WASHINGTON: Allegations that Saudi Arabia killed a journalist inside its Istanbul consulate have forced Donald Trump into a position he never expected, raising human rights with the kingdom he has steadfastly supported.
Saudi Arabia was the first foreign destination as president for Trump, who has lavished praise on its ambitious crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and closely allied himself with the kingdom in a push to isolate the Sunni state’s regional rival Iran.
Trump had stayed silent on human rights as the United States backs the Saudi-led air campaign against rebels in Yemen, which a UN report said has killed thousands of civilians, and when Prince Mohammed, often referred to by his initials MBS, detained dozens of people last year in a controversial crackdown.
But Trump said on Monday he was “concerned” after a Turkish government source said Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent opinion writer living in the United States and who contributes to The Washington Post, was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged a “thorough” investigation with “transparent” findings about the fate of Khashoggi, whom Saudi officials insist left the consulate in Istanbul.
Trump told reporters Tuesday he knew nothing about Khashoggi’s fate. Critics say Trump contributed to an atmosphere that may have empowered Saudi Arabia to silence a critic abroad. Trump has repeatedly lashed out at the media, calling it the “enemy of the people,” and has raised human rights prominently only when pressuring US antagonists such as Iran and China.
The administration has essentially told “violators of human rights and oppressive leaders, go ahead, do what you need to do, we’ll turn the other way, consequences won’t be forthcoming,” said Sarah Margon, Washington director of Human Rights Watch.
The Khashoggi case puts the Trump administration unexpectedly on the side of Turkey, where two top government officials have been slapped with US sanctions over the detention of a US pastor.
Saudi Arabia under MBS has increasingly shown it will not tolerate any foreign criticism. In August the kingdom expelled the Canadian ambassador and froze all trade and investment after Ottawa voiced concern for rights activists in the kingdom.
The United States, with its decades-old military and energy partnership with Saudi Arabia, enjoys far more clout than Canada. But a more prickly relationship could complicate other US goals such as arranging a summit of Gulf Arab allies to advance reconciliation with Qatar, which has been under an embargo by its neighbors for more than a year over disputes that include relations with Iran.
Analysts said the Trump administration felt obliged to speak out on Khashoggi after rising attention from the media and especially on Capitol Hill, where prominent lawmakers on both sides have voiced outrage over the journalist’s detention or possible killing.
The Senate in March narrowly failed in a bid to restrict US support for Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen over rights concerns.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has cast himself as one of Trump’s closest allies, said that if the allegations of wrongdoing by Riyadh are true, “it would be devastating to the US-Saudi relationship and there will be a heavy price to be paid — economically and otherwise.”
FIA confiscates record of private schools
HYDERABAD: A team of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) led by Director FIA Syed Wasee Haider seized computers and records from several private schools in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order.
An official of the FIA told that the record of last 7 years had been seized from over half a dozens of branches of a school system.
He informed that the court had ordered the FIA to seize all the records including electronic and manual from the schools for not complying with the order over exorbitant school fees. The official said the confiscated record would undergo a forensic audit.
APS tragedy commemorated at PA
LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly, through a unanimously adopted resolution today, paid homage to the martyrs of the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar, on the fourth anniversary of the tragedy.
The House condemned the terrorist attack in which 132 students and 10 staff members of the school were martyred.
The joint resolution, moved by PML-N lawmaker Hina Pervaiz Butt and a PTI member, condemned the incident and reiterated nation’s resolve to continue to fight against terrorism. It demanded the federal government to declare December 16 as a national day against extremism and terrorism. The House also adopted a resolution felicitating the federal government on its effective response to the United States over blacklisting of Pakistan for religious freedom violations.
Opposition lawmakers Azma Bokhari and Waris Kallu, speaking in the House, criticized the Donald Trump administration for maligning Pakistan with regard to minorities in Pakistan. “Putting Pakistan on the Human Rights Watch List is a great injustice,” they added. They said that minorities in Pakistan were enjoying more freedom than in India and it was beyond comprehension why Pakistan was included in the Human Rights Watch List and India was spared.
Earlier, the tenth and last sitting of the fifth session of the current assembly started an hour and 33 minutes behind schedule with Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari in the chair. As many as 69 MPAs were present at the outset of the sitting. It is pertinent to mention here that leader of the opposition, Hamza Shehbaz, was not attending the sessions for the last nine days.
Meanwhile, Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi formed a committee for settling the issue of the Production Order of lawmakers in the House. Provincial Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja would head the committee (Production Order Committee), which would make recommendations for introducing amendments to the rules of procedure of the provincial assembly of Punjab regarding a production order of any of the lawmaker.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led opposition had asked for production order of their fellow lawmaker Khawaja Salman Rafique, who is currently in custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The House held a discussion on the annual report on the status of women 2016. Later, the chair adjourned the session sine die.
Madrassa mulla arrested for hitting pupils!
HYDERABAD: Police on Friday arrested a madrassa (Seminary) teacher who was caught torturing students in a video that went viral on social media.
SSP Hyderabad took notice of the viral video which captured the madrassah teacher, identified as Shabbir Ahmed s/o Ghulam Hussain, beating up students who had come to learn the Holy Quran in a mosque situated within limits of the Cantt Police Station.
In the video, the madrassa mulla can be seen hitting children with a pipe and arguing when asked not to beat them up by a man who had come to pray at the mosque.
The madrassa teacher is heard in the video arguing back and telling the man to continue praying. “No one will say anything even if I beat them to death,” he is heard saying and then continuing to hit the children.
Sindh IG Kaleem Imam has sought a report from SSP Hyderabad regarding an inquiry into the matter and the action taken by the police in this regard.
Relevant: The Hyderabad police today arrested a mosque cleric allegedly for beating his students with a belt. The video showing the cleric beating the students at Sarhindi Mosque in Masoom Shah Colony in the limits of Cantonment police station. went viral on social media. The video shows the cleric Qari Shabbir Ahmed Ansari, the son of the mosque’s Pesh Imam Ghulam Hussain Ansari, whacking the students with a thick rubber belt. Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah and Inspector General of Police Sindh, Syed Kaleem Imam taking notice of the incident directed the district police to take action and submit a report. Senior Superintendent of Police Hyderabad Sarfaraz Nawaz Shaikh’s directed the immediate arrest of the suspect. Later an FIR was registered against him on the complaint of Ahmed Jan, father of Shahzeb, a student. He was booked under Section 328-A of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which brings imprisonment for 1 to 3 years after conviction in addition to fine. The section was inserted through the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2014, in the PPC to discourage corporal punishment.