Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Taliban recruit children as suicide bombers
Inter-faith leaders rally behind U.S. Muslims
WASHINGTON, December 31, 2011. Citing flagrant violations of the Muslim community's rights by the New York Police Department, a group of inter-faith leaders in New York City has declined an invitation to attend an end-of-year breakfast event hosted by city Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Leaders from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities said in an open letter to Mr. Bloomberg they had decided to “respectfully decline” his invitation in the wake of a series of leaked police documents obtained by the Associated Press, which detailed how, throughout the 9/11 decade, “the NYPD has been monitoring and profiling virtually every layer of NYC Muslim public life, often with no suspicion of wrongdoing”.
This included the NYPD's attempts to monitor and collect data on New Yorkers at about 250 mosques, schools, and businesses throughout the city, “simply because of their religion and not because they exhibited suspicious behaviour,” the inter-faith group added.
Alluding to last year's controversial Last year, Park51 project, the so-called “Ground-Zero Mosque” aimed at fostering communal harmony at the site of the 9/11 attacks, the letter noted that the inter-faith group appreciated Mr. Bloomberg's “principled position in defence of Park51 and American Muslims as we endured attacks from hate groups and opportunistic politicians who promoted un-American, divisive rhetoric.”
At the time conservative elements including some Tea Party leaders had strongly criticised the choice of location of the Islamic centre as being insensitive to the families of the 9/11 victims.
The person behind the Park51 project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf spoke to The Hindu about the NYPD surveillance issue, saying, “There is widespread recognition that both law enforcement agencies and Muslim communities need one another to safeguard against extremists activities. It is in the best interest of the public that NYPD work closely with Muslim communities to re-build trust and increase cooperation.”
Concern over the issue was aggravated by the fact that Mr. Bloomberg and police Commissioner Ray Kelly were reported to have defended the police's aggressive programmes to infiltrate Muslim neighbourhoods and mosques purportedly designed by a CIA officer.
Though Mr. Bloomberg has not yet issued a response to the letter and was said to have proceeded with the breakfast on Friday morning sans the inter-faith group, participants quoted the Mayor as saying at the event
“Discrimination against anyone is discrimination against everyone... We have to keep our guard up, but if we don't work together we won't have our own freedoms.”
Taliban recruit children as suicide bombers
Kandhar: 31 Dec, 2011, Insurgents in Afghanistan have been recruiting children as suicide bombers. The children are often kidnapped at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area and taken to training camps. The children are told they will go to heaven if they kill Americans.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports there have been an increase in attempted suicide bombings by children. Many of the children are given amulets containing Koranic verses which they are told will protect them from the explosion. Their trainers lie to them that when the bomb explodes, everyone around them will die, but they will survive.
According to the Human Rights Watch, on August 27, 2011, residents of Baharak district in northeast Badakhshan province captured a 16-year-old wearing a suicide vest. He was going to blow up a local mosque.
Human Rights Watch documents other cases:
"On June 26, an 8-year-old girl was killed in central Uruzgan province when a bag of explosives that the Taliban had instructed her to carry to a police checkpoint detonated.
"On May 20, in Nuristan province, a suicide vest strapped to a 12-year-old boy exploded prematurely, killing several suspected insurgents, including the boy.
"In early May, five children, all under age 13, from Logar and Ghazni provinces who had allegedly been trained as suicide bombers were arrested by the National Directorate of Security.
"Around May 3, a 14-year-old boy who said he had been coerced by the Taliban into carrying a bomb under threat that he would otherwise have his hand cut off surrendered to international troops in Ghazni province."
Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, condemned the use of children as suicide bombers: “The Taliban’s use of children as suicide bombers is not only sickening, but it makes a mockery of Mullah Omar’s claim to protect children and civilians. Any political movement or army that manipulates or coerces children into becoming human bombs has lost touch with basic humanity.”
Acting Kandahar police chief General Abdul Raziq described the practice: “Using children is a new enemy tactic. Children are given 50 to 100 Afghanis to carry things. They don’t know what they’re carrying and the control to detonate the bomb is with someone else. When the kids reach the tanks or police vehicles, the enemies blow them up. Many kids are told they will survive. Children cannot judge, and the older ones no longer want to do it.”
Reuters reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai met children the Taliban had trained as suicide bombers but captured by the Afghan authorities. Karzai ordered that the children be sent back to their parents. He said: "There is no bigger crime than to fasten explosives to a child and tell him to go and commit suicide, you will be saved and shrapnel will kill others...Those curs tell lies and by their lies they try to kill children of this nation and draw a bad image of Islam."
According to VOA, 13-year-old Ali Ahmad is one of the child suicide bombers the Afghan authorities captured. He lost his parents early in his life. He and his younger brother lived with their uncle in Baluchistan province. He ran away from home a few months ago. According to Ali, he met some people "near the border" and asked them to give him a job. The men grabbed him, blindfolded him and tied him up. They took him to a training camp where he spent 20 days learning how to use guns and other weapons. They also taught him how to stage a suicide bomb attack and promised to pay him a lot of money.
His handlers took him to an American base in Spin Boldak and instructed him to attack the base wearing a suicide vest. They told him: "...when you do the suicide attack, you will go to heaven, even if you kill just one American in this attack." Ali said, "I told the men I would be killed too, but they told me that my soul will be in peace."
However, Ali was smart enough to realize that his teachers were not telling the truth. He new he would die if he detonated the explosives. Ali was captured before he could carry out the suicide attack.
The Taliban have, however, denied they use children as suicide bombers. Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said the practice was against Islam. He said:
"As in the past, the propaganda outfits of the enemy claim now time and again that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan uses children and adolescents in its Jihadic operations. They also claim that there are a great number of children in the ranks of the Mujahideen. We would like to make it clear for all that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has strictly banned participation of adolescents in Jihadic operations as per its policy."
Adams of HRW comments on the Taliban statement: "The Taliban’s code of conduct was seen as a positive step, but five years on it seems to be little more than a public relations tool. Every time a suicide vest is strapped to a child, the code and Mullah Omar’s pronouncements will be seen as meaningless.”
‘Suicide’ blast kills 13 in Quetta
By: bari baloch |
QUETTA, December 31, 2011 - At least 13 people were killed and more than 30 injured, some of them seriously in a massive bomb blast outside the residence of son of former Federal Minister Naseer Mengal in the provincial capital on Friday night.
Banned outfit Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was a suicide bomb attack.
Unidentified armed men had fitted explosives in a vehicle and parked it outside the house of Shafiq Mengal at Al-Mashriq Lane, Arbab Karam Khan Road which went off with a huge bang. As a result, 13 people were killed and over 30 others injured some of them in critical condition.
The blast was so powerful that it completely pulled down some parts of the residence of the Shafiq Mengal besides badly damaging nearby houses and shops. Seven vehicles which were parked in the parking lot of the residence were also badly damaged. Heavy firing was also heard in the area after the blast. The explosion was heard in radius of 4 to 6 kilometers that also scattered windowpanes of several buildings.
The electricity cables in the area were also disconnected as a result of the blast and fire broke out in the house due to damage to gas pipeline.
‘About 13 people have been killed and over 30 sustained injuries in the blast’, Deputy Inspector General, Operations Quetta Nazir Kurd told media persons, adding, that most of the injured and dead were the guards of Shafiq Mengal.
He said that the main target of the bomb attack was Shafiq Mengal, however, he and his family members remained unhurt in the blast. Police and other law-enforcement agencies rushed to the site after the blast and cordoned of the entire locality. The rescue workers moved the injured to Civil Hospital Quetta and Bolan Medical Complex Hospital where emergency was declared.
‘One body has been brought to Civil Hospital Quetta and condition of two injured out of 10 is critical’, doctors at the hospital said. However, the seriously injured were later shifted to CMH hospital for further treatment.
Fire fighters were called to the site of blast site who after one hour succeeded in extinguishing the fire. According to Bomb Disposal Squad officials about 40kg explosives were used in the blast which were planted with a car ,adding, that two time bombs of 8kg were also recovered from the blast site.
The body guards of Shafiq Mengal barred the media persons from covering the incident and tortured a photographer of local newspaper and broke a camera of private TV channel.
Meanwhile, the spokesman of banned Baloch Liberation Army, Merak Baloch calling from unknown location via satellite phone told newsmen that it was a suicide bomb attack.
He said the suicide blast was carried out by Darwesh Baloch, who was a member of Shaheed Majeed Brigade and ,added, that Shafiq Mengal was a Baloch national traitor and BLA would continue targeting traitors in future also.
He warned that if gas pipeline project was not dropped, such attacks would also be carried out on Chinese engineers.
Meanwhile, an Excise Inspector identified as Fida Ahmed was killed and another wounded in a firing incident in Panjgour district.
However, cause of killing could not be ascertained.
Muslim Villagers Burn Houses of Christian Family Upper Egypt
30 12 2011
Dozens of residents of the village of Baheeg in Assiut, Upper Egypt, burnt three houses owned by a Christian family after a Christian villager allegedly published cartoons mocking Islam on his Facebook account.
A number of Muslim students attacked their Coptic classmate for posting the cartoons, a Muslim student told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The Muslim students attacked the Coptic student on Thursday at Monqebad Secondary School in Assiut. Eyewitnesses said the military intervened to break up the fight and escorted the Coptic youth and his family away from the village. Later, Muslim villagers set fire to the family's houses.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze and armed forces and police imposed a security cordon around the site of the incident.
Major General Mohamed Ibrahim, director of security in Assiut, said security forces are attempting to coordinate with Muslim clerics to calm citizens and contain the situation.
Christians make up about 10 percent of the population in Egypt, which totals around 80 million people.
Terrorists Struggle to Gain Recruits On The Web
By DINA TEMPLE-RASTON
December 29, 2011
Terrorist groups seemed to be all over the Web in 2011. There were al-Qaida videos on YouTube, Facebook pages by Islamic militants in Somalia and webzines — like Inspire — produced by al-Qaida affiliates in Yemen.
If there were an award for the best known terrorist music recording in the past couple of years, it would probably go to the Somali militia group al-Shabab for a YouTube video that extolled the virtues of jihad, or holy war.
The tune became so popular it was actually covered by other aspiring jihadists, who added hip-hop beats and rap lyrics.
The Shabab music video caught the attention of U.S. counterterrorism officials, who saw it as dangerous because it was slick and catchy and in English. The video ignited an effort in Washington to figure out how to counter the use of social media among terrorist groups.
What no one is saying, however, is that the effort to use social media sites like Facebook and YouTube, and even Twitter, hasn't been the recruitment boon that terrorist organizations had been hoping for.
Terrorist groups appear to be still working out the kinks in their new media strategy and concerns about terrorists using social media may be overblown.
"The worry in official Washington has been that kids are going to be attracted by its message and that they are going to spontaneously arise and become terrorists," said Will McCants, an analyst at the Center for Naval Analysis. "But we just haven't seen the numbers to suggest that that's true. Before social media, after social media ... it is just a trickle of individuals who get involved in terrorist activities."
McCants says U.S. officials may see it as a larger menace than it actually is — perhaps because they don't use social media on a regular basis.
It's easy to track how many people are browsing websites and, on the terrorism front, who is entering jihadi chatrooms and threatening to attack. Counterterrorism experts like McCants say there is no research to indicate that the al-Shabab music video — or any other jihadi social media offering, for that matter — is actually winning over many new recruits.
Social media is interesting as a new outlet for terrorist groups, but in terms of achieving al-Qaida's goal or the Taliban's goal of creating new recruits... I think it is a complete disaster.
- Will McCants, analyst at the Center for Naval Analysis
"Social media is interesting as a new outlet for terrorist groups," McCants said, "but in terms of achieving al-Qaida's goal or the Taliban's goal of creating new recruits ... I think it is a complete disaster."
Bruce Hoffman, a professor and terrorism expert at Georgetown University, agrees to a certain extent. "I don't think anyone is going to be radicalized or mesmerized by this media to pick up a gun or throw a bomb," he said. "But it does provide a very extraordinarily important first step. It certainly serves that purpose."
In other words, while social media may not be turning people into violent jihadists all by itself, it can help that process along.
One of the early players in jihadi social media was a radical Islamic organization called Revolution Muslim. Based in New York, the group's founders claimed that the RevMuslim blog received 1,500 hits a day. Its YouTube channel had some 1,000 subscribers. The group was open about its goals to establish Islamic law in the U.S., destroy Israel and take al-Qaida's messages to the masses.
Revolution Muslim became like a gateway drug for young men, enabling those who might be just tangentially interested in the global jihad to link up with real jihadists in Pakistan and other places.
RevMusim's relative success — a list of its recent members reads like a who's who of American homegrown terrorism suspects — has yet to be repeated by other violent jihadi groups.
Even so, Georgetown's Hoffman says there is a lesson to be learned from all of this: "These jihadi groups have been all over this a lot faster and far more ahead of it than many of their government opponents," he said, "so that it will continue to evolve and they will be able to exploit it even more effectively."
Leads For Law Enforcement
There is one part of government that has learned to exploit the intersection of terrorism and the Web: law enforcement.
The New York Police Department and FBI never shut the Revolution Muslim website down because it provided leads on young men who were inclined toward violent extremism. Now law enforcement can go to Facebook to get the same kind of intelligence.
"I have been very surprised by the number of people who are moving to Facebook who are talking openly about their admiration for al-Qaida," said CNA's McCants. "This can be a great boon for law enforcement because you can watch the flow of propaganda and you can see who is connecting to whom and if they are getting in the orbit of very dangerous people."
Al-Shabab, the Islamist militia that produced that popular music video, now has a Twitter account with thousands of followers. The joke among terrorism experts? About 99 percent of them are journalists and law enforcement.
Maldives stand-off hits a low
R. K. RADHAKRISHNAN
COLOMBO, December 31, 2011, The game of political brinkmanship plumbed to new depths in The Maldives with the government striking back — by conceding the demands of the December 23 protesters!
On December 23, protesters, largely from the opposition parties but claiming to be part of an NGO, sought to label President Mohamed Nasheed, a “bad” Muslim. He was accused of trying to open up the country to other religions, and some of those claimed that spas and massage parlours in resorts were actually promoting commercial sex trade. One opposition party wanted a blanket ban on alcohol.
The government responded by asking the Tourism Ministry to issue a circular to all resorts to close down their massage/spa parlours. Its reasoning: since some of those who run resorts made the accusations, there was no need for a separate investigation to find out if there was prostitution. “Insiders don't lie. The government went by their word,” said one source.
The government was targeting Gasim Ibrahim, a businessman who owns five resorts, and key ally of the former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Spas in his resorts were ordered shut last week which he challenged in court. The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party believes that he has been bankrolling the protests. Other opposition leaders including Thasmeen Ali and Yamin Abdul Gayoom, own resorts and were at the rally.
The MDP is also taken aback by the attitude of the Big Boys in the Tourism Business. One source said Mr. Nasheed's call for expanding on the Maldivian brand of tolerant Islam did not evoke support among the big players in the industry — all of who run multi-million dollar resorts. For now, the stay in a local court has meant that the new order of the tourism department has not taken effect. But the rallies and the government's reaction will certainly hurt the industry said a promoter.
George Town: DAP slams the act of dumping pig heads near Al-Falah Mosque
GEORGE TOWN: December 31, 2011, DAP National chairman Karpal Singh on Saturday slammed the culprits who dumped several pig heads outside the Al-Falah Mosque in Taman Desa Jaya, Johor Baru.
He said those who committed such acts should be arrested and punished for not having religious sensitivity.
"This irresponsible act must be condemned by all Malaysians. The people of Malaysia, who make up a diversity of religions and beliefs, have the right to live in peace and harmony," he said in a statement here.
Karpal, who is also Bukit Gelugor member of Parliament, wanted the police to give priority to the investigation of the case.
"On the eve of the new year celebration, an embarrassing incident like this should not have happened," he said.
On Friday, the mosque's congregation found the pig heads in plastic bags near the mosque when they turned up for the dawn prayers.
A special team has been set up by Johor police to investigate the case. - Bernama
Gaddafi's captured son has part of finger and thumb amputated in prison cell
By CHRIS PARSONS
30th December 2011
Saif al-Islam, the son of Colonel Gaddafi who was captured in November, has had the ends of his thumb and forefinger amputated as he prepares to face trial on corruption and war crimes charges.
Human rights groups have expressed concern over the treatment of the dictator's son, who has been held in solitary confinement without access to legal counsel since his capture by local militia in Libya.
Mr Gaddafi has since had the ends of his right-hand forefinger and thumb amputated in his prison cell due to injuries sustained in a Nato airstrike before his capture.
Medics had to remove the top knuckle of his thumb and forefinger because the injuries he sustained had become gangrenous.
Colonel Gaddafi's son also has an injury to his right middle finger.
The first of Mr Gaddafi's trials could be heard as early as next month, according to The Times.
News of the legal proceedings emerged as Colonel Gaddafi's daughter demanded an international criminal court inquiry into the circumstances surrounding her father's death.
Aisha Gaddafi, who fled Libya in August prior to the capture of her father by rebel forces, said she has suffered 'severe emotional distress' by pictures of his death and the treatment of his corpse.
In a letter to ICC prosecutor Jose Luis Moreno-Ocampo, international lawyer Nick Kaufman said Gaddafi and his son Mutassim 'were murdered in the most horrific fashion with their bodies thereafter displayed and grotesquely abused in complete defiance of Islamic law.'
The letter continues: 'The images of this savagery were broadcast throughout the world causing my client severe emotional distress.'
Mr Kaufman is said to have posed the ICC a series of questions, including whether they are investigating the circumstances of the deaths, whether it had received postmortem exam reports, and why the ICC had not ordered its own independent exam.
An ICC official, Phakiso Mochochoko, said last week Libyan authorities had promised to investigate Gaddafi's death, according to The Guardian.
Meanwhile the head of the rebel government council in Zintan, in the Nafusa Mountains in Western Libya, said Gaddafi's son is still being interrogated and 'is not allowed to talk to anybody' during this period.
Last month Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke out over the fate of the former dictator’s one-time heir apparent.
concerns have emerged that the former rebel faction that captured him is refusing to hand him over to the authorities in Tripoli, raising further doubts about the chances of a fair trial.
Macabre: Images taken before Gaddafi's death saw the blood-soaked former Libyan leader being beaten and tortured as he was dragged through the streets
Asked if he backed the domestic trial decision, Mr Hague told BBC Radio 4’s Today: 'I would like to see him tried to international standards, whether that be in Libya or in The Hague. That is the important thing.
'The details of that have to be sorted out between the ICC and the transitional government.'
Officials in Zintan told The Times that Mr Gaddafi would be handed to the central government if a request was made.
The British Foreign Office said: 'We welcome the fact that the Libyan government is liaising closely with the ICC and we await details of where and when Saif will face trial.
'It is important that any trial is in line with international standards.'
Al-Qaida in Iraq Aims to Stir Sectarian Strife
Washington (VOA) -- Shortly after U.S. troops left Iraq - and with Iraqis worried that their forces will be unable to keep the country secure - a string of terrifying bombings killed nearly 70 people and shook the nation.
The likely culprits: an al-Qaida offshoot bent on pushing the country into civil war.
Analysts say the Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed orchestration of the attacks, appears to have set a goal of spreading sectarian strife.
"These acts have been essentially acts to provoke another round of sectarian fighting between Sunni and Shi'ite," said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East terrorism expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
"They have been directed at trying to create a situation where Iraq's unity, in terms of its government and its security forces, would be divided to capitalize on the fears and the anger of many Sunnis that a Shi'ite-dominated government is seen as unfair," he said.
The December 22 blasts in Baghdad were not the group's first high-profile attacks. It has been tied to a string of suicide bombings on Baghdad hotels in January 2010 that killed 36 people. The group also says it carried out triple bombings near foreign embassies in Baghdad in April 2010, leaving 41 people dead.
But analysts say the Islamic State of Iraq has reinvented itself over the years, including changing its name.
The group was founded in 2003 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant and alleged mastermind of terror who was killed in a 2006 American air strike. Shortly after establishing the group, Zarqawi declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
Over the years, the Iraq-based group has gone by names that include the Mujahideen Shura Council, al-Qaida in Mesopotamia and al-Qaida in Iraq.
Analysts say the group began calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006, in a bid to establish a national movement and set up a shadow government.
Intelligence senior analyst Adam Raisman said the militant group tries to portray itself as an Iraqi force. But it is a "wholly Sunni" group, he said, that draws members from throughout the Arab world.
"The group is comprised of foreign fighters from a variety of countries, as well as Iraqis. From their communications, we have seen that they have fighters from North Africa, Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, from the Arab world," said Raisman, who monitors intelligence for the Washington group, SITE.
Analysts fear Iraqi security forces are ill-equipped to prevent insurgent attacks.
Cordesman said Iraq has about 600,000 people in its security forces, but most are in "ineffective" police units or guard brigades.
"You have an army that lacks the cohesion, the effective command structure, the intelligence capabilities, and among other things, mix of intelligence assets and air mobility necessary to react as quickly and effectively as it should," he said.
"You also have a police that has been steadily deteriorating in quality, becoming more and more political and more and more local," he added.
By Pam Dockins
Qaeda trying to recruit fighters in Libya
WASHINGTON: Dec 31, 2011, Al Qaeda has sent seasoned militants to Libya in a bid to recruit a fighting force after the fall of Moamer Gaddafi’s regime, CNN reported Friday, but US officials played down the threat. The militants include a veteran operative who was once detained in Britain as a terror suspect and who was allegedly sent to Libya on the orders of Al Qaeda Chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, the television news channel reported, citing a Libyan source briefed by Western officials.
The operative, who arrived in Libya in May, has since recruited some 200 fighters in the country’s east and western intelligence agencies are tracking his efforts, CNN said. Another operative, with European and Libyan passports, was arrested en route to Libya from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in “an unnamed country,” according to CNN. afp
Be alert to secret killings war criminals: Bangladesh PM
Gopalganj, December 31, 2011, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged people Saturday to remain alert to what she said BNP's plot to foil war criminals' trial, alleging that the party has resorted to killings and kidnapping to fulfil its political mission.
She said no force in the country would be able to halt the war criminals' trial and all incidents of secret killing and disappearance would be investigated and the culprits brought to book.
Addressing a mammoth public meeting at Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Gopalganj in the afternoon, the prime minister said, "It's Ziaur Rahman who is the pioneer of politics of killing in Bangladesh."
"Zia is the first man who betrayed with the freedom fighters and killed scores of freedom fighters in Bangladesh including
Col Taher and Maj Haider," she said.
"Zia is the first and prime patron of anti-liberation forces who freed around 11,000 rajakars and al-badrs from the jail and his wife rehabilitated the anti-liberation elements in politics," she said.
Hasina said Awami League is devoted to people's welfare, and whenever the party has got opportunity, it has tried its best to carry out its duties for welfare of the common people.
AL presidium member Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, MP and Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, MP, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Faruk Khan, PM's advisor Dr Syed Modasser Ali were among others who addressed the meeting organised by Gopalganj district unit of AL.
Arab Spring becoming an Islamic Revolution
BY JONATHAN MANTHORPE,
VANCOUVER SUN DECEMBER 31, 2011, The Jasmine Revolution that swept across the Arab Middle East and North Africa in 2011 toppled three despots and has left two more clinging to power with every ounce of cunning and military might at their disposal.
But the overall picture is very different from the promise of the Arab Spring, which saw hordes of educated young people organizing themselves through social media links and taking to the streets demanding western-style democratic reforms.
What has emerged in all the countries where there have been preliminary elections or other selections of transitional authorities is the knowledge that Islamist parties will dominate the charting of the future.
This was always the fear, especially after the 1979 revolution in Iran when the Shah was ousted and replaced by a stern theocracy overseen by a council of religious conservatives led now by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
For years western governments used the spectre of rule by religious fanatics such as happened in Iran to justify their support or tolerance for dictatorships in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and more recently Libya, or for absolute monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikdoms.
But though Islamic parties are the beneficiaries of the Arab Spring, it is still unclear how radical they may be in power. There is, for example, no firm sign of any of them insisting that new constitutions follow Shariah religious law.
In most cases these parties, some of whose credibility stems from their having been the main targets of repression under the years of dictatorship, describe themselves as moderates and are vague about whether they want theocratic states.
When pressed, even those who have followed fundamentalist religious positions in the past now proffer Turkey as the example they wish to follow.
This does not reassure everyone. Modern Turkey was founded after the First World War as an avowedly secular state with religion firmly kept out of politics.
That has changed in recent years. The current government has overseen a re-establishment of religious observance in public life, even as Ankara's influence in the Middle East increases.
Full Report at:
Blast in Pakistan kills two children
Islamabad: December 31, 2011, Two children were killed and 13 others were injured when a bomb went off near the home of a tribal elder in the restive Khyber tribal region of northwest Pakistan on Saturday, officials said.
The bomb was detonated by remote control as a group of people were leaving the home of tribal elder Malik Rasool Jan Shinwari at Landi Kotal in Khyber Agency.
The people had gathered at his residence for a jirga or tribal council, officials said.
Personnel from the Khassadar Force took 15 injured people to a nearby hospital, where a young boy and girl succumbed to their injuries.
Five of the wounded, who were in a serious condition, were shifted to a hospital in Peshawar.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Two killed, four injured in SWA
WANA: Dec 31, 2011, Two people were killed and four others sustained injuries on Friday in Shakoi area of South Waziristan Agency (SWA), political administration informed. Political authorities said unknown miscreants fired a mortar shell from unknown direction, as a result two people including tribal leader Malik Aziz Khan Mehsud were killed and four others sustained injuries in Laddah tehsil. The injured were rushed to a nearby private clinic. The condition of one was stated to be critical. app
Two killed, three injured in blast
BAJAUR AGENCY: Dec 31, 2011, At least two persons were killed and three others injured when a remote controlled bomb exploded in the Darra area of the Salarzai tehsil on Friday. According to official sources and locals, miscreants planted a powerful explosive device near a shop in the Darra Bazaar area, some 40 kilometres northeast of Khaar, which went off with a deafening sound at mid noon. The dead included Nawaz Khan and Hazrat, while the injured were identified as Toor Khan, Farman and a yet unidentified woman, who were shifted to Agency Headquarters Hospital. The main target of the blast was stated to be the members of a peace committee, who were actively engaged in purging the area of terrorists. They had reportedly apprehended a terrorist involved in the blast and recovered a remote controlled explosive device and other equipment from him. The area was cordoned off by security forces and a thorough search operation was launched to nab the culprits. app
Death squads go after informants to US drone programme
By: thenation monitoring
PESHAWAR , December 31, 2011— The death squad shows up in uniform: black masks and tunics with the name of the group, Khorasan Mujahideen, scrawled across the back in Urdu. Pulling up in caravans of Toyota Corolla hatchbacks, dozens of them seal off mud-hut villages near the Afghan border, and then scour markets and homes in search of tribesmen they suspect of helping to identify targets for the armed US drones that routinely buzz overhead.
Once they’ve snatched their suspect, they don’t speed off, villagers say. Instead, the caravan leaves slowly, a trademark gesture meant to convey that they expect no retaliation. Militant groups lack the ability to bring down the drones, which have killed senior Al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders as well as many foot soldiers. Instead, a collection of them have banded together to form Khorasan Mujahideen in the North Waziristan tribal region to hunt for those who sell information about the location of militants and their safe houses, reported Los Angeles Times on Friday.
Full Report at:
Tensions rising over drone secrecy
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: Dec 31, 2011, Tensions are quietly increasing between the White House and some congressional leaders over access to sensitive information about the government’s use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen, write Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman in Wall Street Journal, quoting officials.
The White House has brushed aside requests for information from lawmakers, who argue that the strikes, carried out secretly by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, have broad implications for US policy but don’t receive adequate oversight.
Some current and former administration, military and congressional officials point to what they see as significant oversight gaps, in part because few lawmakers have full access to information about the drone strikes. Lawmakers on Congress’s intelligence committees are privy to information about all CIA and military intelligence operations, but members of at least two other panels want insight on the drone programme.
Lawmakers who are briefed on classified information are legally constrained from raising their concerns publicly. Current and former officials say the White House wants to keep a tight hold on classified information to avoid unauthorised disclosures. The demand for lawmakers outside the intelligence committees to have access to details on the covert drone programme, said one US official, “just doesn’t hold water.”
Full Report at:
PM’s statement on Bin laden charge sheet against army: Nisar
ISLAMABAD: Dec 31, 2011,Opposition Leader in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, on Friday, termed the statement of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani few days back in which he asked who gave visa to Osama Bin Laden to live in the country, a charge sheet against the defence forces of the country.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, Nisar smelled dire repercussions of this statement which, he said, was against the defence institutions, and feared it will prove to be “problematic one”. “This statement could be exploited by anyone in the international fora and court,” Nisar noted while asking the prime minister to explain his statement.
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Najam Sethi vows to expose 'actors' behind threats to journalists in Pak
ISLAMABAD, December 30, 2011, Senior Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi has claimed that he has received serious threats from state and non-state actors after he raised questions about the military’s role in politics.
He said if the threats did not stop, he would be “compelled” to name the “organisations and officials” who were responsible for them.
Mr. Sethi said during his show on Geo News channel that the organisations’ operatives were “in touch with and threatening several other senior journalists”.
The journalists did not speak about the threats before “because we did not want to destabilise things”, he said. “But the time has come when all of them should come forward and speak about it publicly.”
“This is not the age when intelligence operatives should be threatening their own civilians. A state within the state is not acceptable,” Mr. Sethi said.
Mr. Sethi’s remarks that he had been receiving “serious” threats both from the “non-state and state actors” came a week after journalist Hamid Mir claimed that he had received threatening messages from the “security establishment”.
Mr. Sethi, who is Editor-in-Chief of the weekly The Friday Times, has faced problems with the security establishment in the past too.
He recently spent several months in the U.S. following reports that he and his family had been receiving threats.
Media advocacy groups say 29 journalists have been killed in Pakistan in the past five years, and many of them were targeted for their work.
In May this year, journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was abducted and killed in Islamabad, two days after he alleged in an article that Al-Qaeda had infiltrated the Pakistan Navy.
Many rights groups and journalists’ organisations accused the Inter-Services Intelligence of involvement in the incident, a charge that was denied by the spy agency.
‘Pakistan gets due share of Indus water'
ISLAMABAD, December 31, 2011, “Pakistan is getting its due share of river water under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960,” Pakistan's Water and Power Minister Syed Naveed Qamar said on Friday.
In a written reply submitted in the National Assembly, he said the treaty allocated waters of the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — to India and those of the western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — to Pakistan, except for certain specified uses.
In the past, Islamabad had said its share was being diverted by dams in Jammu and Kashmir, though New Delhi has denied the charge.
India's Home Minister: “High alert in States bordering Pakistan”
NEW DELHI, December 31, 2011, Violence, he notes, is still at an “unacceptably high level''
A high alert has been sounded in all States, including Jammu and Kashmir, bordering Pakistan following inputs that militants from across the border could be planning some action in India, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Friday.
The situation was being reviewed on a daily basis and the “continuing flow of information'' suggests that militants could have identified some targets in India. “We have taken a decision to increase the level of alertness in the States bordering Pakistan and that obviously includes Punjab,” the Minister said at his monthly stocktaking press conference.
“Apart from the Jehadi groups, there is BKI [Babar Khalsa International] and some other Khalistan groups. We did bust a BKI module a few days ago. So, we have to remain in high alert in Punjab. We are working with the State government and we will continue to remain on high alert,'' he said.
Mr. Chidambaram, however, replied in negative when asked if there was revival of Khalistan movement in Punjab. “There is no revival. These are remnant elements from old groups. Many of them have fled the country; many of them have taken refuge in foreign countries. These are remnant groups. There is no revival of Khalistan movement.''
To another query, he said the government had informed the Bombay High Court about Pakistan judicial commission's desire to visit the country and interview key persons linked to the probe into the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
“Once we hear from the Chief Justice of the High Court we will convey it to Pakistan. I hope this will go through in January 2012,'' he said.
The commission will take the statements of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R.V. Sawant Waghule and Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale, who recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, lone surviving terrorist involved in the attacks, to pursue the case in Pakistan.
On the overall internal security scenario in the country, he noted that violence was still at an “unacceptably high level.'' Every effort would be made to contain it. “Militant groups will be prevailed upon, through a judicious mix of police action and developmental action, to realise the futility of violence and that the only way to resolve differences in a democratic society is through talks.''
The Minister said, “In any democratic society that wants a peaceful atmosphere, containment of violence is always the buzzword. We have to bring down violence near zero level and make people understand the futility of violence. Nobody is going to overthrow the state by violence. So, it is a completely futile method to achieve one's goal.''
Asked about his priority in 2012, he said capacity-building would continue to be accorded high priority.
Emboldened by monitors, Syrians hold huge protests
BEIRUT, December 31, 2011, In the largest protests Syria has seen in months, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in a display of defiance to show an Arab League observer mission the strength of the opposition movement.
Despite the monitors’ presence in the country, activists said Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad killed at least 22 people on Friday, most of them shot during the anti-government demonstrations.
In a further attempt to appeal to the monitors, dissident troops who have broken away from the Syrian army said they have halted attacks on regime forces to reinforce the activists’ contention that the uprising against Mr. Assad is a peaceful movement.
While opposition activists are deeply sceptical of the observer mission, the outpouring of demonstrators across Syria underscores their wish to make their case to the foreign monitors and take advantage of the small measure of safety they feel they brought with them.
The nearly 100 Arab League monitors are the first that Syria has allowed into the country during the uprising, which began in March. They are supposed to ensure the regime complies with terms of the League’s plan to end Mr. Assad’s crackdown on dissent. The U.N. says more than 5,000 people have died as the government has sought to crush the revolt.
Friday’s crowds were largest in Idlib and Hama provinces, with about 250,000 people turning out in each area, according to an activist and eyewitness who asked to be identified only as Manhal because he feared government reprisal. Other big rallies were held in Homs and Daraa provinces and the Damascus suburb of Douma, according to Rami Abdul-Raham, who heads the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The crowd estimates could not be independently confirmed because Syria has banned most foreign journalists from the country and tightly restricts the local media.
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Ethiopian troops capture Beledweyne from Islamist militants
31 December 2011
Ethiopian forces have captured the central Somali town of Beledweyne from al-Shabab Islamist militants.
Al-Shabab said its forces were surrounding the town after making what it called a planned withdrawal.
Eyewitnesses said armoured vehicles and heavy artillery were used in the attack, which Ethiopia said was made at the request of the Somali government.
Somalia's prime minister meanwhile announced an operation "to liberate the tyranny of... al-Shabab from Somalia".
"Early this morning, the Somali National Army recaptured some al-Shabab-occupied territories engaging the enemies in Hiiraan and other regions of the country," said Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, head of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG)
We are officially requesting for momentous support from neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia and the international community at large to assist the Somali people and its government with this historic operation."
Al-Shabab fighters withdrew from Beledweyne after a fierce hours-long battle in which local residents had joined "the Mujahideen" to fight against more than 3,000 Ethiopian troops, according to messages posting on a twitter account reportedly run by al-Shabab's press office.
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Boko Haram is Jihad on Christians – CAN
DECEMBER 29, 2011
BY DANIEL IDONOR
ABUJA – NIGERIA Christians under the auspices of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Wednesday described the Christmas Day terrorists attacks on Christians and churches in Madalla, Jos, Damaturu and Maiduguri as a declaration of Islamic Jihad on Christians.
The leadership of CAN led by its President, Ayo Oritshejafor, in a prepared speech at a meeting last night with President Goodluck Jonathan, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, blamed the attacks on Islamic, religious and traditional rulers for not publicly condemning the activities of the sect adding that its members may have no other option than to fight back when attacked.
President Jonathan, in his response, however, called for calm, assuring that government was on top of the situation as some arrests have been made and they will soon be prosecuted.
While revealing that countries facing similar attacks have offered help to Nigerians, he revealed plans to restructure and re-adjust his team that will meet with the challenges facing the nation today.
The CAN president who declared that they have lost confidence in government’s ability to protect Christians in the country, however, assured President Jonathan of CAN’s continuous prayers and support for his government to succeed.
President Goodluck Jonathan with Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor during the meeting,Wednesday night at the State House Abuja.
The CAN prepared text reads: “After consultation with Christian community which constitutes the majority of the Nigerian population. I have been mandated to convey as follows:
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No Reason to Fear the Democratic Experiment
Dec 29, 2011
Will the Arab Spring end in an Islamist-dominated, backward-looking, grey winter? Despite the Islamists' recent successes in the first free elections in the Arab world, Qantara.de's Loay Mudhoon feels that this is unlikely to be the case
Almost a year after the start of the Arab Spring, have the results of the first truly free elections in Egypt destroyed the new Arab democracy movements' dream of freedom, the rule of law and a life of dignity?
One might feel that they have, at least since the surprising success of the radical Islamist Salafists in the first round of parliamentary elections in Egypt. But that would be a premature and overly simplistic conclusion to draw, especially in view of the unclear political situation in post-revolutionary Arab nations.
It is true that the ultra-conservative Salafists' understanding of Islam in Egypt is without doubt too narrow-minded to allow for constructive participation in a democratic political process. However, unlike the success of the politically inexperienced Salafists, the election victory of the Muslim Brotherhood's "Freedom and Justice" party was to be expected. This was also the case with the victory of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) in Morocco and the Ennahda movement in Tunisia.
Loay Mudhoon puts the success of the Islamists in the first round of elections in Egypt down to the fact that they are well rooted in society, well known and considered not to be corrupt
Islamists played to their strengths
These movements are mainstream parties which are deeply rooted in the population thanks to their network of mosques, kindergartens and other charitable institutions. They are also well-organized and are not considered corrupt.
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Human rights organisations condemn mass raids of NGOs in Egypt
Ahram Online, 30 Dec 2011
In a press conference held at the premises of Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) on Thursday, 27 human rights organisations denounced the raids earlier in the day of the Cairo offices of 17 non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The raids were carried out on Thursday morning by officials from Egypt’s public prosecution office, with back-up from police and military personnel.
The Arab Center for Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (ACIJLP); the Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory; and the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House were among the NGOs that the government raided.
Head of Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Ahmed Saif Al-Islam, said that Egyptian NGOs are now exposed to attacks unprecedented in their magnitude at the hands of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Saif Al-Islam pointed out that restrictions on public freedoms had been felt since the closure of Cairo’s Al-Jazeera Network office in September, along with the renewal of emergency law in the same month. Under the auspices of emergency law, freedom of expression is severely curtailed, and journalists and TV interviewers risk facing questioning or even prosecution.
Nasser Amin, head of the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, challenged state authorities by affirming that the center will continue with its work despite the closure.
‘Even if we are jailed, we will work from inside the jail,’ Amin declared.
Amin referred to his contributions to the Egyptian revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, declaring that he is most proud of his career as a political activist.
Hafez Abu Saeda, head of EOHR, described the crackdown as “illegitimate” and expressed willingness to battle the raids through the courts.
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It’s a dark day for judiciary: Haqqani Counsel
By: Our Staff Reporters
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE, December 31, 2011 - Asma Jahangir, the counsel for Husain Haqqani, while expressing her disappointment over the court’s decision to declare the petitions on memo scandal as maintainable on Friday, said that civilian authority had come under the military institutions.
Talking to media men at Supreme Court building, she said it was a dark day for the judiciary and she was forced to think that whether it was the judiciary of the people or the judiciary of the establishment. She also warned in future this decision would haunt the petitioners and they would remember her statement. ‘I was expecting at least one dissenting voice against the judgment, but I did not see any ray of hope in the court today,’ she added.
Expressing disappointment over her struggle for the restoration of judiciary, Asma said the court’s decision had compromised a person’s right to justice. ‘It is sad the superior judiciary has done it and if saying this is a contempt of court, then I am ready to go to jail for the implementation of the rule of law’, she said.
Asma contended the judgment was not accordance with the rule of law. The learned counsel said she accepted the court’s decision, even she had not agreed with the decision.
She contended the court had given the petitioners relief more than they had asked for and the court had given the national security more priority than fundamental rights.
She said she would wait for the detailed verdict and then she would decide for filing review petition on the court’s decision. “This is the most disappointing judgment,” said Haqqani’s lawyer, Asma Jehangir, after the Supreme Court ruling. “National security has been given priority over human rights.”
“This is a black day. This is very disappointing judgment,” said Asma and added “I think that this is one of the darkest days in history for the judiciary.“
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar would not comment on the decision but said Zardari would not take on the courts. “One thing is clear. We don’t believe in confrontation with the judiciary and will continue to follow this policy of no confrontation,” Babar told AFP in a text message.
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Pakistan judicial commission to visit India in January
NEW DELHI: 30 12 11, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Friday said a Pakistan judicial commission will visit India in January 2012.
Talking to reporters he said: “We have informed Mumbai High Court that the Pakistani commission’s desire to visit India in January and they suggested some dates. We asked the Chief Justice of Mumbai High Court to agree and give suitable instruction to judicial authorities. Once we hear from the Chief Justice we will convey it to Pakistan,” Chidambaram added.
Pakistan formally conveyed to India that its nine-member judicial commission will visit next month to interview key persons linked to the probe into 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
It will take statements of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R V Sawant Waghule & Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale, who have recorded a confessional statement by Ajmal Kasab.
On November 26, 2008, Kasab and nine armed gunmen, attacked various places in Mumbai, killing 166 people, injuring several others. Kasab, who was sentenced to death by a trial court, is currently lodged in high security Arthur Road Jail.
Pakistan media trying to break taboos
Express News Service
Hyderabad, Dec 31, 2011, The media in Pakistan is slowly, but steadily, going against the popular beliefs and is finding its going tough,says Suhail Warraich, anchor at the Geo TV and senior editor of the Jang, one of the oldest Urdu dailies in Pakistan.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Urdu Editors Conference here on Friday, Warraich, known for his quick wit, says, “We try to break taboos and are ready to face the music.
But there are certain boundaries which need to be respected in all cultures.
For example, religious sensibilities need to be taken care of, whether in India or Pakistan.
But where there is a conflict of the old with the new, we gradually try to break out of the mould and advocate modernism.” The political instability in Pakistan has not stopped the media from criticising the role of powers-that-be, in sharp contrast with India where the disclosure of Radia tapes shocked few.
“The third world countries understand the value of freedom.
The anti-establishment stance many of the media houses in Pakistan are proud to flaunt has emerged out of the experience that the establishment is usually formed against the wishes of the people and functions against it as well.
Since India has never faced a similar situation, the media here rarely offends the government here,” he said.
Afghan-Pakistan relations lack trust: report
BY LEE BERTHIAUME,
Canada's lead role in facilitating dialogue, understanding questioned
POSTMEDIA NEWS DECEMBER 31, 2011, Canada's contribution to Afghan-Pakistan peace is being questioned after a recent investigation found distrust and long-standing disputes were at the root of a cross-border airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.
The U.S.-NATO study recommends a number of actions to be taken to prevent another such incident - actions Canada has been trying to undertake for four years, with mixed results.
On the night of Nov. 25, 100 Afghan and 14 American soldiers were patrolling near the border when they came under fire. It was only after they had called in several airstrikes that they realized the shooting was from Pakistani troops, 24 of whom had been killed.
The U.S. military and NATO each launched investigations, the latter led by Canadian Brig.-Gen. Mike Jorgensen. Their findings, released on Dec. 22, blamed U.S. military officials for failing to notify Pakistan of the operation beforehand, and criticized Pakistani officials for refusing to provide locations of border posts and checkpoints.
The investigators made seven recommendations. Several related to U.S. and coalition forces ensuring they have proper information before operating near the border, and ironing out procedures for identifying Pakistani units. However, a number related to the need to build "mutual trust" along the border.
Since November 2007, Canada has taken a lead role in facilitating dialogue and understanding between Afghan and Pakistani officials working on either side of the heavily travelled but unsecure border.
But there have been indications that the Canadian efforts have not addressed many of the underlying issues affecting cross-border relations. Numerous U.S. diplomatic cables released through WikiLeaks show Afghan and Pakistani officials often bickering.
The U.S.-NATO report highlights the importance of real co-operation along the border. But Roland Paris, associate professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, said it also shows Canada has not been successful in facilitating a true cross-border peace.
"Canadian officials deserve credit for promoting dialogue between Afghan and Pakistani border officials, but I've never seen evidence of this process producing anything more than minor improvements in bilateral co-operation, relative to the immense problems of this porous, contested border."
Paul Assails Rivals’ Criticism of His Policy on Iran
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
December 30, 2011
DES MOINES — Representative Ron Paul of Texas assailed criticism of his opposition to United States military involvement abroad, saying he fears an overreaction to worries about Iran’s nuclear program could lead to war.
Mr. Paul’s rivals have hammered him for days as too dovish and suggested that he would do nothing to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Mitt Romney again criticized Mr. Paul on Friday in an interview on the Fox News Channel, saying, “I don’t think Ron Paul represents the mainstream of Republican thought with regards to issues, particularly in foreign policy.”
Mr. Romney and other Republican candidates have said they would take military action if economic, diplomatic and other pressure did not prevent Iran from building a nuclear device, warning that Tehran could launch a first-strike nuclear attack on Israel.
Mr. Paul, though, stuck to his guns. Before a crowd at a public library in Sioux Center, he noted that others say Iran “might get a nuclear weapon someday, and wouldn’t it be good if we have a pre-emptive attack on Iran right now to make sure they never got a weapon.”
“I would say no, I wouldn’t do that, mainly because right now there are no signs they are” seeking to build a bomb, Mr. Paul said.
And if Iran did build a nuclear bomb, he said, “What are the odds of them using it? Probably zero. They just are not going to commit suicide. The Israelis have 300 of them.”
But Mr. Paul was also careful to say that the president is “obligated” to respond to an imminent attack on the United States. “You don’t have to wait until they have put their feet on our soil,” he said.
A new poll by NBC News released on Friday again showed Mr. Paul tied with Mr. Romney in Iowa, suggesting that the attacks on his foreign policy positions have so far had little effect. But polls have also showed that Mr. Paul’s opposition to American military intervention abroad is a major reason many Republicans give to oppose his candidacy.
Aides said Mr. Paul was scheduled to fly back to Texas on Friday night to spend the New Year’s holiday with his family before returning to Iowa to campaign on Monday with his son, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky.
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Indian Vice President inaugurates World Urdu Editors Conference
Dec 31, 2011
The Vice President said that despite the overall increase in population, the percentage of Urdu speakers to total population has registered a noticeable decline
The Vice President of India-M. Hamid Ansari has said that it is a truism that every publication targets a set of people preferably in different age groups interested in acquainting themselves with authentic news and comments. This, in the case of Urdu publications, is to be on those knowing the language. Delivering inaugural address at “World Urdu Editors Conference” at Hyderabad on 30 December 2011, he has said that the difficulty here is that despite the overall increase in population, the percentage of Urdu speakers to total population has registered a noticeable decline. Thus the younger age group does get excluded in some parts of the country. One implication of it is the effort by the newspapers to focus on the older age groups. The development stories, of particular interest to the youth, thus tend to be down played; by the same logic, older and familiar grievances remain disproportionately in focus. Responsible publications can perhaps do more to mould taste and cajole the readership in the direction of contemporary issues.
Following is the text of Vice President's inaugural address :
“Today's distinguished gathering is a proclamation to the world:Saare jahan main dhoom hamari zubaan ki hai, and it gives me great pleasure to be amidst you on this occasion.
This Conference testifies to Urdu being a living language, an international language, a language whose speakers are to be found from far east to far west and every where in between, a language so captivating and enchanting that ahl-e-Urdu propose to carry it in the life hereafter:
Isi main ho gi Khuda se bhi guftagoo Maikash
Ke roz-e-hashr bhi hogi meri zuban Urdu
Much has been written about Urdu literature, prose and poetry, about the unique capacity of the language to accommodate, adapt, synthesize, and evolve. Those having a superficial acquaintance with it know Urdu for its romantic poetry; others, more familiar with the history of our freedom struggle recall with pride the May 17 1857 issue of Maulvi Mohammad Baqar's newspaper Dehi Urdu Akhbar that came to be known as 'Inqilab edition'. A generation later Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil wrote the famous poem whose opening lines became the battle cry of freedom fighters:
Sar faroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil main hai
Dekhna hai zour kitna baazu-e-qatil main hai
This spirit, of questioning authority, was imbibed by Urdu journalism for about a century and brought forth the well known couplet:
Khaincho na kamanon ko na talwar nikalo
Jub toup muqabil ho to akhbar nikalo
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A progressive madrasa in the heart of Uttar Pradesh, India
30 December 2011
By Abu Zafar, IANS,
Bilariyaganj, Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh) : Breaking the stereotypes associated with madrasas, a 50-year-old Islamic seminary here teaches subjects like personality development and home science, runs an elaborate teacher training programme, has a higher girl enrolment ratio and has students who are no less active on social networking websites than their counterparts in the metros.
Welcome to Jamiatul Falah, a madrasa in Bilariyaganj town of Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district that has kept pace with modern education. The 4,300 students who come here from across the country are taught subjects like personality development, economics, political science and home science -- subjects which are rarely taught in Islamic institutions.
Jamiatul Falah, which means University of Eternal Success, also started a mini Industrial Training Institute (ITI) and a public hospital earlier this year.
The institution now wants to start paramedical courses for students.
"Now the madrasa people across the country recognize that there is a need to train teachers because they play a key role in any educational system," Falah manager Mohammad Tahir Madani told IANS.
"The modern subjects are helpful to understand the religious commandments and create confidence among our students," he said.
"If our students don't know other languages, then they won't know other cultures. Nowadays, if they don't know English they may feel an inferiority complex," he explained.
More than 50 percent of the students in the institution in higher classes are comfortable with the Internet and most have a Facebook account.
Shahid Habib, a student, has 425 Facebook friends. "I access the internet easily, send e-mails and get information," he said.
Of the 4,300 students, around 2,600 are girls and most of the outstation students are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Nepal. The girls' enrolment ratio in higher classes is even more.
"Educating the girl child is necessary to empower them. The ratio of educated girls has increased now. The poor girls can also get education here," Falah headmistress Salma Jaleel told IANS.
"If someone is poor, then they don't have to pay. We will educate them as it is our responsibility," Madani said.
Falah, which has a monthly fee of less than Rs.100, provides free education, accommodation and meals to at least 30 percent of its students.
The institution's alumni are pursuing research in various universities in India and abroad.
Its hospital, Al-Falah Hospital, offers allopathy, Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Unani treatment.
It serves at least 100 patients daily and provides free service to poor irrespective of race, caste and religion.
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Pakistan mulls import of vegetables, raw jute from India
31 December 2011
Pakistan has approved proposals to import around 16 vegetables as also raw jute from India through the Wagah border in order to rein in prices in the domestic market.
Additionally, another 18 items have been added to the list of goods that can be imported from India.
Among the vegetables that would be allowed to be imported into Pakistan, the Pakistan commerce ministry has listed cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, capsicum, green chillies, okra, bitter gourd, radish, green coriander and ginger.
These can be imported only by truck through the Wagah land border route.
The move follows amendments to the Import Policy Order of 2009, which were notified yesterday.
The 18 items added to the list of goods that can be imported from India include empty aluminium alloy cans, accessories for leather bags and footwear, jigs and dies for vehicles, fungicides for the leather industry and textile spinning machines, bobbin winding machines, reeling machines, power looms, fly ash for the cement industry, traction motors and spares, printed books of all kinds and flavouring powers.
The changes to the Import Policy Order came as amendments to the Strategic Trade Policy Framework of 2009-12.
The amendments had earlier, been approved by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet.
The authorities also allowed the temporary import-cum-export of accessories for export-oriented textile and leather industries and according to another amendment, the definition of auto parts was also enlarged.