Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday said the country's economic future was linked to the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Gwadar Port as its "main component".
At the passing out parade of the 117th Midshipman and 25th Short Service Commission course at the Pakistan Naval Academy in Karachi, he stressed the need for a "strong and vibrant" navy had become more important than ever before because of the growing blue economy, marine security and strategic defence, Dawn news reported.
"The maritime domain is continuously evolving due to technological advancements and changing geopolitical realities," the premier said, noting that these changes were taking place both globally and regionally.
"And I am glad that Pakistan Navy with its available resources continues to perform and fulfil our international obligations most effectively," he remarked.
The Prime Minister highlighted that economic progress in the country could only take place in a peaceful environment.
"It is, therefore, our government's resolve to make all necessary resources available to strengthen Pakistan Navy for making the seaward defence impregnable," Dawn news quoted Sharif as saying.
Pakistan believed in "peaceful co-existence and wanted to promote a friendly neighbourhood, he said, adding: "We do not harbour any aggressive designs against any country. However, our desire for peace must not be misconceived as a sign of weakness or indifference.
"Any disguised or unnatural arrangement for supremacy would neither succeed nor serve the purpose for peace and stability."
Amid raging incidents of gun violence in the US, the Senate has passed a gun control bill for the first time in 28 years, the media reported on Friday.
Late Thursday night, 15 Republicans joined Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress to approve the measure by 65 votes to 33, the BBC reported.
The bill will next have to clear the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.
The new legislation includes a series of measures, such as tougher background checks for customers younger than 21 years; $15 billion in federal funding for mental health programmes and school security upgrades; calls for funding to encourage states to implement "red flag" laws to remove firearms from people considered a threat; and closes the so-called "boyfriend loophole" by blocking gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners.
Thursday's development is also of significance as Democrats and Republicans have both equally supported proposed gun control for the first time in decades, said the BBC report.
The last significant federal gun control legislation was passed in 1994, banning the manufacture for civilian use of assault rifles and large capacity magazines. But it expired a decade later.
Addressing the chamber late Thursday, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said the bill would "make Americans feel safer", adding that "doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility as representatives of the American people here in the US Senate".
In his address to the floor, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: "This is not a cure-all for the ways gun violence affects our nation, but it is a long overdue step in the right direction."
However, the National Rifle Association (NRA , the country's most powerful gun lobby group, has opposed the bill.
The passing of the bill came hours after the Supreme Court struck down a New York state law that limits gun-carrying in public.
The 6-3 ruling found that New York's requirement for residents to prove "proper cause", or a good reason, to carry concealed firearms in public violates the US Constitution.
An individual who wants to carry a firearm outside his home may obtain an unrestricted license to "have and carry" a concealed "pistol or revolver" if he can prove that "proper cause exists" for doing so, says the ruling.
According to the latest data from Gun Violence Archive, the US has witnessed 267 mass shootings since the start of the year, with more than 20,000 lives lost to gun violence.
Uvalde, Texas, witnessed the country's third-deadliest school shooting on May 24 when an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers during a rampage at the Robb Elementary School.
In a surprise twist, House (of Representatives) Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has pulled out all the Republicans sitting on the select committee probing the January 6 Capitol Hill hearings, protesting Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to unseat party members Jim Banks and Jim Jordano.
An angry ex-President Donald Trump, who has privately and publicly targeted the Californian lawmaker in recent times, let out his frustrations that his congressional allies are not able to defend him (Trump) during the televised hearings in the ongoing probe into the Capitol Hill riots that endangered the life of his VP Mike Pence.
Trump, in an apparent knee-jerk reaction, has made it clear that he has not yet endorsed McCarthy to be the next Speaker.
"I think in retrospect, (McCarthy should've put Republicans on) to just have a voice. The Republicans don't have a voice. They don't even have anything to say," Trump told Punchbowl News.
McCarthy, representing California, stood his ground to pull all of his selections for the January 6 select committee after Pelosi blocked Banks (Indiana) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) from sitting on the panel.
"I think it would've been far better to have Republicans (on the panel). (Banks and Jordan) were great," Trump said in reports streaming from Washington from various media sources. "They were great and would've been great to have them. But when Pelosi wrongfully didn't allow them, we should've picked other people. We have a lot of good people in the Republican Party," he was quoted as saying by Washington Examiner which is closely following the hearings probing the January 6 incident.
Justifying his stand for the pull out, McCarthy argued that finding replacements for Banks and Jordan, two of Trump's most vocal allies in the House, and allowing the three GOP (Republicans) members Pelosi greenlighted to serve on the panel wouldn't have had an impact on the messaging coming out of the committee.
"Why would you do it ? Pelosi is going to pick and choose. So, the only Republicans that would be on it would be the ones that Pelosi would allow on ? it would be no different outcome in this thing," McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday. "It's showing us it's a purely political process."
Trump's working relationship with the minority leader is expected to play a role in the level of support McCarthy garners from Trump-allied lawmakers as he looks to secure backing to obtain the Speaker's gavel if Republicans take back the majority next fall, the Examiner said.
One GOP lawmaker close to the former President said Trump has "made known to his allies" that McCarthy "begged for" Trump to include language backing him for Speaker in his recent statement endorsing him in his re-election bid.
While Trump has never endorsed McCarthy for the position, he has praised the California Republican in the past. "Kevin and I work very well together," Trump told a group of reporters in January when asked if he planned to back McCarthy or would consider endorsing another member for the position.
Despite the recent turbulence between the leader and the former President, others have asserted that McCarthy remains the front-runner to become the next Speaker, should the republicans take back the house from the Democrats. "McCarthy is still the overwhelming favourite to be Speaker. With an overwhelming midterm landslide favouring Republicans, McCarthy gets Trump's endorsement and the gavel," one senior GOP operative said.
South Korea's currency on Thursday fell below the 1,300-won level against the US dollar for the first time in nearly 13 years amid growing concerns about global monetary tightening and an economic recession.
Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho made a verbal intervention to forestall further decline, saying that foreign exchange authorities will take steps to stabilize the currency market, if needed, to minimize market jitters caused by the won's weakness, reports Yonhap News Agency.
"The government will also make policy efforts to ease demand-supply imbalances in the market," he said at a meeting with ministers in charge of economic affairs.
The local currency closed at 1,301.80 won against the greenback, down 4.50 won from the previous session. It marked the lowest closing since July 13, 2009, when the won ended at 1,315 per the dollar.
The Korean currency underwent volatile trading throughout the session, with the won sliding to as low as 1,302.80 at one point.
After Choo's verbal warning, the won pared its earlier weakness and briefly rose above the 1,300 mark. But it failed to maintain the level in the afternoon, as foreigners boosted sales of Seoul stocks, dealers said.
Seoul's stocks declined for the second straight day on Thursday to hit a yearly low. The benchmark KOSPI fell 28.49 points, or 1.22 per cent, to close at 2,314.32. Foreigners dumped a net 296.3 billion won ($227 million) worth of local stocks.
Market volatility has recently heightened over fears of the US Federal Reserve's aggressive monetary tightening and a resulting global recession. The win has slid around 8.7 per cent against the dollar so far this year.
Overnight, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told a congressional hearing that interest rate hikes intended to fight inflation could lead to an economic recession, which sparked demand for safer assets.
The government and the Bank of Korea (BOK) have said that they will closely monitor the financial market and "actively" step in to stabilize it when needed.
The 1,300-won level is a symbolic resistance level that has not been seen since the 2008-09 global financial crisis.
In May, the country's consumer prices jumped 5.4 percent on-year, the fastest rise in almost 14 years and a pickup from a 4.8 per cent spike in April.
Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles has said that his ongoing visit to India reflects the conviction and the commitment by the new Anthony Albanese government to place India "at the heart of Australias approach" to the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
Marles is the first high-ranking official from Australia to land in New Delhi after Albanese was sworn in as the 31st Prime Minister of the country, last month.
Hours after assuming office on May 23, Albanese had flown to Japan to attend the Quad Leaders' Summit where he also held detailed talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on shared priorities in the Indo-Pacific region and further strengthening of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
Currently on a four-day visit to India, the Australian Defence Minister said on Wednesday that one of the priorities of the new government back home is India and Canberra must "deepen its understanding of, and engagement with, one of the world's oldest continuous civilisations, the soon to be most populous nation in the world, and a deeply consequential power".
Malres made the observation during his speech at the National Defence College in New Delhi after holding a bilateral meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh earlier in the day.
While he maintained that it would be wrong to assume that China is at the centre of every decision being made to deeper Australian-Indian security cooperation, Marles acknowledged that Beijing's military build-up is now "the largest and most ambitious" seen by any country since the end of the Second World War.
Stating that insecurity is what drives an arms race, the Australian minister said that it is critical that China's neighbours do not see this build-up as a risk for them.
"India's own experience illustrates this maxim more than most. The assault on Indian forces along the Line of Actual Control in 2020 was a warning we should all heed. Australia stood up for India's sovereignty then and continues to do so now. It is vital that China commits to resolving this dispute through a process of dialogue consistent with international law. The global rules based order matters everywhere, including in the highest place on earth," he said during his speech.
He emphasised that the world -- and the region in particular -- faces the "most serious strategic confluence of events" since the end of the Second World War with intensifying strategic and geo-economic contest, the return of war in Europe, growing climate risks, and enduring pandemic impacts, all of which are driving inflation, supply chain shocks, and de-globalisation.
Quoting Australian Professor Rory Medcalf, the Australian minister said that the region is "? too vast and complex for any country to succeed in protecting its interests alone. There will be a premium on partnerships?". Navigating both opportunity and risk in this environment, Marles said, won't be straightforward, and even harder if doing it alone.
Encountering the "toughest strategic environment in over 70 years", Marles said that Australia will work most closely with countries which share the principles and institutions of representative government -- democracy and the rule of law.
"AUKUS (the decision by Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to develop an Australian nuclear powered submarine) is just one partnership. And when I look out at the world, India stands out.
"This relationship is an old one, forged more than 100 years ago as allies in the crucible of war. But today, the characteristics necessary for deep defence cooperation speak even more loudly: we are of, and share a commitment to an open, prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific region; we are strategically aligned; we share a common commitment to the principles and institutions of democratic government; and most importantly we both understand that the history of human progress and civilisation can be characterised by the extent to which a nation loves cricket," added the Australian Defence Minister.
The geography of Australia and India, Marles mentioned, makes them stewards of the Indian Ocean region - an ocean which accounts for about half the world's container traffic and is a crucial conduit for global trade.
While asserting that India's location makes it the natural leader of this region "which Australia strongly supports", the minister reflected that Australia's cooperation in the Indian Ocean is underdone and it can "afford to do more", not only bilaterally, but also trilaterally with others such as Indonesia.
India and Australia, he said, will need both wisdom and strength if they are to successfully navigate the complex strategic circumstances faced in the Indo-Pacific.
The Australian minister also commended India for providing the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support to Kiribati and Tonga earlier this year. He told the gathering that as Kiribati, an island country in the central Pacific Ocean, battled the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia and India worked in lockstep, with Australia arranging a flight to deliver India's donation of pulse oximeters, personal protective equipment and emergency medication. Australian aircraft also helped deliver India's disaster relief supplies to the Kingdom of Tonga following the undersea volcano eruption and Tsunami that devastated that country in January this year.
"We want to work with friends like India, which brings its own unique history to that region and which places such value on respect for sovereignty and national integrity," said Marles.
Mentioning PM Modi's address at the World Economic Forum in 2018 where he listed climate change as one of the biggest threats for mankind, the Deputy Australian PM said that here too, Australia and India have an opportunity to collaborate as the Albanese government has a renewed focus on climate change, which will now factor into Australia's defence planning and defence diplomacy.
"There is opportunity under our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to make inroads into clean energy technologies. Our cooperation has vast potential to see us manufacture and deploy ultra low-cost solar and clean hydrogen, offering affordable and reliable access to energy for all. As nations contend with growing energy demand, climate change and unstable supply chains, India and Australia's collaboration has the potential to engender security solutions for the security challenges we all face," he said.
Over 150 were killed while more than 250 injured after an earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan early on Wednesday, according to multiple sources.
The quake, with a magnitude of 6.1, jolted 44 km southwest of Khost, Afghanistan, according to the US Geological Survey.
The quake has damaged dozens of houses in the region and also caused land sliding in eastern Paktika province, local sources said.
The Ishikawa Prefecture region in central Japan has been rocked by a series of earthquakes over the past two days, with the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warning that further temblors could be imminent.
An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 5.4 rocked the prefecture on Sunday at around 3:00 p.m. local time, with six people left injured by the quake that registered lower 6 on Japanese intensity scale that peaks at 7, Xinhua news agency reported.
Many people find it difficult to remain standing during a quake with an intensity of lower 6 and unsecured furniture could fall causing damage and possible injury, the JMA said.
With the region already shaken, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake shook the prefecture again on Monday at 10:31 a.m. local time. The quake registered upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale at the tip of the Noto Peninsula, the weather agency said.
As with Sunday's quake, no tsunami warning was issued and while minor damage such as merchandise falling of stores' shelves was reported, there were no reports of major damage or injuries, officials in the area said.
At nuclear power facilities in the area, which include Hokuriku Electric Power Co.'s Shika plant in Ishikawa, no abnormalities were reported, the central government said.
In a triple-whammy, a third quake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2 jolted the prefecture again, sparking further concerns that the latest quake which registered 4 on Japan's seismic intensity scale, would not be the last the prefecture would see this week, as voiced by the JMA.
The series of quakes will likely have loosened the ground and with Japan experiencing mixed weather during rainy season, the JMA has warned of landslides and damage to houses.
The latest quakes are part of a series of seismic events that began in December 2020, local media quoted the weather agency as saying.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog have pledged to boost cooperation between the two countries.
During a phone call on Sunday, Erdogan and Herzog discussed Turkish-Israeli relations and regional issues, and agreed that dialogue and cooperation would continue on the matters of mutual defense and the fight against terrorism, the Turkish Directorate of Communications said in a statement.
Herzog thanked the Turkish leader for Turkey's efforts to fight terrorism in the region, it added.
Turkey and Israel have recently seen thawing relations after a decade of deterioration in bilateral ties, Xinhua news agency reported.
After Israeli troops killed dozens of Palestinian protesters during the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem in 2018, Turkey even recalled its Ambassador from Israel, prompting the latter to also recall its Ambassador.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has approved the formation of a task force to oversee the implementation of the rights of minorities after the National Assembly (NA) unanimously passed a resolution over the matter, it emerged on Sunday.
A notification dated June 15, issued by the Pak Prime Minister's Office stated: "In light of the resolution passed by the National Assembly on May 9, 2022, the Prime Minister has been pleased to approve the constitution of task force on minorities to oversee the implementation of rights of minorities in light with the decision of the Apex court", Dawn reported.
The task force, comprising 23 parliamentarians, senators and ex-officio members, will be headed by MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is also the patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.
According to the "terms of reference" enlisted in the notification, the chairman of the task force will hold the status of a federal minister, while the body will play an advisory role.
"The task force shall monitor and oversee all the affairs of the protection of rights of minorities in the light of decisions taken by the Apex court," it said, adding that the body will also have to submit quarterly reports on the developments to the premier.
Moreover, all the provincial governments and administrations have been instructed in the notification to provide full support and assistance to the task force in discharging its functions, Dawn reported.
Following the orders, Dr Vankwani took to Twitter saying that such a step had been taken "for the first time in the history of Pakistan".
"Parliamentarians unanimously passed a resolution to set up a task force for the rights of minorities and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif passed orders on its implementation... this reflects concrete steps taken by the present government for the protection of minorities," he tweeted.
As chairman of the task force, Vankwani continued, "I would like to address the feelings of insecurity of the minorities."
"Recommendations will be made for the solution of the problems faced by the minorities and we will take people from all the segments of the society along with us," Dr Vankwani promised, asserting that countering anti-Pakistan propaganda regarding minorities at the global level was the top priority of the task force, Dawn reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country was not threatening the world with nuclear weapons, but warned that Moscow "will use such weapons to defend its sovereignty".
He made the remarks on Friday while addressing the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
When asked to comment on the West's allegations about the threat of nuclear war and a Third World War, the President said: "Where does it come from? From their own statements. Now and then irresponsible politicians would blurt out something like that, even high-ranking politicians...
"Are we supposed to stay silent? We are responding correspondingly. As soon as we respond, they would pick on our words and say: look, Russia is threatening us. We are not threatening anyone, but everyone should know what we have and what we will use to defend our sovereignty. These are obvious things."
Regarding Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, Putin claimed that the legal side of the invasion, which Moscow calls a "special military operation", fully complies with international law.
"When a territory is separated from a state, it is not necessary to ask permission from the central authorities," Ukrayinska Pravda quoted the President as saying as he recalled the ruling of the UN International Court of Justice on Kosovo.
"In this case the Republics of Donbas did not have to ask permission from the Kiev authorities. They declared their independence. In this regard, did we have the right to recognise them or not? Of course, we did. We did that. We signed a mutual assistance agreement with them, and in accordance with this agreement, as well as with Article 151 of the UN Charter, we provide them with military assistance.
"Did we have the right? We did, in full compliance with the UN Charter. Whether people like it or not. We did it ourselves and set a precedent. Therefore, our actions are absolutely legitimate," he added.
While acknowledging that "military action is always a tragedy", Putin however said that the Ukraine war was a "necessary measure".
Speaking about the numerous sanctions imposed on Russia by the West in the wake of the war, the President's leader they were "mad and thoughtless".
"The economic blitzkrieg against Russia had no chance of succeeding from the very beginning," the BBC quoted Putin as saying.
While saying that the restrictions were "more harmful" to those who imposed them, he claimed that the European Union could lose more than $400 billion because of its sanctions against Russia.
He said inflation was increasing across the 27-member bloc and the "real interests" of people in Europe were being sidelined.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will host the 14th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Beijing on June 23, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced here on Friday.
Spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Summit will be held in virtual format under the theme of "Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development", reports Xinhua news agency.
Hua said President Xi will host the High-level Dialogue on Global Development in Beijing on June 24.
The Dialogue will be held in virtual format under the theme of "Foster a Global Development Partnership for the New Era to Jointly Implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", and BRICS leaders and leaders of relevant emerging markets and developing countries will attend the event.
Xi will attend the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum in virtual format and deliver a keynote speech on June 22, Hua added.