Briefing :- 4/10/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 4th of October, 2017 :-

1. Rohingya fleeing Myanmar say Army redoubling efforts to clear out those remaining :-

Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh amid a fresh exodus from strife-torn Myanmar have described whole villages being emptied and thousands marching to the border as security forces redouble efforts to drive remaining Muslims from their homes.

More than 500,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled ethnic bloodshed in Myanmar in the past month and numbers are again swelling, with Bangladesh reporting 4-5,000 civilians now crossing the border each day after a brief lull in arrivals.

An estimated 10,000 more have reportedly massed in Myanmar near a crossing point into Bangladesh, and are poised to join the hundreds of thousands of mainly Rohingya refugees eking out survival in wretched camps over the border.

The spike in new arrivals — prompted by what Rohingya say is a fresh drive to purge Muslims still in westernmost Rakhine state — casts doubt on a Myanmar proposal aired this week to start repatriating the persecuted minority.

Rakhine has been emptied of half of its Rohingya population in weeks, and more are on the move as insecurity presses them to leave villages that have so far been spared the worst of the violence ripping through the state.


Myanmar state media said the fleeing Rohingya had left “of their own accord” despite assurances they would be safe. Reports are difficult to independently verify due to reporting restrictions in Rakhine.

The UN said Tuesday that 509,000 refugees had crossed into Bangladesh as of September 30.

The influx began after August 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants spurred a ferocious Myanmar army crackdown that the UN says amounted to “ethnic cleansing”.

Myanmar’s government refuses to recognise the Rohingya as a distinct ethnic group and considers them illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

On Monday a Myanmar minister proposed taking back hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, many of whom are at risk of disease in packed makeshift camps along the border but offered no timeline.

Violence appears to have ebbed in northern Rakhine, although independent reporting is still blocked by an army lockdown, but fear has unsettled many of the Rohingya who remain.

2.’Ready to try one more time with Pakistan,’ warns US Defense Secretary James Mattis :-

In a move which could further fray relations with Pakistan, US defense secretary James Mattis said today his government would try to work with Pakistan to address the problem of terrorism but if it fails then the “US president would be prepared to take whatever steps necessary”.

The Trump administration had earlier notified the US Congress that it was giving $255 million to Pakistan in military assistance only if it cracked down on terror groups.

“We need to try one more time to make this strategy work with them, by, with and through the Pakistanis, and if our best efforts fail, the president is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary,” Mattis said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Pakistan’s relations with the US, especially under Trump, have hit rock bottom after the US president put Pakistan on notice last month saying, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations”.

During his speech, Trump leaned on India to move forward on Afganistan where the US has been engaged in a fight to overcome the Taliban for over sixteen years.

When asked by a lawmaker whether revoking of Pakistan’s major non-NATO ally was amongst the options being considered to deal with Islamabad, Mattis said: “I am sure it will be.”

Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford said that the current cost for the United States in Afghanistan was about $12.5 billion a year, and the new strategy would cost an additional $1.1 billion.

3. Remains to be seen where money for Imran’s London flat came from: Pakistan Supreme Court :-

The Pakistan Supreme Court said it still remains to be seen where the money for Imran Khan’s London flat came from, the Pakistan’s daily Dawn reported on Tuesday.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who is heading a three-judge bench of the apex court, remarked after hearing the rebuttal presented by the counsel for PML-NN leader Hanif Abbasi saying, “We will have to see where the (money for the) London flat came from.”

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Abbasi seeking disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and PTI secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen over non-disclosure of assets, the existence of offshore companies owned by Imran and Tahreen.

Imran Khan is also accused of bringing foreign funds to Pakistan.

Abbasi’s counsel Akram Sheikh on Tuesday brought into the question the validity of documents submitted by Imran’s lawyer regarding the transfer of funds for the purchase of the Bani Gala property.

In the previous hearing, Imran’s lawyer Naeem Bokhari on September 28 had sought to respond to the questions by Supreme Court regarding the money trail of the Bani Gala property.

Bokhari presented documents and a letter via email before the bench which was sent by Jemima, Imran Khan’s former wife, verifying that the PTI chief had returned to her a sum of Rs 6.5 million that she had “gifted to him”.

Later, Abbasi’s lawyer alleged that documents were not verified as the addresses on it did not match.

“If the documents are not verified, what should we do?” the chief justice asked, inquiring if the court had the option of calling for the real documents, quoted DAWN.

Abbasi’s counsel Sheikh also questioned the $104793.50 that he said was paid by Imran to the architect of the Bani Gala property saying, “Will they [the PTI] not tell us where this amount came from?”.

He added that Imran’s lawyer had not submitted documents regarding the matter.

In response to Sheikh’s arguments, Justice Umar Atta Bnadial said, “You are assigning us the role of an accountant,” and asked Sheikh to limit his argument, Dawn reported.

Sheikh told the court that Imran has had no source of income in Pakistan and that the PTI chief had accepted that his Niazi Services Limited had remained functional till 2013.

He also told the court that Imran had transferred a sum larger to Jemima, his ex-wife as loan he owed her.

4. Catalan President vows region independence within days :-

Tension mounted in Spain on Wednesday after Catalonia’s leader vowed that the region would declare independence within days, defying a stern warning from the country’s king that national stability was in peril.

The courts meanwhile placed Catalan police officials and pro-independence civil leaders under investigation for alleged “sedition” as Spain sank deeper into its worst political crisis in decades.

King Felipe VI branded the independence drive illegal and undemocratic, throwing his weight behind the national government.

But Catalan leaders dug in, buoyed by anger at a violent police crackdown against voters during Sunday’s referendum on independence which had been banned by Madrid and the courts.

The Catalan government will “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next” to declare independence, its leader Carles Puigdemont told the BBC in an interview.

He was scheduled to give a further televised address at 1900 GMT on Wednesday.

The Catalan government’s spokesman Jordi Turull said that regional authorities had “nearly finished counting the votes.”

The result will be submitted to the regional parliament which will have two days “to proclaim the independence of Catalonia,” he said in a television interview.

The move would intensify the standoff with the central government, which along with the national courts has branded the referendum illegal.

Madrid has the power to suspend the semi-autonomous status that Catalonia currently enjoys under Spain’s system of regional governments.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has yet to respond publicly to Sunday’s vote, but the king’s intervention could clear the way for him to act.

“It is the responsibility of the legitimate state powers to ensure constitutional order,” Felipe said.

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied in fury on Tuesday during a general strike over violence by Spanish riot police against voters taking part in the referendum on Sunday.

5. Las Vegas shooter’s girlfriend back in US, FBI to question her :-

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s girlfriend returned to the United States and was met by FBI agents eager to hear whatever she might know about the motive behind the worst mass shooting in US history which left 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded.

Although the FBI wants to talk to her, Marilou Danley, 62, is not in custody, she is classified as a “person of interest” to investigators, and is free to go wherever she wants, US media reported after her arrival Tuesday evening in Los Angeles.

She was in the Philippines when Paddock opened fire with high-power rifles from a 32nd-floor hotel room Sunday night at a sea of concertgoers below on the Las Vegas strip.

Authorities are investigating reports that while she was in the Philippines, Paddock wired her $100,000.

Danley is an Australian citizen who moved to the United States 20 years ago to work on the casino strip, the Australian government confirmed Tuesday.

As America mourned, President Donald Trump prepared to visit the desert city Wednesday. He has branded Paddock a “demented man.”

Beyond Trump’s assessment, authorities were at a loss as to how a 64-year-old gambler and retired accountant had hauled a vast arsenal of weapons to the hotel and launched his assault.

Authorities say the shooting appeared to be carefully planned. Paddock set up one camera in the peephole of his hotel room door and two in the hallway.

“I anticipate he was looking for anybody coming to take him into custody,” said Sheriff Joe Lombardo

Meanwhile, victims began to be identified in the media, each new story stirring emotions as America once again grappled with calls for reforms to its permissive firearm control laws.

Trump was not ready to suggest answers.

“What happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle,” he said. “The police department has done such an incredible job, and we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”

US officials have reacted cautiously to a claim by the Islamic State jihadist group that the shooter had carried out Sunday night’s massacre on its behalf.

Authorities said Paddock, who had no criminal record, smashed windows in his hotel room shortly after 10 pm on Sunday and rained fire on a crowd of some 22,000 attending a country music concert below.

In footage of the massacre, the sustained rattle of gunfire is heard as people scream and bolt for cover with little idea of where the shots were coming from.

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