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India’s COVID-19 cases dip from peak, but calls for shutdown mount

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(Last Updated On: May 10, 2021)

Calls grew for India to impose a nationwide lockdown as new coronavirus cases and deaths held close to record highs on Monday, increasing pressure on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Reuters reported.

The 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths reported by the health ministry were slightly down from recent peaks, taking India’s tally to 22.66 million with 246,116 deaths.

But as many hospitals grapple with an acute shortage of oxygen and beds while morgues and crematoriums overflow, experts have said India’s actual figures could be far higher than reported, Reuters reported.

Sunday’s 1.47 million tests for COVID-19 were this month’s lowest yet, data from the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research showed. The figure compared with a daily average of 1.7 million for the first eight days of May.

The number of positive results from the tests was not immediately clear, however.

Many states have imposed strict lockdowns over the last month while others have placed curbs on movement and shut cinemas, restaurants, pubs and shopping malls.

But pressure is mounting on Modi to announce a nationwide lockdown as he did during the first wave of infections last year, Reuters reported.

He is battling criticism for allowing huge gatherings at a religious festival and holding large election rallies during the past two months even as cases surged.

“A failure of governance of epic and historic proportions,” Vipin Narang, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, said on Twitter.

On Sunday, top White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said he had advised Indian authorities they needed to shut down.

“You’ve got to shut down,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” television show. “I believe several of the Indian states have already done that, but you need to break the chain of transmission. And one of the ways to do that is to shut down.”

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also called for a “complete, well-planned, pre-announced” lockdown.

New Delhi, the capital, entered a fourth week of lockdown, with tougher curbs such as the shutdown of the suburban rail network, while residents scrambled for scarce hospital beds and oxygen supplies, Reuters reported.

“This is not the time to be lenient,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday.

“This phase is so tough, this wave is so dangerous, so many people are dying…the priority at this hour is to save lives,” he said in a televised address.

Global support, in the form of oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and other medical gear, has poured in.

By Sunday, the world’s largest vaccine-producing nation had fully vaccinated just over 34.3 million, or only 2.5%, of its population of about 1.35 billion, government data shows.

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Five security force members ‘brutally killed’ in Kabul: Sources

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Five security personnel were “brutally” killed by Taliban militants in Shakar Dara district of Kabul, sources said Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place in the Haji Paik area on Friday night.

According to the sources, the Taliban militants first tortured and then killed the men.

Gowhar Khan Baburi, Governor of Shakar Dara district, said Sunday that the militants had installed a checkpoint in the Haji Paik area where they identified the security force members.

The Taliban stated that the victims were members of the Afghan security forces but denied its involvement in the incident.

In a separate incident, two military personnel – including a student from Marshal Fahim Military University – were killed in the Kalakan district of Kabul.

The incident happened in the Pule Baboch area close to the district’s compound on Saturday night, sources said.

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China and Pakistan call for ceasefire in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Pakistan and China on Saturday called on all Afghan stakeholders to agree to a ceasefire and work together to achieve an inclusive peace agreement and political settlement.

According to Dawn News, the call was made by the two sides during a foreign ministers’ strategic dialogue in Chengdu in Sichuan province in China.

A statement issued by China and Pakistan said the two countries had reaffirmed their commitment to facilitate and support an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace and reconciliation process.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation says peace talks are the best way to address Afghanistan issues and that the Taliban cannot impose their “will” on the people of Afghanistan through military force.

Speaking in an interview with Al-Jazeera, Abdullah stated that the Taliban have to seek their goal through peace talks.

“Taliban cannot convert the whole population of Afghanistan into Taliban. Talibanization of Afghanistan is not acceptable,” Abdullah said.

“Peaceful settlement is much better option than the continuation of the war we continue we will continue to make these efforts,” he stated.

“We have different opinions about these things can we find ways to not to fight for imposing our way of life upon the people but to compete for it uh to contest for it through civilian means through peaceful means,” he stressed.

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Abdullah says ‘Talibanization’ of the country not possible

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, says that the Taliban cannot impose their “will” on the people of Afghanistan through military force.

Speaking in an interview with Al-Jazeera, Abdullah stated that the Taliban have to seek their goal through peace talks.

“Taliban cannot convert the whole population of Afghanistan into Taliban. Talibanization of Afghanistan is not acceptable,” Abdullah said.

This comes as the Taliban have intensified attacks across Afghanistan. According to reports, the Taliban have seized control of half of the districts in Afghanistan.

Abdullah, however, stated that these gains are temporary.

“Yes of course they feel at this moment that they have the upper hand militarily on the ground and that will not last that way,” he noted.
Abdullah says peace talks are the best way to address Afghanistan issues.

“Peaceful settlement is much better option than the continuation of the war we continue we will continue to make these efforts,” he stated.

“We have different opinions about these things can we find ways to not to fight for imposing our way of life upon the people but to compete for it uh to contest for it through civilian means through peaceful means,” he stressed.

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