment. The rights groups denounced his arrest as an attempt to curtail freedom of expression and science education in the country. Earlier on March 20, some tenth-grade students of Binodpur Ramkumar High School (science section), recorded a class conversation of Hriday on science and religion on a mobile phone. On March 22, some students staged demonstrations outside the school calling for punishment for Hriday for alleged demeaning of religion. He was subsequently arrested triggering protests at home and abroad.
A Japanese billionaire, his producer and a Russian cosmonaut safely returned to Earth on Monday after spending 12 days on the International Space Station. Fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa, his producer Yozo Hirano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin made a soft landing in a Russian Soyuz capsule in the steppes of Kazakhstan at 9:13 a.m. (0313 GMT) about 148 kilometers (about 92 miles) southeast of the city of Zhezkazgan. Low clouds prevented the deployment of search-and-rescue helicopters to the area, so rescue teams reached the landing site in all-terrain vehicles to assist the crew and conduct medical check-ups. They reported that the trio was feeling fine. Maezawa, 46, and his 36-year-old producer Hirano were the first self-paying tourists to visit the space station since 2009. Misurkin was on his third space mission. Speaking to The Associated Press last week in a live interview from the orbiting space station, Maezawa said that “once you are in space, you realize how much it is worth it by having this amazing experience.” Asked about reports claiming that he paid over $80 million for the 12-day mission, Maezawa said he couldn’t disclose the contract sum but admitted that he paid “pretty much” that amount. Read: Satellite images, expert suggest Iranian space launch coming In October, Russian actor Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko spent 12 days on the station to make the world’s first movie in orbit, a project sponsored by Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos to help burnish the nation’s reputation for space glory. Staying behind at the station are NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and Mark Vande Hei; Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov; and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency. Speaking to the AP from orbit, Maezawa deflected criticism from those who questioned his decision to spend money on space travel instead of using it to help people back on Earth, saying that “those who criticize are perhaps those who have never been to space.” He said he felt “a little bit of motion sickness” and it was “a little bit difficult to sleep,” adding that future space tourists should be prepared to spend up to five days adapting to zero gravity. Maezawa said he was happy with the length of his trip, saying that “12 days was about right for me” to adapt to the motion sickness and enjoy the rest of the flight. After asking the public for ideas before the flight, Maezawa had compiled a list of 100 things to do in space that included playing some sports inside the space station such as badminton, table tennis and golf. Read: SpaceX’s Musk: 1st Starship test flight to orbit in January Space Adventures, a Virginia-based company that organized his flight, previously sent seven other tourists to the space station between 2001 and 2009. Maezawa made his fortune in retail fashion, launching Japan’s largest online fashion mall, Zozotown. Forbes magazine has estimated his net worth at $1.9 billion. The tycoon has also booked a flyby around the moon aboard Elon Musk’s Starship and will be joined on that trip by eight contest winners. He said he plans to undertake that mission in 2023.
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews on Monday said Rohingyas want nothing more than safe and dignified to return to their homes in Myanmar, when conditions allow. “The world must not forget the roughly one million Rohingyas from Myanmar forced to run for their lives from the military’s genocidal attack against them,” said Andrews who began his weeklong visit to Bangladesh. The Special Rapporteur will visit the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, and the island of Bhasan Char - where many Rohingyas have been relocated. READ: Prolonged stay of Rohingyas in Bangladesh is security threat to the region: FM Andrews will meet the representatives of the government, as well as UN officials, representatives of civil society organisations and most importantly members of the Rohingya community. “While the Myanmar junta continues to systematically violate the human rights of the people of Myanmar, it’s critical that the global community support those who’ve been forced to flee their homes in Myanmar for Bangladesh. I’m honoured to have the opportunity to meet with them,” Andrews said. “I’m grateful for the access the Bangladesh government is providing me on this essential mission. This visit will be an important opportunity to meet relevant government officials, international organisations and civil society organisations in relation to Myanmar,” he said. In particular, Andrews said, he looks forward to meeting with the Rohingyas to listen to them, lend support, and work together with them towards sustainable long-term solutions and pursuing accountability for the atrocities the military committed against them in Myanmar. The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference to share his preliminary observations with the media on December 19. READ: Rohingyas the 'most vulnerable community' in region: Caritas The Special Rapporteur’s findings will form part of his update presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2022.
Twenty years after the Taliban were expelled from power they are back and the US has left in an ignominious departure. It could have been done better in many ways but the signs mean that the Western cluster had reached its limits in Afghanistan. President Joe Biden is getting all the flack but it’s Trump who signed the deal. The point is, no matter how inept Biden and how unstable Trump may be seen, it’s the USA which has weakened in the last 20 years and the Taliban hasn’t become stronger. And China and Russia are stronger in the region. In Bangladesh, many are jumping up and down in support of the Taliban and others gloating over the US defeat. One is not sure if it translates into political activism. The old guard Islamists and those who believe the Taliban is a global Islamists threat which includes Western allied experts are not saying anything much different from before. However, for South Asia , the change of dress in Kabul has multiple implications, both internally and regionally. While in Bangladesh it’s much more about domestic Islamist militancy, the impact on India and Pakistan will be more. Managing militants Bangladesh has the least of problems of the three and its counter—terrorism structure has proved effective. The last time around, several outfits grew around the Taliban model and they caused problems. However, there was a certain quarter within the government who did play a role in promoting them. Later, they were taken down and the training camps- nothing significant- were dismantled. Al-Qaeda gets a lot of publicity courtesy Bangladesh media but the kind of state threat that the Talibans held over Kabul is not possible as all anti-state movements need to be indigenous. Foreign activists can’t change state power. None are active now except on social media. READ: Taliban encounter Afghan cities remade in their absence However, what Bangladesh will probably do as it has shown after the Holey Artisan café incident is to really clamp down. It has extensive fire and surveillance power so local militancies are more irritations than threats to the state. It's possible that some will get excited and join but sadly for them, the current state is in no mood to be patient. It’s possible, we shall see encounters and deaths. However, the kind of support and sanctuary that Kabul once gave is not going to be available. This current Taliban is hardly in a position to act independently given its backers. If it rebels , a joint Sino-Russo military campaign against the Taliban will again dispel them from power. So the Taliban will behave because it has no choice, After 20 years in semi-wilderness, they won’t risk another loss of power. The Indo-Pak situation is very different and for them it’s not Afghanistan but the games the two play over their borders. While India has to worry over Kashmir mostly, Pakistan will have to think about its internal scenario with many Talibans inside. The Russians are largely concerned about keeping its Central Asian dependencies free of Islamists but China has bigger ambitions with its stake in Pakistan and India too. So the game will have many angles including the future of Sino-Russo relations and its impact on South Asia. READ: Taliban promise women's rights, security under Islamic rule Mercifully, Bangladesh has no such concerns.
Another group of Bangladeshi nationals, who got stuck in India amid its lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, returned home through Benapole on Tuesday.
The third batch of 164 Bangladeshi nationals, who got stuck in India due to the nationwide lockdown there, are set to return home from Chennai this afternoon (Wednesday afternoon).