-Top News Kerala

Fake Kerala antique dealer Monson’s custody extended

Mavunkal used to bring several VIPs to his palatial residence, a part of which was converted into museum to house his ‘precious’ antiques….reports Asian Lite News

A court here on Thursday extended the police custody of now arrested fake antique dealer, Monson Mavunkal till October 2.

The 54-year-old was arrested by the Crime Branch police from his home cum museum, here on Saturday after victims approached Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with their complaints that they were swindled of Rs 10 crore by this master ‘fraud’, who even took the top most Kerala Police officials for a ride.

Such was his proverbial ‘gift of the gab’ that those who are now in trouble include former state police chief Loknath Behra, serving additional director general of police Manoj Abraham, State Congress president K. Sudhakaran, former Chief Secretary Jiji Thompson, among others, who are all facing the music for their proximity with him.

Mavunkal took all his high profile guests into his fold by showcasing antiques in his collection which he claimed included the “staff of Moses” and “two of the 30 silver coins that were taken by Judas to cheat Jesus Christ”.

Police said that he had showcased these “rare” items — a throne said to be used by Tipu Sultan, as well as a huge collection of old Qurans, Bibles (Old Testament and New Testament), and old handwritten copies of Bhagavad Gita.

Mavunkal used to bring several VIPs to his palatial residence, a part of which was converted into museum to house his ‘precious’ antiques.

Presently under the custody of the Crime Branch, on Thursday the chief of it S. Sreejith arrived here to question him directly and he said that three cheating cases against Mavunkal have already been registered.

Mavunkal also has numerous high value vehicles which are parked in his house here, while a few vehicles of his, which includes a 2007 model Porsche Boxster registered in the name of actress Kareena Kapoor, is presently parked in a local police station at his home district Alappuzha.

Meanwhile according to sources in the know of things after questioning by the Crime Branch, Mavunkal has told the probe team he is completely broke and has no money left with him as he led a luxurious life and he requires a massive sum of money every month for meeting his expenses.

In a related development the name of an Italian settled Malayalee lady has also surfaced and her links with the police officials and Mavunkal have started to appear in the media.

ALSO READ: Kerala to distribute preventive tablets as schools reopen

-Top News USA

Biden signs last-minute bill averting shutdown

The last-minute stopgap bill would extend funding at current levels for most federal agencies and programs. …reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden signed a short-term funding bill after Congress passed the measure, averting a partial government shutdown that was set to begin midnight on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, the Senate and House of Representatives swiftly cleared the bill, which will keep the government funded through December 3, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Senate voted 65-35 to pass the bill, and the House vote was 254-175, with a few Republicans voting with Democrats.

The last-minute stopgap bill would extend funding at current levels for most federal agencies and programs.

It would also provide emergency funding to help Americans still reeling from natural disasters, such as Hurricane Ida, and help re-settle Afghan refugees.

The Congressional approval of the bill came after days of partisan fights over a debt limit provision, as Democrats had intended to incorporate a suspension of the debt limit into the short-term government spending bill, a move opposed by Republicans.

Republican lawmakers argued that Democrats should solve the debt ceiling crisis on their own, since they control both chambers of Congress and the White House, while complaining about a lack of bipartisanship in crafting the president’s $3.5 trillion spending plan, a sweeping social spending bill that forms the core of Biden’s domestic agenda.

Senate Republicans previously said that they would support a “clean” stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown, pressuring the Democrats to remove the debt limit provision.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday evening that an agreement had been reached.

With the stopgap funding bill approved and shutdown temporarily avoided, Democrats will need to act quickly in the coming days on the debt limit, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently warned that lawmakers have until October 18 to raise or suspend the debt limit before the United States is expected to default on the national debt.

Yellen noted that Congress should not wait until the last minute to raise the debt limit as estimates regarding how long the remaining extraordinary measures and cash may last can “unpredictably shift forward.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are facing hurdles from Republicans as well as members of their own party as they try to pass the $3.5 trillion spending package.

ALSO READ: Musk slams Biden after EV summit snub

-Top News India News UK News

Manchester unveils plans to forge better ties with India

Manchester India Partnership (MIP) new team is geared up to enhance partnerships between India and the UK. Rahul Laud who attended the recently held MIP business summit reports from Manchester

The Manchester India Partnership (MIP) introduced its new team at a business summit held at city centre hosted by Deloitte.

The new team includes Simon Arora, Chair of MIP & CEO, B&M Stores, Jo Ahmed, deputy chair, and Shehla Hasan, Executive Director. The MIP vows to strengthen trade, investment, cultural, and educational ties with India.

The summit was held in the light of the background where the city of Manchester was voted third best city in the world – top for ‘nightlife’, ‘creativity’, ‘community spirit’, ‘friendliness’ and ‘getting to know your neighbours’ said Rob Martin, Time Out Manchester.

The summit was in sync with the national roadmap 2030 drawn up by the government of UK to forge an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP), which includes the intent of the UK government to negotiate a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.

The shadow of the meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Glasgow in November 2021 – COP26 also loomed large especially on Mayor Andy Burnham’s address who reiterated his commitment to strengthen the India-UK partnership on climate change, delivering a substantial contribution to reduced emissions and improved resilience in the context of strong climate action required in the current decade to reach the goals of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. Earlier reports have indicated that Burnham has committed £160m for the development of Greater Manchester’s “bee network” of safe routes to walk or cycle, making Greater Manchester “greenest city region in the UK.”

 Greater Manchester’s new industrial strategy also talks about reducing car use to no more than half of all daily trips by 2040 – this will mean finding ways to create a radical change in behaviour, with a million more trips each day using public transport, cycling and walking.

Mayor Andy Burnham told the summit that he wants to ensure cultural and community links to be strengthened so there is a deeper relationship cultivated beyond commerce.

“We have the national roadmap with the aim of doubling UK-India trade by 2030, and we think we can play a big part in that. We want to be more than doubling [Manchester-India] trade, “he affirmed with confidence.

Panelists at MIP Biz Summit

The summit observed that Manchester is the UK’s “most liveable city”, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. Among 140 cities surveyed across the world, Manchester ranked 38th in the 2021 report and London 48th. Various Great Britain-  India tracker reports published by Grant Thornton with the CII and FICCI clearly indicate that   India invested in 120 projects and created 5,429 new jobs in the UK to become the second-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) after the US in 2019-20 (DIT inward investment report). Between 2018-19 and 2020-21, the number of jobs grew from 245 to 741 in Manchester, due to investments by Indian companies. Trade between NW and India grew to £ 1 billion in 2019 from £887 million in 2015.

Arora, who is chief executive of FTSE 100 retailer B&M, said: “We are all aware India is a huge market for the Greater Manchester area.’’ He reiterated that many aspects of India’s 2030 vision “are very well aligned with our own focus on infrastructure renewal, improving health, and harnessing the digital revolution. It’s clear to me that there’s a real win-win opportunity here closer cooperation between Manchester and the UK and India, harnessing the respective strengths.”

Jo Ahmed, Dy Chair , MIP

According to Shehla Hasan,’’ Manchester holds greater potential for Indian companies looking to internationalise, than any other city in the UK. The ecosystem, talent, culture, inclusiveness, the spirit of enterprise, lower costs and great return on investments, makes it a natural magnet for Indian companies of all sizes. The Manchester India Partnership stands ready to support trade and investment and also the cultural, leisure and tourism aspects of the living bridge between Manchester and India.’’

 At the summit, the 1st panel session moderated by Jo Ahmed who is also the Global Employer Services Partner at Deloitte, threw light on what the UK & India FTA means for Greater Manchester & India relations. Panellists included: Department of International Trade IT, Director UK Regions – Marian Sudbury OBE, Dr Zubair Hanslot, University of Bolton, Pro Vice Chancellor, PBSI, Managing Director, Mr Philip York and Wockhardt UK, Managing Director, Ravi Limaye.

Tim Newns , CEO, MIDAS

Panellists deliberated, pointing out that the Free Trade Agreement will simplify trade between UK and India; there are a wide range of export opportunities for GM businesses particularly in digital, health and low carbon; Indian students are the 2nd largest group of international students in the UK following China.

Zubair stated that there were plans to increase the current total number of international students from 430.050 to 600,000 by 2023. He also shared that the contribution of these students to the UK economy was a staggering 25 bn£. An interesting observation made was that two sectors showed clear merger – applied engineering and healthcare.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham

The Policy Paper of the Roadmap 2030 clearly envisages expanding cooperation between UK universities in light of India’s New Education Policy, including by agreeing mutual recognition of qualifications before the end of 2021, simplification of the education regulatory framework, embracing online courses, integrating vocational training into mainstream education and greater international collaboration.

Tim Newns, CEO, MIDAS UK, moderated another panel, “What opportunities does the UK government levelling up agenda bring to the GM-India corridor?”

Panelists at Biz Summit

Panellists included Founder & CEO IN4.0 Group & Chief HOST at MCUK, Mo Isap, Head of Brand & Digital Europe, L&T Services –Mr Utkarsh Srivastav, Tata Group. Director of Public Affairs, Alexander Ehmann, Associate Vice President, 42 Gears,  Kaushik Sidhu, and  Head of Research, GM Chamber – Mr Krishnan-Harihara Subramaniam. Tim set the stage pointing out that exports were massive at 30 percent of GDP which is a clear indicator of growth prospects between the two countries.

Sindhu said: “Manchester is a wonderful cost-effective destination for SME high tech companies such as 42 Gears. The handholding by MIDAS was instrumental in our success in the UK.”

Ehmann added, “The UK India FTA will throw up new sectoral opportunities between the two countries. There is a need to set up new collaborative standards around data.”

Shehla Hasan, Executive Director, MIP

Research scholar Subramaniam elaborated that Manchester was a truly resilient city and it has survived all crises and economic depression as seen earlier in June 1996.

The Policy Paper states that both India and the UK are vibrant democracies and leading economies of the world with impressive advances and capabilities in human resources, manufacturing, innovation, science, education, research, fintech, space, defence, emerging and green technologies, and clean energy among others. Both are suitably placed to bring their respective strengths to address global challenges with regard to climate, security, terrorism and pandemics and believe that democratic norms and principles are the mainstay for maintaining a rules based international system and respect for universal human rights, the ambitious Roadmap is expected to  elevate the India-UK relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP). The Roadmap will guide cooperation for the next ten years covering all aspects of our multifaceted relations.

Simon Arora, Chairman, MIP

The MIP business summit evoked keen interest among various participants from different sectors who attended it. Diversity and inclusivity aspects were touched upon with equal seriousness. Ravi Limaye’s ambition that companies like his will invest more and create more capacities giving rise to more jobs was an encouraging outcome of the summit.    

-Top News USA

AstraZeneca to seek US nod for Covid-19 vaccine later this year

The FDA has so far authorized three vaccines for emergency used across the United States…reports Asian Lite News

The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca will file a request for approval of its novel coronavirus vaccine in the US later this year, the company said in a statement.

Earlier this year, concerns emerged over the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to very rare cases of blood-clotting after vaccination. After some nations temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine, the WHO said it considers the benefits of the drug to outweigh its risks.

“We continue to work with the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] on submission,” the company said on Wednesday. “Currently, the situation with respect to the pandemic and availability of alternative vaccine supply in the US doesn’t really support an Emergency Use Approval. So, we believe that US approval will be via a BLA [Biologics License Applications] which we expect to be submitted later this year.”

AstraZeneca vaccine

The FDA has so far authorized three vaccines for emergency used across the United States,

In February 2021, the World Health Organization listed two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through the COVAX mechanism.

According to AstraZeneca, its vaccine shows 92 per cent and 86 per cent efficiency against hospitalization in the Delta and Alpha variant cases, respectively. At the same time, a UK-based study from May, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 21, showed that AstraZeneca was 33% effective after one dose, 60% effective after two.

ALSO READ: True number of US Covid-19 cases likely over 100 mn by 2020-end

-Top News USA

Pak systematically manipulated successive US govts, says expert

Arthur Herman, writing in The Hill said that it’s time to pull the plug on the toxic relationship with Pakistan. …reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan has systematically lied to and manipulated successive US presidential administrations – Republican and Democratic – in ways that have made America and the world less safe.

Arthur Herman, writing in The Hill said that it’s time to pull the plug on the toxic relationship with Pakistan.

Islamabad has been the recipient of more than USD 33 billion in American assistance since 2002, including USD 14 billion to combat terrorism and terrorists in the region but Pakistan has been busily doing the opposite.

In the wake of the debacle of withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, it’s time to radically reassess our policy toward Pakistan. It’s time for policymakers, past and present, to explain why we continue to provide assistance to a country that cozies up to our enemies; has proliferated nuclear technology to some of the worst governments on earth; and has betrayed our friendship time and again, said Herman.

Pakistan has violated commitments to the US in the 1980s to not build a nuclear weapon; they also proceeded to proliferate that knowledge via the AQ Khan network. That proliferation network secretly armed North Korea.

Following the US invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan gave safe haven to the most wanted man in the War on Terror, Osama bin Laden, for nearly a decade until US special forces tracked him down in 2011.

In addition, Pakistan’s military and secret service have continuously protected and assisted terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network and the Taliban, even as US and NATO forces were fighting and dying to suppress the same groups, reported The Hill.

imran (ANI)

Moreover, Pakistan has been increasingly cozying ties with China. Islamabad accepted a USD 60 billion handout from China in 2013, formalizing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of China’s Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative.

Today, Pakistan is all but a Chinese client state, says Herman.

China is training Pakistan’s intelligence services and the People’s Liberation Army and Pakistani army are forging close links, including conducting joint military exercises and buying Chinese tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other military equipment.

These aren’t the actions of an ally. The sad truth is, Pakistan has been playing a clever double game with the US, which has paid off handsomely for Islamabad but not for the peace and security of the region, reported The Hill.

Given that history, and in the wake of Pakistan’s support of the Taliban and its top security chief’s journey to Kabul to bless the new Afghan government, Washington should stop sales of military equipment to Pakistan and all economic assistance, and induce allies such as Britain and Saudi Arabia to do the same; migrate Pakistan from the “grey list” to the “black list” for the Financial Action Task Force’s sanctions against countries providing funding for terrorism, alongside Iran and North Korea; and impose sanctions on individual Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistan Army officials, including suspending travel to the US and freezing bank assets, just as we do with other officials involved in state-sponsored terrorism networks, advised Herman. 

ALSO READ: China slams deportation of Chinese student from US

-Top News EU News USA

French envoy returns to Washington after AUKUS spat

On September 22, following a phone conversation with US President Joe Biden on the matter, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to send Etienne back to Washington….reports Asian Lite News

French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne has returned to Washington after almost two weeks of absence amid the dispute between two countries over the US submarine contract with Australia, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the airport.

Etienne declined to answer journalists’ questions upon his arrival at Washington’s Dulles International Airport on Wednesday.

The ambassador was called back to Paris on September 17, two days after Australia abandoned a $66 billion agreement on submarines with France in favour of a partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom under the trilateral security alliance AUKUS. France considered the move a “stab in the back,” and also recalled its ambassador from Australia.

On September 22, following a phone conversation with US President Joe Biden on the matter, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to send Etienne back to Washington.

Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed the issue with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken, noting that the restoration of confidence between the two states “would take time and action.”

In mid-September, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia declared the formation of AUKUS as a platform for defence and security cooperation. The announcement came as Canberra unilaterally withdrew from the $66 billion agreement on submarines with Paris in favour of the supply of vehicles within the framework of the alliance.

ALSO READ:  Looming US sanctions shake Pakistan

-Top News USA

Clock ticks toward Friday as US govt shutdown looms

If legislation fails to pass through the House and the Senate by Friday, certain government services could shut down….reports Asian Lite News

The clock is ticking toward a shutdown of some US government services if Congress does not pass a budget by Friday.

Democrats this week scrambled to extend funding for some federal government operations, in a bid to avoid a shutdown as negotiations with Republicans reached a stalemate amid a bitter partisan divide in Washington.

President Joe Biden cancelled a trip in an effort to focus on budget negotiations amid a tense moment in Washington.

If legislation fails to pass through the House and the Senate by Friday, certain government services could shut down.

This week saw GOP (Republicans) lawmakers in the Senate block an effort by Democrats to combine an increase in the amount of money the government can borrow – known as the debt ceiling – with government funding.

Democrats argued that the Republicans’ move was irresponsible.

The GOP move is forcing Democrats to come up with a plan to fund the government, as the Friday deadline rapidly approaches. If Congress fails to pass a short-term plan by Thursday midnight, certain government services will shut down on Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to extend funding before the Friday’s deadline.

“This isn’t your typical Washington fracas and it shouldn’t be treated as such,” Schumer said.

The issue has “far more severe consequences than the typical political catfight,” Schumer said.

GOP Senator Bill Cassidy blasted Democrats for combining government funding with a bid to increase the debt ceiling.

“I voted no once it became clear it couldn’t pass,” he said.

Cassidy said a budget resolution needs to be passed separately from the debt ceiling.

Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West said that each party is “making policy with an eye towards the 2022 elections and trying to position itself in the best possible manner.”

“Ultimately, there will be a continuing resolution that keeps the government open, but there is a lot of posturing now for purely political reasons,” West said.

“Each side sees the current situation as one that will benefit their party. Democrats want the public to believe Republicans are irresponsible and not committed to effective governance, while Republicans are focusing on the large spending bills and their view that too much money is being spent,” West said.

A shutdown would mean many federal government functions would be put on hold until a budget is passed, and some federal workers would be placed on furlough.

Services considered essential, such as law enforcement or public safety, would continue. Military operations would continue, as would medical care for US veterans, air traffic control and criminal investigations conducted by the federal government. The US Postal Service would also continue its operations.

On the list for suspension would be national parks and certain museums in Washington, D.C. There would also be delays in passport and visa applications.

Many Americans believe the US government spends far too much.

Kim Bristol, in her 50s and working in information technology in the D.C. area, said: “I believe that the government spends money frivolously.”

She also questioned why “career politicians live in million dollar houses when they make $200,000 a year.”

Carl Richardson, in his 40s and in food management in the D.C. area, said he believes the government “spends too much.”

Polls show that approval of Congress remains low.

A paltry 27 per cent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing and 69 per cent disapprove, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this month.

ALSO READ: Looming US sanctions shake Pakistan

Arts & Culture Media UK News

Media House Shortlisted For Prestigious PR Award

London-based Media House has become the go-to agency for mainstream brands keen to tap South Asian and diverse audiences across multiple international territories including the UK, USA, Canada, UAE, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore

London’s leading diversity media and brand communications agency Media House has been shortlisted for the Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award at the coveted PR Week Awards 2021. Winners will be announced at the award ceremony taking place on Wednesday 20th October at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane.

The PR Week Awards is the most prominent, industry sector award ceremony to recognise the achievements of the leading, PR and Marketing agencies and their contribution to the global media and communications landscape. Media House has been shortlisted for its unparalleled commitment to ensuring diversity representation and inclusion in the global mainstream, while conversely delivering successful diversity strategies for mainstream brands and organisations.

Media House Directors Arika Murtza and Tony Gill

London-based Media House has become the go-to agency for mainstream brands keen to tap South Asian and diverse audiences across multiple international territories including the UK, USA, Canada, UAE, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Additionally, they have established themselves as industry leaders in providing consultancy and strategy for global brands to ensure campaigns are duly inclusive of diverse audiences.

Progressive and dynamic in their campaigns, Media House is now globally recognised as a best practice agency that delivers new innovations in diverse celebrity and influencer marketing; digital and social media; PR and Media Relations; and events to deliver visionary client campaigns that engage diverse audiences.

Media House has also established itself as the leading agency to champion and increase the visibility of South Asian and diverse clients across the global mainstream, while also servicing ethnic and diaspora audiences across international territories. Their work in diversity representation is reflected by their intersectional team, comprising a new generation of industry talent from publicists and brand marketeers to the network of influencers and creatives that they work with from campaign to campaign. The agency promotes and celebrates diversity and inclusion through the work that it does as well as ensuring it is integrated as a key principle in their recruitment process, recognising the valuable contribution each of its team members makes that collectively demonstrate a diversity of talent from respective life backgrounds and experiences.

Media House’s agency sector specialisms include the film and entertainment; celebrity and influencer; arts and culture; music and live event; charity; corporate; fashion; and lifestyle sectors.

“Diversity must always be encouraged and celebrated,” said Arika Murtza, Director, Media House. “The existence of differences in ethnicity, culture, religion and a variety of other factors has a role in the way we perceive the world as well as feel in the workplace. The practice of ensuring that people with these differences experience a sense of connection and encouragement from media as well as at Media House has always remained at the centre of what we do, working to always alleviate prejudices and promote unity in the media as well as in the workplace. Diversity and inclusion are the grounds of the world we like to see and be in.”

Tony Gill, director, Media House, added: “From the heart of the Media House team, to be recognised by the benchmark award ceremony in our industry sector, the PR Week Awards, is such a huge honour and achievement for us, reaffirming, encouraging and inspiring us to continue doing what we’re doing and celebrating diversity representation and inclusion in the global mainstream, led by our beautifully diverse and talented team. Thank you, PR Week Awards, for recognising our work and its importance in industry and beyond.”

-Top News Afghanistan

US looks to use Russian bases for Afghan counterterror ops

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley reveal about discussions, which are taking place with the governments of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and others for help, reports Asian Lite News

During the classified hearing with Senators on Wednesday, the top Pentagon officials said that the US is in talks with countries that border Afghanistan about housing “over the horizon” counterterrorism operations that would allow the US military to more easily surveil and strike targets in the Taliban-controlled country. Those sites could include bases run by Russia in those countries.

Briefing the lawmakers behind closed doors, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley revealed about the discussions, which are taking place with the governments of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and others.

Kenneth McKenzie, US Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander, detailed the types of military aircraft and launching points that could be used to launch strikes against targets in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The top generals testified for the first time before the Senate after the US withdrawal.

On August 31, the US completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan under the Doha accord it signed with the Taliban last year.

Earlier, during the public testimony, Milley stressed that he had warned US President Joe Biden that a rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan could increase risks to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and the country’s security.

Milley said, “We estimated an accelerated withdrawal would increase risks of regional instability, the security of Pakistan, and its nuclear arsenals.”

“We need to fully examine the role of Pakistan sanctuary,” the general said while emphasising the need to probe how the Taliban withstood US military pressure for 20 years.

Top Generals had warned Joe Biden

Top Generals has said they had warned Joe Biden that a rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan could increase risks to Pakistan nuclear weapons and the country’s security.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said: “We estimated an accelerated withdrawal would increase risks of regional instability, the security of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenals.”

“We need to fully examine the role of Pakistan sanctuary,” the general said while emphasising the need to probe how the Taliban withstood US military pressure for 20 years.

On August 31, the US completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan under the Doha accord it signed with the Taliban last year.

The top military officials have appeared first time before the Senate after the Afghanistan pullout.

General Milley and General Frank McKenzie, the leader of US Central Command, also warned that the Taliban Pakistan will now have to deal with would be different from the one they dealt with earlier, and this would complicate their relations.

“I believe Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban is going to become significantly more complicated as a result of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan,” General McKenzie told the lawmakers.

The Centcom chief also said that the US and Pakistan were involved in ongoing negotiations over the use of a vital air corridor to access Afghanistan.

“Over the last 20 years we’ve been able to use what we call the air boulevard to go in over western Pakistan and that’s become something that’s vital to us, as well as certain landlines of communication,” he said.

During the testimony, another top US General Mark Milley said that Washington “would have gone into war with the Taliban if it had stayed after the August 31 deadline”. Both generals also disputed Biden’s claim that al-Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan.

Underlining the concerns over Afghanistan’s future, General McKenzie said that it’s ‘yet to be seen’ if terrorists can be stopped from using Afghan soil as the launchpad”, according to Sputnik. 

ALSO READ: China slams deportation of Chinese student from US

-Top News Asia News UK News

Odisha FC’s new deal cements India-UK Trade

LORD PATEL: If one person, in one team, in one club succeeds, then we’ve seen how business, politicians and economists get behind them to ensure greater fiscal, community and societal success

Odisha Football Club has just signed a historic deal with UK-based India Business Group (IBG) to cement further commercial relationships between India and the UK.

“This is truly exciting for India and UK relations,” said IBG’s chair, Professor Lord Patel of Bradford. “We know the success of the IPL (Indian Premier League), and the soccer league has huge ambitions to mirror that. Odisha’s at the forefront of those efforts.

“India is a sport-loving nation, and by working with clubs like Watford FC and having legends from Spain on-side, this is Odisha FC’s message of intent.

“But never forget that football is a global business, and communities will thrive when business deals are struck to benefit them.

“IBG’s expertise in having a foot in both halves means we’ll be able to advise, introduce and cement relationships which will embody in spirit and action Prime Minister Modi’s vision of a living bridge between our two great nations.”

Odisha Football Club (an Indian Super League organisation) was established in 2019 in a partnership with the state government. Odisha Football Club is driven to develop the next wave of football stars from its home state while having a positive impact on the local community.   The memo of understanding (MOU) means both the club and IBG will work towards better health, social and economic benefits for Odisha’s diverse communities.

Lord Patel, a former vice-president of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), believes this new connection will create opportunities.

“We know that sport is a universal way of helping people,” he continued. “It’s great for mental and physical health, but it’s also been shown to find, nurture and produce talented individuals and teams.

“If one person, in one team, in one club succeeds, then we’ve seen how business, politicians and economists get behind them to ensure greater fiscal, community and societal success.”

Earlier this year, Odisha FC appointed Coventry-born commercial and sport consultant, Raj Athwal, as its president.

Athwal brings with him decades of working with topflight English and Scottish soccer clubs and coaches.

“Soccer is more than just two rival teams battling to win a game,” he said. “We only have to look at Manchester United and England star, Marcus Rashford, to know footballers do great things for their communities in which they are invested.

“They’re considered as role models, and young people want to copy their heroes, and we’ve seen non-UK men and women come to play for British clubs and vice-versa. 

As India’s founding father, Mahatma Gandhi said, we can be the change, and Odisha FC

wants to change the lives of the 47 million people who live in this wonderful state.”

Odisha’s reputation in investing in sport is well-known. It was the first state in India to sponsor the men and women national hockey teams.

The state’s political leaders are behind Odisha FC’s ambitious plans.

The vision of the state’s chief minister, Shri Naveen Patnaik, has helped the state to start a model of partnership and high-performance centres that has drawn national attention.  The chief minister always says, “Sports for youth, youth for future”. And, under his leadership the sports department of the state government has worked hard to create a positive ecosystem for the growth and development of different sporting disciplines across the state.

 “I am glad to know about the partnership between Odisha FC and India Business Group,” said Vineel Krishna, special secretary to Odisha’s chief minister and commissioner – cum – secretary sports and youth services government of Odisha. “Odisha has an attractive investor policy, and we would welcome the potential investors to the State. The State Government will facilitate the investment as per the current policy.”

For several years, IBG has been bringing UK and Indian businesses together, creating successful partnerships which it believes it will emulate in Odisha.

“Odisha Football Club is thrilled to have signed this strategic partnership with the UK-based India Business Group,” said owner, Dr Anil Sharma, founder and chief executive of GMS.

“Our shared values, passion and mutual interest in embracing the power of sport as a global gateway for education, health and well-being and entrepreneurship in and with India makes this collaboration significant for the state of Odisha, which is emerging as the sports capital of India.”

That enthusiasm is shared by the UK government in India.

Nick Low, British deputy high commissioner to east and northeast India said: “The UK-India relationship has entered a transformative decade that will see much deeper and broader cooperation on areas that matter to both nations.

“Our living bridge between our people has a crucial role to play as we set out on this ambitious journey together. This collaboration between IBG and Odisha FC promises benefits for our communities here and in Britain.”

Odisha is famed for its mineral deposits and finding ancient treasure troves. Now it is planning to discover new diamonds, this time in the shape of future soccer stars.