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Pakistan: 4 killed in clashes with police near shut Afghan border | Pakistan News



Islamabad, Pakistan – At least four people have been killed and 28 wounded in clashes between protesters and security forces in the western Pakistani border town of Chaman, according to local officials.

The clashes began on Thursday when thousands of protesters – who have been holding a sit-in demanding that the border crossing with Afghanistan be reopened – stormed government offices near the border, local officials said.

“Four people were killed, including a woman, in that clash,” said Zakaullah Durrani, a senior government official. “And there was firing until 1am [local time, 21:00 GMT on Thursday].”

On Friday morning, protesters once again attempted to damage government property, Durrani said, prompting fresh clashes that wounded eight people, including three security personnel.

Meanwhile, government officials held a high-level meeting on Friday, before planned negotiations with the protesters later in the day, Durrani told Al Jazeera.

Security issues, pandemic

Chaman border crossing is one of the main crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the former’s Balochistan province.

The government has, in the past, allowed free movement of local labourers across the border into Afghanistan and back to Pakistan to engage in trade and daily wage labour.

But the border has been shut to pedestrians for weeks due to security concerns and the coronavirus pandemic, according to Zia Langove, Balochistan home minister.

It was briefly reopened earlier this week, before security concerns forced its closure, Langove told reporters on Thursday. The fresh closure of the border prompted the ongoing sit-in protest.

Langove blamed the violence on “miscreants” among the protesters who he alleged were attempting to prompt security forces to fire on the crowd.

“Those labourers tried to cross the border and they also attacked the [government-run] quarantine centre and [National Database and Registration Authority] centre there,” he said. “There was firing, and those miscreants who tried to take advantage of the situation, they also played a role to fan the flames.”

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest but least populated province, and suffers widespread poverty and deprivation. The province has a 1,000km-long (621 miles) border with Pakistan’s western neighbour Afghanistan.

In areas like Chaman, the border has historically been porous, with the international boundary running through the middle of many villages.

The daily wage labourers holding the protest have demanded the border be reopened so that they can return to their jobs, which require crossing the boundary.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.
Additional reporting by Saadullah Akhtar in Quetta.

Pakistani soldiers keep guard as citizens return from Afghanistan at the border-crossing town of Chaman

Pakistani soldiers keep guard as citizens return from Afghanistan at the border-crossing town of Chaman [Fi;e: Drazen Jorgic/ Reuters]

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US House delivers Trump impeachment article to Senate | Politics News



The US House of Representatives has presented its article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate, a step that formally sets in motion the Senate trial against the former United States president.

Walking from one side of the US Capitol to the other, nine House managers appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi hand-delivered the impeachment document to the Senate on Monday evening.

The article charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” in relation to the deadly storming on January 6 of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC by a mob of his supporters.

The House impeached Trump on January 13 on the same charge – making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

Monday’s formal step kickstarts the trial phase of the impeachment process, in which all 100 senators will sit as jurors to hear evidence and legal arguments from House managers, who act as prosecutors in the case, and the former president’s defence team.

To be convicted, the Senate must secure a two-thirds majority on the impeachment charge.

If that happens, a subsequent vote could bar Trump from running for public office again in the future.

Trial to start in February

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have agreed on a timeline for the trial, which is expected to begin during the week of February 8.

“Both the House managers and the former president’s counsel will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials,” Senate leader Chuck Schumer said in remarks to the chamber on Monday.

“Once the briefs are drafted, presentations by the parties will commence the week of February 8th,” he said.

Senators will be sworn in as jurors on Wednesday and a summons will be sent by the Senate to the former president, requiring him to answer the article of impeachment.

Trump has been initially defiant amid accusations he incited the Capitol mob in a speech he gave before the breach and in repeated false claims that the presidential election had been stolen from him.

Before the House vote to impeach him, Trump had said his speech to the January 6 rally of his supporters was “totally appropriate”.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior Democrat who holds the title of president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the trial instead of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

“When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tem takes an additional oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws,” Leahy said in a statement.

“It is an oath I take extraordinarily seriously,” he said.

Republicans divided

Republicans are divided over the impeachment, with some senators saying Trump should be held accountable for the Capitol riot and others fearing a conviction of the former Republican president could be damaging for the party.

Some Republican legislators have argued that holding an impeachment trial after Trump has left office is unconstitutional – a claim that has been rejected by Democrats and some US experts.

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Washington, DC, said on Monday that some Republicans have also said the trial could further divide the country.

“Democrats, to counter that, have said that in order to get to unity, as everyone is calling for, first there must be accountability,” Zhou-Castro said.

“And they’re saying that if Trump were to indeed be guilty of inciting insurrection and simply leave office and not be held accountable, then that would set a dangerous precedent.”

Democrats will need to get more than a dozen Republicans to vote in favour of impeachment to get a conviction, as Democrats only have a slim majority in the chamber.

Trial timeline, procedure

House managers and Trump’s defence team will exchange legal briefs in the days leading up to the start of the trial.

The nine House managers will be led in the trial by Representative Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar and leading advocate in the House for charging Trump with insurrection after the January 6 attacks.

The House managers have retained lawyers Barry Berke and Joshua Matz to help support their prosecution of the case.

Both Berke and Matz participated in the first Senate impeachment trial against Trump in 2020, which involved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice for his attempts to pressure the government of Ukraine.

Pro-Trump protesters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

For his part, Trump has retained Butch Bowers of South Carolina, an experienced trial lawyer who has previously represented politicians.

House managers will have until February 2 to file their pre-trial brief laying out the case for conviction. Trump’s defence counsel will have the same deadline to respond to the charge, the Reuters news agency reported.

February 8 is the next deadline for Trump’s legal team to file a response to the House brief, and for the House managers to file a response to the president’s answer to the article of impeachment.

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