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U.S. considering ‘military response options’ after North Korea’s second missile test

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On Friday night, after North Korea carried out its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile in a month with Pyongyang claiming the whole of the United States was within range, the United States was considering “military response options”.

The Pentagon confirmed that the missile, which flew for 45 minutes, travelled an estimated 600 miles and landed west of Japan’s Hokkaido island, was an ICBM. The missile used for the second test flew for six more minutes than the first one, that was tested on 4th July.

“The test-fire reconfirmed the reliability of the ICBM system, demonstrated the capability of making a surprise launch of the ICBM in any region and place any time, and clearly proved that the whole U.S. mainland is in the firing range of the DPRK (North Korea) ,” KCNA, Pyongyang’s official news agency, said.

Washington, which has called North Korea the “most urgent and dangerous threat to peace,” condemned the launch as reckless.

Missile Range

 

 

 

 

“By threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people,” Donald Trump said in a statement. “The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.”

As Pyongyang confirmed the launch, South Korea said it was ready to take its own measures to deal with the threat. Song Young-moo, the South Korean defense minister, said Seoul would prepare independent measures..

“Along with joint efforts to deter proliferation (of North Korea’s nuclear threat) we will prepare independent measure to curb it as soon as possible,” Song told a press conference in Seoul, just minutes after Pyongyang said its second missile test was meant as a “stern warning” for the United States.

The Chinese foreign ministry also condemned the launch.

“China opposes North Korea’s violations of UN Security Council resolutions… At the same time, (China) hopes that all parties concerned will exercise caution and avoid intensifying tensions ” on the Korean peninsula, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Experts said the ICBM launched on Friday was capable of striking Los Angeles and other cities in the United States, and a similar assertion was made by KCNA, the official North Korean news agency.

The United States and South Korea responded to the missile test by staging a joint missile exercise.

The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has called a meeting of the national security council to assess the launch.  “I have received the first report that North Korea again launched a missile and it possibly landed inside the exclusive economic zone,” said Mr Abe. He called the launch “a serious and real threat”, while Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s government spokesman, said: “North Korea’s repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted.”

U.S. and South Korean military officials were discussing military options last night. Marine General Joseph Dunford was joined by Admiral Harry Harris (Commander of U.S. Pacific Command) when the spoke to General Lee Sun-jin, the chairman of the South Korean Joint Chief of Staff.

“During the call Dunford and Harris expressed the ironclad commitment to the US-Republic of Korea alliance. The three leaders also discussed military response options,” said Captain Greg Hicks, a spokesman for General Dunford.

While the Pentagon has long planned for the possibility of conflict with North Korea, the blunt language in the statement marked a departure from previous public reactions to missile tests. The Pentagon, earlier this week warned that North Korea could have a nuclear enabled ICBM as early as next year, and said it detected the launch almost immediately.

Donald Trump’s administration has said that the period of ‘strategic patience’ towards North Korea is over. U.S. officials have also expressed growing frustration with Beijing for not doing more to pressurize its neighbor to rein in its military ambitions.

Britain and Australia also joined the U.S. this week in calling for China to exert more pressure of Pyongyang. However, China claims it has little leverage over leaders in Pyongyang, and regularly calls on the U.S. and South Korea to halt military drills in the region as a means of diffusing tensions.

Reports suggest that Beijing is preparing for a potential crisis along its shared border with North Korea by building bunkers for civilians and realigning forces in the region.

The United States and China said they are making progress on new UN resolution that would impose additional sanctions against North Korea in response to ICBM launch.

The rogue state is already under tough United Nations sanctions since it first carried out its first of five nuclear tests in 2006.

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Politics

US Conveys A Way Out Of The Aid Blockade

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The United States has laid down a forthright criteria that it reiterates Pakistan must clear to qualify for US aid programs.

“Our expectations are straightforward,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning told reporters.

“Taliban and Haqqani leadership and attack planners should no longer be able to find safe haven or conduct operations from Pakistani soil.”

READ MORE: Trump’s irrational rants find Pakistan

Pakistan’s streets were filled with anti-Trump protests shorty after his tweet

Only last week, followed by a rather delirious tweet from President Trump, US froze over $900 million worth of ‘Coalition Support Funds,’ the coalition funding is set aside to refund Pakistani spending on counter-terrorism operations, on account of Pakistan’s intentionally not “doing enough” to target Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network.

The United States has also suspended the transfer of $1 billion worth of US military equipment that has always allowed Pakistan to acquaint itself with the latest advanced military technology.

“The United States has conveyed to Pakistan specific and concrete steps that it could take,” Manning said.

“We stand ready to work with Pakistan to combat terrorist groups without distinction. We will continue these conversations with the Pakistani government in private.”

According to Pakistani Newspaper DAWNPentagon officials are waiting to see if Pakistan is going to retaliate against the US by cutting supply lines to US troops from its port at Karachi into Afghanistan. So far, Manning said, there was no sign Islamabad was preparing to take that course of action. He stressed that the suspension of funding was not permanent “at this time” and that the money was not being diverted elsewhere.

Here’s what CIA’s Director had to say about Pakistan:

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Politics

The Cupid Strikes Imran Khan Once Again

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Are there going to be any wedding bells before the general elections?

Reports claim that chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf Imran Khan is getting married again.

Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka. PHOTO: FILE

Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka. PHOTO: FILE

PTI issues an official statement

After much pressure, PTI broke the ice by tweeting that their chairman hasn’t gotten married yet but had surely sent the marriage proposal to a very respectable and private lady named Bushra Maneka, a 50 years old Pir (spiritual guide), whom Imran Khan often visited for faith healing. As the marriage proposal hasn’t been accepted yet, it would be wrong to make assumptions just yet.

Chairman Secretariat, following the code of ethics, has also requested media and other parties to avoid any kind of exasperating comments and to respect the privacy of related persons in the meantime.

PTI’s official Twitter account issued a statement on 7th January, in which it was humbly requested not to take the news into the limelight until Imran Khan announces this news officially as it is a sensitive matter. Furthermore, the statement also declared the publishing of such a sensitive matter “unfortunate” and “regrettable.” 

Statement issued on PTI's official Twitter account

Statement issued on PTI’s official Twitter account

PTI leaders not happy

Umar Cheema, the man who first published the news of Imran Khan’s marriage, also published some absurd and highly unaccountable news stating that Mr. Khan had secretly married on January 1. Several other reports even claimed that the couple had tied the knot in Lahore and that the Nikkah ceremony was performed by Mufti Saeed, a prominent member of the PTI.

PTI, on the other hand, strictly calls for a halt to all the baseless news and articles that are going viral on social media and television. The second largest political party, moreover, went on to call the news as “propagated by Jang Group,” and even threatened to take “legal action” against Geo News and its CEO Mir Shakeel ur Rehman.

PTI leaders Shireen Mazari and Awn Chaudhry also rejected the news stating that it is ridiculous to spread such irrational stories without any proof. Shireen Mazari took upon Twitter to her feelings:

Who is Bushra Maneka?

Bushra Maneka

 According to Express News, she is around 50 years old and belongs to the influential Wattoo clan from Punjab’s Pakpattan district. She is known as Ms. Pinki in the area and is an spiritual guide.

The report says that Imran Khan first met Bushra, shortly before the 2015 by-election in Lodhran for the NA-154 seat. She has recently divorced her former husband Khawar Farid Maneka, a customs officer and son of former federal minister Ghulam Farid Maneka. Bushra is a mother of five; two sons and three daughters

While Bushra Manika takes her time regarding the wedding proposal of chairman PTI, it is our duty and responsibility to let her take her time and to decide in peace.

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Maharashtra Shutdown: A Clash 200 Years in Making

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One of India’s largest states is burning. Over 16 FIRs were registered and over 300 people detained in Mumbai only on Thursday, furthermore, the strikes, as of 4th January, have spread to over 18 cities.

Clashes broke out between Brahmins and Dalit activists in some districts of Maharashtra during the bandh called by Dalit parties on Wednesday to protest against the violence during the bicentenary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle on Monday.

To understand why the two groups (Dalit and Brahmins) are clashing, one needs to go back exactly 200 years to the Battle of Koregaon.

The Battle of Koregaon and its significance

200 years ago, on 1 January 1818, a fierce battle between the British East India Company (EIC) and the Peshwa (Brahmins) fiction of the Maratha Confederacy was fought at Koregaon, on the banks of Bhima river.

Peshwa Raja Baji Rao II, who was earlier defeated near Pune, was relentlessly pursued by the company forces. He eventually turned towards Pune and, on his way, ran into a 800-strong British EIC force. The Peshwa sent around 2,000 soldiers to attack the company force, led by Captain Francis Staunton. The company troops fought Peshwa’s army the whole day, forcing them to retreat and eventual defeat.

The Battle of Koregaon has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because they formed much of the company force after siding with the British (Economic Times). The Dalits occupy the lowest place in the Hindu caste system and have been victims of generations of exclusion and extreme poverty. The Peshwas, made up from the higher Brahmin caste, were seen as oppressors of Dalits — so the victory is seen as a moment of Dalit self-assertion.

A pyramid diagram showing the Hindu Caste System. Dalits are considered to be Untouchables

 

Aftermath

The Maharashtra government has sent a report to the MHA, apprising it of the sequence of events that led to the protests.

“The Home Ministry and the Maharashtra government are in constant touch over the situation in the State. The Ministry has also received a factual report from the State government on the prevailing situation,” an MHA spokesperson said.

In its report, the State government is learnt to have linked Left wing extremists to the January 1 violence at Koregaon Bhima in the Pune district, where thousands of Mahars (a part of the larger Dalit community) congregated to commemorate the British victory 200 years ago. A senior Home Ministry official said the information was provided by the State government and the MHA had not made any independent assessment.

On Thursday, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, while alleging that the Maharashtra incident was part of a design to target India, said in a tweet, “Please remember, Brahmin, Maratha, Rajput, Gujjar, Dalits or backwards [Backward Classes] are not on target. Caste would change with the place as India is on target.”

When asked about alleged Maoist links to the incident, Mr. Rijiju said, “I am not aware.”

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