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Islamic World News ( 20 March 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Merciless Pakistani Taliban Flogger Caught on Camera Whipping a Girl Nabbed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 Bloodbath in Iraq as 27 Blasts Kill 51 Ahead of Arab Summit

Syria's London-born first lady: A "desert rose" crushed by Syria's strife

In Israel, the ‘Iranian threat’ is a running joke

Imran and his wife Held for plot to kill Modi, Imran gets bail to prove innocence

Russia court dismisses appeal on Bhagvad Gita ban

Israel passes law banning use of underweight models

Jewish school killer refuses to surrender

Blast at Indonesian Embassy in Paris, but No Injuries

Balochistan solution: Unhappy with govt efforts, SC proposes grand Jirga

Libya's former spy chief Senussi 'to be handed over'

India offers gas export to Pakistan

Dhaka welcomes Saudi role in probe into diplomat’s murder

China mum on fears of Nuclear terrorism in Pakistan

'Al Qaeda suspect' cornered after France shootings

Al Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Iraq Attacks

Osama Bin Laden’s brother in Law moves Islamabad High Court to meet sister

Libyan airstrike victims still waiting for redress

Two police killed in Pakistan bomb blast: officials

4 bodies recovered in Mardan

China defends N-cooperation with Pak as ‘mutually beneficial’

Pakistan seeks end to US drone strikes

Zardari case: PPP not to act on apex court's orders

More Afghan forces on Pak border if terror safe havens continue: US

Pakistan bans Indian film

Syria might need its own Mandela to end war

Syrian opposition accused of human rights violations

Syrian forces take eastern city from rebels

For Syrians, No Easy Exit from Conflict

World Bank approves $1 bn for projects in Pakistan

National security committee presents recommendations over Pak-US ties

Criminal case against Osama’s widow, children challenged

Syria's leadership making mistakes, says Russia

Shellfire in Damascus suburbs, say Syrian rebels

Japan closes its embassy in Syria amid violence

Obama calls President Abbas

US mull concessions on flashpoint Afghan night raids

'No proof' in Afghan massacre suspects Sgt Bales case

No sudden Afghan drawdown: US general

Distrust lingers from 'green on blue' Afghan murders

Iran threatens to retaliate to any attack by US, Israel

Former Israel PM Ehud Barak sells luxury apartment after public outcry

US exempt Japan and EU nations from Iran oil sanctions

GCC meeting on Yemen

Bahraini king vows to press on with reforms

Egypt to sell land to expats, cut budget deficit

Saudis excited at English in govt-run primary schools

Kingdom offers Lanka aid to develop road networks

Is Arab democracy of vital interest to US?

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo:  Syria's London-born first lady Asma al-Assad

For more Headlines and Details, Please click, ‘More’

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/bloodbath-in-iraq-as-27-blasts-kill-51-ahead-of-arab-summit/d/6890

 

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Merciless Pakistani Taliban Flogger Caught on Camera Whipping a Girl Nabbed

PTI

ISLAMABAD, Mar 20, 2012, A Taliban flogger caught on camera mercilessly whipping a girl in Pakistan's turbulent northwest has been nabbed from the Swat valley, three years after the shameful episode which hit global headlines.

A member of 'Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat' Fazal Hadi stated to be the central character in the infamous flogging incident of a woman in Swat in 2009, was arrested yesterday by Swat police, Dawn reported.

A two-minute video of the incident surfaced in April, 2009, showing the flogger whipping the girl despite her screams "For God's sake, please stop it, stop it", shaking the world and drawing widespread condemnation.

But the militant with black beard and a turban turned deaf ear to her mercy pleas and continued his job and stopped only after completing the "sentence" of lashing her 34 times.

The paper said Hadi was picked up by a raiding party from his ancestral home of Asbarn and told the police that he had just returned from Sindh province, where he had gone hiding since 2009 after the incident was splashed by the media.

The report said the woman named Saira had turned up before police and claimed that she was the woman in footage.

The woman married with two children had charged Fazal Hadi by name along with several other suspected militants of the area.

The militants claimed that a so-called Shariah court had ordered 30 lashes sentence for her after charging her with immorality.

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_infamous-taliban-flogger-nabbed-3-years-after-whipping-girl_1664889

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Bloodbath in Iraq as 27 Blasts Kill 51 Ahead of Arab Summit

Mar 21 2012

At least 27 bombs struck cities and towns across Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least 51 people and wounding nearly 250, despite a massive security clampdown ahead of next week’s Arab League summit in Baghdad.

It was Iraq’s bloodiest day in nearly a month, and the scale of the coordinated explosions in more than a dozen cities showed an apparent determination by insurgents to prove that the government cannot keep the country safe ahead of the summit.

Iraq is due to host the meeting for the first time in 20 years and the government is anxious to show it can maintain security following the withdrawal of US troops in December.

“The goal of today’s attacks was to present a negative image of the security situation in Iraq,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters.

Tuesday’s deadliest incident occurred in the southern Shia Muslim holy city of Kerbala, where twin explosions killed 13 people and wounded 48 during the morning rush hour, according to Jamal Mahdi, a Kerbala health department spokesman.

Blasts also struck in the capital, in Baiji, Baquba, Daquq, Dibis, Dhuluiya, Kirkuk, Mosul, Samarra, Tuz Khurmato and Dujail to the north, in Falluja and Ramadi to the west, and Hilla, Latifiya, Mahmudiya and Mussayab to the south. Police defused bombs in Baquba, Falluja and Mosul.

Most of the blasts targeted police checkpoints and patrols.

The Iraqi wing of al-Qaeda said it was behind at least one of the attacks near Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone.

A statement on a militant website said the group targeted the office that will oversee security for the upcoming Arab League summit.

... contd.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/bloodbath-in-iraq-as-27-blasts-kill-51-ahead-of-arab-summit/926282/

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Syria's London-born first lady: A "desert rose" crushed by Syria's strife

Mar 20, 2012,

LONDON: She was supposed to be the gentler face of a would-be reformist regime. Now Asma al-Assad has become a hate figure for many.

Syria's London-born first lady, once breathlessly described as a "rose in the desert", is ensconced at the heart of the shadowy inner circle of President Bashar al-Assad.

As Syria slides towards civil war and foreign powers watch for cracks within the ruling clan, understanding Asma could prove vital to understanding the Assads and the future of the Syrian crisis.

A British-educated former investment banker, Asma cultivated the image of a glamorous yet serious-minded woman with strong Western-inspired values who was meant to humanize the increasingly secretive and isolated Assad family.

That image crumbled when her husband responded to an anti-government rebellion with extreme violence a year ago. Asma had clearly decided to stand by her man despite international revulsion at his actions. Assad himself says he is fighting an insurrection, involving foreign-backed "terrorists".

Asma's ancestral home is the city of Homs, now a symbol of the revolt which has been subjected to particularly fierce attack by her husband's tanks to become ground zero in the year-long conflict.

With her penchant for crystal-encrusted Christian Louboutin shoes and Chanel dresses, Asma is a puzzle for many. The opposition roundly rejects suggestions that she is effectively a prisoner of conscience in the presidential palace.

"She was very much, as we would say, left wing. She (created) a very, very good impression. She seemed to be very bright, very respectful of others," said Gaia Servadio, a writer and historian who has worked with Asma on several art projects.

"It's a very nasty regime ... Thousands of people have been killed. So it's very difficult to say: poor woman. She certainly should have found a way to talk."

The world was smitten by her immaculate facade. In the Western media, Asma, a 36-year-old mother of three, was described as sophisticated, elegant, confident, with a "killer IQ" and an interest in opening up Syria though art and charity.

For those who pinned their hopes on Assad as a potential reformer, his photogenic wife bolstered that image, lending a touch of glamour to his awkward public appearances.

A glowing article in Vogue magazine described her as "a rose in the desert" and her household as "wildly democratic". A French newspaper said she was an "element of light in a country full of shadow zones".

People were charmed by her classy demeanor, liberal views and British accent. She received the Gold Medal of the Presidency of The Italian Republic for humanitarian work in 2008 and won an honorary archaeology doctorate from La Sapienza university in Rome.

"The real dictator"

Yet emails published by Britain's Guardian newspaper this month from accounts believed to belong to the family offer a different portrait, showing her as a capricious dictator's wife spending tens of thousands of pounds on jewels, fancy furniture, and a Venetian glass vase from Harrods.

"I am the real dictator, he has no choice," she apparently said in one of the emails in a comment about her husband.

Her London contact, a Syrian businessman, appears to send emails to her using an address he has nicknamed "Party party".

The story of how the London-born daughter of a Sunni Muslim Syrian doctor married into Assad's family, members of the powerful minority Alawite sect, reads like a cautionary tale.

She was born in the west London suburbs, whose sleepy streets are lined with neat houses, just like her family's. Twelve years after she married Assad, the family home appears almost abandoned, its curtains drawn. Neighbors said her father still lives there with his wife, a former diplomat.

"We know they are there but we don't see them," said one neighbor, a veiled Arab woman who asked not to be named. No one answered the door bell when Reuters called at the weekend.

A Syrian dissident from Aleppo, who lives nearby and asked to be identified only by his nickname, Zayed, said most Syrians in Britain despised Asma now.

Zayed, angrily comparing Asma to Marie Antoinette or the wife of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, called on the Syrian leader's wife to "make a stand for your own sake, for your own people ... She never did."

A senior member of the British Syrian Society, set up with Assad's help to promote business ties, said he has met the first couple in London and used warm words to describe them.

"They were quite impressive to talk to. He came across as someone who wanted to listen, get ideas, get advice, open to everybody, he made it plain that he wanted Syrians abroad to help building the country again. He was welcoming and warm."

Speaking on condition of anonymity in a gentlemen's club in a smart London neighborhood, he added: "We all felt there was an opportunity that he, the president, representing the younger generation, could lead Syria to a new age of change.

"Perhaps he feels betrayed. Why are they (the West) ganging up on him? Now some people say, he is in full control, others say that he is not. Maybe he is shocked by the fact that ... in the end they all turned against them."

Asma's father, Fawaz Akhras, a cardiologist and founder of the British Syrian Society, has not responded to a Reuters request for a meeting, made through an intermediary.

"Warlords, one against the other"

Known as Emma to her British friends, Asma spent the first 25 years of her life in North Acton, went to a smart London girls school, Queen's College, and read computer science at King's College London.

She was a rising star at JP Morgan when she met Bashar, who had studied ophthalmology in London but was sent home to be groomed for the presidency after his elder brother, Basil, died in a car crash in 1994.

"I was always very serious at work, and suddenly I started to take weekends (off), or disappear, and people just couldn't figure it out," she told Vogue. "What do you say - 'I am dating the son of a president?'"

They married in 2000. What followed was a life full of glamour. They once dined with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Syria. Bashar joked, according to Vogue: "Brad Pitt wanted to send his security guards here to come and get some training!"

One photograph from happier days depicts them playing with their children, toys scattered around on the carpet.

The Assad side of the clan, however, didn't like Asma, not least because of her Sunni Muslim origins.

"Certainly the Assad family doesn't like her, to put it mildly ... She was constantly under watch, her telephone, she was very careful," Servadio, who spent time with the family in Syria before the uprising, told Reuters in London.

"She was shouted at. How odd, frankly, (that) somebody who is meant to be the wife of the president who is an autocrat, can be shouted at in this way." She added: "It was like a mediaeval power, warlords, one against the other."

Chilling glimpse

Asma's husband was elected president with 97 percent of the vote in 2000 after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who had ruled Syria with an iron fist for decades.

Before the start of the 2011 uprising, there was hope Syria could change. Syrians saw his choice of wife as proof that things were about to change.

When he came to power, people said, 'Okay ... let's give him a chance and see what he's going to do,'" said Ghassan Ibrahim, Global Arab Network's London-based editor. "What happened is that he made corruption even more organized, Mafia appeared, poverty grew sharply ... (But) she is standing by the criminal and she supports him."

Emails leaked by Syria's opposition offer a chilling glimpse into the lavish lifestyle the couple enjoyed even as Assad's troops shelled opposition strongholds.

The tone of those emails is incongruously jokey. In one, Asma's husband disparages his own reforms as "rubbish". He also shares a pun playing on the words "elections" and "erections".

Asma appears to have written in an email: "If we are strong together, we will overcome this together ... I love you."

As the revolt unfolded she gradually disappeared from public view but broke her silence in February, saying in a statement: "The president is the president of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the first lady supports him in that role."

In a haunting interview with CNN, looking nervous, she once said: "We are losing time. We are working against the clock. Three thousand and three hundred people injured. More than that, 22,000 people have been displaced from their homes ... This is the 21st century. Where in the world could this happen?"

She was talking in 2009 about an Israeli operation in Gaza.

"Virtually a prisoner"

Some believe she is a propaganda tool of the Assad family, a liberal going through a moral crisis in Damascus, unable to speak up or escape.

"She is virtually a prisoner. The two of them missed their boat," said Servadio. "I would certainly accuse him (Assad) of being a coward. ... I think he is a puppet, very much used.

"For them (the family) it's wonderful to have a scapegoat, these two people at the top who are absorbing all the hatred."

Ibrahim disagreed. "It's not true at all. Assad has been in power for over 12 years. He is in full control. Giving such excuses to him is unacceptable. They are like the Mafia."

As battles raged across Syria, Asma kept spending on designer baubles from London, according to the emails.

For ordinary Syrians, Asma al-Assad is now a hate figure.

"They have stolen Syrian money. She is squandering it here in London," said Fawaz, a man who came to an opposition fund-raising event in London wrapped in a Syrian flag.

"She and her father are accomplices to this crime. They learned nothing from the democracy here in the UK."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Asma-al-Assad-A-desert-rose-crushed-by-Syrias-strife/articleshow/12346079.cms

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In Israel, the ‘Iranian threat’ is a running joke

Mar 20, 2012

Jerusalem: With all the talk of an attack on Iran, one might expect Israelis to be hiding in basements or marching against another war. Though polls show  three-quarters of them would oppose Israel resorting to force against Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme without US support, that sense of unease has had little impact on normal life in the Jewish state.

“In Israel, when we want to shoot, we shoot, we don’t talk. I think (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu is maneuvering vis-a-vis foreign opinion,” said Dedi Cohen, 36, a lawyer from Tel Aviv.

“There’s been so much chatter about this that the ‘Iranian threat’ has become something of a joke in Israel. There’s really not that much sense of urgency,” he said.

It’s not that Israelis, vexed over a pressing issue, have been reluctant to take to the streets in the past. Six months ago, some 300,000 people flooded the main avenues of Israeli cities in an evening of demonstrations against high living costs — a social protest movement that began with complaints on Facebook about the price of cottage cheese.

Despite his chilling rhetoric, Netanyahu is lampooned, given the belief among many Israelis that he is gunshy. Reuters

So far, protests against armed conflict with Iran have been a fringe affair: an anti-war exhibit by Tel Aviv artists and newspaper ads placed by far-left activists. Pictures of smiling Israelis are circulating via Facebook, bearing the slogan: “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.”

Threat to existance

Israel regards Iran as the greatest threat to its existence, and Tehran, which denies seeking atomic arms, has vowed to retaliate with ballistic missile salvos for any attack on its nuclear facilities.

But experts say the difference between Israeli public opinion and government rhetoric is not as paradoxical as it looks.

On top of the fatalism of a people inured to war, there is scepticism about the resolve of a prime minister who, despite his veiled threats to take unilateral military action, is not famous for risk-taking.

“It’s not clear that a decision has been made by the government, which has managed to convey a degree of uncertainty,” said Tamar Hermann, a veteran pollster with the Israel Democracy Institute.

“Most people will say they don’t have all of the information about the cost of taking action or of not taking action,” she added. Their reticence reflects “a mature recognition of the complexity of the matter”.

But Netanyahu raised his pitch in Washington this month, likening Iran to Nazi Germany and asserting that Israel had a right to defend itself.

Few Israelis doubt they face hostility from the Islamic Republic. But some take umbrage at the Holocaust talk, given the protection now afforded by their seasoned military, which is widely assumed to include the region’s sole nuclear arsenal.

The liberal Haaretz daily said Netanyahu had painted himself into a corner by describing Iran as a genocidal threat.

“Israel must not attack Iran,” novelist David Grossman wrote in Haaretz. It would be “a wild, hasty gamble, liable to change our future utterly, and I don’t even dare to imagine how.”

Grossman’s anti-war critiques are lent weight by the fact he lost a son in Israel’s 2006 offensive in Lebanon. But he allowed that Netanyahu’s real goal may have been simply to focus world attention on international diplomatic pressure on Tehran.

Little dissent

Israeli leaders traditionally confer with their political rivals ahead of major military initiatives, to ensure consensus. Netanyahu’s broad-based, conservative coalition encounters little dissent from centrist opponents when it comes to Iran.

The current president Shimon Peres was wounded politically when as opposition leader in 1981 he criticised then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin decision to bomb Iraq’s nuclear reactor, an attack hailed at the time by most Israelis.

The biggest Israeli grassroots campaign against a government decision was in 2005, when right-wingers protested and staged mutinies in the army, ahead of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The withdrawal was carried out as planned.

“I think the taste of the failure of that protest lives on today,” Hermann said. People know that even 200,000 people in the streets will not prevent the state from doing what it has resolved to do.”

The organiser of one anti-war artistic exhibit in Tel Aviv has accused Netanyahu of fuelling a showdown with Iran to distract from domestic ills. The cost-of-living protests last summer forced his government to alter economic policies.

Israel’s top-rated television satire, Wonderful Country, has frequently riffed on the “Iranian threat”, laughing it off or showing conflict-coarsened Israelis figuring out how to cope.

Despite his chilling rhetoric, Netanyahu is lampooned, given the belief among many Israelis that he is gunshy.

One spoof showed him flummoxed as US President Barack Obama, in a dramatic reversal, gives his blessing for an Israeli attack on Iran. “Hold me back!” Netanyahu implores.

ttp://www.firstpost.com/world/in-israel-the-iranian-threat-is-a-running-joke-250709.html

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Imran and his wife Held for plot to kill Modi, Imran gets bail to prove innocence

TNN | Mar 21, 2012,

NEW DELHI: High drama was witnesses in a trial court on Tuesday when a man arrested on charges of being a Pakistani spy here to kill Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, said he was being framed by police and asked the court to give him a chance to prove his innocence.

Appearing before chief metropolitan magistrate Vinod Yadav, the accused Imran and his wife, who have been in jail for the past four months, asked court's permission to tell their side of the story. Imran alleged he was just a businessman and that cops had falsely implicated him just because he had lived in Pakistan for the past 25 years despite being an Indian citizen.

For Full Report:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Held-for-plot-to-kill-Modi-man-gets-bail-to-prove-innocence/articleshow/12349475.cms

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Russia court dismisses appeal on Bhagvad Gita ban

21 March 2012

A Russian court has dismissed an appeal to ban an edition of the Hindu holy book Bhagvad Gita, in a case that triggered protests in India.

In December, a court in the Siberian city of Tomsk had rejected a plea by prosecutors to rule the edition "extremist". That would put it in the same category as Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Prosecutors had filed an appeal in the higher court against the decision.

The edition - Bhagvad Gita As It Is - is used by the Hare Krishna movement.

"The court in the Siberian city of Tomsk has dismissed the plea," Sadhu Priya Das of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) told the Press Trust of India news agency.

For Full Report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17455013

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Israel passes law banning use of underweight models

20 March 2012

The Israeli government has passed a law banning the use of underweight models in advertising and on the catwalk.

The new law requires models to provide medical proof of their weight, and for adverts to state if an image has been altered to make a model appear thinner.

Supporters of the bill believe images of extreme thinness are to blame for eating disorders in young girls.

Critics say the legislation should have focused on health not weight, as some models are naturally very thin.

Models in Israel are now required to have a body mass index (BMI) - a calculation based on a ratio of weight to height - of no less than 18.5.

For Full Report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17450275

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Jewish school killer refuses to surrender

Mar 21, 2012

Toulouse, France: French police officers are raiding a house in the southern city of Toulouse in the search for a gunman suspected of killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in three separate attacks.  French interior minister has said that shooting suspect refusing to surrender, and two officers have been injured in the ongoing raid.

According to a new report from the French Interior ministry, the suspect in shootings claims Al-Qaeda connections.

French police officers have exchanged gunfire and are negotiating with the man. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant says three police officers have been injured in the raid on a house in the southern city of Toulouse.

Gueant says the man is 24 years old, of French nationality and says that “he belongs to Al-Qaeda.” He says the suspect “wants to take revenge for Palestinian children” killed in the Middle East, and is angry at the French military for its operations abroad.

For Full Report:

http://www.firstpost.com/world/jewish-school-killer-has-suspected-al-qaeda-connections-251172.html

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Blast at Indonesian Embassy in Paris, but No Injuries

March 21, 2012

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PARIS (AP) — A package bomb exploded at the Indonesian Embassy in Paris on Wednesday, causing minor damage but no injuries, police and Indonesia's foreign minister said.

A Paris police official said an employee at the embassy discovered a suspicious package and stepped back in time before exploded. There was minor damage to a window but no injuries, the official said.

The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to Paris police policy.

The source of the package is not immediately clear.

Police are on site at the embassy in an elegant neighborhood of western Paris.

For Full Report:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/03/21/world/europe/ap-eu-france-embassy-attack.html?ref=global-home&pagewanted=print

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Balochistan solution: Unhappy with govt efforts, SC proposes grand jirga

By Azam Khan

March 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The government’s lucrative economic package and its peace overtures have thus far failed to stabilise Balochistan. But on Tuesday, the apex court came up with a solution based on local tribal traditions.

A three-member bench – headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – advised the government to convene a grand Baloch jirga to restore order in the volatile province.

Chief Justice Chaudhry said that the chieftains of all tribes in the province – Bugti, Marri, Achakzai, Mengal and Raisani, etc –  should go into a huddle to find a peaceful solution to the problem.

While dismissing the performance of government officials, the court reposed trust in the Baloch themselves. “The Baloch people are more loyal to the country than anyone,” Justice Chaudhry observed.

For Full Report:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/352878/balochistan-solution-unhappy-with-govt-efforts-sc-proposes-grand-jirga/

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Libya's former spy chief Senussi 'to be handed over'

21 March 2012

Libya's deputy prime minister has said Mauritania has agreed to extradite the former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.

Mustafa Abushagur made the announcement after meeting Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz.

But later Mauritania's authorities said no decision on extradition had yet been made.

Senussi, one of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's key aides, was arrested in Mauritania late last week.

Nicknamed "the butcher", he was one of the last significant members of the Gaddafi regime still at large.

For Full Report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17457446

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India offers gas export to Pakistan

PTI

NEW DELHI Mar 21, 2012: After fuel, India is offering to export natural gas to Pakistan to help the neighbouring country tide over its gas crisis.

State-owned GAIL's just commissioned natural gas pipeline from west coast to Bhatinda in Punjab is barely 25-km away from Pakistan border and the gas utility is proposing that the line can be extended to Lahore in no time, sources privy to the development said.

AIL plans to import liquefied natural gas or LNG (natural gas that has been liquefied at sub-zero temperature and shipped in cryogenic vessels) at Dahej or Hazira import terminals in Gujarat. It plans to move this gas through the Dahej-Vijaipur-Dadri-Bawana-Nangal-Bhatinda pipeline to Punjab and then into Pakistan.

However, before a formal proposal is made to the Pakistani side, it needs the blessing of the ministry of external affairs, sources said.

For Full Report:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Energy-crisis-India-offers-gas-export-to-Pakistan/articleshow/12356281.cms

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Dhaka welcomes Saudi role in probe into diplomat’s murder

Mar 21, 2012

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni arrived in Riyadh yesterday leading a four-member delegation.

On arrival, she was received by the Deputy Foreign Minister for Protocol Affairs Alauddin Al-Askar and senior officials from the foreign ministry were present. Bangladesh Ambassador Mohammed Shahidul Islam and diplomats from his mission were also present at the arrival lounge of King Khaled International Airport (KKIA).

The visiting minister is expected to hold talks with her Saudi counterpart Prince Saud Al-Faisal today. She met her community members at a reception held at the Bangla House, residence of the Bangladesh ambassador in Riyadh, yesterday.

For Full Report:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article590160.ece

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China mum on fears of Nuclear terrorism in Pakistan

Mar 21,2012

BEIJING: China is unlikely to defend Pakistan if questions are raised at the forthcoming Nuclear Security Summit about Islamabad's ability to safeguard its nuclear installations from theft or attack by terrorists.

The summit, to be held in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26-27 , will be attended by leaders of 53 countries including Indian PM Manmohan Singh and Chinese president Hu Jintao.

Chinese foreign ministry said Beijing was confident about the safety standards at the China-built Chashma nuclear power plant in Pakistan, but skirted questions on how it would respond to fears about theft of nuclear material by terrorists.

For Full Report:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/China-mum-on-fears-of-Nuclear-terrorism-in-Pakistan/articleshow/12349461.cms

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'Al Qaeda suspect' cornered after France shootings

March 21, 2012

A French police special forces unit hunting an anti-Semitic serial killer launched a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday on a house where a man claiming al Qaeda ties was holed up, police sources said.

The suspect is thought to be a 24-year-old man who had previously travelled to the

lawless border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan which is known to house al Qaeda safehouses, one of the officials told AFP.

Two police were slightly wounded as the operation got underway, led by officers investigating three attacks by a lone gunman in which three off-duty soldiers, three Jewish school children and a rabbi were killed, he said.

For Full Report:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/Europe/Al-Qaeda-suspect-cornered-after-France-shootings/Article1-828562.aspx

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Al Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Iraq Attacks

March 21, 2012

BAGHDAD—Al Qaeda's front group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the latest wave of bloody attacks that killed 46 people in eight cities nationwide.

A statement posted Wednesday on a militant website says the Islamic State of Iraq wanted to prove how weak the Iraqi government's security plans are ahead of next week's Arab League meeting in Baghdad.

At least 46 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in Tuesday's shootings and bombings, which took place over six hours.

Al Qaeda says its "Sunni lions" targeted the plan of the "fool government preparing" for the summit.

For Full Report:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304636404577294851031231794.html?mod=WSJ_World_LEFTSecondNews

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Osama Bin Laden’s brother in Law moves Islamabad High Court to meet sister

By ZAFAR MAHMOOD SHEIKH

Mar 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Brother in Law of slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, Zakaria Al-Saddah has intensified his legal battle for the release of his sister Amal Abdul Fattah Al-Saddah, the Yemeni widower of OBL and reached the Islamabad High Court requesting the court to give permission meeting his sister.

The writ petition under article 199 of the constitution of Pakistan filed by his lawyer Mohammad Amir Khalil pleaded that Amal Sadda still suffering with bullet wound she got last year May 2 operation in Abbottabad that killed her husband and still suffering due to improper treatment, seeking courts intervention to order the authorities for her proper medical treatment.

Talking to Arab News lawyer Amir Khalil informed that they have also requested the court to quash the cases as all the allegations being leveled against her in the case are baseless.

For Full Report:

http://arabnews.com/world/article589996.ece

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Libyan airstrike victims still waiting for redress

By DAVID ELKINS

March 21, 2012

Amnesty International (AI) released a scathing report late last week calling for an investigation into civilian deaths from airstrikes during the 2011 Nato-led military intervention in Libya, which began one year ago Monday.

“It is deeply disappointing that more than four months since the end of the military campaign, victims and relatives of those killed by Nato airstrikes remain in the dark about what happened and who was responsible,” Donatella Rovera, a senior researcher at Amnesty International, a human rights advocacy group based in the US, said in a release on Thursday.

“Nato officials repeatedly stressed their commitment to protecting civilians. They cannot now brush aside the deaths of scores of civilians with some vague statement of regret without properly investigating these deadly incidents.”

The report comes as a growing number of countries are calling for a similar intervention in Syria. It says that after interviewing witnesses and victims’ families, researchers found that 55 civilians, including 16 children, were killed during the military campaign, and none have been offered reparations or even the promise of a thorough investigation by officials from Nato or Libya’s National Transitional Council.

For Full Report:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/21-Mar-2012/libyan-airstrike-victims-still-waiting-for-redress

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Two police killed in Pakistan bomb blast: officials

March 20, 2012

A bomb planted in a rickshaw killed two policemen and wounded four other people in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday, police and hospital officials said.

The blast targeted a police patrol vehicle at the Kohat Road area of Peshawar and also damaged two other

vehicles.

"At least two policemen were killed and two others were wounded," doctor Rahim Jan of state-run Lady Reading hospital told AFP.

Two civilians were also wounded and brought to hospital, he said.

For Full Report:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/pakistan/Two-police-killed-in-Pakistan-bomb-blast-officials/Article1-828381.aspx

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4 bodies recovered in Mardan

March 21, 2012

MARDAN: Locals on Tuesday recovered four unidentified bodies from the Ibrahim Khan village. According to details, the four bodies were lying dumped in the area without bearing any torture or bullet wounds. The police reached the spot upon information by locals and shifted them to a hospital for autopsy. Until the filing of this report, one body was identified as that of Muhammad Irfan’s, a resident of Parhoti, while the rest were buried by the TMA. inp

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\21\story_21-3-2012_pg7_9

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China defends N-cooperation with Pak as ‘mutually beneficial’

Mar 20, 2012

Beijing: Ahead of a key global summit on atomic security, China today defended its nuclear cooperation with Pakistan as “mutually beneficial” and in accordance with international safeguards.

Luo Zhaohui, the Director-General of Department of Asian Affairs, told reporters that China-Pak nuclear cooperation was being conducted under the supervision of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global nuclear watchdog body.

Reuters

China-Pakistan had several years of nuclear cooperation in building Chashma nuclear power station. This station is subjected to IAEA safeguards. So far it is mutually beneficial and in accordance with international law,” he said at a press meet when asked about China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation as well as global anxieties over Pakistan nuclear weapons falling into the hands of militant groups.

For Full Report:

http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/china-defends-n-cooperation-with-pak-as-mutually-beneficial-250781.html

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Pakistan seeks end to US drone strikes

21 MARCH 2012

Setting tough conditions for re-engagement with the US, a Pakistani Parliamentary commission on Tuesday demanded an end to CIA-operated drone strikes and a civil nuclear deal similar to the Indo-US agreement, besides 38 other demands.

Asking US to “review its footsteps in Pakistan”, the panel report was put forth as the Pakistani Parliament began a crucial joint sitting to debate the recommendations for a revamp of the country’s foreign policy and ties with the US.

The joint session of the Senate and National Assembly, summoned by President Asif Ali Zardari, will debate 40 recommendations framed by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security in the wake of a cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

For Full Report:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/world/51374-pakistan-seeks-end-to-us-drone-strikes.html

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Zardari case: PPP not to act on apex court's orders

Mar 21 2012,

Islamabad : Pakistan's ruling PPP has decided it will not act on the Supreme Court's orders to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari at any cost and is prepared to face the potential consequences, including the disqualification of the Premier who is facing a contempt charge.

Even if the court decides to act against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the PPP is ready to accept that as the Premier has categorically stated in recent remarks, a senior federal minister told the Dawn newspaper.

Both Gilani and Zardari, who is the head of the PPP, had "made up their minds to face the worst", the unnamed minister said.

"However, one thing is sure that the present government by its own would not write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Zardari," the minister said.

For Full Report:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/926487/

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More Afghan forces on Pak border if terror safe havens continue: US

Mar 21 2012

More Afghan security forces would have to be deployed on Af-Pak border if the issue of safe havens in Pakistan is not resolved, a top US Commander has said.

"Chances are very good that, if the issues in the Pakistani safe havens do not resolve in our favour one way or the other, we'll probably have to have a larger presence of the ANSF than we had anticipated, which may require us to thin the ANSF in other places in Afghanistan," General John Allen, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan told US lawmakers at a Congressional hearing yesterday.

Responding to questions from US Congressmen, General Allen said the presence of safe havens in Pakistan continues to be a threat to the war against terrorism campaign.

For Full Report:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/more-afghan-forces-on-pak-border-if-terror-safe-havens-continue-us/926438/

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Pakistan bans Indian film

March 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD (TheNation Monitoring) Pakistan has banned Indian movie Agent Vinod as several references to Pakistan did not go down well with the censor board, reported private TV channels and Indian media on Tuesday. Atrium cinema, a multiplex chain in Karachi, had said that the censor board of Pakistan has banned the film for its alleged reference to the Pakistani intelligence agency.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/21-Mar-2012/pakistan-bans-indian-film

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Syria might need its own Mandela to end war

By: Jonathan Steele

March 21, 2012

In the smoke-filled cafes of central Damascus, where young unarmed activists discuss the next protest against the Assad regime, the mood is one of determination and excitement. It takes huge courage to risk arrest, torture and the chance of a bullet for something as basic as attending a demonstration.

People are outraged by the government’s violence and what they see as its flimsy offers of reform. They feel solidarity with cities like Homs and Idlib, where popular resistance has for the moment been broken. But when you ask protesters in the Syrian capital, as I did during a recent 12-day visit, whether they see an imminent downfall of the regime, the mood swings to pessimism.

In spite of a trickle of defections, the security forces remain firmly on the government’s side. The fourth armoured division, which led the onslaughts on Homs and Idlib, is commanded by the president’s younger brother, Maher al-Assad, and made up largely of members of the ruling Alawite community. No cracks there.

Will sanctions make a difference? Unlikely. The travel bans that the European Union has placed on Assad and his family are pinpricks, while the ban on European companies working in Syria’s oil sector and the embargo on its oil exports are harming millions. Gross domestic product went down by 6% last year, while inflation rose by 17%. Thousands are being laid off.

For Full Report:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/21-Mar-2012/syria-might-need-its-own-mandela-to-end-war

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Syrian opposition accused of human rights violations

March 21, 2012

NEW YORK- An influential human rights group Tuesday accused Armed opposition groups in Syria of kidnapping, torturing and executing members of the security forces and supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. Human Rights Watch, the New York-based watchdog, condemned the tactics by opposition fighters, who have long accused government troops and loyalists of carrying out similar abuses.

“The Syrian government’s brutal tactics cannot justify abuses by armed opposition groups,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in an open letter to dissident groups including the official opposition body the Syrian National Council (SNC).

“Opposition leaders should make it clear to their followers that they must not torture, kidnap or execute under any circumstances,” she added.

For Full Report:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/21-Mar-2012/syrian-opposition-accused-of-human-rights-violations

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Syrian forces take eastern city from rebels

By Ben Hubbard

March 20, 2012

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian soldiers backed by tanks pushed into Deir el-Zour on Tuesday and seized control of the eastern city after brief clashes with rebel forces that had held it for a few days, anti-regime activists said.

Activist Osama Mansour said government troops and armored cars entered the city, which is about 60 miles from the Iraqi border, from four sides, sparking short gunbattles with fighters from the Free Syrian Army.

Mr. Mansour, reached by telephone in Deir el-Zour, said the rebels quit fighting and took shelter in homes and apartments, fearing that protracted clashes would destroy the city, as has happened in other towns and districts once held by the rebels.

“They knew they could not hold control of the neighborhoods, so they decided to stop fighting, knowing that the regime would bring in heavy weapons and kill many civilians,” he said.

For Full Report:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/20/syrian-forces-take-eastern-city-rebels/

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For Syrians, No Easy Exit From Conflict

By ANNE BARNARD

March 20, 2012

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria is locked in an ominous and violent stalemate: With overwhelming firepower and a willingness to kill, President Bashar al-Assad could hold on to power for months or even years, keeping the opposition from controlling any territory and denying it breathing space to develop a coherent, effective leadership, according to analysts, diplomats and Syrians involved in the uprising.

Syrians and regional analysts say sheer force alone is unlikely to eradicate what has become a diffuse and unpredictable insurgency, one able to strike out even after the government has used crushing force against centers of resistance like Homs, Idlib and Dara’a. Broad areas of the country are hostile territory for government troops, and attackers have managed to hit centers of power, even in the capital, Damascus.

For Full Report:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/21/world/middleeast/no-easy-solution-seen-for-ending-syrian-conflict.html?ref=global-home&pagewanted=print

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World Bank approves $1 bn for projects in Pakistan

March 21, 2012

WASHINGTON: The World Bank said on Tuesday it would fund two projects totaling $1.09 billion, in energy and irrigation, aimed at supporting Pakistan’s growth agenda for reducing poverty.

The World Bank’s executive board approved the projects on Tuesday, the development lender said in a statement.

The $840 million Tarbela IV Extension Hydropower Project will add power generation capacity of 1,410 megawatts, contributing a crucial source of electricity for the economic growth and development of Pakistan, the World Bank said.

Only 15 per cent of Pakistan’s vast hydropower potential has been developed, the Bank noted.

For Full Report:

http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/21/world-bank-approves-1-bn-for-projects-in-pakistan.html

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National security committee presents recommendations over Pak-US ties

By Ijaz Kakakhel & Tanveer Ahmed

March 21, 2012

US must review its footprints in Pakistan

* Committee demands US apology, end to drone strikes

* Says there should be no hot pursuit inside Pakistan

* Activities of foreign security contractors must be transparent

* Taxes must be levied on supplies to NATO forces

* NATO supplies should be resumed only after new terms and conditions that include respect for sovereignty of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The special joint sitting of the two houses of parliament on Tuesday called for unconditional apology from the US over Salala border post air strike and reduction in the country’s footprints in Pakistan, as it started a debate on redefining the terms of engagement with Washington in the light of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS).

For Full Report:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\21\story_21-3-2012_pg1_1

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Criminal case against Osama’s widow, children challenged

By Malik Asad       

March 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD: A brother of a widow of Osama bin Laden filed in the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday a petition challenging the registration of a criminal case against his sister and children of the slain Al Qaeda chief.

Naming the state, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and interior and defence secretaries as respondents, Zakarya Ahmed Abdalfattah, younger brother of Amal Abdulfattah, also expressed reservations over the trial of his sister by Civil Judge Shahrukh Arjumand.

The IHC office raised some minor objections about maintainability of the petition, but fixed it for hearing on Wednesday by Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman.

Filed by Mohammad Aamir Khalil, the counsel for Mr Abdalfattah, the petition said the authorities could not register a criminal case against Ms Amal and her five minor children — Safiah, Asia, Ibraheem, Zainab and Hussain — because they were living in Pakistan like millions of Afghans who had migrated to the country during the Afghan war.

For Full Report:

http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/21/criminal-case-against-osamas-widow-children-challenged.html

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Syria's leadership making mistakes, says Russia

20 March 2012

Syria's leadership is making "a lot of mistakes", Russia's foreign minister has said, in a further sign Moscow may be hardening its stance on Damascus.

Sergei Lavrov said President Bashar al-Assad's regime had "responded incorrectly" from the start, when the protests were peaceful.

He also said Moscow was prepared to support a UN resolution backing its envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.

It comes a day after Russia called for a daily humanitarian ceasefire.

Earlier on Tuesday, US campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused elements of Syria's armed opposition of carrying out serious human rights abuses, including kidnapping, torture and execution.

'Continuing efforts'

"We believe that the Syrian leadership responded incorrectly to the very first manifestations of the peaceful protests," Mr Lavrov told Kommersant FM radio in a pre-recorded interview.

For Full Report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17450284?print=true

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Shellfire in Damascus suburbs, say Syrian rebels

21 March 2012

Two large suburbs of Damascus came under heavy tank bombardment on Wednesday following renewed Free Syrian Army attacks on forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, opposition activists said.

Artillery and anti-aircraft gun barrages hit the suburbs of Harasta and Irbin, retaken from rebels by Assad's forces two months ago, and army helicopters were heard flying over the area, on the eastern edge of the capital, the activists said.

Assad's forces reasserted their control of Damascus suburbs in January after days of tank and artillery shelling that beat back rebels and lessened street protests against the 42-year rule of Assad and his father, the late President Hafez al-Assad.

The suburbs are a linked series of towns inhabited mostly by members of Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, who have grown increasingly resentful at the domination of the Assads, who belong to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Islam.

The Damascus assault and rebel fighters' flight on Tuesday from the eastern city of Deir al-Zor mark the latest setbacks for the armed opposition, which also faced accusations of torture and brutality from a leading human rights body.

For Full Report:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/21/shellfire-damascus-suburbs-syrian-rebels

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Japan closes its embassy in Syria amid violence

Mar 21, 2012,

TOKYO: Japan's foreign ministry on Wednesday said it would close its embassy in Syria, citing deteriorating security conditions amid a brutal crackdown on anti-government protestors.

"We have decided to temporarily close the Japanese embassy in Syria as of today due to worsening public safety conditions in Syria, including the capital Damascus," a ministry statement said.

The Syrian embassy, which had already been reducing its operations since earlier this month, will continue to operate out of Japan's diplomatic compound in neighbouring Jordan, it said.

The ministry also said Japan was continuing to urge its nationals to avoid travel to the violence-wracked nation.

The closure came as UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday the organisation was aiming to end the violence in Syria while starting political dialogue and providing humanitarian aid.

Fighting broke out in Damascus on Tuesday while clashes elsewhere in the country killed at least 30 people -- all but two of them civilians -- the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

For Full Report:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Japan-closes-its-embassy-in-Syria-amid-violence/articleshow/12354662.cms

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Obama calls President Abbas

March 21, 2012

RAMALLAH  - US President Barack Obama called Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Monday and assured him that the peace process remains a top priority for him, Abbas’s spokesman said. “President Obama informed president Abbas about his meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and assured him that the Middle East peace process has been his top priority since he came to office,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP. Abu Rudeina said the leaders also discussed “exploratory talks” that Palestinian and Israeli officials held in Amman earlier this year, as well as reconciliation efforts between Abbas’s Fatah party and the rival Hamas movement.

Abbas “informed President Obama about the contents of a message he will send to the Israeli prime minister,” Abu Rudeina added, without giving details.

The White House said that Obama told Abbas that all parties needed to reinforce efforts that produced a truce to end fighting between Israel and Gaza militants, and thanked the Palestinian leader for his contribution.

“The two leaders agreed on the necessity of the two-state solution, and President Obama noted that Jordan’s efforts to foster direct discussions between Israel and the Palestinians are an important contribution to the cause of peace,” a White House statement said.

For Full Report:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/21-Mar-2012/obama-calls-president-abbas

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US mull concessions on flashpoint Afghan night raids

Mar 21, 2012

WASHINGTON/KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai may have won a major concession from the United States following a deadly shooting spree by a US soldier, with the Obama administration considering curbs on contentious night raids.

With Karzai demanding a stop to night raids hated by Afghans, but seen by NATO as one of their most effective anti-insurgent tactics, a US official said the United States was looking at modifying them and giving Afghans more oversight.

That would help seal agreement on a strategic pact with Karzai's government for a long-term US presence in Afghanistan beyond a 2014 deadline for most NATO combat forces to withdraw, allowing advisers and possibly some special forces to stay on.

The Obama government was discussing options with the Afghans including a warrant-based approach or possibly allowing Afghan judges to review raids before they took place, the US official said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

From the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim said yesterday the strategic partnership deal with the United States must be "based on the national interest of Afghanistan" and in accordance with Afghan law.

Karzai this month said not only must night raids by foreign forces halt, but Afghan security forces training to take over their conduct would "not be allowed to enter private homes unless their operations were according to the state law.”

That would mean applying for a warrant, he said.

For Full Report:

http://arabnews.com/world/article589905.ece

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'No proof' in Afghan massacre suspects Sgt Bales case

20 March 2012

The lawyer representing a US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in their homes has said there is little proof of his client's guilt.

John Henry Browne said there was "no forensic evidence" against Staff Sgt Robert Bales and "no confession".

He also dismissed reports suggesting Sgt Bales, 38, was having financial troubles as irrelevant to the case.

Sgt Bales is being held a military detention centre awaiting charges, which are expected this week.

The killings have undermined US relations with Kabul and led to calls for Nato to speed up their planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

After meeting with Sgt Bales at a US army base in Kansas, Mr Browne told reporters: "We've all heard the allegations. I don't know that the government has proved much."

Sgt Bales is the only known suspect in the killings - despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.

Mr Browne said he now plans to travel to Afghanistan to gather his own evidence.

Money troubles

The lawyer also responded to questions about Sgt Bales' financial history.

He and his wife had reportedly struggled to make the payments on two properties they had bought.

For Full Report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17454316?print=true

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No sudden Afghan drawdown: US general

March 21, 2012

WASHINGTON - With the recent Afghan civilian shooting on his mind, the top commander of US-led forces in Afghanistan told Congress Tuesday that he had no intention of recommending further American troop reductions until late this year - meaning after the November elections.

“There is no part of our strategy that intends to stay in Afghanistan forever,” General John Allen told the House Armed Services Committee.

Gen Allen said that he remained optimistic about eventual success there but it was too early to begin shifting the forces. He also acknowledged the deep sensitivities, especially given the current diplomatic crisis with Afghanistan, of handing over complete security control to Afghan forces - including over the commando night-raids that American commanders say are critical to the war effort. These are the subject of intense negotiation, he testified.

The general said that only after reviewing the results of the next six months of fighting - at the end of which there would be 68,000 American troops remaining - would he turn his attention to the pace of further reductions in the force.

But he repeatedly said that by the end of next year, Afghan forces would have taken over full responsibility for the fight, allowing Nato’s combat role to be finished by the end of 2014, as currently scheduled.

For Full Report:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/21-Mar-2012/no-sudden-afghan-drawdown-us-general

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Distrust lingers from 'green on blue' Afghan murders

March 21, 2012

USBEEN BASE: Nato insists that murders of foreign troops by their Afghan colleagues are isolated incidents. But on one French base near Kabul, private doubts linger.

Nearly one in five Nato soldiers killed this year have died at the hands of their supposed allies — including six Americans killed during riots against the burning of Korans at a US base last month.

On January 20, an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on his French trainers at Gwan base in the province of Kapisa, northeast of the capital Kabul, as they ended a sports session.

None of the French was armed. Four were killed and 15 wounded. And for many of their comrades, the wounds are still raw.

“Distrust would be a strong word,” Colonel Didier Gros told AFP following a two-day Afghan-French operation in Usbeen valley near Kabul.

“There is a reality. Things have happened. We’re not going to pretend as if nothing happened. Everyone has their own thoughts.”

January’s incident was the second in Kapisa in a month after two French soldiers were killed on December 29. As a result, France temporarily suspended training Afghan soldiers, who are due to take responsibility for national security by the end of 2014.

For Full Report:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/352961/distrust-lingers-from-green-on-blue-afghan-murders/

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Iran threatens to retaliate to any attack by US, Israel

Mar 21, 2012,

TEHRAN: Tehran will retaliate against any attack by Israeli or American forces "on the same level" , Iran's top leader said on Tuesday in a defiant address just moments after US president Barack Obama appealed directly to the Iranian people with a message of solidarity.

The contrasting approaches highlighted the broad range of political posturing and tactics as the standoff deepens over Iran's nuclear programme.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on state TV to mark the Iranian new year, repeated his claims that the country does not seek atomic weapons , but said all their conventional firepower was ready to respond to any attack.

For Full Report:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Iran-threatens-to-retaliate-to-any-attack-by-US-Israel/articleshow/12349499.cms

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Former Israel PM Ehud Barak sells luxury apartment after public outcry

Mar 21, 2012,

JERUSALEM: Israeli defence minister and former prime minister Ehud Barak has sold his luxury apartment in an effort to deflect public criticism of what was perceived as an extravagant lifestyle for a civil servant.

A foreign company will pay Barak 26.5 million shekels (over $7 million) for the five-room apartment on the 31st floor in Tel Aviv, Xinhua reported citing the Globes business daily.

The amount is almost threefold over what Barak paid for the property in 2003, but lower than the price of $10 million he originally sought when it was put on the market in 2008.

Barak, who spent a modest childhood at a farm in Israel, spoke about the considerations that drove him to sell the flat in a message posted on his Facebook page.

For Full Report:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Former-Israel-PM-Ehud-Barak-sells-luxury-apartment-after-public-outcry/articleshow/12351695.cms

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US exempt Japan and EU nations from Iran oil sanctions

21 March 2012

The US government will not impose sanctions on Japan and 10 European Union nations that have reduced their oil imports from Iran.

Ordered by Congress in December, the sanctions aim to punish countries that continue to buy oil from Iran.

China, India and South Korea, major buyers of Iranian oil, were not exempt.

Iran faces international pressure to address concerns over its nuclear enrichment programme.

'Not easy'

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who announced the exemptions in a statement, said Japan and the EU nations had taken actions that were "not easy".

"They had to rethink their energy needs at a critical time for the world economy and quickly begin to find alternatives to Iranian oil which many had been reliant on for their energy needs."

The European countries that have been exempt are France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK.

Under a US law that came into effect in 31 December, countries have until 28 June to show they have significantly reduced the amount of crude oil they purchase from Iran or face being cut off from the US financial system.

For Full Report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17454814?print=true

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GCC meeting on Yemen

Mar 21, 2012

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will hold a special emergency meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the humanitarian situation in Yemen, where thousands of people, especially women and children, are either starving or facing acute malnutrition.

A specialized United Nations panel that will attend the meeting will present a detailed plan to address the challenges faced by the starving masses, rescue children from the death trap, and extend assistance to the displaced population.

"The meeting will be attended by top Saudi and GCC officials including representatives of the UN, European Union, United States and the United Kingdom as well as several other countries and organizations working in the humanitarian field," said Ahmed Al-Kabi, a spokesman of the GCC General Secretariat, here Tuesday. The number of people that have been affected by ongoing violence – especially in southern Yemen – and are dependent on assistance continues to increase, he said, quoting a United Nations humanitarian wing report.

For Full Report:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article590171.ece

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Bahraini king vows to press on with reforms

Mar 21, 2012

MANAMA: Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa pledged yesterday to press on with political reforms.

He said Bahrain had rolled out a raft of reforms in the wake of criticism of its crackdown on protesters last year but now needed to prove it could put them into practice.

The king said his country had made significant progress in reforming its security sector, judiciary, social policy and media.

“The doors of dialogue are always open,” the king said. “We want our people to feel and see the differences these changes have on their lives. The challenge of the coming months will be to translate these into tangible, cultural changes.”

The progress report said the kingdom had agreed to a new police code of conduct, allowed the Red Cross to inspect detention center and set up a body to investigate accusations that government employees killed or mistreated citizens.

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article590161.ece

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Egypt to sell land to expats, cut budget deficit

Mar 20, 2012

CAIRO: Egypt will launch a scheme on Saturday to reduce its budget deficit by selling plots of land near Cairo to Egyptians living abroad, the housing minister said on Tuesday, with the aim of raising $15 billion over four years.

The deficit has widened since last year’s popular uprising hammered the economy, cut tax revenue and led to demands for higher salaries and more benefits.

The government has forecast a budget deficit of 144 billion Egyptian pounds ($23.9 billion) in the fiscal year to June 30, about 8.7 percent of gross domestic product.

Housing Minister Fathi Abdelaziz el-Baradei told reporters the government planned to offer an initial 8,000 plots in at least two satellite cities near Cairo via a website, and said Egyptians living abroad would be able to reserve the plots as of Saturday.

They include 800 square meter lots in Sheikh Zayed City that the government will sell for $675 per square meter and 400 square meter lots in Badr City for $250 per square meter.

For Full Report:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article589855.ece

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Saudis excited at English in govt-run primary schools

Mar 21, 2012

The Ministry of Education’s project to introduce English language teaching in government-run primary schools is receiving enthusiastic response from teachers, students and parents in the Eastern Province.

“There is an increased awareness among Saudis about the importance of learning English from an early age,” said Najah Al-Rayes, central supervisor at the Education Ministry in the Eastern Province. “They are particularly happy because in the past they had to approach private schools to get their children conversant with the nuances of the English language.”

Speaking to Arab News on Monday, Al-Rayes said the project is being implemented in stages. “Two years ago we introduced it for Grade 4 girls in only six schools in the region and now we have the project running in 119 government primary girls schools,” she said. “In the coming years, it will be introduced to all Grade 4 girls in 251 primary schools in the Eastern Province.

For Full Report:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article590129.ece

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Kingdom offers Lanka aid to develop road networks

 Mar 21, 2012

The Kingdom has offered financial aid worth SR225 million for the construction of road networks in Sri Lanka.

The draft agreement for the financial assistance was finalized in Riyadh on Monday during a meeting between the Vice Chairman of the Saudi Fund For Development (SFD) Yusuf Al-Bassam and Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Sri Lanka’s secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Planning, at the SFD headquarters in Riyadh on Monday.

During his day’s visit to Riyadh, Jayasundera also had discussions with Deputy Finance Minister Dr. Hamad Al-Bazei at the latter’s office in Riyadh. Sri Lankan Ambassador Ahmed A. Jawad also took part in the discussions.

Saudi Fund For Development (SFD) Director Abdullah Al-Shedokhi told Arab News yesterday both parties accepted the draft agreement for the project and the accord will be signed in Colombo in due course. “We have given the green light to commission the project and the formal signing ceremony will be held later,” Al-Shedokhi said.

For Full Report:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article590147.ece

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Is Arab democracy of vital interest to US?

By MOHAMMAD FADHEL

March 21, 2012

In the past, Arabs experienced a form of western democracy, which was specifically tailored and imposed by foreign occupiers during the colonial period. After the First World War, voters in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon used to cast their ballots that were supposed to determine which party would form the government. Alongside critical media driven by intellectuals and reformists and rapid modernisation and education, the scene was almost real: an active functioning democracy.

However, this scene was deceptive, as such a democracy had a red line that was not to be crossed: the demand for independence. With the presence of foreign occupiers, the real player who determined the horizons of that democracy were not elected governments or the parliament, which represents the people’s will. It was the colonial political agent who determined the boundaries of democracy.

For Full Report:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/21-Mar-2012/is-arab-democracy-of-vital-interest-to-us

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/bloodbath-in-iraq-as-27-blasts-kill-51-ahead-of-arab-summit/d/6890



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