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Saad Hariri: I am free in Saudi Arabia, will return to Lebanon soon



Lebanese people believe something is wrong, says analyst

In a dramatic move, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Sunday that he “gave a positive shock” to protect his country from imminent danger by tendering his resignation and has pledged to return to Beirut “within days”.

Speaking to Future TV, run by his own Future Movement party, in Riyadh, Hariri said he was free in Saudi Arabia. He said he will return to submit his resignation and seek a settlement with his rival in the coalition government. This was considered to be a reference to Hezbollah, the alleged pro-Iran group.

“I saw what happened … when my father was martyred. I don’t want the same thing to happen to me,” Hariri said. His father Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was assassinated by a car bomb in 2005 in Beirut.

However, he said that withdrawal of his resignation would be conditional on the Iranian backed Hezbollah committing for remaining neutral on regional conflicts. Hezbollah sent its fighters to Syria for supporting Bashar al-Assad army in its fight against terror groups, particularly Daesh (IS). He said, “We are in the eye of the storm”.

Hariri enjoys dual citizenship of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, a rare status in Arab world. He is considered to be close ally of Saudi Arabia.

On November 7, three days after Hariri’s resignation, Saudi Arabia’s minister for Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan, reportedly said that Lebanon’s government has been warmongering against Saudi Arabia because of what he described as aggression by Hezbollah, the Iran backed group. “Lebanon is kidnapped by the militias of Hezbollah and behind it is Iran,” he said.

Al-Arabia had reported that Saudi King Salman had informed Saad Hariri of the details of Hezbollah’s aggression and made him aware of the dangers imposed by the group.

Hariri resigned from his office while travelling to Saudi Arabia on November 4. According to Reuters, he received a telephonic call from Saudi Arabia late evening on November 3 for a visit without accompanying aides or officials. Next day he was shocked at Riyadh airport when no dignitary came to receive him; instead his cell phone was confiscated. By the evening he was forced to announce his resignation on Saudi official Al-Arabia TV channel.

Lebanon President Michel Aoun, on November 11 said to the Beirut based foreign envoys and political leaders that Hariri was kidnapped by Saudi officials. He said “mysterious circumstances for Hariri’s stay in the Saudi capital of Riyadh makes all his positions questionable and in doubt and not of his own volition.”

An-Nahr, a leading Beirut based newspaper, said on Monday that Hariri had unexpectedly announced his resignation on November 4 in “a pre-recorded” message on Saudi TV, criticising Iran and Hezbollah citing danger to his own life.

Earlier, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had also alleged that Hariri’s resignation was illegal as it was a pre-recorded broadcast.

Aljazeera’s Beirut based journalist Zaina Khodr observed, “The aim of this interview really is to try and convince the majority of the Lebanese that he is not a hostage, that he has the freedom of movement and that the Saudis are not dictating to him what to say or what to do.”

She said, “The majority of the Lebanese believe, in one way or another, that there is something wrong.” Hariri was tense throughout the interview taking few glasses of water.

Hariri’s appearance on TV on Sunday came after several days of his mysterious absence from public eyes. He was last seen at Abu Dhabi on November 6.

An-Nahar further said that Saudi Arabia has stepped up its rhetoric against Iran and Hezbollah accusing both of supporting Houthis in Yemen where Riyadh is leading war since March 2015.

Observers believe that Iran’s widening influence is worrying Riyadh and other Arab countries, especially members of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Qatar, one of the GCC members, is already out of the alliance for all practical purposes after Saudi lead quartet, including Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, severed diplomatic ties in early June this year.

Iran has also played substantial role in the historic success against Daesh (IS) terrorists in Syria and Iraq. All three countries allege that Saudi Arabia played nefarious role in creating Daesh to implement American and Israeli plans in the region.

Recently Riad Kamel Abbas, the Syrian Ambassador to India told APN that they were fighting Saudi Arabia’s wahabi extremist ideology while crushing Daesh and other terror groups in his country.

Latest world news

Pakistan man sentenced to death for sharing blasphemous content on WhatsApp

The accused, identified as Syed Muhammad Zeeshan, was also fined Rs 1.2 million or $4300 and awarded imprisonment of total of 23 years.



Pakistan man sentenced to death for sharing blasphemous content on WhatsApp

Pakistan court on Friday gave a death sentence to a Muslim man for posting blasphemous content in a WhatsApp group. The accused was convicted under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and Anti-Terrorist Act by a Peshawar court.

The accused, identified as Syed Muhammad Zeeshan, was also fined Rs 1.2 million or $4300 and awarded imprisonment of total of 23 years.

The court in an order said that an accused Syed Muhammad Zeeshan, son of Syed Zakaullah in custody has been convicted and sentenced after being found guilty. Zeeshan, a resident of the northwest city of Mardan, has the right to appeal against the court’s conviction order on the highly-sensitive issue of blasphemy in Pakistan.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive topic in Pakistan, a country with a majority of Muslims, where even unverified accusations can incite mobs and violence.

Zeeshan was undergoing court proceedings in the same case for almost two years after Muhammad Saeed, a resident of Talagang in Punjab province, accused him of posting blasphemous content in a WhatsApp group. Saeed filed an application with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in 2021 againsy Zeeshan for blasphemous content.

As per the reports, the FIA had confiscated Zeeshan’s cell-phone and its forensic examination proved him guilty.

In the past 20 years, 774 Muslims and 760 members of various minority religious groups have reportedly faced blasphemy charges, according to the National Commission of Justice and Peace, a human rights and legal help organisation in Pakistan.

Last month, Pakistan banned Wikipedia after it refused to remove the allegedly offensive or blasphemy material from the website.

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Latest world news

Five news stations receive letter bombs in Ecuador, one explodes in journalist’s face

Minister says the bombs were sent as a clear message to silence journalists in violence-ridden Ecuador



Police officials searching for bombs in a new station in Ecuador

Ecuadorean authorities have reported that a series of letter bombs were mailed to five different TV and radio new stations in Ecaudor. The explosive devices were delivered to journalists on Monday, March 20.

Interior Minister Juan Zapata informed that one of these letters exploded in Guayaquil’s Ecuavisa private TV station. The bomb burst in the middle of the newsroom in presenter Lenin Artieda’s face. He was injured but not severely. Lenin informed the police that the device was structured like a USB drive, and it exploded as he plugged it into his computer.

Zapata added that all the devices were similar and sent from the town of Quimsaloma, on the Los Rios coast. The Ecuadorean attorney-general’s department has begun their investigation on the letters as an act of terrorism. Journalists have said that the bombs were sent to intimidate the free press and silence the media.

 Zapata also said that the government condemns such attacks and freedom of expression is a right that must be respected. The other four explosives sent through post never exploded as they failed or were never opened.

Police officer Xavier Chango informed the USB drive sent to Artieda seemed to be loaded with a military-type explosive RDX.

Ecuador lies between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest cocaine producers, and has become a hub for global drug trade in the recent years. The increased violence is a result of competition and clashes between drug criminal gangs for territory and charge.

In 2022, the RTS TV station came under gunfire attack and in 2020, a bomb exploded at Teleamazonas. President Guillermo Lasso had declared war on the gangs controlling drug trade from prisons, and has led to the death of more than 400 inmates since 2021. Ecuador’s murder rate has jumped from 14 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021 to 25 per 100,000 in 2022.

Two local gangs, the Lobos and Los Tiguerones, working with Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation cartel, have been responsible for these deadly prison riots. The Jalisco cartel is considered one of the five most dangerous criminal organizations in the world and its leader, Nemesio Oseguera, aka El Mencho, is among the most wanted by both Mexican and U.S. authorities.

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India News

Earthquake leaves 11 dead in Pakistan, tremors shake North India

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled parts of Northern India on Tuesday night, left at least 11 people dead and over 160 others wounded in neighboring Pakistan, reports said.



Pakistan Earthquake

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled parts of Northern India on Tuesday night, left at least 11 people dead and over 160 others wounded in neighboring Pakistan, reports said.

According to reports by Pakistani media, tremors were felt in Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, and other areas of the country. In a statement, Pakistan Meteorological Department said the epicenter of the quake—which hit at a depth of 180 kilometers, at a latitude of 36.09 and a longitude of 71.35. — was the seismically active Hindu Kush region in Afghanistan.

Reports said that tremors and aftershocks were also witnessed in Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Kot Momin, Madh Ranjha, Chakwal, Kohat and in Gilgit-Baltistan areas.

Pakistani news channels showed panicked citizens running out of their home and on the streets to seek refuge from the tremors.

According to a report by Pakistan-based Geo News, eleven people, including two women were killed while over 160 people were injured due to the earthquake.

Read Also: Delhi Police crackdown on anti-Modi posters, police arrest 4 including owner of printing press, 44 cases registered

The strong jolts also led to the collapse of several buildings in impacted regions while a stamped was witnessed in markets of Rawalpindi when the earthquake hit, according to The Express Tribune newspaper.

State-run Associated Press of Pakistan released a statement by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who has directed disaster management authorities to remain vigilant to handle any situation while Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel declared an emergency in Islamabad hospitals.

A statement by the international seismological centre said that apart from Pakistan, tremors were also felt in India, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China and Kyrgyzstan.

Tremors of the earthquake, that hit at around 10:17 pm on Tuesday night, were felt across Northern India including Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh. However, no casualties were reported. However, reports of damages to buildings are coming in from different parts of North India.

6.6 magnitude earthquake hits Delhi-NCR

BJP MLA tears kurta in protest over Ram Navami restrictions, says Jharkhand ruled by Taliban

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