New Age Islam
Thu Oct 22 2020, 05:31 AM

Islamic World News ( 1 Jan 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Quran Does Not Encourage Polygamy: Delhi High Court

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India

Quran Does Not Encourage Polygamy: Delhi High Court

Scholars condemn the arrest of innocent Indian Muslim youth on terror charges

Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind) 'political arm' to launch Maharashtra unit

Second Pak judicial panel visit likely by Jan-end

India, Pak exchange list of prisoners

Minority bodies in UP without heads in U P

NC blames the army for 2010 unrest in Valley

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Africa

Nigerian forces kill 13 Boko Haram militants after church attacks

Al Qaeda carves out own country in Mali

While change shakes the Arab world, inertia still reigns supreme in Morocco

Sudan and South Sudan leaders to hold summit

Pro-democracy think-tank shut down in Sudan

Philippine Embassy extends consular outreach services in Yemen

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South Asia

Jihadist warlord calls Prince Harry 'jackal' who hunts 'innocent Afghans while drunk'

Top Afghan negotiator optimistic over peace prospects

Ghazni 2013 chosen as cultural capital of Islamic world

Can Afghan troops hold off the Taliban after NATO withdraws?

The family that protects one of Islam’s sacred relics braves politics, violence

MoD compensation log illustrates human cost of Afghan war

Taliban likens U.S. Afghan role to Vietnam War

Dhaka should argue on basis of sediment deposition system

Afghans say prisoners release offers peace hopes

Muhammad Rahim al-Afghani, A man of letters in barren Guantanamo

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Pakistan

Walking through terror and tragedy in Lahore

3,879 people lost lives in 2012 in war on terror

Tahir ul Qadri should march for Balochistan, says Talal Bugti

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam cautions ‘forces behind Dr Tahirul Qadri’

Qadri in plot against democracy: PML-N

No Tahrir Square will be allowed in Pakistan

India must stop water terror against Pakistan, says Fazl

Malik rushes to London to ‘meet Altaf’

70kg bomb defused in Peshawar

PM orders release of 3,000 Afghan containers

Bike bomb kills four MQM rally-goers

Pakistan softens curbs on US military cargo transit

Lal Masjid inquiry commission: One witness talks differently

Altaf seeks army’s help for revolution

 ‘Record' child measles deaths in 2012

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Arab World

UAE uncovers Muslim Brotherhood cell, arrests its members

Iraq PM warns Sunni protesters to end rallies

Egypt cracks down on satirists and media

Riot at Lebanon's Roumieh prison contained

Beirut: Cardinal says, ‘peace begins by respecting human life’

UAE expats not to be jailed for bounced checks?

Iraqi civilian deaths rise in ‘low-level war’

Syria ushers in New Year with more violence

Iraqi PM Offers prisoner release as demonstrations continue

Saudi Kingdom tops world in education spending

Construction of 70,833 housing units to start soon in Makkah region

Cairo orders 15-day detention for Israeli

Egyptians detained in Emirates belong to Brotherhood 'cell'

Nour’s Salafist splinter group forms new party

Scuffles end Tahrir 2013 New Year's Eve celebration

New atrocity report amid Syria peace bid

Iraq December toll drops despite wave of unrest

Iraq’s Sadr Encourages Antigovernment Demonstrations

Regional situation discussed in Riyadh

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Mideast Asia

Undercover soldiers arrest Islamic Jihad activists in West Bank

Fatah marks anniversary in Gaza for first time since 2007

Iran blasts Obama for Latin America law

Iran warns foreign planes near Strait of Hormuz

Israel's Jewish population passes 6 million marks

Top Iran official to discuss Afghanistan, IAEA

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Southeast Asia

Jakarta’s Civil Servants Clock In Wearing Betawi Attire

500 Myanmar ‘swim’ into Malaysia

Indonesia to remain a major FDI destination: BKPM

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Europe

Ethiopia convicts 10 for 'links to Al-Qaeda'

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North America

With U.S. Set to Leave Afghanistan, Echoes of 1989

Five new members begin to serve on UNSC

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Al Qaeda carves out own country in Mali

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/quran-does-not-encourage-polygamy--delhi-high-court/d/9858

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India

 

Quran Does Not Encourage Polygamy: Delhi High Court

By Smriti Singh

Jan 2, 2013

NEW DELHI: The Holy Quran permits a Muslim man to marry more than one woman at a time but does not encourage such behaviour, a trial court has observed.

The court made these comments while denying anticipatory bail to a Maulvi, who is accused of performing a girl's marriage forcibly with a married man, and added that the Sharia law allows polygamy but only under special circumstances.

"I may observe that even in countries governed by Sharia (Islamic) law, the second marriage is permitted under special circumstances such as an illness of the first wife or her inability to bear children. In these cases, with the first wife's consent, a man may marry again and this is referred to as polygamy, a subset of polygamous marriages. The Holy Quran permits a Muslim man to marry more than one woman at a time (up to a maximum of four), but does not encourage such behaviour," additional sessions judge Kamini Lau said while dismissing the arguments of Maulvi Mustafa Raja of Delhi, who said that as per Sharia law, a man is allowed to keep four wives at a time.

In its order, the court said that the practice of polygamy has been regulated or abolished in many Muslim states/nations and it cannot be encouraged in a liberal democracy like India. "In the secular states of the Muslim world such as Turkey and Tunisia, polygamy is illegal in any form. Even in the nations where it is permitted, polygamy is only practised by a small minority."

The judge also observed that polygamy is permissible in Sharia law "as a part of social duty and charitable motives or when it seeks to prevent destitution."

It said polygamy is only permitted in certain circumstances, including when the husband's death has left his wife with no other means of support.

According to the police, Raja had forcibly got the girl married with accused Nadeem Khan last year without her consent and also in her parents' absence and that the victim was raped by her alleged husband.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Quran-does-not-encourage-polygamy-Court/articleshow/17850028.cms

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Scholars condemn the arrest of innocent Indian Muslim youth on terror charges

New Age Islam Edit Desk

Jan 1, 2013

The issue of targeting Muslims in the name of fighting terror in India has now become an international one.  An NGO called International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) headed by renowned Islamic scholar Yousuf Al Qaradhawi organised a conference on the issue and passed a resolution demanding that the Indian government should stop the arrests of Muslim youth in the name of fighting terror. It has also demanded the establishment of fast track courts for the speedy hearing of the cases involving the Muslim youth.

The conference was held in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The editor of Milli Gazette, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan represented India. The vice-president of Jama’at Islami, Prof. Siddique Hasan could not attend the conference due to illness. According to Dr Khan, the participants expressed their concerns over the campaign against the Muslim youth in the name of war on terror. He also said that it was the first time that the Islamic world had taken note of this serious issue concerning the Indian Muslims.

Mr Zafarul Islam Khan further said that other issues of importance for the Muslims in Palestine, Libya, Arab Spring, Somalia, Tunisia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir etc were also discussed in the conference. The resolution that was passed in the conference is as follows:

“IUMS strongly condemns the campaign against Indian Muslims in the name of terrorism. Although Indian courts have acquitted Muslim youths who spend several years in jail, there are considerable evidences of the fact that the Muslim youth have been falsely implicated and tortured while in custody to extract confession whereas the torture of the accused is prohibited under international law. Despite all this the campaign is going on.”  The resolution has demanded that the Indian government should abstain from the campaign against the Muslim youth and set up fast track courts for the speedy trial of their cases so that they do not have to spend their precious years of their life in jails.

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Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind) 'political arm' to launch Maharashtra unit

By Mohammed Wajihuddin

Jan 2, 2013

MUMBAI: Two years after it was launched in Delhi, the Welfare Party of India (WPI), seen as a political arm of Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind), is gearing up to set up a unit in Maharashtra. The outfit, encouraged by what its members perceive as "widening appeal", will announce its entry into the state with a convention in April.

Several parties with predominantly Muslim presence, such as the Peace Party of India and the Ulema Council, have failed to make much impact in big states like Uttar Pradesh.

WPI office bearers have, however, denied that the party is backed by any ideological group. "We are not guided by a single ideology and it is not a party of the Muslims alone," clarified WPI general secretary S Q R Ilyas, who is also a senior Jamaat-e-Islami functionary.

Ilyas said that since every other party, according to him, has failed the common man and forwarded the agenda of capitalists, this new party will represent the aam aadmi. "The country has progressed in the last 60 years, but the fruits of prosperity have not reached common Indians. We want to give voice to the oppressed," he said.

Responding to a question whether small parties like WPI will cut into secular votes and strengthen "communal" parties, Ilyas said there was no party which could be called secular. "They all are opportunists and even the so-called secular parties play the communal card whenever it suits them," he said.

WPI vice-president Lalitha Naik said the party would enlist non-communal, non-corrupt people as members. The party, she claimed, has formed units in eight states. Recently it fought by-elections in West Bengal for the seat that fell vacant after Pranab Mukherjee became the President of India and was placed fourth with 42,000 votes. "This shows our appeal is widening and we will work hard to make our presence felt in Maharashtra too," said Naik.

The Welfare Party of India (WPI) is gearing up to set up its unit in the state. Launched two years ago in Delhi, WPI will announce its launch in Maharashtra with a convention in April this year. Though its office bearers denied if the party is backed by any ideological group, the outfit is being seen as political arm of Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind).

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Jamaat-political-arm-to-launch-Maha-unit/articleshow/17849376.cms

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Second Pak judicial panel visit likely by Jan-end

Jan 02 2013

New Delhi : The second Pakistan judicial commission looking into the 26/11 terror attack case is likely to visit India by the end of January after it is given approval by the Bombay High Court, said a Home Ministry official.

The confirmation of arrangements under the CrPC was finalised between the two sides after a meeting of Home Ministry officials with their counterparts on December 25 in Islamabad.

Sources said that the Home Ministry will approach the Bombay High Court soon to seek its approval for the visit of the Pakistani panel to cross-examine four witnesses in the Mumbai terror attack case. The witnesses are Metropolitan Magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant-Waghule, who recorded the confessional statement of hanged terrorist Ajmal Kasab, Chief Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale and two doctors from the state-run Nair and JJ Hospitals, who had conducted autopsies of nine terrorists.

The cross-examination of the four witnesses is required to take the ongoing 26/11 trial in a Rawalpindi court to its logical conclusion. Seven terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Toiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, were charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008.

Once the approval of the High Court is received, New Delhi will convey the same to Islamabad which in turn will inform the Lahore High Court for intimation to the Rawalpindi court.

During its visit, the Indian team also secured an assurance from Pakistani authorities that the findings of the second judicial commission would not be summarily rejected by the anti-terrorism court that is conducting the trial of seven men. The findings of the first Pakistani judicial commission that visited India in March 2012 were rejected by the anti-terrorism court as the panel’s members were not allowed to cross-examine the Indian witnesses.

After the judicial panel visits India and cross-examines the witnesses, Islamabad will be expected to reciprocate by granting an Indian judicial commission access to Pakistani suspects when it visits the country at a later stage.

The trial of the Pakistani suspects has made little or no headway for months due to technical and legal issues.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/second-pak-panel-visit-likely-by-janend/1053144/

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India, Pak exchange list of prisoners

Jan 2, 2013

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan on Tuesday exchanged, through diplomatic channels, the list of nationals of each country lodged in others' jails, consistent with the provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access between the two nations.

The agreement, which was signed on May 21, 2008, provides that a comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in others' jails has to be exchanged twice each year — on January 1 and July 1.

They also exchanged the customary list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations between India and Pakistan. The agreement prevents the two countries from launching an attack on each other's nuclear installations.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-Pak-exchange-list-of-prisoners/articleshow/17849425.cms

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Minority bodies in UP without heads in U P

New Age Islam Edit Desk

Jan 1, 2013-01-02

Lucknow: The government minority bodies of UP like the Minority Commission, UP Urdu Academy and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Memorial Committee have been woking without their heads for the last nine months since Akhilesh Singh led government came to power.

The State Minority Commission which takes up the cases of injustice and harassment of the Muslims and other minorities is not able to perform its duties as it did not get its chairman in the new government. The commission hears almost ten to twelve cases relating to the minorities every day but sans a chairman it has not been able to provide aid to the victims for more than nine months now.

During the erstwhile BSP government, the commission had done a remarkable job which increased the reliability of the commission but the commission under the new government is virtually defunct.

Similar is the case with the UP Urdu Academy and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Memorial Committee which have been awaiting the formation of new committees. These bodies work for the development of Urdu language and literature in the state.

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NC blames the army for 2010 unrest in Valley

By Naseer Ganai in Srinagar

January 02, 2013

THE National Conference ( NC) has accused the army of being responsible for the 2010 unrest that led to the killing of 112 protesters in police firing.

“ In 2010, a series of events resulted in the sort of protests that you saw on the streets and the origins of that lie in a fake encounter that took place in North Kashmir’s Machil area where a unit of the army took three people and killed them as terrorists infiltrating into the area when they had absolutely nothing to do with that,” NC spokesman Tanvir Sadiq said in a statement.

The statement was issued after the recent firing on protesters allegedly by the army in Pulwama district on Friday in which seven persons were wounded. The state government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. “ We strongly condemn the Pulwama incident. Such incidents are highly unacceptable and will only alienate the people further,” the spokesman said. “ There should be an impartial probe into the Pulwama incident. We demand the harshest punishment to anyone responsible.

Full report at: Mail Today

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Africa

 

Nigerian forces kill 13 Boko Haram militants after church attacks

By Ben Brumfield

January 2, 2013

Islamist militants in Nigeria's restive north have taken the lives of 34 people since Christmas, including 27 Christians attending church services.

On Tuesday, the country's military took the fight to Boko Haram's stronghold, killing 13 suspected combatants.

Read more: Nigeria guilty of abuses in pursuing Boko Haram militants

Joint Task Force Operation Restore Order lost one soldier during the afternoon gunfight in the isolated town of Maiduguri in Nigeria's far northwest corner, said spokesman Sagir Musa.

The task force condemned alleged Boko Haram attacks going back to July 2012 in a statement, calling them "incessant callous, brutal, barbaric and impious killings." These included attacks on mosques, churches and businesses.

 Boko Haram blamed for attacks in Nigeria Bombs target newspapers in Nigeria

Human Rights Watch said the militant group has killed more than 2,800 people in all.

On Christmas Eve, attackers raided two churches, killing 12 people and setting one of the churches alight. Six days later, suspected Boko Haram fighters killed at least 15 Christian worshipers, slitting some of their throats, according to Nigerian authorities.

Read more: 22 killed in three attacks in Nigeria

Boko Haram carried out its largest known massacre in January 2012 killing 211 through coordinated bombings and gun assaults in the northern city of Kano, a popular target. The group often attacks Nigerian police stations.

The name Boko Haram means "Western education is sacrilege."

In the past, they have attacked other Muslims they felt were on an immoral path but have increasingly killed Christians.

Full report at:

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/02/world/africa/nigeria-boko-haram-operation/

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Al Qaeda carves out own country in Mali

January 01, 2013

MOPTI: Northern Mali is now the biggest territory held by Al Qaeda and its allies. And as the world hesitates, delaying a military intervention, the extremists who seized control of the area earlier this year are preparing for a war they boast will be worse than the decade-old struggle in Afghanistan.

"Al Qaeda never owned Afghanistan," said former United Nations diplomat Robert Fowler, a Canadian kidnapped and held for 130 days by al-Qaida's local chapter, whose fighters now control the main cities in the north. "They do own northern Mali."

Al Qaeda's affiliate in Africa has been a shadowy presence for years in the forests and deserts of Mali, a country hobbled by poverty and a relentless cycle of hunger.

In recent months, the terror syndicate and its allies have taken advantage of political instability within the country to push out of their hiding place and into the towns, taking over an enormous territory which they are using to stock arms, train forces and prepare for global jihad.

The catalyst for the Islamic fighters was a military coup nine months ago that transformed Mali from a once-stable nation to the failed state it is today. On March 21, disgruntled soldiers invaded the presidential palace.

Full report at:

 http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-81933-Al-Qaeda-carves-out-own-country-in-Mali

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While change shakes the Arab world, inertia still reigns supreme in Morocco

Isabelle Mandraud

1 January 2013

Is it still plausible to see Morocco as an exception? Thrown into turmoil by the Arab spring, the kingdom has taken great care to promote this notion, while remaining cautiously on the sidelines of the changes rocking the Arab world.

Unlike Tunisia there is no controversy about Islamist policies here. Nor has Jordanian-style popular unrest sought to oust the monarchy. On 18 November only a handful of militants gathered outside parliament to demand a cut in the royal budget, estimated at about $300m. A year after the general election that brought the Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD) to power for the first time, Morocco is still keeping a low profile in the Arab world.

"Nothing whatsoever is going on," says the PJD minister of higher education, Lahcen Daoudi, with a laugh, as if it were proof of success. But such inertia is beginning to irritate people in Morocco.

A referendum in July 2011 approved a set of 20 reforms designed to establish a new constitution. But since it assembled last January the new parliament has only managed to vote one of them into law. No attempt has been made to encourage widespread debate, no major reform programme has been launched despite a difficult economic climate, with almost 30% unemployment among young people and a quarter of the population lacking welfare coverage. Perhaps this year was a just warm-up round for the government and monarchy, a "blank year", as people put it. But the approval ratings of the prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, have barely wavered.

Full report at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/01/morocco-turmoil-reform-arab-spring

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Sudan and South Sudan leaders to hold summit

02 Jan 2013

The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan are set to meet in Ethiopian capital to discuss how to improve border security and resume cross-border oil flows, both governments have said.

The African Union will host the summit on Friday between Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa, spokesmen for both governments said on Tuesday.

Both countries have said they wanted to set up a demilitarised border zone, signalling possible concessions ahead of the summit which will test whether they can mend ties and restore vital oil flows.

South and North signed a landmark deal in September in Addis Ababa, which was centred on nine key areas, including a demilitarised buffer zone and oil production.

They agreed to resume oil exports from the landlocked South through Sudan, months after Juba had shut down its oil production after failing to agree with the North on an export fee, one of several conflicts left over from South Sudan's secession in 2011.

However, both the African neighbours still have to move back their army 10km from the border to set up a buffer zone, a condition to restart oil flows.

They also accuse each other of supporting rebels on the other's territory and fought a limited war in April last year after South Sudan’s army captured oil-rich town of Heglig – which is internationally recognised as part of Sudan.

Oil lifeline

In a speech on New Year's Eve, Kiir said the new republic was willing to withdraw its troops from the 1,800km long border, much of which is disputed.

South Sudan's Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Reuters the withdrawal would have to be coordinated between the two countries. He did not elaborate.

Bashir did not mention Kiir's comments at a rally on Tuesday but said Sudan wanted to implement the September deals, which would include the troop pullback, and open the border for trade.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/01/201311212725376784.html

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Pro-democracy think-tank shut down in Sudan

January 1, 2013

KHARTOUM: Sudan shut down a leading pro-democracy think-tank on Monday, a day after the organisation helped stage a protest against government crackdowns on campaigners, its director said.

The Al Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE) was one of a number of bodies that tried to deliver a petition to the country’s human rights commission on Sunday.

Police armed with batons blocked their way and, on Monday, a government official told the organisation its operating license had been withdrawn, director Bakr Afif told Reuters.

Sudan has avoided the mass “Arab Spring” uprisings that unseated rulers in neighbouring Egypt and Libya.

But authorities have clamped down on a series of small protests over corruption, rising prices and austerity measures imposed to cope with an economic crisis exacerbated by the secession of the country’s oil-producing south last year.

“We were informed today by the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) that we have to close and that our licence has been annulled,” said Afif, referring to the government body that licences non-governmental groups.

Security agents later took documents and other property, witnesses said.

Full report at:

http://gulfnews.com/news/region/sudan/pro-democracy-think-tank-shut-down-in-sudan-1.1126473

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Philippine Embassy extends consular outreach services in Yemen

2 January 2013

JEDDAH: The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh conducted a consular outreach mission to Filipinos in Yemen, Dec. 21-24.

Led by Vice Consul Paulo V. Saret, the embassy consular mission was held at the Movenpick Hotel in Sana’a. He was assisted by The Filipino Community in Yemen (TFCY) officers that included TFCY President Estelita Gahlan, Auditor Marilou Espanola and Counselor Neil Solomon.

The team was able to encode 131 e-passport applications and rendered other consular services, including recording of report of birth (8), issuance of travel documents (3) and notarization of documents (2). Filipinos from all over Yemen, including the cities of Sana’a, Aden, Taiz, Hudeidah, Hajah and Saadah, availed of the consular services.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/philippine-embassy-extends-consular-outreach-services-yemen

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South Asia

 

Jihadist warlord calls Prince Harry 'jackal' who hunts 'innocent Afghans while drunk'

Jan 02 2013

London : An Afghan warlord has launched a scathing attack on Prince Harry describing him as a ''jackal'' who wants to kill ‘innocent Afghans while he is drunk’.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has been designated a global terrorist by the United States, heaped insults on the British Royal.

During an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, he also vowed to kill as many troops as possible before the UK''s withdrawal in 2014.

Hekmatyar said that Prince Harry comes to Afghanistan to kill innocent Afghans while he is drunk.

‘But hunting of Afghan lions and eagles is not that easy, Jackals cannot hunt lions’, he added during the interview.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/jihadist-warlord-calls-prince-harry-jackal-who-hunts-innocent-afghans-while-drunk/1053328/

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Top Afghan negotiator optimistic over peace prospects

1 Jan 2013

A top Afghan peace negotiator said he was cautiously optimistic about prospects for reconciliation with the Taliban and that all sides now realized a military solution to the war was not possible.

Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai also told Reuters that the Kabul government hoped to transform the Afghan Taliban, who have proved resilient after more than a decade of war against U.S.-led NATO and Afghan troops, into a political movement.

He predicted the highly lethal Haqqani militant network, the most experienced at guerrilla warfare, would join the peace process if the Afghan Taliban started formal talks.

Signs are emerging that the Afghan government is gaining momentum in its drive to persuade the Taliban to lay down their arms before most NATO combat troops pull out by the end of 2014, a timeline that makes many Afghans nervous.

Members of the Afghan government, the Taliban and some of their old enemies in the Northern Alliance, which fought the Taliban for years, discussed ways of easing the conflict during a recent meeting in France.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/9/61604/World/International/Top-Afghan-negotiator-optimistic-over-peace-prospe.aspx

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Ghazni 2013 chosen as cultural capital of Islamic world

January 2, 2013

This is the theme of the art gallery held at Tehran’s Cultural Institute of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

Ghazni is an old city in central-east Afghanistan filled with rich cultural heritage.

The ceremony unveiled key elements of Ghazni culture. The gallery is showcasing 20 art pieces of canvas paintings to show regional countries and the whole world the deep rich Ghazni heritage.

Full report at:

http://presstv.com/detail/2012/12/31/281145/ghazni-2013-cultural-capital-of-islamic-world/

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Can Afghan troops hold off the Taliban after NATO withdraws?

Julian Borger

1 January 2013

The umbilical connection between the US marines at Camp Leatherneck and the new model Afghan army in Camp Shorabak is a sandy chicane known as Friendship Gate, where Helmand's Afghan garrison draws sustenance from its departing foreign advisers. Its dominant feature is a fortified American-manned heavy machine gun, pointing towards the Afghans.

The formidable weapon permanently aimed at a supposed ally is silent testimony to a relationship that is crucial to Helmand's future but remains a volatile mix of dependence, mutual admiration and deep distrust.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps is now 17,000-strong, gaining in confidence and competence and, according to local polling, generally well respected. It has managed to hold on to the main population areas in Helmand in the face of a Taliban attempt to retake lost territory and as a result the province's towns are much safer than they were a year ago.

But the ANA still cannot fight on its own. Only one of the 215th Corps' four brigades is anywhere near full battle readiness. In fact, a Pentagon report in early December revealed that only one of the ANA's 23 brigades across the country had reached that point. The Taliban's success in infiltrating its ranks has contributed to the number of "green-on-blue", or insider attacks, in which Afghan troops turn their guns on their foreign mentors. There were 12 such attacks in Helmand in 2012, all fatal, sawing away at the bonds of trust on which the NATO exit strategy is based.

Full report at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/01/afghan-troops-taliban-NATO-withdrawal

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The family that protects one of Islam’s sacred relics braves politics, violence

Kevin Sieff

January 01, 2013

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN—For 250 years, Masood Akhundzada’s family has protected Afghanistan’s most sacred artifact: a cloak said to have been worn by the prophet Muhammad. Its power drew Afghan kings and presidents and Taliban leaders to a small, blue shrine in a city conquered by Alexander the Great and contested ever since.

By the time Akhundzada inherited the guardianship in 2008, it was an honour that came at a high price. Five previous guardians — his father, brothers and cousins — had been assassinated, shot in their offices, in markets and airports. They were hunted, most believed, for their connection to a piece of Islamic history that the insurgency wanted desperately to reclaim.

When Akhundzada, a large man with a wild beard and an easy smile, accepted the keys to the shrine, he also bought a gun. There’s no law, he said, that prevents a mullah from being armed if his life is in danger.

The fight between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which will almost certainly continue beyond America’s military drawdown, is as much a war over symbols as territory. Some of those symbols are ordinary Korans and mosques, stand-ins for the religiosity of warriors on both sides of the battlefield. Some are more specific and sacred, like the cloak under Akhundzada’s care, whose significance has prompted even American concern over its fate.

Many Afghans worry that if Kandahar slips further into anarchy after the 2014 drawdown, the most famous of symbols could go with it, leaving its protectors at the dangerous intersection of rhetorical and physical battlefields.

Full report at:

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1309356--the-family-that-protects-one-of-islam-s-sacred-relics-braves-politics-violence

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MoD compensation log illustrates human cost of Afghan war

Ben Quinn

1 January 2013

The killing of six members of a family, including a mother and her children, when a rocket overshot a target and hit the compound in which they were living are among the incidents in recent months for which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid out compensation to Afghan civilians.

The cases – contained in a log released by the MoD to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act – paint a picture of the ongoing human cost of the conflict ranging from many frequent payments for crop damage caused by operations through to more serious events involving civilians caught up in the war.

An Afghan man lost his entire family in the rocket incident on 4 May, which the log lists as being due to a "weapons malfunction".

The amount of compensation payments for 2011 (£510,728) and during the last year up to 19 November (£537,684) are considerably less than in previous years.

The MoD made £1.3m in compensation payments during 2010.

However, in a change of policy, the MoD has decided against giving details of how much was paid out for individual incidents, despite being criticised in the past for a lack of transparency in relation to the payments. It means but it is not possible to identify beyond doubt how much was paid for the deaths of the family of six, but it is known that the maximum payment this year was $31,101 (£19,111), allowing for payment of just over $5,183 (£3,186) for each of the deaths in the incident.

Full report at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/01/mod-compensation-log-afghan-war

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Taliban likens U.S. Afghan role to Vietnam War

January 02, 2013

KABUL: The Taliban has likened the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan to America's pullout from Vietnam, calling it a "declare victory and run" strategy.

A statement from the militant group Wednesday said the ongoing transfer of security operations from U.S. to Afghan forces was merely a retreat similar to the American withdrawal from South Vietnam prior to the communist victory there in 1975.

Full report at:

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/International/2013/Jan-02/200524-taliban-likens-us-afghan-role-to-vietnam-war.ashx#ixzz2GndpYaCN

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Dhaka should argue on basis of sediment deposition system

January 2, 2013

Sediments from Indian land do not get deposited in the Bay of Bengal crossing the Swatch of No Ground, so India has no right anywhere beyond that line, speakers said at a press briefing in the capital yesterday.

They advised Bangladeshi experts to produce a correct sediment deposition map called "bathymetric map of Bengal sediment depositional system" to argue with India to arrive at an equitable solution to the maritime boundary disputes and to get entry to the high seas from the country's own waters.

They came up with the advices as India claims some part of an 111,631 square kilometre area in the Bay, which Bangladesh won through a verdict of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany.

The speakers said another method of claim called "angle-bisector method", as stipulated in the United Nations Convention Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), would be favourable for India, and in that case, Bangladesh would lose its right to extracting or using the sea resources, said a statement, "Maritime Boundary with India: Tough Time Ahead", sent by "Deshpremik Mancha", which organised the press briefing.

They suggested that Bangladeshi official delegations should argue on the basis of natural prolongation, which was stipulated in Article 76 of the UNCLOS.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=263481

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Afghans say prisoners release offers peace hopes

January 02, 2013

KABUL (Reuters/AFP) - A top Afghan peace negotiator said Tuesday he was cautiously optimistic about prospects for reconciliation with the Taliban and that all sides now realised a military solution to the war was not possible. Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai also told Reuters that the Kabul government hoped to transform the Afghan Taliban, who have proved resilient after more than a decade of war against US-led NATO and Afghan troops, into a political movement.Other Afghan peace negotiators welcomed the release of eight Taliban prisoners who had been held in Pakistan, hailing the move as a significant boost to efforts to end 11 years of war.The High Peace Council, set up to conduct negotiations with the Taliban, said the releases underlined that Pakistan was supporting talks as US-led NATO combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan.Support from Pakistan, which backed the 1996-2001 Taliban regime, is seen as crucial to peace in Afghanistan after NATO’s departure.Former Taliban justice minister Nooruddin Turabi was among the eight freed on Monday, adding to 18 others released in November after appeals from Kabul.Afghan officials believe Taliban leaders released from Pakistani jails could help bring militants to the negotiating table.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/02-Jan-2013/afghans-say-prisoners-release-offers-peace-hopes

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Muhammad Rahim al-Afghani, A man of letters in barren Guantanamo

January 1, 2013

An Afghan man being held with the most significant terrorism suspects in U.S. custody has apparently gained extensive knowledge of western pop culture in an unlikely place — the top secret prison-within-a-prison in Guantanamo Bay.

In March 2008, Muhammad Rahim al-Afghani became the last prisoner sent to Guantanamo. He was accused of helping Osama bin Laden elude capture, and was locked away in Guantanamo’s Camp 7, a prison unit shrouded in secrecy holding 15 “high value” detenus. With no court appearances, or even charges filed, he remained largely a mystery. So, it was a surprise when his lawyer Carlos Warner released his letters. More surprising still was the content — quirky notes peppered with references to Howard Stern, Fox News and the global video hit of South Korean singer PSY.

“Dear Mr. Warner,” he wrote. “I like this new song Gangnam Style. I want to do the dance for you but cannot because of my shackles.”

In another letter, the multilingual al-Afghani tells his lawyer, most likely in jest, that he has adopted a banana rat, a rodent commonly spotted around the U.S. base in Cuba. “Tell the guards to leave my friend alone. They need to chillax,” said the prisoner who had never been to the U.S.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/a-man-of-letters-in-barren-guantanamo/article4262664.ece

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Pakistan

 

Walking through terror and tragedy in Lahore

By Rabia Mehmood

January 1, 2013

LAHORE: Abdul Qadir, came back to Moon Market after recovering from the severe injuries he received in the twin blasts that shook the Market in in December 2009. The shrapnel from the first bomb of that bloody night had pierced his abdomen.

Qadir is grateful to the doctors of Sheikh Zaid Hospital for saving his life to this day. He lost his 19-year-old cousin to the blasts as well. The 29-year-old father of three now sells shoes in the market situated in Allama Iqbal Town, Lahore. Although his family stops him from coming to work during Ashura because of the security threat, Qadir says he is not afraid of death, and life must continue.

The twin blasts at Moon Market was the first high intensity attack to have targeted the civilians of Lahore since 2006. Two plazas in the market caught on fire and killed scores. Most of the casualties were customers who were buying children’s clothing and wedding clothes. The tragedy was of such a degree that the family members of some survivors could only recover bits of clothing of their loved ones.

As the wave of terrorist attacks trickled down to Punjab from the Northwestern part of the country, between 2008 and 2012, Lahore was shaken with multiple high intensity attacks.

Most of the attacks took place from 2008 till the end of 2010.

From the Elite Police Force’s Training School in Bedian to the Naval War College on the Mall Road, security installations which were targeted in the past four years have now added many layers of security in the form of barricades, concrete blocks, barbed wires and armed personnel. Even taking a photo from the outside of such buildings is a matter of extreme concern.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/487447/walking-through-terror-and-tragedy-in-lahore/

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3,879 people lost lives in 2012 in war on terror

Usman Manzoor

January 01, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Some 3,879 people, including 589 security forces’ personnel, lost their lives in the ongoing war on terror in Pakistan during the year 2012, data compiled by a research centre shows.

According to the Islamabad-based Conflict Monitoring Centre’s annual report, one third of those killed in anti-state violence were civilians, while security forces lost 589 personnel.

Terrorist outfits TTP and Al-Qaeda and Bloch rebels carried out 1,485 attacks during the year, while security forces conducted 570 operations against militants, which included 44 major and 285 minor operations in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The report also mentions that the security situation in the federal capital improved, but deteriorated along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where Pakistan has faced hostilities from the Afghan National Army and NATO forces.

“Two third of militant attacks took place in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone.” The report says 1,114 civilians were killed and 2,313 injured during militant attacks, while 197 civilians lost their lives and 340 were wounded during actions taken by the security forces. The security forces also apprehended 1,138 militants, while militants kidnapped 185 people. The highest number of kidnappings (72) took place in Balochistan followed by Fata and KPK where militants kidnapped 61 and 51 people respectively.

The military lost 350 personnel in Fata and KPK alone, while 1,165 were wounded. Pro-government peace Lashkars also lost 148 men during the year.

Full report at:

 http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-151727-3879-people-lost-lives-in-2012-in-war-on-terror

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Tahir ul Qadri should march for Balochistan, says Talal Bugti

By: Jawad R Awan

January 02, 2013

LAHORE – Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) leader Sardar Talal Bugti has said that Dr Tahirul Qadri should launch a long march to Balochistan instead of Islamabad, if he wants to save Pakistan

During a joint interview to TheNation, Nawa-i-Waqt and Waqt News Tuesday, Talal Bugti said that all efforts should be focused on the volatile province in a bid to keep it as the federating unit of the country.

The Baloch leader visited Nawa-e-Waqt Group office to meet its head Majid Nizami.

He said the purpose of his Punjab visit was to urge the people to play their proactive role for keeping Balochistan as a part of the country.

Talal said that he would ask PML-N President Nawaz Sharif to play his role for pulling out FC troops from Balochistan before the elections.

He added that he would also meet with the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamat-ud-Dawa chiefs to ask their support regarding the issue of Balochistan.

About meeting with Tahirul Qadri, he said that TMQ chief had invited him for dinner but he politely refused, saying that he could not eat with Chaudhrys of Gujrat and MQM leaders. “However, I invited Qadri as honourable guest at my residence.”

The JWP leader said that Qadri was trying to exploit the prevailing situation in the country for his own benefits.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/02-Jan-2013/qadri-should-march-for-balochistan-says-talal-bugti

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Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam cautions ‘forces behind Dr Tahirul Qadri’

January 2, 2013

PESHAWAR, Jan 1: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that ‘forces’ behind Dr Tahirul Qadri should stop playing ‘such gimmicks’ because the country cannot afford adventurism.

Talking to reporters at the residence of Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour here on Tuesday, he said that people who had left the country had returned and were now trying to deceive the nation by raising the slogan of ‘save the state, not politics’.

He said Mr Qadri had once won a seat in the National Assembly and settled in Canada after his son lost an election. He said the purpose of criticising politicians was to derail the democratic system. “I believe that fear is being spread in the country to find an excuse for delaying the general election.”

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/fazl-cautions-forces-behind-qadri/

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Qadri in plot against democracy: PML-N

January 2, 2013

ISLAMABAD: With Dr Tahirul Qadri gaining strength by the day after giving a call for Jan 14 long march for an impartial caretaker set-up followed by comprehensive electoral reforms, the PML-N strongly believes that he is acting on a well-researched plot to derail democracy.

What worries PML-N’s leaders the most is the increasing support the religious scholar has been receiving since his massive rally on Dec 23 in Lahore, particularly from parties in the ruling coalition.

Initially, it was the PTI and MQM, and now the PML-Q, a major coalition partner of the PPP at the centre, has extended support to Dr Qadri’s call for an impartial caretaker set-up and electoral reforms.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/qadri-in-plot-against-democracy-pml-n/

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No Tahrir Square will be allowed in Pakistan

By: Mubashir Hassan

January 02, 2013

LAHORE - As Dr Tahirul Qadri is building up momentum for his planned long march on Islamabad to get his reforms agenda implemented, the government has decided to get tough on the Minhajul Quran chief in the days to come.  “No Tahrir Square will be allowed in Pakistan, and the law would take its course,” Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said in an exclusive chat with TheNation, thereby making the government’s intentions clear about the joint move by the MQM and Tehreek Minhajul Quran to storm Islamabad on January 14th. The Information Minister was contacted to know government’s response on Tuesday’s joint show of force by MQM and Dr Qadri in Karachi in which both the leaders challenged the present system and the rulers and also sought Army’s help to advance their reforms agenda. “There would be no Tahrir Square in Pakistan, because, we have a democratic government, a responsive Opposition, a responsive judiciary, an independent Election Commission and a responsive media here to safeguard people’s interests”, he remarked when asked why the government was opposed to the public gathering in the Capital.   He was of the view that Arab Spring-like uprisings suited only those countries where there was dictatorship and people did not have any say in government affairs. Admitting that holding of public processions was a Constitutional right of citizens, he said that nobody could be allowed to breach the law. When asked about government’s strategy to deal with the marchers if Dr Qadri did not alter his plan to bring thousands of people in the Federal capital, Kaira said that government would take all necessary steps to fulfil its responsibility of protecting the life and property of the people. “They would be dealt with according to the law”, he stated.It may be noted here that unlike the Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Mian Manzoor Wattoo, the Information Minister, who is also regarded government’s spokesperson, did not say that government would present juice and biscuits to the protestors on their arrival in Islamabad. Terming Dr Qadri’s demands as unconstitutional and his planned march a treacherous act, Kaira expressed his optimism that people would not support such a move aiming at de-railing the system. Asked to comment on Altaf Hussain’s statement seeking Army’s help to bring about the desired changes in the system, he said that every institution including the Army and the judiciary was already playing its role according its mandate as specified in the Constitution. He also termed Altaf’s announcement to surround the Raiwind Estate of Sharifs as inappropriate.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/02-Jan-2013/no-tahrir-square-will-be-allowed-in-pakistan-kaira

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India must stop water terror against Pakistan, says Fazl

January 2, 2013

ISLAMABAD - Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Chairman of the Special Committee of the Parliament on Kashmir on Tuesday, said that India should stop water terrorism against Pakistan.

He said, on the one hand the Indian leaders urge friendship and peace with Pakistan, but on the other they don't miss a chance to harm Pakistan.

Recently, India has once again stopped water of River Chenab, which would damage our next crops, he added.

Fazl said that soon after the establishment of Pakistan, India started water terrorism and stopped water of the rivers flowing from Held Jammu & Kashmir to Pakistan.

Subsequently, Indus Water Treaty was signed and three rivers namely, Chenab, Jhelum and Indus were allocated to Pakistan, he said.

Now, India is building dams on them and stops their water flowing to Pakistan, whenever it likes, he added.

He said, Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq has rightly said that India had no right to build dams in Occupied Kashmir.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/02-Jan-2013/india-must-stop-water-terror-against-pakistan-says-fazl

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Malik rushes to London to ‘meet Altaf’

January 2, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik left for London on Tuesday apparently to meet Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain who sought support of the army and judiciary for the call of ‘change’ given by Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, sources told Dawn.

The minister left for London soon after meeting President Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi and reportedly discussed with him Dr Qadri’s planned long march and protests in Islamabad on Jan 14.

It is believed that the interior minister will try to convey a message from President Zardari to the MQM chief who has already announced MQM’s support for Dr Qadri’s plan.

The PPP is believed to have been ‘worried’ by Dr Qadri’s warning to turn Islamabad into Tehrir Square.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/malik-rushes-to-london-to-meet-altaf/

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70kg bomb defused in Peshawar

January 02, 2013

PESHAWAR: Police foiled a terrorism bid in the suburb area of Sarband by defusing a 70-kilogramme bomb on Tuesday. The bomb was planted in a drum outside a tribal elder’s house in the semi-tribal village of Keena Bala. The Bomb Disposal Squad defused the bomb. Police claimed that if the timed bomb had exploded, it would have caused huge destruction in the village. Police and FC personnel cordoned off the area where the bomb was planted and launched a search operation. online

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\01\02\story_2-1-2013_pg7_6

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PM orders release of 3,000 Afghan containers

Mubarak Zeb Khan

January 02, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has exempted Afghan businessmen from reporting to police and directed the Federal Board of Revenue to release 3,000 withheld containers within 10 days.

At a meeting with a delegation of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Prime Minister’s House here on Tuesday, he also asked the FBR to devise a mechanism to ensure prompt clearance of containers so that genuine trade was not affected.

A source privy to the meeting told Dawn that the prime minister had expressed concern over detention of Afghan containers. The containers were withheld at Karachi ports because legal requirements under the revised Afghan transit trade agreement had not been met.

According to the source, the FBR has sent a draft notification to the law division about necessary changes in the agreement relating to mandatory insurance cover for Afghan transit goods. The notification would be issued for the release of containers after the law division approved amendments, the source added.

Mr Ashraf directed the ministry of interior to exempt Afghan businessmen visiting Pakistan on valid visas from police inquiry.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/pm-orders-release-of-3000-afghan-containers/

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Pakistan softens curbs on US military cargo transit

By: Imran Ali Kundi

January 02, 2013

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has allowed the US cargo including military vehicles for transit to Afghanistan via Torkham and Chaman, which is certified as free of hazardous waste material and depleted uranium ammunition. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued a Customs General Order (CGO) to ensure transit of particular US cargo, which is free of hazardous waste material. According to the CGO, in case the cargo is intended for transit from Afghanistan, a US declaration of ownership shall be accepted in lieu of the original invoice. Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/02-Jan-2013/pakistan-softens-curbs-on-us-mily-cargo-transit

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Lal Masjid inquiry commission: One witness talks differently

Malik Asad

January 2, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Jan 1: The one-man judicial commission probing the 2007 bloodbath in Lal Masjid recorded the statements of 16 more witnesses on Tuesday, but only one had something different to say than the nine heard on the previous day.

Like on Monday, most of the witnesses were heirs of madrassah students killed in the military operation or clergymen of the fortified mosque, who stated that “fire from outside” killed the people trapped inside and prevented them from fleeing the mosque.

But Afzal Khan, in-charge of Jamia Hafsa, the girls madrassah attached to Lal Masjid, told the commission he and 500 students managed to come out of the mosque.

Justice Shehzado Sheikh of the Federal Shariat Court, who heads the commission, is to hear 294 witnesses in all after which some 15 government officials of that period would be called to depose before the commission set up by the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, witness Abdul Rahman told the commission that he was in Karachi and his son Mohammad Anwar, studying in Jamia Faridia, was inside the mosque on July 3, 2007 when the army surrounded the mosque.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/lal-masjid-inquiry-commission-one-witness-talks-differently/

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Altaf seeks army’s help for revolution

By: Ashraf Mumtaz

January 02, 2013

KARACHI - MQM chief Altaf Hussain on Tuesday sought army’s help to bring about the revolution his party was striving for under the leadership of the Tehrik Minhajul Quran Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri.Dr Qadri flew into the cosmopolitan city to reciprocate the visit an MQM delegation had paid to the TMQ headquarters in Lahore a couple of days ago and address a huge gathering organised to receive him during his maiden visit to Nine Zero, the headquarters of his newfound political partner.The London-based MQM leader, in his hour-long telephonic address, also appealed to the philanthropists to donate generously according to their capacity to bear the expenses of the January 14 long march on Islamabad and make it a success. Camps have been set up to receive the funds, he aaded.Reiterating that the MQM-TMQ struggle would continue till the change of the exploitative system, Altaf said that after January 14 the activists of the two parties would seize the Raiwind estate (belonging to the Sharifs).The two leaders started the New Year by making the most hard-hitting speeches aimed at ‘energising’ their supporters for the cause ahead.Analysts believe that in case the rulers or somebody else did not take necessary steps to have the planned long march cancelled, the political system may face a serious threat. There are speculations that since the economy is about to collapse because of the corrupt practices of those in power, the powers that be might have the compelling reason to play the role of a saviour.While announcing his future course of action, the MQM chief kept the doors for talks with the rulers open, saying that Dr Qadri would take a decision about parleys.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/02-Jan-2013/altaf-seeks-army-s-help-for-revolution

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‘Record' child measles deaths in 2012

January 02, 2013

KARACHI  - More than 300 children died of measles last year in the country, a staggering increase on the previous 12 months and a result of three consecutive years of flooding, officials said Tuesday.

The United Nations' World Health Organization said 306 children died of the highly infectious illness last year, 210 of them in Sindh, where the worst floods occurred in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The WHO said 64 children died of measles in Pakistan in 2011, 28 of them in Sindh. It was not immediately able to provide statistics for earlier years.

"Most of the affected children died due to post-measles complications such as pneumonia, post-measles encephalitis and diarrhoea," said WHO spokeswoman Maryam Yunus.

The UN body said most of the cases occurred between October and December in northern districts of Sindh, but was unable to provide a breakdown.

"Most of (the) children who have died because of suspected measles are reported from the districts affected by the floods for (the) last three years," said Yunus. She said WHO investigations had shown that malnourishment was a major reason for such a high number of deaths of children in Sindh.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/02-Jan-2013/-record-child-measles-deaths-in-2012

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Arab World

 

UAE uncovers Muslim Brotherhood cell, arrests its members

By Duraid Al Baik

January 1, 2013

Dubai: An Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cell, which was unearthed by UAE authorities, was active in recruiting members in the country and collecting sensitive military information that posed serious threat to UAE security, sources said.

Sources in the UAE and Egypt confirmed earlier reports of the arrests of 11 Egyptians, some of whom have been in working in the UAE for more than 20 years as doctors and engineers.

Members of the group has been active “on UAE soil with a defined organisational structure [and] held secret meetings in different areas of the UAE through their so-called ‘administrative offices’ and were recruiting Egyptians residing in the UAE to join the [Muslim Brotherhood] group,” the UAE daily Al Khaleej quoted unnamed sources as saying.

“Egyptians are treated very well in the UAE, a country that respects human rights as enshrined in the constitution, laws and international conventions,” Tamer Mansour, Egypt’s ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News.

Mansour told Gulf News on Tuesday that the embassy was in constant contact with the UAE Foreign Ministry and was following up on a daily basis on the well-being of Egyptians living and working in the UAE.

On whether the embassy has provided legal assistance to the arrested Egyptians, Mansour said the embassy’s role in this regard starts once the investigation is completed and indictment is issued, and the suspects are referred to the public prosecution.

The report in Al Khaleej described the 11 Egyptians as “the leadership” of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood branch in the UAE. Their activities were being monitored and investigated for years, it added.

The members of the cell, the sources explained, had established commercial firms to support their activities in the UAE and were illegally channelling significant amounts to support the mother group in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an Egyptian organisation, established in 1928 in Cairo, which calls for the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate and doesn’t recognise the current nation-states in the Arab world. It was banned in Egypt following a failed bid to assassinate then President Jamal Abdul Nasser in 1956. It was made legal in 2011 following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Full report at:

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/government/uae-uncovers-muslim-brotherhood-cell-arrests-its-members-1.1126560

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Iraq PM warns Sunni protesters to end rallies

01 Jan 2013

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, has warned largely Sunni demonstrators to stop their protests against the Shia-led government which they say discriminates against them.

The move comes as powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr voiced his support for the Sunni protests.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2013/01/20131120749851304.html

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Egypt cracks down on satirists and media

02 Jan 2013

An Egyptian satirist who has made fun of President Mohamed Morsi on television will be investigated by prosecutors following an accusation that he undermined the leader's standing, a judicial source has said.

Bassem Youssef's case will likely increase concerns over freedom of speech in the post-Hosni Mubarak era, especially when the country's new constitution includes provisions criticised by rights activists for, among other things, said the source on Tuesday, forbidding insults.

In a separate case, one of Egypt's leading independent newspapers said it was being investigated by the prosecutor following a complaint from the presidency, which accused it of publishing false news.

Youssef rose to fame following the uprising that swept Mubarak from power in February 2011 with a satirical online programme that has been compared to Jon Stewart's Daily Show in the US.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/01/201311205458986654.html

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Riot at Lebanon's Roumieh prison contained

January 02, 2013

BEIRUT: Prison officials have contained a riot that erupted at Lebanon’s largest prison late Tuesday.

Commenting on events at Roumieh prison, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Tuesday the brief unrest at the prison was sparked by a protest over officers tallying the number of Islamist prisoners held at the detention facility.

“During the counting of Islamist prisoners at Roumieh prison, they expressed dismay at the census which resulted in some form of chaos,” Charbel told a local radio station.

Islamist inmates have repeatedly rioted at Roumieh and demanded speedy trials.

Lebanon’s prosecutor Hatem Madi announced Saturday that the long-awaited trials for dozens of suspected Fatah al-Islam members would begin in February of this year.

Madi attributed the delay in commencing the trials to the completion of the courtroom at Roumieh.

Full report at:

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2013/Jan-02/200514-riot-at-lebanons-roumieh-prison-contained.ashx#ixzz2GndEpHRo

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UAE expats not to be jailed for bounced checks?

2 January 2013

DUBAI: Newspapers printed contradictory reports yesterday on whether the UAE was ending prison terms for expatriates who write bad checks.

The UAE's tough penalties for defaulting on checks were relaxed for Emirati citizens in October.

In the UAE writing checks that bounce is a criminal offense instead of a civil one. Post-dated checks are frequently used as a guarantee by businesses.

“In line with the directives of Sheikh Khalifa ... and in the spirit of fairness and equality, the courts have stopped as of last month accepting collateral checks presented as a criminal tool against expatriate debt defaulters,” Ali Khalfan Al-Dhaheri, head of the legal affairs department at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, was quoted as saying by an Abu Dhabi-based daily.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/uae-expats-not-be-jailed-bounced-checks

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Iraqi civilian deaths rise in ‘low-level war’

January 02, 2013

BAGHDAD  - A total of 4,471 civilians died in Iraq's festering "low-level war" with insurgents in 2012, the first annual climb in the death toll in three years, campaigners said on Tuesday. The deaths, up from 4,059 in 2011, showed militant fighters were still bent on carrying out large-scale bomb attacks, said rights group Iraq Body Count (IBC) in its annual report. Tensions between Shi'ite, Kurdish and Sunni factions in Iraq's power-sharing government have been on the rise this year and the civil war in neighboring Syria is whipping up sectarian tension across the region.

Insurgents pose a potent threat even though violence has fallen sharply since the height of inter communal slaughter that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled former.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/02-Jan-2013/iraqi-civilian-deaths-rise-in-low-level-war

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Syria ushers in New Year with more violence

January 02, 2013

DAMASCUS  - Syrians woke up to air strikes near Damascus on New Year’s Day and the closure of Aleppo airport due to rebel attacks, hours after dozens of people took to the streets of the capital calling for the regime’s ouster.

The violence came a day after activists reported finding dozens of mutilated bodies, another sign of the gruesome nature of the 21-month conflict. Warplanes bombed the Damascus suburbs in a fresh bid to push rebels further out, and troops attacked insurgent strongholds on the Damascus airport road. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the raids came amid fierce clashes along the airport road, giving a toll of 13 people killed in the Damascus region, among 43 nationwide. Battles have raged for weeks outside Damascus, where insurgents have rear bases. A group of some 20 Syrian soldiers including a general defected from the army Tuesday and fled to Turkey, joining hundreds of other ex-troops from Syria’s military, a Turkish diplomat told AFP.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/02-Jan-2013/syria-ushers-in-new-year-with-more-violence

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Iraqi PM offers prisoner release as demos continue

January 02, 2013

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki looked to head off protests in Sunni areas of the country on Tuesday with a prisoner release even as he threatened to use state resources to “intervene” to end the rallies.

The move came as powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr voiced support for the demonstrations and predicted an impending “Iraqi spring” as ongoing rallies blocked off a key trade route connecting Iraq to Syria and Jordan for a 10th successive day.

Maliki ordered the release of more than 700 female detainees, a key demand of demonstrators, the official appointed to negotiate with protesters, told AFP. “The prime minister will write to the president to issue a special amnesty to release them,” Khaled al-Mullah said.

Mullah said of 920 female prisoners in Iraqi jails, 210 had been accused or convicted of terrorism-related offences and could not be released. But, he said, they would be transferred to prisons in their home provinces.

The remaining detainees, convicted on lower-level charges, would be released, he said. He did not give a timeframe for the process. On Monday Maliki warned protesters blocking the highway to Syria and Jordan that his patience was running thin.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/02-Jan-2013/iraqi-pm-offers-prisoner-release-as-demos-continue

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Saudi Kingdom tops world in education spending

IRFAN MOHAMMED

2 January 2013

JEDDAH: Paucity of funds particularly in the sector of education is commonplace and is felt globally. This makes choice to pursue education limited for the students in several nations.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the situation is however quite different. The late King Abdul Aziz had a vision since he had founded the Kingdom focusing on the need of education as means to development.

His successive sons have well followed this tradition and pursued plans promoting education as key to the country’s development.

The SR 204 billion funds allocation to the education sector in the 2013 budget reflects Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s determination toward development of the education sector as well as his care for the Kingdom’s citizens. In a country where over 50 percent of the population is below 25 years, education is a vital and strategic area.

The Kingdom is truly committed toward building the nation and caring for its citizens, and education has been a top priority for the last five decades. By investing in its human capital, the Kingdom ensures lasting growth and a knowledge-based economy. The Education Ministry’s 10-year strategic plan (2004-2014) to overhaul the education system is a milestone in the sector and corresponds to King Abdullah’s vision. The amount of money allocated to the education sector has increased dramatically in the last four years. It grew from SR 105 billion in 2008, SR 122 billion in 2009, SR 137 billion in 2010, and SR 150 billion in 2011 to the highest amount ever of SR 204 billion in 2012.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/kingdom-tops-world-education-spending

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Construction of 70,833 housing units to start soon in Makkah region

2 January 2013

JEDDAH: The Makkah region has announced the implementation of residential projects on the first day of the new Gregorian year.

Sultan Al Dosari, spokesman of Makkah region, said that the pace of work is accelerating to build 70,833 units by the Ministry of Housing or secretariats of regions.

“This issue coincided with solving the problem of the shortage in government lands with the efforts of Makkah’s infringements committees, which resulted in retrieving 220 million square meters of land worth SR 86 billion,” said Al Dosari.

He added that the Ministry of Housing and the different secretariats were handed these lands for the purpose of implementing housing developmental projects.

“Housing projects are a positive step toward radically solving the problem of the growing demand on houses. These steps came in accordance with the directions of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal and in compliance with the orders of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” he said, stressing that they target citizens who are qualified to access loans of the real estate development fund and others wishing to own residential units with affordable monthly payments, as well as those qualified by the Ministry of Social Affairs and other persons reimbursed for their expropriated properties for the benefit of developing slum neighborhoods.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/construction-70833-housing-units-start-soon-makkah-region

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Cairo orders 15-day detention for Israeli

1 January 2013

CAIRO: Egyptian prosecutors interrogated yesterday an Israeli man in the Red Sea port of Nuweiba who is suspected of espionage, a judicial source said.

“An Israel man was arrested on Monday in Taba on suspicion of espionage. He was remanded today in police custody for four days pending investigation,” the source said.

The suspect “infiltrated into Egypt through a mountainous area near Taba,” the source added, without elaborating.

In October 2011, Egypt freed a US-Israeli citizen under a prisoner exchange after he was arrested in Cairo and accused of working for Israel’s Mossad spy agency and sowing sectarian strife in Egypt, allegations he denied.

Israeli media identified the suspect arrested in Taba as 24-year-old Andrey Pshenichnikov, a Russian-born immigrant to Israel who had been arrested by the Israeli Shin Bet security service last year over his pro-Palestinian activism.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/cairo-orders-15-day-detention-israeli

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Egyptians detained in Emirates belong to Brotherhood 'cell'

1 Jan 2013

Tens of Egyptians protested on Tuesday at the embassy of UAE in Giza demanding the release of Egyptians recently arrested in the Gulf state on allegations of forming a cell linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The protesters, who included the families of the detainees, held signs calling for their immediate release saying "Mr. Ambassador, Where is my father!?," "Egypt in the times of Morsi is different than in times of Mubarak," and "The detention of Egyptian engineers in UAE is a violation for the basic human rights."

The protest was organised by the Freedom committee in the Doctors syndicate in Cairo as three of those in custody are physicians.

The engineers syndicate also asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamel Amr to demand the immediate release of 3 engineers working in the UAE who were arrested by the Emirati security forces earlier in December 2012.

"United Arab Emirates security services have arrested a cell of more than 10 people belonging to the leadership of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood," Al-Khaleej reported, quoting an "informed" source.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/61635/Egypt/Politics-/UAE-newspaper-Egyptians-detained-in-Emirates-belon.aspx

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Nour’s Salafist splinter group forms new party

1 Jan 2013

Emad Abdel-Ghafour, who resigned as head of Salafist Nour party last week, has announced the launch of new Al-Watan (Homeland) party Tuesday.

Under the slogan of "A free homeland and dignified people", Abdel-Ghafour announced the launch of the party during a news conference that was held at Al-Azhar conference hall in the eastern Cairo district of Madinet Nasr.

"We want Al-Watan party to be an effective contributor in building a realm of dignity and social justice. We want the Islamic Sharia to be a reality we can live in, not anymore a rhetoric," Abdel-Ghafour said in his opening statement.

"We aim to establish a party that all factions of the homeland can relate to. We want for this party to feel for the poor, to support farmers, workers and businessmen alike," he added.

Some leading Salafist preachers have attended the conference, as well as co-founders Yosri Hammad, a former spokesman of Nour party, and former presidential hopeful and controversial preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who is establishing a party on his own and will be joining an electoral alliance with Al-Watan in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/61628/Egypt/Politics-/Nour%E2%80%99s-Salafist-splinter-group-forms-new-party.aspx

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Scuffles end Tahrir 2013 New Year's Eve celebration

1 Jan 2013

Organisers of the 2013 New Year's Eve celebration in Tahrir Square ended the event prematurely after a group of about 30 men took over the makeshift stage and prevented artists from finishing scheduled performances.

Independent publisher Mohamed Hashem, who was forcibly brought down from the stage by the group, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that some of those men were friends of activist Mohannad Samir, who was gunned down by unknown assailants in the square earlier in the day.

Samir, a member of April 6 Youth Movement, sustained birdshot wounds in the head and neck

and remains in critical condition at Ahmed Maher hospital. He was a well known figure to many in Tahrir, and was jailed for eleven months following his arrest along with 269 protesters in the aftermath of the Cabinet clashes in December 2011.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/61615/Egypt/Politics-/Scuffles-end-Tahrir--New-Years-Eve-celebration.aspx

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New atrocity report amid Syria peace bid

1 Jan 2013

Violence ravaged Syria into 2013 with the gruesome discovery of dozens of tortured, headless corpses in a Damascus district, clouding end-of-year efforts by peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to end 21 months of bloodshed.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad said it welcomed any initiative for talks to end bloodshed in the country, after UN-Arab League envoy Brahimi said he had a peace plan acceptable to world powers.

The government's position, expressed by Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi, came amid a flurry of diplomacy led by Mr Brahimi to halt the conflict that monitors say has now killed more then 45,000 people.

Nearly 90 per cent of the dead came in the past 12 months, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Activists reported the discovery of 30 tortured bodies in a flashpoint district of Damascus, while a gruesome video emerged of a separate slaying of three children in the capital.

“Thirty bodies were found in the Barzeh district. They bore signs of torture and have so far not been identified,” the Observatory said.

The Syrian Revolution General Commission activist network gave a higher estimate of 50 bodies, saying “their heads were cut and disfigured to the point that it was no longer possible to identify” them.

The video posted online by activists showed the bodies of three young boys with their throats slit open and hands bound behind their backs. Their bodies were discovered ysterday in Jubar.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/61607/World/Region/New-atrocity-report-amid-Syria-peace-bid.aspx

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Iraq December toll drops despite wave of unrest

1 Jan 2013

Deadly violence in Iraq dropped to near its lowest levels of 2012 in December, figures compiled by AFP showed on Tuesday, despite a wave of attacks a day earlier which killed 23 people.

Overall, 139 people were killed across the country last month, including 40 policemen and 15 soldiers, and 347 others were wounded, according to the data based on reports from security and medical officials.

The monthly death toll was near 2012's low of 136 set in October.

But in a sign insurgents were still capable of carrying out deadly nationwide attacks, a series of shootings and bombings in the north, centre, and south of the country killed 23 people and wounded 83 others on Monday.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Sunni militants such as Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq regularly target officials and security forces in a bid to destabilise the government, and also often attack Shiite pilgrims.

The violence comes after anti-government protesters blocked a key highway to Syria and Jordan, amid political tensions between Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and a secular Sunni-backed party in his fragile national unity government.

Much of Monday's violence targeted Shiite pilgrims, ahead of Arbaeen commemoration ceremonies due this week.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/61608/World/Region/Iraq-December-toll-drops-despite-wave-of-unrest.aspx

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Iraq’s Sadr Encourages Antigovernment Demonstrations

By YASIR GHAZI and CHRISTINE HAUSER

January 1, 2013

BAGHDAD — A populist Shiite leader in Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr, expressed support on Tuesday for fresh protests against Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a fellow Shiite but his political opponent, saying that Mr. Maliki bears “full responsibility” for the unrest in the country.

As with many developments in Iraq, the timing and venue of Mr. Sadr’s comments to reporters were as notable as their meaning. He spoke in Najaf, one of the holiest cities of his Shiite sect, just as Iraq ended its bloodiest year since 2009, a reflection of unabated ethnic, sectarian and political tensions among the country’s Kurdish, Arab, Sunni and Shiite populations.

Several times during the gathering, Mr. Sadr directed his remarks at Mr. Maliki, who has taken recent steps that suggested he was asserting greater control over many aspects of the government and that prompted fears he was cracking down on his political opponents. Mr. Sadr’s remarks could indicate that he is trying to test the political waters or possible support from the street before Iraq’s provincial elections, which are scheduled for the spring.

Mr. Sadr also tried to assert broader credibility for the anti-Maliki protests by comparing them to the movements that have swept many Arab countries in the past few years, calling for new government leaders and better representation.

“The Iraqi spring is coming,” Mr. Sadr said, in a tone that implied a warning to Mr. Maliki.

“We are with the demonstrators, and Parliament must be with them, not against them,” he said. “The legitimate demands of the demonstrators, by which people know what they want, should be met.”

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/world/middleeast/moktada-al-sadr-encourages-demonstrations-in-iraq.html?ref=middleeast

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Regional situation discussed in Riyadh

January 2, 2013

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has reaffirmed that ties with Pakistan remain strong and solid.

Talking to visiting Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday, Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and the Minister of Defence, stressed the strength of relations between the two countries and their enhancement in all fields, the Saudi Press Agency reported after the meeting.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the status of relations and discussed various issues of mutual interest.

Foreign Minister Khar also reiterated the invitation of Prime Minister Raja Ashraf to the Crown Prince to visit Pakistan. Prince Salman said he would soon visit Pakistan.

Although it is not clear, why the Pakistani minister was invited by her Saudi counterpart ‘to visit Riyadh at the earliest possible’, analysts feel developments in the region, including the proposed US pullout from Afghanistan and the ongoing situation in Syria and Bahrain, may have necessitated the visit.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2013/01/02/regional-situation-discussed-in-riyadh/

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Mideast Asia

 

Undercover soldiers arrest Islamic Jihad activists in West Bank

January 1, 2013

A raid by Israeli soldiers disguised as vegetable vendors to seize members of a terror group sparked intense clashes in the northern West Bank Tuesday.

Residents in the town of Tamoun said youths tossed stones and bottles at Israeli troops, while the soldiers responded with rubber bullets.

Army officials said the operation was carried out to prevent a planned terror attack in the advanced stages, Israel Radio reported.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that 30 people were wounded from live fire and 100 suffered injuries from tear gas. Israeli reports and the Associated Press put the number of injured in the single digits.

Two Israeli troops were lightly injured, according to army officials.

The clashes lasted from the morning to the late afternoon, when the soldiers left the town.

Military officials said Border Police forces entered the town and arrested Islamic Jihad activist Murad Beni Ouda, as well as another person.

The soldiers were dressed as vegetable sellers, according to Palestinian sources, and during the course of the operation removed their disguises.

Youths set tires and bins on fire to block the passage of military vehicles. In several hours of clashes, dozens of masked youths hid behind makeshift barriers, hurling rocks and firebombs at soldiers.

Full report at:

http://www.timesofisrael.com/clashes-reported-between-idf-and-islamic-jihad-in-west-bank/

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Fatah marks anniversary in Gaza for first time since 2007

1 Jan 2013

The Gaza branch of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party has started celebrations of its 48th anniversary in the Hamas-ruled territory, a local leader said on Tuesday.

"Yesterday we lit the light starting the anniversary of the revolution," Atef Abu Seif told AFP.

Several thousand supporters gathered on Monday night at the Saraya complex in Gaza City, holding pictures of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Abbas and waving Fatah flags as fireworks went off, an AFP correspondent said.

Similar events took place throughout the entire Gaza Strip.

The main event will take place on Friday at the Saraya, the former Fatah security headquarters, and will be attended by senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath, who will travel from the West Bank on Tuesday.

The last time that Fatah, which governs the West Bank, held celebrations in the Gaza Strip to

mark its foundation was in 2007.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/61639/World/Region/Fatah-marks-anniversary-in-Gaza-for-first-time-sin.aspx

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Iran blasts Obama for Latin America law

01 Jan 2013

Iran has blasted US President Barack Obama for enacting a law aimed at countering Tehran's alleged influence in Latin America, saying it was an overt intervention in the region.

"It is an overt intervention in Latin American affairs... that shows they are not familiar with new world relations," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters on Tuesday.

The United States, he said, "still lives in the Cold War era and considers Latin America as its back yard".

"We recommend that they respect the nations' right in today's world... world public opinion does not accept such an interventionist move."

Mehmanparast said Tehran's relation with all nations, in particular with Latin American countries, was "friendly" based on "mutual respect and interest".

On Friday, Obama enacted the law which through a new diplomatic and political strategy to be designed by the State Department is aimed to counter Iran's alleged influence in Latin America.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/01/20131111127195912.html

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Iran warns foreign planes near Strait of Hormuz

1 Jan 2013

Mehr, a semi-official news agency quoted Adm. Amir Rastgari, spokesman for a five-day naval drill, as saying that naval and air defense forces on 30 occasions warned off reconnaissance planes, drones and warships belonging to "extraregional forces" that approached the drill, using a term that the Islamic Republic commonly employs to refer to the militaries of the U.S. and its allies.

The exercise, dubbed Velayat-91, is Iran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting pressures over its disputed nuclear program. The West suspects it may be aimed at producing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. Iran has threatened to close the strait over Western sanctions but has not repeated the threats lately. The strait is the passageway for one-fifth of the world's oil supply.

Rastgari said the aircraft and warships heeded the warnings and stayed away. "Various reconnaissance aircraft that sought to penetrate into the drill area were given warnings by the navy and the Khatam-ol-Anbia (air defense force) ... Subsequently, the intelligence planes and drones distanced from the area after receiving the warnings," Rastgari said.

Iran has used the maneuvers to highlight recently-developed weapons systems.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/61621/World/Region/Iran-warns-foreign-planes-near-Strait-of-Hormuz.aspx

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Israel's Jewish population passes 6 million mark

Harriet Sherwood

1 January 2013

Israel's Jewish population has passed the symbolically significant 6 million mark for the first time – equivalent to the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Figures released by the central bureau of statistics this week show the total population of Israel at 7.98 million, 75.4% of whom are Jewish. Just over 20% are Arab and 4% are defined as "other".

"It's a great joy to know there are more than 6 million Jews in Israel," said Dina Porat, chief historian of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum and head of the Kantor centre for the study of contemporary European Jewry.

"But worldwide we are still in the same place. Before the Holocaust there were around 18 million Jews in the world; after it, a bit more than 13 million. We are still at a bit more than 13 million. But now Israel's Jewish population is close to half the Jewish nation worldwide. It puts Israel in a very central place. We are almost the only Jewish community that is growing."

Six million was a "significant number", said Anita Shapira, professor of Jewish history at Tel Aviv university. But, she added, "living Jews do not compensate for dead Jews. The number [6 million] symbolises a catastrophe, not a recuperation. We are still paying for the Holocaust."

Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Israeli parliament and author of The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes, said 6 million was a "symbolic number but random".

Full report at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/01/israel-jewish-population-six-million

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Top Iran official to discuss Afghanistan, IAEA

Jan 2, 2013

NEW DELHI: The head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and its chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili will visit India this week. Jalili is expected to hold talks on issues related to Afghanistan and also brief Indian authorities about Iran's negotiations with IAEA over its nuclear power programme.

Jalili is expected to meet foreign minister Salman Khurshid, NSA Shivshankar Menon and foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai. So far, Tehran has not responded to P5+1 countries' proposal for next round of talks.

There are suggestions that the talks may happen after Iran's dialogue with the IAEA this month. The two sides are also likely to discuss the situation in Syria.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Top-Iran-official-to-discuss-Afghanistan-IAEA/articleshow/17849431.cms

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Europe

 

Ethiopia convicts 10 for 'links to Al-Qaeda'

1 Jan 2013

An Ethiopian court on Tuesday convicted ten people of having links to Al-Qaeda, including leading "terrorism cells," and of laundering money.

"We have found them guilty," said judge Bahru Darcha.

The convicts, who included one Kenyan, were charged in April under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation with having links with Islamist extremists, the first trial in Ethiopia for Al-Qaeda suspects.

All but the Kenyan pleaded not guilty.

While the crimes carry a maximum penalty of death, prosecutors requested a sentence of life in prison. Defence lawyers said they would appeal.

The court will hand the convicts their sentence on January 15.

Rights groups have criticized Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law for being vague and used to stifle peaceful dissent.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/61640/World/Region/Ethiopia-convicts--for-links-to-AlQaeda.aspx

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North America

 

With U.S. Set to Leave Afghanistan, Echoes of 1989

By THOM SHANKER

January 1, 2013

WASHINGTON — The young president who ascended to office as a change agent decides to end the costly and unpopular war in Afghanistan. He seeks an exit with honor by pledging long-term financial support to allies in Kabul, while urging reconciliation with the insurgency. But some senior advisers lobby for a deliberately slow withdrawal, and propose leaving thousands of troops behind to train and support Afghan security forces.

This is a nearly exact description of the endgame conundrum facing President Obama as he prepares for a critical visit by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, planned for early January.

But the account is actually drawn from declassified Soviet archives describing Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s closed-door struggles with his Politburo and army chiefs to end the Kremlin’s intervention in Afghanistan — one that began with a commando raid, coup and modest goals during Christmas week of 1979 but became, after a decade, what Mr. Gorbachev derided as “a bleeding wound.”

What mostly is remembered about the withdrawal is the Soviet Union’s humiliation, and the ensuing factional bloodletting across Afghanistan that threw the country into a vicious civil war. It ended with Taliban control and the establishment of a safe haven for Al Qaeda before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/world/asia/us-war-in-afghanistan-has-echoes-of-soviet-experience.html?ref=asia

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Five new members begin to serve on UNSC

January 02, 2013

UNITED NATIONS - Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda, the five new non-permanent members of UN Security Council, on Tuesday began serving their two-year terms, as Pakistan formally took over the rotating presidency of the 15-member body.

The new Council members were elected by the UN General Assembly on Oct. 18, 2012.

The five represent different geographical groups - two from Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, one from Latin America and the Caribbean, and two from the group of West European countries and others.

Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa ended their terms in the Council on Monday. The five other temporary members that will remain through 2013 are Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council, the most powerful UN body, has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The Council has 15 members: five permanent - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - and 10 non-permanent members elected by the UN General Assembly for two-year terms.

Full report at:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/02-Jan-2013/five-new-members-begin-to-serve-on-unsc

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/quran-does-not-encourage-polygamy--delhi-high-court/d/9858

 

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