Punjab CM Usman Buzdar says no room for violence in Islam

LAHORE – Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has said that Islam is a religion of peace and there is no room for violence in it.

In a statement on Monday, he said that extremist attitudes create anarchy in the society.

“It is top most responsibility of the state to defend the life and property of its citizens. The law is equal for everyone and law-breakers will be dealt with an iron hand,” he said.

He said that no society allows violent attitudes. “The state will fulfill its responsibility. No one will be allowed to challenge the writ of the state. The sate writ will be maintained at all costs,” he maintained.

The chief minister said that impartial investigations would be conducted into any untoward incident.


Countrywide wheeljam strike being observed on Mufti Muneebur Rehman’s call

ISLAMABAD – On the call of Mufti Muneebur Rehman, a countrywide wheeljam is being observed on Monday.

Trade centres remained shut in Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad, Quetta and other cities. Traffic remained thin on roads.

Meanwhile, lawyers boycotted the court proceedings in several cities including Sukkur. Stringent security has been made in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Mufti Muneeb had appealed to the business community to close their businesses. On the other hand, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman also supported Mufti Muneebur Rehman. “The state committed atrocity. It is time to display wisdom and resolve the matter,” he said.

The Jamaat-e-Islami ameer also demanded formation of a judicial commission to probe into the matter.


Classes from 9th to 12th resume under coronavirus SOPs

LAHORE – Classes from 9th to 12th resumed under coronavirus SOPs in the districts affected by the pandemic on Monday.

Students’ hands were sanitized before their entry to schools. Special arrangements were made to maintain social distancing and wearing masks.

Earlier on Sunday, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood had announced resumption of classes from 9th to 12th from today.

In a series of tweets, the minister said that a special meeting of Health and Education Ministers of all provinces and AJK/GB was held today and several decisions were taken about reopening of education sector with complete consensus.

Shafqat Mahmood announced that grade 9 to 12 exams will take place according to the new date sheets announced by the Boards which means that exams will not start before 4th week of May and university admissions schedule will also be adjusted keeping in view the new exam time table.

He also revealed the meeting was informed that Cambridge has decided not to give teacher assessed grades this year and those not taking exams will take them in the next cycle.

He added that it has been decided that A, AS, O level and IGCSE exams will take place as per date sheet announced by CAIES and there will be no delay or cancellation. Those students wishing to take exams in Oct/Nov can do so in the same fee already paid.

Regarding higher education institutions, the minister said that the universities in coronavirus affected districts will continue online while in districts with less than 8% positivity they will continue to function normally.

Shafqat Mahmood further announced that it has been decided that classes 1 to 8 will remain closed and the details in this regard will be announced by the provinces and GB/AJK.

The classes will allow students to prepare for their exams, the minister tweeted. Educational institutions in virus hotspots will take classes on alternate days with 50% attendance. Schools and colleges have been advised to ensure strict SOP implementation.

Classes from grades nursery to eight will resume after Eid. Universities in districts where cases are increasing will, on the other hand, conduct classes online.

Alternate classes in Punjab

According to Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas, 50% of students in the province will be called on Mondays and 50% on Thursdays. Classes will be taken on a staggered basis in these cities: Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Multan, Bahawalpur, Sialkot, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Tobe Tek Singh, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Sheikupura.

Exams to be taken as per schedule

The minister reiterated that board examinations for classes nine to 12 will be taken as per schedule. They will be conducted according to the new date sheets announced by each province. “This means exams will not start before the fourth week of May,” Mahmood said.


Five people critically injured at shooting in Louisiana

LOUISIANA (Reuters) – Five people were hospitalized after being shot and critically injured in an incident at a liquor store in Shreveport, Louisiana, CBS-affiliated television station KSLA reported late Sunday.

It wasn’t immediately clear who was responsible for the shooting. Authorities described the injuries as life-threatening, the report said.

Four people were outside the store, in Hearne Avenue, Shreveport, while one person was inside the store when the shooting happened, according to the report.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact local police.

Eleven police units were at the scene where the incident happened around 9 p.m. local time Sunday, the report said.


First round of talks with banned TLP completed, confirms Sheikh Rasheed

ISLAMABAD – Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed has confirmed that the first round of talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) had confirmed.

In a video message on Monday, he said that the first round had been completed amicably. “We hope that the remaining matters will be resolved in the second round. The Punjab government held the talks successfully,” he maintained.

He said that the protesters had moved to their centre and the police had also withdrawn.

The minister said that all blockages on roads had been cleared.

Pakistan Health

Coronavirus claims 73 more lives, 5,152 new cases reported across country

ISLAMABAD – As many as 73 more deaths were reported due to the Covid-19 pandemic on Monday, increasing the death to 16.316.

According to the data available with the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 5,152 new cases were also reported during the period. The condition of 69 patients is stated to be critical.

During the last 24 hours, 60,162 tests were conducted. The coronavirus cases positivity remained at 8.56 percent.

According to the break-up, there are 272,729 reported case in Sindh, 270,338 in Punjab, 20,940 in Balochistan, 106,500 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 15,669 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 5,182 in Gilgit-Baltistan.


Two dead in Tesla crash in Texas that was believed to be driverless

TEXAS (Reuters) Two men died after a Tesla (TSLA.O) vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree on Saturday night north of Houston, authorities said.

“There was no one in the driver’s seat,” Sgt. Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said.

The 2019 Tesla Model S was traveling at a high rate of speed, when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the roadway, crashing to a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.

After the fire was extinguished, authorities located 2 occupants in the vehicle, with one in the front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat of the Tesla, the report said, citing Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman.

Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The accident comes amid growing scrutiny over Tesla’s semi-automated driving system following recent accidents and as it is preparing to launch its updated “full self-driving” software to more customers.

The US auto safety agency said in March it has opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles; at least three of the crashes occurred recently.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in January that he expects huge profits from its full self-driving software, saying he is “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year.”

The self-driving technology must overcome safety and regulatory hurdles to achieve commercial success.

Umanzor said the two crash victims were born in 1962 and 1951.


Asian shares near 1-1/2 week highs, Bitcoin recoups losses

NEW YORK (Reuters) Asian shares hovered near 1-1/2 week highs on Monday helped by expectations monetary policy will remain accommodative the world over, while COVID-19 vaccine rollouts help ease fears of another dangerous wave of coronavirus infections.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) was last at 695.59, within striking distance of Friday’s high of 696.48 – a level not seen since Apr. 7.

The index jumped 1.2% last week and is up 5% so far this year, on track for its third straight yearly gain.

“The extremely supportive monetary and fiscal policy setting continues to provide a fertile environment for risk assets,” said Rodrigo Catril, senior forex strategist at National Australia Bank.

Australian shares (.AXJO) were 0.25% higher while New Zealand’s benchmark index (.NZ50) and South Korea’s KOSPI (.KS11) added 0.4% each. Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) eased 0.4%.

On Friday, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 0.4% to close at a new record high while clocking its sixth straight weekly gain. The Dow (.DJI) finished 0.5%, also at a record high while the Nasdaq (.IXIC) climbed 0.1%.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were down 0.3% in early Asian trading.

This week is off to a quiet start with no major data releases slated on Monday.

Investors will keep their eyes peeled for earnings from IBM (IBM.N) and Coca-Cola (COKE.O) later in the day. Netflix (NFLX.O) reports on Tuesday while later in the week American Airlines (AAL.O) and Southwest (LUV.N) will be the first major post-COVID cyclicals to post results.

The European Central Bank (ECB) meets on Thursday with no changes to rates or guidance expected while preliminary data on factory activity around the globe for April is due on Friday.

Elsewhere, Bitcoin , the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, recouped most of its losses after plunging as much as 14% on Sunday following speculation the US Treasury may be looking at cracking down on money-laundering activity within digital assets, NAB’s Catril said.

Data website CoinMarketCap cited a blackout in China’s Xinjiang region, which reportedly powers a lot of bitcoin mining, for the selloff. read more

The retreat in Bitcoin also comes after Turkey’s central bank banned the use of cryptocurrencies for purchases on Friday. read more

Bitcoin is up more than 90% year to date, driven by its mainstream acceptance as an investment and a means of payment, accompanied by the rush of retail cash into stocks, exchange-traded funds and other risky assets.

In currencies, the US dollar loitered near a four-week low against a basket of currencies as investors increasingly bought into the Federal Reserve’s insistence it would keep an accommodative policy stance for a while longer.

The dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of six currencies was unchanged at 91.612, not far from its lowest since March 18 touched on Friday.

Against the Japanese yen , the greenback was off a touch at 108.72. The euro was a tad lower at $1.1966 while the British pound eased 0.07% to $1.3820.

The risk-sensitive Aussie dollar slipped for a second straight day to be down 0.2% at $0.7715.

In commodities, oil prices were down with the Brent slipping 34 cents to $66.43 a barrel and US crude falling 29 cents to $62.84.

Gold was up 0.2% at $1,779.3 an ounce .


Eleven dead, 98 injured after train derails in Egypt

CAIRO (Reuters) Eleven people were killed and 98 injured on Sunday in a train accident in Egypt’s Qalioubia province north of Cairo, the health ministry said in a statement.

The train was heading from Cairo to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura when four carriages derailed at 1:54 p.m. (1154 GMT), about 40 kms (25 miles) north of Cairo, Egyptian National Railways said in a short statement.

The cause of the accident is being investigated, it added.

More than 50 ambulances took the injured to three hospitals in the province, the health ministry said.

The derailing is the latest of several recent railway crashes in Egypt. At least 20 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured in March when two trains collided near Tahta, about 440 kms (275 miles) south of Cairo.

Fifteen people were injured this month when two train carriages derailed near Minya al-Qamh city, about 70 kms north of Cairo.

Egypt’s transportation minister Kamel El-Wazir, a former army general, has faced calls to resign from some Egyptians on social media. He has rejected these and vowed to keep working on developing the ageing rail network.


Banned TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi’s CNIC blocked

LAHORE – The identity card (CNIC) of banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Saad Hussain Rizvi has been blocked.

A notification issued by the Punjab Home Department on Sunday stated that Saad Rizvi’s name has been placed under the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The notification stated that the TLP chief will submit his original passport to the in charge of the concerned police station. He will also obtain prior permission from the concerned police station to go elsewhere from his permanent residence.

An important meeting of the Home Department was held under the chairmanship of Raja Basharat, the provincial law minister. The meeting gave approval to freeze all assets of TLP chief and to include his name in the fourth schedule.

The Home Department directed the concerned administration to immediately take possession of the assets. The meeting recommended the inclusion of six persons, including the current head of the movement, Saad Rizvi, on the exit control list (ECL).