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Lt. General Asim Munir appointed head of Pakistan’s ISI

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Islamabad | Lt General Asim Munir, who previously served as the head of the Military Intelligence (MI), will be the new chief of Pakistan’s powerful spy agency ISI, the Pakistan Army announced on Wednesday.

Munir was recently promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General by the Army Promotion Board headed by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He replaces Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar and will assume charge on October 25.

Mukhtar assumed the office of the Inter-Services Intelligence director general in December 2016.

Munir has also served as the commander of the Force Command Northern Areas. He was conferred Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian award, in March 2018.

The Army also announced several key top-level transfers after army chief promoted five major generals to the next rank last month.

The statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Army, said that Lt Gen Muhammad Adnan was appointed as the new vice chief of the general staff, the Express Tribune reported.

The Army also assigned Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki as commander of Mangla Corps, a primary strike formation of the Pakistan Army. The corps is also known as 1 Strike Corps and is one of the two primary strike corps.

Lt Gen Shaheen Mazher was appointed as commander of the strategic Peshawar Corps, responsible for the tribal areas and the border with Afghanistan.

Three other officers were assigned to staff positions at the General Headquarters. Lt Gen Azhar Saleh Abbasi was appointed as chief of logistics staff, Lt Gen Abdul Aziz as the new military secretary and Lt Gen Waseem Ashraf as IG Arms.

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Pakistan claims to fulfilling sanctions obligations against JeM

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India has slammed Pakistan for stating that it had no role in the Pulwama attack carried out by Pakistan-based terror group JeM.

 

Islamabad| Pakistan on Sunday said that Jaish-e-Mohammad, which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack, was banned in 2002 and Islamabad was fulfilling its obligations on sanctions as per the law.

At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber rammed a vehicle with explosives into their bus.

Pakistan-based terror group JeM claimed responsibility for the attack on the CRPF convoy.

In a major diplomatic offensive against Islamabad after the attack, India has highlighted Pakistan’s role in using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

India has slammed Pakistan for stating that it had no role in the Pulwama attack carried out by Pakistan-based terror group JeM, saying Islamabad could not claim that it was unaware of the presence of terror groups on its soil as the links of such outfits to the country were there for everyone to see.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “JeM has claimed responsibility for the attack. The organisation and its leadership are located in Pakistan.”

Pakistani ministers had shared the same podium with UN-proscribed terrorists, Kumar said.

Kumar said India demands that Pakistan should take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control to create a conducive atmosphere in the region, free of terror.

But Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal rejected India’s allegation that Pakistan was behind the attack.

“JeM remains a prescribed entity in Pakistan since 2002 and Pakistan is implementing its obligations on sanctions implementation,” he said.

Faisal said Pakistan rejected India’s allegations because these were made within a short time from the attack and without carrying out any investigations.

“These knee-jerk and pre-conceived accusations were nevertheless consistent with well-rehearsed tactics from Indian playbook after such incidents in the past,” he said.

As for Indian assertions about “JeM claims of responsibility” and purported “video of the attacker”, he questioned the selective and self-serving standards that India adhered to in this respect.

Faisal said, on the one hand, India accepted the unverified social media content as “gold standard” but was not ready to accept the “confessions” by its national Kulbhushan Jadhav for perpetrating violence in Pakistan.

He said India needed to introspect and respond to questions about its security and intelligence lapses that led to this attack. India owes an explanation on reports of Adil Ahmed Dar’s arrest and custody since 2017.

Pakistan desired normalisation of relations with India and in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Imran Khan followed his intention of taking two steps if India takes one, with the proposal for both Foreign Ministers to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Faisal said.

“It was India which cancelled the meeting on baseless pretexts,” he said.

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Royal split: Prince William and Prince Harry prepare to go separate ways

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Prince William and Prince Harry will operate through separate staff and communication teams, a move seen as a way for them to seek out a more independent path from each other in terms of their charity work and royal duties.

 

London| Britain‘s Princes William and Harry, known to be very close, are preparing to go their separate ways, seeking a more independent path from each other in terms of their charity work and royal duties.

Courtiers hope that a formal separation of their staff may also help ease some recently-reported tensions between the brothers and their wives Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, according to The Sunday Times.

The princes, grandsons of Queen Elizabeth II, are expected to create separate “courts” before the birth of Prince Harry’s first child, due in April or May.

Until now they operated via what was referred to as a joint royal household but now they will carve out more distinctive roles for themselves.

The brothers will operate through separate staff and communication teams, a move seen as a way for them to seek out a more independent path from each other in terms of their charity work and royal duties.

The division of their shared household after 10 years reflects their increasingly different responsibilities, with William set to take on additional duties as a future king after father Charles.

Harry and his pregnant wife Meghan the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will shortly move from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage, on the Queen’s Windsor estate. However, their new office and staff are expected to remain at Kensington Palace.

“William and Harry are working to make sure the Sussexes have an office that can support their family when they move to Frogmore this spring. This work has been underway since before last year’s wedding (of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle),” a royal source was quoted as saying.

The main division for William, 36, and Harry, 34, will be of their communication teams.

“There is a gulf in the style and approach to the type of work that William and Kate will increasingly do as future head of state and consort, and Harry and Meghan, who have more of a blank canvas with their roles,” another royal source said.

Prince Charles, who funds his sons’ household and official work from his Duchy of Cornwall income, is understood to have insisted that the division be “cost neutral”.

The brothers and their wives will continue to work together on their charitable royal foundation, Heads Together which supports mental health, veterans, conservation and vulnerable young people.

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Heather Nauert withdraws her nomination for US envoy to United Nations

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Washington | In a surprise move, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert withdrew her nomination to replace Indian-American Nikki Haley as the top US diplomat at the United Nations, amid criticism by Democrats for her lack of diplomatic experience.  Nauert, 48, a former Fox News anchor, issued a statement on Saturday citing family reasons for her decision.

“I am grateful to President (Donald) Trump and Secretary (Mike) Pompeo for the trust they placed in me for considering me for the position of US Ambassador to the United Nations,” Nauert said. “However, the past two months have been gruelling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration, she said.

Nauret said her two years with the administration had been “one of the highest honours of my life and I will always be grateful to the President, the Secretary, and my colleagues at the State Department for their support. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said President Trump will make an announcement about a new nominee soon.

Pompeo said she had performed her duties as a senior member of his team “with unequalled excellence”. “Her personal decision today to withdraw her name from consideration to become the nominee for United States Ambassador to the United Nations is a decision for which I have great respect, Pompeo said.

President Trump nominated Nauert for the top diplomatic position at the UN in November, weeks after Haley announced her resignation. Senators from the opposition Democratic party raised questions over her qualification as the top US diplomat to the United Nations.

In the past, the position was held by some of the top American political leaders and diplomats including former president George H W Bush. “She has no foreign policy experience that I can deduce, and being a spokesperson is different than being the chief diplomat of the United States at a world body like the UN,” Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had said.

Many of her supporters argued she’s more than qualified for the role, noting her practice in messaging the Trump administration’s foreign policy for nearly two years.

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