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

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Asim Munir

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.

International

Federal judge rules Obamacare as “unconstitutional”, hands political victory to Trump

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Trump

Washington | A federal judge in Texas struck down the entire Affordable Care Act, popular as Obamacare, ruling that the health-care law’s individual coverage mandate was “unconstitutional”, handing a major political victory to US President Donald Trump who has long been seeking its end.

The ruling was over a lawsuit filed this year by a group of Republican governors and state attorneys general. It came on the eve of the Saturday deadline for Americans to sign up for coverage in the federal insurance exchange created under the law.

In a ruling, that is likely to be challenged and was immediately opposed by the Democrats, District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the individual mandate of Affordable Care Act requiring people to have health insurance “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power”.

Judge O’Connor, a George W Bush appointee, said that “the individual mandate is unconstitutional” and because the mandate cannot be separated from the rest of the law, Obamacare is invalid. “Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled unconstitutional by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!” Trump exclaimed on Twitter.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare was Trump’s election promise and he has been working on this in the first two years of his administration. “As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an unconstitutional disaster! Now Congress must pass a strong law that provides great healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!” Trump said.

The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act as constitutional in 2012 and 2015. The opposition Democrats were quick to raise their voice against the ruling by the federal district judge. “Tonight’s district court ruling exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care,” said House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, a top Democratic leader.

The Republicans tried and failed to destroy the Affordable Care Act and protections for pre-existing conditions. Then, in the midterm election, the American people delivered a record-breaking margin of almost 10 million votes against House Republicans’ vile assault on health care, she said.

“Now, the district court ruling in Republicans’ lawsuit seeks to subvert the will of the American people and sow chaos in the final day of HealthCare.gov open enrolment,” Pelosi said. “While the district court’s absurd ruling will be immediately appealed, Republicans are fully responsible for this cruel decision and for the fear they have struck into millions of families across America who are now in danger of losing their health coverage,” Pelosi said.

After repeatedly trying and failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Congress, Trump and his Republican allies have turned to right-wing activist judges to try to overturn this vital law, alleged Democratic Senator Dick Durbin.

“Instead of working to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions and ensure that all American families have choices when it comes to affordable, quality health care coverage, the Trump Administration has made it their mission for two years to destroy the law that has given 20 million Americans quality, affordable health insurance,” he said.

“Today’s decision by a district court judge — backed by President Trump — is politics at its worst and threatens access to care for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Durbin said. The case against the ACA was brought by 20 Republican state attorneys general and governors, as well as two individuals.

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International

Afghanistan hosts Pakistan, China for wide-ranging talks

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Afghanistan

Kabul | Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China are meeting in the Afghan capital to discuss trade, development and ending the region’s relentless conflicts.

Shahussain Murtazawi, the deputy spokesman for the Afghan president, says envoys meeting Saturday will discuss everything from regional economic development to counterterrorism. It is the second such meeting of the three neighboring countries.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is attending the meeting on his second visit to Kabul since assuming office. Pakistan and Afghanistan have long accused each other of failing to combat the Taliban and other militant groups that operate along their porous border.

China has lent tens of billions of dollars to Pakistan and the two have forged close economic ties as part of Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” policy of expanding trade links across Asia.

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India International

Campaign to raise awareness on Hinduism launched in US

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Hinduism

Houston | A nationwide campaign has been launched in the US to raise awareness on the Hinduism and bring down the cases of bullying against the people following the religion has been launched here. Titled “I am Hindu American”, the campaign was launched by the US-based Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and includes a social media campaign, a 30-second public service announcement and a companion website to provide resources about Hinduism and Hindu Indian-Americans.

During the campaign, the organizers would boost awareness and clarify common stereotypes and misunderstandings about Hinduism through social media networks nationwide. “The goal of this campaign is to drive online conversation by putting a face on the Hindu American community. Despite the fact that Hindus are one of the most successful minority communities, knowledge about Hindus and Hinduism is very low among the US general public.

Our own data shows that one in three Hindu-American students report being bullied for their religious beliefs,” Suhag Shukla, the executive director and co-founder of HAF, said in a statement. He said that most of the bullying cases were based on misperceptions about Hindus and the narrative needs to be changed.

Hate crimes in the US increased by about 17 percent in 2017 as compared to 2016, according to the FBI. He said that Hinduism has contributed a lot towards the daily activities of humans. “There are many Hindu contributions to our daily lives: from yoga and meditation to the decimal system as well as an understanding of the law of cause and effect known as karma,” the statement said.

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