Friday, September 27, 2013

Chemical weapons watchdog approves Syria action

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has approved the details of an international plan to take under control and ultimately destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.‘Immediate and unfettered’ inspections In line with the decision by the chemical weapons watchdog, Syria has until November 1 to “complete… the destruction of chemical weapons production and mixing/filling equipment” and must finish “the elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014.” Syria will be required to “cooperate fully… including by providing the OPCW personnel with the immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in the Syrian Arab Republic.” The OPCW in its turn would "initiate inspections" no later than October 1 and will have 30 days to inspect all chemical facilities listed by Syria as well as “any other site identified by a State Party [any Chemical Weapons Convention member state] as having been involved in the Syrian chemical weapons programme.” The watchdog would gather again within 24 hours in case a “delay by the Syrian Arab Republic in meeting the requirements” is reported or “a lack of cooperation in the Syrian Arab Republic or another problem” arises in implementation of the plan. The decision paved the way for the UN Security Council's vote on the resolution.
No ‘military measures’ in Syria
The five veto-wielding members had agreed upon the text on Thursday before presenting the draft to the full 15-member body during overnight discussions. The draft resolution is fully in line with the Geneva framework on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, Sergey Lavrov told the press earlier on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's 68th session. “There will be no enforcement in line with Chapter 7,” he emphasized. The draft resolution backs the agreement reached in Geneva regarding Syria's commitment to place its chemical weapons stockpile under international control. If there is any violation by any party – as the resolution also calls on the opposition to assist in the disarmament process – the Security Council will convene again and will be ready to take enforcement measures in line with Chapter 7, Lavrov said.

Obama, Iran's Rouhani hold historic phone call

President Barack Obama and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone on Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran's nuclear program. The call is the culmination of a dramatic shift in tone between Iran and the United States, which cut diplomatic relations with Iran a year after the 1979 revolution that toppled U.S. ally Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and led to the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran. Obama has said for years he was open to direct contact with Iran while also stressing that all options - including military strikes - were on the table to prevent Iran building a nuclear bomb. The U.S. president had hoped to meet with the relatively moderate Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week, but the Iranian side decided an encounter was too complicated, in what was seen by White House officials as an effort to avoid antagonizing hardliners in Tehran. On Friday, however, the Iranians said Rouhani expressed interest in a phone discussion before he left the United States, according to a senior administration official. The White House quickly arranged the call, which took place at 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) and lasted about 15 minutes. A source close to Rouhani said the United States had reached out after positive talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a day earlier. Speaking to reporters, Obama said he and Rouhani had directed their teams to work quickly toward an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. He said this was a unique opportunity to make progress with Tehran over an issue that has isolated it from the West. "While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution," Obama said at the White House. "The test will be meaningful, transparent, and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place" against Iran, Obama said. Rouhani, in his Twitter account, said that in the conversation he told Obama "Have a Nice Day!" and Obama responded with "Thank you. Khodahafez (goodbye)." He added that the two men "expressed their mutual political will to rapidly solve the nuclear issue." The price of oil fell on Friday as tensions eased between the United States and Iran after the Obama-Rouhani talk. "The phone call was an important milestone - a calculated risk by two cautious leaders mindful of domestic constraints," said Yasmin Alem, senior fellow at Atlantic Council's South Asia Center. "More than anything else it shows the high level of political capital invested in a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis."
The telephone call, the first between the heads of government of the two nations since 1979, came while Rouhani was heading to the airport after his first visit to the U.N. General Assembly, according to a statement on Rouhani's official website. "The biggest taboo in Iranian politics has been broken. This is the beginning of a new era," said Ali Vaez, a senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group. Such a call could not have been imagined under Rouhani's predecessor, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who antagonized Israel and the United States and denied the Holocaust. A hardline website believed by Iran experts to be affiliated with Ahmadinejad, Rajanews, referred to the call as a "strange and useless action." As president, Rouhani is the head of the government but has limited powers. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the ultimate authority in Iran with final say on domestic and foreign policy, though Rouhani says he has been given full authority to negotiate on the nuclear issue. Obama, who expressed willingness as a presidential candidate in 2007 to reach out to U.S. adversaries, nodded to that power dynamic in his remarks, saying both men had given signals that Iran would not pursue nuclear arms. "Iran's Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. President Rouhani has indicated that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons," Obama said. "I have made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations." Western powers say they believe Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons for some time. Iran says its aims are peaceful and focused on energy production. The Obama administration official said the United States had told the Israeli government about the Obama-Rouhani call. Israel is deeply skeptical about the shift in Iran's rhetoric and has warned its allies to be wary of Rouhani. Rouhani was on a charm offensive during his week in New York, repeatedly stressing Iran's desire for normal relations with Western powers and denying it wanted a nuclear arsenal, while urging an end to sanctions that are crippling its economy.
In his speech to the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama cautiously embraced Rouhani's gestures as the basis for a possible nuclear deal and challenged him to demonstrate his sincerity. However, the failure to orchestrate a handshake between the two leaders that day, apparently because of Rouhani's concerns about a backlash from hardliners at home, seemed to underscore how hard it may be to make diplomatic progress. Iran and the United States back opposite sides in the Syrian civil war and have been at loggerheads for years over Israel, Tehran's support for Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and other issues. Washington broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 because of the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days. Rouhani, who took office last month, told a news conference earlier on Friday he hoped talks with the United States and five other major powers "will yield, in a short period of time, tangible results," on a nuclear deal. He said Iran would bring a plan to resolve the decade-long dispute over Tehran's nuclear program to an October meeting with the six powers in Geneva. He offered no details about that plan, but emphasized that Tehran's nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.

U.S. Senate votes to keep government open, now up to House

The U.S. government braced on Friday for the possibility of a partial shutdown of operations on October 1 as Congress struggled to pass an emergency spending bill that Republicans want to use to defund the new healthcare reform law. While there was still a chance of averting a shutdown, time was running out. As expected, the Senate passed a straight-forward emergency-funding measure to keep the government running through November 15. While 25 Republicans cooperated with Democrats to bring a week-long Senate debate to a close, in the end, no Republicans voted to pass the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said passing it would "send a message to radical Republicans" that they should stop standing in the way of operating the government by trying to first gut the U.S. healthcare law known as Obamacare. Meanwhile, business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged Congress to promptly pass the spending bill and raise the limit on government borrowing. A shutdown would likely result in up to 800,000 federal employees being furloughed. Most visible to the public, if past shutdowns are a guide, are museum closings in Washington that outrage tourists and attract television cameras, and possible delays in processing tax filings, for example. But the government does not grind to a halt. Large swaths of "essential" activity continue, including benefit checks and national security-related operations. Agencies were in the process of determining which employees would be considered essential and which not. The 79-19 vote to end debate on the Senate bill was a defeat for Tea Party-backed Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who tried to tie up the Senate all week with demands that government funds be denied until President Barack Obama's healthcare law was put on ice. Fewer than half of his fellow Republicans supported him. Some of the most conservative and rebellious members of the House of Representatives, such as Republicans Justin Amash and Tim Huelskamp, stood in the back of the Senate chamber during the vote to show solidarity for ending Obamacare. Republican Senator David Vitter came over and shook their hands after he voted against advancing the bill. Senate passage did not end the crisis, however, as the bill faces rough going in the House, with many Republicans wanting to again attach an Obamacare amendment or other measure that Democrats would declare a poison pill. Indicative of lawmakers' desperation, some mulled the possibility of passing a bill to keep the government running for a very short period of time to avert a shutdown and provide more time to work out a longer-term deal. Representative Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, a senior House Republican, told Reuters: "People are talking about a 10-day CR," a so-called continuing resolution to fund the government through October 10. That could put the subsequent temporary funding bill on a similar timetable to a debt limit increase Congress must pass or risk a government default on its loans. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, during a press conference, warned Republicans against lumping those two measures together. "It's two different subjects," she said.

UN checking 7 reported chemical incidents in Syria, incl 3 near Damascus

UN chemical weapons inspectors in Syria are investigating seven cases of alleged chemical weapons use, including three incidents around the capital Damascus. This comes following the chemical attack on August 21 in Ghouta. The inspectors are due to finalize their work on Monday, the UN team in Damascus said in a statement on Friday, adding that a comprehensive report is expected to be ready by late October. In August the Syrian government allowed the UN investigation to visit and take probes at three locations of alleged chemical attacks, including the Khan al-Assal attack in March. However their work was disrupted by the August 21 attack in Damascus's eastern Ghouta suburbs, causing casualties that ranged from dozens to 1,300 according to various accounts. In their report the inspectors confirmed that sarin gas was used “on a large scale” in the attack. However the report did not specify who was behind the attack, while both sides of the ongoing Syrian civil war blame each other. Nevertheless, the US and Britain believe that the forces loyal to President Bashar Assad used the chemicals, basing their conclusions on the UN experts’ assessment of the technical characteristics of warheads found at the attack site. Damascus claims that the UN investigators had ignored evidence passed to them confidentially, while Russia and Syria urge the US and its allies not to jump into conclusions too quickly. yria has become a full member of the global anti-chemical weapons treaty, while Assad personally vowed to hand over the country’s chemical arms to be destroyed. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is to discuss a disarmament plan for Syria on Friday. The preliminary plan suggests that its team will inspect “any other site identified by a State Party as having been involved in the Syrian chemical weapons program, unless deemed unwarranted by the Director-General,” according to a copy of the draft plan obtained by the Associated Press. This is a departure from the OPCW’s usual practice, which is to suggest only the investigation of previously inspected sites declared by member states. The OPCW has proposed starting the inspection “as soon as possible, and no later than 1 October 2013,” saying that all efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles should be completed in the first half of 2014. The UN Security Council may vote late Friday on the resolution, which has been drafted and submitted by Russia and the US after their talks in Geneva on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that if there was a violation of the resolution by any party to the conflict, including the Syrian opposition, the UN Security Council should take measures to enforce it in accordance with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. He added that such action does not imply immediate military intervention.


Bahrain Opposition Stages Major Rally

Thousands of marchers in Bahrain have joined the largest anti-government protest in months in the violence-gripped Gulf nation. Sporadic clashes with security forces broke out Friday as more than 10,000 marchers clogged a main highway, but most of the event was peaceful. The rally was approved by Bahrain's Sunni rulers as part of efforts at outreach with the Shiite-led opposition. But many marchers appeared emboldened by U.S. President Barack Obama's mention of sectarian tensions in Bahrain in his U.N. address earlier this week. Bahrain has been hit by nonstop unrest since early 2011 when majority Shiites launched an Arab Spring-inspired uprising for greater political rights. The island kingdom is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

UN '95% sure' humans cause warming

A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s. The report by the UN's climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change. On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is "unequivocal", it explained. It adds that a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends. The panel warns that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all aspects of the climate system. To contain these changes will require "substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions". After a week of intense negotiations in the Swedish capital, the summary for policymakers on the physical science of global warming has finally been released. The first part of an IPCC trilogy, due over the next 12 months, this dense, 36-page document is considered the most comprehensive statement on our understanding of the mechanics of a warming planet. It states baldly that, since the 1950s, many of the observed changes in the climate system are "unprecedented over decades to millennia". Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface, and warmer than any period since 1850, and probably warmer than any time in the past 1,400 years. "Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and that concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased," said Qin Dahe, co-chair of IPCC working group one, who produced the report. Speaking at a news conference in the Swedish capital, Prof Thomas Stocker, another co-chair, said that climate change "challenges the two primary resources of humans and ecosystems, land and water. In short, it threatens our planet, our only home". Since 1950, the report's authors say, humanity is clearly responsible for more than half of the observed increase in temperatures. But a so-called pause in the increase in temperatures in the period since 1998 is downplayed in the report. The scientists point out that this period began with a very hot El Nino year. "Trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends," the report says. Prof Stocker, added: "I'm afraid there is not a lot of public literature that allows us to delve deeper at the required depth of this emerging scientific question. "For example, there are not sufficient observations of the uptake of heat, particularly into the deep ocean, that would be one of the possible mechanisms to explain this warming hiatus." "Likewise we have insufficient data to adequately assess the forcing over the last 10-15 years to establish a relationship between the causes of the warming." However, the report does alter a key figure from the 2007 study. The temperature range given for a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, called equilibrium climate sensitivity, was 2.0C to 4.5C in that report. In the latest document, the range has been changed to 1.5C to 4.5C. The scientists say this reflects improved understanding, better temperature records and new estimates for the factors driving up temperatures. In the summary for policymakers, the scientists say that sea level rise will proceed at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years. Waters are expected to rise, the document says, by between 26cm (at the low end) and 82cm (at the high end), depending on the greenhouse emissions path this century. The scientists say ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for 90% of energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010. For the future, the report states that warming is projected to continue under all scenarios. Model simulations indicate that global surface temperature change by the end of the 21st Century is likely to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, relative to 1850. Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, from Imperial College London, told BBC News: "We are performing a very dangerous experiment with our planet, and I don't want my grandchildren to suffer the consequences of that experiment."

ANP's Condolence Reference for Peshawar Church Bombing Victims
A condolence reference to show solidarity with Christian community was held at Baacha Khan Markaz, the party Head Quarters in Peshawar under the chairmanship of Mr. Bashir Ahmad Khan Matta. The objective was to show solidarity with the community on big human losses caused due to terrorist acts on Sept 22nd on Peshawar church. Large number of party workers, lawyers , PSF workers and Christian community attended the event. Bashir Ahmad Khan Matta, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Aimal Wali Khan , Saddruddin Marwat , Senator Amarjeet Malhotra , Ex-MPA Asif bhatti, Gulshan Yousuf and Bishop Shafee addressed the event, while Mr. Paster Pitras Salamat offered prayers and Dr. Hashmat delivered a message. At the end candles were lighted in the memory of those who lost their lives in the blast. While addressing the gathering Mr. Bashir Ahmad Khan Matta said that terror acts on church is worth thinking for all of us. He said that A.N.P is shares this sorrow and extends condolence to the affected families. He said that it is the responsibility of the state to protect the rights & lives of Minorities. But PTI Chief Imran Khan is just blaming A.N.P to hide his in-efficiency & failure in time response on this occasion instead he should have praised the Bravery of A.N.P and its leaders & workers for their quick response to help the victims in this state of emergency. He said Imran Khan is lacking political wisdom as he has spent most of his life in sports as a player. Quick response by Mian Iftikhar Hussain to reach the blast site was good gesture & good and scared politics of ANP. If Imran Khan considers it as a sin, we will continue with this sin to live & die with the masses. He said the God help PTI to continue with the politics to leave the people on mercy of God. This is their way of Pakistan. Mian Iftikhar Hussain while speaking on this occasion condemned the church blast in strong words. He said that on one side hundreds of dead bodies & wounded were lying un-attended in hospitals and the wounded people were crying for help, and their relatives crying. But on the other hand the response by the Govt: side was zero. No Minister or public representative was there. There were no Doctors , no beds , no medicine & other facilities in hospital. In this condition the people’s anger was natural. I reached Hospital as usual to show sympathy with people & tried to minimize their anger. If still Imran Khan sees it with doubts, then I can only pray for his wisdom, e said. Instead criticizing me, Imran Khan should have condemned the terrorists for their barbarism. He said that he is follower of Baacha Khan and am from public & will always will stand with people. People are the best judges of my performance and I leave it to the people.

Pashto Song For Peshawar: kala me perzo she pa bamoono pekhawara

" how can i see you facing bomb blast Peshawar "

Pakistan quake toll reaches 515, insurgents hamper aid efforts

The death toll from an earthquake in southwestern Pakistan has reached 515, a provincial official said Friday, as insurgent attacks threaten relief efforts and survivors complain of lack of shelter from the scorching sun. Babar Yaqoob, the Chief Secretary of Baluchistan, gave the updated death toll as he toured the destroyed region of Awaran, where the 7.7 magnitude quake struck on Tuesday.
Bodies were still being discovered in houses whose mud walls and wooden roof beams had collapsed. "My daughter was killed when my house collapsed - I was also inside my house but manage to run out," said 70-year-old Gul January "We are sitting under the scorching sun and need shelter." In Labash village near Awaran, more than half of the 3,000 houses have collapsed and those still standing have wide cracks. "Everywhere we go people are asking for tents," legislator Abdul Qadeer Baloch said. The arid area is also a stronghold of separatist Baluch insurgents, who have twice shot at helicopters carrying military officials in charge of responding to the disaster. On Thursday, two rockets narrowly missed the helicopter carrying the general in charge of the National Disaster Management Agency and on Friday shots were fired at two helicopters carrying aid, the military said. "There is a law and order situation here and other hurdles but despite everything, we will get to every last person," said Lt. Gen. Nasir Janjua, the highest ranking military official in the province. Aid must travel by pitted roads that cut through mountains held by the insurgents. The rebels, who have killed many civilians and members of the security forces, are fighting for independence from Pakistan. They accuse the central government of stealing the province's rich mineral deposits and the security forces of widespread human rights abuses.

Causes of Pakistan's New Island Revealed
The powerful earthquake that hit Pakistan on Tuesday (Sept. 24) and killed more than 320 people struck along one of the most hazardous yet poorly studied tectonic plate boundaries in the world.
The magnitude-7.7 earthquake was likely centered on a southern strand of the Chaman Fault, said Shuhab Khan, a geoscientist at the University of Houston. In 1935, an earthquake on the northern Chaman Fault killed more than 30,000 people and destroyed the town of Quetta. It was one of the deadliest quakes ever in Southeast Asia. Shaking from yesterday's earthquake in Pakistan demolished homes in the Awaran district near the epicenter, according to news reports. The death toll will likely rise as survivors and emergency workers search the debris. In the hours after the quake, a new island suddenly rose offshore in shallow seas near the town of Gwadar, about 230 miles (380 kilometers) southwest of the epicenter. Geologists with the Pakistan Navy have collected samples from the rocky pile, the Associated Press reported. From pictures and descriptions, many scientists think the mound is a mud volcano, which often erupt after strong earthquakes near the Arabian Sea. A second island has also been reported offshore of Ormara, about 170 miles (280 km) east of Gwadar, Geo News said. "Other mud volcanoes have been triggered at this distance for similar size earthquakes," Michael Manga, a geophysicist and expert on mud volcanoes at the University of California, Berkeley, told LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet. The unexplained island may have focused unusual global attention on the earthquake, which hit in a region that frequently experiences devastating temblors. But despite the hazards faced by millions living near the Chaman Fault, a combination of geography and politics means the seismic zone remains little studied. The Taliban killed 10 climbers, including an American, in northern Pakistan in June. "Its location is in an area that is very difficult to do any traditional field work," Khan told LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet. "I tried twice to submit proposals to (the National Science Foundation) and I got excellent reviews, but the review panel said I was risking my life to work in that area." But the National Academy of Sciences felt differently. With their support, Khan and his colleagues in Pakistan and at the University of Cincinnati are now studying the fault's current and past movement. This will help the researchers forecast future earthquake risk. "This fault has had very little work and no paleoseismology," Khan said. "It is really important."

Peshawar blast: 19 killed

Around 19 people were killed and 44 others sustained injuries in an explosion inside a van on Charsadda Road, Peshawar, Express News reported on Friday. The attack targeted a bus of Civil Secretariat employees that was carrying around 30-40 people. The bomb was placed in the back of the bus.
Police and rescue officials have reached the area and injured were taken to Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) and Charsadda District Headquarters Hospital. Emergency was declared in LRH after the blast. Injured were shifted to the hospitals in private cars and ambulances. Blast According to the bomb disposal squad (BDS), the bomb contained around six to seven kilogrammes of explosive material and had a timed device attached to it. The explosion was so intense that it threw the bus far away from the blast site. Despite police presence in the area, bus parts and other evidences were not collected for investigation and many were taken away by the locals.
Peshawar has been a target of militant attacks for the past decade. On September 22, a pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a 130-year-old Anglican church in Peshawar, killing at least 81 people in the deadliest attack on Christians in the country. Last year in June, 19 people were killed and 20 injured in a bomb attack on a Civil Secretariat bus.

With a maturity and poise that belied her tender years, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen shot by the Taliban for championing girls’ education stood by world leaders on Wednesday and called for books not guns. “Instead of sending weapons, instead of sending tanks to Afghanistan and all these countries which are suffering from terrorism, send books,” she pleaded. “Instead of sending tanks send pens,” she urged, her hair modestly covered by a scarf as she took part in the first anniversary of the Global Education First initiative at the United Nations in New York. In October last year, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she was on her way to school in her usual bus in an attack that drew worldwide condemnation. Gravely wounded and close to death, the Pakistani schoolgirl was flown to Britain for surgery. She returned to school in England last March, after recovering from her injuries. Now she has become a global advocate for the right of all children, and in particular girls, to have a proper education. “Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers,” Malala argued at an event attended by Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Croatian premier Ivo Josipovic. According to the United Nations, some 57 million children around the world of elementary school age are denied an education—and 52 percent of them are girls. “This is my dream to see every child to be educated,” Malala told the gathering, building on themes of one of her heroes, Martin Luther King. “This is my dream to see equality for every human being. This is my dream to see peace everywhere in the world, in Nigeria, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan.” It was not Malala’s first trip to the United Nations building in New York. Earlier this year in July, she received a standing ovation for an address to the general assembly at which she vowed she would never be silenced. “We want women to be independent … and to have equal rights as men have,” Malala said on Wednesday. “We believe in equality and to give equality to women is justice,” she added, receiving resounding applause. “We are here to find a solution for all these problems that we are facing.” U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon hailed the teenager for “your courage and triumph” which he said “have inspired millions of people across the world.” Malala’s courage has already won her numerous awards including the highest honor from Amnesty International, which announced she would be named an Ambassador of Conscience. Time magazine also listed her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and she has just been nominated for the prestigious European Parliament Sakharov Prize. Next month her book I am Malala is due to be published and she has also launched an organization called the Malala Fund.

At least 17 killed in Peshawar explosion

17 people were killed and 43 others injured when a bomb exploded on a bus carrying government employees on Peshawar’s Charsadda Road, DawnNews reported. “The bomb was planted inside the bus. At the moment, the death of 17 people have been confirmed,” Zahirul Islam, deputy commissioner of Peshawar, told AFP. Nasir Durrani, the police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told reporters the remote-controlled bomb was planted at the back of the bus, which was taking government staff home to the town of Charsadda after work. Durrani confirmed that 17 people have been killed and 43 wounded. An eyewitness speaking on GEO news channel said the blast was so powerful it threw victims' bodies clear of the vehicle and onto the roadside. Footage showed the back of the bus reduced to a tangle of twisted metal by the force of the explosion. Nine dead bodies have been taken to Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar while eight bodies have been taken to a government hospital in Charsadda. The target was government employees, Sahibzada Mohammad Anis, the commissioner of Peshawar, told AFP. Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, lies on the edge of Pakistan's tribal areas, labelled by Washington as the main sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the country. The city has seen frequent attacks by militants in the past few years, with targets ranging from civilians to policemen and other law enforcement personnel.

16 killed, over a dozen injured in Peshawar Secretariat bus blast

SIXTEEN persons were killed and over a dozen injured when a blast hit the bus carrying Secretariat employees at Charsadda Road in Peshawar before Friday prayers, Local TV reported. According to the initial reports, a Civil Secretariat bus carrying around 100 employees was on its way when an explosion occurred near Gulbaila at Charsadda Road. More than 20 persons were injured while ten succumbed to their injuries initially that later rose to 13. Sources said that casualties are feared to rise. Rescue teams shifted the injured and bodies to Lady Reading Hospital and Charsadda District Headquarter Hospital. Police reached the blast site and cordoned off the area while further details about the blast are yet to be ascertained.

Pakistan: September 22 attack: ‘Deploy the army at churches, protect us or expel us’

Christian representatives have demanded army deployment at churches to prevent future terrorist attacks. Security arrangements for churches are ineffective as witnessed in the twin suicide blasts on September 22, said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) minority wing leader Nasir Masih Sahotra. Christians now want the army to protect their churches, he added. “We believe inadequate security is the main reason behind the successful attack on All Saints’ Church near Kohati Gate. More steps should be taken to protect our places of worship,” maintained Sahotra. He further said the number of people who died in the September 22 attack is higher than the official figure released. “We have prepared a list of 139 dead and 160 injured. Most people did not go to the hospital and were directly taken home for burial,” Sahotra told The Express Tribune on Thursday. Relatives of the deceased are now getting death certificates issued from the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), he added. Sahotra went on to blame the LRH for providing substandard medication to hospitalised victims and demanded better quality medicines be procured and provided to the injured to ensure proper recovery. Meanwhile, at a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club on Thursday, Christian Action Committee (CAC) general secretary and National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony member Khalid Shehzad also urged for better security. “Christians have been targeted in several incidents in the past.” Shehzad sought the deployment of Rangers and the Pakistan Army at all churches across the country. In line with previous demands by Christian representatives, the CAC member demanded the issuance of arms licences to members of church committees. The government did not take previous incidents seriously, which lead to the tragedy in Peshawar, he said. Flanked by committee members Javed Asim, Qazi Abdul Wahid and Tariq Siraj, the beleaguered representative blamed the government for failing its prime responsibility to protect the lives and property of its people, including adherents of other religions. “We demand stern action be taken against police officials immediately, and the perpetrators of the heinous attack be brought to justice,” he said, adding “Foolproof arrangements have to be made to protect all churches and Christian residential colonies under a comprehensive security plan.” The price of life Members of the CAC expressed dissatisfaction over the monetary compensation package announced by the government. Calling it a “mockery”, Shehzad demanded the federal and provincial government provide Rs2 million per deceased and Rs1 million for each of the injured. The government should also bear expenses of education, health and other needs of those children who were orphaned or left disabled in the wake of the attack. Safety for all, safety for none After the number of policemen has increased at churches, especially in Peshawar, Hindus fear for their safety at temples, particularly during morning and evening worship. While police personnel have increased at churches after September 22, our temples have been completely ignored, All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (APHRM) Chairman Haroon Sarbdyal told The Express Tribune. “Police contingents have been provided to every church in the city and the number of policemen have been increased at the Sikh gurdwara in Mohalla Jogan Shah. But on the contrary, there is no security at Hindu temples in the city.” “There is no security for our Mandan Gate temple in Bannu. Four policemen who are deployed at the Kohat temple have occupied a room inside, making it difficult for worshipers. In Abbottabad, the police have asked the temple administration to provide accommodation for their personnel,” complained Sarbdyal. Only two policemen were at the Pir Rathan Nath temple in Karimpura without any equipment, even without metal detectors, he added. Hindus are not satisfied with these ‘arrangements’, and feel open to all kinds of terror attacks, said the APHRM chairperson.

Pakistan: Rape and the rot

A society that cannot, or indeed will not, protect the weakest among us is one that is rotten to the core. According to some reports, in six months (January to June 2013) there were 1,204 cases of child abuse in Pakistan – with 68 percent of the victims being girls and 32 percent boys. A spate of recent cases of child rape has brought the issue to the spotlight and what it says about us a country is very frightening indeed. Earlier this month, a five-year-old girl who had been raped was found outside a hospital in Lahore. So far more than two dozen people, mostly her neighbours, have been arrested, and CCTV footage of the likely rapist released but he still remains at large. Just in September alone, five-year-old and six-year-old girls have been raped in Kasur and Gujranwala, respectively while a minor boy was raped in Faisalabad. Then, just on Thursday, the body of a minor girl who had been raped was found at Seaview in Karachi. As an indication of just how seriously the state takes such cases, in none of these cases have the culprits been tracked down. And even if they were, there is every possibility that they would get off scot-free. In the latest case (in Karachi) the victim’s family have informed the media that their daughter had been abducted two days prior to her body being found and that ransom demands had also come in. This case ties in with the larger issue of law and order in the city. Recently, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), which decides if all our laws are in line with Islam, said that DNA evidence could not be used as primary evidence in rape cases since religion had set forth the requirement that four reliable male witnesses were needed to convict someone of rape. The CII has chosen dogma over logic, even though Islam instructs us to use reasoning. Rapists are hardly likely to ever be convicted if witnesses are needed while science has progressed sufficiently for DNA evidence to prove guilt or innocence in many cases. Doing a better job in catching the perpetrators of sex crimes is only one essential duty; we also need to be far more sensitive with rape survivors. After the minor girl in Lahore was found, many news channels saw no harm in repeating her name on air even though international standards of media ethics demand that rape survivors not be named unless consent is given by the survivor. Identifying a minor was doubly horrifying. These cases of child rape should also shame into silence those who ludicrously blame victims for the crime, blaming it on the dress or actions of the victim. Or are these people now going to claim that toddlers somehow provoke rapists into targeting them? By now we should have learned that rape is about power not sex but there are too many who are just not able to empathise with the victim. Unfortunately, a state that has never treated rape as the horrific crime that it truly is belongs among that shameless crowd.

Pakistan: Dengue outbreak kills 23 in Swat valley

An outbreak of dengue fever in northwest Pakistan's Swat valley has killed 23 people in the past month, but health officials said Thursday it was likely to subside as the weather cools in the coming weeks. The authorities in Swat declared a health emergency a week ago over the outbreak of the virus, spread by mosquitoes which breed in stagnant water, which has now infected 6,500 people since late August. But a local official with the World Health Organization (WHO) said that with the onset of cooler autumn weather in the mountainous region, infections should decrease. “The number of dengue cases is decreasing and the countdown has been started,” Doctor Qutbuddin Kakar, the WHO's focal person for dengue, told AFP. “We are expecting more visible decline in the coming days with the change in the temperature.”Health officials said the mosquitoes carrying dengue could not survive in temperatures below 16 Celsius. It is thought the Swat outbreak was caused by infected mosquito larvae brought from the eastern city of Lahore in water in a consignment of old tyres. An outbreak in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city, in September 2011 killed 362 people and infected more than 21,000.

Pakistan: Extreme myopia

IN the land where thousands of Sufis are buried and thousands are alive, where scores of Sufi orders thrive, where the likes of Buddha, Nanak and Ram have walked, where millions of lovers of wisdom have lived and died, the government of a province says we cannot teach comparative religion to our children in schools. And this at a time when we are under siege from those for whom tolerance is anathema. We live in multilingual, multicultural, multi-religious societies. We have overlapping identities. How can we allow privilege to one identity and, more importantly, how can we limit our children from knowing how others live and why they live the way they do? Comparative religion is not about comparing religions to decide which is better. That would indeed be a ridiculous course and no school would be daft enough to do something like that. Comparative religion is about the history of religions and people, the beliefs of people, their answers to some of the biggest questions humans face and how their answers help them make sense of the world around them. How can our children not be allowed to know this? There are parents, clearly, who feel that knowing about other religions and their beliefs might make their children lose their own beliefs. Is that a realistic fear? Especially when our children are raised in an environment steeped in their own religion and the rituals that go with it. Should our children, when they are mature enough — and Grade 7 and above is surely that — not know about the beliefs of people in the same society? The quality of our journalism, especially television journalism, is a good reflection of where we are and the direction in which we are headed. After the blast outside the church in Peshawar one person on TV said something to the effect that ‘safai karney walon ka safaya ho gaya (the cleaners have been swept away themselves). Television talk shows in Pakistan are reflections of poorly done Jerry Springer shows and Mubashir Lucman is one of the worst offenders. Clearly the state is scared. It is willing to talk to people who are killing our compatriots every day, but they want to ban the teaching of comparative religion. One need not say more about their knee-jerk reaction. But how far will this banning exercise go? Should we stop teaching philosophy because a lot of Western philosophy tackles some of the basic tenets of religions and takes a lot of concepts from Christianity? Will the Greeks make sense to us if there is no understanding of their mythology? Reading the Greeks was not a problem for Imam Ghazali and Ibn-i-Rush’d, why should it be an issue for us? Or is it living faiths we have a problem with? Can anyone understand Bishop Berkeley’s Treatise on Principles of Human Knowledge without understanding the notion of God that he worked with? Even the discussion of miracles in David Hume requires some understanding of the Christian doctrine. Should we stop teaching literature for the same reason? Are writings of non-Muslims kosher? Is Shakespeare OK? What about the teaching of history? How will we make it halal or kosher? How do you teach history without talking of the beliefs of people and what they lived and died for? Can we talk of the advent of Islam without talking about some of the pagan practices that were prevalent in the Arabia of the time? Can the Muslim encounter in Spain or India be studied without the relevant facts about these countries, their indigenous populations and their religions and cultures?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Is this what we are protecting our children from? I am glad I got my education at a different time. Right now the focus seems to be on one school. But the reported provincial order against the teaching of comparative religion seems to be a more general one. Will the school in question fight the order in court? They are a commercial organisation. They might not, even if they are convinced of the merits of their approach, be able to take on the government. Will parents of the students who would like their children to know about other religions, belief systems and ways of being, be able to help? Will a group of parents go to court? If the provincial government continues to insist on the ban, will concerned citizens step forward? The courts might be regarded as myopic or fearful, but it is incumbent on citizens to fight for their rights and every inch of turf has to be fought for. Otherwise, the scenario would be as Maurice Ogden sketched it in The Hangman:
“For who has served more faithfully Than you with your coward’s hope?” said he, “And where are the others that might have stood Side by your side, in the common good?” “Dead!” I whispered, and amiably “Murdered,” the Hangman corrected me; “First the alien then the Jew. I did no more than you let me do.” Beneath the beam that blocked the sky None before stood so alone as I. The Hangman then strapped me, with no voice there to cry “Stay!” for me in the empty square.

China to close Sino-Pakistan border

Daily Times
The Chinese government has decided to close the Sino-Pak border for 10 days as part of extra ordinary security measures ahead of its Independence Day celebrations. According to Hunza Nagar police, a notification from the Chinese government said the Khunjerab Pass would remain closed from September 28 to October 7. Trade and traffic between the two countries will remain closed during this period. Police said the Chinese government has been expressing concerns about threats of terrorist infiltration through the Khunjerab Pass. Such measures are routinely taken to guard the country against elements who may want to be involved in subversive activities in the Xinjiang autonomous region, where sections of the Uighur communities have been involved in a struggle against the government, police quoted the Chinese government as saying.

Imran’s proposals : Ill-advised suggestions

Addressing the media in Peshawar on Wednesday, Imran Khan mooted a proposal to the federal government that the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) be allowed to open an office. He also stated that the government should announce a ceasefire in order to initiate meaningful talks with the TTP. If there was any doubt about Imran’s delusional attitude based on nothing but misplaced ideological inclinations in dealing with the TTP, it has been removed after this naïve statement. Ironically, Imran was visiting the Lady Reading Hospital to offer his condolences to the victims of the heinous suicide bombings carried out by militants in a church. Although the TTP, possibly after seeing the backlash of these attacks, has tried to distance itself by claiming that the attacks were carried out by Tehreek-e-Taliban Jundullah, an autonomous group having little to do with the TTP, one cannot be sure whether this is true or not. The TTP has a track record of denying involvement in attacks that caused widespread resentment amongst the masses. Imran’s proposals, if taken seriously by the federal government, would have negative consequences for the already frayed security situation. His proposal to set up an office in Pakistan similar to the one established by the Afghan Taliban in Qatar will give the TTP official recognition and elevate its position from a militant insurgency carrying out asymmetrical warfare to a stakeholder in how the country’s affairs are run. Secondly, this gesture will reinforce the TTP’s rigid and unreasonable attitude and will possibly spur the banned outfit to become more adventurous in the future. Such a proposal will only provide legitimacy to these misanthropists and will surely be perceived as a sign of the state’s weakness by the TTP. Imran’s second proposal seems even more preposterous than the first one. He proposes that the federal government should enforce a ceasefire. This is tantamount to a partial surrender; a complete surrender would be if the federal government acquiesces to the TTP’s demands for imposing sharia, turning the country into an Islamic emirate, presumably under the TTP, and obviously then packing up and going home. It is quite obvious that Imran is unwilling to budge from his rigid point of view and still has faith in a peaceful settlement with the TTP despite all the clear signals that the TTP is sending to the contrary. Moreover, if simple logic is not convincing enough, perhaps a closer look at the history of insurgencies and warfare would help. A ceasefire is always based on mutual consent and is applicable to both sides. A one-sided ceasefire is unheard of. Considering the consistency and frequency with which the TTP is conducting terrorist attacks, a ceasefire by the government will, in effect, be an open invitation for the terrorists to carry out their ‘jihad’ against innocent civilians with impunity. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government does not seem to have any clarity on how to tackle the TTP problem, which is growing with each passing day. Although the consensus reached by all political parties at the All Parties Conference is often touted as a great political success, nobody seems to have any clue about how to proceed. The resolve to hold talks with the TTP is not enough. There needs to be a set agenda for the proposed talks. A bare minimum set of conditions need to be put forward by the government before any talks can be held. For starters, the TTP needs to halt its hostilities against the state. The TTP’s behaviour so far gives no indication it is willing to do so. Moreover, for talks to bear fruit, it is imperative that the government has some sort of idea what it is trying to achieve through talks. The TTP shelters under its umbrella more than 60 groups and there is a possibility that even if an agreement is reached with Hakeemullah Mehsud, not all groups would comply with such an agreement. It is time for Imran to wake up and smell the coffee. The only way out of this mess is to use force against those who do not respect the writ of the state and at the same time keep room for negotiations for those who want to give up militancy and reintegrate in society. The solution does not lie in surrendering to the whims and wishes of the fanatics.

Jihadists torch statues, crosses in Syria churches: NGO

Jihadist fighters linked to Al-Qaeda set fire to statues and crosses inside churches in northern Syria on Thursday and destroyed a cross on a church clock tower, a watchdog said.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters entered the Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation in the northern city of Raqa and torched the religious furnishings inside, the Syria Observatory for Human Rights said. They did the same at the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs, and also destroyed a cross atop its clock tower, replacing it with the ISIL flag, the Observatory said. Most of Raqa, located on the banks of the Euphrates River and capital of the province of the same name, fell to anti-regime fighters in March. Where the ISIL dominates in the city, it imposes a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on the populace. The London-based Observatory denounced these attacks \"against the freedom of religion, which are an assault on the Syrian revolution.\" Not only have there been attacks on Christian places of worship in Syria, a predominantly Muslim country wracked by more than two years of civil war. Additionally, Christians clerics have been kidnapped, and some brutally murdered, by jihadists. In January, the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, said: \"The destruction of religious sites is furthering sectarian fears and compounding the tragedies of the country. \"Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship.\" The New York-based group said that \"while some opposition leaders have pledged to protect all Syrians, in practice the opposition has failed to properly address the unjustified attacks against minority places of worship.\" At the outset of the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad, rebels welcomed the support of jihadist groups, largely made up of foreign fighters. But the jihadists, where they have reached a position of dominance in specific parts of the country, are increasingly alienating the native population. On Thursday, an ISIL commander from the United Arab Emirates was killed in fighting with Kurds in the north of Syria, the Observatory said.

Death toll in Balochistan earthquake jumps to 531

The Frontier Post
The death toll in Tuesday s powerful earthquake in Balochistan has reached 531 today (Thursday). Rescue workers pulled victims, some screaming in pain, from the heavy rubble of mud houses collapsed on residents throughought the remote areas of Balochistan. Pakistan s army airlifted hundreds of soldiers to help with the aftermath of the worst earthquake. The earthquake of magnitude 7.7 struck Balochistan on Tuesday, a huge earthquake-prone province of deserts and rugged mountains, and was felt across South Asia. It destroyed houses and cut communications with the worst affected district of Awaran, and was so powerful it caused a small island to emerge from the Arabian Sea, just off the Pakistani coast. Rescue teams found it hard to reach the remote location quickly, and some officials said the death toll was likely to rise as emergency workers fanned further into the mountains to assess the damage.

Pakistani Quake Survivors Search Rubble For Food, Wait For Help

Miral, a local government employee in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan Province, was in his office when he felt his building riding the waves of a magnitude 7.7 earthquake as if it were a boat on a stormy sea. Built from reinforced concrete for district administrators in Arawan, it is one of the stronger structures in the impoverished region and was able to withstand the September 24 quake. Miral rushed outside after the temblor passed, looking anxiously across a flat stretch of desert toward his home in the nearby village of Balathi. Instead of the mud-brick houses that had been built there by his relatives and neighbors, he could see only rising clouds of dust and smoke.Running to his village, Miral found stunned survivors covered in dust and limping around in the rubble. Their village was one of many in the Awaran district that was almost completely leveled by the quake. Miral spoke with RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal by satellite phone late September 25 as Balathi's homeless survivors were beginning their second night outside under the open sky. "My nephew [and uncle were] killed and my house was completely destroyed," Miral said. "We can't even find a piece of plastic for our children to sit on. There is nothing left. We are sitting in the darkness with no food, water, or any other facilities."
Desperate For Food, Water
Balochistan is the largest and least populated province of Pakistan. Even in the best of times, the impoverished residents of remote districts like Awaran struggle to eke out a living. Around Balathi, few water wells have been dug into the sandy soil. Instead, water is collected when it rains and stored for later use in cisterns and reservoirs. There also are few medical facilities. The hospitals and clinics that do exist in the area often lack adequate stocks of medical supplies. There also is a shortage of qualified doctors and medical workers. Muhammad Riaz, one of Miral's neighbors, said that about 15 people were crushed by collapsing buildings in Balathi. With another 50 people seriously injured in the village and other survivors becoming desperately hungry, Riaz worries that the death toll there will rise. "There is no water and there is no food. There is little that can be done," Riaz said. "The shops have been destroyed. The houses have also been destroyed. People don't have money."By September 26, with daytime temperatures soaring, the situation for Balochistan's quake survivors was rapidly deteriorating. Having recovered many of the dead from beneath collapsed walls, some survivors were combing through the rubble where shops and homes once stood, hoping to find food or bottled water. Shabbir Ahmad, a local journalist in the Awaran district, has traveled since the quake to other remote areas such as Gishkor, Malar, and Bazdad. Ahmad said the survivors he met were all in the same desperate situation -- and still waiting for relief aid to reach them. Ahmad also said that local health clinics and hospitals have been reduced to "nothing." The main district hospital in Awaran had only two doctors on duty the night after the quake. Ahmad Hussain, a professor at Awaran College, said local groups were rushing to provide aid to survivors, but that many residents remained without help. "There is a lot of destruction in the different villages. The mud houses have caved in," Hussain said. "And both local and governmental organizations are busy with relief. But the people have yet to get suitable assistance. The people are struggling to get water and food."
Government Response
Meanwhile, about 100 protesters gathered around the district office in the town of Arawan to call attention to the plight of survivors in nearby villages. Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority says it is establishing a field hospital in Awaran and has sent out additional teams of doctors and paramedics to try to cope with the disaster. The government disaster agency says it has sent 5,000 tents to Balochistan from its strategic reserves in Karachi. It says it also has "mobilized its resources" to provide 7,000 food aid packages, each weighing 53 kilograms, to survivors in the stricken districts of Awaran and Kech. The government is also in the process of setting up forward operating bases in the towns of Khuzdar and Bela to help distribute aid and provide logistical support for relief operations.But government attempts to deliver relief aid to some far-flung villages are being complicated by the presence of Baloch separatist rebels who are active across Balochistan Province. On September 26, separatist militants reportedly fired two rockets at one government relief helicopter that was trying to deliver food packages, narrowly missing it. Pakistan's military, meanwhile, is consulting satellite imagery and photographs taken from aircraft to try to assess the extent of the damage across a swathe of land that could stretch hundreds of kilometers across. By midday on September 26, the official death toll from the quake stood at 348, with hundreds more injured and up to 300,000 people left homeless or otherwise affected by the disaster. Authorities say the death toll is likely to rise as reports from more remote villages are collected and as the humanitarian crisis for survivors continues.

Russia, US agree on draft resolution on Syria chemical weapons - Lavrov

The draft resolution to be submitted to the UN Security Council is in line with the agreement reached between Russia and the US in Geneva and does not suggest immediate action against Syria under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, Russia’s FM Lavrov said. Voice of Russia correspondent shares the details of Sergei Lavrov's press conference which Russia's FM held after his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
"We have reached complete agreement on the draft resolution which is now being submitted to the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague. We have also agreed on Russian-US draft resolution on Syria which will be submitted to the UN Security Council later tonight", said Lavrov during the press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's 68th session. “The resolution which will be submitted to the UN Security Council is in line with the Geneva framework on the commitment to place Syrian chemical weapons stockpile under international control,” Lavrov said. “There will be no enforcement in line with Chapter 7.” However, if there is any violation by any party – as the resolution also calls on the opposition to assist in the disarmament process – the Security Council will convene again and will be ready to take any enforcement measures in line with Chapter 7, Lavrov added. According to Lavrov, the draft resolution emphasizes the need to rely on the professionalism of the OPCW experts and calls on the UN Secretary General to assist the experts in the implementation of the reached agreements. "The resolution appeals to the UN Secretary General to assist the UN experts in all the work they perform in Syria and describes all the rules that the Syrian side has to comply with as a member of the Convention for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and as a country that has invited experts from the OPCW to take control of and ultimately destroy their chemical arsenal", Lavrov said. "We hope that in the near future there will be a vote regarding these two documents in the Hangue and in New York", Lavrov asserted. "Overall, I am pleased with the work we've done, and I expect that this Russian-American initiative, which has received broad support globally, will be supported in practical terms by the OPCW and the UN Security Council", Lavrov concluded. "This is a breakthrough arrived at through hard-fought diplomacy," said a senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "This is historic and unprecedented because it puts oversight of the Assad regime's compliance under international control." The UN Security Council is expected to hold a closed-door consultation on the Syria draft resolution on Thursday evening, representatives of the French UN mission told Reuters. US envoy to the UN Samantha Power also confirmed an agreement with Russia has been reached, elaborating further that the draft resolution is “legally obligating Syria to give up chemical weapons they used on their people.”
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