BLACKOUT IN PAKISTAN AS ENERGY-SAVING MEASURE BACKFIRES
ISLAMABAD -- Most of Pakistan was left without power Monday as an energy-saving measure by the government backfired. The outage spread panic and raised questions about the cash-strapped government’s handling of the country's economic crisis.
It all started when electricity was turned off during low usage hours overnight to conserve fuel across the country, officials said, leaving technicians unable to boot up the system all at once after daybreak. The outage was reminiscent of a massive blackout in January 2021, attributed at the time to a technical fault in Pakistan's power generation and distribution system.
Many major cities, including the capital of Islamabad, and remote towns and villages across Pakistan were without electricity for more than 12 hours. As the electricity failure continued into Monday night, authorities deployed additional police at markets around the country to provide security.
Officials announced late Monday that power was restored in many cities, 15 hours after the outage was reported.
Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir said, “As an economic measure, we temporarily shut down our power generation systems”, Dastagir said. Technicians were unable to boot up the system all at once after daybreak.
When engineers tried to turn the systems back on at 7.30am, a “fluctuation in voltage" was observed, which “forced engineers to shut down the power grid" stations one by one, the minister said.
Monday’s nationwide breakdown left many people without drinking water as pumps are powered by electricity. Schools, hospitals, factories and shops were without power amid the harsh winter weather.
ERDOGAN TELLS SWEDEN NOT TO EXPECT NATO BID SUPPORT
Sweden should not expect Turkey to back its Nato membership bid, Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, days after a copy of the Quran was burned in a Stockholm protest.
Sweden applied to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine - but needs Turkey, already a member, to approve.
Kurdish protesters in Sweden hung an effigy of Mr Erdogan this month, followed by the Quran burning.
"Sweden should not expect support from us for Nato," Erdogan said in response.
"It is clear that those who caused such a disgrace in front of our country's embassy can no longer expect any benevolence from us regarding their application."
Saturday's protest - but not the burning of the book itself - was given prior approval by Swedish authorities.
Erdogan condemned the latest protest, carried out by a far-right politician from a Danish party, as blasphemy not to be defended by free speech.
The Swedish governments also criticised the protest.
GERMANY WON'T BLOCK EXPORT OF ITS LEOPARD 2 TANKS, FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS
Germany's Foreign Minister Anna Baerbock has said she "would not stand in the way" of Poland if it were to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Ukraine has called on the West to provide the German-made tanks which they say will help them defeat Russia.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the BBC that Germany had the power to "save the lives of many Ukrainian soldiers".
But Germany is yet to agree and its export laws have stood in Poland's way.
On Sunday, Ms Baerbock said Poland had not yet asked for export permission.
"For the moment the question has not been asked, but if we were asked we would not stand in the way," she told France's LCI TV.
Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday the government would request authorisation from Berlin. But he said Poland would send the tanks to Ukraine, even if it was not granted.
"Even if ultimately we did not get this consent, within the framework of a small coalition... we will still hand over our tanks, together with others, to Ukraine," Mr Morawiecki said.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Germany would not stop other EU countries exporting Leopard tanks.
He added that discussions of support for Ukraine should not solely revolve around tanks.
RUSSIA & ESTONIA ORDER EACH OTHERS ENVOYS TO LEAVE
Nato and EU members Estonia and Latvia told their Russian ambassadors to leave after Moscow said it was downgrading diplomatic relations with Estonia, accusing it of “total Russophobia”.
Estonia, Latvia and their Baltic neighbour Lithuania have been among a group of Nato allies arguing strongly for Germany to provide its Leopard battle tanks to boost Ukraine in fighting off Russia’sinvasion.
The Russian foreign ministry said it had told Estonian envoy he must leave next month, and both countries would be represented in each other’s capitals by an interim charge d’affaires instead of an ambassador. Estonia responded, telling the Russian envoy to leave by February 7, foreign affairs minister Urmas Reinsalu said. Moscow said move was in response to an Estonian decision to reduce size of Russian embassy in Tallinn.
PROTEST CRACKDOWN: EU SLAPS SANCTIONS ON DOZENS IN IRAN
Brussels : The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on dozens of Iranian officials, including a government minister, regional governors and lawmakers, suspected in the security crackdown on protestors, but did not add Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to its terror group blacklist.
At a meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers agreed to slap a travel ban and asset freeze on Iran’s sports and youth minister Hamid Sajjadi, accusing him of pressuring Iran’s athletes into silence, including an Iranian climber who competed without Islamic headdress at a competition inSeoul.
The Iranian Special Police Forces were also targeted, accused of using “excessive violence and lethal force against unarmed protestors, including women and children … by firing automatic weapons at protestors. ” Restrictive measures were slapped on senior officers from the Revolutionary Guard and some of its regional units.
JAPAN PM KASHIDA SAYS COUNTRY ON THE BRINK OVER FALLING BIRTH RATE
Japan's prime minister says his country is on the brink of not being able to function as a society because of its falling birth rate.
Fumio Kishida said it was a case of "now or never."
Japan - population 125 million - is estimated to have had fewer than 800,000 births last year. In the 1970s, that figure was more than two million.
Birth rates are slowing in many countries, including Japan's neighbours.
But the issue is particularly acute in Japan as life expectancy has risen in recent decades, meaning there are a growing number of older people, and a declining numbers of workers to support them.
Japan now has the world's second-highest proportion of people aged 65 and over - about 28% - after the tiny state of Monaco, according to World Bank data.
"Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society," Mr Kishida told lawmakers.
"Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed."
He said that he eventually wants the government to double its spending on child-related programmes. A new government agency to focus on the issue would be set up in April, he added.
However, Japanese governments have tried to promote similar strategies before, without success.
3RD TEMPLE VANDALISED IN AUS WITHIN 14 DAYS
Melbourne : A third Hindu temple has been vandalised within a fortnight in Australia’s Victoria state allegedly by “Khalistani supporters” with anti-India graffiti, according to a media report on Monday.
The management of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple also known as the Hare Krishna Temple in Melbourne’s Albert Park on Monday morning found the walls of the revered temple vandalised with graffiti “Hindustan Murdabad”, The Australia Today website reported.
“We are shocked and outraged with this blatant disregard for respect for the place of worship,” Bhakta Das, director of communication for ISKCON Temple, said.
“A complaint has been filed with Victoria Police and CCTV footage is being provided to assist them in theirpursuit of culprits. ”
On January 16, the historic Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple in Carrum Downs, Victoria, was vandalised in a similar manner. On January 12, the Swaminarayan temple in Melbourne was defaced by ‘anti-social elements’ with anti-India graffiti.
Acting Premier of Victoria Jacinta Allan told The Australia Today, “All Victorians deserve to practice their faith free from racism and hatred. ” “This behaviour is not reflective of the majority of Victorians,” he added.
FRANCE ‘STILL DEEPLY SEXIST’, REPORT FINDS
Sexism remains at an “alarming” level in France with many young men judging discriminatory or violent behaviour against women to be acceptable, a report published on Monday found. Based on a study of 2,500 people France’s High Authority on Equality (HCE), a consultative body, found that while most respondents bemoaned sexism in principle, “they fail to reject it in practice”. “The report shows a French society that remains deeply sexist in all spheres,” HCE said. Some 20% of men between 25 and 34 years polled said bragging about sexual exploits was needed to “be respected as a man in society”, while 23% said men “sometimes need to use violence to get respect”.