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Islamic World News ( 24 Nov 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Flogging for Fornication “Inhumane and Degrading Violence Against Women”: UN High Commissioner tells Maldives Majlis

Would be Afghan suicide bomber tells of Taliban lure

Promotion of Sufis’ teachings stressed for restoring peace

Alternate media in Kashmir to the rescue

Leave now: Tahrir Sq tells army

Finally, Saleh's 33-yr rule to end

Guru Teg Bahadur was the first martyr for human rights

President, VP of UAE felicitate Islamic World leaders on new Hijri year

Pak Hindus Want to Make India Their Home

US looks forward to working with Sherry Rehman, strengthen ties

Indonesian teens jailed as people smugglers in Australia

Iraq executes 16 ‘Qaeda’ members for murder

Ten Afghans killed' after convoy attacked in Farah

Taliban attack DI Khan police station, two policemen killed

Orakzai clash kills 10 Taliban

Syrian forces kill four ahead of Arab League talks

NATO oil tanker bombed

Ready to depose on Modi role in Sarabhai's petition: Bhatt

Omar Abdullah ready to amend law to protect Army in Kashmir

Malaysia repeals laws that imprison without trial

With dream in reach, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood stumbles

Bahrain king vows reforms after panel report

Barack Obama urges Yemen to implement 'historic transition'

Don’t give in to fanatical minority”, Reporters without Borders urges Maldives government

HRCM claims to have received 500 complaints of human rights violations in Maldives

Shia protests renewed in Saudi Arabia

Probe into 'honour killing' theory for couple's murder

Weakened Pakistani Taliban limp into peace talks

Pak-China relations not a threat to other nations: Kayani

Sindh and Baluchistan reject allocation of UN funds

Lawmakers in Gilgit raise alarm over sectarian violence

Pakistan, UK commit to joint challenge of terrorism

Nawaz file application to include Haqqani in ECL

Palestinian rivals make fresh attempt at unity

Egypt army stranded between reform and interests

Lebanon rejects Arab sanctions on Syria

No Iranian role found in Bahrain unrest

No arrests made in Imran Farooq murder case: British home secretary

Was David Headley a double agent, serving the US and ISI simultaneously?

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau



Flogging for Fornication “Inhumane and Degrading Violence Against Women”: UN High Commissioner tells Maldives Majlis

By Ahmed Naish

November 24th, 2011

The Maldives’ peaceful transition to democracy has “set an important precedent in the Asia-Pacific region and serves as a beacon in the broader Muslim world,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in parliament today.

In a keynote address titled ‘Responding to the Past while Safeguarding the Future: the Challenge of Protecting Human Rights in the context of Democratic Transition,’ Pillay observed that as democratic transitions “are always fragile,” the recent history of the Maldives contained lessons for newly-established democracies.

Pillay praised the reform milestones achieved by the Maldives since 2003, including the establishment of a Human Rights Commission, the introduction of political parties, accession to main international human rights instrument, the drafting of a “new and very progressive constitution” and the first multi-party elections that followed its ratification in August 2008.

“This year, we have witnessed the same strong aspirations for democracy and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa which have brought dramatic and positive changes to the political environment of the region,” she said.

“After decades of oppression and systemic human rights violations, men and women of different ages, political orientations and social origins have come together in an unprecedented movement to bring about political change and to demand social justice.”

Strong and stable institutions

Pillay noted that successful transition to a functioning democracy was “very much contingent on the existence of independent institutions” and separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary.

While acknowledging that the new institutions started working “with limited resources and within a volatile and politicised environment,” Pillay said it was imperative for all parties to “embrace the path of reform and develop a culture of dialogue, tolerance and mutual respect.”

She urged parliament to enact long-delayed legislation and the judiciary to be “independent and forward-looking in applying the law in accordance with the constitution and international human rights obligations of the Maldives.”

The executive should meanwhile “respect the roles and independence of the other arms of the state and ensure effective implementation of the rule of law.”

Islam and democracy

The reform movement of the Maldives and public uprisings of the Arab Spring has established “the congruence between rights guaranteed by Islam and universally recognised human rights,” Pillay stated, which is “proof that Islam is not incompatible with human rights and democracy.”

She welcomed the ‘House of Wisdom’ initiative led by the Maldives, “which will help to promote an open and constructive debate, both inside and outside the Maldives, on how to reconcile international human rights standards and Islamic law.”

Social media

A third lesson for democratic transitions, said Pillay, was use of the internet and new social media to mobilise the public.

Activists, journalists and bloggers in the Maldives “opened new spaces for debate,” she observed, noting the changes to “repressive habits of the past” through decriminalising defamation and removing restriction to freedom of assembly.

The Associated Press (AP) however reported yesterday that Pillay expressed concern with reports of rising religious intolerance in the Maldives during a meeting with President Mohamed Nasheed.

The AP referred to the vandalism of monuments donated by Pakistan and Sri Lanka for the recently-concluded SAARC summit over allegedly “idolatrous” and un-Islamic imagery.

Women’s rights

While women were involved in the political mobilisation of countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Pillay stressed that “rights and opportunities for women in these societies still face many challenges.”

“I strongly believe that democracy for the half the people is no democracy at all,” she asserted.

Acknowledging efforts by both previous and current administrations to promote gender equality and the removal of the gender bar for public office in the 2008 constitution, Pillay however noted that discrimination against women and girls continued in the country.

“A powerful illustration of this trend is the flogging of women found guilty of extra-marital sex,” she explained. “This practice constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women, and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country.”

Pillay urged the authorities to foster national dialogue and debate “on this issue of major concern,” and called on parliament to pass legislation on domestic violence as well as other laws to ensure women’s rights.

In response to a Minivan News report in 2009 of an 18 year-old woman fainting after a 100 lashes, Amnesty International called for a moratorium on the “inhumane and degrading punishment.”

Of the 184 people sentenced to public flogging in 2006, 146 were female, making it nine times more likely for women to be punished.

“I also urge you to discuss the withdrawal of the remaining reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women concerning equality in marriage,” Pillay said. “These are necessary steps, not only for protecting the human rights of women and girls in Maldives, but securing Maldives’ transition.”

On the problem of migrant workers in the country, Pillay urged the government to enforce the non-discrimination clause in the constitution by adopting a comprehensive law and ratifying the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.’

Transitional justice

Lastly, the UN High Commissioner observed that new democracies faced a common problem of transitional justice or “establishing accountability for past human rights violations.”

“Addressing the past is often a complicated political dilemma, but we should never lose sight of the right victims have to truth, justice and redress,” she said.

Without coming to terms with human rights abuses and injustices committed by ousted regimes, said Pillay, “transitional democracies will face continued challenges in the path towards democracy, respect for human rights and ending impunity.”

Referring to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, Pillay revealed that she urged President Mohamed Nasheed to “lead a national consultation on this important subject.”

Pillay concluded her address by predicting that the Maldives “will increasingly have a special role to play in the region and the Muslim world as it has pioneered a democratisation process that is both modern and Islamic.”

“I firmly believe that the Maldives can make history as a moderate Islamic democracy. This opportunity cannot be missed, for the benefit of Maldives and of the wider region,” she said.

“Difficult road ahead”

Pillay, a South African national of Tamil descent who served as President of the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda for eight years, today concluded her three-day stay in the first-ever visit to the Maldives by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, in his remarks after the speech, Speaker Abdulla Shahid said the parliament was “honoured to have you here, a person who has fought tremendously for human rights in your country and is committed to the promotion of human rights all over the world.”

“As you have rightly said, Maldives has pioneered many of the experiences that the Arab Spring is spreading through the Arabian Peninsula and the North African region,” he said.

“I can assure you, Madam High Commissioner that we will not let our guard down. We know how difficult the job has been. We know how difficult the road ahead of us is. And we will continue to work in the national interest of this nation and we will succeed in this endeavor.”

He added that the leadership of the legislature, judiciary and executive is “fully committed” to upholding the liberal constitution of 2008, which is “a living document which we are going through every day.”

“The experiences that we have had are strengthening the democratic structure of this country,” he said.


Would-be Afghan suicide bomber tells of Taliban lure

November 24, 2011

KABUL: Islamuddin never imagined joining the Taliban to become a suicide bomber but things changed for the teenage Afghan farmer when he said his best friend was shot dead by US troops in a night raid.

In a rare insight into the mind of an Afghan suicide bomber, Islamuddin told reporters the shooting 18 months ago was a turning point in his decision to join the Taliban – and ultimately, to train as a suicide bomber. “I was really upset and it had a bad impact on me. I became alone. My work was not enjoyable anymore. The whole world became boring for me,” he said.

Four months later, Islamuddin, 17, was arrested for planning to blow himself up in an attack on a US convoy in Kunduz province. He is now serving a four and a half year sentence in a juvenile detention centre. Islamuddin’s mother, who asked media not to release her name, said her son changed after his best friend, who was also his nephew, died – and that the insurgents took advantage of his grief to recruit him.

“Whenever (Islamuddin) comes into my mind I am upset,” she said. “He was young and was deceived by the Taliban.” Suicide bombings – one of the main methods the Taliban use to target coalition and Afghan forces – are a relatively recent tactic. The first suicide bombing by an Afghan was in 2004.

The majority of victims have been Afghan civilians. Many Afghans are horrified by the bombings and they have been declared un-Islamic in Fatwas by senior clerics.

But numbers of the attacks have been steadily rising. In the past six months, Afghan police have arrested at least 20 would-be bombers. Many get training abroad, or are foreigners, according to the Interior Ministry. Afghan suicide bombers can be motivated by a lack of jobs, education, financial and religious rewards, opposition to foreign troops, as well as revenge for the death of relatives or friends, according to academic and UN reports. Islamuddin’s nephew’ also 17, was killed in a night raid, long one of the most hated foreign military tactics in Afghanistan, that critics say often claim innocent victims but the military say are an important, and precise, tool.

A spokesman for NATO did not confirm the raid. He identified a possible match that took place in the Dash-i-Archi district in northern Kunduz, a province where violence has increased in the past year, but said the only man killed was an armed insurgent. Islamuddin said the two teenagers, who worked on farms together earning about 9,000 Afghanis ($190) a month, knew members of the Taliban, but were not active members of the insurgent group.

“Sometimes the Taliban came to have dinner with us, but then they went back,” Islamuddin said. Then Taliban commanders pinned the raid that killed his friend on the Americans and cajoled Islamuddin into joining a madrasas – or an Islamic seminary – where Afghan Taliban provided food, religious instruction and lessons on attacks. “They visited me every day and encouraged me to take revenge,” he said. His first test was to target a policeman, by planting a mine under a bridge. Reuters\11\24\story_24-11-2011_pg7_27


Promotion of Sufis’ teachings stressed for restoring peace

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD, November 24, 2011: A one-day national conference on “Sufism as mainspring of peace, love and harmony” opened on Wednesday at Shakarparian under the aegis of Lok Virsa.

Federal Secretary for National Heritage and Integration Faridullah Khan graced the occasion as chief guest. In his opening remarks, the secretary said, “Sufi saints in the sub-continent have contributed significantly towards conveying message of peace, love and harmony among the masses. They played a most important role in spreading Islam and preserving the inner spirit of Islam all over the region. They were indeed the men of high moral characters. They stood side-by-side with the people in all trails and tribulation of the time. The concept of equality and brotherhood preached and these saints attracted the people in large”.

Now it is a dire need to highlight these contributions and teachings so that our younger generation should also be acquainted with them in the real sense, he added.

The chief guest congratulated Lok Virsa on this initiative and assured the participants every possible assistance from his ministry in this regard. He also expressed the hope that the participants would discuss the subject at length and make recommendations for a more cohesive and effective approach.

Lok Virsa Executive Director (ED) Khalid Javaid, in his welcoming speech, explained the objectives behind holding the conference. “In the current scenario of increasing hatreds, animosities and bloodletting, only Sufism could help to revive the culture of love, peace and interdependence. Lok Virsa, being the custodian of folk and traditional heritage of Pakistan, has decided to help to revive the culture of Sufism in the country. We will keep on doing different activities falling in our purview to help support our cause. This conference is a step forward in this direction”.

The ED stressed upon the participating scholars to highlight the message of great Sufis to help reduce the day-by-day increasing tensions and animosities across all the divisions and ultimately to guide all the relevant institutions on how to revive the “Sufi culture” in the given scenario. “In the first stage for the said conference, we are going to delimit ourselves to few Sufi names from across the country. These include Baba Bulleh Shah, Khawja Farid, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Rehman Baba, Mast Tawakli and Mian Muhammad Buksh”, he maintained.

A mystical concert with popular folk singer Sanam Marvi was also an integral part of the conference. A large number of audiences from different lifestyles attended the concert and praised for the thrilling performances of the artist.\11\24\story_24-11-2011_pg11_8


Alternate media in Kashmir to the rescue



The press across the world is known as the fourth estate of democracy, but in Kashmir, like every other thing about democracy, this saying too changes. From prominent newspapers to the lesser known ones, news in Kashmir comes in shades, and they’re mostly shades of mendacity.

The burning issue of the unmarked mass graves and the indictment of a senior police officer in a fake encounter case, which were both broken out to the public by Indian Express, were barely reported by local newspapers. I don’t entirely blame newspapers for producing inaccurately; neither do I feel that the reason is their incompetence to report. But for reasons better known to them, people don’t always see what they should in newspapers across Kashmir.

Without defaming organisations in the valley, there are actually too many newspapers, this only confuses people further. One sees exceptional reporting when a new organisation pops up, only to become like the rest with time. And then, all efforts by them seem more like an invite for advertisers.

When I discussed the matter with a local reporter, he was of the opinion that people like me, who run an alternate media source have no right to question the media.

The bulk of the news comes from the national media of India instead of the local media of the valley. Tehelka has reported some serious issues of the valley and The Indian Express has almost all investigative stories in its credit.

When the situation, in any region, takes such a turn then it sprouts a new medium – alternative media. It happens mostly in every part of the world, and is more often than not silenced. In Kashmir, alternative media has earned it’s credibility from its readers as what we publish is hardly ever seen in mainstream newspapers or magazines.

Lately websites, blogs, social media services, video banks, email groups, twitter and various other public forums that are giving a voice to the unheard stories of Kashmiris are flourishing. However, this is done at the cost of high risk.

Often website owners are threatened and abused, their public image is destroyed, making the job that much difficult.

For Full Report:


Leave now: Tahrir Sq tells army

David D Kirkpatrick

NYT News Service CAIRO: Nov 24, 2011, Egypt careened into another day of crisis on Wednesday with no end in sight as thousands of people occupying Tahrir Square jeered at a deal struck by the Muslim Brotherhood and the military that would speed up the transition to civilian rule on a timetable favoring the Islamist movement. Crowds in the square were swelling by midday as the protesters appeared to have opened a second front in their five-day-old assault on the interior ministry, attacking it from two directions.

Thick clouds of tear gas swirled as security forces fought back amid signs that the protesters were growing increasingly organized. They expanded the network of field hospitals to treat the injured, including setting up a tent in the middle of the square. Demonstrators cordoned off broad avenues for ambulances or motorcycles serving as ambulances to come and go from the front lines. A bloodmobile for donations occasionally visited the square, and on the ground protesters had laid out a blanket arrayed with a display of the tear gas canisters that security forces had fired.


Finally, Saleh's 33-yr rule to end

Reuters | Nov 24, 2011,

Fate Sealed: Saleh signs power-transfer deal in Riyadh on Wednesday.

DUBAI: Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a Gulf initiative on Wednesday to hand over power to his deputy as part of a proposal to end months of protests that have pushed the Arab country to the brink of civil war.

Saudi state television broadcast live images of Saleh signing the accord in the presence of Saudi King Abdullah and Crown Prince Nayef.Yemeni opposition officials signed the accord after president Saleh.

It was the fourth attempt to wrap up a power transfer accord that Saleh backed out of on three previous occasions at the last minute, fuelling turmoil that has bolstered al-Qaida militants next door to Saudi Arabia, the worlds No 1 oil producer.

Activists who have camped in central Sanaa have demanded Saleh end his 33 years of rule now. Government troops skirmished with gunmen loyal to a powerful opposition tribal leader in the capital and some clashes were reported in the southern city of Taiz.

For Full Report:


Guru Teg Bahadur was the first martyr for human rights

I P Singh, TNN

JALANDHAR, Nov 24, 2011,: As the martyrdom day of ninth Sikh master, Guru Teg Bahadur, is being observed on Wednesday, only a few may know that he was the first martyr for human rights, who attained martyrdom for defending the rights of followers of a different faith to practice their faith.

It was around a century before the popular quotation, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", attributed to French writer, deist and philosopher Voltaire, that the ninth master demonstrated it literally.

Ironically, this statement became more popular in the world than its real demonstration, which preceded it a century ago in the Indian subcontinent.

"Guru Teg Bahadur was undisputedly the first martyr for human rights. His martyrdom was unparalleled in world history as never before somebody had laid down life to defend the right of followers of another faith to practice their faith," said former IAS and Sikh scholar, Gurtej Singh.

"It was his martyrdom in 1675 that forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam under the rule of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb could be checked," he said.

After guru Teg Bahadur laid down his life, Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt, heading a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits, had approached the Guru to protect them from forcible conversion and later became a Khalsa. He then became Kirpa Singh and attained martyrdom in the battle of Chamkaur in presence of Guru Teg Bahadur's son and tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh. Later Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed his four sons for the righteous cause and to end tyranny.

For Full Report:


President, VP of UAE felicitate Islamic World leaders on new Hijri year


WAM Abu Dhabi, Nov 24th, 2011 (WAM) -- President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent cables of congratulations to kings, presidents and emirs of Arab and Islamic countries on the occasion of the new Hijri year.

Sheikh Khalifa wished good health and happiness to them and progress, prosperity and dignity to their people.

Similar cables were dispatched to the Arab and Muslim leaders by Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.


Pak Hindus Want to Make India Their Home


NEW DELHI | NOV 23, 2011, Perpetual fear of being targeted in their country has led a group of 140 visiting Pakistani Hindus to remain in India and seek shelter wanting to make Delhi their new home.

The group from Sindh province came to India on a tourist visa, which has since expired, and does not want to return to to their birthplace as they feel their future there will be in jeopardy.

Living in penury and with their visas having expired two months back, the 27 families from a village in Matiari district near Hyderabad feel they will be secure in India.

Currently living in tents put up by an organisation in Majnu Ka Tilla in north Delhi, the old, the young and the children have only one appeal to the Indian Government -- extend visas and give them proper accommodation in the city.

Having got tourist visas after waiting for several years, the group of 140 people crossed over to the Indian side from Pakistan by foot on September two and reached the capital two days later.

Ganga Ram, who is coordinating with the NGO, says they had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in this regard, but are yet to get a reply.

Making rotis in an open space surrounded by her family and friends at the camp, 20-year-old Jamuna narrated her tale of leaving Pakistan to India with a glimmer of hope that at least her children would be able to get better life and education in a peaceful environment.

"There is no religious freedom in Pakistan. We (Hindus) were never allowed to study. We have always been targeted. We were waiting for the Indian visa so that we can come here and settle in Hindustan. We just don't want to go back," she told.

The 27 families have been provided with separate tents, blankets and groceries by Dera Baba Dhunni Dass to make both ends meet. Some youths in the group have started working too in nearby shops.

Jamuna, who went in and out of school, said the families have left their home, land, cattle and other articles behind with just a prayer in their mind that "Indian people would help us."

40-year-old Chanderma summed up why they fled Pakistan.

"Children went to school but they were asked to sit separately. They were not even given water there," she claimed, adding, "We did not want to live in an environment of fear. That is why we came here through a tourist visa."

She says the community can take care of their expenses, but they want their visas to be extended and accommodation provided so that their children can resume their education.

The tale of 13-year-old Aarti would move anyone. She has never studied but learned Hindu mantras from her grand-parents and she teaches other kids in the camp when she finishes cooking meals for her family.

For Full Report:


US looks forward to working with Sherry Rehman, strengthen ties


WASHINGTON: November 24, 2011, The United States on Wednesday acknowledged the impending change of guard at the Pakistani embassy in Washington as they praised deposed Ambassador Husain Haqqani for his services, and announced their anticipation of working with Pakistan’s new Ambassador Sherry Rehman to continue strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

Spokesman Mark Toner said the State Department had not yet received formal notification from Pakistan about Haqqani’s resignation and his replacement, but acknowledged Islamabad’s appointment of democracy advocate Sherry Rehman as the new envoy.

“We certainly look forward to working together with her as we continue to build a strong, cooperative relationship between our two countries,” Toner said.

“We have appreciated Ambassador Haqqani’s strong support for US-Pakistan relations throughout his tenure.”

Haqqani was forced to quit on Tuesday following claims he was allegedly behind a memo asking then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admiral Mike Mullen, to help prevent a military coup after the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The memo was revealed by US businessman Mansoor Ijaz in an opinion piece in Britain’s Financial Times on October 10.

Haqqani has denied any wrongdoing, and his departure was seen as forced by the military with US-Pakistani relations as fraught as ever.


Indonesian teens jailed as people smugglers in Australia

Rebecca Henschke,


Falsely identified as adults through a controversial X-ray technique, three teenagers from Rote Island, East Indonesia, spent a year in an Australian jail on charges of people smuggling until it was proven they were underage.

Ose, 15, his 16-year-old cousin Ako and their 15-year-old friend John Ndollu were selling their catch at the local fish market in Kupang when they became unwittingly embroiled in a people smuggling ring.

“To tell you the absolute truth if I knew what was going to happen, I would have stayed here and kept fishing near my home. I was tricked,” says Ose.

Offered the equivalent of more than 10 years’ wages to work as cooks on a boat, the two cousins and their friend didn’t think twice about saying yes. Earning a monthly wage of Rp 25,000 (US$2.75), the prospect of a Rp 5 million paycheck was unbelievable.

The three teenagers are from Manamola, a remote village on the far-flung island of Rote and the closest Indonesian island to Australia. It is one of the poorest places in Indonesia and most people in the village live on one meal a day. 

Blinded by the offer, the Rote teenagers did not suspect anything was amiss until they were already on the boat. By then, they say, it was too late to renege on the deal.

“When I got to the place where the people were, I did not know what place it was. I was on the boat,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘What kind of place is this?’ But I just followed along. I went wherever they told me to go.”

The boat, carrying aslyum seekers, was at sea for less than 24 hours before they were arrested by Australian border patrol.

“We had no idea, so we kept very quiet because we had been tricked,” says Ose, explaining that they did not understand the charges until it was explained to them by an interpreter in Australia.

The youths were transferred to a juvenile immigration detention center in Darwin where they were held for nine months. It was there that the boys were assessed by immigration officials to determine if they were adults.

Under Australian law, adult people smugglers face mandatory five-year jail sentences, but minors are invariably sent back to their country without charge.

As the Indonesian teenagers did not have documents to prove they were minors, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) used the controversial wrist X-ray technique to determine their age. The results showed a high likelihood that the boys were over 18.

For Full Report:


Iraq executes 16 ‘Qaeda’ members for murder


 BAGHDAD, 24 November 2011 Iraq on Thursday executed 16 Al-Qaeda members convicted of involvement in the massacre of 70 people at a wedding, although they were officially put to death for other murders, a judicial spokesman said.

“Sixteen people were executed this morning,” Abdelsattar Birakdar told AFP, adding that “all of them were Al-Qaeda members.”

Birakdar said that the 16 were convicted of involvement in the massacre of 70 people at a wedding in 2006, but were were put to death for the sectarian murders of cooking gas salesmen.

Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said in May that “the gas sellers were from Sadr City in Baghdad. They used to come to the Taji area to sell gas to residents.”

The Sadr City district in the north of the capital is overwhelmingly Shia. Taji on the city outskirts is mainly Sunni Arab.

The gas sellers were killed in 2006 and their bodies set on fire, Atta said without specifying how many.

According to police, militants also carried out the systematic killing of a wedding party celebrating the marriage of a Shia man to a Sunni woman in the Taji area in 2006.

The murders came as confessional violence was raging across Iraq, with tens of thousands killed in 2006 and 2007.


'Ten Afghans killed' after convoy attacked in Farah

Militants have killed at least 10 Afghan employees of a private security company in the western province of Farah, local officials say.

A spokesman for the provincial governor told the BBC the convoy of vehicles was attacked in Bakwah district. Another 10 people were wounded.

Many of the vehicles, which were thought to be carrying supplies for Nato forces, were set on fire.

No group has said it carried out the attack.


Taliban attack DI Khan police station, two policemen killed

November 24, 2011

PESHAWAR: Terrorists on Wednesday attacked Pakistani security forces in the northwest, killing four officers in gunfights that underscore the potent rebel threat despite reported peace talks.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a pre-dawn assault on police in Dera Ismail Khan District, a flashpoint for sectarian violence, despite claims from some Taliban commanders to have begun talks with the government. “They killed two policemen and injured seven others,” district police officer Sohail Khaliq told AFP.

“There were around 10-12 militants, who came in vehicles and used grenades, rockets and firing during the attack. They fled in the same vehicles.”

Police official, Riaz Hussain, who was wounded in the attack, said the fight continued for more than 40 minutes.

“We suddenly heard a hand grenade blast, followed by the intense firing. We retaliated and fired back,” Hussain told AFP from his hospital bed, wounded by a bullet in his right shoulder. Terrorists opposed to the US-allied government, particularly the nebulous Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) network, have carried out bomb and gun attacks killing more than 4,700 people across Pakistan since July 2007. The army and main TTP spokesman strongly deny reports of peace talks between the militants and the government, and attacks and violence continue on a near-daily basis in northwest Pakistan.

“We accept the responsibility of the attack on a police station in Dera Ismail Khan (district),” the TTP’s main spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, told AFP. afp\11\24\story_24-11-2011_pg7_4


Orakzai clash kills 10 Taliban

November 24, 2011

ORAKZAI AGENCY: At least 10 terrorists were killed and six troops wounded in a fresh battle in the Upper Orakzai Agency on Wednesday. According to the officials, the clash erupted during a search operation in Khadezai area of the Upper Orakzai, leaving 10 terrorists dead. Six security personnel also incurred injuries. The injured were shifted to CMH Kohat. online\11\24\story_24-11-2011_pg7_7


Syrian forces kill four ahead of Arab League talks

November 24, 2011

DAMASCUS: Regime forces gunned down at least four civilians on Wednesday in the latest surge of violence in Syria, activists said on the eve of Arab League talks aimed at ending the bloodshed.

Syria’s northern Muslim neighbour Turkey warned meanwhile that the crisis was at “the point of no return” amid a growing chorus of international anger over the eight-month crackdown on dissent. But China described as “counterproductive” a UN human rights resolution condemning Assad’s regime over the crackdown, which the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people, mostly civilians.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the latest deaths on Wednesday included two people killed in Hayalin, in central Hama province, and another two in the nearby besieged city of Homs. On Tuesday, six children and five mutinous soldiers were among 34 people killed across the troubled country, the Observatory said in a statement received by reporters.

“Twenty-eight civilians were killed during search operations and indiscriminate firing from checkpoints manned by soldiers,” said the Britain-based organisation. Among Tuesday’s dead were 11 people killed in the besieged central city of Homs, six in southern Daraa, six in northwestern Idlib, three in Deir Ezzor to the east and two in central Hama.

For its part, the official SANA news agency reported Wednesday the funeral of nine soldiers, members of the security services and police in Homs, Daraa and suburbs of the Syrian capital. In Damascus, a rights activist group said it would sue the government for violating a law that allows authorities to detain people without charges for up to 60 days, saying many people had been locked up for more than five months. afp\11\24\story_24-11-2011_pg7_28


NATO oil tanker bombed

November 24, 2011

LANDIKOTAL: A NATO supply oil tanker hit an explosive device in Landikotal on Torkham Road near Michni check post here on Wednesday. According to the Khasadar sources, the driver and the conductor of the oil tanker fled unhurt from the scene. The superintendent of the Khasadar Force, Lahore Khan, along with his guards rushed to the site and supported the fire fighters to extinguish the fire. According to a few sources fourty-four thousand litres of fuel was burnt in the fire after the explosion whereas, some other sources said that usually most of the fuel remains safe after such explosions, which the drivers sell with the cooperation of the local touts of the oil supply contractors. However, it was not confirmed how much fuel in the said oil tanker was burnt. The traffic remained suspended for many hours on the main road due to the high intensity of fire. Later, the superintendent and the Khasadar Force of the Michni checkpost struggled to re-open the traffic on the Torkham Road. Staff report\11\24\story_24-11-2011_pg7_8


Ready to depose on Modi role in Sarabhai's petition: Bhatt

Thu Nov 24 2011,

Ahmadabad: Gujarat CM Narendra Modi had allegedly bribed Mallika Sarabhai's lawyer to derail her petition after 2002 riots. (IE photo)

Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt today told the Nanavati Commission that he was willing to depose with regard to the alleged role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in undermining a petition filed by social activist Mallika Sarabhai after the 2002 riots.

Bhatt said this when he was called by the two-member judicial panel, probing the post-Godhra riots, during hearing on an application of Sarabhai demanding Bhatt's cross-examination with regard to alleged role of Modi in sabotaging court proceedings.

During his questioning on May 23 by Central Relief Committee advocate B M Mangukia before the Commission, Bhatt alleged Modi had tried to undermine the proceeding in the petition filed in the Supreme Court.

"I have given my intent and shown willingness to depose with regard to Sarabhai's 2002 petition. If Commission wants to know the truth they can call me anytime," Bhatt said after the hearing was over.

For Full Report:


Omar Abdullah ready to amend law to protect Army in Kashmir

Sanjay Khajuria, TNN

AMMU Nov 24, 2011,: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, whose proposal to revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has become an Achilles heel for him, on Wednesday evening said that his government was ready to give legal protection to the Army by amending the state's criminal law, Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and bringing it at par with the central law, Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Interacting with media persons at a dinner hosted by him for his cabinet colleagues, legislators, bureaucrats, prominent citizens and media persons at State Guest House last night also stated that the final decision on the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) vested with the governor of the state, N N Vohra.

Omar said that Northern Command chief Lt Gen K T Parnaik had been requested to send his representative for a three-member delegation. The delegation will hold a discussion on the revocation of AFSPA in North and South blocks in New Delhi. The date for the delegation's visit to New Delhi will be finalized only after the conclusion of President Pratibha Patil's visit to Jammu.

For Full Report:


Malaysia repeals laws that imprison without trial

24 November 2011

Prime Minister Najib Razak's move comes ahead of a general election expected early next year

The Malaysian government is repealing emergency decrees that have been used to imprison thousands of people without trial.

Prime Minister Najib Razak also promised to remove a ban on students engaging in politics.

He rejected accusations by opposition politicians that his reforms amounted to false promises.

He said his government was taking a brave moral standard as part of a campaign to expand civil liberties.

"It is done because we believe in the maturity of Malaysians," he said.

Many opposition politicians are unconvinced. They say the reforms are an election manoeuvre aimed at winning back support for the governing coalition.

Some suspect the government of preparing to enact equally repressive new legislation to replace the old laws.

Analysts believe that Mr Najib is preparing to call an early general election next year and is anxious to present himself as a reformer following a backlash against the coalition at the last election.

Protest law

In the latest move, he announced the repeal of three emergency proclamations providing for detention without trial.

They date from the 1960s and 70s when Malaysia was racked by acute racial tensions between Muslim Malays and the ethnic Chinese population which at one point exploded into bloody riots.

Thousands of people are being held under the proclamations, according to a report on arbitrary detention by the UN Human Rights Council last year.

Campaigners say that many of those being held are petty criminals who have been denied due process.

The repeal of the decrees means that many can now expect to be released or sent for trial.

Mr Najib promised in September to repeal another law, the Internal Security Act, which has its origins in the anti-Communist legislation of the British colonial period and has been used for decades to detain and intimidate government critics.

The government also proposed a new law this week on the right to peaceful protest, but government critics reacted with outrage.

They said it was as repressive as the law it replaces as it bans all street demonstrations and gives police widespread powers to impose other restrictions.


With dream in reach, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood stumbles

Cairo: Nov 24 2011, The Muslim Brotherhood has stayed on the sidelines of this week's protests, hurting its image among key sectors of the Egyptian public. (AP)

For months, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has focused single-mindedly on this moment – parliamentary elections beginning Monday that the fundamentalist group is expected to dominate. Now it may be a pyrrhic victory.

The Brotherhood stayed on the sidelines of this week's protests by secular liberal groups demanding the country's military rulers step down, hurting its image among key sectors of the Egyptian public who accuse the group of siding with the generals and selling out democracy demands to gain power.

By staying out of the protests, "the Brotherhood has made it clear that they want elections because they want the seat of power, no matter what that seat looks like,'' said Abdel-Jalil el-Sharnoubi, who once headed the Brotherhood's website until he quit the group earlier this year in frustration with its leadership.

Ever since the Feb. 11 fall of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, fears have been growing among some Egyptians that the country would take a strong turn toward Islamic fundamentalism.

The Brotherhood was long repressed under Mubarak but it built up Egypt's largest and most disciplined political organization, with tens of thousands of members around the country, as well as a network of charities providing food, money and medical care to the poor. They have been campaigning furiously for months, while liberal, leftist and secular parties that arose since Mubarak's fall have been disorganized and divided, struggling to build up their national presence.

But the group's popularity has limits. Particularly, even many Egyptians who have no problem with greater religious conservatism in public life are suspicious that the Brotherhood is too authoritarian in its ways and too eager to rule. For that reason, the blow to the Brotherhood reputation stings, undermining the image it has pushed hard in its election campaign that it is a trustworthy, pious group that – as their slogan declares – "brings good for Egypt.''

For Detail Report:


Bahrain king vows reforms after panel report

Suad Hamada

MANAMA, 24 November 2011 — His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah, the King of Bahrain, on Wednesday vowed reforms and ordered the formation of a working group to study the findings and recommendations of a commission inquiring into allegations of abuse during a crackdown on anti-government protest earlier this year.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, in its report submitted on Wednesday, found that security forces used “excessive force” and tortured detainees in the March crackdown.

An official spokesman said the government accepts the criticisms. “The government welcomes the findings of the Independent Commission, and acknowledges its criticisms,” a statement said.

“We will introduce and implement reforms that would please all segments of our society,” the king said after the findings were released. He also expressed “dismay” at the mistreatment of detainees.

“We do not tolerate the mistreatment of detainees and prisoners. We are dismayed to find that it has occurred, as your report has found,” he said.

“We are determined to ensure that the painful events the nation has just experienced are not repeated, but that we learn from them, and use our new insights as a catalyst for positive change,” the king said.

“We do not want, ever again, to see our country paralysed by intimidation and sabotage.

For Full Report:


Barack Obama urges Yemen to implement 'historic transition'


WASHINGTON Nov 24, 2011: US President Barack Obama urged Yemen on Wednesday to immediately implement a deal under which President Ali Abdullah Saleh has agreed to hand over power after 33 years in office.

"The United States will continue to stand by the Yemeni people as they embark on this historic transition," Obama said in a written statement.

Saleh, who has been the target of opposition protests since January, signed the deal in Riyadh, ending months of delay that had seen protests degenerate into deadly unrest.

Under the agreement, the veteran leader will hand over his powers to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi but remain honorary president for 90 days.

"The United States urges all parties to move immediately to implement the terms of the agreement, which will allow Yemen to begin addressing an array of formidable challenges and chart a more secure and prosperous path for the future," Obama said.

He praised the Yemeni people for "courageously and steadfastly" pressing for change in their country despite "violence and extreme hardship."

"Today marks a significant step forward for the Yemeni people in their quest for a unified, democratic, secure, and prosperous Yemen," said Obama's top diplomat Hillary Clinton, praising neighboring Gulf states for their role in brokering the deal

"We urge all parties within Yemen to refrain from violence and to move swiftly to implement the terms of the agreement in good faith and with transparency -- including credible presidential elections within 90 days."

She said Washington would continue to "closely monitor" the political transition in Yemen, and looked forward to shoring up ties with Sanaa.

Saleh had repeatedly backed out of signing the deal brokered by Yemen's wealthy Gulf neighbors since the parliamentary opposition inked it back in April.

During his months of prevarication, deadly clashes between loyalist and dissident troops had riven the capital, while militants, some linked to al-Qaida, took advantage of the decline of central government control in the provinces to set up base.


Don’t give in to fanatical minority”, Reporters Without Borders urges Maldives government

By JJ Robinson

November 23rd, 2011

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have issued a statement urging the government “not to give in to the fanatical minority” and to do “all it can to ensure the media are free to tackle any subjects they choose.”

The statement came in response to the Islamic Ministry’s ordering of the Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) to block the website of controversial blogger, Ismail Khilath “Hilath” Rasheed, on the grounds that it contained anti-Islamic material.

The increase in acts of religious intolerance is a threat to the Maldives’ young democracy”, RSF said its statement, requesting the “immediate reopening of [Hilath’s] blog.”

RSF noted that there were harsh penalties for blasphemy under Maldivian law following new regulations enforcing the 1994 Religious Unity Act, which bans the media from circulating any material that “humiliates Allah, his prophets, the Koran, the Sunnah or the Islamic faith”.

Incidents involving media workers are rare in the Maldives, RSF observed, “but that is only because most of them prefer to censor themselves and stay away from subjects relating to Islam, unlike Ismail Khilath Rasheed.”

According to Rasheed, the Islamic Affairs Ministry had his blog in its sights because he is a Sufi Muslim, not a Sunni like most Maldivians, and has always been highly critical of religious fundamentalism.”

RSF compiles the annual Press Freedom Index. The Maldives is currently ranked 52nd out of 178 countries.

President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair, acknowledged that the decision would affect the Maldives’ reputation for press freedom.

“The government has a responsibility to protect the tenets of Islam,” Zuhair said, but urged Hilath to appeal the decision: “I believe there should be more dialogue and discussion before action is taken.”

“Blocking a website containing undesirable material is not an option for the Maldivian government. The Internet is larger than 1-2 Maldivian bloggers. Should we shut out all content deemed undesirable by Islamic scholars, and is it even technically possible with filtering?”

Zuhair noted that the Maldives had benefited from having one the highest rates of Internet penetration in the region.

According to Facebook statistics, one third of the Maldives population have accounts on the social network, the vast majority of them aged between 18-35.


HRCM claims to have received 500 complaints of human rights violations in Maldives

By Ahmed Naish

November 21st, 2011

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has revealed that some 500 complaints of alleged human rights violations were lodged at the commission in the past year.

According to statistics made public yesterday, the complaints include 106 cases concerning the right to work; 77 cases of unlawful detention; 74 cases of social protection to children, young, elderly and disadvantaged people; 47 cases concerning standard of health care; and 23 cases of torture or degrading treatment.

Speaking at a press conference, HRCM Chair Mariyam Azra Ahmed said the commission investigated and closed 216 cases between January 1 and September 14 this year.

Among major cases submitted to the commission in that period included the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protest outside the Supreme Court on October 20, the alleged suicide of an inmate in Maafushi jail on November 15, the death of an infant due to “shoulder dystocia” on March 3 and complaints regarding inmates released under the government’s ‘Second Chance’ programme.

Azra informed press that the commission has undertaken studies to assess the human rights situation in the country and was currently drafting an assessment report on human trafficking in the Maldives due to be finalised at the end of the month.

Moreover, a draft of recommended amendments to the HRCM Act would be sent to parliament in the near future, Azra said.

The commission meanwhile conducted a number of programmes to raise public awareness of human rights, including training workshops and media campaigns by the advocacy department featuring video spots. Among notable public outreach programmes was the ‘Every neglect is an abuse’ campaign against child abuse.

The commission also released booklets and leaflets providing information on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).


Shia protests renewed in Saudi Arabia

November 24, 2011

RIYADH: New protests broke out in the Shia Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province while local dignitaries said Wednesday authorities promised to probe the death of two Shias. Demonstrators marched late on Tuesday in the towns of Shweika and Awamiya calling on authorities to hand over the bodies of two protesters killed in clashes with police this week, a correspondent reported. In a step apparently aimed to diffuse tension, Saudi authorities have decided to form a commission to probe the death of two protesters, a Shia cleric told reporters. “The governor of the Eastern Province, Prince Muhammad bin Fahd, has informed us that the interior ministry has formed an inquiry commission,” said Sheikh Hussein al Soweileh. The cleric was part of a delegation of Shia dignitaries from Qatif who met on Tuesday with the governor – a son of the late King Fahd who died in 2005. The governor “has asked us to bring calm to the street, mainly as Ashura approaches,” he said. Medics had said Ali al Felfel, 24, died Monday of gun wounds after police opened fire at protesters who had taken to the streets in response to the death of 19-year-old Nasser al Mheishi. afp\11\24\story_24-11-2011_pg7_25


Probe into 'honour killing' theory for couple's murder

23 November 2011

Pakistani police are investigating the deaths of Uzma Naurin and Saif Rehman

Police in Pakistan are thought to be investigating whether a young couple from Glasgow were the victims of a so-called honour killing.

Saif Rehman, 31, and his wife Uzma Naurin, 30, were shot after their car was ambushed in Gujrat on 1 November.

It is understood Mr Rehman was shot dead by a group of men at the scene and his wife was driven away and killed.

The Foreign Office cannot become involved as Mr Rehman was a Pakistani national and his wife was a US citizen.

Mr Rehman had lived in Glasgow for six years and met his wife Uzma at a friend's wedding.

Car ambushed

They were married in Glasgow in February.

The couple's friend, Saif Ali, from Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, was not a witness but said he had been given an account of what happened.

He said he had been told they were returning from a shopping trip when they were killed.

"They were going back home and basically, all of a sudden, the driver just stopped the car," he said.

"Four people were in a different car which stopped in front of them.

"They pulled Saif and his sister and his wife out of the car and as soon as he was pulled out of the car they shot him without saying anything."

Mr Ali said that "no words were exchanged" between Mr Rehman and the people who shot him.

He added: "Five minutes up the road they basically killed her (Uzma Naurin) as well.

"She wasn't found until quite a bit of time later.

"Probably about three or four hours later she was found as they had basically put her in the shrubs somewhere, just on the side of the road."


Weakened Pakistani Taliban limp into peace talks

November 24, 2011

PESHAWAR: After a deadly campaign of attacks, the Pakistani Taliban are weakened and exploring peace talks with authorities perceived as increasingly at odds with the United States, observers said.

Taliban commanders now say they have started initial talks with Islamabad, mediated by former army officials, in a move that could end years of “holy war” that saw 500 attacks killing more than 4,700 people, according to an AFP tally.

The army and the spokesman for the main umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban faction, allied to al Qaeda, strongly denied the claims and low-level violence continued on a near daily basis, as do clashes between troops and militants. Any negotiations underway need to be taken with a large pinch of salt. Rebel factions are eclectic and nebulous and it remains unclear whether they are united enough to clinch a deal or how long any such deal would last.

Nevertheless, the rhythm of the attacks has changed dramatically in Pakistan, with the death toll steadily diminishing in a pattern that continued after US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad on May 2.

Significantly, there has been no major militant attack in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed 46 people at a funeral in the northwestern district of Lower Dir on September 15.

According to an AFP tally, around 800 people have been killed in bomb attacks so far this year, considerably fewer than the 1,360 killed in 2010.

About 556 people died in the attacks in the six months before Bin Laden was killed and 412 in the six months afterwards.

“TTP was at its peak in 2007-2008. But it has since been weakened and is divided,” said a FATA Research Centre analyst, Saifullah Khan Mehsud, adding that a think tank was dedicated to the Afghan border areas where Taliban are based.

For Detail Report:\11\24\story_24-11-2011_pg7_23


Pak-China relations not a threat to other nations: Kayani

By APP / Express

November 24, 2011

Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Thursday that relations between China and Pakistan should not be taken as a threat to any other nation.

Speaking to the media during Pak-China joint military exercise near Jhelum, he said that Pakistan had strategic relations with China and that these exercises would further strengthen the ties between the two countries.

Kayani added that cooperation between the two countries would promote regional peace.

Peoples Liberation Army Deputy Chief General Hou Shusen, who was also present at the occasion, said that relations between the two countries were strengthening over the years.

Shusen added that such exercises were evidence of efforts made against terrorism in the region.

President confers Nishan-i-Imtiaz on Chinese general

President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday conferred Nishan-i-Imtiaz (military) upon General Shusen for promoting friendship between the two countries.

The president honoured Shusen at a special ceremony held at the President House in Islamabad.

Shusen also had a meeting with the president, along with his delegation and discussed matters relating to Pak-China bilateral relations and defence cooperation.

The president termed China as a factor of stability in the region and said that the convergence of interests and unanimity of views on bilateral, regional and international issues had brought the two countries closer.

He said that the transformation of political and strategic relations into an economic partnership would boost socio-economic development besides contributing towards regional stability.


Sindh and Baluchistan reject allocation of UN funds

By Zahid Gishkori

ISLAMABAD: November 24, 2011 The National Disaster Management Authority on Wednesday refused to divulge the sector-wise allocations of UN funds for flood-relief, after Sindh and Baluchistan rejected the proposed allocations.

NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar Qadir said that the controversy of the issue prohibited him from making the details public, but did admit that, “Sindh and Balochistan disputed the sector-wise resource allocation to meet the immediate life-saving needs of their flood-hit people proposed by the UN.” Qadir added that the updated UN appeal for the flood-hit areas would now be around $400 million.

Speaking at a press conference, Qadir said the representatives of the two provinces have asked for a couple of days to declare their exact requirements. The revised response plan to mitigate the sufferings of flood victims will be ready soon, Qadir added.

According to Qadir’s statistics, 5.15 million people have been directly affected by the floods: 4.82 million in Sindh and one-third of a million in Balochistan. The number of affected houses stands at 800,000, including 470,000 damaged but repairable homes, and 330,000 completely destroyed houses.

For Full Report:


Lawmakers in Gilgit raise alarm over sectarian violence

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: November 24, 2011, Lawmakers in Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly raised alarm over the rising incidence of sectarian violence, and warned the government to contain it lest the killing of innocent people in the capital spills unrest across the entire region.

The third day of the GBLA session chaired by Speaker Wazir Baig was dominated by the deteriorating law and order situation in Gilgit city.

“I warn you of the impending danger,” said Abdul Hameed of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who hails from the Astore valley. “Unabated violence in Gilgit city can afflict the entire region.”

Earlier on Tuesday, armed men opened fire on two young men in the Khomar area of Gilgit city, killing one and injuring the other. The toll in sectarian-motivated killings has climbed to five, besides eight injuries, in the past one month.

The speaker concurred with the lawmakers and observed that law and order situation in the regional capital was worsening. “The G-B people are looking at you,” he said, addressing G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Shah.

CM says his hands were tied

The chief minister, in a startling ‘revelation’ to assembly members, said he’d been ‘forbidden’ to take action against corrupt officials in the past by sitting assembly members, on political and sectarian grounds. “But from now on, I will name anyone who tries to stop me from taking action against corrupt officials,” Shah told the lawmakers.

His remarks followed opposition leader Janbaz Khan’s presentation of the recommendations of the standing committee on public works departments. A system of rewards and punishment must be introduced in the department, Khan suggested.

Shah announced launching of an inquiry against corrupt officials, but added that inquiries had been conducted in the past but action was delayed due to political and sectarian considerations raised by lawmakers.


Pakistan, UK commit to joint challenge of terrorism


ISLAMABAD: Nov. 24, 2011, Pakistan and United Kingdom on Thursday re-confirmed their commitment to tackle shared challenge of terrorism and extremism which is in the interest of both nations to sustain a broad-based strategic relationship.

“We share a powerful interest in fighting the extremism and terrorism that threatens people in both countries. Pakistan is on the front line and have made tremendous sacrifices in striving for a more stable region and a world free from this menace,” Minister for Interior, Senator Rehman Malik and UK Home Secretary, Theresa May said this while addressing a joint press conference after holding a bilateral consultation.

They said our intensive diplomatic efforts, bilaterally, multilaterally, and in concert with key partners, are complemented by a growing programme of counter-terrorism liaison.

This includes UK’s support to military and policing and supporting the development of strong institutions and machinery of government.

The two Ministers stressed the commitment of Pakistan and the UK in cooperating on their shared interests, including trade, economic stability and development, cultural cooperation, security, tackling illegal immigration and education.

The Enhanced Dialogue launched during the UK Prime Minister David Cameron visit in April this year allows both countries to explore areas of mutual interest in a spirit of understanding, confidence and respect. The breadth and depth of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue reflects the longstanding ties between the people of Pakistan and UK.

Rehman Malik said Pakistan is victim of terrorism and it has sacrificed precious lives of more than 36,000 people and financial loss of US $ 62 billion in the war against terrorism and extremism.

For Full Report:


Nawaz file application to include Haqqani in ECL


ISLAMABAD: 24th Nov. 2011, The chairman of PML-N, Nawaz Sharif has placed an application in Supreme Court on Thursday to put the name of Husain Haqqani in exit control list, DawnNews reported.

This application submitted through Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim, the lawyer of Nawaz Sharif.

In this application, a request has been made that until the investigation of the memogate is not completed, the Pakistani ambassador should be listed in the exit control list of United States.

Not to forget, Nawaz Sharif has sent an application to the supreme court with respect to the investigation regarding memogate scandal.


Palestinian rivals make fresh attempt at unity


CAIRO, 24 November 2011, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal meet in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Thursday in a bid to cement a reconciliation deal that has stalled for more than six months.

After a summer of scepticism over prospects for a real rapprochement between Abbas’s secular Fatah movement and its Islamist rival Hamas, a new optimism has emerged in recent weeks.

“President Abbas intends to deploy all possible efforts to reach a global Palestinian agreement and reach an understanding on a common political vision for all the movements,” senior Fatah official Azzam Al Ahmed said  in Cairo on Wednesday.

Hamas officials expressed similar sentiments about the talks, which are to begin at 11:00 am (0900 GMT)

“We want this meeting to open a new page and a new hope for the Palestinian people,” Hamas deputy head Mussa Abu Marzuk said on arrival in the Egyptian capital.

Izzat Al Rishq, another of the group’s Damascus-based leadership, said the talks “will start with a face-to-face meeting between Abbas and Meshaal which will last about two hours”.

On the agenda are key issues including the adoption of a unified Palestinian strategy, forming an interim government, reform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and agreeing on a date for elections.

If the talks are successful, there will be a follow-up meeting in December with all the Palestinian factions to finalise the agreements reached, officials said earlier this week.

Fatah and Hamas, which respectively control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed a surprise agreement in May to end their long-standing bitter rivalry, but it has yet to be implemented.

It called for the immediate formation of an interim government to pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.

But the two sides have so far failed to agree on the composition of the caretaker government and, in particular, who will head it.


Egypt army stranded between reform and interests


CAIRO, 24 November 2011, Its tanks were cheered by raucous crowds during the January revolt, but today the army is under fire for pulling the reins on reform as it scrambles to retain some influence in Egypt’s future, analysts say.

As Egyptians prepare to vote Monday in the country’s first legislative elections since the uprising, the military which took power when Hosni Mubarak was ousted has been the target of vehement attacks by pro-democracy movements who accuse it of reneging on promises of reform.

“The army is behaving as though the ouster of Hosni Mubarak was a coup d’etat and not a revolution,” said Nevine Mossaad, professor of political science at Cairo University.

“It would like to continue as though nothing happened, but it had to yield many things” under pressure from revolution movements or the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, she said.

Today, the military’s goal could be to transfer power to a civilian authority after the election of a new president in 2012, but on condition of preserving its interests and without paying the price of change.

“I don’t think the army wants to stay in power indefinitely, but it wants to guarantee that when it leaves the Mubarak scenario is not repeated,” said Mossaad of the former president facing trial for the killing of protesters during the uprising.

The recent proposal of supra constitutional principles — criticised within political circles — has relaunched the argument that the military’s withdrawal could take place when it knows its privileges will be guaranteed.

The document would see the military have a final say on all legislation concerning it, and would see its budget shielded from public scrutiny.

As it faces its toughest challenge since Mubarak was ousted, the institution seems to be relying on support from a silent majority, in a country where the uniform is held in high esteem, even if the military leadership is under fire.

According to a public opinion survey conducted by the University of Maryland, 43 percent of Egyptians believe their military rulers are working to slow or reverse the gains made in the Tahrir Square uprising.

Another 21 percent felt the military authorities were striving to advance those gains, while 14 percent considered them to be indifferent, according to a five-nation snapshot of Arab public opinion.

Some 750 Egyptians in Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Qaliubiya, Al Minia (Upper Egypt) and Al Ismailiyah (Suez Canal) took part in the October 22-30 poll, with a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

“Since the construction of modern Egypt, the military institution has played a prominent part,” said political analyst Amr Al Chobaki during a conference at the American University in Cairo.

“One of the main challenges of democratic transition is to get the army back to its place, to allow them to return to security in order to build a democratic civil regime,” he said.

Since the 1952 revolution that toppled the monarchy, all of Egypt’s presidents have come from the ranks of the military: Mohammed Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.

Its highest ranking officer, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi is now in charge of the country.

Diplomatic cables revealed by whistle blower WikiLeaks describe an institution that believes it represents stability, and is preoccupied with maintaining its economic interests and network of businesses.

“The military still remains a potent political and economic force. The military helps to ensure regime stability,” said one cable dated from September 2008.


Lebanon rejects Arab sanctions on Syria


 BEIRUT, 24 November 2011 Lebanon will not endorse any potential Arab League sanctions against Syria, Foreign Minister Adnan Mansur said, as the organisation prepared to meet on Thursday to discuss measures against Damascus.

“Lebanon will not endorse any sanctions by the Arab League against Syria,” Mansur, who is backed by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, told local radio before heading to Cairo for the meeting.

“We will decide whether to vote against or abstain depending on the talks in Cairo,” he said in response to a question.

Lebanon voted against suspending Damascus from the 22-member Arab League earlier this month, siding with Yemen and Syria, as pressure mounts on the regime of Bashar al-Assad to end its bloody crackdown on dissent.

Tensions between rival Lebanese political camps are rising over the Syria crisis. The country’s pro-Western opposition, led by former premier Saad Hariri, has thrown its weight behind anti-Assad protesters in Syria.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Damascus and Tehran and which dominates the Lebanese government, has meanwhile said it will continue to stand by Assad against an “international conspiracy” aimed at ousting him from power.

Washington for its part has urged Lebanese authorities to protect their financial sector against potential Syrian efforts to sidestep sanctions, sparking fears Beirut could be affected by possible future measures against the Assad regime.


No Iranian role found in Bahrain unrest

By Ben Birnbaum-The Washington Times

November 23, 2011

The head of a probe into Bahrain’s recent unrest said he found “no evidence” that Iran gave material support to the kingdom’s Shiite opposition during its 10-month uprising against the Sunni-dominated government.

Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, chairman of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, submitted his much-anticipated report Wednesday to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who established the commission in July.

In a phone interview, Mr. Bassiouni elaborated on the report’s statement that the commission “did not discover any role of the Iranian Islamic Republic” in the protests, despite government claims.

“The Iranians were propagandists,” Mr. Bassiouni said. “You can’t expect them not to want to take advantage of a situation like that. … But to say they were funding, they were agitating? We found no evidence of that. Now whether the government has [that evidence] and is not showing it to us, I can’t tell.”

In an interview Wednesday, Bahraini Ambassador to the United States Houda Nonoo defended the government’s claims of Iranian involvement. She pointed to Iranian state media provocations and official statements calling Bahrain Iran’s 14th province.

But asked for evidence of direct material support, she hedged. “We don’t have that evidence, but it’s there,” Ms. Nonoo said. “It’s not evidence you can touch or see physically, but we know it’s there.”

The commission’s 500-page report noted a raft of government abuses that rights groups have complained about since February, including midnight raids, torture and destruction of Shiite mosques.

At least 35 people have been killed in violence related to the uprising, including several members of the security forces, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Bassiouni said the commission found that torture of detainees was “quite systematic.”

In an interview Wednesday, Bahraini Finance Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said the detainee mistreatment the report identified was “totally unacceptable,” adding that the government was prosecuting 20 officers and seeking amendments to Bahrain’s anti-torture law.

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No arrests made in Imran Farooq murder case: British home secretary

November 24, 2011

ISLAMABAD: British Home Secretary Theresa May said on Thursday that no arrests had been made in connection with the Dr Imran Farooq murder case.

Speaking to the media after meeting Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad, May ruled out that any arrests had been made in the case and said that an investigation in the case was still underway.

London police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe had earlier said that two alleged killers of Dr Imran Farooq were arrested in Karachi.

The Police Commissioner had been quoted by a London-based newspaper as saying that the killers would not be allowed to roam freely on the streets of London. He had also said that London Police was working with Pakistan in Dr Imran Farooq’s murder case.

Malik had also denied that any arrests had been made in the case.

The British home secretary, who is on an official visit to Islamabad, met with Malik today to discuss bilateral issues.

The two also discussed cooperation between the two countries in various departments, including security.

May said that the United Kingdom (UK) shared a powerful interest in fighting extremist-driven terrorism. She added that Pakistan was on the frontline and had made tremendous sacrifices in striving for a stable region and a world free from extremist violence.

AJK suspends Lord Nazir’s basic citizenship

The government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir has suspended the basic citizenship of British parliamentarian Lord Nazir Ahmad for supporting Zulfiqar Mirza in the UK¸ Express 24/7 has reported.

Lord Nazir has faced great criticism from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for his support to Mirza during his visit to the UK. He has been seen at Mirza’s lectures, and sources have also said that he accompanied the former home minister during his visit to Scotland Yard to hand over evidence against MQM chief Altaf Hussain.

The British parliamentarian also gave Mirza the ‘Valor Award’ for his stance against the MQM during a ceremony organised in east London.


Was David Headley a double agent, serving the US and ISI simultaneously?

TNN | Nov 24, 2011,

Indian officials believed that the repeated warnings by the US to India of a terrorist strike in Mumbai could have come from Headley.

NEW DELHI: Was David Headley a double agent, servicing the US and ISI simultaneously? India believes so. Though the US has denied it, a new investigative report questions the US denial, concluding that the truth was far murkier than what it seemed.

ProPublica, a Washington-based investigative journalism website, in a new documentary/report said in the decade preceding his arrest in 2009, Headley served as an informer for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, even serving as an undercover agent for them in Pakistan. Did he work for any other US intelligence agency? It's not clear.

What is clear though is that Headley led something of a charmed existence. The report details the number of times Headley slipped in and out of Pakistan, Dubai, India and the US, which, in any other person would have aroused the scrutiny of counter-terrorism officials, certainly immigration officials every time. But Headley slipped through. Was it oversight, or was Headley being played so he could access more detailed intelligence?

At some stage during this time, Headley went over to the dark side, became radicalized and a jihadi working for the Lashkar-e-Taiba and ISI simultaneously, for the same project, an attack on Mumbai.

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