Pakistan, elections: results slow, 'serious doubts' about vote

Today's news: Arab diplomacy meets in Saudi Arabia to end the war in Gaza; Delhi aims to discontinue the visa-free policy to Myanmar and block entry to the north-east; A Houhti court sentences 13 people to death by public execution for homosexuality; Ulan Bator aims to launch the country's first satellite to strengthen communications; Outgoing president Ilham Aliev in the lead with counting almost complete.

The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has a slight advantage in the first official results of the general elections held yesterday, marked by delays, militarization of polling stations and blocking of mobile telephony. But the data refers to just 47 of the 266 seats up for grabs: the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is credited with 17 seats, 14 have been assigned to "independents" linked to the PTI, the party of the jailed former prime minister Imran Khan. 12 more seats for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP). According to unofficial data, however, the PTI claims to be largely in the lead in the polls and denounces fraud in a very tense climate. Analysts and experts predict that there will be no clear winner and are already raising "serious doubts" about the credibility of the electoral process.

End the war in Gaza, complete and lasting ceasefire, guarantee the protection of civilians according to international law, lift restrictions on access to the Strip. These are the "irrevocable" steps invoked by Middle Eastern diplomats during the meeting held yesterday in Saudi Arabia, attended by the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan

India is ready to interrupt the decades-long visa exemption policy with Myanmar. The decision announced yesterday was based on national security reasons - due to the escalation of violence between the Burmese military junta and rebel militias - and to maintain the current demographic balance in the north-east, in the border areas which will in the meantime be strengthened and fenced to prevent intrusions. So far, those living within a 16km (10 mile) zone on either side can travel without a visa.

A Houthi court in Yemen has sentenced 13 people to death by public execution on charges of homosexuality. Another 35 people were recently arrested for the same reason. A 2022 report by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor shows how pro-Iranian militiamen inflict the death penalty but in many cases it is not carried out (since 2014, 11 people have been executed out of 350 sentences).

Ulaanbaatar has started talks with Elon Musk's SpaceX to launch the country's first telecommunications satellite, in a bid to improve connectivity and develop a "space economy" in Mongolia. The satellite will: improve disaster management and emergency response; increase access to broadband; support scientific research and education.

In January, consumer prices in China fell at the fastest pace in over 14 years, as production costs also fell. The world's second-largest economy has been grappling with a slowdown in prices since the beginning of last year, which has forced politicians to cut interest rates to stimulate growth. The CPI fell 0.8% in January compared to 2023.

The Russian Ministry of Justice has declared some foreign organizations claiming rights on the territory of Russia "undesirable". Among others are the “Union for the Restitution of the Northern Territories” registered in Japan, the “Resource Center of the Crimean Tatars” in Ukraine and the “Global Union IndustriALL” of Switzerland.

The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, is clearly in the lead with the almost completed counting of votes for the presidential elections held on February 7 with 93.3% of the votes, as reported by the president of the Election Commission Mazakhir Pakhanov. The independent candidate Zakhid Orudž is at 2.19%, while Fazil Mustafa of the “Great Work” party is at 2%, the others below this threshold.