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Islamic World News ( 20 Jun 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iran: Leader of militant group Jundollah executed

Muslims greet Kashmir’s Hindus on Khirbhawani festival

Iran’s Karroubi vows to keep protest alive

Turkish troops enter Iraq after Kurd rebel attacks

Egypt: Islam suppresses Christian doctrine on marriage

You're no longer popular as you once were: Al-Qaida's Adam Gadahn to Obama

Pakistan needs to do more in war against terror: Holbrooke

Israel reserves right to stop Lebanon-Gaza flotilla

Books: Death threat fails to silence Hirsi Ali's criticism of Islam

Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t

Saudi bus crash kills 10 Pakistani pilgrims

Baghdad suicide bombers kill 26 in crowded street

Fresh assault kills 13 ‘militants’ in Orakzai

War on terror to be won with popular support: PM

MNAs demand abolition of Islamic Ideology Council, Shariat Court

Ideology needed to fight Abu Sayyaf, says military officer

First wife’s allegations puncture credibility of Rukhsana’s marriage

Osama, Omar hiding near Pak-Afghan border: Holbrooke

Hurriyat leader Geelani detained over provocative speech in J&K

Iraqi son kills father for working with US troops

One killed in CRPF firing in Srinagar

Rs 35,000 to hush up child's murder, rape?


 Seraiki schools of terror

Azad to showcase Assam healthcare scheme in U.S

Pak wants good relations with India: Gilani

LeT surveyed 100 targets, I covered almost one-third: Headley to Indian investigators

Love, sex change and dhokha in Srinagar

Poles decide Presidential successor

Security in Afghanistan has not improved: UN chief

New rabbi for Chabad House revival

Hindus spit fire against Geelani’s Amarnath rant

Taliban spin doctor’s take

Firing from Pakistan kills two civilians

Jundullah militants storm court in Karachi, two killed

Pandits Throng Jammu Fair

Anti-graft body declares assets to provide transparency

PML-Q calls for disbanding CII

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Iran: Leader of militant group Jundollah executed

June 20, 2010

Abdolmalek Rigi, head of the Sunni rebel group Jundollah who waged a deadly insurgency in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, was hanged early Sunday, state news agency IRNA reported.

"After the decision of the Tehran revolutionary tribunal, Abdolmalek Rigi was hanged on Sunday morning in Evin prison," IRNA said.

It quoted a court statement as saying: "The head of the armed counter-revolutionary group in the east of the country ... was responsible for armed robbery, assassination attempts, armed attacks on the army and police and on ordinary people, and murder."

Rigi was captured in February while on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgystan. His hanging on Sunday comes less than a month after his brother Abdolhamid was hanged on charges of "terrorism".

A Tehran Revolutionary court sentenced Rigi to death and the Supreme Court upheld the sentence, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said.

Rigi led the shadowy Sunni militant group called Jundollah (Soldiers of God) that had waged a deadly insurgency in southeastern Iran killing civilians as well as military officials.

Iran says the group was backed by the United States.

IRNA, quoting the court statement, said Rigi's group was "responsible for the killing of 154 members of security forces and other innocent people and wounding of 320 people since 2003."

It said Jundollah was "linked to members of foreign intelligence services, including members from U.S. and Zionist regime's intelligence services under the cover of NATO."

It was also linked to intelligence services of some Arab countries and counter-revolutionary group People's Mujahedeen, the statement said.

Rigi himself was charged with forming the "terrorist group Jundollah which was fighting the Islamic republic."

"He collaborated and ordered 15 armed abductions, confessed to three murders, and ordered the murders of tens of citizens, police and military personnel through bombings and armed actions," the statement added.

IRNA said he had been sentenced to be hanged in front of the relatives of some of the victims of his attacks, but the report did not specify whether he was actually executed in their presence.

A new leader

Rigi's arrest was reportedly a spectacular operation, with Iranian warplanes forcing the flight carrying the militant from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan to land in Iran.

Soon after his arrest, the Jundollah group claimed it had appointed a new leader Muhammad Dhahir Baluch, the SITE monitoring agency reported.

According to SITE Jundollah said in its website posting: "Let the (Iranian) regime know that it will face a movement that is stronger and much more solid than ever before and one whose existence it has not been aware of.

"It will see what our believing heroes among our Baluch children can do to the occupiers, the aggressors and the unjust. The falsehood of the senior leaders of the regime will soon be exposed."

Jundollah says it is fighting Tehran's Shiite rule to secure rights for Sunni Baluchis who form a significant population in Sistan-Baluchestan.

A few days after Rigi's arrest Iranian state media alleged that the United States had offered to provide the militant aid to battle the Islamic regime.

"They (Americans) said they would cooperate with us and will give me military equipment," Rigi said in a taped statement broadcast on Iran's state-run English-language Press TV.

Tehran has long accused the group of being trained and equipped by American and British intelligence services as well as the Pakistanis in a bid to destabilize the government. Washington denies the charges.

Rigi's brother Abdolhamid was hanged in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, on May 24 in front of the families of the victims, state media had reported.

Abdolhamid was convicted of "Moharebeh" (armed opposition to the state) and being "corrupt on earth by membership in a terrorist group."

Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan is an impoverished area near Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bombings and clashes between security forces, ethnic Baluch Sunni insurgents and drug traffickers have increased in recent years in the area.


Muslims greet Kashmir’s Hindus on Khirbhawani festival

Jun 20th, 2010

Thousands of Kashmiri Hindus from across the country on Saturday thronged the Khirbhawani temple in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district for an annual festival. Local Muslims greeted them with sweets as part of a centuries’ old practice in the State where the two religions have traditionally lived in harmony.

The temple in Tullamulla village, about 25 km from here, is dedicated to Ragnya Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Durga.

Muslims lined up outside the temple Saturday with ‘kheer’ in earthen potsfor their Hindu brethren.

Legend has it that Lord Rama worshipped Ragnya during his entire 14-year exile. When this ended, Lord Rama asked Hanuman to relocate the shrine of the goddess. Hanuman relocated it to Shadipora in Kashmir. But the deity appeared in a local priest’s dream asking him to relocate the shrine at its present location.

Devotees of all ages throng the shrine each year and engage in prayers and meditation to seek the blessings of the deity.

The spring water inside the temple complex bears special significance as it is believed that the colour of water on the festival day foretells the year’s future for the State.

“The colour of the spring water is milky white which foretells a prosperous year for the State,” said Radhakrishan Bhan, 56, who came here all the way from Pune.

After majority of the Hindus migrated out of the State in the 1990s in the wake of separatist violence here, hundreds of them have been reaching here each year this day from different parts of the country.

“We look forward to the time when we can return to our roots in Kashmir,” said Shiban Krishen, 47, who came from the Jammu to pray at the temple.

Tight security arrangement was put in place in and around the temple.


Iran’s Karroubi vows to keep protest alive

June 20, 2010

Opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi on Sunday vowed to continue fighting the presidential "vote scandal" which rocked Iran, a year to the day after the death of a young woman at a Tehran protest rally.

Karroubi's latest salvo comes 12 months after a deadly demonstration in the capital against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led to the killing of 10 people, including Neda Agha-Soltan.

A mobile phone video posted on the Internet showing the young woman bleeding to death in the street during the June 20, 2009 rally became the symbol of the uprising against Ahmadinejad's re-election.

" Your stolen votes and the right which was unjustly taken away is a scandal which will not be wiped out at all "

Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi

In an open letter to Iranians posted on his website, Karroubi criticized supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and attacked the authorities for jailing protesters and "filling cemeteries" with those killed in the unrest.

"Your stolen votes and the right which was unjustly taken away is a scandal which will not be wiped out at all," said the cleric who has refused to accept Ahmadinejad's re-election.

"I once again declare in all honesty that I will be committed to my pact with you until the end."

Hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters poured onto the streets of Tehran soon after last year's presidential election result returned Ahmadinejad to office for a second term.

The opposition movement claims that the poll was massively rigged in Ahmadinejad's favor, and has continued to reject his government ever since.

Dozens of people were killed in the clashes between protesters and security forces, and thousands were jailed in a crackdown launched by the authorities to quell the demonstrations that rocked the pillars of the Islamic regime.

Different view

" The authority and domain of Velayat-e Faqih has been expanded so much, it is unlikely that God could have granted so much authority to the prophets and Imams. I don't even think God would have considered such a right for himself in dealing with his people "


On Sunday Karroubi, a former parliament speaker who was defeated in the election, said the people viewed the result differently from Khamenei.

"The leader declared his view about the election, but we saw that the people, with all due respect to him, thought differently by claiming back the votes they had cast," he said.

He was referring to a June 19, 2009 Tehran Friday prayers sermon by Khamenei in which he openly backed Ahmadinejad's re-election and called for an end to street demonstrations.

Opposition supporters continued to protest for several weeks after Khamenei's call.

Karroubi accused Khamenei and the authorities of using ideology to expand their powers beyond those allocated by the constitution.

Khamenei has proved to be a rock-solid advocate of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's ideology of the Velayat-e Faqih, the notion that religious authority is the supreme political authority in an Islamic republic.

"Why have they resorted to Velayat-e Faqih to undermine the constitution and the Islamic republic which depends on people's votes?" Karroubi questioned.

"The authority and domain of Velayat-e Faqih has been expanded so much, it is unlikely that God could have granted so much authority to the prophets and Imams. I don't even think God would have considered such a right for himself in dealing with his people."

Karroubi accused the authorities of "depriving people of their right to question by sending them to Kahrizak and filling cemeteries."

During last year's unrest several protesters were sent to Kahrizak detention centre, south of Tehran. It was later ordered closed by Khamenei after reports that inmates there had been widely abused.

Officials have acknowledged that at least three protesters died while in custody at Kahrizak.


Turkish troops enter Iraq after Kurd rebel attacks

June 20, 2010

Turkish forces pushed into northern Iraq on Sunday, killing four people, including a 15-year-old girl, as they retaliate against hideouts of Kurdish rebels who killed 12 soldiers in the deadliest spell of violence in two years.

The ground incursion into Iraq came after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to fight the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) "to the end" in response to what he called the "cowardly" assault by its fighters.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday Kurdish militants would "drown in their own blood" as he lead political and army chiefs in paying respects to troops killed in a clash with the rebels.

" Kurdish militants would drown in their own blood "

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan

PKK spokesman Ahmed Denis hit back with a threat to take the rebels' campaign of violence to cities across Turkey if the army did not halt its policy of confrontation.

By morning, the troops had advanced 10 kilometres into Iraqi territory in the Qandil mountains where the rebels maintain a network of rear bases in their 26-year-old armed campaign for self-rule in southeastern Turkey, the Iraqi Kurdish security official said.

Turkish fire killed a 15-year-old girl and wounded her mother and two-year-old brother in Khwakurq village, Sidikan district commissioner Ahmed Qader told AFP.

As Turkish forces crossed the border and advanced into Iraqi territory during the night they killed another three people, a security official said, without specifying whether the dead were civilians or PKK fighters.

Inside Turkey, the rebels kept up their attacks during the night, killing one soldier and wounding another, bringing the military's losses over the past two days to 12, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported.

Clashes broke out between troops and PKK fighters after the rebels attacked a barracks near the eastern town of Palu, Anatolia said.


Egypt: Islam suppresses Christian doctrine on marriage

June 20, 2010

It is not enough that the Egyptian government facilitates persecution of the Copts, Egypt’s indigenous Christian minority. Now the government is interfering directly with the church’s autonomy concerning doctrine. According to the Assyrian International News Agency:

The head of the Coptic Church in Egypt has rejected a court ruling that orders the church to allow divorced Copts to remarry in the church. In a press conference held on Tuesday June 8, Pope Shenouda [III], reading from the statement issued by the Holy Synod’s 91 Bishops, including himself, said: “The Coptic Church respects the law, but does not accept rulings which are against the Bible and against its religious freedom which is guaranteed by the Constitution.” He went on to say “the recent ruling is not acceptable to our conscience, and we cannot implement it.” He also said that marriage is a holy sacrament of a purely religious nature and not merely an “administrative act.”

Though little reported in the West, this issue is rapidly boiling over. There is even talk that, if he does not submit to the court’s ruling, the pope will (once again) be imprisoned. What is behind such unprecedented governmental interference with the Coptic Church’s autonomy?

Reading Egypt’s national newspaper, Al Ahram, one gets the impression that, by trying to make divorce and remarriage easier for Copts, the Egyptian government is attempting to “liberalize” Coptic society — only to be challenged by an antiquated pope not open to “reform.” It quotes one Copt saying that the “pope’s limiting divorce and remarriage to cases of adultery is unfair. It is against human nature.”

Even the manager of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance claims that his position “exposes Pope Shenouda’s desire to impose his will over the Christian community” (a curious statement, considering that some 10,000 Copts recently demonstrated in support of the pope, and that the Catholic and Orthodox churches — which guide some 1.5 billion Christians — hold similar views on divorce and remarriage).

At any rate, lest the reader truly think that the Egyptian government is becoming more “liberal,” there are a few important facts to remember:

Orthodox rabbis denounce 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on gays in military

First, according to the Second Article of the Egyptian Constitution, Sharia law — one of, if not the most draconian law codes to survive the Medieval period — is “the principal source of legislation.” This means that any number of measures contrary to basic human rights are either explicitly or implicitly supported by the Egyptian government, including polygamy, the obstruction of churches, and institutionalized discrimination against non-Muslims and females in general. Put differently, Sharia law can be liberal — but only to male Muslims, who (speaking of marriage and divorce) can have up to four wives, and divorce them by simply uttering “I divorce you” thrice (even via “text messaging”).

Moreover, the Egyptian government — again, in accordance to Sharia law — prevents Muslims from converting to Christianity. Mohammad Hegazy, for instance, tried formally to change his religion from Muslim to Christian on his I.D. card — yes, in Egypt, people are Gestapo-like categorized by their religion — only to be denied by the Egyptian court. (Many other such anecdotes abound.) In other words, while the Egyptian government portrays itself as “modernizing” the church’s “archaic” position on divorce and remarriage, it — the government, not Al Azhar, nor some radical sheikhs, nor the Muslim mob — prevents (including by imprisonment and torture) Muslims from converting to Christianity.

As for those who accuse Pope Shenouda of behaving no better, consider: he is not enforcing a totalitarian law that Copts must accept; he is simply saying that, in accordance to the Bible (e.g., Matt 5:32), and except in certain justifiable circumstances (e.g., adultery), Copts cannot remarry in the church: “Let whoever wants to remarry to do it away from us. There are many ways and churches to marry in. Whoever wants to remain within the church has to abide by its laws.”

If this still sounds a tad “non-pluralistic,” know that at least Copts have a way out: quit the church. No such way out for Muslims: Sharia law — Egypt’s “primal source of legislation” — mandates death for Muslims who wish to quit Islam.

Nor has the inherent hypocrisy of the government’s position been missed by Egyptians: “The pope evaded answering a question presented by a reporter in the press conference on whether the court would dare order Al Azhar [Egypt’s highest Islamic authority] to agree to a Muslim marrying a fifth wife and not only four, comparing it to the interference of the Court in the Bible teachings through its recent ruling.” A good question, indeed.

Finally, the grandest oddity of this situation is the fact that, for all its inhumane practices, Sharia law does, in fact, permit dhimmis to govern their communities according to their own creeds, a fact not missed by the pope himself, who “pointed to Islamic Law, which allows religious minorities to follow their own rules and customs.”

In short, the Egyptian government is behaving even more intolerantly than its medieval Muslim predecessors who, while openly oppressive of Christians, at least allowed the latter to govern their own, personal affairs according to Christian doctrine. As Pope Shenouda declared at the emergency Holy Synod, “the ruling must be reconsidered, otherwise this will mean that the Copts are suffering and that they are religiously oppressed.”

Indeed, when Copts are violently persecuted by Muslims, the government claims that it cannot control the actions of a minority of “extremists.” However, now that the Egyptian government is personally tampering with the church’s ability to live according to Christian doctrine, what more proof is needed that it seeks to subvert Coptic society and is an enabler of Coptic persecution?

Raymond Ibrahim is the associate director of the Middle East Forum, the author of The Al Qaeda Reader, and a guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College. He writes at his website and at Pajamas Media. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.


You're no longer popular as you once were: Al-Qaida's Adam Gadahn to Obama

Jun 20, 2010

CAIRO: Al-Qaida's American-born spokesman has repeated the terror group's conditions for peace with America, calling on President Barack Obama to withdraw his troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, end support for Israel, stop intervening in the affairs of Muslims and free Muslim prisoners.

In the second, 24-minute part of a video released in March and posted on militant websites on Sunday, Adam Gadahn said the Democrats' loss in January of the Massachusetts Senate seat underlined Obama's falling popularity.

In white robes and turban, Gadahn told Obama: "You're no longer the popular man you once were, a year ago or so."

Gadahn is wanted by the FBI since 2004 with a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction. He is also known as Azzam al-Amriki, Arabic for American.

Times of India


Pakistan needs to do more in war against terror: Holbrooke

Jun 20, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to do much more in the war against terrorism in a planned manner, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke has said.

"In regard to the war itself, Pakistan has made progress, but it doesn't mean that we've reached the end of the road. This is a tough, long struggle and much more needs to be done," Holbrooke told a joint press conference on Saturday after a meeting with Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan said al-Qaeda's network had been "severely degraded" by joint US-Pakistani efforts. "The al-Qaida network has been severely degraded in recent years in efforts that both our countries work on," the Daily Times quoted Holbrooke as saying.

The visiting envoy reiterated the US' commitment and assurance to extend more financial help to Pakistan in energy, education, health and the anti-terror war.

To a question on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Holbrooke said, "it is Pakistan's own decision on the project," adding that the US had no concerns on the project.


Israel reserves right to stop Lebanon-Gaza flotilla

Jun 19 2010

United Nations : Israel told the United Nations on Friday it reserved its right to use all necessary means to stop ships that it said planned to try to sail from Lebanon to bring aid to Gaza, blockaded by the Jewish state.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and to the Security Council, Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev also called on the Lebanese government to prevent the ships from leaving.

An international furor erupted after the Israeli navy stormed a six-ship aid flotilla heading for Gaza on May 31, killing eight Turks and a Turkish-American on board. Israel said its commandos acted in self-defense after being attacked.

Following the outcry, Israel said on Thursday it was easing its land blockade of the Gaza Strip, which for the past three years has been controlled by Palestinian Hamas militants. But it said the sea blockade would continue.

Shalev said it appeared a small number of ships planned to sail from Lebanon and that while the organizers said they wished to take aid to Gaza, the true nature of their actions remains dubious.

Organizers had said they wished to become martyrs and there was a possible link to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, whose leader Hassan Nasrallah had called on Lebanese citizens to take part in such flotillas, Shalev said.

As a result, Israel cannot exclude the possibility that terrorists or arms will be smuggled onboard the ships in question, the Israeli envoy wrote.

Given the conflict between Israel and Hamas and the state of hostility between Lebanon and the Jewish state, Israel reserves its right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the existing naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, she said.

There were appropriate mechanisms for sending aid to Gaza, Shalev said, calling on Lebanon to demonstrate responsibility and to prevent these boats from departing to the Gaza Strip.

She also called on the international community to use its influence to stop the boats departing and to discourage their nationals from taking part in the action.


Books: Death threat fails to silence Hirsi Ali's criticism of Islam

By Carole Zimmer

June 20, 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali travels with security ever since a Muslim radical murdered the filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam and vowed she would be next. Her views on women's rights are anathema to Islamic fundamentalists.

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Hirsi Ali is now based in Washington, where she is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. The Netherlands, where she was a member of the Dutch Parliament, proved to be an unenthusiastic guarantor of her safety.

I spoke with Hirsi Ali at Bloomberg headquarters in New York about her new book, "Nomad," which describes the consequences of a life in which she "wandered rootless" and publicly disavowed Islam.

Why are so many young Muslim men susceptible to Islamic radicalism?

I'm not implying that all Muslims are terrorists or dangerous or bad and cruel to women. Fortunately, most Muslims are not. But we see an increasing number of people who are finding in Islamic scripture justifications for cruel behavior toward women.

Increasingly, we also see a number of individuals who find justifications for killing other people by identifying the U.S. and other countries as enemy countries open for war. That is something unfortunately that is inherent in Islam and Islamic scripture.

In the Koran itself?

Well, I can't say that it's the Koran that causes a husband to beat his wife, but when I was a translator

in Holland and we condemned some men for beating their wives, they would pull out the Koran and say, "Look here, Chapter 4, Verse 34, gives me a reason, and in fact even obligates me, to beat my wife if she's disobedient."

The imam in the mosque is reminding and actually telling a lot of men who do not even know what's in the Koran, "Did you know that you have a right to discipline your wife?" I think it's time we started talking about the rightfulness and wrongfulness of the moral framework that Mohammad left behind, and that's taboo.

Is the problem that there is no tolerance for anyone who questions Islam?

There are individual Muslims who want to reform the faith and the way it's practiced, but those people have always been labeled heretics, apostates and have been persecuted.

I try to explain in my book that the silent Muslim majority have a hard time condemning fellow Muslims who are violent because they feel they can't criticize the Koran. When I was growing up as a Muslim, we were all indoctrinated with the idea the prophet Mohammad is infallible, he can do no harm, he has done no harm, he was a pure man. He's out of bounds and that's the predicament.

I became estranged from my family as a result of my questioning of Islam, and my plea to not let scripture prevail over human rights. I believe things will change and I am inspired, encouraged by the evolution that Christians have gone through, that Jews have gone through.

I believe Muslims can do the same thing. And the first step is by teaching young children, both boys and girls, to learn the skill and the art of self-reflection. Don't just swallow something because an authority figure tells you this is the truth.

You say Western countries need to take action. What kind of action do you mean?

We need to compose an alternative message and compete with the agents of radical Islam for the hearts and minds of young Muslims. Offer an alternative theology -- give them a concept of God that is friendly and tolerant.

I don't believe in God. Atheists should get together and compose a message of enlightenment and say let's replace a belief system that is not only outdated and primitive but also very violent, with something new and humanistic and tolerant. The way to do it is to compete.


Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t

June 20, 2010

Christianity or Islam: which is the real “religion of peace”?

Almost any liberal pundit will tell you that there’s a religion bent on destroying our Constitution, stripping us of our liberties, and imposing religious rule on the U.S. And that religion is . . .Christianity! About Islam, however, the Left is silent–except to claim a moral equivalence between the two: if Islam has terrorists today, that’s nothing compared to the Crusades, inquisitions, and religious wars in Christianity’s past.

But is this true? Are conservative Christians really more of a threat to free societies than Islamic jihadists? Is the Bible really “just as violent” as the Qur’an? Is Christianity’s history really as bloodstained as Islam’s? In Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer not only refutes such charges, but also explains why Americans and Europeans must regain an appreciation of our Christian heritage if we ever hope to defeat Islamic supremacism. In this eye opening work, Spencer reveals:

* The fundamental differences between Islamic and Christian teachings about warfare against other religions: “Love your enemies” vs. “Be ruthless to the unbelievers”

* The myth of Western immorality and Islamic puritanism and why the Islamic world is less moral than the West

* Why the Islamic world has never developed the distinction between religious and secular law that is inherent in Christianity

* Why Christianity has always embraced reason–and Islam has always rejected it

* Why the most determined enemies of Western civilization may not be the jihadists at all, but the leftists who fear their churchgoing neighbors more than Islamic terrorists

* Why Jews, Christians, and peoples of other faiths (or no faith) are equally at risk from militant Islam

Spencer writes not to proselytize, but to state a fact: Christianity is a true “religion of peace,” and on it Western civilization stands. If we are not to perish under Islam’s religion of the sword–with its more than 100 million active jihadists seeking to impose sharia law–we had better defend our own civilization.


Saudi bus crash kills 10 Pakistani pilgrims

20 Jun, 2010

RIYADH: Ten Pakistani Muslim pilgrims were killed and 25 injured, including women and children, when their bus crashed north of the holy city of Makkah, Saudi media reported on Sunday.

The bus carrying the pilgrims overturned on the highway between the holy cities of Makkah and Medina near Khulais, about 80 kilometres north of Jeddah, according to reports.

The group was on an umrah, or minor pilgrimage, to the holy cities.


Baghdad suicide bombers kill 26 in crowded street

20 Jun, 2010

BAGHDAD: Suicide bombers in two cars killed 26 people and wounded 53 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Sunday when they drove down a crowded street and blew themselves up simultaneously, security officials said.

The morning bombings, which came hot on the heels of attacks late on Saturday that killed seven people and wounded 20, underlined the dangers of a resurgence of violence amid a persistent political vacuum more than three months after a general election.

The bombers struck outside a bank in a major thoroughfare in the mainly Sunni Arab Mansur district that provides access to the fortified Green Zone government and embassy compound in the city centre from western Iraq.

“The report of the bomb disposal team confirmed that the two attacks that happened in Mansur today were carried out by suicide bombers who drove the car bombs,” the capital’s operations command said.

 “Each car was loaded with 80 kilogram’s of ammonium nitrate,” the command said in a statement.

 “They were detonated simultaneously. They targeted the Iraq Bank for Commerce.”

 The bank is the conduit for much of the government's foreign exchange transactions and its dealings with investors.

 “The bank branch was seriously damaged,” a security official told AFP.

 Among the casualties were women and children, as well as traffic police based nearby.

 The street was also busy with people queuing to renew passports or visas in adjacent government offices, the official added.

 The twin blasts marked the deadliest day in Iraq since May 10 when four bombs in the mainly Shia central city of Hilla and other attacks killed more than 100 people -- the highest toll of this year.

 US and Iraqi officials had warned of the dangers of an upsurge of violence if negotiations on forming a new governing coalition dragged on too long, giving insurgent groups an opportunity to further destabilise the country.

 On Saturday evening, three roadside bombs planted in Hurriya, a Shia neighbourhood in the north of Baghdad, killed four people and wounded 16, a security official told AFP.

 Fire from a Katyusha multiple rocket launcher killed three people and wounded four in Al-Obeidi, an anarchic Shia slum district in the far east of the capital beyond the sprawling Shia bastion of Sadr City, an official said.

 And in the Zayouna neighbourhood of central Baghdad, police found the bodies of five women. A security official said they were believed to have been killed two or three weeks ago.

 Government figures showed that 337 people were killed as a result of violence in May, the fourth time this year that the overall death toll has been higher than in the corresponding month of 2009.


Fresh assault kills 13 ‘militants’ in Orakzai

20 Jun, 2010

PESHAWAR: A fresh assault by security forces killed at least 13 suspected militants and wounded 10 others in the Orakzai tribal region, DawnNews reported.

Official sources said the insurgents were killed when fighter jets attacked militant hideouts in Orakzai's Torsmad and Khotak areas.

Four of the militant hideouts were also destroyed during the attack.

Separately, five insurgents were killed when ordnance exploded in one of their hideouts in Orakzai's Samar bazaar area.


War on terror to be won with popular support: PM

20 Jun, 2010

MULTAN: The war against terrorism cannot be won without the people's support, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday, DawnNews reported.

The reason why Musharraf was not successful in fighting terrorism was because he did not have popular support, Gilani told reporters in Multan.

He further said that the government has also invited PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif to the parliament and that the PPP has always promoted the politics of reconciliation.

Regarding corruption allegations against politicians, he said that if corruption is endemic in society then "only politicians should not be the target of such allegations".

"While corruption allegations are mounting on the political government, no one talks about accountability when it comes to military dictators," he said.


MNAs demand abolition of Islamic Ideology Council, Shariat Court

By Tahir Niaz

June 20, 2010

* PML-Q’s Riaz Pirzada terms suicides due to poverty ‘will of God’

* Lawmakers continue debate over 2010-11 budget

ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers continued their discussion on the 2010-11 budget on Friday in the National Assembly, where some members called for the abolition of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and the Federal Shariat Court.

During the debate, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) MNA Riaz Hussain Pirzada termed the recent suicides in the country due to poverty “God’s will”. “Those who come to this world must have to leave it one day, and this is God’s will,” he said.

Referring to reports that Maulana Sherani has been appointed as the head of CII, Pirzada said that “a representative of terrorists” was being appointed as the new head of the ideology council.

He said CII and Shariat Court should be abolished, as “these institutions had never issued a decree against the killing of non-Muslims”.

“They have contributed nothing to the interpretation of Islamic principles and in delivering verdicts according to Islamic injunctions,” he said. He further stated that it was not the duty of the court to “paralyse the government”.

Bushra Gohar of the Awami National Party (ANP) also supported Pirzada’s stance on the CII, saying Maulana Sherani should not be appointed to head the council.

During the discussion, when Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Information Secretary Fouzia Wahab tried to speak without permission of the deputy speaker, her microphone was switched off.

However, she managed to continue her speech and urged the US and international monetary institutions to write-off Pakistan’s loans as an acknowledgement of Pakistan’s role in the war against terror.

She also supported the imposition of the Value Added Tax, saying everyone in the country should pay their taxes to enhance government revenues. She said this would enable the government to allocate more funds for poverty alleviation.

Participating in the debate, Malik Ibrar Ahmed said that it was not a pro-poor budget, as the government claimed. “No significant measure has been proposed in the budget to overcome price hikes and other issues confronting the masses,” he said.

During the speech, Member National Assembly (MNA) Dr Araish Kumar demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate alleged corruption in the Evacuee Trust Board. He also urged the government to increase seats for minorities in the National Assembly.

Ayub Sheikh said that the government should review the Afghan Transit Trade policy, which had increased smuggling in Pakistan.

Usman Khan, Saira Afzal Tarar, Qudsia Arshad, Umar Sohail Butt, Manwar Lal, Sheikh Aftab Ahmad, Sardar Bahadar Ahmad Khan, Malik Azmat Khan, Jamshed Dasti, Kashmala Tariq and Mian Abdul Haq also participated in the debate.\06\19\story_19-6-2010_pg7_16


Ideology needed to fight Abu Sayyaf, says military officer

By Marlon Ramos

June 20, 2010

After spending billions of pesos in armaments and losing the lives of hundreds of soldiers and innocent civilians, a senior military official said Saturday the government must rethink its militarist approach to ending the Abu Sayyaf’s reign of terror in the country.

Brigadier General Francisco Cruz, the Armed Force’s Civil Relations Services chief, pointed out that “a glaring weakness” in the government’s anti-terrorism program was the lack of an “ideological response” to the problem.

“(The) war on terror is a war of ideas and, therefore, the strategy to defeat Abu Sayyaf and radical Islam… requires an ideological counterforce that would compete with the enemy’s ideology,” Cruz said in an e-mailed statement.

Despite its notoriety, Cruz said, the Abu Sayyaf can be considered as “a politico-religious terrorist group” as shown by its previous attacks, including the bloody Valentine’s Day bombings in 2006.

“(W)hat keeps the Abu Sayyaf and other Muslim extremist forces alive in this country is radical Islam or the waging of jihad by violent means,” he said.

These observations were contained in a paper, titled “Defeating Abu Sayyaf: The Strong and Urgent Need for an Ideological Response,” which he presented at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore.

According to Cruz, the Abu Sayyaf’s use of “radical Islam” to justify its lawless activities have been very effective in recruiting members and obtaining financial support from foreign Islamic groups such as the Jemaah Islamiyah and the Al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden.

Along with other state agencies, he said, the Armed Forces must take on proactive policies to put an end to the perceived bias and mistrust between Muslims and Christians.

By doing this, he said, the government would “destroy the enemy spirit and promote moderation.”

“Where the main thrust is ideology for ideology, the government should promote the culture of peace and non-violence to counter the extremism espoused by the Abu Sayyaf and the violent Muslim groups through community-level peacemaking,” he said.

He also criticized the government’s "National Plan to Address Terrorism and its Consequences" for its failure to recognize “terrorist motivation and mindset.”

Crafted by the Anti-Terrorism Task Force, Cruz argued, the program was not a holistic approach to address terrorism “as it focuses only on operational counterterrorism targeting terrorist cells and attack plans.”

“A military-based response is not enough to destroy Abu Sayyaf and other Muslim extremist groups in the country,” he said, adding, “It would need a comprehensive approach to confront an enemy whose roots have political, social, economic and psychological dimensions.”

Cruz also dismissed the AFP’s earlier pronouncements that the Abu Sayyaf was already a “spent force,” noting that the terrorist group still has nearly 400 members who were trained in making explosives.

He said the bandits were also known to have “varying degrees of influence” in about 164 villages in Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga.

“Abu Sayyaf’s kidnapping business, which seem unstoppable, provides them funds to sustain the organization,” he said.

The Army official also stressed the important role of the media in the existence of terrorist group like the Abu Sayyaf.

He said the group has “skillfully used the media to gain domestic and international attention.”


First wife’s allegations puncture credibility of Rukhsana’s marriage

By Arjun Sharma

Jun 20 2010

AT A time when they should be enjoying their honeymoon, Rukhsana Kausar and her husband are busy battling allegations that their one- month- old marriage was built on a foundation of half- truths and lies.

Rukhsana had shot to fame after gunning down a terrorist who attacked her parents. She hit headlines again last month when she married her bodyguard Kabir Hussain against her parents’ wishes.

Kabir had then claimed that he was marrying Rukhsana with the consent of his first wife Parveen Akhter. He had also claimed that he had only one child from his previous marriage.

But things went awry on Saturday when Parveen visited the office of the senior superintendent of police ( SSP) in Rajouri to file a complaint against Kabir.

She alleged that Kabir had started beating her up — to force her consent — after he and Rukhsana decided to get married.

“ Kabir wanted me to permit his second marriage. When I refused, he started beating me up. He finally married my permission,” she said.

“ Kabir and I had got married 13 years ago and we were happy.

But everything went wrong after he fell in love with Rukhsana,” she added.

Parveen also said Kabir has five children — three daughters and two sons — not one. His youngest child, Mohammed, is only nine months old.

“ Kabir has asked me to take Rs 50,000 from him and return to my parents’ home without the children. Rukhsana also called me up one day to make the same request. She said she was willing to pay me more money,” she said.

While Rukhsana couldn’t be contacted, Kabir has denied the allegations. “ I never beat her up. Parveen is lying to defame Rukhsana and me,” he said.

Mail Today


Osama, Omar hiding near Pak-Afghan border: Holbrooke

Jun 19, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan Mullah Omar were hiding somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghan border, US special representative for the region Richard Holbrooke said Saturday.

Holbrooke, who is on a two-day visit to Pakistan, said this after meeting Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

He said that the US did not only increase aid to Pakistan's military but also extended its support in other sectors as well, Dawn reported.

"People all over the world should be more aware of the sacrifices Pakistani people and the army have made in pushing back militants in Swat, South Waziristan and other northwestern regions," Holbrooke told a joint news conference.

"In July I'm expecting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to visit Islamabad for a second session of the strategic dialogue," Qureshi said.


Hurriyat leader Geelani detained over provocative speech in J&K

Jun 20, 2010

SRINAGAR: Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was on Sunday detained by police for making a "provocative" speech, minutes after he gave a call for a bandh in Kashmir tomorrow against the killing of two youths in Kupwara district.

Police said the 80-year-old separatist leader was detained as a "preventive measure" after Geelani addressed a religious gathering in Salkote area of Kupwara, 120 km from here.

"His (Geelani's) statements during the address seemed to be provocative and we feared it might prompt violence. So as a preventive measure, we detained him to avoid law and order problem," Senior Superintendent of Police, Kupwara, Uttam Chand said.

Geelani and the Hurriyat's moderate faction headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq had given separate calls for Kashmir bandh tomorrow.

Violence broke out in various parts of old city this morning during the funeral procession of 25-year-old Mohammad Rafiq Bangroo who succumbed to injuries last night after being allegedly beaten up by CRPF personnel on June 12.

A mob tried to torch a mobile bunker of CRPF in Noorbagh locality, prompting the paramilitary force personnel to open fire which left Javid Ahmad Malla and injuries to four others.

Hurriyat Conference spokesman Ayaz Akbar, however, termed as "baseless" police's charge that Geelani had made a provocative speech.

"It was a peaceful religious gathering. His speech wasn't provocative at all. These allegations are totally baseless," he claimed.

General Secretary Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Ashraf Sehrai who was accompanying Geelani was also detained, official sources said.

Geelani, addressing the religious gathering, alleged that the forces have been ordered "shoot at sight".

"We cannot remain mute spectators to the ongoing killings. The need of hour is to lodge a strong protest which will shake the Indian institutions," he said.

He asked the leaders of mainstream parties to resign from the assembly.


Iraqi son kills father for working with US troops

Jun 20, 2010

BAGHDAD: An al-Qaida-linked insurgent shot and killed his own father as he slept for refusing to quit his job as an Iraqi interpreter for the US military, police said, a rare deadly attack on a close family member over allegations of collaborating with the enemy.

Hameed al-Daraji, 50, worked as a contractor and translator for the US military for seven years since after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. He was shot in the chest about 3am while sleeping in his house in Samarra, a former insurgent stronghold 95km north of Baghdad, police Lt Emad Muhsin said.

Authorities arrested the son and his cousin, saying the young men apparently were trying to prove their loyalty after rejoining the insurgency. Police were also looking for another son who allegedly took part in the attack.

Citing confessions, police said the son whom they arrested, Abdul-Halim Hameed, 30, was a former member of al-Qaida in Iraq who quit the terror network in 2007. But Hameed, his 19-year-old cousin and 24-year-old brother remained committed to extremist causes.


One killed in CRPF firing in Srinagar

Jun 20, 2010

SRINAGAR: One person was killed and four were injured as CRPF personnel opened fire on a group of youths who tried to storm their camp in Noorbagh area of the old city on Sunday morning, officials said here.

The paramilitary force opened fire when some agitated protesters made an attempt to barge into their camp after the burial of 25-year-old Mohammad Rafiq Bangroo, who was allegedly beaten up by CRPF personnel at Safakadal on June 12 during a clash between stone pelters and security forces, they said.

Bangroo succumbed to his injuries last night at a local hospital after battling for life for a week.

The five youths were injured in the firing today and were taken to a hospital where Javed Ahmad succumbed to his wounds, the officials said.

Fearing trouble after Bangroo's death, authorities had imposed restriction on the movement of people in the old city this morning.

Despite the tight security arrangements, residents held protest demonstrations as Bangroo's body reached Safakadal, demanding action against the officials who allegedly beat him up.

They insisted that his body be allowed to be taken to Eidgah martyrs graveyard, which was not allowed by the authorities.

They buried the body at a graveyard in Noorbagh. The protestors also raised slogans against the administration.


Rs 35,000 to hush up child's murder, rape?

Smriti Singh

Jun 20, 2010

NEW DELHI: Was the murder and gangrape of a 10-year-old girl ‘covered up’ by Delhi Police for a mere Rs 35,000? In yet another instance of police corruption, a trial court recently received the unusual confession of a man who alleged police demanded he pay to settle a two-year-old kidnapping, rape and murder case against him.

If the confession of Riyazat Ali who was arrested on June 11 is to be believed, the police took Rs 35,000 from him, promising they would close the case. In a letter to metropolitan magistrate Jitender Mishra, Ali also alleged the police took two mobiles from him and the other two accused and demanded still more money to hush up the matter.

Startled by the revelation, Mishra ordered initiation of FIR against seven officials of the Delhi police special staff. On Friday, when Ali was produced before the court, he moved an application against the seven officials.

The court has now sought a compliance report on the registration of the FIR against the police officials by August 2, 2010.‘‘A complaint in writing has been moved by accused Riyazat Ali through his counsel, wherein allegation of illegal gratification has been made by the applicant...The concerned SHO is directed to register an FIR under the relevant section of law and order and get the matter investigated,’’ the court said.

It all started in 2008 when a minor girl was picked up by the accused from Pragati Maidan and raped by him and two other men near Yamuna Bank. Initially, an FIR was registered by the police for kidnapping of the girl and no mention of rape or murder was made. On the testimony of a witness, the police was able to nab the accused. However, after preliminary investigations, they were let off.

Two years later in June 2010, the matter was given to the special staff of Delhi police, where on the basis of a confession by the accused, the police got to know that the girl was not only raped but was also killed and buried by them.



Jun 20 2010

 The J&K police on Friday busted an inter-state sex racket with the arrest of eight people, including five women.

On a specific information, a police team raided a house in Bhatindi area of the city on Friday and arrested three youths, four alleged sex work- ers and a woman pimp, officials said here on Saturday.

A woman from Himachal Pradesh was running the bawdy-house. She had taken the place on rent a few months ago and used to contact cus- tomers on her mobile phones.

The police said two (includ- ing the head of the vice ring) of the five women belonged to Himachal Pradesh, two are locals, and one is from West Bengal. However, no officer was willing to come on record.

One of the two women from Himachal Pradesh is the only member in her family to be in a position to earn. Sources said that her father was paralytic, the only brother is behind bars and her husband is no more.

The woman from West Bengal was married to a per- son from Kashmir but her hus- band divorced her some years ago. She is now staying with her two children here and she too was piped into the trade.

The two local women com- plained of frequent torture by their husbands and in-laws.

Now, the police are investi- gating how the kingpin roped in these women and who else is associated with this racket.

The arrested youths have been identified as Sandeep Magotra, a junior engineer, Vijay Sharma, a contractor, and Rajiv Kumar, a shopkeeper.

Hindustan times


Seraiki schools of terror

Jun 20 2010

Pakistan's attempts at Madrassa reform have largely ended in failure, more so because of the half-hearted attempts of the gov- ernment and less because of resist- ance from religious quarters.

One can gauge how serious for- mer President Pervez Musharraf was in reforming madrassas, also said to be the incubators for extrem- ists, from the fact that the person overseeing the process was Ejaz-ul Haq, the son of former dictator General Ziaul Haq.

This military strongman was credited with helping set up these madrassas in the first place.

Ejazul Haq was the religious affairs minister in Musharraf's gov- ernment.

Once again there is talk of madrassa reform, especially in the South Punjab area, from where it is believed that the latest wave of extremists are being produced.

The President Asif Ali Zardari government has come to agreement with various religious education boards, who have agreed to allow revision of their syllabus in exchange for financial help.

It is a difficult path for Zardari to tread. This is because most of the more rabid religious organisations and extremist groups have political alliances with the PML-N party headed by Nawaz Sharif.

This week it was revealed the the Punjab government, which is a PML-N government, gave a grant of Rs 82 million for schools run by the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), after it was banned.

PPP politician Sherry Rehman comments “giving a grant to the JuD tells us there are elements with- in the Punjab government that are still not committed to the idea that outfits like the LeT and the JuD must be rooted out.“

The on-ground situation in South Punjab reveals that there has been a mushroom growth of madrassas in the past couple of years. Many of these are affiliated with extremist organisations.

“The numbers are sizeable. And they take advantage of the poverty of this region to recruit young men who are willing to take on the chal- lenge in exchange for food and accommodation,“ says analyst Aisha Siddiqa.

In many of these madrassas, which are found off highways and in isolated rural locations, entry is severely restricted. Local journal- ists who tried to enter some of the camps were roughed up and threat- ened with dire consequences.

Much of the money for these camps comes from Arab countries say locals in Multan and Bahawalpur. At the same time, there seems to be little or no effort by the Punjab government to put in money here to jump start economic activity. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer says that per capita development expenditure for Lahore stands at Rs 30,000 while in districts of South Punjab it is not over Rs 400.

As a result, once vibrants towns have turned into economically deprived cities. Lack of government funding and neglect have meant a poor education system, producing young men and women who end up remaining unemployed -- and frus- trated. It is not a coincidence that the first women suicide bombers -- employed by the sectarian outfit Lashkar-e-Jhagvi, came from this area. So far there are no indications that any efforts will be made to change things.

Interior minister Rehman Malik has hinted at an army operation here with locals expecting the gov- ernment to follow this up with a eco- nomic package for the region.

At the same time, there is also no indication that the government will stop patronising some of the mili- tant organisations.

National Party leader Mukhtiar Bacha says that the number of madrassas in Punjab is three times the official figure of 20,000. “Most of these madrassas are allogned to militant organisation which enjoy official patronage.“

These analysts say that a mili- tary operation in South Punjab will come to nought if the government continues to support some of the militant organisations, particular- ly those it sees as anti-India. “They will just move away and then re- group,“ says Bacha.

Said Alam Mehsud of the nation- alist Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party takes this one step further.

According to him, Punjab “is the hub of extremist elements in Pakistan“ And “no militant organi- sation operates on its own. They are all connected and at the end of the day some of them are connected to state patronage.“ For him, the madrassas are not the problem. Like Sherry Rehman, the issue is official attidtudes and sympathies. Until this does not change, the problem will not go away, he adds. MILITANT OUTFITS JAISH-E-MUHAMMAD: MASOOD AZHAR -- renamed KHUDDAM-E-ISLAM. Focus of interest in Kashmir but South Punjab is recruiting ground.


Offshoot or organisation fighting the Afghan Jihad, HuM is active in Kashmir but also recruits from Punjab.


Active in South Punjab.

SIPAH-E-SAHABA: Violent Sunni supremacist organisation formed by Haq Nawaz Jhangvi in 1985.

Active in South Punjab.

Headquartered in Central Punjab.

LASHKAR-E-JHANGVI: Formed in 1996, is a violent terrorist organisation which broke away from the SSP.

Very active in South Punjab.

Is associated to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. MADRASSAS AND VIOLENCE AFTER THE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 attacks, American television commentators widely associated madrassas with violence.

FORMER PAKISTANI PRESIDENT Gen. Pervez Musharraf tried to bring them under his regime's control just because of American pressure which resulted in failure.

TWO LAWS WERE PASSED: one to create state-controlled madrassas; the other to register and control them (2002). THE FIRST HAD MODERATE SUCCESS, as some religious institutions registered in 2003 with the Pakistan Madrasah Education Board it created.

HOWEVER, THE THREE ALTERNATIVE institutions it created suffer organisational difficulties.

THE SECOND WAS UNPOPULAR with the madrassas, but the government has been putting the obstacles for foreign students to come in and get benefits from the madaris education.

Hindustan times


Azad to showcase Assam healthcare scheme in U.S.

Jun 20 2010

GUWAHATI: Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said he will showcase an innovative healthcare scheme of the Assam government at a conclave of 61,000 doctors of Indian origin in the United States.

Help to the poor

The scheme helps to keep the homes of the poor running even when the breadwinner of a family is hospitalised, as he will be paid Rs. 75 a day every day during the period of his hospitalisation.

Birthday celebrations

Mr. Azad was speaking at ‘Immunity 2010,' a seminar organised here by the National Students' Union of India to celebrate the birthday of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi and to highlight the performance of the United Progressive Alliance government in health care in the north eastern States.

Special concessions

to 11 States

Mr. Azad said his Ministry had given special concessions to 11 States, including Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern States, for establishing new medical colleges.

One such concession was that 25 acres on one plot required for opening a medical college was reduced to 20 acres on two plots over a 10-km radius.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced a new scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Student Healthcare Scheme, which will cater for students of the State.

The State government will allocate Rs. 10 crore.

Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the government would take 300 children suffering from congenital heart ailment to Bangalore for treatment.


Pak wants good relations with India: Gilani

Jun 20 2010

Islamabad : Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that his government wants good neighbourly relations with India and the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues between the two countries, including the Kashmir issue.

Gilani made the remarks during a meeting with visiting US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke on Saturday.

Referring to the upcoming visits to Pakistan by Indian Foreign Secretary, Home Minister and External Affairs Minister, Gilani reaffirmed Islamabad's "keen desire to have good neighbourly relations with India through peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues between the two countries, including the core issue of Kashmir (and) the water dispute".

According to an official statement, Gilani said Pakistan had "all along strived for restoration of the composite dialogue with India in the larger interest of peace in this region and the world at large".

Holbrooke welcomed the restoration of dialogue between Pakistan and India and said the US would watch the forthcoming meetings between the two countries "with a sense of anticipation".

He agreed with Gilani that Pakistan and the US should coordinate their positions and help the Afghanistan government in its peace process.

Gilani also said public support for the war on terror is vitally important and it can only be kept intact if the world community, particularly donor countries, start delivering on their pledges to help Pakistan provide relief to the people and to undertake infrastructure and social sector projects in militancy-hit areas.

While time was fast running out for the government's rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in areas cleared of militants, the aid committed at the Tokyo Donors Conference held over a year ago is yet to be delivered by donor countries, he said.

This delay had accentuated the economic and energy crisis in Pakistan and extremist elements were taking advantage of that situation, Gilani said.

Holbrooke also met President Asif Ali Zardari and the two leaders discussed bilateral ties, the security situation in the region, the shared terrorist threat, the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, reimbursements by US from the Coalition Support Fund and strengthening of Pakistan's law enforcing agencies.

Zardari said militancy and terrorism is the common enemy and the existing cooperation between the two countries must continue to fight the menace.

Pakistan valued a long-term, multifaceted and durable relationship with the US and no isolated incident should be

able to adversely impact on this relationship, he added.

He also emphasised on early reimbursement of arrears from the CSF of over USD 1.5 billion which was rising every month.


LeT surveyed 100 targets, I covered almost one-third: Headley to Indian investigators

Ritu Sarin

Jun 20 2010

New Delhi : Sketchy details are emerging from the seven-day access that a team from the National Investigating Agency (NIA) got to Lashkar-e-Toiba operative David Coleman Headley last week.

While non-disclosure of precise details of the almost 40 hours of interrogation conducted at an unspecified location in Chicago was a precondition for the access, the NIA team has returned to the Capital and has briefed top government officials. A formal report on the revelations made by the LeT’s globetrotting operative who conducted surveillance of the 26/11targets is expected to be prepared by the NIA shortly.

Headley is understood to have emphasised that around 100 targets in India have been identified, listed, surveyed and photographed by different agents, including himself. He said he did not know the identities and nationalities of other agents enlisted for reconnaissance since his “handlers” in Pakistan were careful not to reveal the details.

Headley has reportedly confessed to having done videography and photography of around 30 of these targets in several Indian cities during his nine visits to the country between 2006-2009. These include the 26/11 targets for which he said he had done a detailed survey, along with the identification of landing points and escape routes to be used by the 10 trained terrorists.

Officials in the Home Ministry said that while members of the NIA team did not either tape or videograph the interrogation sessions (they only took notes), this may have been done by US authorities in Chicago and that if required, the tapes could be requested for at a later stage.

During his interrogation, Headley is believed to have revealed more LeT targets than those already shared by the American agencies with their Indian counterparts. These targets include the residence of the Vice President as well as North Block, South Block and the Defence Headquarters in New Delhi.

Besides these targets, sources said, Headley has confirmed his reconnaissance of Chabad houses in Pune, Pushkar, Goa and Mumbai though he said he was not aware of the German Bakery in Pune being a target.

Headley’s interrogation sessions resulted in reconfirmation of some aspects of the probe the NIA had earlier conducted including the identities of his friends in Mumbai. He admitted to have dated a woman who runs a bakery in South Mumbai (The Indian Express, January 27, 2010) and that he had used his friends such as Rahul Bhatt and Vilas Varak, trainers in the gym he frequented in Mumbai, as useful “covers” to roam around freely in hotels and malls in the city. They were among the 200 persons the NIA questioned prior to travelling to Chicago and according to Headley himself, none of them were aware of the sinister design of his visits to India.


Love, sex change and dhokha in Srinagar

Muzamil Jaleel

Jun 20 2010

Srinagar : They met and fell in love. One was a 40-year-old tourist from Germany, the other a 25-year-old man from Srinagar’s posh Nishat neighbourhood. They spent time together and the tourist underwent a sex-change operation to become a woman. There was a promise to be together for life. 

The tourist transferred money, Rs 15 lakh in three years, to help the Kashmiri boyfriend construct his house, buy a Mitsubishi Lancer and start a travel agency.

But then the story took a turn. On June 15, the tourist, accompanied by two lawyers, arrived at the Nishat Police Station with a complaint that “she” was duped of Rs15 lakh, sexually exploited in the name of love and the promise of marriage.

Though the tourist didn’t mention it in the complaint, the policemen were in a fix once they learnt that she had been a man till recently. “Once we were told about the sex-change operation, we consulted our seniors. We have never come across such a case here,” said an officer.

The police told her that she needed to undergo a medical examination for them to proceed with her charge of rape but she declined. The police, however, have filed a case of cheating and rape against the boyfriend.

The tourist identified herself as Sarwait Patarachokchai, daughter of Manite Patarachokchai. Sarwait was born as a boy in Thailand but now lives in Berlin, Germany. Sarwat told the police that she was enthralled by the beauty of Kashmir’s landscape and came for a vacation in March 2007. “I was staying in a houseboat owned by Aslam Bangola near Nehru Park. He took me to Shaw Art palace at Dalgate and while we drove back towards Lalchowk, he introduced me to a young man, Mohsin Shah,” Sarwait told the police. “We became close and fell in love.”

The details of their courtship are, in fact, spread over several pages of the complaint together with the details of the money transferred to Shah’s account . In fact, Sarwait has produced receipts of each transaction, most through Western Union.  “Mohsin promised me that he loved me and would marry me. I kept sending money—he wanted money for the construction of his house, for a car. He told me that he lost his job because the owner disapproved of our relationship and asked for money to start his own travel agency. I kept giving him money,” Sarwait told the police.   Finally, Shah started avoiding her and stopped taking her calls. “On May 13, Mohsin started avoiding me on the phone. This is when I thought something was wrong,” Sarwait told the police. “On May 25, he (Shah) called me saying he was calling from Chennai. I checked the number and it was a Dubai number. This confirmed my suspicion that he had duped me and exploited me. He (Mohsin) has ruined my life”.

Sarwait told the police that she went to Dubai looking for him but couldn’t find him. She then came to Srinagar went to his house in Nishat. “His (Shah’s) family too gave me a very cold response,” Sarwait told the police.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, Javaid Riyaz told The Indian Express that the police have initiated a probe into the case. “The duping issue is easier especially as the tourist has all the receipts of transactions. The man (Shah), however, is away in Dubai,” he said. “Regarding the sexual exploitation, we had asked her to undergo a medical test which would have helped us to move ahead.  Medical test is voluntary. And as we were told that there has been a sex-change operation, it has added another dimension to the case.”

The Shah family is tight-lipped and the police say they are trying to get in touch with Shah to get his side of the story. Police sources say Shah is now engaged to a girl from a rich Srinagar family and the girl’s relatives have approached them to find out about the case.


Poles decide Presidential successor

Jun 20 2010

More than two months after Poland's president was killed in a plane crash, Poles are voting on Sunday to choose his successor -- and polls show that his surviving twin brother faces an uphill battle in defeating the favourite despite a recent surge in sympathy for him.

The outcome is expected to shape the European Union member's stance on issues such as the adoption of the euro, welfare reform and Poland's mission in Afghanistan. Poland is the only European Union country to have avoided recession during the global economic downturn. The election will also determine how it fares amid the new debt crisis.

The front-runner, Bronislaw Komorowski, is a pro-EU, moderate member of the governing Civic Platform party. He has pledged to work closely with the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk to adopt the euro in about five years, end the unpopular military mission in Afghanistan and promote pro-market reforms.

Polling in second place is Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the identical twin brother of the late president, Lech Kaczynski. He is a social conservative whose main goals are to fight crime and corruption, scale back market reforms in order to preserve a strong welfare state and promote Roman Catholic values in public life. He is more sceptical about the European Union and adoption of the euro, saying it's too early to set a timetable for giving up the Polish currency, the zloty.

Kaczynski, a former prime minister, is known for his nationalism and his combative tone. But he has struck a more moderate tone since his brother's death. Many Poles are unsure of whether the change is permanent or a strategy to win over middle-of-the-road voters.

Lech Kaczynski and his wife were among 96 people killed when their plane crashed while trying to land in heavy fog in Smolensk, Russia, on April 10. The delegation included many high-ranking civilian and military leaders, and the loss of so many high-ranking people provoked deep grief across the nation. Many officials have called it the worst tragedy to strike the country since World War II.

More than 30 million of Poland's 38 million citizens are registered to vote in nearly 26,000 polling stations across

this eastern European country. Voting takes place from 6 am to 8 pm (local time). The first exit polls will be released when the polls close, and official results will come in later in the evening


Security in Afghanistan has not improved: UN chief

Jun 19 2010

Kabul : The UN chief says security in Afghanistan has not improved and that roadside bombings soared 94 per cent in the first four months of this year compared with the same period in 2009.

The findings come in a quarterly report by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the UN Security Council. The UN mission in Kabul released the report today.

In addition to roadside bombings, the report says suicide attacks occur at the rate of about three a week, half of them in the ethnic Pashtun areas of the south.

Assassinations of Afghan officials also rose by 45 per cent in the first four months of the year compared with the same time in 2009.


New rabbi for Chabad House revival

Jun 20 2010

NEARLY 19 months after Chabad House, the Jewish community centre in south Mumbai, was targeted by Pakistani terrorists in the 26/ 11 terror attack, two new religious officials will soon arrive to revive the centre.

Rabbi Chanoch and Leiky Gechtman, an Israeli couple with connections to Mumbai’s Jewish community, have been appointed as the first permanent Chabad- Lubavitch emissaries since the terror attack, according to a statement on www. chabad. org . The announcement was made in Washington on Wednesday night, at a function attended by the ambassadors of more than 40 countries, including India’s Meera Shankar.

During the terror attack, the then Mumbai Chabad House director Rabbi Gavriel and his wife Rivky Holtzberg, besides four Jewish guests, were killed by the attackers.

Their two- year old son, baby Moshe, and his nanny Sandra Solomon, managed to escape and are now safe in Israel.

“ Now, there’s a rabbi who has got his visa for India and would soon go there to revive the Mumbai Chabad House,” Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice- chairman of the educational arm of Chabad- Lubavitch, told the gathering.

Gechtman, 25, had first come to Mumbai in 2006 to assist the Holtzbergs with the birth of Moshe, and studied rabbinical law under Holtzberg.

He lived in Mumbai for five months and spent most of his time teaching the Torah to Israeli backpackers who visited the centre regularly.

After the 26/ 11 attack, the Gechtmans have visited Mumbai several times and interacted with the tiny Jewish community here in preparation for their new mission.

Their names were suggested for the Mumbai posting by Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg, father of the late Holtzberg, Gechtman, who enjoyed a close relationship with the late rabbi, said he hadn’t come to terms with the fact that the Holtzbergs are no more.

“ It seems like they are people who live forever, that something like this cannot happen to them,” he said during the appointment ceremony.

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Hindus spit fire against Geelani’s Amarnath rant

By Arjun Sharma

Jun 20 2010

KASHMIRI separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s demand that the annual Amarnath pilgrimage be restricted to 15 days has outraged Hindu organisations, which asked him to “ keep his mouth shut”. Geelani on Friday gave a call to “ save the environment and the state’s culture” and said the duration of the Amarnath Yatra should be reduced from two months to 15 days. He even threatened an agitation in the Valley if his demand was not met.

“ If it can be done in Gangotri, where you have a limit of 150 pilgrims per day, why can’t it be done here ( Amarnath)?” he asked. He said extending the pilgrimage for two months had an adverse impact on the environment and Kashmir’s culture.

Hindu organisations responded by saying Geelani tried to inflame communal tensions every year by interfering in their religious affairs at the time of the pilgrimage.

They said Geelani was not the authority to dictate terms to the government or to the people of Kashmir.

“ Why is Geelani dictating to the government that the yatra be curtailed?” asked Brigadier ( retd) Suchait Singh, who spearheaded the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti movement in 2008.

On Geelani’s agitation threat, Dimpy Kohli, president of Shiv Sena ( Hindustan), said: “ If there is an agitation in Kashmir over the yatra , then there would be a counter agitation by Hindu organisations in Jammu.”

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Taliban spin doctor’s take

By Manoj Joshi

Jun 20 2010

Mullah Zaeef’s account of the Afghan Taliban and the arguments he marshals to support its actions only show how hard it will be for the US to get Afghanistan to land on its feet

IT IS not often that you get to read the memoirs of those who belong to the losing side of the war, especially if they have been written in another language.

But it is because the Taliban, whose regime was toppled by the US- led attack in October 2001, is resurfacing, that this book has probably seen the light of day.

The United States has spent a fortune trying to stabilise Afghanistan after removing the Taliban and replacing it by a government that was formed after a western- style election. It is now on the cusp of a process through which it seeks to break the power of the Taliban in the Kandahar region, its birthplace, and leave the country. In the meantime, it hopes that it will have given enough time to Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government to set up a national army and police to secure the country.

The problem in Kandahar typifies the challenge that the US faces across the country. Assassinations, beheadings, suicide attacks and assaults by small squads are the order of the day. Mullah Zaeef’s life and times tell you a great deal about why America’s task is so difficult. The all- pervasive corruption in Afghanistan and the inefficiency of the Karzai team are the big factors coming in the way of greater public support for the government, but there are people like Zaeef, who was born in the province — poor, deeply religious, and firmly xenophobic — who have been brought up on a diet of war, half- baked knowledge of religion and strife.

Zaeef is no black- turbaned, gun- toting mullah, though he is a veteran of the war against the Russians. Under the Taliban, he was a civil servant who was in the ministries of defence and mines, and was later the ambassador to Pakistan. The portrait that Zaeef draws of the Taliban government is, not surprisingly, is quite different to the one we are accustomed to.

For one, he reveals the processes throu - gh which the Taliban leadership operated, as well as the deep sense of loyalty that he has for Mullah Omar, the amir- ul momineen ( leader of the faithful) who remains at large, probably in Pakistan, despite a massive US- led manhunt for him.

Like all autobiographies, Mullah Zaeef’s book is self- serving and somewhat mendacious.

The anger against Pakistan and America are obvious and understandable; the latter sold him out, an accredited ambassador, to the US, which imprisoned him without charges at Guantanamo Bay.

The mendacity comes in re- writing the Taliban’s founding narrative to claim that it was part of the original struggle against the Soviet invaders. In actual fact, it was created, not without some assistance from Pakistan, after the Soviet withdrawal and civil war had wracked the land. Zaeef also minimises the role Islamabad played in the Taliban’s military planning and leadership.

Mullah Zaeef’s retrospective claim in the book that the Taliban were open to handing over Osama bin Laden for trial in the wake of Nine Eleven must be taken with a pinch of salt. There is nothing to indicate that the Taliban were serious about that offer and this is one of those things which some liberals swallow hook line and sinker because they do not want to believe that anything that the US did in Afghanistan is right.

Anyone who will read the account will come away with a sense of alarm for the future of Afghanistan. Mullah Zaeef may have been wronged by the Pakistanis and the Americans, but he remains, under house arrest in Kabul, a committed fanatic who sees nothing wrong in the manner in which the Taliban ruled the country. He insists that the destruction of the sixthcentury Bamyan Buddhas in 2001 “ was well within the bounds of shari’a law ”. Personally, though, he views the obliteration of the statues as “ unnecessary and a case of bad timing.” This kind of a perspective doesn’t bode well for India. In other words, the Taliban’s world view is that of a Muslim extremist outfit — that too, a fanatical Sunni one. In this scheme of things, countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the only ones that can truly be in its “ friendly” category. Not surprisingly, Zaeef does not refer to the brutal manner with which the Taliban treated the Hazaras, a Shia minority in Afghanistan. The Taliban do not consider the Shia as Mulim and in their regime, thousands of Hazaras were massacred, the worst atrocity taking place when the Talibs captured Mazar- e- Sharif in 1998.

Most of us have forgotten our own brush with the Taliban — Mullah Zaeef most certainly has. In December 1999, when Indian Airlines flight IC- 814 was hijacked, it was taken to Kandahar. The Taliban government played a cat and mouse game with a gullible New Delhi while all the time it was backing the hijackers. The aim of the hijack was to obtain the freedom of Masood Azhar from an Indian jail, and the Taliban backed the efforts because Azhar and Mullah Omar were pir bhais — they owed allegiance to the same guru — Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai of the Binori Madarsa in Karachi, who was “ martyred” in 2004 when a gunman in a motorbike shot him dead.

This is an extremely well- brought- out book that is thoroughly annotated and cross- referenced, and is certainly a mustread for anyone interested in Afghanistan.

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Firing from Pakistan kills two civilians

Jun 20th, 2010

Two civilian porters were killed and two Indian soldiers injured Sunday in Jammu and Kashmir in firing from Pakistan, officials said.

"There was firing from the Pakistani side between 7 to 8 in the morning. Two porters have been killed and two soldiers injured," an official said.

"It appears to be a ceasefire violation but can also be firing by infiltrators," the official said.


Jundullah militants storm court in Karachi, two killed

Jun 20th, 2010

Heavily armed gunmen on Saturday brazenly stormed a court in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi and freed four members of the banned Baloch group Jundullah after opening gunfire in which at least two people were killed.

Three attackers entered the city court complex, lobbing grenades and firing from their automatic weapons in which a constable was killed, Deputy Inspector General Iqbal Mehmood told reporters.

The incident which happened at 3.15 pm local time triggered panic in the area as shopkeepers downed the shutters and ran for their lives. “The men emerged from the mosque inside the city court premises and attacked the police party who were escorting the four activists of the banned outfit. They resorted to indiscriminate firing and also threw three hand grenades causing explosions as they escaped from the court,” an eye witness said.


Pandits Throng Jammu Fair

Jun 20th, 2010

Thousands of Kashmiri Pandit expatriates and other devotees turned up at the annual Kheer Bhawani mela at Tulla Mulla, 27-km north of here, on Saturday.

Kheer Bhawani is the most revered place of worship for Kashmiri brahmins and the fair marks the annual pilgrimage to the sacred spring to seek the blessings of G

oddess Ragnya Devi. The spring is on an island and there is a small marble temple in the centre of it. The occasion is the eighth day of the full moon — ashtami shuklapaksh. According to legend, the goddess changes the colour of the spring water to rosy, various shades of green, diluted milky and light blue. The devotees wash their clothes and abstain from eating meat. They offer milk, candy sugar raisins, clarified butter and candles amidst chanting vedic and tantaraic hymns.

A battery of politicians visited Kheer Bhawani during the day. Among them was chief minister Omar Abdullah, who described “kashmiriyat” as a unique characteristic of Jammu and Kashmir’s traditional brotherhood and harmony, said that Kashmiri pandits are integral part of Kashmir. “Many attempts have been made in the past to damage this trait, but people foiled the ill designs time and again exhibited their firm faith in kashmiriyat,” he asserted.

The chief minister said his government was determined to nurture amity, love, brotherhood and mutual trust between various sections of the societies and the people of different faiths. “We have to join hands to restore and bloom kashmiriyat and help equitable and faster development of the state,” the chief minister said.


Anti-graft body declares assets to provide transparency

June 20, 2010

Afghan president Hamid Karzai earns just $525 a month, has less than $20,000 in the bank and owns no land or property, according to a declaration of his assets on Sunday by an anti-graft body.

Although his modest remuneration is five times the national average, it contrasts sharply with salaries of leaders in the West, where U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron rake in around $400,000 a year.

Karzai's assets were published by the High Office for Oversight and anti-Corruption Commission as part of a decree aimed at providing greater transparency among officials.

Although the Taliban insurgency remains the greatest threat to Afghanistan's stability, graft at almost every level of society remains a major complaint of ordinary Afghans and anyone doing business with the country.

The anti-graft body is registering the assets of at least 2,000 officials -- including ministers, members of parliament, senior military and police officers and provincial leaders -- and will start publishing them this week.

"This covers assets held by officials, their wives and children below the age of 18," Mohammad Yasin Usmani, the commission's chief, told Reuters on Sunday.

Any official found to have withheld information risked prosecution, he said.

Senior current and former Afghan officials -- including two of Karzai's deputies -- are believed to own buildings and assets worth tens of millions of dollars -- at home and abroad.

Some have also been involved in major contracts awarded by foreign forces, and police have been questioning 17 current and ex-ministers on suspicions of graft.

Exaggerated by media

While Karzai has acknowledged a corruption problem, he says it is exaggerated by Western media and insists the biggest source of graft is poor oversight of billions of dollars in aid contracts that dwarf Afghanistan's budget.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates conceded in March that Washington needed to do more to clean up its contracting procedures.

The declaration of assets, signed by Karzai, said he earned $525 a month and had €15,635 ($18,762) and $134 in cash two Commerzbank accounts in Germany.

While it listed no land or property, it said Karzai -- who is married to a stay-at-home physician and has a young son -- had jewellery and other valuables worth $11,036.

The list makes no mention of assets held by Karzai's brothers and other relatives -- several of whom run businesses at home and abroad.


PML-Q calls for disbanding CII

By Zia M Khan

June 20, 2010

ISLAMABAD: A senior opposition lawmaker has called for disbanding the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for its “failure” in the ideological warfare against Talibanisation.

“Close down the CII…it is of no use,” PML-Q legislator Riaz Pirzada said during the ongoing debate on the federal budget for fiscal year 2010-11 in the National Assembly on Friday.

“Did the CII ever come up with an edict (fatwa) against suicide bombings or the Taliban,” he said. Pirzada questioned the role of an institution former military ruler General Ziaul Haq had established to Islamise Pakistan’s constitution and criminal justice system.

Pirzada’s demand appears to be first public call by lawmakers to do away with the CII.

Bushra Gohar of the Awami National Party (ANP) was quick to support Pirzada’s viewpoint, saying that the CII has never been an effective institution to block the spread of Taliban’s radical interpretation of Islam.

These calls coincide with a reported government plan to appoint a JUI-F man as head of the council – a move aimed at saving the fragile ruling coalition from falling apart.

The decision to appoint Senator Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani as CII chief was taken by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani last week to allay the JUI-F’s concerns.

Bushra Gohar termed the proposed arrangement as a politically-motivated move and warned the government against going ahead with the “controversial” plan. Pirzada was also critical of the expected appointment.

For him, there was also no justification to have a Shariat court because it doesn’t serve either the religion or the state. Rather, he added, such institutions are adding to the spread of fundamentalism.

In an apparent reference to a recent rift between the government and the Supreme Court, Pirzada argued: “Courts have nothing to do with running the government. Their responsibility is to administer justice.”

Pirzada, who hails from South Punjab, urged the PPP to show what he called a national character.

He saw the party as being obsessed with its Sindhi nationalist outlook, saying that such a mentality could lead to a political disaster similar to the one that led to the fall of Dhaka in 1971.

Taking part in the debate earlier, PPP lawmaker Fauzia Wahab said Pakistan should seek a waiver of multinational and bilateral loans it owes to Western allies for Islamabad’s services as a frontline state in the “war on terror.”

As a lackluster and poorly attended debate headed for conclusion, lawmakers from urban and feudalistic background continue to put forward arguments in favour of and against taxing the agriculture sector.

Jamshed Dasti of the PPP claimed that former premier Nawaz Sharif was aware of a “secret deal” under which former military ruler Pervez Musharraf relinquished the presidency back in 2008.