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Islamic World News ( 27 Nov 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Maldivian Islamic groups call for arrest of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

Pakistan demands US vacate air base

NATO attack: Rage in Pakistan, Khar tells Clinton

US says fully supports probe into NATO strike on Pak posts

Pakistanis feel it's time to clear mistrust with India

Free Chishty, Katju writes to Sonia

Syria unrest: Arab League to vote on economic sanctions

'Afghan Elvis' gets Kabul women all shook up

Pack your bags, Pakistan tells US

Pakistan Reviews US, NATO Ties

Condemn and condole: Turkey promises to ask NATO for inquiry

No one will be allowed to cast evil eye on Pakistan’

Islamic Minister, MPs, PPM and Religious Groups of Malidives Condemn UN Human Rights Commissioner

Rights Awareness a Leading Concern for Civil Services: Human Rights Commission Maldives

Iran threatens to hit Turkey if US, Israel attack

Malaysia pressured to scrap law against rallies

Pak violates ceasefire, fires at Indian posts in Poonch

Katju raises attacks on media persons in J&K

Rehman Malik hopeful of sending judicial panel

13 Taliban insurgents killed in Afghanistan

Bridge collapses in Indonesia; 3 dead, 17 injured

Pakistani FM says NATO strike negates progress

Pak: Women parliamentarians want 10% quota in general seats

Pak CJ: Terrorists behind Swat unrest to face justice’

Islamabad: PEMRA urges electronic media to respect sanctity of Muharram

17 Uzbeks held in Chaman, Baluchistan

UN sees no need yet for humanitarian corridors in Syria

Iran Quds Force chief defies US, says ready to die

Yemen sets date for presidential vote

Egyptian protests, violence overshadow elections

Abu Dhabi: Five Bloggers Get Jail up to three Years

Israeli warplanes launch strikes on Gaza Strip

Syria accuses Arab League of 'internationalising' crisis

Syria buries security forces as sanctions loom

Arms smugglers thrive on Syrian uprising

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Maldivian Islamic groups call for arrest of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

By JJ Robinson and Eleanor Johntone

November 26th, 2011

Protestors gathered outside the United Nations Building in Male’ on Friday afternoon to condemn UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay for her criticism of the Maldivian constitution, namely its provisions endorsing flogging and mandating that every Maldivian be a Muslim.

The protestors carried signboards with angry slogans, including “Islam is not a toy”, “Ban UN” and “Flog Pillay”, and called on authorities to arrest the UN High Commisioner.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that the sizeable protest was contained and there were no confrontations.

“Police cordoned off the area so people could not enter the UN building or the roads leading to the building. The protest was pretty heated, but there were no confrontations or arrests,” he said.

After a break for Sunset Prayer, protesters renewed their efforts at the Tsunami Memorial.

Shiyam said police guarded the UN building during the evening protest, and kept appraised of its movements.

No concerns have been voiced to the police by the UN.

During a press conference on Thursday evening, Pillay again called for the government and the judiciary to issue a moratorium on flogging.

“Flogging is a form of punishment that is cruel and demeaning to women. I have as High Commissioner traveled to very many Islamic countries, and apart from the Maldives and one other country that practices stoning, flogging is not a practice that is condoned,” she 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.”

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.”

Pillay said she had raised this matter with President Mohamed Nasheed and the judges during her visit, “and they are all looking into this matter. The President is sympathetic because each time he travels outside the Maldives the issue is raised with him. He says he can only look at it on a case by case basis, but if there is a judicial decision, that may apply to all cases.”

She renewed her call for a moratorium, and noted that the Maldives “has an excellent track record regarding the death penalty. The death penalty is unIslamic and is not practiced in the Maldives. When I travel to places where the death penalty is used, I hold up the Maldives as an example of that.”

Asked to comment on the requirement under the Maldivian constitution that all Maldivians be Muslim, Pillay respond that “Such a provision 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.”

Asked by another local journalist to respond to the religious groups criticising her requests, “my response is that as the UN High Commission of Human Rights I look at the norms and standards that all the governments of the world have drawn up.”

“It is not that I am plucking principles from the air. I point my critics to universally accepted standards on human rights are consistent with Islam. Many governments and scholars have told be there is no conflict between human rights and Islam.”

Pillay also highlighted the plight of expatriate labourers in the Maldives, who make up a third of the population and in many cases have been lured to the country by unscrupulous employment brokers.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs [Ahmed Naseem] is very aware of the suffering of foreign workers, and agreed that something needs to be done for these people,” Pillay said.

“You can’t have 60,000 people suffering here while performing work for the benefit of Maldivians and the tourism industry, and pretend this is invisible. The media has a role to give these people a voice so they can explain their problems.

“Many of them are trafficked and the little money they earn is exploited. This is of grave concern to me, because people like this are are protected under the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and their Families. I have urged the Maldives to ratify this, and regularise the presence of 60,000 people

“I also call for an end to the stereotyping of these people as a threat and unwanted.”


Pakistan demands US vacate air base


ISLAMABAD, Nov 26, 2011: The Pakistani government has demanded the US vacate an air base within 15 days that the CIA is suspected of using for unmanned drones.

The government issued the demand Saturday after NATO helicopters and jet fighters attacked two Pakistan army posts along the Afghan border, killing 28 Pakistani soldiers.

Islamabad outlined the demand in a statement it sent to reporters following an emergency defense committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Shamsi Air Base is located in southwestern Balochistan province. The US is suspected of using the facility in the past to launch armed drones and observation aircraft to keep pressure on Taleban and Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan’s tribal region.

Saturday’s raid plunged the US-Pakistan relations, already deeply frayed, further into crisis.

Pakistan retaliated by shutting down vital NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, used for sending in almost half of the alliance’s non-lethal materiel.

The attack is the worst single incident of its kind since Pakistan uneasily allied itself with Washington in the days immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on US targets.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan, its ally in the war on militancy, have been strained following the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden by US special forces in a raid in Abbottabad in May, which Pakistan called a flagrant violation of sovereignty.

The Pakistani government and military brimmed with fury.

“This is an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty,” said Gilani. “We will not let any harm come to Pakistan’s sovereignty and solidarity.”

The Foreign Office said it would take up the matter “in the strongest terms” with NATO and the United States.

The powerful Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani said that “all necessary steps be under taken for an effective response to this irresponsible act.

“A strong protest has been launched with NATO/ISAF in which it has been demanded that strong and urgent action be taken against those responsible for this aggression.”

The commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, said he had offered his condolences to the family of any Pakistani soldiers who “may have been killed or injured” during an “incident” on the border.

A spokesman for the force declined further comment on the nature of the “incident” and said an investigation was proceeding. It was not yet clear, he said, whether there had been deaths or injuries.

The US Embassy in Islamabad also offered condolences. “I regret the loss of life of any Pakistani servicemen, and pledge that the United States will work closely with Pakistan to investigate this incident,” Ambassador Cameron Munter said.

Two military officials said that up to 28 troops had been killed and 11 wounded in the attack on the outposts, about 2.5 km from the Afghan border. The Pakistani military said 24 troops were killed and 13 wounded.

NATO supply trucks and fuel tankers bound for Afghanistan were stopped at Jamrud town in the Khyber tribal region near Peshawar hours after the raid, officials said.

“We have halted the supplies and some 40 tankers and trucks have been returned from the check post in Jamrud,” Mutahir Zeb, a government official, told Reuters.

Another official said the supplies had been stopped for security reasons.

“There is possibility of attacks on NATO supplies passing through the volatile Khyber tribal region, therefore we sent them back toward Peshawar to remain safe,” he said.

The border crossing at Chaman in Balochistan was also closed, Frontier Corps officials said.

The United States has long suspected Pakistan of continuing to secretly support Taleban militant groups to secure influence in Afghanistan after most NATO troops leave in 2014. Saturday’s incident will give Pakistan the argument that NATO is now attacking it directly.

“I think we should go to the United Nations Security Council against this,” said retired Brig. Mahmood Shah, former chief of security in the tribal areas. “So far, Pakistan is being blamed for all that is happening in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s point of view has not been shown in the international media.”

Other analysts, including Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, said Pakistan would protest and close the supply lines for some time, but that ultimately “things will get back to normal.”

Paul Beaver, a British security analyst, said relations were so bad that this incident might have no noticeable impact.

“I’m not sure US-Pakistan relations could sink much lower than they are now,” he said.


NATO attack: Rage in Pakistan, Khar tells Clinton


ISLAMABAD, November 27, 2011 : Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar spoke to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early Sunday morning to inform the US government of the decisions made by the Defence Coordination Committee regarding the Nato attack on a Pakistani checkpost.

Khar informed Clinton that a deep sense of rage was felt across Pakistan at the loss of 24 soldiers due to the Nato attack on the Pakistani post in Mohmand Agency. She also stressed that such attacks are “totally unacceptable”.

She informed Secretary Clinton about DCC decisions to stop Nato supply routes and that the US should vacate the Shamsi airbase within 15 days.

“The attacks are in stark violation of Pakistani sovereignty,” said the foreign minister, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

“This negates the progress made by the two countries on improving relations and forces Pakistan to revisit the terms of engagement,” Khar said.

Secretary of State Clinton condoled with the foreign minister about the loss of life. She said that she was deeply saddened by the event. She conveyed the US government’s desire to work with Pakistan to resolve this issue.

US promises full investigation

The Obama administration on Saturday pledged a full investigation into a Nato attack that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani troops.

Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta offered their “deepest condolences” for the loss of life in the cross-border incident in Pakistan in a joint statement. They also said they “support fully Nato’s intention to investigate immediately.”

According to the statement, Secretary Clinton, Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen John Allen, commander of the Nato-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, each called their Pakistani counterparts as well.

US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter also met with Pakistani government officials in Islamabad.

“In their contacts, these US diplomatic and military leaders each stressed — in addition to their sympathies and a commitment to review the circumstances of the incident — the importance of the US-Pakistani partnership, which serves the mutual interests of our people,” the statement said.

“All these leaders pledged to remain in close contact with their Pakistani counterparts going forward as we work through this challenging time,” the statement concluded.

Pakistan approaches Britain

The British Foreign Secertary William Hague was also informed of the DCC’s decisions on Nato supply routes and the Shamsi airbase closure by Khar.

Expressing his sympathy, Hague termed the attack an “untoward incident” and extended solidarity with Pakistan.

An early Saturday morning attack by Nato helicopters killed at least 24 security personnel and injured 12 soldiers on a Pakistani check post in Salala, which is located in the Tehsil Bayzai area of Mohmand Agency on the Pak-Afghan border.

The United States has been told by the Pakistani military leadership to evacuate a logistically key airbase it operates in Balochistan – Shamsie Airbase – within 15 days. In addition, Pakistan’s fury was driven home with an official statement that it will shut down Nato supply routes operating through its territory – something that has happened for the first time, though supply routes have previously been temporarily blocked unofficially following similar attacks.

The decisions came following a meeting of the high-powered cabinet committee on defence – a panel that includes the prime minister, the service chiefs and key ministers.


US says fully supports probe into NATO strike on Pak posts

Washington: Nov 27 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Obama administration on Saturday pledged a full investigation into a NATO attack that allegedly killed 28 Pakistani troops. (AP)

Seeking to salvage its ties with Pakistan which plunged into crisis after a NATO strike killed 28 Pakistani soldiers, the Obama administration has said it fully backs a probe into the incident that led Islamabad to close NATO supply routes and ask US to vacate a key airbase.

A joint statement issued by the US Departments of State and Defence said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta “have been closely monitoring reports of the cross-border incident in Pakistan.”

“Both offer their deepest condolences for the loss of life and support fully NATO's intention to investigate (yesterday's incident) immediately,” said the statement.

Following the cross-border strike on two Pakistani border posts by NATO helicopters and combat jets, Islamabad shut down the crucial NATO supply lines and asked the US to vacate its secret Shamsi air based inside Pakistan, which is reportedly used by the CIA for drone strikes, within 15 days.

Clinton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey and Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan Gen John Allen also called their Pakistani counterparts following the incident.

"Secretary Clinton, Gen Dempsey and Gen Allen each called their Pakistani counterparts as well. (US) Ambassador (to Islamabad Cameron) Munter also met with Pakistani government officials in Islamabad.

“In their contacts, these US diplomatic and military leaders each stressed -- in addition to their sympathies and a commitment to review the circumstances of the incident -- the importance of the US-Pakistani partnership, which serves the mutual interests of our people,” the joint statement said.

All these leaders "pledged to remain in close contact with their Pakistani counterparts going forward as we work through this challenging time," it said. Pakistan government framed its response to the NATO air strike during an emergency meeting of Defence Committee of the Cabinet chaired by Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani last evening.

The meeting attended by the three service chiefs, including army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, decided to “close with immediate effect the NATO/ISAF logistics supply lines” and asked the “US to vacate the Shamsi airbase within 15 days”, said an official statement.

Kayani strongly condemned “NATO/ISAF's blatant and unacceptable act” and issued orders for taking all necessary steps for "an effective response to this irresponsible act".

Till recently, Pakistani supply routes were used to transport a majority of supplies for US and allied forces in Afghanistan. Following a wave of attacks on supply vehicles and strained ties with Pakistan, the US has stepped up the use of alternative routes in Central Asian countries.

However, hundreds of NATO tankers and supply vehicles continued to cross into Afghanistan from Pakistan every day.

In June also, Pakistan had asked the US to vacate the Shamsi airbase in June.

Secret US cables leaked by WikiLeaks have suggested that the UAE, which has controlled Shamsi airbase since the 1990s, has allowed the US to use it for its drone flights.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir lodged with US Ambassador Munter a "strong protest on the unprovoked NATO/ISAF attack." He told the US envoy that the attack had “deeply incensed the government and the people of Pakistan”.

Full Report at:


Pakistanis feel it's time to clear mistrust with India


KARACHI, November 27, 2011: Since the November 26, 2008 attack, attempts at peace have been stepped up between journalists and activists from India and Pakistan. They have been calling for closer ties despite the strained relations between the two governments.

During a recent visit to Karachi and Hyderabad, Sindh, by a delegation of the Mumbai Press Club, the focus was on people-to-people contacts to pave the way for clearing mistrust and suspicion. There was widespread condemnation of the Mumbai attack and it was felt that this must never be repeated. Karachi itself witnessed two blasts while the delegation was visiting, and much like Mumbai, the people seemed to take them in their stride.

Over the years, from a liberal cosmopolitan city, Karachi too has been under attack from extremist elements that are targeting co-education schools, Sufi mosques and creating an atmosphere of fear and terror. People being robbed at gunpoint of their cars and mobile phones is not uncommon and as Ghazi Salahuddin, a senior journalist, writes inThe News, “Pakistanis are hostage to a society that is infested with religious extremists on the one side and with violent crime on the other. We all feel extremely vulnerable. The breakdown in law and order is more serious a threat to our survival than any conspiracies in a political context.”

Mr. Salahuddin writes about the wife of an industrialist, who was shot in broad daylight while resisting an armed robbery. A woman activist too has had her car robbed twice at gunpoint. While Karachi and the rest of Pakistan grapple with their own insecurities, the need for peace and easing up visa restrictions between India and Pakistan was underscored at various meetings with the media, academics and politicians.

Muhammed Badar Alam, Editor of theHeraldmagazine, says the problem with interactions between the people of India and Pakistan is that often they tend to become emotional and that was not surprising since they shared the same history and culture and were divided later. However, he says, interactions must end in concrete gains. Visits generate instant goodwill without any tangible benefits. It is important to create constituencies of peace within a society and for instance the recent granting of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status by Pakistan to India can be a turning point, he feels.

The role of the media in promoting peace is reiterated by Kamal Siddiqui, Editor ofThe Express Tribune. The media in the two countries are vibrant and free though the rate of journalists being killed in Pakistan is one of the highest in the world. The Karachi Press Club has a fiercely independent history and has held elections regularly despite the troubled times, he says. The media demands better access in both countries. Senior journalists point out that during the November 26 attacks, no Pakistani journalist was allowed to visit and report the attacks, except for the two permitted in India. Even Indian books and periodicals are hard to come by and cost the earth in Pakistan.

Activists like Karamat Ali and B.M. Kutty from the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research condemn 26/11 and stress the need to push for free exchange of media. They have been making strenuous efforts to promote peace. “Good things are happening now in both countries and the momentum must be kept up,” Mr. Kutty says.

In Hyderabad, Sindh, the local chamber of commerce and industry is optimistic about the MFN status which can open up huge opportunities in Pakistan. Importing raw materials from India is cheaper and trade can go up to $6 billion in the next few years, says Gohar Ullah, president of the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Why should we get Lays chips from South Africa when getting it from India will be so much cheaper,” asks another businessman. Many Pakistanis say the current atmosphere of peace between the two countries should be tapped to promote trade and set up joint ventures.

Businessmen also dispel the notion that they fear Pakistani industries will be hit by the MFN status. Instead of spending on the Army, the government should focus on improving trade and business relations, says another businessman.

Sufi traditions

Farheem Mogal, a member from the Sindh Provincial Assembly, speaks of the liberal Sufi traditions of Sindh and recent protest marches against the killing of three Hindus in a riot. The Movement for Peace and Tolerance, facilitated by the Sindhi Language Authority, has tried to spread the Sufi influence and the protests focussed on spreading tolerance and secularism, apart from offering support to the minorities.

Hoteliers like Dinshaw Avari, a member of the small Parsi community and director of the oldest five star hotel in Karachi, feels the MFN status would help hotels get cheaper and better quality sanitary ware, lifts etc, and it would be a good exchange for Pakistani businesses. India too could benefit from cement and other products.

In Karachi University, where 70 per cent of the students are women, researchers and professors speak of the need for open access to Indian documents. Original material is very hard to come by and this hampers research. Peaceful relations between the two countries can go a long way in improving access, they say.

Vice-Chancellor Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui says the university is collaborating extensively with Indians, political differences aside. Many students come from India and two years ago he too had visited India. The Department of International Relations in the university is working to foster peace, despite attempts to hijack it by extremists, says Professor Mutahir Ahmed. Confidence-building measures (CBMs) and people-to-people contact programmes are their contribution to changing the vocabulary of bilateral talks. In fact, the course on CBM is highly popular and things are different from say 20 years ago. “Today, because of our academic contributions people are accepting more of peaceful relations and engagement,” he says.

The Muttahida Quami Movement, whose leader Altaf Hussain lives in exile in London, calls itself a secular party with large middle class support. MQM leader Abdul Sattar says “India and Pakistan have old ties. You cannot stop Lata Mangeshkar's voice coming across to Pakistan. We are the strongest proponents of removing all restrictions between the two countries.”


Free Chishty, Katju writes to Sonia


NEW DELHI, November 27, 2011After making a plea to authorities, Press Council chief Markandey Katju has now sought the intervention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi for release of Khalil Chishty, an elderly Pakistani virologist, jailed for 19 years in a murder case, on humanitarian grounds.

“I am making this appeal to you in the name of humanity for release of Dr. Khalil Chishty, who is at present in the Ajmer Central Jail, so that he can go back to his home and family in Karachi, Pakistan,” Mr. Katju has written in a letter to Gandhi.

“I had made an appeal to the Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh in the month of April 2011 requesting him to grant a pardon under Article 72 of the Constitution to Dr. Chishty,” Mr. Katju said in the letter to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson. The letter to Dr. Singh was written when Mr. Katju was the Supreme Court judge.

Mr. Katju has further written that the Prime Minister referred him to the Home Minister but to no avail.

Another letter to Rajasthan Governor Shivraj Patil did not receive a reply despite the fact that he (Mr. Katju) was a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, Mr. Katju said.

“In these circumstances, I make an appeal directly to you, as my appeal to the aforementioned three authorities has been to no avail. I may mention that according to the decision of the Supreme Court in the Nanavati's case, AIR 1961 S.C, 112 a pardon can be granted even if a case is pending,” he told Ms. Gandhi.

“Dr. Khalil Chishty is an old man of about 80 years and does not have very long to live. It would be a disgrace for our country if he dies in jail. On the other hand, the prestige of our country will go up if he is released forthwith,” Mr. Katju said, adding Dr. Chishty was suffering from several ailments.

Mr. Katju in his letter also said the Pakistan government had earlier released an Indian following a similar appeal by him.

“The Pakistan government honoured my appeal and released Gopal Das who returned to India. I am sad that while the Pakistan government honoured my appeal, the Indian government has not done so,” Mr. Katju said.

In the letter, Mr. Katju has also written that Dr. Chishty's aged wife, daughter and grandson had met him in Delhi and wanted to meet the UPA chairperson as well.


Syria unrest: Arab League to vote on economic sanctions

27 November 2011

Members of the Arab League are set to vote on an unprecedented array of economic sanctions against Syria.

The proposals include the halting of dealings with the Syrian central bank, the suspension of commercial flights and a travel ban on senior officials.

Arab ministers drafted the sanctions at a meeting in Cairo, in the latest move to punish Syria for its continuing brutal crackdown on protesters.

Syria's foreign minister has accused the League of meddling in its affairs.

In a letter to the 22-member organisation, Walid al-Muallem said it was seeking to "internationalise" the conflict.

The Arab League move is being portrayed in Damascus as part of a Western-inspired conspiracy to undermine the country because of its traditional resistance to Israel, the BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says.

Syrian state television described the sanctions as "unprecedented measures aimed at the Syrian people".

'Humanitarian corridor'

More than 3,500 people have died since protests against the Syrian government began in March, the UN estimates.

The League threatened Syria with sanctions earlier this month after President Bashar al-Assad repeatedly failed to implement steps to end the violence, including allowing international observers to enter Syria.

The draft document - drawn up by the Arab League's Social and Economic Committee on Saturday and seen by correspondents - requires the support of two thirds of foreign ministers.

Full Report at:


'Afghan Elvis' gets Kabul women all shook up


KABUL, Nov 27, 2011: Dubbed the Afghan Elvis, Farhad Darya may be the only man in the most conservative country on earth who can reduce an audience of women in headscarves to a screaming, waving, whistling throng.

In a country where women enjoy few rights and music was banned under the Taliban until 10 years ago, Darya is an icon for millions and his popularity was clear at a rare, top-security, female-only show in Kabul.

Despite the excitement, Thursday's gig, shrouded in secrecy due to fears it could be targeted by the Taliban, was a thousand miles away from a typical concert in many other parts of the world.

Several hundred women, from students to middle-aged mothers, swayed as Darya performed but they did not dance due to the presence of television cameras. Women dancing in front of strange men is taboo in Afghanistan.

One even dared to shout out: "We love you!" halfway through -- a standard greeting for male rock stars around the world but exceptional in a nation where female sexuality is a highly sensitive topic, even in relatively sophisticated cities like Kabul.

"I've always told everyone he's my dream man -- he sings so good, his personality is so high, it's great," said one excited fan, 18-year-old student Meetra Alokozay.

Darya, a UN goodwill ambassador described by the organisation as "one of the best role models" in Afghanistan, held the concert to spotlight a campaign against domestic violence, which is still widespread here.

It was the latest in a series of ecstatically received free performances he has given across the country.

He told AFP that he hoped the event could be an outlet for fans and help people outside the country realise there was more to Afghan women than "burqa, chador (a similar head-to-toe veil), suffering, sitting next to the kitchen."


Pack your bags, Pakistan tells US

November 27, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Going a step ahead of merely condemning the outrageous NATO attack on a military outpost in Mohmand, the Defence Committee of Cabinet (DCC), on Sunday, decided to close with immediate effect the NATO/ISAF logistics supply lines through the country. The decision has been taken in accordance with the resolution of the joint session of parliament of May 14, 2011, which was held after the May 2 incident in which US forces violated the country’s airspace to hunt down Osama bin Laden. The DCC also decided to ask the US to vacate the Shamsi Airbase within 15 days. The committee termed the attack on Pakistan Army border posts totally unacceptable, which warrants an effective national response. The DCC also discussed the terms of engagement with the US and ISAF for war against terrorism and concurred on revisiting and undertaking a complete review of all programmes, activities and cooperative arrangements with US/NATO/ISAF, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence.

It noted that NATO/ISAF attacks were also violative of their mandate, which was confined to Afghanistan. Pakistan had clearly conveyed to US/NATO/ISAF its red lines which constituted an integral element of Pakistan’s cooperation that was based on a partnership approach. The emergency meeting of the DCC was called by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani after his arrival in the federal capital cutting short his visit to Multan. The meeting was attended by federal ministers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Services Chiefs and members of the DCC. The DCC reiterated the resolve of the Pakistani people and armed forces to safeguard Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity at all costs. The prime minister will take parliament into confidence on the whole range of measures regarding matters relating to Pakistan’s future cooperation with US/NATO/ISAF, in the near future, the spokesman of PM House told the media. The DCC strongly condemned the attack by NATO/ISAF aircrafts on Pakistani border posts in the Mohmand Agency, which resulted in the loss of precious lives of officers and men of Pakistan Army and injuries to several others. The meeting expressed heartfelt sympathies and condolences to families of the soldiers who fought valiantly and embraced martyrdom, and also prayed for the early recovery of those who were injured. The committee noted that strong protests had been lodged with the United States and at NATO Headquarters in Brussels conveying in the strongest possible terms Pakistan’s condemnation of these attacks, which constituted a breach of sovereignty, were violative of international law and had gravely dented the fundamental basis of Pakistan’s cooperation with NATO/ISAF against militancy and terror. staff report\11\27\story_27-11-2011_pg1_2


Pakistan Reviews US, NATO Ties


ISLAMABAD, 27 November 2011: — Pakistan said on Sunday it was reviewing its alliance with the United States and NATO after up to 26 soldiers were killed in cross-border NATO air strikes, plunging frosty US ties into deeper crisis.

Pakistan sealed its Afghan border to NATO, shutting down a supplies lifeline for some 130,000 US-led foreign troops fighting the Taliban, and called on the United States to leave a secretive air base reportedly used by CIA drones.

Islamabad protested to NATO and the United States in the strongest terms — summoning US ambassador Cameron Munter, branding the strike a violation of international law and warning there could be serious repercussions.

The US-led NATO force in Afghanistan admitted it was “highly likely” that the force’s aircraft caused the deaths before dawn on Saturday, inflaming US-Pakistani relations still reeling from the May killing of Osama bin Laden.

Full Report at:


Condemn and condole: Turkey promises to ask NATO for inquiry


ISLAMABAD, November 27, 2011: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu early Sunday morning telephoned Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to express solidarity with the people and government of Pakistan on the Nato attack in Mohmand Agency that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and injured 16 others.

Khar thanked Davutoglu for Turkey’s expression of solidarity and condemned the attack by terming it “unprovoked and totally unacceptable”. She also said that Nato’s action shows a complete disregard for international law and human life.

Davutoglu assured the Pakistani foreign minister that as a member of Nato, Turkey would ask for an impartial inquiry into the attacks. He added that loss of Pakistani soldiers was “as painful as losing Turkish soldiers”.

An early Saturday morning attack by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) helicopters killed at least 24 security personnel and injured 12 soldiers on a Pakistani check post in Salala, which is located in the Tehsil Bayzai area of Mohmand Agency on the Pak-Afghan border.

The United States has been told by Pakistan’s military leadership to evacuate a logistically key airbase it operates in Balochistan – Shamsie Airbase – within 15 days. In addition, Pakistan’s fury was driven home with an official statement that it will shut down Nato supply routes operating through its territory – something that has happened for the first time, though supply routes have previously been temporarily blocked unofficially following similar attacks.


No one will be allowed to cast evil eye on Pakistan’

November 27, 2011

MULTAN: Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday said no one would be allowed to cast an evil eye on Pakistan’s security and sovereignty and the government would defend its security at all costs.

Addressing a public meeting after laying foundation stone of different development projects, the prime minister referred to the NATO helicopters attack in Mohmand Agency saying, “Pakistani’s solidarity and security have been attacked this morning.”

He said due to this incident, he was going back to Islamabad to discuss the issue with members of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet and other political leaders.

He said he had also talked to Opposition Leader in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali, Chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan and other leaders so that unity could be forged in the nation to tackle this issue.

The prime minister said with the support of the people, the government was able to solve their problems and added that inferiority complex among the people of southern Punjab would also be removed.

He said that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had a vision, programme and manifesto to improve the living standard of the people and was taking practical steps in this regard.

The prime minister said that the southern Punjab had been ignored in the past and now the government had initiated a number of projects for the under-developed areas of this region.

He said that the government was paying more attention to neglected areas, adding that development projects worth billions of rupees were going on for the overall development of southern Punjab.

Full Report at:\11\27\story_27-11-2011_pg7_1


Islamic Minister, MPs, PPM and Religious Groups of Maldives Condemn UN Human Rights Commissioner

By Ahmed Naish,

November 27th, 2011

Statements by visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calling for a moratorium on flogging as a punishment for fornication and criticising the Muslim-only clause for citizenship in the Maldivian constitution have been widely condemned by religious NGOs, public officials and political parties.

In an address delivered in parliament last Thursday, Pillay said the practice of flogging women found guilty of extra-marital sex “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.”

The UN human rights chief called for a public debate “on this issue of major concern.” In a press conference later in the day, Pillay called on the judiciary and the executive to issue a moratorium on flogging.

On article 9(d) of the constitution, which states “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives,” Pillay said the provision was “discriminatory and does not comply with international standards.”

Local media widely misreported Pillay as stating during Thursday evening’s press conference that she did not believe the Maldives had a Constitution, which prompted a great deal of public outrage. Her comment, however, was in response to a challenge from Miadhu Editor Gabbe Latheef, who asked “if you believe we have a Constitution, why are you speaking against our Constitution?”

Full Report at:


Rights Awareness a Leading Concern for Civil Services: Human Rights Commission Maldives

By Eleanor Johnstone

November 26th, 2011

“Most people understand the rights themselves, but not what it means to have them. In a democracy, we hope that the people will all play a role.”

Commissioner Ahmed Tholal represented the Human Rights Commission Maldives (HRCM) at yesterday’s UNDP “Did You Know?” event at the Surf Point, the second in a campaign begun last year. The event targeted awareness building on human rights and the judicial system, particularly as provided in Chapter Two of the constitution. Over a dozen groups including Police Services, the Faculty of Shari’ah Law, Employment Tribunal, Courts, and the Elections Commission offered pamphlets and demonstrations of their social purpose.

“These kinds of things people will forget unless you keep on promoting it,” said UNDP National Project Manager Naaz Aminath. “It’s not something you can just accomplish by handing out pamphlets.”

Many groups interviewed said raising awareness of civil rights and how to exercise them was their biggest challenge.

Representatives from the Supreme Court defined the court as “part of a larger enforcement of human rights in the Maldives,” which she said “are there in the constitution but people don’t know how they can exercise them, or how they can defend them.”

She noted that though many citizens are unfamiliar with case filing procedures, the court had seen a “dramatic increase” in the number of cases filed and expected the trend to continue.

Full Report at:


Iran threatens to hit Turkey if US, Israel attack

Tehran: Nov 27 2011,

A senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard says the country will target NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey if the US or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic.

Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards' aerospace division, is quoted by the semiofficial Mehr news agency as saying the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what it sees as an increase in threats from the US and Israel.

He says Iran will now respond to threats with threats rather than a defensive position.

Tehran says NATO's early warning radar station in Turkey is meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with Israel.

Turkey agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO's missile defense system.


Malaysia pressured to scrap law against rallies

The Jakarta Post, 11/27/2011

Malaysia's government faced mounting pressure Sunday to scrap plans for a law that would ban street protests, despite agreeing to ease other restrictions on rallies that activists have called repressive.

The proposed law to regulate public demonstrations has prompted lawyers, opposition leaders and rights groups to accuse Prime Minister Najib Razak's National Front coalition of cracking down on freedom of assembly ahead of general elections widely expected next year.

Details of the Peaceful Assembly Bill announced last week included a requirement for rally organizers to inform police about their plans 30 days in advance. Street demonstrations would be forbidden, effectively limiting rallies to stadiums and public halls.

Malaysia's de facto law minister, Nazri Aziz, said Saturday that the Cabinet has agreed to make several changes to the proposed law, such as reducing the advance notification period to 10 days.

However, there were no changes planned for the ban on street protests and a fine of up to 20,000 ringgit ($6,200) for demonstrators who break the law. Children under 15 would be barred from attending rallies, which also cannot be held near schools, hospitals, places of worship, airports or gasoline stations.

Full Report at:


Pak violates ceasefire, fires at Indian posts in Poonch

JAMMU, November 26, 2011: Pakistani troops violated ceasefire and fired at three Indian Forward Posts along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, an Army official said on Saturday.

“There was firing from the Pakistani side along the LoC on three Indian Posts — Kranti-I, Kranti-II and Ghorda in Krishnagati sub-sector of Poonch — at around 2330 hours yesterday,” the officer said in Jammu.

The Army retaliated and the exchange of fire continued for half an hour, he said.

“The Pakistani troops fired from their Daku, Chouha and Begum posts,” the officer said, adding that there was no casualty or injury in the firing.

The last such incident was on October 23, 2011, when the Pakistani side had violated ceasefire in the same region.

Keywords: Ceasefire violation, Pakistan firing, Indian Forward Posts, Line of Control, Poonch district


Katju raises attacks on media persons in J&K

NEW DELHI, November 27, 2011:  In the wake of reports that some journalists covering protests were assaulted by Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Srinagar, Press Council Chairman Justice (retired) Markandey Katju on Saturday wrote to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Adbullah enquiring what steps were being taken to ensure that the media could work effectively in the State. It has been reported that “some journalists were beaten up by CRPF personnel in J&K while covering protests in Srinagar recently. It is also reported that photojournalists and a video journalist were hospitalised,” Justice Katju wrote in his letter to the Chief Minister.

“It is reported that Umer Mehraj, working as a video journalist for Associated Press Television News, and Yawar Kabli and Showkat Shafi, both freelance photojournalists, were taken to SKIMS Hospital, after being beaten up by CRPF personnel,” he said.

Justice Katju said if the reports were true, the incident was “serious” and demanded that he be apprised of steps the State government was taking to ensure that journalists could do their job effectively. “If these reports are true it is a serious matter affecting the freedom of the media guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.”

“Please immediately give me your comments on these reports and also what steps you have taken so that the media is able to discharge its duties effectively.”

Keywords: Jammu & Kashmir, attack on journalists, media freedom, Central Reserve Police Force, Press Council of India


Rehman Malik hopeful of sending judicial panel


NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD, November 27, 2011:  As India marked the third anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks with demands for credible and speedy action against Pakistan-based masterminds, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik expressed the hope that his country would send a Judicial Commission to India within a week.

According to local media reports, Mr. Malik on Friday said the Pakistan government was awaiting court clearance for the names it had suggested for the Commission that would record the testimonies of the magistrate and investigating officer who recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, lone surviving terrorist.

In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, after paying homage to the victims early in the morning on Saturday, said: “We are still waiting for Pakistan to act decisively to bring to justice the perpetrators of the mindless violence that was unleashed on Mumbai. We are still waiting. I think the evidence provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs would be sufficient for any normal civilian court to prosecute the people involved in the conspiracy and the perpetrators of this crime. I once again call on our neighbour to bring the perpetrators of the crime to speedy justice.”

The Pakistan government has also sought access to the doctor who carried out the post mortem on the terrorists killed in the attack so as to record his statement for presenting it in the anti-terrorism court (ATC), which is hearing the case in the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. India's contention is that only two of the seven arrested by Pakistan in the case are of any consequence.

Full Report at:


13 Taliban insurgents killed in Afghanistan


KABUL, Nov 26, 2011: At least 13 insurgents were killed and 17 suspects detained by Afghan police during security operations over the last 24 hours, the Afghan interior ministry said on Saturday.

Afghan officials often use the word "insurgents" referring to Taliban, Xinhua reported.

"Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan army and Coalition Forces launched five joint operations in surrounding areas of the Kabul, Helmand, Uruzgan and Herat provinces," the ministry said in a statement.

"As a result of these operations, 13 armed insurgents were killed, one wounded and 17 others were arrested by ANP," it stated.

The Taliban were yet to make comments till last reported.


Bridge collapses in Indonesia; 3 dead, 17 injured


JAKARTA, 27 November 2011 Indonesia: A busy bridge collapsed Saturday in central Indonesia, killing at least three people and injuring 17 others as a bus, cars and motorcycles crashed into the river below, police and witnesses said.

Capt. Syafii Nafsikin said search and rescue teams rushed to the scene.

Survivors, swimming to shore, were screaming in panic.

The sprawling, 770-yard (700-meter) bridge — built to resemble the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco — linked the towns of Tenggarong and Samarinda in East Kalimantan province.

It was clogged with traffic when the accident occurred, Syaiful, a witness, told local television station TVOne.

He saw at least one bus and close to a dozen motorcycles plunge into the Mahakam river. Several cars were mangled.

“Everyone was screaming,” said Syaiful who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name.

East Kalimantan police spokesman Col. Antonius Wisnu Sutirta said it wasn’t immediately clear why the 10-year-old bridge collapsed.

He said at least three people were killed and 17 others were injured and rushed to nearby hospitals.


Pakistani FM says NATO strike negates progress

AP | Nov 27, 2011,

Pakistan's foreign minister has told US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that an alleged NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers has negated progress in improving the tattered alliance between the two countries.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's foreign minister has told US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that an alleged NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers has negated progress in improving the tattered alliance between the two countries.

Foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar told Clinton on Sunday that the attack was unacceptable, showed complete disregard for human life and sparked rage within Pakistan. The prime minister's office issued a press release describing the conversation.

The US says Clinton expressed sympathy over the incident and promised the US would work with Pakistan as NATO conducts an investigation.

Pakistan has retaliated by closing its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies and giving the US 15 days to vacate an air base used by American drones.


Pak: Women parliamentarians want 10% quota in general seats

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD, November 27, 2011 : Women members from four provincial assemblies of country and representatives of civil society organisations on Saturday reaffirmed their commitment to protect and preserve the provision of reserved seats in the Constitution for women in the National Assembly, Senate and the provincial assemblies.

Women reiterated this step during a press conference organised by Aurat Foundation. On the occasion women parliamentarians also demand that political parties develop consensus among themselves to amend the Political Parties Act to provide mandatory quota of 10 percent of general seats of women to mainstream them in electoral processes before the next elections, in addition to the already available reserved seats for women.

The participates of the press conference were Shehla Raza, Deputy Speaker, Provincial Assembly, Sindh, Dr Ruqiya Hashmi, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Balochistan, Ghazala Gola, Minister for Women’s Development, Balochistan, Heer Soho, MPA (MQM), Sindh, Nusrat Saher Abbasi, MPA (PML-F), Sindh, Humaira Alwani, MPA (PPPP), Sindh, Shameela Aslam, MPA (PML-N), Punjab, Faiza Malik, MPA (PPPP), Punjab, Amna Butter, MPA (PPPP), Deeba Mirza, MPA (PML-N), Punjab, Shazia Tehmas, MPA (PPPP), KP, Nargis Samin, MPA (PPP-Sherpao), KP, and Noorus-Sehar (PPPP) from KP.

They were of the view that they believed that the provision of the reserved seats for women was the Constitutional right of women of Pakistan under Articles 25, 34, 51 and 106, e.g. Article 25 (3) states: “Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the protection of women and children”.

They said they believe that women members role in assemblies helped to initiate debates on issues of women’s empowerment both within and outside legislatures, and eventually, lead to their playing a key role in law-making on crucial issues which concern women and citizens of Pakistan. They vowed they would also like to reiterate the commitment made by the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus at a Roundtable on 29 September 2011, that “we further commit to enhance and strengthen women’s representation in legislatures by working within our respective political parties and elected representatives.\11\27\story_27-11-2011_pg11_5


Pak CJ: Terrorists behind Swat unrest to face justice’

By Fazal Khaliq

Chief justice attends PHC oath-taking ceremony in Mingora. PHOTO: ONLINE/ FILE

SWAT,November 27, 2011: In a rare public appearance outside the Supreme Court, Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry visited several districts of Swat on Saturday and attended the oath-taking ceremony of the Mingora bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

After administering the oath to the newly-elected cabinet, the CJ addressed lawyers and said that every culprit (terrorist) involved in the Taliban occupation of Swat should be tried.

He said that before the Swat Valley was occupied by militants, justice was available to the people but then “unfortunately, the area was captured by certain forces who tried to impose their views on the traditionally open and accommodating society of this valley.”

Terrorism in Swat

Addressing the bar, newly elected president of the Mingora bench, Sher Mohammad Khan, also asked the CJ to take suo motu action against the “real culprits of the Swat mayhem”.  In addition, he requested him to increase the number of judges in the Mingora bench, as a total of 4,012 cases are pending.

Nizam-e-Adl regulations

Referring to the Nizam-e-Adl Regulations 2009, the CJ said that they are a combination of legal codes with Sharia law in accordance with the constitution, which make the Darul Qaza appellate courts. He added that the effectiveness of the system could be ascertained from the fact that in the recent past, a record number of cases had been decided in the Malakand division, especially in Mingora district.


Islamabad: PEMRA urges electronic media to respect sanctity of Muharram

November 27, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has directed all its electronic media stakeholders to duly observe sanctity of the holy month of Moharramul Haram. According to a press release issued here Saturday, PEMRA Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar has asked all the media outlets to observe the teachings of Islam and has warned from relaying or distributing any programme against the sanctity of the holy month. It said that PEMRA had issued a circular and asked all media outlets that no programme should be aired or distributed in contravention to the PEMRA Code of Conduct, which refrain from passing derogatory remarks about any religion and sect that promotes disharmony. Similarly, no programme would be tolerated that might provoke hatred against individual or group on the basis of race, ethnicity and religious orientation. The electronic media has been directed to craft special programmes, persuading viewers to shun sectarian activities and discard animosity, hatred, malevolence and differences. app\11\27\story_27-11-2011_pg11_2


17 Uzbeks held in Chaman,  Baluchistan

QUETTA, November 27, 2011: 17 Uzbek nationals were arrested in Chaman Qilla Abdullah, Balochistan Levies said on Saturday. According to Levies sources, Uzbeks had entered Pakistan through the Chaman aborder in a Quetta-bound passenger train. Acting on a tip-off, Levies personnel conducted a raid and took them into custody. Later, they were handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency for further interrogation. app\11\27\story_27-11-2011_pg7_10


UN sees no need yet for humanitarian corridors in Syria


UNITED NATIONS, Nov 26, 2011: French proposals for “humanitarian corridors” in Syria to help civilians affected by eight months of unrest are not justified by humanitarian needs identified so far in the country, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator said.

Valerie Amos said 3 million people had been affected by the uprising against President Bashar Assad, and Syria’s Red Crescent had sought support to feed 1.5 million people.

“A number of suggestions have been made on how to provide assistance to Syrians affected by the current unrest,” Amos said, referring to proposals for humanitarian corridors or buffer zones.

“At present, the humanitarian needs identified in Syria do not warrant the implementation of either of those mechanisms,” she said, adding that the United Nations had been unable to assess comprehensively those needs because of the limited number of international staff operating in Syria.

“Before any further discussion of these options, it is essential to get a clearer sense of what exactly people need, and where,” Amos said in a statement released on Friday.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed in Assad’s crackdown on eight months of protests against his rule. Syria blames armed groups for killing 1,100 soldiers and police.

Full Report at:


Iran Quds Force chief defies US, says ready to die


TEHRAN, Nov 26, 2011: The chief of Iran’s elite Quds Force says he doesn’t fear US threats of assassination and is ready for “martyrdom,” warning Washington of serious consequences if it does not stop threatening the Islamic Republic.

The comments by Quds Force commander Brig. Gen. Ghassem Soleimani were published in several Iranian newspapers Saturday.

The force is a unit within the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard.

Tensions have increased in recent weeks between Iran and the US, with several American neoconservatives urging the Obama administration to use covert action against Iran and kill some of its top officials, including Soleimani.

Two men, including an alleged member of Iran’s Quds Force, have been charged in New York federal court with conspiring to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US.


Yemen sets date for presidential vote


SANAA, YEMEN: Nov 27, 2011, Yemen has scheduled early presidential elections for the beginning of next year, in line with a power-sharing deal aimed at ending a nine-month political crisis, according to the country's official news agency.

The agreement would make President Ali Abdullah Saleh the fourth dictator pushed from power this year by the Arab Spring uprisings, although it has been rejected by many protesters because it would grant the reviled leader immunity from prosecution and does not include far-reaching political changes like those brought about by the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

The U.S.-backed Gulf Arab proposal signed Wednesday in the Saudi capital Riyadh calls for Saleh to pass power to his deputy within 30 days, after a new government sworn in by the vice president passes a law protecting Saleh and his associates from prosecution. Presidential elections also are to be held within 90 days, well ahead of the original date in 2013.

Full Report at:


Egyptian protests, violence overshadow elections


CAIRO, Nov 27, 2011,: Fresh clashes between security forces and Egyptian protesters demanding the military step down have broken out in front of the country's Cabinet building, leaving one man dead, as violence threatens to overshadow next week's parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council that took power after Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February, met separately on Saturday with opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and presidential hopeful Amr Moussa, who was the former head of the Arab League. Egyptian state TV reported the meetings but gave no details.

The new prime minister, whose appointment by the military on Friday touched off a wave of anger among protesters accusing the army of trying to perpetuate the old regime, also held a series of meetings trying to sway youth groups to his side.

Full Report at:


Abu Dhabi: Five Bloggers Get Jail up to three Years

Staff Reporter

27 November 2011,

ABU DHABI, The Federal Supreme Court on Sunday sentenced five bloggers to prison terms of up to three years on charges of insulting the rulers and stoking dissent.

First accused Ahmed Mansour Ali Abdullah Al Abd Al Shehi was sentenced to three years, while Nasser Ahmed Khalfan bin Gaith, Fahad Salim Mohammed Salim Dalk and Hassan Ali Al Khamis, all Emiratis, received two years in jail. Another man, Ahmed Abdul Khaleq Ahmed, who does not possess papers, was also slapped with a two-year sentence.

The court ordered the confiscation of the equipment used by the five and the shutting down of an anti-government Web site run by them. It also ordered that civil cases against the men be referred to the competent civil court.

The five, who were arrested in April, were accused of using the Internet to insult UAE leaders, call for a boycott of September’s Federal National Council elections and for anti-government demonstrations.

The verdict is not open to appeal.


Israeli warplanes launch strikes on Gaza Strip


JERUSALEM, 27 November 2011: Israeli warplanes launched two strikes on the Gaza Strip overnight in response to rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory, an army spokesman said in a statement on Sunday.

“In response to rocket fire towards Israel this weekend, the airforce targetted sites of terrorist activity in the south and the centre of the Gaza strip during the night,” said the spokesman.

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket into the Eshkol region of southern Israel on Saturday morning causing no casualties, Israeli police said.

Earlier this month, the Israeli chief of staff warned MPs that repeated rocket fire from Gaza would push Israel into taking “aggressive” action in the Gaza Strip.

Low-level unrest has rumbled in and around Gaza this month but has not erupted into all-out fighting as it did on October 29-30 when tit-for-tat violence left 12 Palestinian militants and an Israeli civilian dead.

Militant groups say they are observing an Egypt-brokered truce agreement but have reserved the right to reply to any Israeli fire. Israel has said it will target any militants poised to fire rockets across the border.


Syria accuses Arab League of 'internationalising' crisis

Damascus, Nov 27 2011, Syria accuses Arab League of 'internationalising' crisis. (Reuters)

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has accused the Arab League of 'internationalising' the deadly crisis hitting the country since pro-democracy protests began more than eight months ago.

The accusation came yesterday in a letter addressed to the Arab League as ministers from the group met in Cairo to draw up sanctions against Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad's regime for defying an ultimatum to allow in observers and pressing a deadly crackdown.

Arab diplomats on Thursday had said the League would ask the United Nations to contribute observers to an international mission that Syria is refusing to admit to the country.

“What we understand by this latest Arab League decision is a tacit green light for the internationalisation of the situation in Syria and to meddle in its domestic affairs,” Muallem said in a letter quoted by the state-run SANA news agency.

Muallem said the call by the Arab League to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was an invitation 'for foreign intervention (in Syria) instead of a call to avoid one'.

He complained of contradictions in the Arab League position that on the one hand “talks of respecting Syrian sovereignty and avoiding foreign intervention while on the other calls on the UN secretary-general”.

Full Report at:


Syria buries security forces as sanctions loom


Nov 27, 2011 11:16

BEIRUT, Nov 27, 2011 1 : Syria has buried 22 members of the armed forces, including six elite pilots, as the government reinforces its message that the 8-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad is the work of terrorists and foreign agents, not patriotic Syrians seeking reform.

But with no sign of violence abating, an Arab League committee agreed Saturday on a draft of recommended sanctions against Syria, including halting cooperation with the nation’s central bank and stopping flights to the country. The 22-nation body will vote on the recommendations Sunday in Cairo.

If the Arab League were to go ahead with the move, it would be a huge blow for a regime that considers itself a powerhouse of Arab nationalism.

Syria is facing mounting international pressure to end the bloody crackdown on the uprising against Assad’s rule that the UN says has killed more than 3,500 people. The European Union and the United States have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Assad and his regime, including a ban on the import of Syrian oil.

“US and European sanctions are one thing, but coming from the Arab brothers and sisters, it is psychologically and realistically much more damaging,” said Nikolaos van Dam, a former diplomat and Middle East scholar.

Still, there is widely held skepticism the Arab sanctions would succeed in pressuring the Syrian regime into putting an end to the violence that has claimed the lives of dozens of Syrians, week after week. Many fear the violence is pushing the country toward civil war.

Full Report at:


Arms smugglers thrive on Syrian uprising

Nov 26 2011,

Unrest in Syria has sent demand for weapons soaring, doubling prices for Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons. (Reuters)

Weapons dealer Abu Wael has traded guns in Lebanon's Bekaa valley since the last days of his country's civil war, nearly a quarter of a century ago.

This has been his busiest year ever.

Unrest in neighbouring Syria has sent demand for weapons soaring, doubling prices for Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons and helping supply the increasingly well armed insurrection challenging President Bashar al-Assad.

In the first six months of the protests, Abu Wael sold 2,000 Kalashnikovs and M16 rifles, the highest turnover of his long years in an underground arms business that has operated for decades across porous Middle East borders.

Full Report at: