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Prime Minister Shtayyeh of Palestine steps down

Following Israel's assault against Hamas in Gaza, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday that he was stepping down to give room for the creation of a wide consensus among his fellow Palestinians over political arrangements.

The action was taken in response to mounting international pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to reorganize the Palestinian Authority and put in place a political framework to oversee the enclave following the war.

Abbas still needs to accept his resignation, and he could be asked to continue in his role as interim manager until a permanent replacement is found.

Shtayyeh, an academic economist appointed to the cabinet in 2019, stated in a statement that the following phase will have to consider the new situation in Gaza, which has been destroyed by intense conflict raging there for almost five months.

"New governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus," he added, will be necessary for the next phase.

"The extension of the Authority's authority over the entire land, Palestine," would be necessary.

Established thirty years ago under the temporary Oslo peace agreements, the Palestinian Authority has limited authority over certain areas of the occupied West Bank. However, in 2007, a power struggle with Hamas caused them to lose control of Gaza.

The PA's ruling group, Fatah, and Hamas are scheduled to meet in Moscow on Wednesday in an attempt to finalize their agreement on a unity administration. According to a top Hamas official, a more comprehensive deal on Palestinian government had to come before this action.

Senior Hamas leader Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters that "the resignation of Shtayyeh's government only makes sense it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase."

Israel said that it would destroy Hamas and that it would not recognize Palestinian Authority administration over Gaza for security reasons after the war started on October 7, following an onslaught on southern Israel spearheaded by Hamas that claimed the lives of some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners, according to Israeli estimates.

So far, almost 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza fighting, according to Palestinian health authorities, and almost the entire population has been driven from their homes.

Published Feb 26, 2024-

Today, CMs from Punjab and Sindh will be chosen

In Punjab, the PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif is the party's nominee for the chief minister position, contending against Rana Aftab Ahmed of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC). Meanwhile, in Sindh, PPP's Murad Ali Shah will be competing against Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) candidate Ali Khurshidi.

Notably, PTI named Rana Aftab Ahmed Khan as its new candidate at the last minute, replacing Mian Aslam Iqbal, who faced attempted arrest by the provincial police.

Hammad Azhar, a PTI leader, highlighted that Imran Khan had initially nominated Mian Aslam Iqbal for the post, but heavy police presence thwarted his participation in the proceedings.

Rana Aftab, the Sunni Ittehad Council's candidate for Punjab chief minister, met Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan after the validation of his nomination papers.

In the Sindh Assembly, PTI and Jamaat-i-Islami will boycott the CM's election, while PPP has nominated Murad Ali Shah, and MQM-P has fielded Ali Khurshidi for the position.

In terms of numbers, PML-N holds a significant advantage, ensuring a competitive election. The oath-taking ceremony for the Punjab Assembly members took place recently, with PML-N and its allies holding a clear majority, paving the way for Maryam Nawaz to secure the top position.

In the preceding days, PML-N secured victory in the Punjab Assembly speaker and deputy speaker elections, further solidifying its position. Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan was elected as PA Speaker, while Malik Zaheer Ahmed Channer became the deputy speaker, both achieving decisive wins.

Published Feb 26, 2024-

Gaza civilians to be evacuated by Israel's military

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office claimed on Monday that Israel's military has prepared a plan to evacuate residents from the Gaza Strip after he said that a land assault of the southern Palestinian city of Rafah was required for "total victory."

Foreign governments and humanitarian organizations have frequently voiced their concerns that a large number of civilian fatalities may result from such an operation.

Over 1.4 million Palestinians, the most of whom are internally displaced, have descended into the final Gazan city spared by Israeli ground forces.

Additionally, it serves as the entrance point for humanitarian supplies that is transported in via Egypt, a neighbor.

According to a statement released in Hebrew by Netayahu's office on Monday, Israel's military "presented the War Cabinet with a plan for evacuating the population from areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip, and with the upcoming operational plan."

The announcement did not specify where or how the people will be relocated.

The declaration follows a meeting in Doha between Egyptian, Qatari, and US "experts" and representatives of Israel and Hamas, according to state-affiliated Egyptian media. This was the most recent attempt to achieve a ceasefire before to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

While a Hamas source stated that the organization insisted on the evacuation of Israeli soldiers, Israel's partner the United States claimed that continuous mediation attempts resulted in "an understanding" towards a ceasefire and captive release.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, has rejected the demand for retreat and stated that Israel would achieve "total victory" against Hamas, the group that launched the conflict, in a matter of weeks if Israel invaded Rafah on the ground.

"In an interview with CBS Sunday, he stated that the ground invasion will happen, but it will be delayed somewhat if we have a truce agreement."

The principal UN organization for Palestinian aid called for political action to prevent hunger in Gaza amid a rapidly worsening humanitarian situation.

According to Philippe Lazzarini, administrator of UNRWA, the UN organization for Palestinian refugees, the dire food shortages in northern Gaza are "a man-made disaster" that may be lessened.

"There is still hope for preventing hunger if there is sincere political will to provide protection and meaningful assistance."

According to the UN, there are limitations, especially on the delivery of supplies to the northern section of Gaza.

Published Feb 26, 2024-

Today's meeting of the Punjab Assembly is to swear in new MPAs

LAHORE: Today (Friday), at the Punjab Assembly's first session, newly elected MPAs will take the oath of office.

In the wake of the February 8 general elections, Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman called an inaugural session of the Punjab Assembly on Thursday.

The elected legislators will take an oath from Punjab Assembly Speaker Sabatin Khan to officially become members of the legislature.

In the meantime, the timetable for choosing the next speaker and deputy speaker of the house will be made public.

To prevent any unfortunate situation, strict security measures are implemented. Over 500 police officers have been stationed in the vicinity of the Punjab Assembly structure. In addition, Anti-Riots Dolphin Force, water cannon vehicles, and APCs are used.

Speaking outside the Punjab Assembly building, Ata Tarar of the PML-N stated that on February 8, the people of Punjab handed the party a mandate.

He claimed that there are now 210 PML-N MPAs following the distribution of reserve seats. According to Tarar, Maryam Nawaz's leadership is set to usher in a new age of sound government.

Following the induction of independent MPA-elects into the party, the PML-N has grown to be the largest party in the Punjab Assembly and has declared that Maryam Nawaz would lead the coalition in forming the province's government.

As she carried out her responsibilities as the provincial chief executive, Maryam Nawaz, who is poised to become Pakistan's first female chief minister (CM), pledged on Wednesday to create "new records" in Punjab.

The PML-N has nominated Maryam Nawaz, the political scion of its supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, to be the party's nominee for Punjab's chief ministership, which is much sought after.

Published Feb 23, 2024-

Maryam Nawaz "vacates" the seat in NA-119

LAHORE: Maryam Nawaz, a prominent organizer for the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and a contender for chief minister of Punjab, relinquished the NA-119 Lahore seat.

Maryam Nawaz, who is expected to become Punjab's first female chief minister, resigned from NA-119 and sent a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), according to party insiders.

The PML-N leader would maintain PP-159 to succeed him as Punjab province's chief minister, according to sources. She defeated independent candidate Sharafat Ali Khan, endorsed by the PTI, who received 21,491 votes, to win the PP-189 seat in Lahore with 23,598 votes.

Shehbaz Sharif, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), had already said that Maryam Nawaz, the top organizer of the party, would be their nominee for Punjab's chief minister position.

It is relevant to note that today (Friday) is the first day of the Punjab Assembly's inaugural session, during which the recently elected MPAs will take the oath of office.

Soon after the general elections on February 8, Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman called an inaugural session of the Punjab Assembly.

The elected legislators will take an oath from Punjab Assembly Speaker Sabatin Khan to officially become members of the legislature.

In the meantime, the timetable for choosing the next speaker and deputy speaker of the house will be made public.

Strict security measures are implemented in the meantime to prevent any unforeseen incidence. Over 500 police officers have been stationed in the vicinity of the Punjab Assembly structure. In addition, Anti-Riots Dolphin Force, water cannon vehicles, and APCs are used.

Published Feb 23, 2024-

Bushra Bibi challenges the Nikah case's verdict in court

ISLAMABAD: On Friday, Bushra Bibi, the spouse of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan, filed a motion in an Islamabad session court challenging the couple's conviction in the Nikah case, which resulted in their sentencing to seven years in prison and penalties of Rs 500,000 per.

According to specifics, Bushra Bibi's attorney, Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry, entered a plea on her behalf, requesting that the trial court's decision from February 3 be deemed invalid.

Salman Akram Raja, Salman Safdar, and others will also be parties to this lawsuit. At the same time, Bushra Bibi's ex-husband Khawar Maneka and the federal government have been named respondents in the plea.

According to the plea, the former first lady went to her mother's house in August 2017 after divorcing in April.

Furthermore, the ruling is unlawful, immoral, and un-Islamic because the matter about Bushra Bibi and Khan's nikah was outside the court's jurisdiction.

In a case concerning their marriage during the latter's Iddat era, a court in Islamabad condemned former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi to seven years in prison.

The decision on the lawsuit submitted by Bushra's ex-husband Khawar Maneka in a temporary court at Adiala jail was announced by senior civil judge Qudratullah. The pair was also fined Rs 500,000 apiece by the court.

Bushra Bibi and Imran Khan's marriage

In February 2018, the former prime minister wed Bushra Bibi in Lahore.

Only the bride's mother and other close relatives and friends were present for the ceremony. The sisters of the PTI founder, however, were not present.

Former SAPM Zulfi Bukhari and Awn Chaudhary, leaders of the Pakitan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), were present when Mufti Saeed conducted the nikah.

Bibi's ex-husband Khawar Maneka had petitioned the court last year, arguing that the marriage was unlawful and in violation of Sharia law.

Initially, Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi were charged with getting married during the three-month "iddat period" that comes after a divorce. Maneka has also charged them with infidelity.

Published Feb 23, 2024-

"Ready to work with Pakistan's new government," the IMF said

NEW YORK: The founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has demanded that an audit of the election results be conducted before the IMF approves any more loans for Islamabad. However, the IMF has shown that it is eager to cooperate with the new Pakistani administration by rejecting this demand.

In response to the former premier's request, IMF Director of Communications Julie Kozak stated, "I'm not going to comment on ongoing political developments," during a news conference.

She continued by saying that they "look forward to working on policies to ensure macroeconomic stability and prosperity for all of Pakistan's citizens with the new government."

In addition to stating that the program is "supporting the authority's efforts to stabilise the economy and to, of course, with a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable," Kozack said the lender increased the total payouts under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) to $1.9 billion.

This has been accomplished by closely adhering to budgetary constraints and safeguarding the social safety net. In order to keep foreign exchange reserves growing and to manage inflation, a strict monetary policy stance has been maintained, it was stated.

The PTI founding chairman decided to write a letter to the international lender, asking it to demand an audit of the election held on February 8 before it proceeds with discussions with Islamabad for a new loan program. This move prompted the IMF to release its statement.

Published Feb 23, 2024-

Tom Cruise and Elsina Khayrova, his Russian lover, called it quits

Tom Cruise, a famous Hollywood actor, and Elsina Khayrova, a Russian socialite, ended their romance a few weeks after it became official.

American actor Tom Cruise, 61, broke up with his new partner Elsina Khayrova, 36, after getting to know her two children from her previous marriage to Russian businessman Dimitry Tsvetkov, according to US tabloids.

According to a person close to the former couple, the two reportedly broke up amicably to avoid any embarrassment because they share a London apartment building. The source also stated that there are no hard feelings between Cruise and Khayrova because their relationship "simply ran its course."

Notably, the couple's breakup stoked romance rumors in December of last year when they were reportedly "inseparable" at a London party and subsequently when they went to a dinner for the London Air Ambulance Charity.

But Cruise didn't officially announce his connection with Khayrova to his pals until earlier this month. in that time, they disclosed that they were spending the most of their time together in her opulent London residence in Knightsbridge.

The 'Mission Impossible' star is the father of three children—two adopted and one daughter with the 'Coda' actor—and has previously been married three times, to Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, and Katie Holmes.

Khayrova, however, is not together with her ex-husband Dmitry Tsetkov, with whom she has a daughter and a son.

Published Feb 23, 2024-