PM Nawaz resigns after Supreme Court order to disqualify him: statement

ISLAMABAD:  Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif on Friday resigned from his post, his office said, hours after the country’s Supreme Court disqualified him over corruption claims against his family. The Supreme Court said Sharif is not fit to hold office and ordered a criminal investigation into him and his family. The court also disqualified […] Source: Aaj Tv news

‘Nawaz Sharif is a reality, lives in people’s heart’

ISLAMABAD: Minister of information and broadcast Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Nawaz Sharif is a reality and lives in people’s heart even after being disqualified by Supreme Court in Panama leaks case, on Friday, Aaj News reported.  While talking to media she reportedly said,”PML(N) is the biggest party of Pakistan and whenever Nawaz Sharif was tried […] Source: Aaj Tv news

PTI reacts over Prime Minister’s disqualification

ISLAMABAD: Vice chairman of opposition party Pakistan Tehreek -i- Insaaf Shah Mehmood Qureshi congratulate nation as Supreme Court announced Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in Panama leaks case, on Friday, Aaj News reported.  According to reports, Qureshi expressed gratitude towards Supreme Court and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) members regarding the historic decision. The General Secretary […] Source: Aaj Tv news

Senate slaps new sanctions on Russia, putting Trump in corner

WASHINGTON: The US Senate voted almost unanimously on Thursday to slap new sanctions on Russia, putting President Donald Trump in a tough position by forcing him to take a hard line on Moscow or veto the legislation and infuriate his own Republican Party.

The legislation all but dashes Trump’s hopes for warmer ties with Moscow as his administration is dogged by congressional and special counsel investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election to sway it in Trump’s favour.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly denied the conclusions of US intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered using cyber warfare methods, has threatened retaliation against the legislation.

The Senate backed the bill, which also imposes sanctions on Iran and North Korea, by a margin of 98-2 with strong support from Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

The bill, which includes a provision that allows Congress to stop any effort by Trump to ease existing sanctions on Russia, will now be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto.

It is the first major foreign policy legislation approved by Congress under Trump, who has struggled to advance his domestic agenda despite Republicans controlling the Senate and House of Representatives. The strong bipartisan support for the bill was a sharp contrast to the bitter partisan rancour during a debate over how to overhaul the US healthcare system.

If Trump chooses to veto it, the bill is expected to garner enough support in both chambers to override his veto and pass it into law. The sanctions measure has already passed the House of Representatives by 419 to three votes.

Republicans and Democrats have pushed for more sanctions partly as a response to the election allegations. Trump denies any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

Senator John McCain, a leading congressional voice calling for a firm line against Russia, said before the vote: “The United States of America needs to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin and any other aggressor that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy.”

Putin said Moscow would only decide on how to retaliate once it had seen the final text of the proposed law.

The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after Russia annexed Crime from Ukraine.

Besides angering Moscow, the legislation has upset the European Union, which has said the new sanctions might affect its energy security and prompt it to act, too.

Iran, North Korea sanctioned

The legislation also cracks down on Iran and North Korea for activities including their missile development programs and human rights abuses, including seeking to punish foreign banks that do business with North Korea.

It also imposes restrictions on anyone involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and those who do business with them. The sanctions also apply to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps security force and major economic force.

Earlier on Thursday, a senior White House aide said Trump could veto the pending legislation in order to push for a tougher deal, an idea that drew scepticism in Congress because his administration had spent weeks lobbying for a weaker bill.

“He may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians,” White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN.

Earlier on Thursday, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters:

“I would guess that he (Trump) will sign it.”

What will Trump do?

The White House said it would comment on the sanctions bill when they get it and have a chance to review it. A White House official said it could take a couple of days before the legislation gets to Trump’s desk.

On Thursday before the Senate vote, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration continues to support strong sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran, adding “we’re going to wait and see what that final legislation looks like and make a decision at that point.”

Trump can impose new sanctions at any time through an executive order.

“This bill doesn’t preclude him from issuing tougher sanctions. That doesn’t make any sense,” said Edward Fishman, a former State Department official during the Obama administration who worked on US sanctions policy.

Once Trump receives the bill, if he does not sign it, he has 10 days, excluding Sundays, before he must issue a veto and prevent the bill from becoming law automatically.

If he opts for a veto, the bill can become law anyway if two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote for an override.

Putin said on a visit to Finland on Thursday that Russia was “exercising restraint and patience, but at some moment we’ll have to retaliate. It’s impossible to endlessly tolerate this boorishness towards our country.”

Putin, at a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, also spoke about Obama’s order last December to seize Russian diplomatic property in the United States and to expel 35 Russian diplomats.

“This goes beyond all reasonable bounds,” Putin said. “And now these sanctions – they are also absolutely unlawful from the point of view of international law.”

COVER IMAGE: St. Basil’s Cathedral is seen through a gate in Red Square in central Moscow, September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo

Source: Geo News

Trump ban on transgender service members alarms some military officers

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to ban transgender personnel from serving in the military has alarmed some senior military officers who were caught off guard by it.

Trump’s declaration, which came via early morning tweets on Wednesday, appeared to preempt an ongoing Pentagon review looking into allowing openly transgender recruits to join the military, and he drew criticism from three senior officers interviewed by Reuters on Thursday.

“I hope our commander in chief understands that we don’t transmit orders via Twitter and that he can’t, either,” one said by telephone, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“Even if this were an order, implementing it legally would take considerable time, if it’s even possible.”

Rights groups and some lawmakers from both parties accused Trump of politically motivated discrimination and said the decision creates uncertainty for transgender active-duty service members and reservists, who say they number in the thousands.

The United States’ top military officer, Marine General Joseph Dunford, told the armed forces on Thursday there had been no change yet to Pentagon policy on transgender personnel.

Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged the uncertainty that followed Trump’s announcement in a note to service chiefs, commanders and senior enlisted leaders.

“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President,” Dunford wrote.

“There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” Dunford said in the message, first reported by Reuters.

Dunford then made the assurance that the military would “treat all of our personnel with respect.”

His message neither voiced support nor opposition to Trump’s decision.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Dunford in a separate message sent more narrowly to heads of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force acknowledged that Trump’s announcement on Wednesday was “unexpected.”

The Defense Department had been expected to begin formally allowing transgender people to enlist this year. But Mattis on June 30 approved a six-month delay to allow for a review.

As a presidential candidate, Trump last year had vowed to fight for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people.

His move on Wednesday was praised by conservative activists and some fellow Republicans.

The White House said Trump had “extensive discussions with his national security team,” and that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was informed after the president decided on Tuesday to go ahead.

Trump cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as a justification for the ban, a point disputed by experts and advocates for allowing military service to be determined by an individual’s capabilities, not gender identity or sexual preference.

The Army’s chief of staff, General Mark Milley, said on Thursday that there had been issues with transgender individuals serving in the Army.

“I will be candid. … This is a complex issue and there (are) a variety of challenges out there that we have to deal with and we have been working through it, but this is not clear-cut either way,” he said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said implementation of Trump’s decision was still being worked out.

Separately, the Trump administration on Thursday told a US appeals court in New York that federal law does not ban discrimination against gay employees, a sharp reversal of the position Democratic former President Barack Obama took.

Trump’s plan to ban transgender military service members has unleashed legal threats from advocates who say they are seeking plaintiffs who want to sue.

Trump’s tweets did not make clear when a ban would go into effect, nor whether it applies to serving members of the military or those wishing to join.

But if the Defense Department actively roots out transgender people and discharges them from the military, the Pentagon is likely to face an especially contentious fight, legal experts say.

“There’s no valid justification for excluding transgender people from the military,” said Jon Davidson, legal director for LGBT rights group Lambda Legal.

It was also unclear whether it might go beyond active-duty forces and apply to reservists.

‘Breaks your spirit’

Indiana National Guard reservist Cameron St. Andrew, who resigned from full-time service after the November election, told Reuters that as a transgender person he was concerned about his status.

“I try to be tough about it,” he said, but added: “It breaks your spirit down.”

One active-duty US military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said senior officials were not consulted.

“We’re scratching our heads and asking where the hell this came from,” the officer said by phone.

“Maybe the president is in step with some members of Congress and some voters, but he is out of step with today’s military. Our service personnel today don’t give a damn about the personal lives of their comrades so long as they know they can trust them when it counts.”

COVER IMAGE: Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

A message on the US military’s policy on transgender personnel sent from Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford to military leaders is shown as released to Reuters on July 27, 2017. Defense Department/Handout via REUTERS

Source: Geo News

PM holding last-minute informal meeting with close aides

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minsiter Nawaz Sharif is chairing a high-level meeting moemnts before the announcement of historical Panama Paper case verdict.  PM’s Legal aides, advisers and federal ministers have reached the PM House where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif amid the anticipation will follow the verdict announcement. The grand verdict of Panama Paper case will finally be announced today […] Source: Aaj Tv news

Scaramucci rips into White House colleagues

White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci talks to the media outside the White House in Washington, US, July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON: White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has launched a searing foul-mouthed attack on his most senior colleagues, describing one as a “paranoid schizophrenic”.

In an eye-watering exchange with a New Yorker reporter late Wednesday, Scaramucci ranted about the chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

“Reince is a […] paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci was quoted as saying in an expletive-filled tirade, in which he accused the chief of staff of damaging information leaks.

“They’re trying to resist me, but it’s not going to work,” he said, adding that Priebus would soon resign and using language that American television networks refused to repeat.

Turning his sights on Trump’s chief strategist, Scaramucci made it very clear he believes Bannon is working in the White House to serve his own interests, using particularly offensive language.on is working in the White House to serve his own interests, using particularly offensive language.

“I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to [benefit myself],” he said.

“I’m not trying to build my own brand off the […] strength of the president. I’m here to serve the country.”

Scaramucci, a millionaire New York financier, has arrived at the White House vowing to serve Trump’s interest and right a badly faltering administration.

But the revelations are likely to draw questions about whether his tenure at the White House will be a long one.

Scaramucci did not apologise for the tirade but said he would try to clean up his language in the future.

“I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @realDonaldTrump’s agenda,” he tweeted.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Scaramucci “used some colorful language – I don’t think he will again.”

Source: Geo News

House of Representatives boosts military spending, gives Trump border wall money

A US border patrol agent patrols the US and Mexico border fence in San Ysidro, California, US, April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $68 billion increase in military spending next year with legislation that also provides money to start construction of President Donald Trump’s Mexican border wall.

The bill increased spending on the US capability to defend itself from foreign missile attacks amid growing concerns about North Korea’s increasing capacity to hit the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile after it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in July.

The money for the wall is dwarfed by the $658.1 billion the bill would provide for the Defense Department, an increase of $68.1 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $18.4 billion above Trump’s budget request.

The House voted 235-192 for the fiscal 2018 spending bill that would provide $1.6 billion for initial construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border, which was a centrepiece of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Democrats repeatedly have referred to any money for the wall as a “poison pill” and are likely to try to kill it in the Senate.

Congress is up against an October 1 deadline – the start of a new fiscal year – for either passing spending bills or temporarily extending funding at current-year levels to give negotiators more time to come to agreements.

Funding for the wall was tucked into a wide-ranging national security appropriations bill at the last minute by Republican leadership, knowing that many House members who oppose the wall would not sink defence spending with a “no” vote.

Trump has argued that a “big beautiful wall” was needed along the entire southwestern US border and that Mexico would ultimately pay for its construction.

Mexico has flatly refused to pay and in recent weeks Trump indicated that there could be portions of the border that are not conducive to a wall.

Democrats and many Republicans in Congress have questioned the feasibility and effectiveness of a border wall, with immigration advocacy groups arguing that it would not stem the flow of illegal border crossings and would hurt US-Mexico relations.

Opposition to wall

During interviews in recent weeks with over a half-dozen Republican senators from states that voted for Trump for president last November, only Ted Cruz of Texas embraced building the wall.

Similarly, House Republicans representing districts along the US-Mexico border have expressed opposition to the barrier, which could end up costing well over $21 billion.

Representative Nita Lowey, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, called the wall a “waste … that experts confirm is unneeded and ineffective and cuts against our values as Americans.”

Furthermore, Lowey noted that Pentagon funding would run into a technical problem as it breaches a cap on defence spending by $72 billion. If the bill became law, she said, it actually would “trigger across-the-board cuts of 13 percent to every defence account” in order to stay within the cap.

The beefed up defence spending would allow the Pentagon to continue military activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots and hire more troops while providing soldiers with a 2.4 percent pay raise.

It also would allow the Pentagon to undertake a shopping spree with money to buy ships and submarines, aircraft, tanks and other big-ticket items.

The House-passed bill also includes an increase for America’s nuclear weapons stockpile managed by the Department of Energy, as well as for US Capitol Police following a June 14 shooting that gravely wounded Republican Representative Steve Scalise.

A $825 million increase for the Missile Defense Agency to more than $8.6 billion is more than Trump asked for and includes additional boosters and missile silos for the main system that would defend against an ICBM attack, a program run by Boeing Co.

Missile defence would also gain 14 more THAAD interceptors made by Lockheed Martin Co.

Source: Geo News

Will the captivating Supreme Court ruling oust PM Nawaz?

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court of Pakistan will announce today on Friday, whether it will disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after an investigative panel alleged his family’s wealth was far above their earnings in a scathing corruption report. The legal proceedings against Sharif have captivated the nuclear-armed South Asian nation, where politicians are seldom subjected to the […] Source: Aaj Tv news

‘Imran Khan won’t come to Supreme Court today’

ISLAMABAD: Senior representative of Pakistan Tehreek -i- Insaaf (PTI) Naeem Ul Haque has said that chairman of Party Imran Khan will not attend today’s hearing of Panama verdict case due to security concerns, on Friday, Aaj News reported.  The senior representative of the party updated about Khan’s decision through his official twitter earlies this morning. […] Source: Aaj Tv news