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Pakistan to seek China, Russia’s support

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan will seek China and Russia’s support to raise the Palestine issue amidst United States President Donald Trump’s open support for Israel, The Nation learnt.

This week, the new US president spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the telephone and invited him to a bilateral meeting in Washington next month. Trump had described the telephonic conversation as “very nice”.

A month earlier, during his election campaign, Trump had vowed to recognize occupied Jerusalem as the Jewish country’s capital despite its disputed status.

The Israeli prime minister earlier approved scores of new Jewish colonies in Jerusalem, much to the annoyance of the Muslim world.

A senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that China, a close friend, and Russia, an emerging partner, will be contacted to muster their support against Israeli excesses. “The contacts are on as part of diplomatic efforts to stop Israel from pushing the Palestinians out of their motherland,” he said.

Another official at the ministry said that Arab countries will also be mobilized against Israel. “We will seek joint efforts to push for the rights of the Palestinian people who are being made aliens in their homeland,” he said.

The official said with the help of China, Russia and the Muslim world, US support for Israel could be neutralized. “We will also take up the Palestine and Kashmir issues with Washington diplomatically,” he said.

Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan maintained a principled position on the Palestine issue. “Pakistan calls for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital,” he explained.

Zakaria said that the UN Security Council’s resolution 242 — demanding Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and other agreements for a peaceful resolution of the Palestine issue —remained unimplemented. “Pakistan calls for their early implementation,” he said.

The latest UN Security Council resolution says that the Jewish settlements had “no legal validity” and “constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.

Pakistan in the meanwhile also has the challenge to improve ties with the US under Trump, who is known for his inclination to India.

Defense analyst Major-Gen (retd) Farooq Malik said that the Trump’s government will have to work with other countries for success. “Of course, everyone expects major change after Trump’s entry. But international relations are not based on personalities, these are based on national interests. Trump will have priorities in his mind,” he said.

He said that the US will be aiming to contain China but it will not be easy for them to ignore Pakistan.

Former ambassador Rustam Shah Mohmand said that Trump will have to adopt flexibility as he moves forward. “He has expressed views about global issues like Iran. His Kashmir policy is unclear. His policy about China and the South China Sea is also yet to unfold. For Pakistan, he is expected to repeat the ‘do more’ policy,” he said.

Director Center for South Asian Studies Dr Umbreen Javed said that there was decreasing warmth in bilateral relations between Pakistan and the US as the former was looking towards China and Russia. “We cannot ignore the US but also we cannot compromise on our policy on international issues like Palestine and Kashmir,” she said.

She said it was not easy to predict Trump. “It is too early to say anything about his policy towards the global issues and Pakistan. His policies towards India and Afghanistan are still awaited. One thing is for sure, they cannot ignore Pakistan,” she said.

Dr Umbreen Javed that said Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir and Palestine was very justified and its efforts for resolution of the issues were aimed at global peace.

Do 4 things and boost your website’s Google Ranking

Writer: Jia Wertz
how to increase google ranking

Launching your own online business is a very exciting milestone in life. You’re on the path to financial freedom, you can create your own work hours, and you no longer report to someone else from nine to five.

But more often than not, the dread of trying to stand out in the never ending world wide web kicks in. Let’s assume you have a great, unique idea, you’ve proven there is a demand for this must-have new product you’re selling, and you’ve launched a beautiful site, now what? Crickets. No traffic means no money.

How do new customers find you? These four tried and true tactics will help you increase your Google ranking and in turn increase traffic to your site.

Create A Link Building Strategy

Backlinks are incoming hyperlinks from one web page to another website and they pass equity to your site, think of it as a vote of recommendation. Backlinks are the most important factor determining your site’s search ranking. Start your link-building strategy as early as possible because it can take months for google to update your ranking and for you to reap the benefits of your link-building efforts.

As with most things in life, aim for quality over quantity. A single link from a well-known authoritative site goes much further in increasing your SEO rankings than getting hundreds of links from smaller unknown websites. There are many ways you can go about building links, including pitching to editors of major magazines or news sites or partnering with popular bloggers.

Google can penalize you if it seems as though you are getting backlinks unnaturally, so it’s best to be patient and put in the work.

Increase Your Site Speed

Do you remember how you reacted the last time you tried to visit a site and it wouldn’t load? Like most people, you probably exited the tab and moved on. If your site load times are slow, it won’t rank high in search results. Not to mention, the customer experience won’t be positive if your site isn’t up an running in seconds, three seconds to be exact. For every second longer that goes by, your abandonment rate will skyrocket, leaving unhappy customers and potential sales on the table.

So, what can you do about it? Use tools like pingdom to test your site speed and get a comprehensive report showing you where and how you can improve time-consuming processes to gain speed.

Update Your Site Frequently

Having a company blog will do wonders in achieving this task. Google wants to see that you have a dynamic and active website. Of course, you won’t always have new products to launch, or updates that need to be made to your site, that’s where the blog comes in. You can regularly publish blog posts on the latest topics and trends within your industry, which helps your search engine ranking in the long run, and the new content gives your customers a reason to return to your site.

Optimize For Long-Tail Keywords

New websites have a hard time competing for top keywords, that’s why it’s best to start off by identifying long-tail keywords (a phrase containing three or more words) that your site can more easily rank for. The task of identifying what those long-tail keywords should be is tedious, there’s no way around it. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start plugging in keywords that are relevant to your site to see what the competition for each of those keywords looks like. This will help you eliminate the ones you shouldn’t be optimizing for and select the ones that can work best to drive traffic to your site. The three key things to look for:

  • Keywords
  • Monthly searches
  • Competition (number of search results Google returns)

If you spend a few days doing some homework and identifying the best keywords for each product/page of your site, and be sure to plug those keywords onto the appropriate pages, your site will clearly communicate what you’re selling to google. This will allow you to attract targeted customers who are looking for exactly what you are selling.

Rebel officials say Aleppo evacuation plan back on track

Syria war

Syrian opposition groups said an evacuation of rebel-held areas of Aleppo was back on track and expected to begin early on Thursday, but uncertainty persisted as a media outlet run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah said truce talks faced “big complications”.

Such an exodus would end years of fighting for the city and mark a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. An initial deal stalled on Wednesday, the planned evacuation failed to materialize and renewed fighting raged in the city.

Iran, one of Assad’s main backers, had imposed new conditions, saying it wanted the simultaneous evacuation of wounded from two villages besieged by rebels, according to rebel and U.N. sources.

But rebel officials said late on Wednesday that they had agreed to an evacuation of the wounded from those Shi’ite villages in Idlib province, and that the Aleppo deal would now go ahead as planned.

“Within the coming hours its implementation will begin,” said Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, a military spokesman for the Nour al-Din al Zinki rebel group.

An official with the Jabha Shamiya rebel group said implementation would begin around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Thursday. He said around 1,000 wounded people would be the first to leave eastern Aleppo, and the entire evacuation should be complete within three days.

It was not immediately clear how a deal had been reached, and it was soon thrown in doubt by the military media unit run by Hezbollah, an armed Shi’ite group backed by Iran and an ally of the Damascus government.

“The negotiations are seeing big complications, in light of tension and operations on the front lines,” it said.

The original ceasefire was brokered by Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, and opposition backer Turkey on Tuesday. But the planned evacuation of rebel-held areas did not happen and instead shelling and gunfire erupted in the city on Wednesday, with Turkey accusing government forces of breaking the truce. Syrian state television said rebel shelling killed six people.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, said the bombardment by Syrian government forces and their allies “most likely constitutes war crimes”.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed in a phone call earlier in the day to make a joint effort to start the process, Turkish presidential sources said.

Shortly before the new deal was announced, clashes raged in Aleppo.

Government forces made a new advance in Sukkari – one of just a handful of districts still held by rebels – and brought half of the neighborhood under their control, the Observatory said. Rebels saying they launched an attack against government forces using suicide car bombs.

The Russian defense ministry said – before the report of the government forces’ advance in Sukkari – that the rebels controlled an enclave of only 2.5 square km (1 square mile).

At dawn on Wednesday nobody had left under the initial evacuation plan, according to a Reuters witness waiting at the departure point, where 20 buses stood with engines running but showed no sign of moving into rebel districts.

People in eastern Aleppo had packed their bags and burned personal belongings, fearing looting by the Syrian army and its Iranian-backed militia allies.

Officials in the military alliance backing Assad could not be reached immediately for comment on why the evacuation had stalled.

U.N. war crimes investigators said the Syrian government bore the main responsibility for preventing any attacks and reprisals in eastern Aleppo and that it must hold to account any troops or allied forces committing violations.

In what appeared to be a separate development from the planned evacuation, the Russian defense ministry said 6,000 civilians and 366 fighters had left rebel-held districts over the past 24 hours.

A total of 15,000 people, including 4,000 rebel fighters, wanted to leave Aleppo, according to the Hezbollah-run media unit.

The evacuation plan was the culmination of two weeks of rapid advances by the Syrian army and its allies that drove insurgents back into an ever-smaller pocket of the city under intense air strikes and artillery fire.

By taking full control of Aleppo, Assad has proved the power of his military coalition, aided by Russia’s air force and an array of Shi’ite militias from across the region.

Rebels have been supported by the United States, Turkey and Gulf monarchies, but the support they have enjoyed has fallen far short of the direct military backing given to Assad by Russia and Iran.

Russia’s decision to deploy its air force to Syria 18 months ago turned the war in Assad’s favor after rebel advances across western Syria. In addition to Aleppo, he has won back insurgent strongholds near Damascus this year.

The government and its allies have focused the bulk of their firepower on fighting rebels in western Syria rather than Islamic State, which this week managed to take back the ancient city of Palmyra, once again illustrating the challenge Assad faces reestablishing control over all Syria.

As the battle for Aleppo unfolded, global concern has risen over the plight of the 250,000 civilians who were thought to remain in its rebel-held eastern sector before the sudden army advance began at the end of November.

The rout of rebels in Aleppo sparked a mass flight of terrified civilians and insurgents in bitter weather, a crisis the United Nations said was a “complete meltdown of humanity”. There were food and water shortages in rebel areas, with all hospitals closed.

On Tuesday, the United Nations voiced deep concern about reports it had received of Syrian soldiers and allied Iraqi fighters summarily shooting dead 82 people in recaptured east Aleppo districts. It accused them of “slaughter”.

The Syrian army has denied carrying out killings or torture among those captured, and Russia said on Tuesday rebels had “kept over 100,000 people in east Aleppo as human shields”.

Fear stalked the city’s streets. Some survivors trudged in the rain past dead bodies to the government-held west or the few districts still in rebel hands. Others stayed in their homes and awaited the Syrian army’s arrival.

Thank the aliens: Thousands displaced for China’s huge telescope

PINGTANG (AFP) – Humanity s best bet at detecting aliens is a giant silver Chinese dish the size of 30 football fields — one that simultaneously showcases Beijing s abilities to deploy cutting-edge technologies and ignore objectors rights as it seeks global prominence.

FAST telescope

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in the country s southwest, which began operations in September and cost 1.2 billion yuan ($180 million) to build, is the world s largest radio telescope.

Once fully operational, FAST will be able to peer deeper into space than ever before, examining pulsars, dark matter and gravitational waves — and searching for signs of life.

Authorities also hope it will bring tourist dollars to the province of Guizhou, one of China s poorest regions.

But it comes at the cost of forcibly displacing about 9,000 villagers who called the site in Pingtang county their home.

Many were outraged at being forced to leave the valley surrounded by forested karst hills and hundreds of families are now suing the government, with some cases being heard this week.

Octogenarian Han Jingfu drank pesticide days after being made to sign a relocation contract and died at his front door, neighbors and relatives said.

China built FAST as part of efforts to take on international rivals and raise its embarrassingly low tally of Nobel Prizes, explained Peng Bo, director of China s National Astronomical Observatories, which oversees the telescope.

The 500-meter-wide (1,640 feet) dish dwarfs its nearest competitor, the US s Puerto Rico-based Arecibo telescope, which is only 305 meters across.

“We said we had to be a little more daring, because we had to surpass the US no matter what,” Peng said.

“I think we can get a few Nobel prizes out of it. We as Chinese people really want to win them.”

The world s most populous country and second-largest economy has so far only won one scientific Nobel, awarded last year to chemist Tu Youyou for medicine.

FAST s receivers are more sensitive than any previous radio telescope, and its pioneering technology can change the shape of the dish to track celestial objects as the Earth rotates.

It could catalogue as many pulsars in a year as had been found in the past 50, Peng said.

But he acknowledged that FAST will be overtaken by the larger Square Kilometer Array telescope in South Africa and Australia, which will be built over the next decade.

FAST needs a five kilometer-wide (three miles) “radio silence” buffer zone around it with electronics banned in order to reduce interference with the sky s much fainter frequencies.

Relocated residents would “enjoy better living standards”, the official Xinhua news agency said when the dish was completed in July.

“Villagers in nearby communities admired their luck, saying they should thank the aliens ,” it added.

But locals allege land grabs without compensation, forced demolitions and unlawful detentions, and up to 500 families are suing the Pingtang county government.

Lu Zhenglong, whose case was heard Tuesday, said officials demolished his house without warning or consent when he was not even present, burying his furniture.

“What would have happened if I had been inside?” he told AFP, adding that authorities had “pushed ordinary people into a corner. It s really unbelievable”.

A neighbor also surnames Lu said: “They ve chased us all off to some wasteland and ordered us to live there with no way to maintain our old standards of living. For 90 percent of us, basic survival is a problem.”

The rubble of their homes now lies under soil and new saplings in a tourist park just outside the radio silence zone, with a museum, a space-themed hotel and visitor reception facilities which will sell tickets for nearly $100 each.

According to the Pingtang county government website, the park was aimed at “high-end people from developed cities” and cost over 1.5 billion yuan — more than the telescope itself.

Meng Xiujun, whose Elites Law Firm in the southern city of Guangzhou is handling most of the cases, said officials tried to intimidate him, telling him he should “see the bigger picture for a key national project”.

But he told AFP: “This isn t just a matter of economic interests — once you start asking average citizens to kneel down or beat them, it becomes about human rights and problems with China s rule of law.”

The Pingtang county government did not respond to requests for comment by AFP.

Andreas Wicenec, head of data intensive astronomy at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Australia, said that FAST had “world class” potential and its engineering was “absolutely a marvel”.

Unusually, the FAST program was “remarkably, extremely open” to outside collaboration, he said.

It was not clear how many tourists have visited the park since it opened — almost none were present when AFP visited recently.