New Age Islam
Mon Nov 23 2020, 11:50 AM

Islamic World News ( 22 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Saudi Girl, 12, Married Off to 80-Year-Old Man

Mangalore: Asif Ali Engineer honoured with Muslim Sahitya Award

Lift veil for voter ID, SC tells burqa-clad women

Veil can be lifted for ID check: Clerics

Shah Rukh disappoints Aligarh Muslim University

Nigeria religious riot bodies found in village wells

Radical Muslim cleric returns to native Jamaica

Being called a Hindu is like an abuse to me: Dalit writer

Britain raises terror threat level from 'substantial' to 'severe'

India should be ready for more terrorist attacks: Antony

Internet running out of addresses

Former Malaysia king dies aged 77

'Pakistan unlikely to take military actions wanted by the US

Taliban part of 'political fabric' of Afghanistan: Gates

Pakistan must act: India

Miliband:N-armed Pak a risk

Can’t tolerate safe haven for terrorists in Pak: Hillary

Lahore HC: Lakhvi case not to be transferred

No worry over drone transfer to Pak: Naik

Gilani asks Gates to bridge ’trust deficit’

Pak's 26/11 trial adjourned for a week, lawyers boycott hearing

Krishna's remarks on terror attacks 'immature': Pakistan

Biden holds key talks on Iraq election dispute

4 held for arson on Malaysian Muslim prayer halls

Yemen's university: The fountain of radical ideas

Headley’s 26/ 11 hint to Rahul Bhatt

Internet freedom becomes a sore point in US-China relations

Israel pays $10.5m to UN for Gaza war

France asks Britain, Switzerland for information on Zardari

Indian fishermen held in Pakistan

Militants target forces in Kashmir

Hizb terrorist killed in Jammu gunfight

Zardari exempt from prosecution: Gilani

Encounter rages on between terrorists and forces in south Kashmir

Hysteria in Pak quite deliberate

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/saudi-girl,-12,-married-off-to-80-year-old-man/d/2411

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Saudi Girl, 12, Married Off to 80-Year-Old Man

 

Buraidah, Saudi Arabia (TML) – Saudi women’s rights advocates are outraged after a 12-year-old girl was sold by her father into marriage with an 80-year-old man.

A Saudi father, whose name has not been released, sold his 12-year-old daughter to his 80-year old cousin for the equivalent of $22,600. The elderly man, who lives in the city of Buraidah, stands accused of raping the girl after the wedding. He has previously married three other young girls.

“She was raped and they took her to the hospital after the wedding night,” Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi journalist who has been banned from reporting by the government told The Media Line. “Usually when the girl is very young, the authorities tell the husband not to touch her until after puberty. When he was interviewed, the guy just said she was old enough and he didn’t know she would get hurt.”

The girl, already in the custody of the elderly man, was reported to have shouted “I don’t want him, save me!” when contacted by phone by a journalist from the Al Riyadh, a local newspaper in the Saudi capital.

The girl’s mother, who had objected strongly to the marriage, took the case to local media after her lawyer’s efforts to get it legally annulled failed.

After the case was publicized, the public prosecutor of Al-Qassim Province is said to have set up a special committee to look into the case.

“They say they’re going to look into it but nothing will really happen,” Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi blogger and women’s rights advocate told The Media Line. “Even if they solve this case, they are not going to recommend a new law to the king. We should set a legal minimum age at which girls can be married.”

“Without a law we get people like this 80 year old guy who takes advantage of the system to fulfill his sick obsession with little girls,” she wrote on her blog. “Where else in the world can a man openly say that he is in a polygamous marriage with four underage girls and not get arrested? At this rate we might as well start a tourism industry to attract rich Muslim pedophiles.”

The girl’s parents are divorced and the marriage is understood to have been arranged on the initiative of the father, who told the local newspaper that he did so on the basis of the girl’s physical development, not her age.

“This is not at all unique,” said Al Nafjan, who has written extensively about similar cases. “In all the cases that have gotten the attention of local newspapers it was because either the mother or an aunt made an issue of it.”

“Girls are seen as very risky in Saudi Arabia because they can later shame the family name by sleeping with someone,” she explained. “So families often marry off their girls at a young age so they can’t shame the family.”

“It’s particularly common in cases when you have people from the lower economic status who get divorced,” Al Nafjan said. “The father usually wants to keep the boys, because culturally they are not seen as risky, and doesn’t want to give the daughters to the mother out of spite, so he just marries them off to the first person who’ll pay.”

The girl currently attends school during the week, when she lives with her father, and spends weekends with her elderly husband at his home out in the desert outside the city.

The 80-year-old husband told local journalists that he had tried to do the right thing by inviting his new mother-in-law (the girl’s mother) to the wedding but she cursed at him in response.

When asked by the mother’s lawyer and the Al Riyadh newspaper why he had agreed to the marriage, the officiator stated that he was under the impression that the bride was 13 and a half years old.

Child marriages in Saudi Arabia have made international news a number of times over the past year. In April there was international outcry when a Saudi judge refused to grant a divorce to an eight-year-old girl who had been married off by her father to a 47-year-old man as part of a loan repayment agreement, and in August a 10-year-old bride ran away from her 80-year-old husband and sought refuge at her aunt’s house. After ten days in hiding, the girl was returned to her husband by her father.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Saudi Arabia has signed and ratified, defines a child as any person under the age of 18 and Article 16.2 of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, states that “The marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.”

Saudi Arabia, which ratified the convention in September 2000, did so with the stated reservation that “In case of contradiction between any term of the Convention and the norms of Islamic law, the Kingdom is not under obligation to observe the contradictory terms of the Convention.”

Nadya Khalife, Women’s Rights researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, said Saudi Arabia should set a legal age for marriage.

“We call on all governments to ensure that they have a legal age of marriage,” she told The Media Line. “Working from a human rights framework, we believe that early marriage has negative consequences on children, especially girls because it effects their health, education, literacy and economic empowerment skills. The reason we focus on girls is because it is principally girls who are married off at a young age.”

Saudi Arabia’s religious leadership defends child marriages, often citing the marriage by Muhammad ibn ‘Abdull?h, the founder of Islam, to Aisha bint Abu Bakr, when according to traditional Islamic texts she was six or seven years old. Aisha stayed with her parents for a few years after the marriage, according to most sources, moving in with Muhammad and consummating the marriage when she was nine. Aisha was Muhammad’s third of 13 wives or concubines.

Al Nafjan rejects using Aisha as a basis for justifying child marriages.

“It’s not allowed in Islam to marry off children,” she said. “There is nothing in the Koran that states that children should be married off.”

Al-Huwaidar agreed.

“Whatever their religious justification, this is just a way of legally justifying the rape of little girls,” she said. “Modern Muslim scholars dispute Aisha’s age at the time of marriage, but even if Muhammad got married to Aisha when she was nine, that does not justify applying the same standards to today.”

http://www.inquisitr.com/58451/saudi-girl-12-married-off-to-80-year-old-man/

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Mangalore: Asif Ali Engineer honoured with Muslim Sahitya Award

January 23, 2010

 In the modern world every social evil has been given a platform by the Media which has become a cause for social strife between the communities, classes and individuals, Media should exercise greater restraint and responsibility while reporting communal and subjective matters. It cannot shirk away from its social responsibilities as even the media has to work under a social framework called Mr. Shivasundar columnist. He was giving a lecture on theme  Conflicts in Society and Media, organized by the Muslim Lekhakara Sangha on Friday.

Mr. Shivsundar said every news channel with an exception of a few were biased in their presentation of news and facts, they always try to give a twist to the issue and try to sensationalize them which is a dangerous concoction for communal disharmony and social strife.

The Managements of media houses should exercise more restraints in their approach to the news he called.  He said the media houses were fast becoming mouthpieces of politicians, business tycoons and religious entities which is a dangerous thing for a democratic country like India, especially when the media and press were considered as the fourth estate of Indian democracy.

Mr. Shivsundar was honoured on this occasion with an award given by the Muslim Lekhakara Sangha under Muslim Sahtiya Award and another writer Mr. Asif Ali Engineer was honoured  with Muslim Sahitya Award. This award was given to Mr. Engineer for the book he wrote entitled Indian Freedom Struggle and Muslims. It was instituted by the family of late Mr. U.T. Fareed MLA of Ullal for a long time. The award was presented to Mr. Engineer by Mr U.T. Khader, his son.

http://mangalorean.com/news.php?newstype=local&newsid=165843#

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Lift veil for voter ID, SC tells burqa-clad women

Dhananjay Mahapatra

23 January 2010

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that burqa-clad women cannot be issued voter identity cards, rejecting the argument that religion prohibits them from lifting their veils.

Counsel for petitioner M Ajam Khan had contended that asking `purdah-nashin' women to lift their veil for being photographed would amount to sacrilege as their photographs would be seen by many men working as polling agents and electoral officials.

"It will hurt their religious sentiments and the Election Commission must not insist on `purdah-nashin' women to be photographed for inclusion of their name in the electoral rolls," said the counsel arguing before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma.

The order comes at a time when a controversy triggered by the ban on full-length burqas has roiled France, attracting protests from clerics.

The argument put forward on behalf of petitioners failed to impress the court. The Bench said: "If you have such strong religious sentiments, and do not want to be seen by members of public, then do not go to vote. You cannot go with burqa to vote. It will create complications in identification of voters."

Referring to the Madras High Court order upholding the EC's insistence for a photograph without veils, the Bench said that the elections have been conducted without staying the HC order and that those who do not comply with rules on voter identification not be allowed to vote.

Appearing for the EC, counsel Meenakshi Arora said though electoral rolls were being prepared as per the judgment of the HC, it would be better if the SC gave a verdict that would help reach a closure on the issue.

When the petitioners again insisted on protection of religious sentiments, the Bench said: "The photograph is for identification of a voter. If someone comes to vote in a burqa and the photograph was also taken with veil covering the face, how would anyone identify the voter?"

Explaining that right to vote was only a statutory right and not a fundamental right, the Bench said: "Right to contest an election is an extension of the right to vote. Can anyone contest an election saying photograph of her face be not taken? Can she be photographed in a burqa with a veil and yet contest an election?"

Though the Bench made its mind absolutely clear, it agreed to a detailed hearing on the issue at a later date.

The Madras High Court had in a 2006 verdict held that faith and practice were on two different planes, saying there was nothing wrong on the part of the EC to insist on a photograph of the face of a `purdah-nashin' woman for the purpose of preparing electoral rolls.

dhananjay.mahapatra@timesgroup.com

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Lift-veil-for-voter-ID-SC-tells-burqa-clad-women/articleshow/5489631.cms

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Veil can be lifted for ID check: Clerics

Mohammed Wajihuddin

23 January 2010

MUMBAI: Muslim scholars and community leaders have urged the community not to oppose the Supreme Court ruling asking burqa-clad women to lift the

veil at the time of voting so that their identitites could be checked. Most Islamic scholars maintain that since face veil was not mandated by the Quran it should not be portrayed as a contravention of the scriptures.

Many respected scholars like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi have said women could go in public without face veil. And if the law of the land demands that women must show their faces in certain circumstances like at immigration counters and at polling booths, Muslim women should submit, said Uzma Naheed, head of Iqra Foundation (India), who wears a hijab but does not fully cover her face with a veil.

The veil among Muslim women, like the ghoonghat among a section of Hindu women, is mostly part of culture and, scholars say, cultural practices could be relaxed to stop impersonation at voting booths.

Muslim women who observe purdah shouldn’t resist lifting the veil at the time of casting votes. ‘‘How else can bogus voting be checked?’’ asked Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer, who maintains that the veil is a medieval and patriarchal practice.

But some like senior cleric Maulana Abu Zafar Hassan Nadvi maintain the court should not have made it mandatory for the burqa-clad women to lift the veil at the time of voting. ‘‘In the name of liberating women, we cannot accept something which is against Islamic values. In public, they must not be forced to lift the veil,’’ he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Veil-can-be-lifted-for-ID-check-Clerics/articleshow/5490413.cms

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Shah Rukh disappoints Aligarh Muslim University

23 Jan, 2010

The students of Aligarh Muslim University are a disappointed lot. They were very excited as Shah Rukh Khan was supposed to have an interactive session with them this afternoon. However, SRK has cancelled his visit at the last minute.

Our source said, “SRK learnt that the interaction was to happen between him and 1400 students in an auditorium and the rest of the 28,000 students would have returned home disappointed. He spoke to the concerned authorities and opted out. There would obviously be chaos, considering his stature. The disappointed students might have made the situation tougher to handle by trying to get a glimpse of Shah Rukh inside. The interaction will now happen as and when SRK is available at an outdoor venue, but it seems very unlikely given SRK’s packed schedule this year.”

It’s a tough call to take, but given the larger picture, probably a wise one. Abdul Aziz, Vice Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University confirmed the news and said, “Yes, it has been cancelled and Mr Khan has been kind enough to promise us that he will come sometime in the future. We have also put forward a request for two interactive sessions: one indoor and the second will be an outdoor session. Obviously limited students will get to interact with him indoors as we have a huge campus with about 28,000 students. It was always going to be difficult. There were no security issues as we had those arrangements covered, but we can’t deny the fact that crowd control was a concern.”

http://movies.indiatimes.com/News/Shah-Rukh-disappoints-Aligarh-Muslim-University/articleshow/5491449.cms

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Nigeria religious riot bodies found in village wells

23 January 2010

More victims of deadly religious clashes in central Nigeria have been found, with scores of bodies stuffed in wells and sewage pits.

Up to 150 bodies have been found in Kuru Karama village, 30km (18 miles) from the city of Jos, where the violence erupted last Sunday.

Correspondents say elders hid in holes for seven hours to escape the violence.

An exact death toll is not known but overall up to 300 are thought to have died in the Muslim-Christian clashes.

Several thousand people fled their homes.

'Burned alive'

The BBC's Caroline Duffield in Jos says many of the bodies found in Kuru Karama had massive burns, other victims were hacked to death or shot.

She says there are still more bodies scattered in the bush beyond the village but the areas are not safe for volunteer workers to enter.

Umar Baza, head of Kuru Karama village, told Agence France-Presse news agency: "So far we have picked 150 bodies from the wells. But 60 more people are still missing."

The Human Rights Watch group said armed men had attacked the mostly Muslim Kuru Karama on 19 January.

"After surrounding the town, they hunted down and attacked Muslim residents, some of whom had sought refuge in homes and a local mosque, killing many as they tried to flee and burning many others alive," it said in a statement.

It quoted one villager as saying: "I came back on Wednesday evening escorted by the military. I saw dead bodies everywhere. The corpses were there, but now you can just see the blood on the ground. None of the houses are standing."

The group called on Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to order an immediate criminal investigation into reports of the massacre.

Mr Jonathan deployed the military after four days of clashes.

He has been issuing orders while President Umaru Yar'Adua receives medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

The security forces have now restored order and a curfew has been partially lifted.

But correspondents say the atmosphere is still tense.

Jos, the capital of Plateau state, lies at the point where Nigeria's Muslim north and predominantly Christian south meet.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8476534.stm

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Radical Muslim cleric returns to native Jamaica

By HOWARD CAMPBELL

January 23, 2010

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- A radical Muslim cleric who served time in a British jail for inciting murder and stirring racial hatred has arrived in Jamaica, the second time he was deported to his native country.

Abdullah el-Faisal arrived in Kingston by private jet Friday night after he traveled from Burkina Faso to Antigua via Cape Verde, authorities said.

El-Faisal spoke briefly to reporters before he left in a minivan with two members of the local Muslim community.

"I'm traveling for two days and you want me to give you an interview?" he was quoted as saying in Saturday's edition of the Jamaica Observer newspaper. "It was a very good flight. It was a private jet. I am very happy to be back home."

It is unclear where Faisal will live. He previously lived in Spanish Town, just outside Kingston.

Deputy police chief Glenmore Hinds said late Friday that police will maintain surveillance on him but did not provide specifics.

"We'll be doing everything to ensure the safety of Jamaicans will not be compromised," he said.

El-Faisal once led a London mosque attended by convicted terrorists, and Britain has said that his teachings heavily influenced one of the bombers in the 2005 transport network attacks in London that killed 52 people.

In 2007, Britain deported him to Jamaica after he spent four years in jail for urging the killing of Americans, Hindus, Jews and Christians.

In 2009, el-Faisal toured several African countries until he was arrested last month in Kenya. Muslim youth demanded his release during a deadly protest Jan. 15 at a downtown Nairobi mosque that led to the arrest of 400 people. The Muslim Human Rights Forum said at least five people were killed when police shot at demonstrators, while the government says only one person died.

Attempts to deport el-Faisal failed earlier this month when he was denied a transit visa when he arrived in Nigeria en route to Gambia, which had agreed to host him. He was then flown back to Kenya.

Britain, South Africa, Tanzania and the U.S. earlier denied el-Faisal the transit visas he needed to return to Jamaica.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/23/AR2010012300970.html

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Being called a Hindu is like an abuse to me: Dalit writer

Meenakshi Sinha

23 January 2010

JAIPUR: "Being called a Hindu is like a gaali (abuse) to me. I use Valmiki as a surname because having one is almost a necessity these days. If

you just say Omprakash, it's not enough. People demand a surname as they come from a certain mindset. Caste envelops every aspect of life in India," said Omprakash Valmiki, leading Dalit writer in Hindi, at the fifth Jaipur literature festival on Friday.

Valmiki was one of three speakers at the session, Outcasts: The Search for Public Conscience with P Sivakami, Dalit novelist and political activist from Chennai. Kancha Ilaiah, political science professor in Osmania University, Hyderabad and author of the bestseller 'Why I am Not a Hindu', was the third speaker. Ilaiah is an OBC by caste.

Sivakami maintained that upper-caste Hindus only have a caste conscience and no public conscience. "They lack human conscience," she said. Sivakami resigned from civil services after 29 years of service to join the Bahujan Samaj Party in 2008.

Valmiki, author of celebrated autobiography Joothan (1997), maintained that Dalits continue to be shunned in the realms of culture, literature and the arts. "And that is despite 60 years of independence and numerous laws guaranteeing their fundamental rights," he said. His other works include three collections of poetry: Sadiyon ka santap (The centuries-old anguish, 1989), Bas! bahut ho chuka (Stop it! That's enough, 1997) and Ab aur nahin (Not any more, 2009).

Valmiki is currently working on two novels. One is based in Bihar and the other on the Gohana episode in Haryana (2005) where homes of Dalits were burnt. He is also working on a compilation of Dalit poetry from across India.

"A casteist person cannot write Dalit literature. He will first have to 'de-caste' himself, only then can he give the right picture. A good Dalit writer hardly gets any visibility. In literature, Dalit consciousness is not visible even in the writings of Ismat Chugtai, Nagarjun or Premchand," said Valmiki.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Being-called-a-Hindu-is-like-an-abuse-to-me-Dalit-writer/articleshow/5490479.cms

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Britain raises terror threat level from 'substantial' to 'severe'

23 January 2010

LONDON: Britain raised its terror threat level from 'substantial' to 'severe' on Friday, suggesting that an attack is "highly likely", Home

Secretary Alan Johnson said.

"The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has today raised the threat to the UK from international terrorism from substantial to severe," Johnson said.

"This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but I should stress that there is no intelligence to suggest than an attack is imminent."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Britain-raises-terror-threat-level-from-substantial-to-severe/articleshow/5490403.cms

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India should be ready for more terrorist attacks: Antony

January 23, 2010

Defence Minister AK Antony on Saturday warned of more terrorist attacks and infiltration bids along the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, but said the armed forces were prepared to counter these threats.

"In the last two months, the attempts to infiltrate into Kashmir have increased. The trend will continue as those inimical to our country see that the situation in Kashmir is improving and they cannot tolerate it," Antony told reporters in New Delhi.

"India has to be ready for more attempts at infiltration and terrorist attacks, and we assure that the armed forces will take every step to counter them," he said, speaking on the sidelines of a function organised by the India chapter of an NGO, Transparency International.

The defence minister visited Kashmir earlier this month to assess the security situation in the valley.

During his visit, Antony said that the local police would be given more responsibility for law and order but after reviewing the security situation.

Last year, the armed forces withdrew nearly 30,000 troops from Jammu and Kashmir.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-should-be-ready-for-more-terror-attacks-Antony/H1-Article1-500848.aspx

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Internet running out of addresses

Roy Mathew

Vital for Internet community to shift to new addressing scheme

Less than 10% of available IPv4 addresses remain unallocated

IPv6 provides a much larger address pool than IPv4

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Internet is running out of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, used by computers to communicate.

The Amsterdam-based Number Resource Organization (NRO), official representative of the five regional registries that oversee the allocation of all Internet number resources, announced on Tuesday that less than 10 per cent of available IPv4 addresses remained unallocated. (V4 IP addresses consist of four sets of numbers separated by colons, which serve as a unique identification for computers on networks.)

Critical moment

The remaining small pool of the existing IP addresses marks a critical moment in IPv4 address exhaustion, ultimately impacting the future network operations of all businesses and organisations around the globe.

NRO chairman Axel Pawlik said in an official release that it was vital for the Internet community to shift to a new addressing scheme using six sets of numbers (IPv6), and called for determined action to ensure global adoption of IPv6.

“Key infrastructure”

“The limited IPv4 addresses will not allow us enough resources to achieve the ambitions we all hold for global Internet access. The deployment of IPv6 is a key infrastructure development that will enable the network to support the billions of people and devices that connect in the coming years,” Mr. Pawlik said.

Internet Protocol is a set of technical rules that defines how devices communicate over a network. Of the two versions of IP addresses, IPv6 includes a modern numbering system that provides a much larger address pool than IPv4. With so few IPv4 addresses remaining, the NRO is urging all Internet stakeholders, including governments, vendors, enterprises, telecoms operators, and end users, to take immediate action by planning for the necessary investments required to deploy IPv6, says the release. The NRO specifically asks the business sector to provide IPv6-capable services and platforms, including web hosting and equipment, ensuring accessibility for IPv6 users. Software and hardware vendors should implement IPv6 support in their products to guarantee that they are available at production standard when needed. Governments should lead the way by making their own content and services available over IPv6 and encouraging IPv6 deployment efforts in their countries. IPv6 requirements in government procurement policies are critical at this time. Civil society, including organisations and end users, should request that all services they receive from their ISPs and vendors are IPv6-ready, to build demand and ensure competitive availability of IPv6 services in coming years.

Positive results

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/23/stories/2010012360812600.htm

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Former Malaysia king dies aged 77

23 January 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: The sultan of Malaysia's Johor state Iskandar Ismail, who served as the nation's king for five years, has died aged 77, state media reported.

Abdul Ghani Othman, chief minister of the southern state, announced the sultan's death late Friday after he was admitted to a local hospital the day before for an unspecified illness, state news agency Bernama said.

"The sultan of Johor was very much respected and loved," Abdul Ghani said, reading a statement on TV, according to Bernama. He said the sultan died at 7:15 pm (1115 GMT).

A senior aide to the chief minister confirmed the sultan's death and that the sultan's eldest son, Tunku Ibrahim Ismail, had been appointed regent. He is expected to be named as sultan shortly.

Sultan Iskandar was born in 1932 and educated in Australia and Britain before joining the state civil service.

He took over as sultan of Johor in 1981, following the death of his father and served as Malaysia's king from 1984 to 1989.

Malaysia has a rotational monarchical system in which each state sultan takes turns to serve for five years as king.

Local papers were filled with tributes to Sultan Iskandar, calling him a "selfless ruler at heart" and "a ruler close to his subjects."

Premier Najib Razak cut short a state visit to India, returning to Malaysia early Saturday for the Sultan's funeral, Bernama reported.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Former-Malaysia-king-dies-aged-77-/articleshow/5491055.cms

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'Pakistan unlikely to take military actions wanted by the US'

23 January 2010

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is unlikely to take strong military action against the terrorists as desired by the Obama administration because it is not

willing to forgo the option of using extremists as "tools" against India after the US leaves the region, a prominent thinktank said.

"The issue is not just one of capability. It is also about intent and Islamabad's strategic imperatives," said Stratfor in its latest news analysis of the region.

The Obama Administration is pressing the Pakistan Army to take strong military action against the terrorists.

"The Pakistanis realise that the United States and its Western allies aren't looking at a long-term military commitment to Afghanistan. Therefore, from Islamabad's point of view, it makes no sense to go after those militants fighting in Afghanistan," it said.

"Doing so would not only exacerbate the insurgency within its own borders in the short term, it would also create a much larger cross-border mess for Islamabad to deal with long after Western forces leave the region," Stratfor said.

"Furthermore, Taliban fighting in Afghanistan are tools Pakistan can use to roll back Indian influence in Afghanistan, which has increased significantly in the last eight years.

Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will undertake the kind of action that the United States wants, because it would be tantamount to national suicide," it said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Pakistan-unlikely-to-take-military-actions-wanted-by-the-US/articleshow/5492025.cms

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Taliban part of 'political fabric' of Afghanistan: Gates

22 January 2010

ISLAMABAD: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Friday described the Taliban as part of the "political fabric" of Afghanistan, but said any future role would depend on insurgents laying down their weapons.

The Islamist extremist movement has been waging an increasingly deadly insurgency against the Afghan government and foreign troops since a US-led invasion ousted the regime from power in late 2001.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is planning an ambitious Western-backed reconciliation package aimed at tempting fighters away from their Taliban masters by offering money and jobs to draw them back to civilian life.

"The Taliban, we recognize, are part of the political fabric of Afghanistan at this point," Gates said during a visit to Pakistan on Friday.

"The question is whether they are prepared to play a legitimate role in the political fabric of Afghanistan going forward, meaning participating in elections, meaning not assassinating local officials and killing families.

"The question is what do the Taliban want to make out of Afghanistan?" he added in comment to reporters.

"When they tried before we saw before what they wanted to make and it was a desert, culturally and every other way."

Karzai told the BBC in an interview shown on Friday that major powers would fund his new scheme to tempt Taliban fighters to lay their weapons aside and head home to their communities and integrate into legitimate society.

The United States and Britain would announce at a major conference on Afghanistan in London next week that they had decided to back his plan, the president said, adding Japan would also offer financial backing.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Taliban-part-of-political-fabric-of-Afghanistan-Gates-/articleshow/5487345.cms

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Pakistan must act: India

23 January 2010

NEW DELHI: India has objected to Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s observation that his country cannot guarantee that there will not be a repeat of the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008.

Pointing out that no country can absolve itself of the responsibility of ensuring that its territory is not used for terrorist attacks against any other country, government sources here said this basic principle applied to Pakistan as well.

“It is stating the obvious but Pakistan cannot absolve [itself of ] the responsibility that comes with nationhood,” added the sources.

Pakistan should earnestly take steps to dismantle the terror infrastructure on its soil and act against those plotting violence against other countries, they said.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/23/stories/2010012359771000.htm

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Miliband:N-armed Pak a risk

Jan 23 2010

Washington, Jan. 22: In a rare appearance before a powerful US congressional committee, the British foreign secretary, Mr David Miliband, warned that a nuclear-armed Pakistan risked slipping into radical hands.

We know that Pakistan matters not just because it is the location for the Taliban leadership. It’s the base for Al Qaeda, it’s a nuclear weapons state with the long-term risk of radicalisation,” he said.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/international/milibandn-armed-pak-risk-922

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Can’t tolerate safe haven for terrorists in Pak: Hillary

S Rajagopalan

The United States has made it clear to Pakistan that while it is committed to building a long-term partnership with the country, it cannot tolerate safe havens for terrorists on Pakistani territory.

“We seek to build long-term partnership with Pakistan based on common interests, including recognition that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear,” says a new US policy document, released by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The US, which has gifted Pakistan well over $10 billion in aid since 2001 and has committed another $7.5 billion for the next five years, notes in the document that “mistrust” still remains between the two countries.

“But we see a critical window of opportunity created by the recent transition to democratic, civilian rule and the broad, sustained political support across Pakistan for military operations against extremists,” it says.

Significantly, the 39-page document also stresses that Washington will engage India, China and Russia as part of the efforts to build a global coalition to help stabilise the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and press on with the mission to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda” in the two countries.

“In 2010, we will build on bilateral discussions with Russia, China, India, and Afghanistan’s neighbours,” the paper says, noting: “Our regional diplomacy is expanding, with a sharpened focus on shifting the calculus of Afghanistan’s neighbours from competition in Afghanistan to cooperation and economic integration.”

“Our objectives are shared by the people and Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan and by people around the world, from Europe to Australia, from Russia to China to India, and across the Middle East where Muslim countries face a common threat from al-Qaeda.”

In her remarks, Clinton said challenges in both Afghanistan and Pakistan are immense. The Afghan Government is under assault from the Taliban and struggling to provide security, jobs and basic justice to a society devastated by 30 years of war. And across the border, the Pakistani people are victim of regular suicide bombings despite their military’s increasingly determined efforts against extremist elements, she said.

“While al-Qaeda’s safe-haven in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area is increasingly disrupted, its senior leaders are still planning attacks against our homeland and our Allies,” Clinton said, noting she has made it a top priority to elevate the role of diplomacy and development alongside defence in the US’s national security strategy.

“While our military mission in Afghanistan is not open-ended, we are committed to building lasting partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she said.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/231127/Can%E2%80%99t-tolerate-safe-haven-for-terrorists-in-Pak-Hillary.html

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Lahore HC: Lakhvi case not to be transferred

23 January 2010

A court dismissed Lashker-e-Tayyeba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi’s application, seeking transfer of his trial for planning and facilitating the Mumbai terror attacks from Rawalpindi to Lahore, on Friday.

Disposing the application, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif directed the federal and Punjab Governments to ensure that foolproof security is provided to Lakhvi and his counsel Khwaja Sultan. Chief Justice Sharif said there is no justification for the request of Lakhvi’s trial to be transferred from Rawalpindi to Lahore. Sharif reserved his judgement after hearing arguments.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/231124/Lahore-HC-Lakhvi-case-not-to-be-transferred.html

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No worry over drone transfer to Pak: Naik

Kestur Vasuki

Even though India voiced its concern over US supplying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to Pakistan, India perceives no problems if these drones were used against Taliban Militants.

Talking to the media after delivering a lecture in Bangalore on Friday, Chief of Air Staff, PV Naik said that if Pakistan uses these drones against militants it doesn’t perturb India. The Air Chief said he was also not unduly concerned over such a development as it had no bearing on India.

“So long as the drones are used against Taliban militants, we have no problem,” Naik told reporters on the sidelines of the fourth Air Chief Marshal LM Katre Memorial Lecture. However, he stressed that the UAVs would be a part of the country’s aerospace defence capability in future.

“With the accent shifting to unmanned flights and missiles, technological advances are sure to revolutionise military affairs in the future also,” Naik said delivering the lecture. He also stressed the need to protect Indian Space in the backdrop of China developing Anti Satellite weapons, while underscoring the need for India to build its military capabilities in space.

“India’s rising stature and acceptability are an opportunity for us to push for creating adequate military space capabilities. The dependence on satellites has emerged from the fact that the space-based systems can accomplish their missions in a technically superior manner, and more economically than achieved by other means. As a result of development of ASAT Technology (by China) taking place in our neighborhood, defending space-based assets assumes vital importance in the 21st century,” said Air Chief Marshal, PV Naik.

The Air Chief indicated that Indian Space research Organisation (ISRO) has been asked to build an exclusive satellite for the Indian Defence Forces to augment their capabilities. “They (ISRO) will decide as and when they can,” he said. He further added that IAF expects to become a network-centric force in two years.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/231114/No-worry-over-drone-transfer-to-Pak-Naik.html

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Gilani asks Gates to bridge ’trust deficit’

Nirupama Subramaniam

“Be even-handed in approach to India, Pakistan”

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani reportedly told U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates that his government cannot prosecute anyone without evidence.

This was an apparent reference to Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the Mumbai attacks.

He is also said have told the Defence Secretary that one way that the U.S. could bridge the “trust deficit” with Pakistan was to be “even-handed” in its approach towards Pakistan and India.

The Hindu’s efforts to reach the Prime Minister’s media team for a verification of these remarks that can only further complicate an already difficult phase in India-Pakistan ties were unsuccessful.

The official version of the Gilani-Gates meeting, contained in the press statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, does not include these remarks. It gives the impression that India-Pakistan issues were not at the top of the talks, which seemed to have focussed on other bilateral issues such as Pakistan’s demand for drone technology, co-operation in the energy sector and the new airport screening rules for U.S.-bound Pakistanis.

It quotes the Prime Minister stating that India-Pakistan relations should not become hostage to the activities of terrorists which he described as “the common enemy.” Mr. Gilani also said lasting peace in the region required both countries to resolve the “core issues” including Kashmir and water dispute.

He talked of Pakistan’s commitment to peace in the region, and the “sincere efforts” by his government to resume the Composite Dialogue Process with India. He is said to have “regretted” that the Indian response “has not been encouraging.”

http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/23/stories/2010012352781000.htm

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Pak's 26/11 trial adjourned for a week, lawyers boycott hearing

23 January 2010

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani anti-terror court conducting the trial of LeT's operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others for involvement in

the Mumbai attacks on Saturday adjourned the hearing for a week after defence lawyers boycotted the proceedings complaining of lack of security for them.

Shahbaz Rajput, one of the defence lawyers, said that they had boycotted the hearing because the anti-terror court in Rawalpindi had not implemented the Lahore High Court's ruling that the counsels should be provided adequate security.

"When we reached the anti-terrorism court today, we found no arrangement had been made for our security and for consultations with our clients as was directed by the Lahore High Court," said Rajput.

The court has scheduled the next hearing for January 30. While dismissing Lakhvi's petition for transferring the case against him from Rawalpindi to Lahore due to a purported threat to his life, the Lahore High Court had on Friday directed authorities to provide adequate security to the accused and their counsels.

The high court had earlier directed authorities in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, where the accused are being held and the trial conducted, to make arrangements for the suspects to hold consultations with their lawyers.

The seven accused - Lakhvi, Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum - were last year formally charged with planning and helping execute the Mumbai attacks.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Paks-26/11-trial-adjourned-for-a-week-lawyers-boycott-hearing/articleshow/5492419.cms

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Krishna's remarks on terror attacks 'immature': Pakistan

23 January 2010

ISLAMABAD: Doing away with diplomatic niceties, Pakistan has dubbed as "immature" external affairs minister S M Krishna's reported remarks that any future terror attack on India could impact bilateral ties.

Pakistan foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit claimed that the Mumbai attacks would not have happened without local support and that Krishna should "understand the realities" and avoid such statements.

It is "an immature statement", Basit said while reacting to Krishna's remarks carried by a magazine that "any repeat of such (26/11 type of) attacks will have serious repercussions on bilateral ties."

Krishna's reported remarks came in response to Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's statement that his country could not guarantee that there would be no further attacks in India.

Earlier, US defence secretary Robert Gates had said India's patience would be "limited" if a 26/11-type attack was repeated.

Basit insisted that no country has been "as sincere as Pakistan" in the fight against terrorism as it was a "real victim" of the menace.

Pakistan would not be scared by any threat, the spokesman was quoted as saying by state-run APP news agency.

He claimed that Pakistan had extended all cooperation but India's response has been "lethargic" and "not positive".

The "deadlock between the two countries would only be beneficial for non-state actors," he said, adding both countries are nuclear powers and "to think about war is equal to suicide".

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Krishnas-remarks-on-terror-attacks-immature-Pakistan/articleshow/5492845.cms

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Biden holds key talks on Iraq election dispute

23 January 2010

US Vice-President Joe Biden has been holding talks in Iraq to try to defuse a political crisis over candidates for the general elections in March.

More than 500 have been banned so far, many on suspicion of loyalty to Saddam Hussein's dissolved Baath Party.

The dispute has caused bitter recriminations among Iraqi politicians.

Many Sunnis are outraged, saying their community is being marginalised, while many Shias oppose both rehabilitating Baathists and US interference.

Mr Biden began by meeting the UN secretary general's special representative for Iraq, Ad Melkert, for a working breakfast, before holding talks with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

Government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said during his meeting with Mr Maliki, Mr Biden had stressed that the US did not want to interfere in the dispute over election rules.

"[Mr Biden] clearly said that this is an Iraqi issue and he is not willing to interfere with the legal and constitutional process," Mr Dabbagh said.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told AFP news agency the pair's talks had focused on general diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Mr Biden was also due to meet President Jalal Talabani and other key political figures.

Sensitive issue

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says both the US and UN are increasingly worried that the March elections could become discredited.

Mr Maliki, who belongs to the Shia community, has generally been supportive of the disqualifications.

However, Mr Talabani, who is a Kurd, has questioned the legality of the commission which issued the disqualifications, referring it to the supreme court for a ruling.

Our correspondent says Mr Biden will have to tread carefully as, particularly in Shia circles, political interference and pressure from the Americans is a deeply sensitive issue.

He says Mr Biden may not achieve an immediately visible success but the Americans will be eager for the elections to foster national reconciliation so the withdrawal of troops can be achieved against a stable background.

Tony Blinken, Mr Biden's national security adviser, said the vice-president would not be heavy handed.

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8476385.stm

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4 held for arson on Malaysian Muslim prayer halls

KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysian police have arrested four men over arson attacks on two Muslim prayer halls, the latest on places of worship amid a dispute over the use of the word "Allah" by Christians, the national news agency reported Saturday.

Assailants have targeted 11 churches, a Sikh temple, a mosque and at least two Islamic prayer halls in various states across the Muslim-majority country since January 8. The attacks mainly involved firebombs that caused minor damage and no injuries, though one church was partially gutted.

The attacks followed an uproar among Malay Muslims over a December 31 court ruling that allowed non-Muslims to use "Allah" as a translation for "God" in the Malay language. Many Malaysian Muslims believe the word should be exclusive to their religion, and that its use by others could confuse some Muslims and even tempt them to convert. The government has appealed the verdict.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1263147958529&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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Yemen's university: The fountain of radical ideas

Steven Erlanger

23 January 2010

Al-Eman university was founded in 1993 by Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani , a spiritual leader, theolog ical adviser to Osama bin Laden and yemen

co-founder of the main Yemeni opposition party, Islah. In 2004, the United States Treasury put Zindani on a list of "specially designated global terrorists" for suspected fund-raising for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. The university itself is a good symbol of the complications of Yemen, its need to strike a balance between conservative Islam and an increased American involvement.

The radical American-born internet preacher Anwar al-Awlaki took classes and gave lectures here in 2004 and 2005, when a young Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - who later tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Dec 25 - was in Sana'a studying Arabic.

John Walker Lindh, the American who was captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, studied here before fighting the Americans, and in general the university is seen as a centre for jihadist ideas. While the school says lectures are only for students, the mosque is open to all Muslims.

The university has more than 4,000 students and teaches courses in Islam and Western disciplines, some times trying to meld the two. Hood Abu Ras, who runs Sheik Zindani's university office, denies that Abdulmutallab was ever here, or that anything happens at Al-Eman except scholarship. "Has the US ever produced any evidence of Sheik Zindani's involvement in terror?" Abu Ras asked. As for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula an alliance of Saudi and Yemeni Qaida operatives, he said, "It gets more propaganda than it deserves." The sheikh himself, at a recent news conference, said he op posed foreign forces in Yemen. "We accept any coopera tion in the framework of respect and joint interests, and we reject military occupation of our country," he said.

He was blunter in Friday Prayer at another mosque, when he warned of an American plot to occupy Yemen. "The UK's request for an international conference on Yemen is meant to pave the way for a UN Security Council resolution to approve an occupation of Yemen and to put it under a UN mandate," Zindani said, as the worshippers shouted, "No to occupation!" He said that Washington's "so-called war on terror is in fact a war against Islam," according to Al Jazeera.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Yemens-university-The-fountain-of-radical-ideas-/articleshow/5491719.cms

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Headley’s 26/ 11 hint to Rahul Bhatt

23 January 2010

TERROR accused David Coleman Headley had hinted about the 26/ 11 Mumbai attacks to filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son Rahul . Just after the Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad on September 20, 2008, Headley told Rahul that India, too, would see such attacks soon.

Two months later, LeT gunmen launched coordinated attacks on various targets in Mumbai with the help of information provided by Headley.

Rahul has divulged this in an interview to Channel 4 News . He, of course, did not know of his American friend’s role in the attacks then.

In the interview, Rahul described Headley as an impressive man who he never even thought would be a terrorist.

Rahul said after 26/ 11, Headley even sent him an email expressing shock over the attacks. “ In an e- mail Headley sent on December 11, 2008, he said, ‘ Hey guys, so sorry to see what has happened in Mumbai.

We should go over there and kick their a**.’ He ends off by saying ‘ stay safe, Dave’.” Headley’s gym trainer Villias Varak also spoke to Channel 4 News . Both Rahul and Varak recognised Headley from his photograph shown to them. Rahul said he was quite impressed by Headley’s personality.

“ He was an impressive looking man. He had presence. He was about six- foot- two- inch in height. He was broad, a physically fit man,” he said.

“ He was not even remotely a terrorist. He was a Yank, American in all regards — great sense of humour, extremely well- informed, sensitive and a good friend. A genuinely good guy, that’s the Headley I knew.

“ I liked hanging out with him because he was one person I could learn from. He could teach me things about my areas of interest — be it guns, intelligence, spy craft, those areas.” A naïve Rahul thought his friend to be a US intelligence official. “ I had a hunch then, and I have a hunch now, that he was an American agent of some sort. I had nicknamed him ‘ Agent Headley’. I suggested to him that he worked for the CIA and he did not like it.”

In a crucial disclosure, Rahul said Headley had dropped hints of an impending attack on India.

“ One incident, when we were going to south Mumbai, that he mentioned to us ( was that) there was a bombing in Islamabad, at the Marriott. I remember him very clearly telling me, ‘ You know guys, you are going to see things like that happening now in this country’.” Rahul, whose name was mentioned in the documents seized from Headley, said he was unsure of what Headley had in mind for him.

According to Rahul, Headley referred to Pakistan as the “ Wild West”. “ He was aware that I was going to be acting as the leading man in a movie called Suicide Bomber , which had been conceptualised for me based on the 7/ 7 London bombings. We used to have a lot of conversations about terrorism and counterterrorism ( while) preparing for that part.” According to Rahul, Headley told him: “ It would really help you for your role to visit the Wild West and get some first- hand experience. Visit the gun bazaars of Peshawar and go up to the tribal areas of Waziristan.” When Rahul said Pakistan was a dangerous place to go to, Headley told him he would be well- protected there.

 Mail Today, New Delhi

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Internet freedom becomes a sore point in US-China relations

Saibal Dasgupta

22 January 2010

BEIJING: This time it is not the irksome 3Ts- Tibet, Taiwan and trade-that has set China and the United States at loggerheads. It is internet freedom, the only area where the Communist leaders face some kind of political challenge.

It's clear US secretary of state Hillary Clinton knows where to hurt the Chinese leadership, and has made a hit. The Chinese foreign ministry has reacted to Clinton's comments warning her that it can harm Sino-US relationship.

"The US side had criticized China's policies on internet administration, alluding that China restricts Internet freedom. We firmly oppose such words and deeds, which were against the facts and would harm the China-US relations," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said on Friday.

Clinton caused a flutter by asking China to lift restrictions on the use of the internet. "We look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the activities that led Google to make its announcements," she said.

She was referring to a statement by Google, who said it would no longer allow its searches to be censored even if it results in withdrawing the company's Chinese version. Google also complained that its email service was hacked from Chinese soil.

The Chinese foreign ministry reacted saying web usage had grown to encompass 384 million users, 3.68 million websites and 180 million blogs in China because the country allowed all the internet freedom that is necessary for them. Ma said hacking was a major problem for Chinese websites and baidu.com had suffered from it as well. The government was going after the hackers.

"China advocated to severely fight against hacking through international cooperation, so as to protect internet safety and citizen's privacy," Ma said. The Internet Society of China recently said cyber attacks from abroad has rose 148% in 2008.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/Internet-freedom-becomes-a-sore-point-in-US-China-relations/articleshow/5489173.cms

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Israel pays $10.5m to UN for Gaza war

23 January 2010

UNITED NATIONS: Israel has paid the United Nations some USD 10.5 million in damages after its assault on the Gaza Strip last year, UN officials said today.

"The government of Israel has made a payment of USD 10.5 million to the United Nations, in respect to the losses sustained," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

"With this payment, the United Nations has agreed that the financial issues ... are concluded."

Just after the December 2008 to January 2009 conflict, UN chief Ban Ki-moon indicated the world body was claiming some USD 11 million in compensation for the damage to its buildings, warehouses, schools and vehicles.

Israel has always denied deliberately firing on UN property during the three-week conflict, launched after relentless militant Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza on the Jewish state.

Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the conflict, according to UN figures.

The Middle East peace process has stalled since the conflict, and the Gaza Strip, run by Hamas militants, remains under a crippling Israeli blockade.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Israel-pays-105m-to-UN-for-Gaza-war/articleshow/5490787.cms

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France asks Britain, Switzerland for information on Zardari

22 January 2010

PARIS: A French judge probing a Pakistan bomb attack that killed 11 French engineers has asked Britain and Switzerland to provide whatever

information they have on allegations of embezzlement by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, legal sources here said on Friday.

Judge Marc Trevidic made the request to help him advance his probe into claims the 11 were killed in May 2002 by Pakistani agents taking revenge after a new French government cancelled illegal commissions on an arms deal.

Last month families of victims filed suit in Paris against supporters of former French presidential candidate Edouard Balladur, who was prime minister at the time, alleging they benefited from the deal.

In 1995, newly elected president Jacques Chirac cancelled the pay-offs, which he believed had funded his rival's campaign, angering Pakistani officers awaiting their share of the graft, according to a report commissioned by France's state naval construction firm and leaked last June.

The families believe they were deceived by the French state and top ranking French and Pakistani political leaders, and that their loved ones were exposed and killed as a result of a sordid political funding scandal.

One leaked French report on the affair said that the commissions paid to Pakistani figures were ordered by Zardari, the widower of the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Zardari's nickname in Pakistan is "Mr Ten Percent," owing to graft allegations and 11 years spent in jail on charges ranging from corruption to murder.

In all, 14 people were killed on May 8, 2002, when a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying French naval engineers from their Karachi hotel to where they were working on the submarines sold to Pakistan in the suspect deal.

At first, officials in both countries blamed Islamic radicals at war with the West for carrying out the attack, but French counter-terrorism officers have begun privately to accuse Pakistani spies of ordering it.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/France-asks-Britain-Switzerland-for-information-on-Zardari/articleshow/5489855.cms

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Indian fishermen held in Pakistan

23 January 2010

Islamabad: Pakistan has arrested 14 Indian fishermen for allegedly fishing illegally in the country’s waters, authorities said on Friday.

The fishermen, who were arrested by the Maritime Security Agency, are currently being interrogated by security officials. They will be handed over to police in the southern port city of Karachi for further legal action, officials said. — PTI

http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/23/stories/2010012357150100.htm

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Militants target forces in Kashmir

Khursheed Wani

Amid tightened security in entire Kashmir Valley, the militants unsuccessfully attempted to target security forces in Srinagar and south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Friday. The security grid is on high alert in run up to Republic Day to frustrate militant’s designs to disrupt the celebrations.

The defence sources said that 5-kg improvised explosive device (IED) fitted in a gas cylinder was found at Shirmal village on the vital Shopian-Pulwama road by the road opening party of the local Rashtriya Rifles unit. The IED had been planted by militants to target the security forces. The explosive was neutralised averting a major tragedy, they said.

The militants also targeted a CRPF bunker at Budshah Chowk in Srinagar at 4 pm with a hand grenade but it did not explode. A Bomb Disposal Squad later neutralised the explosive. The security agencies claim that they have specific input that militants plan to disrupt the RD function. The surprise search operations of pedestrians and vehicles have been increased.

Meanwhile, a land dispute between police and the local population resulted in death of a protester in north Kashmir’s Pattan belt. Sources said the people in Ikhwanpora village attempted to demarcate a portion of land for construction of a mosque. The land is currently under the possession of police and paramilitary forces. Sources said the police objected to villager’s demand that resulted in a clash. The police personnel opened fire to chase away the protesters that resulted into death of a protester Manzoor Ahmad Sofi.

The police said a case has been registered and inquiry ordered to find the cause of death. The death sparked protests in the area.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/231274/Militants-target-forces-in-Kashmir.html

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Hizb terrorist killed in Jammu gunfight

January 23, 2010

A terrorist of the Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen was killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Kishtwar district, police said on Saturday.

Tariq Anwar alias Azhar was killed late on Friday in the mountainous area of Nava Pachi in Kishtwar, about 250 km north east of Jammu.

"The terrorist's hideout was raided by a joint party of the Indian Army and the state police and after a brief gunfight, the terrorist who ranked high in the hierarchy of the militant outfit was killed," a police spokesman said.

Azhar was involved in various crimes, ranging from killings to extortions in the area.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Hizb-terrorist-killed-in-Jammu-gunfight/H1-Article1-500815.aspx

 

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Zardari exempt from prosecution: Gilani

January 23, 2010

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday said President Asif Ali Zardari was exempt from prosecution in any corruption case according to the constitution, setting up the possibility of further confrontation with the judiciary.

Zardari was exempt in accordance with Article 248 of constitution, Gilani said, adding the government has consulted renowned advocate Aitzaz Ahsan on the matter.

He said his government honours the courts and would ensure implementation of the verdicts regarding National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

Zardari faced the prospect of being jailed after the corruption cases against him are reopened, since the Supreme Court last month invalidated the NRO that had enabled him and his slain wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to return home from self-exile.

The then president Pervez Musharraf had promulgated the NRO in October 2007.

A petition was filed in the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court Monday seeking constitutional indemnity from prosecution for Zardari.

Barrister Zafarullah of the little-known Watan Party said in his petition that the president, under Article 242 of the constitution, could not be summoned to any court of the law as he is the head of the state.

It said a Supreme Court order on reopening corruption cases against some 250 politicians, bureaucrats and retired military officers who had benefited from a graft amnesty that the court has invalidated did not apply to Zardari as he was the president.

Zardari is on an extremely sticky wicket as the Supreme Court itself will have to rule on whether or not he enjoys constitutional immunity from prosecution.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/pakistan/Zardari-exempt-from-prosecution-Gilani/Article1-500752.aspx

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Encounter rages on between terrorists and forces in south Kashmir

January 23, 2010

The gunbattle between militants and security forces in Kulgam district of South Kashmir intensified on Saturday morning.

The exchange of fire between the two sides began on Friday evening.

The firefight broke out in village Rampora-Qaimoh, 80 kms from Srinagar, when police assisted by security forces cordoned the village on specific information that three militants were hiding in a house.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Encounter-rages-on-between-terrorists-and-forces-in-south-Kashmir/H1-Article1-500843.aspx

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US Vice President Biden in surprise visit to Iraq

January 23, 2010

US Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Iraq on Friday to visit with US troops and hold talks with Iraqi government leaders, UN officials and US military commanders.

Biden's meetings in Baghdad included Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the UN's special representative for Iraq, Ad Melkert, according to a statement released by Biden's office in Washington.

Biden expected to discuss preparations for national elections in March, as well as ongoing US and international efforts to restore security and rebuild Iraq's economy.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/US-Vice-President-Biden-in-surprise-visit-to-Iraq/H1-Article1-500793.aspx

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Hysteria in Pak quite deliberate

Jan 22 2010

It is a self-serving act on the part of the Pakistani establishment to orchestrate anti-India hysteria in that country, exploiting the issue of non-selection of Pakistani cricket stars for the third edition of the Indian Premier League. In 60 years, the Pakistani establishment has lost no opportunity to incite the public mood against India to mar prospects of building people-to-people contacts between the two countries. When such links are sought to be forged, a terrorist incident is generally rigged up to provoke Indian opinion, and other steps taken to hurt the ordinary Indian. Thus, when the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, took his famous “bus yatra” to Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, then Army Chief, pointedly refused to salute him, violating protocol norms. This was guaranteed to raise hackles in India. The night of the state banquet in honour of Mr Vajpayee in Islamabad, a massive terrorist assault was mounted in Kashmir. With the Indian leadership giving indications of taking all this in its stride for the larger cause of peace, efforts were intensified that would lead to the outbreak of the Kargil war only a few weeks later. More recently, a series of terrorist actions have been organised in the Kashmir Valley in order to stymie the incipient “quiet diplomacy” initiated by New Delhi. Given a record such as this, it is no surprise that instead of seeking to explain in rational terms the decision of IPL franchisees not to opt for Pakistani players, which is clearly driven by business considerations alone, Pakistan’s civil society has been encouraged to view it as a “conspiracy” to “humiliate” Pakistan. The Foreign Office spokesman in Islamabad and the interior minister, Mr Rehman Malik, have made prejudicial statements suggesting that Indians are against the very idea of peace with Pakistan. The Speaker of the National Assembly announced the cancellation of a proposed visit of Pakistan MPs to India. Steps are being taken to block the viewing of popular Indian television programmes, which are a big hit in Pakistan. These are nothing but a string of carefully organised articulations to inject venom into the situation, especially since those who run Pakistan know all too well that hockey, cricket and squash players from that country are admired in India, and its singers, poets and artists are objects of popular affection. There can simply be no question that Indians don’t want to watch Pakistani cricketers in action, or that the Indian government has a vested interest in keeping the pot boiling. On the other hand, even in times of seeming normality, the Pakistan government has gone to considerable lengths to ensure that chambers of commerce in that country should not seek to establish business ties with their Indian counterparts until the “core” issue of Kashmir is settled. It is therefore amusing to see Pakistan now trying to suggest that India is blocking Pakistani cricketers because it is against the normalisation of relations. Patently, the diatribe is meant for Washington’s ears. But the preposterous idea cannot have many takers. The IPL franchisees avoided the risk of signing on Pakistani cricketers for huge sums of money — although they had technically been cleared for the auction — just in case they don’t show up. The fear of Mumbai Mark-II is real. It wouldn’t have been if Islamabad had genuinely moved against those who organised 26/11.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/dc-comment/hysteria-pak-quite-deliberate-612

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