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ISI chief completes US visit

WASHINGTON: ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar left for Pakistan on Friday after a visit to the United States as the new head of the country’s prime intelligence agency.

54f10dad0eaffDuring his four-day stay in Washington, Lt Gen Akhtar held a series of meetings with senior officials at the White House, State Department and the Department of Defence.

Being a guest of CIA chief John Owen Brennan, he met the heads of all major US intelligence agencies and briefed them on the security situation in the Pak-Afghan region.

At the White House, the ISI chief and his team, which included Director General Counter-terrorism Maj Gen Tariq Qudus, had a detailed meeting with US Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco and her team.

In her current capacity, Ms Monaco is the chief counter-terrorism adviser to the US president.

At the State Department, the ISI team met Deputy Secretary Antony J. Blinken.

Although there was no briefing during or after the meeting, official sources suggest the talks focused on Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate reconciliation between the Taliban and Afghan government.

YouTube ‘unblocking’ short-lived joy

ISLAMABAD: For those who have been able to access YouTube in the last a few days, the joy is short-lived.

54f11ecf71981“The reason why YouTube was accessible in certain parts of the country was because of a technical fault which will be fixed,” said Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman on Friday.

The rumours that YouTube was accessible in certain parts of the country during the last a few days are true. According to a senior official in the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), YouTube became accessible through certain Internet Service Providers (ISPs) due to a technical fault.

Minister says issue of YouTube blockade will be addressed through new cyber crime bill

“The news of unblocking YouTube will be announced officially, not done quietly,” said the official.

The minister stated that the YouTube issue was being addressed in the cyber crime bill which she hoped would be approved by the government in about two months.

She explained that the Bill safeguarded the interests of the service providers (Google in this case which owns YouTube) by not

holding it responsible for any blasphemous or anti-state content posted online by individuals/users.

“We saw how a blasphemous content was shown in France and its fallout was seen in the streets of Pakistan. No government will take the responsibility upon itself to unblock YouTube until a concrete solution is found to deal with objectionable content on internet,” she said.

Wahajus Siraj, the convener for Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK), explained how unlike Pakistan countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia, entered into agreements with the USA.

“Under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, these countries are in a position to request service providers such as Google to follow local laws and remove objectionable content from YouTube.” He said Pakistan also needed to enter into a similar agreement to be able to request service providers to block objectionable content.

The news that YouTube had become accessible spread like a wildfire but many internet uses remained disappointed as some could access YouTube and many others could not.

“It was too good to be true but I still immediately switched on my laptop but an error window showed on the screen instead of YouTube,” said medical practitioner Hyra Farooq, who then started calling friends to confirm if the news was correct.

The video sharing website has been banned in Pakistan since September 2012 after the search engine giant refused to take down a blasphemous film triggered protests around the world and in Pakistan.

As the ban on YouTube enters into the third year, internet users in Pakistan continue to access it through alternate channels.

Delhi entrepreneur launches app to unite Pakistan and India

In a bid to limit the rivalry between India and Pakistan to sports grounds, a Delhi-based entrepreneur earlier this month launched a new app to improve relations between the two South Asian rivals.

54f065520089c‘India or Pakistan’ is an innovative application, available on Google Play store, that questions the reader, after showing pictures of the two nations. The idea is to make people focus on what unites them by making them guess whether the photographs were taken in India or Pakistan.

In light of recent events, it is a welcoming gesture that is part of the wider movement called ‘India Loves Pakistan’ that was launched in 2013. The Delhi-based social movement aims to ‘add .. human element to the India-Pakistan relationship.’

The initiative operates primarily on Twitter through #DearNeighbour and #IndiaWithPakistan.

Where the former was launched as a generic hashtag to initiate dialogue across the border, the latter was trending post-Peshawar massacre in Pakistan, with thousands of Indians expressing solidarity with Pakistanis after the terrorist attack.

PM fails to gather consensus for amendment over Senate polls

ISLAMABAD: In an attempt to pave the way for government`s plan to pass a constitutional amendment for an open ballot in the upcoming Senate elections, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday failed to convince the leadership of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F).

54f070162bf85A senior member of the ruling PML-N told that representatives of the MQM, PTI, JI, and Fata welcomed the government’s move, but the leadership of the PPP and JUI-F expressed concern regarding the govt’s move to bring a 22nd constitutional amendment in the upcoming session of Parliament.

The PML-N member said senior PPP and the JUI-F leaders asked the ruling party to activate the electoral reforms committee for comprehensive electoral reforms, instead of changes in the Constitution for the Senate elections.

The ruling party member said the PM has asked PPP and JUI-F parliamentary leaders to rethink about the amendment until tomorrow, as it was necessary to stop horse-trading in the upcoming polls.

It is important to mention here that the PML-N requires the unconditional support of the PPP for a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as the party holds a majority in the Upper House.

The prime minister will also meet parliamentary leaders on Saturday to discuss the constitutional amendment for an open ballot.

Speaking to the media after meeting with the premier, former PM Raja Pervez Ashraf said his party leadership believes that the govt should take all the political leadership on board before any constitutional amendment.

“We are against any kind of rigging and horse-trading in the elections, but it is important for the government to build a consensus before introducing any constitutional amendment in Parliament,” Ashraf said.

He also stated that the PPP leadership demands electoral reforms for transparent elections in future.

Meanwhile, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman said political parties should take action against members who cast their votes for other parties in the Senate elections, and that the constitutional amendment would make the loyalty of party members doubtful.

On the other hand, MQM leader Dr. Farooq Sattar said that his party will favour the amendment, while PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi said party chairman Imran Khan had already welcomed the govt’s move.

JI Parliamentary Leader Sahibzada Tariqullah and Federal Minister for Textile, Abbas Khan Afridi said that they will support the govt’s move in this regard.

The govt has drafted an amendment bill to bring crucial to the Constitution in a bid to hold the upcoming elections to 52 Senate seats in a manner that will end the ‘undemocratic practice of horse-trading’.

Three new amendments are being considered to allow changes in existing procedures and rules for conducting election for senate seats. The proposed act will be called the Constitution (22nd Amendment) Act, 2015.

The draft suggests that elections to the Senate will be held through open voting instead of the secret ballot that is currently in vogue.

Modi meets Mufti Mohammad Sayeed after deal

NNP| News

SRINAGAR: Narendra Modi and India-held Kashmir’s incoming chief minister put the finishing touches Friday on a deal that will see the premier’s Hindu nationalists enter government in India’s only Muslim-majority state for the first time.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. — AP/File Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. — AP/File

Modi and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed held around 90 minutes’ of talks to discuss the programme and make-up of their parties’ coalition ahead of its expected swearing-in on Sunday.

“This is a historic opportunity to unite hearts and minds of the people in the state,” Sayeed, expected to be the new chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, told reporters after meeting the prime minister in New Delhi.

Read: BJP to form coalition government in Kashmir

Both men are expected to attend Sunday’s inauguration in Jammu, the Himalayan region’s winter capital, which is taking place some two months after the inconclusive results from elections to…

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