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MQM pulls out from Pak cabinet
SOUR RELATIONS: Says its ministers were given ‘impotent’ portfolios
Islamabad, December 28
In a major setback to Pakistan’s ruling coalition led by PPP, one of its key allies MQM has pulled its two ministers out of the federal Cabinet, claiming that they were given “impotent” portfolios, just weeks after another alliance partner JUI parted ways with the government.The PPP had dealt with the MQM in a “non-serious” manner and the party’s two ministers were allocated “impotent” portfolios, senior MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari told the media late last night.

Probe into airport logjam ordered
Moscow, December 28
Riot police officers try to calm down agitated passengers at a check-in counter at the departure hall of Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Tuesday. Russia's president has ordered prosecutors to investigate a logjam at Moscow airports that has stranded thousands of passengers.


Riot police officers try to calm down agitated passengers at a check-in counter at the departure hall of Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Tuesday. — Reuters



EARLIER STORIES


Two charged with murder of Indian
Jayachandra Houston, December 28
US authorities have filed capital murder charges against two men in the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old Indian student during a 20-second robbery ‘blitz’ at a Pasadena convenience store in Texas on Christmas day.


Jayachandra 

Russia accuses West of meddling in tycoon’s trial
Moscow, December 28
Russia accused the United States and European nations today of trying to influence the trial of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, calling such efforts unacceptable and warning the West to mind its own business.

 





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MQM pulls out from Pak cabinet
SOUR RELATIONS: Says its ministers were given ‘impotent’ portfolios

Islamabad, December 28
In a major setback to Pakistan’s ruling coalition led by PPP, one of its key allies MQM has pulled its two ministers out of the federal Cabinet, claiming that they were given “impotent” portfolios, just weeks after another alliance partner JUI parted ways with the government.

The PPP had dealt with the MQM in a “non-serious” manner and the party’s two ministers were allocated “impotent” portfolios, senior MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari told the media late last night.

MQM’s Farooq Sattar was the Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Affairs while Babar Khan Ghauri was Ports and Shipping Minister. “The MQM will not be able to resolve the people’s problems by remaining in these two ministries,” Sabzwari said.

However, MQM, the second largest party in the alliance, would continue to support the PPP-led coalition at the Centre and its 25 lawmakers would sit in the treasury benches in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament, he said.

The MQM move followed Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s (JUI’s) decision earlier this month to pull out of the coalition following the sacking of one of its ministers by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Relations between the PPP and MQM, which has its powerbase among Urdu-speaking people in the financial hub of Karachi, became strained after senior PPP leader and provincial Home Minister Zuulfiqar Mirza alleged that the MQM was behind ethnic violence in the southern port city.

The departure of JUI’s eight parliamentarians did not affect the coalition, which has a majority in the 342-member National Assembly with the backing of over 180 lawmakers. The MQM’s 25 parliamentarians have played a key role in propping up the PPP-led government at the Centre and the MQM is also part of the PPP-led government in Sindh province.

Sabzwari said the MQM’s Rabita Committee or highest decision-making body had not considered the issue of quitting the government in Sindh. “As an important party in the PPP-led government, we carried out a detailed review of the events of the past three years and we reviewed the government’s decisions, the importance given to the views of MQM ministers in those decisions and how seriously our advice and requests were dealt with (by the PPP),” Sabzwari said.

Noting that the PPP had not acted on the MQM’s advice for resolving the people’s problems, he said: “We will sit in the treasury benches and give the government a chance to address the issues that are troubling Pakistan.” The federal government should start acting on the MQM’s advice on addressing the people’s problems in order for the MQM to return to the Cabinet, he indicated.

The MQM will make no demands or set any timeframe for the resolution of issues raised by it, he said. — PTI 

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Probe into airport logjam ordered

Moscow, December 28
Russia's president has ordered prosecutors to investigate a logjam at Moscow airports that has stranded thousands of passengers.The Kremlin said today that Dmitry Medvedev ordered a check of whether the transport law was being met and of the services offered to the stranded passengers.

Icy rains over the weekend caused a blackout at the capital's Domodedovo airport that stopped flights Sunday.

Domodedovo resumed operations yesterday after getting a backup power supply, but thousands are still waiting to board their flights. News reports said the Domodedovo authorities failed to provide food and basic facilities to the stranded passengers who had to wait for their flights in the dark. — AP 

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Two charged with murder of Indian

Houston, December 28
US authorities have filed capital murder charges against two men in the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old Indian student during a 20-second robbery ‘blitz’ at a Pasadena convenience store in Texas on Christmas day.

Daniel Jacob Stiner, 22, and Michael Ray Morris, 29, both from Pasadena, were charged in the death of Jayachandra Elaprolu, a computer engineer, who worked as a convenience store clerk.

Elaprolu was living in the Seabrook area, working on a master’s degree in computer engineering at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, a relative said. His remains will be sent home, with the help of the Indian Consulate in Houston.

The police yesterday said Stiner surrendered and took investigators to the Conroe area, where he told them that he would recover the mask he used in the violent ‘blitz’ robbery, so-called for its lightning-fast execution. He also promised to get the $400 he stole from the register. Stiner claimed that fear drove his aggression, Houston Chronicle quoted the police as saying. — PTI

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Russia accuses West of meddling in tycoon’s trial

Moscow, December 28
Russia accused the United States and European nations today of trying to influence the trial of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, calling such efforts unacceptable and warning the West to mind its own business.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry also rejected as groundless Western officials’ suggestions that the trial of Khodorkovsky, who was found guilty on Monday of large-scale theft and money laundering, was an example of selective justice.

The United States and European nations said the verdict raised doubts about the Kremlin’s commitment to the rule of law and human rights, and warned they were closely watching the case.

Referring to comments from Washington and European Union capitals about the trial, the ministry said: “We would like to once again underscore that this issue relates to the competence of the court system of the Russian Federation.”

“Attempts to apply pressure on the court are unacceptable,” it said in a statement. “We are counting on everyone to mind his own business-both at home and in the international arena.” — Reuters

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BRIEFLY

The Times makes Chilean miners team of the year
London
: The 33 Chilean miners who survived 69 days trapped underground before emerging to the surface in joyous scenes have been named the team of the year by The Times newspaper in Britain. "They were ordinary men who were caught in an extraordinary situation and rose magnificently to the challenge. Their fortitude inspired billions of people. That is why The Times has named Los 33 as its Team of the Year," the newspaper said. — AFP
 A businessman, who helped poor people and created jobs for them, displays medals awarded to him at the 8th National Patriotic Emulation Congress in Hanoi on Tuesday.
MEDAL GLORY: A businessman, who helped poor people and created jobs for them, displays medals awarded to him at the 8th National Patriotic Emulation Congress in Hanoi on Tuesday. — Reuters

Suu Kyi meets Myanmar youths
Yangon
: Myanmar democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday met around 200 young people at her party's headquarters as part of her efforts to reach out to a new generation following her release. It is the duty of Myanmar's youth to "safeguard our future", Suu Kyi told the gathering of under-35s, who have grown up with the opposition leader under house arrest for most of the past two decades. "We want to know what is on our youths' minds,"she said. — AFP

Thai national parks go alcohol-free
Bangkok
: Alcohol is totally banned inside all national parks in Thailand now. Thai Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti today announced the policy on alcohol-free at all Thai national parks, aimed at preventing brawls and disturbances on international tourists who want to peacefully enjoy natural charms inside Thai national parks. — TNA 

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