CIA concludes Saudi Crown Prince behind Khashoggi murder

ICMD, Nov 17, 2018 The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded Saudi's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US media reported on Friday, citing people close to the matter. The US assessment directly contradicts the conclusions of a Saudi prosecutor one day prior, which exonerated the prince of involvement in the brutal murder. But The Washington Post, which broke the story, said the CIA found that 15 Saudi agents flew on government aircraft to Istanbul and assassinated Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate. Queried by AFP, the CIA declined to comment. Khashoggi, a Post columnist, had gone to the consulate to obtain documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee. Saudi Arabia — which quickly dismissed the reported CIA findings — has repeatedly changed its official narrative of the October 2 murder, first denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts and later saying he was killed when an argument degenerated into a fistfight. In the latest version presented by the Saudi prosecutor on Thursday, a 15-member squad was formed to bring Khashoggi back from Istanbul "by means of persuasion" — but instead ended up killing the journalist and dismembering his body in a "rogue" operation. The CIA scrubbed multiple intelligence sources, the Post said, among them a phone call between the prince's brother — the Saudi ambassador to the United States — and Khashoggi. The ambassador reportedly told the late journalist that he would be safe to go to the consulate in Istanbul and get the papers he needed. 'Some things you can't do' But a Saudi embassy spokesperson said that Ambassador Khalid bin Salman had never discussed "anything related to going to Turkey" with Khashoggi. "Amb Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with (Khashoggi)," the statement posted on the ambassador's Twitter account said. "The claims in this purported assessment is false," it said. Meanwhile, the US intelligence agency also said in determining the crown prince's role it considered him a "de facto ruler" in Saudi Arabia: "The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved," the Post quoted an official as saying. That official dubbed Prince Mohammed a "good technocrat" — but also someone unpredictable who "goes from zero to 60, doesn't seem to understand that there are some things you can't do". The New York Times later reported that the CIA findings were also based on calls from the kill team to one of the crown prince's senior aides. But the paper said that while the intercepts showed Prince Mohammed was working to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, the crown prince had not said in the calls that he wanted Khashoggi killed. The NYT cited officials as saying US and Turkish intelligence as of yet has not found direct evidence connecting the prince to Khashoggi's killing. The CIA conclusions nevertheless threaten to further fray relations between Washington and key ally Riyadh, which has sought to end discussion of the murder and rejected calls for an international investigation. On Thursday, the US Treasury slapped sanctions on 17 people, including close aides of Prince Mohammed, suggesting a coordinated effort between Riyadh and Washington to pre-empt the threat of harsher actions from an outraged US Congress. US President Donald Trump has shied from directly blaming the Crown Prince but on Friday agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that "any cover up of the incident should not be allowed". -- Courtesy AFP

Prime Minister moves on uniformity in education system

ICMD, Nov 14, 2018 Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the National Education Policy Framework was being devised to bring uniformity in the education system. He made these remarks after chairing a briefing on the policy framework here at Prime Minister’s Office. He said that the objective of the policy was to create a national education system. The Prime Minister emphasized that skill development of the youth should be focused so that their immense potential could be effectively utilized. Earlier, Minister for Federal Education & Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood gave a detailed presentation, identifying various challenges vis-a-vis out-of-school children, education apartheid, quality of education and skill development issues. Highlighting the contours of the National Education Policy Framework, the Minister mentioned optimum utilization of the existing infrastructure, employing technology solutions, improvement in non-formal education systems, attracting quality teachers and incentivizing education were some of the measures in the proposed framework. The Minister also suggested establishment of a National Curriculum Council for the purpose of engaging and creating a broad consensus among stakeholders for common standards of education across Pakistan.

Body of slain cop expected to be handed over today

ICMD, Nov 14, 2018 The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai said on Wednesday that the body of the slain Superintendent of Police (SP), Tahir Khan Dawar, who was kidnapped last month from Islamabad and found killed in Afghanistan, is likely to be handed over to Pakistani authorities on Thursday (today). Yousafzai said KP police officials and other officers had waited at the Torkham border crossing all day to receive the body of Dawar, which was earlier expected to be handed over to Pakistani authorities on Wednesday. However, he didn’t elaborate on the cause of the delay. Dawar, the head of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped from Islamabad on October 26. The badly mutilated body of the police officer was found in eastern Nangarhar province, near the Pak-Afghan border, reports say. He was ruthlessly tortured before he was killed by unidentified men who later dumped his body near Momand Dara area of Nangarhar. Pictures of his disfigured body circulating on the social media showed signs of severe torture on his face and body, and also showed a paper lying on the body with a statement attributed to IS Khorasan, who claimed the killing. The martyred SP was abducted in broad daylight and his body was recovered after almost 16 days of his kidnapping. Media reported that Minister of State for Interior Affairs Shehryar Afridi declined to respond to journalists’ queries about Tahir Khan’s martyrdom. However, MNA from North Waziristan Mohsin Dawar confirmed from his twitter handle that he could identify from images on social media that it is Tahir Khan Dawar. He said, “Shocked to hear that the abducted SP Rural Tahir Dawar has been murdered, explaining this in the same old good and bad Taliban drama will not work anymore.” “We demand answer. His abductors have to be made answerable,” he tweeted.

Riyadh to release $3bn aid for Pakistan soon

ICMD, Nov 14, 2018 Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malki on Wednesday said that Pakistan would have the first installment of Saudi aid amounting to $3 billion in the next few days to address its balance-of-payments crisis. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would release the amount of $3 billion in terms of the balance of payment, the envoy stated in a short interview with a private news channel. Moreover, the envoy confirmed that the Saudi government would provide deferred payment facility for the import of oil, worth up to another $3 billion. “The Saudi companies are keen to invest a huge amount of around $6-8 billion for establishing an oil refinery in Pakistan,” he added. Replying to a question, Nawaf Saeed said the kingdom would like to invest in the power sector of Pakistan, adding: “We were also seeking to set up a petrochemical industry near Karachi.”