Islamic Banking discussed with Reserve Bank of India
Kerala: CPM wants Sharia law in banking
Baroness Warsi accused of ‘stealing’ the husband of a vulnerable Pakistani
How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays
U.S. to Expand Review of Detainees in Afghan Prison by ERIC SCHMITT
US denies role in General Zia's plane crash
Post 9/11, Americans say Muslims face most discrimination by Jina Moore
Madrasa suspects held in Islamabad by Salman Masood
LeT behind Pak rocket fire? By Yudhvir Rana
Hate groups use teen to defame Islamic center by Sameen Khan
Book on legendary Indian singer Tansen published in Poland
India to blame for Pak youth taking to terror: Musharraf
To nail their lies, India plans ads in Pak media
Intelligence inputs cannot be taken as evidence: Chidambaram by Vinay Kumar
Pakistan reiterates invitation to Nirupama Rao by Nirupama Subramanian
Shelling in Somalia kills 15, mostly ex-soldiers by MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN
UK troubled by anti-Islam rallies, counterprotests by RAPHAEL G. SATTER
US Aims to Focus on Nuclear Issue in Iran Talks
Window on Pak Press: Pak rakes up Kashmir, dares India to debate Mumbai by Farzand Ahmed
Vatican Invites Muslims to Fight Poverty Together by Gretta Curtis
Moments of terror as Emirates flight disappears from radar
Taliban and the army
Afghanistan's parallels to Vietnam by Joel Brinkley
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
This Christian priest reads Quran entire Ramadan
Sept 12, 2009, IANS
Thiruvananthapuram: For 65-year-old priest G.S. Francis, the Holy Quran is as dear as the Holy Bible.
Church of South Indian (CSI) parish vicar Francis has been reading the Quran for an hour everyday during the fasting month of Ramzan for the past two decades.
"The Old Testament and the Quran are almost similar and I do read it every day for an hour during the month of Ramzan. In fact in the course of theology, the holy books of other religions like the Ramayana and Quran are taught," he said.
"I learned theology at a seminary by attending a part-time course. It was in 1989 that I was ordained as a priest. The state government allowed me to don the cassock because I agreed to do the priestly duties as an honorary service," he added.
Francis retired from the state government as deputy development commissioner in rural department a decade back and has been a priest in the church since then. The church is located at Thalassery in Kannur district.
He said during the month of Ramzan he fasts when he has no other duties to perform.
"It has become a practice for me ever since I became a priest to refer to religious books like Quran and Ramayana. This helps me to understand other religions. This reading helps me when I deliver messages in the church. One gets knowledge for preaching when one studies other religions because a comparative study is required and I am happy doing this," Francis said.
ICIF delegation discusses introduction of Islamic Banking with RBI
12 September 2009
By Mumtaz Alam Falahi
New Delhi: In its continued efforts for introduction of Islamic Banking system in India, a high-level delegation of Delhi-based Indian Centre for Islamic Finance (ICIF), consisting of its General Secretary, H Abdur Raqeeb and two of its trustees Dr. Rahmatullah and Mr. KM Abdul Salam, former Manager of RBI, met Dr. K C Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India, at the RBI headquarters in Mumbai yesterday.
They discussed on the introduction of interest-free banking in India in the light of the recommendations of Dr Raghuram Rajan committee on Financial Sector reform (CFSR) which said that it would be possible through appropriate measures to create framework for interest-free products without any adverse systemic impact.
Mr. Anand Sinha, head of the working group constituted earlier by RBI to examine the Islamic instruments, had compared the conventional and Islamic Banking in a commendable way but concluded that it is not feasible in the current regulatory framework.
The ICIF delegation impressed upon the Deputy Governor that the RBI should have taken the views of financial services industry as well as the Islamic Financial experts and recommended for regulatory amendment for according a level playing field for those who want to engage in Islamic Banking activities as done in U.K and Singapore. They submitted the documents of Islamic Finance regulations in Non-OIC jurisdiction which gives the details of how regulatory amendments were carried out in UK, Singapore, Japan, France and Hong Kong. These countries made regulatory amendments for level playing ground for Islamic banking to function.
FSA (Financial Services Authority) of UK and MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) have brought out detailed documents for Islamic finance institutions which can provide a roadmap for Indian regulators to follow.
CPM wants Sharia law in banking
13 September 2009
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The CPM-led Kerala government wants to establish a financial institution compliant with Sharia law and later convert it into a full-fledged bank. Work on the project is on and the new entity is likely to start functioning from March 2010.
‘‘We commissioned a feasibility study by Ernst and Young and as per the recommendations, a financial institution working under the Sharia principles will be set up,’’ industries secretary T Balakrishnan told TOI. The Kerala State Industries Development Corporation, a state government agency, will have 11% stake in the body. State finance minister T M Thomas Issac said that the venture will have an authorised share capital of Rs 1,000 crore.
‘‘KSIDC will also have two permanent directors in the new business model which will have a total of 12 directors,’’ Balakrishnan said adding a core group headed by businessman Mohammadali of Gulfar Group had been constituted to give the project its final shape. ‘‘By March we hope to complete formalities and begin operations by next financial year,’’ he added.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, accused of ‘stealing’ the husband of a vulnerable Pakistani
Did this wife know she was being divorced - and husband was to wed top Tory Muslim?
By Jo Macfarlane and Alan Rimmer
13th September 2009
One of David Cameron’s rising frontbench stars was dragged into an embarrassing row last night over the treatment of the Muslim ex-wife of her new husband.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Shadow Community Cohesion Minister, was accused of ‘stealing’ the husband of a vulnerable Pakistani whose grasp of English is so poor that she did not realise she was being divorced.
Three weeks after Baroness Warsi’s marriage to Iftikhar Azam, members of his former wife’s family have claimed that she realised that Mr Azam had dissolved their 18-year marriage only when relatives read the decree nisi – which she had originally believed to be a domestic bill.
The allegations are particularly awkward for Mr Cameron because Baroness Warsi has been heavily promoted as the multicultural face of the new Tory Party.
A frequent guest on BBC1’s Question Time, she has been a high-profile champion of Muslim women’s rights and was recently voted the country’s most powerful female Muslim.
The marriage to Mr Azam, 36, her second, took place on August 20 in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, where the 38-year-old Baroness unsuccessfully fought the 2005 General Election. Shortly after the Election, Mr Cameron handed her a seat in the Lords and a key role in his policy team.
Mr Azam’s ex-wife, Massarat Bi, 34, who has four children with him, is said to be ‘devastated’ by his desertion.
Ghafar Azam, Iftikhar’s brother, told The Mail on Sunday that Massarat had been oblivious to the divorce process.
‘Massarat told me that she received papers through the post but she didn’t understand what they said,’ said Ghafar, a traffic policeman.
‘They were served at her home address and her son took them and said, “Mum, this is for you.” But she thought it was just a bill or something.
‘When more papers came through, she showed them to family and friends and they all told her not to worry about it. But when she showed them to me, I was shocked and told her they were divorce papers.’
Yesterday, Baroness Warsi’s first husband, Naeem, inflamed the row when he said that Mr Azam’s treatment of Massarat was ‘common knowledge’ in the local community.
‘It is well known that Iftikhar sent Massarat divorce papers but obviously her English is not good at all, so she found out about the divorce plans only after showing them to people,’ said Naeem. ‘But she doesn’t accept it and still believes he is her husband.
‘She’s very naive in lots of ways and needs lots of help to get through this. She’s been treated very badly and she’s stuck with four kids in a two-bedroom house. She tells people that Sayeeda has taken her husband away. The Muslim community here is against them both for what they have done.’
Last night, in a statement released through the Conservative Party, Mr Azam said: ‘My ex-wife Massarat was represented by solicitors in matrimonial proceedings.
‘At no stage have either Massarat or her solicitors raised this issue before these comments to the Press.
‘Massarat speaks and understands English. She has a job and has held a British driving licence for many years. My wife, Sayeeda, has campaigned long and hard for the rights and plight of Muslim women. I deeply admire and support her commitment to such causes. Neither my wife Sayeeda nor I would ever condone or support behaviour outlined in the allegations.’
When The Mail on Sunday first approached Massarat on Friday to ask her about the allegations, she invited our reporter in and told her through an interpreter that she was frightened to speak to us for fear of violent retribution from her children. She requested that if the reporter and interpreter were discovered by family members, they pretend to be doctors. No such subterfuge was necessary.
The only English words used by Massarat were ‘Come in’ when she invited our reporter into her home.
After approaching Baroness Warsi and Mr Azam for a comment yesterday, we were contacted by Arfan Azam, 17, Massarat’s eldest son, who accused our reporter of posing as a doctor and demanded she return to the house to hear the ‘truth’ from his mother.
When our reporter did so, she witnessed a distressing confrontation between the children and their mother.
After asking our reporter why she had posed as a doctor to gain entry to the house, Arfan said: ‘Who are you? Did you come round to our house yesterday? I need to see your identification and I want to know how come you told my mum you were a doctor when you came round. You have no right to come into someone’s house and ask questions about a story. Why did you come into the house?’
At this point, Massarat, looking pale and tearful, came into the room and began to cry. She was grabbed by the arms and pushed violently back through the door, which was then slammed behind her as the children screamed, ‘No! Go away!’
Her sobs could be heard from the hallway. Massarat again entered the room in tears and was forced down on to the sofa while the children shouted at her. She could be heard to implore, ‘Please, please’ – her only words in English – before our reporter was asked to leave. Further screaming could be heard as the door closed.
Baroness Warsi, who divorced Naeem – they have an 11-year-old daughter – after a 17-year arranged marriage, in December 2007, held a traditional Nikar wedding with Mr Azam at her parents’ detached sandstone property in Dewsbury on August 20.
According to Ghafar, his brother instigated divorce proceedings against Massarat in the summer of 2008, with the decree absolute coming through in December that year.
He said Massarat had regarded Baroness Warsi as her friend after she started visiting the house to talk to her husband, an executive with a food company, about politics during the 2005 Election campaign.
Ghafar claims that before Iftikhar’s divorce was finalised, he had travelled to Pakistan with Baroness Warsi and Mr Cameron in September 2008. Mr Cameron was holding talks with political leaders to boost the party’s foreign policy credentials.
Ghafar says Iftikhar and Warsi stayed together in the opulent Pearl Continental hotel in Islamabad, the only deluxe hotel in the capital, which boasts of its ‘sensuality, temptation and serenity’. He claims they also visited cricketer and politician Imran Khan at his farmhouse.
‘Massarat says she didn’t realise what was happening. She still does not understand properly that they are actually divorced,’ said Ghafar. ‘By the time we got the decree absolute, there was nothing we could do. She still hopes he’ll come back.’
Legal experts say that it is possible for someone who does not understand English to be divorced without their knowledge.
Although it is ‘good practice’ for paperwork to be translated, it is not necessary under law. If a man or woman does not respond to a divorce petition within 14 days, the other party can apply for a decree nisi. There would not be any notification of the decree nisi.
Then, within six weeks, a decree absolute can be granted.
In Massarat’s case it was several weeks before she showed the decree nisi to Ghafar and by then, according to Ghafar, it was too late to prevent a decree absolute.
Baroness Warsi has set up a charity, the Savayra Foundation, to help disadvantaged Pakistani women and support them through divorces which can leave them poor and homeless.
On the Foundation’s website, Baroness Warsi says: ‘Community cohesion is how we all live together with ease, how we feel comfortable in our communities and the way in which we bind together as a nation.
As Shadow Minister for community cohesion and social action, I am working towards a Britain where everyone has equal opportunities to succeed and a valued place in society.’
Ghafar said Massarat was suffering from depression and was struggling to comprehend what had happened to her. ‘This Baroness has destroyed her, she really has,’ he said. ‘Just for a second, let’s assume nothing untoward was going on. Why then, would a Baroness marry someone who’s just been divorced for eight months?’
In stark contrast to Warsi’s middle-class upbringing, Massarat came from a simple farming family in rural Pakistan. She arrived in the UK in 1991 and was introduced to her first cousin, Iftikhar, then 18. Their families decided they should marry.
In accordance with tradition, Massarat, who was 16 and her family’s eldest daughter, was given the family’s ‘treasure trove’ of jewellery – said by relatives to be worth £20,000.
She had four children, three boys and a girl. Despite living in Dewsbury for 18 years, she speaks very little English and associates mainly with other Muslim Pakistani families.
She works part-time as a school dinner lady at Manorfield Infant and Nursery School in Batley, near Dewsbury, and also has a cleaning job.
She holds highly traditional views, and is believed to fear that her children’s relationship with Baroness Warsi will lead to her becoming estranged from them because of the Baroness’s more modern outlook.
Last night, Ghafar told The Mail on Sunday that Massarat was under ‘tremendous pressure’ from her family to deny everything. He said: ‘Her children have threatened to leave her and she is in total bits. She’s on the phone to me all the time in tears. It’s terrible what they’re doing to her.’
Baroness Warsi married Mr Azam in a traditional Nikar wedding. During a Nikar, an imam – a Muslim spiritual leader – first asks the groom to repeat three times that he agrees to the union and instructs him to sign an Islamic marriage certificate known as a Nikar nama. The ceremony is then repeated for the bride.
For the Nikar to be official, two witnesses must also sign the document. The couple are given a copy of the certificate and the imam retains the original.
Baroness Warsi’s Nikar, which was attended by only close family, was followed three hours later by a wedding celebration at a well-known Indian restaurant and function rooms called Nawaab in Manchester.
It was attended by more friends and family, including two of Iftikhar’s brothers, although Ghafar says he was not invited to attend and was not even aware of the ceremony until after it had taken place.
The pair then attended a register office to sign a wedding certificate and cement their union in English.
Andrea Dyer, Massarat’s solicitor at the Leeds-based firm Lee & Priestley, said: ‘My client cannot speak any English. I have not been instructed to contest the divorce and as far as I am aware it may not even be possible. We are working on securing a financial settlement from her divorce and arrangements concerning property and possessions.’
How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays
13 September 2009
Iraqi militias infiltrate internet gay chatrooms to hunt their quarry – and hundreds are feared to be victims
Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.
"It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.
Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.
The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. "Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts," he told the Observer. "We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed."
The violence against Iraqi gays is a key test of the government's ability to protect vulnerable minority groups after the Americans have gone.
Dr Toby Dodge, of London University's Queen Mary College, believes that the violence may be a consequence of the success of the government of Nouri al-Maliki. "Militia groups whose raison d'être was security in their communities are seeing that function now fulfilled by the police. So their focus has shifted to the moral and cultural sphere, reverting to classic Islamist tactics of policing moral boundaries," Dodge said.
Homosexuality was not criminalised under Saddam Hussein – indeed Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s was known for its relatively liberated gay scene. Violence against gays started in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003. Since 2004, according to Ali Hali, chairman of the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group, a London-based human-rights group, a total of 680 have died in Iraq, with at least 70 of those in the past five months. The group believes the figures may be higher, as most cases involving married men are not reported. Seven victims were women. According to Hali, Iraq has become "the worst place for homosexuals on Earth".
Full article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/13/iraq-gays-murdered-militias
US denies role in General Zia's plane crash
September 07, 2009
Islamabad: The US has rejected allegations that it was in any way involved in the plane crash that killed former president Zia-ul-Haq and several top Pakistani officials.
US embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire denied former Intelligence Bureau chief Brigadier (retired) Imtiaz Ahmed's claims that the US was behind the crash, adding that, "[other] allegations that the US tried to influence or stall the investigations are baseless and untrue. We reject all such allegations."
The then US Ambassador in Pakistan was killed in the 1988 incident therefore, the US will always favour getting to the actual facts, sources said.
Zia-ul-Haq's elder son Ejaz-ul-Haq had alleged that the US forcefully stopped the probe into the incident of plane crash.
Ahmed said the US and internal powers were behind the 1988 plane crash that killed General Zia-ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan from 1978 till his death. (ANI)
U.S. to Expand Review of Detainees in Afghan Prison
By ERIC SCHMITT
September 12, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration soon plans to issue new guidelines aimed at giving the hundreds of prisoners at an American detention center in Afghanistan significantly more ability to challenge their custody, Pentagon officials and detainee advocates say.
The new Pentagon guidelines would assign a United States military official to each of the roughly 600 detainees at the American-run prison at the Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. These officials would not be lawyers but could for the first time gather witnesses and evidence, including classified material, on behalf of the detainees to challenge their detention in proceedings before a military-appointed review board.
Some of the detainees have already been held at Bagram for as long as six years. And unlike the prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba, these detainees have had no access to lawyers, no right to hear the allegations against them and only rudimentary reviews of their status as “enemy combatants,” military officials said.
The changes, which are expected to be announced as early as this week after an obligatory Congressional review, come as the Obama administration is picking through the detention policies and practices of the Bush administration, to determine what it will keep and what it will abandon in an effort to distance itself from some of the harsher approaches used under President George W. Bush. Human rights groups and prisoner advocates cautiously hailed the policy changes but said the government’s track record in this area had been so poor that they wanted to see concrete results before making hard judgments.
Full report at:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/world/asia/13detain.html?_r=1&ref=global-home
Post 9/11, Americans say Muslims face most discrimination
But many also see Islam as a violent religion, according to a Pew Forum survey.
By Jina Moore
New York - Eight years after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, Americans believe that Muslims face more discrimination than any other religious group in the US.
Fifty-eight percent say Muslims face "a lot" of discrimination, according to an annual survey of religious attitudes by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life and the Pew Center for People and the Press, released Wednesday.
The groups surveyed 4,013 adults nationwide in August. This is the first year it asked about perceived discrimination of religious and social groups. Sixty-four percent of respondents said gays and lesbians face discrimination; 35 percent believe Jews do and 27 percent believe evangelical Christians face discrimination.
The survey sample composition means the majority of respondents – and of those who perceive discrimination against Muslims – are Christian. It's a finding that suggests Americans are tolerant pluralists, but Greg Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, says the full picture is more complicated.
In the same poll, he notes, two-thirds of people indicated that they see Islam and their own beliefs as quite different.
This bothers Kareem Shora, national executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). "It tells me that there's still that mentality out there ... [an] 'us versus them' approach." Meanwhile, he says, "the religion itself is established on the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Virgin Mary is actually mentioned more often in the Koran than she is in the New Testament."
Negative perceptions persist
The Pew survey also showed that 38 percent of Americans believe Islam encourages violence more than other religions, compared with 45 percent who don't. That's down from two years ago but still higher than it was in 2002, when 25 percent of Americans held this view.
This data suggests what ADC research has also found: That negative perceptions of Muslims didn't harden in the wake of September 11, but sometime after. In fact, observers say, there was an outpouring of concern for Muslim-Americans in the months following the attacks.
"As ugly as some people got with hate crimes ... a lot of other people reached out to their neighbours and their friends and stood up for them," says Alia Malek, author of the forthcoming "A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Stories, American Roots." Ms. Malek, who was an attorney with the Department of Justice on 9/11, says the government initially reached out to Arab-Americans and Muslims.
"That soured pretty fast," she says, with new policies including regulations requiring men from 25 Arab countries to register with the US government, regardless of immigration status, wiretapping telephone lines and 'voluntary' interviews with Federal Bureau of Investigation officials at Arab-American homes. Some of these came with the Patriot Act of 2002, while others were implemented as early as November 2001.
When views hardened
Public perception of Muslims turned negative as these policies grew, says Anny Balakian, author of "Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond." The idea that Muslims "don't belong here" pre-dates 9/11, Ms. Balakian says. "The problem is that the government initiatives were really lethal."
Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab American Association of New York, agrees. "If you have raids in your mosques and it's located in a community that's very diverse – these don't help your neighbors who are non-Arab or non-Muslim see you as a community they can trust, feel safe around, or feel comfortable with."
The image of violent Islam, in particular, is fed by current events in the media, says Ms. Sarsour.
"You have the war in Afghanistan, you have Pakistan, you have this war in Iraq and all these American soldiers are dying – and then you have the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," she notes. "These are what people think about think about when they think of the Muslim world."
'Muslim' and 'Arab' may be interchangeable in the minds of many Americans – despite the fact that, as Malek points out, many Arabs in the US are Christian while the majority of Muslims here are African-Americans.
How Muslims feel
While Pew's new study found nearly 6 in10 adults feel Muslims face discrimination in America, a 2007 poll of Muslims revealed that 1 in 4 Muslims has, in fact, experienced discrimination. Even those who haven't may be affected by the stories of others' discrimination.
"Depending on where you are in the US and what communities you're trying to live with, you are being cautious and careful and trying to make sure you're being a good citizen," says Sarsour.
Talat Mangla, an accountant in Falls Church, Va., denies feeling discriminated against as a Muslim, but her awareness of the possibility has, at times, influenced her thinking.
"I started wearing a head scarf in college, and I don't think I've ever felt discrimination overtly because of that," says Ms. Mangla. "More than anything, I felt more self-conscious about it."
The recent Pew survey also found that Americans who know a Muslim, or who know the meaning of the words "Allah" or "Koran," are less likely to hold unfavorable views.
Of course, says Mangla.
"You know how everyone loves their congressman but hates Congress? It's almost the same for Muslims," she says. "People … might be afraid of Islam in totality, but when you think of Muslims you actually know and interact with, they don't scare you. They're not radically different."
Madrasa suspects held in Islamabad
September 10. 2009
ISLAMABAD // Police have arrested half a dozen suspects in connection with the assassination attempt last week on the country’s minister for religious affairs, according to the Islamabad police chief.
Hamid Saeed Kazmi survived an assassination attempt on September 2 when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his government vehicle just yards outside his office in a busy neighbourhood of Islamabad.
Mr Kazmi, a soft-spoken religious scholar and politician who has been vocal against the Taliban and religious extremism, was shot in the leg and is currently in hospital.
His driver was killed at the scene and a police officer, Ashraf Sial, who was critically wounded, died yesterday in a hospital in Islamabad.
Syed Kaleem Imam, the inspector general of Islamabad Police, said the arrests were part of a big sweep carried out against terrorist suspects in the capital. “We have arrested 46 other suspects in the last few weeks.”
Mr Imam said the arrests have helped foil major terror attacks targeting the capital. “The terrorists planned to target the parliament building, members of the parliament and National Defense University.”
Islamabad has suffered several terrorist attacks in recent years as the Pakistani military battles the Taliban and hard-line extremists in the country’s north.
Concerns have also mounted about the high number of madrasas, or religious schools, that have mushroomed in the capital and elsewhere.
Full Report at: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090911/FOREIGN/709109928/1135
LeT behind Pak rocket fire?
Yudhvir Rana, TNN 13 September 2009
AMRITSAR: Lashkar-e-Taiba has emerged as the main suspect behind the Friday night’s rocket fire into Indian villages from Pakistan side after Pak
Rangers claimed their troops had no role in the incident.
Four rockets had smashed into villages in Punjab, shattering the late night calm as they exploded in the fields and triggered a major scare. The attack had forced BSF — perhaps for the first time — to retaliate with machine gun and mortar fire.
The BSF has lodged a strong protest with Pak Rangers and sounded an alert along the border late Friday night soon after the attack. The attack came the same day BSF deployed its first women contingent along the international border in the Punjab sector.
There was no damage or casualty on the Indian side, BSF inspector-general Himmat Singh said. The 107 mm rockets landed about 2 km inside the Indian side at Modhey, Rattan Kalan, Dalkae and Dhoneya Khurd villages, near Attari.
BSF commandant Baljit Dhillon held a flag meeting with Pakistan Rangers at 1 am on Saturday and lodged a strong protest with Rangers’ leader wing commander Akbar Bhatt, who surprisingly denied knowledge of the attack or Pak army’s role.
Full Report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/LeT-behind-Pak-rocket-fire/articleshow/5004651.cms
Hate groups use teen to defame Islamic center
COLUMBUS, Ohio: At only age 17, Fathima Rifqa Bary has already managed to create one of the most controversial national news stories in the United States. Her heinous allegations have tried to give Islam a bad name and taint the reputation of Noor Islamic Cultural Center (NICC), one of the most prominent mosques of Columbus, Ohio.
She and her family left their Sri Lankan hometown in 2000. Bary, who had lost sight in one eye, hoped to find a cure in the United States. What she found, instead, was religion. Bary left Islam four years ago and secretly converted to Christianity. According to her testimony, her father recently learned of her conversion and threatened to kill her, prompting her to run away from home.
An openly declared Christian on Facebook, Bary corresponded with Florida pastor Blake Lorenz of the Global Revolution Church in Orlando. Accepting his offer of help, she boarded a Greyhound bus and fled to the pastor’s home. Bary’s parents not knowing the whereabouts of their daughter, filed a missing person’s report. As three weeks passed and police involvement intensified, Lorenz finally admitted to sheltering the runaway teen. Bary has currently been placed in foster care and her case awaits hearing in the Florida family courts.
Rifqa’s father, Mohammad Bary, has repeatedly denied ever threatening to kill his daughter. He claims to have known of her conversion for quite awhile. “When she was 14 ... when she wanted to do some babysitting, she put (on the application) I’m Christian. And that was the first time. Then one year ago, my son came and told me that she was going around school with a bible, trying to convince other kids.”
Muhammad Bary states that he accepted her conversion. He claims to be a liberal father who allowed Rifqa to be a cheerleader and wear clothes outside of the Islamic dress code. He himself had gone to a Christian school and his best friend was a Christian. He said that this whole matter was the result of a family argument blown out of proportion. “My daughter is a minor. She has been kidnapped by the pastor. Somebody came to Ohio and took her. The Evangelicals have brainwashed and have coached her what to say. They are using her and she is a victim. I just want her to stay at home and be part of the family.”
Full Report at: http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4§ion=0&article=126370&d=13&m=9&y=2009
Book on legendary Indian singer Tansen published in Poland
9 September 2009
Warsaw: After the publication of a number of books on Urdu poetry in Polish in the last four years, now a book on legendary Indian classical singer Tansen has hit the stalls in Poland's capital.
Tansen regarded as one of the greatest classical singers of medieval times during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar prompted Janusz Krzyzowski, a well-known Polish Indologist to write a book on him.
It was Tansen who composed many new ragas which till this day are being sung. His son, Bilas Khan, also carried his work further, and Sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan comes from Tansen's family.
Krzyzowski painstakingly researched on this subject for the past four years.
"While writing a book on Indian music few years ago I had developed a passion to write a book on Tansen.
Finally I achieved my mission. Part of the credit goes to Anil Wadhwa, a former Indian ambassador to Poland, who helped me to visit Gwalior to attend the annual Tansen festival with a grant from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)," said Krzyzowski.
"The interaction with many Indian classical singers and musicologists helped me to shape a picture of Tansen in my mind. I was equally fascinated by watching K.L. Saighal film of Tansen which was produced in the late 1930s. The way Saighal potrayed Tansen with his singing and acting was remarkable, “added Krzyzowski.
"The publication of this book is a great achievement for Indophiles in Poland who hitherto have been hooked to Bollywood music and films only. Gradually the profile of India is shaping well in Polish psyche. The spread of Indian classical music and dances is a reality now “commented J. J. Singh, president of the India-Polish Chamber of Commerce and Industries (IPCCI).
Incidentally, this body has financed the book’s publication.
India to blame for Pak youth taking to terror: Musharraf
13 September 2009
LAHORE: Former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf has blamed India for the formation of terror groups such as the JeM.
Talking to a private television channel, Musharraf said it was the oppression of Muslims in India by the Hindus which forced the Pakistani youth to take up militancy and extremism and form terrorist groups such as JeM.
Musharraf also defended his action of supporting the United States in its â€˜war on terrorâ€™ post 9/11 attack saying Pakistanâ€™s existence could have been endangered if he would have not done so.
To nail their lies, India plans ads in Pak media
September 11, 2009
Islamabad does not acknowledge its nationals are sent across the border to create terror in India. But India is hoping that at least their families in Pakistan might.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is mulling over plan to directly approach the Pakistani people with a list of men in Indian jails on terror charges to enable their families come forward to identify them and seek their release.
Sixty Pakistani nationals were killed in encounters with security forces in and outside Jammu and Kashmir last year.
Another ten —prisoners of the proxy war that elements in Pakistan control — were arrested and jailed.
“We are thinking of placing advertisements in the Pakistani media declaring the list of people we know are Pakistani nationals, along with their photograph who have been charged with terrorism in Indian jails,” a home ministry official said.
“We would expect that their families would own their kin and seek consular access,” the official said.
Full report at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/To-nail-lies-India-plans-ads-in-Pak-media/H1-Article1-452880.aspx
Intelligence inputs cannot be taken as evidence: Chidambaram
“Too much is being attributed to Centre’s affidavit”
NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said the Gujarat government could not defend itself and justify the June 2004 encounter killings, adducing the Centre’s intelligence inputs as evidence or conclusive proof.
He was referring to the Home Ministry’s affidavit, filed last month before the Gujarat High Court, on the June 2004 Ahmedabad encounter, in which Ishrat Jehan and three others were slain.
“Certainly no one suggested that based on an intelligence input you should kill someone. I think too much is being attributed to that affidavit, as if it is meant to defend the government of Gujarat against the excesses that may have been committed by its police. I am sorry for the government of Gujarat and the manner in which it runs its police administration.”
A magisterial inquiry found that Ishrat and the other three were killed in a “fake encounter.”
“To the best of my knowledge, the affidavit says that intelligence inputs were shared with the Gujarat government. That affidavit must be read in context. You cannot read into it what it does not say. I think it is self evident that intelligence inputs are not evidence, much less conclusive proof. They are just inputs. They are shared with governments on a regular basis. That is not evidence or conclusive proof. It gives leads to investigators for further enquiry,” he said during a press briefing in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Centre is exploring the possibility of moving the Supreme Court against the Gujarat High Court’s order staying the report of Metropolitan Magistrate S.P. Tamang and ordering initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him.
Law Ministry sources told The Hindu that discussions were on with top law officers on this issue and a decision would be taken in a day or two.
Pakistan reiterates invitation to Nirupama Rao
No agreement yet on New York as venue
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has reiterated an invitation to Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to visit here for an agreed-upon meeting with her counterpart Salman Bashir ahead of talks between the two Foreign Ministers later this month.
The two sides have not been able to agree on a date or a venue yet for the foreign secretary-level talks, agreed upon at the July Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting as a prelude to the Foreign Ministers’ talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York in the third week of September.
Pakistan had earlier invited Ms. Rao to undertake a visit to the Pakistan capital so that the meeting could be held here. But India did not respond, and on Thursday, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said the two Foreign Secretaries would meet in New York just ahead of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting.
The reiteration of its invitation to Ms. Rao, made by the Pakistan Foreign Secretary at a meeting with the Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal.here on Friday, is an indication that there is no agreement on New York as a venue for the talks.
It is significant that Pakistan chose to reiterate the invitation a day after the Inter-Services Intelligence chief made an unprecedented appearance at an iftar hosted by Mr. Sabharwal.
Lt. Gen Shuja Pasha’s appearance has been commented upon by observers here as a “great gesture” and a demonstration of Pakistan’s “flexibility” in its attempts to re-engage India after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. It is being seen as a message to both India and the international community that Pakistan is sincere about punishing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
The ISI Director-General’s iftar diplomacy has also created an expectation here that India will make a gesture of its own or show similar flexibility towards Pakistan.
But the Indian High Commission officials played down the significance of Lt. Gen Pasha’s presence at the iftar.
They said the High Commission sent out invitations as a matter of routine to both the civil and military leadership of Pakistan for an event, and it was “too speculative” to read any meaning into the decision by the ISI Director-General to attend the Thursday evening function.
Shelling in Somalia kills 15, mostly ex-soldiers
By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN (AP), 13 Sept 2009
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Mortars slammed into Somalia's capital, killing three civilians and at least 12 men at a home for disabled veterans, an official said Saturday. Nearly a dozen other former soldiers were wounded in the attack.
Islamic insurgents fired mortars Friday night toward Mogadishu's port but the explosives landed in residential areas. One of the buildings hit was a residence for former army officers paralyzed or missing limbs from the country's 1977 war with Ethiopia, according to government spokesman Shiek Abdirisaq Qeylow, who gave the death and injured toll.
Mohamed Abdi, 50, had moved to the army home after a bullet paralyzed him in 1977.
"I was sitting in my wheelchair about 10 meters (30 feet) away from my friends when a mortar exploded and smoke and dust covered us all," he told The Associated Press. "I saw my friends on the ground, with blood scattered everywhere like slaughtered goats."
Police spokesman Col. Abdullahi Hassan Barise called Friday's shelling "a national disaster caused by elements who lack both humanity and patriotism."
"It is horrific and inhumane to shell civilian areas," said Somali human rights activist Ali Sheik Fadhaa.
Full report at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g7OaI4_kjeHA-o4UhlmP7vlWmrrwD9ALSGI00
UK troubled by anti-Islam rallies, counterprotests
By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, 13 Sept, 2009
LONDON — Violent clashes between anti-Islam demonstrators and Muslim counter-protesters in English cities are worrying the government, with one British minister comparing the disturbances to 1930s-era fascist incitement.
The violence that has hit Luton, Birmingham and London in the last few months has involved a loose collection of far-right groups — such as the previously unknown English Defence League — on one side and anti-fascist organizations and Muslim youth on the other.
In an interview published Saturday, Communities Minister John Denham accused the anti-Islam protesters of deliberately stirring up trouble.
"The tactic of trying to provoke a response in the hope of causing wider violence and mayhem is long established on the far-right and among extremist groups," Denham was quoted as saying by The Guardian newspaper. "You could go back to the 1930s if you wanted to — Cable Street."
Denham was referring to a 1936 confrontation sparked by British fascist leader Oswald Mosley's decision to march through the then-heavily Jewish East End of London. Mosley's pro-Nazi followers were met at Cable Street by Jews, communists and anarchists, and a pitched battle ensued.
Full Report At: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gu_cRpb8W0uJLux-VMl1Z1Rg3sXAD9ALTJHO0
US Aims to Focus on Nuclear Issue in Iran Talks
12 September 2009
The United States says it plans to focus on Iran's nuclear program in upcoming talks with Tehran, despite Iran's refusal to discuss the subject.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Iran has a responsibility to walk away from what he described as its "illicit nuclear weapons program." He says that is what the U.S. goal will be in negotiations with Iran.
On Friday, the United States and other world powers accepted Iran's new offer to hold talks, even though Tehran said it will not negotiate on its nuclear program.
Iranian officials say they are pleased the U.S. and other world powers accepted the offer. But Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says Iran will not compromise on its "inalienable right."
Meanwhile, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor says "the clock is ticking" for getting Iran to halt nuclear projects with bomb-making potential. In an exclusive interview with the Reuters news agency, Meridor said, however, a combination of tough political and economic action may get Iran to listen to reason. He said he does not think Iranian leaders are "irrational."
Israel says a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence and has not ruled out a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
Window on Pak Press: Pak rakes up Kashmir, dares India to debate Mumbai
September 12, 2009
Pakistan on Saturday raked up Kashmir issue and simultaneously dared India to debate the Mumbai 26/11 attack. Leading newspapers reported that while the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad was summoned to Foreign Office on Friday to be told that Government of Pakistan rejects the Indian claim that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. "Pakistan's position on Jammu and Kashmir dispute is based on relevant UN resolutions", the Foreign Office said.
This apparently was in reaction to India's protest over Pakistan's latest moves. The Nation of Nawa-i-Waqt Group said two protest notes were handed over to the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi on Friday by the Ministry of External Affairs of India, on the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009); and construction of Bunji Dam in Astore District.
The paper quoting Indian media said the Indian Government on Friday summoned the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan Riffat Masood and registered its protest against the Government of Pakistan's so-called Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order -2009 and its move to construct the Bunji Hydroelectric Project.
Insofar as the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order-2009 was concerned, the Indian government charged Pakistan with denying basic democratic rights to the people in those parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal occupation for the past six decades.
New Delhi told the Pakistani envoy that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947.
A government spokesman described the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order-2009 was yet another cosmetic exercise intended to camouflage Pakistan's illegal occupation of the region.
The Indian Government also lodged a protest on Friday over the proposed construction of the Bunji Hydroelectric Project. The 7000-megawatt dam is being constructed at Bunji in the Astore District of the Gilgit-Baltistan area with the help of China.
Let's debate Mumbai: Malik
According to Dawn, The Nation and Daily Times Interior Minister Rehman Malik has invited the Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram for an open debate over the issue of Mumbai attacks investigations.
Talking to journalists, Rehman Malik said Pakistan was sincere in the investigations into the Mumbai attacks and it filed the charge sheet in the court within the period of 76 days whereas Indians took more than 90 days to prepare the charge sheet.
He offered to have an open debate with the Indian Home Minister over the Mumbai attacks' investigation issue. Malik said he is ready for the debate anywhere India, Pakistan or wherever his Indian counterpart likes.
Malik said we have received the Indian dossier in which the Indians have provided us the statement of Ajmal Kasab, who claims speaking to Hafiz Saeed when he was in Mumbai.
'Initially the Indians said Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was the mastermind and we arrested him…now they have started saying that Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind,' Malik said.
'We arrested Hafiz Saeed soon after the UN announcement banning Jamaatud Dawa…later on our court released Hafiz on bail…Indians should respect our courts just as we respect their courts,' Malik said.
Answering a question on Muslim Khan's arrest, the interior minister said it was a success for the whole nation and the Pakistan army and concerned law enforcement agencies should be lauded for it.
While The Nation headlined the news-story as "Rehman hits out at Indian flip-flops on terror cooperation" Daily Times said "Stop blame game, come to table, Malik tells India" Its sub-headlines : Islamabad has always been sincere in sorting out issues with New Delhi/ Invites Indian leadership to hold talks with Pakistan in India or Pakistan, instead of other countries".
"Pak not obliged to handover Saeed": Malik
Dawn in a report datelined Dubai said Pakistan has said that it is 'not obliged' to immediately arrest Lashkar-i-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed even if an Interpol Red Corner notice has been issued against him and claimed that evidence provided by India in their three dossiers was 'not sufficient' to link him to the 26/11 attacks.
'Pakistan needs to examine the evidence provided by India on the basis of which Interpol issued a Red Corner notice against Hafiz Saeed. Certain procedures are required to pursue the notice,' Interior Minister Rahman Malik said.
In an interview to Saudi Daily Arab News, Malik said even if a Red Corner notice has been issued against Saeed, the government was 'not obliged to immediately arrest him'.
'We are free to make our own investigations against the man, and then take steps accordingly,' he said.
Malik claimed that the evidence provided by India in three dossiers 'is, in our considered view, not sufficient to link Hafiz Saeed to the (Mumbai) attack and to punish those who are guilty.'
'We appeal to India to share information with us, and also to keep faith in our legal system and judiciary,' he said and reiterated his claim that India could have averted the Mumbai attacks by sharing information with Pakistan.
'Let me tell you, India could have prevented the terror attacks in Mumbai if they had shared intelligence with us after the arrest of two terrorists - Fahim Ansari and Sabah Uddin,' he said.
Taliban-Pak top leaders arrested, outfit weakened
In what is being viewed as a major military and psychological victory, security forces on Friday confirmed the arrest of the most wanted spokesman of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Swat, Haji Muslim Khan, along with his four accomplices. The military, however, denied holding any talks with the Taliban, saying the militant leaders were arrested in a successful operation by security forces near Mingora in the Swat Valley, widely-read The News of Urdu daily Jang Group said on Saturday.
A spokesman for the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Muslim Khan, along with Mahmud Khan, carrying Rs 10 million head money each, had been arrested with their close aides Fazal Ghaffar, Sartaj and Abdur Rehman from Swat.
No talks with arrested Talibans: ISPR
The ISPR spokesman strongly rejected news reports regarding negotiations with the arrested Taliban spokesman and his four aides. The spokesman said the arrested terrorist leaders were under interrogation of law-enforcement agencies.
He said security forces were conducting operations on information obtained from the arrested terrorist leaders. The spokesman said further details to the media on the arrested leaders at this stage might jeopardise the operations of security forces, which were meeting with remarkable success.
"We have already declared that no talks will be held with any terrorist. If they want to surrender, they should lay down their arms and hand themselves over to the law-enforcement agencies," he added.
Muslim Khan had accepted responsibility for majority of the terrorist acts carried out in Swat by calling local journalists on phone. According to a rough estimate, he had accepted claim for over 100 sabotage activities that included burning of schools and attacks on security forces and slaughtering of government officials, mostly policemen.
Taliban movement weakened: Fazlullah
The News in a separate story from Peshawar said: Following the arrest of his five important Shura members, the Swat Taliban head, Maulana Fazlullah, on Friday conceded that his organisation had been weakened.
In a recorded message conveyed by his spokesman Salman to The News late Friday evening from an undisclosed place in Swat, he said: "The Taliban movement is presently in a state of illness. When you are ill, your activities are curtailed. That is what has happened to Taliban organisation, but it would bounce back."
In his recorded message, Maulana Fazlullah spoke hurriedly in Pashto. At times, it was difficult to understand his words. It wasn't easy to tell that the voice indeed was of Maulana Fazlullah even though it generally sounded familiar.
Salman, who has taken over as the spokesman for the Swat Taliban after the arrest of Muslim Khan, said the brief recording was delivered to him on Friday. Maulana Fazlullah mentioned the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) founder Baitullah Mehsud in his message and stressed that all Pakistani Taliban wished to die like him. "Like Baitullah Mehsud, all Taliban fighters want to embrace martyrdom. Getting arrested while fighting for a cause is no big deal for the Taliban," he maintained. He said the Taliban in Swat and Malakand would continue their struggle for the enforcement of real Shariah and offer every sacrifice to achieve this goal.
According to Maulana Fazlullah, the Taliban possessed "Fidayee" power and those in doubt should ask Russia, the US and Nato about the Taliban prowess.
The whereabouts of Maulana Fazlullah, who is the son-in-law of the detained Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad, is unknown. The government has been claiming that he was wounded in an earlier military action. There have also been reports backed by government officials that he was under siege in a mountainous area in Swat and could no longer move to some other place.
Maulana Fazlullah made it clear that he and his men had lost trust in the Pakistan Army after it allegedly invited his organisation for peace talks and arrested the five negotiators. He said a need may arise again for the government and the military to talk to the Taliban, but the Swat Taliban had decided once and for all not to hold any negotiations with the rulers.
His message came on the day the Pakistan Army Spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas announced that Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan and commander Mahmood Khan, both carrying head-money of Rs 10 million each, had been captured along with three other Shura members Fazle Ghaffar, Abdur Rahman and Sartaj in a military operation in the suburbs of Mingora in Swat.
Vatican Invites Muslims to Fight Poverty Together
By Gretta Curtis, Sep. 12 2009
The Vatican is calling upon Muslims to work together with Christians to end poverty; saying it can cause “violence and extremism” - the common enemy of humankind.
In its traditional message to Muslims at the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue Friday published its annual Message to Muslims blaming poverty as the main causes of “intolerable sufferings”.
“We all know that poverty has the power to humiliate and to engender intolerable sufferings; it is often a source of isolation, anger, even hatred and the desire for revenge.
“It can provoke hostile actions using any available means, even seeking to justify them on religious grounds, or seizing another man's wealth, together with his peace and security, in the name of an alleged 'divine justice', stated the message.
“This is why confronting the phenomena of extremism and violence necessarily implies tackling poverty through the promotion of integral human development that Pope Paul VI defined as the 'new name for peace’.”
The message was signed by the top interfaith dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council.
Full Report at: http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090912/vatican-invites-muslims-to-fight-poverty-together/index.html
Moments of terror as Emirates flight disappears from radar
September 13, 2009
An Emirates Airbus disappeared off radar screens and only narrowly averted crashing into a heavily populated Melbourne suburb after a botched take-off in Australia's worst near miss.
The Airbus A340-500 only just cleared a perimeter fence as it took off from Melbourne airport bound for Dubai, and struggled to gain altitutde after pilots miscalculated its weight by 100 tonnes, according to The Australian newspaper.
Horrified air traffic controllers watched as the plane lumbered down the runway, too slow to take off, but too fast to stop, sparks flying as its tail hit the ground five times before the pilot was able to lift it over the perimeter fence.
Even then it struggled to gain altitude, and for whole minutes remained too low in the air to appear on radar screens. Traffic controllers waited in horror for an explosion in Melbourne's southern suburbs after Emirates flight 407, carrying 257 passengers and 18 crew, disappeared from their screens.
"The aircraft was lost to sight against the lights of the industrial estate to the south, it was not high enough to be seen," Rob Mason, president of Civil Air, the Australian air controllers' union, told The Australian.
"This would have been the worst civil air disaster in Australia's history by a very large margin," aviation expert Ben Sandilands said. "There would have been no survivors from the plane and there would have been deaths on the ground also."
The incident, which happened in March this year, came about after a pilot setting the parameters for take-off incorrectly entered the aircraft's weight as 262 tonnes when in reality it was 362 tonnes - a discrepancy of over 100 tonnes.
Full Article at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article6832724.ece
Taliban and the army
September 13, 2009
Following the arrest of five senior Taliban commanders by the military, the TTP’s Maulana Fazlullah has said the organization no longer trusts the Pakistan Army and will not hold talks with it. The Taliban have alleged the commanders were held when they went for talks with the government. The ISPR has denied this. The breakdown in relations between the two sides may however be the best news to have come in for a very long time, from the perspective of the ordinary people in Pakistan. The dangerous nexus between agencies and militants has been commented on many times. Deals struck with the Taliban have been instrumental in allowing them to grow stronger and survive. The end of this courtship could then signal the start of a new era when there is no ambiguity about the need to defeat the militants and to act against them with all the force the state can muster.
The arrests are also important for several other reasons. They will help to persuade people in Swat that the long hold of the Taliban is now truly at an end. Scepticism had continued to be voiced about this even after the Taliban defeat was announced. There are also suggestions of more and more divisions within the Taliban, including a disagreement between Muslim Khan and Maulana Fazlullah, the two men at the top of the hierarchy in Swat. Fazlullah, through a spokesman, has already said the organization is ‘ill’ but that it will recover. The latest arrests may help to ensure this does not happen. The capture of key leaders may also take authorities further along the track to Fazlullah – whose arrest would mark a symbolic victory and signal the dawn of a brand new era in Swat.
Afghanistan's parallels to Vietnam
Joel Brinkley, September 13, 2009
Back in the day, back when all eyes in Washington were on Iraq and Afghanistan was considered the "good war," State Department officials used to say "it's too bad there isn't a Hamid Karzai for Iraq."
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By that, they meant it was a shame Iraq didn't have its own natural leader, respected by his people, who was also friendly to the West and dedicated to democratic ideals. Oh, how the wheel turns.
Democrats in Congress and an ever-larger share of the American people are turning against President Obama's Afghanistan strategy, and Karzai deserves the lion's share of the blame.
The "good war" has turned into a deadly briar patch, and it turns out we are fighting to defend a government that is now among the most corrupt in the world. Right now, Karzai is trying to steal an election with tactics so crude and blatant as to hardly be believed - charges validated, now, by a U.N. commission. How smart can he be to stuff ballot boxes and disenfranchise voters all across the nation while Afghanistan is teeming with aggressive Western journalists looking for stories?
All of this raises the question: Can this war be won?
Former President George W. Bush started the war in Afghanistan, and he was right to do so. The American people wanted the 9/11 villains brought to account, and no president could have allowed the perpetrators to escape unpunished. But Bush also lost the war.
In 2003, his administration assumed the war was won, the Taliban defeated - even though the enemy still remained determined and embedded in the countryside. Bush transferred all of the senior CIA specialists and elite Special Forces units who had helped win the Afghan war to fight in Iraq. The best equipment, including all the Predator drones, was sent to Baghdad, and it didn't take long for the Taliban to realize they had been given a gift. While Bush looked away, they reasserted themselves and turned Afghanistan back into a treacherous battlefield.
Early this month Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, produced his long-awaited analysis of the war and concluded: "The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable." Well, what else could he say? Would any general, given command of the most important military operation in the world, come back to Washington and tell his commander in chief: "I'm sorry but we can't win. This war is already lost." There, that day, a promising career would end.
Full Article at:http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/12/IN6J19JT1E.DTL