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Islamic World News ( 10 Jul 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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LeT emerges a growing global threat, says report

Headley used choicest Hindi expletives for NIA grillers, didn't know of Ishrat-Jahan-LeT connections

Taliban suicide bombers kill 65 in Pak tribal belt

11 Shia die in Afghan attack; 2 NATO convoys hit

12 militants killed in Orakzai

CNN was wrong about Ayatollah Fadlallah

Americans more tolerant than Europeans on Islamic veil: Poll

US Muslims going abroad face forced exile

Iran imposes media blackout over stoning sentence woman

WB unveils $6.2b lending plan for Pakistan

Economic experts call for overhaul of zakat system

Makkah property prices escalate on speculation

Hizbul hand in Valley unrest: MHA

Bangladesh tops among peacekeeper

Can’t hand out punishment in guise of fatwa: Bangla HC

Speaker challenges Ahmadinejad’s economic policy

Bangladeshi charged with promoting genocide

Punjab Assembly passes media censure resolution

Makkah prisoner loses eyesight after flogging

Failed States Index: Pak minister’s rejoinder acknowledged

Pak footprint unravels in Valley unrest

Journalists to observe Black Day against PA’s media resolution

Gaddafi’s son to send aid boat to Gaza

India, Iran sign 6 deals, MoUs to boost ties

Curfew relaxed in Valley after 3 days

To tilt J&K balance, PDP to be engaged

Absence of India-Pak agreement on criminals delaying 26/11 case: Zardari

Osama’s son hears dad’s voice in head, splits with wife

Huge arms haul in Kishtwar

NIA seeks NBWs against 26/11 accused abroad

China to build two highways in Gilgit-Baltistan

PFUJ asks journalists to hold protests today

Somali clerics to campaign against militancy

Lebanon-like solution proposed for Afghanistan

60 arrested as more Kashmir towns put under curfew

Qureshi cautious on talks with India

Taliban leader held in Afghanistan

Militants kill elder for opposing them

Attacks highlight Iraq’s tempestuous politics

King's visit to France postponed

Citizens criticize Saudi Credit & Savings Bank

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




LeT emerges a growing global threat, says report

TNN, Jul 10, 2010, 04.27am IST

NEW DELHI: Far from being just an ISI creation against India, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan army's favourite terror group, is a growing threat to the US and the Western world, says a new investigative report.

The conviction has come in sharper focus following the confessions of David Coleman Headley who was LeT's chief scout for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. It's not just India that has mounted a campaign to put Hafiz Saeed -- the chief of LeT's cover organisation Jamaat-ul-Dawa -- in prison, he's now emerged as a global threat.

The report by the US-based organisation, Investigative Project on Terrorism, quotes Gen David Petraeus, now commander of the Afghan campaign, telling the Senate a few months ago: "There's no question but that there are elements in Pakistan that have not yet been the focus of the Pakistani counter-insurgency efforts...obviously India has expressed its concern as well. The rise of LeT and the need to take action against it has been a 'source of dialogue' with Pakistani authorities."

The report says Westerners who underwent training in LeT's camps include Australian David Hicks, shoe-bomber Richard Reid and Dhiren Barot who had masterminded a failed gas cylinder bombing in London.

What makes it difficult to mount a concerted international action against the group is the fact that in Pakistan they enjoy an unprecedented popular and state support. The report details growing cooperation among LeT and al-Qaida and other terrorist groups -- the Afghan Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban (the Pakistani Taliban), Harakat-ul-Jihadi-Islami and Jaish-e-Muhammad.

The report says, "The attraction of Lashkar to Westerners may be traced to a number of factors. Although the group has shown willingness since the 1990s to train foreigners as a means of establishing networks in the West, this activity surged after September 11 because LeT did not experience the same crackdown that its al-Qaida brethren did. As a result, the camps became an especially appealing destination for many would-be jihadists. The group makes its training camps accessible to English speakers, providing crucial skills to an increasingly young and Western-born generation of extremists."

It adds that after 2003, Hafiz Saeed broadened the mandate of the group to urge his followers to "fight against the evil trio: America, Israel, and India." Later, the terror group has coordinated attacks on Western forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

LeT expert Stephen Tankel says, "LeT has made its camps available to English speakers, and also acts as a gateway for would-be Western recruits to access other outfits. Lashkar remains easier to get to in Pakistan than al-Qaida or the Tehrik-i-Taliban, though the latter has become easier to reach. Partly, this stems from the fact that LeT is simply easier to find. You can go to offices for JuD (LeT's above-ground religious party) and social welfare organization in any province.... LeT is believed to have networks in South Asia, Europe, North America, the Gulf and (at one point at least) Australia."

The first US conspiracy to be expressly linked to LeT was the Virginia Paintball Jihad Network and is still known to be the largest US jihadi plot connected to LeT. "The entire conspiracy was initiated in 2000 when one of its members, Randall Todd Royer, travelled to Pakistan to attend a Lashkar terrorist training camp. He and his fellow jihadists earned the 'paintball' soubriquet when they decided, soon after his return from Lahore, to use that game as a way of preparing for jihad."

Its ringleader Al Timimi was indicted in 2004. while the following year, the FBI uncovered a second plot, and a third one surfaced in the southern state of Georgia. The last case demonstrated the global reach of the terror group and how it was using the internet to get messages across to operatives across the world.


Taliban suicide bombers kill 65 in Pak tribal belt

A Muhammad | Peshawar

At least 65 people were killed and 110 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers struck a Government office at a busy market place in Pakistan's restive tribal belt, the latest in a wave of terror bloodbath that has shaken the country.

The attackers detonated their explosives outside the office of the assistant political agent at Yakaghund village in Mohmand Agency, 40 km north of Peshawar on Friday.

Hundreds of people, including members of an anti-Taliban militia, were present outside the office and in the nearby market, witnesses said.

Political Agent Amjad Ali Khan, the region's top Government official, said that 65 people were killed and 112 others injured in the attack. The first bomber was on a motorcycle while the second was driving an explosives-laden vehicle, Khan said.

The Mohmand chapter of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, one of the worst terrorist assaults in the tribal belt.

Taliban spokesman Ikramullah Mohmand told reporters that the bombers had targeted the political administration and the "peace committee" or anti-Taliban militia from Ambar area because they had organised a jirga against the militants.

Over 60 injured people were being treated at the state-run Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar and eight of them were in a serious condition, said Abdul Hamid Afridi, the chief executive of the hospital.

Four persons also succumbed to their injuries, he said. Women, children and personnel of the Khasadar militia were among the dead and injured.

Assistant Political Agent Rasool Khan, who office was targeted, escaped unhurt. One of the explosions was not very powerful while the other caused most of the damage, witnesses said.

A prison, some other government offices and over 70 shops were damaged by the blasts. Police said nearly 30 criminals held in the prison escaped during the chaos in the wake of the attack.

Several buildings, including three restaurants, collapsed and footage on television showed people digging through the rubble with their hands.

Security forces cordoned off the area as rescue workers cleared the rubble and removed the bodies and the injured. Ambulances and heavy machinery were sent to Yakaghund from Peshawar to help the rescue operations.

Ishaq Khan, a security guard at the office that was targeted, said one suicide bomber had come to the market on a motorcycle. The attacker did not stop when security personnel asked him to.

"Then he suddenly fell and there was a powerful blast," Khan said.

Officials said members of a local "peace committee" or anti-Taliban militia, who had come to Yakaghund to meet the assistant political agency, were the main target of the attack.     PTI



Headley used choicest Hindi expletives for NIA grillers

By Krishna Kumar in Mumbai

“Defendant further agrees that, when directed by the United States attorney’s office, he will fully and truthfully testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the United States by way of deposition, videoconferencing or letters rogatory.”

IF DAOOD Gilani alias David Headley was worried about observing this part of the plea bargain, he did not show his nervousness, at least in front of the National Investigating Agency ( NIA).

On the contrary, he mocked, ridiculed and even abused the NIA team that interrogated him with the choicest of Hindi expletives that are commonly used on Mumbai streets.

According to an official privy to Headley’s questioning, the Mumbai attack accused was abusive even though he was questioned in the presence of US interrogators.

The official said the NIA did not expect Headley to be compliant and singing like a parrot but at least expected him to be more “ co- operative”, considering that the US sleuths were also in the same room.

They were, however, in for a shock when they started questioning him. When asked about his role in the 26/ 11 attack, he started mocking the team.

“ He was not at all remorseful about the attacks. He scornfully said, ‘ the attack was planned and executed in your own backyard.

You didn’t even get a whiff of it and now you want to question me’,” the official said.

He added that Headley chose to speak in Hindi to the NIA officials.

He told them that his arrest would not prevent more 26/ 11- type attacks and that there were more men who were ready to cause devastation in India.

“ All his answers were quite vague and exaggerated. On being asked about the number of terror targets that were surveyed, he said there were more than 100. He said he had done the recce of 30 of the targets on his own while the rest were done by other agents,” the official said.

Contrary to reports that he had called Ishrat Jahan — the Mumbra girl who was killed by the Gujarat Police in an encounter — Headley did not actually admit knowing about her.

In fact, his reply on Ishrat appeared more of an exaggeration, the official said. When asked whether Ishrat was a Lashkar- e- Tayyeba fidayeen , he said “ she could have been”. He then went on to claim that the LeT had trained many women in Mumbai to be suicide bombers in areas such as Bhendi Bazaar near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Jogeshwari in the western suburbs, Mira Road and Padgha in Thane.

The official said Headley’s ’ questioning had thrown up a crucial point — that Pakistan’s ISI had brainwashed a certain section of public so thoroughly that their hatred towards India and Indians would never change.

“ This man had so much hatred towards our country that one should not be surprised if, in case he is released even after 20 or 30 years, he returns to Pakistan to plan another attack in India,” the official said.

The NIA also asked Headley about filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son Rahul, who Headley tagged along as a cover while he did the recce of targets in Mumbai.

The team asked Headley whether Rahul at any point knew what he was doing. He replied that though he had not revealed anything, he was not sure if his behaviour had aroused Rahul’s suspicions at any point.


ON 26/ 11

The attack was planned and executed in your own backyard and you didn’t even get a whiff of it... and now you want to question me?

Speaking to investigators in Hindi, he added that his arrest would not prevent more such attacks in India


He said over 100 spots were checked out and he had recceed 30 of them on his own


When asked whether she was an LeT fidayeen , Headley said “ she could have been”. He claimed the LeT had trained many women in Mumbai to be suicide bombers, in areas such as Bhendi Bazaar near the CST, Jogeshwari in the western suburbs, Mira Road and Padgha in Thane


Headley said he had not revealed anything to him and was not sure if his behaviour had aroused Rahul’s suspicion at any point

I t is believed that Mahesh Bhatt’s son was tagged along as a cover by Headley while he did the recce of potential targets in Mumbai. Rahul had told investigators that he had met Headley at a gym

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11 Shia die in Afghan attack; 2 NATO convoys hit

Jul 10, 2010,

KABUL: Unknown gunmen killed 11 Pakistani Shia tribesmen in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, while two international troop convoys came under attack in different parts of the country, officials said.


The Afghan army also said a commando unit working with international forces killed a Taliban operative and captured eight others in an overnight raid, though local villagers claimed the men were innocent civilians and threatened a large protest unless they were released.


Insurgent attacks and coalition raids have intensified across the country as 30,000 more American troops arrive to try to turn around the 9-year-old war against the Taliban and stabilize the Afghan government.


In the eastern border province of Paktia, gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying Pakistani tribal people who had crossed into Afghanistan to buy supplies, according to Rohullah Samon, spokesman for the provincial governor.


Eleven Shia minority Muslim tribesmen died and three people, including a child, were wounded in the ambush in Chamkani district, Samon said. He added that provincial authorities were looking into who fired on the bus.


Elsewhere in Paktia, a combined Afghan-coalition commando force raided a compound in Ahmad Abad district overnight Saturday, killing one person and arresting nine others, officials said.


The Ministry of Defense said the elite force had killed an insurgent operative and captured eight others with weapons. The ninth person arrested was determined to be a civilian and turned over to local authorities, a ministry statement said.


However, Paktia spokesman Samon complained that local authorities were not informed of the raid. He said villagers protested outside government offices Saturday, saying the dead man and those captured were innocent civilians. They promised a larger demonstration the next day if the eight prisoners were not released.


Combined coalition and Afghan forces have been stepping up night raids across the country trying to break up Taliban leadership and operations capability.


NATO says the new wave of raids has captured more than 100 senior- and midlevel Taliban figures since April and killed dozens more. But the success rate has not made much of a dent in insurgent attacks.


On Saturday, an explosion tore through a NATO convoy traveling in the eastern province of Khost, and another convoy of international troops came under attack in the northern province of Kunduz, officials said. The coalition said none of its troops were killed.


Local government spokesman Mubarez Zadran said a suicide car bomber struck the convoy as it rolled through Khost province's Mando Zayi district. He said foreign troops quickly cordoned off the road.


NATO spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Katie Kendrick said that the Khost convoy apparently hit a roadside bomb. She said no casualties were reported.


Attackers also targeted a southern Afghan army base Saturday morning, but the government said a would-be suicide bomber was shot dead and no soldiers were hurt. A Taliban spokesman claimed two bombers penetrated the base and killed more than a dozen Afghan and international forces.


Guards at the base gate in the Zabul province noticed a man approaching at about 7 a.m. and killed him, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement. It said the soldiers found the man was wearing a vest full of explosives and was carrying hand grenades and an AK-47 assault rifle.


Soon after, soldiers captured two other insurgents armed with another rifle and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, the ministry said.


Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi, however, called reporters Saturday and claimed that two suicide bombers entered the base and successfully detonated their vests, killing 17 Afghan and foreign troops.


The insurgents often exaggerate the success of their attacks for propaganda purposes.


12 militants killed in Orakzai

By S. Hasan Mahmood

KALAYA, July 9: At least 12 militants were killed and six injured when jet fighters bombed suspected militant hideouts in upper tehsil of Orakzai Agency on Friday.

According to officials, the planes attacked hideouts in Nandar Mela and Kot Kalli areas and also destroyed three training camps of militants.

They said that at least 336 militants had been killed and 182 injured during operation and air strikes in Mamozai, Dabori, Ghiljo, Mulla Patti, Khadezai and Ghotak Kalli areas of Orakzai Agency over the past 10 days. More than 62 hideouts were destroyed.

The Taliban denied the official claim and said that not a single Taliban fighter had been killed in the military operation.

Taliban spokesman for Orakzai Agency Hafiz Saeed told journalists on phone from an unspecified place that they had effectively flushed out kidnappers and criminal elements and restored peace in the agency.


CNN was wrong about Ayatollah Fadlallah

By Robert Fisk

LONDON: I might have guessed it. CNN has fired one of its senior Middle East editors, Octavia Nasr, for publishing a twitter – or twatter in this case, I suppose – extolling Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon, calling him “one of Hizbollah’s giants whom I respect a lot”. Well, he wasn’t Hizbollah’s man, but no matter. He was definitely a giant. A man of immense learning and jurisprudence, a believer in women’s rights, a hater of “honour crimes”, a critic of the theocratic system of government in Iran, a … Well, I’d better be careful because I might get a phone call from Parisa Khosravi, who goes by the title of CNN’s “senior vice president” – what these boss types do or what they get paid for their gutless decisions I have no idea – who said this week that she had “had a conversation” with Nasr (who’d been with the company for 20 years) and “we have decided that she will be leaving the company”.

Oh deary, deary. Poor old CNN goes on getting more cowardly by the hour. That’s why no one cares about it any more. That can’t be said about Fadlallah. The Americans put it about that he had blessed the suicide bomber who struck the US marine base in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 service personnel.

Fadlallah always denied this to me and I believe him. Suicide bombers, however insane we regard them, don’t need to be blessed; they think they are doing God’s duty without any help from a marja like Fadlallah. But anyway, Washington used Saudi money to arrange a car bombing to assassinate Fadlallah in 1985. It missed Fadlallah. But it killed more than 80 innocent people. I do wonder what Ms Khosravi would have thought of that. No comment, I guess.

And now it turns out that British Ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, has written on her personal blog that Fadlallah was a man she respected and most enjoyed meeting in Lebanon. What possesses these personalities to have blogapops all over the place I have no idea. But Ms Guy has incurred the anger of the Israeli foreign ministry whose spokesman says it would be “interesting” to know what the British Foreign Office thinks of her remarks. Personally, I would be far more “interested” in what the Israeli foreign ministry knows of the British passports its government forged in order to murder a man in Dubai not many months ago.

But it just goes to show that Fadlallah – who was also a poet – can get people’s backs up, even in death. When my friend and colleague Terry Anderson was kidnapped in Beirut – at almost seven years underground, he qualified as the longest-held hostage – I went to see Fadlallah, whom Anderson had himself recently interviewed. “He was in my home and he was under my protection,” he said to me. “I regard him as my friend.” This remark might have been what kept Terry alive: by extraordinary chance, Terry was back in Beirut this week with a party of students, although I always wondered if his visit to the southern suburbs of the city was what got him nobbled.

In those days, we journos called Fadlallah Hizbollah’s “spiritual mentor”, though that wasn’t true. He did support the Lebanese resistance during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and he was a fierce opponent of US policy in the region – like almost everyone else in the world, including the US, it seems – and he demanded an end to Shia blood-shedding ceremonies at Ashura.

I went to see Fadlallah again with kidnapping much on my mind. I was heading off to Baghdad and sought his guidance on how to avoid being abducted. He listened kindly to me and announced that I should see a close Shia Muslim religious friend of his in the Iraqi capital. This I did. And was escorted to Najaf and Karbala by an associate of the friend who sat in his religious clothes in the front of the car, reading the Quoran all the way. “I was very worried for you,” Fadlallah’s friend said when I returned. So now you tell me, I exclaimed.

But there was a further reason for Fadlallah’s help. For every hour I was in the Iraqi holy cities, I had to meet a Shia clergyman, each of them former students of Fadlallah. And each of them would hand me a vast pile of writings and documents – their accumulated sermons over the past 10 or 15 years. To each I promised to pass their papers to Fadlallah. And thus it was that, a month later, a suspicious-looking Fisk turned up in the southern suburbs of Beirut with two massive suitcases. Fadlallah greeted me with a huge smile. He knew what the bags contained. Fisk had been a courier for more jurisprudence than he could imagine. And Fadlallah knew what his colleagues in Najaf and Karbala were talking about.

I couldn’t, frankly, care less what senior vice president Khosravi of CNN thinks of this story – though spare me one of her “conversations” – nor do I care what the Israeli foreign ministry thinks. Nor British ambassadors, for that matter. But I do believe that Fadlallah was a very serious and very important man whose constant sermons on the need for spiritual regeneration and kindness did more good than most in a country constantly flooded in a rhetoric bath. Hundreds of thousands attended his funeral in Beirut on Tuesday. I am not surprised.


Americans more tolerant than Europeans on Islamic veil: Poll


WASHINGTON: A global poll says most western Europeans favor banning face-covering Islamic veils, but most Americans disapprove.

France’s hotly debated bill to ban burqa-style Islamic veils in public is going before Parliament this Tuesday is widely expected to become law, despite the concerns of many French Muslims, who fear it will stigmatize them.

Similar restrictions are being considered in Belgium and Spain.

Many law scholars also argue it would violate the constitution, but President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government casting the measure as a way to promote equality between the sexes.

While ordinary Muslim headscarves are common in France, face-covering veils are a rarity — the Interior Ministry says only 1,900 women in France wear them.

Amnesty International has urged French lawmakers to reject the bill, and a French anti-racism group, MRAP, which opposes such dress, has said a law would be “useless and dangerous.”

Even France’s highest administrative body, the Council of State, warned in March that a total ban risks being found unconstitutional.

Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Senior Researcher at the Washington-based Pew Global Attitudes Project, told Arab News the team “really didn’t know what to expect… but yes, we didn’t expect such a high number in France.”

The survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, released this week, revealed some surprising differences on this issue between the US and Western Europeans.

The poll finds that the French public overwhelmingly endorses this measure; 82% approve of a ban on Muslim women wearing full veils in public, including schools, hospitals and government offices, while just 17% disapprove.

Majorities in Germany (71%), Britain (62%) and Spain (59%) also support a similar ban in their own countries.

In contrast, most Americans oppose such a measure; 65% say they are against a ban on Muslim women wearing full veils in public places, compared with 28% who say they would approve.

Dr. Horowitz said the team was not surprised, however, that Americans polled on this issue were much more tolerant than their counterparts in Europe.

Horowitz said they believe this has to do with “Americans belief in civil liberties, because we see this across the ideological spectrum and across party lines — that Americans overwhelming disapprove of a ban on veils that cover the whole face.”

“This ties into the American belief of freedom of religion and civil liberties,” said Dr. Horowitz.

Another interesting result, she said, was the “that there are more and more demographic differences in Western Europe that supported the ban; even though older people are more likely than younger people to support the ban, the majority of all age groups are likely to support it.

“While here in the US, those who are 55 and older are more likely to support the ban, but the majorities across all age groups still reject the ban here in the US.”

Dr. Horowitz also said the pollsters did not find a lot of demographic differences and opinions.

“Men and women, for example, have pretty much the same views, even across educational groups — the more educated and the less educated — have similar views in all the 5 countries. We found this very interesting, we thought that we would see more differences in age and gender, and we didn’t.”

“On this issue, Americans more tolerant than Western Europeans, said the Pew senior researcher.

This is not always the case.  On religious views, she said, Americans come across as being more conservative than Europeans.

The distinguishing fact, she believes, really “does has to do with the belief in civil liberties.”


US Muslims going abroad face forced exile

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, July 9: A Muslim advocacy group issued a travel advisory to American Muslims warning of the risk of “forced exile” when travelling overseas or attempting to return to the United States.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR also advised Muslim travellers to invoke their legal rights if placed on the so-called “no-fly list”.

Separately, North America’s largest human rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 10 US citizens and lawful residents who were prohibited from flying to or from the United States or over US airspace because they were on the government’s “no-fly list”.

None of the individuals in the lawsuit, including a disabled US Marine Corps veteran stranded in Egypt and a US Army veteran stuck in Colombia, had been told why they were on the list or given a chance to clear their names.

“More and more Americans who have done nothing wrong find themselves unable to fly, and in some cases unable to return to the US, without any explanation whatsoever from the government,” said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project.

A secret list that deprives people of the right to fly and places them into effective exile without any opportunity to object is both un-American and unconstitutional.”

A recent Washington Post report also noted that an increasing number of Muslim and Arab US citizens and permanent residents who had travelled abroad were facing new complications in returning to the United States because of heightened security.

The Post noted that the no-fly lists were not made public, and most people did not know they were on one until they arrived at the airport.

FBI agents have reportedly told a number of individuals that they face being stranded outside the United States longer, or forever, unless they give up their rights to legal representation or to refuse interrogations and polygraph tests.

But even those who submitted to interrogations without an attorney or to the “lie detector” tests remain stranded.

“We ask President Obama to review this disturbing new policy that denies American Muslims their constitutional rights and due process of law,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.


Iran imposes media blackout over stoning sentence woman


Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani will not be stoned, the regime has said, but family fear she will be hanged instead


Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has been convicted of adultery in Iran and sentenced to death. Photograph: AP

Iran has imposed a media blackout over the case of a 43-year-old mother of two who was sentenced to be stoned to death and whose fate is still unclear despite an apparent "reprieve".


Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is still facing execution by hanging after being convicted of adultery, her son told the Guardian today.


Newspapers, agencies and TV channels in Iran have been banned from reporting Mohammadi Ashtiani's death sentence, despite an international campaign launched by her children, which has been joined by politicians and celebrities from all over the world.


The campaign, first highlighted by the Guardian last week, has failed to stop the Iranian authorities from pressing ahead.


Last night the Iranian embassy in London issued an opaque statement saying that Mohammadi Ashtiani would not be stoned to death. "According to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, she will not be executed by stoning punishment," it said.


The statement was not reported inside Iran and neither was the news of stoning death sentences for 15 other Iranians.


"It's not the first time we are banned from reporting a stoning case, but because of the sensitivity over Sakineh's case the censorship for her story is even stricter," said an Iranian journalist from Tehran who asked not to be named.


"We are banned from reporting any details about her case. If they think that it [stoning to death] is an Islamic rule, why are they afraid of it so much? I think that the statement issued by Iran's embassy in London is just to calm down the situation. Once the outrage has cooled off, they might hang Sakineh instead."


Iran has not stoned a woman to death since 2007 when the execution of Mahboubeh M sparked outcry in Iran. She had been forced to confess to adultery.


"They told her that they'll pour boiling water on her head if she refuses to confess that she had sex with another man except her husband," said Soheila Vahdati, a human rights activist in California. "They executed her in secret and we were all informed when her death sentence was completed."


Mahboubeh's story became known only when an official witness of her death revealed that she had been buried alive up to her shoulders while the guards stoned her to death.


A number of men have been stoned to death in recent years.


Mohammadi Ashtiani's son, Sajad, 22, who began the campaign to save her, said the embassy's statement has not stopped him worrying for his mother. "They just said that she won't be stoned, it doesn't mean that she won't be executed. She's still on death row."


A prisoner reprieved before stoning may be hanged, as was the case for Abdollah Farivar in 2008. Farivar, convicted of "illicit relationship outside marriage", was initially sentenced to death by stoning but later hanged when a campaign for his case attracted worldwide attention.


WB unveils $6.2b lending plan for Pakistan

Washington—The World Bank has approved a four-year $6.2 billion lending program for Pakistan that seeks to boost tax revenues, make energy supplies more reliable and improve conditions in conflict-hit areas. While the lending strategy from 2010 to 2013 is slightly less than the $6.5 billion committed during the last four-year period, the program hones in on specific trouble spots in Pakistan.

Pakistan is battling al Qaeda-linked militants, which has uprooted nearly three million people since 2009 and put an extra burden on the country’s struggling economy. The World Bank said it will intensify its efforts to help the government increase tax revenues, which has caused chronic underfunding of key services and made the country reliant on foreign aid.

Pakistan’s tax-to-GDP ratio is one of the world’s lowest. “Raising the ratio of tax to GDP - currently only 10.2 percent of GDP - is essential to mobilize resources to invest in human development and infrastructure, build resilience to future shocks, and guard against costly and disruptive growth reversals,” the Bank said in a statement.

Pakistan was due to implement a value-added tax (VAT) or a reformed general sales tax of 15 percent by July 1, but the 2010/2011 budget deferred the move to Oct. 1 because of a failure to reach consensus among provinces. The Bank’s plan envisages working with provinces to boost revenues.

In the energy sector, the Bank said it will help Pakistan tap its huge hydropower potential to make power supplies more reliable and improve the distribution of natural gas system, which through leakage or inefficiencies has higher than average losses.

The country has long suffered from chronic power shortages that have angered the public and stifled industry. In April, the government announced measures to cut state electricity consumption by half. The World Bank said it will also focus its lending on addressing problems in Pakistan’s conflict-hit areas. These include Federally Administered Tribal Areas near the Afghan border, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, formerly known as North West Frontier, which has been targeted by militants but is not an stronghold.

In particular, the World Bank said funding will be aimed at health and education, and improving the livelihoods of people, particularly for young men, living in these areas. “This strategy recognizes that to steer Pakistan back on a path of broad-based growth, create jobs, and reduce poverty, a prolonged period of macroeconomic stability, financial discipline and sound policies is required,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank country director for Pakistan. The Ministry of Water and Power has said there is no substance in news item published in some sections of press that the World Bank (WB) has refused to support Bhasha Dam Project on the grounds that it is located in disputed territory, says a press release issued here Friday.

There was no lack of support from the World Bank in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, press release added. Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and other Donor Agencies had already committed funding for Bhasha Dam Project in Northern Areas for which a comprehensive mechanism had already been put in place, it pointed out. . World Bank had been supporting a serious of hydropower projects aimed at overall economic development in Pakistan, ministry said.—Agencies



Economic experts call for overhaul of zakat system



Jul 9, 2010 23:10

BURAIDAH: A number of Islamic scholars and economic experts have underscored the need for an overhaul in the Kingdom’s zakat system in a way that would make it more effective and help realize the actual spirit and purpose of zakat in Islam.

The scholars and experts say that the proper collection and distribution of zakat would alleviate poverty, adding that there is a need to upgrade the entire system of collecting and distributing zakat using modern technology, and a revamping of the Zakat Department, which they said should be independent and be given more powers.

An estimated SR60 billion is collected in zakat every year in the Kingdom, which was among the first countries to introduce an obligatory zakat collection system over 60 years ago, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.

Dr. Ibrahim bin Saleh Al-Omar, dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administration at Al-Qassim University, said it is important to discuss and review the Kingdom’s current zakat collection system.

“Zakat is the first known system in the history of mankind that has the potential to create social justice among all members of society. We need to revamp how we collect zakat to realize its purpose,” he said.

According to Dr. Ibrahim, the Kingdom’s current system of collecting zakat is one of the country’s oldest financial systems and was introduced some 60 years ago. He added that the system needs to be improved, as it is not effectively realizing its goals.

“This is mainly because the Zakat Department is a branch of the Ministry of Finance. It is high time to reorganize the Zakat Department and make it one of the Kingdom’s major financial organizations. It should either be an authority or corporation with vast powers to ensure individuals, firms and companies pay zakat without any exemption,” he said. He added that over SR60 billion in zakat money is collected in the Kingdom each year.

“Considering the robust growth that the Saudi economy has been seeing over the past few years, this amount could increase if zakat were collected properly,” he said.

Dr. Ibrahim further suggested the Zakat Department should be given further powers that would lead to the proper distribution of revenue to deserving people and investments that would generate more cash for the needy.

“This reorganized body should undertake a headcount of all citizens and foreigners as well as companies in the Kingdom. Then the system of zakat collection should also be reviewed in a way that takes into account the financial position of both individuals and firms,” he said.

choing the same view, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Shawi, associate professor at Al-Qassim University’s Shariah faculty, said that the new body should take advantage of modern technology to streamline collection and distribution. “The proposed new body can utilize advanced technologies to estimate the property and wealth of both individuals and firms,” he said.

He added that economists, experts and scholars could be consulted through conferences, seminars and workshops held in conjunction with universities, financial consultancy firms, and research centers within the Kingdom and abroad.

Shawi also underlined the need for a statistical report on the financial position and living standards of people in the Kingdom and a list of people who are eligible to receive zakat. He added that one of the primary goals of zakat is to ensure people are financially self-reliant.

“The reorganized zakat body should invest surplus amounts of money into mega-development projects. This would help the body play a vital role in the Kingdom’s development rather than just being a mere department that collects and distributes money.

Dr. Saleh Al-Tuwaijri, a lecturer at Al-Qassim University, spoke about the importance of transforming the Zakat Department into an independent body with vast powers that would be directly accountable to the Kingdom’s rulers.

Ibrahim Al-Moshaigeh, another professor at Al-Qassim University, echoed similar views. He said that zakat should not be individually distributed but needs to be distributed in conjunction with the Kingdom’s rulers.

“The proper implementation of zakat would lead to prosperity and the alleviation of poverty,” he said.

Al-Moshaigeh urged the authorities to bring all real estate owners under the purview of the zakat system. “The Kingdom is witnessing a boom in the real estate sector. However, many real estate owners are not paying zakat,” he said.

On his part, Saleh bin Ibrahim Al-Soraikh, director general of the Zakat and Revenue Department in Al-Qassim region, said that the department is working hard to introduce modern technology.

“An e-governance system has been introduced in all of the department’s branches across the Kingdom. We’re striving hard to establish a system that would lead to electronically linking everyone who needs to pay zakat to the department,” he added.


Makkah property prices escalate on speculation


Jul 9, 2010 21:10

MAKKAH: Realtors say the prices of 4,000 real estate units expected to make way for a Makkah project could increase by almost a fifth.

They add that the government may have to pay over the odds to take over properties for the King Abdul Aziz Street scheme because of ongoing real estate development projects in the central area around the Grand Mosque.

“These units were evaluated two years ago and since then real estate prices have gone up. This necessitates a re-evaluation of these confiscated properties,” said a real estate expert, who did not want his name published.

He said more than 2,500 real estate units were confiscated for the development of the Grand Mosque’s northern plazas and their owners were paid more than SR40 billion in compensation.

“This compensation has helped the real estate sector to flourish. Prices have increased, in some cases, by 100 percent.”

The realtor said businessmen and investors had rushed to purchase real estate units in the five districts through which the street passes.

The road extends from behind the Jabal Omar project near the Grand Mosque to the Jeddah-Makkah Expressway.

Abdullah Al-Haig, a realtor, expected the increase in the expropriated properties’ value to reach more than 25 percent in some instances. “Prices of some plots near the central area around the Haram have increased by 100 percent,” he said.

“The real estate market is experiencing a golden era due to the many development projects currently being implemented in Makkah.”

Al-Haig said the development of the central area and the Grand Mosque’s northern plazas, in addition to the construction of four ring roads, have greatly contributed to the revival of the city’s real estate market.

A member of the real estate evaluating committee, who asked not to be named, said the prices of some of the properties to be confiscated might drop depending on the criteria used for evaluation, which include the size of the property, its location and its proximity to a main or branch road.


Hizbul hand in Valley unrest: MHA

TNN, Jul 10, 2010

NEW DELHI: The home ministry has released undated transcripts of conversations between a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and a local contact who was under surveillance by intelligence agencies.

Home secretary G K Pillai told Doordarshan that there were a "large number of intercepts" from Kashmir and across the border, which clearly indicated that efforts were being made to foment "public disorder".

In fact, one of the intercepts discussed the absence of Army deployment in Shopian and Pulwama, indicating those areas could be the target. The intercepts have revealed yet again the role of separatists in fuelling unrest in the tense border state.

"Srinagar ke ander fouj chhodi hai lekin idhar Sopian, Pulwama mein wahi hai is nichhe ilake mein yeni CRPF aur police (The Army is out in Srinagar but CRPF and J&K police have been deployed in Sopian and Pulwama)," the local contact was heard telling the PoK-based terrorist Ab Inquilabi.

When asked about the situation, the local man replied, "Pata nahi, halat kharab huyi hai (I do not know, the situation has worsened)."

"Yeh Hindustani fauj panga le rahi hai Kashmiriyon ke saath. Yeh kahan chhodegi inko (The Indian Army is troubling Kashmiris. It will not spare them)," remarked Inquilabi.

"Chhodte nahi yeh (They don't spare)," was the response. Then Inquilabi asked whether stone-pelting has begun and the answer was in the affirmative.

The PoK-based terrorist also asked whether a procession was to be taken out on that day and the response was that it would start at 9am.

The Shopian-based person said an announcement had been made in the morning that all should participate in the protest. He then informed about imposition of curfew at night.

Pillai also said money was flowing from a variety of sources to fund the J&K unrest. "In about 12 cases, we have found illegitimate transfers and we have taken action," he added.


Bangladesh tops among peacekeeper contributing countries

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka

Bangladesh has become the number one peacekeeper sending country to the UN missions with 10,855 peacekeepers as Pakistan came down to the second position.

   ‘A total of 10,855 personnel of the armed forces and law-enforcement agencies are now working as peacekeepers at different UN peacekeeping mission which is the highest for any country to date,’ Air Marshal Shah M Ziaur Rahman apprised the president, Zillur Rahman, when he called on him at Bangabhaban in Dhaka on Thursday.

   During the meeting, the air chief informed the president that he would leave Dhaka on July 14 for London on an invitation of the British air chief to attend a conference of air chiefs of different countries there.

   Air Marshal Rahman said he would have meetings with air chiefs of other countries, including the British Royal air chief, on the sidelines of the conference.

   The air chief also apprised the president that a C-130 cargo aircraft of the Bangladesh Air Force had been deployed in Congo under UN peacekeeping mission for the first time.

   The air chief also informed the president that the efficiency and operational activities of the Bangladesh Air Force had been increased due to constructive measures taken by the present government.

   Zillur Rahman gave him a patient hearing and hoped that the upcoming UK visit of the air chief would further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two friendly countries.

   The president hoped that all Bangladeshi peacekeepers in UN missions would uphold the country’s image with utmost sincerity and devotion to their responsibilities.

   The president also expressed his satisfaction over the constructive role of the Bangladesh Air Force in different nation-building activities and hoped that the government’s efforts in modernisation of the air force would continue in the days to come.


Can’t hand out punishment in guise of fatwa: Bangla HC

PTI, Jul 10, 2010, 05.26am IST

In a landmark verdict, the Bangladesh high court has ruled as criminal offence handing down of punishments like caning or beating to women in the name of "fatwa" or Islamic decrees.

"Any person who issues or executes such an extra-judicial penalty must be punished for committing a criminal offence," said a two-member bench comprising judges Syed Mahmud Hossain and Gobinda Chandra Tagore.

The bench said infliction of brutal punishment including caning, whipping and beating in local salish or arbitration by persons devoid of judicial authority constitutes violation of the constitutional rights. The court particularly directed the authorities concerned to take punitive action against the people involved in enforcing "fatwa" against women.

The court ordered the government, law enforcers and local government bodies, especially the municipalities and union councils, to take immediate measures against issuance or execution of extra-judicial penalties. In a landmark verdict, the Bangladesh high court has ruled as criminal offence handing down of punishments like caning or beating to women in the name of "fatwa" or Islamic decrees.

"Any person who issues or executes such an extra-judicial penalty must be punished for committing a criminal offence," said a two-member bench comprising judges Syed Mahmud Hossain and Gobinda Chandra Tagore.

The bench said infliction of brutal punishment including caning, whipping and beating in local salish or arbitration by persons devoid of judicial authority constitutes violation of the constitutional rights. The court particularly directed the authorities concerned to take punitive action against the people involved in enforcing "fatwa" against women.

The court ordered the government, law enforcers and local government bodies, especially the municipalities and union councils, to take immediate measures against issuance or execution of extra-judicial penalties.


Speaker challenges Ahmadinejad’s economic policy


Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come under fire from parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a fellow conservative who stood against him when he was first elected in 2005.

Mr Larijani criticised the government’s expansionist economic policy and Mr Ahmadinejad personally for challenging two pieces of legislation passed by parliament.

“If we want to stand up to our enemies, we need to improve the economy,” the news agency quoted Larijani as saying in a speech in the Tehran satellite town of Karaj.

“Iran has big oil and gas reserves -- the way to use that wealth is not by handing out money to people but by using it to develop the nation’s productive capacity,” he said.

“Social justice... means providing universal employment, and not giving monthly handouts to stop people starving,” he added in allusion to a government plan to phase out state subsidies on staple foods and replace them with cash benefits to the needy.

Larijani took particular issue with the president’s decision to ask Irans constitutional watchdog to throw out two measures adopted by parliament.

“How can you ask an ordinary villager to respect the law, if politicians don’t?” he asked.

“We in parliament will not allow anybody... to disregard the law because that’s an act of rebellion and a shameful violation,” he said.


Bangladeshi charged with promoting genocide

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

OTTAWA: A Bangladeshi immigrant who called for “the slaughter of Jews” in online postings has become the first person to be charged with promoting genocide in Canada, police said on Friday.

Salman Hossain, 25, who apparently left the country in May, was charged with five counts of promoting hatred and advocating or promoting genocide over postings on his website and blog, as well as on a third-party website, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said.

He “wilfully promoted hatred and advocated genocide of the Jewish community,” said a statement.

Until now, Canada has only prosecuted suspects accused of mass atrocities abroad, in countries such as Rwanda. The Canadian government has also deported war crimes suspects to be tried in foreign courts.

Hossain, who immigrated to Canada as a child, openly called for “violent regime change in western nations in order to remove the presence of Jews” and “the slaughter of Jews,” according to reports.

He also advocated terrorist attacks in Canada, cheered the killing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, and urged fellow Muslims to overthrow the “Jewish-run Canadian government.” “Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.—AFP


Punjab Assembly passes media censure resolution

From Our Correspondent

LAHORE—Punjab Assembly Friday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the media of “irresponsibility that is damaging the democracy.” Journalists on the other hand, set ablaze copies of resolution in protest and chanted slogans in front of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and members assembly.

Earlier, speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Iqbal granted permission to Mastikhel to present resolution against media after suspending the rules, which was passed unanimously. The resolution introduced in the assembly by Sanaullah Mastikhel, a member of Muslim League (Nawaz), said some media programmes being used for propaganda against political leaders and democratic and public representatives being maligned.

The resolution said the objectionable footages of women members of assemblies attached with Indian songs is a worst example. The resolution stressed the media representatives to observe impartiality in coverage, avoid insulting attitude against legislators, discourage baseless reports and demonstrate responsibility.

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has taken strong exception to the resolution passed by the Punjab Assembly and termed it a calculated move to undermine the role of the media and to divert the attention public from real issues towards blaming media for ill ills. The PFUJ decided to observe a country wide protest day on Saturday (10th July) to condemn the onslaught on the media by the members of the Punjab assembly with the blessing of the treasury benches who has miserably failed to deliver the public aspirations.

The PFUJ also asked its all the unions of journalists, press clubs, media organizations, journalists bodies to hold rallies, procession and demonstrations for condemning the Punjab assembly resolution and government of the Punjab for patronizing the anti media campaign and to deprive the people of “right of know” by such tactics.

The PFUJ regretted that a mere technical and academic issue of “Educational Qualification and Degrees” has been converted into row with media by the treasury benches of the Punjab assembly.

The PFUJ said that it is the duty of the media to highlight the ills in the society and the issue of the fake degrees is in fact being vigorously launched and pursued by the PML-N leadership. The entire controversy has been generated by PML-N, MNA and Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee for Education Mr. Abid Sher Ali.

It is very strange that 56 people were killed and over 100 were wounded in a suicide attack in Mohmand Pashtun tribal region near the Afghan border, today, but the members of the Punjab assembly has not bother to condemn such a barbaric attack on people. We are in a war like situation, created by extremists and terrorists, the entire nation is paying heavy price of it, the national economy is at the brink of disaster, but at such critical juncture the Punjab assembly opted to push the media on wall instead of pondering for such highly important issues, the PFUJ observed.

The PFUJ said that the way the resolution was adopted and language used by the members of the Punjab assembly in their speeches clearly indicates that they do not have any respect for rule of law, free media, good governance and expose their intellectual capability by just fighting for their own vested interests.

The PFUJ urged all its affiliated bodies, media organizations, press clubs, civil society, intellectuals, human right activists as well as political workers to condemn the Punjab assembly resolution and observe complete black day by staging rallies, demonstrations, etc. on July 10 throughout in the country.

The PFUJ declared that it would continue its protest till the withdrawal of the biased, undemocratic, unethical, unconstitutional and arbitrary resolution adopted by the Punjab assembly.

Punjab Assembly Friday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the media of “irresponsibility that is damaging the democracy.”

Journalists on the other hand, set ablaze copies of resolution in protest and chanted slogans in front of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and members assembly.

Earlier, speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Iqbal granted permission to Mastikhel to present resolution against media after suspending the rules, which was passed unanimously.

The resolution introduced in the assembly by Sanaullah Mastikhel, a member of Muslim League (Nawaz), said some media programmes being used for propaganda against political leaders and democratic and public representatives being maligned.

The resolution said the objectionable footages of women members of assemblies attached with Indian songs is a worst example.

The resolution stressed the media representatives to observe impartiality in coverage, avoid insulting attitude against legislators, discourage baseless reports and demonstrate responsibility.—Agencies


Makkah prisoner loses eyesight after flogging


Jul 9, 2010 23:11

MAKKAH: A prisoner at a Makkah reformatory allegedly lost his eyesight after he was whipped before being medically examined, his younger brother told Arab News on Friday.

"My eldest brother was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure. He had suffered from a stroke and was whipped while sitting on his wheelchair. While being whipped, he became blind," Ali Muhammad alleged.

Muhammad said his brother was sentenced about eight months ago on charges of fraud and ordered to serve a six-month prison sentence, in addition to 150 lashes, to be applied on three separate occasions.

"Before he started his jail term, my brother was suffering from diabetes, hypertension and heart problems. He prepared an official medical report about his health condition and sent it to the Makkah Governorate in the hope the authorities would waive his punishment," Muhammad said.

He said the governorate asked the prisons department to refer the prisoner to a hospital in Makkah to help decide if his sentence should be waived.

"The prisons department did not send my brother to any hospital. While in prison he had a stroke which paralyzed him from the left side," he added.

"When he was about to complete his jail term, he was whipped before being seen by the prison doctor. Before the whipping was completed, he cried that he could not see. He had lost his eyesight."

Muhammad said his mother complained to the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) in Makkah, asking it to investigate the incident.

The society asked one of its members, Islamic Shariah professor Muhammad Al-Suhali, to look into the case.

Al-Suhali said he met with the director of Makkah prisons, Col. Muhammad bin Shahlool, who promised to cooperate fully with the NSHR.

"It was clear to me from the testimonies of other inmates that the prisoner was whipped while on his wheelchair and that the beating was focused on his neck, the only visible part of his body," Al-Suhali said.

Al-Suhali quoted eyewitnesses as saying that they saw blood spots on the prisoner's forehead. "This is what actually caused his blindness," he said.

He confirmed that before he was sent to the penitentiary, the prisoner was suffering from underlying health conditions.

He also alleged a civilian who oversaw the flogging told him that the flogger, a prison employee, initially refused to whip the prisoner because of his health but was forced by the prison authority to do so.

Al-Suhali said this civilian, the prison's medical doctor and a number of inmates all testified that they saw bloodstains on the prisoner's forehead and heard him crying that he could not see.

He said the next day the prisoner complained he had not received any real care when he was sent to Al-Zahir hospital.

He added the prisoner had told him that he had asked for an MRI, but the hospital said its equipment was in use and referred him to Hira hospital, which then refused to receive him.

Al-Suhali said he sat with the prisoner. "He is paralyzed, blinded and neglected. He is also suffering from poverty as he cannot support his mother and underage brothers," he said.

He added that the victim's debts had reached more than SR350,000 and that the landlord kicked his mother, a cancer patient, and his brothers out of their rented apartment.

The NSHR member said he met with a committee composed of the prison doctor, the director of the prison's health center, the health supervisor and the supervisor of the prison ward and ascertained that the whipping had been carried out before the prisoner had been examined by a doctor.

He alleged that the doctor had denied signing a report by the prison's management claiming the victim was medically examined before being whipped.

He said the NSHR's branch office had filed a complete report about the investigations with the society's main office in Riyadh. The main office had sent follow-up reports of the case to the Makkah Governorate, the Prosecution and Investigation Commission (PIC) and the committee for the care of prisoners.

He said the PIC had sent one of its staff members to meet with the prisoner before a decision was made to set up a Shariah committee to look into the case and decide whether he was entitled to be released. "Two weeks have passed but the committee has not been formed," he added.

Al-Suhali said the poor condition of the prisoner was enough reason to sign off on his release. He said the society would approach philanthropists and welfare societies to pay the prisoner's debts and help him financially.

He noted that the prisoner's health condition had worsened and that he had lost control of his bladder.


Failed States Index: Pak minister’s rejoinder acknowledged

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

ISLAMABAD, July 9: Responding to points raised by Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira in a letter, the chief of a Washington-based research organisation, the Fund for Peace (FfP), has recognised Pakistan’s stance on the validity of the Failed States Index, 2010.

The government had raised questions on the methodology used by the FfP and credibility of the data used. It objected to over-reliance on mere electronic data which was likely to produce misleading conclusions.

“We feel that Pakistan’s ranking has also suffered due to this methodology. Particularly the index appears to have erred in case of IDPs, delegitimisation of state and group grievances where substantial developments have taken place during the past 18 months, which have perhaps been ignored or overlooked by the researchers,” the minister had said.

The government had also requested the FfP to share its bibliography which was a standard practice in research projects.

The FfP has agreed to show the sources of data and invited a team of experts from Pakistan to examine more than 90,000 sources of electronic data used while compiling the index.

In her explanatory letter to Mr Kaira, FfP president Dr Pauline Baker agreed with his contention that “despite the impact of global financial crisis, Pakistan’s economy is beginning to show signs of real progress. The GDP is beginning to grow again and inflation is manageable.”

Responding to the rejoinder by Mr Kaira, she said: “You rightly point out the burden that the Pakistan state has in caring for such large displaced populations. They are ‘transitory’ or ‘the fallout of a simmering crisis of state-building in the neighbourhood’. However, it does not reduce this burden.

“It is encouraging to know that the government of Pakistan is implementing a programme to rehabilitate 2.5 million IDPs.”

Dr Pauline promised that next year’s report would take into account the success story of IDP management and rehabilitation.

She said it was encouraging to know that the government was taking steps in the right direction for redressing historically accumulated group grievances in various federating units.

Human rights were in “severe stress” in 2007-8, however, “Pakistan has improved on this score over the last two years”.

Supporting Mr Kaira’s arguments on ‘state legitimacy’, the FfP president said: “In the case of Pakistan, the return to civilian rule, the restoration of the judiciary and other steps constituted large steps in the right direction. The Failed States Index scores for this indicator have improved every year since 2008.”

Mr Kaira had said his letter: “Provided they have representative and inclusive systems, countries can come out of troubles.

Pakistan has a functioning democracy today. Despite a continuing war in the neighbourhood featuring the US and its allies on one side and Al Qaeda and Taliban on the other, Pakistan has proved its resilience and come back strongly from economic meltdown and an unpopular dictatorship.

It is for the fourth time that Pakistani people have defeated a dictator who remained a darling of the World due to its own strategic considerations.”

It is perhaps for the first time that the government of Pakistan has engaged an international think-tank into a serious academic discourse, challenging their methodology, timeliness of data and credibility of their findings.

The FfP has graciously confessed some of the limitations of its research model and recognised the positive developments in Pakistan over the past two years which will be reflected in next year’s failed states index.—APP


Pak footprint unravels in Valley unrest

PNS | New Delhi/Srinagar

165 kg IEDs, explosives recovered in Jammu

Curfew was relaxed in parts of Srinagar on Friday even as the first clear evidence of the involvement of Pakistan-based terror outfits in the ongoing strife in Kashmir emerged after security agencies intercepted communication between a Hizbul Mujahideen activist and their agents in the Valley showing how the violence was being orchestrated from across the border.

The transcripts of the conversation between Hizb activist Abdul Inquilabi based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and his local contact in the Valley focus on the response by the Government in handling protests.

Inquilabi asks his contact based in Shopian, “Maine suna aaj fauj mangwayi hai.” (I came to know that Army has been summoned.) The unidentified contact then answers, “Haan, pahunchi hai aaj thodi si.”(Yes, some of them have reached.)

Earlier, the Hizb activist asked the local about the situation, “Kya baat hui hai yaar (What has happened, friend).”

“Pata nahi, halat kharab huyi hai (I do not know, the situation has deteriorated),” the contact responds, according to the transcripts.

Inquilabi then goes on to say, “Yeh Hindustani fauj panga le rahi hai Kashmiriyon ke saath. Yeh kahan chhodegi inko (The Indian Army is troubling Kashmiris. It will not spare them).” The local concurs with this and responds, “Chhodte nahi yeh (They don’t spare).”

Then Inquilabi asks whether stone-pelting has begun and the answer is in affirmative.

Inquilabi asks whether a procession is to be taken out on that day and the response is that at 9 am, it will start.

The Hizb activist is also informed that an announcement was made in the morning that all should participate in the protest. The contact then informs Inquilabi that security forces have clamped curfew at night itself.

In another development, security forces have exposed a major terror plot of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) militant group to carry out big strikes in the region with the timely recovery of a consignment of 165 kg of explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) from near Nalakoot forest area of Kishtwar district in Jammu region. Acting on a credible intelligence input, security forces traced the consignment inside a natural cave in Singpora area near Nalakoot nullah, under Chatroo police station area in Kishtwar district.

A police spokesman in Jammu said, “Two bags of explosive material weighing 25 kg and 50 kg each, six IEDs weighing 15 kg each with LeT marking, 19 UBGL grenades, three Chinese grenades, one Pakistan made grenade, 25 gelatine explosive sticks and one tin-based IED, were recovered from the terrorist hideout before their cadre could lay their hands on to these to carry out their terror plot.”

The police spokesman said the terrorists had plotted to disturb the peace and some of their group members had dumped the consignment in the remote forest area.

Meanwhile, the Friday prayers passed relatively peacefully in the Valley under strict restrictions. The authorities had launched a crackdown to round up suspected separatists who wanted to trigger fresh violence in the Valley.

While midday prayers were not offered at Srinagar’s Grand Mosque for the second consecutive Friday, a skeletal attendance was witnessed at Hazratbal shrine where a minor brawl between police and people took place. Hazratbal shrine is under tight vigil in the backdrop of annual Meraj-un-Nabi festival commemorating Prophet Muhammad’s ascendance to Heavens. More than 2 lakh persons gather at the shrine every year to participate in all-through-night prayers followed by exhibition of holy relic of Prophet Muhammad.

However, all-women separatist outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat has asked the people to march towards the shrine to renew anti-India protests quelled by continued curfew in the city and major towns of the Valley. It is a major challenge for the authorities to conduct the congregation at the shrine simultaneously while foiling separatists’ attempts to march towards Hazratbal.

The police fired teargas shells at Nowhatta late in the evening to disperse a slogan-shouting group of youngsters. Sources said that one person was injured in the incident. The curfew has not been relaxed in this volatile part of the city.

Earlier during the day, police fired tear gas to disperse nearly 4,000 protesters chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans in north Kashmir’s Baramula town.

Sources said that nearly 60 persons, suspected to be involved in stone-pelting and organising protest demonstrations have been arrested in overnight raids. The Union Home Ministry has instructed the State Government to act tough against the protesters and stone-pelters.

Sources said that suspected terrorists attacked police and paramilitary forces in Sopore in north Kashmir and Kakapora in southern Pulwama district, causing injuries to at least six policemen. 

On Friday, a courier of the State Information Department approached the journalists’ offices in the Press Enclave at Residency Road to hand over curfew passes for “accredited journalists”. However, the local newspapers decided to suspend the publication of newspapers for Saturday in view of insufficient number of curfew passes issued.


Journalists to observe Black Day against PA’s media resolution


July 10, 2010


ISLAMABAD: The journalists across Pakistan are gearing up to observe Black Day today against the consensus resolution passed by Punjab Assembly yesterday, Geo News reported Saturday.

The protest demonstrations would be staged in various cities including Islamabad against the Punjab Assembly bid to malign media through their resolution.

The members of Khyber Union of Journalists in Peshawar and Peshawar Press Club will have their protest recorded at 1130am today.

The protest call was given by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.



Gaddafi’s son to send aid boat to Gaza


ATHENS: A charity headed by the second son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is sending an aid boat from Greece to Gaza on Friday to break the Israeli “siege”, the organisers said.

The Moldova-flagged cargo ship Amalthea will depart from Lavrio, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Athens, the vessel’s agents said.

The 92-metre (302-foot) freighter has a 12-man crew and will carry up to nine passengers, a representative of Piraeus-based agents Alpha Shipping said. “The ship is expected to sail this evening”, he told. But a member of crew later said the departure could be delayed for Saturday.

“We expect to reach Gaza in four or five days without stopping”, crew member Oussama Almahamid from Syria told. “It all depends on the weather, there are strong winds at the moment”, he added.

The Libyan organisers of the initiative had earlier said the 25-year-old ship, owned by Piraeus-based ACA Shipping Corporation, was called Hope.

The Tripoli-based Gaddafi International Charity and Development Association said the cargo ship was “loaded with about 2,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid in the form of foodstuff and medications.”

The ship will also carry “a number of supporters who are keen on expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people in the plight amidst the siege imposed on Gaza,” the organisation added in a faxed statement. The charity is chaired by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the Libyan strongman’s second son.

In May eight Turks and a dual US-Turkish citizen were killed when Israeli commandos attacked a flotilla heading for Gaza, sparking a furious row with Ankara which wants Israel to apologise or accept an international probe.

Greece’s ruling Socialist party had cultivated close ties with Libya some three decades ago under then premier Andreas Papandreou, the father of current Prime Minister George Papandreou.

George Papandreou himself visited Libya last month for talks with Gaddafi, signing a memorandum to develop closer economic relations. afp\07\10\story_10-7-2010_pg4_6


India, Iran sign 6 deals, MoUs to boost ties

TNN, Jul 10, 2010, 03.20am IST

NEW DELHI: In a bid to further intensify economic cooperation, India and Iran signed six agreements and MoUs on Friday, the concluding day of the two-day 16th Joint Commission session. These include an agreement on air services and another on transfer of prisoners.

Significantly, for India, agreements aside, Iran has also agreed to hold technical-level meeting over the issue of Chabahar port, which is strategically important for New Delhi. The port can serve as an entry point for India's outreach in both Afghanistan and Central Asia. The Iranians were earlier seen to be dragging their feet over the port's development.

The session was jointly chaired by foreign minister S M Krishna and Iran's minister of economic affairs Syed Shamsheddin Hosseini. The two sides agreed that the next session of the Joint Commission would be held in Tehran.

The air services agreement includes enhancement in the capacity entitlement for the designated airlines of each nation from 23 services per week to 31 per week. Two additional destinations in the respective countries, which will be mutually decided later, have been agreed.

"The agreement has the potential to spur greater trade investment, tourism and strengthen cultural exchanges between the two countries besides bringing it in tune with the developments in the international civil aviation scenario," said a statement.

MoUs have also been signed for co-operation in renewable energy, small scale industries and science and technology. Yet, another MoU for mutual ties between Central Pulp and Paper Research Institute of India and Iran's Gorgan University of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources was also inked.


Curfew relaxed in Valley after 3 days

M Saleem Pandit, TNN, Jul 10, 2010

SRINAGAR: The entire Kashmir valley under curfew for the past three days heaved a sigh of relief on Friday when authorities late in the evening lifted the prohibitory orders to allow people to offer prayers on the occasion of Shabi Miraj.

The decision was taken after authorities reviewed the ground situation, official sources said. Announcements were made locally by the police informing people that they can go for Friday prayers. However, locals claimed the curfew was lifted from only parts of Srinagar city. During the day, sporadic incidents of violence were reported from across the Valley including Baramulla and Pulwama. Protesters and policemen clashed at several places after Friday prayers leaving many injured.

In Baramulla town a group of protesters defied curfew. When cops chased them, they pelted stones triggering a major clash. Cops fired teargas shells at protesters causing injuries to several protesters, witnesses told TOI on phone. A youth, Suhail Ahmad Journal, was admitted to hospital. He is now out of danger.

Similar protests were held at Pulwama and Pampore towns in south Kashmir. Clashes continued at these places till filing of the report. A large number of people had assembled at Kakapora to protest against the recent civilian killings.

Newspapers failed to hit the stands for the second day on Friday in the Valley. The last time newspapers did not come out was in 2008 at the height of Amarnath land agitation for four days. Newspaper publication had also remained suspended for 40 days during 1996 elections.

Meanwhile, main opposition party, People's Democratic Party on Friday rejected chief minister Omar Abdullah's request to attend an all-party meeting slated on Monday. The meeting has been called to discuss the present crisis in the wake of innocent killings by security forces.

Party president Mehbooba Mufti had earlier suggested a special assembly session to discuss the issues of human rights violations but her suggestion was rejected by Omar. BJP, CPI, CPM, Panthers party and other smaller opposition parties would attend the meet. BJP state president Shamsher Singh said, "The state BJP been invited and it will attend the meeting on Monday," he added.


To tilt J&K balance, PDP to be engaged

Rajeev Deshpande, TNN, Jul 10, 2010

NEW DELHI: With recent upheavals in Kashmir worrying the Centre, government is hoping a sustained engagement with political parties, including Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), would help in tilting the balance away from separatists and supporters of militant outfits.

The need to keep PDP in the loop despite its "cynical" role in running with the separatists is seen necessary given that it remains a mainstream political party. This is easier said than done given both PDP's actions and its deep animosity for chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is a Congress ally.

The PDP is seen to be chafing at being out of power with a National Conference-Congress coalition in the saddle. The coalition will mean a long spell out of power for PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti who has been prepared to play ball with separatists, feel sources. This has complicated matters for the Centre which feels Mehbooba should be prevented from "going over to the other side."

The rivalry between the Abdullahs and the PDP leadership has seen some sharp personalised politics. At a function to inaugurate a railway project last year, NC had raised objections to former chief minister and PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed being invited as a guest. The matter was settled after some urgent fire-fighting with NC pointing to an "insult" handed out to Farooq Abdullah during PDP rule.


Absence of India-Pak agreement on criminals delaying 26/11 case: Zardari

Saibal Dasgupta, TNN, Jul 9, 2010

BEIJING: Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari suggested on Friday that the absence of a bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan on treating criminals hiding in each other’s country was coming in the way of transferring terrorists involved in the Mumbai attack. He also indicated that Pakistan would prefer to deal with the terrorists on its own turf instead of handing them over to India.

"I don’t think it worked like that in two nations," he told the official China Central Television in reply to a question on whether Pakistan will accept India’s demand for transferring the perpetrators of Mumbai attack. "There has to be bilateral treati3es of this sort which does not exist between us. But we are trying those people in Pakistan and we hopefully we will bring to justice the assailants," he said.

Zardari also repeated for the television audience what he has presumably told Chinese leaders that his government will survive the political challenge it is facing at home. "We will be able to complete our term and survive the political turmoil of our times," he said.

Another interview that CCTV did with Zhu Chenghu, a professor at the People’s Liberation Army National Defence University, showed that China and Pakistan were considering some kind of joint operations in battling terrorists on their border region. He said that the joint military exercise between the two countries that concluded on Friday had helped the two forces "improve their coordination for future operations".

Zhu said there was a "wide area for both sides to cooperate" in the military field. They included sharing information about the movement of terrorists and improving the capability of commandos and special forces engaged in battling terrorists including those trying to split the Xingjian province of China.

Zardari said Pakistan was keen to share its international responsibilities, and suggested China could help it in doing so. He also pressed the need to develop rail connectivity between the two countries as Islamabad can play a role to help China expand its commercial access to several parts of the world. The last two days saw the visiting Pakistani president lobbying for rail link and nuclear reactors from China in two other public fora in Beijing.

The China Pakistan relationship was "deeper than the oceans and higher than the mountains", the visiting Pakistani president said. CCTV continued its media campaign on the friendly bond between China and Pakistan showing footage of his visit and the joint military exercise between the two countries for the fifth successive day today.


Osama’s son hears dad’s voice in head, splits with wife

PTI, Jul 10, 2010, 05.16am IST

LONDON: Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s son Omar and his 54-year-old British wife have split after he started to hear his father’s voice in his head, a media report said today.

The couple parted ways after the 29-year-old fourth eldest son of the world’s most wanted terrorist was admitted to a psychiatric hospital with drug-induced schizophrenia last week, the Sun reported.

It followed weeks of erratic behaviour which saw him racking up some L3,000 of motoring fines and going on wild shopping sprees, the report said. "Our wedding vows said ‘in sickness and in health’ but if this goes on any longer I could end up dead," Zaina was quoted as saying. Zaina, who had been married six times before she met Omar in Egypt in 2006.

"He’d have manic periods when he was very enthusiastic about everything. Then crashing lows when he would be quiet and subdued, staying in bed all day and not going to sleep until late at night," said the British grandmother of five in a statement.

Zaina has blamed her husband’s troubles solely on his father and the terrorist atrocities he inspired.

"There’s no one else responsible for this. Omar loves and hates Osama at the same time. He loves him because he is his father but hates what he has done. I think he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after 9/11. Seeing what his dad done ruined Omar’s life," she said.


Huge arms haul in Kishtwar

Special Correspondent

SRINAGAR: In a joint operation, the Special Operations Group and Rashtriya Rifles on Friday recovered explosives weighing 176 kg from a Lashkar-e-Taiba hideout in Kishtwar district in the Jammu region. This included 75 kg of material packed in two bags, six IEDs, 75 gelatin sticks, 23 grenades and 12 bore rifles.

Militants on Friday launched three attacks on security forces in Sopore town in north Kashmir. Two policemen were injured.

Police sources told TheHindu that militants, believed to be aligned to the LeT, hurled three grenades at a police convoy on the outskirts of Sopore. This was followed by heavy firing, and the security personnel retaliated.


NIA seeks NBWs against 26/11 accused abroad

PNS | New Delhi

The federal National Investigation Agency (NIA) has moved the Delhi District and Sessions Court seeking issuance of non-bailable warrants (NBWs) against 26/11 accused David Headley, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, Pakistan-based terrorists Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed and two senior officers of the Pakistani Army on the charge of plotting terror attacks in India.

The Government has submitted dossiers against all the accused to Pakistan. The accused have been booked under various provisions dealing with waging war against the India.


China to build two highways in Gilgit-Baltistan


Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

BEIJING, July 9: China will build two highways in Gilgit-Baltistan at an estimated cost of Rs 45 billion —85 per cent of the amount will be borne by China and the rest by Pakistan.

One of the highways, having a proposed length of 165 kilometres, will link Skardu with Jaglot and the other, 135kms long, will link Thakot and Sazin.

The highway project was the highlight of four memorandums of understanding signed between the two countries on Friday. The other MOUs pertained to health and power generation sectors.

The MoUs were signed after President Asif Zardari’s speech at the Pak-China Economic Cooperation Forum.

The MOU on the energy sector envisaged generation of 500 megawatt through wind power. The wind turbines will be set up along the coastal areas of Sindh at a cost of one billion dollars.

In his address to the Economic Forum, the president expressed satisfaction over the cooperation between China and Pakistan in civilian nuclear technology, setting aside reservations of the world community.

“This shows the existence of a warm relationship between the two countries and is a matter of pride and respect for Pakistan,” Mr Zardari said. Chief executives of leading corporations and institutions representing the energy, construction, mining and petroleum sectors as well as representatives of chambers of commerce and industries attended the function.

Mr Zardari said Pakistan would use all resources for power generation to overcome the energy crisis, inviting Chinese entrepreneurs to take advantage of incentives on offer in the energy, agriculture, communication and banking sectors.

He said the relationship between Pakistan and China had stood the test of time and it was now up to the third generation to carry the baton. “We have to strengthen our bonds through enhanced economic cooperation to fulfil the vision of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Shaheed and Chairman Mao Tse Tung.

“Coming generations will not forgive us if we did not realise the full potential of Pak-China relations for the economic growth of the region,” the president said.

The friendship was important to peace and stability in the region and the two countries had to stand together to fight the new challenges, Mr Zardari said.

“I have come to China to learn about miracles achieved by this nation and to apply its experience for the benefit of Pakistan.”

The CEOs showed interest in investing in energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan.—APP


PFUJ asks journalists to hold protests today

By Our Staff Reporter

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

ISLAMABAD, July 9: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has taken exception to the resolution passed by the Punjab Assembly and termed it a calculated move to divert attention from real issues.

The PFUJ has decided to observe a countrywide protest day on Saturday to condemn the Punjab Assembly’s move.

The PFUJ asked all journalist unions, press clubs and media organisations to condemn the resolution as well as the government of Punjab for “patronising the anti-media campaign”.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists said it was regrettable that the treasury benches of the Punjab Assembly had converted the degree issue into a confrontation with the media.

CPNE: The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors has criticised the resolution for describing media freedom as a threat to democracy, urging the legislators to ponder over the matter dispassionately.

A confrontation between pillars of democracy would strengthen anti-democracy forces and endanger a nascent democracy, said Khushnood Ali Khan and Amir Mahmood, president and secretary-general of the CPNE.

At the same time, the statement added, the media should follow a code of ethics and exercise “caution and restraint in reporting on sensitive matters”.


Somali clerics to campaign against militancy

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

NAIROBI, July 9: Somali clerics who are worried that their country could become a launching pad for global jihad are stepping up efforts around the world to stop young men from joining an Al Qaeda-linked group.

The clerics are spreading their message in Somalia and to diaspora communities of Somalis in Kenya, Europe and the United States.

“As Islamic scholars, we should warn people, especially the youth, against Al Shabab’s destructive ideology,” said Sheik Abdi Mahad, a cleric who preaches in Somali mosques in Nairobi. “What we are telling our people is Al Shabab is wrong and its members are extremists who don’t represent the peaceful nature of the Islamic religion.”

Clerics are airing anti-Shabab lectures on the Somali government’s radio station in Mogadishu. They’re also holding meetings for those who oppose the militant group, although such gatherings can only be held in areas outside Al Shabab’s control. The militants’ reach extends across much of Mogadishu, and Somalia’s central and southern regions.

Al Shabab seeks to topple Somalia’s weak, UN-backed administration and install a system based on their version of Islam.

US officials say veteran insurgents of the Afghan and Pakistan conflict have joined Al Shabab, infusing the group with bomb-making expertise and global links. The group metes out harsh punishments, not unlike the Taliban when they controlled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Western intelligence officials say the group is also recruiting foreign fighters from the Somali diaspora in the United States and Europe.

In Minneapolis, home to the largest Somali community in the US, clerics at the Quba Mosque held weeklong lectures shaming Al Shabab in May, said Sheik Osman Ahmed Sheik, the mosque’s assistant director.

“Now parents are more enlightened about Al Shabab’s danger to their children,” he said.

Mohamed Idris, a Saudi-based Somali cleric, was among several scholars who took part in a series of recent lectures in Sweden. “We have urged the youth to focus on education and their life in their adopted countries and not get involved in the violence in Somalia.”

In April, Mr Idris was part of a dozen clerics who met in the Somali city of Garowe. The group issued a statement in which they said militant activity in Somalia is not jihad.“The best way to deal with the extremists is dialogue,” said Abdel Moati Bayoumi, a scholar at Al Azhar University in Cairo.—AP


Lebanon-like solution proposed for Afghanistan

By Our Correspondent

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

WASHINGTON, July 9: A final solution in Afghanistan may allow the Taliban to continue to run the areas already under their control as Hezbollah does in Lebanon, say US experts interviewed by the official Voice of America radio.

The official US radio, which is funded by the US Department of State and often reflects its views, notes that the current Afghan conflict will end in some kind of power sharing with at least some segments of the Taliban insurgency.

The experts who spoke to VOA say that the process has already begun with the Karzai government’s efforts to pursue reconciliation with some Afghan Taliban elements.

Daniel Serwer of the United States Institute of Peace in Washington tells VOA that the result might be an Afghanistan that looks something like Lebanon.

“If you want to negotiate a solution, you have to ask on what basis would that solution be negotiated,” says Mr Serwer. “And then one possible option, obviously, in those negotiations is to allow the Taliban to govern at the local level in part of Afghanistan. And that’s what leads you in the direction of a Hezbollah-type solution, where Hezbollah governs de facto in parts of Lebanon.”

David Kilcullen, a counter-insurgency specialist who has been an adviser to General David Petraeus in Iraq and former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, points out that Hezbollah functions as a political entity in Lebanon and as a terrorist organisation.

Mr Kilcullen says that in Afghanistan, a negotiated settlement to the conflict can be expected.

“There’s nothing wrong with negotiating,” he says. “Most successful counter-insurgencies end with a negotiated solution … and they see us as the strong horse and are willing to leave their allegiance to Al Qaeda leadership or to the Quetta Shura and are willing to be part of a negotiation and reintegration process.”

National security expert Larry Goodson at the US Army War College says that public pronouncement of even a tentative timetable presents problems.

He argues that it is difficult to negotiate from a position of strength “when there is a timetable issue and the clock is ticking increasingly loudly, unless you’re prepared to, as it were, really take the gloves off and do all sorts of things to people, which means that you’re then the moral equivalent of the Soviets or the Mongols”.

Mr Goodson points out that today’s Taliban have a more long-term outlook than the first-generation Taliban that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.


60 arrested as more Kashmir towns put under curfew

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

SRINAGAR, July 9: Thousands of people defied a curfew across occupied Kashmir on Friday to offer the weekly afternoon prayer in mosques and in open fields, as government forces arrested dozens of suspects in an attempt to stem civil unrest.

Police fired warning shots in the air after tear gas failed to disperse nearly 4,000 protesters chanting, “Go India, go back. We want freedom,” in Baramulla town.

One protester was hit in the abdomen by a rubber bullet and was hospitalised, a police official said.

In the southern village of Kakapora, thousands of people defying the curfew threw stones at a police station, drawing warning shots and tear gas from police.

At least five policemen and three protesters were injured in the clashes, police said. Authorities later suspended the curfew for 24 hours so residents could observe Shab-i-Meraj.

Authorities clamped a curfew over parts of occupied Kashmir on Wednesday in hopes of quelling weeks of violent anti-Indian protests.

Fearing that crowds leaving mosques after the weekly prayers could turn violent, authorities did not allow residents to enter the main mosques in Srinagar or other major towns, a police officer said.

Five more towns were placed under curfew. In Sopore, suspected militants launched three gun and grenade attacks on Indian forces that left a policeman and a paramilitary trooper injured, a police spokesman said.

Police sealed all the roads leading to Hazratbal, but residents said dozens of locals prayed inside the lake-side mosque and later held noisy demonstrations.

The chief minister of the disputed region, Omar Abdullah, held a meeting with police and intelligence officials on Friday, a police source said.

“India has practically announced a war on the civilian population by calling out the army and has curbed our basic human, religious and political rights,” the All Parties Hurriyat Conference said in a statement.—Agencies


Qureshi cautious on talks with India

By Our Staff Reporter

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

ISLAMABAD, July 9: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi gave a guarded assessment of the process of resumption of dialogue with India and said “the optimistic side of these talks is that India has realised that engagement in dialogue is in its own interest of peaceful co-existence between the two countries”.

Briefing the parliamentary committee on national security on his forthcoming talks with the Indian foreign minister scheduled for July 15, Mr Qureshi said Pakistan would hold the dialogue with a positive and constructive attitude in order to resolve all bilateral issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

The committee’s chairman Senator Mian Raza Rabbani told Dawn that the foreign minister’s briefing refle- cted the eight-point recommendations of the members forwarded to the Foreign Office.

The minister informed the committee about talks held recently between the foreign secretaries of the two countries and said they were of exploratory nature primarily meant to prepare for the July 15 meeting.

The talks, he said, had helped improve the atmosphere and laid the ground for the ministerial meeting.

Answering a question, Mr Rabbani said the committee had not yet discussed proposals for changes in the national security policy, adding that it would be taken up briefings by the ministries of interior and defence early next month.

He reiterated the committee’s stand that at a time when the United States and Afghanistan were mulling drastic changes in their war on terror policy, Pakistan should also review its security strategy for the sake of peace and stability of the region.


Taliban leader held in Afghanistan

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

KABUL, July 9: International and Afghan troops captured a Taliban commander responsible for bringing Pakistani militants across the border to launch attacks, the alliance said on Friday as US-led forces ratchet up their pursuit of militant leaders.

The coalition is touting a string of successes in capturing or killing dozens of key militant leaders since April, but so far it has not managed to reduce violent guerrilla attacks on US-led invading forces across the country.

On Tuesday, coalition and Afghan forces arrested a Taliban commander in the Nangarhar province, Nato said on Friday. The alliance said the man – whom it would not identify for security reasons – facilitated a recent influx of operatives for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militia suspected in a string of more recent attacks in Afghanistan.

“Capturing this commander degrades the Taliban’s operational and facilitation capabilities,” said Col William Maxwell, the director of the Nato-led international forces’ Combined Joint Operations.

Joint Afghan-international raids have led to the arrest of more than 100 Taliban figures since April, Nato says.—AP


Militants kill elder for opposing them

By Our Correspondent

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

KOHAT, July 9: Fear gripped the area after the Taliban shot dead a tribal leader, who was opposed to their activities, in the Frontier Region of Kohat and took away his body late Thursday night.

Sources said on Friday that armed militants from Darra Adamkhel came to the Babo Khel area of FR Kohat and shot dead tribal elder Niaz Mir. They then took away his body.

Local elders told Dawn Niaz Mir was a prominent figure in the area who had played an active role in persuading tribesmen to restrict the entry of militants into the region.


Attacks highlight Iraq’s tempestuous politics

By Tarek El-Tablawy

Saturday, 10 Jul, 2010

BAGHDAD: Two days of attacks targeting hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in the Iraqi capital have killed almost 70 people, casting a spotlight on Thursday on Iraq’s security challenges as militants focus on stoking sectarian tensions that have hindered efforts to form a new government.

The bloodshed comes at a crucial time for the country as officials jostle for power while struggling to ensure security and stability as US forces begin their return home.

Despite a force of some 200,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers that fanned out along the pilgrims’ route in Baghdad to ensure security, insurgents were still able to pull off a string of attacks, including at least two by suicide bombers.

“Those who benefit from such acts are the enemies of humanity, the enemies of democracy, the enemies of openness,” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on Thursday in Beirut, where he was paying his respects following the death of a leading cleric.

The Iraqi premier is locked in a power struggle for his post with Ayad Allawi, the secular politician who served as Iraq’s first prime minister after the 2003 invasion and whose coalition narrowly won the March 7 election.

With the July 14 constitutionally-mandated deadline to select a new government approaching, the political uncertainty in Iraq is providing the militants with greater opportunity to strike.

The deadlock between al-Maliki’s State of Law party and Allawi’s Iraqiya party prompted a visit last week by Vice President Joe Biden. A compromise appears far off, but Iraqi and US officials have tried to quell concerns.

“The talks between all the blocs that participated in the elections and won are continuing on a daily basis,” al-Maliki said.

His reference to all the blocs that “won” appears to indicate he is not about to relinquish his post without significant concessions.

But al-Maliki is in a tight spot. Along with finding common ground between the two parties, he also must appease powerful Iranian-backed parties, like those headed by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Iraqi National Alliance. A State of Law official involved in the negotiations said that the INA had informed them that they rejected al-Maliki’s candidacy for a second term.

Both al-Maliki and Allawi must also win the support of the influential Kurds, who hold the presidency and seek greater autonomy in Iraq’s oil-rich north. A statement released on Thursday by President Jalal Talabani’s office said Kurdish provincial leaders agreed that his retention of the post was a “main demand” for their participation in forming of a new government.

“It is one of the great ironies of the Iraq war that the primary threat to Iraqi security and stability is now the lack of unity among its democratically elected politicians, not its insurgents or its sectarian and ethnic tensions,” Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert with the Centre for Strategic and International Relations, said in a report on Thursday.

Militants have taken advantage of the uncertainty this week to target pilgrims commemorating the death of Moussa al-Kadhim. Each year, worshippers gather at the gold-domed mosque in the northern Baghdad neighbourhood of Kazimiyah that is believed to sit atop his tomb.

On Thursday, three separate roadside bombings in eastern and northern Baghdad, left 14 people dead and at least 63 wounded, Iraqi hospital and police officials said. A car bomb in southern Baghdad killed another person.

The incidents followed a particularly gruesome night in which nearly 60 people were killed in a series of attacks that marked the worst violence since late April.

The deadliest attack on Wednesday was a suicide bombing that killed 35 people and wounded more than 100. The bomber struck just as the pilgrims were to cross a bridge from the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah into the predominantly Shiite area of Kazimiyah.

The Imams Bridge was also the site of a deadly stampede in 2005 sparked by a rumour that a suicide bomber was in the crowd; 900 people were killed in the ensuing melee.

The anniversary is not the most important one for Iraq’s Shia majority, but still draws huge crowds and makes an easy target for insurgents.

Hundreds of tents were erected along roads leading to and from the shrine, where the marchers were offered food, tea and water as they walked under a scorching Baghdad sun. Young men showered the pilgrims with water sprinklers.

The threat of violence, however, only seemed to strengthen the resolve of the pilgrims.

“Even Saddam’s regime could not prevent us from taking part in this march,” said Athraa Ali, 30, as she pushed her mother in a wheelchair. “We cannot stop living because of these explosions.”—AP


King's visit to France postponed


Jul 9, 2010

PARIS: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has postponed a visit to France that would have seen him open an exhibition of Saudi Arabia’s archaeological treasures at the Louvre Museum and possibly attend the July 14 Bastille Day festivities.

A spokesman at the Kingdom's Embassy in Paris confirmed Friday that the visit had been postponed and a new date had not yet been set.

King Abdullah had been scheduled to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy as the two countries look to develop their relationship ahead of France taking over the G20 chairmanship next year. Saudi Arabia is the only Arab member in the bloc of leading economic powers.

Riyadh said on July 5 it was also preparing to sign an agreement on cooperation in civilian nuclear energy during the visit.

Both countries have been in talks for more than one year but have yet to disclose details about the cooperation.


Citizens criticize Saudi Credit & Savings Bank



Jul 9, 2010

JEDDAH: Several Saudi citizens have voiced their anger over the protracted delay in securing loans from Saudi Credit and Savings Bank, the government firm to extend financial support to needy citizens.

A number of applicants said that they have been waiting for more than one or two years after completing procedures to get a loan. They attribute this mainly to lack of a specific mechanism to complete the procedures and give them loans.

Most of these applicants are seeking social loans such as those for family occasions, wedding and house repair.

Bank authorities, while confirming the delay, attributed this mainly to the huge increase in the number of applicants, and failure of prompt repayment of loans by earlier beneficiaries. They said that the bank authorities are striving hard to translate into action the keenness of rulers to ease the financial burden of people through extending them interest-free loans.

Faris Hidayatullah Al-Sheikh, one of the applicants, said that he has been waiting for a social loan for more than two years.

“I have completed all the required procedures for the loan but to no use. I had gone to the bank’s branch several times, and was always asked to come at a future date for the check. They give excuses on every occasion. What is the use if one is not getting loan when he is in dire need of it?” he asks.

Saeed Al-Qarni, another citizen, says that the bank officials used to give unconvincing excuses for the delay in extending loans.

“I have been waiting for the loan since one year and nine months. I got stereotype replies at least seven times from the concerned bank officials to come at a future date to receive the check,” he said, adding that such irresponsible behavior on the part of officials has damaged the reputation and credibility of the bank.

Saeed also noted that such bitter experiences have prompted several applicants to stop approaching the bank branches in cities and turn to rural branches where the procedures are comparatively quite fast and simple, mainly because of the small number of applicants.

Khaled Al-Zahrani, a young Saudi, is another victim, who waited for more than one and a half years for a marriage loan but to no avail.

“The bank officials told me to come and get the check on a day before my marriage. When I approached the bank, I was shocked to find that there was no way to get the loan before my marriage. They told me that there is no liquidity and the large number of people who applied for loan before me too have to wait” he said.

He said that there was no use even though he submitted a request to senior official, explaining his difficult financial condition and the marriage expense. This forced Al-Zahrani to seek credit from the company where he works to meet the marriage expenses.

Abdullah Hassan says that he waited for a loan for more than a year, and the bank officials said that he would get the loan only after  more than 600 applicants ahead of him in the waiting list, had got their loans.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Ameen, deputy manager of the bank in Riyadh, attributed the huge increase in the number of applicants to the delay in extending loans. “The bank is now working on a mechanism to solve this problem and expedite loan procedures,” he said.