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Karzai's backing of strict Islamic code, that allows men to beat their wives, 'is a giant step back

New Age Islam News Bureau

7 March 2012

 Pakistani Hindus Seek Safety in India

 Make Qur’an supportive in all scientific research, says Princess Hessa of Saudi Arabia

 Norway attacks: Breivik charged with terror attacks

 Call to resolve Balochistan issue through dialogue

 Maldives' former president wants foreign body to probe his ouster

 Govt committed to welfare of minorities: Pak PM

 Desecration of Quran condemned by Pak Senate

 Ousted deputy leader of Pakistan Taliban favors talks with govt

 Riyadh demands quick results on murder of Saudi diplomat in Dhaka

 Pak panel India visit March 14

 Continuous dependence on oil toughest challenge: A member of the Saudi Cabinet

 Two housewives killed over dowry in Bangladesh

 War criminals' trial at any cost: Bangladesh Awami League leader

 Somali pirates want prisoner swap for ship

 Ethnic violence kills 16 in Nigeria’s Benue stat

 Turkish PM assures safety of religious minority

 Avalanche blankets Afghan village, kills 37

 Child killed, 3 hurt in Peshawar blast

 Yemen army death toll from Qaeda attack climbs to 185

 Seven militants killed, nine wounded in Naseerabad

 Two al Qaeda commanders among 17 killed in Orakzai

 Terrorists blow up five houses in Mardan

 Bomb blast kills four on Afghan-Pakistan border: police

 Pakistani forces kill 17 militants in tribal region

 Israeli diplomat attack in India: Scribe arrested

 Pakistan Army has its eye on NATO supplies deal

 Summons pasted on gate of Musharaf’s residence

 Top US commander in the Middle East to visit Pakistan in 10 days

 Secretary Cabinet and Defence of Pakistan appears before SC in Gilani contempt case

 Jalil re-elected Libyan leader

 Afghan govt says likely to reach US prison deal

 Fresh Iran nuke talks agreed

 We don’t need to decide now on Iran: Obama

 Report warns of another Darfur in Sudan

 Assad vows to keep fighting; Obama says end is near

 Saudis told to focus more on local charities

 Jeddah: Incentives readied for employers of disabled citizens

 Uganda returns seized bank to Libyan govt

 FBI offers $1 mln in ex-agent’s Iran disappearance

 Muslims at rally: NYPD surveillance keeps us safe

 Yemen reels from army’s defeat by Al-Qaeda

 Defense minister gives away King Faisal Prizes

 Police to provide protection for Jakarta governor candidates

 Saudi delegation seeks food products from Pakistan

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Pakistani Hindus seek refuge in India



Karzai's backing of strict Islamic code, that allows men to beat their wives, 'is a giant step back for women's right in Afghanistan


7th March 2012

Reversal: Afghan president Hamid Karzai has backed a strict code of conduct for women in the country

Activists have accused the Afghan president of reversing improvements in women's rights after he endorsed a strict 'code of conduct' issued by clerics.

Hamid Karzai yesterday backed a document issued by the Ullema Council which promotes segregation of the sexes and allows husbands to beat wives in certain circumstances.

The move is seen as part of his attempts to reach out to the Taliban in the lead up to the planned withdrawal of Nato troops from the Afghanistan in 2014.

But activists are furious that gains made in women's rights since the 2001 invasion and ensuing occupation are being used as a bargaining chip with Islamic extremists.

Prior to the 2001 U.S. invasion, girls were banned from going to school and women forced to wear burkas to conceal them from head to toe.

Women were also banned from venturing from their homes being escorted by a male relative.

Similarly, the new 'code of conduct' says women should not travel without a male companion and they should not mingle with men in places like schools, markets or offices.

Wife-beating is only prohibited if there is no 'Shariah-compliant reason', it said.


Pakistani Hindus Seek Safety in India

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

KARACHI: Preetam Das is a good doctor with a hospital job and a thriving private clinic, yet all he thinks about is leaving Pakistan, terrified about a rise in killings and kidnappings targeting Hindus.

A successful professional, he lives in Karachi with his wife and two children, but comes from Kashmore, a district in north of Sindh. His family has lived there for centuries, and in 1947, when the sub-continent split between India, a majority Hindu state, and Pakistan, a homeland for Muslims, Das’ grandparents chose to stay with the Muslims. They fervently believed the promise of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that religious minorities would be protected. Sixty years later, their grandson says life in Kashmore had become unbearable.

“The situation is getting worse every day,” he says. Two of his uncles have been kidnapped and affluent Hindus are at particular risk from abduction gangs looking for ransom, he says.

Rights activists say the climate is indicative of progressive Islamisation over the last 30 years that has fuelled an increasing lack of tolerance to religious minorities, too often considered second-class citizens. Das says the only thing keeping him in Pakistan is his mother. “She has flatly refused to migrate, which hinders my plans. I can’t go without her,” he said.

Hindus make up 2.5 percent of the 174 million people living in Pakistan. Over 90 percent lived in Sindh where they were generally wealthy and enterprising, making them easy prey for criminal gangs.

An official at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, who declined to be named said, “Every month about eight to 10 Hindu families migrate from Pakistan. Most of them are well-off.” He had no comment on whether the number was on the rise, but Hindu community groups in Pakistan said more people were leaving because of kidnappings, killings and even forced conversions of girls to Islam. “Two of my brothers have migrated to India and an uncle to the UAE,” said Jay Ram, a farmer in Ghotki. “It’s becoming too difficult to live here. Sindhis are the most tolerant community in the country vis-a-vis religious harmony, but deteriorating law and order is forcing them to move unwillingly,” he added.

Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council and a former lawmaker for Sindh province, said Hindus were picked on by kidnappers and that their daughters were subject to forced conversions to Islam. “Every now and then we get reports of families migrating. It’s getting worse now. People are extremely harassed and are forced to leave their homeland but our rulers are shamelessly idle,” he told AFP. Rights activists also say Hindus in Sindh were discriminated against. “Recently 37 members of five Hindu families migrated to India from Thul town owing to discrimination, while three Hindus, including a doctor, were murdered in Shikarpur district,” said Rubab Jafri, who heads Sindh’s Human Rights Forum. “Lots of violent incidents are happening daily. Most go unreported, which shows vested interests are trying to force Hindus to leave Pakistan.” According to the Pakistan Hindu Seva, a community welfare organisation, at least 10 families had migrated from Sindh every month since 2008, mostly to India, but in the last 10 months, 400 families had left. Another survey last year by the local Scheduled Caste Rights Movement said more than 80 percent of Hindu families complained that Muslims discriminated against them by using different utensils when serving them at food stalls. afp\03\07\story_7-3-2012_pg7_3


Make Qur’an supportive in all scientific research, says Princess Hessa of Saudi Arabia


Published: Mar 7, 2012

RIYADH: Princess Hessa bint Salman, daughter of Defense Minister Prince Salman, hoped her father’s vision for the Holy Qur’an is realized.

“His vision was that Qur’an should not be confined only to discussion, but to be an approach for a comprehensive study of jurisprudence science and religion,” Princess Hessa said.

At the closing session of the 14th ceremony of Prince Salman Contest for Memorization, Recitation and Interpretation of the Qur’an for Girls, the princess told Arab News that Prince Salman Contest allows women participation in all spheres, as the future participation in the Saudi Shoura Council comes as a breakthrough.

“The support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for women to enter the Consultative Council is a surprise that transcends women driving cars,” Princess Hessa said.

The princess also hoped to see women defending and pleading in courts. She called on the winners to not only memorize the Qur’an, but also to make it supportive in their research in all scientific fields. The princess said sponsoring this event is a pleasure for her. She expressed her happiness for the winners and appealed to Allah to light up their ways in this world and the hereafter.

She said, “Qur’an is not for memorizing only, but for applying its rules in our daily life.”

Deputy Minister of Education for Girls Affairs Norah Al-Fayez, said, “This is the harvest of the efforts of Prince Salman’s care for the Qur’an and its people.” She said: “The Qur’an Memorizing Contest is the outcome of the interest of Prince Salman.”

She praised Princess Hessa as a descendant of a religious family that cares very much for the Qur’an and its students.

Fifteen girls won prizes valued about SR554,046. The winners of the contest expressed their happiness at the patronage of Princess Hessa. They said "caring for the Qur’an increased in the last few years.”

Asma’a Al Sa’doun, a winner, said, “The class that used to contain 25 students now contains 36. This means the increasing interest in the Qur’an and learning its sciences, and that reflects the mentality and intellectual thinking of today's girls.”

Dr. Hana’a Al-Motawa, assistant professor of jurisprudence at Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University, said, “There are many mothers who let their children take part in this kind of contests that raise the faith in their hearts.”

She added, “This contest is an opportunity for girls looking and competing for good deeds.”

One of the winners, Sumayah Al-Harby, said, “Memorizing the Qur’an is not only improves personality but also teaches you how to manage and organize your time...Participating in this contest is a great honor whether I won or not.”

Raghad Al-Sa’doun, a second grade student, said, “I memorized 22 parts of the Qur’an, and I hope to be one of the winners. .. to be in a Qur’an school made me organize my time much better than before.”

Prince Salman Award for Qur’an Memorization aims to project the care of the Kingdom for the Qur’an and the people memorizing it. The prize is divided into 5 categories: First, memorizing the whole Qur’an with recitation and interpretation; second, memorizing the whole Qur’an with recitation only; third, memorizing 20 parts of the Qur’an with recitation; fourth, memorizing 10 parts of the Qur’an with recitation; and finally, memorizing 5 parts of the Qur’an with recitation. The value of the contest’s prizes is more than SR1 million.


Norway attacks: Breivik charged with terror attacks

7 March 2012

Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to killing 77 people and injuring 151 in Norway, has been formally charged with committing acts of terror.

Defence lawyers went to his prison near the capital, Oslo, to present their client with the charges.

Prosecutors have indicated they consider Breivik mentally ill and will seek to have him committed to psychiatric care rather than jailed.

Breivik is expected to go on trial on 16 April.

He has been charged under a paragraph in Norway's anti-terror law that refers to violent acts intended to disrupt key government functions or spread fears in the population.

"The defendant has committed highly serious crimes of a dimension we have no previous experience with in our society in modern times," prosecutor Svein Holden told reporters in Oslo.

'Totally calm'

Speaking outside Breivik's prison, police spokesman Tore Jo Nielsen said the killer had reacted calmly as the charges were read out.

"The whole reading-of-the-charges process was very calm and it took place in a small room where we were sitting with the accused and I can now confirm that the charges have been read to him..." he said.

"He was totally calm."

If convicted, Breivik faces a maximum penalty of 21 years in prison.

Breivik's defence lawyers went to his prison to present the charges

The prosecution said last week it was prepared to accept Breivik was criminally insane and therefore not responsible for his acts, and as such it might not call for a prison sentence.

However, it reserved the right to alter that view if new elements emerged about his mental health by the end of the trial.

"The way the case appears at the time the charges are being brought, there is no basis to request a regular prison penalty," state prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch wrote in instructions to prosecutors handling the case.

"But it must be clear in the charge sheet that the prosecution reserves the right, during the trial, to request a prison punishment or containment lasting 21 years, based on the complete evidence shown to the court."

Medical experts have been divided over Breivik's state of mind.

A first analysis by court-appointed psychiatrists last year found that he was insane, on the basis of 13 interviews with the prisoner.

Their report said Breivik lived in his "own delusional universe where all his thoughts and acts are guided by his delusions".

However, four psychiatrists who subsequently assessed Breivik disagreed with several of their court-appointed colleagues' conclusions.

In findings revealed in January, they argued that Breivik was neither psychotic nor schizophrenic and said they did not think he needed drugs.

A second court-ordered psychiatric evaluation of Breivik is currently under way.

Teenage victims

The attacks on 22 July last year were the worst act of violence Norway has seen since World War II, and have had a profound impact there.

Breivik disguised himself as a police officer to plant a car bomb that exploded close to government offices in Oslo, killing eight people.

Still in uniform, he then drove to the island of Utoeya, where a summer youth camp of Norway's governing Labour Party was being held.

In a shooting spree that lasted more than an hour, he killed 69 people - mostly teenagers.

Thirty-four were aged between 14 and 17, 22 between 18 and 20, six between 21 and 25, and seven older than 25, said prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh.

Of these, 67 died of gunshot wounds, and two died of fall injuries or drowning. In addition, 33 people were wounded by bullets, but survived.

According to prosecutors, nearly 900 people were affected by the twin attacks - 325 in Oslo and 564 on the island of Utoeya.

Breivik has said his attacks were atrocious but necessary for his campaign to defend Europe against a Muslim invasion.

Investigators have found no evidence to support his claims that he belongs to a secret "resistance" movement.


Call to resolve Balochistan issue through dialogue

Staff Report

LAHORE: March 07, 2012, There was a consensus of opinion among the participants of a seminar that Balochistan issue was of a political nature and it should be resolved through political dialogue.

It was agreed that all political parties and civil society should undertake a peaceful long march to express solidarity and support with the Baloch brothers for the cause of peace in Balochistan.

The seminar expressed complete support for the eight confidence building measures (CBMs) presented by Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) leader Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti who was the chief guest at the seminar. These CBMs would hopefully create conducive environment for a meaningful dialogue. The participants condemned the US Congress sub-committee that submitted a resolution on Balochistan and termed it a gross interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs.

It was urged that the media should give due coverage to the viewpoint of the majority of Baloch tribal leaders who were pro-Pakistanis and wanted to promote peace through dialogue.

The seminar was attended by politicians, media persons, academicians, intellectuals and defence analysts.

Former Lahore High Court chief justice Mian Allah Nawaz was in the chair. Pakistan Institute of National Affairs (PINA) Secretary General Altaf Hasan Qureshee welcomed Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti and appreciated his initiative to engage various segments of society in Lahore and find a political solution within the framework of the constitution and federation. He assured the Baloch leader that the civil society supports the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Baloch.

Shahzain Bugti highlighted the background of the Balochistan situation and outlined eight-confidence building measures to remove trust deficit between Baloch and Islamabad. These included arrest and trial of Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf for Nawab Akbar Bugti’s murder, end to security forces operation, no new cantonment should be established in Sui and Kohlu while role of agencies should also be limited, no-go areas be ended, killers of MPA Mir Bakhtiar Domki’s family be arrested, phenomenon of mutilated bodies be ceased and missing persons be recovered.

He was of the view that the federal government was not sincere in finding a long-lasting solution to Balochistan issue. He stated that political parties should hold a long march for the cause of people of Balochistan. He explained that the abduction and killing of non-Baloch settlers was condemnable as this hurt the Baloch cause.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Deputy Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal cautioned against too much disillusionment in the media with respect to Balochistan, saying this would strengthen the designs of the anti-state forces and would amount to accepting psychological defeat.

He stated that no international conspiracy could succeed if we guard our national interests, and termed the Balochistan issue more of a political than economic one.

He reiterated PML-N’s position on the All-Parties Conference, which the party has conditioned to arrest of Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killers and recovery of missing persons. Maj Gen (r) Muhammad Javed suggested that to improve law and order situation, the writ of provincial police should be extended throughout Balochistan. He pointed out that the military cantonment, like in other parts of the country, are required to defend the national borders.

He asserted that there was no military operation going on in Balochistan, and the Frontier Corps had been placed under control of the Balochistan government. He called for a national level dialogue for engaging all segments of society, including intellectuals.

Justice (r) Mian Allah Nawaz paid rich tribute to Nawab Akbar Bugti, saying he was a genuine Pakistani leader and never talked about separation.

The retired chief justice was of the view that all problems of the country, including Balochistan, could be resolved through free, fair and transparent elections, under an independent election commission as well as by ensuring accountability and providing social justice to the people.\03\07\story_7-3-2012_pg7_7


Maldives' former president wants foreign body to probe his ouster

Mar 07, 2012 | PTI | Male

Maldives' former president Mohamed Nasheed wants a foreign body to probe the circumstances of the 'coup' that ousted him last month and plunged the country into political crisis.

Nasheed told at a news conference here last night that his Maldivian Democratic Party is considering requesting a 'foreign organisation' to look into the incidents of February 7 impartially.

However, he did not elaborate over which foreign body his party wanted to approach. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) is already looking into the matter, and has suspended Maldives' membership till the probe is completed.

The present government too is looking into the issues related to the political unrest that toppled Nasheed's regime.

Nasheed also said that on February 7, the day he resigned, 'there was a moment when some businessmen spoke about him to be tortured, beaten or murdered'.

Nasheed, Maldives' first democratically-elected president, had said he was forced to resign as gun-wielding military men threatened that they would resort to using arms if he did not.

However, the government denies Nasheed's allegation of a coup. Meanwhile, President Mohamed Waheed has sent letters to political parties who are participating in the all-party talks, asking them to resume the process.

The talks were in shambles after several political parties withdrew their representatives in protest after MDP lawmakers created chaos in the parliament and prevented the new President from delivering an opening address.

The talks have also been temporarily suspended as the co-ordinator is on a private visit abroad.

There has been incessant unrest in Maldives' over the last month, with supporters of Nasheed protesting time and again demanding early elections.

Some MDP supporters assembled outside the President's Office on Wednesday morning to protest and the security forces used force to push them back. Police also said last night that they had arrested some unruly protesters who violated traffic lights and threatened security officers with knives at a police station where they also damaged some property.

Media Official of the Maldives Police Service, Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam, told that some 13 people were arrested on Tuesday night.


Govt committed to welfare of minorities: Pak PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Tuesday that the government was committed to the welfare of minorities and had taken several steps in this regard.

Addressing a function organised by the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance on the first death anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti at the Convention Centre, the prime minister said that the reservation of four seats in the Senate and five per cent quota in government jobs for the minorities were some of the achievements of the government to ensure equal rights to them.

He said Mr Bhatti had contributed a lot for the cause and rights of his people and his struggle for his community was memorable.

Mr Gilani said it was also the contribution of Mr Bhatti to declare 11th August as the Minorities Day and the government had decided to hold religious functions on the day.

He said Mr Bhatti was a great supporter of interfaith harmony, religious freedom, religious tolerance and equal rights for the minorities.

“I also believe that with the message of interfaith harmony going across, we will be able to eliminate the impact of extremism successfully and emerge as a stronger and prosperous nation.”

He said prayer rooms had been established in all prisons of the country and vernacular name of Christians was changed from Eisai to Masihi on the suggestion of Mr Bhatti.

“I hope you will continue to contribute and promote national harmony to build a much stronger and more tolerant Pakistan, which should be our collective cherished goal.”

The prime minister said: “I must appreciate the role of the scholars of different faiths who have consistently professed and practised the ideals of integrity and harmony within Pakistan.”

He said the establishment of an egalitarian and a welfare society had always been the endeavour of the Pakistan People’s Party.

“We have never compromised on these principles.”

The prime minister said: “Today, the country is at a juncture where it is confronted with multi-dimensional threats of terrorism, extremism, and intolerance.”

He said there was an urgent need to remove distrust and misunderstandings among the followers of different religions for fostering greater understanding, tolerance and respect for all.

He said the government was fully committed to the sacred principles of peaceful co-existence, tolerance and equality to make Pakistan a shining example of interfaith harmony.

He said the creation of the ministry of national harmony at the federal level was another step to promote harmony among different religions.

The ministry had been mandated to actively engage in dialogue with scholars and leaders of all faiths to develop national policy, he added.

Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Dr Farooq Sattar, Adviser to PM on National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti, Senator Kamran Michael, Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad, Bishop Alexander John Malik, representative of minorities from different parts of the country, besides Ambassador of Holy Sea to Pakistan, also spoke on the occasion.

The Christian community conferred an ‘Award of Peace’ on the prime minister for the measures taken by the government for the welfare of Christians.—APP


Desecration of Quran condemned by Pak Senate

Iftikhar A. Khan

7 March 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Tuesday condemned desecration of Holy Quran at Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase by Nato military personnel and demanded punishment for those responsible for the deplorable act.

The unanimous resolution moved by the Leader of House Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari urged Nato to take steps to prevent recurrence of such irresponsible acts in future.

The incident involving the burning of the Holy Quran sparked anti-US protests in the country, with some religious parties warning to wage a jihad against infidels.

The resolution urged the government to approach the United Nations, international community and the US for action against those responsible for burning of the holy Quran.

Describing the incident as an outrageous act, the house called upon all Muslim countries to demand from Nato and the United States action against those involved in the incident.

“This house condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous act of burning of copies of the holy Quran by Nato troops in Afghanistan,” the resolution read.

BLUE PASSPORTS: The house was informed that the summary relating to privileges for former lawmakers had been approved by the prime minister and outgoing senators will get blue passports and licence for prohibited bore arms.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the staff of passport office and a mobile unit had been assigned to perform duty in the Parliament House on Wednesday to issue blue passports to outgoing Senators.

He said each Senator would get one arms licence of prohibited bore. He urged senators to bring a photograph and apply for the licence.

Under notified perks and privileges, the former lawmakers would be entitled to diplomatic status throughout their life as they will be allowed to have the blue passport and continue to use VIP lounges at all airports in the country free of cost.


Ousted deputy leader of Pakistan Taliban favors talks with govt

7 March 2012

PESHAWAR: A deputy leader of the Pakistan Taliban, reportedly ousted at the weekend by a militant council, still favors peace talks with the Pakistani government, he told Reuters on Tuesday.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, who commands militants of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistan Taliban, in the tribal agency of Bajaur near the Afghan border, has reportedly been in talks with the government in Islamabad over a peace deal.

The TTP, allied with the Afghan Taliban movement fighting US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan, is entrenched in the unruly areas along the porous frontier. It has pledged to overthrow the Pakistani government after the military started operations against the TTP.

Past peace pacts with the TTP have failed to bring stability, and merely gave the umbrella group time and space to consolidate, launch fresh attacks and impose their austere version of Islam on segments of the population.

The TTP leadership is split over new talks with the Pakistani government, with some hardliners rejecting them. Mohammad said, however, that he has never disobeyed the council.

“Whenever I’ve held talks with the government of Pakistan, I’ve held them with the permission and advice of the central leadership of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan,” Mohammad said from an undisclosed location.

“When the Taliban in Afghanistan can talk to America, then why can’t we talk to the government of Pakistan?”

Pakistan last month urged leaders of the Afghan Taliban movement to enter direct peace negotiations with Kabul, a possible sign that Islamabad is stepping up support for reconciliation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

A council which reportedly included TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, ousted Mohammad, but he said he had “no information on this council, its members, or where its meeting was held.”

“Except for Ehsanullah Ehsan, who contacted the media, no important Taliban leader has contacted me.” Ehsanullah is the spokesman for the TTP and announced the demotion.


Riyadh demands quick results on murder of Saudi diplomat in Dhaka


Published: Mar 7, 2012

RIYADH: The Bangladesh government launched a large-scale investigation into the killing of a Saudi diplomat who was shot in Dhaka early yesterday morning.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement that Khadafy bin Mohammed Salem Al-Ali, an official at the Saudi Embassy in Bangladesh, was shot by an unknown gunman at around 2 a.m. while he was walking near his home in Dhaka.

Police found Al-Ali’s body at an intersection just two buildings away from his residence in the city’s up market Gulshan district and rushed him to a hospital where he died three hours later.

“Bangladeshi authorities have started investigations at the highest level to understand the circumstances and the motives for the murder,” the statement said.

“The Saudi government had demanded quick results from the Bangladeshi government and further requested adequate protection for all the staff working at its embassy in Dhaka.”

On behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar bin Obaid Madani conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the brother of the deceased. Arrangements are being made by the ministry to repatriate the body to the Kingdom.

l-Ali, 45, was working as second secretary at the consular division of the embassy in Dhaka. He was on transfer orders to move to the Saudi Embassy in Amman, Jordan, after two months.

Bangladesh Ambassador in the Kingdom Mohammed Shahidul Islam described the murder as a heinous crime that sent shock waves throughout the Kingdom as well as Bangladesh. “We have intensified the investigation process in Dhaka and we are fully confident that the people involved in this murder will be brought to book,” Islam said.

Islam said some senior government officials had rushed to the scene on hearing the attack to look after the interests of the wounded diplomat.

“We sincerely convey our deepest sympathies on behalf of the Bangladesh government to the bereaved family on this unforeseen tragedy,” the envoy said, adding that the country’s foreign minister, Dipu Moni, had conveyed her deepest sympathies through the Riyadh mission to the family of the deceased. He also confirmed the Saudi Foreign Ministry had sought enhanced protection for its embassy staff in Dhaka. Accordingly, he said the government had beefed up security measures.

“What has happened is very unfortunate and unexpected in this country,” Foreign Minister Moni said in a statement issued in Dhaka yesterday.

According to Dhaka Police Deputy Commissioner Lutful Kabir, the diplomat was shot in the chest some 30 meters away from his residence. The location of the shooting was cordoned off by police and security was stepped up in the diplomatic area of the city.

Saudi Ambassador in Dhaka Abdullah Al-Busairi described the incident as a great tragedy.


Pak panel India visit March 14

Mar 07, 2012

REZAUL H. LASKAR | PTI | Islamabad

A Pakistani court conducting the trial of LeT’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects in the Mumbai attacks on Tuesday issued a notification stating that a judicial panel would visit India on March 14 to interview key Indian officials as part of the probe into the 2008 strikes.

Anti-terrorism court judge Shahid Rafique named a senior official of the interior ministry as coordinator for the judicial commission’s visit in response to an application from defence lawyers, sources said.

“The court has notified that the commission will visit India on March 14 and appointed a coordinator,” Khwaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Lakhvi, said.

The commission will travel from Lahore to Delhi before going to Mumbai. “They (the authorities) want us to complete some formalities in Delhi,” said Mr Ahmed.

The Indian government had earlier asked Pakistan to send the commission between February 1 and 10.

However, the panel could not go ahead with the visit due to various reasons, including questions that were raised about its constitution.

The Pakistani commission is scheduled to interview the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, the police officer who led the investigation in Mumbai and two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists and victims. Lakhvi and six other suspects have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in November 2008.


Continuous dependence on oil toughest challenge: A member of the Saudi Cabinet


Mar 7, 2012

JUBAIL: A top-ranking member of the Saudi Cabinet has called for urgent steps to advance and develop the Kingdom's downstream industries with a view to stimulating the economy, generating jobs and creating investment opportunities for small and medium enterprises.

Ali I. Al-Naimi, the minister of petroleum and mineral resources, was delivering a keynote address at the 2nd Saudi Downstream Strategic Forum on Tuesday. The two-day event, being organized by the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, has acquired immense importance in the industrial circles because of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah's patronage.

In attendance were global investors, entrepreneurs, economists, industrialists and chief executives officers of leading Saudi and international companies and corporations. Inaugurating the forum, Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thunayan, chairman of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, said: "Our economy continues to flourish due to the unremitting efforts and great care and attention of the government which contributed to enhancing the tributaries of the national economy and diversifying sources of income that have made it strong enough to withstand the crises that swept through many global economies."

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation CEO Mohamed Al-Mady delivered a keynote address outlining the key role in enabling entrepreneurship. Forum Chairman Abdulaziz N. Atarji of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu delivered the welcome address.

The focus of the first session was, however, Al-Naimi's ministerial address. In one of the most candid and elaborate assessments of the current economic situation, he pointed out both the challenges and the possible solutions.

One of the toughest and the most important challenges, Al-Naimi said, is the continuous dependence on oil for government revenues. "Oil is volatile in terms of prices and production rates. For example, during the second half of 2008, prices dropped from $147 per barrel to $35 per barrel. At the same time, the Kingdom's production slowed from 9.5 million barrels per day to 8 million barrel per day. In light of such unpredictable fluctuations, it is not appropriate to depend on the production and export of oil as a basis for national income and sustainable economic development," he said.

He felt the Kingdom should leverage oil revenues, products and various usages to create other sources of economic growth and prosperity.

Al-Naimi described continuous population growth as another challenge. "During the first half of the 1970s, the Kingdom's population stood at approximately 6 million. Now, the population is about 20 million, and is expected to exceed 30 million in less than 20 years ... This requires the expansion of numerous services in the areas of education, health and housing," he said.

"Equally important is the creation of appropriate job opportunities estimated at about 300,000 jobs per year. This requires the continuation of economic growth and the establishment of a sound, excellent educational and professional base to help citizens obtain the right jobs and achieve high productivity," Al-Naimi added.

Underlining the need for promoting and expanding downstream industries, Al-Naimi said: "The Kingdom produces numerous raw materials such as oil, gas, petrochemicals and minerals. However, this was not accompanied by an appropriate increase in related secondary and finished products. In most cases what happens is that raw, or half-manufactured, materials are exported to the outside world and then re-imported back into the Kingdom as finished products, thus depriving the country, the citizen and the national economy as a whole of a lot of important investment opportunities."

He acknowledged that the Saudi petrochemical industry has come a long way during the past 10 years. "The private sector has begun to participate in it and has capitalized on the numerous competitive edges and is making distinguished profits," he said.

He exuded optimism that challenges can be tackled. "I am an optimist by nature. Still, optimism needs to be supported by will and effort. God willing, if we utilize our resources and effectively face the problems, these challenges can be easily overcome."

Among those who were listening to the speeches with rapt attention was Basil Al-Ghalayini, CEO, BMG Financial Group, who drove all the way from Riyadh to attend the conference. "This is my first time at a conference on downstream industries, and the message that I took from all that I heard in Jubail is that the name of the game is coordination among business giants and small and medium enterprises," he told Arab News. "This will provide a fillip to the economy and generate jobs and promote growth."

Participants at a panel discussion in the afternoon focused on a number of issues including the importance of downstream industries, the promising investment opportunities they offer, the national and international future trends and their importance in diversifying sources of income.

Prominent among those who took part in the deliberations were Tony Potter, managing director, Middle East, Chemical Market Associates Inc., Saleh Fahad Al-Nazha, president and CEO, Tasnee, and Richard Crosby, general manager, SABIC Innovative Plastics. The forum has an interesting lineup of sessions on Wednesday.


Two housewives killed over dowry in Bangladesh

Star National Desk

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A housewife was beaten to death in Pabna on Sunday while another set afire in Sirajganj on February 25, died at hospital on Monday.

A housewife was beaten to death allegedly by her husband and in-laws for dowry on Sunday at Madhpur village of Pabna Sadar upazila, reports our correspondent.

The victim was identified as Nusrat Jahan, 24, wife of Harunur Rashid of the village.

Police and family sources said Harun along with his family members beat up Nusrat mercilessly for dowry on Sunday afternoon causing her death at night.

Police recovered the body from the spot and sent it to Pabna Medical College Hospital morgue for autopsy on Monday morning.

The husband and in-laws of Nusral went into hiding immediately after the killing.

In Sirajganj, a housewife set afire in Belkuchi upazila allegedly for dowry on February 25, succumbed to burn injuries on Monday night after fighting for life for 9 days at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.

Victim Salma Khatun, 28, daughter of Abdus Sobhan of Khidrtamatia village was married to Abdul Khaleq, son of late Ketab Ali of the same village in 2003, reports our correspondent.

Sources said, at the time of marriage, Sobhan gave dowry worth Tk 3.5 lakh including cash, ornaments and furniture.

But after a few months, Khaleq demanded more two lakh taka on the plea to start business.

Father of the deceased managed only Tk 40 thousands which angered Khaleq. He started to torture Salma.

On February 25 night, Khaleq allegedly set her on fire after an altercation over dowry.


War criminals' trial at any cost: Bangladesh Awami League leader

Star Online Report

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Awami League leader Mahbubul Alam Hanif alleged on Wednesday that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia designed the March 12 programme as a means to save the war crimes suspects.

"Khaleda Zia organised the March 12 programme in a bid to save the war criminals. But the war criminals will be tried at any cost," Hanif told a mass rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.

The rally was organised to mark the historic March 7.

On the day back in 1971, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a powerful speech at Dhaka's Race Course Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan) declared the battle against the then repressive Pakistani forces.

Commuters have been hit with huge traffic tailbacks on Dhaka streets as the party leaders and activists started to gather the spot from different parts of the city since Wednesday noon.

Hundreds of leaders and activists of ruling Awami League and its front organisations thronged the historic Suhrawardy Udyan to join the rally.

Prime Minister and AL President Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the rally at Shikha Chirantan there.

Following the rally, the party will bring out a procession which will end near Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in Dhanmondi.

The rally will touch the capital's Kakrail, Elephant Road, Science Laboratory Intersection, Kalabagan and Shukrabad area prior to its wrapping up.

AL on February 29, called the rally for March 7, apparently to flaunt its political strength in terms of public support before BNP's March 12 grand rally.

AL senior leaders earlier said Dhaka would turn into a human sea on the day that coincides with the historic March 7 programmes.

Khaleda, from a Chittagong rally on January 9 announced the March 12 rally named 'Chalo Chalo Dhaka Chalo (Let's go to Dhaka)' in an effort to mount pressure on the government to restore the caretaker government system.


Somali pirates want prisoner swap for ship


Published: Mar 6, 2012

HARGEISA: Somali pirates holding a Panama-flagged vessel hijacked last month with goods destined for Somaliland have called for fellow pirates in jails in the breakaway enclave to be freed in return for the ship’s release.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 and has enjoyed relative stability compared to the rest of Somalia but remains unrecognized internationally.

A man called Yusuf Ali, who said he was among the gang of pirates holding the MV Leila, told Horn Cable TV on Monday the pirates hope to get a small ransom for the ship, but also want the authorities in Somaliland to release their comrades.

“We will not release the ship until the prisoners are released. Somaliland harasses us and jails us for 20 years while in Yemen we only serve 7 years,” said Yusuf Ali, speaking from an undisclosed location.

“We hijacked the ship in order to send a message to the businessmen to convince their government to release our colleagues.”

Somali pirates typically hijack merchant vessels to earn hefty ransoms and seizing ships to try and arrange a prisoner swap is a rare development.

Somaliland’s parliament recently passed new legislation recognizing piracy as a crime and allowing pirates convicted abroad to be transferred to the enclave, in a move to signal its commitment to fighting maritime attacks off Somalia’s shores.

Under the new legislation, piracy will carry a maximum jail term of 25 years. Previously, it had to charge suspected pirates with armed robbery.

Somaliland says it has more than 100 pirates in its prisons.

Sources in Somaliland said the ship was being held in Bargal in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in northern Somalia that has spawned a number of pirate gangs and has had a frosty relationship with Somaliland over the years.

The chairman of Somaliland’s Chamber of Commerce, Mohamed Shukri, appealed to traditional elders in Puntland to help free the vessel.

“The goods in the ship are owned by many small businessmen some of whom are young and whose entire capital is on the ship. As Somalis and Muslims, I appeal to the pirates to release the ship without any conditions,” Shukri told Reuters.

Separately, the International Maritime Bureau said on Tuesday that pirates hijacked a tanker with 22 crew members off Oman in the Arabian Sea on March 2 and sailed the vessel toward Somalia. No further details were immediately available.


Ethnic violence kills 16 in Nigeria’s Benue stat


Published: Mar 6, 2012

ONITSHA, Nigeria: Ethnic violence in a remote part of Nigeria’s “middlebelt” has killed 16 people and wounded 20, after Fulani herdsmen raided a village there, Benue state authorities said on Tuesday.

Ejike Alaribe, spokesman for Benue state, confirmed the incident, which occurred in the state’s Gwer West group of villages late on Sunday.

“Police have been sent there to maintain peace...there is no more fighting there now,” he said.

Violence over land is common in Nigeria, where the majority of its 160 million people are subsistence farmers in rural areas with few means of arbitrating disputes.

The middlebelt, where a largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north meet, is particularly volatile.

Clashes between rival ethnic groups in eastern Nigeria’s Ebonyi state killed 50 people at the end of December.

Hundreds of people are killed every year in such clashes although they are usually sporadic and rarely escalate into sustained conflict.


Turkish PM assures safety of religious minority


Published: Mar 6, 2012

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey’s prime minister on Tuesday promised to protect the country’s largest religious minority after 25 houses mostly belonging to Alevi Muslims were vandalized, raising fears for their safety.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an investigation was launched into the vandalism in the southeastern city of Adiyaman. Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin earlier said children were believed to be behind the marking of the houses with red paint.

The incident has strained nerves in Adiyaman since Alevi houses were similarly marked before a weeklong rampage and looting that killed more than 100 Alevis in neighboring Kahramanmaras province in 1978. Alevi houses were also marked in the same way before clashes in the central Anatolian city of Corum in 1980.

The country’s Alevi Muslims, who incorporate shamanistic traditions and do away with many customary Islamic practices, including the separation of men and women in prayer, have long faced discrimination in Turkey. They are considered heretics by many Sunni and Shia traditionalists.

“We are not the government of a certain belief or ethnic group, we are the government of all 75 million citizens,” Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling party in the Parliament. “We are the guarantor of the rights and security of all people without any discrimination.”

The tensions come ahead of a trial next week during which a court is expected to make a decision whether a statute of limitations has expired for some suspects who allegedly torched a hotel in 1993 that left 37 people dead, including many Alevis.

“The incident has seriously worried us,” said Devlet Bahceli, head of an opposition party. “It has aggravated our fears about an imminent chaos based on ethnicity.”

Senal Sarihan, the leading lawyer for the families of the victims killed in 1993 in the central Anatolian city of Sivas, called on the court to consider the attack as a crime against humanity without any deadline.

More than 30 suspects, including some 15 who fled abroad, have been sentenced to life in prison. The court in Ankara will decide on March 13 on the fate of five out of seven fugitives, two of whom have died.

“I have repeatedly said that justice that comes late has no meaning and that there should be no statute of limitations in such cases,” Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay said Monday.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition party, called on the Parliament to quickly take up a proposed bill and remove the threat of statute of limitations in the case, saying “killers should not get away with it.”

Authorities had blamed the left-wing writer, Aziz Nesin, for touching off the rampage in Sivas on July 2, 1993, by flaunting his atheism and telling an audience that the age of the Qur’an had passed.

Nesin, who had published excerpts from Salman Rushdie’s novel, “The Satanic Verses” had been portrayed as the main target but he escaped unharmed.

The victims who died included Alevi poets, writers and folk singers. They had gathered to commemorate Pir Sultan Abdal, a 16th-century bard hanged for preaching rebellion against Sunni Muslim Ottoman government when the rivalry of their ancestors was crushed by Sultan Selim I.

Alevis, including both Kurds and Turks, have been a focus of interest for the European Union, which has made religious liberties a condition for Turkish membership.

They have increasingly demanded religious equality in Turkey, where state-run religious services are tailored for the Sunni majority. The Alevis also want an end to compulsory religious culture and ethics classes in schools, which they say have Sunni bias, and recognition of their houses of worship, which are denied state funding.

In the latest violence, involving Alevis, 21 people were killed in Istanbul’s low-income neighborhood of Gaziosmanpasa during four days of rioting in March 1995, when police clashed with thousands of people protesting a slaying by unidentified gunmen in a coffeehouse.


Avalanche blankets Afghan village, kills 37

Reuters, Kunduz, Afghanistan

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

At least 37 people died and hundreds were still trapped in northern Afghanistan yesterday when a snow avalanche covered an entire village near the northern border with Tajikistan, local officials said.

Afghan army helicopters descended on the remote village in the north of Badakhshan province to try rescue families, the latest victims to Afghanistan's worse winter in 30 years.

"The way to the village is closed, it is covered in snow," provincial governor spokesman Abdul Marof Rasikh said of the village of around 300 people, located in the Shikai district.

Though avalanches are fairly common in the mountainous north, yesterday's deaths were seen as particularly painful for a country that has experienced its worse winter in decades, killing dozens in the capital Kabul and creating further food shortages in one of the world's poorest countries.

Before yesterday, freezing cold and avalanches had claimed the lives of 60 people in Badakhshan province this winter, officials said.


Child killed, 3 hurt in Peshawar blast

7 March 2012

PESHAWAR: A nine-year-old child was killed and three other people were wounded Wednesday when a bomb planted in a sewer exploded in Peshawar, Geo News reported.

The blast took place in the Scheme Chowk neighbourhood of Peshawar.

"A nine-year old boy was killed and three others, two children and a man, were wounded in the bomb blast," a senior police said.

It was a remote-controlled device, bomb disposal squad chief Hukam Khan said.

The victims were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital for treatment.

A suspect was held from near the crime scene and according to sources a remote has been recovered from his possession.,-3-hurt-in-Peshawar-blast


Yemen army death toll from Qaeda attack climbs to 185

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

* Many soldiers’ bodies found mutilated, some headless

* One soldier killed, two injured in fresh Qaeda assault

SANAA/ADEN: The death toll from an al Qaeda assault on a military base in southern Yemen has risen up to 185 government soldiers, military and medical officials said on Tuesday. Many soldiers’ bodies were found mutilated, and some were headless.

Al Qaeda gunmen have killed a soldier on the edge of Yemen’s southwestern city of Bayda, the Country’s Defence Ministry said, two days after a massive assault by the terrorists killed scores of troops.

The scale of the army’s defeat in the Sunday battle, which appears to be the worst-ever suffered by Yemen’s military in its 10-month campaign against al Qaeda in the southern province of Abyan, deals a major blow to efforts by newly-inaugurated Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to uproot the terrorist movement from the region.

The surprise attack and the mutilations have left government troops ‘fearful’ and with ‘low morale’, according to a senior military official who was part of the defeated force. Another 55 soldiers were captured and paraded through a nearby town by the terrorists, who lost 32 of their fighters in the assault.

Medical officials in the area confirmed the latest death toll and said some of the bodies of soldiers recovered were missing their heads and bore multiple stab wounds. They said that bodies packed the military hospital morgue to which they were taken, with some taken to vegetable freezers in a military compound for lack of space.

Military officials had earlier said that terrorists overran the base and captured armoured vehicles and artillery pieces, which they turned on the army. “It was a massacre and it came by surprise as the soldiers were asleep,” he said. Terrorists sneaked behind army lines and attacked from the rear where there was ‘zero surveillance’. The attack appeared to be a response to a pledge by President Hadi to fight the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda, believed to be the most active of the terrorist movement’s subsidiary networks.

Hadi took power last month from longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh as part of power-transfer deal backed by the United States and initiated by Arab Gulf countries. The year-long uprising against Saleh had caused a deterioration of central state authority throughout the country, and allowed al Qaeda to seize Zinjibar in May and fight off repeated army offensives to retake it.

The US had hoped that replacing Saleh would take some pressure off of Yemen’s government and military, who also confront tribal and separatist insurgencies, and allow them to fight back more effectively against the terrorists. Despite the defeat, and a surge of other attacks by al Qaeda, Hadi has continued to pledge to fight the terrorists. “The confrontation will continue until we are rid of the last terrorist, whether in Abyan or elsewhere,” the Yemeni media quoted him as saying on Monday.

But he may not yet have the means at his disposal to do so, the military official in Zinjibar said the forces routed by al Qaeda on Tuesday were poorly equipped, and that better-trained, better-armed specialised anti-terrorist units needed to be brought to the front.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of military protocol or because they were not allowed to speak to the media. agencies\03\07\story_7-3-2012_pg7_1


Seven militants killed, nine wounded in Naseerabad

7 March 2012

QUETTA: Seven miltants were killed while nine others were wounded during a clash at the RD 238 Uch area of Naseerabad district. According to official sources, the clash erupted after armed militants ambushed the convoy of a commander of security officials of the Naseerabad division. As a result, seven militants were killed while nine others were seriously wounded. Security officials also recovered arms and explosives from the dead militants. app\03\07\story_7-3-2012_pg7_5


Two al Qaeda commanders among 17 killed in Orakzai

LAHORE: At least 17 terrorists, including two al Qaeda commanders and seven suicide bombers, were killed in separate security forces actions on Tuesday night, reported a private TV channel. According to security sources, two al Qaeda commanders were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Upper Orakzai, while 10 extremists were killed in Malakhel area of Dabori. At least seven suicide bombers were also killed in the security forces’ action, the channel said. Quoting sources, the channel said that six foreigners, including two Arab commanders Abdullah Mubarak and Ahmed, were also among the dead. daily times monitor\03\07\story_7-3-2012_pg7_6


Terrorists blow up five houses in Mardan

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

MARDAN: Unidentified terrorists blew up five houses in Dahri Likpani area in the Katlang Police Station jurisdiction on Tuesday.

Police and locals said the terrorists had planted explosive material outside the house of a retired employee of the Pakistan Air Force, Ameer Rehman. They said the explosive device went off in the wee hours of Tuesday.

Four other houses in the surrounding area, including that of Rehman’s brother Rwadad Khan, were partially damaged.

The other three houses belonged to Sodagar, Khanbaz and Khan Firosh. No casualties were reported in the incident.

A case was registered against unidentified culprits on the complaint of Ameer Rehman. Following the incident, police launched a search operation in the area but no arrests could be made.

In the ongoing violence in the area, terrorists have blown up several schools in different parts of the district, including Katlang, Jabbar and Chura. So far, police have failed to make any arrests in this regard. online\03\07\story_7-3-2012_pg7_8


Bomb blast kills four on Afghan-Pakistan border: police

Mar 07, 2012 | AFP | Kandahar

Four civilians were killed and 10 injured on Wednesday when a remotely controlled motorbike bomb exploded in an Afghan town on the border with Pakistan, police said.

Officials blamed the attack in the town of Spin Boldak in Kandahar province on the hardline Islamist Taliban, who are waging a 10-year insurgency against the Western-backed government in Kabul.

"There was a motorbike bomb blast against border police in Spin Boldak. Four civilians, one of them a woman, were killed and 10 others were injured," said Janan, a rapid-reaction police unit commander who uses only one name.

The interior ministry confirmed the deaths and blamed the blast on the 'enemies of Afghanistan' - a reference to the Taliban.

Improvised bombs and suicide attacks are the most common weapons used in Taliban attacks. The rebels are particularly active in southern and eastern Afghanistan, along the rugged and mountainous border with Pakistan.

Afghan leaders accuse Pakistan of secretly helping the Taliban by providing hideouts and training facilities in secret camps across the border.

Pakistan denies the accusations and says it has lost around 3,000 soldiers fighting a local Taliban insurgency in the northwestern border areas with Afghanistan.


Pakistani forces kill 17 militants in tribal region

Mar 07, 2012 | PTI | Islamabad

Pakistani forces have killed at least 17 suspected Taliban militants in Upper Orakzai tribal region in the northwest of the country, officials said on Wednesday.

A security official said that 12 other militants were wounded in clashes with security forces.

According to security officials, militants ambushed a security forces post. The forces returned fire and killed 17 militants.

Six foreigners were also among those killed in skirmish occurred late Tuesday in a remote area of the tribal agency, the official added.

The official didn't provide any further information on causalities from the military side.


Israeli diplomat attack in India: Scribe arrested

Neeraj Chauhan, TNN |

NEW DELHI: Mar 7, 2012, The Delhi Police have made a major breakthrough in the Israeli car bomb attack case of February 13 with the arrest of one person.

A journalist identified as Mohammad Kazmi has been taken into custody from South Delhi.

Kazmi, sources said, is a freelance journalist who has worked for several organisations earlier.

Officials claim he had hatched the conspiracy of attacking Israeli diplomat's car along with two or three others.

However, the police have not disclosed the motive and details of explosive used by Kazmi for the attack.


Pakistan Army has its eye on NATO supplies deal

Khawar Ghumman

7 March 2012

ISLAMABAD: The bankrupt Pakistan Railways management has pulled off the mother of all deals with the NLC, while the army is working hard behind the scenes for an equally big deal with the United States.

In the first week of February, railways signed a deal with the military-run National Logistics Cell (NLC) under which the cell will repair 30 railway locomotives of which 15 will be returned to the railways to use. The other 15 will be used by the NLC to carry freight booked by the NLC.

What does the NLC get out of this deal? This was a question that proved hard to answer as the NLC and the ISPR never bothered to reply to any questions despite a weeklong wait.

However, Dawn has learnt that the military is gearing up to earn big bucks from the transport of US/Nato/Isaf supplies via Pakistan’s land routes in the near future and this is what is behind the NLC deal with the railways.

In fact, negotiations between the Pakistan military and the US started as far back as 2009 for a share of the transport pie that has earned many individuals and companies in this country millions since the start of the war in Afghanistan over a decade ago.

A source within a transport company that carries military supplies to Afghanistan confirmed that trial runs were carried out at the request of the American government in 2009 and 2010; from Karachi to Peshawar and from Karachi to Chaman to not just see if the rail routes worked but also how long the journey took. “The journey to Chaman took seven days which was an improvement on the trucks as the increasing number of FC checkpoints was causing delays,” the source said.

It now appears that while the US waits for the parliamentary review of bilateral relations that was ordered after the Salala incident, behind the scenes the two sides are negotiating the terms and conditions for transporting Nato and American supplies to Afghanistan.

An official in the Foreign Office confirmed that the Americans, Nato officials based in Afghanistan, the NLC and the Foreign Office were working out some plan to use the railway for supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The recent trip by the newly appointed ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, to Pakistan was part of these negotiations, the official said.

This, however, is not the only price that is being demanded. Fees to use the roads as well as a charge at the port may also be negotiated.

The bi-partisan and bi-cameral Parliamentary Committee on National Security has also demanded that a fee be imposed on Nato trucks using roads in Pakistan as well as charging them around Rs30 billion for the repair of roads.

There is a third fee that may also witness a hike once these negotiations are over, although it is not confirmed.

At the Karachi port, goods for Afghanistan are charged at the rate of Rs15,000 per piece, while goods that have arrived from Afghanistan and are on the way out are charged Rs20,000.This fee was imposed in 2010 before which the NLC charged Rs5,000 per item for goods on way to Afghanistan. One reason these negotiations have become so important is that the country is trying to thrash out a deal where none existed to begin with.

After the 9/11 attacks and the quick decision of the allied states to invade Afghanistan, Pakistan could not negotiate any terms, monetary or otherwise, for the movement of US and Nato supplies through it.

As a result, the US reserved the right to choose the companies for the transportation of its supplies.

For Nato/Isaf and British military supplies, the NLC could select or nominate companies.

As a result, Pakistan was used as a route without the state making any money from a business that was worth big bucks.

Over time, Pakistan’s land routes became an important part of the war effort.

According to one estimate, the American supplies constitute about 70 per cent of the goods transported through Pakistan.

US Transcom Commander Gen William Fraser testified this year that “in 2011 more than 35,000 containers were delivered” through Pakistan.

When US embassy’s spokesman Mark Stroh was asked about the deal between the NLC and the railways, he said: “We are aware of the agreement but since the ground shipping lines remain closed, the effects of the agreement with regard to our shipping remain to be seen.”

However, observers say there is a chance that the Pakistan Army will end up with some share of the pie as no other route is as economical as the one through Pakistan.

At the moment, the Americans and the allies are flying in supplies but this is expensive. In addition they are using the ‘Northern Distribution Network’, a variety of routes across Central Asia that originate in Europe.

According to a report by the US National Public Radio, these routes cost “two or three times as much as shipping them by sea and moving them up through Pakistan”.

And the impending elections in the US and its financial constraints may be important factors influencing its decision, especially as the planned drawdown in Afghanistan may mean an increase in the supplies leaving the country.

In this regard, the Salala incident simply provided an opportunity to the army to increase its leverage on the issue.

It now remains to be seen what the outcome is and what the army ends up with.

At a time of dwindling aid and assistance from the US, ‘Rawalpindi’ may just strike gold with the NLC and the war in Afghanistan.


Summons pasted on gate of Musharaf’s residence

Ikram Junaidi

7 March 2012

ISLAMABAD: In compliance with the Supreme Court orders during hearing of a plea for registration of a second FIR in the Benazir assassination case, summons was pasted on the front wall of the residence of former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Officials of the Rawalpindi police reached the model farm house number 1-C/B Park Road, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, which is the property of Gen Musharraf and pasted the summons.

The summons instructs the former president to ensure his presence at the Supreme Court on March 22.

Earlier, on Monday, the Supreme Court issued the summons while hearing the plea of Mohammad Aslam Chaudhry, one of the injured witnesses to the gun-and-bomb attack on Ms Bhutto on Dec 27, 2007. He was protocol officer of the PPP leader for 21 years.

The petitioner had challenged the rejection by the Lahore High Court of a plea for registration of the second FIR and sought initiation of criminal proceedings against Gen Musharraf and others for allegedly planning and executing the plot to assassinate Ms Bhutto. He has named as respondents former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Interior Minister Rahman Malik, former law minister Babar Awan, then acting interior minister Lt-Gen (retd) Hamid Nawaz, former director general of Intelligence Bureau Syed Ijaz Hussain Shah, former interior secretary Syed Kamal Shah and senior police officers of Rawalpindi.

The summons asks Gen Musharraf to “take further notice that you are required to bring your original identity card for the purpose of verification of your identity for entrance in the premises of the Supreme Court Building”.


Top US commander in the Middle East to visit Pakistan in 10 days

7 March 2012

WASHINGTON: The top US commander in the Middle East says he will travel to Pakistan in about 10 days to talk with leaders about reopening ground supply routes that have been closed since late November.       

Gen. James Mattis, commander of US Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US needs those supply routes to facilitate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

Pakistan shut down the supply routes in an uproar over US airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in an exchange of fire at the Afghanistan border on Nov. 26.

US officials have worked to try and repair the tattered relations with Islamabad.

Pakistan has rebuffed any US military visits since the airstrikes, and Islamabad’s parliament is working out new guidelines to define the US-Pakistan alliance.


Secretary Cabinet and Defence of Pakistan appears before SC in Gilani contempt case

7 March 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan resumed hearing of contempt of court case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Geo News reported.

A seven-member bench led by Justice Nasirul Mulk also comprises Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Ather Saeed.

Secretary Cabinet and Defence Nargis Sethi appeared before the bench along with Aitzaz Ahsan to record her statement, as a defence witness during the proceedings.

Besides, Premier's counsel Aitzaz will submit summaries of May 21 and September 21, 2010 along with the orders passed by his client in pursuance of court's orders pertaining to reopening of Swiss cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The summaries sent by law ministry contain advice/consultation to the Prime Minister not to write letter to the Swiss authorities to reopening corruption cases against President Zardari.

The bench has indicted the prime minister on the contempt of court charges.


Jalil re-elected Libyan leader

Afp, Tripoli

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Libya's National Transitional Council on Monday re-elected Mustafa Abdel Jalil as its chairman and appointed two deputy leaders, members of the ruling NTC told AFP.

"During today's session, we re-elected Mustafa Abdel Jalil as chairman and appointed Mustafa al-Huna as his first deputy and Salim Qanan as his second deputy," Mustafa Landey said.


Afghan govt says likely to reach US prison deal

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

KABUL: An agreement on the transfer of US-managed detention centres to Afghan authorities is likely soon, the Afghan presidential spokesman said on Tuesday, improving the prospects of a strategic partnership deal allowing for long-term US involvement in the country. "Both sides are studying a memorandum of understanding now. I am optimistic, we will reach an agreement in the next three days," the spokesman, Aimal Faizi, told Reuters. US embassy officials were not immediately available for comment. The Strategic Partnership Agreement, which Washington and Kabul have been discussing for over a year, will be the framework for US involvement in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the last foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan. Afghanistan wants the United States and NATO to agree to stop carrying out night raids on Afghan homes as a precondition for signing an agreement with Washington and a timeline to assume control over detention centres. In a meeting on Monday between Afghan President Hamid Karzai, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General John Allen, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, the American side proposed a six-month timeline for the transfer. Karzai was reported to have set a deadline of March 9 for the US to hand over the detention facilities. An Afghan official said that under one possible scenario, a transfer of prisons could start within the next few days and it may be completed within six months. "There are improvements," Karzai told reporters on Tuesday of negotiations on a partnership. The Obama administration has been hoping it can conclude an agreement before a meeting of NATO leaders in Chicago in May. While the document would not nail down details, it is expected to contain an agreement in principle to some sort of US military presence in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014, when most NATO combat troops are expected to be gone. reuters\03\07\story_7-3-2012_pg7_18


Fresh Iran nuke talks agreed

BBC Online

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Six major world powers and Iran are to hold fresh talks on Tehran's nuclear programme, the EU has said yesterday.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she had replied to a letter from Iran on behalf of the five UN Security Council members plus Germany.

Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili sent the letter last month proposing talks. No date or venue has been set.

The move comes amid fresh speculation of a pre-emptive military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Iran insists there is no military element to its programme but Western powers fear it is constructing nuclear weapons.

Iran had earlier said it was prepared under certain conditions to grant inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to the key military site of Parchin.

The complex, south of Tehran, is dedicated to the research, and the development and production of ammunition, rockets and explosives.

IAEA inspectors wanted to visit last month to clarify the "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear programme, but were denied entry.

But on Monday, Iran's mission to the IAEA said if the UN agency "combined all related issues" then "once more, access would be granted".

Talks between the EU and Iran on the nuclear issue have been off and on for a number of years, with the last round ending in failure in January last year.


We don’t need to decide now on Iran: Obama

7 March 2012

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that there was no need to decide now on military action against Iran and said new talks would show “quickly” how serious Tehran is about resolving the nuclear standoff.

“Iran is feeling the bite of these sanctions in a substantial way. The world is unified, Iran is politically isolated. And what I have said is that we will not countenance Iran getting a nuclear weapon,” Obama told reporters at a White House press conference.

“We’re now seeing noises about them returning to the negotiating table, that it is deeply in everybody’s interests, the United States’, Israel’s, and the world’s, to see if this can be resolved in a peaceful fashion.

“And so this notion that somehow we have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks or month or two months is not borne out by the facts.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned during a US visit on Monday that it could not afford to wait “much longer” for sanctions to work, and said he would “never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation”.

Obama lashed out at criticism from Republican rivals over his Iran policy, saying “bluster” is not helping resolve the crisis and accusing them of repeating the same policies he has been pursuing for three years.

“This is not a game, and there’s nothing casual about it,” the president said. “When I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war.” Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney suggested he would be more willing than Obama to consider using military force while his main rival for the presidential nomination Rick Santorum backed an ultimatum demanding Iran stop nuclear production or face action by the US to “tear down” its facilities.

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, speaking on behalf of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, reiterated an offer to resume talks with Tehran.

The Obama administration has said it does not believe Iran has taken a decision to develop a nuclear weapon, or that the time is right for military action, preferring to give biting new sanctions time to work.

However Israel, which sees a possible Iranian nuclear weapon as a threat to its existence, believes that Iran may be on the cusp of “break out” capability — the moment when it could quickly build a nuclear weapon.


Report warns of another Darfur in Sudan

Afp, Nairobi

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bloody civil war in Sudan's South Kordofan border state risks becoming as brutal as the conflict in its western region of Darfur, a rights group offical and former UN chief in Sudan said yesterday.

Government aircraft regularly bomb civilians in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, actions "tantamount to war crimes," said Mukesh Kapila, of the Aegis Trust, a British-based rights group which campaigns against genocide.

"Inside the Nuba Mountains, I saw burnt villages, destroyed food stores, and damaged schools and churches used by civilians to shelter from the fighting," Kapila told reporters in Nairobi after returning from the affected areas.

"I heard an Antonov (airplane) myself and watched women and children running away shrieking with fear, as well as fields on fire from dropped bombs destroying what little food crops were being planted."

Fighting in South Kordofan, a major battleground during Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war, broke out again in June as Khartoum moved to assert its authority against gunmen formerly allied to the now independent South Sudan.

Conflict spread from South Kordofan to rebel allies in Sudan's Blue Nile state in September, forcing over 100,000 people to flee.

"It was as the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan in 2003-04 that I saw what genocidal violence was doing in Darfur. When I asked the world to heed my warnings, it looked away until it was too late," Kapila said.

"From what I have seen in the Nuba Mountains, I fear that much the same scenario is unfolding there. Will the world listen this time around?"

The war in Darfur between non-Arab rebels and the Arab-dominated central government erupted in 2003 and has left 300,000 dead and 2.7 million displaced people, according to the UN. The Sudanese government speaks of 10,000 dead.

Fighters in the Nuba, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), have teamed up with rebels from Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to attack government troops.

More than 360,000 people have been internally displaced or severely affected by fighting in the two border states, the United Nations says.


Assad vows to keep fighting; Obama says end is near


Published: Mar 7, 2012

BEIRUT: Syria’s President Bashar Assad said Tuesday he was determined to go on fighting what he called “foreign-backed terrorism,” while US President Barack Obama said it was only a matter of time before dictator left office.

But Obama said it was a mistake to think the US could take unilateral action there.

“Ultimately this dictator will fall,” Obama said at a news conference, adding that it was not a question of if but when Assad would be forced out.

He squarely opposed a call by US Senator John McCain who on Monday urged US air strikes on Assad’s forces.

McCain, an influential Republican who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, said the United States should lead an international effort to protect Syrian cities and towns.

Obama said it was a mistake to think there was a simple solution to the now year-long crackdown on the opposition in Syria, or that the United States could act unilaterally.

The United States said it is proposing a new United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an end to violence in Syria, first by government forces and then by opposition fighters. Russia and China, powerful allies that have blocked a Security Council resolution against Syria, made clear they were still standing by the regime in Damascus.

“The Syrian people, who have in the past managed to crush foreign plots, ... have again proven their ability to defend the nation and to build a new Syria through their determination to pursue reforms while confronting foreign-backed terrorism,” Assad said, according to state news agency SANA.

The military crackdown has turned to southern Daraa province, where the uprising began a year ago. Troops shelled a village in Daraa and clashed with military defectors.

Activists said the military blasted a bridge and a tunnel near the border with Lebanon used as escape routes for the wounded and refugees fleeing central Homs province, an opposition stronghold which just endured a heavy monthlong offensive.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, described video that has emerged of torture victims allegedly shot secretly in the Military Hospital in Homs as “truly shocking.”

The video, broadcast this week on Britain’s Channel 4, shows wounded civilian victims blindfolded and chained to their hospital beds, some of them with clear torture marks on their bodies, allegedly at the hands of medical staff.

The international outcry against Syria has been growing louder by the day. On Monday, US Sen. John McCain called for airstrikes against the country, saying the United States has a moral and strategic obligation to force out Assad and his loyalists.

Obama has resisted calls to step into the turmoil in Syria to stop Assad’s bloody crackdown on protesters. He told a news conference Tuesday that the international community has not been able to muster a campaign against Syria like the one in Libya that ousted Qaddafi last year.

“For us to take military action unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake,” Obama said. “What happened in Libya was we mobilized the international community, had a UN Security Council mandate, had the full cooperation of the region, Arab states, and we knew that we could execute very effectively in a relatively short period of time. This is a much more complicated situation.”

Obama’s strategy has been to use sanctions and international diplomatic isolation to pressure Assad into handing over power.

The top US commander in the Middle East said the advanced air defense weapons Russia has provided to Syria would make it difficult to establish a no-fly zone there as part of an effort to help the rebellion. Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of US Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee it would take a significant military commitment even to create safe havens in Syria where aid could be delivered, as McCain suggested.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Assad, unlike his father and predecessor, will not escape punishment for the violence he has inflicted. Turkey and Syria, which share a border, were allies before the uprising began.

“I would like to remind Bashar Assad: his father was not made to account for what he did in this world, but his son will sooner or later account for what he did, for the massacre and the oppression,” he said. “This time, the bloodshed in Syrian cities will not go unpunished.” The father, Hafez Assad, died in office in 2000 after ruling Syria for nearly three decades.

The UN says more than 7,500 people have been killed since Syria’s uprising started in March 2011. Activists put the death toll at more than 8,000.

Clashes that broke out in the village of Hirak, where many dissident soldiers are believed to be operating, were some of the worst lately in Daraa province, birthplace of the uprising to oust Assad.

Explosions shook the village as shells slammed into residential areas suspected of sheltering defectors, and even mosques were targeted, according to activists. A 15-year-old boy and five soldiers were killed, they said.

“The clashes are very intense and have been going on since the morning,” said Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground.

A video posted online by activists shows what it said was the inside of the Abu Bakr Al-Saddiq mosque in Hirak. There were images of rubble littering the mosque’s entryway, doors blown from their frames and shattered glass covering the floor.

An unidentified man on camera says a tank fired on the mosque after town residents sought refuge there. Another video shows men, women and children fleeing a building after it appears to be hit by a shell.

Abdul-Rahman said the army was fighting a large number of army defectors in Hirak.

He said the rebels ambushed an armored personnel carrier, killing five soldiers and wounding several. He and the Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said a 15-year-old boy was killed by snipers.

Activists and residents accuse the government of deploying snipers on rooftops in many cities to terrorize anti-government protesters. The circumstances of the teenager’s death were not immediately clear. Syria has barred almost all foreign journalists and human rights groups throughout the uprising, making most events difficult to verify.

Security forces were conducting raids in pursuit of defectors and activists, making arbitrary arrests and burning homes in Hirak, the LCC said. The group reported at least 21 deaths across Syria Tuesday.

The operation in Daraa province began just days after Syrian forces captured a key rebel-held neighborhood in central Homs province, another opposition stronghold. Government troops intensely shelled Homs for four weeks before they captured the Baba Amr neighborhood in the city of Homs, wresting it from rebels who had held it for months. Activists said hundreds were killed in the monthlong offensive, which was forcefully condemned around the world.

Observatory director Abdul-Rahman said Syrian forces Tuesday blasted a bridge and a tunnel near the border with Lebanon used to evacuate the wounded and refugees to Lebanon from Homs province.

A top Russian diplomat also said Moscow was sticking to its position on the Syria crisis and urged the West to press the opposition to stop fighting Assad’s regime. Both Russia and China fear a Security Council resolution condemning Syria could lead to military intervention against Assad, as it did last year against Qaddafi in Libya.

A special Chinese envoy to Syria arrived in Damascus Tuesday to press the regime for a cease-fire. Beijing remains firmly opposed to any foreign intervention in Syria.


Saudis told to focus more on local charities


Published: Mar 7, 2012

JEDDAH: Speakers at the second session of the concluding day of the 12th Jeddah Economic Forum discussing Arab philanthropy said yesterday that Saudis need to focus more on philanthropy and also invest in charities locally rather than directing their contributions overseas. Zakah also received attention from the speakers with calls to invest the SR125 billion Zakah in sustainable development programs.

Herman De Bode, MD, McKinsey & Company, said that 90 percent of the philanthropy in the Kingdom is not properly directed and the right cause should be assessed before extending contributions.

While Tariq Cheema, founder of World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, said philanthropy should be part of the school curriculum so that children get motivated to make contributions from their younger days. It also has to be similarly introduced at higher education levels to encourage students to major in it and thus be professionals in the field. "We cannot ignore the role of manpower needed for the purpose, which can be achieved through education," said Cheema calling for the need to close the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Cheema agreed that the GCC was the most generous part of the world but had limitations due to government, corporate and individual concerns.

"Yet we need to address more issues including education and the environment," he said. As to cooperation from external charities, he remarked, "We are dealing with the pressure of negative image that Arab giving is not great. This is not the case. We also have to address how we give to the poor and interact with them."

He thought society needed shift in mindset and revisited charity. It might be done through two or three channels - education, for example. "We must introduce young people to the idea of charity and away from gadgets."

Arabian philanthropy traditionally has a swift turnover of money to charitable causes; it affects sustainability and analysis of impact, said another expert.

Saudi Arabia and the GCC are world leaders in being charitable, giving larger proportions of their GDPs earmarked for charitable purposes than elsewhere.

Humayon Dar, managing director, BMB Islamic, emphasized that giving is deeply rooted in Islamic DNA and very important, but giving in a responsible way was more important.

"In Islamic societies, there is a lot of giving and it is motivated by belief purposes. It comes into the system and leaves very quickly. However noble this is, it does not help sustainability." He said he knew charities raise millions of dollars yet have no money. "I believe that sustainability aspect is very important."

Dar felt it vital to introduce a system, perhaps based on Western money management practice, into charities thus ensuring the accumulation of long-term assets and that this would ensure that there would be long-term sustainability for the charity. "There is a need to bring new models to management."

Herman De Bode, managing director, McKinsey and Co., Riyadh Office, noted that the US devoted two percent of its GDP to charitable aid and acknowledged that the Gulf states accounted for a much higher percentage. Saudi Arabia currently stood at around five percent.

"However, it is not how much you give but what you do with it and how effective it is," he said.

He added that 90 percent of Saudi giving was unfocused. "It is most important to look at what the impact is; what is the reach and relevance, and to establish that you have to focus." They should focus on one or two specific destinations.

Charitable giving, thought Bode, was about complexity and focus. "Ninety percent is dispersed. Why not make sure that 85 percent (of the gross) goes into particular areas, use professional management and measure the impact?"

Antoine Bieler is regional humanitarian diplomacy advisor Medecin Sans Frontier, which has some 26,000 staff, and is the biggest medical humanitarian organization in world.

He noted that stringent quality control of staff and total independence from political connections or donations was a key factor in the success of the organization. He cautioned against a view sometimes taken by donors that every dollar gathered has to be spent on charity. About five percent of the total goes on the staff and was absolutely essential to implement the charity's work effectively.

"Key to our work is the lack of political connection, especially in sensitive areas," he said.

Session moderator Hani Khoja, cofounder and managing partner, Elixir Business Consultancy, told Arab News that a study covering 60 new Saudi graduates of both genders shows that they are more interested in gaining employment and follow a career path than choose philanthropy as a career. "They go for voluntary work only until they land a job," Khoja said, adding that graduates are not motivated to take up voluntary work due to the absence of salary structure.

According to Khoja, there is a need to transfer the charity work to associations that have management skills. This will help tackle unemployment among youth, he said, adding that voluntary work is the third sector that attracts employment in the United States.


Jeddah: Incentives readied for employers of disabled citizens


Published: Mar 7, 2012

JEDDAH: The Labor Ministry is making strenuous efforts to employ citizens with special needs and has drafted laws that would safeguard their rights, Al-Madinah Arabic daily reported yesterday quoting the ministry’s official spokesman.

Hattab Al-Anzi said the ministry would consider the employment of a single handicapped equivalent to the appointment of four able-bodied citizens. “This is an incentive to the employers,” he explained.

A number of disabled citizens complained that they could not find jobs to suit their physical and mental condition and said many private companies refused to accept them in the technical, vocational or industrial cadres.

They said although the ministry promised incentives to private companies, they were still not able to find jobs.

They also said there were no special facilities that would enable them to enter or leave these companies. “The lack of easy access to the companies and the low salaries they pay are not helping us to look for jobs in the private sector,” one of them said.

Fahd Al-Amri, who has a hearing problem, said he was working with a communications company, but when his condition worsened, the company sacked him. “Although the Labor Ministry has asked private companies to employ the handicapped in jobs that would suit their disabilities, the company was not willing to heed these instructions,” he said.

Al-Amri said he was constantly contacting the labor office in Riyadh to solve his problem, but there were no signs of an imminent solution.

Muhammad Al-Subhi, a crippled citizen, said he had so far not been able to find any job, despite the fact that he had contacted a number of private companies. He said he explained his problem on the Internet, but nobody noticed.

“I still have great hopes in the ministry to find jobs for us,” he said.

Meanwhile, a study by Naif Zarie, head of special education department at King Abdulaziz University, found out that the handicapped registered less absence from work than other people by at least 12 percent. They were also about 1 percent more productive, he said.

Zarie called for the employment of disabled people in jobs that would not entail heavy duty or constant movements, such as office work, making carpets, pottery, and leather works.


Uganda returns seized bank to Libyan govt


Published: Mar 6, 2012

KAMPALA: Uganda’s central bank has handed back to Tripoli control of a major Libyan-owned bank which it seized last year following UN Security Council sanctions targetting Muammar Qaddafi.

The central bank appointed new board members and management to Tropical Bank Uganda, a well-known highstreet lender, last March to comply with a Security Council resolution that imposed a freeze on Libyan government assets.

But on Tuesday Uganda said it was returning the bank following a further Security Council resolution in December which lifted sanctions on the North African country.

“Bank of Uganda is glad to announce the return of Tropical Bank (U) Ltd. to its majority shareholder, the Libyan Foreign Bank and reinstatement of the previous board and senior management team,” the central bank said in a statement

Tropical Bank is 90 percent owned by the Libyan Foreign Bank, which in turn is controlled by the Libyan government.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was a critic of the UN authorized intervention that toppled Muammar Qaddafi, but his country complied with UN sanctions and froze all Libyan government assets in the country.

Libyan investments in Uganda spanning banking, hospitality and real estate are estimated to be worth $375 million.


FBI offers $1 mln in ex-agent’s Iran disappearance


Published: Mar 6, 2012

WASHINGTON: The US Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday offered a rare $1 million reward for information leading to the safe return of its former agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 and is believed to be held hostage in the area.

The FBI made the announcement almost five years after Levinson, a former FBI special agent, disappeared from Kish Island in Iran while on a business trip. Iran’s government has said previously it has no information about his whereabouts.

“While we believe Bob is alive, we are concerned about his health,” James McJunkin, head of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters. “I hope this reward encourages anyone with information - no matter how insignificant they may think it is - to come forward ... it may be the clue we need.”

Last December a video was released of Levinson looking gaunt and appealing for help because he was “running very quickly out of diabetes medicine.”

Levinson’s wife, Christine, joined the press conference in Washington where the reward was announced to plead for information, flanked by FBI Director Robert Mueller as well as dozens of current and former agents.

“Knowing that Bob is being held against his will and not being able to help him has been extremely difficult for our family,” she said. “There are no words to describe the nightmare my family and I have been living every day.”

Washington cut diplomatic relations with Tehran shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and the two countries are at odds over a range of issues, including Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said a year ago that there were indications that Levinson was being held in Southwest Asia and she sought Iran’s help in getting information about him. Tehran said then it would try to assist in locating him.

Levinson, who will turn 64 later this week, traveled to Iran on March 8, 2007 and had been working as a private investigator for several major corporations. He retired from the FBI in 1998 after a 22-year career.

The FBI said it plans to launch a publicity campaign this week in Southwest Asia, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, using radio and billboards to seek information about Levinson.

McJunkin acknowledged that the FBI had little to no information about his suspected captors, their demands, reasons for the apparent kidnapping or Levinson’s whereabouts. “Personally it’s been very frustrating.”

The $1 million reward is rare in kidnapping cases and is being funded by the US Justice Department, McJunkin said.

However, he said there was no connection between the reward and the ongoing tensions between Washington and Tehran over its nuclear development, which Western powers believe is aimed at building a nuclear weapon. Iran has denied such plans.

The United States and European Union placed tough sanctions aimed at Iran’s economy as part of a bid to force Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions.


Muslims at rally: NYPD surveillance keeps us safe


Published: Mar 6, 2012

NEW YORK: Members of an Islamic coalition stood in front of police headquarters with signs to support the New York Police Department’s aggressive counterterrorism efforts, saying the agency is doing what is necessary to protect the city — and Muslims.

Imam Qazi Qayyoom, who was among the group Monday, said he believes the New York Police Department is keeping his community safe and if that means some Muslims are monitored, so be it.

“The police, they come to us and say, ‘Is everything OK? How can we help you?” the Queens marriage officiant said Monday. “They are not trying to hurt us. For this, I want to say thank you and tell them I support them.”

Qayyoom and about three dozen other people attended the first rally held by Muslims in support of the NYPD following a series of Associated Press stories detailing the police department’s secret surveillance of mosques, Muslim-owned businesses and college campuses across the Northeast since Muslim extremists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, killing thousands of people.

The rally, held by the American Islamic Leadership Coalition outside police headquarters in downtown Manhattan, illustrated a division even among the faith’s adherents about how far authorities should go in seeking to protect the nation’s largest city from terrorists. Other Muslim groups were quick to say the coalition didn’t represent their views.

Among the speakers was Dr. Zudhi Jasser, the narrator of “The Third Jihad,” a documentary about the dangers of radical Islam that the NYPD showed in the lobby of a police training area and has since disavowed.

“We are not here to criticize the NYPD but rather thank them for monitoring extremists, a job that Muslims should be doing,” Jasser said.

Jasser and others, including activist Manda Zand Ervin, said that the danger is clearly coming from within the Muslim community and that it’s up to other Muslims to help law enforcement stop the threat. They said Muslims do not want to give up civil rights and are behind transparency in police work but it is wrong to suggest that all Muslims are somehow afraid of the NYPD, the nation’s biggest police department.

“In no way do we want to be spied on,” Jasser said. “But this is not about spying. This is about monitoring and public programs.”

The NYPD didn’t comment Monday. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said he is doing everything within the law to protect the city from another terrorist attack. The department is bound under federal guidelines, known the Handschu guidelines, on how it can do certain investigations, and Kelly said the department’s efforts follow them.

“Anyone who intimates that it is unlawful for the police department to search online, visit public places or map neighborhoods has either not read, misunderstood or intentionally obfuscated the meaning of the Handschu guidelines,” Kelly said at a weekend breakfast.

The police department has been criticized by many civil rights groups and politicians who say its efforts go too far. Several other rallies have been held in the past months by other Muslim groups that drew hundreds of people to protest the NYPD’s tactics. Each side says it’s not being accurately represented by the other.

Critics of Monday’s rally pointed out that there were few people in attendance and that “The Third Jihad” had been described even by city officials as “over the top.”

“The few misguided individuals that showed up in support of the NYPD today do not speak on behalf of Muslim communities,” said Amna Akbar, a lawyer with the City University of New York School of Law’s Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility program. “Through know your rights workshops, rallies at Foley Square and Wall Street and calls for federal, state and city investigations, Muslim communities have been loud and clear that the NYPD’s surveillance policies are unwarranted, dangerous and divisive.”

Linda Sarsour, a member of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, said she objected to the idea held by some speakers Monday that Muslims opposed to police surveillance were “radical.”

“Muslim Americans are simply saying we’re concerned, we’re asking questions of our government, our law enforcement, and now we’re being labeled as radical Islamists,” she said. “We’re simply exercising our rights.”

Far uptown from police headquarters, a line of yellow cabs was parked outside the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, where many of the men who stopped to pray Monday were taxi drivers. Janitor Yasin Mansoer said the NYPD surveillance of Muslims is “terrible.”

“It’s totally wrong,” he said. “I know there’s a security situation in this country, but you can’t suspect everybody.”

Some politicians have lauded the police department’s efforts, while others have demonized them. US Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and a resolute supporter of the NYPD, said the NYPD deserved a medal and other police departments should mimic its counterterror efforts.

“No one is doing more to stop terrorism than the NYPD,” said King, a Republican. “It’s the job of the police department not to pick up the bodies after the attack has been launched and carried out but to stop those attacks from happening.”

The NYPD’s efforts included operations in New Jersey’s largest city, Newark, where Democratic Mayor Cory Booker and his police director last month said the NYPD misled them, telling them only that it was going into the city as part of a terrorism investigation, not that their entire Muslim community was under scrutiny.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has lambasted NYPD officials as being arrogant and unwilling to work with other law enforcement groups.


Yemen reels from army’s defeat by Al-Qaeda


Published: Mar 6, 2012

SANAA: The slaying of nearly 200 Yemeni soldiers by Al-Qaeda militants in a brazen weekend attack poses the first major test to the country’s newly elected president, who has vowed to crush the terror network and purge military commanders still loyal to his predecessor.

For the second successive day, tens of thousands protested in several cities across Yemen to demand that Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi prosecute army commanders suspected of negligence or collaboration with Al-Qaeda in the Sunday attack, which saw headless bodies of soldiers dumped in the desert in the deadliest defeat for the army in its nearly yearlong campaign against the militant movement in the south.

Protesters and military officials blame the defeat on commanders installed by ex-leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, who they say promoted his allies and relatives on the basis of loyalty not competence. They say these officers were lax about taking the fight to Al-Qaeda, and may have struck local deals with the militants.

If Hadi leaves these commanders in place, military officials say, Al-Qaeda is likely to expand areas under its control in the lawless south of the country or stage similarly bold attacks like Sunday’s.

The slowly emerging grim details of the violence in the southern Abyan province and the magnitude of the army’s defeat point to the heavy burden left squarely on Hadi’s shoulders by more than three decades of Saleh’s rule.

The military officials accounts of the disaster involved Al-Qaeda militants sneaking across the desert to the back lines of Yemeni forces at dawn, when many of the troops were asleep in their tents.

The raiders sprayed the sleeping soldiers with bullets and later dumped their bodies, including some missing heads or mutilated, in the desert near Abyan’s provincial capital of Zinjibar.

On Tuesday, military officials said the death toll among army troops has risen to 185. Another 55 soldiers were captured and paraded through a nearby town by the militants. The figure for Al-Qaeda fighters killed in the fighting remained unchanged at 32.

Medical officials in the area confirmed the latest death toll and said some of the bodies of soldiers recovered were missing their heads and bore multiple stab wounds. They said that bodies packed the military hospital morgue to which they were taken, with some taken to vegetable freezers in a military compound for lack of space.

During his inaugural speech last month, President Hadi said his two top priorities were to restructure the armed forces and launch a national dialogue among various political factions.

Among his first decrees as president was to replace the military commander of the nation’s southern region, Maj. Gen. Mahdi Maqoula, a Saleh loyalist privately accused by officers under his command to have hindered the arrival of vital supplies to army forces fighting Al-Qaeda in the south.

The replacement came only days before Sunday’s attack, raising suspicions about Maqoula’s role in the Al-Qaeda attack.

The surprise attack and the mutilations have left government troops “fearful” and suffering from “low morale,” according to a senior military official who was a member of the defeated force.

The senior military official said the attack left soldiers “fearful of Al-Qaeda because of the barbarism and brutality of their attack.”

“Al-Qaeda managed to deal a blow to the army’s morale. Imagine how soldiers feel when they see the bodies of their comrades dumped in the desert,” he said.

The military officials had earlier said that militants overran the base and captured armored vehicles and artillery pieces, which they turned on the army.

The senior official said the soldiers were taken unaware.

“It was a massacre and it came by surprise as the soldiers were asleep,” he said. Militants sneaked behind army lines and attacked from the rear where there was “zero surveillance,” he said.

Hadi took power last month from longtime ruler Saleh as part of power-transfer deal backed by the United States and initiated by Arab Gulf countries.

The yearlong uprising against Saleh had caused a deterioration of central state authority throughout the country, and allowed Al-Qaeda to seize Zinjibar in May and fight off repeated army offensives to retake it. They captured the nearby town of Jaar last April.

The US had hoped that replacing Saleh would take some pressure off of Yemen’s government and military, who also confront tribal and separatist insurgencies, and allow them to fight back more effectively against the militants.

Maj. Gen. Salem Katton, who replaced Maqoula as commander of the southern region, told his troops on Tuesday that the battle with Al-Qaeda has not started yet.

“The coming days will be decisive and will teach them a harsh lesson,” he said.

But he may not yet have the means to do so: the military officials in Abyan said the forces routed by Al-Qaeda were poorly equipped, and that better-trained, better-armed specialized anti-terrorist units needed to be brought to the front.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of military protocol or because they were not allowed to speak to the media.


Defense minister gives away King Faisal Prizes


Published: Mar 7, 2012

On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Defense Minister Prince Salman gave away the King Faisal International Prizes for 2012 to the winners at a colorful ceremony at Al-Faisaliah Center here yesterday.

The award for Service to Islam was presented to Saudi philanthropist Sheikh Sulaiman Al-Rajhi in recognition of his outstanding contributions, including an endowment of more than half of his personal wealth for humanitarian purposes.

The Prize for Islamic Studies was won by Saudi professor Adnan Mohammed Al-Wazzan, a former president of Umm Al-Qura University, in recognition of his highly authoritative Arabic encyclopedia of human rights in Islam and its attributes in Saudi Arabia.

In the Arabic Language and Literature category (Computer Processing of the Arabic Language: Individual and Institutional Endeavors), the prize was shared jointly by professor Ali Hilmi Ahmed Mousa of Ain Shams University, Cairo, and Nabil Ali Mohamed, a corporate consultant at Advanced Arabic Systems, Cairo.

The Prize for Medicine (Minimal Invasive Fetal Management) was shared by US professors Richard L. Berkowitz and James Bruce Bussel, while in the Science category (Biology), the recipient was professor Alexander Varshavsky, also from the US.

Each of the five prizes consists of a certificate hand written in Diwani calligraphy summarizing the laureate's work; a commemorative 24 carat 200-gram gold medal uniquely cast for each prize; and a cash award of SR750,000 ($200,000). Co-winners in any category share the monetary grant.

Addressing the ceremony, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, director general of King Faisal Foundation, said Saudi Arabia is going through a golden era under the wise leadership of King Abdullah.

“This is an era of wise leadership, good governance and loyal people. It’s also an era of reforms, development and achievements,” Prince Khaled said. He noted the peace and security prevailing in the Kingdom while many countries are hit by crises and disturbances.

Prince Khaled, who is the governor of Makkah, commended scholars and scientists for their great contributions for the progress and prosperity of humanity. He also thanked the audience for coming to encourage knowledge and salute the scholars.

Ever since it was instituted in 1979 in the name of the late King Faisal, the prize has been awarded to 223 winners from 40 countries. King Faisal Prize has won international reputation and has assumed a prominent place among major awards.

According to Abdullah Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the prize, Al-Rajhi was chosen for the Service to Islam award in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the service of Islam and Muslims, including the establishment of a major Islamic bank. He is the first Saudi businessman to win the award.

Al-Wazzan won the prize for his book on human rights, a scholarly and thoroughly researched eight-volume work based on extensive resources from Islamic jurisprudence and contemporary human rights studies.

Mousa was awarded the prize in recognition of his contributions to computer applications in Arabic language research, a field he has explored since the early stages of computerization and its applications in language studies.

Mousa’s co-winner, Ali Mohammed, was cited in recognition of his leadership in research and applications of computerized Arabic linguistic studies, coupled with his deep knowledge and remarkable ability to express and analyze his findings and present them as practical programs that benefit scholars of both linguistics and computing fields. His research on computer-based management of Arabic language provides an indispensable reference to many scholars and program designers.

Speaking about the winners of Medicine prize, Al-Othaimeen said Berkowitz and Bussel of the Columbia Medical Center in New York worked together for more than two decades to study the natural history, optimal diagnostic criteria and management of pregnant women having fetuses infected with alloimmune thrombocytopenia. This disease causes intracranial hemorrhage either in-utero or during neonatal period, causing death or substantial disability in 10 percent of untreated cases.

Bussel has provided expertise in the diagnosis and medical management of these patients through safe administration of intravenous gamma-globulins, while Berkowitz has provided expertise in obstetrical management of these patients. Both professors developed the study protocols, analyzed the data, interpreted the results and wrote the reports for publication.

Science prize winner Varshavsky has made ground-breaking discoveries into how the living cell works. He elucidated how cell functions are regulated by protein degradation. Proteins are essential parts of organisms and participate in virtually every process within the cell. Cells continuously produce and destroy proteins to ensure optimal function.

Varshavsky’s work led to the unraveling of the cellular mechanisms that determine how cellular proteins are being selected for destruction. He also discovered how proteins are marked for rapid degradation. These advances have created a new realm of biology and have been essential for progress in research on human cancer, neurodegeneration, immune responses and other fundamental biological processes.


Police to provide protection for Jakarta governor candidates

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Wed, 03/07/2012

The Jakarta Police said Wednesday they would provide candidates contesting the upcoming gubernatorial race with personal security protection to guarantee their safety during all the election stages.

 “After the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU) has officially announced the pair of candidates who will compete in the gubernatorial elections, we will ensure they receive tight protection. Our personnel will follow them wherever they go to anticipate [and prevent] unwanted incidents,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said Wednesday as quoted by

 The police, he added, would assign three police officers to protect each governor or deputy governor candidate.

 The Jakarta gubernatorial election will be held on July 11.

 After receiving applications from two pairs of independent candidates - economist Faisal Basri and entrepreneur Biem Benjamin, and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Hendardji Soepandji and politician Ahmad Riza Patria - the Jakarta KPU will reopen the registration for candidates nominated by political parties from March 13 to 19.

 As of last week, it was only the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the city’s second-largest political party, which had officially announced its candidate, Jakarta Council’s deputy speaker Triwisaksana, to run in the elections.

 Other major political parties, like the Democratic Party, the largest in the city, the Golkar Party and the PDI-P are expected to announce the names of their chosen candidates by the end of this week. (hwa)


Saudi delegation seeks food products from Pakistan


Published: Mar 6, 2012

RIYADH: A delegation of Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) left for Pakistan Saturday to hold talks with major players in Pakistani food sector and to register them to ensure exports of a range of food products including meat from that Asian country to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi delegation's plan is also to visit the meat exporting companies' facilities in different Pakistani cities with an aim to award licenses to them and above all to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state-owned Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

Muhammad Naeem Khan, Pakistani ambassador, said here Sunday that a team of six prominent veterinary doctors are there in the Saudi delegation led by a Saudi expert Dr. Saleh Abdullah Al-Hamid. Khan said that Pakistan has great potential in food sector, especially in halal food industry. Pakistan, he said, is geared up to play a major role in the progressively growing halal food market, whose cumulative global value exceeds $640 billion annually.

"With the advent of more and more new players and with robust support from the government, Pakistan is set to become one of the largest players in the meat trade, at least within the Middle East and Southeast Asia," said Ambassador Khan, adding that the Saudi delegation will visit 17 food companies and slaughter houses across Pakistan for an assessment and to register them with the Saudi government agencies, he added.

The plan is to boost exports of a range of food commodities from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, mainly meat, poultry and fish products, he added. He pointed out that the delegation will stay in Pakistan until mid-March. The delegation will also visit some Pakistani companies and major commercial establishments during their stay in that country. "The Saudi side will sign a long-term MoU with TDAP to establish a strategic partnership  with Pakistan in the food sector," said Ambassador Khan.

He pointed out that the Saudi team will visit major Pakistani cities including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to see the overall condition of animal vaccination and food system, health certification, traceability system for animals, food products and surveillance and control against animal diseases like influenza, H1N1 etc. The Saudi delegation visit will eventually allow companies like K & Ns and Seasons Foods as well as major Pakistani food giants to sell their products in the Saudi market, he noted.

He pointed out that Pakistan had been willing to export a range of food materials including meat and biscuits to the Kingdom. "Due to the visit of the Saudi delegation and new developments on commercial front, it is expected that the export of food products from Pakistan will exceed $50 million annually soon," said Khan, while referring to the participation of Pakistan in the recently concluded halal food exhibition in Riyadh.

The envoy said that Pakistan can be the central of halal food industry for the Gulf states and the rest of the world. "Possible registration of 11 new companies and six old companies with Saudi regulatory bodies will prove that Pakistan is going to be the global leader in halal food in near future," said Khan. The SFDA is an independent Saudi government-owned body established with the objective is to regulate, oversee, and control food, drug, medical devices, as well as to set mandatory standard specifications.