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Joe Biden moves to rejoin UN Human Rights Council

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(Asian News Hub) – The Biden administration is set to announce this week that it will reengage with the much-maligned UN Human Rights Council that former President Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago, US officials have said.

The decision on Sunday reverses another Trump-era move away from multilateral organisations and agreements.

US officials say Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a senior US diplomat in Geneva will announce on Monday that Washington will return to the Geneva-based body as an observer with an eye toward seeking election as a full member.

The decision is likely to draw criticism from conservative lawmakers and many in the pro-Israel community.

Trump pulled out of the world body’s main human rights agency in 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel, which has received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country, as well as the number of authoritarian countries among its members and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by then-US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

In addition to the council’s persistent focus on Israel, the Trump administration took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.

One senior US official said the Biden administration believed the council must still reform but that the best way to promote change is to engage with it in a principled fashion.

The official said it can be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world and the US presence intends to ‘ensure it can live up to that potential.

That official and three others familiar with the decision were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly ahead of the announcement, and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Although the US will have only nonvoting observer status on the council through the end of 2021, the officials said the administration intends to seek one of three full member seats currently held by Austria, Denmark and Italy from the Western Europe and other states group that come up for election later this year.

The UN General Assembly makes the final choice in a vote that generally takes place in October every year to fill vacancies in three-year terms at the 47-member-state council.

US engagement with the council and its predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, has been something of a political football between Republican and Democratic administrations for decades.

While recognising its shortcomings, Democratic presidents have tended to want a seat at the table while Republicans have recoiled at its criticism of Israel.

Trump’s withdrawal from the UNHRC, however, was one of a number of US retrenchments from the international community during his four years in office. He also walked away from the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear deal, the World Health Organisation, UN education and cultural organisation, UNESCO, and several arms-control treaties.

Trump also threatened to withdraw from the International Postal Union and frequently hinted at pulling out of the World Trade Organisation.

Since taking office last month, President Joe Biden has rejoined both the Paris accord and the WHO and has signalled interest in returning to the Iran deal as well as UNESCO. (AGENCY)

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Australia adds U.S.-based neo-nazi group to list of banned Terrorist organizations

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(Asian News Hub) – The Australian government added the neo-Nazi extremist group The Base, based in the United States, to their list of banned terrorist organizations Wednesday as the country struggles with increased neo-Nazi extremists, the Associated Press reported.

The Base is a far-right, neo-Nazi and white supremest group that was formed in the United States in 2018. It is the second far-right group to make the Australian banned terrorist organization list, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said.

Also Read: Death threat e-mails recieved by Gautam Gambhir sent from Pakistan: Sources

“I have sufficient information in front of me to be concerned and to understand that The Base meets the threshold for listing as a terrorist organization,” Andrews said. “We will look closely at their membership and we will take action once they are fully listed under the Criminal Code.”

Once a group is added to the list of banned terrorist organizations being a member, participating in activities or supporting the cause is a criminal offense. Anyone who is found guilty can face up to 25 years in prison. There are currently 26 organizations listed as terrorists for the country, according to the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department.

“We know there is a threat of terrorism here in Australia and that there is a threat of terrorism right across the world,” Andrews said.

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Pakistan to allow India to send wheat to Afghanistan through its territory: PM Imran Khan

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(Asian News Hub) – Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Monday that his government will allow India to send a humanitarian shipment of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat to neighbouring Afghanistan through its territory after finalisation of the transit modalities, PTI reported.

Khan, who chaired the first Apex Committee meeting of the newly established Afghanistan Inter-ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC) in Islamabad, also took the opportunity to remind the international community of the collective responsibility to support Afghanistan to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

During the meeting, Khan announced Pakistan’s decision to allow the 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat India has offered to provide Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance to go through Pakistan as soon as modalities are finalised with the Indian side, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

Also Read: Hyderpora encounter: Prove Aamir a militant, we won’t ask for anything, says family

Currently, Pakistan only allows Afghanistan to export goods to India but doesn’t allow any other two-way trade through the border crossing. Last month, India announced 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat for Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance and requested Pakistan to ship the food grain via the Wagah border.

Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi had also requested Prime Minister Khan to allow India to transport wheat via Pakistan, suggesting that the Taliban government was willing to accept the humanitarian assistance from India. India has contributed to the humanitarian requirements of the Afghan people.

This included providing more than 1 million metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan over the past decade. Last year too India assisted Afghanistan with 75,000 metric tonnes of wheat, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Humanitarian situation in Afghanistan in September. However, there were reports that Pakistan has blocked India’s efforts to provide wheat to the Afghan people, amidst the chill in relations between New Delhi and Islamabad over the Kashmir issue.

Khan also ordered immediate shipment of humanitarian assistance worth Rs 5 billion comprising wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters and other supplies to Afghanistan, Radio Pakistan reported. He instructed all ministries to facilitate Afghans to the maximum and also approved in-principle tariff and sales tax reduction on key Afghan exports to Pakistan. Khan ordered that the facility of free COVID vaccination for all Afghans entering Pakistan from land borders be continued.

Also Read: Hyderpora encounter: Not satisfied with magisterial probe; we want judicial inquiry by a sitting judge, says Dr Farooq Abdullah

National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yusuf, who is also the Convener of AICC, made a detailed presentation to brief the civil and military leadership on the current economic situation in Afghanistan and the progress made by AICC in coordinating national efforts for humanitarian assistance and border facilitation for Afghans.

Prime Minister Khan also directed that bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad in Afghanistan be revived to facilitate travellers on both sides. To further facilitate Afghans, the visa duration will be relaxed such that visas are granted within three weeks at the most, the report said. Khan also instructed the National Security Adviser to visit Afghanistan to hold delegation-level talks and agree on specific areas where immediate capacity building support shall be provided to Afghans.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor on Finance Shaukat Tarin, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and senior civil and military officers.

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UAE Princess calls zee news anchor ‘terrorist’

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(Asian News Hub) – UAE princess Hend bint Faisal Al Qasim has lashed out at an organiser for inviting Zee News anchor Sudhir Chaudhary to her country despite the latter’s role in promoting Islamophobia through his TV broadcasts.

Addressing Chaudhary as a ‘terrorist,’ the UAE princess reminded the organiser how the controversial TV anchor had been routinely defaming Islam and its followers.

On twitter she wrote “how dare how dare you invite an Islamophobe to my peaceful country”

In her subsequent social media post, she tweeted, “In 2019 & 2020, Sudhir Chaudhry ran shows on Zee News where he spewed venom against Muslims for leading anti-citizenship protests. He ran fake stories, targeting Muslim students and women for leading the citizenship protest in Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi & other parts of the country.”

She asked the organiser, the Indian Charter Accountants Association’s Abu Dhabi chapter, why they were ‘bringing an Islamophobe and hater to my peaceful country?’

She wrote, “Sudhir Chaudhary is a Hindu rightwing anchor known for his deeply Islamophobic shows that target India’s 200 million Muslims. Many of his prime time shows have directly contributed to real world violence against Muslims across the country.”

She tagged Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to ask, “Why are you bringing an intolerant terrorist to the UAE?!”

Chaudhary has been at the forefront of Indian TV anchors, often referred to as lapdogs or TV criminals, in fuelling hatred against Muslims in India. He had led a campaign to defame Indian Muslims by blaming them for spreading coronavirus in 2020. Several Indian high courts later concluded that blaming the members of the Tablighi Jamaat for the spread of the virus was part of propaganda.

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