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Islamic World News ( 7 Dec 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mission Impossible for Pakistani Progressives

Jakarta Governor Turns to Preachers to Limit Spread of HIV           

Former Israel president starts prison term for rape

Using Islam to counter jihad in southern Thailand

Veena Malik disowned by father after nude photo scandal

Kabul shrine bomber was Pakistani, affiliated with LeJ: Afghan official

Afghan gov’t blames Taliban for Kabul bombing

Bangaldesh Freedom fighter narrates Jamaat leader Sayedee role

Asif Ali Zardari had minor heart attack, will not quit: Pak minister

President Zardari may resign: Report

Bashir to be Pakistan’s new envoy to India

Opposition must build 'free, tolerant' Syria: US

 ‘Paharganj was target initially, not Jama Masjid’

Syria's Bashar al-Assad 'feels no guilt' over crackdown

Rehman Malik thanks Taliban for maintaining Muharram peace

Turkmenistan president accorded state welcome in Kuala Lumpur

Philippines, Muslim rebels renew stay of Malaysian-led cease-fire monitors until 2013

Yemen PM says government imminent, U.N. warns on civilians

Rohrabacher presses State on future of Iranian exiles

I would've definitely picked Irfan for Australia tour: Akram

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau



Mission Impossible for Pakistani Progressives


ISLAMABAD: Dec, 07, 2011, The small but enthusiastic group of “progressive” Muslims arrives at a hotel conference room in Pakistan’s capital with the tools they hope will help blunt extremism in the unstable US ally.

The Khudi organisation — self-esteem in Urdu — does not expect the government to tackle the problem of spreading religious radicalism.

So it has taken on what seems to be mission impossible — creating a social movement that can reverse the growing tide.

Seconds after using laptop computers, a slide projector, a film documentary and examples from history to highlight the dangers of militancy, Khudi leaders are confronted by hostile university students in the audience.

A veiled woman says amputations of thieves’ hands should not be criticised because they reduce crime in Saudi Arabia, which is accused of funding hardline religious militants’ seminaries in Pakistan.

Others deny there is intolerance in Pakistan — where al Qaeda-inspired Sunni militants kill members of minorities — arguing instead that Western conspirators fabricate the problem.

“I just don’t know how to get my point across to you,” said one of the lecturers, visibly frustrated.

The United States and other Western countries have long urged the government to counter extremism.

Critics say Pakistani leaders have failed, allowing everyone from clerics in small rural mosques to school teachers in big cities to spread radicalism in the nuclear-armed state.

Khudi’s struggle underscores the difficulties of stabilising Pakistan, seen as critical to US efforts to tackle militancy.

It was founded in 2010 by Maajid Nawaz, a former member of the Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir that tries to recruit military officers in Muslim nations to topple pro-Western governments.

Nawaz, a Briton whose family comes from Pakistan, spent years persuading Muslims — from Europe to Egypt — that Western-style democracies were doomed and only Islamic

theocracies could succeed.

During four years in a notorious Cairo jail for his activities, Nawaz vowed to become a suicide bomber after watching state security agents electrocute fellow Muslims.

After holding political debates with fellow inmates, he eventually decided to preach moderation in deeply conservative Pakistan, where liberals and intellectuals are seen as impotent.


Although Khudi has spread its message in many Pakistani universities, its leaders say it could take years to make an impact.

Just mentioning the world secularism can be a problem because it is portrayed as a non-religious concept — so someone secular could easily be labelled an infidel.

“We are trying to create the al Qaeda of democratic movements,” said Nawaz, 34, in a telephone interview, referring to the militant group’s reach.

“Pakistan is uniquely difficult. Anyone who mentions the word democracy is immediately labelled a Western stooge.”

Khudi believes holding free and fair elections in Pakistan is not enough, because religious radicalism is stifling democratic concepts like free speech and freedom of association.

So it is reaching out to the young, since over 60 per cent of Pakistan’s population is under 25.

Made up of eight executive committee members and about 5,000 volunteers, it deploys ideas as its weapons, insisting that military crackdowns on militants produce limited results.

Khudi members hold workshops at universities, hand out pamphlets and show films that condemn violence.

The group is trying to uproot hardline Islam that can be traced back decades. In the 1980s, for instance, President General Zia ul-Haq nurtured Islamic militants and turned society towards radicalism.

National coordinator Fatima Mullick recalls how as a teenager in the 1990s she heard how 40 Shia doctors were shot dead outside their homes or on the way to work in just a few months in her home city of Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub.

“There is no illusion,” the 27-year-old said of Khudi’s challenge. “This is the toughest job in the world.”


For Imran Khan, a senior Khudi trainer and spokesman unrelated to the cricketer-turned-politician, it was the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States that raised his awareness.

“People around me, even people from my family, were very happy that a few ‘infidels’ were killed by Muslim jihadis,” he said, sitting beside teenage Khudi volunteers with funky haircuts and Western-style sweatshirts.

Khudi pioneers work out of a type of safehouse in the capital Islamabad for fear of attacks by militants. To achieve its aims, Khudi holds workshops on university campuses.

A big part of the problem is the growing perception that the West is plotting against Muslims.

Recent events like the Nov. 26 Nato air strike that killed 24 Pakistani troops on the border with Afghanistan are fuelling anti-Americanism, and making Khudi’s job harder.

“I have relatives who work for Pakistani intelligence. They told me the Americans were behind all the suicide bombings,” said Sobia Baig, a Pakistani woman at the hotel workshop.

Khudi is troubled by Pakistan’s long history of creeping radicalism. But a far more recent event shocked its leaders.

In January, Punjab province Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own bodyguard because the governor had called for the reform of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law, which critics say is misused against minorities.

Lawyers who once protested in support of democracy showered bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri with rose petals.

Two months after Taseer’s murder, Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was murdered by the Taliban for demanding changes to the blasphemy law.

After the Bhatti assassination, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said Pakistan was “poisoned by extremism.”

It was never meant to be this way.

Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah appealed for religious tolerance in his first address to parliament in 1947.

Ironically it is young Pakistanis who seem most receptive to his message, like the ones in jeans, tights and sleeveless shirts at the Jammin Java cafe in the city of Lahore — an ideal recruiting ground for Khudi.

“Pakistan should be Jinnah’s Pakistan where there is no room for extremism and intolerance,” said student Nafeesa Ali, 22.

But Nawaz’s old Islamisc group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, is equally determined to find followers at the cafe as well. It has been known to leave its orange promotional stickers.

Few are more aware of the long battle ahead for Khudi than Shakil Ahmad Chaudhary, a communications specialist who passionately delivers speeches at the group’s workshops.

“My children (aged 9 and 12) go to a so-called elite school in Islamabad. And they come back and say ‘Our teacher tells us of conspiracy theories’, 9/11 for example was a conspiracy by George Bush and the Jews,” said Ahmad.

“I try to educate them. But again, I have to be careful. I don’t want them to pick a quarrel with the teacher or become outcasts in the class.”


Jakarta Governor Turns to Preachers to Limit Spread of HIV

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta,  12/07/2011'  Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo says that he has placed his hopes on religious preachers to help reduce the vast spread of HIV/AIDS in the city.

“The number of HIV/AIDS sufferers in Jakarta is rising and a lot of those infected are Muslims. I think it is the task of ulemas in Jakarta, especially the Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), to educate young people with moral guidance,” he said on Wednesday, as quoted by

The AIDS Control Commission (KPAD) has revealed that the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Jakarta had been rising and had reached 1,184 people in 2011.

Fauzi said that current measures that had been employed to prevent further infections of the disease were useless without moral education.

“I hope that the MUI places moral education and working with youths as a priority in its work program to help them avoid getting infected with HIV/AIDS,” he said.

The Jakarta KPAD survey of 766 HIV/AIDS sufferers revealed that most of those infected were workers with a total of 283 cases, followed by housewives with 147 cases and businessmen with 139 cases.


Former Israel president starts prison term for rape


MAASIYAHU PRISON, Israel: Dec 7, 2011, Israel’s disgraced former president Moshe Katsav on Wednesday began a seven-year jail sentence after being convicted on two counts of rape and other sexual offences.

The former head of state, who turned 66 on Monday, entered Ma’asiyahu prison near Tel Aviv shortly after 10.00 am (0800 GMT), an AFP correspondent outside the jail said.

He was convicted in December 2010 of two counts of rape, sexual harassment, indecent acts and obstruction of justice after an 18-month trial which included harrowing accusations, and portrayed him as a sexual predator who routinely harassed his female staff.

Katsav appealed both his conviction and sentence but last month justices at Israel’s Supreme Court rejected the appeal and ordered that he start his prison term on December 7.

Speaking to reporters as he left his home in Kiryat Malachi south of Tel Aviv, Katsav continued to maintain his innocence as he had throughout the trial.

“Today the state of Israel is taking a man out to execute him on the basis of impressions, without evidence,” he said, dressed in a black suit and white shirt.

“One day the truth will be revealed,” he said. “The state is imprisoning a grandfather of grandchildren, a former president. I never hurt anyone, I treated everyone with respect.”

Israel, he charged, was “burying a man alive.”

Full Report at:


Using Islam to counter jihad in southern Thailand

By Andrea Wenzel, December 6, 2011

In Thailand’s Pattani state, sectarian conflict has killed more than 4,800 people since 2004. To end the violence, the military and an imam are using Islam to counter jihadism among at-risk youths.

This isn’t a hardcore Muslim political or terrorist group though. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Next, the imam has everyone shout, “I will not get involved with any separatist movement in any case at all.”

In the midst of southern Thailand’s Pattani state, where sectarian conflict has killed more than 4,800 people since violence escalated in 2004, these men are at the heart of an effort to stamp out Malay Muslim militancy by eliminating possible recruits.

Facing a growing insurgency fighting to separate from Thailand, the Thai military set up the Peacebuilding Center to target at-risk youths. Local imams recruit men from “red zones,” areas known to have militant cells and high rates of violence.

Think you know Asia? Take our geography quiz.

“We are using Islam to solve the problem,” says Col. Chatchapon Sawangchote, director of the Peacebuilding Center. “Actually we don’t want them to side with the government or the state – we just want them to truly understand their religion.”

Colonel Sawangchote himself is new to Islam. He converted from Buddhism after working with Yeemae Pattalung, a local imam.

Full Report at:


Veena Malik disowned by father after nude photo scandal


LONDON: Dec 7, 2011, Pakistani actress and model Veena Malik's father has disowned her and demanded that she be punished, after nude photos of her appeared on the cover of a men's magazine.

Malik has denied modeling for the magazine FHM and has insisted that the pictures were fake.

But her father Malik Mohammad Aslam has made it clear in an emotional outburst that he is not impressed with the situation.

He has also demanded that she make a promise not to visit India once the scandal is over.

"I have disowned her," the Mirror quoted him as saying.

"I have severed all ties with her and I don't want her to have any share in whatever meagre assets I have until she is cleared of the controversy and pledges not to visit India again," he said.

He went on to suggest that he hoped his daughter would be punished if found guilty of stripping off for the racy images "so that no other woman would think of doing such thing".

"I can ignore if she disobeys me but I cannot tolerate anything against my country and my faith," he added.


Kabul shrine bomber was Pakistani, affiliated with LeJ: Afghan official


KABUL: December 7, 2011, An Afghan official claimed Wednesday that the bomber who attacked a shrine in Kabul was a Pakistani, affiliated with the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

Afghans were Wednesday burying 59 people killed in unprecedented bombings against Shia Muslims as officials blamed Pakistani militants, accusing them of trying to whip up Iraq-style sectarian violence.

Investigators are poring over who was behind the coordinated attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul and northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif that the Taliban, the main faction leading a 10-year insurgency, have denied carrying out.

The LeJ has not previously claimed responsibility for any attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Experts suggest that if Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or indeed any other Pakistani militants orchestrated the attacks, then elements in the Afghan Taliban may have played some part, possibly in facilitating the strikes.

Tuesday’s blast on the holiest day in the Shia calendar marked the first major attack on a key religious day in Afghanistan.

Full Report at:


Afghan gov't blames Taliban for Kabul bombing

By Abdul Haleem

KABUL, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Afghan Interior Ministry accused Taliban of organizing the suicide attack inside a shrine in the capital city of Kabul on Tuesday that left 55 civilians including women and children dead and injured 134 others.

"Taliban and terrorists once again massacred our innocent countrymen on Tuesday noon," said a statement released by the Interior Ministry late Tuesday night.

According to the statement, a man wearing suicide vest blew himself up inside the shrine of Hazrat Abul Fazal Al-Abas where the faithful Shiite mourners were observing Ashura and the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), along with his 72 followers.

Ashura means "ten" in Arabic and is the tenth day of Moharam the first month of the year in Islamic calendar. Imam Hussain along with 72 of his followers including some family members were brutally murdered in Karballa of Iraq in 680 AD and since then both Muslim sects, the Shiite and Sunni commemorate the day to pay respect and homage to Imam Hussain and followers.

Meantime, the Taliban outfit fighting Afghan government has utterly rejected its involvement in the deadly blast.

A statement posted on the armed outfit's website said that targeting civilians was against the code of conduct of the Taliban fighters and condemned killing the civilians in Kabul.

The shocking incident has prompted President Hamid Karzai to cancel his tour from Germany to London and return home, said a statement released by his office on Wednesday.

Full Report at:


Bangaldesh Freedom fighter narrates Jamaat leader Sayedee role

Star Online Report, December 7, 2011

A freedom fighter told the International Crimes Tribunal on Wednesday that Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee had assisted Pakistani occupation forces in looting valuables and set fire to locals’ houses in Parerhat area of Pirojpur.

Mahabubul Alam Hawlader was the first to give deposition as prosecution witness against the detained Jamaat-e-Islami leader in connection with charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Sayedee during the 1971 War of Liberation.

The ICT, which is dealing with the crimes committed during the country’s independence struggle 40 years ago, started recording statements of prosecution witnesses against Sayedee Wednesday.

During the first day’s deposition, first witness Alam and second witness Ruhul Amin Nabin got the floor.

After Alam finished his deposition around 1:00pm, second witness Nabin started his deposition. As he could not complete his statement, he will continue it when the court resumes at 10:30am Thursday.

Both the witnesses narrated the atrocities committed by Pakistan Armed Forces in the name of ‘Operation Searchlight’ on unarmed Bangladeshis in the night of March 25, 1971.

Alam told the tribunal that Sayedee and some other anti-liberation elements had assisted the Pakistani occupation forces to loot the valuables of freedom fighters, Awami League men and members of the Hindu community in Parerhat area in Pirojpur and set fire to their residences.

Before Alam’s deposition, the three judges’ panel headed by its Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq rejected two petitions moved by Sayedee.

Of the two petitions, one was filed seeking adjournment of the depositions while another requested for copies of some documents from the prosecution.

The jail authorities had produced Sayedee around 10:00am before the tribunal started the day’s proceedings.

The tribunal on October 3 framed 20 specific charges against Sayedee for murdering civilians and collaborating with the Pakistani occupation army to kill and torture unarmed people.

The court on November 21 fixed December 7 for the depositions of the prosecution witnesses.


Asif Ali Zardari had minor heart attack, will not quit: Pak minister


Islamabad, Dec 07, 2011 Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari suffered a “minor heart attack” and has undergone an operation in Dubai, but is in good health otherwise and will return to Islamabad on Thursday, a minister told AFP.

Mustafa Khokhar, minister in charge of human rights, said that contrary to media reports there was “no question of any resignation” by Zardari, who is under pressure over a scandal that saw his ambassador to the US step down.

"He had a minor heart attack on Tuesday. He flew to Dubai where he had an angioplasty. He's in good health now. He will come back on Thursday. There's no question of any resignation," Khokhar told AFP on Wednesday.

The minister contradicted presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar who said Zardari had been in hospital for tests and a planned medical check up.

State media said Zardari was accompanied by his physicians and personal staff, and that the tests were routine, linked to a "previously diagnosed cardiovascular condition".

Zardari has been under pressure from a scandal over a memo that has seen Pakistan's ambassador to the United States resign, and had announced on Sunday that he would soon address a joint session of Parliament


President Zardari may resign: Report

December 7, 2011

An American magazine reported on Tuesday that President Asif Ali Zardari may step down due to his poor health condition.

In its report, The Cable quoted a former US government official saying that when US President Barack Obama spoke with Zardari recently regarding Nato’s killing of the 24 Pakistani soldiers, Zardari was “incoherent.”

The report claimed that Zardari was “feeling increased pressure over the Memogate scandal”, and quoted the official as having said: “The noose was getting tighter — it was only a matter of time,” expressing the growing expectation inside the US government that Zardari may be stepping down.

The official also said that parts of the US government were told that Zardari had a “minor heart attack” on Monday night and flew to Dubai via air ambulance today. He may have angioplasty on Wednesday and may also resign on account of “ill health.”

President Zardari left for Dubai on Tuesday to visit his children and undergo some medical tests. He was accompanied by his physicians and personal staff.

According to the president’s personal physician Colonel Salman, the proposed medical tests were “routine” and are linked to a previously diagnosed cardiovascular condition.

In Islamabad, some papers have reported that before Zardari left Pakistan, the Pakistani Army insisted that Zardari be examined by their own physicians, and that the Army doctors determined that Zardari was fine and did not need to leave the country for medical reasons. Zardari’s spokesman has denied that he met with the Army doctors.

President Zardari had announced plan to address a joint sitting of parliament immediately after Muharram,  in the aftermath of last week’s Supreme Court decision to set up a commission to probe the memogate scandal.

The Cable report suggests that the session has been postponed indefinitely.


Bashir to be Pakistan’s new envoy to India?


ISLAMABAD: Dec 7, 2011, Foreign secretary Salman Bashir is set to become Pakistan's high commissioner in India as part of the biggest reshuffle of envoys approved by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Bashir, 59, who is due to retire next year, will replace high commissioner Shahid Malik, whose current contract is valid till the second quarter of next year.

Malik retired some time ago and his contract has been periodically renewed for six months at a stretch.

Malik could be replaced by Bashir before the expiry of the contractual period of the high commissioner, the News daily quoted its sources as saying. Gilani had decided that no envoy who is currently on a contract would be given further extensions. He has approved the appointment of new envoys in 14 countries.

Three more ambassadors have been asked to return to Islamabad after relinquishing their assignment the report said.


Opposition must build 'free, tolerant' Syria: US


Beirut: Dec 07, 2011.  The United States has called for a new regime of tolerance and freedom in Syria as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad battled fighters infiltrating the country to join the growing rebel army trying to overthrow him.

Speaking after meeting members of the opposition Syrian National Council in Geneva, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Syrians must not only remove Assad but also advance towards the rule of law.

"A democratic transition includes more than removing the Assad regime," Clinton said. "It means setting Syria on the path of the rule of law and protecting the universal rights of all citizens, regardless of sect or ethnicity or gender."

What began nearly nine months ago as a peaceful protest against Assad, inspired by the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, is creeping closer to civil war as armed opposition groups organise and move into some city districts.

The United States, the European Union, Turkey and Jordan have called on Assad to step down in order to bring the violence to an end and permit democratic elections for a new government in a country where the Assad family has ruled for 40 years.

Washington said on Tuesday it was sending ambassador Robert Ford back to Damascus six weeks after he was withdrawn for safety reasons. Ford had angered Syrian officials with his public displays of support for protesters.

Full Report at:


‘Paharganj was target initially, not Jama Masjid’

JEHANGIR ALI, Age Correspondent

New Delhi, Dec 07, 2011 The interrogation of the two arrested Indian Mujahideen operatives, who fired gunshots at the Taiwanese tourists and planted a bomb in a stolen car at Jama Masjid before the Commonwealth Games, has revealed that they had initially

planned to carry out a strike in Paharganj area which is frequented by a large number of foreign tourists, but were forced to change their target.

Police sources said it was more than a month before the September 19 attack on Taiwanese tourists that Muhammad Adhil and Muhammad Qateel, who are now in the custody of the special cell, planned to carry out a strike in the Paharganj after reconnoitring the area.

“These two operatives had selected Paharganj area as part of IM’s planned strategy to target tourists in the city ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2010 here to create fear among the visiting delegates and athletes of the participating countries and to tarnish India’s image globally,” a top special cell officer said.

Heavily-armed and carrying sophisticated devices, the sources said, Adhil and Qateel took positions next to a hotel in Paharganj and were loading their guns when the automatic pistol of Qateel went off accidentally and the bullet hit Qateel in his right hand.

Interestingly, the firing incident didn’t evoke any response from the local police and the two operatives managed to escape from the area. “It is not clear where he got treatment for the bullet injury but he must have been to a hospital to treat such an injury,” the official said.

An internal inquiry has also been reportedly launched to establish whether any lapses had occurred due to the overlook made by the police in investigating the Paharganj shooting incident and to see whether the consequent Jama Masjid firing incident could have been prevented.


Syria's Bashar al-Assad 'feels no guilt' over crackdown

7 December 2011

Syria's president has said that he feels no guilt about his crackdown on a 10-month uprising, despite reports of brutality by security forces.

In an interview with the US network ABC, Bashar al-Assad said he had given no orders for violence to be used against protesters but admitted "mistakes" were made.

He said he did not own the security forces or the country.

At least 4,000 people have been killed since the uprising began, the UN says.

However, Mr Assad said the UN was not credible.

Syria blames the violence on "armed criminal gangs".

Mr Assad's interview comes a day after the US announced that its ambassador in Syria, Robert Ford, would return to Damascus after he was withdrawn in October because of security concerns.

France's ambassador returned on Monday.

'Big difference'

No government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person”

Responding to questions from veteran presenter Barbara Walters about the brutality of the crackdown, Mr Assad said he did not feel any guilt.

"I did my best to protect the people, so I cannot feel guilty," he said. "You feel sorry for the lives that has [sic] been lost. But you don't feel guilty - when you don't kill people."

"We don't kill our people… no government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person," he added.

Full Report at:


Rehman Malik thanks Taliban for maintaining Muharram peace

ISLAMABAD: December 6, 2011, Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday thanked the Taliban for maintaining peace during Muharram on his appeal, Express News reported.

While speaking to media in Islamabad, Malik also said that the performance of police and security forces during the holy month was “commendable.”

The Interior Minister had called on Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and briefed him about the security measures taken by government during Muharram processions.

Security measures for Muharram

Security was beefed up across the country in order to maintain peace as processions advanced in all cities for the ninth and 10th of Muharram.

A large number of mourners participated in the processions.

The interior ministry issued orders to restrain public and private transport near all the Imambargahs within a 500-metre range.

A control room, headed by the Interior Minister himself, in the National Crisis Management Cell was designated to monitor the situation.

Police were directed to conduct thorough checking and screening of all vehicles, motorcycles and rickshaws.


Turkmenistan president accorded state welcome in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR:  December 7, 2011 , Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and the Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah extended a state welcome to Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

Berdimuhamedov, who arrived here Tuesday for a three-day visit, was accompanied by his delegation comprising vice-premiers and senior government officials.

At the state welcome ceremony held at the Dataran Parliament Wednesday, Berdimuhamedov inspected 103 officers of the First Batallion Malay Regiment headed by Major Muzaini Mohd Ali.

Also present at the event was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razakand several Ministers.

Bilateral discussions, regional and international issues between Malaysia and Turkmenistan would also be held.

The president is also scheduled to visit Petronas Twin Towers and will be conferred an honorary doctorate by the University Technology Petronas


Philippines, Muslim rebels renew stay of Malaysian-led cease-fire monitors until 2013

By Associated Press,

December 7, 12:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group have extended the mandate of international cease-fire monitors until 2013.

The extension comes despite recent clashes that killed scores of combatants in the restive southern region.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front also said Wednesday that they’ll meet again next month to fast-track talks on an autonomy agreement for minority Muslims who have been fighting for self-rule for decades in the predominantly Christian nation.

The latest round of talks was held in Malaysia, which is leading a team of international cease-fire monitors.

Talks have been called into question since the government accused the rebels of killing 19 troops in an ambush in October.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Yemen PM says government imminent, U.N. warns on civilians


Sanaa (Yemen), Dec 07, 2011, Yemen's new prime minister said on Tuesday that an interim government intended to pull the country back from the brink of civil war would be formed in the next 48 hours.

The announcement came as forces opposing and loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh pulled back from some positions in the southern city of Taiz, after a bout of fighting there killed at least 20 people.

The violence has threatened to derail the formation of the government, a key element a Gulf-brokered deal to end Saleh's 33-year rule.

Mohammed Basindwa, a former foreign minister representing opposition parties who are to split cabinet posts with Saleh's party, told Reuters he expected the government to be agreed on Wednesday night or the following day.

Basindwa last week said the opposition's commitment to the power transfer depended on ending the bloodshed in Taiz, a hotbed of protests against Saleh.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a bloc of Yemen's richer neighbors, shares U.S. fears that the struggle over Saleh's fate could lead to chaos and embolden al Qaeda's Yemeni branch.

Full Report at:


Rohrabacher presses State on future of Iranian exiles

By Ashish Kumar Sen, The Washington Times

December 6, 2011, The Iraqi government is using the State Department’s terrorist designation of a group of Iranian dissidents as an excuse to crack down on the unarmed exiles in their camp north of Baghdad, a top Republican lawmaker said Tuesday.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said taking the group off the terrorism list would deprive the Iraqi government of this cover and expose it as a puppet of the theocratic regime in neighboring Iran.

“The Iraqi government is kissing the bloody boots of the mullahs in Tehran,” Mr. Rohrabacher said.

Mr. Rohrabacher is scheduled to convene a subcommittee hearing on Wednesday to seek an explanation from State Department officials about a court-ordered review of the terrorist label and an update on developments at Camp Ashraf.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has set a Dec. 31 deadline to close Camp Ashraf and relocate the 3,400 Iranian dissidents of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), a former military wing of the Iranian resistance that U.S. forces disarmed in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has said the deadline does not leave enough time to process the residents’ refugee status requests.

Full Report at:


I would've definitely picked Irfan for Australia tour: Akram


NEW DELHI: Dec 7, 2011,, Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram is baffled by the Indian selection committee's decision to opt for Abhimanyu Mithun over an in-form Irfan Pathan for the much-awaited upcoming tour of Australia.

"I would've definitely picked Irfan. His previous experiences in Australia would have been a boost to Team India. I don't know why he wasn't considered," said a stunned Akram.

Pathan, who staked a claim by picking up 21 wickets, including three five-wicket hauls, in four Ranji Trophy matches this season, was picked for the last two one-dayers against the West Indies, but found no favour when the panel sat down to select the squad for the Test series Down Under.

Akram felt bringing back the buoyant Irfan at this stage would have been ideal.

"Irfan has hit peak form, and it would have been perfect to unleash him at this stage. He looks confident and his swing would have been very handy in those conditions," said Akram.

Akram, who has mentored Irfan in the past, also felt the selectors should have named Praveen Kumar's replacement after the last two ODIs against the West Indies. The UP pacer is out with an injury.

"If they gave Abhimanyu Mithun an opportunity in the Ahmedabad ODI, it would have only been fair to see how Irfan performed in the remaining two games. I think it's a bit unfair, but the selectors probably had a different line of thinking," Akram said.

Akram felt the 21-year-old Mithun, who was not considered during the tour of England despite injuries to several players, will be under pressure to get acclimatized to Australian conditions quickly.

"An experienced cricketer like Zaheer Khan has broken down twice in two previous tours to Australia. On a big tour like this, the pressure to perform is huge, and I think Mithun would struggle on that front, which is why Irfan's experience would have been handy," Akram said.

He also reckoned that India have learnt their lessons from the England tour, during which they failed to win a single match, by giving themselves enough time to warm up before the series opener in Melbourne on December 26.

"It's good to see the BCCI has scheduled two practice matches before the Boxing Day Test. I think overall, it should be good enough preparation," Akram said.