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Islamic World News ( 3 May 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian Muslim scholars call for punishment of a publisher for “blasphemy”, vow protection of the Prophet’s honour

Indian Muslim scholars call for punishment of a publisher for “blasphemy”, vow protection of the Prophet’s honour

US feared Pak could mistake American raid to kill Osama bin Laden for India attack

Indian Muslim scholars disapprove Osama's sea burial

US refuses to rule out Pakistan backing for Bin Laden

“At least a dozen” al Qaeda in Pakistan: US lawmaker

Violence erupts as MQM activist killed in Karachi

Violence rattles Karachi; 5 killed, 26 vehicles torched

Delhi on high alert after Osama killing

Geelani lone Kashmiri leader to condemn Osama killing

Sanjiv Bhatt, top cop who testified against Modi, gets back his security cover

Muslims have no place to bury their dead in Ferozepur

Bin Laden raid was not joint operation, says Zardari

No plan for military courts, says Malik

Pak military caught in the crossfire

Fourteen PML-Q lawmakers join federal cabinet

Violence erupts in Karachi after killing of MQM leader

World leaders hail killing of bin Laden

Syria protesters given surrender ultimatum

India says Pakistan shown as terror ‘sanctuary’

Oil drops sharply after Bin Laden death

Justice is done

It’s a great victory

Bomb kills four near mosque in Charsadda

Bin Laden’s killing echoes in upper house of parliament

No plan for trial of terror suspects in military courts, Malik tells SC

Shahbaz urges govt to narrate facts about Bin Laden operation

US issues global travel alert after Osama’s death

Americans erupt in joy at Osama’s death

Taliban threaten US, Pakistan over Bin Laden

Taliban cannot win, should spurn al Qaeda: Clinton

Bin Laden’s death ‘positive step’: Musharraf

Life of Osama Bin Laden

Karachi target killings issue surfaces in Senate

Osama’s death not an end to terrorism: Imran

Obama watched live video of Osama hit

Afghans fear West may see death as the end

Afghan Taliban declare start of spring offensive

Karachi burns as MQM activist killed

Blast kills woman, kids

Saudi hopes OBL death will aid terror fight

No intel’ role in missing persons: Malik

Swiss freeze Kadhafi, Mubarak, Ben Ali millions

Muslim Brotherhood condemns bin Laden killing, don't believe in assassinations

Mubarak faithful seem to exist, and want him exonerated

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Indian ulema call for punishment of a publisher for “blasphemy”, vow protection of the Prophet’s honour

 “Denigration of the Prophet Intolerable”

News Desk,

03 May 2011

A Delhi based publication of comics has published the imaginary photo of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), claim Indian ulema. Urdu press reports in the last few days have claimed that this act of ‘blasphemy’ has created a wave of anguish among Muslims, particularly as India is secular and all religious communities respect each other’s faith.

According to reports in the Urdu press, students of Dau ul Uloom Waqf, Deoband organized a Conference under the banner of “Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Resalat “(Protection of the Honour of the Prophet) to condemn this alleged act of blasphemy. This conference was attended by the representatives of 15,000 students and professors, ulema, Journalists and local scholars. It was organized to bring all concerned under one umbrella and to demand that the government of India take appropriate action against the printer and publisher of Diamond Comics which has committed such an evil act worthy of the greatest condemnation.

Chief Editor of Deoband Publication Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi, among other respected speakers, quoted the Holy Quran and said “the crime of insulting God and Prophet is not pardonable and Prophet (SAW) did not forgive the blasphemers on the occasion of victory over Mecca, even though it was being celebrated as a Day of Forgiveness. The blasphemer deserves the rarest of the rare punishment. Had India been an Islamic country the person concerned would have been done to death in no time. Maulana Wajidi said, India is a secular country and we all respect and abide by its constitution. Hence it is our sincere demand from the government of the day to arrest the blasphemer and bring him to book as per the constitution and law of the land.

Maulana Quari Md. Wasif Quasmi, a teacher of Dar ul Uloom Waqf Deoband said, the basic tenets of Islam include respecting Allah and His Messenger. Prophet (SAW) says, if you do not love me more than you love your parents and the whole of humanity, your Imaan is not complete.

Almost all the speakers demanded action from the government and asserted that they were not going to take it lying down if appropriate action was not taken. Maulvi Abdus Salam Bastavi presided over the conference and read out the Memorandum to be submitted to the Prime Minister and other dignitaries of the Government of India.

Giving a summary the sentiments expressed at the conference Rizwan Salmani of Hamara Samaj writes: “The present age should be called an age of persecution. Seldom does a day pass when there is no story of such deplorable incidents of blasphemy of the Prophet in the newspapers. It hurts. And then comes its widespread condemnation and sometimes its ugly fall out. Perhaps the main objective of these antisocial elements, the blasphemers, is to disturb the peace and harmony of the society.  

“The consistency with which denigration of the Holy Quran and Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is coming to the fore has no parallel in the past. Muslims are forced to undergo the traumatic experience of facing the denigration of their religion and the Prophet. The fire burning within the hearts of the Muslims owing to the blasphemy of a Danish Cartoonist had not extinguished that the incident of Quran burning started raising its head. This act of heinous crime is still very much fresh that another such ugly incident has come before us.”


US feared Pak could mistake American raid to kill Osama bin Laden for India attack

Chidanand Rajghatta

May 3, 2011

WASHINGTONl US President Obama and his national security team spent hairy moments in theWhite House Situation Room on Sunday worrying among other things that Pakistan would mistake the Osama-specific American commando raid on Abbottabad for an Indian attack.

In fact, a top US official disclosed in a briefing on Monday that the Pakistanis even scrambled their jets when they realized something was afoot in Abbottabad, but the US commandos finished their operation in 40 minutes and were out of there before the Pakistanis acted.

''The Pakistanis were reacting to an incident that they knew was taking place in Abbottabad. Therefore, they were scrambling some of their assets,'' US counterterrorism czar John Brennanrevealed while providing some operational details of the mission. It was not clear if the ''assets'' Brennan referred to included just fighter jets or other options ranging from anti-aircraft fire to missiles.

Brennan disclosed that the US was ''concerned that if the Pakistanis decided to scramble jets or whatever else... They had no idea about who might have been in there, whether it be US or somebody else,'' in what was an implicit reference to India. ''So we were watching and making sure that our people and our aircraft were able to get out of Pakistani airspace. And thankfully, there was no engagement with Pakistani forces," he added.

Washington did not keep any country, including India and much less Pakistan, in the loop about the operation.

Brennan also addressed one of the key questions that arose from the episode: Why didn't the US use a Drone attack, as it does in Waziristan, instead of opting for a more dangerous commando ingress deep inside Pakistan and so close to its capital?

The answer it turns out is that President Obama wanted to be absolutely sure it was Osama bin Laden they were getting. A Drone attack or a heavy duty bombing raid would have reduced the compound to rubble, but there would be no way of knowing if it was bin Laden who died in the attack. Such a raid would also give Pakistan a chance to cover up its tracks.

Besides, Brennan said, the US had even hoped to capture bin Laden alive if possible. ''If we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn't present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that. We had discussed that extensively in a number of meetings in the White House and with the President,'' Brennan said. ''The concern was that bin Laden would oppose any type of capture operation. Indeed, he did. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight.''

While Brennan and other officials provided some sketchy operational facts, they chose to keep much of it under wraps so as to not fully disclose American capabilities. For instance, questions about whether the US fully paralysed Pakistani air space during the nearly four-hour long operation from the time of the helicopter ingress into Pakistan to its safe exit, remained unanswered.

While US sources said the Navy Seals team took off from Jalalabad in Afghanistan, some 200 kms from Abbottabad, the Pakistani media insisted a team came from Ghazi Air Force Base near the village of Tarbela Ghazi in Pakistan, where the US is said to maintain a small team of special ops trainers. Ghazi also serves as the main logistics hub for US aid missions to Pakistan.

The Obama administration appears keen on not letting it be known that it has significant capabilities inside Pakistan (which the Pakistani military and ISI is now trying to whittle down), and not to jeopardize its civilian outreach there, just as Islamabad is anxious not to let on that it has given up operation discretion to the Americans and its talk of sovereignty is just lip service.

It is possible that the US teams came from both places with Seals from Jalalabad being supported by CIA operatives from Ghazi. The estimates for what President Obama initially described as a ''small team'' now ranges from 24 Navy Seals who took part in the actual assault, to a larger estimate of 79, including those who provided the logistical support and air cover.

However one dices the operation, it was a daring ingress deep inside Pakistan that made mockery of its military's pledge that it will not tolerate foreign operations inside its territory even as it restored American pride in its capabiliteis.

As for President Obama, the US, White House spokesman Jay Carney prefaced Brennan's briefing by reading his (Obama's) campaign promise: ''If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will. We must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.''

He lived up to his pledge.


Indian Muslim scholars disapprove Osama's sea burial

Mohammed Wajihuddin

May 3, 2011

MUMBAI: Islamic scholars and peace activists said that the mass deaths dealt out by Osama bin Laden, including of Muslims, justified his killing and hoped that the 9/11 mastermind's end would herald a new period of peace. There were, however, regrets about his hurried burial at sea.

"He was a person who had not just orchestrated the killings of thousands of Americans, but disgraced Islam by claiming to have done it in the name of defending the faith," said Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. "Muslims never had any sympathy for Osama and never will they be disturbed by his death."

Many like noted Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer agreed. "If Laden was really killed in a firefight, then his death is justified. He was, after all, responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents," said Engineer. "But I wonder why they dumped him into the sea in such a hurry?"

Engineer rejected the claim that Osama's last rites were performed according to Islamic principles. "It sounds ridiculous that the US remembered Islamic beliefs after killing Osama. Did it adhere to these beliefs when it killed innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq?" Engineer argued that a burial on an undisclosed piece of land would have been better.

Nevertheless, scholars hoped that Osama's elimination would help bring some security in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and the wider world.

"The world has seen enough killing. If the US really wants to establish peace, killing Osama will not be enough. There are other individuals responsible for mass murders. They too should be brought to book," said Zeenat Shaukat Ali, who teaches Islamic Studies at St Xavier's College.

Peace activist Jatin Desai, who has visited Pakistan on several occasions, said: "The United Stateshas more or less secured itself from outside attack. So now the real threat is to Pakistan, where al-Qaida members are active. The real challenge is to counter these fanatics, who will hold Pakistan responsible for Osama's death and try to escalate their attacks," said Desai.

There are many, though, who felt that Laden's killing would not make any difference. Even by American leaders' own admission, Osama was more symbolically important. He was on the run for years and had little operational significance.

"Osama was inactive for a prolonged period. He was ill and probably bedridden. He had become a spent force," said Khan.


US refuses to rule out Pakistan backing for Bin Laden

03 May 2011

WASHINGTON: US counter-terrorism chief John Brennan refused to rule out official Pakistani backing for Osama Bin Laden on Monday and said Islamabad was only told of the raid that killed the al Qaeda leader after US forces had left Pakistani airspace. “We are looking right now at how he was able to hold out there for so long and whether or not there was any type of support system within Pakistan that allowed him to stay there,” Brennan told a White House briefing. Pressed for a second time by journalists on whether the United States believed the Pakistani government when it said it didn’t know where bin Laden was, the top official replied: “We are pursuing all leads on this issue. “We will pursue all leads to find out exactly what type of support system and benefactors that bin Laden would have had,” he said. “It is inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country to allow him to stay there for an extended period of time,” he added. “I won’t speculate on what type of support he would have had on an official basis, and we are talking to the Pakistanis right now.” afp\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_8


“At least a dozen” al Qaeda in Pakistan: US lawmaker


WASHINGTON: The United States believes that at least a dozen senior leaders of al Qaeda are in Pakistan, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said on Monday.

“Of the 20 senior leaders in al Qaeda, at least a dozen of them we believe to be traveling around Pakistan someplace,” he told reporters.

“It is incredibly important for us that we maintain a relationship (with Pakistan) so that we can pursue those targets that we know are posing a threat to the United States,” he said.


Violence erupts as MQM activist killed in Karachi

By Atif Raza

03 May 2011

KARACHI: A strong wave of violence left five people killed and 28 vehicles torched across the financial hub of country after the killing of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s senior worker Farooq Baig on Monday.

Just after the mourning day observed by the MQM to express sorrow over the target killing of its 100 workers in three months, another senior worker of the party, Baig was shot dead near Babar Market, Landhi within the remits of Awami Colony police station.

Soon after the killing, violence gripped many areas of the city, including Kharadar, Burns Road, Saddar, Korangi, Orangi, Tariq Road, PIB Colony, Guru Mandir, Martin Road, Jail Road, Garden, Nazimabad, Soldier Bazaar and New Karachi.

Baig, 40 son of Abdul Shakoor Baig was a senior worker of MQM and a member of the Karachi Tanzimi Committee (KTC).

According to police, he was gunned down at Bagh Korangi Road near Babar Market, Landhi within the jurisdiction of Awami Colony police station.

Unidentified armed men, riding a bike, shot him multiple times while he was in his car (GL-6367). He was shifted to a private hospital where doctors pronounced him dead. The body was later transported to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) for medico-legal formalities. Police said that Baig was a father of three and worked in the Landhi administration department.

All social and commercial activities in the city came to a standstill as reports of aerial firing and arson poured in. At least 28 vehicles were torched in different parts of the city. Two passenger buses were also torched whereas a cab, dumper truck, five vehicles, a goods carrier, a water tanker, a passenger coach, one mini bus, two trucks and eight other vehicles were set ablaze. Two carpet shops were also torched.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies in a swift response foiled miscreants’ bid to torch a private bank. Chief Fire Officer Ehtisham said, “The bank was partially damaged, however, police and Rangers responded in time and saved the bank”.

In the meantime, Liaquatabad police claimed to have detained 31 people allegedly involved in riots and violence within Liaquatabad town.

Heavy gunfire, which could be heard in several parts of metropolis, left two persons Muhammad, 48, son of Mir Hazar and Abdul Razzak, 35, son of Tariq Khan killed near Korangi Dar-ul-Uloom whereas two others Gul Khan, 52 and Kamran, 28, son of Yousuf were gunned down in Gulshan-e-Maymar and Pak Colony respectively.

Later another unidentified youngster was shot dead near Tariq Road Chowrangi within the remits of Ferozabad police station. The body was shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for autopsy.

Violence and arson also left some 14 people injured of them seven were shifted to the JPMC, three to the ASH and rest to Civil Hospital Karachi.

Heavy contingents of police and Rangers were deployed to control the law and order situation. Scores of MQM workers gathered at the funeral prayer of Baig offered at Korangi No 6, Imran Shaheed Ground after Isha prayers. He was buried at a local graveyard of Korangi 6.

Meanwhile, MQM chief Altaf Hussain and Coordination Committee in separate statements expressed profound grief and sorrow on the killing of Baig and demanded higher authorities to take immediate action against the killers of Baig.\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_1


Violence rattles Karachi; 5 killed, 26 vehicles torched

03 May 2011

KARACHI: At least five people have been killed including the organizing committee member of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Farooq Baig while another nine men were wounded in incidents of violence that erupted in the afternoon and lasted for long in metropolis on Monday, Geo News reported.

Meanwhile, miscreants have set ablaze some 26 vehicles and a bank in the fresh wave of violence in the city, police sources said.

The panic gripped the city, which reached pinnacle in the evening as almost all kind of businesses went shut in fear of violence and the worst traffic jams were witnessed on main and linking roads.

Armed men forced people to close the shops, offices, hotels, restaurants, cabins and markets across city.

According to police sources, the vehicles were torched in Soldier Bazaar, Federal B. Area, Yaseenabad, Burns Road, Gulshan-e-Maymar, Orangi Town and North Karachi areas.

Quaid MQM Altaf Hussain said Monday that the killing of Baig was a conspiracy to destablise the city.

Earlier, some unidentified gunmen shot and injured a member organizing committee of MQM, Farooq Baig, near Bagh-e-Korangi area in Landhi locality, who succumbed to injuries while being rushed to hospital.

Following the target killing, some unknown gunmen gunned down two men near Dar-ul-Uloom in Korangi who could not be identified, police said.

A man was shot dead near Tariq Road while five more men were injured in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Garden and Malir areas.

Two buses and a truck were set on fire in Korangi No.6. A dumper was set ablaze near Al-Karam Square in Liaquatabad.

A bus and a taxi and three cars were burnt in Pak Colony, University Road and Federal B. Area.

Five more buses were set on fire near Punjab Chowrangi, Purani Sabzi Mandi, Tariq Road, New Karachi and Lasbela areas.


Delhi on high alert after Osama killing

May 3, 2011

NEW DELHI: The capital and its suburbs have been put on high alert after the killing of al Quaida chiefOsama Bin Laden . Security has been strengthened at Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad, particularly American establishments and places frequented by American tourists . The US Embassy in Chanakyapuri has been turned into a virtual fortress. Commandos of the special weapons and tactics team have been deployed.

Security has been beefed up at call centres in Noida and Gurgaon, particularly those outsourcing work from the US.

The employees too have been told to be cautious. Security measures will be in place for the next few days.

A security blanket has also been thrown around the Indira Gandhi International Airport, where deployment of Central Industrial Security Force personnel has been increased. Cargo checks have been intensified.

Moments after Osama's death was confirmed, one police battalion, two Quick Reaction Teams, three Police Control Room vans and SWAT commandos were rushed to secure the city.

Though there is no specific terror threat, the Delhi Police is taking no chances. Intelligence agencies fear Qaeda sympathizers like the Lashkar-e-Toiba , may carry out attacks at American and UN establishments.

"We have deployed more policemen at WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO and the American Centre in New Delhi" .

The Special Cell and Intelligence Bureau have been asked to collect information on suspicious movements in the capital.

Areas frequented by American tourists like India Gate, Janpath and Paharganj hotels, have been secured and hotel staff where US nationals are staying have been alerted.

In Noida, additional security forces have been deployed in and around major multi-national companies, shopping malls and hotels where foreigners frequent.

The police have issued special guidelines for foreigners living or visiting the city and markets.

Speaking to Times of India , Senior Superintendent of Police, Gautam Budh Nagar, SN Singh said "additional police and provincial armed constabulary jawans have been deployed in and around malls, markets, hotels. Our prime focus is on areas where foreigners visit, like the Sector 18 market. The local intelligence unit has also been put on alert."

BPO hub Gurgaon has also been fortified. Hotels near the airport where US nationals are staying have been secured , a senior Gurgaon police officer said.


Geelani lone Kashmiri leader to condemn Osama killing


Srinagar: Syed Ali Geelani, who heads the hardline faction of Jammu and Kashmir's separatist Hurriyat Conference, is the only leader to condemn the US operation to kill Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

No other separatist leader has publicly reacted to the US killing Osama, who was housed in a mansion in Abbottabad near the Pakistan capital Islamabad.

Geelani had told a news agency Monday that Osama was 'a martyr who died fighting US oppression in Afghanistan'.

'He was a symbol of resistance against the US and he was martyred while defending the Muslims.'

Twitter record over Osama's killing

The octogenarian separatist leader, however, added that he had no animosity with the people of US.

'We condemned 9/11 attacks as they were terrorist acts. But since then the US has killed lakhs of Muslims in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq.'

Even common people have maintained silence on the killing of Osama, who masterminded the 9/11 terror attack. However, in private circles, the US operation in Pakistan is being debated and even questioned.

'How could anyone, including the US, operate in Abbottabad close to the military academy there without the knowledge of Pakistan,' asked a political science teacher who did not wish to be named.

Despite apprehensions, there has been no public outburst in the Kashmir Valley over the death of the Al Qaeda leader.

It has been business as usual since Monday when news came in of Osama's killing.

Authorities had sounded a high alert, fearing a law and order situation in the aftermath of the Abbottabad incident.

US believes Osama had support system in Pak

'It is quite encouraging that the situation continues to remain normal here. We are hopeful things would remain normal in the coming days as well. The Osama development has not affected life in Jammu and Kashmir state as good sense prevailed on the people here,' said a senior police officer here.


Sanjiv Bhatt, top cop who testified against Modi, gets back his security cover

Prashant Dayal

May 3, 2011

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat government gave whistleblower IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt full fledged security after he told the Supreme Court that he faced threats because he had testified against chief minister Narendra Modi and his role in the Godhra riots of 2002.

Bhatt had said in an affidavit to the apex court that Modi had told bureaucrats and IPS officers in a special meeting on February 27, 2002, to let Hindus vent their anger. This was after the train burning at Godhra which killed 59 passengers, mostly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya.

On Tuesday a team of four men led by a head constable was posted at his residence, in addition to the personal security officer which he already had. The apex court is to hear crucial Godhra riots case where Bhatt has testified before the SIT, on Thursday.

The government had withdrawn all his security and official vehicles last week because these men were from Sorath chowky in Junagadh. Bhatt is posted as principal of the SRP training school at Sorath, Junagadh but is on leave and the government said the security was thus unauthorized.

Bhatt had argued that he came to Ahmedabad only to record his statement before SIT. Later he wrote letters to the DGP seeking co-operation for collecting evidence to testify before the Nanavati-Mehta commission probing the riots. The commission has called him for an in-camera hearing on May 16.

After recording this statement on March 21 this year, Bhatt wrote to SIT chief and ex-CBI director R K Raghavan and the Gujarat DGP to provide him security.

The Intelligence Bureau, after assessing the threat perception on the IPS officer found he was in no danger because whatever he had done was in the capacity of a government officer. The Ghatlodia police station which covers Bhatt's residence, gave a contrary report supporting the threat on the officer.


Muslims have no place to bury their dead in Ferozepur

Dinesh K Sharma

May 3, 2011

FEROZEPUR: The Muslim community living in Ferozepur area is facing a serious problem of finding a place to perform last rites of their dear ones for the last many decades.

For carrying out the burial of their dead, members of the community have to travel nearly thirty five kilometres to Faridkot town as there is no graveyard available here for the community, having a strong population of nearly 10,000 in the area. In the process, the families have to spend a large sum on arranging transportation and performing the last rites, causing additional pain and discomfort to the already grieving family members.

The community has to suffer due to indifferent attitude of the officials of the local Waqf Board, who, otherwise is custodian of thousand acres of land, situated in and around the town but ironically Muslim community has been running from pillar to post to for the last many decades to get the allotment of a piece of waqf land for a graveyard.

While talking to the TOI, Hazi Mohammad Irfan, President of Muslim Welfare Forum said Muslims of the area have been demanding allocation of a piece of land for a graveyard from theWaqf board since years without result. Hazi Irfan while urging for a quick solution to the crisis, says he himself suffered due to non-availability of burial space. "My mother, Waheedan Khatunpassed away here in 2008. As no suitable place could be found for her burial I had to take her body to Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh for burial".

Mohammad Salauddin, member of the forum say innumerable requests have been made to the Chairman, Punjab Waqf Board, local waqf board office and local administration over the last few years without any effect. He said

Interestingly, on the persistent demand of the community, the local waqf board has recently been allotted nearly 20 kanals land under Khasra number 1382 for graveyard. The land which has been allotted to them is already under the possession of Christian community for using as cemetery for over five decades. The community feels that by allotting that particular land, which was already occupied by some other community itself, indicates the intentions of local Waqf board, which, in spite of resolving the genuine problem of the community has tried to create tension among the two communities over the issue.

While criticizing the local politicians, Hazi Irfan said the politicians have only given lip sympathy to their logic demand till now and Muslims continue to struggle to bury their dead with dignity in the town.


Bin Laden raid was not joint operation, says Zardari


WASHINGTON: The killing of Osama bin Laden by US forces was not a joint operation with Pakistan, the president of Pakistan said in an opinion column published on Monday.

President Asif Ali Zardari, writing in the Washington Post, also dismissed any notion that Pakistan was failing to take action against militants on its territory.

Zardari said the whereabouts of the al Qaeda leader, killed in a town some two hours north of Islamabad, were not known to the Pakistani authorities.

“He was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be, but now he is gone,” he wrote.

“Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world.”

The Pakistani leader said it was simply untrue to suggest that his country, as badly hit as any by bin Laden and his militants with 30,000 civilian deaths, was sluggish or unwilling to track down activists.

Even within hours of the operation that killed bin Laden, US lawmakers were asking how he had been able to live in a populated area of Pakistan without anyone in authority knowing about it, possibly for years. Some said it was time to review the billions in aid the United States provides Pakistan.

“Some in the US press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism or, worse yet, that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing,” he wrote.

“Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn’t reflect fact.

Pakistan had as much reason to despise al-Qaeda as any nation. The war on terrorism is as much Pakistan’s war as it is America’s. And though it may have started with bin Laden, the forces of modernity remain under serious threat.”


No plan for military courts, says Malik


ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik assured the Supreme Court on Monday that the government had no plan to establish military courts by amending the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, although there was a proposal to extend the period of detention of a suspected militant to 90 days.

“The democratic government will never establish military courts to try suspected terrorists,” Mr Malik told a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, hearing a plethora of cases relating to missing persons.

Mr Malik had appeared in the court along with provincial home secretaries and inspectors general of police in line with an order issued earlier by the court.

He said that amendments proposed to the Act had not yet been approved even by parliament because it was sceptical about the misuse of powers vested in law-enforcement agencies.

The court during the last hearing had asked the interior minister and home secretaries and inspectors general of the provinces to appear before it and allay concerns over the slow pace of recovery of missing persons and the rising trend of forced disappearances.

The clarification about military courts came when Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jehangir said she was disturbed by reports that three former judges of a commission on missing persons had suggested to the government to set up military courts.

About allegations that the Frontier Constabulary was lifting Baloch people and recovery of bullet-riddled bodies in Balochistan, Mr Malik informed the court that perpetrators had changed their strategy by targeting their own people only to inflame the emotions of local people and create international hype.

Because of the government`s efforts the perpetrators had fled to Sindh and attacked Pakistan Navy`s buses in Karachi, he said. Recently, he added, the law-enforcement agencies personnel had arrested some culprits who were planning to assassinate the president in Larkana.

“Balochistan is a victim of international conspiracy,” Mr Malik said, adding that the government had engaged nationalist leaders and the next cabinet meeting would be held in Quetta.

“We are in constant contact with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to check the movement of perpetrators and destroy camps where Baloch youths are being given training on terrorism.”

He requested the court to give confidence to intelligence and security agencies who were doing the difficult task of defending the country from a well thought-out global conspiracy to destabilise Pakistan.

He said that there might be excesses but these were individual acts, adding that intelligence agencies were bound to move whenever an anti-state activity was reported.

Mr Malik denied the claim that 6,000 people were missing and said the figure had been exaggerated only to draw international attention. In fact, he said, the figure of leftover cases was only 55.

He cited a case of 17 people who had reportedly disappeared, but Nadra record showed that they had machine readable passports and were frequenting to Saudi Arabia or other countries.

Similarly, out of 42 cases traced in Punjab, three were proclaimed offenders, four belonged to jihadi organisations and seven were terrorists and criminals.

The interior minister also cited the case of journalist Rashid Turrabi whose son was claimed to have been picked up by the Inter-Services Intelligence, but who was later found in Miramshah and had connection with militants.

“Most of the people claimed to be missing were either spies, agents, double agents and have connections with jihadi organisations or forced to wage jihad,” Mr Malik claimed. He deplored that because of lacunae in laws a number of suspected militants arrested by law-enforcement agencies won freedom from courts.

He offered to give an in-camera briefing to the court on the terrorism situation.

Justice Javed Iqbal observed that nobody was above the law and that the ISI was answerable to the Supreme Court as well as the interior ministry.

“If the laws are insufficient, cognisance can be taken by parliament. Time has come when action should be taken against those agencies against which incriminating evidence is available for picking up individuals,” he said, adding that if there was some black sheep in the agencies they should be punished.

Justice Iqbal deplored that Baloch leaders who were real stakeholders were not being taken into confidence by the federal government before launching any programme and stressed the need for bringing the nationalist leaders to the mainstream.

He said that performance of agencies would be appreciated only if the number of missing persons decreased and the tendency of bullet-riddled bodies was arrested.


Pak military caught in the crossfire


ISLAMABAD: As the United States announced the death of Osama bin Laden, the Pakistani state, especially its military struggled to explain the role it played in the momentous event and contain the domestic political fallout on Monday.

In a damage control exercise, the Pakistan military tried to find refuge in ‘intelligence failure’ as the elusive Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed in a CIA-led helicopter borne raid on a house right under the nose of Pakistan military’s training academy.

“We had been looking for him in no-go areas, unaware that he was living so close to an installation of ours. Yes, it is an intelligence failure,” a senior military official told Dawn in a background session on OBL’s death in an operation carried out by a US Navy SEAL strike team under CIA command.

Even as military officials tried to downplay Osama’s killing in a compound less than a kilometre away from Kakul academy, they found very few takers of their explanation.

This was hardly surprising as it is hard to believe that the paranoid security agencies never conducted a reconnaissance of the vicinity of their main training facility during times when military installations faced a continuous threat of terrorist attacks. Odder still is the fact that the military authorities or the intelligence sleuths never felt the need to find out who was using a heavily guarded structure that was protected by barded wires and fortified walls and had the extra precaution of surveillance cameras.

It is in fact tragically comical that this compound was at a stone’s throw from where Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani attended a parade around a week ago; when he said publicly that his soldiers had broken the back of militants.

Was the general completely unaware that the most wanted man lived but a short distance away? Did he also not have a clue about what was to happen in the coming days in that town?

Military officials vehemently insist that they had not been taken on board by the Americans about the operation.

In hindsight, the flurry of activity that took place in the past week or so indicates that something was up.

ISAF Commander Gen Petraeus paid an extraordinary visit to Islamabad last Monday (April 25), when he is said to have held ‘a short and crisp’ discussion with Gen Kayani at an unusual meeting venue — Chaklala Airbase. The two generals are even said to have taken a short trip to an undisclosed location on board an aircraft. The same night Gen Petraeus had through teleconferencing attended a White House meeting chaired by President Barack Obama.

Observers feel that President Obama referred to that meeting in his speech on Monday morning, in which he announced the death of Osama: “And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorised an operation to get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice.”

The very next day, Pakistan’s top military coordination body — Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee — held its quarterly session, which was attended among others by ISI Chief Gen Shuja Pasha, who otherwise isn’t a regular member of the body. The meeting was unscheduled.

The final orders for the raid were signed by President Obama last Friday in the presence of National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, his deputy Denis McDonough and counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan.

However, it is not just the denial of the Pakistan army of any prior knowledge of the operation that is raising eyebrows.

Another anomaly in the Pakistan military’s account of the raid is their explanation of how four US helicopters evaded the country’s air defence system for about an hour (almost 30 minutes each side) as they flew in from Bagram and returned after a 40-minute long foray.

One official claimed that the helicopters succeeded in avoiding detection through ‘Nap of the earth flight’ — a military tactic involving low-altitude flying to evade air defence systems. Yet another maintained that the air defence systems had been jammed by the Americans.

if this sequence of events is to be believed then why did President Obama appreciate Pakistan’s cooperation in the operation? Was it out of love for the country?

“But it’s important to note that our counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding,” Mr Obama said.

Whatever the case, Pakistani commanders took heart from President Obama’s and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statements on the incident.

They think that the statements had provided Pakistan with a way out of the awkward situation and given the space for both sides to continue with their war on militancy cooperation.

It was in line with this assessment of the situation and the subsequent American stance that the Foreign Office statement on Osama’s killing was drafted. The carefully worded statement renewed its pledge to continue cooperation with the US in fight against militancy.

“Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies, including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.”

The statement had hailed the operation as “a major setback to terrorist organisations around the world”.

Evident from the statement were the worries in the foreign ministry and among the civilian leadership and among military command about the questions that would be asked, especially about the violation of country’s sovereignty during the conduct of the operation. Hence, it took recourse to America’s right of defence and international law.

At one point, the statement noted that “the operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with the declared US policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.” Whereas at another point, it said “Al Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan.”

The statement emphasised that the operation had been carried out by the US forces, and not Pakistani troops.

This is also the line pushed by the civilian government whose Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said the operation was carried out by the US in exercise of UNSC mandate.


Fourteen PML-Q lawmakers join federal cabinet


ISLAMABAD: The country witnessed on Monday another marriage of convenience between two political parties having record of hurling serious allegations on each other, as 14 PML-Q lawmakers took oath as members of the federal cabinet.

President Asif Ali Zardari administered the oath to new ministers.

Those who took oath as federal ministers include Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Amir Muqam, Anwar Ali Cheema, Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Ghous Bukhsh Mehr and Riaz Hussain Pirzada.

The new ministers of state include Khwaja Shiraz Mehmood, Sardar Bahadur Seer, Akram Masih Gil, Sardar Shahjahan Yousuf, Raza Hayat Hiraj, Sheikh Waqas Akram and Rana Asif Tauseef.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Punjab Governor Latif Khosa, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mahdi Shah, PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Waseem Sajjad, federal ministers, members of parliament and high-ranking officials attended the ceremony.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan described the inclusion of PML-Q legislators in the cabinet as the height of hypocrisy, falsehood and self-interest. “Those who used to accuse each other of murder, corruption and anti-state activities are embracing each other as if the nation was oblivious to their words and deeds,” he remarked.

He said the rulers must realise that their boat was bound to sink faster because of the additional burden of the PML-Q on the board.

He said such unnatural alliances would neither prove to be long-lasting nor the harbinger of a positive change for the people. He said the PML-Q had not only accused the PPP of being involved in corruption in rental power projects, but had also gone to the extent of knocking the door of the apex court.

He said those who had done politics for eight years under the patronage of a uniformed dictator had now joined hands with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto`s party to promote their interests and were chalking out plans to jointly hoodwink the people in the next general elections. He, however, said such moves would be frustrated by the people.

The PPP and PML-Q had decided to form a coalition government and cooperate in the next general elections in a meeting held at the Presidency on Sunday night.

The two parties agreed to work together to strengthen democracy, ensure electoral reforms, create new provinces, especially in Southern Punjab (Seraiki) and Hazara, subject to consultation with the people and approval of stakeholders and making appropriate amendments to the Constitution for this purpose.

The two parties also agreed to cooperate in a number of areas of concern to the people, including economic uplift, controlling inflation, resolving the issue of power shortage, carrying out accountability and strengthening law and order in the country.

All the demands put forth by the PML-Q were accepted. These, sources say, include ending the corruption case against Moonis Elahi, son of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

One unresolved issue is that of appointment of Pervaiz Elahi as deputy prime minister, for which Prime Minister Gilani believes a constitutional amendment is required. The government, however, says the issue will be amicably resolved.


Violence erupts in Karachi after killing of MQM leader


KARACHI: The city descended into fear and panic as violence erupted across the metropolis shortly after the killing of a senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) member on Monday that left four more people dead, nearly a dozen others wounded, around 25 vehicles torched and a private bank branch partially damaged, police and witnesses said.

The sudden and intense assaults, which were first reported in the east zone of the police organisational structure, gradually engulfed all major neighbourhoods, including residential and commercial areas, amid frequent incidents of firing and arson.

The violence sparked in the afternoon after armed men riding a motorbike intercepted the car of 48-year-old Farooq Baig, an organising committee member of the MQM Karachi and a former sector in charge of Landhi, and shot him dead.

He was heading to the party’s headquarters Nine Zero after leaving his home in Landhi No 6 when he was targeted.

“Mr Baig was driving the car bearing registration number GL-6367, which was intercepted near a stop called Bagh-i-Korangi by pillion riders,” said SP Landhi Nasir Aftab.

“One of the riders fired multiple shots at him before running away with his accomplice. He was seriously wounded and was rushed to a private hospital on Stadium Road where he died during treatment.”

Known and respected as the senior MQM member, Mr Baig was employed at the Landhi Town administration. He was father of three sons and associated with the MQM for almost three decades. His murder left many residents shocked and also caused fear in the densely-populated locality.

The incident came at a time when senior leaders of the MQM were meeting Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad following his repeated offers to rejoin the federal cabinet. Before they could reach an agreement, the targeted killing sparked anger among MQM leaders and workers.

Shortly after Mr Baig’s killing, armed men riding a motorbike in the same area intercepted a truck (RIH-7793) loaded with construction material and gunned down its driver and his helper.

“The victims were identified as the 40-year-old driver, Mohammad Mir Hazara, and 35-year-old cleaner, Abdul Razzaq. Both were also paternal cousins,” said an official at the Awami Colony police station. The killings were carried out near Korangi Dar-ul-Uloom.

Amid intense firing, an unidentified youngster was found shot dead near Kamal Petrol Pump in Pak Colony. The body was shifted to the Civil Hospital Karachi, the area police said.

Same was the fate of a young man who was targeted by armed men riding a motorbike on Tariq Road.

“The incident was witnessed near Edhi Centre on main Tariq Road. The victim was in his mid 20s and seemed to be a labourer by clothes and features. The body has been shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for want of identification,” SSP Amir Farooqi of Jamshed Town.

igures gathered from the medico-legal sections of three major public hospitals — JPMC, Civil Hospital and the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital — indicated that at least 13 people were brought wounded to the hospitals. A couple of the victims were in their teens.

Nevertheless rampant firing was followed by arson attacks in different areas that paralysed city life. The intense firing and arson attacks on vehicles left hundreds of thousands of people stranded in traffic jams on roads.

The worst traffic jams were witnessed on Sharea Faisal, M.A. Jinnah Road, Shahrah-i-Pakistan and other major arteries linking the city’s commercial centre to residential localities.

Capital City Police Officer Saud Mirza confirmed to Dawn that some 25 vehicles were set on fire in different arson attacks though he claimed that police’s timely intervention proved effective and the law-enforcers managed to arrest more than 100 suspects ‘red-handed while they were engaged in arson and firing activities.’

“We took several initiatives and managed to arrest some 103 suspects with arms and arson materials found in their possession,” the CCPO said.

He said he saw ‘ethnic colour in the targeted attacks mainly on the buses and trucks’. “We are hopeful about making more arrests as the arsonists targeted mostly minibuses and trucks owned by people from a particular ethnic background,” he said.

The police chief also said that the entire event seemed planned to trigger ethnic-based violence.

The facts gathered through the central fire station and police stations showed that three buses and a hi-roof van were torched in Landhi Town.

A taxi was seen in flames near Malir 15. A minibus of route Z-18 was set on fire in Pak Colony. A private bus was set ablaze on University Road near Al-Mustafa Centre.

Similarly, arsonists attacked a trailer near Al-Karam Square in Liaquatabad and a water tanker near Firdous Cinema in the same area.In Gizri area, armed men set fire to five vehicles — two cars, two buses and a minibus — within half-an-hour.

In Nazimabad, a minibus of route N-4 was set ablaze near the Shamim Shaheed police post. A passenger coach was torched in Bilal Colony of New Karachi Town.

Three mini-trucks, one each in Gulshan-i-Shamim of Azizabad, at Water Pump and near Sindhi Hotel in Liaquatabad, were set on fire.

Most arson attacks were reported before the sunset, while scattered attempts were also made in the dark.

After the sunset, two more trucks were set on fire in Liaquatabad while a carpet showroom was seen in blazes in the Buffer Zone area.

A car was also set on fire on Mubarak Saeed Road in Jamshed Town in the late hours.

“A total of 44 fire tenders were used in firefighting,” said Chief Fire Officer Ehtashamuddin. “All the 20 stations in the city remained engaged in today’s operation as the incidents were reported in almost every district of the city. In most areas, we enjoyed police escort for the security purpose.”

He said a private bank branch near Lasbela was also targeted by arsonists but with the timely intervention by the area police the flames were prevented from engulfing the structure that helped firefighters to divert resources to other affected areas.


World leaders hail killing of bin Laden


HONG KONG: The killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a covert US operation is a “victory for justice” that will bring “great relief” to the world, America’s allies said Monday.

Announcing the death of the planet’s most wanted man, President Barack Obama said “justice has been done”, while his predecessor George W. Bush hailed it as a “momentous” achievement.

But while news of what Israel called the “liquidation” of bin Laden was hailed by governments around the world, many cautioned that the fight against extremism was not over.

And in a sign of the possible tensions to come, India lashed out at its arch-foe Pakistan, saying the al Qaeda mastermind’s killing north of Islamabad was further evidence that terrorists find “sanctuary” in the country.

Bin Laden, a figure of hate across the West for the September 11, 2001 attacks, was killed in a Pakistani compound in an operation on Sunday, Obama told a global TV audience in a dramatic late-night address.

The news was greeted with jubilation in foreign capitals, with French Foreign Minster Alain Juppe calling it a “victory for all democracies fighting the abominable scourge of terrorism”.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said it would “bring great relief to people across the world”.

“It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror,” Cameron said in a statement.

“Osama bin Laden was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocities the world has seen.” Israel was fulsome in its praise of the United States, its vital security ally.

“The state of Israel joins together in the joy of the American people after the liquidation of bin Laden,” said a statement from the premier’s office.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulates US President Barack Obama for this victory for justice, liberty and the common values of democratic nations which fought side by side against terrorism.” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said bin Laden’s death was “good news for all men in the world who think freely and are peaceful”.

Westerwelle’s Italian counterpart Franco Frattini called it “a victory of good over evil, of justice over cruelty”.

Bush, who was president at the time of the September 11 attacks and launched the subsequent war in Afghanistan, said bin Laden’s death was a “momentous” achievement and congratulated Obama, US intelligence and military forces.

“The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” Obama’s predecessor said.

But India, which has fought three wars with Pakistan, said news that bin Laden had been hiding out across its border was worrying.

“We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which President Obama said that the firefight in which Osama bin Laden was killed took place in Abbottabad ‘deep inside Pakistan’,” Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said.

“This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organisations find sanctuary in Pakistan,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the news was “welcome”, but cautioned: “Whilst al Qaeda has been hurt today, al Qaeda is not finished. Our war against terrorism must continue.” Singapore, which sits in a region where the al Qaeda-inspired Jemaah Islamiyah have carried out a number of large-scale fatal attacks, also cautioned that bin Laden’s demise did not mean the world was safe.

“This is a significant milestone… but terrorism, and the ideologies that perpetuate it, pose complex and long term challenges. To deal with it will require continued vigilance,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. – AFP


Syria protesters given surrender ultimatum


DAMASCUS: The authorities in Syria on Monday set a deadline of 15 days for people who had committed “unlawful acts” to give themselves up, as a wave of arrests was reported across the country.

The ultimatum came as activists planned fresh anti-government demonstrations following the deaths of dozens of people in weekend protests.

In a statement, the interior ministry told “citizens who have participated in or committed unlawful acts such as bearing arms, attacking security or spreading lies to surrender by May 15 and hand their weapons in to the competent authorities.” It also called on Syrians to “supply information about saboteurs, terrorists and arms caches… they will be spared any subsequent legal consequences.”

A military spokesman on Monday announced the arrest of 499 people in the southern flashpoint town of Daraa, a week after thousands of troops backed by tanks swooped on the town to crush protests.

The spokesman also announced the deaths of two members of the security forces “as well as 10 terrorists.” Eight soldiers were wounded and five gunmen waiting in ambush were arrested, the military added.

According to the opposition Syrian Revolution 2011 website, security forces on Monday at dawn also entered the Kafar Nubbol area, 320 kilometres (200 miles) north of Damascus, and took over houses and arrested 26 people.

The site — a driving force behind the protests — urged Syrians across the country to mobilise every day at noon in solidarity with Daraa and all “besieged towns.”

“We say to this regime: ‘The court of the people will judge you’,” it said.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government has persistently blamed the violence on “armed criminal gangs” and “terrorist groups.” Hundreds of dissidents were arrested on Sunday, including in Daraa and the besieged Damascus suburb of Douma, after dozens of people were killed in weekend protests, activists said.

Human rights groups say the civilian death toll from unprecedented demonstrations that erupted on March 15 has topped 580.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Monday that Assad’s regime will fall if it continues its bloody crackdown.

“If the regime perseveres down this path, it will fall, one day or another, but it will fall,” Juppe told Europe 1 radio.

Today there is this great hope for freedom and democracy. You must take this into account and putting it down by firing live rounds into crowds is unacceptable whichever country does it,” he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday denounced the “disgraceful” crackdown and urged more global pressure against Damascus, although Turkish

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned against foreign military intervention.

The United States has blocked assets of Assad’s brother Maher, who commands the feared Fourth Armoured Division, as well as top officials and Syria’s intelligence services.

The European Union is also preparing a raft of sanctions, including an arms embargo.

“At least 356 people were arrested today (Sunday) across Syria, including in Daraa, Douma, Latakia and Qamishli,” an activist told AFP by telephone.

He said demonstrations took place in the central city of Homs. A protest was also held in the coastal city of Latakia and a candlelit vigil in Banias.

Troops in tanks backed by other armoured vehicles on Sunday cruised Daraa streets, shooting to keep residents indoors and arresting men aged 15 and over, an activist from the town told AFP.

“Since early morning the army and security forces have been combing neighbourhoods one by one and making sweeping arrests. Hundreds have been arrested since Friday,” activist Abdullah Abizad said by telephone.

In Douma, “the army has tightened the siege and has a list of 200 names of people it wants to arrest,” another activist said.

Activists said many people in Douma and Daraa live off the land and have been relying on what they grow.

In Daraa, “nothing is coming in. People there grow a lot of tomatoes and zucchini and they are making do with what they have. The situation is critical but there is no famine.” The Syrian Revolution 2011 site vowed in a Facebook statement that “we will only kneel before God,”  and gave a daily schedule of protests for the week in solidarity with Daraa and Douma, calling it “the week of breaking the siege.”

The army said it entered Daraa on April 25 at the request of residents to rid them of “terrorist gangs” responsible for a spate of killings and vandalism. The Committee of the Martyrs of the 15 March Revolution, which has been keeping a tally of the dead, put the toll since the start of protests at 582 civilians.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 86 army and security forces personnel have also been killed.

Wissam Tarif, executive director of the Insan human rights group, said, “There have been 2,130 verified arrests since March 15, but the figure could be more than 5,000.”


India says Pakistan shown as terror ‘sanctuary’

03 May 2011

NEW DELHI: The killing of al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden near Islamabad is further evidence that terrorists find “sanctuary” in Pakistan, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Monday.

“We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which President Obama said that the firefight in which Osama bin Laden was killed took place in Abbottabad ‘deep inside Pakistan’,” Chidambaram said in a statement.

“This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organisations find sanctuary in Pakistan,” Chidambaram said as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged Islamabad to take action against militants.

“The international community and Pakistan in particular must work comprehensively to end the activities of all such groups who threaten civilised behaviour and kill innocent men, women and children,” Singh said.

The premier said he hoped bin Laden’s killing would deal a “decisive blow to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”

India accuses Pakistan of providing shelter and support to militant groups planning attacks on Indian soil and has repeatedly pushed the global community – the United States in particular – to censure Pakistan accordingly.

US President Barack Obama said the operation to kill bin Laden was the result of cooperation with Pakistan, but US officials admitted that they had not informed Islamabad before the strike by US forces.

Home Minister Chidambaram focused on India’s belief that perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks continue to be sheltered in Pakistan.

“We once again call upon the government of Pakistan to arrest the persons whose names have been handed over,” he said.

In a separate statement, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said the US success in killing bin Laden was an “historic development and victorious milestone” in the global war on terror.

But, in another clear reference to Pakistan, he also stressed the need to root out militant safe havens in South Asia.

“The world must not let down its united effort to overcome terrorism and eliminate the safe havens and sanctuaries that have been provided to terrorists in our own neighbourhood,” he said.

The same message was hammered home by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who said Pakistan had a long history of denying evidence that it was aiding and abetting militant groups.

“This incident establishes that Pakistan has been sheltering terrorists and now the country must take steps against them,” he told reporters after visiting a military post in the desert region of Jaisalmer bordering Pakistan.

Lalit Mansingh, a former ambassador to the United States, said he believed Obama’s mention of Pakistani cooperation was aimed at deflecting any criticism that the US special operation may have infringed Pakistani sovereignty.

“The fact is that Pakistan is going to have to answer some uncomfortable questions arising from this, not least of which is how bin Laden was able to hide so close to Islamabad for so long,” Mansingh told AFP.

“One suspects he must have had some help from figures in the Pakistani establishment,” he added.


Oil drops sharply after Bin Laden death

03 May 2011

LONDON: Oil prices fell more than 3 percent on Monday after US forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after a decade of military operations across central Asia and the Middle East.

ICE Brent crude futures for June fell $4.22 to a low of $121.67 a barrel before recovering some ground to trade around $122.85 by 0942 GMT. Last month Brent hit a 32-month high above $127. US crude slid $2.40 to $111.53.

Early futures market volume was depressed by a public holiday in Britain and several other countries, which may have added to price volatility, oil brokers said.

The oil market focused on whether the news would help unwind the risk premium attached to prices because of war in Libya and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

“There’s probably a knee-jerk reaction to the extent that part of the geopolitical risk has been supported by al-Qaeda, so there will be an initial sell-off,” said Jeremy Friesen, commodity strategist at Societe Generale.

Economists including David Cohen from Action Economics warned that in the near term Bin Laden’s killing might trigger a violent response by al-Qaeda, but analysts said it was unlikely the network would succeed in disrupting oil supplies.

The closest al-Qaeda has been to hitting the oil industry was on February 24, 2006, when Saudi forces repelled a suicide attack on the Abqaiq oil-processing centre, the world’s largest.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI have not issued any warning of a credible or imminent threat, but Obama warned Americans to remain vigilant.


Thorbjrn Bak Jensen of Global Risk Management suggested the initial sell-off was unlikely to last.

“We regard the reactions as temporary as nothing fundamentally new is really on the table. If anything it might be a good idea to secure oil costs,” he said.

Oil was already down before the Bin Laden news, after Nato air strikes over the weekend killed one of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s sons and industry sources said Saudi Arabia raised output in April.

Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren were killed in a Nato air strike, the Libyan government said on Sunday.

Britain said that while it was not targeting the leader, it was homing in on the regime’s military machine.

“What’s happening in Libya is probably an event that will see Qadhafi moved out of his position, so the risk premium which relates to Middle East concerns will start to erode,” said Jonathan Barratt, head of Commodity Broking Services.

Saudi Arabia’s crude oil output edged back up in April to around 8.5 million barrels per day (bpd) from roughly 8.3 million bpd in March as demand picked up, Saudi-based industry sources said on Sunday.

The dollar strengthened by around 0.2 percent on Monday following last week’s slide, deterring investors from piling into commodities this week and triggering a 10 percent plunge in spot silver prices.

Money managers increased their bets on higher US crude oil prices to a combined record level in New York and London in the week to April 26, data from the CFTC showed on Friday, as US prices rose to their highest level since September 2008.

Volatility and uncertainty due to the pan-Arab protests and Libya’s conflict have tempered oil trading. The US 30-day average volume was down by nearly 130,000 lots compared with the 250-day average at the end of last week, Reuters data showed.


Justice is done

03 May 2011

ABBOTTABAD: US President Barack Obama in a televised address gave the world the news of the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, saying, “Justice has been done.” The declaration by Obama sparked raucous jubilation across the United States.

“I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Bin Laden,” said the US president, adding, “After a firefight, Bin Laden was killed and his body was taken into custody.”

“Over the years, I’ve, repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, Bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people,” said Obama. “This is a good and historic day for both of our nations (US and Pakistan). And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates,” added the US president. agencies\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg1_2


It’s a great victory

03 May 2011

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Monday that the killing of top al Qaeda leader was a great victory and a success, reiterating that Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used against any other country for terrorism.

The killing of Bin Laden in a US operation was a “major setback” for terrorist organisations, said Gilani in an interview to a French magazine Politique Internationale. The prime minister said thousands of Pakistani soldiers, civilians, including women and children, had laid down their lives in the fight against terrorism. To a question about the killing of Bin Laden, Gilani said intelligence sharing with the US was involved in the operation. “We have good relations and multi-dimensional cooperation with the US in the fields of health, education, defence, intelligence, economic and culture.” Asked if it was embarrassing for the government to discover that Bin Laden had been living within easy reach of the capital, Gilani said, “It’s an embarrassment for the whole world because of the high tech and intelligence and such information, they could not reach that gentleman for the last seven years.” agencies\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg1_3


Bomb kills four near mosque in Charsadda

03 May 2011

PESHAWAR: A bomb exploded near a mosque in Charsadda on Monday killing a woman and three children and wounding five others, among them two policemen. The attack took place near a mosque, which is located close to the Umerzai Police Station that appeared to be the target, local police chief Nisar Khan Marwat said.

Five people were wounded, two of them police officials, he said. The injured were rushed to the Charsadda District Headquarters Hospital and Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

The bomb destroyed the mosque and damaged the outer wall of the police station, said Marwat.

After the incident, security was tightened and a search operation was also launched in the surrounding areas. No outfit claimed responsibility for the attack. agencies\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_5


Bin Laden’s killing echoes in upper house of parliament

By Tanveer Ahmed

03 May 2011

ISLAMABAD: The killing of al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden echoed in the Upper House of parliament on Monday as the senators questioned the operation of US forces inside the country which, they said, was a direct assault on Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty.

They also deplored the silence of the government to give its version of the events involving US military operation in Abbottabad which killed Bin Laden.

They noted that “the killing of al Qaeda chief has given an opportunity to the international community to blame Pakistan for having safe sanctuaries of terrorists on its soil”.

Leader of the House, Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, assured the House that he would collect information about the incident from the Foreign Office and Interior Ministry and share it with the House shortly. “The role of our agencies in this whole episode will also be brought to the knowledge of the Senate,” he added.

Earlier, when the 70th session of the Senate started under the chair of Farooq Naek, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Senator Ishaq Dar, on a point of order, termed the Abbottabad episode a very “serious issue”, saying, “Ignorance of our armed forces to the operation is a serious concern.” He said what is more concern is the fact that the operation was carried out in an area where the military has a number of sensitive installations.

He demanded the prime minister to inform the House about the details of the operation which, he said, raised many more issues for the country.

National Party’s Senator Mir Hasil Bazinjo said that assassination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan was as important for the country as 9/11 incident for the US. “The killing of al Qaeda head in Pakistan has established the fact that reports about his presence pouring in for quite some time were not false,” added Bazinjo.

He felt that this particular incident would not stop the allegations against Pakistan that “it has safe havens for terrorists” and would bring new allegations about the presence of Haqqani Network, Ayman al-Zawahri and other terrorist elements on its soil.\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_4


No plan for trial of terror suspects in military courts, Malik tells SC

By Hasnaat Malik

03 May 2011

ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, on Monday, while reacting to a statement of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president, informed the apex court that there wasn’t any plan to try those terrorists apprehended by law enforcement agencies in military courts.

A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, was hearing the missing persons’ case.

During Monday’s hearing, SCBA President Asma Jahangir appeared before the court on behalf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and stated that according to her information, a plan to amend the Anti-Terrorist Act to try terrorists in military courts was being considered. She asserted that such a recommendation had been given by three retired judges.

Upon this, Justice Javed Iqbal said that the apex court did not interfere in the government’s affairs. He said that the courts had never encouraged mischief mongers, regretting that “criminals were released because police in most of the cases failed to provide evidence”. He asked the interior minister not to take the directions of the apex court lightly.

At the outset of the proceedings, Rehman Malik told the court that Balochistan was a victim of international terrorism. He maintained that first miscreants killed people in Punjab, Hazarwal, Sindh and now they wanted to create a law and order situation in Balochistan.

“I spoke to Afghan President Hamid Karzai not less then five times and got positive results regarding release of Pakistani prisoners in Afghan jails,” Malik said. Justice Javed noted that according to the constitution, people of Balochistan were not given due service quota in the army. He also observed that policies for Balochistan were framed without taking Baloch people into confidence. He urged the minister to talk not only to bureaucracy and cabinet but also with all the relevant persons to address the issues of Baloch people.

On the court’s advice, Malik assured that Baloch leaders would be contacted for a reconciliation and angry Balochs would also be given relief. He said the federal government had already taken political, diplomatic, administrative and operational steps for the development of Balochistan, and the launching of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan programme was also in line with the government’s efforts for uplift of the province.

“Your presentation was good. But, the apex court and families of the missing people could not get the fruit of these efforts. The government even did not solve any single chronic case,” Justice Javed said to the minister.

Malik claimed that actually only 55 people had been missing and that the figure of 6,000 was incorrect. “Only 15 cases are chronic and investigation about five people is in final stage,” Malik added.

The court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_3


Shahbaz urges govt to narrate facts about Bin Laden operation

03 May 2011

LAHORE: In a cautious reaction to the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad on Monday morning by the US forces, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif has urged the federal government to take the nation into confidence and reveal to them if the operation was a joint initiative of the US and the Pakistani forces. While talking to media persons, the CM said he had no knowledge regarding the details of the operation and would come up with a definite position on the matter once the federal government narrates facts about the operation. Meanwhile, the PML-N issued a party statement on the ongoing war on terror and asked for a new approach for peace in the region. staff report\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_7


US issues global travel alert after Osama’s death

03 May 2011

WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Sunday issued a global travel alert to all US citizens following the death of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, saying there could be an outbreak of anti-American violence. “The US Department of State alerts US citizens travelling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan,” it said in a statement. “Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, US citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.” It added that the warning would remain in effect until August 1. afp\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_9


Americans erupt in joy at Osama’s death

03 May 2011

NEW YORK: Joyous at the release of a decade’s frustration, Americans streamed to the site of the World Trade Centre, the gates of the White House and smaller but no less jubilant gatherings across the nation to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden — cheering, waving flags and belting the national anthem.

The site of the September 11 attacks at New York’s World Trade Centre, more familiar these past 10 years for bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” and solemn speeches and arguments over what to build to honour those killed, became, for the first time, a place of revelry.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this day,” Lisa Ramaci, a New Yorker whose husband was a freelance journalist killed in the Iraq war, said early Monday. “I think it’s a relief for New York tonight just in the sense that we had this 10 years of frustration just building and building, wanting this guy dead, and now he is, and you can see how happy people are.”

She was holding a flag and wearing a T-shirt depicting the twin towers and, in crosshairs, Bin Laden. Nearby, a man held up a cardboard sign that read, “Obama 1, Osama 0.”

Dionne Layne, 44, of Stamford, Connecticut, spent the entire night at ground zero with her two children, ages 9 and 11. She planned to spend the rest of the day with them at the site because “they can’t get this in a history class. They have to be a part of this”.

Layne said she witnessed the second tower come down on September 11, 2001, from Brooklyn, where she lived at the time.

Uptown in Times Square, dozens stood together on a clear spring night and broke into applause when a New York Fire Department vehicle drove by, flashed its lights and sounded its siren. A man held an American flag, and others sang “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City at the time of the attack, said Bin Laden’s death “removes a leader of diabolical proportions”.

Family members of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks are reacting with a muted joy.

Catherine Esposito came to ground zero Monday morning to honour the memory of her firefighter brother, Frankie Esposito. She says visiting the site is the closest she can come to visiting his grave, since his remains were never found.

Charles G Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, died at the World Trade Centre, says he feels “happiness — but not jump-up-and-down happiness”. He said that closure doesn’t really exist for him.

On an overcast morning in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a hijacked plane apparently meant for Washington crashed in a field after passengers fought back, a few visitors gathered Monday at the fence-lined overlook that serves as a temporary memorial while a permanent one is built.

“I thought of September 11 and the people lost,” said Daniel Pyle, 33, of Shanksville, who stopped at the site on his way to work at a lawn care company. “I wanted to pay homage to the people lost that day. I think this brings a little bit of closure.”

In New York, authorities said there would be extra police at all three area airports “out of an abundance of caution”. The Port Authority also said there would be more police along the George Washington Bridge and at ground zero.

But for the most part, Sunday night and into the workday Monday, the nation stopped to reflect, and to rejoice.

In Washington, in front of the White House, a crowd began gathering before President Barack Obama addressed the nation late Sunday to declare, “Justice has been done.” The throng grew, and within a half-hour had filled the street in front of the White House and begun spilling into Lafayette Park.

“It’s not over, but it’s one battle that’s been won, and it’s a big one,” said Marlene English, who lives in Arlington, Virginia, and lobbies on defence issues. She said she has baked thousands of cookies to send to friends serving in Iraq and Afghanistan over the years and that she was at the White House because they couldn’t be.

The celebrations began to come together late Sunday in the US, after Americans began hearing about the death of Bin Laden from bulletins on television, texts and calls from family and friends and posts on social networking sites.

Bin Laden was slain in his luxury hideout in Pakistan in a firefight with American forces early Monday local time. Obama said no Americans had been harmed in the operation.

As news of the president’s announcement began to filter across the country, the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies were in the middle of a baseball game in Philadelphia, and chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” began in the top of the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park. ap\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_11


Taliban threaten US, Pakistan over Bin Laden

03 May 2011

PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s main Taliban faction on Monday threatened to attack Pakistan and the United States after the US confirmed that Osama Bin Laden had been killed near the Pakistani capital. “If he has been martyred, we will avenge his death and launch attacks against American and Pakistani governments and their security forces,” spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told reporters by telephone from an undisclosed location. “These people are in fact the enemies of Islam,” he added. The Taliban spokesman said the militia had not itself managed to confirm Bin Laden’s death, which was announced by US President Barack Obama. “If he has become a martyr, it is a great victory for us because martyrdom is the aim of all of us.” afp\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_14


Taliban cannot win, should spurn al Qaeda: Clinton

03 May 2011

WASHINGTON: The US killing of Osama Bin Laden shows that the Taliban cannot defeat the United States in Afghanistan and that it should abandon its ties to al Qaeda, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday. Clinton spoke after it was announced that Bin Laden had been killed in a US helicopter raid on a mansion near Islamabad, ending a long worldwide hunt for the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. “In Afghanistan we will continue taking the fight to al Qaeda and their Taliban allies while working to support the Afghan people as they build a stronger government and begin to take responsibility for their own security,” Clinton said. reuters\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_15


Bin Laden’s death ‘positive step’: Musharraf

03 May 2011

DUBAI: Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf said on Monday that news of Osama Bin Laden’s death was a “positive step”, although he criticised the United States for launching the raid within his country’s borders. Calling it a victory for the people of Pakistan, Musharraf said he also expected some short-term instability due to acts of revenge. “It’s a very positive step and it will have positive long-term implications,” Musharraf told reporters in Dubai, where he resides. “Today we won a battle, but the war against terror will continue.” Bin Laden died early on Monday in Abbottabad, a tiny enclave north of Islamabad, after US Navy Seals were sent in to kill the leader of the terrorist group that orchestrated the September 11 attacks and had eluded capture for nearly a decade. reuters\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_16


Life of Osama Bin Laden

03 May 2011

Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed in a firefight with US forces in Pakistan early on Monday, President Barack Obama announced.

1957: Osama Bin Muhammad Bin Awad Bin Laden born in Riyadh, one of more than 50 children of millionaire businessman. There are conflicting accounts of his precise date of birth.

1976: Studied management and economics at a university in Jeddah.

Dec 26, 1979: Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. From 1984, Bin Laden was involved in Peshawar-based Services Office to support Arab volunteers arriving to fight Soviet forces.

1986: Bin Laden moved to Peshawar, began importing arms and formed his own small brigade of volunteer fighters.

1988: Al Qaeda (The Base) was established as a magnet for radical Muslims seeking a more fundamentalist brand of government in their home countries and joined in common hatred of the United States, Israel and US-allied Muslim governments.

1991: Bin Laden left Saudi Arabia and went into exile, having opposed the kingdom’s alliance with the United States against Iraq.

June 1993: Bin Laden’s family moved to expel Osama as shareholder in its businesses, which focused on construction.

April 9, 1994: Saudi Arabia, angered by Bin Laden’s propaganda against its rulers, revoked his citizenship.

May 1996: Bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan after US pressure on its government, and went to Afghanistan.

August 1996: Bin Laden issued a fatwa, or religious decree, that US military personnel should be killed.

October 1996: US branded Bin Laden as a prime suspect in two bombings in Saudi Arabia, which killed 24 US servicemen and two Indians.

August 7, 1998: Truck bombs exploded at US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killing 224, including 12 Americans.

August 20, 1998: President Bill Clinton named Bin Laden as America’s top enemy and accused him of being responsible for the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bombings. US launched missile strikes against what Clinton calls terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan. One destroyed a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, whose owner denied any affiliation with Bin Laden.

October 12, 2000: Al Qaeda struck at destroyer USS Cole, harboured at Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen sailors were killed.

September 11, 2001: Three hijacked planes crashed into major US landmarks, destroying New York’s World Trade Centre and plunged into the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people were killed. In a video released later, Bin Laden says the collapse of the towers exceeded al Qaeda’s expectations.

September 17, 2001: US President George W Bush said Bin Laden was “Wanted: Dead or Alive”.

October 7, 2001: United States attacked Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, host to Bin Laden and al Qaeda.

December 6, 2001: Anti-Taliban forces captured Bin Laden’s main base in Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

September 10, 2002: Al Jazeera broadcast what it said was the voice of Bin Laden praising the 9/11 hijackers as men who “changed the course of history”.

November 2002: Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for three suicide car bombs in Kenya which blew up the Mombasa Paradise resort hotel, popular with Israelis, killing 15 people and wounding 80.

October 2004: Bin Laden burst into the US election campaign in his first videotaped message in over a year to deride Bush.

January 2006: Bin Laden’s first public message for over a year was a bid to show he was still in command of al Qaeda.

September 2006: Bush vowed “America will find you”.

September 2007: Bin Laden issued first new video for nearly three years, telling US it was vulnerable despite its power.

May 18, 2008: Bin Laden urged Muslims to break the Israeli-led blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and fight Arab governments that deal with Israel.

January 24, 2010: Bin Laden claimed responsibility for the failed December 25 bombing of a US-bound plane in an audio tape and vowed to continue attacks on the United States.

March 25, 2010: Bin Laden threatened that al Qaeda will kill any American it takes prisoner if accused September 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, held by United States, was put to death, according to an audiotape aired on al Jazeera.

January 21, 2011: Bin Laden said in an audio recording that the release of French hostages held in Niger by al Qaeda depended on France’s soldiers leaving Muslim lands.

May 2, 2011: Osama bin Laden was killed in a million-dollar compound in the resort of Abbottabad, 60 kilometres north of Islamabad. reuters\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_12


Karachi target killings issue surfaces in Senate

By Tanveer Ahmed

03 May 2011

ISLAMABAD: The ongoing spree of target killings in Karachi came up for discussion in the Senate on Monday when Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) senators raised serious concerns over the inability of the government to control the incidents.

MQM Senator Colonel (r) Tahir Mashhadi, while initiating the debate on the precarious law and order situation in the metropolis, accused the government of supporting such elements, which were involved in the killings of the party workers and leaders.

He said that in the last two months, 99 people had been killed in target killings in the city, but not a single culprit had been arrested. The senator held the provincial government and its Home Department responsible for the bloodshed in Karachi by not acting against the criminals.

ANP Senator Zahid Khan said that the government was chained in compromises, which was preventing it from taking action against those involved in the target killings, adding that the Sindh government had failed to curb the incidents in the city.

MQM Senator Babar Ghauri said that an MQM delegation in a meeting with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani called for stopping these target killings and hoped that Interior Minister Rehman Malik would do something in this regard, and put an end to the killing spree.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that he had no idea as to who was ruling Sindh, as all the political parties of Karachi were in the coalition government and the killing of innocent people was continuing unabatedly. He alleged that the Sindh government had been involved in an attack on a provincial office of the PML-N and a restaurant owned by one of the party leaders.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) Senator Abdul Rahim Mandokhel said that the public transport vehicles owned by the Pakhtuns were being burnt down in the city.

Senator Raziq Khan said that no person was safe, as people of all communities were being targeted in Karachi. Separately, Senator Khalid Mahmood Soomro, while moving a resolution on the recovery of written off loans, demanded that the list of all those who wrote off loans should be presented in the House.

Earlier, the Senate had rejected the bill moved by Soomro to give regional languages the status of national languages. The bill moved by Senator Tahir Mashhadi to amend the constitution vis-à-vis the income tax on agriculture products, was referred by the chair to the standing committee concerned. Responding to the motion moved by Senator Mashhadi about the affairs of the Pakistan Steel Mill, Federal Industries and Production Minister, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, told the House that the government had planned to revamp and upgrade the steel mill.

“International bids have been sought to complete the task and companies from Russia, Korea and Europe have submitted their bids in this regard,” Bijarani informed the House. He claimed that the Pakistan Steel Mill would come out of a loss shortly, as the government was paying full attention to streamline the affairs of the mill. Senate Chairman, Farooq Naek, took to task Federal Finance Minister, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, for not showing seriousness to the proceedings of the House by not turning up in the session. “He has made fun of the parliament, as whenever he is required to answer to the House, he does not show up,” Naek said.\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_20


Osama’s death not an end to terrorism: Imran

03 May 2011

ISLAMABAD: The killing of Osama Bin Laden may provide an opportunity to the US to declare a symbolic victory, but it will not end terrorism as long as outstanding political issues and injustices are not resolved in the region and the world, Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said in a statement on Monday.

“Political injustice, if not addressed equitably, would continue to breed terrorism in the region,” he said. According to the statement, the PTI chairman said that the operation in which Osama was killed was still shrouded in mystery. A number of critical questions remain unanswered to separate facts from fiction, including:

Under whose authority and under what law were the US Special Forces allowed to conduct a major operation inside Pakistan’s territory as claimed by US President Barack Obama? Was this a joint operation or had the Pakistan authorities acted as mere bystanders in their own country? If Osama was indeed located inside a compound in Abbottabad, why had Pakistan’s security agencies not take action and, instead, allow the US to breach our sovereignty?

Why has the government not shared any details of the helicopter that reportedly crashed during the operation, including information about the nationalities of those on board and their fate? In whose custody are the individuals arrested from the scene of the operation, as reported by the international media?

Khan said that his party demands that the arrested people must be tried in Pakistan and they should have access to due process of law. Their open trial and access to due process of law would lend the requisite moral authority to isolate terrorism. Why was the body of Osama allowed to be airlifted out of the country and reportedly buried at sea without a due process of law, as his alleged body was vital evidence? The PTI chairman said that instead of sharing full details leading up to the operation, the confusion would only increase doubt about Pakistan’s role to counter the menace of terrorism.\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg7_25


Obama watched live video of Osama hit

03 May 2011

WASHINGTON: Dramatic pictures have been released of US President Barack Obama watching live footage of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

Photographs issued by the White House show the president and other members of his team looking tense as they watch live video of the mission as it happened.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is shown with a particularly anxious expression, with both her hands clasped over her mouth.

US chief counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan was also among those viewing the footage.

Brennan: "It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time. It was clearly very tense, a lot of people were holding their breath.

"There was a fair degree of silence as the operation progressed.

"Minutes passed like days and the President was concerned about security of his personnel."

He added that a "tremendous sigh of relief" came in response to confirmation that Bin Laden was among those found in the compound.

Asked how Obama reacted when he received the news that bin Laden had been killed, Brennan recalled that the president said, "We got him."


Afghans fear West may see death as the end

May 3, 2011

KABUL (INP): In Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden was based for many years and where Al Qaeda helped to train and pay insurgents, there was relief and uncertainty about how his death would play out in the fraught regional power politics now shaping the war.

While senior political figures welcomed the news of his death, they cautioned that it did not necessarily translate into an immediate military victory over the Taliban, and urged the United States and NATO not to use it as a reason to withdraw.

“The killing of Osama should not be seen as mission accomplished,” said Hanif Atmar, a former interior minister who has been a strong opponent of the Taliban. “Al Qaeda is much more than just Osama bin Laden.”

“Mission accomplished means destroy, dismantle and defeat A.Q.,” he said. “And this should not be used as a justification for premature withdrawal. On the contrary, with this effort and the results it produced, it means we must stay the course.”

`His remarks, made before an audience of district development council members in Kabul where he had a scheduled speech, reminded people that as much as Americans had been Bin Laden’s greatest enemies, including the family of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Taliban opposition leader who was killed two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, also cautioned that the fight in Afghanistan was far from over.

“It is a relief for us to see a culprit who has been killed and it’s a relief for the people of Afghanistan, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story,” said Ahmad Wali Massoud, his brother.

“Al Qaeda has grown much bigger than Osama himself, so we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that things will be much affected by having him gone,” he said.

“For the past couple of years, when the Americans killed the main commanders of the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, a younger generation took over that was even more extreme and emotional.”

“Since Sept. 11, since Tora Bora, I have always said he was in Pakistan,” said Abdullah Abdullah, a leading political opposition figure. “And it was always denied, always denied and this has put an end to it, now where are the others? Zawahri? Where is Mullah Omar?” he asked, referring to the No. 2 Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al Zawahri, and the longtime leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Muhammad Omar. “It’s like half the job is done, but the rest is not an easy ride.”


Afghan Taliban declare start of spring offensive

From John Nelson

03 May 2011

Kabul - The Taliban declared the start of a spring offensive across Afghanistan Saturday, warning they would target foreign troops, as well as Afghan security forces and top government officials, in a wave of attacks including suicide bombings.

In a statement, the hardline Islamists warned Afghan civilians to stay away from public gatherings, military bases and convoys, as well as Afghan government centers and buildings, as these would be the focus of attacks starting on May 1.

The Taliban statement comes just a day after senior military officials and Western diplomats warned they expected a surge in insurgent attacks over the next week, beginning on Sunday.

“The Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants to declare the launching of the spring military operations named as “Badar” to be waged against the invading Americans and their foreign allies and internal supports,” the Taliban said in an emailed statement.

“Operations will focus on attacks against military centers, places of gatherings, airbases, ammunition and logistical military convoys of the foreign invaders in all parts of the country,” the Taliban said.

Senior military officials said that recent intelligence reporting indicated the campaign of increased violence would last about a week and would be mounted by the Taliban, supported by the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network and other insurgents.

Washington and commanders of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have trumpeted successes against a growing insurgency since 30,000 extra U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan last year.

The Taliban said the targets of the attacks would be foreign forces, high-ranking officials of President Hamid Karzai’s government, members of the cabinet and lawmakers, as well as the heads of foreign and local companies working for the NATO-led coalition.

“All Afghan people should bear in mind to keep away from gatherings, convoys and centers of the enemy so that they will not become harmed during attacks of Mujahideen against the enemy,” the Taliban said.

Senior military commanders have long anticipated a spike in violence with the arrival of the spring and summer “fighting season,” although the usual winter lull was not seen as U.S-led forces pressed their attacks against insurgents, particularly in the Taliban’s southern heartland.

Violence across Afghanistan hit record levels in 2010, with civilian and military casualties the worst since U.S-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001.

The Pentagon said in a biannual report Friday that an overall increase in violence was due in part to increased targeting of safe insurgent safe havens and unseasonably mild winter weather.

Earlier this month a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform killed Gen. Khan Mohammed Mujahid, the Kandahar police chief, while another uniformed suicide bomber killed five NATO soldiers. An Afghan pilot shot dead eight U.S. soldiers and a civilian contractor at Kabul airport this week.

The Taliban did not say how long their stepped-up campaign would last, but said it had been codenamed “Badar” after a decisive Muslim 7th Century battle victory in western Arabia that Muslims attribute to divine intervention.

In the statement, the Taliban repeated their frequent claim that fighting in Afghanistan would not end until foreign troops had left the country. They also called on Afghan government officials and security forces to switch sides to the insurgency.

Military commanders interviewed this week were not sure why May 1 had been chosen by the Taliban to launch their renewed offensive.


Karachi burns as MQM activist killed

03 May 2011

KARACHI – Farooq Beg, member Karachi Tanzimi Committee (KTC) of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) was ambushed by armed assailants at Bagh-e-Korangi area of Korangi.

He was shifted to Liaquat National Hospital in critical condition but could not survive and breathed his last on the way to hospital. He was coming to Nine Zero from his home in Landhi.

Farooq Beg s/o Chand Beg was 48. He lived in Landhi No 3. He has left behind his widow and three sons. His funeral will be after the Isha prayer today. He will be buried in the graveyard of Korangi No 6.

He was among the senior office workers of the MQM. He had been sector in-charge of Landhi Sector and at present he was working as a member of the Karachi Tanzimi Committee of the party.

Members of the Co-ordination Committee, parliamentarians, office-bearers and a large number of workers reached Liaquat National Hospital soon after hearing the sad news. Moving scenes were witnessed at the hospitals and the workers wept bitterly at the death of yet another senior worker of the party after Liaquat Qureshi.

Farooq Beg, member Karachi Tanzimi Committee (KTC) of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) was ambushed by armed assailants at Bagh-e-Korangi area of Korangi.

He was shifted to Liaquat National Hospital in critical condition but could not survive and breathed his last on the way to hospital. He was coming to Nine Zero from his home in Landhi.

Farooq Beg s/o Chand Beg was 48. He lived in Landhi No 3. He has left behind his widow and three sons. His funeral will be after the Isha prayer today. He will be buried in the graveyard of Korangi No 6.

He was among the senior office workers of the MQM. He had been sector in-charge of Landhi Sector and at present he was working as a member of the Karachi Tanzimi Committee of the party.


Blast kills woman, kids

03 May 2011

CHARSADDA – At least four people including a woman and three children were killed and five others, including two cops, sustained injuries when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off near police station in Umerzai area on Monday. Police said that unknown miscreants planted IED near the police station in Umerzai area which went off prematurely killing a woman and three children. – NNI


Saudi hopes OBL death will aid terror fight

03 May 2011

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia, the country of Osama bin Laden's birth, hopes his killing will help the international fight against terrorism and stamp out the "misguided thought" behind it, the Saudi state news agency said Monday.

"An official source expressed the hope of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia that the elimination of the leader of the terrorist al Qaeda organization would be a step toward supporting international efforts aimed at fighting terrorism," the news agency said.

It added that Riyadh hoped that bin Laden's demise would also help break up al Qaeda cells and eliminate the "misguided thought" it said was drives militancy.

Bin Laden was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan Monday, ending a nearly 10-year worldwide manhunt for the leader of the global Islamist militant network that orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The Saudi comments broke a near-silence that officials of Gulf Arab states had maintained after news emerged of bin Laden's death.

Yemen, bin Laden's ancestral Arabian Peninsula homeland, echoed Saudi sentiments, calling his killing a "monumental milestone in the ongoing global war against terrorism" in a statement issued by its embassy in Washington.

A Yemeni official, speaking on condition of anonymity, previously said Sanaa hoped the killing would "root out terrorism throughout the world." Earlier, Saudi Arabia's official news agency had merely noted that the United States and Pakistan had announced bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. military operation in Pakistan, but gave no clue to Riyadh's thinking. – Agencies


No intel’ role in missing persons: Malik

By Saad Saud

03 May 2011

ISLAMABAD – Interior Minister Rehman A. Malik on Monday requested the Supreme Court to declare missing persons as untraced people in order to dispel the wrong impression created about intelligence agencies’ role.He was briefing a three-member bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain that resumed hearing of missing persons cases.Enumerating his efforts for recovery of missing persons, he said that when he took charge, there were 6,000 cases but now these had been reduced to 55.He said the families of chronic cases would be dully compensated.

About Balochistan cases, he said that Balochistan Liberation Army, an outlawed organization and Balochistan Students organization were involved in such cases. Balochistan province was a target of international conspiracy, he added.He said that incidents of target killing and abduction were decreasing in Balochistan.

He said if allowed for a in-camera briefing, he could tell what means they were using.“What people are involved, what are their telephone numbers, how the money is passed on and paid and how the youth is not only selected, but also trained for these type of activities in Balochistan,” he added.

He said that around 4,000 youth from Balochistan were sent to Afghanistan to get training for terrorist activities and those who went there had been branded as missing ones. “There is a clear-cut plan to destabilize the country and every body precsely wants to know about those forces who are involved in such activities,” he added. The Interior minister further said “I would not call them Taliban, they are higher assassinators.”

He apprised the court that a number of youths from Balochistan had been arrested in Sindh who had been planning terrorist activities.

Malik revealed that some persons had also been arrested who were planning to attack the President of Pakistan in Larkana. Justice Javed Iqbal remarked that the court never aimed at demoralizing the intelligence agencies, however the efficiency of agencies could be examined on the basis of numbers of missing persons.

The Minister said that all the Inspector Generals of Police (IGPs) were complying with the orders of Supreme Court and FIRs had been registered over untraced persons. During course of hearing, President of Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir pointed out that judicial commission for recovery of missing persons, recommended some missing persons trial in the military court, which would not be tolerated.

Justice Javed Iqbal said that Supreme Court would not endorse these recommendations.The hearing was further adjourned for two-weeks.

The bench is seized with hearing of a number of missing persons cases moved by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Defence for Human Rights and other individual cases.


Swiss freeze Kadhafi, Mubarak, Ben Ali millions

May 03, 2011

GENEVA: Switzerland said Monday it had frozen 830 million francs ($960 million/646 million euros) in funds belonging to north African strongmen since the start of this year's popular uprisings.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey revealed the figure during a conference in Tunisia, where she is on a three-day visit, foreign ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel said.

Most of the blocked funds -- 410 million francs -- are linked to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his associates, Knuchel said.

Another 360 million francs blocked by Switzerland are believed to belong to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime and 60 million francs to former Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his associates.

Switzerland ordered the freezing of the assets of Ben Ali and Mubarak shortly after they were toppled in popular uprisings in January and February respectively.

It ordered a freeze on Kadhafi's assets in February after he cracked down on opposition protests, sparking an armed conflict with rebels and international military action against his regime. (AFP)


Muslim Brotherhood condemns bin Laden killing, don't believe in assassinations

03 May 2011

The MB condemns the killing of Osama bin Laden, asserting that everyone deserves a fair trial and in the same breath appeals to foreign forces to end occupation

The Muslim Brotherhood releases a statement on Osama bin Laden’s death and asked the US to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the statement released on Ikhwanonline, the MB reproaches the “vicious” media campaign waged against Islam that created a link between the religion and terrorism after the 9/11 Al-Qaeda attacks on the US. The MB asked the US to correct this negative image.

The group rebuked the US for assassinating bin Laden, insisting that they are against violence of any form. In the statement they wrote that after President Obama announced that US marine special forces had succeeded in assassinating Osama bin Laden, a woman and one of his children, “we find ourselves in a new situation,” but didn’t specify what they meant.

They did add that the group is “...against assassination and support a fair trial for any criminal, regardless of the crimes he committed.”

They also asserted that resistance against foreign occupation by any country is a “legitimate right,” sanctioned by all religious rules and international agreements. They went further to say that the “Zionist enemy” purposefully denies this right and re-labels “legitimate resistance,” with the word “terrorism.”

As long as there is occupation, they say, legitimate resistance will continue and, therefore, it is important that the US, NATO and the European Union end the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

The group ended the statement by sending a direct request to the US government.

“The Muslim Brotherhood asks the US to stop conducting intelligence operations against those who disagree with them and to stop interfering in the business of Arab and Muslim countries.",-don.


Mubarak faithful seem to exist, and want him exonerated

3 May 2011

Most of the several thousand Egyptians who backed Hosni Mubarak during the January 25 ?Revolution were believed to be beneficiaries of the old regime, or paid ?demonstrators hired by the now-dismantled NDP. Curiously, however, a good number of the ?ousted president's supporters maintained their stance after his demise, indicating that a few ?people indeed had genuine faith in the 82-year-old.?

During Mubarak’s last few days in power, his disciples described him as a “father to all Egyptians” ?because of his “undoubted” love for his countrymen, a “hero of war and peace” because he ??“bravely fought” in the 1973 war against Israel and later did not get involved in warfare or ?hostility with neighbouring countries in order to “keep Egypt safe for many years”, and last but not ?least a “wise leader” who always makes the right decisions for his nation’s best interest.?

Nowadays, as the deposed commander-in-chief is held captive at the International Sharm El-?Sheikh Hospital and faces accusations of ordering the killing of peaceful protesters, ?accumulating illegal profits and persistently abusing his unfettered political power in many ?ways for years, some people still believe in him and are calling on the ruling military council to grant ?him amnesty. A smaller group just wants to ensure he receives a fair trial.?

?“We must be loyal to this man and to his military and political history,” ?said Nabil Zanfal, member of the Facebook page "The Union of Mr. President Mohamed Hosni ?Mubarak’s Fans."  “Even if some of us insulted you [Mubarak], others did not. You ?deserve all respect and admiration.”?

On Monday 25 April, Easter Day, Mubarak’s supporters congregated in small numbers at the ?state television building in Maspero and wanted to stage a sit-in. Some pedestrians were ?reportedly provoked by their chants, which initiated a verbal joust that later developed into a ?brawl before army forces dispersed the crowds. Four days later, around 500 pro-Mubarak demonstrators ?gathered again in the same location and reiterated their demand to exonerate him.?

Both rallies were not entirely newsworthy, but more pro-Mubarak gatherings are on the cards. ?Another Facebook page, among others, was launched to invite the devotees of the toppled ?president to a million-man march, again in Maspero, on Friday 6 May, two days after the ?ousted president’s 83rd birthday. Only 288 had accepted the invitation at the time of going to press.?

?“We need to move fast; insulting the former president is an insult to the whole Egyptian population,” said ?Mohamed Abdel Fatah, a member of the page. “Like we hate those who killed [ex-?president Anwar] Al-Sadat, the next generations will blame us for losing Hosni Mubarak. We ?need to wake up and understand what’s going on.”?

Alaa Abdel Nabi, a 20-year-old engineering student and creator of the page, told Ahram Online: ??“We call it a million-man march to encourage people to participate. I expect around 50 or 60 ?thousand to take part.?

?“We wanted to travel to him [Mubarak] in Sharm El-Sheikh on his birthday, Wednesday, and ?bring him cake, just to lift his spirits, but we cannot due to security reasons. So on that day we ?will congregate in Maspero to tell him ‘Happy birthday’. All Egyptians used to celebrate ?that day, but now everyone is cursing him. Two days later, we will stage the million-man march ?to demand his exoneration without trial.?

?“This is our primary demand … I hope the Egyptian authorities respond to us; if not, then the ?revolution, which I am not against, has not succeeded. During the revolt, some three millions ?went to the streets with certain demands and had them fulfilled.?

?“In the same manner, I will gather a number of people to call for Mubarak’s absolution, and that ?demand should be met also…We don’t want him to stand trial. We have no reservations ?about trying his son Gamal or anyone else, but not Mubarak whom we are defending as a ?person.”?

Mubarak was forced to step down on 11 February, after millions protested against him all over ?the country for 18 days in a full-scale uprising. He remained under house arrest along with his ?family members for some time after his overthrow, before he and both of his sons, Alaa and ?Gamal, were remanded in police custody pending investigation. The latter two were ?incarcerated in Tora Prison along with numerous former ministers and high-profile ?government officials.?

The vast majority of Egyptians, even those who live abroad, wanted to see ?Mubarak’s 30-year rule come to an end. No sooner had he been brought down than exuberant celebrations broke out across Egypt and in many other countries. They were ecstatic over the ?destruction of a system “riddled with corruption, embezzlement, deception and nepotism”, ?and over a dream of a much better future under a genuinely elected president.?,-and-want-him-exone