Weekly Global Newscast |28 October – 03 November, 2019

Asia

No Fee for Sikh Pilgrims on Day of Kartarpur Corridor Inauguration

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that no fees would be charged from Sikh pilgrims on the inauguration day of the Kartarpur Corridor as well as the 550th birthday Guru Nanak Dev. He also waived off two conditions for the visit, saying the pilgrims would not need a passport for the visit and instead, a valid ID would be permissible. Also, they no longer have to register 10 days in advance for the pilgrimage.

Analysis

India and Pakistan signed the agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor that will allow Indian pilgrims to undertake visa-free visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of the Sikh religion’s founder Guru Nanak Dev in Pakistan, notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir’ said News 18.

‘The Kartarpur corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab with Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, just about four km from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. It is the place where the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev is believed to have spent the last 18 years of his life. India has objected to a $20 service charge Pakistan intends to impose on Sikh pilgrims. Disagreement over the issue even led to a delay in launching online registration for pilgrims intending to visit the shrine’ said NDTV.

HRW: Kyrgyz Bill Would ‘Cripple’ Independent Trade Unions

The New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Kyrgyz lawmakers to reject draft amendments to the trade union law, saying it would “cripple” independent trade unions in the Central Asian country. In a statement on October 31, 2019, HRW said parliament should reject the proposed amendments when they are presented for a third reading, because they would “severely inhibit independent trade union organizing and violate international labor treaties” to which Kyrgyzstan is a party.

Analysis

HRW said the draft amendments would require industry and regional trade unions to join a national federation — the Kyrgyzstan Federation of Trade Unions — that would be the only union recognized by the government’ said Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.

‘The independent Kyrgyzstan legal clinic Adilet analyzed the law and also concluded that it would effectively grant “monopoly rights” over union activity to the federation’ said Human Rights Watch.

Middle East & North Africa

Islamic State Group Names its New Leader as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi

The jihadist group Islamic State (IS) has for the first time confirmed the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and named his successor. An IS outlet announced on the messaging service Telegram that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi was the group’s new leader and ‘caliph’. US Special Forces tracked down Baghdadi in north-west Syria and attacked his compound.

Analysis

IS declared the creation of a “caliphate” – a state governed in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law – after seizing control of huge swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and imposing its brutal rule on millions of civilians. It proclaimed Baghdadi as “Caliph Ibrahim” and demanded allegiance from Muslims worldwide’ said BBC.

‘Baghdadi’s death was widely seen as a blow to the Islamic State, which swept across large areas of Iraq and Syria beginning in June 2014 and eventually took control of territory the size Britain. The group, also referred to as ISIS, terrorized towns it ruled into submission and carried out attacks overseas under the leadership of Baghdadi, an Iraqi national’ said Washington Post.

Sub Saharan Africa

US Removes Cameroon from Trade Pact over Alleged Human Rights Violations

The US is cutting Cameroon from a trade pact over allegations of human rights violations. President Donald Trump said the West African nation failed to address concerns over its ‘persistent gross violations of internationally recognized human rights’’ allegedly committed by Cameroon’s security forces.

Analysis

The US also cut more than $17 million in security aid and support to Cameroon over concerns about its human rights record. In a letter addressed to Congress, Trump cited accusations of torture and extrajudicial killings of citizens by the country’s military as reasons for removing Cameroon from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)’ said CNN.

‘Protests led by lawyers, teachers and doctors in the Anglophone territories of the country’s northwest and southwest began peacefully. They appealed to the Cameroonian government to address historic grievances over inequalities between the English-speaking regions and the French-speaking majority that date to the colonial era’ said Africa Times.

Europe

Dominic Grieve Calls for Release of Report on Russian Meddling

Dominic Grieve has called for the publication of a report on Russian meddling in the democratic process to be published before the general election, saying it contains knowledge ‘germane’ to voters. Boris Johnson had been expected to approve publication of the 50-page dossier, compiled by the cross-party intelligence and security committee. His failure to do so sparked calls for its release amid speculation that it could potentially be damaging to the government.

Analysis

Grieve said the report was informative and people should be entitled to access it. “It seems to us that this report is germane because we do know – and I think it is widely accepted – that the Russians have sought to interfere in other countries’ democratic processes in the past” ’ as quoted by The Guardian.

‘Compiled by the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, it includes evidence from UK intelligence services concerning Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 general election’ said BBC.

Oceania

Australia’s ‘Backpacker Tax’ Illegally Targets Foreigners

Australia’s ‘backpacker tax’ illegally targeted some foreign workers, a court ruled leaving people who spent time in the country on holiday working visas in line for tax rebates. From 2017, Canberra applied a 15 per cent levy for every dollar earned for two categories of working holiday visas linked to seasonal labor.

Analysis

Australians begin paying tax once their annual income exceeds A$18,200. That was also the previous threshold for the working holiday visas. The Australian Tax Office said it was considering whether to appeal the decision’ as quoted by Gulf News.

‘It added the ruling only affects a minority of working holiday makers “who are also residents, and only those from countries affected by a similar clause in the double tax agreement with their home country” ’ quoted by The Journal.

Americas

Trump Refuses to Rule Out Government Shutdown if Democrats Continue Impeachment Inquiry

Donald Trump has refused to rule out forcing a government shutdown if Democrats do not stop their impeachment inquiry into him. ‘We’ll see what happens,’ the US president said when asked about the possibility of agencies being shuttered.

Analysis

During the last shutdown in December and January, hundreds of thousands of workers were furloughed or put on unpaid leave, while others in essential services, like hospital care, air traffic control and law enforcement, worked without pay for 35 days. It was the longest ever’ said The Independent.

‘The government’s temporary funding measure expires on November 21, 2019, meaning lawmakers have until then to either extend it or enact spending bills for the fiscal year, which started in October. Without a solution, a number of federal operations would freeze. Still at issue this year is Trump’s push for border wall funding ― the same demand resulted in a 35-day shutdown during the last fiscal year. The crisis ended once the president agreed to forgo the money and sign a spending bill without it’ said Huff Post.

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