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It’s pity that political, religious parties damage country by misusing Islam: PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that political and religious parties cause damage to the country by misusing Islam.

Addressing the ground breaking ceremony of Margalla Highway on Monday, he said that protests and sabotage will not affect the West. “We are hurt by the blasphemy. We will present our case by uniting heads of all Islamic countries,” he maintained.

The prime minister said that his campaign would resolve the blasphemy matter forever.

He warned of dire consequences if environment was not saved. “Global warming will affect the weather. “The infrastructure in Islamabad is correct and there is construct more roads here,” he added.

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World

Italy risks missing Recovery Plan deadline due to EU concerns

ROME (Reuters) Italy risks missing an April 30 deadline for submitting a final version of its Recovery Plan to the European Commission because Brussels is not satisfied with several aspects of the drafts presented so far, two sources close to the matter said.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Mario Draghi firmly denied that the deadline would be missed. “The plan will be presented on April 30,” he said. An Economy Ministry spokesman said “our aim remains to present it on April 30”.

A delay would be a blow to Draghi, who took office two months ago tasked with fine-tuning the plan prepared by the previous government.

All 27 European Union countries have been working on their national plans which spell out how each government wants to spend its share of the EU’s 750-billion-euro ($900 billion) Recovery Fund joint borrowing scheme.

Italy is eligible for more than 200 billion euros in grants and cheap loans from the Fund, the biggest slice of any EU country. The money will be disbursed gradually over six years.

“The Commission is unhappy with the Recovery Plan as it stands,” said one of the sources, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The source said Draghi would probably present the plan around mid-May, but a longer period may be required to overcome the Commission’s objections.

Among Brussels’ main concerns are a lack of detail over how the plan will be managed once it gets EU approval and the substance of some of the reforms outlined, including of the justice system, the source said.

Another source also said Brussels wanted changes to the plan, which would require time, and said mid-May now seemed a “realistic” period for its presentation.

Italy has not previously suggested it might be late, and Draghi told reporters on April 8 that “on April 30 we will deliver our plan”.

A Commission spokeswoman said it had no comment to make on the Italian plan in particular, but the Commission understood that drawing up the Recovery Plans was a challenging task for all member states while they are also focused on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the plans should be presented by April 30 as a rule, some countries “may need a few more weeks,” she said, and “quality should be the first priority”. She added that the Commission was currently in “intensive dialogue” with all countries on the preparation of their plans.

BLUEPRINTS FOR SPENDING

Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Friday that some EU countries would miss the April 30 target date, without saying which ones.

Draghi’s main mission on taking office, along with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, was to present a solid Recovery Plan to ensure the flow of the EU funds to finally unleash growth for the chronically sluggish economy.

The national plans are blueprints for spending grants and loans that each EU country will get from the unprecedented joint borrowing by the Commission to rebuild economies greener and more digital after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his comments on Friday, Dombrovskis said the delay in the submission of some plans would not push back the scheme as a whole, details of which still require ratification by some countries’ parliaments.

Provided any delays in the presentation of the plans are not too long, and the ratification is completed in all member states by June, the Commission can make first disbursements in July, Dombrovskis said.

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World

Canada has second case of rare blood clots after AstraZeneca vaccine

OTTAWA (Reuters) Canada reported a second case of rare blood clots with low platelets after immunization with AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine in a week, while it said it still recommended the use of the shot.

The person who experienced the very rare event has been treated and is recovering, Canada’s health ministry said in a statement, adding that the person lives in the province of Alberta.

Based on the evidence available, Canada still maintains that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the potential risks, the statement said.

Canada health authorities “will continue to monitor the use of all COVID-19 vaccines closely and examine and assess any new safety concerns,” the statement said.

Canada reported a first blood clotting associated with the vaccine on Tuesday, and a day later, after a review, health authorities said they would not restrict use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A separate advisory council had earlier recommended Canada stop offering the vaccine to people under 55. That panel is in the process of reviewing its advice.

Canada has been ramping up its vaccination campaign, but still has a smaller percentage of its population inoculated than dozens of other countries, including the United States and Britain.

Amid a spiking third wave of infections, Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, announced new public health restrictions on Friday, including closing the provinces borders to domestic travelers.

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World

India’s capital Delhi faces hospital beds shortage as coronavirus cases surge

NEW DELHI (Reuters) India’s capital New Delhi recorded 24,000 coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period and is facing an acute shortage of hospital beds, its chief minister said on Saturday, as the country overall recorded more than 200,000 cases for a third day.

“The situation is very critical, worrying. Oxygen is in short supply,” said chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, adding that almost one in four tests for the virus were giving a positive result.

“Beds equipped with oxygen supplies, and for critical care, are filling fast,” he added.

New Delhi, which has imposed a weekend curfew, is among the worst hit cities in India, where a second major wave of coronavirus infections is straining health infrastructure.

In recent weeks, criticism has mounted over how the federal government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handled the health crisis, as religious festivals and election rallies continue despite reports of shortages of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and vaccination doses.

India reported 234,692 COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to nearly 14.5 million, second only to the United States. Deaths from the disease rose by 1,341 to 175,649.

After imposing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns for nearly three months last year, India’s government relaxed almost all curbs by the beginning of 2021, although many regions like New Delhi and state of Maharashtra have introduced localised restrictions.

“This is Narendra Modi’s biggest crisis yet. It is bigger than any security threat, external or internal, or even the economic attrition of 2020,” political commentator Shekhar Gupta wrote in a column on Saturday.

VACCINATIONS, DRUG SUPPLIES

As complaints rise about slow vaccination rollout and shortages, Federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said 125 million doses have already been administered and 11.6 million doses would be made available in a week.

Some local governments – including in the New Delhi city – have raised concerns over shortages and hoarding of anti-viral drug Remdesivir.

Nawab Malik, a minister from Maharashtra, accused Modi’s federal government on Twitter for restricting Remdesivir supplies to the state. A minister in Modi’s cabinet, Mansukh Mandaviya, denied the allegation, saying adequate supplies were being arranged.

Mandaviya said on Twitter the government had intervened and prices of Remdesivir injections have been significantly reduced.

RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL, ELECTION RALLIES

After hundreds of thousands of ascetics and devout Hindus gathered for several days along the banks of the Ganges for a religious festival Kumbh Mela, Modi on Saturday called for restraint, saying on Twitter the festival should now be kept “symbolic”.

Responding to Modi’s appeal, one of the religious leaders Swami Avdheshanand urged devotees to not gather in large numbers. Devout Hindus believe bathing in the holy Ganges absolves people of sins, and during the Kumbh Mela, brings salvation from the cycle of life and death.

Those returning to Mumbai from the Kumbh Mela will have to quarantine, the city mayor said.

Experts have warned about the spread of more contagious variants of the disease, especially during large-scale gatherings for religious festivals and political rallies.

On Saturday, Modi was scheduled to hold two rallies in eastern state of West Bengal where state polls are ongoing. In recent weeks, such rallies have attracted thousands of people, few of whom follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Stop spreader rallies,” the Times of India said in an editorial on Saturday, adding: “Business as usual is an unaffordable luxury until this virus is conclusively tamed.”

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Sports

Messi fires Barca to Cup final win over Athletic Bilbao

MADRID (Reuters) Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona thrashed Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday to win the trophy for a record-extending 31st time with all the goals coming in the last half an hour.

Antoine Griezmann put a dominant Barca side ahead on the hour when he turned in a cross from Frenkie de Jong, who doubled the Catalans’ lead three minutes later.

Messi suffered some rough tackles from Athletic but got his revenge with a spectacular goal in the 68th, tearing his way through the defence down the right wing and combining with De Jong before dancing around another defender to slot home.

Barca’s captain struck again four minutes later in his 10th Copa final when he met a low cross from Jordi Alba and fired the ball into the bottom corner, his shot proving too powerful for Athletic keeper Unai Simon.

Griezmann thought he had grabbed Barca’s fifth goal in added time but his effort was ruled offside after a VAR review.

“It’s very special to lift this Cup as captain of this club, it’s a very happy day for this group,” said Messi.

“We knew Athletic would play as they did and we had to be patient with the ball and try to create space. We were all over them in the first half and in the second they dropped off.”

The Argentine hoisted the trophy for a seventh time while Dutch coach Ronald Koeman earned his first piece of silverware as Barca coach to add to the glut of honours he won as a player with the the club, including a Copa triumph in 1990.

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona thrashed Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday to win the trophy for a record-extending 31st time with all the goals coming in the last half an hour.

Antoine Griezmann put a dominant Barca side ahead on the hour when he turned in a cross from Frenkie de Jong, who doubled the Catalans’ lead three minutes later.

Messi suffered some rough tackles from Athletic but got his revenge with a spectacular goal in the 68th, tearing his way through the defence down the right wing and combining with De Jong before dancing around another defender to slot home.

Barca’s captain struck again four minutes later in his 10th Copa final when he met a low cross from Jordi Alba and fired the ball into the bottom corner, his shot proving too powerful for Athletic keeper Unai Simon.

Griezmann thought he had grabbed Barca’s fifth goal in added time but his effort was ruled offside after a VAR review.

“It’s very special to lift this Cup as captain of this club, it’s a very happy day for this group,” said Messi.

“We knew Athletic would play as they did and we had to be patient with the ball and try to create space. We were all over them in the first half and in the second they dropped off.”

The Argentine hoisted the trophy for a seventh time while Dutch coach Ronald Koeman earned his first piece of silverware as Barca coach to add to the glut of honours he won as a player with the the club, including a Copa triumph in 1990.

Koeman also won the Copa in charge of Valencia in 2008.

DEJA VU FOR ATHLETIC

There was a strong sense of deja vu for Athletic, who have now lost four Copa finals to Barca since 2009, with Messi scoring each time.

The Basques have lost their last six appearances in the final and only two weeks ago were beaten 1-0 by Real Sociedad in the rescheduled 2020 showpiece, which was also played at an empty La Cartuja stadium in Seville.

“This is a very tough moment for us,” said Athletic left-back Mikel Balenziaga.

“We were really looking forward to the game but they were superior from the first half. We managed to survive that but then we lost focus and they were much better than us and we had no chance.”

Barca were hurting from last week’s 2-1 La Liga loss to title rivals Real Madrid but took the initiative with 79% of possession in the first half and almost went ahead when De Jong struck the post, with Messi later smashing a shot just wide.

Athletic had beaten Barca 2-1 after extra time in January’s Spanish Super Cup final but showed little ambition here and had only one attempt in the first half, when defender Inigo Martinez prodded just wide of the near post following a free kick.

Athletic keeper Simon pulled off three impressive saves in quick succession early in the opening period, using his left leg to thwart Griezmann and then Sergio Busquets from point-blank range while also keeping out a driven shot from Pedri.

Griezmann finally got the better of Simon to break the deadlock and once Barca were ahead they showed no mercy.

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World

Iran identifies suspect behind blast at Natanz nuclear site

TEHRAN (Reuters) Iran named a man it wants arrested in connection with a recent explosion and power outage at its main Natanz nuclear plant, as talks got underway in Vienna to try to save Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“Reza Karimi, the perpetrator of this sabotage… has been identified” by Iran’s intelligence ministry, state TV said. It said the suspect had fled Iran before last Sunday’s blast that the Islamic Republic has blamed on arch-foe Israel.

Officials from the remaining parties to Iran’s nuclear deal began a formal meeting in Vienna, suggesting that this round of talks which began on Thursday was wrapping up.

The television showed what it said was a photograph of the suspected perpetrator on a red card that had “Interpol Wanted” written on it. The card listed his age as 43.

“Necessary steps are underway for his arrest and return to the country through legal channels,” the report added.

State TV also aired footage of rows of what it said were centrifuges which had replaced the ones damaged in the blast at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

It added that “a large number” of centrifuges whose enrichment activity was disrupted by the explosion had been returned to normal service, the report said.

Iran and global powers are meeting in Vienna to try to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington three years ago. The talks are potentially complicated by Tehran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and what it called Israeli sabotage at the Natanz nuclear site.

Meanwhile a source, echoing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s stance, reiterated Iran’s demand for the removal of all sanctions imposed under former President Donald Trump.

“In Tehran, nothing will be accepted but the removal of all sanctions, including those related to the JCPOA (nuclear accord), reimposed and relabeled during the Trump era,” the unnamed source told Iran’s state-run Press TV.

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Pakistan

Coronavirus claims 149 more lives during last 24 hours

ISLAMABAD – As many as 149 more people died of coronavirus during the last 24 hours, increasing the death toll to 16,243.

According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 6,127 new positive cases have been reported after conducting the tests of 71,836 people. Positivity ratio of the Corona cases is 8.52 percent, increasing the total tests conducted so far to 1,107,253. The condition of 4,149 patients is stated to be critical.

Furthermore 272,197 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Sindh, 267,572 in Punjab, 105,438 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 69,556 in Islamabad, 20,822 in Balochistan, 15,524 in Azad Kashmir and 5,176 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Earlier, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association former president Dr Ahmed Saeed also died of coronavirus.

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World

After criticism, Biden says he will raise US cap on refugee admissions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden said on Saturday he will raise the cap on the number of refugees admitted this year to the United States, a day after he drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers for agreeing to keep the historically low figure in place.

Biden signed an order on Friday extending a 15,000 refugee admissions cap issued by his predecessor Donald Trump through the end of September. In signing the order, Biden shelved a plan announced in February to increase the cap to 62,500.

Biden told reporters in Delaware on Saturday after playing golf that he would go beyond the 15,000 limit.

“We are going to increase the number. Problem was the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up at the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once, so now we are going to raise the number,” he said.

President Joe Biden said on Saturday he will raise the cap on the number of refugees admitted this year to the United States, a day after he drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers for agreeing to keep the historically low figure in place.

Biden signed an order on Friday extending a 15,000 refugee admissions cap issued by his predecessor Donald Trump through the end of September. In signing the order, Biden shelved a plan announced in February to increase the cap to 62,500.

Biden told reporters in Delaware on Saturday after playing golf that he would go beyond the 15,000 limit.

“We are going to increase the number. Problem was the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up at the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once, so now we are going to raise the number,” he said.

With Biden being criticized by lawmakers and refugee advocacy groups, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that he planned to “set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.”

Biden’s order to limit admissions to 15,000 was a blow to advocacy groups that wanted the Democratic president to move swiftly to reverse the refugee policies of the Republican Trump, who had set the figure in part as a way to limit immigration.

The program for admitting refugees is distinct from the asylum system for migrants. Refugees must be vetted while still overseas and cleared for entry to the United States, unlike migrants who arrive at a US border and then request asylum.

Biden’s cautious approach appears to have been tied to concerns over the optics of admitting more refugees at a time of rising numbers of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border, and to not wanting to look “too open” or “soft,” another US official with knowledge of the matter previously told Reuters.

Psaki said on Friday that Biden’s “initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely … given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited.”

Republicans have blamed Biden for the situation at the border, faulting his moves to reverse other Trump-era hardline immigration policies.

Biden took office aiming to set a new course for US immigration policy, including a more compassionate approach. But his initial decision to leave in place the caps went against his promises as a candidate.

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World

Queen Elizabeth and Britain to bid farewell to Prince Philip

LONDON (Reuters) – Queen Elizabeth will bid a final farewell to Prince Philip, her husband of more than seven decades, at a ceremonial funeral on Saturday, with the nation set to fall silent to mark the passing of a pivotal figure in the British monarchy.

The ceremony from behind the stately walls of Windsor Castle, west of London, will be watched by an expected television audience of millions, with the public urged to stay away because of the global pandemic.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-6107226148110814&output=html&h=280&adk=1087429768&adf=3803947224&pi=t.aa~a.246568287~i.3~rp.4&w=544&fwrn=4&fwrnh=100&lmt=1618651234&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=7397371105&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=544×280&url=https%3A%2F%2F92newshd.tv%2Fqueen-elizabeth-and-britain-to-bid-farewell-to-prince-philip&flash=0&fwr=0&pra=3&rh=136&rw=543&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&wgl=1&fa=27&dt=1618651233868&bpp=1&bdt=1887&idt=1&shv=r20210414&cbv=r20190131&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3De4cd7b4bf5ecb9b3-22bed04501a700eb%3AT%3D1615190200%3AS%3DALNI_MZhc-C9HJstkmn-PwW0bq005m14Cg&prev_fmts=161×600%2C224x600%2C0x0&nras=2&correlator=2911420919855&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=719021316.1615054423&ga_sid=1618651234&ga_hid=69047849&ga_fc=0&u_tz=300&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=800&u_w=1280&u_ah=760&u_aw=1280&u_cd=24&u_nplug=0&u_nmime=0&adx=328&ady=1010&biw=1263&bih=686&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=44740079&oid=3&pvsid=2619163145189415&pem=45&ref=https%3A%2F%2F92newshd.tv%2F&eae=0&fc=384&brdim=-8%2C-8%2C-8%2C-8%2C1280%2C0%2C1296%2C776%2C1280%2C686&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=128&bc=31&ifi=4&uci=a!4&btvi=1&fsb=1&xpc=MmtpwiDWxp&p=https%3A//92newshd.tv&dtd=226

The Duke of Edinburgh — described by royals as “the grandfather of the nation” — died on April 9, aged 99, just weeks after spending more than a month in hospital for treatment of a heart condition and an infection.

Britain’s longest-serving royal consort was an almost constant presence at the Queen’s side during her record-breaking reign that began in 1952, as Britain rebuilt from World War II and as its global empire began to unravel.

His death, after 73 years of marriage, has left a “huge void” in her life, the couple’s second son, Prince Andrew, said last weekend.

At the service, the Dean of Windsor, David Conner, will pay tribute to Philip’s “unwavering loyalty” to the Queen, who turns 95 next week, the country and the Commonwealth, as well as his “courage, fortitude and faith”.

Government coronavirus regulations have forced hasty revisions to “Operation Forth Bridge”, the long-rehearsed funeral plans for former Royal Navy commander Philip.

But the stripped-back ceremonial funeral will still feature members of the armed services he was associated with lining a short procession route through the immaculately trimmed grounds of the castle, whose history dates back 1,000 years.

His coffin will be borne to Windsor’s historic St George’s Chapel on a bespoke Land Rover hearse which he designed himself, repainted in military green.

A minute’s silence will be observed across the country on the stroke of 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) before the funeral service begins.

– End of an era –

The Queen will lead just 30 mourners, as they pay their respects to the man she once called her “strength and stay”, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter for Britain’s most famous family and the country’s recent history.

The congregation will mostly be close family, including the couple’s four children: heir to the throne Prince Charles, 72, Princess Anne, 70, Prince Andrew, 61, and Prince Edward, 57.

Also present will be Charles’ eldest son William, 38, who will be joined by younger brother, Harry, 36, after he jetted back last weekend from the United States, where he now lives.

All eyes will be on the brothers — whose mother was Charles’ first wife, princess Diana — after a reported falling out over Harry’s move to California with his American wife, Meghan, and their stinging criticisms of the royals.

Meghan, heavily pregnant with her second child, was advised not to travel on medical grounds.

The brothers, who as young boys walked behind their mother’s coffin at her funeral in 1997, will follow the procession on foot, but not side-by-side.

Between them will be their cousin, Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips, 43, which will likely fuel further rumours of the rift, even if it reflects royal protocol.

– Masks and social distancing –

Funerals of senior royals are normally grand public affairs, honed over years of planning, combining pomp, pageantry, and a guest list that is a who’s who of world dignitaries.

The last major royal funeral — of the Queen’s mother, also called Queen Elizabeth — in 2002 cost more than £5.4 million ($7.4 million, 6.2 million euros).

More than one million people thronged outside Westminster Abbey in central London to watch the sombre pageant.

More than 200,000 people had previously filed past her coffin, as it lay in state over four days.

Saturday’s ceremony will be a more modest affair but a royal send-off like no other, with two-metre social distancing in place inside the 15th century Gothic chapel.

All guests — in mourning black — are required to wear black face masks before, during and after the ceremony. Harry has had to quarantine since arriving from Los Angeles.

Royal officials and the government have urged the public not to congregate at palaces to pay their respects, although a steady stream of well-wishers have ignored the calls.

The slimmed-down formalities, however, may have appealed to the straight-talking prince, who had an aversion to “fuss”, according to his family.

At the end of the funeral, led by the Dean of Windsor with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the duke will be privately interred in the Royal Vault of St George’s Chapel.

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Featured

Fawad Ch announces to register case against Rana Sanaullah under ATA

RAWALPINDI – Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary has announced to register a case against PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Talking to the media after inquiring after the health of the injured cops at Rawalpindi DHQ Hospital on Saturday, he said that Rana Sanaullah had used extremists’ language against government officers.

“The PML-N leader used the language which was used by the MQM founder. You will have to face the action if you threaten the government officers. Government’s writ cannot be challenged,” he added.

He said that the government had no problem with the estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen. “Jahangir Tareen will have to prove the allegations against him in court,” he maintained.

He said that the people trying to weaken Pakistan should remove their misunderstanding.