New Age Islam
Sun May 19 2024, 01:22 PM

Islamic World News ( 5 Jan 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Iraq: Suicide Attacks 'Kill More Than 70 Shias'

  • New Age Islam News Bureau

    5 Jan 2012
  • Saudi women win victory in lingerie shops
  • Rally supports blasphemy law, seeks release of Taseer killer
  • Kazakh Leader Extends State Of Emergency In Zhanaozen
  • A Guantanamo guard’s conversion to Islam
  • Maldives lifts ban after brothel probe
  • Boko Haram: Sharia or militant wing of Northern politicians?
  • Islam is a moderate religion: Scholars
  • Faiz’s poems in illustrated English book by daughter 
  • US posts new India, Pakistan maps on website
  • Pakistani troops target Indian border posts
  • British Red Cross worker kidnapped in southwestern Pakistan
  • Bright prospects of Sarabjit's release: Lawyer
  • Students use waste to depict Pakistan’s problems
  • Jailed Pakistani Christian mother ‘well’: husband
  • Vigil demands justice for Taseer
  • Islamic 'Honor Violence' Rising in the West
  • Indonesia Plans to Stop Sending Domestic Workers Abroad by 2017
  • Bangladeshi man given jail term for ‘wishing PM Sheikh Hasina’s death’ on Facebook
  • 'Islamic Awakening led Libyan revolution'
  • Kayani off to China to buttress defence ties
  • Pakistan suffered most at hands of terror: US
  • Pakistani militants kill 15 security officers
  • Five militants killed in Zhob
  • MATI sues as government seeks Supreme Court legal counsel on spas, pork and alcohol
  • Pakistan court admits petitions against Zardari
  • Husain Haqqani fears for his life: report
  • Pakistan seeks result-oriented engagement with India: Khar
  • Civil society lauds Taseer’s services for countrymen
  • Civilian aid dries up: US refuses to fund Pakistan-American Enterprise Fund
  • Pakistan and US resume process of reconciliation
  • Pakistan border closure leaves Canadian supplies stuck in Afghanistan
  • Pakistan’s former Commissioner of Indus Water Jamaat Ali Shah affair
  • Jamat Ali Shah denies reports of aiding India in hydel projects
  • Pakistan repatriates over 3.7 mn Afghan refugees
  • Finland to close Embassy in Pakistan
  • Pakistan Mercantile Exchange representation in Turkey
  • Newt Gingrich Rips Marijuana Use, Shows Historical Ignorance
  • US wants strengthened ties with Pakistan: Munter
  • Charges Against Journalists Dim the Democratic Glow in Turkey
  • Karzai agrees to Taliban Qatar office
  • Former Israel PM indicted for graft in property scandal
  • Iranian Top Shia Cleric appointed Islamic Development Bank Sharia Board
  • Egyptian Nasserist presidential hopeful comments on new parliament, discusses his presidential platform
  • ATC to send Mumbai record to India

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Iraq Attacks 'Kill More Than 70'



Iraq attacks 'kill more than 70 Shias'

5 January 2012

More than 70 people have been killed in bomb attacks in southern Iraq and in the capital Baghdad.

Provincial officials said at least 30 Shia pilgrims died in a suicide attack near the city of Nasiriya.

Earlier, Iraq's Interior Ministry said at least 24 people were killed in blasts in Shia areas of Baghdad.

The attacks come amid a rise in sectarian tensions after the last US combat troops withdrew in December.

The head of the provincial council in Nasiriya, Qusay al-Abadi, said at least 30 pilgrims were killed and more than 70 injured in the attack near Nasiriya. AFP quoted the official Dhi Qar provincial website as saying the pilgrims were walking to the holy city of Karbala.

The BBC's Rafid Jabboori in Baghdad says Iraq is going through a severe political crisis and the situation in the country is tense.

The Baghdad attacks occurred during the city's rush hour and the Interior Ministry says they targeted gatherings in of civilians in the Sadr City and Kadhimiya areas and injured at least 66 other people.

Unnamed officials told the AFP news agency that between 14 and 15 people had been killed when two car bombs exploded simultaneously in Kadhimiya at around 09:00 (06:00 GMT). The Associated Press (AP) said 15 people died in the blasts.

Twelve people had earlier been killed when two bombs were detonated in Sadr City, AP reported officials as saying. It said the first was a motorbike bomb, which exploded near where labourers were gathering to look for work.

It quoted anonymous hospital officials as saying that 30 minutes later a roadside bomb exploded near a tea shop, killing one. AFP quoted security officials as saying nine people were killed and 35 wounded in the Sadr City attacks. Reuters put the toll at 10.

"There was a group of day labourers gathered, waiting to be hired for work. Someone brought his small motorcycle and parked it nearby. A few minutes later it blew up, killed some people, wounded others and burned some cars," a police officer told Reuters at the scene of the first attack.

Iraq's power-sharing government has been in crisis since an arrest warrant was issued for Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terror charges two weeks ago. He has denied the accusations against him.

The al-Iraqiyya group, the main Sunni bloc in parliament, is boycotting the assembly in protest. It accuses Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, of monopolising power.

Mr Hashemi is currently in Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government, but Mr Maliki has demanded that they give him up.

"Political leaders fight each other for power, and we pay the price," Labourer Ahmed Khalaf told AFP at the site of one of the Sadr City explosions. "How is it our fault if al-Hashemi is wanted, or someone else is wanted?" he asked. "Why should we pay instead of them?"


Saudi women win victory in lingerie shops

PM By Mary Ann Jolley and staff

January 05, 2012 , A new law which bans men from working in lingerie shops in Saudi Arabia is being hailed as a significant victory in the campaign for equal rights.

The law will give women in the closed desert kingdom an opportunity to work in shopping malls for the first time.

Ibrahim Al Mugaiteeb from Saudi Arabia's Human Rights First Society says men selling women underwear is un-Islamic, but that did not stop religious clerics fighting against the change.

"This is the hypocrisy of some religious people who interpret the rulings of Islam, otherwise you would think they would be fighting for that," he said.

"No man should deal with a woman about her underwear.

"The march has started - realising full rights for women in Saudi Arabia. I don't think anything can stop it now."

Since King Abdullah took over in 2005, Saudi Arabia has seen progress in women's rights.

Women will vote in the 2014 municipal elections and are now allowed to attend university, but there is a long way to go.

Women still cannot drive and are governed by guardianship laws.

Eman Al Nafjan, 33, is living in Riyadh with her husband and three children. She teaches English, is writing her PhD and blogs about women's rights.

She, like many of her friends, buys her lingerie overseas.

AUDIO: A small step for Saudi Arabia, a giant step for the Kingdom's women (PM)

"I have several friends who only buy their lingerie when they leave the country. I have had friends who've had the guy behind the counter make inappropriate comments about their bra size, about things like that.

The changes to the law mean some of the 28 per cent of unemployed Saudi women will now have jobs and be able to support themselves.

Ms Al Nafjan says there is still a great deal of opposition. The Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti railed against it at last Friday's prayers.

"Last Saturday we had a member of the highest Islamic council, he gave a Friday sermon about how this is very dangerous and we shouldn't go through with it," she said.

"It's very significant. It's going to cause social change to have women working in the malls. It might seem like nothing to people in the West, but it's still a responsibility and it's still an opportunity to show society that women are just as responsible and capable as men."

Ms Al Nafjan says she is enjoying buying her underwear from women.

"The other day I was in the mall and I didn't need any lingerie or anything, but I just stood at the door and I was so happy to see them. It's a fantastic change," she said.


Rally supports blasphemy law, seeks release of Taseer killer

By: Our Staff Reporter

LAHORE, January 05, 2012 – Speakers at a convention have vowed to revive the spirit of Pakistan Movement and work for solidarity and integrity of the country. They said spiritual offsprings of the Mushaikh would fight alongside the military to safeguardthe  geographical boundaries of the country.

Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat Mahaz organised Save Pakistan Convention at Data Darbar on Wednesday after the conclusion of Namoos-e-Risalat Rally that started from Minar-e-Pakistan. Raza-e-Mustafa Naqashbandi, Muhammad Khan Qadri, Muhammad Ali Naqashbandi, Raghib Naeemi and other leaders led the rally largely participated by people from various walks of life. The participants were carrying flags and placards and banners inscribed with writings in support of blasphemy law and demands of immediate release of Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. The participants also chanted slogans in favour of Mumtaz Qadri.

After the rally, TNRM organised convention at Data Darbar where speakers warned of launching a coffin-clad march towards Islamabad if Mumtaz Qadri was not released honourably. Addressing the convention, Raza-e- Mustafa Naqshbandi said according to Islamic laws laid down by Quran and Sunnah, Mumtaz Qadri is a hero of Islam who punished Salman Taseer for violating a law of Islam. Muhammad Khan Qadri demanded of the Chief Justice of Pakistan to intervene and decide Mumtaz Qadri’s case in accordance with the Islamic laws. Muhammad Ali Naqshbandi said self respecting Muslims of Pakistan would not rest till honourable release of  Qadri.  Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi said Muslims were faced with another crusade and reminded the believers of the Quran’s proclamation that Jews and Christians could never be friends. Raghib Naeemi said it was time Sufis must come out of monasteries to purge the country of the US agents and impure elements.

Dr Ashraf Asif Jalali said Mumtaz Qadri punished a blasphemer and all those conspiring against him must keep in mind that Allah’s court is Supreme over all worldly courts.  Pir Yar Jan Saifi, Mujahid Abdul Rasool, Haseeb Qadri, Abdul Mustafa Hazarvi, Tahir Tabassum, Sardar Raza, Ahmad Ali Kasuri, Naeem Javed Noori, Arshad Naeemi, Mufti Imran, Ahmad Raza Sialvi, Pir Shafiq Ahmad, Sh Azhar, Allama Asghar and Zaheerul Hasan also spoke on the occasion. The resolutions passed by the convention demanded President Zardari to exonerate Mumtaz Qadri and punish blasphemer Aasia.


Kazakh Leader Extends State Of Emergency In Zhanaozen

Birgit Brauer

Calm has been restored in the oil-rich western part of Kazakhstan after clashes between police and protesters on December 16-17 that left at least 16 people dead and more than 100 injured, including striking oil workers. But Kazakhstan´s cultivated image as a bastion of stability in volatile Central Asia and a haven for foreign investors has been tarnished.

Two videos have been circulating on YouTube, one showing unarmed people apparently being shot at and beaten by police on December 16 in the oil town of Zhanaozen in the Mangistau region and the other depicting a young man with a bloodstained shirt evidently shot dead lying on the ground and another wounded in the foot during the unrest. These videos, contradicting the initial official version that police only fired their weapons into the air and the ground, have shocked many.

A 20-day state of emergency and curfew imposed on Zhanaozen on December 17 has been extended by presidential decree until January 31. This is probably intended to prevent any possible disturbances in the days around the upcoming parliamentary elections on January 15.

A commission formed by members of civil society to investigate the events has called for the removal of the state of emergency. “The authorities tell us the situation has normalized. What is the point of maintaining the emergency situation?” asked commission member Mukhtar Taizhan. “Until it is removed, no help can be provided – neither legal, nor medical, nor humanitarian” (Kplus TV, December 29, 2011).

The Kazakh government is considering bringing in United Nations experts and independent experts from other countries “to ensure an objective and thorough investigation into the facts relating to the mass disturbances in Zhanaozen,” said Altai Abidullayev, spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs (, December 30, 2011).

Yet, in spite of the government´s declared openness and transparency, eye witnesses have reported numerous random arrests and beatings of detainees by police in Zhanaozen. In response, the government has set up a separate commission – aside from a government commission already established to look into the events – “to resolve complaints relating to the unlawful detention of citizens and use of illegal methods of investigation,” according to the ministry of foreign affairs (, December 30, 2011).

Violence erupted on December 16, the day Kazakhstan celebrated its 20th anniversary of independence, after seven months of strikes by oil workers demanding better pay and work conditions. Over 40 buildings were torched, including the headquarters of the Ozenmunaigaz energy company at the center of the dispute, the mayor´s office, two banks, shops, and a hotel, as well as cars and a bus. Internet and telephone connections with Zhanaozen were subsequently disconnected.

What triggered the unrest and how it unfolded continues to be unclear. People had gathered in the town´s main square in preparation for the independence day celebration. In the same square, oil workers had been protesting since May. A few observers have said that some of the striking oil workers may have worried about being sidelined by the celebrations, leading to the violence.

In any case, unidentified men wearing oil company jackets stormed the stage, broke sound equipment, and – as could be seen on footage shown on YouTube – chased away an outnumbered police force. Later, the rioters are said to have gone on a rampage through the town. At some point, “police were forced to use service weapons,” according to the prosecutor-general´s office. Protests then also took place at two other sites in western Kazakhstan, the town of Shepte and the regional capital Aktau.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev initially blamed “bandit elements” for the clashes and said they were taking advantage of the ongoing oil workers´ labor dispute. Since then, the prosecutor-general´s office has initiated a criminal case “on the fact of death caused by the use of weapons by police officers.”

Nazarbayev visited Zhanaozen only on December 22, but then took quick action. He replaced the regional governor with a former minister of interior, which is probably a sign he is uncertain about the loyalty of his security forces. He also fired the heads of the national oil giant, KazMunaiGaz (KMG), and its London-listed production unit. On December 26, he sacked his billionaire son-in-law Timur Kulibayev, tipped as the Nazarbayev´s possible successor and perhaps next prime minister after the parliamentary election, from his post as the head of the sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna. The fund owns KMG and has stakes in the companies whose workers were striking. Nazarbayev also promised employment either in town in newly created enterprises or in other parts of the country, for which training, accommodation, and relocation will be provided.

These decisions have shown Nazarbayev to be firmly in the saddle, again, after months of doubts following a story in a German tabloid last July that he was suffering from prostate cancer and seeking treatment at a hospital in the northern German city of Hamburg.  His seeming disregard for the situation in Zhanaozen over months up to the unrest and failure to get involved in what became the country´s longest labor dispute was widely seen as a sign of his growing weakness.  The 71-year-old leader was declared to be “healthy” and “in excellent physical form” on December 27 after a medical checkup in the capital Astana, according to the president´s website (, December 27).  This was an unusual and rare official statement, notable also for being publicized just one day after Kulibayev´s dismissal.

Zhanaozen is a one-industry town that has almost doubled its population over the past decade to about 90,000, in part due to the influx of ethnic Kazakh repatriates returning to their homeland from the Karakalpakistan region in Uzbekistan. Some even speak of a population of 120,000. According to government officials, such large-scale internal migration to a small place with limited employment opportunities should not have been permitted in the first place.

Salaries at the ageing Uzen (or Ozen in Kazakh) oil field are already quite high after previous increases and cannot be raised higher than pay at newer and more prospective Kazakhstani oil fields, said minister of oil and gas Sauat Mynbayev at a press conference in Almaty back in October.


A Guantanamo guard’s conversion to Islam

Fatima Asmal-Motala, 04 Jan 2012

TERRY Colin Holdbrooks Jnr has never­ been a conformist. When his grandmother woke him up on September 11, 2001, to see the attacks on the World Trade Centre being broadcast live, media speculation about what he was watching irritated him so much he went back to bed.

“I honestly remember sitting there thinking to myself how ridiculous are the claims that these reporters are making,” he said. “We had reporters that were saying this was a training attack gone wrong, we had reporters claiming that this was the end of world, evangelical Christians claiming that this was the Rapture ... I decided I didn’t want to hear anymore about 9/11 till we actually knew what was going on.”

A year later, when he and his colleagues were being trained for duty at Guantanamo Bay they were told they would be dealing with the worst of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban — anti-American, anti-Christian terrorists who were martial arts experts and hated concepts like freedom. But Holdbrooks was reluctant to form an opinion about his future charges without first meeting them. “If you’re going to tell me I have to hate someone, you have to give me good reason to do so.”

Even so, Holdbrooks admits his first encounter with a Guantanamo Bay detainee was an unexpected one.

“When we first walked onto the block of Guantanamo and six cells down on the left hand side is Ruhal Ahmed from the United Kingdom, rapping from the top of his lungs, he’s rapping Eminem, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Al-Qaeda is rapping — I thought they hated music, but here it is rapping, and it’s rapping rap music in English … I thought they hated America, if that’s the case, why is he rapping something that is a cultural icon in America? Maybe I got lied to.”

Born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1983, Holdbrooks enlisted in the U.S. army in August 2002, not out of a desire to defend his country but to escape a troubled family history. “I didn’t want to end up like my parents,” he said. “Both my parents suffered from addictions; I have an uncle who is an alcoholic, I have an uncle who died from HIV and smoking crack.”

“I think what most enticed me to the military was the idea of receiving structure, order and discipline,” he said. “That was what I was searching for with the military — it wasn’t to defend my country, it wasn’t to further the War on Terror; it was simply to change the Holdbrooks’ legacy and to discipline and structure myself, to get myself set up in a lifestyle I could maintain for the rest of my life.”

Holdbrooks ignored orders limiting interaction with detainees and was inspired by what he encountered.

“I saw doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, tradesmen, merchants, cooks, individuals of all professions and all walks of life, individuals who spoke upwards of eight different languages, individuals who knew the Qur’an inside ... It was amazing — with most of them having an adequate if not excellent education, they were able to teach the others, and to keep each other motivated.”

Holdbrooks was particularly impressed by their strong faith.

“This, after having been there for three years with no sign of when they were going home, with no reason as to why they were there, with no contact with their family. They could still wake up each day and smile, they could still wake up each day and jest and joke around with their brothers, they could still wake up each day and pray five times a day and have faith that there was a God and that that God cared for and loved them.”

Holdbrooks questioned the detainees about Islam, read the Qur’an and gradually adopted Islamic practices and finally formally converted in the presence of two detainees. Although the detainees quickly came to know about Holdbrooks’s conversion, fondly naming him Mustafa (the chosen one), it was only when he returned to the U.S. in 2004 that his superiors heard about his newfound faith and when his unit was deployed to Iraq they became uneasy. Holdbrooks’s five-year contract was shortened to three and he was offered an honourable discharge which he happily accepted.

However, for the next four years Islam­ took a backseat in Holdbrooks’ life; a divorce and the death of his father­ saw him hit the bottle and he was also haunted by memories of Guantanamo Bay.

“I felt that I could have done so much more than just being a nice guard. I could have been the whistleblower. I could have spoken up and said, ‘This is wrong’.”

Holdbrooks says that while the nutritional, medical and religious needs of the detainees were well attended to, their treatment at the hands of some of the guards and interrogators got to him.

“Seventy five percent of the guards disliked the detainees, disliked being in Guantanamo, and disliked the job in general and took that anger and aggression out on the detainees by just being rude. There wasn’t much interaction, but when there was, it wasn’t uncommon to see guards being complete jerks.”

Sleep deprivation was a standard interrogation tactic. Every two hours a detainee would be moved from one block to another in what was known as the Frequent Flyer Programme.

“And then when they go for interrogation they’d be shackled in a stress position, have a strobe light in front of their face, loud blasting music in a very cold room. The interrogator would come in and cover them with water and yell at them or scream. Interrogation was different depending on the interrogator. I saw some awful things in interrogation, and I saw some good things.”

Holdbrooks says he believes most of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay were innocent, and just happened to be in the “wrong place at the wrong time”.

Even though the guards tried to keep themselves motivated it was well known they were unhappy.

“It’s an awful place to be in. Even if the detainees are able to keep themselves motivated, you still know they are unhappy and to be around 50 people­ who are unhappy at work all day then to go home and be away from your family — it’s just this feeling of unhappiness and it manifests itself in the military by alcoholism. Alcoholism is encouraged as well as acquired in the U.S. army.”

Ironically enough it was the memory­ of who he had been at Guantanamo Bay which saw Holdbrooks clean up his act on New Year’s Eve 2008.

“That night I was thinking, ‘You’re miserable — when were you happy?’ It occurred to me that I was happy when I was in Guantanamo — life had a purpose there, I was working towards a better goal. So I found a mosque, started attending prayers and getting sober.”

These days Holdbrooks travels the world talking about his experiences at Guantanamo, and encouraging Muslims to help others understand Islam­.

“Ninety percent of Americans are scared beyond belief of Islam. I’m Freddy Krueger because I dress like this. I want to help Americans understand what Islam is about, what Islam means, and to be able to differentiate between what is cultural practice as opposed to what is Islam.”

Holdbrooks is aware that his new vocation and religion could see him on the other side of the bars at Guantanamo Bay.

“The 168 detainees that are there will be home soon. They’re going to be moved out, but now Guantanamo is going to be filled back up with United­ States citizens,” he said. “The reason I say that is that in the new National Defence Act that prime dictator Barack Obama signed approximately two weeks ago there were a couple of new laws that were enacted that basically violate the first, fourth and sixth amendments of the constitution.”

“Any U.S. citizen such as myself, who is of questionable interest to the well-being of America such as myself, who is speaking positively about Islam, who is perhaps inciting change, or perhaps be seen as a radical or fundamental Muslim, such as myself, can now be picked up by any government official and deported to a place like Guantanamo or to Guantanamo itself for that matter. “If that happens, I’ll take advantage of the time and do exactly what the detainees did, I’ll become an Islamic scholar, I’ll memorise the Qur’an. I’ll leave there knowing Arabic, hopefully.”


Maldives lifts ban after brothel probe

January 5, 2012

The Maldives president has lifted a ban on spas in the upmarket tourist destination after establishing they were not being used for prostitution, as alleged by Islamist protesters.

The tourism ministry ordered all massage and beauty treatment centres to close six days ago in response to public demonstrations in the capital against spas organised by the hardline Islamist opposition Adhaalath party.

"There was a huge demonstration in Male against spas, saying they were brothels," President Mohamed Nasheed told AFP by telephone on Wednesday. "We had to respect the crowd so we ordered a quality control regarding their use.

"We found that they are perfectly healthy and places where families can obtain top class treatment. We feel comfortable that we can now open the spas."

The private tourism industry in the Maldives had also sought the intervention of the Supreme Court to lift the ban, saying it was unnecessary and would deprive them of business.

The tourism industry is a vital foreign exchange earner and employer in the Maldives, a popular high-end destination for well-heeled honeymooners and celebrities where luxury rooms can cost up to $US12,000 ($A11,602.61) a day.

The Indian Ocean country last year received more than 850,000 tourists, drawn to its secluded islands known for turquoise blue lagoons, corals and reefs filled with multi-coloured fish.

The move to shut the spas was seen by some observers as being politically motivated, with the government keen to turn the tables on the Islamist opposition.

Key opposition figure Gasim Ibrahim, head of the Jumhoory Party, is also a major owner of resort hotels and his businesses were set to be affected by the ban.

Nasheed said the government move had jolted the country's "silent majority" which favours a moderate form of Islam practised in the nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims.

Despite the Islamic republic's reputation as a laid-back holiday paradise, burnished by frequent international marketing campaigns, there is growing concern about the influence of a minority of religious fundamentalists.

There have been anti-Semitic protests recently about the transport ministry's decision to allow direct flights from Israel, while a restaurant that hung up Christmas decorations in 2010 was also targeted.

Also in 2010, a marriage celebrant was filmed abusing a Western couple as "swine" and "infidels" in a religious-tinged hate speech during a ceremony conducted in the local Dhivehi language.


Boko Haram: Sharia or militant wing of Northern politicians?


JANUARY 5, 2012,  IT is a very instructive observation by some concerned Nigerians that, when the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) failed to force its way politically within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Ciroma branch of the proverbial “Kaduna mafia” was unable to gain the type of foothold it had within the NPN after its struggle with Shehu Shagari in 1979,  in 2011, all hell was let loose. When efforts by a few ‘born to rule’’ individuals, to warehouse the office of the president failed, anarchy in the guise of Boko Haram became the next choice.

The operational tactics of Boko Haram(western education is sin), a supposed religious sect with curious objectives changed  and has since become a tool to return presidency immediately to a few who claim that holding on to political  power in Nigeria is their god given right.

As an elder politician, a former Central Bank governor and a major stakeholder in the politics of the North East, is it not a matter of great quandary that, while the North East burned and the instigators of the bloodletting in the region extended their bloody hands to the federal capital, the news media, is voluminously silent on a single comment from Ciroma and his NPLF associates. Comments of agreement or disagreement, no matter how distasteful or insipid from the man who presided over the coffers of Nigeria over a lengthy period of time is worthy listening to?

As a major player in the politics of Nigeria, he came third in the NPN contest for the presidency in 1978/79 behind Shehu Shagari and Maitama Sule. Despite his sponsorship by the astute administrator Hamza Rafindadi Zayyad, Ciroma knows what is at stake regarding the wielding of political power in Nigeria.

He was in good company when he co-opted Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau and Abubakar Atiku, all prominent men who have presided over the appropriation of the Nigerian fiscus over a lengthy period of time to claim the Nigerian presidency as a northern heritage, with the north defined along their very narrow perception; a northern Nigeria where northern minorities particularly the people of the middle-belt or north central are second class citizens.

Hence, knowing what is at stake, it is no surprise he swore to do everything within his power to ensure that himself and his associates do not play second fiddle to anyone who was not on their side, and that they ‘’would make Nigeria ungovernable’’, if Jonathan or anyone who is not within their anointed circle became president of Nigeria.

This type of threat was taken then in the heat of the struggle as part of political angst and dispensed with.But with benefit of hindsight, and with what has happened so far, we know better and now must  take it seriously because it was similarly used against Chief MKO Abiola until he was killed.

Also, immediately after the PDP primaries, came the first extensive use of incendiary materials by unspecified persons at an INEC office in Suleja. This marked the beginning of many such  incidents of carnage recorded at his door step to destabilise the peace of the country. What perhaps is worrisome is the loud silence of Ciroma at a time such as this. And the question to ask is where does he stand?

For in truth, looking at the vision of Boko Haram and their current tactics, can we not assume that the bellum sacrum of Boko Haram has aligned with the casus belli of the NPLF? Should we not see their role as those of the political paymasters who have fueled the Taliban in Afghanistan waiting in the wings to devour the political carcass left behind, when the fanatics have had their fill of blood?

Does the silence of the NPLF and their associates not indicate acquiescence or accord? If not, where do they stand? For as William T. Cavanaugh indicated, religion is just a subterfuge and “religious violence” can be and is used to legitimate violence against “others”. So where does NPLF stand? With Nigeria or with the fanatical dissidents? Let us count the victims of Boko Haram and review their targets and see if it has much to do with western education.

Insipid statements have been made by top associates of NPLF to the effect that the ongoing security threats are symptomatic of the failure of the security system in Nigeria, which should be overhauled. One agrees wholly with this assertion, but Aliyu Mohammed Gusau was in charge of setting up most of the current security system in Nigeria, having spent decades as the head of Military intelligence and later National Security Adviser of several governments.

In fact, if doctoral qualifications were awarded for on-the-job experience as a security chief, Gusau should have several doctorates on Nigerian security. One can even wager that many of the top operatives in the Nigerian security apparati report first to Gusau before anyone because of recruitment loyalties.

As one of the beneficiaries of Ciroma’s dispensing of the power to rule as a representative of the NPLF, as well as his background on how lapses develop in Nigerian security, what has been Alhaji Gusau’s advise to secure the North East, and more important what was the view of Ciroma on effecting such views. In other words, where does Ciroma stand on the security of the North East and Nigeria?

Ciroma was born in Potiskum, where Christianity and Islam have co-existed side by side for decades. In December  2011, 30 shops owned by Christians were set ablaze in Potiskum, while scores of people have been slaughtered in nearby Damaturu.

Through all these, we have head the voices of Muslims like Aregbesola a governor and devout Muslim, as well as Fashola, also a Muslim governor condemning such inhuman act of brutality, at the very doorstep of Ciroma and his associates. Yet,there has been no responses from Ciroma and friends.

One would distance someone like him from such an act, knowing that the actions of Boko Haram as they are currently been executed would obviously lead to a point where he  and his associates may eventually be left with 100 percent of nothing as against the current share of something which they are fighting to gain more of.

But it is a fact that the operatives of Boko Haram who have been caught so far, do not have the financial reserves, the banking proficiency to execute cross-country arms purchases, nor can they afford an extended recruitment of unemployed youths over a lengthy period.

In addition, they are unable to pay for the use of Honda vehicles as expendable bearers of suicide bombs. Is it not therefore logical to ask; if the funds expended to recruit operatives of Boko Haram, has been associated with a Senator and former diplomat from Yobe sate, the very doorstep of Ciroma, is he unaware of these activities? If he is not, where does he and his NPLF associates stand?

The loud silence of Ciroma and his associates on the operations of Boko Haram when placed against their vow that Nigeria will be ungovernable if they failed to gain political power purchase on the platform of the PDP remains inexplicable.

Is this struggle a prelude for the control of the northern political space ahead of 2015 or a persistent assertion of power at the centre by proxy on behalf of the NPLF? Can Nigeria afford the outcome of this struggle?


Islam is a moderate religion: Scholars

By Manzar Imam,

New Delhi, Jan 5, 2012: There is need to counter the phantom of Islamophobia being so widely propagated. People are turning to Islam with a speed like never before. These views were expressed by Maulana Saeedur Rahman Azmi, rector Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow. He was chairing a symposium organized by Zakir Hussain Institute of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) at the University’s CIT Conference Hall on 3 January.

Titled “Some Important Ulama of the Muslim World and their Academic Contributions” the symposium was dedicated to research, editing and translation done in Arabic by Maulana Muhammad Rahmatullah Nadwi. Everyone wants life to be beautiful, worth emulating, said the Nadwa rector adding that the young scholar had shown the way to make life both beautiful and worthwhile.

Azmi took strong exceptions to the general tendency of demanding to make Islam moderate saying that Islam has always been moderate and will remain so. Prof. Akhtarul Wasey, Head, Department of Islamic Studies, said that Quran is the word of Allah and Fitrat (Nature/Moderation) is His practice. And, “there can be no contradiction between Allah’s word and action”. Porf. Wasey, who is also the Vice-Chairman of Urdu Academy, Delhi said that the responsibility of bridging the distance between religion and world lay with ulama, intellectuals and those endowed with knowledge.

He called the works of the young scholar immensely valuable. He stressed the need to focus on fundamental teachings of religion rather than standing divided on sectarian lines.

Special guest in the symposium were two senior Pakistani journalists Tariq Mahmood Sham and Suhail Warraich. Speaking on this occasion, Sham, Head of Editorial Board of Pakistan’s ARY Network, said, although he came from an Islamic Republican country but Islam, Urdu and democracy were better practiced in India than in Pakistan. He said that Muslim rulers were fonder of constructing castles, monuments than promoting academic work.

While appreciating the work of Maulana Rahmatullah, Sham emphasized that ulama must direct their attention to militant Islam, radical Islam, political Islam and such other new terminologies that have gained currency after 9/11. The young scholar’s works need to be introduced in Pakistan, added the veteran journalist.

Famous GEO TV presenter Suhail Warraich raised three major questions; a) what should be the system of governance for Pakistan or any other Muslim country? b) Interest is prohibited in Islam. In that case then what is the alternate economic system for Muslims? c) If faced with any problem, what is the way out for Muslims – jihad, negotiation or something else? Warraich, who is also national editor of the political cell of Pakistan’s leading Urdu Daily Jung said that there was need to pay attention to these questions.

Ulama made great contributions from 13 to 18th century, said Dr. S. M Azizuddin Husain, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Languages, JMI, adding that those days were very difficult for academic work. He made special mention of Mughal ruler Akbar saying that Akbar had set a system of research and academic work and provided scholarships for it. He said that linguistic bias should be avoided and drew the attention of ulama to relook their madrasa syllabus. The architect of Taj Mahal was product of a madrasa, said he.

It is the duty of ulama to spread knowledge and education as they are described as heirs of the prophets, said Maulana Mohammad Shahid Al-Husaini of Madrasa Mazahir Uloom, Saharanpur. He further said that prophets did not leave heritage of wealth, property and power. Their heritage is knowledge and education, he said.

Maulana Shahid said that books hold great value and that many misconceptions are automatically removed when good books are written. While the works of Maulana Rahmatullah show his great individual academic excellence, it is also a matter of pride and honour for Indians as he does all these work in a foreign land.

Rahmatullah Nadwi expressed his sense of gratitude to his teachers whose role he called “important” in charting his life and career. He urged madrasa graduates to muster courage for academic work. New opportunities will open up automatically, said he.

Abdul Qadir Shams Qasmi, senior sub-editor of Urdu weekly Aalami Sahara, who coordinated the programme, presented a brief introduction of the author, translator, Rahmatullah Nadwi. Dr. Mohammad Ajmal Qasmi, a post doctoral research fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Waris Mazhari, editor of Tarjuman-e-Darul Uloom, Safdar Zubair Nadwi, Mohammad Mushtak Tujarawi and Abdullah Mubarak Nadwi presented essays and analyses highlighting different aspects of the works of Rahmatullah Nadwi, the centre of the symposium’s theme. The message of Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, head of Al-Ma’had al-Aali al-Islami, Hyderabad, who could not attend the programme was read out by Mufti Imtiyaz Ahmad Qasmi. It appreciated the work of Nadwi.

(Manzar Imam is a postgraduate student at the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He can be reached at or +91-9810035066)


Faiz’s poems in illustrated English book by daughter 


Kolkata: January 05, 2012,, Have you ever tried to read a poem by looking at a piece of painting?

Legendary Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz`s daughter Salima Hashmi has attempted to reflect the mood of her late father`s work through her paintings.

The illustrated book ‘A Song For This Day’ carries English translations of 51 Urdu poems by Faiz with images drawn by Hashmi against the backdrop of each verse.

Translations in the book, which marks the birth centenary celebrations of Pakistan`s most famous poet, have been done by playwright Shoaib Hashmi, who is married to Salima.

Describing her effort on canvas as "visual wanderings, textures and lines which seem to be appropriate with the poetry", she says she hasn`t tried to illustrate poems.

"I am not sure if I can aspire to reflect the essence of the poems. But it has got more to do with the mood. Paintings form a backdrop for the words and do not seek to interpret," Hashmi, a prominent writer-painter, told reporters from Pakistan.

Full Report at:


US posts new India, Pakistan maps on website


WASHINGTON, Jan 5, 2012: The US State Department says it erred in its depiction of disputed Kashmir in maps on its website and after six weeks has posted revised ones.

Spokeswoman expressed relief  on Wednesday the new maps of India and Pakistan were now online and complied with US cartographical policy.

The new maps have a dashed line for the 1972 Line of Control that divides Kashmir. Nuland said that reflected its unresolved status.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the Himalayan territory, and each claim the portion that the other controls.

Indian journalists have repeatedly raised the map issue since complaints emerged in late November.

India objected that all of Jammu and Kashmir was not shown as part of India. Pakistan also complained.


Pakistani troops target Indian border posts


JAMMU, Jan 05, 2012, Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and fired at Indian posts in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district late on Wednesday night to facilitate infiltration of terrorists to this side of the frontier, army sources said.

At around midnight on Wednesday, Pakistani troops opened fire at the Indian Army's Kranti and Kirpan posts in the Krishna Ghati sector, about 220 km north of Jammu, from across the LoC, the sources said on Thursday. The firing was to facilitate the infiltrators from the Pakistani to the Indian side, the sources added.

Indian troops fired back and the exchange lasted for more than 90 minutes, the sources said, adding the infiltration bid was foiled, the sources claimed. It was also described as the ceasefire violation by the Pakistani army.

Both India and Pakistan had agreed to silence the guns of their armies on the borders in November 2003, but Pakistan has violated it several times since 2005 onwards.


British Red Cross worker kidnapped in southwestern Pakistan

Arshad Butt, Associated Press

QUETTA, Pakistan, January 5, Armed men kidnapped a British Red Cross worker from the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta on Thursday, highlighting the fragile security situation in the country, police said.

The incident took place hours after Islamist militants elsewhere in the country killed 15 Pakistani security officers they had seized last month close to the Afghan border and left their naked, bullet-riddled bodies sprawled on the ground.

Police officer Nazir Ahmed Kurd said the man was taken from a vehicle close to a Red Cross office in an upscale housing complex in Quetta. The assailants bundled him into their car and drove off. Kurd said the man had been visiting a local school.

International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman Sitara Jabeen declined to disclose the man’s name or nationality, but confirmed a foreign employee had been seized. The British High Commission said it was looking into the incident.

Baluchistan province is home to Islamist militants and separatist insurgents.

Both groups have kidnapped foreigners and locals in the region before.

Another officer, Ahsan Mahboob, said the British man was traveling with a Pakistani doctor and a driver. They were not seized, he said.

In 2009, an American working for the United Nations refugee agency in the city was kidnapped from the same district as the British aid worker. John Solecki was held for two months by the separatist Baluchistan Liberation United Front before he was released.

The 15 Pakistani officers from the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary were killed in retaliation for an army operation on Jan. 1 in northwest Pakistan that killed several militants, including a prominent commander, according to a statement from the Pakistani Taliban.

It alleged that troops also killed a woman and arrested others, “something that was forbidden and illegitimate in Islam as well as against tribal traditions.”

Their bodies were dumped in Shiwa town in the North Waziristan region, said local residents Sada-u-Alla and Salam Khan. Local Frontier Constabulary commander Ali Sher said his men had been sent to the area to pick up the corpses.

The insurgents kidnapped them during a Dec. 22 attack on a Pakistani security base in the border region.

In recent months, some militant commanders and intelligence officials have claimed peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, one of the largest and most brutal militant groups, were under way. But other Pakistani Taliban commanders have dismissed this, and sporadic attacks have continued.

Tribal leaders and analysts speculate that the group, which has been pounded by Pakistani army offensives and American missile strikes over the last few years, is riven with internal splits.


Bright prospects of Sarabjit's release: Lawyer

Press Trust Of India

Lahore, January 05, 2012, Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, currently on death row following his conviction for alleged involvement in bomb attacks in 1990, is hopeful that his fresh mercy petition will get a "favourable decision" from President Asif Ali Zardari, his lawyer said on Thursday.   Awais

Sheikh, the counsel for Sarabjit, said the fresh mercy petition had received "special attention" from Zardari.

"This time, there are bright prospects of Sarabjit's release," he said.

Sarabjit's release will help expedite the peace process between India and Pakistan, he claimed.

He further claimed Sarabjit was to be released on August 14 last year, which is Pakistan's Independence Day, in exchange for Pakistani national Khalil Chishti, who is currently being held in a jail in Rajasthan.

But the decision was "withdrawn at the eleventh hour when Indian authorities did not release Chishti", Sheikh claimed.

Sheikh said that following a pledge he made to the Lahore High Court, he recently visited India and urged authorities there to expedite the repatriation of Pakistani citizens detained in Indian jails.

He appealed to the governments of India and Pakistan to repatriate prisoners who had completed their jail terms.

Sarabjit has been on death row since he was convicted for alleged involvement in four bomb blasts that killed 14 people in 1990.

His family insists he was wrongly convicted for the bombings.

Though Sarabjit was set to be hanged in 2008, Pakistani authorities put off his execution indefinitely after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani intervened in the matter.


Students use waste to depict Pakistan’s problems


ISLAMABAD,  Jan 5, 12 - Trash produced by a person is another’s craft material. All around us, there is scrap of different material that we ignore, but the students of Hunerkada College of Visual and Performing Arts are an exemption, as they use recycled material to make innovative art installations. The students of Bachelors of Arts in Interior, Graphics, and Fashion Designing on Wednesday put on display a number of installations with unique and novel ideas and themes as part of their graduate class assignments. The exhibition included displays from interior, graphics and fashion design departments. Its major highlights include instillations made from recycled materials, portraying the prevailing conditions in the country. The exhibition also included works featuring textured handbooks, hand bags and designs for better use of living space, according to the surrounding ambiences.

With the social issues like the menace of corruption, child labour, globalisation, misuse of communication and disunity being faced by the society, students disseminated the message that lead towards the logical ends. As one enters the main gallery of Hunerkada, Akhtar Iqbal’s robot like installation ‘How much more till its enough’ gives you an idea of a crooked politician who keeps on ruling the hearts and minds of common masses, while they (commoners) do not pay heed to do appropriate action against this wicked character. Talking to Pakistan Today, Akhtar said since the corruption had penetrated deep into the social fabric of society, he opted to work against the practice. “My choice of the topic is corruption. I want to display my topic using a wooden planks nailed together. The structure represents a corrupt man. The feature of his body displays how corruption shapes him. He has a small head that shows he has limited intellect and small boundaries,” the young artist said.

Full Report at:


Jailed Pakistani Christian mother ‘well’: husband

LAHORE, Jan 05, 12– A Christian mother sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan last year is “well” and faces “no threat in jail”, her husband told AFP Wednesday, rejecting recent claims of her poor health.

“She is perfectly alright, all the media stories about her are incorrect”, Ashiq Masih, husband of Asia Bibi, told AFP by phone.

The Masihi Foundation, a human rights group, said in December it had visited the 46-year-old and was quoted by Catholic news agency Fides describing Bibi’s “very frail” physical and mental state.

But her husband said the rights group “never visited her”, and insisted “she has no threat in jail.”

Jail Superintendent Sheikh Khalid Pervaiz in Sheikpura District also told AFP that Bibi had received no visitors apart from her husband.

“She is well in her lock up. She is getting special treatment in C-Class cell. No other person other than her husband met her in the jail for the last one year or so”, he said.

Bibi, a mother of five, is being held in a prison in Sheikpura in the Punjab region.

She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 after drinking water from a well reserved for Muslims and allegedly making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. Her appeal at the High Court in Lahore is ongoing.

Pope Benedict XVI and the international community have condemned her conviction and have asked for her to be pardoned.

The French foreign ministry had said it was “deeply concerned” about Bibi, following the claims of her poor health from the human rights group, and called for quick action on her appeal.

The case has provoked controversy in Pakistan over its law on blasphemy, which critics say is used frequently by radical Muslims to discriminate against religious minorities in the country.

The Christian minority in Pakistan, often poor, represents around three percent of the 180 million population.


Vigil demands justice for Taseer

Staff Report

LAHORE: Jan 5, 2012, The Institute of Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) organised a candlelight vigil in collaboration with other human rights organisations at the Liberty Roundabout on the first death anniversary of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer to commemorate his sacrifice and fearless stance on the rights of minorities, also demanding justice in the form of strict punishment for his murderer, Mumtaz Qadri.

The vigil was attended by various sections of society, including youth peace activists, to express solidarity for the cause of a diverse, tolerant and peaceful Pakistan.

Shehryar Taseer and Shehrbano Taseer also participated in the vigil. However, both of them being emotionally charged with the memories of their bereaved father were unable to talk to the media persons. Nevertheless, Shehryar managed to express his grief and admiration for his father by saying that he was proud of his father who scarified his life for the sake of human rights. “Even though a year has passed since the tragic incident, yet we feel he is still with us,” he added.

Full Report at:


Islamic 'Honor Violence' Rising in the West

By Dale Hurd, CBN News Sr. Reporter

BARCELONA, LONDON, and PARIS, January 04, 2012 -  As Muslims migrate to the West, and more Muslim young people adopt Western ways, honor violence is increasing.

Warning: this report contains some disturbing scenes that should not be viewed by children.

• A Canadian woman was strangled by her father because she refused to wear a headscarf.

• An Italian had her throat slit by her dad while she was held down by three uncles.

• An American woman was run over by her father in his Jeep Cherokee.

• Two sisters were shot by their father in a New York taxi.

They were all the victims of honor violence. They may have defied the wishes of their parents, or adopted Western ways, or tried to leave Islam.

They did something that, in the eyes of their families, brought shame and dishonor.

So they were killed. Many were tortured first.

Honor Killing on the Rise

The precise number of honor attacks worldwide is unknown because many are not reported, or are reported as accidents or suicides. But one new report said 3,000 honor attacks were committed in Britain last year alone.

Norwegian activist Hege Storhaug left journalism to devote her life to helping the victims of honor violence after doing a story about a Norwegian girl who was forced to marry her cousin from Pakistan.

"I was astonished when she said, 'My parents were willing to kill me if I didn't enter this marriage, to protect their own honor," Storhaug said.

Storhaug showed us graphic photos of Pakistani women who had acid thrown in their faces by their husbands' family because they did not bring a big enough dowry to the marriage.

Storhaug said the families then typically say the woman had been burned on a hot stove:

"A mother-in-law was sitting at the bedside, guarding the tongue of the young woman so she didn't tell the truth about how she was burned, and it was the family who did it," she explained. "And the faces of those mothers-in-law…there was no empathy, no compassion."

Women in Danger

Although honor violence is sometimes committed by Hindus and Sikhs, it is usually a Muslim on Muslim crime. One study found that 91 percent of honor killings were committed by Muslims.

Women who break with traditional Islam often face grave danger:

CBN News interviewed one young woman who came to study in Paris after growing up in a Muslim nation.

Full Report at:


Indonesia Plans to Stop Sending Domestic Workers Abroad by 2017

January 05, 2012

Indonesia plans to stop sending domestic workers abroad from 2017, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said on Wednesday.

“In the [10-year] 2007 road map for domestic workers, we hope that the number of Indonesian migrant workers in the domestic sector being sent abroad eventually reaches zero,” he said.

However, he admitted that reaching the target would be difficult, with the main constraints including providing enough jobs in Indonesia.

He added that the state had no authority to prevent people from seeking work abroad.

Muhaimin said the road map did foresee the possibility that there would be some people seeking work abroad as domestic helpers after 2017.

Those people, he said, would need to have a clearly defined position and their status would have to be recognized by the recipient country.

“The recipient country would have to recognize them as formal workers with certain rights, such as working hours, the right to holidays and leave as well as to a set salary,” he said.

Starting in 2017, he said, anyone going to work abroad as a domestic helper would have to have a clear position waiting for them before moving overseas. He cited a cook, housekeeper and caregiver as examples.

Beginning in March, he said, the government will apply those same requirements to workers intending to find jobs in Malaysia in the informal sector.

Malaysia was chosen for a trial project, he said, because of its proximity and therefore easier monitoring. Demand for domestic workers in Malaysia is also high, he added.

A moratorium on sending domestic workers to Malaysia was imposed in mid-2009 after multiple cases of abuse there.

Full Report at:


Bangladeshi man given jail term for ‘wishing PM Sheikh Hasina’s death’ on Facebook


Dhaka, Jan 05, 2012, A Bangladeshi university lecturer has been sentenced to six months in jail after he posted a Facebook status wishing for the death of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Ruhul Khandakar, who was sentenced by Bangladesh’s high court in absentia because he is studying in Australia, posted comments last year implying that he wanted Hasina to die.

According to The BBC, Khandakar posted the derogatory comment following the death of one of the country’s best filmmakers, Tareq Masud, in a road accident in August.

Officials said Khandakar blamed the government for the fact there are so many road deaths in Bangladesh.

“Tareq Masud died as a result of government giving licence to unqualified drivers. Many die, why does not Sheikh Hasina die?” Khandakar said in his Facebook post.

When the comments appeared in the media, there were protests by the PM’s supporters.

According to the report, the high court ordered Khandakar to return to Bangladesh from Australia, and also directed his university employers to take action against him.


'Islamic Awakening led Libyan revolution'

Jan 3, 2012

Iran's deputy foreign minister says Islamic Awakening was the root cause of Libya's revolution, calling on the Libyan nation to remain vigilant about the persisting schemes by global powers to derail their movement.

In a Monday meeting with a visiting delegation of Libyan scholars and religious figures in the Iranian capital of Tehran, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian described the Libyan population as a faithful and diligent nation that desire Islam and seek the establishment of Islamic values in their country.

The Iranian diplomat pointed to the continuing efforts by hegemonic global powers to hijack the Libyan revolution and expressed optimism that the unity and vigilance in the North African nation will thwart such plots.

Sowing rifts among Shias and Sunnis and inciting Iranophobia in the Muslim world are among the malicious strategies pursued by global powers to neutralize the growing Islamic Awakening, he added.

Abdollahian also called for the expansion of Tehran-Tripoli ties in Libya's post-revolution era and the cooperation of both countries in the pursuit of the fate of prominent Lebanese Shia leader and scholar Imam Moussa Sadr, who disappeared in 1978 during an official visit to Libya following a meeting with the country's slain dictator Muammar Ghaddafi. .

Imam Sadr, the founder of Lebanon's Islamic Amal Movement, was a popular and highly revered Lebanese cleric of Iranian descent who developed major influence in his country by making tireless efforts to unify the Lebanese Christians and Muslims based on many common values.

It is widely believed in Lebanon that the Shia cleric was kidnapped on the orders of senior Libyan officials.

The head of the Libyan delegation to Tehran, for his part, praised Iran's efforts in promoting Islamic values and insisted that the Libyan nation will not allow hegemonic powers to distort the objectives of their revolution.

Eight months into the revolution that put an end to Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year-long dictatorship, revolutionary fighters found the despotic ruler hiding inside a concrete sewage pipe in his hometown of Sirte on October 20, 2011.

Gaddafi was eventually shot and executed by the revolutionaries, becoming the first dictator to be killed in the wave of the popular uprisings and revolutions that started to sweep North Africa and the Middle East towards the end of 2011.


Kayani off to China to buttress defence ties

By: Sikander Shaheen

ISLAMABAD, January 05, 2012 - Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani left for China on Wednesday in what is seen as a crucial development in the backdrop of changing security dynamics in this region.

An official statement says General Kayani left for Beijing on a five-day official visit at the invitation of Chinese authorities. The event is widely seen in sequel to Pakistan’s initiative for reviewing rules of engagement with the US amid its ongoing row with the Western military alliance just days after Pakistan’s military rejected the findings of a NATO launched probe into Mohmand Agency attack on two military pickets in November last year.

‘During his visit, General Kayani will call on China’s political and military leadership. The interaction will encompass the complete range of Pak-China relations, related to security and defence’, Pakistan Army statement said.

Some important defence pacts consensus on which is likely to be arrived at during the aforesaid visit include Pak-China border security cooperation, proposed anti-drug trafficking measures and joint military exercises.  The Pakistani military, according to official sources, is set to review the anti-human trafficking and narcotics control agreements it had signed with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and were previously overseen under the umbrella of NATO-Russia Council (NRC). The part of these agreements that exclusively concerns Pak-Russia bilateral cooperation on human smuggling and narcotics trade would reportedly stay intact while several key agreements falling under the official ambit of NRC are to be either reviewed or cancelled.

Full Report at:


Pakistan suffered most at hands of terror: US

WASHINGTON, January 5, 2012, : The United States on Wednesday said it wants to strengthen Pakistan’s civilian capacity to counter terrorism, as a senior American official observed that the South Asian nation has suffered more at the hands of terrorist violence than any other country.

Ambassador Daniel Banjamin, who will head the newly-established Bureau of Counterterrorism at the State Department, also acknowledged that “there’s no question we’re going through a difficult time in the wake of the (November 26, 2011) cross-border incident and a number of other incidents that have occurred in the last year.”

“But let me go back to basics. We think that it is essential that we have a good counterterrorism relationship with Pakistan. We believe it’s in both of our nations’ interests,” he remarked. “No country has suffered more at the hands of militancy than Pakistan,” he declared at a State Department briefing. Benjamin said the new Bureau is going to be working closely with Pakistan. “We hope to continue building civilian capacity for countering terrorism,” he added. app\01\05\story_5-1-2012_pg7_25


Pakistani militants kill 15 security officers

By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD, Associated Press

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Jan 5, 2012— Pakistani militants on Thursday killed 15 security force members they kidnapped last month close to the Afghan border, showing that not all insurgent factions are interested in reported peace talks with the government.

The mens' naked bodies were dumped in Shiwa town in the North Waziristan region, said local residents Sada-u-Alla and Salam Khan. Intelligence officials confirmed the men had been killed. The officials didn't give their names because they were not authorized to be identified in the media.

In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban said the slayings were in retaliation for an army operation on Jan. 1 in the region that killed several militants, including a prominent commander. It alleged that troops also killed a woman and arrested others, "something that was forbidden and illegitimate in Islam as well as against tribal traditions."

The slain men were members of the Constabulary Corp, a paramilitary outfit active in the border region with Afghanistan. The insurgents kidnapped them during a Dec. 22 attack on a Pakistani security base in the border region.

In recent months, some militant commanders and intelligence officials have claimed peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, one of the largest and most deadly militant groups, were under way. But other Pakistani Taliban commanders have dismissed this, and sporadic attacks have continued.

Tribal leaders and analysts speculate that the group, which has been pounded by Pakistani army offensives and American missile strikes over the last few years, is riven with internal splits.

Associated Press writer Rasool Dawar in Peshawar contributed to this report.


Five militants killed in Zhob

Staff Report

QUETTA, Jan 5, 2012: Five militants were killed and 13 others arrested in a clash between Taliban militants and Frontier Corps (FC) troops in Murgha Kibzai area of Zhob District on Wednesday.

A FC spokesman said security forces received information about the presence of Taliban militants in Murgha Kebzai area and dispatched troops there. He added that when they reached the area, militants opened fire from a compound, injuring two FC personnel. Troops then returned fire and killed five militants. Later, during a search operation, they recovered a rocket launcher and several machine guns.

The FC spokesman said that security had been beefed up in Qila Abdullah, Pishin and Qila Saifullah after an increase in incidents of kidnapping for ransom.\01\05\story_5-1-2012_pg7_27


MATI sues as government seeks Supreme Court legal counsel on spas, pork and alcohol

By Eleanor Johnstone

January 3rd, 2012

The government has asked the Supreme Court for a “consultative opinion” on the legality of spa operations and sale of pork and alcohol in resorts, claiming that legal clarity is needed to properly address the current controversy involving Islam and the tourism industry.

The government last week ordered resorts to shut down their spa operations, and announced it was considering a ban on pork and alcohol. The announcements were made in response to five demands made during a demonstration organised by a coalition of NGOs and opposition parties on December 23 to ‘Defend Islam.’

Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) meanwhile filed a case at the Civil Court yesterday challenging the Tourism Ministry’s order to shut down massage parlors and health spas in resorts.

Speaking to local media, Attorney General Abdulla Muiz said, “We believe that the people have expressed genuine concerns over the circular issued by the Tourism Ministry ordering resorts to close down their spas.

“Investors will have confidence when they are clear of the judiciary’s position on these issues.”

The Attorney General was unavailable for comment at time of press.

Although the import of alcohol and pork to the Maldives is allowed under a regulation, there is no regulation or set of guidelines specific to spa operations in resorts.

The State, however, claims that Article 15(a2) of the Goods and Services Tax Act clearly stipulates that spas are legally accepted in the Maldives as tourism goods.

Under the article, “goods and services supplied by diving schools, shops, spas, water sports facilities and any other such facilities being operated….at tourist resorts, tourist hotels, tourist guest houses, picnic islands, tourist vessels and yacht marinas authorised by the Tourism Ministry” are tourism goods.

Officials at the Supreme Court and President’s Office were unavailable for comment today.

MATI Secretary General Sim Ibrahim Mohamed was unable to comment on the case in the Civil Court, but said that the government’s decision had incurred “irrevocable damage” to the tourism industry and had become a “legal issue to which we are trying to find legal clarity.”

“We are trying in the lower courts while the government has filed at the Supreme Court to see what this is about. We need to know whether the Maldives can legally provide tourism services within the confines of the constitution,” he explained. “A lot is riding on the court verdicts.”

Sim conceded that the verdicts would not close the discussion. “As to whether the public or the opposition parties will accept the verdict is not for us to say. They will have to weigh their own agendas against what is good for the economy at the moment,” he said.

Former Attorney General and lawyer representing MATI, Aishath Azima Shukoor, said the case addressed two key points: that the government’s decision to close the spas violates the contracts it holds with resort operators, and that the timing is unconstitutional.

Shukoor pointed out that the contracts between the government and resort operators include a clause entitling the operators to the peaceful operation of land leased. She maintained that the government had violated the agreement by closing operations without presenting any substantial reports, investigation or evidence justifying the action.

MATI has also applied for an injunction. If granted, resort spas would be allowed to operate until the court case is concluded.

Full Report at:


Kayani off to China to buttress defence ties

By: Sikander Shaheen

ISLAMABAD, January 05, 2012 - Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani left for China on Wednesday in what is seen as a crucial development in the backdrop of changing security dynamics in this region.

An official statement says General Kayani left for Beijing on a five-day official visit at the invitation of Chinese authorities. The event is widely seen in sequel to Pakistan’s initiative for reviewing rules of engagement with the US amid its ongoing row with the Western military alliance just days after Pakistan’s military rejected the findings of a NATO launched probe into Mohmand Agency attack on two military pickets in November last year.

‘During his visit, General Kayani will call on China’s political and military leadership. The interaction will encompass the complete range of Pak-China relations, related to security and defence’, Pakistan Army statement said.

Some important defence pacts consensus on which is likely to be arrived at during the aforesaid visit include Pak-China border security cooperation, proposed anti-drug trafficking measures and joint military exercises.  The Pakistani military, according to official sources, is set to review the anti-human trafficking and narcotics control agreements it had signed with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and were previously overseen under the umbrella of NATO-Russia Council (NRC). The part of these agreements that exclusively concerns Pak-Russia bilateral cooperation on human smuggling and narcotics trade would reportedly stay intact while several key agreements falling under the official ambit of NRC are to be either reviewed or cancelled.

Full Report at:


Pakistan court admits petitions against Zardari


LAHORE, 5 JAN, 2012,  : A Pakistani court has admitted petitions against President Asif Ali Zardari for not disassociating himself from political activities and formed a bench to hear them.

The same bench of the Lahore High court will hear petitions seeking the disqualification of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on charges of committing treason by allegedly defying court orders and subverting the Constitution.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed yesterday admitted the petitions and formed a three-judge bench to hear them.

The Chief Justice will head the bench. Former Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry had on October 14, 2011 constituted a bench after a single judge had referred the cases to him for constitution of a larger bench.

The bench will start hearing the petitions after the court's winter vacation.

Lawyer A K Dogar, who is the counsel for Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, filed the petitions on behalf of two lawyers and asked the court to direct President Zardari to disassociate himself from the political office of co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan People's Party in light of a decision given by a full bench of the High Court in May last year.

Advocate Ilamuddin Ghazi too submitted a petition in which he said that the full bench had in its order declared the President's involvement in political activities as unconstitutional.


Husain Haqqani fears for his life: report

Press Trust of India

London: Jan 04, 2012, Pakistan's embattled former ambassador to US, Husain Haqqani, fears he will be murdered if he leaves his sanctuary in the official residence of the Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, a media report on Wednesday said.

Haqqani who is at the centre of the memo scandal said the allegations against him are part of a "psychological war" against Pakistan's civilian government by "certain powerful quarters."

Haqqani said he has been branded a "traitor" and a "Washington lackey" by "powerful quarters" a reference to the country's powerful ISI intelligence agency and that he now fears he will be murdered like his friend, the late governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who was shot dead by one of his own security guards last year after being branded a "blasphemer", The Daily Telegraph said in its report.

Haqqani was forced to resign late last year after Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed he had asked him to pass on a memo, on behalf of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, to the American government calling for their help to oust Islamabad's military leadership.

Full Report at:


Pakistan seeks result-oriented engagement with India: Khar

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD, Jan 5, 2012: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told the National Assembly on Wednesday that Pakistan was committed to a constructive, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement with India.

In a written reply to the Lower House, Khar said that secretary level talks had been held under the resumed dialogue process in which all issues of bilateral importance, including that of Jammu and Kashmir, had been discussed.

The resumed dialogue process culminated in foreign minister level talks on July 27 last year in New Delhi. Pakistan’s commerce minister also recently visited India, while the commerce secretaries of both countries agreed to hold a second round of talks on 14-15 November 2011 in New Delhi. These visits have significantly improved the atmosphere between the countries. The cabinet also recently decided to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India in its meeting held on November 2, 2011.

Full Reprt at:\01\05\story_5-1-2012_pg7_3


Civil society lauds Taseer’s services for countrymen

January 5, 2012

A large number of people from different walks of life, on Wednesday, attended the ceremony for the first death anniversary of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, at his residence in Cavalry Ground. Special prayers were offered for the soul of the erstwhile governor. Punjab Governor Latif Khan Khosa, former foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri, renowned economist and former federal adviser Dr Salman Shah and MPA Pervaiz Rafique offered condolences to Shehryar Taseer, a son of Salmaan Taseer, and other family members. Maulana Tahir Ashrafi offered prayers, supplicating God for the peace of Salmaan Taseer’s soul, and called him a brave leader. Earlier, Quran Khawani was held on the occasion, which was attended by senior journalists, close relatives of the former governor and a large number of civil society members. Talking to media on the occasion, Governor Khosa said Salmaan Taseer played an important role in the politics of Pakistan, especially Punjab. He said Taseer spent his life with courage and without fear, and his name will live in the history of Pakistan. The governor added that special efforts were being made for the release of Shahbaz Taseer, another son of the slain governor, who was kidnapped last August. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shah said that Taseer stood up for the weak and underprivileged. He was never afraid of controversy and was a very large-hearted person who faced criticism with courage. Khurshid Kasuri hailed Taseer as a very enlightened, lively and brave person, saying he did not budge an inch from his stance when he knew he was right. He termed his death more than a political assassination, saying it was a message to all those who believe in justice, law and humanity, that the cancer of extremism and intolerance is on the verge of devouring us. MPA Pervaiz Rafique said Taseer was a very down-to-earth person. “He didn’t change a bit after assuming the office of governor and had no airs about him,” he said, adding that he did a lot of charitable work but never publicised it. He extolled his humanity and tolerance, calling him a visionary. staff report\01\05\story_5-1-2012_pg7_12


Civilian aid dries up: US refuses to fund Pakistan-American Enterprise Fund

By Shahbaz Rana

ISLAMABAD: January 5, 2012, After suspending military assistance, the United States has now refused to finance the $300 million Pakistan-American Enterprise Fund as tensions between Islamabad and Washington start taking their toll on civilian aid.

The revelation comes after President Obama signed an omnibus spending bill which linked disbursements of the $850 million Country Insurgency Fund with the requirement that any assistance to Pakistan be made conditional to the US Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence certifying that Islamabad is cooperating in the war on terror.

The approval of the Pakistan-American Enterprise Fund has been dropped despite the fact Pakistan had been assured by the US Deputy Secretary of State that the fund would be approved. The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee had earlier cleared the draft legislation and sent it to a conference committee of the United States Congress – a joint body comprising representatives from both houses of the US legislature – for final approval.

Sources in the finance ministry told The Express Tribune that the Obama administration did not put the fund up for a vote and took it out from the draft legislation at conference committee stage. The Pak-American Fund approval had earlier been clubbed with similar funds for three other countries. The US legislature approved such funds for other countries but left out the fund for Pakistan, they added.

The fund was to be financed under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act – enshrined into US law to give $7.5 billion over five years in civilian assistance to Pakistan. The implementation period of $300 million fund was five years, with a $60 million annual American investment in small and medium enterprises in Pakistan.

The fund was aimed at empowering Pakistan’s private sector by creating jobs and opportunities for increasing economic growth and stability in the country. The US had modelled the fund over its earlier successful post-Cold War funds established for the development of Eastern Europe.

Full Report at:


Pakistan and US resume process of reconciliation

Islamabad, Dec 5, 12, Pakistan and the US, after weeks of strained ties, have resumed co-operation on Afghan reconciliation process as a prelude to full normalisation of ties, it was learnt yesterday.

While ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha’s visit to Qatar last week for unannounced discussions with US officials on the Afghan peace process gave a whiff of impending thaw in bilateral ties, the process for redefining the contours of relations bears clear indications that the estranged allies were set for another embrace.

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS), which had been tasked with the uneasy job of looking into the complicated relationship with Washington, has suddenly moved into top gear and is expected to finalise its recommendations in the next few days.

To quote a source, “drafting of proposals has commenced” even before the final and all-important briefing by the finance ministry on financial implications of the review exercise initiated in the aftermath of the November 26 Nato attacks on Pakistani border posts.

The PCNS, according to an observer who has been closely following its proceedings, would at best seek a transparent relationship that has clearly defined rules of engagement, but would at the same time reaffirm the importance of remaining engaged with America.

PCNS Chairman Senator Raza Rabbani said that the committee would finalise the recommendations on the basis of various parliamentary resolutions and suggestions made at the envoys conference last month.

More importantly the military’s detailed rejoinder to the US report on the attacks, also expected later in the week, another source hinted, would be “mild and conciliatory” in sharp contrast to the lot of hot air expended on US ties after the Nato attacks in which two dozen troops lost their lives.

The rapprochement, which may be formally announced sometime later, has been forced by expediencies of both sides in the Afghan end-game.

Although a flurry of interactions, both public and behind the scenes, between Pakistan and the US have been taking place at various levels after the 26/11 border incident for resuscitating the ties, the game-changer was Gen Pasha’s Qatar trip.

Officially no one’s ready to speak on the issue because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

However, both diplomats at the Foreign Office and senior military officials admit during their private conversations that Afghan reconciliation compelled them to resume contacts.

“Reconciliation is continuing and we cannot isolate ourselves from it,” an official noted and added that the Doha meeting was for getting back into the loop.

This clearly reflects a change of thinking because the government only last month boycotted the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan “in the larger interest of Pakistan”.


Pakistan border closure leaves Canadian supplies stuck in Afghanistan


JANUARY 4, 2012, Hundreds of cargo containers of Canadian war supplies are stranded in volatile southern Afghanistan, thanks to an ongoing Pakistani blockade of routes exiting the landlocked country.

And with Pakistani officials preparing to impose steep tariffs on all NATO shipments transiting the country, the cost of Canada's withdrawal from Afghanistan could increase by more than a half million dollars.

The Canadian Forces are trying to bring home thousands of tonnes of war equipment used during the nearly 10-year combat mission. Packed into some 446 sea containers, most of this cargo is currently stored at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

High priority items — such as all armoured vehicles and ammunition — have already been flown out of Afghanistan on Canada's giant CC-177 Globemaster transport aircraft.

Nevertheless, much of the army's gear remains stuck in Afghanistan, Lt.-Col. John Nethercott told Postmedia News. He said the remaining items are "low priority in nature," and include tools, tents, forklifts, barbed wire and engineering equipment.

The Department of National Defence has granted a contract to move the containers from Afghanistan to Pakistan to A.J. Maritime, a Montreal-based freight forwarding firm.

It is believed the remaining 446 containers were supposed to exit Afghanistan's southeastern border post at Spin Boldak, then cross the deserts of Balochistan to the port of Karachi. Once at the port, the containers would be loaded onto ships for the sail home to Canada.

Full Report at:


Pakistan’s former Commissioner of Indus Water Jamaat Ali Shah affair

Jan5, 2012,

Pakistan’s former Commissioner of Indus Water Jamaat Ali Shah, who facilitated India in building Nimoo Bazgo hydropower project, has managed to flee to Canada in spite of being on the ECL. This man has damaged the country immensely and yet the powerful lobby which comprises of corrupt dual nationality holders within the establishment, helped him dodge accountability by the concerned authorities, which unfortunately are controlled by men with split loyalties, having their assets located abroad.

This incident should emphasise the need to rescind any dual nationality holder from assuming any public office. There is a vast network within Pakistan which facilitates and organises the flow of massive capital from Pakistan to help corrupt bureaucrats, retired khakis, traders and politicians to transfer their ill-gotten black money abroad. This group holds key positions with national airline, major financial regulatory bodies like State Bank, FBR etc.

Men like Jamaat Ali Shah, with split loyalties, should never have been allowed to hold such sensitive assignments where their decisions have a long term impact on the future of this country and its180 million citizens who have chosen to live and die here. It is unfortunate that such men, few rotten eggs, have brought a bad name to our expatriate community, most of whom like Lord Nazeer, have shown their commitment to Pakistan.

Such men, if selected for foreign postings and diplomatic assignments, are liable to be tempted to compromise their commitment to Pakistan, if they or their spouses and children have taken an oath of loyalty to another country, or are in the process of doing so. All citizens, whether they seek elections, or are paid public servants must be thoroughly probed that they neither hold dual nationality nor own vast assets abroad. The risk involved is too much with devastating consequences for this country.


Jamat Ali Shah denies reports of aiding India in hydel projects

Lahore:January 5, 2012,  Former Indus Water commissioner Jamat Ali Shah has issued a statement strongly denying allegations in the media about his facilitating and helping India in the Nimmo Bazgo and Chuttack hydropower projects and said that the stories were “provocative”.

He added that the allegations were absolutely wrong and appeared to be motivated at the behest of people harbouring a personal enmity with him, or sources that wanted to destroy institutions within Pakistan. Shah said that the Pakistan Indus Water Commission (PIWC) worked hard to fulfil its responsibilities, but such stories were disgraceful, demoralising and disrespectful to the institutions. He said that reporters had forgotten that PIWC worked in accordance with the Indus Waters Treaty, but they had unnecessarily dragged Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in their reports. He said that he had gone to Canada due to his mother’s illness, and that the Water and Power secretary was aware of the trip. Shah said that he would be back by the end of February and would be available for any official review. pr\01\05\story_5-1-2012_pg7_23


Pakistan repatriates over 3.7 mn Afghan refugees


Islamabad: Jan 4, 12,  Over 3.7 million Afghan refugees have been sent back to their homeland from Pakistan in the last decade, the UN refugees agency said Wednesday.

Between March 2002 and December 2011, over 37,31,000 Afghan refugees were sent back to their country through the repatriation centres in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, Xinhua reported quoting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


Finland to close Embassy in Pakistan


HELSINKI: Jan 4, 12 Finland plans to close down its embassy in Pakistan during 2012 due to budgetary constraints, the Finnish foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The decision to shut the mission in Islamabad was part of a bigger scheme to trim the Nordic country’s network of embassies, with closures also announced in Caracas and Manila.

Foreign ministry undersecretary of state Peter Stenlund told AFP the Pakistan closure was also partly due to security concerns in the capital, pointing out that in order to stay in Islamabad the foreign ministry would have had to invest in a new chancery.

“One aspect is the security situation… It is not an acute situation but because we have to cut costs in our global embassy network we decided not to invest in a new building,” he told AFP.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it had been informed of the decision.

“They (Finland embassy) have conveyed to us officially that they are doing so because of budgetary constraints and cost-cutting,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told AFP.

He said Finland would consider re-opening the embassy as soon as possible, adding that the mission was expected to close sometime this month.


Pakistan Mercantile Exchange representation in Turkey

By Yasir Ameen

Karachi: Jan. 4th, 12, Pakistan Mercantile Exchange (PMEX) was recently invited to participate and make a formal presentation in a seminar on “Experiences in Establishing Effective Commodity Exchanges in IDB member Countries”.

This seminar was held on December 15 and 16, 2011 in Ankara, Turkey and was organized by the Islamic Development Bank, its subsidiary International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey.

Participants in the seminar included Commodity Exchanges and Chambers of Commerce from IDB member countries, financial institutions, as well as international consultants and specialists in the area of commodity trading, financing and warehousing.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) were also represented at the seminar through their experts in these fields.

The purpose of the seminar was to share experiences and learn from representatives of agricultural commodity trade, commodity exchanges, financial institutions and other individuals and organizations from developing as well as developed countries.

The seminar offered a platform for debate and discussion regarding institutional and policy frameworks required for effective commodity exchanges. Case studies of various countries were reviewed in order to disseminate their experiences in establishing commodity exchanges and warehouse receipt based commodity financing.

The Managing Director and Chief Business Officer of PMEX represented Pakistan. Samir Ahmed, Managing Director made a presentation about PMEX, its operations and risk management, the current stage of agricultural markets in Pakistan, and future prospects based on projects currently underway in the areas of warehousing and warehouse receipt financing in the country.


Newt Gingrich Rips Marijuana Use, Shows Historical Ignorance

By NORML on Jan 4, 2012

THIS QUOTE by Newt Gingrich is A HOAX: “See, when I smoked pot it was illegal, but not immoral. Now, it is illegal AND immoral. The law didn't change, only the morality… That's why you get to go to jail and I don't.”... even if it accurately sums up his beliefs!

During a town hall-style appearance inConcord, the former House Speaker said he had no interest in exploring drug decriminalization, arguing that such efforts haven’t worked in Europe, said HuffPo.

The Netherlands = 30 years of soft drug tolerance.  Adult and youth use rates of hard and soft drugs are half that in the United States.  Portugal = 10 years of decriminalization of all drugs.  Adult hard drug addiction has fallen in half.  Drug use statistics in Portugal are generally “below the European average and much lower than its only European neighbour, Spain,” according to the European drug agency that studied the decriminalization.

Pushed a bit later on the incarceration rate related to petty drug crimes, Gingrich responded, “I think the best thing is to get young people not to do drugs and then you won’t be dealing with criminals that you just described.”

Remember, Mr. Gingrich, you were just one drug bust away from being “Newt the Drug Criminal” yourself.  Remember this 8/8/1996 Wall Street Journal interview?*

Mr. Gingrich initially answered the drug question in 1987, saying that 19 years earlier, in 1968, he smoked marijuana at a party and “never went back and revisited it.”

“That’s not true,” says Larry Bowie, a friend during Mr. Gingrich’s days as a West Georgia College professor. “I know for a fact that he sat and smoked with me” in about 1973. “He didn’t like the way it made him feel.”

Full Repott at:


US wants strengthened ties with Pakistan: Munter


ISLAMABAD: Jan 5, 2012,  The United States ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter on Thursday said that America wanted to strengthen ties with Pakistan, DawnNews reported.

Addressing a seminar in Islamabad, Munter said the year of 2012 would be the year of improvement in US-Pakistan relations.

Munter said the US appreciated Pakistan’s review of its ties with the United States.

He said both Pakistan and the US agreed over establishing peace in Afghanistan and were motivated for that purpose.


Charges Against Journalists Dim the Democratic Glow in Turkey


ISTANBUL, January 4, 2012 — A year ago, the journalist Nedim Sener was investigating a murky terrorist network that prosecutors maintain was plotting to overthrow Turkey’s Muslim-inspired government. Today, Mr. Sener stands accused of being part of that plot, jailed in what human rights groups call a political purge of the governing party’s critics.

Mr. Sener, who has spent nearly 20 years exposing government corruption, is among 13 defendants who appeared in state court this week at the imposing Palace of Justice in Istanbul on a variety of charges related to abetting a terrorist organization.

The other defendants include the editors of a staunchly secular Web site critical of the government and Ahmet Sik, a journalist who has written that an Islamic movement associated with Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive cleric living in Pennsylvania, has infiltrated Turkey’s security forces.

At a time when Washington and Europe are praising Turkey as the model of Muslim democracy for the Arab world, Turkish human rights advocates say the crackdown is part of an ominous trend. Most worrying, they say, are fresh signs that the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is repressing freedom of the press through a mixture of intimidation, arrests and financial machinations, including the sale in 2008 of a leading newspaper and a television station to a company linked to the prime minister’s son-in-law.

Full Report at:


Karzai agrees to Taliban Qatar office

KABUL, Jan 5, 2012: President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday Afghanistan agrees with the Taiban’s plan to open an office in Qatar and US efforts to talk with the insurgent group, because they could prevent further conflict and the deaths of innocent civilians.

The Afghan Taliban said on Tuesday they had reached a preliminary agreement to set up a political office in the Gulf nation of Qatar and asked for the release of prisoners held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The office is seen by Western and Afghan officials as a crucial step to moving forward with secretive attempts to reach a negotiated end to a decade of war. Karzai and US officials have repeatedly said any peace process must be Afghan-led and the president has been angered in the past when he felt excluded by foreign efforts to set up some kind of negotiations.

Full Report at:\01\05\story_5-1-2012_pg7_5


Former Israel PM indicted for graft in property scandal


JERUSALEM, Jan 5 12: Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was on Thursday indicted alongside 17 other people for allegedly taking bribes in a massive property scandal, judicial sources said.

Olmert is accused of allegedly accepting bribes to smooth the way for various property deals, most notably for the construction of the huge Holyland residential complex in Jerusalem when he was the city's mayor in the 1990s.


Iranian Top Shia Cleric appointed Islamic Development Bank Sharia Board

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) Jan 5, 12, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri, head of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought is appointed as a member of the Sharia board of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) a subsidiary of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

In a meeting attended by IDB executive managers held to discuss increasing the unity of Sharia committees of the affiliated institutes of IDB, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri was approved as the new member of the Sharia board of IDB.

Rather than Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri from Islamic Republic of Iran, other members of the Sharia board include Shaikh Al Siddiq Mohamed Al Darir from Sudan, Shaikh Dr. Abdel Sattar Abdel Karim Abu-Ghuddah from Saudi Arabia and also Shaikh Yusuf Talal De Lorenzo from USA.

Members in the Shari’a Board of IDB are appointed by the Board of Trustees for a four-year term from among fiqh scholars who represent Shari’a supervisory boards in the Islamic financial institutions that are members of Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), and Shari’a supervisory boards in central banks.

Headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the purpose of the The Islamic Development Bank is to foster the economic development and social progress of Muslim communities individually as well as jointly in accordance with the principles of Shari'ah (Islamic Law).


Egyptian Nasserist presidential hopeful comments on new parliament, discusses his presidential platform


CAIRO, Jan 5, 2012,  Being a prominent political activist and one of the staunchest opponents of the Mubarak regime before the January 25 Revolution – as well as a former MP who fell victim to vote-rigging rigging in the 2010 elections and a potential presidential candidate – makes Hamdeen Sabahi’s take on the Egyptian parliamentary elections an insider’s reflections on the political scene in the country.

The sweeping victory of Islamist parties in the first two rounds of the parliamentary elections should not be a cause for apprehension on the part of Egyptians, said Sabahi.

“Egypt is a country distinguished by diversity and unity at the same time. This is part of its culture and no one can change that,” he told Al Arabiya’s Parliament Race.

Political Islam, Sabahi explained, cannot shape the Egyptian character to suit its ideological or partisan agenda, whether through a parliamentary majority or a president who adheres to the same line of thought.

Sabahi found it unlikely that the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, intends to effect such a drastic change, especially as far as the civil character of the state is concerned.

“As for the Salafi parties, they are new to the political scene and it remains to be seen what they will do.”

Full Report at:


ATC to send Mumbai record to India

RAWALPINDI: Jan 5, 2012,  An anti-terrorism court has accepted the application of FIA to send the record of the Mumbai attacks court proceedings with the judicial commission slated to leave for India. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor had requested the ATC to send the record of the proceedings along with the judicial commission all set to visit India in connection with the investigation into the case. The ATC had reserved the decision on the FIA petition after hearing the arguments on Tuesday. The judicial commission that is scheduled to visit India comprises lawyers of defence, besides two FIA prosecutors. online\01\05\story_5-1-2012_pg7_22