From Syrian airstrikes to controversy in Pakistan: Here’s what happened across the world last week

By Elton Gomes

America’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal received substantial coverage over the week, with analysts pouring over the ramifications of the deal. One major development in lieu of America’s withdrawal, was dangerous confrontations between Israel and Iran.

Moving closer to home, our neighbour Pakistan is facing more uncertainty, as their former prime minister faces yet another probe, and their interior minister was attacked. India’s foreign affairs minister Sushma Swaraj discussed bilateral relations with Myanmar Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister shot at in election rally

Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot at, by unidentified gunmen at an election rally in central Punjab province. The incident occurred while Iqbal was addressing the crowd in his hometown district of Narowal. Al-Jazeera reported that the minister was getting into his vehicle, after preparing to leave the rally, when a “young man” fired at him “several times.”

Iqbal’s son and provincial authorities stated that the minister had not suffered any critical injuries. The attack on Iqbal comes as the ruling party in the state—the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)—is left reeling under a crisis with its top leaders involved in a host of problems.

Trump not pressured to answer in Russian probe

In the ongoing probe over alleged Russian meddling in US elections, American President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudi Giuliani stated that Trump “does not have to comply with a subpoena from the special counsel,” CNN reported. Giuliani said, “We can assert the same privileges as other presidents have.” Trump previously said that he would like to speak with Mueller, but, only if he is treated fairly. However, Giuliani said that he is not willing to let Trump speak with Mueller and his team of prosecutors “after the way they’ve acted”.

On Friday, Giuliani told the Associated Press (AP) that Trump’s interview with prosecutors will be delayed until after the meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June. Giuliani was hoping to schedule an interview by May 17, but, “several things delayed us, with the primary one being the whole situation with North Korea,” AP reported.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faces money laundering probe

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB)—Pakistan’s top anti-corruption body—ordered a probe against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and others, for allegedly laundering $4.9 billion to India, according to media reports. A statement doing the rounds of Pakistani news channels claimed that the amount was laundered to the Indian finance ministry. This led to an increase in India’s foreign exchange reserves, and Pakistan suffered. The report further claimed that the money laundering incident was reflected in the Migration and Remittances Factbook of 2016.

PTI reported that “Sharif is facing three corruption cases at the accountability court following the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case. An NAB inquiry is also under way against him for alleged illegal expansion of a road. The probe deals a significant blow to Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), as they prepare for general elections in July.

Iran and Israel engage in massive air strikes over Syria

As America pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, Israel claimed that Iranian forces in Syria launched rocket attacks on Israel’s army camps in the Golan Heights. Israel then retaliated in what is termed as the most extensive strike since crisis erupted in the Middle East in 2011. Israeli newspaper, Haaretz reported that “This is the first time Israel has directly accused Iran of firing toward Israeli territory.”

Golan Heights has been on high alert following Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. “The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) views this Iranian attack very severely,” Lt Col Jonathan Conricus of the IDF told the Guardian. “This event is not over.” The escalation between Iran and Israel is considered as a potential repercussion of Trump pulling out from the Iran nuclear deal.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets Myanmar Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi

During her two-day trip to Myanmar, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj signed seven agreements. One of the agreements included a land border agreement that will enable people to cross the land border between India and Myanmar, for access to health and education services, and for purposes of tourism and pilgrimage.

Swaraj also met with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and “discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations across different sectors,” according to a PTI report. The displacement of the Rohingya refugees was also discussed. Swaraj welcomed Myanmar’s decision to establish the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations, and she promised India’s assistance wherever required.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius

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