Russia, China Veto UN Resolution On Syria Killings
Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government's deadly crackdown on protests for the second time. Thirteen countries voted for the resolution proposed by European and Arab nations to give strong backing to the Arab League's plan to end the crackdown.
But Russia and China made a repeat of their rare double veto carried out on October 5 on an earlier condemnation.
"I would like to express our great regret and disappointment" at the veto, said Morocco's United Nations ambassador Mohammed Loulichki, whose country is the Arab member of the 15-member council and played a key role in the drawing up the resolution.
Russia and China "shamefully vetoed" the resolution, Britain's UN mission said.
The Security Council has now only agreed one statement, which has a lower standing, on the Syrian crisis since protests erupted in March
WHO Warns Pakistan To Control Spread Of Polio, HIV
Pakistan has informally been warned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to control spread of polio, HIV aids and hepatitis in the country on an emergency basis otherwise it would be placed among the countries on 'watch' where international travellers, visiting or exiting would be required to inform to the organisation about their movement.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has taken the warning seriously and is asking relevant officials to evolve a line of action to ward off the upcoming threat. The failure in eradicating polio completely has caused anxiety and concern in the corridors of the WHO. The disease has already been eliminated in most parts of the world.
Ms. Margaret Chan, Director General WHO had detailed meeting with Prime Minister Gilani in Davos last week where the two had gone to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WHO chief briefed Gilani about the apprehensions of the WHO about the lackluster attitude of some officials and system in Pakistan in controlling and eliminating such diseases.
Chairman of Bill Gates Corporation who has contributed hefty amount on behalf of his charity foundation for destroying polio from Pakistan was also concerned about the existence of polio in Pakistan. Prime Minister Gilani also had a meeting with Bill Gates separately in Davos. The Prime Minister who was ably assisted by his two ministers Ms. Hina Khar and Senator Hafeez Sheikh briefed his distinguished interlocutors about the efforts of the government of Pakistan for stamping out the diseases from Pakistan and difficulties coming in the way of campaigns for immunisation in different parts of the country due to obsolete customs and illiteracy, the sources said.
The WHO director general explained Prime Minister Gilani that her organisation and world at large are not interested in creating troubles for Pakistan but they would be constrained to impose restrictions regarding Pakistan including on the people who will be visiting Pakistan and coming from there.
Mohammad Amir Released From Prison
Convicted fast bowler Mohammad Amir has been released from the young offenders institute in Weymouth, two days before completion of half of the jail term he was awarded by the Southwark Crown Court.
Amir was serving a six-month sentence for spot-fixing after he was found guilty in the scandal that shook the cricketing world in May 2010. Amir, Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif had taken bribes from bookie Mazhar Majeed. Undercover reporter Mazhar Mahmood from now defunct British publication News Of The World secretly videotaped Majeed during transaction that played a key role in securing the conviction. Amir was the first and the only of the three players who changed his defence to a guilty plea and was sentenced for only six months.
Amir's legal team had initially confirmed that he will be released on February 9 and that he will complete part of his remaining sentence on licence at a London address but both the Ministry of Justice and Amir's legal advisers refused to talk about the new arrangements.
It is believed that Amir will stay in London for about two or three weeks and then will leave for Pakistan. He has visa to stay in UK till the end of March.
A source confirmed that a probation officer from the Prison Services accompanied Amir to the guarantee address where he will be staying to ensure that being a young offender he has all the requirements at the address.
MQM Hints At Alliance With Imran Khan
MQM's parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar has hinted that a coalition with Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf would be quite possible in the next general elections.
Talking to media at a dinner meeting in Washington, he denied his party had sent its members to the PTI's public gathering in Karachi while acknowledging the MQM had appeared soft and accommodated Imran Khan for the rally to take place.
He emphasised that some common friends have been trying to bring the two parties together since both are asking for a change in the existing political system. Dr Sattar, who's also federal minister for Overseas Pakistanis, maintained that MQM is ready for general elections on a 24 hour notice and that the coalition parties would discuss the matter after the upcoming Senate polls.
He said Pakistan has never seen real democracy, characterising previous governments as either "martial law or feudocracy." He stated that it is up to the masses to decide how to change Parliament. He said leaders from the grass roots level need to serve in the National Assembly.
Turning to Pakistan's current economic troubles, Dr Sattar observed that feudals don't pay taxes, which has put Pakistan in crisis. He said Pakistan is facing a "now or never" situation; thus, the masses should be mobilised and grass root level leadership elected.
MQM leader said that Pakistan is going through tough times. "On one hand there's a vision for Jinnah's Pakistan and on the other is Baitullah Mahsud's ideology that has been imposed on millions on Pakistanis."
He said regardless of State's relations with Obama's America, the people of Pakistan should establish strong relationship with "Bill Gates' America" to generate new IT jobs in Pakistan. He added that Pakistan's situation is like hardware that has lost its software. "We need a policy that could empower 98 percent of the population. There's a need for a democratic Pakistan."
73 Dead In Egypt Soccer Riots
At least 73 people were killed and 1,000 injured in a riot at a soccer match in the Egyptian city of Port Said, the worst disaster in the country's soccer history, health officials said.
"This is unfortunate and deeply saddening. It is the biggest disaster in Egypt's soccer history," deputy health minister Hesham Sheiha told state television. The game was between Al Ahli, one of Egypt's most successful clubs, and al-Masry, a team based in Port Said. Live television footage showed fans running onto the field and chasing Ahli soccer players, throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at the Al-Ahly fans.
Some of the deaths were the result of stab wounds, the doctors said. A security official said the violence erupted as soon as the referee blew the final whistle in the match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masri clubs.
Meanwhile in the capital, a fire broke out at Cairo Stadium during the first half of a match between Zamalek and Ismaili clubs, prompting officials to cancel the match. Emergency services managed to control the blaze, a security official said. The military also flew in helicopters.
Egypt's state prosecutors have ordered an investigation into the pitch invasion and the violence that ensued. Egypt's football federation indefinitely delayed premier league matches after the violence. Egypt's parliament would hold an emergency session soon, according to state media reports.