WASHINGTON: The US Senate Intelligence Committee has quietly approved a plan to step up both public and internal government oversight of the use of armed drones to kill suspected militants overseas, including American citizens.
The committee voted in closed session earlier this week to approve legislative language that would require US spy agencies to make public statistics on how many people were killed or injured in missile strikes launched from US-operated drones.
The committee also approved language intended to bolster scrutiny of spy agency deliberations over decisions about targeting US citizens or residents for lethal drone strikes overseas.
The Obama administration has been under pressure from foreign governments, the United Nations and rights groups to be more transparent and rigorous in accounting for the civilian casualties caused by drone strikes.
Though the committee did not release full details of its deliberations on the measures, sources familiar with the discussions said that some committee Republicans were opposed to the drone-related clauses in the bill, which would authorise intelligence activities for the current government fiscal year which began on Oct 1.
Ultimately, according to a press release issued by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat who chairs the intelligence panel, the committee approved the bill by a vote of 13-2. The two senators who voted against it were Republicans.
North Waziristan is the area of the most intensive US drone campaign in the world. The United States has also attacked militants in Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia with drones.
Last month, Pakistan told the United Nations that 400 civilians were among the approximately 2,200 killed by drone strikes in the past decade.
The bill approved by the committee now must go before the full Senate. The House of Representatives would also have to approve the bill, and the president would sign it for it to become law.—Reuters
KUWAIT: The 136th birthday of national poet, Dr Allama Mohammad Iqbal had been observed by paying rich tribute to the ‘Thinker of Pakistan’. The occasion hosted by KPFA (Pakistan Kuwait Friendship Association) in Continental Hotel Bend al Gar Kuwait.
Member of KPFA, local poets and well-known personalities in kuwait were invited by the Management, The Ambassador of Pakistan H.E Syed Abrar hussain has attended the occasion as a Chief guest.
Who is Allama Iqbal?
Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born on November 9th, 1877 and died on April 21, 1938, he was a philosopher, poet and politician in British India who is widely regarded as having inspired the Pakistan Movement. He is considered one of the most important figures in Urdu literature, with literary work in both the Urdu and Persian languages.
Iqbal is admired as a prominent classical poet by Pakistani, Indian, Iranian, and other international scholars of literature. Though Iqbal is best known as an eminent poet, he is also a highly acclaimed "Muslim philosophical thinker of modern times". His first poetry book, Asrar-e-Khudi, appeared in the Persian language in 1915 and other books of poetry include Rumuz-i-Bekhudi, Payam-i-Mashriq and Zabur-i-Ajam. Amongst these his best known Urdu works are Bang-i-Dara, Bal-i-Jibril, Zarb-i Kalim and a part of Armughan-e-Hijaz. In Iran and Afghanistan, he is famous as Iqbāl-e Lāhorī (اقبال لاهوری) (Iqbal of Lahore), and he is most appreciated for his Persian work. Along with his Urdu and Persian poetry, his various Urdu and English lectures and letters have been very influential in cultural, social, religious and political disputes over the years.
In 1922, he was knighted by King George V, giving him the title "Sir".
While studying law and philosophy in England, Iqbal became a member of the London branch of the All India Muslim League. Later, in one of his most famous speeches, Iqbal pushed for the creation of a Muslim state in Northwest India. This took place in his presidential speech in the League's December 1930 session. He was very close to the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
In much of Southern Asia and Urdu speaking world, Iqbal is regarded as the Shair-e-Mashriq (شاعر مشرق, "Poet of the East"). He is also called Muffakir-e-Pakistan (مفکر پاکستان, "The Thinker of Pakistan") and Hakeem-ul-Ummat (حکیم الامت, "The Sage of the Ummah"). The Pakistan government officially named him a "national poet". His birthday Yōm-e Welādat-e Muḥammad Iqbāl (یوم ولادت محمد اقبال) or (Iqbal Day) is a public holiday in Pakistan. In India he is also remembered as the author of the popular song Saare Jahaan Se Achcha.
Reported by: Atif Siddiqui
Photography: Atif Siddiqu / Shahzad Khan
Event Capturing: Shazad Khan
KUWAIT: A number of Ethiopian laborers gathered in front of the Labor Department affiliated to Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor for the second time in less than one week to ask for humanitarian and official intervention to end inhumane treatment and blackmail by the cleaning company that employs them. The laborers said the company has threatened to deport them if they continue to complain, despite the company is holding back their salaries.
They also said the company makes unnecessary deductions from their salaries monthly upon illogical reasons, while they are forced to live inside accommodations that lack humanitarian supplies, similar to shelters without humane and sanitary facilities. In light of bitter situation wherein over 1,800 Ethiopian laborers have fallen victims to cleaning company that benefits from government contracts, although it has not been listed in the bourse, an official from the Ethiopian embassy attended the gathering and said, “We receive only promises whenever we come here. We need decisive solution to the problem since over 1,800 laborers are suffering.”
Meanwhile, the issue corroborates doubts which the State Audit Bureau expressed in its report over what it described as clear manipulations related to irregularities detected in the assessment of some companies and their manpower needs. The laborers further indicated the company has refused to renew their residences on the pretext that it must finish the contract with government first, although the same company has signed a new contract with the government for three years.
To make matters worse, the company also refuses to allow them to transfer their residences to other sponsors. In a related development, government team affiliated to Construction Projects recommends that the companies must be allowed to bring in expatriate laborers without any restrictions provided that the companies will take the responsibility to repatriate them when the tasks are completed, besides providing for the laborers basic expenditure and health care.
KUWAIT: The General Immigration Department will ban foreigners, who violate the period and conditions for visit visa, from entering the country for two years; while their sponsors will lose the sponsorship right for three months up to one year, reports Al-Seyassah daily quoting sources. Sources explained that foreigners on visit visas will be blacklisted for two years if proven they have violated the period and conditions for obtaining such visas.
Sources said this means they will not be able to acquire any type of visa within the specified period. On the other hand, sources disclosed the sponsors of those who violated the period and conditions for obtaining visit visas will not be allowed to sponsor anyone for three months if the violation is committed for the first time; six months for the second time and up to one year if the violation is repeated. Sources also clarified that expatriates who hold visas under articles 17 and 18 are allowed to sponsor their relatives to visit Kuwait provided their salary is KD 250 and above; while those under articles 19 and 24 are exempted from the salary condition.
Sources added the abovementioned expatriates can sponsor only their first-degree relatives like husbands, wives, children, parents, siblings and parents-in-law. Sources said the tourist visa is valid for 90 days and the commercial visit visa is valid for 60 days; indicating there is no ban imposed on any nationality.
ISLAMABAD: Kuwait Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al- Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah would be visiting Pakistan this month with the aim of further cementing bilateral relations and cooperation, Kuwait Ambassador in Islamabad Nawaf Al-Enezi said Tuesday. His Highness Sheikh Jaber is scheduled to meet President Mamnoon Hussain and hold talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who visited the Kuwaiti senior official to visit Pakistan, the foreign office added in a statement. “The upcoming visit of the His Highness Kuwaiti Prime Minister to Pakistan would further strengthen the brotherly relations between the two countries,” Ambassador Al-Enezi told KUNA. “Kuwait and Pakistan enjoy healthy relations and the visit of His Highness the Prime Minister shows the keenness of the leadership of both the countries to enhance the bilateral relations,” said the Ambassador.
The Ambassador expressed his hopes for the enhancement of the bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries. He added that both sides were expected to sign a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) and trade agreements. His Highness the Prime Minister of Kuwait will be accompanied by a delegation of ministers and businessmen.
The Kuwaiti Prime Minister would be warmly welcomed in Pakistan on his first visit to the country. Sharif will be hosting a lunch and the President will host dinner in the honour of His Highness Sheikh Jaber, according to the Foreign Office. It said the visit would take place within the framework of relations of friendship and cooperation between the State of Kuwait and Pakistan, as well as mutual desire to strengthen and expand those relations.
It will give a new impetus to the existing cordial bilateral relations and provide a good opportunity to reinvigorate efforts aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields, said an official press release. (KUNA)
KUWAIT: The camping season started few days ago and people set up their tents in the desert without paying a deposit which has been proposed many times by different officials. It’s expected that next year it will be applied on the camps to organize camping and avoid violations that cause harm to the environment. An employee of the emergency center of Kuwait Municipality who preferred to stay anonymous noted that many people camping in desert leave a big mess and garbage behind them after leaving the camp. “Unfortunately, the workers of the Municipality have to clean the desert and sometimes they don’t reach all the faraway areas.
The violators are not punished as they are not known to us. This seriously harms our environment and destroys nature,” he told Kuwait Times. The oft-discussed proposal of obligatory registration of camps after paying a deposit was not applied this year as it hasn’t been approved yet. “We hope and strongly believe that in the new year, the Municipal Council will approve it. According to the proposed law, the desert will divided into marked areas and people who aim to camp in any area will have to pay a deposit which they will get back after removing their camps. In case they leave the place dirty or leave their belongings behind, a fine will be deducted from their deposit amount.
It will be easy to identify who was camping in that place due to the registration, which is not available now,” he added. Currently people can only be penalized for any violations committed in the desert if somebody was caught doing it and still camping at the place. “If somebody complains to the Municipality about a violation at a camp, our inspectors will go to the place and hand the violator a fine. We at the emergency call center receive complaints 24 hours a day. People can contact us on 1855552,” concluded the employee.
To ensure the safety and security of campers, three authorities have set joint posts including the Fire Department, Ministry of Interior and the Medical Emergency. These posts are available in the common camping areas including Julaia on Nuwaiseeb Road and on Mutlaa Road in the north of Kuwait. Khalil Al-Ameer, PR and Media officer at the Fire Department announced that they are ready for this camping season. He also said that people should respect rules and fire prevention procedures while camping to prevent accidents and ensure safety and security at the camps. These instructions include leaving a distance of 6 m between camps to avoid the spread of fire, especially since it spreads very fast in tents; ensure having powder extinguisher weighing 4 kg in the tent and a first-aid bag; ensure the safety of the electrical wires before installation, and it’s preferred they are insulated; switch off the generator when filling fuel and avoid using any heating source; clean any leaking oil before starting the generator and put the coal heater out of the tent before going to sleep.
By Nawara Fattahova
KUWAIT: Getting a closer look at the seashore in Kuwait on Gulf Road demonstrates how such a piece of heaven was harmed by people and ignored by the authorities. The Kuwait Bay is contaminated with different kinds of pollutants such as plastic bags, litter and sewage that have all turned the nice sea breeze into stinking odors. This report probes what is currently happening to the 325-km long Kuwaiti coastline. Recent studies suggest that Kuwaiti waters occupy a leading place in terms of marine environment pollution. There has been remarkable environmental destruction because of human practices such as building ports, draining sewage, radioactive and factory wastes into the sea, which caused these waters to mix with highly hazardous substances, on top of which comes mercury.
When this extremely dangerous substance exceeds normal levels allowed by the World Health Organization, not only will it pollute the waters in Kuwait, but it will also make it poisonous and unfit for neither human nor animal consumption. It also leads to the death of tons of fish, such as the death of mullets in Kuwait Bay, and over 20 percent of corals and marine algae and seaweeds that take a long time to grow. This led to serious ecological and climate changes that have had a serious impact on human beings. An earlier report prepared by the environment studies unit at the Ministry of Health proved that Kuwaiti shores are polluted and that sewage dumped from the Mishref plant was untreated sewage waters that contained bacteria, fungi, worms and viruses that may pose health problems such as cholera and other diseases.
The report also warned of the dangers of chemicals used by concerned relevant authorities and approved by the Environment Public Authority (EPA) with the excuse of sterilizing sewage dumped from the Mishref plant into the sea. The report stressed that these chemicals were extremely dangerous and that they lead to forming carcinogens and toxic elements in fish that are later consumed by humans.
The Sources of Pollution
When touring the areas of Sulaibiya, Kuwait Towers and the Free Zone beaches, marine pollution was extremely evident in the form of dumping various kinds of solid wastes such as industrial, construction, ship wastes and litter that includes unrecyclable plastic and treated and untreated sewage waters in addition to oil leaking from ships and boats. Local and migrating birds, fish and shrimp are the most vulnerable to pollution. Moreover, contaminated fish and shrimp are a prime cause of various health problems for the people consuming them, doctors claim.
What is more alarming is the fact that many of hospitals in the health zone in Shuwaikh that directly overlook the sea have been dumping their waste (usually contaminated with bacteria and microbes after treating infectious diseases and epidemics) directly into the sea. The shores have turned into dumpsters for litter, dead fish and animals and sewage that have turned blue sea waters into gloomy dark grayish ones. A once fascinating picturesque scene has now turned into a mutilated painting. The most alarming environmental danger are mud precipitations that are rich in bacteria that are harmful for both the environment and human beings.
They also cause bad odors that have spoiled people’s enjoyment of the sea. At the seafront, hundreds of people have been dumping non-decomposing substances such as plastic bags and containers, aluminum cans and bottles that not only pose environmental threats but also endanger those enjoying the beaches or swimming. In addition, the amount of wastes help spread and attract insects and rodents. Some boat owners and fishermen are also to blame for irresponsibly getting rid of their motor oil cans, used ropes and nets in the middle of the sea. This makes one wonder why the municipality does not act to stop such messy violations. More fines should be imposed and more control practiced over beaches to stop this pollution, residents say.
This marine pollution has created unprecedented damage to marine life such as ‘red tide’ resulting from pouring sewage into the sea amidst high temperatures and humidity that eventually led to a lack of oxygen in the water and as a result, the death of fish. Most recently, large quantities of oysters and crabs were found dead at Al-Khairan beaches. In fact, the number of dying oysters is alarmingly increasing amid calls for more efforts from experts and environmentalists to stop the process and save other oysters still in the sea. In this regard, the Public Authority For Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) and Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) have taken specimens of both dead and living oysters as well as the waters near the site to study them.
What is happening is an environmental crime against nature by all means because Kuwait had always been blessed by waters that used to be the best diving spots in the Arabian Gulf. So will officials act to end this disaster and will the government and the parliament cooperate to come up with revolutionary decisions to save what is left of this divine gift? It remains to be seen. (Kuwait Times)