New Age Islam News Bureau
4 March 2012
• At al-Azhar mosque, struggle over Islam roils a revered Egyptian institution
• Violence turning Arab Spring into winter
• ‘Muslim Facebook’ to be launched in Istanbul in Ramadan
• Hindus in Baloch moving to other parts of Pak amid abductions
• Plebiscite is the only solution to Kashmir problem, says Pakistani novelist
• Christian’s safe in Kashmir: Chairman, JKLF
• A Muslim Chaplain Who Matters For Non-Muslims, Too
• No one can utter a word of Pakistan in Balochistan: Former Chief of Jamaat-i-Islami
• Clerical hard-liners appear headed for big victory in Iran
• The swagger of PPP candidate, Waheeda Bukhari
• Gilgit-Baltistan students demand protection
• Both Gaddafi, opp committed war crimes: UN
• Three Baloch youth have been shot dead
• Four dead in south Yemen blasts; al Qaeda claims
• Pak approaches Interpol for Red Corner notice for Musharraf
• ‘We’d be thankful for a peaceful summer’: Kashmiris
• Pakistan censors Internet out in the open
• Pakistani government urged to stand firm on Pak-Iran gas project
• Pakistan, China, Afghanistan to support regional stability
• Romania seeks economic ties with Pakistan: envoy
• Pakistan is inching towards self reliance: Minister for Finance
• Three Americans briefly detained in Pakistan
• Afghan army says Taliban infiltration very sophisticated
• Muslim Brother picked to lead new Libya party
• Worldwide Outrage Grows Over Condemned Iranian Pastor
• Visa expired, but Israeli writer wants to stay back
Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: At al-Azhar mosque, struggle over Islam roils a revered Egyptian
Islam a Religion of Human Rights: Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri
3 March 2012
Addressing the millions of people, which was the biggest gathering in the history of Hyderabad City of India, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has said that no religion respects the humanity more than Islam. The Muslims should strengthen their bond with the Holy Prophet (PBUH) for their success and welfare not only in this world but also in the world hereafter. He said that the solution to our contemporary challenges lies in following the life and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri expressed these views while addressing historic public meeting of Seerat-un-Nabi (PBUH) in Hyderabad Deccan. The event coincided with the completion of 54 years of All-India Majlis Ittehad-ul-Muslaimeen under the supervision of Sahibzada Asad-ud-Din Owaisi, the president of Majlis and the member of the Indian Parliament.
The vast grounds of Dar-ul-Salam where the gathering took place were filled with the people to the last end. A sea of people could be seen who were listening to the speech of Shaykh-ul-Islam with rapt attention. The hundreds of thousands of people were standing on the roads leading to the main venue. The open skies continued to reverberate with the chants of slogans. Before the speech neared its conclusion, thousands of people rushed to the main stage to catch a closer glimpse of the visiting scholar. The commandoes, who were deputed for the security of Shaykh-ul-Islam, took him out of the venue under their protection.
Citing the references from the Holy Quran and Hadith, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri urged the Muslims to become one nation, which is solid like a rock. He said that the way to eliminate differences among them was through consultation and mutual engagement. He asked the Muslims to shun individuality and dissentions and stay connected with one another by forming collectivity.
Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that Islam is based on three things namely ‘Iman’ (faith), prayer, and organization. He said that he who shunned collectivity knowingly it was as if he did away with his connection with Islam. Shaykh-ul-Islam said that the founder of the parliamentary democracy was not western world but the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH) is the paragon of peace and mercy for all the worlds. He said that he who thinks that terrorism was connected with Islam was in manifest error. He said that terrorism had nothing to do with either Islam or Islamic system as such. He said that the world was talking of such issues as democracy, human rights, rights of children and women today but the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave a charter of human rights at a time when these things were not even heard of.
Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was invested with the authority to intercede and the Muslims would resort to him for intercession on the Day of Judgment. He said that the Prophet’s teachings urge the people to hate sin but not the sinners. He said that no religion has presented more comprehensive philosophy of respect for human rights than Islam. He said that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) taught to take care of rights of even animals through his actions at different occasions.
Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri said that the love and affected shown by the people of Deccan reminded him of Hazrat Qarni (RA). He expressed his good wishes for Majlis on its 54th foundational day.
At al-Azhar mosque, struggle over Islam roils a revered Egyptian institution
By Griff Witte
CAIRO — March 4, 12,They came by the thousands, pouring through the ancient stone archways and into the gleaming white marble courtyard of al-Azhar mosque. The faithful had come to pray, to hear a thundering sermon from a leader of Hamas and to witness a rebirth.
Co-opted for decades by irreligious and autocratic Egyptian governments, al-Azhar was retaking its rightful place as the world’s leading voice of Sunni Islam, worshipers said. The presence of a once-banned Hamas preacher willing to speak incendiary truths was proof that the millennium-old mosque and university that bear the al-Azhar name had finally been set free.
“Before, al-Azhar was covered by dust,” said Yasser Abdel Monen, 32, beaming in the shadow of the building’s towering minarets. “Now we have removed the dust to show what it is truly made of.”
But to others, that Friday sermon late last month was proof of something more ominous: the perverse outcome of a revolution built on a thirst for freedom but overtaken by a hunger for hard-line religious dogma.
More than a year after an uprising that deposed longtime president Hosni Mubarak, just about everything in Egypt feels up for grabs. Yet the struggle for the soul of al-Azhar carries a special resonance here and across the Islamic world. At a time when the Middle East boils with debate over the proper role of religion in public life, al-Azhar is poised to wield vast influence over how political Islam is implemented regionwide.
Now, forces from across Egypt’s political and religious spectrum — including a group preaching a puritanical, Saudi-style doctrine of Islam — are maneuvering to influence al-Azhar.
Since its founding in the 10th century, al-Azhar has been an unrivaled touchstone of Islamic thinking, guiding the devout in their understanding of the faith and educating millions through its distinguished university and education system. In modern times, it has been a moderate bulwark against more extreme interpretations of Islam, condemning terrorist attacks, sanctioning broader rights for women and building bonds with Egypt’s Christian minority.
But in recent decades, al-Azhar has also been sullied by its affiliation with a string of Egyptian leaders who used the institution’s good name to give their policies a religious blessing. Since 1961, al-Azhar’s top official — the grand sheik — has been appointed directly by Egypt’s president. For many Egyptians, al-Azhar became just one more tool of state control.
In the aftermath of the revolution, there is widespread agreement among politicians in Egypt that al-Azhar needs greater independence. The question is whether that also means a lurch toward a more rigid and less tolerant school of Islam to match the increasingly doctrinaire mood of the Egyptian people.
There is evidence that such a shift is underway and that it could go much further.
Members of Egypt’s two main Islamist groups — the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour party — control between them an overwhelming majority in Egypt’s new parliament. Seated in January, they are already working on legislation that would strip the grand sheik of his lifetime appointment and that could give them a major say in picking a successor.
Violence turning Arab Spring into winter
By Michael Stott and Samia Nakhoul
BKIRKI, Lebanon (Reuters), Mar 4, 2012 - Violence and bloodshed is turning the "Arab Spring" into winter, the head of Lebanon's Maronite Church said, threatening Christians and Muslims alike across the Middle East.
Patriarch Beshara al-Rai, whose Maronite Church also has a strong presence in Syria, said change could not be brought to the Arab world by force and that Christians feared the turmoil was helping extremist Muslim groups.
"We are with the Arab Spring but we are not with this spring of violence, war, destruction and killing. This is turning to winter," Rai told Reuters in Bkirki, seat of the Maronite church in hills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea north of Beirut.
The upheaval sweeping through the Arab world, toppling four veteran leaders, gave voice to millions of people who suffered decades of repression. But it also brought conflict in Libya and has tipped Syria toward civil war.
"We say that we cannot implement reforms by force and arms. No one can guess the scale of the great losses and damage which could result," said Rai, speaking this week in an ornately decorated reception room in the patriarchate in Bkirki.
Unlike the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 which overthrew Saddam Hussein, the Arab uprisings started as largely grassroot protests against entrenched leaderships.
But Rai, who attended a memorial service in Iraq last year for Christians killed in an attack on a Baghdad church, drew a parallel between Iraq and the rest of the Arab world, saying Christians could bear a disproportionate share of the suffering.
"How can it be an Arab Spring when people are being killed every day?" he said. "They speak of Iraq and democracy, and one million Christians out of an original 1.5 million have fled Iraq."
The patriarch said all communities in the Middle East were threatened by "war and violence, economic and security crises," but Christians were particularly vulnerable because of their relatively small and dwindling numbers.
Maronites, who have a presence in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, follow an Eastern rite of the Roman Catholic church and number about 900,000 in Lebanon, around a quarter of the population.
Lebanon's Maronite leaders have had tense relations with Syria and led calls for an end to its military presence in Lebanon in 2005.
But since protests erupted against President Bashar al-Assad many Christians have been uneasy about supporting the increasingly militarised and mainly Sunni Muslim uprising against his secular Baath Party, which ensured freedom of belief for minority faiths.
The 72-year-old Rai, elected patriarch on the same day in March last year that serious protest first broke out in Damascus against Assad, said Maronites were neither supporting nor opposing the Syrian authorities.
"Syria, like other countries, needs reforms which the people are demanding," he said. "It's true that the Syrian Baath regime is an extreme and dictatorial regime but there are many others like it in the Arab world."
"All regimes in the Arab world have Islam as a state religion, except for Syria. It stands out for not saying it is an Islamic state ... The closest thing to democracy (in the Arab world) is Syria."
"We are not defending it. But we regret that Syria, which wants to take a step forward ... is undergoing this violence and destruction and (use of) power and weapons."
The United Nations says more than 7,500 people have been killed in the uprising and puts the blame for the bloodshed mainly on Assad's government, saying it has reports of summary executions, imprisonment and torture by authorities.
Syrian government forces have bombarded opposition districts of the city of Homs for weeks, killing and wounding civilians cowering in its ruined buildings.
Assad's government said in December more than 2,000 police and soldiers had been killed by what it describes as "terrorist armed groups," backed by foreign powers, which it says are trying to stir up violence in Syria.
Rai has expressed fears the Arab uprisings could replace autocratic leaders with radical Islamic groups, and said extremist groups were getting foreign support.
"It's not the people who want them. There are countries behind them, supporting them financially and militarily and politically," he said. "Moderate people do not want them."
"We do not speak out against any sect and we do not fear moderate Islam. We fear the extremists groups that use the language of violence."
Many Lebanese of all religions, still recovering from their ruinous 1975-1990 civil war, fear the violence in Syria will upset their own fragile sectarian balance and could push the country toward its own renewed conflict.
Rai said Lebanese were divided by events across the border, and he feared the shockwaves could have an impact in Lebanon, home to Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims, Maronite and Orthodox Christians, Druzes and Alawites - the same sect as Assad.
Two people were killed in street battles in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli three weeks ago between Alawite supporters of Assad and Sunni Muslims who back the uprising against him.
"God forbid that the conflict turns into a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Alawites," said Rai.
"In Tripoli we have Alawites and the situation there is like a fire (smouldering) under the ashes."
İSTANBUL, March 2012, Described as a “Halal Facebook,” the new social networking phenomenon, Salamworld, set to hit the Muslim world during the fasting month of Ramadan, will create an Internet platform for Muslims of all ages. The headquarters of the company are located in İstanbul.
There are currently 800 million Facebook users around the world, 300 million of whom are Muslim. This number is expected to increase by 100 percent in 10 years’ time. Speaking to Sunday’s Zaman in an inclusive interview, the chairman of Salamworld, Abdulvahit Niyazov, said that the platform has been developed with the aim of providing a more “halal” (Islamically permissible) website for Muslims to interact with each other online.
Hindus in Baloch moving to other parts of Pak amid abductions
Hindus in Baloch moving to other parts of Pak amid abductions
ISLAMABAD: Mar 4, 2012, A total of 23 Hindus have been abducted in Balochistan province over the past few months, forcing members of the minority community to migrate to other parts of Pakistan, an official has said.
Incidents of kidnapping for ransom and other heinous crimes have increased, Balochistan Home Secretary Naseebullah Bazai said.
Seventy people were abducted from Quetta Division alone during the past three months, he said.
Bazai told Dawn News channel that 53 of the 70 abducted people had been recovered while the others were yet to be traced.
He added that 23 members of the Hindu community were kidnapped from the province over a period of several months.
The rise in kidnappings had forced the Hindu community to migrate from Balochistan to other parts of the country, Bazai said.
An anti-kidnapping force had been formed to curb such incidents, he said.
Balochistan and Sindh provinces have sizeable Hindu populations.
Over the past few years, dozens of Hindus, most of them petty traders, have been kidnapped for ransom in Balochistan.
Several cases of forced conversion of Hindus have also been reported from Sindh.
Plebiscite is the only solution to Kashmir problem, says Pakistani novelist
By Virinder Pramod, Punjab Newsline Network
LUDHIANA: March 4, 2012, “Kashmir is a core issue between India and Pakistan and a solution to this problem is a basic requisite for normalisation of relations between the two countries," said a Pakistan National Assembly Member and a leading Novelist Bushra Rehman here. She was talking to media persons after participating in a Urdu Mushaira held here last night.
According to her plebiscite was the only solution to the vexed problem of Kashmir and it was the same solution which was also favoured by the first Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru.
In reply to a question Bushra Rehman claimed that terrorism was under full control in Pakistan and more over it has become a normal international phenomenon these days from which every country was suffering in one way or the other . News of terrorist activities in Pakistan were being blown out of proportion by vested interests to malign Pakistan's image, she asserted.
She exuded full confidence that the present Pakistan government would complete its full tenure and that there was no truth in the rumors of political uncertainty in that country.
Bushra strongly advocated the resumption of Indo - Pak cricketing ties and favoured the simplification of the visa procedure between the two countries.
Christians safe in Kashmir: Chairman, JKLF
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, Mar 3: The Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Muhammad Yasin Malik on Saturday assured the Christians that they are very much safe in Kashmir.
“Christians have been living in the Valley with honour and dignity from centuries and Muslims of Kashmir have never interfered in their religious affairs nor have they ever tried to harm them,” Malik told Executive Secretary of National Council of churches in India, A Samuel Jayakumar, representing the head of the church of north India Dr Rouger and other Christian leaders who visited JKLF headquarters here this morning and met Malik and other Front leaders.
“Islam preaches tolerance and respect for other religions. There is no compulsion in religion and Holy Quran is a beacon of light for us. Kashmiris are famous for their religious tolerance throughout the world at many critical stages of history we also have not abandoned this particular attribute of ours,” Malik said.
The JKLF Chairman referring to the ongoing struggle said, “Millions of people during past 20-years have suffered heavy losses. Some NGOs tried to exploit the poverty of some people and offered them huge amounts to get converted. Such acts have hurt the sentiments of Muslims. But this doesn’t mean that we will try to harm our Christian brethren.”
The JKLF Chairman said members of Christian community have played a vital role in education and health sectors in the Valley and no one can ignore their contribution. “I assure my Christian brothers living here that they can live here without any fear and perform their religious duties,” he added.
Samuel Jayakumar described offering money for conversion as an “immoral practice” and against the teachings of Christianity. “National Council of churches in India does not favour this kind of corruption. Inciting religious transformation by bribing people is an unethical and inhumane. National Council of churches in India opposes this policy,”
Samuel Jayakumar praised the tolerance, humanity and hospitality of Kashmiris.
A Muslim Chaplain Who Matters For Non-Muslims, Too
By Noah J. Silverman, CGNews
March 4, 2012
In 1924, Norman De Nosaquo, a Jewish student at the University of Wisconsin, wrote a letter to the editor of the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle in which he observed, “It is only through organised groups [that one can] accomplish anything of good for the advancement of the knowledge of the Jewish people.” The occasion of the letter was the recent establishment of a new institution at the University of Illinois – the first of its kind – dedicated to proactively helping Jewish students maintain and strengthen their Jewish identity.
De Nosaquo called for Jewish leaders in Wisconsin to “launch a state-wide campaign for a community house for the Jewish students” at the University of Wisconsin as well. The name of this nascent Jewish student organisation was Hillel. The word “Hillel” derives from the name of a rabbinic sage from the first century, now famous for the ethic of reciprocity: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” A few months later, Hillel expanded to the University of Wisconsin. Nearly 100 years later, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life serves students at over 500 college and university campuses across North America.
Hindus in Baloch moving to other parts of Pak amid abductions
No one can utter a word of Pakistan in Balochistan: Former Chief of Jamaat-i-Islami
MARCH 04, 2012
Former Chief of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Qazi Hussain Ahmad, on Saturday showed apprehension over the deteriorated political and security situation in Balochistan, saying "no one can utter a word of Pakistan in the province".
But, he urged the nation to speed up preaching of Islamic teachings in the province to unite the fragmented nation.
He said the situation in Balochistan and elsewhere in the country is a result of betraying the Islamic ideology which is the essence of Pakistan's creation.
Addressing at a book-launching ceremony at Karachi Press Club, he said the country could reach its ultimate glory if it acted in line with teachings of Islam.
He said the establishment is the servant of British rulers which now ruling the nation.
He said the nation is under the debris of English colonial culture and education systems which damaged Pakistan's Islamic identity.
He said Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and the religious ideology should be its identity.
He said land without religious ideology is insignificant.
Hussain said the country's intelligentsia has lost its path to revive the nation with Islamic notion.
He said the uprising in Arab World is the result of Islamic teachings.
He said Islam is the only religion to brighten the world with its teachings.
He said communism, capitalism are the symbols of darkness.
He also congratulated Jamal Abdullah Usmani for authoring a book titled "Jo Hum Pay Guzri Hey" - the plight we suffer.
The book is a collection of newspaper articles which he contributed in a local Urdu daily.
On the occasion, JI's Muhammad Hussain Mehanti, Meraj-ul-Huda Siddiqi and other prominent figures spoke.
Clerical hard-liners appear headed for big victory in Iran
March 3, 201
REPORTING FROM TEHRAN AND BEIRUT -- Iranian officials Saturday were touting a high turnout in parliamentary elections that most analysts predict will bolster clerical hard-liners and do nothing to defuse global tension arising from Iran’s nuclear program.
The Interior Ministry said Saturday that 64.2% of the nation’s eligible voters cast ballots in Friday’s elections, close to the 65% figure that officials had predicted in a campaign that saw the government equating voting with loyalty to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Turnout has become a pivotal focus as Iran’s leadership seeks to restore its international credibility after the disputed 2009 presidential election, which sparked widespread allegations of vote-rigging and months of protests.
Government opponents called for a silent boycott of Friday’s elections, alleging that dissent had been crushed and that reform-minded candidates were blocked from running. The government denied any effort to shut out reformist views and launched a massive get-out-the-vote campaign.
Although final results won’t be available for another day or two, various press accounts predicted an overwhelming victory for parties professing their primary loyalty to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The official Press TV network cited “unconfirmed reports” that candidates associated with pro-Khamenei factions could take as many as 75% of the seats in the 290-seat parliament, or Majlis.
Analysts have viewed the race as a contest between two hard-line camps: the supreme leader’s adherents and backers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose disputed reelection triggered the mass protests of 2009. Since his reelection, some have questioned Ahmadinejad’s loyalty to the clergy’s preeminent place in the nation’s Islamist rule.
Hindus in Baloch moving to other parts of Pak amid abductions
The swagger of PPP candidate, Waheeda Bukhari
March 4, 2012
What happened at the Tando Muhammad Khan polling station in Sindh on February 25, has angered the nation, compelling the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice and call the guilty PPP candidate, Waheeda Shah Bukhari, to explain why she did what she did. Bukhari slapped a polling officer and also landed a blow on the face of an opponent as the TV cameras took in the entire sorry episode. Those who saw her shenanigans on TV must have hated her swaggering attitude towards the entire process of elections and the humiliating manner in which she treated those present at the polling station.
The effect was stunning. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was understandably stung by the incident into issuing her the notice. There is so much going on in the country that he is helpless to take action simply because of the scale and complication of our law and order situation; this time he simply had to act, not only to make the people realise that this kind of action cannot go unpunished but also to shake-up the relevant institution that should have taken prompt action after the entire country had seen an elitist politician inflict injury on a schoolteacher. Of course, the relevant institution was the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which nobody expected to do the needful given its past reputation for being lax in its supervision of elections.
Full Report at:
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2012
Gilgit-Baltistan students demand protection
LAHORE, March 04, 2012: Students from Gilgit-Baltistan have condemned the ongoing killings of innocent people, and demanded protection from the government.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, the students said they wanted a high-level probe into the Kohistan massacre, saying that the people of the region had never indulged in such sectarian attacks.
“It is a conspiracy hatched against the people of Kohistan,” remarked one of the speakers.
Chaudhry Aashaan Ahmed, Rabnawaz Malik and Amir Azeem Qureshi were prominent among the speakers.
They alleged the security situation in the area had turned the worst during Chief Minister Mehdi Shah’s tenure. They said that around 650 people had been killed since January 8, 2005, of which 450 were killed during CM Mehdi’s government.
They alleged that the CM was supporting a specific sect, adding that the killings of the people belonging to Sunni sect were much more than the killings of Shias.
They said the security budget of Gilgit-Baltistan was Rs 800 million, which was being spent on the security of VVIPs and VIPs.
They also held Mehdi Shah responsible for the deteriorating security situation in the area, and demanded his resignation.
They urged the government to deploy Rangers in Gilgit, saying that the police had failed to protect citizens.
They also criticised the police for not handling the situation properly.
The students demanded compensation for the families of the Kohistan victims.
They said it was shameful that people from a specific sect were being targeted since long across the country, while the government and establishment acted as silent spectators.
They maintained that those who had been killing innocent people in the name of Islam respected neither women, nor children, while the state had been keeping its eyes closed to the barbarianism.
The speakers urged the government to take decisive measures to end sectarian violence across the country and protect religious minorities.
They said such target killings displayed the appalling degree of religious hatred in the country and urged the government to step up security in the face of the “clear and present threat faced by certain religious groups”.
Both Gaddafi, opp committed war crimes: UN
GENEVA, March 04, 2012: A United Nations expert panel said in a report on Friday that forces loyal to late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and opposition fighters, both committed war crimes during the conflict in the Arab country last year.
The UN appointed Commission of Inquiry on Libya concluded that "international crimes, specifically crimes against humanity and war crimes, were committed by Gaddafi forces".
"Acts of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture were perpetrated within the context of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population," it said.
Anti-Gaddafi forces also committed serious violations, "including war crimes and breaches of international human rights law", according to the report. Human rights abuses by former rebels were continuing, particularly against those perceived to have sided with Gaddafi, the report added.
The panel led by Canadian Judge Philippe Kirsch was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council on February 25 to investigate allegations of serious crimes in Libya, during and after the conflict.
It also examined claims that NATO's air campaign had resulted in civilians being killed, and the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Gaddafi and his son Mutassim.
The panel said it was unable to reach a conclusion on either of those issues citing lack of evidence. The experts urged further investigation, noting that the new government would need outside support to conduct credible probe. ap
Three Baloch youth have been shot dead
Balochistan: Within last 24 hours, three Baloch youth have been shot dead and the tortured and mutilated bodies of two previously abducted Baloch were recovered from different areas of Balochistan. This seemingly unending wave of state sponsored violence in Balochistan is being covered by Pakistan’s claims of reconciliation with the Baloch nation.
According to details two young Baloch students were gunned down in broad daylight in the district Khuzdar of Balochistan on 29-02-2011. Abdul Waheed Baloch (who would turn 20 today, 1st March) and Salman Baloch 21, were on their way home from a cell phone franchise when they were intercepted and shot dead by gunmen of Musalla Diffa Tanzeem, a death squad of Pakistan Army to target kill and abduct the educated and the more socially active class of the Baloch society. Abdul Waheed was the younger brother of Kabir Baloch, who went missing on 27th March, 2009 and is still in custody of Pakistan Army.
Separately, Bilal Bangulzai, nephew of Khuda Rahim Bangulzai, was shot dead by the Pakistan army in Quetta, the current capital of Balochistan. According to eye-witnesses report Bilal Bangulzai was shot dead upon resisting his abduction. He died on the spot while two of his friends who were accompanying him were taken away by the forces and were shifted to an unknown place.
Meanwhile, two mutilated and bullet riddled bodies were found, each from Chagi and Mastung. The body found in Chagi was 20 days old and barely recognizable, and was shifted to Prince Fahd Hospital Dalbanden for identification.
The second body was of a person presumably around 50 years of age, his disfigured and brutally tortured body was found from the Dasth area of Mastung and was shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta where he was identified as Takkari Rahim Dad Nichari Baloch, a pro-freedom tribal Elder from Mastung. Family sources said that he had been abducted along with his nephew, Zinuddin, on December 19, 2011. Zinuddin had been released after 19 days.
It is worth mentioning that Pakistan is double crossing the international community by claiming to reconcile with the Baloch nationalists and denying the human rights abuses that it’s committing in Balochistan, whereas on the other hand it has continued its policies of the slow genocide of Baloch people. The time has come for the international community and humanitarian organizations to intervene in Balochistan and put an end to the Pakistani state's brutalities against the indigenous Baloch populace.
Four dead in south Yemen blasts; al Qaeda claims
SANAA, March 04, 2012: Two suicide bombers drove a car packed with explosives into a Yemeni army base in the southern province of al Bayda on Saturday, killing one soldier, the Yemeni Defence Ministry said, in an attack for which al Qaeda claimed responsibility.
Another soldier was killed by one of two blasts aimed at a central security forces building in the southern coastal town of Mukalla, where a suicide bombing a week ago killed at least 26 people. Authorities said they had made several arrests.
Terrorists linked to al Qaeda have exploited political upheaval to strengthen their foothold in Yemen, particularly in the south, which is also home to rising secessionist sentiment.
Yemen’s south has been mired in violence since protests against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh took hold early last year, weakening already loose central government control over whole swathes of the country.
Saturday’s attack in al Bayda, which targeted barracks of the Republican Guard forces, came just days after the Interior Ministry said it had information about an al Qaeda plot to blow up eight cars in the capital Sanaa and the port city of Aden.
“The explosion was very loud and took place in Dar al Nasr, which is a military site of the Republican Guard,” said an opposition website.
“Residents of the town were frightened by the force of the blast, which was felt more than two kilometres away and damaged dozens of neighbouring houses and blew their windows out.”
In a text message, al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack it said was revenge for crimes committed by the Republican Guard. There was no way to verify if the text was from the terrorists but they have used the method to communicate with media in the past. The United States, wary of al Qaeda entrenchment in Yemen, backed a plan brokered by Yemen’s wealthy Gulf Arab neighbours under which Saleh handed over power to his deputy last month and secured himself immunity from prosecution.
Saleh’s opponents accuse him of exaggerating – even encouraging – the threat of terrorism to scare Washington and Riyadh into backing him as a bulwark against al Qaeda and protecting him from reprisals after 33 years in power.
The suicide bombing in Mukalla last week coincided with the swearing in of new president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and also targeted the Republican Guard, which is commanded by Saleh’s son. reuters
Pak approaches Interpol for Red Corner notice for Musharraf
ISLAMABAD: Mar 4, 2012, Pakistan has approached France-based Interpol for a Red Corner notice against former President Pervez Musharraf, seeking his arrest and extradition to the country over his alleged involvement in the assassination of ex-Premier Benazir Bhutto.
The Interior Ministry has forwarded the request to the Interpol Secretariat through the global police organisation's representative in Pakistan, the Dawn newspaper reported today, quoted sources.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) senior prosecutor, Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, said a letter had earlier been sent to the Director of Interpol (Pakistan) by the officer leading the investigation into Bhutto's assassination in 2007.
The formal request states that 68-year-old Musharraf, who has been living in self-exile in Dubai and Britain since 2009, is an accused in the case.
The investigating officer handed over to the Interpol director in Pakistan investigation reports, copies of statements by then director-general of ISI's counter-intelligence wing Javed Iqbal Cheema and former Intelligence Bureau director general Ejaz Shah, US-based journalist Marc Siegel's email to Bhutto and copies of orders issued by an anti-terrorism court.
The letter sent by email to Interpol Pakistan on February 2 stated: "Secretary General of Interpol Secretariat Lyon (France) is requested to issue 'red warrants' for Pervez Musharraf, former President of Pakistan, and arrest him through Interpol. A copy of red notice may please be furnished to this ministry."
The email mentioned the computerised national identity card number of Musharraf.
‘We’d be thankful for a peaceful summer’: Kashmiris
Randeep Singh Nandal, TNN
Mar 4, 2012
It's like watching a puppet show." As cynicism goes, it can't get sharper than this. But the wry comment of a Kashmiri shopkeeper reflects the deep frustration and hopelessness of 20 years of false starts. The "puppet show" in discussion is the latest peace moves between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. The puppets in question are the Hurriyat leaders, the many-hued, many-faced conglomerate in charge of the tehreek (movement) for azadi.
Will Kashmir be resolved? Is Pakistan ready to put the issue on the backburner? Will the hardliners and the moderates in the Hurriyat come together to bring peace to Kashmir? These are questions that would have elicited comment and hope a few years ago. Today, for the man on the street, these are just the latest scenes of a film where they figure merely as extras.
"Part of the problem is that for the average Kashmiri nobody seems to be an honest player in this game," says an academic. "They have heard promises from India only to see them broken; they have watched Pakistan go into a spiral from the country that would offer a better life to one that's almost a failed state. As for the Hurriyat leaders, the fact is that 20 years of death and destruction in Kashmir has bizarrely led to them getting more prosperous, feted equally in Islamabad and Delhi. So who do you trust?"
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Pakistan censors Internet out in the open
New York Times :
Paris, Sun Mar 04 2012, Many countries censor the Internet, but few spell out their intentions as explicitly as Pakistan.
In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system.”
Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan.
Internet censorship is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, popular services like Facebook and YouTube.
Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the “Great Firewall of China”.
While China and others that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s Research and Development Fund website and even took out newspaper advertisements to publise the project.
“The system would have a central database of undesirable URL’s that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis,” the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses of Web pages, and points of presence, or access points.
The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL’s (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”
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Pakistani government urged to stand firm on Pak-Iran gas project
LAHORE, 04 March 2012 - Political leaders want the government to stand resolute on Iran gas-pipeline and cut off space-route facility for the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan to counter the US pressure and threat.
Jamaat-i-Islami Ameer Syed Munawar Hasan, while strongly condemning the US threat to Pakistan, has stressed upon the government to speed up the project with Iran. He said that the US designs towards Pakistan had never been hidden, adding that the US has never been Pakistan’s friend nor could it be in future. He said that the US was friend to India alone and wanted to build India as regional ‘police’ and had been protecting its interests.
The JI Ameer demanded the government to give a clear message to Washington that Pakistan could no more offer itself as fuel to the US war, wherein it has already spent $70billion of the nation besides suffering huge vital losses. He said that the US resolution on Balochistan aimed at destabilization and disintegration of the country, adding that no more concessions be given to the US.
PML-N Information Secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan fully supported ties with Iran, saying that his party wanted to further cement with it. He said that the Pakistani rulers must act like independent ones, adding, “Pakistan is a sovereign state and we must not stoop down to the pressure of America and act whatever is in the interest of the country.” In the same spirit, he said, “America has no right to threat Pakistan which has its own interest to guard.”
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Pakistan, China, Afghanistan to support regional stability
BEIJING, March 03, 2012: The first China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Dialogue concluded in Beijing with the three nations pledging to support regional countries in enhancing political mutual trust and accommodating each others’ concerns, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
The three countries agreed to explore the feasibility of trilateral cooperation in connectivity, resource development and combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, the ministry said. The Afghan reconciliation process and regional socio-economic development are the keys to overcoming the current challenges, reported China Daily on Friday.
“China and Pakistan support the ‘Afghan-led, Afghan-owned’ reconciliation process,” said the ministry. The trilateral dialogue that concluded on Wednesday was chaired by Director-General Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of Asian Affairs, Luo Zhaohui; Additional Secretary Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Alamgir Babar; and Director General of the First Political Department of the Afghan Foreign Ministry, Amanullah Jayhoon.. “The creation of the arrangement has provided a new model for unity and cooperation among the three countries. The dialogue will play a positive role in enhancing friendly cooperation among the three and maintaining peace and stability in the region.”
Analysts spoke high of the significance of the dialogue, which marked the beginning of new process for countries in the region to tackle problems by themselves. “Afghanistan and Pakistan have suffered from turbulence and wars in the region for a long time, which have been created by third parties outside the region,” said Su Hao, Director Centre for Strategic and Conflict Management at China Foreign Affairs University. “As a neighbour of Afghanistan and Pakistan, China is also a country in this region. Peace and stability in the two countries greatly influence the situation in China. It is essential for China to deal with issues in the region.”
“The stability of neighbouring countries is good not only for China but all the relevant countries,” said Shen Dingli, Director Centre for American Studies at the Shanghai-based Fudan University, How to maintain the stability and development of the region has aroused great concerns, as the United States has decided to withdraw 33,000 US troops from Afghanistan this year. “Security problems in the region remain complicated, there is still a long way to go for all of the countries in the region,” Su said.
Romania seeks economic ties with Pakistan: envoy
ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Romania in Pakistan has said there is tremendous potential and both countries should enhance economic and cultural activities.
Mr. Emilian ION said that cooperation between the business communities of both countries can be given a boost.
He made these remarks during a meeting with Yassar Sakhi Butt, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI). He exchanged views on common interests and agreed to strengthen bilateral trade relations between the two countries.
Mr. ION said that there were around 700 Pakistani investors, who were involve in profitable business ventures in Romania, adding that local business community could export their products especially textile, garments, leather articles, sports and surgical instruments to Romania. He informed that the Pakistan Romania-Business Council has provided various linkages for the exchange of business related information between the two countries.
The Ambassador proposed that youth of both countries should also be connected as youth delegations could be helpful in identifying more areas of cooperation to move forward. He said that construction of the monument which was dedicated to national poets of Romania and Pakistan, Mihai Eminescu and Allama Iqbal has brought a new bond of friendship and enhanced cultural relations between Romania and Pakistan.
In his welcome address, Yassar Sakhi Butt President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry termed the annual bilateral trade between Romania and Pakistan was very low which is around US$ 150-million and underlined the need to further improve it.
He said that organizing of joint cultural shows and frequent exchange of business delegations are the options which could be used to exploit untapped bilateral trade and investment potential in both countries.
Yassar Sakhi Butt said Pakistani products including rice, sports goods, surgical instruments, pharmaceutical, leather & textile products could be exported to Romania and proposed that Romanian businessmen should look into the opportunities to develop business relation in the identified areas.
ICCI President said that the business communities of Pakistan and Romania have to play a vital role for promotion of bilateral trade and their greater mutual interaction is needed to achieve the ultimate objectives.
Pakistan is inching towards self reliance: Minister for Finance
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has said that government is offering lucrative facilities for investment in all provinces including Baluchistan.
He was speaking to the journalists after inaugurating a private airline at Karachi airport. He said that for the first time during four years the growth rate has reached to four percent and now the country is moving towards self-reliance. He said that there are massive opportunities for investment in the country and it is being carried out in every sector.
“The export has been increased significantly, as the revenues target of Rs 25 billion were achieved from the export”. He said that Finance Ministry has issued almost 74 percent funds for the development projects out of total Rs 300 billion allocated. He said that the energy crises and inflation in the country is due to price hike of petroleum products in international prices. The government has given subsidy of Rs 1000 billion on electricity during four years.
He said that the center has provided Rs 800 to 900 billion to the provinces under National Finance Commission (NFC). Government is giving relief to the people of Baluchistan, FATA and Gilgit Baltistan through special packages.
Three Americans briefly detained in Pakistan
Lahore: March 04, 2012,Three Americans and their two Pakistani companions were briefly detained for visiting Punjab province's Attock city, where foreigners are barred from entering, officials have said.
The Americans and the Pakistani women were taken into custody at the office of an Afghanistan-based NGO in Attock. "We detained the foreigners as they did not have visas for Attock," a senior police officer said. <
The US nationals James Richard, Jonathan Paul and Daniel Ryan were freed after the intervention of the US Consulate in Lahore. The two Pakistani women detained along with them were also released, police officials said.
"We have freed them after investigating the matter," the officer said.
A source said that the Americans were freed after the US Consulate intervened in the matter. The Americans work for an NGO and had travelled to Pakistan from India via the Wagah land border.
Afghan army says Taliban infiltration very sophisticated
KABUL, March 04, 2012: The Taliban have a sophisticated system in place to infiltrate Afghanistan’s security forces and vetting of recruits must be severely tightened, an Afghan army general said on Saturday.
Infiltration has come under sharper focus because of a string of fatal attacks by Afghan security forces on US soldiers since the desecrating of the holy Quran at a NATO base last month ignited widespread protests.
“Placing the rogues inside the army is well-planned by the enemies. The Taliban give them special training,” General Abdul Hameed, top army commander for the southern region of Afghanistan, told Reuters by telephone.
“We must enhance intelligence gathering on the movements of recruits, tap their cell phones and we must find out who they are in contact with outside the army,” he said.
Two US soldiers were shot and killed on Thursday in an attack involving at least one Afghan believed to be a soldier and a civilian, Western and Afghan officials said.
The killings at a base in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan came less than a week after two senior US officers were gunned down in the Afghan Interior Ministry by what Afghan security officials said was a police intelligence officer.
About 70 members of the NATO-led force were killed in 42 insider attacks from May 2007 through the end of January this year.
These attacks have become more frequent as the United States has sent tens of thousands of more soldiers to Afghanistan as part of a surge to fight in Taliban strongholds.
Some of these incidents have been carried out by Afghan security forces reacting to the recent holy Quran desecration, some have been due to private grievances and others have been carried out by Taliban insurgents who infiltrated the security forces.
The killings in the Interior Ministry stunned NATO and cast doubt on its strategy of replacing large combat units with advisers as it tries to wind down the war, now in its 11th year.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the double murder but there has been no independent confirmation of that.
Such attacks cast doubt on the effectiveness of Afghan government forces, which will be tasked with taking over security in one of the world’s most unstable countries once foreign combat troops head home at the end of 2014.
The Taliban have proven remarkably resilient in the face of far superior Western firepower.
“One of the reasons enemies infiltrated inside the army is because they are not properly identified when they are enrolled,” said Hameed.
“The procedure is that new recruits must present birth certificate or any other documents to prove their identity but many present fake documents or don’t have any,” he added.
An Afghan Defence Ministry official said the large size of the Afghan army and police - about 250,000 - made it difficult to stop infiltration. Afghanistan hopes to create a force of about 350,000 and then trim some of it.
“We have identified and detained a number of suspicious soldiers recently who planned to carry out such insider’s attacks,” said Hameed. reuters
Muslim Brother picked to lead new Libya party
By Dominique Soguel (AFP)
TRIPOLI, March 4, 12 — Libyan Islamists and independents on Saturday formed a new political party, electing as its leader a Muslim Brotherhood member who was a political prisoner under the regime of dead dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Mohammed Sawan, jailed for eight years under the ousted regime of Kadhafi who had outlawed political parties as an act of treason, was elected Justice and Construction party leader after a three-day conference in the capital.
"I have real mixed feelings because I was imprisoned under Kadhafi for my attempts to create a political party, and I am grateful to the people here who have placed their trust in me," Sawan told AFP.
The Tripoli meeting brought together hundreds of people keen to take part in the launch of the new party. Votes on a wide range of issues, including the party's name, were taken by a show of hands.
Sawan nailed the support of 51 percent of those present in a run-off vote.
The party charter is still under discussion by an elected body, but Muslim Brothers, Islamists and independents held the conference with the shared aim of forming a "national party with an Islamic frame of reference."
"We aim for diversity and a state of law where differences in opinion are respected," Sawan said, later telling journalists that the party sees Islam as a religion that regulates all aspects of life, including politics.
There may be no law governing the formation of political parties in the new Libya, but political associations and coalitions are forming at a rapid pace.
Political associations of any kind were banned for decades under the iron-fisted rule of Kadhafi, who was toppled and killed in last year's popular uprising.
A sizeable number of the party's 1,360 constituent members are former prisoners, including Ali al-Kermi, an elderly Muslim Brother who says he spent three decades in prison for his political activities.
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Worldwide Outrage Grows Over Condemned Iranian Pastor
03 Mar 2012
By Paul Scicchitano
The U.S. House, Donald Trump, worldwide Christian and human rights groups, a Brazilian soccer legend, and Twitter users in 198 countries have created a growing international coalition of millions trying to stop Iran from executing a modern-day Christian martyr who refuses to renounce his faith and embrace Islam.
Dr. Richard Land, a leading figure in the influential Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), tells Newsmax that Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive today only because of the worldwide outpouring of support.
“The only thing that has kept this dear pastor from being executed already is the cold, public light of world opinion being focused on Tehran,” he said.
Nadarkhani, the father of two small children, was sentenced in 2010 to death by hanging, and has now been imprisoned for more than 873 days in northern Iran. His case has ignited a maelstrom of outrage that has reached more than 960,000 Twitter users around the world and done something that few thought possible in Washington, D.C. — unite Republicans and Democrats in an election year.
“People are working together that probably never thought they would work together because you can put a lot of differences aside versus such a basic right and such an abuse of power,” declared Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which launched the Twitter campaign to overturn Nadarkhani’s death sentence on a charge of apostasy.
The ACLJ also heard from more than 180,000 Americans who urged the House to approve Thursday’s resolution condemning Iran for its continued “persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing” of Nadarkhani, something it did by a margin of 417-1.
In this case, apostasy is interpreted as abandoning Islam. The original indictment against Nadarkhani, an evangelical pastor who became a Christian at age 19, also accused him of organizing evangelistic meetings, sharing his faith, trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, running a house church, and rejecting Islamic values.
Iranian officials amended the indictment last fall to include allegations of rape, extortion, and threats to national security, as well as Zionism. Critics viewed the additional charges as trumped-up allegations by Iran to counter international outrage over the case.
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Visa expired, but Israeli writer wants to stay back
Mahir Haneef, TNN |
KOCHI, Mar 4, 2012: Susan Nathan, the British-born Israeli writer who achieved fame through her book 'The Other Side of Israel', is continuing to stay in India despite her visa expiring as she wants to be in a war-free zone, her counsel submitted to the Kerala high court.
When the writer's petition challenging the deportation move came up for hearing on Friday before division bench of acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice PR Ramachandra Menon, her counsel Manjeri Sunder Raj submitted that she was staying in India as she wanted to be in a "war-free zone" in the last years of her life.
The counsel's submission was in response to the court's statement that she could have left the country after completing the medical treatment for which she came to Kozhikode.
Susan, who migrated to Israel from England in 1999 to make aliyah - the Hebrew term for Jewish people migrating to Israel - had later highlighted the oppression faced by Israel's Arab population through her writings. The district administration of Kozhikode ordered for her deportation after a translation of her book by a local publisherbecame controversial. The deportation order was based on an intelligence report that she was in contact with Muslim extremist outfits.