New Age Islam News Bureau
1 Apr 2012
• French Ban on Islamic Veil Turns out to be Toothless
• Israel cuts ties with UN Human Rights Council
• Timbuktu bombarded as Mali constitution 'restored'
• Workplace discrimination claims from Muslims spike in York County
• Trafficking, violence, women in peace talks top agenda in 3rd National Conference of Muslim Women Peace Advocates
• Pakistan to protect Hindu temples
• Islamist Group Breaks Pledge to Stay Out of Race in Egypt
• Hizbul Mujahideen chief says his men not in Kashmir Valley
• Pakistan, China vow to stand with each other ‘in all circumstances’
• Libya, Syria turmoil posing problems for economy, Indian FM
• Indian Finance Minister seeks Pakistan’s help in promoting peace
'• Dozens killed' in clashes in Libyan town of Sabha
• Mumbai terror attack survivor to be flag bearer at London 2012 Olympics
• Fai tries to implicate Indian, US officials
• ‘Pakistan should be embarrassed over acid attack victim’s suicide’
• Pakistan SC directs NADRA to address problems faced by Hindu women
• Pakistan to purchase electricity from Iran: Gilani
• Pakistani panel wants no foreign military bases
• Time running out for diplomacy, Hillary warns Iran
• Istanbul summit tries to increase pressure on Syria
• Yemen clashes 'leave dozens dead' in south
• Somali Islamists 'lose Deynile airport' near Mogadishu
• Life returns to South Waziristan, Pakistan
• Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari likely to visit Ajmer on April 8
• Pakistan and India visa dilemma
• Pakistani Deputy Attorney General takes away Badal's Shoes as Gift
• Video recording not acceptable evidence of nikah: Deoband
Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: French Ban on Islamic Veil Turns out to be Toothless
MUZAFFARNAGAR: Apr 1, 2012, Leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has disapproved a proposed love marriage between a Muslim boy and a non-Muslim girl as per Hindu tradition, saying Islam does not allow such a union without conversion.
Such nikah before conversion would be considered illegal under the Shariat law, Deoband said in response to the query of a Muslim man whose brother fell in love with a non-Muslim girl and was going to marry her as per Hindu tradition.
The girl and her family members were ready for the union on the condition that the marriage should be performed as per Hindu tradition.
Noting that Islam prohibits such marriages, Deoband ruled that a non-Muslim marriage would be illegal under the Shariat law. If girl converts to Islam on her own without any pressure, nikah would be justified, it said.
The fatwa was issued in the wake of a query from a Muslim man when his brother fell in love with a non-Muslim girl.
French Ban on Islamic Veil Turns out to be Toothless
Andrew Chung, Staff Reporter
VÉNISSIEUX, FRANCE, Mar 31 2012—It’s an unusually warm, spring morning in Venissieux, a downtrodden suburb of Lyon, and Fadela, 23, covered from head to toe in a black niqab, her black gloves adorned with elegant flower stitching, is walking with her friend Najet to the discount market called Ed.
A police car passes but does not stop. Fadela says that’s not unusual. “This is a sensitive neighbourhood,” she surmised. “It’d be a problem for the police.”
In fact, Fadela, who agreed to be interviewed on condition her real name not be used, said police have never told her to uncover her face.
Nearly one year after France implemented its controversial ban on wearing the Islamic veil— a niqab or burka — in public, a surprising fact has emerged. It appears that few women have actually removed their veils to obey the law.
As the presidential election in France approaches, and Islam and Muslim integration are top of mind, critics say the law was an exercise in pleasing the electorate, in “marketing,” while further stigmatizing Muslims.
It didn’t take a visitor to the Les Minguettes neighbourhood of Vénissieux long to observe the widespread non-compliance.
Upon emerging from the subway at Vénissieux station, a niqab-wearing woman walked in from the opposite direction, accompanied by a man. On the tram platform outside, two niqab-wearers waited, chatting. And in Les Minguettes, they were not the norm, but neither were they hard to find.
“Not much has changed, we still see the burka. There are not more, there are not less,” one high-level municipal government official in the area told the Star.
Vénissieux is the place where the idea for the law first originated, with André Gérin, then the Communist mayor and soon-to-be-retired National Assembly member.
Gérin disputed French government numbers that 2,000 women in the country wore niqabs. With so many in his community alone, he thought there were many more. He saw Islamic extremism at work and thought women’s rights were at risk.
Today, Gérin says he has “no idea” how many women have chosen to take off their veils as a result of the law. He compares those who don’t to people who walk on the grass in parks when it’s prohibited.
“It’s a symbolic law,” he said in an interview. “What’s important for me is it’s a law of liberation for women.”
He called niqabs the “tip of the iceberg” of Islamic extremism. Before the law went into effect on April 11, 2011, aggressive men were yelling at government clerks who demanded a woman identify herself, he said. Women were refusing to be examined by male doctors.
Behind the veil, he said, there are often “young women living a life of hell.” All of which, he added, is “in contradiction with our culture.”
According to numbers compiled by the union of police chiefs, the SCPN, there have been 335 people taken in for questioning by the police. About 300 have been issued fines, which top out at 150 euros (about $200).
“It means they are refusing to remove the veil,” said Emmanuel Roux, the union’s deputy secretary general. “It’s false to say the law has resolved the problem. The proof is that we have more than 300 people in contact with the police.”
For Roux, “This is not a police problem. We are the end of the law, on the ground, in contact with the people. But this is a problem of integration, of pedagogy, sociology, and acculturation.”
“It means there is a law but no one applies it,” said the government official in Les Minguettes. The official, who asked not to be named due to the subject’s sensitivity, said the law was discriminatory because it limited a person’s individual freedoms in public.
Roux acknowledged police have discretion as to how they apply it but disagreed police are not applying the law.
Given the controversial and political nature of the law, however, it can be a touchy affair for police. Last December in Evry, a town south of Paris, two officers were slightly injured when a group of young men intervened as they tried to fine a woman in a niqab.
Les Minguettes is not just ground zero for the niqab debate in France, it’s also infamous in France as the place where the first “banlieue” riots broke out in the 1980s. Banlieues are synonymous with the poor suburbs tilted heavy with what are called as people of “immigrant extraction.”
In France, the law prohibits statistics based on race, and so while nobody knows what percentage of the population is of immigrant extraction, some say it’s up to 80 per cent.
Rachid Nekkaz has had families from all over France contact him to pay their fines. And the Paris developer, businessman and political provocateur with Algerian roots promised to do so. He’s also helping two French women appeal their convictions. They will go as high as the European Court of Human Rights if need be, he vowed.
It’s not that he’s pro-niqab. In fact, Nekkaz agrees it should be restricted in spaces such as banks and schools where identification is a security issue. “But in public,” he maintained, “people should be able to dress as they want.”
Most of the women who wear niqabs are not forced to do so by their husbands, he claims. “Seventy-eight per cent are single or divorced,” he said.
The law also stipulates a heavy fine, even jail time, for a man who forces his wife or a minor, and none have been prosecuted thus far, he notes. “The law is to please the French people, and to make Muslims afraid.”
Nekkaz said he knows of some women who have decided to remove the veil, but they are few.
In Les Minguettes, one woman says she knows of several others who have left France for their home countries because of the law.
For Fadela, “it’s an obligation,” in Islam. “If she doesn’t wear it, it’s like she is naked,” her friend Najet, 22, interjected. Najet doesn’t wear a niqab, but she would if her parents let her. “It is my dream,” she declared.
Fadela says that in the past, she used to party and wear miniskirts. But now she is “at peace.” And in her neighbourhood, she’s never bothered by authorities.
However, just a few days ago she was ordered to remove her veil at Lyon’s main airport, and when she put it back on afterwards, she was “chased and screamed at” by personnel there. They recorded her name and let her go.
“I felt heartsick,” Fadela said. “But this is France. It’s like that.”
Israel cuts ties with UN Human Rights Council
28 March 2012
Israel has severed ties with the UN Human Rights Council after the committee launched an international investigation into Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tel Aviv would prevent the council’s fact-finding teams from entering the West Bank to investigate settlement construction.
“We are not working with them anymore,” Palmor said. “We had been participating in meetings, discussions, arranging visits to Israel. All that is over.”
On Thursday, the council adopted a resolution which condemns Israel’s announcements of new settlement homes, demands a reversal of the settlement policy and orders a probe into how Israeli settlements are infringing upon the rights of Palestinians.
The resolution was adopted by 36 votes in favor and 10 abstentions. The United States was the only member that voted against it, which shows its isolation in the United Nations.
Israeli leaders condemned the UN body, saying it was hypocritical and biased toward Israel.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States had “vigorously opposed the resolution” on the settlements as counterproductive.
“It’s just going to distract efforts to help parties resolve the issue directly, which is what has to happen here, and it takes up time and limited resources that the council ought to be spending on other issues,” she said.
Nearly 500,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlement units built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Timbuktu bombarded as Mali constitution 'restored'
Bamako, April 01, 2012 Mali's coup leader declared the constitution 'restored' Sunday after Tuareg and Islamist fighters attacked the historic desert town of Timbuktu in a bid to consolidate their grip on the country's vast north.
Junta chief Captain Amadou Sanogo announced the reinstatement of state
institutions and promised broad consultation on a political transition in a bid to solve the "multi-dimensional crisis" facing the country.
Earlier, residents of the fabled city synonymous with remoteness told AFP they heard heavy weaponry blasting Timbuktu's military base, but the army appeared to have deserted the encampment.
"We can currently hear heavy weapons being fired at the empty military base in Timbuktu," a nurse told AFP by phone. At least one other resident provided similar testimony.
Witnesses said some Malian troops had abandoned their posts and dumped their uniforms. Arab militiamen opposing the rebels, however, appeared ready to defend the city and took up defensive positions.
Timbuktu is the last major town in Mali's north not to have fallen into the hands of Tuareg rebels and Islamist fighters. The town of about 50,000 residents is a United Nation's world heritage site, nicknamed the "pearl of the desert".
Mali's political situation is growing increasingly chaotic after the March 22 coup by disgruntled soldiers in the capital Bamako.
Coup leaders said they seized power because the government had not done enough to stem the Tuareg rebellion, rekindled in January.
Sanogo has said the army would no longer resist rebels in Gao, about 200 miles west of Timbuktu, where rebels seized control Saturday.
"Mali forces have decided not to prolong the fighting" around Gao because of the civilian population, Sanogo said. "A more viable security plan will be put in place so that the whole territory of Mali will not be violated."
It is possible troops in Timbuktu took the same tack and abandoned the town.
Gao, which served as army headquarters for the entire northern region, has fallen to the rebels, an aide to the regional governor told AFP by telephone.
Tuareg rebels confirmed they had taken control of Gao and said they had also surrounded Timbuktu.
"The (Tuareg) MNLA (Azawad National Liberation Movement) has just ended Mali's occupation of the region of Gao by seizing and taking control of (Gao) this Saturday," it said in a statement posted on its website.
MNLA forces were "encircling the city of Timbuktu to dislodge Mali's remaining political and military administration," the statement read.
Gao was rocked by heavy gunfire Saturday, though it was not known how many people were killed or injured in the fighting.
The MNLA has relaunched a decades-old fight for the independence of what the Tuareg consider their homeland in the vast desert region.
It has been joined by the Islamist Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith, in Arabic) which is headed by renowned Tuareg rebel Iyad Ag Ghaly and has ties to Al-Qaeda's north Africa branch, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The MNLA's capabilities were boosted when fighters brought weapons into Mali from neighbouring Libya after the fall of Moamer Kadhafi.
The assault on Gao came less than 24 hours after the strategic town of Kidal, to the north, fell into rebel hands following an attack reportedly led by the MNLA and another Islamist group.
With Mali threatening to unravel, the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara, said the regional bloc had put 2,000 troops "on alert", ready to intervene if necessary.
Following the coup, the European Union, the United States and other Western powers suspended hundreds of millions of dollars of support for landlocked Mali -- except for emergency aid to drought-hit regions.
Washington, which has warned the region was becoming a new hub for Al-Qaeda, on Friday supported ECOWAS's efforts to force the junta to step down, but said it was concerned with the latest rebel advances.
The Tuareg offensive has caused more than 200,000 people to flee their homes in the remote region that is also a hub for arms and drug trafficking.
Workplace discrimination claims from Muslims spike in York County
By JOHN HILTON
Daily Record/Sunday News
Religious discrimination complaints have risen sharply in York County over the past year. All of them have come from Muslims.
York, PA 03/31/2012 ,- At his employment law firm, Jeremy Donham has met Muslims who claimed workplace discrimination but chose not to pursue a legal case out of fear.
In fact, he said, a Muslim walked into Allie & Donham's office in Springettsbury Township last week to talk about a potential case of religious discrimination. Donham, who once filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against his employer in West Virginia, said he understands why such complaints are rising -- both nationally and locally.
Data from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission shows 12 complaints alleging workplace religious discrimination in York County between July and February, and all 12 complaints were made by Muslims, said Shannon Powers, spokeswoman for the commission.
The commission received 28 complaints of workplace religious discrimination over the previous 10 years in York County, Powers said, never with more than two complaints by Muslims in a given year.
Attempts to identify and interview any of the 12 complainants were unsuccessful.
Some observers trace prejudiced opinions toward Muslims to 9/11. Others blame the Republican presidential primary for ramping up the rhetoric.
"There's a general fear of the Muslim population, and I think it's an unwarranted fear," Donham said, "because I think there's a lot of good folks who are of the Muslim faith who are not radical."
During a June appearance on the Glenn Beck show, then-presidential candidate Herman Cain said he would make Muslims take a loyalty oath before hiring them for his cabinet.
Pressed by Beck on whether Mormons or Catholics would be required to make a similar pledge, Cain said they would not.
"I wouldn't because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions," said Cain, who dropped out of the race in December.
For Full Report:
Trafficking, violence, women in peace talks top agenda in 3rd National Conference of Muslim Women Peace Advocates
ZAMBOANGA CITY , April 1, 2012— Gender experts from Aceh. and Hiroshima University, Japan will speak before around 150 delegates comprised of Aleemat (Muslim women religious scholars), Asatidz (Muslim women religious teachers) and Muslim women civil society leaders from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi who will gather in the 3rd National Conference of Muslim Women Peace Advocates at Lantaka Hotel in Zamboanga City on March 31-April 3, 2012.
Anchored on the theme “Empowered Women of Faith, Rebuilding Peace,” the Conference will strengthen the role of the national network of aleemat and women peace advocates.
On April 1, DSWD Undersecretary Parisha Taradji will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Asna Husin, Professor of the Ar-Raniry State Institute for Islamic Studies, Darussalam Banda Aceh, Indonesia, will share her expertise and experiences on Women and Islamic Peace Education. Dr. Hussin initiated the internationally recognized Islamic Peace Education program of Aceh. Professor Megumi Kagawa Sakamoto of Hiroshima University will talk about Japanese perspectives on how to harness resilience, self-reliant leadership, and collective empowerment to promote gender equality, social change and progress.
The gathering is being organized by the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) and the Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc. (MKFI) which believe that women are significant stakeholders and should therefore be key players and partners in promoting economic development and a sustained culture of peace.
PCID President Amina Rasul said, “Over the years, the effects of conflict in Mindanao have affected hundreds of thousands of individuals, most of them women and children. Thus, women have to be involved in peace building as well as in development.”
For the past decade, PCID and the Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc. (MKFI) have been conducting workshops, focus group discussions and training sessions with Muslim women, with the purpose of developing them as peace advocates and agents of change.
In 2009, the PCID and MKFI organized the first training program specifically designed for the Aleemat and Muslim women civil society leaders on conflict prevention, peacemaking, and civic education while building their network, supported by the One Woman Initiative (OWI). OWI was inspired by the late Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The organizers of OWI believed that if one woman like the late Benazir could make a difference, imagine if many women could be supported to make a difference in their communities.
With the support of the Japan Foundation and other partners, the PCID and MKFI hosted the First National Conference of Women Peace Advocates in January 2010, whose theme was Noorus Salam: Women of Faith, Light of Peace, which strengthened their network and renewed their commitment to actively participate in the fields of peace advocacy and in nation building.
The 2nd national conference in February 2011 provided the forum for the Noorus Salam members to engage senior government officials, development partners and each other on the Mindanao peace process, human rights and the elimination of all forms of violence against women, human security, health, democratic reforms and peace education.
Japan Foundation, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), the Asia Pacific Centre on the Responsibility to Protect (APCR2P), and the USAID’s Sustainable Health Improvements through Empowerment and Local Development (SHIELD) supported the said gathering.
For Full Report:
Pakistan to protect Hindu temples
Islamabad: April 01, 2012, Pakistan is committed to protecting shrines belonging to minorities, a minister said on Sunday, following a protest by Hindus over illegal occupation of a temple in Punjab.
Minister-in-charge for National Harmony Paul Bhatti said all steps were being taken to maintain Hindu temples, Online news agency reported.
More than 30 Hindus from Zafarwal in Narowal district protested in front of the National Press Club here to seek an end to the occupation of the temple.
Bhatti said no one should be allowed to occupy places of worship of the minorities, and ordered authorities to resolve the issue at the earliest.
"Inter-faith harmony can only be achieved through inter-faith relationship. We should have interactions to understand each other's point of views," Bhatti said.
Islamist Group Breaks Pledge to Stay Out of Race in Egypt
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
CAIRO, March 31, 2012— The Muslim Brotherhood nominated its chief strategist and financier Khairat el-Shater on Saturday as its candidate to become Egypt’s first president since Hosni Mubarak, breaking a pledge not to seek the top office and a monopoly on power.
Mr. Shater, 62, a millionaire business tycoon, was a political prisoner until just a year ago. Because of the Brotherhood’s unrivaled grass-roots organization and popular appeal, he is now a presidential front-runner.
He is being nominated at a moment of escalating tension between the Brotherhood and Egypt’s military rulers. The Brotherhood, an Islamist group outlawed under Mr. Mubarak, already dominates the Parliament and the assembly writing a new Constitution. It is now demanding to replace the military-led cabinet and is tussling with the military council over questions like the degree of civilian oversight of the military under the new charter.
His candidacy is likely to unnerve the West and has already outraged Egyptian liberals, who wonder what other pledges of moderation the Brotherhood may abandon.
The Brotherhood’s entry into the race also turns the election into a debate over the future of the Islamist political movement that is sure to resonate in the region. Mr. Shater faces Islamist rivals to his left and right — one a more liberal former Brotherhood leader, the other an ultraconservative Salafist. Indeed, the Brotherhood may have entered the race in part because a strong showing by either rival could undercut the group’s authority as the predominant voice of Islam in Egyptian politics.
Mr. Shater is considered a conservative but a pragmatist. He has argued that Islam demands tolerance and democracy, has championed free trade and open markets and has guided the Brotherhood through its first public commitment to uphold the peace agreement with Israel.
But he also argues for an explicitly Islamic government. And while some in the group have argued that it should tolerate diverse approaches to Islamist politics from its own members, he has helped enforce the authority of the Brotherhood’s executive committee over its members, stirring allegations from liberals that it is undemocratic.
For Full Report:
Hizbul Mujahideen chief says his men not in Kashmir Valley
Omer Farooq Khan, TNN
MUZAFFARABAD (POK): Apr 1, 2012,, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahudin has confirmed the widely-believed perception that the terrorist outfit had tactically withdrawn its cadres to border areas after massive street protests that rocked the Valley between 2008 and 2010 .
"When people came out on streets, India needed an excuse to crush them and turn Kashmir into a concentration camp. We realized that (it was the) time to change our strategy...knowing India would crush the unarmed civilians if they saw even two armed militants among the demonstrators," he told TOI in an exclusive interview on Friday at his Muzaffarabad home, where he has lived under Pakistani protection since he fled Kashmir after unsuccessfully contesting the infamous 1987 elections that triggered the insurgency. "The United Jihad Council (PoK-based terror conglomerate) decided to shift militancy towards border areas," he said.
He articulated another policy shift, saying Kashmir should be granted independence if they favoured it over Pakistani domination. This view dovetails with Hizbul rival JKLF's position on the issue. The two outfits were involved in a bloody confrontation over their diametrically opposite views on the issue.
Don't you think days of jihad are over in Kashmir?
Not at all. We feel we are getting more relevant. People turn to guns when all other options - diplomatic, moral and political - become ineffective.
What was the impact of 9/11 on Kashmir? When the US declared the so-called war on terror, Pervez Musharraf was trapped. He also retreated on Kashmir. Pakistan is now bearing the brunt of Musharraf's pro-US polices.
What kind of support do you get from Pakistan's establishment?
Diplomatic, moral and political.
But many say that it's financial and strategic?
It's malicious propaganda. We generate our finances ourselves.
How would you define good things about India?
India is not a country, but a subcontinent. It's a huge multi-lingual and multi-religious country. If India has remained intact despite its social and cultural diversity, it is only due to its leadership. When the interest of the country is at stake, India's leaders forget their personal and party interests and become one.
Are you satisfied with the role of Muslim countries on the Kashmir issue?
There is no doubt about their laziness and cowardliness. Their support is limited to just lip service.
Do you have any reservations against Pakistan's MFN status to India?
The Kashmiri leadership has expressed its reservations. The Pakistan PM says that it is only for trade. But we believe it is only for strengthening the Indian economy. India is eyeing access to markets in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
What about the newly created Pakistani province of Gilgit-Baltistan?
We demand the pre-1947 boundaries for Kashmir. Gilgit-Baltistan and Balakot were parts of Kashmir.
Will Pakistan agree?
It will have to honor the decision of Kashmiris.
Why did you opt for militancy after fighting polls?
I took part in the 1987 polls from Srinagar against Ghulam Mohiudin Shah, a close relative of Farooq Abdullah. Shah won through massive rigging. When I protested, I was arrested. That convinced me and my supporters that enslaved people don't have any right to vote and compelled us to pick up guns for our rights.
When did you last meet your family?
I met my family twice between 1991 and 1994.
Pakistan, China vow to stand with each other ‘in all circumstances’
By: APP, April 01, 2012,
Pakistan and China on Sunday agreed to stand with each other ‘in all circumstances’ and vowed to uphold their sovereignty and territorial integrity at all costs. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and China’s Executive Vice Premier, Li Keqiang expressed these views as they met on the sidelines of Boao Forum here. “China’s friend is our friend, and China’s enemy is ours,” Prime Minister Gilani assured the Chinese leader, in a meeting held at the State Guest House here. Gilani said Pakistan considers China’s security as its own security and supports China’s position on Taiwan, Tibet and Xinqiang. China’s Executive Vice Premier categorically said that China would support Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in every situation.
Libya, Syria turmoil posing problems for economy, Indian FM
India is concerned about the political turmoil in Libya and Syria as unstable situations in there are posing serious problems for the Indian economy, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday.
KOLKATA:Apr 1, 2012, India is concerned about the political turmoil in Libya and Syria as unstable situations in there are posing serious problems for the Indian economy, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday.
"We are concerned about what is happening in Libya and Syria," Mukherjee said at a programme organised by industry body Assocham.
He said following the crisis in the two countries, India's quantum of subsidy on fertilizers had increased significantly as the country had to import phosphatic (P) and potassic (K) fertilizers entirely.
Indian Finance Minister seeks Pakistan’s help in promoting peace
SAMAAN LATEEF |
CHANDIGARH, 30 MARCH 2012, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday sought cooperation of Pakistan for promoting peace in the region and removing security aberrations present around the axis of Indian Ocean.
“Sea axis is shadowed with security aberrations and all Central and South Asian countries are playing important role in forging its security,” Mukherjee said while addressing an international conference “Cooperative Development, Peace and Security in South and Central Asia” attended by representatives of nine countries of Central and South Asia.
He said pirates were the cause of concern and India would play important role to transcend the barriers created by them into secure routes.
Speaking on the foreign policy of India, he said, “We don’t have territorial aspirations or commercial exploitation in our policy. Stable Pakistan is in the interest of India.”
While welcoming the Most Favoured Nation status granted to India by Pakistan, he said, “Our neighbour is troubled with many issues. We have strong interest in restoration of peace in Pakistan,” he said.
Mukherjee emphasised on the promotion of connectivity among the nations for development while citing several projects India has taken in Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Emphasising on physical connectivity among the neighbouring nations, he said, education, technology, open and free society, and establishment of institutions were important for development.
“India seeks cooperation from the countries. At the same time we will not allow domination to ourselves,” he said, adding, India seeks reinforcement of its own security but not to threaten others.
Mukherjee also quoted the message of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before the representatives. “At a time when world is witnessing huge development both political and socio-economic, it is important for our country to address the common challenges,” he said.
Pranab Mukherjee advocated the opening of Silk route and appealed all the concerned countries to cooperate for making it a viable route for trade.
'Dozens killed' in clashes in Libyan town of Sabha
29 March 2012
At least 70 people have reportedly been killed in fighting between militias around the Libyan town of Sabha.
Former rebels and ethnic Toubou gunmen began clashing after the killing of a militiaman on Sunday.
A ceasefire was agreed on Wednesday, but reports of fresh fighting emerged later in the day.
Hundreds of government troops have been sent to the region and mediation efforts are underway, according to government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa.
He said more than 70 people had been killed and more than 150 wounded since Monday.
Abdelmajid Seif al-Nasser, a local official who said he had quit his post on the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) in protest at the violence, told AFP news agency: "There are still clashes [in Sabha] but not as intense.
"The national army and a committee of elders have entered the town in a bid to secure a truce."
The NTC is facing stern tests of its authority from local militias in different parts of the country.
The reported casualty figures suggest intense fighting with the forces of Libya's new government, but they are impossible to verify, reports the BBC's Kevin Connolly in Tripoli.
Some African tribes in southern Libya, such as the Toubou, feel they are not treated as equals by Arabs from the coastal cities of the north who tend to dominate the country's government and security forces, says our correspondent.
Other Libyans accuse the Toubou of involvement in the smuggling of illegal migrants trying to get to Europe through via Libyan ports, he adds.
Mumbai terror attack survivor to be flag bearer at London 2012 Olympics
NAOMI CANTON, TOI Crest, Apr 1, 2012
A British Asian man who narrowly escaped death and feared he may never walk again after being shot at in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks has been selected as a flag bearer at the London 2012 Olympics. Chartered surveyor Harnish Patel was fired at by gunmen while dining at Leopold Cafe on that horrific night of 2008 when Pakistani terrorists besieged the city. With bullet wounds to his legs and chest and in chronic pain, Patel was operated on at a Mumbai hospital before being airlifted back to the UK.
Patel, a British Asian of East African Indian heritage who lives in Hampshire, will now be one of 176 members of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF) to raise flags at the Team Welcome and Victory ceremonies of the London 2012 Games this summer.
Patel joined HMS King Alfred, Portsmouth as a British Royal Navy Reservist 18 months ago. The Reservists are a part-time force deployed with the British Royal Navy in times of humanitarian crisis or conflict. They wear the same uniform and do much of the same training as the Regulars.
"I guess part of the reason I was selected was because of my recovery and how I have managed to pick things back up again and move on following the Mumbai attacks, " he explains.
As he lay in the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai, doctors could not give him any indication of how well he would recover and whether he would walk again. But through "sheer grit, determination and focus, " once back in England, he went from a walking frame to crutches, to swimming on crutches. Three months after he came off his crutches, he took part in a five mile race, followed by a duathlon. He then ran in various long-distance races in the UK culminating in his first marathon, the London Marathon in April 2010, which he finished in three hours 10 minutes, one of the best in his age group. Patel says: "After being stitched back together, I had two options, pick myself up or roll over - the latter was not an option. "
For Full Report:
Fai tries to implicate Indian, US officials
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN
WASHINGTON: Apr 1, 2012, A self-confessed and convicted agent of Pakistan and its spy agency ISI launched a courtside diatribe on the Indian "occupation" of Kashmir and tried to implicate senior Indian ministers , officials, diplomats and journalists in his illegal lobbying efforts after being sentenced to two years in prison by a US court.
Ghulam Nabi Fai, a long time Washington DC-based Kashmiri lobbyist illegally funded by Pakistan, cited various meetings with Indian and American interlocutors, including cabinet ministers in the Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh governments , and US administration officials and lawmakers, to argue that he fought for a legitimate cause which was recognized by all sides. In a closing statement in the court Fai warned of a catastrophe in Kashmir if the world did not view the dispute as he and his patrons did.
Fai's statement did not name the interlocutors involved pointing to his effort to sow mischief even as he faces time in prison. While he glossed over his confession that he was effectively a frontman for ISI and its propaganda , none of his interlocutors had any clue about his dubious connections.
"Fai spent 20 years operating the Kashmiri American Council as a front for Pakistani intelligence," said US attorney Neil MacBride after the sentencing, adding, "He lied to the justice department, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and many political leaders throughout the US as he pushed the ISI's propaganda on Kashmir."
Judge Liam O'Grady too was unsparing in his views on Fai and his phony claims. "You participated in a conspiracy to defraud the US and completely deceive the IRS," O'Grady said. "You knew Pakistan and ISI was paying you because your actions would be consistent with theirs and you would represent their voice and you were willing to do so."
There were moments of repentance from Fai following the sentencing. "Words possibly can't define the damage that I have done to my beautiful family and friends in the US and to the Kashmir cause. My sole motivation was to work for the people of Kashmir and their right of self-determination ," he said.
But his lengthy statement was full of self-serving defiance and dire predictions for Kashmir if the world did not recognize the dispute - a tale of Indian "occupation" that glossed over the use of terrorism by his Pakistani patrons that even judge O'Grady recognized . "He (Fai) clearly knew he is being paid ... Pakistan has lost wars with India on Kashmir and so Pakistan is looking for other means to achieve its objectives," the judge remarked.
‘Pakistan should be embarrassed over acid attack victim’s suicide’
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS april 1, 2012- Pakistani acid attack victim Fakhra Younus had endured more than three dozen surgeries over more than a decade to repair her severely damaged face and body when she finally decided life was no longer worth living.
The 33-year-old former dancing girl – who was allegedly attacked by her then-husband, an ex-lawmaker and son of a political powerhouse – jumped from the sixth floor of a building in Rome, where she had been living and receiving treatment.
Her March 17 suicide and the return of her body to Pakistan on Sunday reignited furore over the case, which received significant international attention at the time of the attack. Her death came less than a month after a Pakistani filmmaker won the country’s first Oscar for a documentary about acid attack victims.
Younus’s story highlights the horrible mistreatment many women face in Pakistan’s conservative, male-dominated culture and is a reminder that the country’s rich and powerful often appear to operate with impunity. Younus’s ex-husband, Bilal Khar, was eventually acquitted, but many believe he used his connections to escape the law’s grip – a common occurrence in Pakistan.
More than 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other forms of violence against women were reported in Pakistan in 2011, according to The Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights organisation. Because the group relied mostly on media reports, the figure is likely an undercount.
“The saddest part is that she realised that the system in Pakistan was never going to provide her with relief or remedy,” Nayyar Shabana Kiyani, an activist at The Aurat Foundation, said of Younus. “She was totally disappointed that there was no justice available to her.”
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Pakistan SC directs NADRA to address problems faced by Hindu women
Islamabad, april 1, 2012, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to address problems faced by Hindu women in obtaining Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs), as it has affected three million Hindus in the country.
The three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez was hearing of a human rights case about the denial of an identity card to a Hindu woman, Pram Sari Mai of Rahim Yar Khan.
Justice Chaudhary had earlier taken suo motu notice of a news report highlighting the problems faced by Mai, who was not issued a CNIC because her marriage was not registered, The Daily Times reports.
The woman had failed to get a passport to visit India even after paying a huge fee.
Pakistan to purchase electricity from Iran: Gilani
CHINA: April 01 2012, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said that Pakistan will be purchasing 1100 megawatts of electricity from Iran, DawnNews reported.
Gilani stated this while talking to the Vice President of Iran Javad Mohammadizadeh in Boao, China.
He especially mentioned that the electricity being supplied from Iran to Pakistan’s Balochistan province would prove helpful in overcoming the energy shortage.
Gilani said that Pakistan wants cordial relations with all of its neighbours and everyone should work for peace in Afghanistan.
The prime minister further re-iterated that Pakistan considers Jundullah as a terror group and also said that Pakistan is interested in buying oil, gas and electricity from Iran and further discussed the projects with Iranian vice president.
Mohammadizadeh said that Iran and Pakistan are bound by centuries old traditions and ties and that he hoped for a prosperous future of the both nations.
Pakistani panel wants no foreign military bases
Islamabad: April 01, 2012, A Pakistani parliamentary panel wants to bar foreign security contractors from working in Pakistan and is also against foreign military bases, especially American ones.
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security led by Senator Raza Rabbani on Saturday unanimously agreed on the two clauses, the Dawn reported.
The draft said any activity of foreign private security contractors should be made "transparent and subject to Pakistani law".
It includes a clause that speaks of "parliamentary approval for any use of Pakistani bases by foreign forces".
The draft said new flying rules needed to be drafted by the Defence Ministry and the Pakistan Air Force with the NATO-led forces "for areas contiguous to the border".
The Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazul-ur Rehman maintained his earlier stance of not resuming supplies through Pakistani territory to NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Time running out for diplomacy, Hillary warns Iran
RIYADH: Apr 1, 2012,, US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton made clear on Saturday that time is running out for diplomacy over Iran's nuclear programme and said talks aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon would resume in mid-April.
Her remarks followed president Barack Obama's announcement on Friday that the US was moving ahead with penalties aimed at depriving Iran of oil revenue , while also working with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states to ensure ample petroleum supplies.
Obama had on Friday vowed to forge ahead with tough sanctions on Iran, saying there was enough oil in the world market - including emergency stockpiles - to allow countries to cut Iranian imports. With speculation over a possible US or Israel military attack adding urgency to the next round of discussions in Istanbul set for April 13, Clinton said Iran's "window of opportunity" for a peaceful resolution "will not remain open forever".
She also expressed doubt about whether Iran has any intention of negotiating a solution that satisfies the US, Israel and other countries that believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran contends the programme is solely for energy and research purposes.
"We enter into talks with a sober perspective about Iran's intentions. It is incumbent upon Iran to demonstrate by its actions that it is a willing partner and take part in negotiations."
Istanbul summit tries to increase pressure on Syria
1 April 2012
Foreign ministers from more than 70 Western and Arab countries have sought to increase pressure on Syria at a key meeting in Istanbul.
The "Friends of the Syrian People" summit warned Damascus not to stall on implementing a UN-Arab peace plan and stressed support for the opposition.
However key players remained absent, including Russia, China and Iran.
Damascus dubbed the summit the "enemies of Syria" and has declared its victory over rebel fighters.
'We cannot wait'
Syria has in principle agreed to the six-point peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
However, many of those at the summit appeared sceptical it would implement it.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises."
Opening the summit, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "The Syrian regime should not be allowed at any cost to manipulate this plan to gain time."
The Istanbul meeting faces a mass of dilemmas, contradictions and complexities, with no clear way forward.
Western leaders talk of the need to step up pressure on the regime and support the opposition. But they have no intention of intervening militarily in any way, or even backing the rebels with weaponry.
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Yemen clashes 'leave dozens dead' in south
31 March 2012
Some 30 people have been killed in clashes between suspected al-Qaeda militants and the army in Yemen's south, officials say.
At least 17 soldiers and 12 suspected militants were killed.
A military official said the rebels had occupied an army post in Mallah, Lahij province, and the government responded with artillery fire and air attacks.
Islamist militants have renewed attacks on the army since President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi took office last month.
President Hadi has made fighting al-Qaeda one of his top priorities.
The militants have taken advantage of a year of anti-government protests and have been locked in deadly battles with the army for months.
One military official told AFP that in the latest fighting "two army tanks and three al-Qaeda vehicles were destroyed".
He said several soldiers had been seized by al-Qaeda.
Somali Islamists 'lose Deynile airport' near Mogadishu
30 March 2012
African Union troops in Somalia say they have seized a key militant area, including a airstrip and hospital, on the outskirts of the capital.
Islamist fighters have launched frequent attacks on Mogadishu from bases in Deynile to the west.
But an al-Shabab spokesman said it was a "failed offensive" and the group still held the area.
The group, which controls large swathes of southern Somalia, was ousted from most of Mogadishu last August.
It is also under pressure on other fronts from Kenyan and Ethiopian forces - and earlier this week lost the central town of El Bur to Ethiopian and Somali pro-government troops.
Residents in Deynile told the BBC they saw troops advancing and heard heavy gunfire early on Friday morning.
A spokesman for the AU mission in Somalia (Amisom), Paddy Ankunda, told the BBC that African Union troops, backed by interim government soldiers, were now in control of the whole area and had even extended their reach beyond the suburb, which had been the closest militant-held area to the capital.
Last October, Amisom tried to capture Deynile but were repulsed and suffered heavy casualties.
After that offensive, al-Shabab, which has since merged with al-Qaeda, displayed the bodies of 70 uniformed soldiers who they said were Amisom troops.
This was denied by the AU but observers believe it was the biggest loss of life in a single operation that they had suffered since their arrival in 2009.
BBC Somali Service analyst Mohamed Moalimu says Deynile is an important area to control as it also gives direct access to many other parts of the country, including Afgoye to the south-west and Balad to the north-west.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991 and since then has been convulsed by conflict.
The UN-backed government only controls Mogadishu.
Life returns to South Waziristan, Pakistan
By: Ashraf Javed
KOTKAI (SOUTH WAZIRISTAN), April 01, 2012 – Amid pin-drop-silence, sparrows are flying over rugged mountains, on each hilltop, right under the national flag, officers and soldiers of Pakistan Army equipped with anti-aircraft guns and sophisticated technology are on high-alert. The entire population has been disarmed, no matter willingly or unwilling.
The mobile phone service has been disrupted. Markets are demolished and no Taliban-run seminary virtually exists on the ground. Kids are going to school and elders wave their hands with sliming faces as troops move on the beautifully constructed Tank-Jandola-Makin (TJM) Road. This is Kotkai in South Waziristan, the hometown of TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, his top aide Qari Hussain, and once the stronghold of Baitullah Mehsud.
“The command and control of Taliban has been dismantled. They are cornered and their leadership has been eliminated. The government writ has been successfully established in 90 per cent of South Waziristan. We are near to (achieving) 100 per cent,” said visibly confident Major-General Asim Saleem Bajwa.
The operational commander in the insurgency-infested region, Maj-Gen Bajwa, who is leading the troops on the frontline, says hectic efforts are underway to re-establish the lost institutions and to rebuild the destroyed with the slogan of ‘build better than before.’
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Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari likely to visit Ajmer on April 8
NEW DELHI: Apr 1, 2012, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari is likely to visit Ajmer on April 8 to pay obeisance at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
The visit is intended to be purely for religious purposes. However, the government here is looking for a possibility to add some political discussions during his day-long visit.
"While as of now, the visit is purely for religious purposes, efforts are being made so that some political discussions could also take place during the day-long trip of Zardari," sources said.
The Pakistan president had last met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Russia in 2009.
The sources feel that as it happens in India-Pakistan relationship, many decisions would be taken closer to the date of Zardari's visit.
Pakistan and India visa dilemma
Islamabad 1st April, 2012, SPEAKERS at a recent panel discussion, participated by right and cultural activists and intellectuals from India and Pakistan, urged the two governments to relax visa policies for each other’s nationals (March 25).
I endorse the view of the HRCP Secretary General I.A. Rehman that it is easy to visit Western countries but very difficult to visit India by Pakistanis and vice versa.
Dr Mubashir Hasan perhaps reached the bottom of the issue saying intelligence agencies of the two countries were main hurdle in the way of a ‘relaxed visa policy’.
Indian film director Mahesh Bhatt complained that Indo-Pak talent shows were organised in Dubai. He rightly asked the participants as to why these shows could not be held in Lahore, Karachi, Mumbai, Delhi or any other city of India and Pakistan. He felt it as a matter of shame that we took our young talent to Dubai instead of our own cities.
An absolute majority in the two countries is convinced that unhindered people-to-people contacts could pave the way for normalisation of relations and resolution of the core issues between the two countries.
The two peoples, like those in the European Union, must be allowed to meet each other as freely and frequently as they wish. Today, the bitter enemies of the two World Wars are friends and have formed their ‘Union’.
Travel restrictions on the people of India and Pakistan having common culture and heritage need to be lifted. The ‘visa on arrival’ policy should be introduced.
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Pakistani Deputy Attorney General takes away Badal's Shoes as Gift
By Tajinder Singh
CHANDIGARH: April 1, 2012, The Deputy Attorney General of Pakistan, Mohammad Khursheed Khan, who had come on a visit to India, is taking with him one of the strangest gifts one could ever ask.
Badals were really surprised when Khan asked for his pair of shoes that he wanted to display in his personal museum in Peshawar province of Pakistan. Prakash Singh Badal gave him a pair of brown Timberland shoes.
Khan said that he is setting up a museum at his house in Peshawar and is planning to display used shoes of personalities who have contributed to the society. He also wanted a pair of Anna Hazare's shoes but could not get them.
He has collected 20 to 25 pairs of shoes of famous personalities of Pakistan and now he wants get shoes of Nelson Mandela, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and Sonia Gandhi, besides Anna's, in his collection.
Video recording not acceptable evidence of nikah: Deoband
MUZAFFANAGAR (UP) : Mar 31, 2012, Just days after ruling that divorce given in an inebriated condition is valid, Islamic seminary Darul-Uloom Deoband on Saturday said videography of 'nikah' cannot be produced as an evidence of marriage and would be considered illegal under the Sharia law.
In a fatwa (edict) issued in reply to a query from a Pakistani national whether video-recording of a 'nikah' can be used as a legal evidence to prove marriage, the Islamic seminary ruled against it, saying minimum two witnesses are mandatory during the ceremony.
Darul-Uloom Deoband had earlier issued a fatwa against video-recording and photography during 'nikah' and declared them against the Sharia law.
On March 13, the Islamic seminary has said in a fatwa that divorce given in an inebriated condition over phone is a valid "talaq".
The fatwa has been issued by Darul Ifta (fatwa department of the seminary) in reply to a query posted by a person, who enquired whether talaq given in an inebriated state would be considered valid.