New Age Islam
Thu Oct 22 2020, 01:57 AM

Islamic World News ( 26 March 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Quran burning: Pak Sunnis call for death to American pastor

India's ‘Grade-1' evidence against Hafiz Saeed in the Mumbai attacks

Islam preaches peace, love and brotherhood: Ibad

Lawyers demand trial of blasphemer priest

Protests, counter-protests as Syria death toll rises

Pakistan slams UN resolution on Libya

Gaddafi forces continue onward march

26/11 still biggest hurdle before India-Pakistan talks

Pakistan looking to ease visa regime with India

Pak to inform India on Mumbai attacks' probe at key talks

India is an 'existential threat' to Pakistan, says Musharraf

Strategic town Ajdabiya falls to Libya rebels

Russia's NATO envoy warns of full-scale war in Libya

India to open talks with Pak army,

After 2009 Bangladesh mutiny, India rallied support for Hasina

6 dead in port city as Syrian crisis grows

Yemen 'close to transition of power deal'

Libyan woman claims rape by 15 soldiers

Muslims face growing attacks in Ivory Coast crisis

Man dies, 130 injured in Jordan clashes

French jets destroy seven pro-Gaddafi aircraft in Libya

Palestinian president meets Hamas to talk unity

Syria pulls troops from restive city after unrest

Libya, a U.N. intervention to save people

Govt against drone attacks, says Malik

Pakistan to seek Interpol help to arrest Musharraf

Gaza rockets strike Israel anew after lull

Egypt must scrap law banning strikes: Rights group

Air raids force Gaddafi retreat, rebels seize east

In the U.S., talks of arming Libyan rebels

Turkey’s Kurds begin ‘civil disobedience’ campaign

Jeddah woos Japanese

Libyan air strikes failed: Russia’s top general

Protesters burn Baath offices in Syria; unrest widens

Saudi prince is behind disputed LA mega-mansion

Israel to deploy 'Iron Dome' anti-rocket system

Gilani accepts Singh’s invitation to watch Indo-Pak semi final

US offers to strengthen Pakistani political process

Balochistan to figure in talks with India

US confirms contact with Libyan rebels

Qadhafi’s lies pushed us into fight, captured soldiers say

Afghan civilians killed in airstrike: NATO

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/quran-burning--pak-sunnis-call-for-death-to-american-pastor/d/4350

 

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Quran burning: Pak Sunnis call for death to American pastor

Mar 26 2011,

A prominent group in Pakistan, the Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat, has called for "death" to US pastor Terry Jones for his act of burning a copy of the Quran and threatened its members will march to the Pakistani capital if the US ambassador is not expelled by April 7.

Sunnat leader Allama Riaz Husain said his organisation was giving "an ultimatum to the federal government that it should banish the US envoy by April 7 or be ready for a long march from Karachi to Islamabad".

Husain said a Shariah or Islamic court comprising 500 clerics associated with the Sunni sect had declared Jones an "international terrorist" for desecrating the Quran and for damaging world peace.

This court had announced capital punishment for Jones, he said.

"We will hold demonstrations outside US embassies in 45 countries for Washington's failure to take action against Jones," he said.

Prominent Sunni leader Sahibzada Fazle Karim, who is the chairman of the Sunni Ittehad Council, demanded the convening of a session of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to announce the establishment of an "Islamic United Nations" to protest the desecration of the Quran.

He suggested that Muslim countries should quit the UN if it does not act against Jones.

All hardline groups, especially the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Jamaat-e-Islami, are at the forefront of protests across the country against Jones' "intolerable" act.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/quran-burning-pak-sunnis-call-for-death-to-american-pastor/767735/

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India's ‘Grade-1' evidence against Hafiz Saeed in the Mumbai attacks

MAR 27 2011

The dossier New Delhi gave to Islamabad on the JuD chief was drawn from the confessions of the 26/11 accused

On August 21, 2009, India handed over a dossier to Pakistan linking Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed to the Mumbai attacks.

The same day, T.C.A. Raghavan, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, called an “urgent meeting” of Ambassadors of several western countries and Japan, and shared this, the sixth in India's Mumbai attacks dossier diplomacy series.

A U.S. Embassy cable sent from New Delhi on August 24, 2009 (222018: confidential) and accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, contains the full text of the dossier along with a report of the meeting.

The dossier is drawn almost entirely from the confession of the surviving gunman, Ajmal Amir Kasab, and statements by Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin. The three are accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case. National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan described the material in the dossier as “Grade-1 evidence.”

While Kasab was eventually sentenced to death by the Mumbai trial court, the other two were acquitted as the court found the evidence against them to be insufficient and wanted to give them the “benefit of doubt.” The verdict was upheld by the Mumbai High Court in February 2011.

Both Ansari and Sabahuddin are involved in other cases. Sabahuddin is facing charges for the 2008 attack on a Central Reserve Police Force camp in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, and the 2005 blast at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

Fahim has a case pending against him in Rampur for alleged forgery and possession of a weapon.

This is an excerpt from the Hafiz Saeed dossier, as conveyed by the cable:

“…In this confession [of February 21, 2009 before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Mumbai], [Ajmal Amir Kasab] narrated the entire story beginning with his recruitment and ending with his arrest in Mumbai. Portions of his confession statement which refer to Hafiz Saeed are summarised below.

“7. Kasab went to Lahore looking for work. The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) was holding camps at different places. Kasab and his friend used to visit these camps and they decided to take training for preparing for jihad. In December 2007, Kasab and his friend Muzaffar Lal Khan reached the office of LeT in Raja Bazaar, Rawalpindi. They were recruited. They went through a 21-day period of training between December 2007 and January 2008. It is during this training that he first met Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Muzammil @ Yusuf, Abu Umar Said, Abu Hamza, etc.

“8. Hafiz Saeed spoke to the trainees on many occasions. Once he said, ‘all the mujahiddins have to fight for freeing Kashmir'. When they were at the training camp located in the Chehalabandi mountain of Muzaffarabad, Hafiz Saeed visited the camp. There was another person whom Hafiz Saeed embraced.

Kasab was told that he is ‘Major General Saab' and that the trainers were ‘his men only'. When Kasab and others reached Sevai Nallah, Hafiz Saeed was present. It was Hafiz Saeed who selected the trainees and gave them new names. He named Kasab as Abu Mujahid. Kasab underwent marine training and subsequently was taken to Baitul Mujahiddin, a training camp.

Hafiz Saeed was present and inquired about the marine training. Three days later, Hafiz Saeed and others sent six mujahiddin to Kashmir to carry out an attack. On the l3 day of Roza, the selected mujahiddin were called to the office of the Baitul Mujahiddin camp and Hafiz Saeed told them ‘the time for jihad has come. Now we have to decide how to attack Hindustan'. Major General Saab came to the place and wanted to see their preparedness. Hafiz Saeed told Kafa to set up 10 targets. The mujahiddin were asked to shoot at the targets.

Kasab fired at target number 4. Major General Saab complimented Kasab and said ‘you have completely destroyed the target and I am very much pleased'.

“9. After the training, Hafiz Saeed and another person made 5 ‘buddies' from among the 10 mujahiddin. Kasab was paired with Ismail Khan.

“10. Instructions were given to the 5 pairs of terrorists to carry out the attacks in Mumbai. Hafiz Saeed told them ‘one Hindustani boat has to be hijacked for going to Bombay from Karachi'. Hafiz Saeed fixed the time as 7:30 p.m. to carry out the attack and justified the time by saying ‘at this hour there is considerable crowd at the places of our target'.

“11. At the camp, Hafiz Saeed and others took the 10 mujahiddin to a big hall. It was described as the control room of the media wing. The roads in Mumbai and the targets were shown on a big screen.

“12. On 22 November 2008, the terrorists left Karachi to carry out the attacks in Mumbai.

“13. Fahim Ansari is the second accused in the case. He had been apprehended on 9th February 2008 as an accused in the CRPF, Rampur Camp attack case (1st January, 2008). When he was interrogated in the Mumbai attack case, he made a statement on 18th December 2008 in which he stated that, at the end of training in Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed and others visited the training camp. Hafiz Saeed and others also addressed the trainees and asserted the importance of jihad.

“14. Sabahuddin is the third accused in the case. He had been apprehended on 10th February 2008 as another accused in the CRPF, Rampur Camp attack case (1st January, 2008). When he was interrogated in the Mumbai attack case, he also made a statement on 20th December 2008 in which he stated that during his training in Pakistan he was taken to Muridke which is 50 kms. away from Lahore on the Lahore-Islamabad highway. That is where Hafiz Saeed and others were based. Sabahuddin was in a safe house for about 3 1/2 months till mid-March 2003. When Hafiz Saeed was released from house arrest, he offered a special prayer at Mochi Darwaza in Lahore. Sabahuddin saw Hafiz Saeed for the first time at the prayer and he claimed that he was ‘enlightened by his preaching during the prayer'.”

(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via WikiLeaks.)

http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/article1574314.ece

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Islam preaches peace, love and brotherhood: Ibad

MAR 27 2011

KARACHI: Majority of the religious groups believe in a moderate society in the country, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan said here on Saturday.

He was talking to a delegation of youth from the Punjab province who visited the Governor House under the Inter-Provincial Youth Exchange Programme.

“Islam preaches peace, love and brotherhood,” he said while responding to various queries of the delegates.

He said Pakistanis were very strong and talented people whose true potential needs to be exploited and added that the whole nation proved it to the world during the 2005 earthquake in Northern areas and that of the floods of last year which wreaked havoc across the country.

“Bad perception about Pakistanis is our major problem which needs to be tackled positively,” he observed.

Responding to a question of one of the delegates about the performance of the present provincial government, Sindh governor said that Master Plan for Karachi and socio-economic stability were the major achievements of the government.

“There was no Master Plan for the mega city, but we fulfilled the challenge and executed various projects while progress is undergoing in other development activities,” he said.

Dr Ibad said that inter-provincial religious harmony has remained a major challenge for the government, however, steps were being taken to overcome such problems for the larger interest of the country.

He stressed the need to bridge the gap between the educated and uneducated class of the society to allow the people to elect those who were capable for good governance.

To a question about his entry into politics, Dr Ibad said that he was very impressed with the leadership of MQM chief Altaf Hussain whom he met during his years in medical college. He said that MQM chief played a pivotal and influential role in his political life.

The meeting was also attended by Provincial Youth Affairs Minister Faisal Sabzwari, Secretary Youth and Sports Shoaib Siddiqui and Director Khurshid Shaikh and others. app

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\27\story_27-3-2011_pg12_3

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Lawyers demand trial of blasphemer priest

MAR 27 2011

KARACHI: Legal fraternity here on Saturday strongly condemned the desecration of the holy Quran in Florida, USA, demanding blasphemer Christian priest Terry Jones be punished by international court of justice.

Lawyers, on call of the Karachi Bar Association, staged protest demonstration at Raja Riaz Shaheed Road, Opposite City Courts on MA Jinnah Road.

They carried placards and chanted slogans, seeking trial of blasphemer priest.

Demonstrators said act of desecration would harm global interfaith harmony, as no religion supports such acts of blasphemy towards other religions and hurting sentiments of their

followers.

They called Florida act as extremist move, adding international court should take notice of this incident, try and punish the blasphemer.

Later, protestors dispersed peacefully. ppi

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\27\story_27-3-2011_pg12_4

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Protests, counter-protests as Syria death toll rises

MAR 27 2011

At least 10 people were killed in Syria Friday in another day of protests demanding major reforms while thousands of supporters of the president flooded Damascus in counter-demonstrations.

Activists said police fired on protesters in the southern village of Sanamen as they were heading to nearby Daraa for the funeral of two people killed earlier in the week during clashes with security forces.

An official told AFP that 10 people were killed the Sanamen clashes but gave no further details.

But activists in Daraa, a tribal town 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Damascus that has emerged as the hub of protests, said between eight and 20 people were when security forces opened fire.

There was no independent confirmation of the toll.

Meanwhile Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday that 55 people had been killed during a week of unrest in and around Daraa, which lies close to the border with Jordan.

Syria this month began to witness unprecedented protests demanding major reforms in the country, which has been ruled by the Baath party for close to 50 years.

Demonstrations were also reported in Damascus, Banias, Latakia, Hama, Dahel, Homs and Daraa, with videos purporting to be of the rallies surfacing on YouTube. The authenticity of the videos could not be verified.

The Syrian official, who requested anonymity, confirmed that protesters in Daraa had burned the house of the governor, who was fired earlier this week.

Witnesses in Daraa, contacted by telephone, said demonstrators had dragged down a statue of Hafez Al-Assad, father of the current president, prompting security forces to open fire.

One man was also killed in the city of Homs, north of the capital, on Friday when angry protesters stormed the military sports club, the official added.

Friday's rallies came the morning after the government announced a string of major reforms including the possibility of ending emergency rule that has been in place since 1963.

Thousands of supporters of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad flooded the streets of Damascus on Friday night to counter demonstrations against his regime, AFP reporters witnessed.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/~/NewsContent/2/8/8591/World/Region/Protests,-counterprotests-as-Syria-death-toll-rise.aspx

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Pakistan slams UN resolution on Libya

MAR 27 2011

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir expressed serious reservations over the UN resolution on Libya and termed it faulty, which allowed the West to do ‘any thing’ in other countries.

Responding to queries of members of Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, which met on Saturday with Senator Saleem Saifullah Khan in the chair, Bashir said the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and Arab League supported the UN’s Security Council resolution. “Pakistan has reservations over the resolution as the same might be applied to other countries’ case,” he maintained.

He said Pakistan was still in favour of a peaceful solution to the Libya crises without any damage to any Islamic country in the name of human rights violations, democracy and other reasons. “Pakistan looks at the situation in a broader context and believes in letting people of respective countries decide their decision,” he added.

He said that initially, draft of the resolution was made to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilian population but later it was totally changed.

He informed the committee that China opposed the UN resolution but all Gulf countries supported it. “Libya is traditionally a tribal oriented society just like Afghanistan with 82 percent literacy rate,” he said.

Bashir said Pakistan sought stability in the region and was mainly concerned for the 15,000 Pakistanis residing in Libya and about three million in the whole Gulf region.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\27\story_27-3-2011_pg1_3

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Gaddafi forces continue onward march

MAR 27 2011

TRIPOLI – As pro-Gaddafi forces continued to move onwards against the rebels battling to oust him, a distraught Libyan woman stormed into a hotel to tell foreign reporters that "government troops raped her", setting off a brawl when hotel staff and government minders tried to detained her.

Iman Al Obeidi was tackled by waitresses and government minders as she sat telling her story to journalists after she rushed into the restaurant at the Rixos hotel where a number of foreign journalists were eating breakfast.

She claimed loudly that troops had detained her a checkpoint, tied her up, abused her, then led her away to be gang raped. Her story could not be independently verified.

At a news conference after the incident, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said investigators had told him the woman was drunk and possibly mentally challenged.

"We have to find her family and see if she was really abused or not," he said.

Before she was dragged out of the hotel, Al Obeidi managed to tell journalists that she was detained by a number of troops who were drinking whiskey.

She said a number of others who she said remained in custody. She said she was detained on Wednesday but didn't tell how she escaped this morning. She said she was raped by 15 men.

"They defecated and urinated on me and tied me up," she said, her face streaming with tears. "They violated my honor, look at what the Gadhafi militiamen did to me."

The woman, who appeared in her 30's, wore a black robe and orange scarf around her neck and identified herself. She had scratches on her face and she pulled up her black robe to reveal a bloodied thigh.

Full report at:

http://dailymailnews.com/0311/27/FrontPage/index.php?id=5

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26/11 still biggest hurdle before India-Pakistan talks

March 26, 2011

The two-day India-Pakistan home secretary-level talks on March 28 and 29 will focus on a memorandum of understanding on tackling narcotics smuggling and evolving a mechanism to handle counter-terrorism, including information sharing on the November 26 Mumbai terror attacks. But the difficult areas f

PM for solid steps on 26/11 probe

CCS discusses India-Pak home secy talks

Pakistan to talk about 26/11 probe progress at key meet

or the two countries to handle will be Islamabad's concerns about India's demand that a judicial commission be allowed to visit Pakistan on the Mumbai attack case as it had allowed a Pakistani commission to visit India.

India agreed to allow a Pakistani commission to come to India to record the evidence of the investigating officer in the 26/11 case, the magistrate who recorded statements and the doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists and their victims.

But on India's demand for a visit by an Indian judicial commission, Pakistan said unlike the Pakistani commission's visit, which is a "judicial requirement" in that country, New Delhi wanted its commission to do the job of investigators.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/26-11-still-biggest-hurdle-before-India-Pakistan-talks/H1-Article1-678050.aspx

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Pakistan looking to ease visa regime with India

MAR 27 2011

Islamabad moots tourist visas, 90-day visa for businessmen and visa-on-arrival for people over 65

Ahead of the Home Secretary-level talks beginning on Monday, Pakistan is hoping to make some headway with India on easing the visa regime. Pleased with the resumption of “full spectrum dialogue” after a hiatus of over two years, Pakistani officials on Saturday said the delegation heading to New Delhi for the first of the eight segment-related talks would be mindful of the need to set the right tone and tenor for the process that is to unfold between now and July when a Foreign Minister-level engagement is scheduled.

Given that it was the Mumbai terror attack that led India to suspend the composite dialogue process, the delegation is fully aware that their Indian counterparts would focus considerable attention on the progress made by Islamabad in the case. In the preparatory phase, the Interior Ministry has taken on board the views of all stakeholders in the matter.

Also, the government is hoping to get a concrete response from India on Islamabad's request to send a judicial commission to Mumbai to interrogate the lone terrorist nabbed in the attack and other officials who questioned him. Pakistan government officials said India had indicated that the modalities of the judicial commission could be sorted out at the Home Secretaries' meeting.

Though Pakistan's own concerns about terrorism did not feature in the outcome document released by the two countries after the Foreign Secretaries' meeting in Thimphu in February, Islamabad hopes to raise these issues at the meeting. These relate to the progress in the Samjhauta Express blast in which 42 Pakistanis were killed and suspicion of Indian hand in Balochistan.

PAKISTAN'S CONCERNS

In fact, briefing mediapersons in February after his return from Thimphu, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir had categorically stated that non-inclusion of issues of concern to Pakistan in the document did not prevent Islamabad from “raising our concerns.”

Pakistan expects the existing visa regime to come in for detailed discussion as, according to officials, both countries have exchanged proposals for relaxation in certain cases. Islamabad has apparently suggested group tourist visas, 90-day visa for businessmen, and visa-on-arrival for people over 65 years but India has not warmed up to these suggestions till now.

Led by Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, the delegation will include the Director-General of the Federal Investigation Agency, and representatives of the Ministry of Narcotics Control.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article1574135.ece

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Pak to inform India on Mumbai attacks' probe at key talks

March 27, 2011

Pakistan will inform India about progress made in its investigation into the 2008 Mumbai attacks during the upcoming meeting of the Home and Interior Secretaries of the two countries, a Pakistani government official said on Saturday.

"We have made a lot of progress that we would be talking about with our Indian counterparts. That is very satisfying progress that we will be conveying to them," the official, who did not want to be identified, said during a briefing.

The official did not give details about the progress or any new information uncovered by Pakistani investigators.

Authorities have charged seven suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, with involvement in the Mumbai incident but their trial by an anti-terrorism court has been hit by delays due to technical reasons.

He said talks would also be held on Pakistan’s request to send a judicial commission to India to interview key persons linked to the Mumbai attacks.

The official – who briefed the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Pakistan ahead of the meeting of the Home and Interior Secretaries in New Delhi during March 28-29 – said "all stakeholders" in the Pakistani establishment had been taken on board for the crucial parleys.

Pakistan is "greatly delighted and satisfied" that the peace process with India has been resumed after being stalled for over two years, the official said.

"This in itself is a very positive development. Both India and Pakistan getting back to talk is a spirit that we wish to continue with," he said.

Asked about India’s concerns regarding Pakistan-based groups like the LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawah, the official said: "We would like to know their concerns and to meet their concerns. We have already looked into their apprehensions."

At the same time, the official made it clear that Pakistan would not shy away from raising its concerns, including allegations that India was fomenting unrest in Balochistan province and the tribal areas.

"Without going into specifics, we have agreed through over diplomatic exchanges that all issues would be discussed in on open manner. That is going to be the basis of our engagement," the official said.

Pakistan would like to point out "all actors who have been involved in acts of terrorism" so that they could be "eliminated from the spectrum of our relations", the official added.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/327114/Pak-to-inform-India-on-Mumbai-attacks-probe-at-key-talks.html

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India is an 'existential threat' to Pakistan, says Musharraf

Mar 26 2011,

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said India is an "existential threat" to his country and blamed New Delhi for its nuclear weaponisation programme.

Asked which is more of a threat to Pakistan- extremism or India - he chooses the former.

"At the moment, it's extremism and terrorism. But you can't compare. Let's not think this is a permanent situation.

"The orientation of 90 per cent of Indian troops is against Pakistan. We cannot ever ignore India, which poses an existential threat to Pakistan," Musharraf told Time magazine in an interview.

Talking about nuclear weapons, Musharraf said, "Yes, we have nuclear weapons, and we are proud of it. Nuclear weapons are the pride of every man, woman and child walking in the streets of Pakistan. Why are we nuclear? Because of India."

Asked if he considers Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world, he said, "It is very dangerous, yes, I will have to admit. But the most dangerous is Afghanistan."

Talking about the ways to combat the rise of the religious fundamentalists in Pakistan, 67-year-old Musharraf, who stepped down as President in 2008, said there are two choices, either to succumb to circumstances or do something.

"I know the people of Pakistan are moderate. It's unfortunate when the government itself and the leadership appease the religious groups and extremists by turning a blind eye."

The former President said the decision by US to pull out of Afghanistan was not a good one.

"I know (what) public opinion is in the West and the US. But real leadership comes when you need to change public opinion, not go with it, because it's not in your interest or the world's interest. This is the reality in Afghanistan at this moment," said Musharraf, who now lives in self imposed exile in London and Dubai.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/india-is-an-existential-threat-to-pakistan-says-musharraf/767748/

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Strategic town Ajdabiya falls to Libya rebels

March 27, 2011

Libyan rebels on Saturday moved into the strategic eastern town of Ajdabiya, after a barrage of Western air strikes ousted Colonel Muammer Gaddafi's forces there, AFP reporters said.

The rebels powered into the town, leaving a trail of destroyed tanks and military vehicles along the road, in many cases the skeletons sitting next to huge craters left behind by powerful aerial strikes a day earlier.

"The tanks were firing on the houses non-stop. I couldn't move from my house for days," resident Ibrahim Saleh, 34, told AFP. "There was no water or fuel or communications, and when people went out even to get fuel they were fired on.

"The coalition air strikes were yesterday and the day before. They attacked from the skies and the revolutionaries came in afterwards and freed the city," he said.

Defensive positions previously held by pro-Gaddafi forces stood deserted on Saturday morning as rebels rolled in, tooting car horns and flashing the "V" for victory sign.

The roads were clear of any armoured forces loyal to Gaddafi, and the town's western gate was open as people poured into the town.

Full report at:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/327102/Strategic-town-Ajdabiya-falls-to-Libya-rebels.html

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Russia's NATO envoy warns of full-scale war in Libya

MAR 27 2011

MOSCOW: NATO could be dragged into a full-scale war in Libya, like those being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia’s ambassador to the military alliance was quoted as saying on Saturday.

NATO has control of an arms embargo on Libya and agreed this week to assume command of a no-fly zone over its territory but Washington has been left in control of conducting air strikes against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s ground forces.

The United States hopes to hand over control of the air strikes as soon as possible and said on Friday it expected NATO to take command of it, although it was still being discussed.

“Just as we forecast, NATO is being drawn deeper and deeper into war in North Africa,” Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, told Interfax news agency.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/world/article330753.ece

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India to open talks with Pak army,

Mar 27, 2011,

India has asked its envoy in Pakistan to open channels of communication with Pakistani army chief General Pervez Kayani as well as ISI chief Shuja Pasha.(AFP photo)

NEW DELHI: India has asked its envoy in Pakistan to open channels of communication with Pakistani army chief General Pervez Kayani as well as ISI chief Shuja Pasha, which, if he agrees, could open up new possibilities of deepening Indo-Pak engagement.

"We have given the green signal," said government sources. As a new season of Indo-Pak engagement bursts upon the sub-continent, there is a realization that India's efforts to talk is incomplete because there is no communication with the Pakistani army — effectively the real power centre. The diplomatic outreach to General Kayani is under the rubric of engaging all stakeholders so as not to attract extra attention, but it's a special effort by India. However, Kayani is yet to respond to Indian overtures.

Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani may accept Manmohan Singh's invitation to attend the World Cup cricket semi-final match in Mohali next week. While the event is not expected to significantly alter bilateral ties, it may clear the air. Certainly, on the Indian side, the initiative is entirely the prime minister's. Singh has completely invested in the idea that he should somehow resolve the Indo-Pak problem, despite the number of hiccups that have marred previous efforts.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-to-open-talks-with-Pak-army-ISI-chief/articleshow/7796551.cms

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After 2009 Bangladesh mutiny, India rallied support for Hasina

Mar 27, 2011,

AP The mutiny by a section of Bangladesh Rifles troops in February 2009 set off fears in India that extremist militant groups would gain the upper hand over Sheikh Hasina's government.

New Delhi was concerned about possible instability

U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires Steven White was surprised when he was called in for a meeting with Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on the last weekend of February 2009.

That “unusual Saturday meeting” was to discuss the mutiny by troopers of the Bangladesh Rifles a couple of days earlier, and the worry in the Indian government about its implications for the newly elected government of Sheikh Hasina, perceived as being a friend of India.

The cable that was sent on March 2, 2009 (194661: confidential), and accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, details the conversation between the American stand-in envoy and Mr. Menon.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, had telephoned External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee during the mutiny to ask for assistance from the international community but had not been specific about the kind of help she needed. Mr. Mukherjee had offered “to be responsive” if needed.

The Foreign Secretary, Shivshankar Menon, revealed that the Indian government had also rallied London, Beijing and Tokyo.

India had two concerns. One, it feared that the Jamat-e-Islami would exploit the instability resulting from the rebellion to “fish in troubled waters.” The Foreign Secretary described the mutiny as long in the planning. Mr. Menon did not blame the Jamat-e-Islami directly for it, but said the party was disappointed by the results of the December 2008 election, and the steps taken by the new government to counter extremism.

Secondly, it appears India was worried that the mutiny could affect the civilian government's relations with the military.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/article1574326.ece

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6 dead in port city as Syrian crisis grows

MAR 27 2011

Syrian security forces have killed six people in two days of anti-government protests in the key port city of Latakia, reformist activists living abroad told Reuters on Saturday.

President Bashar al-Assad, facing his deepest crisis in 11 years in power after security forces fired on protesters on Friday in the southern town of Deraa, freed 260 prisoners in an apparent bid to placate a swelling protest movement.

But the reports from Latakia, a security hub in the northwest, suggested unrest was still spreading.

There were reports of more than 20 deaths in protests on Friday, mainly in the south, and medical officials say dozens have now been killed over the past week around Deraa alone.

Such demonstrations would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago in this most tightly controlled of Arab countries.

Bouthaina Shaaban, a senior adviser to Assad, told the official news agency that Syria was "the target of a project to sow sectarian strife to compromise Syria and (its) unique coexistence model."

Syrian rights activist Ammar Qurabi told Reuters in Cairo: "There have been at least two killed (in Latakia) today after security forces opened fire on protesters trying to torch the Baath party building."

"I have been in touch with people in Syria since last night, using three cell phones and constantly sitting online. Events are moving at an extremely fast pace."

Exiled dissident Maamoun al-Homsi told Reuters by telephone from Canada: "I have the name of four martyrs who have fallen in Latakia yesterday."

The state news agency quoted a government source as saying security forces had not fired at protesters but that an armed group had taken over rooftops and fired on citizens and security forces, killing five people since Friday.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/latest_news.php?nid=29084

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Yemen 'close to transition of power deal'

MAR 27 2011

A deal on a peaceful transition of power in Yemen could come as early yesterday and would be based on an offer by President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down by year-end, Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said.

But an opposition leader cast doubt on prospects for a swift deal, a day after a diplomat in Sanaa cautioned it was too soon to discuss an outcome, saying it could still "go either way."

Yemen, a poor and tribally divided country that has become a base for al Qaeda next to the world's top oil producer Saudi Arabia, has been in turmoil since January when the example of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions set off popular demonstrations to end Saleh's 32-year authoritarian rule.

"I hope it will be today, before tomorrow," Qirbi, who is serving as caretaker foreign minister, told Reuters in an interview, adding that the time frame of a transfer of power by Saleh could be negotiated.

Saleh, who oversaw the 1990 unification of north and south Yemen and emerged victorious from a civil war four years later, told tribes in Sanaa Saturday that he would "work to avoid bloodshed using all possible means."

He said Friday he was ready to relinquish power to forestall more bloodshed but only to what he called "safe hands" after weeks of street demonstrations demanding his departure.

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=179319

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Libyan woman claims rape by 15 soldiers

Mar 27, 2011

TRIPOLI: A distraught Libyan woman stormed into a Tripoli hotel on Saturday to tell foreign reporters that government troops raped her, setting off a brawl when hotel staff and government minders tried to detain her. Iman al-Obeidi was tackled by waitresses and government minders as she sat telling her story to journalists after she rushed into the restaurant at the Rixos hotel where a number of foreign journalists were eating breakfast.

She claimed loudly that troops had detained her at a checkpoint, tied her up, abused her, then led her away to be gang raped. Her story could not be independently verified, but the dramatic scene provided a rare firsthand glimpse of the brutal crackdown on public dissent by Gaddafi's regime as the Libyan leader fights a rebellion against his rule that began last month.

Before she was dragged out of the hotel, al-Obeidi managed to tell journalists that she was detained by a number of troops who were drinking whiskey. She said a number of others who she said remained in custody. She said she was detained on Wednesday but didn't tell how she escaped this morning. She said she was raped by 15 men. "They defecated and urinated on me and tied me up," she said, her face streaming with tears.

The woman, who appeared in her 30's, wore a black robe and orange scarf around her neck and identified herself. She had scratches on her face and she pulled up her black robe to reveal a bloodied thigh. "As soon as I leave here they will take me right to jail," she yelled at the journalists.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Libyan-woman-claims-rape-by-15-soldiers/articleshow/7797317.cms

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Muslims face growing attacks in Ivory Coast crisis

MAR 27 2011

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast: Souleymane Sissouma became the third imam slain this month in an attack so brutal his family members went into hiding, too afraid even to attend his funeral.

As dozens of mourners gathered at a mosque, the twisted wreckage of a burned car lay outside — another sign of the growing campaign of violence against Muslims who widely support Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of November’s presidential election.

Ouattara, who is Muslim, is locked in a battle with the entrenched president Laurent Gbagbo for power, and their conflict is veering dangerously toward sectarian violence.

At least 10 mosques across Abidjan have been set ablaze, and another was abandoned after attackers threw a grenade through a window during prayers.

“Us Muslims, we’re not safe. We are the object of every kind of violence. We’re afraid. We don’t know how this is going to end,” said Imam Idriss Koudouss, president of the National Islamic Council. “And we aren’t even involved in politics.” Ouattara supporters also have been beaten to death with bricks, even doused with gasoline and burned alive. Cell phone videos of the horrors are traded on the street and broadcast on state television along with calls to arms.

“It’s the political manipulation of ethnicity,” said Corinne Dufka, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch.

“The root of the conflict is competition for political power and the fault lines are drawn along religious, ethnic and national lines.”

November’s presidential election was supposed to reunite the country after a 2002-2003 civil war split it into a rebel-controlled north and a loyalist south. But when Gbagbo refused to recognize UN-certified results showing that he lost, Ivory Coast was plunged back into a cycle of violence.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/world/article330571.ece

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Man dies, 130 injured in Jordan clashes

MAR 27 2011

A man died and 130 people were injured on Friday as pro-reform protesters and government supporters clashed in Amman, in what the prime minister said was an Islamist attempt to "create chaos."

"Khairy Saad Jamil, 55, died today at the Prince Hamzeh Hospital" in Amman, a medical source told AFP without specifying the cause of death.

It was the first death since the outbreak of pro-reform protests in Jordan three months ago.

Another medical source at the hospital said the man had "received blows to his chest, and his teeth were broken."

But police chief Hussein Majali told a news conference that Jamil "died of a heart attack".

"There were no signs of beating on his body," he said.

Jamil's son insisted that his unemployed father "got several blows to his body, leading to his death."

"Our family is in the hospital now. We will not move until officials come to us and explain what really happened," he said.

There were conflicting reports on the number of people injured.

A medical source said 130 people, including a policeman, were injured in the clashes, including two in "critical condition."

However, police said in a statement "60 civilians and 58 members of police, including a sergeant and a captain were injured. All of them were hospitalised."

"The security forces had to put an end to the gathering after the two sides clashed," the statement said. "Attempts by Amman's governor to calm things down through dialogue have failed and provocations and stone-throwing from both sides continued, prompting police intervention."

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/8596/World/Region/Man-dies,--injured-in-Jordan-clashes.aspx

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French jets destroy seven pro-Gaddafi aircraft in Libya

Mar 27, 2011

PARIS: French fighter jets destroyed at least five warplanes and two helicopters from forces backing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in air strikes today, the military announced.

French jets "carried out several strikes in the Zintan and Misrata regions," it said in a statement on the French armed forces website.

According to first information, the strikes destroyed "in Misrata at least five Galeb warplanes and at least two MI-35 combat helicopters which were preparing to carry out operations in the region," it said.

French, US and British air strikes against Gaddafi's regime began a week ago under a UN Security Council resolution which authorised "all necessary means" to protect civilians and set up a no-fly zone over the country.

Gaddafi's forces pounded the rebel-held town of Misrata, 214 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli, on Friday and today, leaving several people dead and wounded, witnesses and rebels said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/French-jets-destroy-seven-pro-Gaddafi-aircraft-in-Libya/articleshow/7796743.cms

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Palestinian President meets Hamas to talk unity

MAR 27 2011

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has met with the rival Palestinian group Hamas in the West Bank for the first time in about a year.

The two sides have been split since Hamas expelled Abbas' forces from the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving the Palestinian president in control only of the West Bank. Years of mediation has failed to reconcile the two sides, complicating efforts to achieve a Palestinian state through a peace deal with Israel.

Abbas now says he's willing to travel to Hamas-controlled Gaza to prepare the ground for a unity deal. He has not visited Gaza since the Hamas takeover.

Palestinians in both territories have demonstrated this month to call for unity.

Saturday's meeting appeared to be an attempt to lobby Hamas to accept Abbas' proposal.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/8631/World/Region/Palestinian-president-meets-Hamas-to-talk-unity.aspx

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Syria pulls troops from restive city after unrest

MAR 27 2011

A Libyan rebel jubilates after the taking of Ajdabiya, a city, south of Benghazi, eastern Libya, by rebels on Saturday. Photo: AP.

A resident told The Associated Press by telephone that security forces had withdrawn to the outskirts of Daraa, where protests demanding the release of youths arrested for spraying anti-government graffiti have spiralled into more than a week of daily confrontations with security forces, who have repeatedly opened fire.

Syrian President Bashar Assad pulled back police and soldiers from a restive southern city and released dozens of political prisoners on Saturday in an attempt to appease demonstrators furious about a violent government crackdown on dissent that has left dozens dead.

A resident told The Associated Press by telephone that security forces had withdrawn to the outskirts of Daraa, where protests demanding the release of youths arrested for spraying anti—government graffiti have spiralled into more than a week of daily confrontations with security forces, who have repeatedly opened fire.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article1573939.ece

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Libya, a U.N. intervention to save people

MAR 27 2011

“The movements currently sweeping across the Arab world constitute a historic time, and what is happening in Libya is creating precedence and can give confidence to the Arab peoples,” as Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, has just stated, at the end of a European Union Council. From North Africa to the Persian Gulf, Arab peoples are proclaiming their hope for freedom and democracy, two principles that France, the United Kingdom and India particularly cherish. Hope is becoming a reality — in Tunisia, in Egypt, and in Morocco, where King Mohammed VI, in a brave and visionary speech, announced the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

But not in Libya, where since early February Colonel Gaddafi has launched a systematic, cynical and bloody crackdown against his own people. Libyans fighting for freedom have appealed to the international community to come to their aid and protect them against the brutality of their own government.

At the Security Council, India, the United Kingdom, France and all other Council members have worked together to avoid becoming impotent bystanders as crimes against humanity are perpetrated. On 26 February, we unanimously decided to adopt Resolution 1970, which, inter alia, imposed tough sanctions against Colonel Gaddafi's regime and took the ground-breaking move of referring Gaddafi and his henchmen to the International Criminal Court.

But this was not enough to halt the massacre. The ongoing violence led the League of Arab States to demand on 12 March that the United Nations Security Council establish a no-fly zone and safe areas for civilians. On 17 March, the UN Security Council adopted a new resolution that established such a no-fly zone and authorised UN Member States to “take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas” from the attacks by Gaddafi's regime.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article1574442.ece

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Govt against drone attacks, says Malik

MAR 27 2011

HAFIZABAD – Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that the PPP-led Coalition Government will continue its struggle to serve the masses and solve their problems following the vision of its Shaheed leader Benazir Bhutto.

The Minister also condemned the killing of innocent civilians in drone attacks in North Waziristan and adjoining areas.

Addressing the opening ceremony of Regional Passport office here on Saturday, he said the present Government despite leg pulling by the opponents completed three years in power. He said the PPP believed in service to the people therefore it had decided to observe the fourth year in power as the year of workers.

Malik said that the PPP had always rendered matchless sacrifices to save Pakistan and even its leaders laid their lives for Pakistan. He said the PPP was a national party which had the vision to lead the country towards progress and prosperity.

The Interior Minister said that the Government under the leadership of President Asif Alzi Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani fought a successful fight against terrorists who according to him "were on the run today".

He stated that a lot had been achieved to bring peace in the country and these efforts would "continue till the elimination of the last terrorist".

Full report at:

http://dailymailnews.com/0311/27/FrontPage/index.php?id=3

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Pakistan to seek Interpol help to arrest Musharraf

MAR 27 2011

RAWALPINDI: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to contact Interpol to bring former president Pervez Musharraf back to Pakistan in the Benazir Bhutto (BB) assassination case.

ATC Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed has already issued non-bailable arrest warrants of Musharraf three times.

The court observed on Saturday that since there was delay in the implementation of summons, why not those arrested in connection with the former prime minister’s assassination were released on bail.

Counsel for the FIA asked the court to declare Musharraf a proclaimed offender (PO). Upon this, the judge asked how come the court could declare somebody a PO.

The counsel said the court could declare Musharraf a PO keeping in view that its summons were repeatedly falling on deaf ears and the accused was not willing to show up.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\27\story_27-3-2011_pg1_1

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Gaza Rockets Strike Israel Anew after Lull

MAR 27 2011

JERUSALEM: Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Israel on Saturday after a brief lull in violence along a frontier where tension has risen this week.

An Israeli general responded with a warning that Israel would not allow its citizens to remain under repeated fire and Gaza’s Hamas rulers should “come to their senses” to prevent an escalation of hostilities.

Witnesses and a military spokeswoman said one rocket damaged an Israeli home before dawn while the other fell harmlessly in an open area. There were no casualties.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility issued by any of the resistance groups in Gaza, a small, coastal Palestinian territory sealed off by Israel.

Israel launched a series of airstrikes in Gaza this week in response to rocket fire, killing five resistance fighters and four civilians, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened a lengthy “exchange of blows” if the violence goes on.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article330920.ece

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Egypt Must Scrap Law Banning Strikes: Rights group

MAR 27 2011

CAIRO: An Egyptian draft law that imposes prison sentences for some strike action violates international laws on freedom of assembly and must be scrapped, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.

Last week, Egypt’s military-backed government approved the draft law, which is valid for as long as Egypt’s state of emergency is in force, saying the strikes were damaging the economy. It extends to those who organize strikes.

“This virtually blanket ban on strikes and demonstrations is a betrayal of the demands of Tahrir protesters for a free Egypt,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“Any genuine transition toward democracy must be based on respect for the basic rights of the people, including their right to demonstrate,” she said in a statement which demanded the immediate reversal of the decision to ban strikes.

Some workers have pressed protests to demand better wages and working conditions after a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak from power. Some strikes have disrupted the economy and hit Egypt’s vital tourist industry, economic analysts say.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article330919.ece

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Air raids force Gaddafi retreat, rebels seize east

March 27, 2011

Libyan rebels clinched their hold on the east and seized back a key city on Saturday after decisive international airstrikes sent Muammar Gaddafi's forces into retreat, shedding their uniforms and ammunition as they fled.

Ajdabiya's initial loss to Gadhafi may have ultimately been what saved the rebels from imminent defeat, propelling the U.S. and its allies to swiftly pull together the air campaign now crippling Gaddafi's military. Its recapture gives President Barack Obama a tangible victory just as he faces criticism for bringing the United States into yet another war.

In Ajdabiya, drivers honked in celebration and flew the tricolor rebel flag. Others in the city fired guns into the air and danced on burned-out tanks that littered the road.

Their hold on the east secure again, the rebels promised to resume their march westward that had been reversed by Gaddafi's overwhelming firepower. Rebel fighters already had pushed forward to the outskirts of the oil port of Brega and were hoping to retake the city on Sunday, opposition spokeswoman Iman Bughaigis said, citing rebel military commanders.

"Without the planes we couldn't have done this. Gaddafi's weapons are at a different level than ours," said Ahmed Faraj, 38, a rebel fighter from Ajdabiya. "With the help of the planes we are going to push onward to Tripoli, God willing."

The Gaddafi regime acknowledged the airstrikes had forced its troops to retreat and accused international forces of choosing sides.

Full report at:

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/world/africa/air-raids-force-gaddafi-retreat-rebels-seize-east-990

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In the U.S., talks of arming Libyan rebels

MAR 27 2011

Even as confusion surrounded the legality of the western alliance arming rebel groups in Libya, United States President Barack Obama on Saturday said the military operation Odyssey Dawn was “succeeding”.

According to observers here, the “Obama administration believes the United Nations resolution that authorised international intervention in Libya has the “flexibility” to [arm the rebels]”.

In particular, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Susan Rice is reported to have said the language of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 authorising action in Libya was “not specific”.

While Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, head of the UNSC's Libya Sanctions Committee, admitted the wording of the UNSCR 1973 was “open to a lot of interpretation”, he was reported to have said he would not interpret the wording as allowing arms shipments to the rebels.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said this week if arming the rebels was “the right way to go”, then that option would certainly be a “possibility”.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article1574127.ece

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Turkey’s Kurds begin ‘civil disobedience’ campaign

MAR 27 2011

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has welcomed the cries for change that have swept the Middle East, but protesters say he is ignoring similar calls from his country’s Kurdish minority.

Pro-Kurdish activists are accusing him of hypocrisy, and embarking on a campaign of civil disobedience to push for greater cultural and political rights for Kurds, who make up around 20 percent of Turkey’s 74 million population.

“The prime minister who sends greetings to (Egypt’s) Tahrir Square while sending tanks and gas bombs at us, should know that the (Kurdish) people have been seeking their freedom in their Tahrir squares,” said Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of Turkey’s main Kurdish party, referring to the square in Cairo where weeks of unrelenting protests forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

Turkey is a developing democracy and has a track record of reform unlike other countries in the region, but the Kurdish issue continues to be a major obstacle to doemestic harmony. The campaign has already led to all-night sit-in demonstrations, a female Kurdish legislator slapping a police officer in the face, another threatening to throw a stone at police and a mayor jumping on top of an armored personnel carrier.

It is likely to increase tensions in Turkey’s troubled southeast in the run-up to elections on June 12, when the Kurdish party, Peace and Democracy will be trying to thwart Erdogan’s ruling party from making inroads in its traditional stronghold.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article330736.ece

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Jeddah woos Japanese

MAR 27 2011

JEDDAH: Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed received on Saturday the members of the Japanese Peace Boat, which arrived at the Jeddah Islamic Port on Saturday. The boat carrying more than 700 people, mostly Japanese, is on a trip to spread peace and brotherhood around the world.

Peace Boat is a Japan-based international nongovernmental and nonprofit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment. Hamdi Hassan bin Harbi, a travel agent, said the Japanese team will visit heritage locations such as Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum and the historic center (Balad) in addition to the Center for Scientific Creativity and Al-Maarifa International schools. They will also visit the office of the Islamic Guidance and Dawa Center. The visitors will also be taken to the Corniche.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article330891.ece

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Libyan air strikes failed: Russia’s top general

MAR 27 2011

Russia’s top general on Saturday called air strikes in Libya unsuccessful and gave his opinion that a ground operation would likely be needed to topple the Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi.

‘Air (strikes) as I see it have not given them results,’ the chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces, General Nikolai Makarov told the Interfax news agency in Moscow.

‘If their aim was to topple the regime of Gaddafi, then probably they will not manage without a ground phase,’ he was quoted as saying. ‘I would not rule it out.’

He reaffirmed Russia’s position that it would not take part in the international operation, saying that ‘there is not even any thought of this.’

The general’s comments came after Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, warned on Saturday that any ground operation would be classified as an occupation of Libya.

Earlier this week, a Kremlin foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, said Russia believed a ground operation would become inevitable if the air strikes got bogged down.

Russia abstained from last week’s Security Council vote allowing a no-fly zone, while opting not to use its veto, and the president, Dmitry Medvedev, has expressed concern about the ‘indiscriminate use of force.’

Full report at:

http://newagebd.com/newspaper1/international/13060.html

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Protesters burn Baath offices in Syria; unrest widens

MAR 27 2011

DAMASCUS, Syria: A scenic seaside city echoed with gunfire Saturday as protesters defied government forces in Syria’s second day of nationwide unrest, burning tires, attacking businesses and setting the offices of the ruling party aflame. At least two people were killed by rooftop snipers in the religiously mixed Mediterranean city of Latakia, officials said, and President Bashar Assad’s government of minority Alawite Muslims blamed a major Sunni cleric in Qatar for inciting the unrest.

The government also said demonstrators had also attacked a police station and offices of the Baath party in the town of Tafas, six miles (10 kilometers) north of the southern border city of Daraa, epicenter of more than a week of anti-government protests.

Sectarian divisions are a deeply sensitive topic in Syria, where Assad has used increased economic freedom and prosperity to win the allegiance of the prosperous Sunni Muslim merchant classes, while punishing dissenters with arrest, imprisonment and physical abuse.

Assad has placed his fellow Alawites, adherents of a mystical offshoot of Shiite Islam, into most positions of power in Syria. He has built a close relationship with Iran, allowing the Shiite powerhouse to extend its influence into Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, where it provides money and weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah militants.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article330906.ece

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Saudi prince is behind disputed LA mega-mansion

MAR 27 2011

A Saudi prince is the previously anonymous owner of a property that is the proposed site of a mega-mansion that has brought gold-plated protest in the wealthy neighborhoods around Beverly Hills.

The Los Angeles Times said Friday that one of the sons of Saudi King Abdullah in 2009 bought the three adjacent parcels with the famous 90210 zip code in Benedict Canyon, where the massive mansion that is roughly the size of the famed Hearst Castle is set to be built.

Property records say he paid $12 million.

Residents of the neighborhood that is home to TV host Jay Leno, David Beckham and rocker Bruce Springsteen say the mansion will bring years of construction that will hurt their quality of life, pose environmental threats and be too big for the neighborhood's narrow streets.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/03/26/saudi-prince-behind-disputed-la-mega-mansion.html

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Israel to deploy 'Iron Dome' anti-rocket system

MAR 27 2011

Israel will deploy its "Iron Dome" multi-million-dollar missile defence system in southern Israel for the first time next week in the wake of rocket attacks from Gaza, officials said Friday.

"I authorised the army to deploy in the next few days the first battery of "Iron Dome" for an operational trial," Defence Minister Ehud Barak said as he toured the tense Gaza Strip border.

The order comes after a spate of rocket fire by Gazan resistance fighters in recent days, some of them striking deep into Israel.

The deployment of the Iron Dome interceptor, designed to combat short-range rocket threats from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, has been delayed until now with officials saying operating crews needed more training and suggestions the system was prohibitively expensive.

The system, developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defence Systems with the help of US funding, is designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells fired from a range of between four and 70 kilometres (three and 45 miles).

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/8593/World/Region/Israel-to-deploy-Iron-Dome-antirocket-system.aspx

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Gilani accepts Singh’s invitation to watch Indo-Pak semi final

MAR 27 2011

A security guard stands by the stadium gate as fans clamor to see cricket players arrive for a training session in Mohali, India, Saturday, March 26, 2011. Pakistan will play India in a Cricket World Cup semifinal in Mohali on March 30. – Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: The guessing game ended early hours on Sunday when the Prime Minster  Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani decided to accept Indian Prime minister, Manmohan Singh’s offer to go to India and watch the ‘high voltage’ India-Pakistan cricket world cup semifinal in Mohali on March 30, DawnNews reported.

The decision was taken after a meeting between the prime minister and the President Zardari, which according to the presidential spokesman, Farhat Ullah Babar, continued for more than two hours.

It may be recalled that Pakistan had welcomed the Indian prime minister’s invitation to President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to witness the match and had said that a decision will be taken after PM Gilani’s return from visit abroad, Babar added.

The foreign diplomats based in Islamabad, earlier felt that declining the invitation would be a serious mistake and a snub for Dr Singh as he had made normalisation of ties with Pakistan his personal priority.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/27/gilani-accepts-singh%E2%80%99s-invitation-to-watch-indo-pak-semifinal.html

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US offers to strengthen Pakistani political process

MAR 27 2011

WASHINGTON: The United States wants to help Pakistan build a stronger political process to cope with the threat of terrorism, says the US State Department.

At a briefing in Washington, the department’s spokesman also said the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, would travel to Brussels and Moscow to consult America’s allies and partners on the issue of Afghanistan.

“Our relationship with Pakistan is geared towards building a stronger political process, building stronger institutions, so that Pakistan is better able to cope with both the threat of terrorism in its midst as well as be a cooperative partner moving forward,” spokesman Mark Toner said. Referring to the arrest and subsequent release of a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, Mr Toner said: “We’ve had some bumps in the road in that partnership” but both sides now desired to leave all that behind.

Mr Toner said that Ambassador Grossman’s visit to Brussels and Moscow was part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s outreach to Afghanistan’s neighbours, allies, and partners for resolving the Afghan dispute. In Brussels, Mr Grossman would meet Nato and EU partners and would participate on a panel of the Brussels Forum entitled “Bridging the Trust Deficit with Pakistan”.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/27/us-offers-to-strengthen-pakistani-political-process.html

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Balochistan to figure in talks with India

By Baqir Sajjad Syed

MAR 27 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will raise the issue of alleged Indian role in fomenting unrest in Balochistan and tribal areas at the interior secretaries meeting slated for Monday, but will also try to make sure that the contentious issues do not bog down the nascent peace process.

The Pakistani side will also ask India to share information about investigation into the Samjhauta Express bombing of 2007.

“All issues are going to be discussed. When we are going to talk about terrorism, it is not going to be confined to the Mumbai attacks. The best interest of both countries demands a transparent approach whereby any apprehensions on either side should adequately be looked into by the other side,” a senior government official said at a briefing for Diplomatic Correspondents Association on Saturday.

The interior secretaries’ parleys are the first in the series of dialogue taking place under the umbrella of revived full spectrum dialogue and would be followed by meetings of senior officials in other segments.

The interior secretaries’ meeting is significant for the future of this renewed process because India had always pre-conditioned discussions on other issues to talks on counter-terrorism, particularly progress on the trial of Mumbai suspects in Pakistan.

The government is cognisant of the possible implications of the outcome of the interior secretaries meeting for other coming engagements over the next few months and is unlikely to press for any undoable because that could damage the revived process even before it takes off.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/27/balochistan-to-figure-in-talks-with-india.html

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US confirms contact with Libyan rebels

March 26, 2011

As the United States begins handing over command of the military operations against Libya to NATO, it said on Friday that arming the rebels - anti-Gaddafi forces - was among the many kinds of assistance under consideration. "We're having the full gamut of potential assistance that we might offer, bo

th on the non-lethal and the lethal side, is a subject of discussion within the US government," said US ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz.

The US has been in touch with the Libyan rebels from the start of the unrest, and secretary of state Hillary Clinton met Mahmoud Jabril, a leading rebel figure, in Paris recently.

Cretz on Friday confirmed US contacts with them.

Unlike the French, however, the US has not yet recognised the Benghazi-based rebel Transitional National Council as the government.

At a state department news briefing, Cretz cited international legal complications for not doing so. But the US was fully engaged with the rebels, he said.

Rebels take Ajdabiya

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/US-confirms-contact-with-Libyan-rebels/H1-Article1-678042.aspx

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Qadhafi’s lies pushed us into fight, captured soldiers say

MAR 27 2011

BENGHAZI, Libya: Their bodies are broken — as broken as their loyalty now to their one-time leader Moamer Qadhafi, whom they say lied to push them into battle against rebellious compatriots in eastern Libya.

Three of them are soldiers in Qadhafi’s army, wounded and taken prisoner in different locations a week ago by rebels.

They were lying in beds in a guarded room in a hospital in Benghazi, sleeping, praying and reflecting on how they ended up being cared for by a compassionate enemy that in no way resembled Al-Qaeda, Israel’s Mossad or the foreign terrorists Qadhafi’s officers had said awaited them.

Azoumi Ali Mohammed, 25, said he was a reservist taken on March 20 after coalition warplanes bombed his convoy of more than 400 Libyan troops and African mercenaries on a desert road leading from the eastern city of Ajdabiya.

“The planes hit us as soon as we headed out. I saw two people die in front of me. After that I don’t know what happened,” he said. He showed his bandaged right leg where he was wounded by shrapnel.

Their orders had been to secure the area, and to “fight mercenaries and al-Qaeda,” he said.

“I was shocked” to discover the enemy was in fact fellow Libyans, he said, explaining that all their mobile phones had been confiscated in Tripoli to prevent them having outside communications.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/27/qadhafis-lies-pushed-us-into-fight-captured-soldiers-say.html

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Afghan civilians killed in airstrike: Nato

MAR 27 2011

The United Nations says Afghan civilian deaths in the war increased 15 per cent to a record high last year, with insurgents responsible for three-quarters of the killings. -Photo by Reuters

KABUL: Afghan civilians were killed and wounded in an airstrike by international forces targeting a Taliban commander in the volatile southern province of Helmand, Nato said Saturday, giving no details of numbers.

It said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) called an airstrike on two vehicles believed to be carrying a Taliban leader and his associates, but later discovered they were transporting civilians.

“Afghan civilians were accidentally killed and wounded in Naw Zad district, Helmand province yesterday (Friday),” ISAF said in a statement, adding that it had launched an investigation into the incident.

Civilian casualties in military operations are highly sensitive in Afghanistan as coalition troops battle to curb a Taliban-led insurgency ahead of a planned handover of security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/26/afghan-civilians-killed-in-airstrike-nato.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/quran-burning--pak-sunnis-call-for-death-to-american-pastor/d/4350


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