ISLAMABAD: Pakistan opposition Tehreek-i-Insaf has demanded the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, forwarding the plea to the Election Commission. National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said, "I decided to send the reference to ECP to strengthen the Parliament... the decision was taken after I went through the documents." Led by cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan, the party had filed a reference against Sharif on August 15, calling for his disqualification as a Member of the National Assembly. Party's Deputy Parliamentary Leader in the Assembly, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Chief Whip Shireen Mazari and senior leader and MNA Arif Alvi handed over the reference to Sadiq in his office.
Russia plans e-visas for Indian tourists
MOSCOW: Russia might soon launch e-visas for Indian tourists and launch direct flights between Mumbai and Moscow to woo Indian travellers to the country. Valery Korvokin, head of the international department of the Russian federal agency for tourism, said, "We are pursuing the e-visa issue with our foreign ministry. We expect a positive development in the next few months." The department is also planning a certification course for Indian tour operators, specialising in Russian tours, he said. The agency's deputy head Sergey Korneev said the authorities are also looking at different measures, like increasing the number of English and Hindi translators for Indian tourists.
Goddess Durga's idols vandalised in Bangladesh
DHAKA: Idols of Hindu goddess Durga were vandalised in northeastern Bangladesh by a bunch of unidentified people ahead of the Durga festival. The incident took place at a temple in Futarmati village under Nabiganj upazila of Habiganj district, 170 km from Dhaka. The police launched an investigation and later said some local youths started a fight over a minor issue with the artisans making the idols. Two people have been arrested on charges of vandalism but no case has been registered.
UN says US drone strike kills 15 in Afghanistan
KABUL: At least 15 civilians were killed and 13 injured, in a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan, announced the United Nations calling for an independent investigation into the incident. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said militants may have been killed in the strike, but several victims were civilians, including students, a teacher, and members of families called "pro-government". "UNAMA reiterates the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law. UNAMA calls on the government and international military forces to launch a prompt, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into this incident," the UN said in a statement. US forces responded saying, "We take every possible measure to avoid civilian casualties in these operations, and will continue to work with Afghan authorities to determine if there is cause for additional investigation."
Afghan prez, warlord sign peace agreement
KABUL: Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has signed a peace treaty with warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, pledging to lobby the US and the United Nations to remove him and his party from terrorist blacklists. The first peace treaty completed by the Afghan government since its war with the Taliban began in 2001, it has been welcomed by the international community as a possible template for the future. Once international sanctions are lifted off Hekmatyar, who is currently believed to be in Pakistan, might return to the country. Commending the treaty, a US official said Washington would "seriously consider" any request from the Afghan government to lift sanctions. "If the (UN) Security Council deems sanctions imposed on certain individuals to be outdated and no longer in the interests of Afghan peace and stability, then we will need to reconsider these measures," he said.
Magnitude 5.5 earthquake strikes Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan was struck with a moderate earthquake of magnitude 5.5. The quake shook capital Islamabad, parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest, and several northern areas of Punjab. The US Geological Survey reported the epicentre of the earthquake was 117 km east of the Swat Valley city of Mingaora, at a depth of 43.4 km. Provincial Disaster Management Authority KP said the intensity of the tremor was 5.5 and the epicentre was the Hindu Kush mountains. "No loss of life or damage to property has been reported thus far," it said. The country faces tremors in regular intervals, with the worst yet in 2005, when a massive scaled quake killed over 80,000 people.
Sikh man shot dead in Afghanistan
PESHAWAR: A Sikh man was abducted from his home and gunned down by suspected militants in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan, bordering neighbouring Pak. Sardar Rawail Singh, was kidnapped from his own house by militants wearing military fatigues. The incident has triggered massive protest by the minority Sikh community who staged a demonstration by placing Singh's body outside the provincial governor's house in Jalalabad and demanding the arrest of the killers. The protesters were later met by deputy governor Mohammad Hanif Gardiwal.
Saudi to raise visa fees for Mecca pilgrims
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will soon increase charges for visas for people who visit the country for Islamic pilgrimages. The ruling council of ministers, chaired by crown prince Muhammad Bin Naif, announced that anyone applying for a visit to complete the Hajj for a second time, will be charged SR2000 (£410) for each visit. Prices for general visits will increase to SR200 (£41) for a two-month visa and SR300 (£61) for three. The revised compensation comes as the country struggles to handle the decline in its oil revenue.
PIO teen from S Africa wins big at Google Science Fair
JOHANNESBURG: A teenager of Indian-origin won a $50,000 scholarship at the annual Google Science fair in the US. Kiara Nirghin, 16, a Grade 11 student, used orange peel to develop a cheaper "super-absorbent material" that will help soil retain water. She submitted her project titled 'No More Thirsty Crops', which was aimed at coping with the severe drought situation in South Africa. "These SAPs are not biodegradable, costly and full of acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide and other chemicals. During more research in the topic, I found that natural occurring polymers exist in most citrus fruits," Nirghin said. Sheis convinced her mixture will help farmers in drought prone areas, and increase food security by 73 per cent. The Google Science Fair is a programme for scientists between the ages of 13 to 18.
US airline changes woman's seat as Pak monks refuse to sit with her
SAN FRANCISCO: A female passenger who was on board a United Airlines flight has alleged her pre-booked seat was changed after two "Pakistani monks" did not want to sit next to a woman. Mary Campos said her ticket was given away by the airlines because "she's a woman, and two men didn't want to sit next to a woman." A gate agent said "I don't know how to tell you this," while handing her a new boarding pass. He explained the two passengers could not sit next to or talk to a woman due to "cultural beliefs". "We can't discriminate against half the population for a belief from another nation," Campos said. The airline has said they would look into the matter.