Bangladesh's Madrasas Enrol Girls
Muslim Cartoonist Tackles Social and Political Issues
Sunni Youth Society Holds National Islamic Meet In Delhi
Italy’s Church criticises teaching Islam in govt schools
BSF-Pakistan Rangers Exchange Sweets At Border On Diwali
Saudis Allowed To Buy Firearms Openly
Saudi Arrested For Attacking Police Officer In Jeddah
Saudi Student Expelled For ‘Cheating’ In US
Iranian official blames deadly bombing on 'U.S. actions'
Taliban fighters resist Pakistani assault
Afghan election scenarios
Iran Guard Commanders Are Killed in Bombings
Pakistan Moves Farther Into Taliban Land
US decision after Afghan result
Pak War on Taliban Begins: Abbas said the “funding of militants is being done from some Gulf states.” He did not elaborate.
Somalia Says Eritrea Deserves Punishment For Chaos
Goa Blast Accused Group Claims To Spread 'Spirituality'
Lebanon Blast Destroys Discovered Israeli Spy Gear
Bhatkal Muslim Jamaat Dubai Organized Grand Eid Milan Party
Islamic Council Rejects Sharia Law Proposal
Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom
Hillary Clinton impressed by Pak Commitment to Fight Terror
US Praises Pak’s Role in War on Terror
Pentagon Ends Plans to Send Army Brigade to Iraq
Saudi Haj Tourism Loss Highest In 50 Years
Tehran Frees Iranian-Canadian Journalist
The Kabul Quagmire
Pak Army Kills 11 Militants As Its Battle Intensifies Against Taliban
Obama, Sarkozy Discuss Iran, Climate Change
Agenda Behind Terrorism
Muhammad Ali Parkinson Centre Presents Parkinson Disease 101
Muslim Group, Maigret Honoured For Helping Abuse Victims
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Pak troops begin ground offensive in Waziristan
Omer Farooq Khan, 17 October 2009
ISLAMABAD: With jetfighters pounding militant positions sporadically for several weeks, the Pakistani troops have finally started a ground offensive in the volatile tribal region of South Waziristan, said officials of the political administration for tribal areas.
“The military offensive has been launched in Mehsud areas of South Waziristan which will continue till the elimination of all terrorists from the area”, said Tariq Hayat, secretary of the tribal regions. Curfew has been imposed in the area and all communication lines have been jammed, he added.
The green signal of ground offensive was given during a high-level meeting of the country’s top political and military leadership on Friday late. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had invited leaders of all political parties for a briefing on a national security situation of the country. The leaders were briefed by the army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani. According to media reports, the army chief told politicians that situation had become so dangerous, because of terrorist activities being planned in South Waziristan, that a military operation had become unavoidable.
However, ground troops have started movement on positions of Taliban insurgents from three areas, from Razmak, the main town of North Waziristan in the north, from Jandola in the east and from Wana, the headquarter of South Waziristan in the west. Reportedly, two divisions of the army totaling 28,000 soldiers have been deployed in the region, blocking different routes into the area.
Sources in the area have said that strong Taliban resistance and fierce clashes are feared at the militant strongholds of Spinkai-Raghzai area in the east, Tiarza in the west, Makin and Nawazkot in the North and Mulaikhan Serai in the South. On Saturday, suspected Taliban militants detonated a remote-controlled bomb as the army convoy left Razmak military base, killing two soldiers and wounding four others, officials said.
However, eyewitnesses said that jetfighters had been targeting different areas in the region for the last three days. A large number of people had started shifting for safer places in towns adjoining South Waziristan. Over 8,000 families of South Waziristan moved to the north western town of Dera Ismail Khan on Friday for shelter, officials said. Being aware of the aerial strikes and ground offensive, sources said, the militants had moved to their hideouts in mountains.
Since, the government announced to launch a military operation in South Waziristan, thousands of Taliban fighters have arrived into the region from Afghanistan and other tribal areas, sources in the area told TOI.
“Around 4000 to 5000 hardcore Taliban fighters have entered into the area during the last two months.
They include Uzbeks, Chechens, Turkmens, Arabs, Afghans and fighters from other tribal areas, particularly Bajaur and Mohmand tribal regions”, said Alamgir Bhittani, an independent Waziristan based journalist. The military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas put a figure of around 10,000 foreign militants in the area on Monday.
Officials and defence analysts envisage fierce clashes and a prolong war against militants in the area.
“Unlike Swat, the military offensive in South Waziristan will not be simple. The area is a stronghold of the most ferocious fighters of various nationalities. The terrain is tough and it will be a long drawn battle”, security analyst Brigadier Mehmood Shah said.
Bangladesh's madrassas enrol girls
October 17, 2009
Bangladesh claims to possess the second largest religious school system in the world.
Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque reports from Dhaka, the capital, where over the past few years the government has been implementing a series of reforms to include more secular subjects in the curriculum and increase the numbers of female students.
The authorities have been offering incentives - providing cash to cover 80 per cent of scholastic costs - to see their reforms through.
This is proving to be hugely successful, bringing most madrassas under state supervision; religious schools that are largely funded by the government now follow both the state and religious curricula.
Zainul Abedine, the headmaster of the country's largest Islamic school, says: "In order to access government funds, many madrassas have opened their syllabus to other subjects like teaching languages such as English or Bengali. The numbers of madrassas have multiplied and so have the [numbers of] students".
With more than six million students currently enrolled, the madrassa system in Bangladesh is the second-largest in the world and is likely to get even larger as religious institutions open their doors to female students for the first time.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a senior Islamic scholar, has welcomed the move to educate girls in madrassas.
"Girls are thriving – they tend to perform better than male students," he said.
A recent study by Nazmul Chaudhury, of the World Bank, found that young people's attitudes were interlinked with that of their teachers and that the presence of female instructors leads to increased openness in both female and male students.
In stark contrast to the allegations that madrassas cultivate intolerance, this study found that in Bangladesh "modernised religious education is associated with attitudes that are conducive to democracy".
The World Bank study goes further in asserting that the country's madrassas have helped Bangladesh accomplish some of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, particularly in achieving parity between boys and girls in schools.
"Fifty per cent of the students are female and particularly in rural areas, madrassas play an important role in [providing] girls with access to education," says Robert Floyd, the World Bank's country director in Bangladesh.
Equality in madrassas
Many of the girls in madrassas go on to pursue higher education in universities
The acceptance of girls into a religious education system traditionally reserved only for boys has had a positive impact, leading to a wider understanding of the importance of female education.
Parents who may not have enrolled their daughters in secular schools are encouraged by the example set by equality in madrassas.
While many of the girls do not actively seek employment once they graduate, an increasing number go on to pursue higher education or take up careers in Islamic banking, a sector in which services are catering exclusively to women.
Nurul Islam Nahid, the education minister, believes the public perception of female education has started to change.
"In Muslim societies, when we were students of primary schools, girls going to school were very rare. Now it is a big achievement; the main challenge is that we want to bring all children to school," he said.
According to UN figures, some 48 per cent of the population is illiterate, and this - rather than militancy - is the main challenge that the country faces.
For the time being, the country's 20,000 madrassas appear to be the best equipped to fight this battle.
Muslim cartoonist tackles social and political issues
By Electa Draper, October 17, 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS — Pakistan can be difficult terrain for a female Muslim cartoonist whose alter ego, Gogi, has comments in the bubble above her head on everything from male chauvinism to suicide bombers.
Gogi is a long-lashed, short-coiffed, polka dot-wearing, pixie-faced modern Pakistani woman. She is a bit like "Blondie" and a bit like Oprah — except devoutly Muslim.
Gogi creator Nigar Nazar, the first and, as far as she knows, "only woman cartoonist of Pakistan and very likely the entire Muslim world," says Gogi represents the educated and self-confident urban Pakistani.
Gogi is mostly "on the receiving end of the joke that is life," Nazar says. She deflects the onslaught with womanly humor. Gogi is that ray of hope in a male-dominated country where she has to brave it . . . with a tough exterior while not losing her feminine grace, charm and intelligence," Nazar said.
Based in Islamabad, Nazar is lecturing at Colorado College through Oct. 24 with the Fulbright Visiting Specialist program. She hopes to help Americans deepen what she suspects is a typically one-dimensional perception of Islamic society and culture.
An exhibit of Nazar's work is at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center through Wednesday.
Nazar, whose father worked in the Foreign Service, spent several years in America as a young girl.
"It was long enough to get me hooked on comics," she said.
Gogi began as a daily comic strip in a Pakistan newspaper called The Sun in 1970, when Nazar was 22. She also animated a cartoon for Karachi Television about that time.
Nazar later freelanced for The Herald monthly before publishing books of Gogi cartoons, the first in 1975.
Gogi's style is usually gentle. She points out in one strip that the traditional headscarf, the chaddar, actually has advantages, such as hiding one from creditors.
Gogi and friend once remarked on the disparate reaction to male births and female births. When a son is born, the father passes out cigars. When a daughter is born, a father simply passes out. "That was my first meaningful cartoon," Nazar said.
Newspaper editors in Pakistan are not always receptive to Gogi as a mouthpiece for modern urban women, she said.
"I don't do political cartoons until I get very, very angry," Nazar said. "And then they don't get published. Now I can put them on my website" — gogicomics.com.
However, Nazar draws the line at parodies of Islam.
"I would never dream of doing anything disrespectful to Islam," she said. "I wouldn't make a cartoon about the prophet. I wouldn't do one of Jesus Christ,
(Joe Amon, The Denver Post) either."
On most other topics, Gogi rarely is silenced for long. Nazar's social messages on everything from sexual harassment to equal education opportunities eventually began appearing on the sides of buses in Islamabad and Lahore.
"I took it out of the newspapers and onto the streets," Nazar said. "With the illiteracy rates in Pakistan, cartoons are a good way to get messages across."
Through Gogi, Nazar has tackled topics such as AIDs, arranged marriages, domestic violence, government corruption and sectarian strife.
Nazar, along with characters other than Gogi, also has helped with health and hygiene illustrations for UNICEF. She's written and drawn children's storybooks on the environment, such as "The Garbage Monster." She's painted hospital murals and illustrated comic books to help children avoid recruitment as suicide bombers.
"There are problems," Nazar said. "It's how you approach them, in a creative way."
She recently held a workshop on cartooning at a retreat for girls in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where the Taliban had blown up some schools and threatened female students. The Taliban there surrendered to Pakistani troops in mid-September.
Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunni Youth Society holds National Islamic Meet in Delhi
By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, 17 October 2009
New Delhi: The Sunni Youth Society, a prominent youth group of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat, held its National Islamic Convention 2009 in New Delhi today with eminent personalities from the dominating section of the Muslim community attending and addressing the daylong program.
The theme of the convention was Message of Humanity. The theme was selected “not only to strengthen the roots of communal harmony in the country but also to teach our youth about the secular and rich traditions of our country,” said Sunni Youth Society. “The message of every religion is same and each religion tells to live with peace and harmony. This message which is very much relevant in this scenario where everyone is trying to prove his religion as best one, SYS (Sunni Youth Society) is rising with a slogan to spread the message of humanity,” the group said.
The program presided over by Syed Muhammad Ashraf Miyan Jilani, president, Spiritual Foundation of India, was addressed by various renowned spiritual personalities including Sheikh Aboobacker Ahmed, chief patron of Sunni Youth Society and General Secretary, Jamiat Ulema (Kerala), Syed Shah Shameemuddin Ahmed Munami, Sajjad Nasheen of Khanqah Munamiah (Patna) and Dr Abdul Haleem Azhari, national president, Muslim Students Organization.
Sheikh Aboobacker Ahmed said that Muslims are in good condition in India but what has now become disturbing for some years is that the community is being blamed for terror attacks in the country.
Hussain Ashraf Jilani (England) said that Islam has no affiliation with terrorism and extremism. Yet Islam is blamed for terrorism. So now it’s our responsibility to track down the terrorists to clean the image of the religion.
Talking to TwoCircles.net on issues concerning Muslims in India, Sheikh Aboobacker said lack of a consensus leadership is the biggest problem of the community. On the main reason for lack of unity in the Muslim society, the sheikh said there is no difference in the basics.
There are thousands of madrasas being run in the country by Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat. When Sheikh Aboobacker was asked for his stand on the proposed Central Madrasa Board, he said: If the government wants to help madrasas financially and see modern subjects like English and computer being taught at madrasas and has no intention to interfere in their religious syllabus, we can support the proposal. Otherwise, there is no way to support it.
Italy’s Church criticises teaching Islam in govt schools
Sunday, 18 Oct, 2009
ROME: The head of the Italian Catholic Church in an interview Sunday criticised a government proposal to offer courses on Islam in schools as a way of steering young Muslims away from fundamentalist teachings.
‘The hour of Catholic religion (teaching) is justified by the fact that it forms part of our history and our culture,’ Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco told Corriere della Serra newspaper.
‘Knowledge of Catholic religious facts is indispensable to the understanding of our culture. It does not seem to me that the planned hour of religion (to teach Islam) corresponds to that reasonable and recognised motivation.’ Deputy Economic Development Minister Adolfo Urso has proposed an hour of teaching on Islam in public and private schools as a possible alternative to Catholic courses.
He has said the move would be aimed at keeping young Muslim students away from fundamentalist Islamic schools.
The centre-left opposition has welcomed the proposal, as has the speaker of Italy’s lower house, Gianfranco Fini.
But an anti-immigrant party allied to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the Northern League, has called it a ‘provocation.’ Foreigners made up 4.2 per cent of students in Italian schools at the end of 2007, with some 37 per cent of them Muslim, according to figures from the education ministry.— AFP
BSF-Pakistan Rangers exchange sweets at border on Diwali
October 17, 2009
Border security officials from India and Pakistan exchanged sweets at the Attari-Wagah border joint check post on Saturday to mark the festival of Diwali.
Border Security Force (BSF) personnel on the Indian side offered sweets to the officials of Pakistan Rangers in Attri, 30 km from Amritsar.
Though ties between the two countries have been strained following the 26/11 Mumbai attack by Pakistani terrorists, border security officials had exchanged sweets during the Eid festival last month also.
Saudis allowed to buy firearms openly
Muhammad Humaidan, 18 October 2009
JEDDAH: Saudis will be able to buy handguns and other personal firearms openly for the first time after the Ministry of Interior said Saturday it will license privately owned gun shops.
Anyone over 25 with a clean criminal record and a bank guarantee of SR500,000 can apply to open a gun store, the ministry said. An official said the move is aimed in part at reining in the widespread illegal ownership of handguns and assault weapons.
Hunting and sport shooting weapons are currently sold in specialty stores and all weapons have to be licensed. The conditions for carrying firearms include a fresh antecedent’s certificate and a copy of the civil status card accompanied by three photos.
There are no statistics on how many guns exist in private hands in the Kingdom. But in the six months leading up to July this year Riyadh police said they had seized 1,091 weapons and more than 13,200 pieces of ammunition in the area.
Applicants need to apply within 60 days of the ministry’s notification and fulfill all its conditions.
Full Article at http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1§ion=0&article=127470&d=18&m=10&y=2009&pix=kingdom.jpg&category=Kingdom
Saudi arrested for attacking police officer in Jeddah
18 October 2009
JEDDAH: Police in Jeddah are holding a Saudi man in his 30’s on suspicion of attacking an officer with a knife when he entered a police station in the Al-Muntazahat neighborhood.
Official spokesman Col. Misfer Al-Juaid said initial reports indicated the man was suffering from mental problems although the motive for the attack was not clear.
He added the arrested man was related to his target. Al-Juaid said the man would be transferred to a mental hospital for examination until investigations were carried out.
People are prevented from entering a police station until identity checks and weapon searches are carried out.
Saudi student expelled for ‘cheating’ in US
Muhammad Ibrahim, 18 October 2009
JEDDAH: A Saudi female student has been expelled by a US university and prevented from obtaining her degree after she was caught cheating, according to a website.
The site, Saudis in the USA, claimed the Masters student, who had been studying public administration, had plagiarized an entire page from a textbook.
It also revealed she had been sent to the country on a scholarship by the Saudi Higher Education Ministry.
“This is a crime under American law but the university reduced the punishment by only expelling her from the university and preventing her from completing her Master’s degree,” the site said. The website, which is run by Saudi students in the US and is funded by the Kingdom, has not named the student or university. The ministry has refused to confirm or deny the website’s claims despite several attempts to contact them by phone and e-mail.
Over the past two weeks, Arab News tried to obtain comments from the Undersecretary of the Ministry for Scholarship Affairs Dr. Abdullah Al-Mousa or any other senior official on the issue but did not get a response.
The ministry has warned all Saudi students sent abroad on government scholarships to abide by the laws and regulations of their respective countries to avoid embarrassing Saudi cultural attaches. It also warned that any violations might lead to their scholarship being terminated.
Iranian official blames deadly bombing on 'U.S. actions'
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- A man carrying explosives blew himself up as participants headed to a conference between Shiite and Sunni groups in southeastern Iran on Sunday, killing at least 29 people.
The blast in Sarbaz in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan wounded 28 others, the semiofficial Fars news agency said.
While no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran pointed the finger at the United States without disclosing its reasons.
"We consider this recent terrorist act to be the result of the U.S. actions and this is a sign of their enmity," said parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said the accusation was "completely false."
"We condemn this act of terrorism and mourn the loss of innocent lives. Reports of alleged U.S. involvement are completely false," Ian Kelly told CNN.
The United Kingdom also condemned the attack.
"The British Government condemns the terrorist attack in the Province of Sistan and Baluchistan in Iran and the sad loss of life which it caused," the Foreign Office said in a statement. "Terrorism is abhorrent wherever it occurs. Our sympathies go to those who have been killed or injured in the attack and their families."
"We reject in the strongest terms any assertion that this was anything to do with the U.K.," the Foreign Office said later in response to reports Iran was accusing London of responsibility.
However, the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency reported that Pakistan's ambassador was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, where he was directed to tell his government to expedite efforts to arrest people on the other side of the border who may be responsible for the attack.
Five senior officers of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed in the attack, Fars said. Other media outlets offered conflicting figures for the number of dead and wounded.
Among the officers was Nour-Ali Shoushtari, the deputy head of the Corps' ground forces, who was in the province to mediate between the two sides, Fars reported.
The province, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, has a large minority presence of Baluchis, who are Sunni Muslims.
Other media outlets offered conflicting figures for the number of dead and wounded.
In the past, the predominantly Shiite central government in Tehran has accused the group Jundallah -- also known as the People's Resistance Movement of Iran -- of fomenting unrest in the province. Iran has alleged that the United States and Saudi Arabia are funding the group.
Jundallah says that it is fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in the country.
Taliban fighters resist Pakistani assault
From Reza Sayah
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's army said Sunday it has killed 60 "terrorists" as it battles to wrest control of part of the country from the Taliban. Five soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours of the assault, the military said.
But the Taliban claimed they had killed 68 Pakistani security forces in the last day. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told CNN by phone that only one Taliban fighter had been killed and three injured in that time.
He said the Taliban had killed the Pakistani troops with roadside bombs and in combat.
He said the anti-government forces had "huge quantities" of weapons "which we got during the war against Russia and it is sufficient for us for many years," he said, presumably referring to the Soviet Union's 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan.
Pakistani troops launched the massive ground offensive backed by air power this weekend in South Waziristan, a refuge and a power base for insurgents operating in Pakistan and along the Pakistani-Afghan border.
The highly anticipated offensive comes after a wave of suicide attacks in Pakistan. It has prompted the exodus of tens of thousands of civilians, the U.N. refugee agency said.
Full Article at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/18/pakistan.offensive.militants/index.html
Afghan election scenarios
Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) is set to announce the results of its investigation into allegations of fraud during August's presidential election.
It has been recounting a sample of suspect ballots and its findings could force a second round of voting.
BBC News examines possible scenarios.
KARZAI IS DECLARED THE WINNER
As results stand presidential incumbent Hamid Karzai leads preliminary results with about 55% of the vote, considerably ahead of former foreign minister Dr Adbdullah Abdullah, who has 28%.
A candidate needs to secure more than 50% of the vote to avoid a second round run-off.
The votes that are confirmed by the ECC to be suspect are likely to be invalidated by Afghanistan's election commission.
If Mr Karzai retains more than 50% of the vote even after votes are invalidated
Full Article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8309013.stm
October 19, 2009
Iran Guard Commanders Are Killed in Bombings
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — At least five commanders of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps were killed and dozens of others left dead and injured in two terrorist bombings in the restive region of the nation’s southeastern frontier with Pakistan, according to multiple Iranian state news agencies.
The coordinated attacks appeared to mark an escalation in hostilities between Iran’s leadership and one of the nation’s many disgruntled ethnic and religious minorities, in this case the Baluchis. The southeast region, Sistan-Baluchistan, has been the scene of terrorist attacks in the past, and in April the government put the Guards Corps in control of security there to try to stop the escalating violence.
Iranian officials have accused foreign enemies of supporting the terrorist insurgents and repeated that charge Sunday, a day before Iran is set to meet for another round of sensitive talks on its nuclear program with several Western countries.
“There is no doubt that this violent and inhumane act was part of the strategy of foreigners and enemies of the regime and the revolution to destroy unity between Shias and Sunnis and create divisions among the unified ranks of the great Iranian people,” said a statement issued by the Revolutionary Guards through the official IRNA news service.
A terrorist group calling itself Jundallah — or Soldiers of God — took responsibility for the attacks, according to the state-owned Press TV. The group is made up of ethic Baluchis, who can also be found in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and has taken credit for other attacks in the region in recent years.
Full Article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/world/middleeast/19iran.html?_r=1&ref=global-home&pagewanted=print
Pakistan Moves Farther Into Taliban Land
By JANE PERLEZ
Peshawar.ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani military moved deeper into South Waziristan on Sunday, hitting Taliban targets with F-16 fighter jets, as troops supported by helicopter gunships climbed higher into the mountainous terrain, according to military personnel and a spokesman for the militants.
Pakistani Air Force fighter jets struck the militant-held towns of Makeen, Ladha and Kotkai in the heart of Taliban territory, and ground forces have occupied territory on the edge of the militant enclave, Pakistani military personnel said.
Sounding a confident tone on the second day of the campaign against the forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a senior military official said “the level of resistance from the militants is not very high.” Even so, said the official, who declined to be identified, the area had been heavily mined and Pakistani forces had encountered many homemade bombs.
But the Taliban said part of their strategy was to encourage the military to progress deeper into the militant enclave in the center of South Waziristan, and then tie the soldiers down with hit-and-run tactics that would keep the soldiers in a protracted campaign in the inhospitable terrain over the winter.
The government forces would be hit hard once they penetrated further into the mountains, the favorite fighting areas for the militants, a Taliban organizer who is not involved in the current fighting said by telephone on Sunday from Wana, the capital of South Waziristan.
As Pakistan’s boldest and most difficult offensive against the Taliban unfolded, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American military commander for the region, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday to consult with Pakistan’s military leadership and civilian government.
Full Article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/world/asia/19pstan.html?ref=global-home&pagewanted=print
US decision after Afghan result
The White House has said that it will take no decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan until it determines the new government is a "true partner".
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN TV it would be "reckless" to take such a decision without a thorough analysis of the new government.
Washington is debating a request for 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan.
Results from an investigation into fraud claims in the presidential poll are due in the next few days.
It is expected to reveal that incumbent President Hamid Karzai did not achieve more than the 50% of votes needed to avoid a second round.
Mr Karzai insists he won the 20 August vote but EU observers say that as many as one in four votes cast was suspicious.
Foreign officials - including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner - have been pressing Mr Karzai to accept that he might have to face a run-off.
Speaking to CNN, Mr Emanuel said the US would want first to be sure that the government was capable of becoming a "true partner" able to govern the country.
"It would be reckless to make a decision on US troop level if, in fact, you haven't done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there's an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the US troops would create and become a true partner in governing the Afghan country," he said.
Gen Stanley McChrystal, the US and Nato commander in the country, has recommended sending the extra troops as the US reviews its strategy.
Full Article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/8313423.stm
Pak war on Taleban begins
Azhar Masood, 18 October 2009
DECISIVE MISSION: Pakistani troops leave Bannu to join the war against Taleban in South Waziristan on Saturday. (AP)
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Army launched a ground operation late Friday against Taleban and Al-Qaeda militants in their South Waziristan stronghold, using heavy artillery and armored corps, the military announced Saturday.
Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas and Information Minister Qamaruz Zaman Kaira said at a joint news conference that the army had encircled the area from three directions.
Abbas said the operation involving some 30,000 ground troops would last between six and eight weeks.
After months of aerial bombing to soften the targets, troops moved into the region, heading to the insurgent bases of Ladha and Makeen among others, intelligence and military officials said on condition of anonymity.
Abbas said the total population of the Mehsud tribe — the majority of the people of South Waziristan — is about 250,000. “But militants constitute a small portion of that number,” he said without offering a definite figure. But intelligence sources said the army is pitted against an estimated 10,000 hard-core Taleban, including about 1,000 tough Uzbek fighters and some Arab Al-Qaeda members.
Abbas said the “funding of militants is being done from some Gulf states.” He did not elaborate.
Full Article at: http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4§ion=0&article=127469&d=18&m=10&y=2009&pix=world.jpg&category=World
INTERVIEW-Somalia says Eritrea deserves punishment for chaos
By Abdiaziz Hassan, Oct 18, 2009
Says Erirea's role in Somalia threatens entire region
Hopes Security Council will impose sanctions soon
NAIROBI, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Eritrea should be punished for threatening the Horn of Africa region by supporting Somali rebels, Somalia's foreign affairs minister said on Sunday.
The United States, Britain, United Nations and the African Union (AU) accuse Eritrea of fanning the chaos in Somalia, through provision of arms and logistical support to the radical al Shabaab rebels, seen by Washington as al Qaeda's proxy.
"Enough is enough. Eritrea has defied calls from the international community and individual countries to play a positive role," Ali Jama Ahmed told Reuters.
Early this month, Britain told the U.N. Security council it was ready to punish Eritrea for its role in Somalia.
The government in the Eritrean capital Asmara rejects accusations that it arms the al Shabaab insurgents.
Ahmed said that while the region had been trying to engage Eritrea constructively, its leadership had chosen to continue to be part of the Somalia problem.
He said Asmara had to re-engage with the region in its search for an end to the fighting and human suffering in his country.
Full Article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLI572584
Goa blast accused group claims to spread 'spirituality'
Panaji, Oct 18 (IANS) Sanatan Sanstha, a right wing Hindu organization whose members police allege carried out a blast which killed two people in Goa Friday night, claims to "spread the science of spirituality and guide seekers in their spiritual practice", the group's website says.
Two activists of the group were killed in Margao town when explosives being ferried in their scooter went off in a traffic jam, police said.
Both men riding the scooter, Malgondi Patil and Yogesh Naik, were badly injured and collapsed. Patil died in a hospital at midnight and Naik succumbed to his injuries at 9.30 a.m. Saturday.
Sanatan Sanstha's website - www.sanatan.org - claims that the organization was founded in 1990 by Jayant Balaji Athavale, a Britain-educated hypnotherapist.
The founder's profile on the website said that "His Highness Athavale" spent eight years in Britain studying hypnotherapy and returned to India in 1978 to start his own practice.
"After practicing as a hypnotherapist for 20 years in India, he (Athavale) realized that nearly 30 percent of his patients did not recover with the usual treatment regimens and that some of these patients recovered after having gone on a pilgrimage or having followed the advice of a saint," the website says, adding that the "main aim of the organization is to present spirituality in a scientific language for the curious and to guide seekers".
Full Article at: http://mangalorean.com/news.php?newstype=broadcast&broadcastid=150801#
Lebanon blast destroys discovered Israeli spy gear
18 Oct 2009
A Lebanese soldier
The Lebanese army is investigating the cause of a blast that rocked the outskirts of the southern town of Houla overnight.
The blast occurred after Lebanon's Hezbollah discovered cables used for spying in the al-Abbad area near Israeli's border post, DPA reported on Sunday.
Two 50-metre cables were reportedly discovered in the area, one of which was used for wiretapping and the other for broadcasting.
UN peacekeepers were also called out to the blast scene.
No casualties have been reported.
Bhatkal Muslim JamaatDubai organized grand Eid Milan party
18 October 2009
Dubai: The audience at the grand Eid Milan party were overwhelmed to witness the comedy show by Pakistani artist Kashif Khan. The event was organized at the grand hall of King Rashid Auditorium of Indian High School, Dubai by Bhatkal Muslim Jamaat, Dubai on 16th October, 2009.
Mr. Asaduddin Avesi, MP, Hyderabad was invited as the chief guest for the event. Yusuf Pathan, Indian cricket all rounder was also among the celebrities who attended the programme. While many got a chance to have a nearest glimpse of the cricketer, they weren't much impressed by him.
The formal function commenced with a recitation of the verses from Quran with translation by Moulana Qari Musaddique Hallare. Subsequently, Moulana Dr. Abdullah Sukri addressed the audience. While the Eid Milan Convenor, Fazlur Rahman Jukaku presented the welcome speech, the honourable leader of the community Mr. S M Sayed Khaleelur Rahman introduced the guests.
MP Barrister Asaduddin Awesi criticised the oppression of Muslims and the prejudiced actions of the police in India. He advised the people of the community to strive in the field of education to have an entry into the Government departments of the country. Mr. Awesi entitled the cricketer as the ambassador of the community in the game. Mr. Yusuf Pathan, while addressing the audience urged all the citizens to obey their elders to succeed in their lives.
Full Article at: http://www.sahilonline.org/english/news.php?catID=gulfnews&nid=6591&viewed=0
Islamic council rejects sharia law proposal
Barney Zwartz, October 19, 2009
A SENIOR Melbourne Muslim is proposing a sharia court to handle disputes in the Muslim community, suggesting it might eventually form part of the state's legal structure.
Islamic Council of Victoria board member Hyder Gulam was due to meet a senior bureaucrat in the Premier's Department on Thursday to discuss the idea, but the meeting was postponed to this week.
Mr Gulam, a lawyer with Logie-Smith Lanyon and also a board member of Australian Red Cross, said a sharia court could function as a voluntary and non-binding dispute resolution mechanism in matters such as divorce, access to children, disputes over wills and financial or commercial disputes.
''We are talking about a system that defuses community tensions before they reach litigation, so it can be settled at the lowest level, as quickly as possible, as cost-effectively as possible, with the best outcome. The Victorian Government is very keen on community dispute resolution mechanisms,'' he said.
''These are ideas we've raised with senior members of the community for three months, and the response has been very supportive because people see it's a cheap way to deal with intra-community disputes.''
Full Article at: http://www.theage.com.au/national/islamic-council-rejects-sharia-law-proposal-20091018-h2x9.html
Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom
By Thom Nickels, October 18, 2009
2009 marks the eighth anniversary of September eleventh. While most Americans can recount where they were when the twin towers in New York went down, the passage of time--and the fact that there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since 2001—has a tendency to lull many of us into a sense that everything is okay--for now.
The men and women who had to jump from the upper floors of the towers to avoid being burned alive--the falling executives, their neckties whirling in the wind, the dozens of co-workers who jumped holding hands, the constant shocking “thump” sound of bodies hitting the ground so that the news media eventually had to “black out” the audio-- did not know what was happening to them. They may have known of a hit by a “random airplane” but they knew nothing of an organized terrorist attack. They went to their deaths unaware that this first major attack on American soil also had a side component: the slow buildup of a radical Islamic powerbase throughout Western Europe.
This buildup began in the 1970s when Europe agreed to trade crude oil with Arab countries in exchange for promises of unchecked immigration (Strasbourg Resolution 492, 1971). As Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci noted in her book, “The Rage and the Pride,” after the agreement the streets of her native Florence were flooded with immigrants selling pencils and chewing gum. Likewise, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and the Netherlands also permitted free-for-all immigration of Muslims from Morocco, North Africa and the Middle East.
Full Article at: http://thebulletin.us/articles/2009/10/18/arts_culture/doc4adae04168137521169905.txt
Hillary Clinton impressed by Pak commitment to fight terror
17 October 2009
WASHINGTON: Notwithstanding India's dissatisfaction with the steps taken by Islamabad to punish perpetrators of Mumbai attacks, the US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton has said she is "impressed" by the commitment shown by Pakistan in fighting terrorism within its territory.
Earlier this year, when the Taliban had captured the Swat Valley, Clinton during a Congressional hearing had raised serious question over the commitment of both the Pakistani government and its army to launch an all out war against all the terrorist and extremist elements in the country.
"Well, I am very impressed with the commitment that the Pakistani government - both the civilian leadership and the military - have made," Clinton told the CNN in an interview, when she was referred to her statement a few months ago that Pakistan was in danger of falling to the terrorists.
"When I said what I said some months ago, there was not the full commitment of going after those who were threatening territory and authority inside Pakistan. There is now. And I think the military in Pakistan has proven its effectiveness in going into Swat," Clinton said defending the change in her opinion about both the democratically-elected government of Pakistan and its army.
"From what I read in the paper, they're very much focused on also going into the heartland of where the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida are located and where these plots and these attacks are planned and directed. So I think that they understand that there is a direct threat to them, which they are addressing, which I think is all to the good," Clinton said.
US praises Pak’s role in war on terror
Washington, Oct 17: Notwithstanding India's dissatisfaction with the steps taken by Islamabad to punish perpetrators of Mumbai attacks, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she is impressed by the commitment shown by Pakistan in fighting terrorism.
“Well, I am very impressed with the commitment that the Pakistani government, both the civilian leadership and the military, have made," Clinton told a television channel in an interview when she was referred to her statement a few months ago that Pakistan was in danger of falling to the terrorists.
“When I said what I said some months ago, there was not the full commitment of going after those who were threatening territory and authority inside Pakistan. There is now. And I think the military in Pakistan has proven its effectiveness in going into Swat,” Clinton said defending the change in her opinion about both the democratically elected government of Pakistan and its army.
“From what I read in the paper, they're very much focused on also going into the heartland of where the Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaida are located and where these plots and these attacks are planned and directed. So I think that they understand that there is a direct threat to them, which they are addressing, which I think is all to the good,” Clinton added.
Pentagon ends plans to send Army brigade to Iraq
18 October 2009
WASHINGTON: The Pentagon is cancelling plans to send a 3,500-member Army brigade to Iraq, a move that speeds the drawdown there and could free up
forces as President Barack Obama considers sending new troops to Afghanistan.
The 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, New York, had been scheduled to relieve another combat brigade in Iraq in January. But the brigade will no longer deploy and will now return to the Army's pool of available combat forces, the Defence Department said on Saturday.
"This decision was based on a thorough assessment of the security environment in Iraq and reflects the continued improvement in the ability of the Iraqi Security Forces to safeguard Iraqi citizens and institutions," the statement said.
The US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has recommended from as many as 80,000 more troops to as few as 10,000 for the war in Afghanistan -- but favours a compromise of 40,000 more forces. Such additional forces would not be deployed until early next year at the soonest, and it is not clear how they would be fully complied.
Obama has said he would make up his mind on additional troops in the coming weeks, and no announcement is expected before November.
Saudi haj tourism loss highest in 50 years
17 October 2009
DUBAI: The loss of business for Saudi Arabia's Haj and Umrah industry due to swine flu could be more than 3 billion Saudi riyals (USD 799) this
year, the highest compared to the last 50 years.
The Tourism Committee of the Madinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) fears the negative trend is likely to continue for the next three years at least.
"The hospitality sector will be most affected," Abdul Ghani Al-Ansari, a member of the tourism committee at the MCCI, told Arab News. He said half of the hotels were saying that prospects of an upswing this year was bleak as bookings were likely to fall considerably.
"A number of Haj delegations and companies did not pay the last two instalments for their bookings so far. If they do not pay up the remaining instalments over the next 30 days, the loss would be more than 3 billion riyals," he said. Al-Ansari warned the situation could lead to a laying-off of a large number of employees in Makkah and Madinah. The official also blamed investors for not coming forward to support the ailing tourism sector.
In a related development, representatives of investors in Haj, Umrah and tourism related industries met to discuss ways to tackle the negative impact of the H1N1 virus. The committee has decided to launch media campaigns and act in tandem with the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Suggestions made at the meeting included extending the Umrah season to encourage more people to come to Makkah and Madinah.
Tehran frees Iranian-Canadian journalist
18 October 2009
TEHRAN: Tehran on Saturday freed Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was arrested during violent post-election protests in June, the
Semi-official news agency ILNA reported.
"Maziar Bahari was freed from Evin prison on Saturday evening after paying bail worth three billion rials (USD 300,000)," ILNA said, citing Tehran's prosecution office.
The report said Bahari was arrested in June and charged with propagating against the regime by sending false election reports, disrupting public order by participating in illegal gatherings, and holding classified documents.
It did not provide any further details. Previously, a lawyer acting for Bahari said in July his client was accused of having acted against Iran's national security.
Bahari, an Iranian-born Canadian journalist with Newsweek magazine, was arrested after the June 12 presidential election won by the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has lived in Iran for 10 years.
Canada has repeatedly asked for his immediate release. Iran does not recognise the Canadian citizenship of Iranians who hold dual nationality.
The Kabul Quagmire
Jason Straziuso, 17 October 2009
My closest Afghan friend held out his Taliban-era photo. A decade younger, he had a thick black beard that the oppressive regime forced men to
US soldiers shield themselves from the dust as a CH-47 Chinook helicopter takes off in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan
grow. My friend won't grow one again. He is already thinking about when to flee.
As generals and politicians in Washington debate the next best step for America's eight-year war in Afghanistan, the Taliban takes new territory by the day, despite the record 64,000 US troops here.
I arrived in Afghanistan in 2006, just as violence began to explode. I leave after three years, and never have things seemed so ominous. As one of America's top military analysts, Anthony Cordesman, says: The US "is now decisively losing" .
No one thinks Kabul will fall while US forces are here. But even top US commander Gen Stanley McChrystal says that without reversing insurgent momentum in the next 12 months, defeating the insurgency will no longer be possible.
The quiet truth whispered by soldiers in the field and aid workers in Kabul is that the Afghan government is not likely to ever control southern Afghanistan's wildlands, the foreboding territory beyond the provincial capitals.
Villagers fear thieving police more than militants, and the August presidential election laid bare how pervasive corruption is here. The Taliban is playing to the general disgust with corruption by offering itself as an alternative.
Full Article at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/The-Kabul-Quagmire-/articleshow/5134494.cms
Pak army kills 11 militants as its battle intensifies against Taliban
October 18, 2009
Pakistani fighter jets have pounded the militants' hideouts in South Waziristan, killing at least 11 insurgents, as the security forces began a fresh offensive against the Taliban in the area, a media report said.
Sources said the latest offensive that began on Saturday has left two soldiers dead and five injured.
One of the soldiers was killed when militants detonated a bomb through a remote control device near a security vehicle in Karkunray area of South Waziristan, Geo TV reported.
Afterward, the military retaliated with the help of fighter jets, killing 11 militants and destroying two rebel hideouts in the area.
In another incident, militants attacked a military convoy in the Razmak area of South Waziristan, killing a security personnel and injuring two others.
Officials said about 5,000 militants are holed up in South Waziristan, where the security forces are advancing from three different sides.
Obama, Sarkozy discuss Iran, climate change
October 17, 2009
US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed on Wednesday on the need for a united approach to Iran's nuclear program during a phone call, statements from both leaders said.
Obama and Sarkozy "discussed the need to continue a unified international approach to address Iran's nuclear ambitions," a White House statement said.
The leaders "expressed the hope that the resumption of dialogue (with Iran) would result in decisive progress in coming weeks in accordance with Iran's international obligations and noted that Iranian cooperation would be evaluated by the end of the year," a statement from the Elysee palace said.
The call also involved discussion on climate change, ahead of a December conference in Copenhagen to draw up an international climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2013.
"The two presidents agreed to increase cooperation between France, the European Union and the United States, to contribute to the success of the Copenhagen summit," Sarkozy's office said.
Iran's nuclear program has been a top international priority because of fears it masks development of a nuclear weapons. Tehran says the program is for peaceful civilian energy.
On October 1 in Geneva, representatives from Iran and a group of international powers agreed that Tehran would allow inspectors to visit a newly-revealed uranium enrichment site near Qom, in the center of Iran.
The talks are set to restart on October 19 in Vienna and will focus on a proposal to enrich Iranian uranium in a third country.
Agenda behind terrorism
October 17, 2009
THE series of terrorist acts across NWFP and Punjab should be a wake up call for the state that its policies, such as they are, to fight this lethal menace in Pakistan are deeply flawed. The post-9/11 premature jumping on to the US bandwagon in a misdirected "war on terror" altered qualitatively the nature of the terrorist threat in Pakistan. Following the erroneous US lead, Pakistan's focus on a military-centric approach to fighting terrorism has only succeeded in generating more violent terrorism in the country, with new groups claiming centre stage like the TTP. The US drone attacks have hardly helped; nor has the growing chaos being caused by the US covert and overt intrusions in to Pakistan's internal affairs.
Meanwhile, the government has failed to formulate a cohesive anti-terror policy in which the core should be a holistic socio-political-economic strategy supported by the state's coercive power. The immediate goal in any such asymmetric war has to be isolation of the enemy from the people who provide the shelter for the terrorists. Pakistan continues to fall in to the US-laid trap of using the military option alone. The push now is for commencing a full scale military operation in North Waziristan - at a time when the blowback from the Swat operation is being felt across the country.
Meanwhile, the recent terrorist attacks reveal a new breed of terrorists who are well-trained and well-armed with highly sophisticated weaponry. Further, as the Interior Minister himself admitted, these terrorists are mercenaries, being paid for their dastardly acts. So there is no religious thread here at all. If one connects the dots, the pattern that is emerging is one where a deliberate trail of destruction is being created across Pakistan, which will create a situation desired in the US design outlined in a US Army Journal article entitled "Blood Borders" published in the wake of 9/11. Is it a mere coincidence that Quetta and Muridke have been targeted in the KLB Act and all religious groups identified by name but for the TTP? Is it also a mere coincidence that the new spate of terrorism has begun at a time when there is attention focused on the covert US operatives spreading across Pakistan; when the US is seeking to target Quetta with drones; when there is growing evidence of an Indian hand in Pakistan's terrorism? Perhaps the most obvious pointer to a larger hidden anti-Pakistan agenda behind the terrorism is the US pressure for military action also in southern Punjab. This is a recipe for civil war. Already the centre of gravity of the "war on terror" has been shifted, first from Afghanistan to FATA and now to the centre of Pakistan, Punjab itself. Unless the Pakistani state sees the larger picture, our detractors' plans will succeed.
Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center presents Parkinson Disease 101
October 17, 2009
Parkinson Disease 101, presented by the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, is a four-week seminar course for people with Parkinson's and their families.
Each session is two hours long. The course covers basic neurology and the symptoms of Parkinson's, medication, nutrition, exercise, mind-body connections such as sleep disorders and depression, care giving, how to talk to your doctor and any other topics of interest to the group.
The class will meet at Desert Garden Church, 18818 N. 128th Ave., Sun City West, from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 30, Nov. 6, 13 and 20.
There is no charge for the course, but registration is required to ensure course material.
Call the Resource Link at 1-800-277-7691 to register. For information, call 602-406-4208.
Muslim group, Maigret honored for helping abuse victims
By Matt Gryta, October 17, 2009
The Muslim women’s group RAHAMA and Assistant U. S. Attorney Richard Maigret have been selected to receive The Buffalo News Founders and Susan Still awards, presented by the Family Justice Center of Erie County.
Maigret and the seven members of RAHAMA — Resources and Help Against Marital Abuse—will receive the awards at the organization’s annual art show and auction “A New start”, at 5:30 p. m. Thursday in Asbury Hall at The Church, 342 Delaware Ave.
Carrie Irish, president of the Family Justice Center’s board of directors, said RAHAMA, which is also an Arabic word for “mercy,” is being recognized for giving Muslim women “a place to turn for hope and guidance when they need it most.”
RAHAMA, active since July 2006, spreads awareness about the problems of domestic violence and provides education on the rights of Muslim women. It works with social service and law enforcement agencies that deal with domestic violence to ensure that culturally appropriate support — emotionally and spiritually — is provided to Muslim domestic abuse victims.
Irish said Maigret is being honored because he “has dedicated his life to improving the safety and security of domestic abuse victims in our community by holding offenders accountable.”
Full Article at: http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/buffaloerie/story/830506.html?imw=Y