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Islamic World News ( 11 Dec 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Maldives: Protesters calling for Religious Tolerance Attacked with Stones, Threatened with Death

Govt. ripping apart human rights: Bangladesh opposition

Pak Mashaikh demand Int’l Sufi University

Ottawa imam condemns 'honour killings'

Dilip Kumar is my idol and inspiration: Amitabh Bachchan

Army Jawan Jailed for leaking info to Pakistan

Pakistani authorities establish control over Shamsi airbase

World Human Rights Day: Pak Labourers demand ‘to live’

Won’t tolerate rights violations, ‘We Too Committed Mistakes In Past’: Mirwaiz Umar

Pak Taliban spokesman denies peace talks

Al Qaeda core ravaged, affiliate groups taking over the fight

Gilani committed with PPP; to quit politics than to stab party

Pakistan suffers from many ills

Bilawal unhappy with President Zardari's mild response to religious radicalization in Pak

In Egypt, a Conservative Appeal Transcends Religion

A 22-year-old Indonesian man self-immolates near the presidential palace

Nine killed in fresh Syria clashes

Kabul shrine bomb death toll reaches 80: Karzai

Miscreants destroy two shrines in Landikotal, Pak

Three terrorists die in Kurram clashes

Abducted by Muslim rebels in the Philippines US teenager 'free' in Philippines

"Al-Qaeda splinter group" claims kidnap of Westerners

Iran says will not return US drone

Libyan army commander comes under 2nd attack

Arab Spring gives bloom to Islamist parties

US working hard to salvage ties with Pakistan

Iraq PM sets off for US ahead of pullout

Heads of Medical Schools Urge Iran To Release Jailed Baha’i Educators

Roundtable on human rights: Session begins with contradictions, ends with resolve

Women’s rights rally: Senators chided for allowing bill to lapse

‘Medical aid, education should be human rights’

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau



Protesters calling for religious tolerance attacked with stones, threatened with death in Maldives

By JJ Robinson, December 10th, 2011

Police are investigating a violent attack on a ‘silent protest’ calling for religious tolerance, held at the Artificial Beach to mark Human Rights Day.

Witnesses said a group of men threw rocks at the 15-30 demonstrators, calling out threats and vowing to kill them.

One witness who took photos of the attacked said he was “threatened with death if these pictures were leaked. He said we should never been seen in the streets or we will be sorry.”

Among those injured in the attack was Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed, a controverisal blogger whose website was recently blocked by the Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) on the order of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Rasheed suffered a head injury and was rushed to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

“They started hitting us with bricks. They were aiming at our heads – we could tell they were serious and wanted to kill us,” Rasheed told Minivan News from hospital. “I was taken on a motorcycle to IGMH, but I could see them behind me still hitting my friends.”

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said police attended the scene after the attackers had departed, and were currently investigating the cause of the violence. No arrests had yet been made, he added.

The protesters, calling themselves ‘Silent Solidarity’, had earlier issued a press release stating that their intention was to “make the Maldives and the international community aware of the rising religious intolerance in the Maldives, and to condemn the Constitutionally endorsed suppression of religious freedom. We also denounce the increasing use being made of Islam as a tool of political power.”

“Silent Solidarity will be protesting against discrimination of all races, gender, sexual preferences and religious beliefs and supporting freedom of thought and expression. In our silence, we speak volumes,” the group’s statement said.

The Maldives has come under increasing international scrutiny following an apparent rise in religious intolerance.

Several monuments gifted to the Maldives by other SAARC countries during the recent summit in Addu have been defaced or stolen on the grounds that they are idolatrous. Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has condemned the monuments while the opposition has hailed the vandals as “national heroes”.

Protests also erupted last month after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke in parliament calling for the government and the judiciary to issue a moratorium and debate on flogging as a punishment for extra-marital sex.

“This practice constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country,” Pillay said.

“The issue needs to be examined, and therefore I called for a countrywide discussion. It is much better if the issue is transparent and debated.”

Pillay also stated that requirement under the Maldivian constitution that all Maldivians be Muslim ”is discriminatory, and does not comply with international standards. I would urge a debate again on the issue to open up entrance of the constitution to all.”

Challenged by a local journalist that the Maldives was both obliged to protect the religion of Islam, she replied: “You have a constitution which conforms in many respects to universal human rights. Let me assure you that these human rights conform with Islam.”

She added that the Maldives had signed international treaties that are legally-binding obligations, “and such a practice conflicts with these obligations undertaken by the Maldives.”

The following day protesters gathered outside the UN building, carrying placards stating “Islam is not a toy”, “Ban UN” and “Flog Pillay”, and called on authorities to arrest the UN High Commissioner.

MPs roundly condemned Pillay’s statements.

‘”What we should be worried about holding discussions against the fundamentals of Islam in a 100 percent Muslim country such as the Maldives is that we may start questioning about worshipping God Almighty tomorrow,” said opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Afrashim Ali.

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said the Maldives “will never ever open doors for religions other than Islam in the Maldives. We’ll not give the opportunity to speak against the fundamentals and principles of Islam in the parliament.”

MP Riyaz Rasheed, from the opposition-aligen Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) condemned the Speaker Abdulla Shahid from allowing Pillay to complete her address.

“There is a good chance for us to directly say that Abdulla Shahid has made a good deal with this government to wipe out the religion of Islam from this country,” MP Rasheed said.

President Mohamed Nasheed has meanwhile said that Maldivians “should have the self-belief and resolve not to have our faith shaken by listening to statements or opinions expressed by others.”

“That the punishments and rulings of Islamic Sharia are not inhumane is very clear to us,” Nasheed said. “We have the opportunity to show the whole world how noble and civilised Sharia is. That is because we are the only Islamic nation with a democratically-elected government.

“Wasting that opportunity in a Jihadi spirit” with the claim of “defending Islam” was unacceptable, Nasheed said. “Opposition parties will always attack us by using religion as a weapon. [But] I believe that this country is the only Islamic nation where Islamic Sharia has been practiced uninterrupted for 700 years.”

Religious sentiment in the Maldives can often be vocal and heated, but has rarely led to physical violence.

In late May 2010, well-known Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik visited the Maldives and delivered a sermon in the capital Male’. During a question-and-answer session 37 year-old Mohamed Nazim stood up and declared himself “Maldivian and not a Muslim”.

Nazim’s declaration angered the 11,000 strong crowd, and he was escorted from the venue by police and officials from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs amid calls for his execution.

After two days of religious counselling in police custody, Nazim appeared before television cameras at an Islamic Ministry press conference and gave Shahada – the Muslim testimony of belief – and apologised for causing “agony for the Maldivian people” and requested that the community accept him back into society.

In July 2010, 25 year-old air traffic controller Ismail Mohamed Didi was found hanged from the control tower of Male’ International Airport in an apparent suicide, after seeking asylum in the UK for fear of persecution over his stated lack of religious belief.

“Maldivians are proud of their religious homogeneity and I am learning the hard way that there is no place for non-Muslim Maldivians in this society,” Didi wrote in a letter to an international humanitarian organisation, prior to his death


Govt. ripping apart human rights: BNP

Dhaka, Dec 10 ( — Bangladesh's law and order has gone beyond control, a spokesperson of the opposition BNP has claimed.

"Violation of human rights has reached alarming levels during the present government's tenure," acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said on Saturday.

Substantiating his claim, he said 'forced disappearances' and 'extra-judicial killings' cannot happen in a democratic country.

"BNP will protect human rights when it comes to power. We do not support extra-judicial killing and will never do so," he stated.

Fakhrul also criticised the government policy of 'suppressing' the opposition while addressing a day-long workshop titled 'Accession to the international convention for the protection of all persons from forced disappearances' at Gulshan's Spectra Centre.

"Political rivals are being picked up, killed and their bodies dumped at Ashulia. This is frightening. Chowdhury Alam, who was elected thrice as a Dhaka city ward commissioner, has gone missing. The government has no answer. A democratic country cannot run with such disappearances going on."

"Thousands of youths went missing in this very manner in the post-liberation period and were killed," Fakhrul said referring to independence architect Sheikh Mujib's rule during 1971-75.

Recalling the incidents of 'torture' on BNP leader and daily Amar Desh editor Mahmudur Rahman, and the death of a Supreme Court lawyer in custody, he said, "The electoral pledges of the government are no longer there. There is no rule of law or democratic environment in the country."

"The opposition is barred from holding rallies and processions. Their stages are vandalised. On Friday, our activists were barred from holding a rally in Dhaka's Mohammadpur area and the leaders were put in lock-ups. The government is ripping apart the democratic rights of the opposition."

Fakhrul went on that the government has politicised all democratic organisations to suppress the voice of opposition, while on the other hand, revoke almost 7,000 cases against the ruling party leaders.

Alleging that Section 7B of the Constitution (Fifth Amendment) is against the fundamental doctrines of democracy, he said, "The government has made their illegal deeds legal by amending the constitution and left no room for others to raise voice against their activities. No democratic constitution has such sections."

Referring to the incidents of 'crossfire' and 'Operation Clean Heart', the former agriculture minister said, "Although the operations took place even during our tenure, there were no political killings."

Referring to a leftist leader Mofakkharul Islam's killing in a crossfire during BNP's tenure he said, "He was a theoretical leader. I personally knew him. His killing was illegal…I personally agree."

"We do not support extrajudicial killings as we think if someone is found committing crimes, he should be brought to justice."

Sumi Das, wife of Tapan Das, who has been missing for more than four months, said, "Some people in the guise of Detective Branch of police picked my husband. Since then he has been missing."

Dhaka University's Political Science Department's professor Tasneem Siddique, Amar Desh editor Mahmudur Rahman and Prothom Alo's joint-editor Abdul Kaiyuum also spoke at the programme.


Pak Mashaikh demand Int’l Sufi University

Hameed Shaheen

Islamabad—Eminent Mashaikh and Sajjadah Nasheens through a resolution here on the conclusion of a 2-day 18th annual Urs of renowned Naqshbandi spiritualist Aala Hazrat Pir Muhammad Zahid Khan popularly known as Pir Khan Sahib of Mohra Sharif Murree, resolved to make every sacrifice for the territorial and ideological defence of Pakistan, turn it into a true citadel of Islam, promote societal tolerance and brotherhood among ranks of humanity, assuring unstinted support to the brave armed forces of Pakistan in defending the frontiers of the country.

The Urs events were held under auspices of Markazi Sajjadah Nasheen Mohra Sharif, Alhaaj Hazrat Pir Aulia Badshah Farooq at Zahidabad Sharif, Tarnol, Peshawar road here on Saturday. Devotees and mashaikh from all over Pakistan attended. Pir Sahib tracing the history of Sufism in the east and the west demanded establishment of an International Sufi University in Islamabad with provincial campuses at each provincial headquarters for the promotion of tolerant social order, mysticism and love of religion and humanity.

The darbars of the true Islamic mystics/Sufis, he pointed out, are the centers busy spreading respect towards humanity, chaste practices of religion and universal well-being. Pir Sahib said that he would soon set up a Sufi Desk at his Al-Farooq Academy of Shariah and Sciences at Zahidabad center where an archive of sufi literature belonging to all schools of Sufism would also be included. Chairman Al Farooq Academy of Shariah and Sciences Hazrat Pir Ahmed Farooq Zahidi in his speech condemned the Salala attacks by the Nato and Isaf forces and said that mashaikh would never flinch back from their well chosen mission of ideological and territorial defence of Pakistan.


Ottawa imam condemns 'honour killings'


OTTAWA —  Dec 10, 2011, The imam of the Ottawa Mosque has condemned so-called honour killing, saying the practice speaks to a perverse sense of honour that is alien to Islam, and has no place in society.

Samy Metwally said Friday that it doesn’t make sense to think or believe that any religion will condone killing people to preserve family honour.

“What’s called honour killing is not part of Islamic teaching or tradition, and in fact there is no honour in this killing at all,” Metwally told The Citizen.

“It has nothing to do with religion and it has no backup either from the texts of the Qur’an or from the behaviour, sayings or deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, who is the model for Muslims.”

Metwally was speaking to The Citizen on the day of “a call to action” during which imams across the country delivered sermons against domestic violence, and to reiterate that Islam has no tolerance for violence against women.

“The purpose of this call to action is to raise awareness of Muslims that we are not allowed to do things like beating our wives or doing physical or emotional harm to them. The religion does not permit us to do these,” he said.

The nationwide sermons were triggered by the sensational trial in Kingston, Ont., in which Montreal businessman Mohammad Shafia, his son and wife are accused of killing his three teenage daughters and his first wife allegedly because their behaviour dishonoured the family. A Kingston imam, concerned that the deaths are being misrepresented as something to do with Islam, asked colleagues around the country to deliver special sermons on domestic violence and make clear Islam has nothing to do with so-called honour killings.

Metwally would not comment directly on the ongoing trial, but said there have been so many misconceptions about “honour-killings” that it is imperative that imams set the record straight.

Metwally, who took over as imam of the city’s largest Muslim community a little over a month ago, said he has been so inundated with complaints about marriage problems he realized domestic discord was a huge problem among his congregation. He decided to devote his sermons to the problem, and the “call to action” fit into his program.

In his sermon, Metwally urged a packed Ottawa Mosque to look to the examples of the Prophet Muhammad, who never hit or abused his wives in any form. Quoting statistics that he says show that one in three women are subjected to some form of physical, mental or emotional abuse, he said domestic violence has no religious boundaries. But he said Muslims have a special duty to refrain from abusing their wives because Muhammad, whose examples are supposed to guide them, not only refrained from the behaviour, but forbade it.

Using several examples from the life of the Prophet and his companions in how they related to their wives, Metwally said Muslims have a responsibility to treat their wives with dignity, kindness and “equity.” He reminded them of one the most famous sayings on the subject from the Prophet: “The best of you are those who are best to their wives.”

The imam told the Citizen that one of the major problems in dealing with many issues, including domestic abuse, is that people often pull Qur’anic verses out of context and


Dilip Kumar is my idol and inspiration: Amitabh Bachchan


Dec 11, 2011,

He might be an idol for many, but megastar Amitabh Bachchan says his idol is none other than thespian Dilip Kumar and wishe him good health and a long life on his 89th birthday Sunday.

"It is a celebration for the greatest, on the eve of his birthday. He will turn 89, the 11th of December. Exactly 20 years older to me by birth and exactly 2000 years ahead of me in our common vocation. He is my idol and has been since the day I first saw his work," Amitabh wrote on his blog

Called the greatest method actor of the Indian film industry, Yusuf Khan was introduced to the Hindi film industry by Devika Rani as Dilip Kumar with the 1944 movie "Jwar Bhata". Though his first film went unnoticed, he made a mark for himself with his natural style of acting in films like "Amar", "Madhumati", ""Devdas", "Mela", "Shaheed", "Leader", "Tarana", "Daag", "Naya Daur" and the magnum opus " Mughal-E-Azam".

"He has been an inspiration not just for me but I am certain to thousands of those that have ever dreamt of facing a camera for the art form called cinema. His presence, his aura and his dedication to film shall be documented as 'before Dilip Kumar and after Dilip Kumar'.

"On the eve of his birthday, I wish him good health and a long life of peace and happiness. His strength of delivery and his strength of connect with any character he portrayed has been unique and unsurpassable," he further wrote.

The 69-year-old recalled how he used to break hostel rules to watch Dilip Kumar's films in cinema halls with the barest minimum facility and comfort.

"He was the one actor that we as young students in university broke boundaries and hostel rules to go see his films night after night. His early films had been historic in content and repute - "Aan" and "Shaheed" - ones that I still remember seeing in the darkness of cinema halls with the barest minimum facility and comfort," he wrote.

"We would sit on wooden benches right up in front in the theatres and marvel at what our hero would enact. And among the many that we saw and enjoyed, it was for me always a Dilip Kumar that stood out. Different and distinguished. And always without fault."

Amitabh worked with the legendary actor in 1982 hit movie "Shakti" and remembering the film's shooting, he revealed that it was very difficult for him to stand in front of his idol and act.

"And then one day I stood along with him on the sands of Juhu as the camera rolled to give the mahurat shot for 'Shakti', the only film that we worked together in. Tough to stand in front of one whom you have admired for ages, and disagree with. There were electric moments between him and me in the script," he wrote.


Army Jawan Jailed for Leaking info to Pakistan

Press Trust of India

New Delhi: Dec 11, 2011, A Delhi court has sentenced an army jawan to seven years in jail for doubling as a Pakistan intelligence agent and supplying sensitive defence-related information to the neighbouring country.

District and Additional Sessions Judge OP Gupta jailed Anil Kumar Dubey, 39, convicting him under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act for passing on secret information to Pakistan about the movement and deployment of army troops in India.

According to the prosecution, the Special Cell of Delhi Police had arrested Dubey from his home at Mahipalpur on October 20, 2006 on a tip-off that an alleged Pakistan High Commission employee would be visiting him to procure some sensitive information.

Police had caught Dubey while he was handing over a bag, containing some CDs and other documents, including some notifications pertaining to army's anti-insurgency operations, to the alleged Pakistan High Commission employee, Mohd Farooq.

Raids at Dubey's house led to recovery of three cheque books, two of which belonged to Farooq and one to Shamshad Hussain, another alleged Pakistan Embassy official.

Police in its search of Dubey's desk at Army Group Insurance Bhawan also recovered documents pertaining to new dialling system and AGI journal of the year 2005, the prosecution said.

As Farooq enjoyed diplomatic immunity, he was handed over to Pakistan High Commission through Ministry of External Affairs, while Dubey was arrested, it said.


Pakistani authorities establish control over Shamsi airbase

December 11, 2011

Deadline given to vacate Shamsi airbase expires, American flag removed from base. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Pakistani authorities took over Shamsi airbase in the Washuk district on Sunday, as American personnel met the deadline for eviction given earlier by the government.

Express News reported that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Frontier Constabulary have taken control of the base. According to sources, the US nationals present at the base had earlier removed radars and other sensitive equipment that was present at the base. Sources say that much of the cargo and drones had been shifted to Afghanistan.

However, three vehicles belonging to American authorities were still present at the base this morning.

An America flag that was previously hoisted at the base was reportedly removed by the CAA authorities.

Pakistan had served a 15 day notice to US to pack up and leave the air strip, located some 300 km south of Quetta, Balochistan. The decision came after a NATO air strike on a Pakistani border post killed at least 24 soldiers, wounding a further 12, on November 26. Pakistan told US to leave the base, suspended fuel and other supplies through land routes, and pulled out from border coordination centers.

The Shamsi base, initially leased to the government of UAE in 1992, had been given to the US after it started Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in late 2001. US publicly says it uses the base for refuelling and running maintenance on its surveillance drone. However, it is believed that the US has also operated armed versions of its drones from the same air strip to attack targets in Afghanistan, and even in Pakistan.


World Human Rights Day: Pak Labourers demand ‘to live’

By Shabbir Sarwar

LAHORE:  December 11, 2011, The World Human Rights Day was observed in a befitting manner across the metropolis on Saturday, with human rights activists belonging to different public and private sector organisations arranging workshops, declamation contests and painting exhibitions to create awareness among the people about human rights.

Labour leaders and unionists adopted a resolution urging the government to implement labour laws, raise minimum wages, announce old age benefit package, a special package to compensate price-hike and shun its plan to privatise WAPDA and Railways and other public sector departments. A special meeting was held at the Bakhtiar Labour Hall under the aegis of Pakistan Workers Confederation to commemorate the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

A large number of union representatives and workers were present on the occasion. Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice (r) Tanveer Ahmed Khan, Human Rights Commission General Secretary IA Rehman and Pakistan Workers Confederation General Secretary Kurshid Ahmed addressed the gathering. They said that the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, and ILO conventions ratified by the government of Pakistan are the basis of the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan, which ensured the right of liberty, life and security to the working class and the underprivileged sector of society.

For Detail Report:\12\11\story_11-12-2011_pg13_1


Won’t tolerate rights violations, ‘We Too Committed Mistakes In Past’: Mirwaiz Umar


Srinagar, Dec 10: Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Saturday said the amalgam will not tolerate human rights violations done by anybody including pro-freedom forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a seminar titled “Human rights violations -double standards at global level” at Rajbagh headquarters of the conglomerate here, Mirwaiz said, “We are committed to uphold the human rights and excesses done by anybody including pro-freedom forces are not acceptable to us. We too committed mistakes in the past.”

Castigating Army for opposing the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, Mirwaiz said forces have assumed political role in the state. “Their opposition to the revocation of the draconian law proves that there is no moral relationship of JK with New Delhi. Their role is confined to law and order and not to take political decisions,” he said.

Mirwaiz also accused the National Conference-led government of politicizing the issue of AFSPA revocation ‘for their petty interests.’ “The political establishment is trying to buy time over the issue,” he said.

Full Report at:


Pak Taliban spokesman denies peace talks


PESHAWAR: Dec 11, 2011,  A Pakistani Taliban spokesman on Sunday denied an earlier announcement by the militant group's deputy chief that it was holding peace talks with the government.

The conflicting claims are a clear sign of splits within the movement, which could make it even harder to end the violent insurgency gripping the country.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, who has been recognized by both militants and officials as the deputy chief of the Pakistani Taliban, said on Saturday that the group was in peace talks with the government. Mohammed, the first named commander to confirm talks, said an agreement to end the country's brutal four-year insurgency was within striking distance.

Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan denied the claims, saying there would be no negotiations until the government imposed Islamic law, or Shariah, in the country. He has previously denied reports of peace talks by unnamed commanders and intelligence officials.

"Talks by a handful of people with the government cannot be deemed as the Taliban talking," Ehsan said on telephone from an undisclosed location.

The US has pushed for peace negotiations between the Afghan branch of the Taliban and Kabul, but the possibility of similar talks between Islamabad and the Pakistani branch could stoke concern in Washington.

Past deals between the Pakistani Taliban and the government have broken down and given the militants time to strengthen their fight against US forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Battered by Pakistani military operations and US drone strikes, the once-formidable Pakistani Taliban has weakened and splintered into more than 100 smaller factions, according to security officials, analysts and tribesmen from the insurgent heartland.

The result is that the authority of individual commanders in the movement to control fighters and territory, already murky because of the Taliban's clandestine nature, is now even more unclear.

Taliban deputy commander Mohammed's main area of strength has been the Bajur tribal area along the Afghan border, but he reportedly fled to Afghanistan in recent years to escape army operations. He has long been identified as head of the Pakistani Taliban in Bajur and said a deal with the government there could be a "role model" for the rest of the border region.

But another commander, Mullah Dadullah, also now claims to be Taliban chief in Bajur. Dadullah contacted the AP on Sunday and denied the group, also known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP, was negotiating with the government.

"As TTP chief responsible for Bajur, I am categorically saying there are no talks going on between the government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban at the Bajur level or the central level," Dadullah said, also speaking from an undisclosed location.

Ehsan, the spokesman, said Dadullah rather than Mohammed was the head of the Pakistani Taliban in Bajur.


Al Qaeda core ravaged, affiliate groups taking over the fight

WASHINGTON:  December 11, 2011, With al Qaeda’s core leadership ravaged and its remaining commanders struggling to survive, militants in Africa, Yemen and elsewhere are taking over the anti-western fight, US experts and officials say.

Out of the network’s 10 main leaders listed after September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, only one is still alive: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s one-time deputy who took over after his boss was killed in May.

In the past year, eight of al Qaeda top 20 leaders were eliminated, most by missiles fired from US drones operating under an expanded covert warfare effort launched by President Barack Obama after taking office in January 2009.

“The top leadership of the organization has been hit hard in 2011,” State Department Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin said at a forum in Washington on Thursday.

Full Report at:\12\11\story_11-12-2011_pg7_6


Gilani committed with PPP; to quit politics than to stab party

ISLAMABAD, Dec 10 (APP): Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani while reiterating his commitment with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Saturday categorically said that he would rather quit the politics than to stab the party. “I am committed with the party. I am with the party and I would rather quit politics than to stab the party,” Gilani responded in an unequivocal tone, when he was posed a question with reference to some leaders who hailed from southern Punjab and had left the party.

The Prime Minister was talking with the panel of a private television channel (Dunya TV), where he had gone on the occasion of the channel’s third anniversary.

During the live interaction, the Prime Minister responded to various queries that pertained to the country’s political situation, President’s health, NATO attack, Pak-US relations and other issues of national importance.

About memo scandal, the Prime Minister said it was not a worth issue as Mansoor Ijaz, the writer of the so called memo and who is also not a Pakistani, had no credibility.

To another question, Gilani said when the leader of the opposition raised the question of memo in the parliament, he replied that he would summon Ambassador Hussain Haqqani to Pakistan and will not condemn him unheard as per the norms of justice.

The Prime Minister said he told the parliament that he will call him to give explanation to the leadership.

He said Ambassador Haqqani came to Pakistan and he explained his position in the presence of the President, Chief of the Army Staff and Director General ISI.

Prime Minister Gilani said he asked Ambassador Haqqani to resign for fair trial and he immediately referred the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.

To another question, Gilani said, the Joint Session of the Parliament would be summoned after the Parliamentary Committee on National Security presents its recommendations.

Answering another question, the Prime Minister said Mansoor Ijaz did not have any credibility and he had even maligned other institutions in his writings.

He however, added that as the matter of memo is sub-judice before the court, and Parliamentary Committee was working on it, therefore, everyone should wait for the final decision.

Full Report at:


Pakistan suffers from many ills

By Farhan Bokhari,

Gulf News Published: December 11, 2011

The past week has witnessed Pakistan once again thrown into a state of commotion following President Asif Ali Zardari's sudden departure for Dubai, ostensibly for treatment of a potentially serious medical condition. While accounts of his illness ranged from a cardiac ailment to a stroke, the latest reports suggest that Pakistan's head of state is in recovery mode and hopes to return home soon.

Once Zardari returns, questions surrounding his health will continue to make the rounds as they must in looking at any public figure on the face of this earth. Yet, a serious dimension of this entire episode could well have been avoided in the best tradition of democracy.

Unlike countries which remain totalitarian in terms of their politics, Pakistan has successfully embarked on a democratic route and lives in the hope of coming at par with its neighbouring democracies in south and south-east Asia. It is a country where institutions and not people ought to make a difference. Yet, Pakistan still has much of a gap to fill in rising to the occasion and becoming a truly democratic state.

Zardari, more than others in the ruling structure, has chosen to surround himself with a heavy concentration of authority — a choice that works only to undermine the best tradition of a democracy and shared decision making. He remains not only the president but co-leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — a controversial choice. Though he has successfully shed off some of the presidential powers, notably the authority to dismiss parliaments and elected governments, Zardari's clout is exercised more through his dominance of the PPP — a role that he inherited after the December 2007 assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto.

Full Report at:


Bilawal unhappy with President Zardari's mild response to religious radicalization in Pak


ISLAMABAD:  Dec 11, 2011, Ruling Pakistan People's Party's nominal head Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reportedly expressed his "displeasure" at his father President Asif Ali Zardari's "watered down response" to the killing of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer by a police guard with links to extremists.

Bilawal, who has been playing a greater role in the affairs of the PPP since Zardari travelled to Dubai last week for the treatment of a heart condition, has "independent opinions about events as well as party affairs", a party insider said.

"At one of the meetings, he (Bilawal) expressed his displeasure over his father's watered down response to the killing of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. He thought President Zardari should have taken a stronger position to denounce religious radicalisation that led to the Governor's murder," the unnamed party insider told the Dawn newspaper.

Party insiders disputed the popular perception that Bilawal is young and may not have developed his political faculties.

The 23-year-old Bilawal, who is ineligible to become a member of parliament till September 2013, was thrust into a central position by his father's abrupt departure to Dubai.

Bilawal seems keen on performing his role as PPP chairman, particularly with regard to upcoming polls to the Senate or upper house of parliament in March next year and the general election in 2013, the party insiders said.

"He will lead the manifesto and programme development for the party for the next general elections," said one source.

Full Report at:


In Egypt, a Conservative Appeal Transcends Religion

SHABRAMANT, Egypt — 10, 12,2011 Voters attending a political rally by ultraconservative Islamist sheiks might expect a pious call for strict religious rule — banning alcohol, restricting women’s dress, cutting off the hands of thieves.

But when a few hundred men gathered last week in a narrow, trash-strewn lot between the low cinderblock buildings of this village near Cairo, what they heard from the sheiks, known as Salafis, was a blistering populist attack on the condescension of the liberal Egyptian elite that resonated against other Islamists as well.

“They think that it is them, and only them, who represent and speak for us,” Sheik Shaaban Darwish said through scratchy speakers. “They didn’t come to our streets, didn’t live in our villages, didn’t walk in our hamlets, didn’t wear our clothes, didn’t eat our bread, didn’t drink our polluted water, didn’t live in the sewage we live in and didn’t experience the life of misery and hardship of the people.”

“Brothers,” he continued, “we, the Salafis, the founders of Al Nour Party, were part of the silent majority.”

Ten months after a broad popular uprising overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, the Salafis’ new brand of religious populism has propelled Al Nour and its allies to claim more than a quarter of the vote in the first round of parliamentary elections, surprising even the most seasoned Egyptian analysts and Western diplomats. The Salafis have outpaced the liberals to emerge as the principal rival — or potential partner — of the Muslim Brotherhood, the mainstream Islamist group whose party won 40 percent of the vote and is positioned to lead Parliament.

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A 22-year-old Indonesian man self-immolates near the presidential palace


JAKARTA - Dec, 12 2011, A 22-year-old Indonesian man has died after setting himself on fire near the presidential palace, police said Sunday, in what is believed to be the country's first self-immolation protest.

The man, identified as student Sondang Hutagalung, died on Saturday after he was taken to hospital with 98 percent burns, Jakarta police spokesman Baharudin Djafar told AFP.

"He died yesterday from a sizeable percentage of burns on his body after setting himself on fire. We still don't know what caused him to immolate himself," he said.

Local media reported that Hutagalung had doused himself in petrol and torched himself near the state palace on Wednesday before running towards a billboard bearing the photograph of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Witnesses told the Jakarta Globe newspaper he had shouted anti-government messages.

But Djafar said it was "not possible" to say he was protesting against the government or the president.

"He was the perpetrator as well as the victim. Only he had the answer -- we couldn't guess his motive," he said.

"But we hope nobody will repeat such an act. If you're unhappy with anything, you may protest but please do so without hurting yourself and others."

Presidential adviser Daniel Sparingga said on Thursday that Yudhoyono had been informed of the incident and "expressed his sympathy and concern".

Protests are common in Indonesia but the self-immolation is believed to be the first of its kind in the world's third-largest democracy of 240 million people.

Yudhoyono's popularity rankings have slumped despite strong economic growth, amid corruption and incompetence across all levels of the state. He was sworn in at the start of his second five-year term on October 20 2009.

The first Indonesian president to be directly elected after decades of authoritarianism, Yudhoyono has won two clear mandates with promises of tough action on corruption, but is seen as too weak and indecisive to take on powerful vested interests.


Nine killed in fresh Syria clashes

11 December 2011

At least nine people have died in fresh clashes in Syria as opposition activists called a general strike.

Two people died in clashes between troops and deserters in the northern Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

There were also reports of hundreds of defectors and troops clashing in the south, near the border with Jordan.

The UN estimates more than 4,000 people have died in the nine-month uprising, including 307 children.

Many of those casualties have been reported to be in Homs, one of the main centres of anti-government protests.

Syria severely restricts access to foreign media so reports of unrest cannot be verified.

'Burned shops'

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Kabul shrine bomb death toll reaches 80: Karzai

KABUL - Dec, 11 2011, The death toll from a shrine bombing in Kabul on Tuesday which targeted a key Shiite Muslim holiday has reached 80, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday.

The attack targeted Shiites gathered to mark Ashura, the holiest day in their calendar, raising fears of sectarian violence ahead of the scheduled departure of NATO combat troops in 2014.

"The death toll has reached 80," Karai told an anti-corruption conference in Kabul.


Miscreants destroy two shrines in Landikotal, Pak

LANDIKOTAL: December 11, 2011, Unidentified miscreants blew up two shrines in the far-flung area of Kam Shelman in Landikotal early on Saturday. The shrines of Sheikh Bahadar Baba and Sheikh Mosa Baba, which were reportedly a hundred years old, were blown up with explosive material. Both the shrines were razed to the ground. The local people have demanded that the government provide security to protect the shrines of pious saints in the area. So far, dozens of the shrines have been either been blown up or damaged with explosive material in Landikotal. Local people are of the view that the motive behind blowing up shrines is sectarian in origin. Separately, a shepherd was shot dead and his colleagues sustained bullets injuries in Zakha Khel. The shepherd was attacked in the Soor Ghra area of Bazaar Zakha Khel. staff report\12\11\story_11-12-2011_pg7_7


Three terrorists die in Kurram clashes

KURRAM AGENCY: December 11, 2011, At least three terrorists were killed and one soldier sustained injuries during clashes between security forces and terrorists in Kurram Agency on Saturday. According to media reports, terrorists attacked security forces in the Murghan area in Kurram Agency injuring one soldier, while the security forces retaliated, killing three terrorists on the spot. online\12\11\story_11-12-2011_pg7_8


Abducted by Muslim rebels in the Philippines US teenager 'free' in Philippines

10 December 2011

An American teenager is free after being held captive for five months by suspected Muslim rebels in the Philippines, say officials.

But it is unclear whether Kevin Lunsmann, 14, escaped or was freed by his captors. He is now reported to be on southern Basilan island.

He was abducted with his mother and cousin in July.

His mother, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, was freed in early October and his Filipino cousin escaped last month.

Ms Lunsmann, a 41-year-old vet, and the others were kidnapped on 12 July while holidaying at a resort on the island of Tictabon, near Zamboanga.

They are believed to have been taken by militants from the Abu Sayyaf Islamic group, but there was no public claim of responsibility.

Reports conflict as to whether Kevin is in the care of a mayor on the island of Basilan, as reported by AFP news agency, or is in military custody, as a military spokesman told AP news agency.

And it is unknown whether any ransom has been paid.

Kidnap-for-ransom groups are prevalent in the southern Philippines, according to the BBC's Kate McGeown in Manila.

The Abu Sayyaf Islamic group is particularly well-known for using kidnapping as a way to raise funds.

It is notorious for beheadings and bombings and is on the US government's list of foreign terrorist organisations.


"Al-Qaeda splinter group" claims kidnap of Westerners

11 December 2011

BAMAKO: A group identifying itself as an offshoot of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) said Saturday it was holding three Westerners kidnapped from a refugee camp in Algeria in October.

"This is the Jamat Tawhid Wal Jihad Fi Garbi Afriqqiya in west Africa. We claim the operation carried out on October 23 at Tindouf when two Spaniards and an Italian were kidnapped," said the audio and written message sent to AFP's correspondent in Bamako.

The transcript was read by telephone by a man claiming to be a spokesman for the group. He said they had broken away from AQIM but did not say why.

Security sources in the region had recently spoken of the formation of the group, which means "Unity Movement for Jihad in West Africa."

Saturday's claim came the day after the Mauritanian news agency ANI carried pictures of five Westerners whose abduction in Mali last month in two separate incidents was claimed by AQIM.

Full Report at:


Iran says will not return US drone


TEHRAN:  Dec 11, 2011, A senior commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard says his country will not return a US surveillance drone captured by its armed forces.

Deputy head of the Guard General Hossein Salami said on Sunday in remarks broadcast on state television that the violation of Iran's airspace by the US drone is a "hostile act" and warned of a "bigger" response.

But he didn't elaborate on what Iran might do. Iranian television broadcast video Thursday of Iranian military officials inspecting what it identified as the RQ-170 Sentinel drone, and offered the first evidence that Tehran had captured the aircraft.

Iranian state radio has said the unmanned aircraft was detected over the eastern town of Kashmar, some 225 kilometres from the border with Afghanistan.

US officials have acknowledged losing the drone.


Libyan army commander comes under 2nd attack


TRIPOLI: Dec 11, 2011, A Libyan military spokesman says ex-rebels have tried for a second time to assassinate the country's new national army commander.

Sgt. Abdel-Razik el-Shibahy said on Sunday that revolutionary fighters from the western mountain town of Zintan opened fire Saturday evening on Gen. Khalifa Hifter's convoy in Tripoli, after failing to assassinate him hours before. He says one guard was killed and four injured in this second attack. No one was killed in the first attempt.

The Libyan military says that the conflict began when a unit from the national army tried on Saturday to take control of the capital's airport from the Zintan fighters.

Libya's nascent army is struggling to impose its authority over the militias that overthrow Muammar Gaddafi.


Arab Spring gives bloom to Islamist parties

By Louise Osborne and Sarah Lynch

The Washington Times, December 10, 2011

CAIRO — As Islamist political parties dominate elections in the Arab Spring, analysts say the results should not be a shock or cause for apprehension.

“I don’t think it is surprising that the Muslim Brotherhood and mainstream Islamists in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Libya have done as well as they have,” said Fawaz Gerges, director of Middle East studies at the London School of Economics.

“This is a return for Islamists making major investments in politics, welfare and society over the last 40 years.”

For Islamists across the Arab world, those investments are paying big dividends:

In general, Islamists seek to base their government’s functions on their religion, usually a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam’s tenets and proscriptions. Some Islamists also seek to institute Shariah law over civil law.

Secularists and civil libertarians have expressed concerns about the prospect of Islamist-led governments limiting women’s rights and religious freedoms throughout the Arab world.

Islamist parties, especially the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, have been heavily involved in helping poor communities amid the oppression of the Arab world’s now-ousted, autocratic regimes, analysts say.

Full Report at:


US working hard to salvage ties with Pakistan


WASHINGTON - Dec, 11, 2011The United States on Saturday said it was working hard to get back to work with Pakistan. “This relationship is complicated. But it’s also essential to both the United States and Pakistan. We are working very hard to keep open channels and to get back to work together,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. The US officials have been in constant contact with their counterparts in Pakistan, the latest being the meeting between the US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.“We are continuing our intensive engagement. Obviously we are both trying to roll up our sleeves and get back to work together,” Nuland said. She said there was no reason to believe that the Dubai visit of President Asif Ali Zardari had anything to do with other than his health issue.

US has made repeated mistakes in its relationship with Pakistan and there still quite evidently a clear lack of understanding how this relationship will progress.

The decisions by US policy makers have led a very complaint Pakistan to stand up to US. This alone is a testimony to the failure of US policies in this region and perhaps in other parts of the world.

Unless US policy planners do a major rethink of their policies it does not look good for the US.


Iraq PM sets off for US ahead of pullout


BAGHDAD - Dec, 11, 2011,  Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki headed to Washington on Sunday, for the first time as leader of a country virtually empty of foreign troops as the US withdrawal from Iraq nears its final days.

Maliki is to hold wide-ranging talks with US President Barack Obama during his two-day visit, which comes less than a month before the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and more than eight years after the launch of the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

"This will be the first visit where he is going as the chief of a country empty of foreign troops that can count totally on itself," Ali Mussawi, media advisor to Maliki, told AFP.

"We will discuss all the fields of collaboration ... and open a new phase of relations between Baghdad and Washington, which used to be dominated by military affairs."

Maliki was accompanied by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Culture Minister and acting Defence Minister Saadun al-Dulaimi, Transport Minister Khayrullah Hassan Babakir, Trade Minister Hadi al-Ameri, and National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh.

Also on the trip are National Investment Commission chief Sami al-Araji and Maliki's chief adviser and former oil minister Thamer al-Ghadban.

The Iraqi premier is to hold talks with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US lawmakers on issues including security, energy, education and justice.

Full Report at:


Heads of Medical Schools Urge Iran To Release Jailed Baha’i Educators

Written by: BWNS, December 11, 2011

Almost 50 leaders of medical education in the United States have joined the worldwide protest against the Iranian government’s persecution of Baha’i students and educators.

Forty-eight Deans and Senior Vice-Presidents – who between them head more than a third of American medical schools – have signed an open letter addressed to Iran’s representative to the United Nations. The letter was published on the Persian-language “Association Against Education Discrimination” website on 7 December – the day that Iranian student movements annually commemorate Student Day.

“We are writing as individuals who are leaders of globally recognized educational institutions to voice our concern about the treatment of Baha’i students and educators in Iran,” the letter says.

“As leaders of medical education, we believe that education is an inherent human right. At our respective institutions, we have hosted and continue to host students, residents, fellows, and faculty irrespective of their religious beliefs from all over the world. We have welcomed this diverse population into our educational communities to contribute to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of humanity.”


Roundtable on human rights: Session begins with contradictions, ends with resolve

By Rabia Ali

December 11, 2011

From police corruption to banner mishaps, seminar offers a true caricature of state of affairs.


The human rights ministry had some cause of fret on Human Rights Day when a banner hanging on the wall in one of its seminar read – “Roundtable discussion on the key reforms on prevention of human rights.”

It is only when a participant pointed out to Human Rights Minister Nadia Gabol that the word prevention was incorrectly used that she noted it.

But the banner, which had altered the context of the discussion, hung till the end as participants exchanged smirks and the minister remained seated in front of it.

Participants had come at around 3.30pm in the afternoon, official time for start of the programme. It was after 40 minutes, that the human rights minister came in.

When pointed out by an activist that being late at an event is violation of human rights, the minister retorted back, “I started this department from scratch. You NGOs get funds from abroad. We don’t.”

Full Report at:


Women’s rights rally: Senators chided for allowing bill to lapse

HARIPUR: December 11, 2011, To protest against the lapse of the Women’s Rights Bill in the Senate, social activists staged a rally here on Saturday.

The rally started from Zafar Park and ended at Ayub Park after marching through different city roads. Speakers criticised the role of the Senate in the lapse of the bill.

They said that forced marriages, the customary traditions of vani, gender-based violence, deprivation of women from inheritance and marriages with the Quran and other anti-women practices are rampant in society and the upper house of parliament appeared to be a silent spectator.

They said the national assembly had adopted the bill 90 days back and it was sent to the Senate for discussion and adoption within the timeline.

The speakers lamented that the bill was allowed to lapse as senators were worried about increases in the divorce rate, which the speakers said was “the wrong impression”.

They said the time was not far when women would take to the streets and ask the senators why they supported anti-women elements and did not pass a bill meant to guarantee the protection of women from the excesses they had been suffering at the hands of men.

They said that they believe in equal rights for men and women and would continue their struggle till the moment when women of the country are protected against the discrimination that they have faced for decades. The speakers also referred to certain teachings of Islam in support of their viewpoint, as women were equal to men and enjoyed respect during the early period of Islam.


‘Medical aid, education should be human rights’

Staff Report

LAHORE - Dec 11, 2011,  Islam recognises the right of all human to food, clothing and shelter but right to education and medical aid should also be added to the list, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal said while addressing the ‘White Coat Ceremony’ at Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Medical and Dental College on Saturday.

The ceremony was held to welcome the new MBBS students in the college. Iqbal said the students had been given a great responsibility of saving lives of God’s best creature and they should perform it in the best manner.

In the ceremony, senior students of the college presented white coats to their juniors.

Addressing the ceremony, Shaikh Zayed Hospital Chairman and Dean Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal said the main purpose of the ceremony was to make the students realise that the white coat symbolised compassion, care and selfless service rendered by medical practitioners to the ailing humanity. He claimed that one third of the country’s consultants were trained by the SZH.

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