New Age Islam
Fri Nov 27 2020, 05:31 AM

Islamic World News ( 26 March 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

China Jails 20 on Jihad, Separatism Charges in Restive Xinjiang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Asia

China jails 20 on jihad, separatism charges in restive Xinjiang

52 armed Taliban insurgents killed, 45 wounded and 21 arrested

Bangladesh strike: Shoot at sight orders issued

Five Afghan police killed in suicide attack in east

British soldier dies in Afghanistan attack

Iran condemns Arab League for handing seat to opposition

Bangladesh Widens Crackdown On Atheist Bloggers

Bangladeshis display true national fervour

 

Africa

At least 120 inmates freed in Nigeria attacks, 25 die

 

North America

The war on terror: a cause or an effect of American racism?

US professor’s quixotic quest to be Iran president

Third SEAL breaks silence on death of Osama Bin Laden

US Supreme Court to hear second gay marriage case

 

India

Markandey Katju seeks pardon for Zaibunissa in 1993 Mumbai blasts case

L K Advani a leader of weak character: Azam Khan

Centre cleared Liyaqat’s name

Don’t know if anyone can arrest Dawood: Goa Chief Minister

 

Pakistan

More than 9000 terrorism-linked deaths in KP, FATA since 2008

Three militants killed in attack on check post

Upcoming Pakistan Vote Signals Change in Civilian-Military Relations

Arrest Musharraf, demands Lal Masjid cleric

Spy agencies tell SC 49,000 casualties taken

Fear of attack haunts Pakistan election campaign

Gunmen Kill Teacher In Pakistan's Tribal Area

Corps commanders meet in GHQ

Musharraf to enjoy full security

Govt borrowed Rs911bn in eight months: Budgetary support

Even I wouldn't vote PPP: Bilawal walks out on dad

Bilawal leaves Pakistan, not to lead PPP election campaign: officials

India asked to change design of Kishanganga project

BNP-M to actively participate in May 11 polls: Mengal

Self-protection: Polio teams in Swat refuse security

Seven suicide bombers attack Afghan police base: police

JI should decide between PTI and PML-N: Imran Khan

Raheela Magsi, Irfan Gul Magsi join PML-N

MQM not to make any electoral alliance: Farooq Sattar

 

Arab World

Qatar proposes $1 billion Arab Fund for Jerusalem

Swedish scientist to head UN Syria chemical weapons probe

Attacks in Iraq kill 5, wound 25 people

Yemen clashes between Al Qaeda, militiamen kill nine

Gunmen wound Russian Red Cross worker in Yemen

Yemeni gunmen open fire, wound Red Cross employee

Egypt court postpones ruling on Muslim Brotherhood’s legality

Rebuff of missile request helps Assad

Syrian opposition seat deepens Assad’s diplomatic isolation

GCC plans unified recruitment system for housekeepers

Sectarian kidnap in Lebanon ups tension

Iraq campaign kicks off, with often bizarre posters

Arrest of 5 activists ordered in Egypt

Palestinians say need $1.4 bn aid to meet budget

Arab Summit issues Doha Declaration

Samantha Cameron visits Syrian refugees on her first solo foreign trip

 

Mideast Asia

Little optimism for breakthrough in Thailand’s forgotten jihad

Palestinians hail UN call for end to Israeli settlements

 

Southeast Asia

Human Rights Watch Demands SBY End Church Demolitions

Jakarta Police Not Ruling Out Deploying Densus in Hunt for Sleman Jail Assassins

Indonesian Education System Fails Students

 

Europe

UK loses appeal to deport Jordanian preacher Abu Qatada

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: 52 Armed Taliban Insurgents Killed, 45 Wounded and 21 Arrested

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/52-armed-taliban-insurgents-killed,-45-wounded-and-21-arrested/d/10914

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South Asia

 

China jails 20 on jihad, separatism charges in restive Xinjiang

 Mar 27, 2013

(Reuters) - Chinese courts have sentenced 20 people to up to life in jail on charges of separatism and plotting to carry out jihad in the restive far western region of Xinjiang, the government said on Wednesday.

The courts in Kashgar and Bayingol said the 20 - all ethnic Uighurs judging by their names - had had their "thoughts poisoned by religious extremism", and used cell phones and DVDs "to spread Muslim religious propaganda", the Xinjiang government said on its official news website (www.ts.cn).

Some of them bought weapons to kill policemen as part of their jihad and spread propaganda related to the banned East Turkestan Islamic Movement, the report said, a group which China says wages a violent campaign for a separate state.

Many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people native to Xinjiang, chafe at Chinese controls on their religion, language and culture.

China has blamed violence in energy-rich Xinjiang - strategically located on the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Central Asia - on Islamic separatists who want to establish an independent East Turkestan.

Some Chinese officials have also blamed attacks on Muslim militants trained in Pakistan. But many rights groups say China overstates the threat to justify its tight grip on the region.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, said the 20 were actually guilty of no more than listening to the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and using the internet to discuss the importance of religious and cultural freedom.

"Giving heavy sentences to Uighurs (on the excuse) of terrorism is China's special way of carrying out suppression," he said in an emailed statement.

In December, a Xinjiang court sentenced three men to death and another to life in prison for attempting to hijack an aircraft in June.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/27/us-china-xinjiang-idUSBRE92Q0BO20130327

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52 Armed Taliban Insurgents Killed, 45 Wounded and 21 Arrested

March 27, 2013

Kabul, March 27: Up to 52 Taliban insurgents have been killed and 45 wounded in operations in Afghanistan, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

The Afghan National Police (ANP) in partnership with the army and the NATO-led coalition forces conducted several cleanup operations in Logar, Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, Kunduz, Kapisa, Paktika, Paktiya, Helmand and Nimroz provinces, Xinhua reported.

“As a result, 52 armed Taliban were killed, 45 wounded and 21 other armed Taliban were arrested,” a ministry statement said.

The ANP also seized weapons and defused several bombs, the statement said, without saying if there were any casualties on the side of security forces.—IANS.

http://muslimmirror.com/eng/52-taliban-insurgents-killed/

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Bangladesh strike: Shoot at sight orders issued

DHAKA, March 27, 2013

Bangladesh authorities have issued “shoot at sight” orders on Wednesday, as the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies in the 18-party coalition enforced a nationwide 36-hour strike demanding resignation of the ruling Awami League government.

“Orders have been issued to shoot at sight the protestors who will be seen setting on fire trains, buses or carrying out sabotage of any other types. Home Minister Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir met with senior officers of police and other law enforcement agencies ahead of the hartal,” the mass circulation Prothom Alo newspaper reported.

Though Mr. Alamgir or police chief Hassan Mahmud Khandaker were not available for comments but officials familiar with the “emergency meeting” said the law enforcement agencies were asked to take stern action against the “troublemakers.”

“We have asked the law enforcement agencies to take appropriate action considering the situation at the scenes,” State Minister Shamsul Haque Tuku told a newspaper.

The order came after suspected opposition activists torched at least nine vehicles and damaged several others on Tuesday when the country celebrated the Independence Day.

Schools and big shopping malls were closed and transport was thin on the street though opposition activists did not make visible their presence on streets in the Capital where the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion and riot patrolled. The paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh has been kept on alert.

The television channels reported over a dozen crude bomb blasts in different parts of the capital where the suspected activists also set afire a CNG-run three-wheeler on Wednesday apparently adopting the hit and run tactics when police fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets.

Opposition announces hartal

“We are announcing a 36-hour hartal to wage an all-out movement against the government to realise our demands, which include the government’s resignation, restoration of the caretaker government system (for election oversight) and release of our party men,” BNP’s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press conference earlier.

The BNP was yet to issue any statement on the government’s “shoot at sight” decision but chairman of the statutory National Human Rights Commission Professor Mizanur Rahman criticized the order saying other options were there to prevent the saboteurs. “If it is the decision (shoot at sight) I don’t agree with that,” he told newsmen.

Re-install caretaker government

The BNP was waging a campaign over electoral system demanding restoration of a caretaker government for election oversight as the national election was due next year but ongoing trials of several stalwarts of its crucial rightwing ally Jamaat-e-Islami for 1971 war crimes has visibly shifted the focus.

After an initial dilemma, BNP eventually put its weight behind its ally calling the trial a witch-hunt. The violence over the war crimes trial claimed over 70 lives.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/bangladesh-strike-shoot-at-sight-orders-issued/article4554289.ece

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Five Afghan police killed in suicide attack in east

2013/03/27

KABUL: Afghan police say eight suicide bombers have attacked one of their headquarters in the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing five officers and wounding four.   

Nangarhar provincial police chief Mohammad Sharif Amin says one insurgent in a bomb-laden car detonated his vehicle in front of the Jalalabad Police Quick Reaction Force on Tuesday.

His spokesman says another seven wearing bomb vests then attacked the compound, with three blowing themselves up inside the compound and another four shot by police during a gunfight that lasted more than an hour.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack occurred on the second day of a visit to Kabul by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Kabul.

http://dawn.com/2013/03/27/five-afghan-police-killed-in-suicide-attack-in-east/

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British soldier dies in Afghanistan attack

27 March 2013

A British soldier died on Tuesday after an attack in southern Afghanistan, the first such death for more than two months, the Ministry of Defense in London said.

The soldier from 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment was injured by enemy action in the Nad-e Ali area of Helmand Province on Monday and flown to hospital, but he succumbed to his wounds.

A total of 441 British military personnel have died while serving in Afghanistan since US-led operations began there in October 2001, 398 of whom died as a result of hostile action.

In December, Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would withdraw 3,800 of the country's 9,000 troops from Afghanistan this year, as NATO prepares for a full security handover to Afghan forces at the end of next year.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2013/03/27/British-soldier-dies-in-Afghanistan-attack-.html

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Iran condemns Arab League for handing seat to opposition

27 March 2013

Iran lambasted the Arab League for allowing an opposition leader to fill Syria’s vacant seat at the organization’s annual summit and described it as “dangerous behavior,” Iranian media reported late on Tuesday.

With Syrian membership to the Arab League suspended in November 2011, the seat at Tuesday’s summit was filled by Moaz Alkhatib, the leading figure among Syria’s opposition coalition that is battling to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Shiite Iran has given crucial backing to Assad since the protests erupted in Syria in 2011. Tehran regards him as key in the axis of resistance against Israel and a bulwark against what it says are extremist Sunni groups operating in Syria.

“Assigning Syria’s seat to the Arab League to those who don’t have the backing of the people establishes a pattern of dangerous behavior for the Arab world that can set a new precedent for other members of the Arab League in the future,” said deputy foreign minister, Hussein Amir Abdullahian, Iran’s student news agency (ISNA) reported.

“These actions will bring an end to the organization’s role in the region,” he said.

At the summit, Moaz Alkhatib asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for American forces to help defend rebel-controlled northern parts of Syria with Patriot surface-to-air missiles based in Turkey. NATO swiftly rebuffed the idea.

The summit also endorsed the provision of military aid to Syrian rebels. A communiqué affirmed member states had a right to offer assistance “including military, to support the steadfastness of the Syrian people and the Free Army.”

Iran has proposed a six-point plan for Syria and emphasized the importance of elections and reforms, but does not accept the removal of Assad, saying a solution to the crisis cannot be imposed from outside the country.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2013/03/27/Iran-condemns-Arab-League-for-handing-seat-to-opposition.html

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Bangladesh Widens Crackdown On Atheist Bloggers

March 27, 2013

Dhaka. Bangladesh has widened a crackdown on allegedly blasphemous blogs after a threat by Islamists to march to the capital demanding the prosecution of atheist bloggers, an official said Wednesday.

The telecommunications regulator ordered two leading Internet sites to remove hundreds of posts by seven bloggers whose writings it said offended Muslims, according to its assistant director Rahman Khan.

“These writings have defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. The two sites — Somewhereinblog.net and Amarblog.com — have removed most of the posts,” Khan told AFP.

Khan said the regulator was scrutinizing other sites to identify and erase “blasphemous blogs” in an attempt to ensure religious harmony in the mainly Muslim nation.

The move comes after Islamic groups and clerics, who have staged a series of deadly protests against atheist bloggers in recent weeks, threatened to march en masse to Dhaka on April 6 unless the bloggers are prosecuted.

The debate between militant atheists and fundamentalists has been a popular subject in Bangladesh’s blogosphere and on social media for years, but it took a deadly turn last month when an alleged anti-Islam blogger was murdered.

The government has blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem the anti-blasphemy violence that left eight people dead. It also set up a panel, which included intelligence chiefs, to snoop for blasphemy in the social media.

Blogger Asif Mohiuddin said 120 of his posts had been erased from Somewhereinblog.net. “The government is targeting the bloggers to appease the Islamists”, Mohiuddin, who identifies himself as a militant atheist, told AFP.

Mohiuddin, who was critically injured in a machete attack by suspected Islamists in January, said he was interrogated by detectives this week about his writings.

“It’s a serious attack on freedom of speech,” he said.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/international/bangladesh-widens-crackdown-on-atheist-bloggers/582360

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Bangladeshis display true national fervour

Nissar Hoath

27 March 2013

The Bangladeshi community across the UAE celebrated its 42nd Independence and National Day anniversary on Tuesday with national spirit and zeal.

The two Bangladeshi diplomatic missions in the Capital and Dubai, community associations, centres and schools across the UAE put up special programmes including cultural shows, competitions and speeches on the freedom struggle.

A colourful ceremony was organised at the embassy in the Capital early in the morning where the Charge de Affaires (CDA), Mohammed Shahadat Hussain, unfurled the national flag as school students in national colourful attire sang the national anthem. The programme began with a recitation of verses from the Holy Quran.

The ceremony was attended by a large number of community members, including Bangladeshi businessmen based in the UAE, VIP guests, embassy staff and diplomats.

The CDA paid homage to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Shaikh Mujibur Rahman, and valiant freedom fighters “who paid their supreme sacrifice for the independence of Bangladesh”.

He  urged the community to dedicate in nation building and work to portray the positive image of Bangladesh in the UAE.

A debate in which students and intellectuals participated shed light on the freedom and struggle. A documentary on the life of Mujibur Rahman was also screened.

National Day messages of acting president Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina Wajid and Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni were also read out.

Full report at:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/community/2013/March/community_March12.xml&section=community

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Africa

 

At least 120 inmates freed in Nigeria attacks, 25 die

2013/03/26

YOLA: Officials say gunmen attacked a remote town in Nigeria’s northeast, killing 25 and freeing 120 inmates.   

Adamawa State’s head of prisons, Andrew Barka, said Sunday 120 inmates were freed in the Friday night raid in Ganye near the border with Cameroon.

Police spokesman Mohammed Ibrahim said 25 people were killed after the assailants also attacked a bank and a drinking spot.

The attacks come a week after men claiming to be members of the radical Boko Haram

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/26/at-least-120-inmates-freed-in-nigeria-attacks-25-die/

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North America

 

The war on terror: a cause or an effect of American racism?

2013/03/26

He’s got thoughts about a new Gallup poll which shows a majority of respondents oppose drone strikes on US citizens. It is discordant, Greenwald argues and I’ll grant, that Americans could at once majority-disapprove of drone-striking Americans and vast-majority-approve of the strike on Al Awlaki. For an explanation, Greenwald cites racism — which is basically always at least a passable answer when it comes to American politics, no matter the question:

This decade-long Othering of Muslims – a process necessary to sustain public support for their continuous killing, imprisonment, and various forms of rights abridgments – has taken its toll. I’m most certainly not suggesting that anyone who supports Awlaki’s killing is driven by racism or anti-Muslim bigotry. I am suggesting that the belief that Muslims are somehow less American, or even less human, is widespread, and is a substantial factor in explaining the discrepancy I began by identifying.

He doesn’t provide as much evidence as I’d like, even if I instinctually agree with him. But one example Greenwald does note, and I think it’s a good one, is the NYPD’s hamfisted and doubtless ongoing campaign of surveillance over its Muslim citizens:

The New Jersey Star Ledger this morning has an excellent interview with CUNY Professor Diala Shamas, who just co-authored a new report on the devastating impact of the NYPD’s shockingly invasive and indiscriminate surveillance program aimed at Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey. She documents in particular how this type of surveillance, aimed at innocent Muslims, creates an intense climate of fear and chills political speech.

I think Greenwald’s right-on when it comes to describing how Americans feel about terrorism. But his explanation as to why they’re are so blasé about injustices inflicted on Muslims, real and hypothetical, is backwards.

Full report at:

http://jubileeblog.com/2013/03/26/the-war-on-terror-a-cause-or-an-effect-of-american-racism/

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US professor’s quixotic quest to be Iran president

26 March 2013

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey: An Iranian-American who has lived in the United States for 40 years wants to be the next president of Iran.

Hooshang Amirahmadi has been a professor at Rutgers University for nearly 30 years.

Amirahmadi declared his intentions last year and is hopscotching the globe to raise money.

The campaign is a long shot, because the liberal professor must win the approval of the country’s religious leaders to land on the ballot.

Amirahmadi is president of the nonprofit American Iranian Council. He has spent years working on US-Iranian relations.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446115

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Third SEAL breaks silence on death of Osama Bin Laden

By By Bonnie Malkin

27 Mar 2013

Two members of the team have already spoken out. The first, "Mark Owens", told 60 minutes that he shot Bin Laden after spotting him behind a door frame.

The second told Esquire magazine that he was, in fact, the killer and that he stared at the head of al-Qaeda face to face before shooting him in the forehead when he started to reach for a gun.

Now a third member has broken his silence, telling CNN journalist Peter Bergen that the other accounts of the fateful day were wrong.

Full report at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9956167/Third-SEAL-breaks-silence-on-death-of-Osama-Bin-Laden.html

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US Supreme Court to hear second gay marriage case

Mar 27 2013

Washington: The rights of married same-sex couples will come under scrutiny at the US Supreme Court today in the second of two landmark cases being considered by the top judicial panel.

After the nine justices mulled arguments on a California law that outlawed gay marriage yesterday, they will take up a challenge to the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The 1996 law prevents couples who have tied the knot in nine states -- where same-sex marriage is legal – from enjoying the same federal rights as heterosexual couples.

The plaintiff is Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian who was ordered to pay federal inheritance tax of USD 363,000 following the death of her partner of more than 40 years in 2009.

A heterosexual widow would not have faced the same demand. Windsor is challenging Section 3 of DOMA on the grounds it is discriminatory because it defines marriage as an act between a man and woman.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/us-supreme-court-to-hear-second-gay-marriage-case/1094019/

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India

 

Markandey Katju seeks pardon for Zaibunissa in 1993 Mumbai blasts case

IANS | Mar 27, 2013, 

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: After actor Sanjay Dutt, Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju on Wednesday sought a pardon for Zaibunissa Kazi, another convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.

The former apex court judge said that he would write to President Pranab Mukherjee and Maharashtra governor K. Sankaranarayanan to pardon Zaibunissa Kazi, 70, on humanitarian grounds.

"Zaibunissa Kazi also deserves a pardon. I was earlier considering her case and after going through her judgement file, I am of the firm opinion that she also deserves a pardon," Katju said in his blog.

"I have decided to appeal to the president of India as well as the governor of Maharashtra to pardon Zaibunnisa and Sanjay Dutt," he said.

The Supreme Court verdict Thursday upheld Dutt's conviction for illegal possession of prohibited weapons like an AK-56 assault rifle and a revolver and sentenced him to five years in jail.

Two days ago Katju had said that he received an e-mail from Shagufta, Zaibunnisa's daughter, appealing to him to seek pardon for her mother.

Shagufta, 40, told mediapersons that her mother was innocent and she had only agreed to keep a bag containing AK-56 rifles, bullets and hand grenades that was brought to her by Abu Salem and Manzoor Ahmed Sayed Ahmed. She said that Zaibunnisa was not aware of the contents of the bag.

"I wish I was a celebrity or my mother was a celebrity, then I would also get all the support that Sanjay Dutt is getting today. If it is on humanitarian grounds, then why only Sanjay Dutt, why not Zaibunissa?" she asked.

Zaibunnisa was a co-accused in the 1993 bomb blasts case and was sentenced to five years imprisonment.

"The only charge on which she has been convicted is possessing some prohibited weapons. It was not disputed that no recovery of any weapon was made from her house. In my respectful opinion she should at least have been given the benefit of doubt," Katju said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Markandey-Katju-seeks-pardon-for-Zaibunissa-in-1993-Mumbai-blasts-case/articleshow/19239355.cms

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L K Advani a leader of weak character: Azam Khan

PTI Posted online: Mon Mar 25 2013

Badaun : Taking a line different from party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who recently praised L K Advani, Uttar Pradesh minister Mohammad Azam Khan today termed the BJP veteran a leader of "weak character".

"Advani was an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case and he pays obeisance at the grave of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and terms himself as a secular.

"In reality, Advani is a leader of weak character," Azam told reporters here after distributing cheques pertaining to Kanya Vidyadhan and other government schemes.

At a function in Lucknow on March 23, Mulayam showered praise on Advani and used his comments to lash out at his son Akhilesh Yadav's government in Uttar Pradesh.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/l-k-advani-a-leader-of-weak-character-azam-khan/1093187/

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Centre cleared Liyaqat’s name

under policy for rehabilitation

By Abhishek Bhalla in New Delhi

WITH the National Investigation Agency ( NIA) all set to probe Liyaqat Ali Shah’s antecedents, new facts indicating that he was entering India via the Nepal border to surrender have emerged.

It appears his surrender was cleared by the Centre after receiving a recommendation from the Jammu and Kashmir government in 2012. With new facts coming to light, his arrest by the Delhi Police near the Indo- Nepal border in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh has come as a huge embarrassment not just to the Delhi Police, but also the home ministry.

After his family applied for rehabilitation in February 2011, the Jammu and Kashmir government had sent the details to central intelligence agencies for clearance along with the applications of other former militants who were in Pakistan occupied Kashmir ( PoK).

The home ministry, it appears, was aware of his status as a terrorist who was about to surrender after his case was cleared by the intelligence agencies.

Full report at:

Source: Mail Today

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Don’t know if anyone can arrest Dawood: Goa Chief Minister

Wednesday, 27 March 2013 | Mayabhushan | Panaji

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday wondered if there was anyone at all who had the “capacity” to arrest notorious criminal Dawood Ibrahim.

Parrikar who was speaking in response to a Calling Attention Motion, also said that had Goa’s illegal mining industry been allowed to function unhindered, then the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim included would have invested in it.

“I don’t know if anyone has the capacity of arresting Dawood (Ibrahim). The Government of India has been trying it for 25 years,” Parrikar said.

Parrikar further said that there was so much money involved in the illegal mining industry in Goa that the underworld would have soon been attracted to it.

Full report at:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/nation/dont-know-if-anyone-can-arrest-dawood-parrikar.html

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Pakistan

 

More than 9000 terrorism-linked deaths in KP, FATA since 2008

2013/03/27

SLAMABAD: More than 9000 people including military, paramilitary and police officials along with members of government-backed tribal Aman Lashkars have been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA during the last five years, Pakistani spy agencies told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The agencies submitted the report to a three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The bench was hearing a petition challenging the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011.

These regulations allow detention of arrested militants in specially built internment centres in the tribal areas near the Pak-Afghan border. Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) KP Ameer Prof Ibrahim had challenged the regulations in the court.

The report also said that recent nexus of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat militants with the Afghan government may give rise to increased terrorist incidents on border areas including Mohmand, Bajaur Agencies, Dir, Swat and Chitral.

The report said that a total of 235 suicide attacks, 9,257 rocket attacks and 4,256 bomb explosions have taken place in KP and FATA since 2008.

Among the fatalities, 5,152 were civilians, 1,489 army officials, 675 Frontier Corps, while 1,717 belonged to the police force. In targeted attacks, 243 people belonging to lashkars were killed and 275 were injured, while 995 schools and 35 colleges were also destroyed in the last five years.

The agencies’ report cited 475 major and 135 small raids while 6000 search operations by the security forces in which, it said, 3,051 militants were killed. Militancy in the region was at its peak during 2007 and 2008. However, actions taken by the law enforcement agencies had restrained the militants’ strength, it added.

Moreover, the report predicted more attacks against the state in case the detained militants are released. It will be difficult to contain them in KP and they could start a new wave of violence in cities like Karachi and Lahore, said the report.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/27/more-than-9000-terrorism-linked-deaths-in-kp-fata-since-2008/

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Three militants killed in attack on check post

Anwarullah Khan

2013/03/27

KHAR: Three militants were killed and a security official was injured as Afghanistan-based militants attacked a checkpoint along the border in Nawagai tehsil of Bajaur tribal region on Tuesday.

An official said the militants entered the area from Afghanistan and fired several rockets and mortars at the checkpost in Matak, 40km from Khar. “Security forces pushed back the militants and at least three attackers were killed and one security personnel was injured during the exchange of fire,” the official said.

“We believe militants living in Afghanistan’s Kunar province are responsible for the attack,” the official said. Security forces deployed more troops at several posts along the border.

Meanwhile, militants fired a rocket at a checkpost of Levies Force in Khar on Monday night.

The checkpost was partially damaged, but no casualty was reported, according to officials.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/27/3-militants-killed-in-attack-on-checkpost/

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Upcoming Pakistan Vote Signals Change in Civilian-Military Relations

Sharon Behn

March 27, 2013

ISLAMABAD — On May 11, Pakistan will hold national elections to usher in a new civilian government. After decades of military rule and political instability, this will be the first time in the country's history that a civilian government will transfer power through the ballot box. The handover reflects a shift in the relationship between civilian and military institutions in Pakistan.

Army leader General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has kept his vow to keep the military out of politics. After decades of military coups and political interventions, May's national elections will mark the first time a government has completed its five-year term and peacefully handed over power to another civilian government.

Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says both the military and civilian leaderships have matured since the country first became an Islamic republic in 1956.

"I would say the military leadership of this time has taken the principled decision to support democracy and not to allow the system to derail in any case, because they believe this is the way forward, as far as our nation, our country is concerned," Abbas said.

That decision is a milestone for Pakistan's democratic development and an expansion of the democratic process. This year for the first time, political parties are being allowed to campaign in the military-controlled northwest Federally Administered Tribal Areas - known as FATA -- on the border with Afghanistan.

Ashraf Ali, president of the FATA research center, says permitting those campaigns are a first step to integrating the region into the country's political mainstream.

“There is quite a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the masses who know that now this process is ours," Ali said. "They have been given a sense of ownership now. Previously it was the case they were excluded from the political process and that was the crux of the issues. Now they have been given the sense of ownership that these elections are meant for you, these are from you, and these are for you."

Ali says this sense of inclusion may also help the civilian leadership to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, which in turn could affect how the military moves forward in the militant strongholds.

Full report at:

http://www.voanews.com/content/upcoming-pakistan-election-signals-change-in-civilian-military-relations/1629445.html

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Arrest Musharraf, demands Lal Masjid cleric

By Azam Khan

March 27, 2013

ISLAMABAD:

Lal Masjid’s chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz called upon the administration to arrest General Pervez Musharraf in connection with several cases, including the 2007 military operation at the mosque.

A “vicious backlash” is possible if Musharraf is not punished by the law for his role in the killing of the students of the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa, Aziz said at a press conference.

He said though he was disappointed with the present legal system of the country, he was raising his voice as a mark of protest.

Responding to a question, Aziz said he supports Talal Bugti’s offer to pay a billion rupees to whoever kills Musharraf. If no process is initiated against Musharraf under the law, people have the right to target him for his cruel acts, Maulana Abdul Aziz said.

He also criticised political parties and the courts for “granting immunity” to the former military dictator who overthrew a democratically elected government, abrogated the constitution and held the judiciary hostage. “Gen Musharraf has been welcomed like a viceroy,” he said.

Full report at:

Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2013.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/526987/press-conference-arrest-musharraf-demands-lal-masjid-cleric/

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Spy agencies tell SC 49,000 casualties taken

By Hasnaat Malik

March 27, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Submitting a report pertaining to military operations conducted in the tribal areas of the country, the intelligence agencies on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has aligned itself with sectarian outfits “and the recent nexus of Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat (TTS) with Afghanistan government” is likely to enhance terrorist activities in areas adjoining Afghanistan, Mohmand and Bajaur agencies, Dir, Swat and Chitral.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heard the petition of a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami against Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011. Regarding the emerging trends in terrorism, spy agencies told the bench that the sectarian outfits were playing leading role in victimisation of the Shia community, especially in Quetta and Karachi. This, they argued, showed that the war on terror is not yet over rather its profile has changed and the TTP has merged itself with sectarian outfits.

It was also added that there were intra-TTP rifts and splinter groups were surfacing. The court was told that miscreants relied on IEDs and abduction for ransom while there local support was waning mainly due to effective military operation. The agencies said that the TTS, after having been dislodged from the area, has resorted to SB/IED attacks on law enforcement agencies and Aman Lashkar. The intelligence agencies’ report revealed that since 9/11 the country, while fighting terrorism, has suffered around 49,000 casualties, including both civilian and military.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\27\story_27-3-2013_pg7_1

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Fear of attack haunts Pakistan election campaign

27 March 2013

Pakistani politicians may be bitter rivals who exploit the tiniest chance to score points off one another, but one thing unites them as they campaign for May elections: fear of attack.

In a country awash with weapons, overstretched security forces, fractious tribes, Islamist militants and deadly political and ethnic rivalry, the specter of violence haunts politicians from left to right, conservative to reformist.

More than five years after her murder, the ghost of Benazir Bhutto hangs over the campaign. She was killed in a gun and suicide attack after an election rally in Rawalpindi in December 2007, and her assassins have never been convicted.

Her death catapulted her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to victory, on a wave of sympathy. But it was a powerful reminder of the dangers and, heading into the May 11 polls, Pakistan today is a far less secure country than five years ago.

Violence against the Shiite Muslim minority is at a record high. Religious intolerance is worse today than five years ago. The Taliban insurgency and a Baluch separatist insurgency in the southwest have only expanded.

The Pakistani Taliban have issued a direct threat against the three main parties of the outgoing government -- the PPP, the secular Awami National Party (ANP) in the northwest and MQM, the party that rules Karachi.

Bullet proof glass as standard

The 24-year-old PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Bhutto’s son, will make few public appearances and will address crowds by phone or video link “due to security and logistical” reasons, party spokesman Qamar Zaman Kaira told AFP.

“There are security concerns. He cannot travel everywhere,” he said.

For any self-respecting politician, a bullet-proof vehicle is de rigueur. Party offices are barricaded with barbed wire and concrete blocks. Bullet-proof glass on podiums is increasingly common.

Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif was applauded by tens of thousands at his inaugural rally Monday when he ordered the glass to be removed, but the entire stage was secured with barbed wire. Police commandos bristled with their AK-47s.

As former dictator Pervez Musharraf flew back at the weekend from more than four years in self-imposed exile, the Taliban said they had gathered a squad of suicide bombers to go after him.

Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming in 2007 was greeted by bomb attacks that killed around 140 people in the deadliest single terror attack on Pakistani soil.

Musharraf’s party scrapped a public rally in downtown Karachi. He delivered a short address at the airport and then was whisked away in a high-speed convoy to one of the most heavily guarded hotels in the country.

He is being protected around the clock by a bevy of retired army commandos and intelligence agents, along with army and police guards.

Populist cleric Tahir-ul Qadri elevated personal protection to a new level in January, when he conducted a three-day rally in Islamabad entirely from inside a bullet-proof trailer featuring reinforced glass.

Taliban threat

Security officials say the Taliban pose a greater threat than ever to populated areas around the northwestern city of Peshawar and to parts of Karachi, Pakistan’s financial capital on the Arabian Sea.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/2013/03/27/Fear-of-attack-haunts-Pakistan-election-campaign.html

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Gunmen Kill Teacher In Pakistan's Tribal Area

March 26, 2013

Unknown gunmen have killed a female teacher at a girls' school in one of Pakistan's troubled northwestern tribal regions along the Afghan border.

Officials said Shahnaz Nazli was shot dead in the Jamrud area in the Khyber Agency, one of Pakistan's seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Local officials said she was murdered by two assailants on a motorbike while she was on her way to the girls' primary school.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Taliban militants oppose female education and have carried out attacks against female schools and students in the past.

Full report at:

http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistan-teacher-shot-dead/24939814.html

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Corps commanders meet in GHQ

2013/03/27

RAWALPINDI: The corps commanders were meeting on Wednesday at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, DawnNews reported.

The meeting, chaired by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, was discussing the country’s internal and external security situation as well as professional matters relating to the armed forces.

Following the establishment of the caretaker government at the centre, this is the first meeting of the armed forces’ top brass.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/27/corps-commanders-meet-in-ghq/

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Musharraf to enjoy full security

Munawer Azeem

2013/03/27

SLAMABAD: As former president Pervez Musharraf is expected to arrive in Islamabad on March 28, security forces have begun making arrangements for his time in the city, including the deployment of three commandos at his home and road blockades and increased vigilance in the area.

A meeting at which officials from the police, the Interior Ministry and the intelligence agencies were to discuss arrangements for Musharraf’s security, scheduled for Tuesday, was unexpectedly postponed, sources revealed. The police, however, have ‘finalized’ their contribution.

The local police will station three of its commandos outside Pervez Musharraf’s farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, in the outskirts of Islamabad. According to a senior police official, “the protocols outlined in the Blue Book state that former heads of state are entitled to security protection”. However, he continued, “they don’t specify anything about the number of personnel or the specific arrangements.”

The police have put roadblocks around the farmhouse and on nearby access roads, slowing approaching vehicles for ‘security purposes’. Personnel at the Shahzad Town police station will be deployed at temporary pickets to scrutinise people approaching the residence.

While the intelligence agencies have been less forthcoming about their contributions to security for the former president, their officers are reported to be “performing their duties” around Musharraf’s home.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/27/musharraf-to-enjoy-full-security/

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Govt borrowed Rs911bn in eight months: Budgetary support

Shahid Iqbal

2013/03/27

KARACHI: The State Bank reported on Tuesday that the borrowing for budgetary support since July 2012 to mid March 2013 rose to Rs911 billion with the said amount mostly borrowed from scheduled banks.

The government depends on borrowed funds to carry out day to day functions. The data of borrowings for budgetary support during the eight and half months of this fiscal year indicates it was almost as much as the tax collection during the period, the SBP noted.

The Federal Board of Revenue reported on March 8 that it had provisionally collected Rs1,155bn during July-February (2012-13).

The two comparative figures (budgetary borrowing and tax collections) showed that the revenue collections were higher by Rs245bn than borrowing made during this period.

The country has been under pressure of widening fiscal gap which was more than 8.4 per cent of GDP in the last fiscal.

If the borrowing for budgetary support continues to move parallel to revenue collections, the situation would be disastrous for the economy.

Economists and analysts believe the borrowing would be much less than the tax collections at the end of the fiscal but they said the situation is precarious for the economy.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/27/budgetary-support-govt-borrowed-rs911bn-in-eight-months/

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Even I wouldn't vote PPP: Bilawal walks out on dad

Islamabad, Lahore, Wed Mar 27 2013

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has left for Dubai after a tiff with his father, President Asif Ali Zardari, over the affairs of the PPP, leaving the party without its star campaigner for Pakistan's general elections.

Bilawal, recently named patron-in-chief of the Pakistan People's Party, developed differences with Zardari and his sister, Faryal Talpur, over the party's handling of key issues, including militant violence, sectarian attacks against Shias and the award of party tickets for the polls scheduled for May 11.

Two sources privy to the development said Bilawal had made it clear to his father he felt PPP had not strongly taken up issues like the shooting of teenage activist Malala Yousufzai by Taliban last year and three devastating bomb attacks on Shias in Quetta and Karachi that killed nearly 250 people.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/even-i-wouldnt-vote-ppp-bilawal-walks-out-on-dad/1093888/

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Bilawal leaves Pakistan, not to lead PPP election campaign: officials

2013/03/26

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will not be leading the party’s election campaign as party officials confirmed his departure for Dubai on Tuesday, days before the party launches its official campaign on April 4.

Speaking to Dawn.com, PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi confirmed that Bilawal had departed for Dubai. She also confirmed that the young Bhutto would not be ‘physically’ taking part in the party’s election campaign; however, she cited “security concerns” as the reason behind the decision.

The news comes as the Press Trust of India reported that the PPP chairman had left after an argument with his father, President Asif Ali Zardari.

Hasham Riaz, Bilawal’s chief of staff, while speaking to Dawn.com also confirmed that Bilawal had left for Dubai. However, he dismissed reports of a rift between the father and son as “rumors”.

According to the report by the Press Trust of India, the PPP chairman had a quarrel with President Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur over the party’s stance on several importance issues including militancy, sectarianism and the awarding of party tickets for the upcoming general elections.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/26/bilawal-leaves-pakistan-not-to-lead-ppp-election-campaign/

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India asked to change design of Kishanganga project

2013/03/27

LAHORE: Pakistan has pressed the visiting Indian Indus commissioner to change the design of the Kishanganga Hydro Plant in accordance with a partial award issued by the International Court of Arbitration.

A 10-member Indian delegation which left for home on Tuesday said they had referred the award to their seniors and were waiting for their response. They will be able to make changes after the higher authorities agree.

According to sources in the Pakistan Indus Commissionerate, the Indians have referred the award probably to their lawyers and are waiting for their clearance.

During talks with the Indians, the Pakistani officials also raised the Wullar Barrage issue and demanded a “tour of inspection” at the earliest to ascertain whether India was carrying out any construction or not.

Apart from the two projects, both sides also held their first meeting on three projects recently launched by India — Rattle, Miyar and Kalnai water and hydro projects on the western rivers in India-held Kashmir.

Pakistan had raised objection to the projects and the Indians had responded. In the current meeting, Pakistan substantiated its objections and the Indian delegation tried to defend the designs of the projects.

Both sides stuck to their positions but decided to continue talks.

According to Pakistan’s version, 48MW Kalnai Hydro Electric Project could allow India to utilise the flows of Lower Kalnai River, a tributary of the Chenab River, in Kistwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. The project envisages construction of a 49-metre-high dam with a Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/27/india-asked-to-change-design-of-kishanganga-project/

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BNP-M to actively participate in May 11 polls: Mengal

2013/03/27

KARACHI: Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal Tuesday said his party will actively participate in the May 11 general elections.

Speaking to media representatives after chairing a meeting of the party’s Executive Committee at his residence, he said the BNP-M is a democratic party and it believes in democratic process.

However, Mengal said they will contest the elections keeping in mind “apprehensions about the rights of the Baloch people.” He said the Chief Election Commissioner has been conveyed about his party’s reservations.

Mengal said, “If we are elected to power, we will take oath under the Constitution of Pakistan.”

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/27/bnp-m-to-actively-participate-in-may-11-polls-mengal/

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Self-protection: Polio teams in Swat refuse security

By Fazal Khaliq

 March 27, 2013

MINGORA:

Following attacks on polio teams in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa earlier this year, vaccination drives are now being conducted amidst tight security. But female workers in Swat have refused to take security personnel with them during the campaigns.

“The district administration has decided to administer polio vaccines amidst security but we do not want police by our side because it makes us more visible and susceptible to attacks. It is better to do our work in a way that makes us less noticeable,” Zareena, a schoolteacher, told The Express Tribune. Many lady health workers (LHW) too have refused to accept security. “We always administer polio drops at our own villages, so we have no threat. Before starting this campaign we decided to take no visible security,” said Zaibunisa, an LHV in Amankot.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/526853/self-protection-polio-teams-in-swat-refuse-security/

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Seven suicide bombers attack Afghan police base: police

March 27, 2013

JALALABAD: A group of seven suicide bombers attacked a police base in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Tuesday, killing five officers, police said.

One bomber set off a large explosion at the entrance of the quick reaction police headquarters before two bombers blew themselves up inside the facility and four others died in a gun fight with police. “The first one detonated a car bomb; two others entered the base and detonated themselves and the remaining four were shot dead,” Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, the Nangarhar province police spokesman, told AFP. The Taliban militants immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming that it had targeted “foreigners and Israeli teachers” training Afghan police at the base in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar. “There are heavy police casualties,” the group said. Jalalabad is situated on the key route from the Pakistan border regions, where many militants are based, to the capital Kabul, and the city has been targeted by repeated suicide attacks in recent years. The last attack was on February 24 when a bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into the gates of the walled compound of the National Directorate of Security spy agency and detonated his bombs, killing two intelligence workers.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\27\story_27-3-2013_pg7_4

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JI should decide between PTI and PML-N: Imran Khan

By Ijaz Kakakhel

March 27, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday reiterated his resolve not to take oath from the incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari after voted as next prime minister of the country, saying that Zardari was a creation of NRO which was unconstitutional and the constitution “did not allow him to take oath from a person with a criminal background.”

Addressing a press conference along with Nawab of Bahawalpur, Salahuddin Abbasi here on Tuesday, Imran Khan said that PTI and Bahawalpur Awami National Party (BANP) led by Nawab of Bahawalpur Salahuddin Abbasi had agreed to forge electoral alliance as both the parties were opposed to the status-quo and no one could raise finger at the long political career of the leadership of both the parties.

PTI leaders Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Jahangir Khan Tareen, Naeem-ul-Haq, Malik Amin Aslam, Faisal Javed Khan and BNAP leader Farooq Azam Malik were also present on the occasion. Imran Khan said that PTI and Jamat-e-Islami (JI) had yet to finalise a seat-adjustment formula, however, he disclosed that the JI leadership had been conveyed that they would have to choose between PTI or Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) for seat-adjustment arrangement.

Regarding the PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, the PTI Chairman said that he thanked Sharif “for cleansing his party from the corrupt and crook politicians,” vowing that all the political forces “must keep in mind that after the party polls, the PTI had turned into a robust political force, which would sweep away all the corrupt forces in the forthcoming general elections.”

Imran Khan made it clear that the PTI would prefer to leave the seats vacant rather than allocating party tickets to candidates with tainted past, adding that the PTI had become the Party of ideological people.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\27\story_27-3-2013_pg7_13

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Raheela Magsi, Irfan Gul Magsi join PML-N

March 27, 2013

Raheela Magsi, the former district nazim Tando Allahyar and her brother Irfan Gul Magsi, a former minister for revenue, joined the Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz (PML-N) on Wednesday, reported Express News.

Both leaders met with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif after which they formally announced their decision.

Last week, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Sikandar Bosan and the sons of former president Farooq Leghari – Jamal Leghari and Owais Leghari – also joined the PML-N.

Bosan joined the PML-N along with many of his associates.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/527131/raheela-magsi-irfan-gul-magsi-join-pml-n/

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MQM not to make any electoral alliance: Farooq Sattar

March 27, 2013

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Deputy Convener, Farooq Sattar Wednesday said that his party never made any electoral alliance and it would not make any electoral alliance in the upcoming elections also, Geo News reported.

MQM, however, could make seat adjustment with the like-minded parties, he added.

Talking to media here, Farooq Sattar in an unequivocal term declared that his party would not give tickets to tax cheats, loan defaulters, those who got loans written off, looted national wealth and the fake degree holders. MQM Deputy Convener said that the big sardars and waderas are hurdles in the way of progress and resolution of issues.

Full report at:

http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-94074-MQM-not-to-make-any-electoral-alliance:-Farooq-Sattar

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Arab World

 

Qatar proposes $1 billion Arab Fund for Jerusalem

March 27, 2013

DOHA: Qatar proposed on Tuesday the creation of a $1 billion Arab fund for East Jerusalem, which Palestinians say should be the capital of an independent state under any peace deal with Israel.

Arabs fear that Israeli settlement building on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war, including East Jerusalem, has made a two-state solution backed by the United States unfeasible.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, offered to contribute $250 million to the fund, which he suggested at an Arab summit in Doha that focused on the crisis in Syria and stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

“(Jerusalem) is in serious danger, which requires of us serious action. Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rights in Jerusalem cannot be compromised. Israel must realize this,” Sheikh Hamad said.

He did not elaborate on the precise purpose of the fund and how the money would be spent.

The fate of Jerusalem has proved one of the thorniest sticking points in past Middle East peace negotiations.

Citing Jewish Biblical ties to the holy city, Israel annexed the Arab eastern sector and its surroundings in 1980 in a move rejected by the United Nations Security Council.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is in deep financial crisis.

On Friday the United States promised $500 million in aid to the PA, and Israel pledged to resume transferring $100 million in monthly tax revenue it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf.

Qatar’s emir did not say if the proposed Arab fund would be channelled to the PA, whose writ does not run in East Jerusalem.

About 200,000 Israelis live in the annexed part of Jerusalem, including more than 1,000 in and around the mostly Arab Old City.

Palestinian officials are sceptical of Arab aid pledges, as few Arab countries carried through on promises last year to cover a Palestinian funding gap aggravated by Israeli sanctions.

Last year Arab donations, including $200 million from Saudi Arabia, constituted almost half the PA’s foreign aid, with the United States and European Union providing around $330 million.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\27\story_27-3-2013_pg7_19

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Swedish scientist to head UN Syria chemical weapons probe

27 March 2013

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has named Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom to head a UN investigation into allegations that chemical weapons were used in Syria, Ban’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

‘He is an accomplished scientist with a solid background in disarmament and international security,’ UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

The United Nations said last week it would investigate Syrian allegations that rebels used chemical arms in an attack near the northern city of Aleppo, but Western countries sought a probe of all claims about the use of such arms, including rebel charges that government forces used them.

If an investigation adds credibility to the rebels’ claims that the government has used chemical weapons, it would represent another blow to Bashar Al Assad’s efforts to retain power. If it turned out the rebels have used them, it could make countries even more reluctant to support the opposition.

It was not immediately clear who else would be on Sellstrom’s team. Russia said on Monday that Russian and Chinese experts should be part of the investigation, but Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Tuesday that Russia would ‘most likely not’ be represented.

Sellstrom was a chief inspector for UNSCOM, the UN inspection team that investigated and dismantled Iraq’s biological and chemical weapons programs in the 1990s.

Sellstrom also worked with UNMOVIC, the UN group that returned to Iraq in 2002 and found no solid evidence that Baghdad had revived its weapons-of-mass-destruction programs before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as Washington and London alleged at the time.

Nesirky said Sellstrom’s investigation would be a technical, not a criminal, investigation, looking at whether chemical weapons were used and not at who may have used them.

US and European officials say there is no evidence of a chemical weapons attack, but the allegations of the rebels are worth taking seriously. If one were to be confirmed, it would be the first use of such weapons in the two-year-old Syrian conflict, which the United Nations says has cost 70,000 lives.

France and Britain wrote to Ban on Thursday to draw his attention to rebel allegations of an attack near Damascus, as well as one in Homs in late December. The rebels blame Syria’s government for those incidents as well as the Aleppo attack.

EXPANDING THE INVESTIGATION?

Ban made clear on Thursday that the investigation would initially focus on the Aleppo incident, in which the government and rebels accuse each other of firing a missile laden with chemicals, killing 26 people.

But he has left open the possibility that the investigation could be broadened. In a letter to the Security Council on Friday, Ban said he had asked Britain, France and Syria for further information on the other alleged chemical attacks ‘with a view to verifying any alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.’

Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters on Tuesday that he has provided Ban’s office with ‘further information’ about the alleged chemical attacks in Syria. He declined to provide details.

Full report at:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=/data/middleeast/2013/March/middleeast_March342.xml&section=middleeast

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Attacks in Iraq kill 5, wound 25 people

March 27, 2013

BAGHDAD: Iraqi officials say two attacks in different parts of the country have killed five people and wounded 25.

A police officer says a parked car bomb ripped through a residential area on Wednesday in the town of Musayyib, killing three civilians and wounding 14. The town is located about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Baghdad.

Another police officer said a bomb targeted a restaurant in the town of Madain, killing two people and wounding 11. Madain is located about 20 kilometers (14 miles) southeast of the Iraqi capital.

Full report at:

http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-94094-Attacks-in-Iraq-kill-5,-wound-25-people

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Yemen clashes between Al Qaeda, militiamen kill nine

2013/03/26

SANAA: Yemini security officials say clashes in the south between Al Qaeda and pro-government fighters have killed nine persons.   

The officials said Sunday that pro-government fighters recaptured the town of Batis, north of the city of Jaar in Abyan province, after three days of fighting that left six militants and three pro-government militiamen dead. Seven were wounded and 11 Al Qaeda members were captured.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the army supported the pro-government militia known as Popular Committees in the fighting.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/03/26/yemen-clashes-between-al-qaeda-militiamen-kill-nine/

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Gunmen wound Russian Red Cross worker in Yemen

March 27, 2013

SANAA: Gunmen on a motorbike wounded a Red Cross worker from Russia when they opened fire on her vehicle in Yemen’s capital on Tuesday, witnesses, medics and sources from the aid group said. “A Russian aid worker was lightly wounded by gunfire” in Sanaa, a medical official told AFP, adding that she was in “good condition”. Witnesses in Sanaa said two gunmen on a motorbike had opened fire at the vehicle carrying the woman and her husband. A source from the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen confirmed an employee of the humanitarian organisation was wounded in an attack in the capital. Foreigners are frequently targetted in Yemen where many Westerners have been kidnapped in a bid to use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\27\story_27-3-2013_pg7_21

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Yemeni gunmen open fire, wound Red Cross employee

AHMED AL-HAJ

26 March 2013

Last Update 26 March 2013 8:20 pm

SANAA: A Yemeni security official says an employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross was wounded when gunmen opened fire at her car in the country’s capital, Sanaa.

ICRC spokeswoman Dibeh Fakhr in Geneva confirmed a “security incident” yesterday in Yemen that left an employee “slightly injured” but declined to give further details.

The Yemeni official says the female staffer was driving her car when gunmen shot at her. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The woman’s nationality was not immediately known.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446113

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Egypt court postpones ruling on Muslim Brotherhood’s legality

March 27, 2013

CAIRO: An Egyptian court postponed on Tuesday a ruling on whether President Mohamed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood is illegal, agreeing to the Islamist group’s request for more time to present evidence in a case that has put it on the defensive.

Brought by anti-Brotherhood lawyers, the court case points to the deep antipathy some harbour towards a group that was formally dissolved in 1954 and forced to operate underground until President Hosni Mubarak was ousted two years ago.

The impact of any ruling against the Brotherhood is likely to be more political than practical: analysts find it inconceivable that the state will take any measures against a group that is now at the heart of power.

But such a decision could stir more rancour against the Islamists as they face increasingly violent protests.

The court set April 23 as the date for the next hearing in the case brought by lawyers who argue the group is illegal because of its 1954 dissolution by Egypt’s military rulers.

Though the Brotherhood dismisses that argument, it has sought to shield itself before the ruling. Last week it registered as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), giving it a new legal status.

The move marked a reversal of the group’s previous decision not to register as an NGO under existing laws.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\27\story_27-3-2013_pg7_20

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Rebuff of missile request helps Assad

27 March 2013

The refusal of international powers to provide Patriot missile support for rebel-held areas of northern Syria sends a message to President Bashar al-Assad to “do what you want”, Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said on Wednesday.

Alkhatib, a popular figure in the opposition, also said he would not rescind his resignation as leader of the main anti-Assad alliance but he would still perform leadership duties for the time being.

NATO said on Tuesday it had no intention of intervening militarily in Syria after Alkhatib said he had asked the United States to use Patriot missiles to protect rebel-held areas from Assad’s air power.

“Yesterday I was really surprised by the comment issued from the White House that it was not possible to increase the range of the Patriot missiles to protect the Syrian people,” Alkhatib told Reuters in an interview.

“I’m scared that this will be a message to the Syrian regime telling it ‘Do what you want’.”

Asked about his resignation on Sunday as leader of the rebel coalition - which he has said was motivated mainly by frustration at Western reluctance to increase support for the opposition - he said: “I have given my resignation and I have not withdrawn it. But I have to continue my duties until the general committee meets.”

Alkhatib took Syria’s vacant seat at an Arab League summit in Qatar on Tuesday, deepening the Assad government’s diplomatic isolation two years into a conflict that has cost an estimated 70,000 lives.

The 22-nation League lent its support to giving military aid to the Syrian rebels and a summit communique also offered some of its sternest language yet against Assad, affirming member states had a right to offer help.

But Tuesday’s proceedings offered no clarity on Alkhatib’s position in the leadership, a question central to Arab and Western efforts to shore up the political credibility of the opposition and heighten pressure on Assad and his inner circle.

In his remarks to Reuters, Alkhatib sought to portray himself as a conciliatory figure, declining to be drawn on his next political moves.

Asked whether he would withdraw his resignation, he replied: “This is the situation as it stands.”

Full report at:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2013/March/middleeast_March347.xml&section=middleeast

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Syrian opposition seat deepens Assad’s diplomatic isolation

GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN & MUSA’ID AZ ZAYYANI

27 March 2013

DOHA:Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah blasted the Syrian regime for frustrating all attempts to end the bloodshed through peaceful means.

The king’s address was read out by Crown Prince Salman at the Arab League Summit in the Qatari capital yesterday. “The Assad regime has foiled all political attempts to resolve the crisis,” he said.

A four-man delegation of the Syrian opposition took the nation’s seat at the summit. The delegation included interim Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto and Alkhatib, who, despite stepping down as president of the Syrian National Council, led the Syrian delegation in Qatar.

The SNC presented a number of demands to change the destiny of the Syrian nation.

King Abdullah lashed out at the Assad regime for unleashing deadly weapons on his own people in full view on the international community.

On Palestine, the king said: “We do not see any possibility of resolving this issue until and unless Israel government’s policy undergoes changes.”

Meanwhile, an embassy for the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), will be inaugurated in Doha today for the first time, local sources said.

Such a step comes in the wake of the Syrian opposition taking Syria’s seat in the Arab League during the first session of the two-day Doha Arab Summit.

The two-day summit, which was opened by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chairman of the current Arab League summit, called on Arab leaders to help Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Sheikh Hamad also called for the immediate establishment of a $ 1 billion fund to help Palestinians in Arab East Jerusalem and offered to contribute $ 250 million toward it.

Crown Prince Salman was accompanied by Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, deputy minister of foreign affairs; Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, chief of the court of the Crown Prince; Ibrahim Al-Assaf, finance minister; and Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja, minister of culture and information.

During the opening session, Shaikh Hamad welcomed the forces of the Syrian opposition and revolution and commended their historic role in the fight to establish a new Syria.

Shaikh Hamad lamented that the Syrian regime entered into armed confrontation with its people and rejected all calls for serious political reform.

The emir of Qatar reaffirmed his country’s commitment to provide humanitarian help to the people of Syria and urged all countries to do the same.

“I dream of seeing Syria up on its feet and back to its former glory,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446109

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GCC plans unified recruitment system for housekeepers

KHADIJA HABIB

27 March 2013

JEDDAH: A unified GCC system that governs household workers’ recruitment and work would strengthen the position of member states in negotiations with labor-exporting countries, said Saad Nahar Al-Baddah, chairman of the Foreign Recruitment Committee.

He added that such a step is needed, “especially after the issues that took place recently. Having a unified system would prevent exploitation (in countries negotiations).”

Among the “recent issues” Al-Baddah indicated are the housemaids on death row after killing their employer. A local news report on Saturday cited an unnamed GCC official stating that GCC ministers of Labor and Social Affairs intended to agree on a unified law to govern the recruitment and work of household labors in member states during in their next meeting in October in Bahrain. The official said a joint committee of member states would propose a unified recruitment contract that the ministers would discuss in the meeting.

He said articles of the contact would be announced after ministers approved it in the meeting, where amendments to it may be requested.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446212

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Sectarian kidnap in Lebanon ups tension

 27 March 2013

Last Update 26 March 2013 9:31 pm

BAALBEK, Lebanon: Gunmen from a Shiite clan kidnapped a man from a Sunni town in Lebanon yesterday in the latest incident of sectarian kidnaps related to the conflict in Syria, a security official said.

“Gunmen from the Jaafar clan kidnapped a man from the town of Arsal,” in northern Lebanon, the official told AFP.

The wave of sectarian kidnappings began on Sunday when Hussein Kamel Jaafar, 37, was kidnapped by unidentified assailants, and reportedly taken into Syria.

In revenge, members of the Jaafar clan have kidnapped eight people from Arsal, two of whom have been released.

Residents say there were attempts to negotiate a settlement between residents of Arsal and the Jaafar clan, but the bid fell through before yesterday’s kidnap.

The majority of Arsal’s inhabitants support the revolt in neighboring Syria, while most of the population of Hermel and Baalbek, where the Jaafar clan is based, are Shiites who back Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The conflict in Syria has exacerbated tensions in Lebanon. The Sunni-led March 14 political movement supports the rebels, while the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah and its allies back Assad, an Alawite whose faith is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446129

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Iraq campaign kicks off, with often bizarre posters

27 March 2013

BAGHDAD: Baghdad and much of Iraq has been plastered with posters, ranging from the ordinary to the bizarre, of election candidates vying for voters’ attention ahead of provincial elections next month.

Judging by the slogans and appeals on many of the posters, analysts and commentators note, Iraqi political campaigning still has a long way to go, with most making no mention of ideology or policies and many not even featuring the candidate running for office.

For one of his election posters, erected in a town south of Baghdad, Salam Kurdi Abboud is depicted in traditional attire — clad in the dishdasha, the long robe worn in the Gulf, and keffiyeh, or chequered scarf. Across the poster runs text in Arabic relating one salient detail: Salam Kurdi Abboud is dead.

The poster is asking voters to cast their ballots for his widow, Sausen Abduladhaim Ahmed, a member of the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc — but her face does not appear anywhere on the poster.

There is more of the same further afield of the capital.

In Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad, Parliament member Aytab Al-Duri, stands clad in a black abaya, or full-length female robe, her hand placed across her heart.

Next to her stands her husband, and the poster reads, “The candidate, Karim Khalaf Mohammed Hussein is the husband of the MP Dr. Aytab Al-Duri,” but makes no reference to any of his credentials or policies.

“These posters reflect the quality of the candidates,” laments Yasir Al-Mussawi, a Baghdad-based journalist, reflecting widely-held frustration with Iraq’s politicians.

“If these are their campaigns — naivete coupled with ineptitude — just imagine what they will be like in office.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446128

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Arrest of 5 activists ordered in Egypt

 27 March 2013

CAIRO: Egypt’s prosecutor general on Monday ordered the arrest of five prominent political activists accused of inciting violence against President Muhammad Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, a step the opposition decried as a reversal for democracy.

The move seemed certain to deepen mistrust in an already polarized political landscape, further complicating Mursi’s efforts to build bridges with his opponents before parliamentary polls the opposition has threatened to boycott.

Those ordered arrested included Ahmed Douma and Alaa Abd El-Fattah, a leading blogger who became a symbol of the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Also ordered arrested were Karim Al-Shaer, Hazem Abdel Azeem and Ahmed Al-Sahafi.

The five were banned from travel while a sixth person was summoned for questioning.

Abd El-Fattah, who was arrested under Mubarak and the military council that replaced him, said in a statement he would head to the prosecutor general’s office yesterday. He described the warrant as proof of the “corruption of the case and the prosecutor general’s bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446127

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Palestinians say need $1.4 bn aid to meet budget

26 March 2013

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Authority was yesterday debating a draft budget amounting to $3.9 billion, of which it said $1.4 billion would have to come from foreign financing.

Prime minister Salam Fayyad lamented a lack of payment of foreign aid as he presented the 2013 draft budget to politicians and economists in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, on Monday.

“Drawing up this budget came in difficult circumstances,” he said. “The principal reason for our financial crisis last year was the lack of payment of foreign financial aid that was counted on.”

The draft specified the need for $1.4 billion in “external financing.”

On Friday, following a three-day visit by US President Barack Obama to Jerusalem and Ramallah, a top official in Washington said the US had unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority which had been frozen by Congress for months.

And Israel is to immediately unblock revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, frozen last year in retaliation for the Palestinians winning upgraded UN status, the Israeli premier’s office said on Monday.

Total 2013 expenditure, including on development, would amount to almost $3.9 billion, the Palestinian draft budget said.

The government’s recurring deficit would be just over $1.0 billion, and its total deficit stands at $1.4 billion.

Of $350 million to be spent on “development,” $300 million would need to come from abroad, according to the draft.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446114

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Arab Summit issues Doha Declaration

27 March 2013

The 24th Arab League Summit released Tuesday its Doha Declaration, which was read by the Deputy Arab-League Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Helli.

Qatar News Agency (QNA) said that the statement welcomed the initiative made by His Highness  the Emir of Qatar Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to establish a fund to support Al Quds worth one billion dollars to finance projects that conserve the Arab and Islamic identity of Jerusalem and aid the Palestinian people in facing the policies of the Israeli occupation.

The council also welcomed the State of Qatar’s contribution with a quarter of that sum. The Arab League called on the international community to work immediately on achieving fair peace that guarantees Israeli withdrawal from All Palestinian land as well as Arab land in Golan Heights. They also called for establishing an independent Palestinian state based on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital. They demanded that the United Nations Security Council takes all the necessary measures. The Council also expressed their rejection of having Israel declare itself a Jewish state. They also condemned illegal Israeli settlement activity taking place on Palestinian land including East Jerusalem, the council accused Israel of trying to change the demographic in those areas. They said that the settlement activities were in clear violation of Security Council resolutions no. 465 of 1980 and 497 of 1981.

The council also greeted the Palestinian people for their resistance of Israeli occupation policies. The council also expressed its support to the resistance in Gaza strip and voiced their solidarity with Palestinian prisoners going on hunger strikes in Israeli jails.

The declaration appealed to the Palestinian leadership, all factions and national forces to restore national unity in order to maintain the gains of the Palestinian people and to continue to resist Israeli occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with sovereignty and its capital in East Jerusalem. The declaration called for the implementation of the Cairo Agreement signed in May 4, 2011, and the Doha Declaration issued on 6 February 2012. The declaration extended thanks to the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Qatar for their tireless efforts to achieve the Palestinian national reconciliation, and call on them to continue their efforts in order to achieve the higher interests of the Palestinian people.

The declaration expressed full commitment to the reconstruction of Gaza and end the suffering of its citizens and to provide a decent life for them, and call on the international community to work to speed an end to the siege on the Gaza Strip and the opening of the crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip.

It also expressed full support for fair and legitimate rights of the Syrian people to restore full occupied Syrian Arab Golan to the line of June 1967, according to the international legitimacy resolutions in this regard. It expressed rejection of all actions taken by the Israeli occupation authorities to change the legal status, natural and demographic of the Syrian Arab Golan, as a violation and breach of international law and the UN Charter which considered the Israeli decision to annex the occupied Syrian Golan as illegal and null and void and as a serious violation of UN Security Council Resolution 496 (1981). The declaration also reiterated support for the steadfastness of the Arab citizens in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan, and stand by their side in their opposition to the Israeli occupation and its repressive practices, and support their determination to hold on to their land and their Syrian Arab identity.

The declaration emphasized full solidarity with Libya in its right to preserve its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and expressed rejection of any form of foreign interference in its internal affairs. It welcomed the outcome of elections of the NCP held in July 2012 and the support for the Government’s efforts to achieve national reconciliation and complete the building of state institutions and accelerate the removal of all the economic and social damage resulting from humanitarian policies of the former regime.

Full report at:

1.asp?xfile=data/nationgeneral/2013/March/nationgeneral_March523.xml&section=nationgeneral

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Samantha Cameron visits Syrian refugees on her first solo foreign trip

27 Mar 2013

In her first solo foreign trip, Mrs Cameron visited refugees in the Bekaa Valley, in the north of Lebanon, and met victims of the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The Prime Minister's wife spoke to children who had witnessed the violent deaths of their parents and siblings and afterwards said it was “difficult to take in”.

Samantha Cameron meets Syrian refugee children at one of Save the Children's specialist centres in Lebanon (Jonathan Hyams/Save The Children)

Mrs Cameron, who is an ambassador for Save the Children, visited the refugees yesterday and is now back in the UK.

She was visibly emotional as she spoke to a mother whose three-year-old son was killed by a sniper in front of her other six children.

“It’s so shocking,” Mrs Cameron said afterwards. “It’s difficult to take it in. Her three-year-old son was shot by a sniper at a checkpoint - a sniper aiming at a car full of seven children. I mean, it’s just… you can’t imagine why that could happen.”

Samantha Cameron meets a Syrian mother whose baby is suffering from a broken leg in a refugee settlement in Lebanon, close to the Syria border (Jonathan Hyams/Save The Children)

She also spoke to a ten-year old girl who told how she witnessed her mother die during a shell attack on their home.

Full report at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9956688/Samantha-Cameron-visits-Syrian-refugees-on-her-first-solo-foreign-trip.html

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Mideast Asia

 

Little optimism for breakthrough in Thailand’s forgotten jihad

March 27, 2013

DUKU: Rusnee Maeloh slept through the 30-minute gunfight that killed her husband, but her neighbours in the notoriously violent Bacho district of southern Thailand heard distant explosions and feared the worst.

Mahrosu Jantarawadee, 31, was Rusnee’s childhood sweetheart, the father of their two children, and part of a secretive Islamic insurgency fighting a brutal nine-year war with the Thai government that has killed more than 5,300 people.

Mahrosu died with 15 other militants while attacking a nearby military base in Bacho district on Feb 13. Acting on a tip-off, Thai marines repelled the attack with rifle fire and anti-personnel mines. “He died a martyr,” said Rusnee, 25, dabbing her eyes with a black headscarf.

Just over two weeks later, the Thai government agreed on peace talks in neighbouring Malaysia with the insurgent group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (National Revolutionary Front, or BRN). Although the first round is set for Thursday, there has been no halt in the fighting and people in the region see no early end to one of Southeast Asia’s bloodiest conflicts.

In a rare interview, an operative for BRN-Coordinate, a faction blamed for most of the southern violence, told Reuters the talks were “meaningless” and “tens of thousands” of Malay-Muslims would fight on.

An older generation of insurgent leaders has struggled to control young jihadis like Mahrosu, said the operative, nicknamed Abdulloh. This raises doubts over the BRN’s ability to meet the Thai government’s key initial demand at the talks: stop the escalating bloodshed.

Thailand is dominated by Thai-speaking Buddhists, but its three southernmost provinces are home to mostly Malay-speaking Muslims. They have chafed under the rule of faraway Bangkok since Thailand annexed the Islamic sultanate of Patani a century ago. The latest and most serious violence erupted in the early 2000s.

“This round of talks will not result in any formal deals,” said Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), Thailand’s lead agency in the process. “We will ask them to reduce violence towards certain groups and soft targets.”

More insurgents were killed during the Bacho raid than in any other single clash since April 2004. But even this rare defeat revealed their growing military sophistication, the depth of local support they enjoy, and their links to Malaysia - long an insurgent safe haven and source of bomb-making materials and other supplies, say security analysts.

Thailand’s southern provinces are only a few hundred miles from Phuket and other tourist destinations, but the insurgency is poorly understood, partly because it doesn’t fit the pattern. Long-running sub-national conflicts are usually found in weak or failing states, not along the border of two prospering allies in a fast-developing region.

Thailand’s home-grown jihad also rarely blips on the global security radar. That’s because the militants have no proven operational link to Al Qaeda or regional terror groups such as the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiya, although they do boast a secretive, cell-like structure and are partly driven by post-9/11 jihadi zeal.

The militants, who number in the low thousands, are ranged against 66,000 soldiers, police and paramilitary forces spread across a conflict area half the size of Israel. Like their US counterparts in Afghanistan, Thai soldiers face a ruthless enemy sheltering amid a largely hostile Muslim population. Their pitiless response has further fueled the insurgency. The dispersal by soldiers and armed police of a protest at Tak Bai town in 2004 led to deaths of 85 Muslim men and boys, mostly by suffocation, after they were stacked four or five deep in army trucks. Mahrosu Jantarawadee symbolises the divide between Muslims and Buddhists in southern Thailand - a martyr to some, a murderer to others. He was born, killed and buried in Bacho, an area of rice fields and rubber plantations the Thai military calls a “red zone” of insurgent activity.

Hundreds of mourners cried “God is great!” at his funeral in Duku village. Mahrosu’s family and neighbours believe he died while fighting a holy war against a Thai government whose harsh assimilation policies have suppressed their religion, language and culture.

Mahrosu is no hero to the authorities or to the relatives of his alleged victims. The Thai military links him to an eight-year streak of gun and bomb attacks that killed at least 25 people. Sometimes, said the military, he shot his victims and then set their bodies alight. His mug shot appears on posters at heavily fortified police stations across the region.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\27\story_27-3-2013_pg4_7

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Palestinians hail UN call for end to Israeli settlements

27 March 2013

JERUSALEM: The Palestine Liberation Organization lauded yesterday UN condemnation of Israeli settlement building, but slammed the US position on human rights “violations” by the Jewish state.

“On behalf of the Palestinian people and leadership, I would like to express great appreciation and gratitude” to the UN’s Human Rights Council, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement. “We appreciate your support and value your courage to stand behind your convictions.”

The UNHRC presented a report to diplomats this month which said Israel must immediately begin withdrawing its settlers from the Palestinian territories.

The body also passed resolutions slamming settlement building and abuses against Palestinians, all of which the US voted against.

“The United States once again demonstrated a total disregard for Palestinian rights and the requirements of peace,” Ashrawi said.

It “voted against justice, and for impunity, in the face of the most egregious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law... it voted against peace.”

The PLO’s comments came several days after a visit by Barack Obama to Israel and the Palestinian territories, his first as US president.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/446130

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Southeast Asia

 

Human Rights Watch Demands SBY End Church Demolitions

March 27, 2013

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to order local governments not to demolish houses of worship and also to revoke discriminatory regulations on religious structures.

On Thursday local authorities in Bekasi, just east of Jakarta, used an excavator to demolish the new red-brick structure of the Batak Protestant Christian Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan, or HKBP).

Officials ordered the church demolished for its lack of building permit on the request of the Islamic People’s Forum in Taman Sari (Forum Umat Islam Taman Sari), a militant Islamist organization.

“The government’s demolition of a church in Bekasi not only violates religious freedom, but it will fan the flames of religious division in Indonesia,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in an official statement.

“President Yudhoyono needs to reverse the decision, compensate the congregation and publicly order an end to the destruction of houses of worship.”

A video of the demolition shows church members crying and screaming, begging local officials not to demolish their church while hundreds of police and army officers guard the area. Muslim militants standing outside the church cheer the excavator and shout Koranic verses when the building is demolished.

The demolition of the HKBP church appears to be the first as a consequence of protests by Islamist organizations, Human Rights Watch said in its statement.

Christian churches in traditionally Muslim-majority areas in Indonesia have found it increasingly difficult to obtain permits, Human Rights Watch said.

As a result, Christian groups have expressed concern about the possibility of additional demolitions. In Bekasi alone, more than 20 HKBP churches operate without building permits.

The Bekasi district government has also refused to issue a building permit to HKBP Filadelfia, which the Indonesian Supreme Court ruled has met all of the legal requirements for construction.

“Demolishing a religious minority’s house of worship because of opposition from the majority creates a dangerous precedent,” Adams said. “The government may be unleashing forces that it will not be able to control.”

Indonesian regulations on the construction of houses of worship discriminate against religious minorities, Human Rights Watch said.

A 1969 decree authorizes local governments to require that “a house of worship may only be built with the approval of a regional administrator,” such as the provincial governor, a district chief or a mayor.

It also states that “if necessary, the head of the government could ask the opinion of religious organizations and clerics” before a house of worship is built.

While such regulations ostensibly apply to all religions, in practice they have generally been used to discriminate against religious minorities.

Christians, Indonesia’s largest religious minority, have faced extensive difficulties in securing church construction permits in some parts of the country.

Especially problematic are areas where there has been recent demographic change, such as an increase in the Christian population in traditionally Muslim areas, including West Java, where Bekasi is located.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/human-rights-watch-demands-sby-end-church-demolitions/582203

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Jakarta Police Not Ruling Out Deploying Densus in Hunt for Sleman Jail Assassins

Carlos Paath & Farouk Arnaz

March 27, 2013

Calls are mounting for the police to unleash their elite counterterrorism unit, Densus 88, to hunt down the team that carried out a clinical assassination of four men being held in jail for the death of an Army Special Forces officer.

Neta S. Pane, the head of Indonesia Police Watch, said on Tuesday that it would take swift action against the perpetrators by Densus 88 to allay public concerns about a security breakdown between the police and the military.

“We can’t allow certain groups to get away with the summary execution of individuals who they don’t like, especially if they’re already in police custody,” he said in Jakarta.

“IPW believes that at this point, it would be easy for the police to address the recent attack [by deploying Densus].”

The attack in question occurred on Saturday morning at the Cebongan detention center in Sleman district, Yogyakarta.

A group of 17 heavily armed men stormed the facility, disarmed the police officers on duty, shot and killed four detainees who had only recently been transferred there, then took the CCTV recordings before making a clean exit.

Those killed, identified as Hendrik Angel Sahetapy, Gamaliel Yermiayanto Riwu, Yohanes Juan Mambait and Adrianus Candra Galaga, had been arrested for the alleged murder of First Sgt. Heru Santosa, a member of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus), at a nightclub on March 19.

The clinical nature of the assassination, combined with the fact that only Santosa’s suspected killers were targeted, has sparked speculation that the incident was a revenge attack by Kopassus, but officials have denied the allegation.

IPW’s Neta said that given the apparent high level of skill displayed by the perpetrators, sending Densus 88 to go after them made sense.

“Densus has a reputation for being very effective in hunting down dangerous terrorists and uncovering their plots. That’s why the police need to assign them to the Selman case as soon as possible,” he said.

“It will take the kind of professionalism that Densus is known for to get to the bottom of this case.”

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/police-not-ruling-out-deploying-densus-in-hunt-for-sleman-jail-assassins/582252

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Indonesian Education System Fails Students

Abdul Qowi Bastian

March 27, 2013

Shanghai. Indonesian students need to revolutionize their learning approach to compete as multinational companies battle it out to lure the top talent from emerging markets, experts contend.

In 2008, the German chemicals giant Henkel created an international business game called the Henkel Innovation Challenge. The task for participants in this year’s competition was to develop a concept for an innovative and sustainability-related product according to the vision and market needs in 2050.

Eighteen student teams, each consisting of two students, from all over the world were summoned to Shanghai to develop innovative ideas for one of the company’s business areas: home care products, beauty care products and adhesive technologies.

This year marks the second time that teams from Indonesia are participating in the competition. Last year, a team from the University of Indonesia won third prize during the HIC 5 Southeast Asia National Finals. The students, Rena Carissa and Wiwin Wijaya, came up with an idea for a dry-cleaning shampoo, suitable for all hair types, that would dry upon usage, without the need to rinse with water.

This year, however, no Indonesian teams managed to replicate the success.

“In selecting the teams for the Southeast Asia Finals, we use strict evaluation criteria which include uniqueness of the idea, customer orientation and clarity and logic of the idea concept,” Allan Yong, the president of Henkel Indonesia, told the Jakarta Globe in a written statement.

“[The Indonesian] team submitted a very good concept, but we later found that the idea was not original. After much deliberation, we decided not to send a team from Indonesia.”

Utomo Dananjaya, an education expert at Paramadina University in Jakarta, said the problem lay with the country’s education system for failing to properly nurture its students’ creativity.

“Our education system heavily relies on memorizing texts. It doesn’t let the students’ ideas flow, and it dampens their creativity,” he said.

Memorization as a learning method is outdated and should be replaced with an approach that fosters the students’ creativity, he argued.

The Indonesian education system, Utomo went on, relies on one-way teaching with no interaction. It cultivates the students to be obedient, to regurgitate what the teachers say and does not allow them to think outside the box, he said.

“How can a student breed an original idea if, in order to excel in university, what they do in class is to memorize?” he said.

To prepare talented Indonesian youths to compete in the global market, what the nation needs is an education reform that strongly emphasizes reasoning and allows the students to think critically, and not simply to memorize.

“Then they are ready for work in a global environment,” Utomo said.

Sumarjono Suwito, the chairman of the Indonesian International Education Consultants Association, said corruption was also hampering developments in the national education sector.

The government has allocated Rp 286.85 trillion ($30.4 billion) for education this year, or 20 percent of the state budget, but no major changes have been made.

“The problem with education in Indonesia is that we don’t know where this money is going,” Sumarjono said.

He also stressed that the level of innovation in Indonesia was still low. He said it was regrettable that the government had overlooked the importance of the research and development sector.

“Look at how many of our bright minds have migrated overseas because they’re not supported in their own country,” Sumarjono said.

He added that to succeed economically, Indonesia should place greater emphasis on research and development.

The right mentoring

In China, meanwhile, Niels Henning Adler and Susann Tiffany Leuchtmann admitted to feeling a sense of both excitement and nervousness on a winter day in Shanghai last week.

Having prepared for this day since September last year, the pair, both business students from Germany, set their eyes on the prospect of winning the Henkel Innovation Challenge.

During the final presentation, Adler and Leuchtmann addressed China’s severe pollution problem that, based on their forecast, would only worsen by 2050.

“In 2050, oxygen will become scarce. Our vision, thus, is to produce more oxygen … And make Chinese [people] enjoy being outside,” Adler told the jury made up of Henkel’s top managers.

They named their product, Syoss Breathe, a line of hair care products that would allow human hair to produce oxygen when exposed to sunlight, along the same principle of photosynthesis used by plants. The extra fresh air, they argued, would improve the quality of life, particularly in urban living environments.

Later that night, at a fashionable gala dinner and awards ceremony, the duo’s idea saw off the concepts submitted by their international rivals to secure the first place in the competition.

“We are absolutely thrilled to win,” Adler said after the awards. “But what’s more valuable to us than first prize is the international network of Henkel managers and fellow students that we have built up here in Shanghai over the last three days.”

The international finals ran from March 18-20 in Shanghai, home of last year’s competition winner. The winner received an around-the-world flight ticket and travel vouchers worth 10,000 euros ($12,870). The first and second runners-up, from Russia and Belgium respectively, also received travel vouchers.

The three winning teams will also get an opportunity to personally meet Kasper Rorsted, the Henkel chief executive.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/indonesian-education-system-fails-students/582229

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Europe

 

UK loses appeal to deport Jordanian preacher Abu Qatada

LONDON, March 27, 2013

The British government has lost its appeal against an immigration tribunal’s decision allowing a radical Muslim cleric to remain in Britain.

Britain wants to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he was convicted in absentia for terror plots in 1999 and 2000.

Successive British governments have been trying since 2001 to remove Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman.

But the man described by prosecutors as a key al-Qaeda operative in Europe has successfully fought deportation in British and European courts.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/uk-loses-appeal-to-deport-jordanian-preacher-abu-qatada/article4554553.ece

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/52-armed-taliban-insurgents-killed,-45-wounded-and-21-arrested/d/10914

 

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