PTA to be approached for blocking crypto portals

KARACHI: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director-General Dr Sanaullah Abbasi on Saturday said the agency will approach the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for blocking websites dealing in cryptocurrencies to prevent fraud and possible money laundering.

He was talking to the media after holding a meeting with a team of senior officials of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at the Cyber Crime Circle Office. “The SBP officials gave a presentation in the meeting about a regulating mechanism,” said the FIA chief.

The SBP team informed the participants of the meeting that the central bank had submitted recommendations recently under the directions of the Sindh High Court for regulating cryptocurrencies.

Mr Abbasi said legal experts would also be approached to deal with fraud and other issues arising out of cryptocurrencies. “Crypto has given a new dimension to the fraud,” remarked Mr Abbasi.

FIA chief says virtual currency has given a new dimension to fraud

Pointing out that the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have declared cryptocurrency legal but it is banned in China and other countries, the FIA DG observed that we were mainly concerned about fraud and possible money laundering aspects.

Earlier, it was pointed out in the meeting that there was no section of law available in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, Foreign Exchange Remittance Act 1947 (FERA) and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 (AMLA) regarding illegal/misuse of cryptocurrency.

“In some cases, the Cyber Crime Wing took cognisance under section-23 of FERA and AMLA.”

“There is no regulatory framework for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) in order to comply with the FATF requirements,” the meeting was informed.

It was further informed that the SBP and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan have adopted a ‘prohibited approach’ and issued various instructions on VCs (virtual currency).

“The SBP had issued an advisory to general public and banks to refrain from dealing with virtual currencies, initial coins offering, etc.”

“The FIA has taken action over complaints of the people that they have been cheated,” said Mr Abbasi. He revealed that data was being collected about possible suspects involved in this scam with the citizens.

The FIA has recently initiated a probe into the mega financial scam after 11 apps linked to popular cryptocurrency exchange Binance had stopped working, defrauding Pakistani investors of over $100 million (Rs17.7 billion).

Also, it had arrested Dr Zafar from Faisalabad five months back on the charges of defrauding people through cryptocurrency.

More than a dozen dead in coalition strikes on Yemen’s Sanaa following an attack in UAE

An airstrike killed about 14 people in a building in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, residents said on Tuesday, during strikes across the city launched by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi group.

The alliance strikes on Houthi-held Sanaa followed an attack claimed by the Iran-aligned Houthis on Monday on coalition partner the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi, in which three people, including one Pakistani, were killed.

The coalition also said it intercepted eight drones launched toward Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Early on Tuesday, the coalition said it had begun airstrikes against strongholds and camps in Sanaa belonging to the Houthi group, Saudi state media said.

The strikes appeared to be the deadliest since 2019 on Sanaa.

The strike that killed about 14 people, according to initial estimates, was on the home of a former military official.

It killed him, his wife, his 25-year-old son, other family members, and some unidentified people, a medical source and residents told Reuters.

According to a report by Al Arabiya, the strike killed Houthi leader Major General Abdullah Qassem al-Junaid.

The strikes were launched “in response to threat and military necessity”, a spokesperson for the coalition said.

Coalition strikes around the city had killed a total of about 20 people, the deputy foreign minister for the Houthi administration, which holds much of northern Yemen, said on Twitter.

Houthi-run Al Masirah TV said strikes had damaged houses, killed at least a dozen people and wounded about a dozen.

The UAE has armed and trained Yemeni forces that recently joined fighting against the Houthis in Yemen’s energy-producing regions of Shabwa and Marib.

Monday’s Houthi-claimed attack on two sites in the UAE set off explosions in fuel trucks, killed three people and ignited a blaze near Abu Dhabi airport.

In response, the UAE said it reserved the right to respond to “terrorist attacks and criminal escalation”.

Pakistan condemns terrorist attack

Pakistan has condemned the attack on UAE, saying that such attacks “violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UAE and pose a grave threat to the regional peace and security”.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Foreign Office called for an immediate end to attacks. It also offered condolences to the families of the victims.

It emphasised that Pakistan stood in solidarity with the UAE in the “face of this wanton act of terrorism”.

Hindu monk jailed after calling for ‘genocide’ of Muslims

NEW DELHI: Indian authorities have charged a Hindu monk with inciting religious violence after he called for the genocide of India’s Muslims at a meeting of right-wing supporters, police said on Monday.

Senior police officer Swatantra Kumar said Yati Narsinghanand Giri, an outspoken supporter of far-right nationalists who also heads a Hindu monastery, was initially arrested on Saturday on allegations that he made derogatory remarks against women. He appeared the following day in a court in the town of Haridwar, where he was sent into 14 days of custody for hate speech against Muslims and calling for violence against them.

Kumar said the monk Giri, whom he described as a repeat offender, was formally charged on Monday with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.” The charge can carry a jail term of five years.

In December, Giri and other religious leaders called on Hindus to arm themselves for genocide against Muslims during a meeting in Haridwar, a northern holy town in Uttarakhand, according to a police complaint. He is the second person to be arrested in the case after India’s Supreme Court intervened last week.

Uttarakhand state is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modis Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. The political party’s rise to power in 2014, and landslide re-election in 2019, have led to a spike in attacks against Muslims and other minorities. Muslims comprise nearly 14pc of India’s 1.4 billion people.

The three-day conference that the monk Giri helped to organize was called the Dharam Sansad, or Religious Parliament, and followed on years of rising anti-Muslim hate speech. The closed-door meetings witnessed some of the most explicit calls for violence yet.

Videos from the conference showed multiple Hindu monks, some of whom have close ties to Modi’s ruling party, saying Hindus should kill Muslims.

“If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win and make India a Hindu nation,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a Hindu nationalist leader, referring to the country’s Muslim population. Her calls for such a massacre were met with applause from the audience.

Pandey is being investigated by police for insulting religious beliefs. During the congregation, Hindu monks and other supporters, including Giri, took an oath calling for the killing of those who were perceived to be enemies of the Hindu religion.

The calls for violence were met with public outrage and drew sharp criticism from former military chiefs, retired judges, and rights activists. Many questioned the Modi government’s silence, warning hate speech against Muslims will only grow as several Indian states, including Uttarakhand, head to the polls in February.

Last week, students and faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, one of India’s most prestigious business schools, submitted a letter to Modi in which they wrote his silence emboldens hate and threatens the country’s unity and integrity.

BJP has faced fierce criticism over rising attacks against Muslims in recent years.

Opposition leaders and rights groups have accused it of encouraging violence by hardline Hindu nationalists against Muslims and other minorities. The party denies the allegation.