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The members of a Pakistani investigation team probing the death of journalist Arshad Sharif interrogated two people in Kenya with whom the slain journalist was staying.

The two members of the probe team met with Waqar Ahmad and Khurram Ahmad and asked them questions regarding the shooting incident in which journalist Arshad Sharif lost his life.

In his statement to the Pakistani sleuths, Waqar Ahmad said that Arshad Sharif had been staying at his guest house in Kenya for almost two months. Some ‘friend’ requested him to accommodate the TV anchor, he said adding that before their meeting in Nairobi, he met only once with Sharif at a luncheon. He said he had invited Sharif to his lodge at lunch which was situated out of Nairobi.

Waqar said that on the day of the incident, we ate lunch with Sharif at our lodge and after that ‘the journalist left the place with my brother Khurram Ahmad.’ He went on to say that after half an hour, he was informed that their vehicle came under fire.

While in his statement, Khurram Ahmad said that starting from their lodge there is an 18km-long stretch of dirt road and after that the carpeted road starts.

He said as they were only a few kilometers away from the carpeted road, some pebbles were thrown on the path and as soon as they crossed the pebble-filled dirt road, their vehicle came under fire. He said he got scared and accelerated the speed of his vehicle.  Pakistan Observer


Photo Courtesy Bloomberg

Embattled UK Prime Minister Liz Truss faces a brewing parliamentary rebellion if she is forced to abandon a key Conservative manifesto commitment on pensions as part of a frantic austerity drive.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has refused to guarantee that he will stick to the Tories’ election pledge to raise the state pension in line with the highest of either inflation, wages or 2.5% -- known as the “triple lock.” 

Truss’s spokesman Max Blain also wouldn’t be drawn out on whether she would keep the triple lock at a briefing for journalists on Tuesday.

The uncertainty on pensions comes as government departments were told by the Treasury to find savings of up to 15% of their budgets, with no options considered off the table, in what is effectively a return to austerity.

It poses a new political problem for Truss and Hunt, with many Tory members of Parliament representing large numbers of older constituents who typically form their core voter base.

On Tuesday night, Tory MPs Maria Caulfield and Steve Double went public to say they would not vote for an end to the triple lock.

The Treasury also refused to deny that it is considering raiding the profits of banks and energy companies as it seeks to fill its funding black hole.

The Financial Times reported Hunt was considering a potential 33% effective tax rate for banks, made up of the new 25% corporation tax rate coming in next April, and an 8% surcharge. Currently banks pay an effective tax rate of 27% on their profits.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We can’t comment on specific speculation, however the Chancellor and PM have been clear that difficult decisions will be required to restore economic stability, and no options are off the table.”

Truss held a private meeting with members on the pro-Brexit right-wing of her party late Tuesday as she sought to steady the ship following a desperate start to the week that saw Tory MPs openly plot her downfall.

In an attempt to solidify her position among hardline Brexiteers, the prime minister told the room she was committed to her existing policy on the Northern Ireland Protocol and recommitted to taking all EU law off the UK statute book by the end of next year, her deputy press secretary told reporters.

Truss faces a bruising encounter with Labour leader Keir Starmer at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday lunchtime, where the Tory backbenchers who can ultimately decide her fate will be watching closely.

The executive of the 1922 committee, which controls the rules that govern the Tory leadership process, meets Wednesday afternoon.

Hunt is set to address the 1922 Committee of rank-and-file Tory MPs at 5pm, according to a person familiar with the matter. Source: Bloomberg



Kampala, Uganda - President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has issued a warning to French oil partner Total Energies saying that his administration might "find someone else to cooperate with" if the company bows down to European union increasing pressure to end a collaboration to build a pipeline that is opposed by environmentalists.

The European Union's Parliament this mid-September this year called on all nations to "exert maximum pressure on Ugandan and Tanzanian authorities, as well as the project promoters and stakeholders, to stop oil activities around Lake Albert."

In retaliation for the European Parliament's advisory resolution to reject the $14 trillion East African Crude Pipeline project, President Museveni while speaking at the Serena Hotel in Kampala at the Seventh Uganda International Oil and Gas Summit blasted the lawmakers as ungrateful, egotistical, and narrow-minded.

A grain of doubt has been placed on Uganda's plans to begin commercial oil production by 2025 after EU MPs decided to suspend the massive project due to human rights and environmental concerns.

MEPs claim that the group's oil pipeline project has resulted in evictions and arrests, the EU raises severe concerns about the actions of French energy giant Total Energies in Uganda.

Background about this oil pipeline

A pipeline known as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP) will move oil made in Uganda's Lake Albert oilfields to Tanga, a port in Tanzania, where it will be sold to international markets.

The 1,443-kilometer (897-mile) East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline, which runs from Kabaale, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula close to Tanga Port in Tanzania is being built by Total Energies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. Tanzania is where 80% of the pipeline is.

It is a 24 inch underground thermally insulated pipeline with six pumping stations (two in Tanzania and four in Uganda), with a terminal and jetty at Tanga as its destination.

Human rights and environmental concerns.

Environmentalists claim that EACOP violates the spirit of the Paris Climate Agreement and the pipeline will threaten a large number of animals because the drilling pads are located in the Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. The pipeline  runs through the Taala Forest Reserve and encroaches on the Bugoma Forest, which is home to large chimpanzee populations, before crossing into Tanzania and the Biharamulo Game Reserve, which is home to lions, buffalo, elands, lesser kudus, impalas, hippos, giraffes,

Additionally, the pipeline is able to pass across hundreds of square kilometers of elephant habitat as well as the Wembere steppe, a seasonal haven for birds.

Additionally, after the pipeline reaches Tanzania, three football field-long tankers will attempt to transport the oil through mangrove swamps and over coral reefs in waters abundant with dugongs and sea turtles.

Environmentalists conclude by saying the extinction disaster on our planet will be triggered by the construction of this project, the longest heated pipeline ever proposed.

When environmental NGO “Friends of the Earth” evaluated that more than 120,000 people will lose land to make way for the oil project, they also cited unfair compensation

According to the report, some landowners "had their homes destroyed to facilitate the construction of access roads or the processing plant, others had all or part of their land requisitioned and lost free use of their properties and thus their means of subsistence, without prior payment of fair and adequate compensation; however, the compensation paid is often far too low to allow farmers whose land has been expropriated to buy comparable land on which to continue farming."

But opposition to the project has prompted outrage in the East African nation, whose leaders saw the pipeline as essential to the region's economic prosperity.

According to Ugandan authorities, blocking the pipeline now would be damaging to the interests of the nation and that oil money can raise millions out of poverty.
Ugandan parliament and opposition leaders reacts

In a statement released last week, the Ugandan parliament has also denounced The EU parliament's motion saying Uganda is a sovereign state.

"The basis for the resolution is willful misinformation and deliberate distortion of important environmental and human rights protection facts. It stands for the most extreme kind of imperialism and neo-colonialism in opposition to Uganda's and Tanzania's sovereignties ", said Thomas Tayebwa, the parliament's deputy speaker.

However, the government of Uganda has been encouraged by the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party to address concerns brought up by the EU parliament on the oil pipeline project.

Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, a spokesman for the FDC, stated that even though his party supports the oil pipeline project, the EU's concerns must be taken into consideration.

"We are in favor of building a refinery, a pipeline, and other infrastructure in order to extract and sell Uganda's oil.

The nation has made significant investments in the oil industry and cannot afford to put off its sale, he told reporters on Monday during a news conference in Kampala.

"We spent more than $500 million building roads and EUR 309,100,259 on an international airport. We have spent considerably in the provision of power and paid billions in compensation.

Because of this, this industry must operate with a high degree of transparency”, he continued.

According to Mr. Ssemujju, FDC values any information on the administration of the nation's oil resources.

Consequently, he stated, "We appreciate the European Union Parliament for the measures it has passed regarding reparation, climate change, and human rights."

Museveni claims Total Energies had reassured him that the pipeline, which would connect oil fields in western Uganda to Tanga, a port on the Indian Ocean in Tanzania, would go forward. However, he issued a Twitter warning, saying that "if they choose to listen to the EU Parliament, we shall find someone else to work with."

"In either case, we will have our oil flowing as expected by 2025. Therefore, Ugandans need not to worry“ he added.

At least 1.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil are thought to be present in Uganda. The overall investment would be more than $10 billion, according to statements made in February by Total Energies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

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