Myanmar police to free journalists working for Turkish broadcaster

NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar police says they will drop pending charges against two journalists working for Turkey’s state broadcaster, their interpreter and driver, who were jailed in November for violating an aircraft law by filming with a drone.

Cameraman Lau Hon Meng from Singapore, reporter Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, Aung Naing Soe – a local journalist who was interpreting for the pair – and driver Hla Tin were detained by police on Oct. 27 near Myanmar’s parliament building in the capital Naypyitaw.

They are currently each serving a two-month prison sentence under a colonial-era aircraft law, but all four still face further charges for importing the drone. The two foreign nationals have also been charged with an immigration offence.

Police Lieutenant Tun Tun Win and an immigration officer – the complainants – appeared in a Naypyitaw courtroom on Tuesday and asked that the court drop the charges.

Tun Tun Win told the foreign media higher police officials had ordered the case dropped because the four did not mean to endanger national security by flying the drone.

Additionally, he said, the decision was intended “to forward the relationship between countries”, referring to the two journalists’ home countries, Singapore and Malaysia.

A law officer – the government’s prosecutor in the case – was expected to tell the court the charges were formally dropped in another hearing set for Thursday, defense lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told.

“The higher authorities already instructed to terminate with good intention, but the procedure can only be accomplished on that day (Thursday),” the lawyer said.

The four are set to complete their sentences under the aircraft act on Jan. 9, but may be released earlier for good behavior, he added.

The case had raised concerns over freedom of the press in Myanmar, where a civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi took power last year but the military retains control of security matters, including the police.

Two journalists were arrested on Dec. 12 after they went to meet police officers for dinner on the outskirts of Myanmar’s largest city Yangon. Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, have now been in detention for two weeks with no access to visitors or to a lawyer.

They had covered the crisis in western Rakhine state that has driven 655,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims across the border to Bangladesh since August.
The reporters are being investigated under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.


Mirza Ghalib remembered on 220th birth day, Google pays tribute by doodle

ISLAMABAD: Google India on Wednesday commemorated iconic Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib’s 220th birthday with a ‘Google Doodle.’

Distinguished Urdu poet Mirza Asadullah Khan, popularly known as ‘Ghalib’ remembered by artistes, poets and promoters of culture on the occasion of his 220th birthday.

Ghalib was born on December 27, 1797 in Agra, which is now part of India, while he died on February 15, 1869 in Delhi. His Delhi house is now called as Ghalib ki Haveli and hosts permanent Ghalib exhibition.

He descended from the family of Aibak Turks who originally hailed from central Asian countries and started poetry at a very early age of 11.

The great poet initially used pen name “Asad” meaning lion but later replaced it with Ghalib which means superior.

Later on, in his lifetime Ghalib witnessed the downfall of Mughal dynasty in India and arrival of the Britishers. His ghazals and letters also carried a history of events of those times.

Mirza Asadullah was depicted in famous Bollywood movie “Ghalib” while his ghazals have been sung by legendary singers like Mehdi Hassan, Fareeda Khanum, Abida Perveen, Tina Sani and many others.

Ghalib’s was laid to rest in Nizamuddin area near mausoleum of renowned saint Nizamuddin Auliya.

LoC firing: Pak Army’s martyr Usman Arshad’s funeral prayers offered in Dunyapur

ISLAMABAD: Funeral prayers of Pakistan Army soldier, Usman Arshad who embraced martyrdom in cross-border shelling by Indian forces along the Line of Control (LoC), have been performed today in his native village of Dunyapur’s Chak 360.

A large number of people including martyr’s relatives, colleagues and military officials attended the last rites. Pak Army personnel presented Guard of Honour to the martyred solider.

The martyred sepoy had joined Pakistan Army’s Baloch Regiment three years back.
“Usman’s martyrdom has made me feel pride,” the martyr’s mother said.
On Tuesday, Naik Muhammad Tariq Mehmood’s funeral prayers were held in his native village of Jehlum.

He was laid to rest amid large presence of friends, family members and other civil-military officials.

The martyred soldier has left behind a widow and two children. His father Noor Muhammad said the martyrdom of his son has made the family to feel pride.

On Dec 25, hours after Pakistan allowed convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother and wife to meet him in Islamabad on “humanitarian grounds”, three soldiers were martyred in intense cross-border shelling by Indian troops along the LoC.

The shelling occurred at Rukh Chakri sector in Rawalakot, according to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing. As a result, three soldiers were martyred while one other sustained injuries.

Indian forces resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violations along the LoC, prompting a strong response from Pakistani forces, it said.

India has breached the ceasefire on more than 1,000 occasions this year alone which has led to over 50 civilian casualties, whereas around 200 have been injured.

Indian President may join Pakistani leaders to attend TAPI event

New Delhi: Indian President Ram Nath Kovind may visit Turkmenistan in February 2018 and attend a ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of first part of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, Indian media reported.

Kovind has been invited by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to attend the ceremony at Turkmenistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Berdimuhamedov extended the invitation when he recently called Kovind. The two presidents reviewed “issues of common interest and expressed satisfaction at growing bilateral relations”.

The TAPI gas pipeline project was announced in May 2002. India joined the consortium in 2008. The TAPI Pipeline Company Limited (TPCL) was incorporated in 2014.

Google pays tribute to legendary poet Mirza Ghalib

KARACHI: Global search engine Google, as per its tradition of honouring iconic personalities, paid homage to one of Urdu literature’s most iconic poets Mirza Ghalib on his 220th birthday.

Born in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, during the reign of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah, Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan is known in popular culture by many names, but most commonly as Ghalib (meaning conqueror).

The poet showed a gift for language at an early age and was educated in Persian, Urdu, and Arabic, explains Google in its description.

“His verse is characterized by a lingering sadness borne of a tumultuous and often tragic life — from being orphaned at an early age, to losing all of his seven children in their infancy, to the political upheaval that surrounded the fall of Mughal rule in India. He struggled financially, never holding a regular paying job but instead depending on patronage from royalty and more affluent friends,” according to Google.

Ghalib navigated through these hardships with wit, intellect, and an all-encompassing love for life.

His contributions to Urdu poetry and prose were not fully appreciated in his lifetime, but his legacy has come to be widely celebrated, most particularly for his mastery of the Urdu ghazal (amatory poem).