More than 100 terrorists killed in Pakistan in crackdown after shrine bombing

Pakistani security forces have claimed to have killed more than 100 terror suspects in couirse of the sweeping country-wide raids following Thursday’s bombing of the shrine in southern Sindh province.

According to a Geo News report, security forces have made headway in the investigations of recent terror attacks across Pakistan, identifying four terrorist organisations with direct links to the attacks that have claimed over 100 lives.

In an ongoing crackdown, security forces had killed over 100 terrorists till Friday night with an addition of 3 more killed during an operation in Dera Ismail Khan, the report said.

Security forces have intensified search and combing operations across the country. During operations in Abbottabad, Rawalpindi, Hafizabad, Chiniot and Sialkot, 53 suspects were detained while in Ittehad town in Karachi 7 suspects were taken into custody. Many Afghan nationals are among the detained.

The report said evidence of direct involvement of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA), Daesh and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) have been found in the recent attacks. Sources add, that the heads of these banned organisations are operating from Afghanistan.

Venezuela again delays withdrawal of 100 bolivar notes

Venezuela, for the second time, decided to delay the withdrawal of its 100 bolivar banknotes from circulation, according to media reports on Saturday.

In December, it was delayed for the first time by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro soon after the decision to get rid of the highest-denomination banknote was made.

In a tweeted message on Friday, Vice President Tareck Zaidan El Aissami said that the 100 bolivar banknotes will remain as legal tender until Mar 20 as per a decree signed by President Nicolas Maduro.

In December, Maduro ordered the government to withdraw the highest-denomination banknote from circulation as a measure against Venezuela’s currency smuggling, mainly to prevent the notes which were being hoarded by criminals in neighbouring Colombia from returning to Venezuela.

Later, in January, an economic emergency was declared in the country, media reported.

At least 26 kidnapped civilians rescued in Afghanistan

At least 26 civilians, who were kidnapped by the Islamic State militants, have been rescued by Afghanistan government officials, local Khaama Press reported

The civilians were rescued from Nangarhar province.

Four ISIS militants were arrested and five militants killed during the operation.

At Munich Security Conference, UN chief Guterres highlights need for ‘a surge in diplomacy for peace’

Highlighting the complex and interlinked challenges confronting the global community that also compound the suffering of the most vulnerable, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for a boost in preventive diplomacy and mediation efforts, as well as for a strategy to address root causes of such conflicts in the world.

“There are things that are obvious: the alignment of the sustainable and inclusive development with the sustaining peace agenda,” said Guterres in his remarks to the Munich Security Conference, noting also their importance in preventing conflicts.

He also drew attention to the need to address the fragility of states and to support states, institutions and civil societies to become stronger and more resilient to diminish the tendency for states to be involved in conflict situations.

Noting the centrality of climate change and strain on resources in increasing the probability of conflicts and dramatic humanitarian crises, Secretary-General Guterres called on the international community to rally behind the Paris Agreement on climate change as well as to focus attention on population growth, especially in Africa.

“And for me, a key condition to address it is the combination of education and the empowerment of women and girls,” he said, noting: “This is probably the best way to be able to address the problems of excessive population growth that is impacting dramatically in some parts of the world.”

Further in his remarks, the UN chief noted the need for strengthened global multilateralism and the need for responsive reform to enhance confidence and capacity of multilateral institutions to better respond to global challenges and to meet the expectations of the world’s peoples.

In the case of the UN, the Secretary-General noted that the organization has been engaged in reforms to its peace and security strategy, operational setup and architecture; its development system; and its management.

Also in his address, Guterres said that while the world prepares for responding to the crises it faces today, it is equally important that it is prepared to deal with new dimensions and problems of peace and security it could face in the future.

Noting the already existing challenges related to cyberspace and lack of mechanisms to address those, the UN chief highlighted that development of a analytical capacity and governance models for new areas of scientific and technological development, such as artificial intelligence and genetic engineering will be crucial in the days to come.

“I believe that when people will meet herein 10 or 20 years’ time in Munich, we will probably be discussing other things in relation to the priorities of today, but I hope we don’t get to those discussions too late and [having done] too little,” he said.

Sonu Nigam is Kangana’s first crush

Bollywood’s ‘Queen’ Kangana Ranaut is known to be vocal about her thoughts, but her recent revelation on the sets of ‘Indian Idol 9’ left someone red-cheeked.

Ranaut who was on the ‘Idol’ sets to promote her upcoming film ‘Rangoon’ with co-stars Saif Ali Khan and Shahid Kapoor couldn’t stop herself from admitting that she has a secret crush on Sonu Nigam. Nigam who was present on the sets couldn’t stop blushing.

A source from the set informs, “Kangana mentioned she had a crush after Sonu Nigam’s ‘Main Hoon Deewana’ song became a huge hit. She requested him to sing the song for her on the set and Sonu fulfilled her wish. Kangana was all praises for his performance and thanked him for the sweet gesture.”

Pakistan, Sri Lanka look set to qualify for ICC Women’s World Cup 2017

Pakistan and Sri Lanka look set to make it to the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 as they take on India and Bangladesh respectively, in the last round of Super Six matches at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 on Sunday, an official release stated.

India leads the Super Six points table with eight points while South Africa is the other side to have qualified with six points.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are on four points each and close to qualifying, while Bangladesh is on two points and with a long shot at qualifying as it needs to pull off a huge win in its last match.

Pakistan should be through even with a loss due to its high net run-rate while Bangladesh will have to beat Sri Lanka by 85 runs if it hopes to make it ahead of Sri Lanka.

In case it is chasing, Bangladesh will have to do it in quick time, depending on the target.

For example, if Sri Lanka scores 200, Bangladesh will have to get to the target in 27.1 overs in order to edge out the opposition.

Ireland plays its last match against South Africa but is out of contention as it has no points in the Super Six, which includes points carried over from wins against other qualifiers from a side’s preliminary group, even as they play qualifiers from the other group in the second stage of the tournament.

World champion Australia, England, New Zealand and the West Indies have already qualified for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 by finishing in the top four of the ICC Women’s Championship.

Pakistan’s huge 86 runs victory over Ireland on Friday means it has not only boosted its run-rate but also gains confidence going into the match against arch rival India.

Pakistan captain Sana Mir said, “Our run-rate gives us a breather for our qualification campaign. We can go with confidence in the match against India, which has been doing well – their bowlers, batters, everyone is contributing. It is going to take our ‘A’ game to pull off an upset tomorrow. For now, we just want to do our basics right and play good, disciplined cricket.”

“Our batters have been doing quite well, our top three batters are the leading run-scorers in the tournament, so I’m pretty happy. Hopefully, we can do it one more day,” she added.

Pakistan’s number three batter Javeria Khan leads the list of run-scorers with 297 runs, which includes runs against sides without ODI status.

Openers Nahida Khan (219) and Ayesha Zafar (180) are second and sixth in the list, respectively.

India captain Mithali Raj, who too has shown fine form with 207 runs so far, says her side has won all its matches but have not dominated as she would have wanted to.

Raj said, “If we are not able to dominate at this level then playing against Australia and England (in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017) is not going to be easy. That’s a World Cup, not a series. It is about that one match in the league and you have to be at your best to beat them. In terms of that we have a long way to go.”

South Africa is now aiming to win its last match against Ireland and qualify for the final in which it will play India, which has assured itself of a place in it.

South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk said, “Qualifying for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 was the main goal, now the goal is to enter the final. But we are worried about our fielding. You can’t win games taking 13-14 wickets. We create chances but don’t take them so it means taking those many more wickets. That is an area of concern.”

Sri Lanka is not taking things lightly in its last match even though it is comfortably placed to seal a place in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017.

Sri Lanka captain Inoka Ranaweera commented, “We are looking forward to win the match tomorrow. Qualification for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 is huge and we want to give our best tomorrow. Our aim is to learn from our mistakes in the tournament and play to the best of our ability.”

Sunday’s matches:

India v Pakistan at P. Sara Stadium (to be live-streamed at icc-cricket.com)

Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Nondescripts Cricket Club

South Africa v Ireland at Colombo Cricket Club

Virat Kohli interacts with kids

Indian cricket skipper Virat Kohli on Saturday interacted with school kids.

The 28-year-old also hailed the spirit of young children.

Sharing an image from his visit on social media, he wrote, “Interacting with these little angels is blissful. Such innocence and transparency about them. Amazing 😇😃 ”

The Virat Kohli led Indian side will take on their Australian counterparts four a four-match Test series, commencing on Feb 23.

Ambassador felicitates young Indian footballers from Kashmir playing in Spain

Indian Ambassador to Spain, Venkatesh Varma, felicitated two young Indian footballers from Kashmir, Basit Ahmed and Asrar Rehbar, for being selected to play in the third division for the Spanish club Sociedad Deportiva Lenense Proinastur in Asturias, an official release stated.

The two youngsters hailing from Srinagar have been selected by an initiative lead by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), to encourage youth to actively take up sports, in collaboration with Football Next Foundation, India and Entry Professional Soccer, Spain.

At a reception organized at the Embassy of India, Madrid, Ambassador Varma congratulated the players and urged them to use the opportunity to hone their skills and serve as role models to other youth to pursue a career in sports.

With the growing popularity of football in India, Ambassador emphasized on its potential to be a key area of bilateral cooperation between India and Spain.

Football Next Foundation and Entry Professional Soccer signed and exchanged a Memorandum of Cooperation committing to facilitate more aspiring Indian youth to take up football.