02/10/2024, 09.29
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Pakistan: Khan and Sharif claim victory, but no one has a majority

Today's news: One million Palestinians at risk in Rafah ahead of the Israeli army's ground assault on Hamas. A growing number of Japanese expatriates in China and the US return for increasing racism and economic reasons. Modi 'enlists' young Muslims in universities to win the minority vote. Prison authorities ban prison visits and phone calls to Nobel Prize winner Narges Mohammadi.

With a large part of the votes in the general elections in Pakistan counted, no political force has a clear majority despite the two main challengers declaring victory: on the one hand the former prime minister - now in prison - Imran Khan, according to whom the independents obtained more preferences. On the other, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for whom his own party has the largest number of votes and invites others to form a coalition. For the army the vote was a "success".

Trapped in the Rafah area, over a million Palestinians await the ground assault announced by Israel in the city south of the Strip. Humanitarian agencies warn of the risk of catastrophe for civilian victims. Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, speaks of "anxiety and panic" and people who "don't know where to go". Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military to carry out a plan "for the evacuation of the population and the destruction of 4 Hamas battalions".

An increasing number of Japanese expatriates in the United States and China are returning to their country of origin due to the rising cost of living. The number of economic migrants grew from 1989 to 2019, then recorded a progressive decrease in the last five years: Shanghai and New York were the cities that recorded the strongest decline. Among the causes are anti-Asian racism in the USA and the arrests of citizens of the Land of the Rising Sun in China, as well as "economic" issues.

A Hindu group linked to Narendra Modi is placing Muslims loyal to the prime minister's party in leadership positions in Islamic universities, as part of a plan to gather support within the minority ahead of the next elections. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wants to distance the Muslim electorate from the Congress and other opposition movements, bringing them closer to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

For over two months the Iranian authorities have deprived Narges Mohammadi, pro-human rights activist and 2023 Nobel Peace Prize winner, of the possibility of making phone calls and receiving visits in prison. The restrictions would have expired on February 4 but, according to what her family revealed, the Evin prison authorities have extended them for a further - and indeterminate - period of time.

A Malaysian court has rejected as unconstitutional more than a dozen Sharia-inspired laws issued in Kelantan, a state led by a religious party linked to Islamic law. The country has a dual system, under which criminal and family laws apply to Muslims, parallel to the secular one. The judges, with a vote of 8 to 1, deemed the laws "invalid" because they concern issues - sodomy, gambling, etc. - which fall under the jurisdiction of the federal Parliament.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the occasion of the lunar new year. The Kremlin leader received the assurance that China "is ready to strengthen international and multilateral collaboration" with Moscow "in the year of its presidency of the Brics countries", as communicated by Beijing television.

Kyrgyz Parliamentarian Šairbek Tašiev has proposed a ban on the import of electronic cigarettes, "given the increasingly widespread diffusion among students in schools". Other deputies add the ban on its use within Kyrgyzstan, while a fringe of parliamentarians and economists are critical, considering it an ineffective measure.

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