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Photo: Nigeria Christians hit by fresh Islamist attacks
Nigeria Christians hit by fresh Islamist attacks
7 January 2012
Nigeria has been hit by a fresh wave of violence apparently targeting the country's Christian communities.
At least 17 people were killed in Mubi in Adamawa state as gunmen opened fire in a town hall where members of the Christian Igbo group were meeting.
There were also reports of a deadly attack in Adamawa's capital, Yola.
The Islamist Boko Haram group said it had carried out the attack in Mubi and another in Gombe on Thursday night in which at least six people died.
The group has staged numerous attacks in northern and central areas in recent months - on Christmas Day it attacked a church near the capital, Abuja, killing dozens of people.
One Boko Haram faction has warned all southerners - who are mostly Christian and animist - to leave the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria.
Adamawa state borders Borno state, where Boko Haram emerged.
Last week President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Yobe and Borno states, as well as Plateau state in central Nigeria and Niger state in the west, following a surge in ethnic and sectarian violence.
But the pace of attacks has increased and he must now consider whether to extend the state of emergency into other states and beef up the military presence in the north in response, says the BBC's Mark Lobel in Lagos.
Meanwhile, the government is also facing the bleak prospect of a general strike in two days' time amid popular fury over its removal of a fuel subsidy which has seen fuel prices double for ordinary Nigerians.
'Planning to flee'
Residents told the BBC that those killed in Mubi belonged to the Igbo community from the south of the country.
They had been meeting to organise how to transport the body of an Igbo man who was shot dead by gunmen on motorbikes on Thursday evening.
"It was while they were holding the meeting that gunmen came and opened fire on them," a resident said.
Witnesses said gunmen burst into the hall and shouted "God is great" as they opened fire.
Members of the Igbo community in northern Nigeria often own shops and businesses, but the BBC's Abdullahi Tasiu in Yola says many Igbo traders in Mubi town are reported to have closed their shops and be planning to flee the area.
'Extending out frontiers'
Later, a man claiming to be a spokesman for Boko Haram told local media the group had carried out both the Mubi and Gombe attacks.
"We are extending our frontiers to other places to show that the declaration of a state of emergency by the Nigerian government will not deter us. We can really go to wherever we want to go," said Abul Qaqa.
He said the attacks were "part of our response to the ultimatum we gave to southerners to leave the north" and called on the government to release all Boko Haram prisoners.
Later on Friday, there were reports that eight people had been killed in another attack on a church in Yola.
"Some gunmen went into the church and opened fire on worshippers killing some people and wounding several others," a local journalist told the AFP news agency.
A source at the local hospital told AFP that between eight and 10 bodies had been taken there.
Police have also been engaged in a gun battle with suspected members of Boko Haram in another north-eastern city, Potiskum, in Yobe state.
"Gunmen who are, from all indications, members of Boko Haram came in large numbers and have encircled police headquarters. They chanted 'Allahu Akbar' [God is Great] and fired indiscriminately," a resident told AFP.
Boko Haram, whose name means 'Western education is forbidden', is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state
More than 500 people have been killed by the group over the past year. On Christmas Day, it carried out a string of church bombings which killed 37 people at one church outside the capital, Abuja, alone.
President Jonathan, who is a Christian, has vowed to crack down on the group but Christian groups have accused him of not doing enough to protect them.
Maldives: It's politics as much as religion driving protests
Jan 7, 2012, The dramatic decision by the Maldives government to close down health spas in tourist hotels - following recent noisy protests that claimed they were "unIslamic" - provoked fairly predictable headlines in some of the Western media.
Best was the tongue-in-cheek concern in the London Evening Standard that Tamara Ecclestone, a multi-millionaire British heiress, might have to alter her travel plans, having trilled on at length in glossy magazines about her planned holiday massages in Maldivian tourist resorts.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, there was rather more to the story than the flurry of excitable newspaper headlines might have suggested. For no sooner had the order to close the spas been made than it was then rescinded by the government. The ultimate decision was then passed on to the Supreme Court for final adjudication.
The Maldivian tourism industry heaved a collective sigh of relief, and the Maldives President, Mohammed Nasheed, closed his office door for the evening, quietly confident that he might just have won an almighty PR victory over some of his conservative opponents. Next year, 2013, is election year and barring economic calamity over the next few months, opponents of the president appeared to have played most of their big cards.
A scattered archipelago of more than 1,000 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 200 of which are inhabited and home to 313,920 people, the Maldives now stands at a crossroads. Should the island state, which gained its independence from Britain in 1965, retain its 800-year allegiance to a fairly liberal blend of Sufi and Sunni Islam, or should it resist the encroachment of what some in the country see as Western decadence, and adopt a stricter interpretation of the Islamic faith?
"This," says a supporter of President Nasheed, "is now a struggle between different visions of the Maldives. Bluntly, do we want a moderate Islamic state or a Taliban state?" On Wednesday, it had been expected that the Supreme Court might be forced to make some kind of official and ground breaking declaration as to exactly what tenets of Islam were appropriate to the Maldives. But at the eleventh hour, the court edged back from its own massive leap of faith. This decision, has for the time being at least, been put on hold.
It had all looked very different back at the end of December. Then President Nasheed and his supporters were beginning to feel embattled, surrounded by an ever-noisier and more confident political opposition that the president believed had deliberately joined forces with religious conservatives to bring him down.
And then the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay came to town. She used her speech to the Maldivian Parliament to deliver an unusually blunt message to those who would bring Sharia Law to the Maldives, declaring that elements of it conflicted with human rights. It was a brave speech, but one in retrospect the president and his supporters would probably rather she had delivered somewhere else during her visit. For it provoked a storm of protest, with opposition supporters noisily demonstrating with placards that declared "Down with the UN!" and "Pillay Go Home!"
Despite being divided among themselves, opposition parties still hold a majority of seats in the Majlis, as the legislative body is known, and Pillay's speech provided an opportunity to turn up the heat of bubbling resentment against President Nasheed's government among conservative religious groupings. Opposition leaders, including the septuagenarian former president, Maumoon Gayoom, who maintained absolute rule for more than 30 years, had thrown their weight behind a small number of religious leaders demanding the imposition of Sharia law, and the banning of health and massage spas as well as the sale of alcohol and pork to tourists. The spas are seen by some as little more than upmarket brothels.
Joining him were representatives of the religiously conservative Adhaalath, or Justice Party, which gained around four per cent of the popular vote in the last elections. On December 23, a disparate group of conservative organisations organised a noisy rally of some 4,000 to 5,000 people in the islands' crowded capital, Male. Next page
Suicide bomb kills 25 in Damascus
BEIRUT: Jan 6, 2012, A suicide bomber killed about 25 people and wounded 46 in Damascus on Friday, Syria's state news agency SANA said, in the third such attack in the Syrian capital in a month.
The blast occurred two days before an Arab League committee was due to discuss an initial report of Arab observers who are checking Syria's compliance with an Arab plan to halt President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on unrest.
The meeting may decide whether to continue the mission or to refer Syria to the United Nations Security Council, perhaps paving the way for some form of international action, a scenario that many Arab countries are keen to avoid.
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said he was sending a message with Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal asking the Syrian government to work to halt the violence.
Syrian state television earlier showed body parts, bloodstains and broken glass from the blast in the central Maidan district, along with people shouting that this was the work of "terrorists". Several riot police shields could be seen in a wrecked bus, which was among several damaged vehicles.
"Immediate information indicates that a suicide terrorist blew himself up at a traffic light in the Maidan neighbourhood," state television said. "There are dozens of dead and wounded, mostly civilians."
State television did not immediately confirm the death toll given by SANA and the semi-official Addounia television. Syria bars most independent journalists from the country, making first-hand reporting impossible.
On Dec. 23 at least 44 people were killed by what Syrian authorities said were two suicide bombings that targeted security buildings in the Syrian capital.
Those attacks occurred the day before the arrival in Damascus of the head of the Arab League observer mission.
Islamists' chance to lead change
By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times
Cairo: January 7, 2012, Wrapped in a shawl on a cold morning, Jamal Banna shuffled over a dusty carpet amid fraying books on old civilisations. He knows well the intricacies of Arab history, but is far less certain where the upheavals of the last year will lead.
Like the balustrade winding to his library door, the known ways are crumbling. Moments of wonder are giving way to months of bewilderment. These days, he said, are likely to prove as seminal as those after the First World War, when western powers drew the borders that shaped the Middle East for nearly a century.
Islamists, who have endured decades of oppression, appear to have their chance to redefine the region's politics. "One era has ended," said Banna, one of Islam's leading liberal thinkers. "But of the new era, we don't know exactly what is taking shape."
Lacking an ideology and charismatic leaders to channel the aspirations of the street, the Arab Spring has been thwarted by more powerful forces and fallen short of complete revolution. The challenge for Islamists, Banna said, is tempering their religious fervour with a pragmatism that can fix their countries before anger and despair is turned against them. Banna is intimate with the Islamists' strengths and failings.
His older brother, Hassan, who was a schoolteacher, founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. The younger Banna has often angered the group with his progressive interpretation of Islam. He has watched his brother's conservative vision evolve in the decades since his death in 1949. Grassroots activism gave way to periods of radicalism and today's often ill-defined mix of politics and social consciousness.
Only in Tunisia, he said, where a fruit seller set himself on fire a year ago and uncapped the passions of an entire region, is there a glimmer of a nation achieving its revolutionary ideals. Here in Egypt, the army rules. It has killed protesters and stifled civil liberties even as the nation votes for a new parliament. Security forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad gun down protesters daily. Yemen is beset by warring tribes,
Muammar Gaddafi met a brutal, surreal demise, but Libya is torn by clan animosities and militias. Banna looked into the streaked morning light in his window. "The revolution," he said, "has lost its freedom." The rebellions against autocrats started with popular uprisings.
But in Egypt and other countries, they never found a consistent political voice. Young activists and Facebook rebels were not enduring or enticing enough to seize the moment. They still take to city squares, but the race for power has moved beyond them. "The heir of these revolutions is political Islam," said Banna.
"The Islamists' parties are the big winners. The Islamists are established figures in this time of tumult. They have credibility and people are willing to give them a chance. But they must move quickly to fix years of social and economic neglect. If not, they could lose this opportunity and it all might collapse."
The struggle between moderate and ultraconservative Islam over religion's role in public life will play out for years. There are already debates over banning alcohol and bikinis at Egyptian resorts.
The new political Islam must balance between pluralism and polemics, or else, as Banna suggested was possible in Egypt, "parliaments will become schools of bullies." The Islamic Al Nahda party in Tunisia "is more flexible than the Brotherhood in Egypt," he said. "Political Islam in Egypt hasn't reached that same kind of renaissance. It's happening at a very slow pace, and it needs time to bridge internal divides. But Islam will remain the pillar of public and private life. That is the destiny of the Middle East."
One of the most striking aspects of the Arab Spring is that the legacies of defeated autocrats will not be easily scoured away.
Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a brisk 18 days; reinventing the country will take years. There are remnants of the old regime that don't want renewal, and the recent violence by security forces illustrates an increasing intolerance for dissent.
"It proves there are still many in the army and police who don't want the nation to succeed," Banna said.
AN OLD ACADEMIC PONDERS A NEW DAWN
The 91-year-old scholar, Jamal Banna, moves gingerly, but his wit and intellectual rigour seldom rest. He has written scores of books and appears on talk show. His face is barely wrinkled. He runs a website and carries the title "president of the Revival Islamist Movement". His desk is stacked high with documents, and sometimes he appears not to be there, until one hears the rustle of papers, the creak of a chair.
Unfold a map and follow the coastal road from Tunisia through Libya and into Egypt. Names from books ring out: Carthage, Tobruk, Alexandria, all existing amid ruins, the won and lost possessions of history's changing empires.
The coasts, deserts and deltas are being remade again. But there was that moment in the chill of last winter when flags heralding something new coloured the streets and snapped in the wind. The fear had been broken. "What struck me most over the last year was the gathering of the masses," said Banna. "It was as if we had become a city of angels."
Hyderabadis in Pakistan still carry mohajir tag: Karen Leonard
HYDERABAD: Jan 7, 2012, The Hyderabadi diaspora is either forced to shed its Hyderabadi tag due to powerful geopolitical forces or for others, it remains deeply rooted in their culture.
Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Karen Leonard observes that Hyderabadis who moved to Pakistan at the time of the Partition still carry with them the 'mohajir' label, struggling to find acceptance. They have now started moving to western countries in search of a better future.
With the creation of Urdu societies in North America, Europe and the Middle East, Hyderabadis are making efforts to go back to their roots. While some are making efforts to cling to their culture, others are intermarrying and mixing with people of different races. Visiting the city after three years to attend a conference, Leonard describes the Deccani synthesis as a model for tolerant society.
Speaking to TOI on Friday Leonard, however, notes that she has seen a decline in communal harmony in the city. She is also worried about the Telangana movement. "While young Hyderabadis are busy creating a new mixed culture_ creating their own kind of plural society_ the people from Andhra have not recognised the legitimacy of the Nizam's state and culture and are not proud of its Indo-Muslim architecture," she observes.
Pakistan military's kill and dump policy continues in Baluchistan,Two more bodies found
Balochistan: The Pakistan military’s kill and dump policy continues in Balochistan unabated. Despite the tall claims of Pakistani parliament that 2012 will be the year of peace in Balochistan, the notorious ISI, MI and FC are continuously violating human rights of the Baloch people. At least five bullet-riddled bodies of abducted Baloch activists have been recovered from different areas in last five days of 2012.
Sources from Balochistan reported that two more brutally tortured bullet riddled bodies of abducted Baloch were found from Windar and Dera Allahyar towns of Balochistan.
The first body was found on Tuesday night in Windar area of District Lasbela. There were visible bullet and torture wound on victim’s head and face. Later, the police shifted body in local hospital, where his identity ascertained by a chit found from his pocket as Mohammad Murad s/o Abdul Lateef, a resident of Alahabad in industrial town of Hub, Balochistan.
Separately another bullet riddled body of an enforced-disappeared Baloch was found from Dera Allahyar. The victim identified as Abdul Sattar Bugti. Police sources confirmed that he was reported as abducted from last few days.
Pakistan’s military has adopted a new fashion of kill and dump policy in Balochistan. The score of bullet riddled bodies now reaches to 370. According to recent report released by the Baloch National Voice (BNV) 297 bullet riddled bodies of abducted Baloch youths were found in year 2011.The military seems to continue it secret dirty was in Balochistan in 2012 as well. Despite comprehensive reports from some International Human Rights Organisation and several years of protest of the families the victims of Pakistan state terrorism, the UN, EU and other international powers have failed to take any bold actions against Pakistan so far.
However, some recent reports and documentaries on International media suggest that Pakistan's dirty side is now exposed to the international community. The international powers, especially the US and NATO forces seems to have had enough of Pakistan’s double standards, are now looking for alternative ways to continue their fight against “what they call global terrorism”. The Baloch have time and again said that Pakistan is breeding the global extremism and should not be allowed to continue it ravage any longer.
Dera Bugti: The reports are coming from mineral rich area of Dera Bugti that Pakistani military killed two Baloch farmers. According to the initial reports, the Pakistan’s paramilitary force FC opened indiscriminate firing on a group of men working in their farmland in Sangseela area of Dera Bugti.
As a result of wanton firing two men were seriously wounded who later succumbed to their injuries. The victims belonged to the Qasmani clan of Bugti tribe and they were identified as Shambo Qasmani Bugti and Ghabru Qasmani Bugti. Family sources reported that both men were farmers and had no affiliation with any political or militant organisation.
Closer ties with Israel can help Pak vis-à-vis India: Musharraf
JERUSALEM, January 7, 2012, Seeking closer ties with Israel, former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf said the Jewish state is a fait accompli, relations with it can help Islamabad come closer to the strong Jewish lobby in the US and in its conflict against India.
Mr. Musharraf, who is planning to return to Pakistan on January 25 or 27, in his first interview to an Israeli daily “Ha’aretz” said getting closer to Israel would be in the interest of his country as “Israel has always been pro-India against Pakistan.”
He said defying popular sentiment in Pakistan, he shook hand with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the UN, spoke to the American Jewish Congress as the Head of the State and sent his foreign minister Khurshid Mahmoud Kasuri to meet the then Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Istanbul.
“I felt I needed to test the waters in Pakistan when it comes to Israel. Yes. We have been anti-Israel in Pakistan because of Palestine, because the Pakistani people are on the side of the Palestinians and concerned for their plight. Right from the beginning, from when we got our independence in 1947 and Israel came into reality a year later, we have been pro-Palestine,” said Mr. Musharraf.
“But I believe in realism and in assessing ground realities. I think it’s necessary to understand the changing environment, analyse it -- and respond. A lot has happened since ‘48, and one has to adjust. Policies are made, yes, but when the environment changes, policies should change. Policies should not remain constant,” he said justifying his gestures towards the Jewish state.
On Palestine cause
The General feels that his country can continue to support the Palestinian cause but should not err in grasping changed global scenario.
Full Report at:
Pakistani Girls Fear US Blackmailing
Islamabad:5 Jan. 2012, The Pakistani female students, who attended a cultural party hosted by US embassy in November 2011, are concerned over possible blackmailing by the organisers.
According to a report, a few of the female participants alleged that they had been invited to the party titled “Kuch Khas” (something special) to see Pakistani dance and get information about American universities.
The report said that many students from across the country registered themselves to attend the party because they had been told that their participation would open a way for them to get scholarship of US universities.
However, a US official had told media after the party that they had invited students to the party to improve relations with Pakistani people.
A participant told the media that US officials had given them alcohol in the name of beverage during the party. He said that most of the female students had faced immoral acts in the party after drinking the juice (alcohol).
“The female students were forced to dance immorally with the other students and the Americans after the drink,” he said and added that the officials also took their pictures and videos while dancing with the US men and Pakistani students.
“The student are worried that the snaps and footage could be use to blackmail them,” the student said.
It is pertinent to mention here that those American who were invited in the party were also caught by Pakistani security forces in Rawalpindi city for making snaps and footage of sensitive areas.
Original Source: thenewstribe
Disclaimer: This article is taken from above mentioned site. We are not responsible about the authenticity of the report.
Pakistani rulers damaged Kashmir cause more than India: British Kashmiris
Birmingham: 7 Jan 2012, The rulers imposed on Pakistan has caused more harm to Kashmir liberation struggle than India as these rulers have been installed to implement the agenda of certain powers by putting Kashmir issue in the back burner. These views were expressed by Speakers at a function held in connection with right to self determination day of Kashmiri people in Kashmir House Birmingham.
Addressing on the occasion Naib Ameer Jammat e Islami Azad Jammu and Kashmir Dr. Khalid Mehmood said that declaring India as most favorite nation and terming Lord Nazir Ahmed as persona non grata, the puppet government in Azad Kashmir has stabbed in the back of Kashmir freedom movement. He said that PPP leaders in Muzaffarabad are accepting every formula and decision from Islamabad to please the rulers there and possibility cannot be ruled out that they will thumb the decision of Pakistani rulers to seal the fate of Kashmir liberation movement one day.
Former AJK Minister and leader of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference Sahibzada Hafiz Hamad Raza speaking on the occasion said that January 5, is most significant day in the history of Kashmir when united nation passed a resolution and recognized Kashmir as disputed territory future of which is to be decided by the people of the state themselves. He said that voices of barbarities against Kashmiris are echoing all over the world but regretted that United Nation which is sponsor of Kashmiri people right to self determination is not doing anything which reflect its responsibilities towards peace and stability in the region.
President UK Islamic Mission Moulana Sarfaraz Madni has said that in disregard of policies of Paksitani rulers Pakistani nation is with Kashmiri peoples’ struggle for right to self determination wholeheartedly.
President Tahreek e Kashmir UK Muhammad Ghalib said that people of Jammu and Kashmir will never withdraw from resolutions passed by United Nation Security Council as stepping back from the resolution Kashmiris will lost their claim over Kashmir’s disputed nature. He said that granting India a status of permanent member of UNSC would be tantamount to negation of the charters of the United Nation itself.
The Chief Pattern of All Parties Kashmir International Coordination Committee Moulana Boastan Qadri has said that extension of Pakistani political parties to AJK has created serious apprehension about the issue of Kashmir. He said that declaring Gilgit Baltastan and AJK as provinces of Pakistan would be suicidal act which cannot be allowed at any cost.
Others who spoke on the occasion including Councilor Birmigham City Council Ch. Muhammad Fazil, PML (N) Leader Raja Ayaz Advocate, Muslim Conference representative Ch. Muhammad Akbar, Secretary General Tahreek e Kashmir UK Mufti Abdul Majeed Nadeem, Chief of Sunni Hurriat Council Molana Fazal Ahmed Qadri, Deputy Secretary General Pakistan Rabita Council Hafiz Muhammad Idrees, Raja Faheem Kiani, Ch. Tassadaq Hussain and Others.
What Jemaah Islamiyah Did Was Wrong, Convicted Terrorist Says
Zakir Hussain - Straits Times Indonesia
Singapore.January 07, 2012, Barely three months after the terror attacks in Sept 11, 2001, Singaporeans learnt they had home-grown terrorists in their midst. On Jan. 6, 2002, they were told that 15 men from the Jemaah Islamiyah had been arrested for plotting terror attacks in Singapore. Ten years on this week, a former Singaporean JI detainee gives an exclusive interview about how he came to join the group and his eventual rehabilitation.
In the late 1980s, M became more spiritual and wanted to learn Arabic. His linguistic quest began at the Woodlands flat of self-taught charismatic “religious teacher” Ibrahim Maidin. Another teacher conducted the class but through many discussions after class, M got to know Ibrahim.
And so began his life-changing journey into a secret world of militancy that the soft-spoken man had never known before.
The encounters in the flat led him to the company of extremist Indonesian preachers, a war in Afghanistan and, eventually, a life-changing episode spent in self-reflection and prayer in a detention centre in Singapore.
Full Report at:
Pakistan frees 179 Indian fishermen
KARACHI: January 7, 2012, Pakistan freed 179 Indian fishermen on Saturday who were imprisoned for violating territorial waters, the prisons chief said.
“We have released 179 Indian fishermen and a civilian prisoner who had completed their sentences,” prisons chief for southern Sindh province Ghulam Qadir Thebo told AFP.
They were sent to Lahore by bus, where they will cross the Pakistan-India border on Sunday, he said. He added that 360 other Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen, remained in jail.
Pakistan and India frequently seize each other’s fishermen, accusing them of violating their respective zones in the Arabian Sea.
Relations between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, have been plagued by border and resource disputes and accusations of Pakistani militant activity against India.
A Muslim convert British nurse abducted in Quetta: Pakistan police make arrests
By Eleanor Wason Khan in Lahore and Nazar Ul Islam in Islamabad,
06 Jan 201, Masked gunmen abducted Khalil Dale, a Muslim convert, on Thursday in the capital of Pakistan's northwest province of Baluchistan, where he was working for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Baluchistan borders both Afghanistan and Iran. A large but scarcely populated province it suffers frequent unrest from both a separatist insurgency and Islamic militancy. Shootings, bombings and kidnappings are all common in Quetta, which also serves as a base for senior Taliban commanders.
Senior Quetta police official Nazir Kurd said they had made progress on tracking down the aid worker's assailants on Friday.
"We have identified the group which is involved in Dale's kidnapping. We arrested some people in this regard," he said. He refused to disclose any more details because of security concerns and declined to speculate on whether Dale was likely to still be in Quetta or not.
Mr Dale, 60, comes from Dumfries and Galloway. He has been based in Quetta since last February. Along with a driver and a local doctor, he was returning to his residence in a closely guarded area of the city when seven or eight men in a jeep blocked his vehicle. One of them bundled him into the jeep at gunpoint.
Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.
Criminal gangs in Pakistan sometimes pass on kidnapping victims to separatist insurgents or armed groups linked to the Taliban or al-Qaeda. In 2009, an American employee of the United Nations was abducted in Quetta by the Baluchistan Liberation United Front. He was held for two months before being released.
In the past few months increasing numbers of locals have been seized by kidnappers in Quetta as both Islamist and nationalist groups seek to raise funds, Islamabad-based security analyst Amir Rana said.
"There has been a rise in kidnappings amongst the business and trader communities. It's mainly by criminal gangs who then hand them over to insurgents or Islamic militants," said Rana, the director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies. "They are getting more desperate." The Taliban have been squeezed financially since their leader Osama bin Laden was killed in May last year while many Baluchi separatist leaders have fled to Waziristan in the northwest of Pakistan, or abroad, making it harder for them to supply their groups with funds, Rana said.
The ICRC confirmed the incident yesterday but had no further comment on Friday. Nor did the British High Commission in Islamabad, saying only that it was aware of the kidnapping.
Mr Dale, who previously worked in Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan, was in charge of an ICRC programme to provide equipment and training to local hospitals.
The Taliban have claimed to be holding a Swiss couple who were kidnapped in Baluchistan last year and an American contractor is still missing after being taken in August from his house in Lahore, in Punjab province.
Iran to hold biggest naval war games
MOSCOW: Jan, 6, 2012, Iran plans to hold new and "massive" naval exercises near the strategic Strait of Hormuz within the next few weeks, Fars news agency reported on Friday.
The report came as Tehran's tensions with the West continue to escalate following threats of new sanctions against the Islamic republic over its controversial nuclear programme.
The report cited Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps was planning to conduct "its greatest naval war games" near the Strait of Hormuz in the near future.
The announcement came just days after the Iranian Navy completed a 10-day naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz.
The drills were held after the Islamic republic threatened to block the waterway, through which an estimated 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil passes, in response to Western plans to ban oil imports from Iran.
The Islamic republic derives some 60 percent of its revenues from oil exports.
The newly announced Iraninan drills, codenamed The Great Prophet, may coincide with major naval exercises that Israel and the US are planning to hold in the Persian Gulf in the near future.
Pakistani Governor's meeting with terrorists Ludhanvi slammed
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency)
January 7, 2012 - The Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) Pakistan condemned the reported meeting between Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and leaders of the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba Ahmed Ludhanvi and his companions.
In a statement issued on Thursday, MWMP leaders expressed their dismay over the meeting, reportedly held on Wednesday, and urged President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain to seek an explanation from the governor for his meeting with representatives of a group declared a terrorist outfit.
The MWM leaders, including Maulana Mukhtar Imami, Maulana Sadiq Raza Naqvi, Maulana Munawwar Ali Naqvi, Maulana Ali Anwar Jafri and Ali Ousat, said that the governor's act of receiving the delegation of the proscribed terrorist outfit (Sipah-e-Sahaba) had not only hurt the feelings of the entire Shia community but also disappointed the Barelvi sect.
The leaders said that the Governor Sindh has violated the law and constitution of the country by holding the meeting with the Chief of outlawed terrorist outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba involved in the killing of thousands of Shia Muslims.
They termed that the meeting with the chief of terrorists outfit was not matched with the respectable slot of Governor and demanding of the authorities to take action against the Governor Sindh links with terrorists organization.
A handout issued from the Governor's House and posted on its official website stated that a delegation of ulema including outlawed SSP terrorist outfit Chief Ahmed Ludhyanvi, Mufti Naeem and Maulana Asad Thanvi called on Governor Dr Ibad at the Governor's House on Wednesday.
It is said that the governor in the meeting emphasized the need for indiscriminate action against miscreants, terrorists and those involved in crimes. He told the delegation that the heirs of the victims of terrorism should be provided justice, the press release added.
ISI, MI accused of meddling in Balochistan affairs
ISLAMABAD: January 07, 12, Pakistan People’s Party MNA Afzal Nadeem Chan on Friday said that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI) were active in Balochistan while the civilian government had no say in the provincial affairs. Taking part in the debate on new provinces in the National Assembly, Chan said that everyone knew it well that who was in control of the Balochistan affairs, but no one dare say it in open. “I am saying that ISI and MI are controlling the provinces and I am not afraid of paying a price for it,” Chan said. He held Punjab responsible for the separation of East Pakistan and feared that if the voices of deprived regions were not considered, it would be disastrous for the country. Chan also lashed out at the Supreme Court for connecting the Bhutto reference case with the alleged contempt of court committed by former federal law minister Babar Awan. “Whatever Babar Awan has done is a separate issue. For God sake, don’t associate it with the Bhutto reference case,” Afzal pleaded. staff report
Sudan President Bashir's Libya trip draws criticism
7 January 2012
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has arrived in Libya on his first visit since the fall of Col Muammar Gaddafi.
President Bashir arrived with a high-level delegation for a two-day visit, airport sources were quoted as saying.
He is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide in Darfur and the visit was criticised by Human Rights Watch.
It said it raised questions about the new Libyan leadership's commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
President Bashir was met by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), at Tripoli airport, a Libyan official - who asked not to be named - told Reuters news agency.
Under Col Gaddafi's rule, bilateral relations were strained because Sudan accused him of supporting rebels in Darfur.
In return, President Bashir openly supported last year's rebel uprising in Libya. According to Reuters, Mr Jalil - who visited Khartoum in November - has said Mr Bashir supplied Sudanese weapons and ammunition to the former rebels.
But the NTC's welcome for Mr Bashir was criticised by Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
"Welcoming Bashir... raises questions about the NTC's stated commitment to human rights and the rule of law," he said.
"Following the end of decades of brutal rule in Libya, it is disturbing if Tripoli hosts a head of state on the run from international arrest warrants for grave human rights violations."
The ICC has issued two warrants for Mr Bashir's arrest - the first, in March 2009, on counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the second, in July 2010, on three counts of genocide.
That obliges all countries who are signatories to the ICC charter to arrest Mr Bashir if they have the chance - this does not, however, include Libya because it is not a signatory.
Mr Bashir has avoided arrest on a number of trips abroad, including trips to Chad, Kenya and Malawi - all ICC signatories - in the last year alone. He also visited China, which is not a signatory.
Several African states have been referred to the UN Security Council by the ICC over their failure to to co-operate with the court.
Some 2.7 million people have fled their homes since the conflict began in Darfur in 2003, and the UN says about 300,000 have died - mostly from disease.
Sudan's government says the conflict has killed about 12,000 people and the number of dead has been exaggerated for political reasons.
Taliban demands Gitmo prisoners’ repatriation to Qatar
KABUL:Jan 7, 2012, Afghanistan’s Taliban have demanded in negotiations with the US that prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay be transferred to Qatar, an Afghan government spokesman said Friday. But President Hamid Karzai’s government objects strongly to the move and wants the prisoners sent directly to Afghanistan, Presidential Spokesman Aimal Faizi said.
The Taliban announced this week that they planned to set up a political office in Qatar, a move seen as a precursor to peace talks with Washington. At the same time, they demanded the release of prisoners from the US military detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, but the statement did not specify where they should be sent.
Karzai was told by the US about the demand that they should go to Qatar shortly before the Bonn conference on Afghanistan in December, Faizi said. “Several meetings had taken place between the Americans and the Taliban. It was something discussed between the two sides. “But that day, when the Americans talked to Karzai, it was the first time that they talked about the transfer of the prisoners to Qatar.”
Faizi said his government was in favour of a release of Guantanamo prisoners, “but we don’t want them to go directly to Qatar - our government is strongly against it”. Karzai’s government is concerned about being sidelined in the negotiations towards possible peace between the Taliban and the US, and Faizi stressed that it wanted “an Afghan-led transition”. “You can’t send them directly to Qatar because it would be a breach of our sovereignty, of the Afghan laws or of the constitution. Afghanistan is an independent nation, you know. “You can’t do anything you want with our citizens without informing the Afghan government. The prisoners should be sent to the Afghan government first. “We agreed on the opening of an office for the Taliban in Qatar, but never on the transfer of the prisoners to that country.” Faizi said the government knew of around 20 Afghan citizens held in Guantanamo, some of them ex-officials, ministers and vice-ministers. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he did not want to comment, saying it “might have a negative impact on this process due to the sensitivity of the issue”. afp
Pakistan rejects India’s Sir Creek stand
New York: January 07, 2012, Pakistan has rejected India’s stance on the Sir Creek estuary border dispute, saying that the country does not recognise the baseline system, which encroaches upon its territory.
Pakistan has conveyed its sharp reaction to India’s claims on the border in the December 06 letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The Indian claims "impinge upon Pakistan's territorial limits in Sir Greek area and encroach upon its territorial waters, which are within its sovereign jurisdiction”, the Nation quoted the letter, as saying.
India had earlier posted its stance regarding the Sir Creek issue on the website of the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea in May and November 2009.
The letter points out that India’s encroachment on the border violates international principles.
The letter added that India’s stance also contravenes the UN Law of the Sea Convention, which prohibits a state from applying the system of straight baseline in such a manner as to cut off the territorial sea of another state from the high seas of Exclusive Economic Zones.
"While the Government of Pakistan reserves its right to seek suitable revision of this notification, any claim India makes on the basis of Indian notification to extend its sovereignty and jurisdiction on Pakistani waters or extend its internal waters, territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf is, therefore, not acceptable to Pakistan," the letter added.
The 96-kilometre long Sir Creek estuary separates India's Gujarat state from Pakistan's Sindh province.
US tiff may pinch hard: Pak finance minister
Omer Farooq Khan, TNN
ISLAMABAD: January 07, 2012, Pakistan's deteriorating ties with US could lead to Islamabad's international economic isolation, finance minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh warned on Friday.
Sheikh told a parliamentary committee reviewing bilateral terms with US that Washington might use its influence over international financial institutions to hurt the country's economic interests .
"It is not about American aid but its clout overthe IMF, World Bank and other financial institutions that can pose a real challenge for us," he said. "Any decision should be taken while keeping in mind security, prosperity of the country and economic diplomacy."
"A single incident must not determine our relations with the US," he said referring to Islamabad's move after the Nato strike.
U.S. Prepares for a Curtailed Relationship With Pakistan
By ERIC SCHMITT
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, December 25, 2011 — With the United States facing the reality that its broad security partnership with Pakistan is over, American officials are seeking to salvage a more limited counterterrorism alliance that they acknowledge will complicate their ability to launch attacks against extremists and move supplies into Afghanistan.
The United States will be forced to restrict drone strikes, limit the number of its spies and soldiers on the ground and spend more to transport supplies through Pakistan to allied troops in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials said. United States aid to Pakistan will also be reduced sharply, they said.
“We’ve closed the chapter on the post-9/11 period,” said a senior United States official, who requested anonymity to avoid antagonizing Pakistani officials. “Pakistan has told us very clearly that they are re-evaluating the entire relationship.”
American officials say that the relationship will endure in some form, but that the contours will not be clear until Pakistan completes its wide-ranging review in the coming weeks.
The Obama administration got a taste of the new terms immediately after an American airstrike killed 26 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border last month. Pakistan closed the supply routes into Afghanistan, boycotted a conference in Germany on the future of Afghanistan and forced the United States to shut its drone operations at a base in southwestern Pakistan.
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Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari says not at 'war' with army
ISLAMABAD, 6 January, 2012: Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari sought on Friday to ease concerns that tensions between his government and the powerful military could deepen instability in the nuclear-armed country fighting a Taliban insurgency.
An increasingly unpopular figure, Zardari faces his worst political crises since taking office in 2008, and some wonder whether he and his government can survive.
The biggest pressure comes from a scandal over an unsigned memo that accused the military of plotting a coup after it was humiliated by the unilateral U.S. special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil in May last year.
Pakistan's Supreme Court is investigating who could have been behind the memo which the media and Zardari's opponents have suggested was an act of treason.
"We are not at war with the judiciary. Why would we be at war with the military? There is no war," Zardari said in an interview with Geo News TV channel.
The "memogate" scandal broke three months ago when businessman Mansoor Ijaz, writing in a column in the Financial Times, said a senior Pakistani diplomat had asked that the memo be delivered to the Pentagon for help in reining in the army.
Ijaz later identified the diplomat as Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's then ambassador in Washington and a close Zardari aide.
Haqqani denies any involvement, and no evidence has emerged that the military was plotting a coup. The military has ruled Pakistan for over half its 64-year history.
The judicial investigation could further threaten Pakistan's weak government, especially if a link is established between Zardari and the memo.
Opposition parties accused Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani of unfairly criticising the military recently by asking how bin Laden managed to escape detection in Pakistan for several years -- a question angry American officials asked too.
Zardari said Gilani was not attacking the army. "You think it's a fight, I call it a part of evolution. It will evolve, and will simmer down in due time," said Zardari.
Tensions between the military and the civilian government in Pakistan are a worrying sign for the region and for Pakistan's uneasy relationship with its key ally, the United States.
Washington wants stability in Islamabad so it can concentrate on helping the U.S.-led efforts to stabilise Afghanistan and fight militancy in the region.
Zardari issues rallying cry for democracy in Pakistan amid coup fears
Jason Burke, guardian.co.uk,
Delhi, 27 December 2011, A crowd listens to Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari speak on the anniversary of his wife's death. Photograph: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images
The embattled president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, on Tuesday used a speech on the fourth anniversary of the assassination of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to issue a firm challenge to those within the unstable south Asian nation who wish to unseat him.
The 56-year-old president told tens of thousands of people gathered at the Bhutto family shrine at Garhi Khuda Baksh in the southern Sindh province that the best way to pay tribute to his late wife, killed while campaigning in elections in 2007, was "to defend and protect democracy and democratic institutions in the country and foil all conspiracies against it".
The speech was Zardari's first public appearance since returning last week from Dubai where he had been receiving medical treatment for a suspected minor stroke and comes amid a welter of speculation that Pakistan's powerful military, which has ruled the country for much of its 64-year independent existence, is about to step in.
Zardari told the crowd that Bhutto's assassins "may have succeeded in eliminating her physically but [her] ideas and ideals … shall never be killed".
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Pakistan welcomes coalition govt in Bosnia
ISLAMABAD, Jan 6 (APP): Pakistan welcomes the announcement regarding formation of a coalition government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Foreign Office Spokesperson said on Friday. In a statement, he said Pakistan enjoys excellent relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and looks forward to closely working with the new government. He said, “it will remain our effort to further broaden and strengthen the existing bilateral relations to the mutual benefit of our two countries.”
Pakistani warship on goodwill visit
Dubai: January 7, 2012, Pakistan warship PNS Khaibar arrived at Port Rashid on Thursday on a goodwill visit and will be in the UAE till tomorrow.
A reception was held onboard the vessel commanded by Captain Alam Afzal on Thursday. Amongst dignitaries, diplomats and officials, the reception was also attended by Major General Ebrahim Salem Al Musharrakh, UAE Naval Forces Commander.
"The goodwill visit of PNS Khaibar is important to further develop and strengthen the historic and friendly relations between Pakistan and the UAE," Capt Afzal said in his short speech on the occasion. He also thanked the UAE for its hospitality and said that the ship has been involved in the anti-piracy campaign in the region.
Elyas Sultan, defence attache at the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said that UAE-Pakistan ties in the field of naval cooperatrion date back to the early 70s and both navies have been conducting joint exercises since then. He said the goodwill visits of naval ships further enhance cooperation between the two countries.
5 million illegal immigrants residing in Pakistan, NA told
By Ijaz Kakakhel
ISLAMABAD: TJanuary 07 12, The National Assembly was told on Friday that about five million illegal immigrants were residing in different parts of the country due to local and regional disturbances.
In a written statement, the Ministry of Interior told the NA that out of the five million illegal immigrants, approximately two million were Bangladeshis, 2.5 million were Afghans, and 0.5 million other nationals, including Africans, Iranians, Iraqis and Myanmarese, who had been living in the country for more than three decades.
The main reasons for these illegal immigrants was said to be partition of Pakistan in 1971, Cold War in Afghanistan in 1980’s, poor law and order situation in Iraq, and the availability of safe havens in Pakistan. The Interior Ministry said that the friendly policies and international obligations of Pakistan to accommodate Afghan refugees was another reason for illegal immigrants in the country.
News of Taliban Office Sparks Flurry of Speculation
Islamabad, January 06, 2012, At left, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Dec. 2011; Taliban fighters near Kabul, 1996 (file image).
The New Year in war-ravaged Afghanistan has dawned with hopes the country can finally move towards a peace process bringing the bloody conflict there to an end.
For the first time since the U.S.-led coalition invaded the country ten years ago, the Taliban this week disclosed they are engaged in talks with U.S. officials and have reached a preliminary deal to set up a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar. In addition, the insurgent group says it has also asked for the release of its prisoners being held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has announced that his country agrees with the plan to open a Taliban office in Qatar, and with Washington’s efforts to talk with the insurgent group, as a way to prevent further conflict and the deaths of Afghan civilians.
Neighboring Pakistan has reacted cautiously, declining to say whether it is involved in the peace process. However, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reiterated her country's support for any Afghan-led effort aimed at political reconciliation in the war-torn country.
"The stability of the region is one of Pakistan’s core national interests because Pakistan has suffered for too long because of lack of stability in the region," she said. "So any move, any effort towards reconciliation, towards national stability in Afghanistan, has a direct positive effect on Pakistan, so Pakistan would obviously be supportive of that."
According to Kabul-based analyst Omar Sharifi, it would be premature to tie too many hopes to the Taliban’s announcement that it has agreed to open a political office, but that there are reasons behind President Karzai's public support for the move.
"They welcomed the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar, but the logic behind this, of course, is [that] they would love to see a kind of contact address for the Taliban," he said. "More importantly, they would very much like to see the exclusive Pakistani monopoly over the Taliban [be] somehow eased or loosened."
Pakistan’s military is also accused of maintaining close ties with the anti-U.S. Haqqani network of Afghan insurgents, based in the Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan. But Pakistani observers like Rustam Shah Mohmand, former ambassador to Afghanistan, insist that any Afghan peace arrangement not involving Islamabad would be difficult to implement.
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World cannot survive 24h without Persian Gulf oil
Jan 6, 2012
Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) naval forces says the world cannot last 24 hours without Persian Gulf oil, stressing that Tehran is fully capable of closing the Strait of Hormuz.
“Today, out of the 1,300 billion barrels of oil in the world, 800 billion barrels are in the Persian Gulf,” said Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said on Friday, adding that it is impossible to imagine a world without the energy produced in the Persian Gulf region.
The Strait of Hormuz lies between Iran and Oman and is a narrow shipping channel that leads in and out of the Persian Gulf.
Statistic-wise, the strait is one of the world's most important waterways, with a daily flow of about 15 million barrels of oil, which accounts for 90 percent of Persian Gulf exports and 40 percent of global consumption.
Describing Iran as an absolute regional power, Fadavi said the Islamic Republic has had “repeated experiences” in closing the Hormuz Strait, especially during the Iraqi imposed war in the 1980s.
The IRGC navy commander further pointed to US failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and said the US is incapable of maintaining its own security let alone that of the Persian Gulf.
Iran's First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi warned on December 27 that imposing sanctions against the country's energy sector will prompt Tehran to prevent oil cargoes from passing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
“If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil, not even a drop of oil will be allowed through the Strait of Hormuz,” he warned.
Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari also said on December 28 that Iran has complete command over the strategic waterway and that “closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces.”
The Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet responded by saying it would not “tolerate” any disruption in the Strait of Hormuz.
"[The fleet] maintains a robust presence in the region to deter or counter destabilizing activities," a spokesperson for the fleet said.
The US, Israel, and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program and have used this pretext to push for the imposition of sanctions as well as to call for an attack on the country.
Tehran, however, refutes such allegations as “baseless” and maintains that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA it has every right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Iranian officials have also promised a crushing response to any military strike against the country, warning that any such measure could result in a war that would spread beyond the Middle East.
Serbia Debate Call For World Bosniak Congress
By Ivana Jovanovic, SETimes
January 6, 2012, The varied reactions in Serbia continue after the country’s Islamic Community chief mufti Muamer Zukorlic announced that a unique global organisation — World Bosniak Congress (WBC) — will seek to unite all Bosniaks and a UN seat.
“In the forthcoming months, a World Bosniak Congress will be formed as an umbrella organisation of all Bosniaks in the world, which will … seek representation at the UN based on the Jewish World Congress model,” Zukorlic said.
He argued that the Jewish people had obtained their position in the UN because they suffered a Holocaust; as the Bosniaks, having suffered genocide themselves, have earned a right to their own place in the world organisation.
In an attempt to put the announcement in context, Bosniak National Council President Samir Tandir told SETimes: “Given that [a Bosniak] nation state does not exist and that Bosniaks have been living autochthonous in the Sandzak area in Serbia and Montenegro but are discriminated against and endangered, and given that Bosnia and Herzegovina is not able to help them, additional protection mechanisms are needed. One of them is the said World Bosniak Congress.”
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Hamas Denies Refusing Fatah Officials Entry To Gaza
Written by: Maan
January 7, 2012
Hamas on Friday denied allegations that its security forces refused to allow a Fatah delegation to enter Gaza.
Ismail Jaber, a former security chief and aide to President Mahmoud Abbas, told Ma’an that he and three other Fatah leaders were denied entry to Gaza by Hamas border guards at the Erez crossing on Friday afternoon.
Hamas border guards took the officials’ ID cards and refused to return them, and the group was made to wait for 45 minutes before giving up and returning to the West Bank, Jaber said.
The Interior Ministry in Gaza said in a statement that the Fatah delegation only waited for 10 minutes at the border, and refused to wait any longer for border guards to call their supervisors to arrange the group’s entry.
One member of the group, Sakher Bseso, “cursed God” and insulted the officers, the ministry added.
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Jakarta: Escapes, recaptures, and Aceh Chief Inspector's justification for immersing detainees' heads underwater
January 6, 2012,
The Jakarta Globe has published a number of follow-up stories on the detainment of the Aceh punks, including an account of ongoing defiance, at least verbally, from some of the detainees. They've also published an eye witness account from a concert goer who managed to evade the police sweeps, detailing alleged violence by the police against the punks. That particular piece also includes some telling comments from Aceh Police Chief Inspector Gen. Iskandar Hasan, on the question of immersing the heads of detainees in a pond.
"I told them it's a tradition. When I was still in the police academy, we were all pushed and plunged into a lake."
Another account has also emerged of two of the 'Aceh 64' escaping the re-education camp, only to be re-captured later after they returned to Taman Budaya, the city they were seized from .
Aceh officials, including Governor and Police Chief, offer contradictory accounts
Perhaps the most interesting development in recent weeks is the emerging gulf between particular official accounts of the detainment. The Jakarta Globe reported on the 21st of December that Banda Aceh Police Chief Armensyah Thay had justified the detainment by claiming that punk is at odds with the teachings of Islam. Armensyah is also reported to have told them that raids aimed at targeting and suppressing the growth of the local punk community will continue, at the request of the local administration, again, because of the belief that punk is at odds with Islam. When asked about the potential longevity of these efforts he was quoted as follows:
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New Year’s tradition fading in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan
By T. Umaraliev - Special to The Washington Times
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan January 7, 2012— A new museum exhibit of ornaments is providing a glimpse of a fading tradition in this Central Asian nation — the celebration of the new year.
The glass baubles, tin animals and smiling snowmen on display at the State Historical Museum in Bishkek date from the 1940s to the early 1990s, and were donated by ordinary citizens. The decorations are for New Year‘s, a holiday introduced to Central Asia during the Soviet era.
Curators at the State History Museum, formerly the Lenin Museum, conceived the exhibit as a reminder of how far the New Year’s tradition dates back in Kyrgyzstan.
Since Kyrgyzstan gained its independence in 1991, the once eagerly anticipated holiday season — New Year’s is celebrated on Jan. 1 and Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7 — is rapidly going out of fashion, particularly in rural areas and the south of this mostly Muslim country.
Kadyr Malikov, a professor of religious studies at Religion, Law and Politics, an independent research center in Bishkek, says that most Kyrgyz who have abandoned New Year’s celebrations are religiously motivated.
“The ideological vacuum, once filled with the Soviet dogma, is now being filled with new ideas and values, most of which have nationalistic roots,” Mr. Malikov says. “Countries of Central Asia, and Kyrgyzstan is not an exception, are in search of national identity.
“Therefore, Sunni Islam, which is traditionally a national religion, is becoming popular … and New Year’s is not an Islamic holiday.”
More than 80 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s population of identify themselves as Muslim, but during Soviet times, religion was largely suppressed.
Now it is seeing a revival. In the south, women wearing headscarves and men with long beards are common sights, religious books are sold on the streets, and mosques are built to cater the growing throngs attending Friday prayers.
Duyshonbek Abdyldaev, director of Sense, Soul and Imaan, an Islamic group in Bishkek, lived most of his life under Soviet rule. He considers New Year un-Islamic and a destructive force on society.
“First of all, it is not right from the religious perspective,” Mr. Abdyldaev says. “Neither the holy Koran, nor the hadiths [the sayings and actions of the Prophet Mohammed] tells of holidays such as New Year‘s. We are Muslims, and therefore I support those who no longer celebrate this event.”
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