New Age Islam News Bureau
27 May 2012
• Saudi woman fights cops for painted nails
• Egypt election: the leftist seeks recount
• Saudi King thanks victim’s kin who pardoned killers
• Saudi King kept a balance between progresses and heritage protection
• Saudi Women to work at Justice Ministry
• US ambassador salutes success of 2012 Saudi graduates
• Captors responsible for deputy consul in Aden’s safety: Saudi Govt.
• Over 90 killed in Syria massacre, activists say
• Egypt polls 'encouraging' despite constraints: Jimmy Carter
• UN leads calls for urgent world action in Syria
• UN observers warn of Syria civil war after massacre
• Syria army pounds rebel towns despite outcry
• Egypt vote narrows to Islamist, Mubarak holdover
• Yemen: coasts without protection
• Yemeni women struggle to eke out a living
• 4 killed in Iraq attacks
• Yemen’s army says recaptured rebel positions
• Islamist and ex-PM vie for mantle of Egypt’s revolt
• UAE denounces Al Hola massacre in Syria
• Saudi placed 2nd in Armenia Olympiad
• Bright orphan students in Saudi Arabia honoured
• Jeddah: Terror suspect accused of sodomy
• Jeddah: Military training given top priority
• Crown prince of Saudi Arabia leaves for medical tests abroad
• Solution to Kashmir issue lies within Constitution: Opposition
• Social networking pages used to link 13/7 accused
• ‘32 Britons could be killed in drone strikes’
• NATO supply restoration to be thwarted: JI
• Cease all military ops in Balochistan
• Four suspected militants killed in US drone strike in Pakistan
• Pakistani soldier's body recovered in Siachen
• Taliban after Dr Afridi blood
• Rocket attacks kill two injure 20 in Quetta
• People will not support long march: Gilani
• Time to re-set ties with US: Bilawal
• DPC warns against restoration of NATO supply routes
• Balochistan conference demands end to military operation
• US drone kills four ‘terrorists’ in Miranshah
• One killed in Karachi grenade attack
• Iran not ready for visit to suspect nuclear site
• UN reports of high grade uranium in Iran nuke site
• Israeli man divorces wife for not getting rid of her 550 cats
• NATO air strike kills six children: Afghan officials
• Afghanistan Parliament approves US strategic pact
• Bangladesh: Fairness is the rule
• 3 lens men assaulted in Dhaka
• Afghan assembly approves US strategic pact
• 18 Bangladesh Opposition party leaders' bail hearing
• 4 NATO service members killed in Afghanistan
• Bangladesh PM urges India for speedy implementation of accords
• Taliban condemn Afghan-US strategic partnership
• Lady Gaga Indonesia concert cancelled
• Rebel groups merge in Mali, agree on Islamic state
• African Union troops seize key Somali town
• Seven killed, 40 injured in Algeria gas blast
• Bosnia buries 66 Muslim war victims
• Vatican in chaos after Pope’s butler arrested for leaks
• UAE and UK explore joint cooperation in job market
• US take al-Qaeda war to cyber world
Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Saudi woman fights cops for painted nails
Saudi woman fights cops for painted nails
LONDON, May 27, 2012
A video of a brave Saudi woman confronting members of the country's religious police after they accused her of breaking strict modesty rules with her freshly painted nails, has gone viral on internet. The unidentified woman refuses their demands to leave the mall where she was present and tells them that her nails are 'none of (their) business'.
After she filmed the incident on her cell phone and it was posted online, her row with members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has gone viral. It has ignited a debate in Saudi Arabia over the way that members of the commission should deal with people in public places, the Daily Mail here reported.
The video shows several men in traditional Saudi dress, who have apparently stopped the woman to chastise her for the immodesty of her freshly manicured nails. One of the men orders the woman to leave the mall, but she refuses and the pair becomes embroiled in a heated argument in the middle of the mall's concourse. 'The government didn't send you to follow me,' she yells at the men. 'The government said there would be no persecution[of women], she is heard saying. In two days, the video has got 106,512 views on YouTube.
Egypt election: the leftist seeks recount
27 May 2012
The candidate who is said to have come third - missing out on a run-off - in Egypt's historic election has demanded a recount, citing many "violations".
Hamdin Sabbahi, from the leftist al-Karamah party, said conscripts had voted illegally.
Mr Sabbahi missed out on the second round by 700,000 votes, according to unofficial results from state media.
Next month's run-off will be between candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Mubarak-era regime.
The Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Mursi, has a slight lead on former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, with a reported 25.3% of votes against 24.9%.
Mr Mursi appealed to Egyptians to pursue the goals of last year's uprising against then-President Hosni Mubarak, saying he was confident the second-round result "will serve the revolution and the interests of the Egyptian people".
"As a president, I will be the president for all Egyptians. (My relationship) with the Brotherhood will be the same as all Egyptians," he said.
Mr Shafiq, Mr Mubarak's last prime minister, pledged there would be "no going back" to pre-revolutionary Egypt.
"I pledge now, to all Egyptians, we shall start a new era. There is no going back," he was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying. "We must accept the results."
Voting in the first round took place peacefully on Wednesday and Thursday.
The official results will be announced on Tuesday, but state media have been reporting tallies from polling stations around the country and have now confirmed the two front-runners.
The vote was hailed as a historic achievement by international observers but the BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says many Egyptians - particularly supporters of the revolution - will find the choice they have been left with most unappealing.
He says that one of the allegations is that hundreds of thousands of serving police officers were allowed to vote, which is illegal in Egypt.
The suspicion is that they would favour - or might have been encouraged to vote for - former Prime Minister Mr Shafiq, our correspondent adds.
Former US President Jimmy Carter, who led a delegation of election observers, said in spite of some violations the polls had been "encouraging".
Mr Sabbahi's spokesman, Hossam Mounis, said the legal challenges to the election results would be lodged on Sunday, according to the AP news agency.
"The evidence we have, and that we are still accumulating, shows a big number of violations in many polling centres that would affect the final results," he said.
He is said to have gained 21.5% of the votes cast.
Mr Sabbahi's lawyer told the Reuters news agency that he would ask for the election to be halted until the complaints had been investigated.
Moderate Islamist candidate Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh - who came fourth with 19% of the vote - is also reported to be lodging an appeal.
A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said Egypt would be "in danger" if Mr Shafiq won, and the group would reach out to other candidates to defeat him.
Warning of "determined efforts to recreate the old regime", the Brotherhood urged parties which supported the uprising that overthrew Mr Mubarak last year to unite around their candidate.
They invited a range of opposition figures to a meeting on Saturday.
Both the Brotherhood and Shafiq campaigns have accused each other of "stealing" the revolution.
Shafiq spokesman Ahmed Sarhan urged pro-revolutionaries to vote for his candidate, saying that while his programme was about "the future", the Brotherhood's was about "an Islamic empire".
The polarised choice remaining in the run-off suggests Egypt could be entering a new period of confrontation, our correspondent says.
Ahmed Khairy, spokesman for the Free Egyptians Party, a secular liberal party which emerged last year, said the outcome of the first round was "the worst possible scenario", reported Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram.
He described Mr Mursi as an "Islamic fascist" and Mr Shafiq as a "military fascist".
The pro-revolution vote was split, the reported results suggest, between Mr Sabbahi and a moderate Islamist who broke with the Brotherhood, Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who came fourth with about 19%.
Mr Sabbahi dominated in many urban areas, including Alexandria, local reports suggested.
Former Arab League chief Amr Moussa trailed in fifth place.
Mr Mursi and Mr Shafiq represent very different strands of Egyptian society.
Mr Mursi is seen as belonging to a popular strand of political Islam that was excluded from the political process for many years under Mr Mubarak.
Analysts say Mr Shafiq drew his support from people fearful of an Islamist takeover, and those exhausted by the upheavals of the past 16 months.
About 50 million people were eligible to vote in the polls, in which 13 candidates were vying for the presidency.
It was the country's first freely contested presidential election in its history. Observers said it had been conducted peacefully.
The military body that assumed presidential power in February 2011 - the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) - has promised a fair vote and civilian rule.
Until a new constitution is approved, it is unclear what powers the president will have, prompting fears of friction with a military which seems determined to retain its powerful position.
Many Egyptians have grown frustrated with the pace of change in their country following the revolution, as the economy languishes, public services break down and crime levels rise.
Saudi King thanks victim’s kin who pardoned killers
JEDDAH, 25 May 2012, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah received a number of people who pardoned killers of their family members at his palace here yesterday.
In a unique humanitarian gesture on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the king’s accession to the throne, family members of 13 victims came from various regions of the Kingdom to announce their forgiveness to the murderers. They told King Abdullah that they have taken the decision with the sole purpose of winning the pleasure of God, and that was in response to a request made by the king.
King Abdullah expressed happiness over the noble deed of the victims’ family members. “Dear brothers, this is your fortune, and the fortune of Saudi people among whom there are many who are generous and who realize their moral and religious obligations. Praise be to Allah, this forgiveness is never an easy one,” he said. The king thanked them for their great humanitarian initiative. Several princes, ministers and high-ranking officials attended the ceremony. They included Defense Minister Prince Salman, Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, Assistant Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, Prince Bandar bin Salman, Bandar bin Salman bin Muhammad, adviser of King Abdullah, and royal court advisers Sheikh Nasser Al-Sheshri, Sheikh Abdullah bin Munie and Sheikh Abdullah Al-Motlaq. The king also hosted a lunch for them.
At the reception, Ali bin Ahmad Al-Maliki said while addressing the king: “There are many noble people who gathered here to greet you and renew their loyalty on the occasion of your accession to the throne. They came to announce their forgiveness to killers of their sons and fathers, seeking the pleasure of God, and as a token of honor for you,” he said.
A total of 13 family members were present to pardon those who killed their sons, fathers and brothers. The first one who came forward to announce forgiveness was Abdul Aziz Al-Anzi, who pardoned Maher Al-Alawi for killing his son Ahmad. Hamad Al-Nazawi and Salem Al-Subaie pardoned Rayyan Abu Eisa and Salem Al-Subaie respectively for killing their sons Sami and Fayez. Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Hassan Al-Tulaidi, Babakar Suleiman pardoned Basil Al-Rajih, Mufreh Al-Tulaidi and Nasser Al-Qahtani respectively for killing their sons. Turki Al-Anzi pardoned Dahi Al-Anzi for killing his father Shayeh Al-Anzi. Mousa Al-Saleh, Khaled Al-Shahrani, Hassan Al-Qahtani, Turki Al-Harbi and Ali bin Abdu pardoned killers of their brothers. Muhammad bin Olayyan Al-Hadli, who was convicted in the death of his younger brother Kamal bin Abdu, when his car ran over him, was also pardoned.
Saudi King kept a balance between progresses and heritage protection
LONDON: 26 May 2012, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) President Prince Sultan bin Salman said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah was able to maintain a balance between tremendous comprehensive development and dedication to the preservation of rich cultural heritage.
Delivering a keynote speech at a symposium on measures to promote the civilization of Saudi Arabia at the Stevenson Lecture Theatre in the British Museum on Friday, he spoke at length about the Kingdom’s elaborate efforts to preserve its history and heritage. The function was held as part of an ongoing exhibition on horses from Saudi Arabia to Ascot Royal Races.
Prince Sultan said King Abdullah was the force behind preserving the country’s civilization and its history and heritage. “The king was instrumental in spearheading an unprecedented development boom in various fields of Saudi public life. He managed to maintain a balance between comprehensive development and preservation of its rich culture and heritage in addition to exploring new archeological sites and developing them,” Prince Sultan said.
“King Abdullah has directed us to take good care of the Kingdom’s national antiquities and to project them to the world so it can witness the deep-rooted historical civilization of Saudi Arabia and its people. The king also underscored the significance of highlighting the unique position of Saudi Arabia in the history of humanity and making citizens aware of the rich history of their country.”
The SCTA chief said Saudi citizens are proud of the fact that their country hosts two of the holiest sites in Islam where millions of pilgrims come from all over the world annually.
“This increases the Kingdom’s responsibility toward the whole Islamic world and mankind. Accordingly, the Kingdom is exerting continuous efforts to maintain peace and stability across the world,” he said while adding these efforts stem from the sublime values of Islam.
Referring to the economic dimension of Saudi Arabia, Prince Sultan said the Kingdom as the main economic engine in the region plays a positive role in the global economy. “I am proud to say that the Kingdom used its vast economic power to develop its human resources, as well as to build infrastructure projects and extend utility services to become the fastest-growing country in the Middle East,” he said.
He also referred to the Kingdom’s leading position among other countries in extending humanitarian aid to those afflicted with disasters and natural calamities worldwide. “We are hosting more than 8 million foreign workers, and this showed that the Kingdom is capable of embracing people of all nationalities and races, and have a peaceful coexistence with them. These foreigners are leading a normal life, moving from place to place freely and visiting its historic, heritage and archeological sites,” he said.
Prince Sultan also spoke about SCTA and its partners’ efforts in highlighting the Kingdom’s history and civilization and the commission’s various activities in promoting tourism. He also drew attention to studies that claimed the first known domestication of horses was in the Arabian Peninsula, precisely in Saudi Arabia, 9,000 years ago.
Earlier at the opening session of the exhibition, Prince Sultan pointed out that the SCTA was keen to participate in this exhibition to display some of the archeological discoveries in the British Museum. He explained exhibits from the Kingdom consist of edifices of Arabian horses from the Stone Age in addition to other animals tamed by man to use for hunting.
Saudi Women to work at Justice Ministry
JEDDAH: 26 May 2012, The Justice Ministry announced yesterday that it would start employing women at its guidance centers from the beginning of next year in order to reduce pressure on courts dealing with family issues.
Speaking to Al-Eqtisadiah, Justice Minister Muhammad Al-Eissa said employing women in guidance centers would help tackle more than 70 percent of family issues.
“Most such family cases are presented by women and we are confident that women employees at guidance centers would be able to convince them to settle such disputes amicably,” the minister said.
These employees will also be able to provide necessary guidance to plaintiffs and defendants in order to reduce the pressure on courts.
“If the women who come with their complaints accept the advice of women employees at these centers it would be a big support to the judicial process,” the minister pointed out.
Al-Eissa disclosed his ministry’s plan to enable women to work at its independent women departments gradually. “They will start work at the guidance centers from the beginning of next year,” he added.
He said the ministry would make use of the expertise and experience gained by women's departments at other ministries, universities and the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques to run its own independent women's departments.
In a previous statement, the justice minister said women lawyers would soon be able to practice their profession at the ministry and across investigation and prosecution offices.
US ambassador salutes success of 2012 Saudi graduates
ABDUL HANNAN TAGO
RIYADH: 26 May 2012, The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia has said in remarks on the King Abdullah Scholarship Program that his country is proud to be helping King Abdullah succeed in implementing his vision that will also help create the kind of interconnected and tolerant world President Obama called for in his Cairo speech almost three years ago.
“I would like to salute Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his vision and stewardship of this forward-looking educational program,” Ambassador James B. Smith said in a statement on Friday, adding: "And I would like to salute Khaled Al-Anqari for his leadership at the Ministry of Higher Education."
He continued, "I also salute my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir, and Justice Minister Mohammed Al-Issa for their leadership and commitment to your success. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the great work of the Saudi cultural mission and its dedicated staff."
In his congratulatory message, the ambassador said: "Mabrook to all the 2012 graduates, your families, and all the participants and institutions cooperating with the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP). And thank you for allowing me the honor to be a part of this celebration.
"My friends, this is a joyous occasion and a memorable day for both our countries. As the United States ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I am proud to see that you have opted to study in our country and to be open to new ideas and perhaps new ways of looking at the world."
The ambassador said there were more than 66,000 Saudi students studying in the US today. "Partly because of your positive experience here, another 6,300 of your fellow students are now part of the seventh wave of the KASP coming to America this year. I salute your success."
He said, "We are honored that you have entrusted us with your most valuable assets: your sons and daughters. We feel honored, but also feel we are shouldering a weighty responsibility — a responsibility that we don’t take lightly. I thank you for your trust in the United States. My pledge to you is we will never betray this trust, and we will treat your children with the same care we do our own.
"King Abdullah," he pointed out, " is looking to US universities to play an important role in educating his country’s youth, and has already sent a large number of students and their families, including you, to the US to study in our best schools."
Noting that their graduation should encourage and inspire others," the ambassador said: "And with this education and experience, you will make a better future for your brothers and sisters, and family and friends, and eventually to your country.
“I sincerely hope you have had a rewarding experience in the US and that you got the quality education you came for and you deserve. But I also hope that you have made American friends, enjoyed your time here, that you have made the time to explore and ask questions. I hope you have been good ambassadors for your great country. We are all part of the exchange between our two nations. This exchange works because it is a two-way exchange. While you may be leaving our country this month, I know that you will always be the bridges and the bonds that will draw our countries together, and for that I can’t be more grateful."
Ambassador Smith said that whether they pursued a job in the government, education, medicine, industry, or as an entrepreneur, they would find Saudi Arabia moving forward in a booming economy but looking for a diversified economy. He observed: "Your country needs your brains. Your country needs your hard work. Your country needs you to succeed. Let me close by offering my warmest greetings to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, for his vision and leadership in this scholarship program."
Captors responsible for deputy consul in Aden’s safety: Saudi Govt.
JEDDAH: 26 May 2012, Saudi Arabia will hold those who kidnapped its deputy consul in Aden Abdullah Al-Khalidi responsible for his safety, a spokesman of the Interior Ministry said yesterday.
The spokesman was responding to media reports that claimed Al-Khalidi had requested Saudi authorities to meet Al-Qaeda demands to secure his release.
“The media material on Al-Khalidi being circulated does not contain the date when it was recorded,” the spokesman said.
"I appeal to King Abdullah... and the Saudi government to save me and release me from Al-Qaeda organization in return for releasing the sisters detained in general investigation prisons and fulfilling the remaining demands of the organization," Al-Khalidi allegedly said in the video, posted late Friday.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula abducted Al-Khalidi on March 28 in a bid to secure the release of prisoners and collect a ransom.
"I also appeal to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (King Abdullah) to return me to my family, my children and my wife," said Al-Khalidi, who appeared calm in the video, almost four minutes long.
Over 90 killed in Syria massacre, activists say
May 26, 2012
BEIRUT: A Syrian artillery barrage killed more than 90 people, including dozens of children, in the worst violence since the start of a UN peace plan to staunch the flow of blood from Syria's uprising, activists said on Saturday.
The bloodied bodies of children, some with their skulls rent by shrapnel, were shown lying in a room to the sound of wailing in footage posted to YouTube which purported to show the victims of the shelling in the central town of Houla on Friday.
The reports of the carnage, which could not be confirmed independently, underlined how far Syria is from any negotiated path out the 14-month-old revolt against president Bashar al-Assad.
A UK-based opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said residents of the town were fleeing in fear of more shelling.
Syrian state television aired some of the same footage disseminated by activists, calling the bodies victims of a massacre committed by "terrorist" gangs, without elaborating.
A member of the fragmented group that says it speaks for Syria's political opposition said Assad's forces had killed "entire families" in Houla in addition to the shelling.
"The Syrian National Council (SNC) urges the UN Security Council to call for an emergency meeting... and to determine the responsibility of the United Nations in the face of such mass killings," SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani said.
Opposition activists said Syrian forces opened fire with artillery after skirmishing with insurgents in Houla, a cluster of villages north of the city of Homs, itself battered by shelling.
Syria calls the revolt a "terrorist" conspiracy run from abroad, in a veiled reference to Sunni Muslim Gulf powers which call for arming an insurgency led by Syria's majority Sunnis against Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect.
A six-week old ceasefire plan has failed to stop the violence in Syria, although the United Nations is nearing full deployment of a 300-member unarmed observer force meant to monitor a truce.
The United Nations said on Friday that recent bomb attacks may have been the work of "established terrorist groups" and urged states not to supply arms to either the government or rebel forces.
"Those who may contemplate supporting any side with weapons, military training or other military assistance, must reconsider such options to enable a sustained cessation of violence," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council in a letter on Friday.
The United Nations has accused Assad's forces and insurgents alike of grave human rights abuses, including summary executions and torture.
Ban has also expressed fear that Syria's conflict will destabilise neighbouring Lebanon, whose delicate sect-based politics has been shaken by tensions among Lebanese foes and friends of the uprising in Syria.
In the latest episode, gunmen in northern Syria snatched a group of Lebanese Shi'ites this week as they were returning from a religious pilgrimage, sparking the worst unrest in years in the Lebanese capital.
Uncertainty over their fate increased tension in Beirut on Saturday, a day after Lebanon's top officials said the release of the hostages and their return home was imminent.
The prime minister said on Friday afternoon they had been freed, but hours later there was still no sign of them. A member of the SNC said they were still in captivity, further riling a crowd which had gathered at Beirut's airport to meet them.
Egypt polls 'encouraging' despite constraints: Jimmy Carter
AFP | May 26, 2012
CAIRO: Former US President Jimmy Carter, who is leading a delegation monitoring Egypt's first post-revolt presidential election, said on Saturday the process was "encouraging" despite unprecedented constraints.
"I would say that these (elections) have been encouraging to me," he told a news conference in Cairo, but added that his Carter Centre had "constraints placed on us as witnesses that have never been placed on us before."
He said his delegation was not allowed to see collation at regional stations.
"There is no way we can certify that the entire process was proper," Carter said.
But in general "there was no pattern reported... that showed that the procedure favoured a particular candidate," he said, describing any violations as "haphazard."
Carter was speaking after landmark presidential elections on May 23 and 24 to choose a successor for former president Hosni Mubarak who was ousted by a popular uprising in February last year.
The election seals a tumultuous military-led transition marked by political upheaval and bloodshed.
UN leads calls for urgent world action in Syria
United Nations, May 27, 2012
The United Nations led calls on Saturday for urgent international action on Syria after reports of a horrific massacre by regime forces that left 92 people dead, more than a third of them children.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan jointly
condemned the "appalling and brutal crime," which involved "indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force," and was "a flagrant violation" of international law and commitments by Syria's government not to use heavy weapons or violence.
"Those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account," the UN chief and Annan added.
The UN mission said 92 bodies, 32 of them children aged less than 10, had been counted in the central Syrian town of Houla after reports of an artillery bombardment by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
The offensive resulted in one of the bloodiest episodes since his regime launched a brutal crackdown on opponents in March 2011 that has left thousands dead.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton called the deaths an "atrocity" and said Washington would work with the international community to heap pressure on "Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end."
"Those who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account," she said in a statement.
Britain said it was in urgent talks with allied countries on "a strong international response" while France said it was making plans to host a Friends of Syria meeting in the wake of the latest deadly violence.
EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled by the reports of the brutal massacre" and called on the Syrian regime to immediately cease all forms of violence and to abide by the Annan peace plan.
She said she would talk with the former UN chief on Sunday to affirm Europe's support and would urge the UN Security Council members "to remain seized of the matter."
Video grab of children lying dead after heavy shelling by the forces in Houla in Homs province of Syria. AFP/Youtube
"The international community must continue to speak with one voice, demanding an end to the bloodshed and urging Assad to step aside and allow a democratic transition," Ashton said.
The UN mission chief in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, condemned what he described as a "brutal tragedy" in Houla.
Full Report at:
UN observers warn of Syria civil war after massacre
Damascus, May 27, 2012
The head of a UN mission has warned of "civil war" in Syria after his observers counted more than 92 bodies, 32 of them children, in the central town of Houla following reports of a massacre there. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon joined a chorus of international condemnation on Saturday
amid mounting calls for world action to halt the bloodshed.
The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it was no longer committed to the UN-backed peace plan for Syria unless there was prompt UN intervention to protect civilians, and called for air strikes against regime forces.
UN head of mission Major General Robert Mood called what happened in Houla a "brutal tragedy."
"This morning UN military and civilian observers went to Houla and counted more than 32 children and over 60 adults killed," Mood told reporters in Damascus on Saturday. A monitoring group said 114 people had been killed in Houla.
"Whoever started, whoever responded and whoever carried out this deplorable act of violence should be held responsible," Mood said.
"Those using violence for their own agendas will create more instability, more unpredictability and may lead the country to civil war," he added.
Ban and Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy who brokered a truce which has been flouted daily since it came into effect April 12, said the massacre is a "brutal" breach of international law.
"This appalling and brutal crime, involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force, is a flagrant violation of international law," a UN spokesman quoted Ban and Annan as saying.
US secretary of State Hillary Clinton also condemned the "atrocity" and said Washington would would work with its international allies to increase the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad and his "cronies"
"Rule by murder and fear must come to an end," she declared.
Condemnation also poured from the European Union. Britain, France and Germany, with French foreign minister Laurent Fabius saying he was making "immediate arrangements" for a meeting of the Friends of Syria group.
His British counterpart William Hague said "we will be calling for an urgent session of the UN Security Council in the coming days."
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said he was "shocked and horrified" by the killings.
Mood confirmed that artillery and tanks had pounded Houla and called "on the Syrian government to cease the use of heavy weapons and to all parties to cease violence in all its forms."
Amateur videos posted on YouTube showed horrifying images of dead children, with at least one child's head partly blown away.
The massacre will heighten the importance of a trip Annan is to make to Syria "soon," his spokesman said, while the Security Council is due to discuss Syria on Wednesday.
UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan called for an urgent Arab League meeting, saying the "massacre shows the failure of Arab and international efforts to stop the violence against civilians in Syria."
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, of which the UAE is a member, urged the international community to "assume its responsibilities" to end the bloodshed.
Annan peace plan going to 'hell'
A statement by the Free Syrian Army said it could no longer commit to the ceasefire and that unless the Security Council takes urgent steps to protect civilians, "Annan's plan is going to go to hell."
Earlier the head of the FSA's military council, Turkey-based General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh, urged the Friends of Syria nations to launch air strikes against President Assad's forces.
Full Report at:
Syria army pounds rebel towns despite outcry
Damascus, May 27, 2012, The Syrian army kept up its bombardment of rebel strongholds on Sunday despite an international outcry over the killing of 92 people, a third of them children, in the shelling of a central town.
Arab and Western governments expressed outrage at the "massacre" in the town of Houla
on Friday and Saturday.
But the rebel Free Syrian Army warned that unless the international community took concrete action it would no longer be bound by a UN-backed peace plan that was supposed to start with a ceasefire last month.
Government troops raked rebel neighbourhoods of the central city of Hama with heavy machinegun fire, while the town of Rastan to its south came under artillery fire for a 14th straight day, a human rights watchdog said.
Rebel fighters who pulled out of the flashpoint central city of Homs earlier this year in the face of a devastating assault by the army are holed up in Rastan, activists say.
"The town is being hit at a rate of two shells a minute," the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad also clashed with rebel fighters in the town of Harasta near Damascus.
The head of the UN military observer mission overseeing the ceasefire that was supposed to take effect on April 12 called what happened in Houla a "brutal tragedy."
"This morning UN military and civilian observers went to Houla and counted more than 32 children and over 60 adults killed," Major General Robert Mood told reporters in Damascus on Saturday.
"Whoever started, whoever responded and whoever carried out this deplorable act of violence should be held responsible," Mood said.
"Those using violence for their own agendas will create more instability, more unpredictability and may lead the country to civil war," he added.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan, the international envoy who brokered the UN-backed peace plan, said the massacre was a "brutal" breach of international law.
Full Report at:
Egypt vote narrows to Islamist, Mubarak holdover
May 26, 2012 | AFP | CAIRO
The Muslim Brotherhood on Friday urged Egyptians to rally behind their presidential candidate in an almost certain run-off with rival Ahmed Shafiq, warning the country would be in danger if fallen dictator Hosni Mubarak's premier won.
The Brotherhood declared its candidate Mohammed Mursi the front runner in the May 23-24 election after all the votes had been counted, with Shafiq in second place.
A run-off between Shafiq and Mursi will further polarise a nation that rose up against the authoritarian Mubarak 15 months ago but has since suffered a spike in violence and a declining economy.
The electoral commission is expected to declare the official results on Tuesday, but tallies of the vote counting provided by the official MENA news agency and Al-Ahram newspaper showed Mursi in first place and Shafiq in second.
"We have complete numbers now. Complete, after adding expatriate votes," said Essam al-Erian, the deputy head of the Brotherhood's political arm.
Erian told a press conference it was "completely clear" that Mursi and Shafiq had topped the presidential vote and would compete in the run-off on June 16-17.
He said Mursi won 25.3 per cent of the vote, and Shafiq 24 per cent. Pan-Arab socialist Hamdeen Sabahi won 22 per cent, Erian said.
Both Mursi and Shafiq had been written off as long shots just weeks before the historic election in which the country freely voted for the first time to elect a president after Mubarak's ouster in a democratic uprising.
Shafiq's success appears to have shaken the influential Islamist movement, which won parliamentary and senate elections held last winter.
"The slogan now is: 'the nation is in danger,'" Erian said. He said Mursi himself was calling losing candidates for a meeting on Saturday to ensure Shafiq would not win the election.
"The revolution is in danger, we need to have a democratic country, Shafiq is against democracy," he told AFP after the press conference.
Another Brotherhood official said that Mursi would personally call the movement's bitter rival Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a former Brotherhood leader who ran independently of the movement.
"We call on all sincere political and national forces to unite to protect the revolution and to achieve the pledges we took before our great nation," a Brotherhood statement said.
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Yemen: coasts without protection
24 May 2012 in News
Mohamed Al-Samei (author), Muaad Al-Maqtari (author)
SANA’A — Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a May 20 attack targeting American military advisors in Hodeida. A security source in Hodeida said that the American advisors were on a military training mission for the Yemeni Coast Guard.
The attack left three of the four advisors wounded, contrasting earlier security reports that said only two advisors were hurt. One of them suffered injuries from glass fragments from his car windshield.
According to the statement issued by Ansar Al-Sharia, “Three American military advisors were wounded on Sunday; one of them injured badly, in an ambush by jihadists of Ansar Al-Sharia in Hodeida.”
“The jihadists of Ansar Al-Sharia surely shot three experts; one of them had a bad neck injury. Meanwhile, the police imposed a siege around the area to catch the jihadist; however, they have been foiled by Allah,” the statement continued.
Ansar Al-Sharia said that its members pursued the four American advisors as they were driving to work.
The jihadists opened fire on their two cars before stopping 300 meters away from the ambush and fleeing.
Basim Al-Jenani, journalist and editor-in-chief of Al-Hodeida Net News Website, told the Yemen Times, by way of security sources that armed men opened fire on the car of the three American experts when they were driving to work Sunday morning after leaving Al-Hodeida Land Hotel, where they live. One of them was wounded by glass fragments from his car and the perpetrators fled.
He added that the American advisors were taken to a safe place and the police subsequently caught an Al-Qaeda suspect after storming several houses.
Long coasts with no qualified guard
Yemen enjoys a coastline of about 2200 km on the Arabian and Red Seas, but its long coasts are not working in favor of the state at present.
Somali militants are flooding into Yemen to fight with Ansar Al-Sharia, an Al-Qaeda-linked group, and illegal immigration from several countries in Africa, together with traffickers and pirates are making Yemeni coasts -- ranging from east Oman to Medi, located along the easter border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia -- a point of tension for the state.
Traditional strategies for fighting terrorism, piracy and trafficking have become less productive due to the shifting activities of groups that move in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. At the same time, political debates in the interim government have largely steered away from the maritime challenges, which may signal the low priority of maritime security in the reorganization of the army.
In 2002, the Yemeni Coast Guard Authority was created under a decree issued by the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, following the USS Cole and French oil tanker attacks in 2000 and 2001, respectively, off the coast of Aden.
“The decree that created the Coast Guard came very late,” engineer Mahfoz Al-Mashmoli who works at the Yemen’s Costal Guard in Aden said, pointing out that the Yemeni Coast Guard is unable to tackle the security challenges facing the government.
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Yemeni women struggle to eke out a living
24 May 2012 in Business
Amal Al-Yarisi (author)
In spite of years working hard in Bab Al-Yemen, her income doesn’t cover her family's needs. Al-Amrani has five daughters and one son, in addition to her disabled husband.
Al-Amrani travels an average of 50 kilometers daily from Amran to Sana'a in order to eke out a living.
She told the Yemen Times that she leaves her home every day after the dawn prayer in order to get to Sana'a early.
Al-Amrani has been selling chickens and eggs for 20 years. Her income is no more than YR 1,500 a day. Sometimes, she earns nothing, driving her to borrow money just to afford necessities.
According to the quality, she can sell a chicken for between YR 500 and YR 700. She complained that chicken sales have dropped as a result of last year's turbulence.
The difficulties Al-Amran faces are many. Her daughters look down on her because of her work and they refuse to help her. “When I ask them to help me work, they say that they would rather eat bread with water than work beside me,” she said.
There are many impoverished Yemeni women who take on work like Al-Amran's. Karama Al-Hamdani, 50, is an example. Due to financial straits, she too took to selling chickens and eggs on a corner by Bab Al-Yemen. She's been working as a chicken vendor for 15 years.
Al-Hamdani used to work as a bread seller. However, price hikes compelled her to resort to selling chickens and eggs to provide for her husband and six daughters and six sons.
She painfully recalled 25 years ago when a sack of flour used to cost YR 130. Now it costs YR 6000.
Al-Hamdani's daily income fluctuates between YR500 to YR 1000. On occasion she returns home with no money at all.
Al-Hamdani disapproves of even the idea of her daughters following her example, because she thinks they will be subject to harassment. Despite her age, she herself has suffered from harassment.
On another corner in Bab Al-Yemen, young girls sell Lahooh, a homemade flat bread. They make more money than those who sell eggs and chicken.
A 25-year old woman, who declined to be named, said, “I need this work in order to make a living for my five sisters and my mother.”
She began selling Lahooh ten years ago. She inherited the job from her mother.
She went on, “I go to the market at 9am. I stay until 2pm. The income is good enough that I was able to help two brothers of mine get married.”
Women are not the only ones who struggle to get by. Many children drop out of school in an attempt to provide the basics for their families.
Malaka Al-Ghweidi, 11, left school to support her family by selling traditional cosmetics, like henna. “My father is mentally ill. My mother works to cover living expenses for the eight members of our family,” she said.
Al-Ghweidi earns approximately YR500 to YR1000 daily. Occasionally, she makes no money at all.
She has been working like this for two years. She said that she will not let her mother suffer alone.
“My mother has been working to save us from hunger for many years.
4 killed in Iraq attacks
BAGHDAD: Attacks north of Baghdad on Saturday killed four people, including three soldiers who died in a bombing, security and medical officials said.
In the deadliest attack, a roadside bomb against an Iraqi army patrol in the town of Badush, just outside the main northern city of Mosul, killed three soldiers, police First Lieutenant Salam al-Juburi said. A bomb attack and a shooting in the town of Abu Saidah, in restive central Diyala province, left one labourer dead and five people, including a soldier, wounded.
In the shooting, gunmen opened fire on a truck carrying workers, killing one and wounding four others, according to a police major and Ahmed Ibrahim, a doctor at the main hospital in the provincial capital Diyala. A separate roadside bomb exploded close to a passing Iraqi army patrol, leaving one soldier wounded, the Major and a medic said. Two more roadside bombs near the home of a Kurdish family in Jalawla, also in Diyala, left two young men wounded, they said. Violence in Iraq has declined dramatically since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, especially in Diyala and Mosul. afp
Yemen’s army says recaptured rebel positions
ADEN/DUBAI: The Yemeni army battled al Qaeda-linked terrorists deep inside Zinjibar on Saturday, recapturing key positions in the rebel-held southern city and killing at least 62 terrorists, a military official said.
The official said four government soldiers died and four were wounded in the fighting, part of an offensive that began earlier this month to uproot terrorists from southern Yemen. He said many of the dead terrorists were Somalis.
Al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Shariah have exploited last year’s popular protests against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-years in office and captured swathes of territory in the province of Abyan, including the provincial capital Zinjibar.
The expansion of the terrorists’ area of control has unsettled the United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of failed attacks by Yemen’s al Qaeda wing which earlier this week claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Sanaa on Monday that killed more than 100 soldiers.
Both countries have been pushing new Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Hadi Mansour, who took over after Saleh stepped down in February, to unite the army and roll back the terrorists’ gains.
Washington considers Yemen’s al Qaeda wing, which has attracted foreign fighters from places such as Somalia and Saudi Arabia, the network’s most active cell.
Yemeni forces last week recaptured parts of the strategic city of Zinjibar and fought terrorists in the city of Jaar, another terrorist stronghold, leaving 33 terrorists and nine soldiers dead.
The Yemeni military official said eight soldiers were killed on Saturday when a road-side bomb ripped through their vehicle near Jaar. In Zinjibar, troops had found the bodies of 25 terrorists killed in earlier clashes, he said.
American intelligence and counter-terrorism officials say their ability to conduct operations against AQAP inside Yemen has improved significantly since Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi replaced Ali Abdullah Saleh on February 25.
US officials say it has become easier to get men and equipment into Yemen for operations, allowing these to expand significantly, notably via drone strikes.
Also on Saturday, a Saudi Arabian diplomat kidnapped by al Qaeda militants in Yemen urged the Saudi king to meet his captors’ demand for the release of women prisoners, in a video message posted on the Internet on Saturday. agencies
Islamist and ex-PM vie for mantle of Egypt’s revolt
Sunday, May 27, 2012
From Print Edition
CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood and a military man close to ousted leader Hosni Mubarak courted defeated first-round candidates in Egypt’s presidential election on Saturday, each trying to claim the mantle of the uprising before a run-off next month.
State television said the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi led this week’s vote with 26.4 percent against 23 percent forex-air force chief Ahmed Shafiq, according to preliminary results.
Hamdeen Sabahy, a secular leftist came a close third with 21.5 percent, followed by independent Islamist Abdel Moneim AbolFotouh. Only the top two go to the deciding vote on June 16 and17. Official first-round results are expected on Tuesday.
But Sabahy’s lawyer said he would demand that the electoral committee halt the election until alleged voting irregularities had been investigated and until the constitutional court rules on whether Shafiq was legally eligible to stand.
“There are several irregularities that must be looked into before official results are announced and before the run-off starts,” the lawyer, Essam El-Islam boly, told Reuters.
The choice between Mursi and Shafiq, representing forces that have wrestled for the past six decades, has dismayed many Egyptians who voted for candidates offering a middle ground.
They fear a victory for the 70-year-old Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, would snuff out hopes for change ignited by last year’s uprising, while a win for Mursi would pitch Egypt into the uncertainties of experimenting with Islamic rule.
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UAE denounces Al Hola massacre in Syria
(WAM) / 26 May 2012
Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister has called for convening an urgent Arab League meeting to discuss Al Hola massacre, a suburb of the Syrian City of Homs, which claimed the lives of over 106 Syrian civilians.
He added that “the targeting of the civilians could not be condoned as it is a violation to our humanity, and signifies the tragic failure of our collective Arab and international efforts to put an end to the violence against the civilians in Syria.”
The UAE Foreign Minister had conducted two telephone calls with both The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria, Kofi Annan and Dr Nabil Al Arabi, the Secretary General of the Arab League to discuss the repercussions of the carnage.
Shaikh Abdullah underlined that the UAE government and people stand with the Syrian people in this difficult moment, and express their sincere pain on the loss of human life, hoping that the Islamic and human values will overcome the targeting of civilians.
He appealed to the Arab League to shoulder its national responsibilities through activation of all the solutions that ensure the protection of Syrian civilians, stressing the need for the protection of innocent civilians.
The UAE has sent a request to the Secretary-General of the Arab League to convene an urgent meeting on this matter.
He concluded his statement that “Our Arab and Islamic ethics do not allow this criminal mass killing, and we must as a nation proud of its values to intervene to protect the innocents in Syria”.
Saudi placed 2nd in Armenia Olympiad
RIYADH: KHALID TAWALBEH
Saturday 26 May 2012
A Saudi from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals was runner-up in the Microelectronics Olympiad in Armenia.
Mohammed Abu Obaida finished second out of 349 contestants from 12 countries at the sixth Olympiad organized by electronic design automation company Synopsys.
A number of countries took part this year including Armenia, Saudi Arabia, USA, China Russia, Belarus, Germany, India, the UAE, Jordan, Ukraine and Serbia.
Abu Obaida qualified from the first stage of the Olympiad organized by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia that featured students from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and King Saud University.
Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan expressed happiness over the number of different nationalities participating in the event.
“This indicates that this initiative, which aims to develop youths in the field of information technology, is gaining international recognition and is also a great platform for bringing together diverse perspectives,” he added.
“We attracted engineers from Saudi Arabia to be able to compete successfully with engineers in countries with a high technology pedigree.”
KACST President Dr. Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel expressed his institute’s support for initiatives that aim to build a knowledge-based economy in the Kingdom.
Synopsis Armenia’s Chief Executive Rich Goldman added: “We have supported microelectronics education in the Kingdom for many years.”
KFUPM Rector Dr. Khalid bin Saleh Al-Sultan expressed happiness over Abu Obaida’s achievements. “Our university is committed to preparing Saudi specialists and providing them with the scientific knowledge they need to succeed in science, engineering and designing and serve their country,” he added.
Abu Obaida said the Olympiad was his first international experience. “This has given me much experience and an opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world,” he added.
The Olympiad aims to harness development in microelectronics technology in Armenia and participating countries, and allows the organizers to discover talented engineers throughout the world.
The first Olympiad organized by Armenia was in September 2006 and it was developed into a bigger event by including more countries and giving more opportunities to participants from around the world.
Bright orphan students in Saudi Arabia honoured
JUBAIL: IBRAHIM AL-GHAMDI
Saturday 26 May 2012
As part of community service, Saudi International Chemical Company (Sipchem) sponsored the 5th Honorary Reception for outstanding orphan students in different school grades (Primary, Intermediate and Secondary) in the Eastern Province on the occasion of the end of school year.
On this occasion, Ahmad Al-Ohali, Sipchem’s CEO, addressed the students and encouraged them put more effort in their education to achieve outstanding results. He also thanked members of Mubarrat Al-Ihsan Charitable Society, the Woman Charitable Society in Jubail Industrial City and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) for their coordination of the ceremony.
Al-Ohali also highlighted the prominent role Sipchem played in community services. At the end of the ceremony he presented prizes to the outstanding students in the presence of officials of charitable societies in the Eastern Province and Sipchem Management executives.
The honorary reception for outstanding orphan girl students took place on same day at the WAMY offices in Al-Khobar and similar prizes were presented to them.
Jeddah: Terror suspect accused of sodomy
JEDDAH: MD AL-SULAMI
Saturday 26 May 2012
A trial of suspects belonging to three separate terror cells (No. 14, 67 and 86) resumed at a special criminal court in Riyadh yesterday.
Defendant No. 4 from cell No. 14 pleaded with the judge to allow him to use a lawyer appointed by his brother in his defence. The court tried seven defendants who received a copy of the charges after the public prosecutor read them out. The public prosecutor urged the judge to award capital punishment to five of the suspects.
Four defendants from cell No. 86 were on trial yesterday. The charges against Defendant No. 3 included embracing terrorist ideology and joining Al-Qaeda, inciting sedition, taking part in terror attacks, kidnapping a number of Americans, targeting military bases in Al-Kharj, attempts to possess weapons, possession of tear gas as a ploy to escape from capture, and sodomizing a fellow member of Al-Qaeda at a rest house after leasing it.
The public prosecutor read out charges against Defendant No. 4, and these included donating cash amounting to SR 45,000 to carry out terror attacks, launching endowments to support terror acts, supporting Al-Qaeda in accordance with a religious edict (fatwa) issued by a hardcore extremist ideologue in the Kingdom and setting up a terrorist training camp at a farm in Buraidah.
He was also accused of providing transport to a terrorist, setting up a terrorist cell in Jeddah, possession of weapons and 10 bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, in addition to misusing charity societies to collect funds for terror cells.
Charges against Defendant No. 5 included leasing a hide-out for terrorists, and taking part in the plot to attack Riyadh’s Al-Mohya residential compound as well as in a party to celebrate the successful operation of the Al-Mohya attacks.
There are several charges against Defendant No. 6 including funding Al-Qaeda, harbouring Al-Qaeda terrorists at his house, receiving SR 5,000 for setting up a warehouse for weapons at his house, recruiting two people for Al-Qaeda, providing transport to a terrorist, shooting at security personnel during a raid on a villa located in King Fahd district in Riyadh, and encouraging his brother to take up arms against security men after sustaining bullet wounds in a shootout with the security forces. He was also accused of transporting explosives in a vehicle and placing them near Al-Malaz stadium. The prosecutor general urged the judge to award the death penalty to the four terror suspects.
Jeddah: Military training given top priority
JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Saturday 26 May 2012
Defence Minister Prince Salman attended a graduation ceremony at the Institute of Air Defence Force in Jeddah yesterday to mark the completion of special training courses for graduate officers.
On arrival at the institute, Prince Salman was received by Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Abdul Aziz Al-Hussein, Western Region Commander Maj. Gen. Zaal Al-Biluwi, Director General of Administration Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al-Malik and Brig. Saeed Al-Ghamdi, acting commander of the institute.
Addressing the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Muhammad Al-Amri, commander of King Abdullah Air Defense Academy, commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for developing the Kingdom’s armed forces in terms of weapons and manpower.
“The Saudi leadership has given top priority to the development of human resources, especially in the armed forces, so that the military personnel are able to carry out their mission efficiently,” he said.
Al-Amri said the graduates have been given training on basic military sciences and tactics after they completed their university education in specializations required by the armed forces.
Prince Salman distributed prizes to outstanding graduates. His deputy Prince Khaled bin Sultan also attended the function.
Also yesterday, Prince Salman met with Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamad at his office in Jeddah and discussed ways of strengthening bilateral relations, the Saudi Press Agency said.
The Indian minister also held talks with Haj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar on matters related to Indian pilgrims coming for Haj and Umrah. Ahamad commended King Abdullah’s efforts in the service of pilgrims and for carrying out the largest Grand Mosque expansion.
Crown prince of Saudi Arabia leaves for medical tests abroad
JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Saturday 26 May 2012
Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, left Jeddah yesterday for abroad on a private visit to conduct scheduled medical tests, a Royal Court announcement said.
“After the tests Prince Naif will spend some time abroad for recuperation,” it added.
Prince Naif was seen off at Jeddah airport by Defense Minister Prince Salman, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmed, other princes and high-ranking officials.
Solution to Kashmir issue lies within Constitution: Opposition
PTI | May 27, 2012
HIRANAGAR (J&K): Opposition People's Democratic Party today said any solution to the vexed issue of Kashmir should be found within the framework of the Indian Constitution and called for stronger Centre-state relations.
"Today the people will demand self-rule and tomorrow they will ask for 'aazadi', this way we cannot find a solution to our problem. The real solution of Kashmir issue lies within the Constitution of India," PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said.
"We should insist on a strong relationship with the Centre. Only then development will come about," Sayeed said, addressing a public rally in the border area of Hiranagar in Kathua district.
The PDP leader, however, said that his party would not stay silent till a solution is reached and added that it would keep on working for the "rightful demands of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir".
Slamming the ruling National Conference, Sayeed claimed that development in Jammu and Kashmir had come to a halt under the Omar Abdullah-led government.
"The state's condition has gone from bad to worse. There is no redressal of grievances, unemployment is on the rise and so is corruption," he said.
Another PDP leader, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who was also present on the occasion, claimed that the condition of the state had deteriorated since the present government took over the administrative reins.
"The youth of the state has been rendered jobless, the corruption is increasing, there is shortage of drinking water. People are not even getting basic amenities," Baig said.
Social networking pages used to link 13/7 accused
Rebecca Samervel, TNN | May 27, 2012
MUMBAI: The ATS has included over 100 screenshots of accused Naquee Ahmed and Nadeem Akhtar's pages on a social networking site in the chargesheet filed on the 13/7 triple blasts case. A police officer said this was probably the first time that such evidence was being used to show links among the accused.
"From the very beginning of the probe and their arrests, both Nadeem and Naquee denied having any knowledge about the other accused or the conspiracy. But through the social networking site, we have shown that they were in touch with oe another, including absconding accused Yasin Bhatkal, a main conspirator," said the officer. He added they had also included the two's emails in the chargesheet.
Naquee (22) and Nadeem (23) were arrested on January 15, the first to be rounded up in the case. The screenshots in the chargesheet show that Naquee and Nadeem were friends on Facebook. Both of their friends' lists on the site included students and young professionals from across the country. "They first befriended youngsters and then probed their profiles. Later, they brought them into Darz (teachings ) programme and recruited them," the officer said.
The police said Indian Mujahideen leader Yasin Bhatkal sent explosives for the 13/7 blasts from Delhi to Mumbai, where Naquee received them. Naquee is also accused of stealing two scooters used in the bombings. The ATS claimed that Naquee helped the suspected Pakistani nationals, Waqqas Ibrahim Shaikh and Danish alias Tabrez, conduct a recce of the targets and also assisted them in renting a room at Habib Mansion. "Feigning ignorance about everything else, Naquee kept saying he merely helped the others get a room. His brother even went to the apex court, claiming he was innocent. But the evidence proves otherwise ," the officer added.
Before being booked in the 13/7 case, Nadeem was first arrested by the ATS for procuring sim cards on forged documents and Naquee was also booked for the same. Later , the ATS found that Nadeem had allegedly ferried explosives from Delhi to Mumbai and stolen two other scooters . He also allegedly helped Naquee transfer two stolen motorcycles on train from Mumbai to Bihar. Nadeem's confessional statement was submitted to court in a sealed envelope on Friday when the chargesheet was filed.
‘32 Britons could be killed in drone strikes’
By Asif Mehmood
LONDON: Britain’s leading human rights lawyer has claimed that more than 30 UK nationals are at risk of being killed by drone strikes overseas, as he steps up a legal battle to reveal if British intelligence is being used in the attacks.
Clive Stafford Smith, of the London law firm Reprieve, issued his warning as it emerged that ministers have hired three Queen’s Counsels to fight a high court case he is bringing over the death of a Pakistani man last year. The judicial review hearing, being brought on behalf of the victim’s son, Noor Khan, is seeking to force Foreign Secretary William Hague to disclose whether, as experts believe, Britain is sharing intelligence with America which could be used in drone attacks. “I understand that there are 32 people who British intelligence are concerned about and may provide intelligence to the US that could result in them being killed,” he said. Hundreds of US drone strikes have been carried out in Pakistan against suspected al Qaeda and Taliban militants, several killing innocent civilians. The case over the death of Noor Khan’s father may take place as early as in July.
NATO supply restoration to be thwarted: JI
By Ahtesham Azhar
KARACHI: Jamaat-e Islami (JI) Pakistan Chief and Difa-e Pakistan Council (DPC) central leader, Syed Munawwar Hassan, has warned that any measure aimed at restoring NATO supply line through Pakistani soil would be thwarted by the council.
Addressing a press briefing after an important DPC leaders meeting held on Saturday at Idara Noor-e-Haq, Hassan said, “We are ready to pay any price but will not allow US and NATO to get reinforcements through the country.” The United States of America wanted to convert the country into an unprotected land by carrying out sabotage activities like it did in Salala, he said.
He further stated that the present ruling party and its allies were pushing the entire nation to wall and allowing the wicked US and NATO to continue with the genocide of Muslims. On May 27, the DPC would convene a grand workers convention at MA Jinnah Road near Islamia College to be addressed by DPC eminent leaders while on June 1, a token sit-in will be staged at all divisional headquarters, he added.
The press briefing was also addressed by Ameer Jamat-ud-Dawa Prof Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. JI Secretary General Liaquat Baloch, JI Sindh Ameer Asadullah Bhutto, JI Karachi Ameer Muhammad Hussain Mahenti, Awami Muslim League President Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-S leader Mufti Usman Yar Khan, Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Allama Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, Ansar-al-Umma leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Tehreek-e Difa-e Pakistan leader Zahid Bakhtawari, Jamat-ud-Dawa leader Ameer Hamza and Maulana Yar Muhammad Khan were also present on the occasion.
JI chief also expressed his deep concern on firing incident at a rally of Sindhi nationalists. He said that the government as well as the law enforcement agencies had failed to protect people’s lives. The government had lost moral reasoning for staying in power. He said that the religious seminary in Akoora, Khattak under the auspices of Maulana Samiul Haq was targeted by the government. He said that the DPC had decided to produce a long march, which details would be finalised in a meeting with DPC leaders at Akoora Khattak on June 5.
Speaking on the occasion, Jamat-ud-Dawa Chief Hafiz Saeed said that the long march was only postponed earlier because the leaders of the parties in DPC had decided to use that tool on an appropriate occasion.
He said that it was not only the United States but also India that was interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs and was evenly involved in activities aimed at its desatbilisation.
Cease all military ops in Balochistan
By: Terence J Sigamony
May 27, 2012
ISLAMABAD – A declaration by a national moot on Balochistan Saturday expressed grave concern over the presence of Frontier Constabulary in Balochistan, saying that multiple intelligence agencies have not brought peace in the province. Instead, blood is being split every single day.
Speakers at this SCBA organised conference on ‘Balochistan Issue and Its Solution’ called for urgent measures for the resolution of the Balochistan issue and to remove sense of deprivation among the people of the province. They also called for ceasing all military operations in Balochistan.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) organised this conference in the backdrop of growing number of missing persons and most tragically mutilated bodies of those who went missing and later their bodies were dumped in broad daylight. Expressing their views the prominent leadership of various political parties, intellectuals, civil society members, opinion makers and senior lawyers stressed for taking on board all segments in the province over all policies and development projects, besides redressing their genuine grievances.
After daylong speeches, the participants passed a 15-point declaration demanding that politics of garrison should be replaced by a purely civilian-led administration that genuinely represents the will of the people and all military and para-military operations should to be stopped forthwith and the army and frontier constabulary be called back to cantonment. It also said that a number of FC personnel and police officers have also lost precious lives in the unrest whose sacrifices should also be acknowledged. The declaration also demanded that all those responsible for authoring and killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti should be arrested and brought to justice in an open trial. An inter-parliamentary committee should prepare a White Paper on the human rights violation carried out in Balochistan during the Musharraf regime to the present day. The report should be presented and discussed in the parliament. A rigorous training programme should be given to the FC and the police for respecting human rights of the people of the province. The FC should be strictly prohibited to go beyond their scope of work and warned not to act in an illegal manner.
The participants commended the Supreme Court of Pakistan for taking up the case of missing people in Balochistan but urged that those accused of heinous crimes of killings and disappearances should be brought to justice. The declaration said all political prisoners and missing persons in custody of different state agencies be released forthwith and an Independent Inquiry commission be appointed and appropriate compensation be paid to all those who have lost their lives/ or have become disabled on account of conflict situation.
The participants emphasised that the Balochistan crisis was one which could only be resolved through political dialogue, negotiations and through building confidence between the people of Balochistan and the federal government. They demanded that it should be ensured that all natural resources in Balochistan are under the control of the people of the area, while peaceful negotiations continue to meet new challenges.
The declaration said that sectarian deaths have occurred in vast numbers. Hindus are being kidnapped for ransom and 20 per cent of the Hindu population of Balochistan have left the province. Settlers in Balochistan have either left or live in fear, as many have been victims of target killings. The state of governance in the province is non-existent and thus social sectors have suffered immensely. A concerted effort should be made to respect the economic, ethnic, linguistic and cultural rights of all those living in Pakistan and in particular of the Baloch nation.
“This consultation recognises that diversity of cultures in the country and aspires to celebrate it rather than oppress it. All those citizens of Pakistan, who are long settled in Balochistan, irrespective of their language, caste, or creed, be equally respected and their social and economic rights be protected. All religious leaders of different sects should commit themselves to create the culture of tolerance and religious harmony respecting each other’s beliefs and ideological thoughts.”
“This consultation calls upon political parties to play a proactive role in promoting a democratic culture in Pakistan. Towards this end political parties may consider signing of yet another Charter of Democracy, so that they may gain the confidence of the people and play a leadership role rather remain resigned to the status quo. This consultation strongly pleads for a peaceful transfer of civilian power. Political parties must ensure that the forthcoming elections should be held in a fair, free and transparent manner. Political parties are urged to rise above personal interests and setup a genuinely neutral electoral mechanism.”
major political parties including, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Awami Nawal Party and Muttahida Quami Movement
The leadership of all the political parties was unanimous that solution of Balochistan crisis lies only in the dialogue therefore military intervention in the provincial affairs should end immediately. They said the issue should be resolved without further delay.
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Four suspected militants killed in US drone strike in Pakistan
IANS | May 26, 2012
ISLAMABAD: At least four people were killed and two injured in a US drone strike launched early on Saturday in Pakistan's northwest tribal area, Xinhua reported.
According to a Pakistani media report, the strike occurred around 4.30 am and the target was a house suspected of being a militant's hideout in Miranshah town of North Waziristan.
Two missiles were fired at the house which was completely destroyed, it said.
This was the third US drone strike in North Waziristan within last four days and the 15th of its kind (counted on daily basis) in Pakistan since the beginning of this year.
Pakistani soldier's body recovered in Siachen
Islamabad, May 27, 2012, The body of one of the Pakistani soldiers buried in the Siachen glacier following a massive avalanche in April has been recovered, Geo News reported on early Sunday. According to sources, rescue operation was on to recover other bodies. On April 7, a total of 138 Pakistani
soldiers and civilians were buried in Siachen's Gayari sector after a military camp was hit by a massive avalanche.
Pakistani personnel and experts from Germany and Switzerland launched search and rescue operations following the incident.
Taliban after Dr Afridi blood
- Shafqat Ali DC
Islamabad, May 27, 2012, Intelligence officials have said keeping Dr Shakil Afridi in Peshawar’s central prison is no less than keeping him in plain sight of the Taliban who are purportedly baying for his blood.
According to an intelligence report submitted to authorities in Islamabad, Dr Afridi, who helped the American Central Investigative Agency hunt down al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, faces a grave threat to his life while he is imprisoned in the Peshawar central jail, reports The Express Tribune. Dr Afridi has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for treason.
The location and accessibility of the prison makes it an easy target for the Taliban. Flanked on one side by the Grand Trunk Road, and the other three sides by the congested area of Saddar, the jail can easily be targeted by militants, especially those from the adjoining Khyber Agency, the report says.
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According to intelligence sources, the Taliban are considering two options at the moment — to attack the prison, take Dr Afridi with them and have their leadership decide his fate, or have an inmate from the jail kill the doctor.
“Yes, the Peshawar prison might be attacked,” said a prison official. Officials recommend the shifting of Dr Afridi from Peshawar to Islamabad for now, before a future plan is chalked out.
The banned Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on the other hand, said they would kill Dr Afridi to “avenge Sheikh Osama’s killing”.
“We consider Dr Shakil Afridi our avowed enemy. Our fighters will kill him wherever they find him,” TTP deputy chief Waliur Rehman told the paper.
“He has done everything for money,” Rehman said referring to Dr Afridi’s role in helping the CIA track down Osama in his Abbottabad compound through a phony vaccination drive.
“We will get him (Dr Afridi) as soon as possible to avenge the killing of Sheikh Osama,” the TTP deputy chief added.
Osama hunter’s family to challenge his conviction
Close relatives of convicted Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the US find al Qaeda founder Osama Laden, said they will challenge the court’s sentence against him. Dr Afridi, a CIA spy was handed 33-year sentence by a court.
The government has formed a 12-member medical team, comprising high officials of the health department, to medically examine Dr Afridi on a daily basis.
It is pertinent to be mentioned here that a fresh maelstrom struck Pakistan’s already turbulent relationship with the United States when a US Senate panel voted to cut aid to Islamabad by a symbolic $ 33 million — $1 million for each year of jail time handed to the physician.
Hours before, the Pakistan foreign office had called on Washington to respect its court’s decision to imprison Dr Afridi on charges of high treason.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment to the $52 billion US foreign aid budget in a 30 to zero votes in a sign of growing outrage over Dr Afridi’s conviction.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also expressed concern over denial of due process rights to Dr Afridi and has demanded a fair trial for him.
Rocket attacks kill two injure 20 in Quetta
QUETTA: Two people were killed and at least 20 others injured on Saturday amid rocket attacks in different parts of the violence-hit provincial capital of Balochistan, DawnNews reported.
According to police, at least two rockets were fired from Quetta’s adjoining areas. The first rocket landed at a busy market killing a 17-year-old boy and wounded 17 others, police said. One of the injured died later in hospital.
“A boy was killed on the spot and one of the wounded, a man, died at hospital,” senior police official Mohammad Zubair told AFP.
Meanwhile the second rocket was dropped on a house in Basti Panchayat near Kasi Road. Three houses were destroyed as a result and at least 3 people sustained injuries as well.
Injured were taken to a nearby hospital.
Zubair said nobody had immediately claimed responsibility for firing the rockets but in the past separatists have carried out similar attacks.
Police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) officials cordoned off the sites and initiated an inquiry into the incidents.
Moreover, a student was killed while five people including Principal of Kharan Public School received bullet shots when armed men opened fire at them earlier on Saturday, police said.
“Unidentified gunmen riding bikes targeted the vehicle of local private school principal Muzafar Jamali in Kharan district as a result one student Obaidullah sitting inside the vehicle died on the spot while five people including the principal sustained injuries and were shifted to a hospital.
The assailants managed to escape.
People will not support long march: Gilani
NAROWAL: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday that the PPP enjoyed the support of the masses in all provinces and the opposition’s planned long march would fail to get public support.
He said restoration in original form of the 1973 Constitution, which had been disfigured by dictators, was the biggest achievement of his government.
Addressing a public meeting after inaugurating a Sui gas project here, he said dictators could not take any decision on the National Finance Commission award and the Pakistan People’s Party and its allies deserved credit for working out an award that ensured the rights of all provinces.
He said the right to self-government had been given to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as had been an identity to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. People of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas got their rights through reforms introduced by the government, he said, adding that the Seraiki province would also be created by the PPP.
He said the federal government wanted to meet the basic needs of people without any discrimination.
He said Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was sentenced to death because he had given the masses self-respect, identity, right to vote and courage to speak.
The prime minister said he had spent five years in jail and President Asif Ali Zardari 11 years but they remained loyal to the party and never compromised. “We will not allow anyone to damage the cause of democracy and self-respect of people.”
He said the Rs1.5 billion project had been inaugurated for Narowal despite the fact that local MNAs did not belong to the PPP.
“We have implemented 80 per cent of our manifesto and the PPP and its allies have won all the by-elections. This is the yardstick for the success of a party.”
He said development projects worth Rs3 billion had been completed in the Narowal district.
Mr Gilani said those opposing the government had always come to power using ‘crutches’, while the PPP had depended on people’s support.
He said a long march should have been organised when there was a dictator in power, judges were detained and media was under restrictions.
“You should have come to Pakistan and fought for the rights of people, but you went to Jeddah after reaching an agreement with a dictator,” said Mr Gilani in an obvious reference to PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif.
He pointed out that one brother said he did not accept Mr Zardari as president, the other said he did not accept Yousuf Raza Gilani as the prime minister and now a third leader of the PML-N said he did not accept the speaker of the National Assembly.
The prime minister said Rs500 million had been given to the Punjab government for a road which had not been completed and he would soon order and investigation into the matter.
He announced a Rs2 million grant for the Narowal District Bar Association and Rs1 million each for the Zafarwal Bar
Association, Narowal Press Club and National Electronic Media Club.
Mr Gilani said that passport offices would be set up in Shakar Garh and Narowal and the Nadra office in Shakar Garh would be upgraded. He accepted a demand to set up a special zone in Narowal to promote investment.—APP
Time to re-set ties with US: Bilawal
May: The US-Pakistan relationship is on the slide and a US Senate panel’s decision to fine Pakistan for sentencing Dr Shakil Afridi has further compounded this phase, says PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
“But it is time to turn a new corner to re-establish a working relationship and political and military partnership that is the centrepiece to a stable South and Central Asia,” Bilawal Zardari said in a speech to a select gathering of US and Pakistani officials, scholars, journalists and think-tank experts.
The PPP leader noted that he was in politics because of his mother’s assassination. “I didn’t choose this life; it chose me,” he said.
Last week a tribal court in Pakistan sentenced Dr Afridi to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA trace Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. On Thursday, a US Senate panel decided to deduct $33 million from the US aid to Pakistan, one million for each year Dr Afridi will spend in jail.
Mr Bilawal Zardari said he realised that he was visiting Washington at a most difficult time in the 65-year relationship between the two countries.
“One crisis seems to compound another, deepening mistrust and exasperating a friendship that is founded on common interests and common goals and common values,” he said.
The PPP leader described the recent events that seemed to have derailed once close partnership between the US and Pakistan as “a cascade of a negative narrative”.
He noted that the relationship began to go sour with the Raymond Davis fiasco in January last year. The US raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad and the deaths of 24 innocent Pakistani soldiers in Salala `without apology’ further complicated it. The Nato routes stalemate, and now the Afridi conviction increased the tensions, he said.
“And the US Senate response (to Dr Afridi’s conviction) compounds the downward cycle,” he added.
The United States and Pakistan, he stressed, stood together in a common battle against extremism and terrorism that was the defining issue of the new millennium. He pointed out to his American guests at the residence of the Pakistani ambassador that the PPP government was committed to a moderate, progressive and productive Pakistan.
“That is the Pakistan that my grandfather and mother worked and died for, and that our current government is pledged to achieve,” he said. “I dream of a Pakistan that is modern, enlightened, progressive and tolerant.”
DPC warns against restoration of Nato supply routes
KARACHI: Jamaat-e Islami (JI) Pakistan chief and Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) central leader Syed Munawar Hasan has said that any attempt to restore supply line of Nato through Pakistan would never bear fruit as the DPC would resist to such a move.
Addressing a press briefing after a meeting of the DPC leaders here Saturday, Hasan blamed the United States of wanting to destabilize Pakistan and carrying out further attacks like the one at the Salala checkpost that resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistan soldiers. Morever, the JI chief said that the present rulers were endorsing the “wicked agenda of the genocide of Muslims” in this region.
We are ready to pay any price but would not allow the US and Nato to get reinforcement through Pakistan, he said.
He said that on May 27, the DPC would convene a grand workers convention in Karachi while the DPC leaders would finalize their long march on June 5.
The press briefing was also addressed by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
Hafiz Saeed said that the long march was only postponed earlier because the leaders of the parties in DPC had decided to use that tool at the appropriate time.
Moreover, Saeed alleged that it was not only the US but also India that was interfering into Pakistan’s affairs.
Pakistan is a sovereign state and would never be allowed to become an Indian market, said the JuD chief.
The Difaa-i-Pakistan Council is an alliance of several right-winged religiopolitical parties opposing the US ‘war on terror’ and Pakistan providing supply routes to Nato troops in Afghanistan.
The council, especially JuD leader Hafiz Saeed, has also been a critic of Pakistan’s recent granting of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India.
Saeed is accused by India and the US of masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed Pakistan of “not doing enough” against Saeed.
Balochistan conference demands end to military operation
ISLAMABAD: “Who are these people who have enforced these disappearances? Is there no rule of law or respect for the Constitution in this land?” asked Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the chief of the main opposition party, as he addressed a conference on Balochistan held in Islamabad on Saturday.
“The Baloch have a right to rebel … why shouldn’t they, after all that they have been put through?” remarked the PML-N chief, one of the most vocal leaders at the conference, as he called bringing Nawab Akbar Bugti’s murderers to justice.
“His body was desecrated … while his murderers were presented with a guard of honour,” said Sharif as he referred to former President Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorial regime. “Does anybody have the courage to hold him responsible?”
Top leaders of major political parties were in attendance at the National Conference on Balochistan, organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), as they called for a dialogue with all stakeholders in order to solve the province’s problems.
A fifteen-point resolution aimed to resolve Balochistan’s problems was passed unanimously at the conference. The resolution calls for an end to the ongoing military operation in the insurgency-hit province, and the withdrawal of military and paramilitary troops from Balochistan.
While some leaders blamed military dictators, others called for addressing the issue of missing persons in Balochistan.
In his opening remarks, SCBA President Yaseen Azad said that the main unrest in Balochistan is the problem of missing persons which could only be addressed through parliament by political forces.
Speaking at the same venue, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan stressed that granting “unconditional amnesty” to Baloch rebels was the only way to resolve the complex problem.
Khan said that the solution lies in the hands of the country’s politicians, and not with military personnel. Moreover, he said that the soldiers were not trained to perform the job of policemen.
On the other hand, PML-Q Secretary-General Mushahid Hussain Syed felt that the ‘Balochistan problem’ was spreading to other parts of the country and stressed: “We have to tackle it with a serious sense of responsibility. No one is taking responsibility for deteriorated law and order situation in the province.”
Asma Jahangir, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, remarked that the solution of Balochistan issue was vested with the political parties and they should take immediate initiatives in that regard.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, former Amir of Jamaat-i-Islami, was of the opinion that a society could not survive without justice and enforcement of Consttution could ensure all fundamental rights and provincial autonomy.
He said the rights of Baloch people over natural resources should be fully acknowledged.
President National Party Dr. Abdul Malik underlined the imperative need for granting basic rights to the people of Balochistan. “Balochistan is an integral part of Pakistan and we have to find out solution by dialogue with all the stakeholders.
Deputy Chairman Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party Abdur Rahim Mandokhel said all problems have been created by the dictatorial regimes and now it is the duty of political leadership to address and resolve them.
President Hazara National Jirga Abdul Qayyum Chengezi said solution of problems was by holding free, fair and impartial elections.
President JUI-F Balochistan Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani was of the view that problems of Balochistan need a united national solution in accordance to the teachings of Islam.
US drone kills four ‘terrorists’ in Miranshah
Sunday, May 27, 2012
MIRANSHAH: A US drone attack killed four terrorists at a house near Miranshah, bordering Afghanistan on Saturday, security officials said. “A US drone fired two missiles at a house and at least four militants were killed,” a senior security official said. “The identities of the militants killed in the drone strike were not immediately known,” he said. Two other officials confirmed the attack. Residents said they were woken up by the sound of low flying aircraft and the noise of the missile strike. “The house caught fire after missiles hit it and militants immediately cordoned off the area and were searching in the rubble,” a local tribesman said. afp
One killed in Karachi grenade attack
KARACHI: Despite tall claims of the authorities to have taken stern measures to bust extortion mafia, Karachiites are still on the mercy of protection rackets as a man was killed while 13 others were injured when armed riders hurled a hand grenade at an eatery (Yadgar Fish) over the owner’s refusal to pay extortion.
The incident took place within the limits of Jamshed Quarter police remit early Saturday. DSP Qaiser Ali dispelled the involvement of extortionists in the attack as saying that there were several unconfirmed reports that the grenade was hurled with an aim to suppress the owner to pay extortion but nobody, even the owner, complained in this regard. Sources in the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) after examination informed that the grenade used in the attack was of Russian origin, adding that similar grenades were used against the police in recent Lyari violence.
Meanwhile, sources said notorious gangster Ahmad Ali Magsi, nominated in the dual-murder case of Muttahida Qaumi Movement men from PIB Colony, had demanded Rs 1.5 million protection money from the owner of fish outlet. They said the owner Younis, who had already paid the first installment of Rs 0.1 million, faced the said incident when he refused to pay more.
SHO Jamshed Quarter Khoshnood said, at around 2:30 am, two unknown armed riders arrived at Yadgar Fish and hurled a hand grenade after heavy aerial firing.
After committing the crime, they easily managed to flee, leaving 13 persons lying in a pool of blood. The injured persons were identified as Saleem, 50, son of Fateh Muhammad, Khalil, Jalil, Sikandar, Ismail, Shahid, Ashar, Atif, Manzoor, Irfan, Aalmuddin, Akbar, Ahmad Uddin, Bilal and Arif. They were shifted to the Civil Hospital and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for treatment where Saleem succumbed to his injuries.
He said the deceased was a loaf-maker of the said eatery, adding that a case, 251/12, has been registered under sections 302, 334/34, ¾ and 7 Anti Terrorism Act against unidentified men on the complaint of eatery owner, Muhammad Younis.
Iran not ready for visit to suspect nuclear site
Dubai, May 27, 2012
The UN nuclear watchdog has not yet given good enough reasons to visit an Iranian site where it suspects there may have been experiments for developing nuclear weapons, Iranian media said.
A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week said satellite images
showed "extensive activities" at the Parchin complex, at the centre of Western suspicions that Iran is developing atom bombs. Tehran denies any such plan.
Iranian officials have refused access to Parchin, southeast of Tehran, saying it is a military site.
"The reasons and document have still not been presented by the agency to convince us to give permission for this visit," the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency on Saturday.
Six world powers failed to convince Iran last week to halt its most sensitive nuclear work, but they will meet again in Moscow next month to try to end a standoff that has raised fears of a new war.
Last November, an IAEA report found that Iran had built a large containment vessel in 2000 at Parchin in which to conduct tests that the agency said were "strong indicators of possible weapon development."
Iran's Abbasi-Davani accused unnamed countries of putting pressure on the IAEA to visit Parchin.
After a visit to Tehran last week, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said he was close to an agreement with Iran on inspection visits to nuclear facilities but some differences remained.
The US-based Institute for Science and International Security thinktank has said there is concern Iran may be trying to cleanse the building at Parchin to remove any evidence of tests there.
UN reports of high grade uranium in Iran nuke site
Iran downplays find, pessimistic over more talks
Iran yesterday downplayed a report by the UN atomic watchdog that uranium traces have been detected of a higher grade than any found before, as local media voiced doubts about the next round of talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.
Higher-than-expected traces of enriched uranium "are a normal technical issue that is being investigated by (IAEA) experts," Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh was quoted as telling the official IRNA news agency.
The agency report said that the traces found at the Fordo site, inside a mountain bunker near Qom, were of uranium enriched to purities of 27 percent. Previously, the highest level recorded by the agency in Iran was 20 percent.
The West fears that Iran could be covertly aiming to enrich uranium towards the 90 percent needed to develop atomic bombs, a claim Tehran vehemently denies.
"Addressing technical and trivial issues, which also occur in the nuclear facilities of other nations, show media reports are seeking political goals," Soltaneih said.
Analysts cautioned that the 27-percent find could just be a processing glitch and not necessarily a sign of a deliberate effort to enrich above 20 percent.
In the IAEA report, which was seen by AFP, Iran also explained that enrichment above 20 percent "may happen for technical reasons beyond the operator's control."
The report was published a day after Iran ended two days of crunch talks with the world powers over its disputed nuclear drive in Baghdad.
Little was achieved except arranging another meeting in Moscow on June 18-19 and establishing that they are poles apart on crucial issues.
Iranian media yesterday expressed pessimism about the scheduled talks in Moscow after this week's negotiations, which one newspaper described as "fruitless."
"Solution: stop the negotiations," ran the headline of an editorial in the hardline Kayhan daily.
"It is better not to attend the talks because one can expect right now that the talks in Moscow will not gain any achievement either," said the newspaper's managing director Hossein Shariatmadari, who was appointed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It was the world powers who needed to keep the talks going so "they can control the oil prices," he added.
Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, accuses Iran of masking efforts to acquire an atomic weapon. It wants the Islamic republic to dismantle its Fordo nuclear site.
Israeli man divorces wife for not getting rid of her 550 cats
LONDON, May 26, 2012: A man in Israel has divorced his wife because she refused to get rid of her 550 cats.
The court in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba urged the couple to attempt reconciliation, but the wife refused to part with her feline friends, which apparently meant more to her than her husband, the Daily Mail reported.
According to the Times of Israel, the man told the Rabbinical Court that there were so many cats in the house that he was unable to sleep in his own bed.
The cats would refuse to sleep on the floor, preferring his comfortable bed, and there were so many running around the house he was unable to use the bathroom.
In the kitchen, the furry animals made it near impossible to prepare meals in the kitchen.
"When he sat to eat, cats jumped onto the table and stole his food," the Times of Israel revealed.
NATO air strike kills six children: Afghan officials
KABUL: May 27, 2012, A NATO air strike killed a family of eight, including six children, when it ploughed into their home in eastern Afghanistan, local officials said on Sunday.
Yesterday night's incident in Paktia province threatens to further sour already shaky ties between President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers and will likely enrage Afghan civilians weary of years of bloodshed.
"Eight people, a man, his wife and six of their children, are dead," local government spokesman Rohullah Samoon told AFP.
"It was an air strike conducted by Nato. This man had no connection to the Taliban or any other terrorist group."
A senior security official in Kabul confirmed the strike and deaths.
"It's true. A house was bombed by Nato. A man named Mohammad Sahfee, his wife and six of their innocent children were brutally killed," the official said.
A spokesman for Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), Lt-Col Jimmie Cummings, said it was investigating the claim.
Civilian casualties are a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan and have often roiled relations between Karzai and the United States, which leads Nato forces in the fight against Taliban insurgents.
Karzai, who signed a long-term strategic pact with President Barack Obama this month, argues that civilian deaths caused by allied troops turn common Afghans against his Western-backed government.
Karzai summoned ISAF commander General John Allen and US ambassador Ryan Crocker to the presidential palace just over two weeks ago after a number of civilians were killed in NATO airstrikes.
Afghanistan Parliament approves US strategic pact
KABUL: 26 May 2012, Afghanistan’s Parliament yesterday voted by an overwhelming majority to ratify a strategic partnership agreement with the United States signed earlier this month, lawmakers said.
“We voted with a majority in favour of the strategic pact,” MP Shukria Essakhil said.
“Only five MPs voted against it,” she said, adding that around 190 lawmakers out of 249 were present for the open vote.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit to Kabul to sign a deal with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai that will cement post-war ties with Kabul after 2014, when NATO-led combat forces leave Afghanistan.
The pact foresees the possibility of American forces staying behind to train Afghan soldiers and pursue the remnants of Al-Qaeda but does not commit Washington to specific troop or funding levels.
The pact alarmed Afghanistan’s neighbours including Iran, and lawmaker Bakhtash Seyawash said that the Islamic republic had attempted to “sabotage” the vote.
“There is no doubt that Iran tried to influence the vote, but it didn’t work,” he said.
“There were accusations that Iran has tried to pay millions of dollars to MPs, that is why the Parliament decided to hold an open vote,” he added.
“Iran’s efforts to sabotage the vote failed,” he said.
Relations between Afghanistan and Iran have been strained by the strategic pact, officials said, charging that Tehran had harassed Afghan diplomats in recent weeks.
Lawmakers had warned Iran to end its “interference” in Afghanistan’s internal affairs over the pact.
On Friday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that the agreement was not against the national interest of any neighbouring countries.
“Any pact we sign is not against Iran and it’s for the stability of Afghanistan and expanding relations with” its neighbours, Karzai said. The deal, reached after months of painstaking negotiations, also states that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan.
There are currently around 130,000 international troops in Afghanistan and all NATO-led combat forces are due to leave by the end of 2014.
But amid a rising death toll, troubled domestic economies and the increasing unpopularity of the Afghan war in many Western countries, troop withdrawals are now getting under way.
Death toll hits 50
Meanwhile the death toll from flash floods in a northern Afghan province has hit 50 — most of them women and children — an official said on Saturday, a week after the disaster struck. The floods that inundated Sari Pul province were triggered by torrential rain and have left thousands of people homeless, provincial governor Abdul Jabar Haqbeen said.
“The floods have killed 50 people so far, mostly women and children,” he said.
“Around 59,000 people have been displaced, and dozens are still missing,” he said, Rescue teams have launched an operation to find the missing people, he said. Afghanistan’s harshest winter in 15 years saw unusually heavy snowfalls and experts predicted that rivers swollen by melting snow were likely to flood in the mountainous north in spring.
Bangladesh: Fairness is the rule
May 27, 2012
Julfikar Ali Manik and Ashutosh Sarkar
The powers of the president and the government to pardon, suspend or remit sentences of any convict should be exercised fairly and on unbiased relevant principles, the High Court said in a written judgment released yesterday.
An HC bench of justices M Enayetur Rahim and Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain released the full text of its judgment yesterday, a month after the bench pronounced its verdict in a case involving presidential clemency to a fugitive convict.
It is well settled that the court cannot direct the president and the government on exercising their powers according to Article 49 of the constitution and Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), says the 19-page judgment.
"But the action of the president or the government, as the case may be, must be based on some rational, reasonable, fair and relevant principle which is non-discriminatory and it must not be guided by any extraneous or irrelevant considerations," reads the judgement.
Article 49 of the constitution empowers the president to pardon any convict. It says, "The president shall have power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority."
According to Section 401 of the CrPC, the government has the power to suspend or remit sentences of any convict.
"It is well settled that public power, including constitutional power, shall never be exercisable arbitrarily or malafide and ordinarily," says the judgement.
"Guidelines for fair and equal execution are guarantors of the valid play of power and when the mode of power of exercising a valid power is improper or unreasonable, there is an abuse of power," it reads.
On the government's powers under Section 401 of the CrPC to suspend and remit sentences of any convict, the court said no rules or standard guidelines are there for the government to exercise this power.
"Thus, we are of the view that for fair, proper and bonafide exercise of the above power the government may frame rule and guideline or even amend the Code, as has been done in one of our neighbouring countries," says the verdict.
"Possibly it is high time for the government to think over the matter to avoid controversy, criticism and misuse of power," the HC judges observed.
They gave a directive for copies of the judgment to be sent to the president's secretary, home and law secretaries for their “appraisal and future guidance.”
The judges said they were anxious, as they had come to know of the facts and circumstances while dealing with the case.
The judgment came in response to a 15-year-old petition by Sarwar Kamal, who challenged a trial court's warrant for his arrest in Cox's Bazar in 1997, four years after he was given presidential clemency while on the run.
Kamal, now 58, was jailed by a trial court in 1989 and the High Court in 1992 in a case for beating a man to death. The case was filed with Teknaf Police Station in Cox's Bazar in July 1981.
Following an appeal against the trial court's verdict, the HC in August 1991 granted him bail till disposal of the appeal. Subsequently, he was freed from jail.
However, in September 1992, the HC in its judgment on the appeal petition sentenced Kamal to eight years' imprisonment and ordered him to surrender before the trial court.
Full report at:
3 lens men assaulted in Dhaka
Policemen assaulted three on-duty photojournalists, hurled expletives at them and took away their cameras at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka yesterday.
Injured Prothom Alo photojournalists Khaled Sarkar, Sajid Hossain and Zahidul Karim were rushed to Pangu Hospital in the capital.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police suspended nine policemen in this connection and closed Assistant Commissioner of Tejgaon Division Shahidul Islam to DMP headquarters.
The policemen swooped on the photojournalists while they were taking shots of a demonstration staged by the students of Dhaka Women Polytechnic Institute around 1:00pm.
Lying on his hospital bed, injured Zahidul Karim said, "When the agitating students were returning to their campus after removing the road blockade, I followed them.
"When I went to the other side of the road on my motorbike, Assistant Commissioner Shahidul Islam asked me why I had travelled in the wrong direction on the street. I answered that I had gone on the wrong side to take photos," he said.
Zahidul said AC Shahidul then started yelling filthy words and said he had seen many journalists and had beaten them up too.
"When Sajid [Sajid Hossain, photojournalist and co-worker of Zahidul] asked Shahidul not to use foul language, he got angry and ordered his subordinates to beat us up. The policemen then started punching and beating Sajid and also took away his camera. At one stage, Sajid fell on the ground,” Zahidul said, adding, "As I went forward to get him out of there, they assaulted me too. When Khaled [Khaled Sarkar, photojournalist and co-worker of Zahidul] went to the spot, he was attacked as well."
Zahidul said the AC then ordered the policemen to take all three of them to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station.
"They took us to the police station in a pick-up truck but the beating continued throughout the journey," Zahidul said. He added, "After we reached the police station, they took away our cameras and mobile phones."
Later, a reporter of their newspaper went to the police station and rescued the photojournalists with the help of Officer-in-Charge Zakir Hossain Mollah and rushed them to the hospital.
Later in the day, AC Shahidul Islam clearly made a caricature of himself when he talked to a journalist over the telephone and told him, "The journalists might have been injured during a scuffle among themselves."
The journalist Shahidul talked to had taped the conversation; and the photos taken by two photojournalists before they were assaulted left no room for doubt as to how the photographers had been hurt.
On the telephone, Shahidul claimed that the photojournalists had first pinned down a sub-inspector to the ground following a heated exchange of words.
He reiterated that police did not beat up any journalists.
Apart from closing AC Shahidul, the DMP authorities suspended a sub-inspector, two assistant sub-inspectors and six constables in connection with the assault on the lens men, Additional Deputy Commissioner Masudur Rahman, in-charge of Media and Community Service of DMP, told The Daily Star.
The suspended policemen were SI Zahurul Islam, ASIs Mohammad Shafiuddin and Nazmul Huda and constables Motiur Rahman, Abdur Razzaq, Mohammad Shajahan, Joynal Abedin, Ratan Kumer and Jahangir Alam.
Jahangir was the bodyguard of AC Shahidul Islam, said SI Abu Zafar of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station.
Masudur said the DMP formed a one-member committee with Joint Police Commissioner Sahabuddin Koreshi to probe the incident.
Imam Hossain, deputy commissioner of Tejgaon Division, said the DMP had closed the AC and suspended the others after journalists called them and informed them of the incident.
Meanwhile, officials of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station refused to record a case in this connection.
Nasirul Islam, a staff photographer of bdnews24.com, said, "I along with many other journalists went to the police station in the afternoon to file a case on behalf of Sajid, Khaled and Zahidul. But SI Abu Zafar on duty refused to record the case and said he would not record the case without his superior's nod."
Several organisations yesterday condemned the police assault on the journalists.
Diplomatic Correspondents Association Bangladesh President Rezaul Karim Lotus and General Secretary Bashir Ahmed condemned the police attack on the three photojournalists.
They demanded proper investigation into the incident and exemplary punishment of the guilty. They urged the authorities concerned to ensure that such incidents never happened again.
A group of photojournalists yesterday announced they would stage a demonstration before the Jatiya Press Club at 11:00am today to protest the incident.
Jahangirnagar University Journalists' Association and Human Environment Rights Society also issued media statements protesting the incident.
Afghan assembly approves US strategic pact
Afghanistan's parliament yesterday voted by an overwhelming majority to ratify a strategic partnership agreement with the United States signed earlier this month, lawmakers said.
"We voted with a majority in favour of the strategic pact," MP Shukria Essakhil told AFP.
"Only five MPs voted against it," she said, adding that around 190 lawmakers out of 249 were present for the open vote.
The pact is now going to be sent to the Afghan senate where it is expected to be signed as early as next week, Seyawash said.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit to Kabul to sign a deal with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai that will cement post-war ties with Kabul after 2014, when NATO-led combat forces leave Afghanistan.
The pact foresees the possibility of American forces staying behind to train Afghan soldiers and pursue the remnants of al-Qaeda but does not commit Washington to specific troop or funding levels.
The pact alarmed Afghanistan's neighbours including Iran, and lawmaker Bakhtash Seyawash said that the Islamic republic had attempted to "sabotage" the vote.
Relations between Afghanistan and Iran have been strained by the strategic pact, officials said, charging that Tehran had harassed Afghan diplomats in recent weeks.
Lawmakers had warned Iran to end its "interference" in Afghanistan's internal affairs over the pact.
The deal, reached after months of painstaking negotiations, also states that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan.
There are currently around 130,000 international troops in Afghanistan and all Nato-led combat forces are due to leave by the end of 2014.
But amid a rising death toll, troubled domestic economies and the increasing unpopularity of the Afghan war in many Western countries, troop withdrawals are now getting under way.
New President Francois Hollande, on a surprise visit to Kabul on Friday, defended France's imminent exit from Afghanistan.
18 Bangladesh Opposition party leaders' bail hearing
May 27, 2012
This May 16 file photo shows BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and party leader AKM Fazlul Haque Milon chant anti-government slogans as they board the prison van from a Dhaka court.
Star Online Report
The top 18-party leaders including BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir accused of torching vehicle on Sunday filed petitions with the High Court seeking bail.
The HC bench of Justice Salma Masud Chowdhury and Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan fixed 2:00pm to hold hearing on the bail petitions.
The counsels of the leaders filed 11 separate petitions on behalf of their clients Sunday morning four days after a metropolitan session's judge denied bail to 33 top opposition leaders in connection with an arson case.
On May 16, a metropolitan magistrate sent the leaders to jail rejecting their bail petitions in connection with the case filed for torching a bus near the PMO during hartal on April 29.
Earlier on May 21, another Dhaka court accepted the vehicle torching charges against Mirza Fakhrul and 44 other opposition leaders and activists.
Police earlier arrested BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed and seven others in the same case.
Jamaat-e-Islami acting ameer Maqbul Ahmed and two others went into hiding after the case was filed.
Tejgaon police filed a case against a number of leaders and workers of 18-party alliance, including BNP leaders Mirza Fakhrul, Mirza Abbas and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed; and Liberal Democratic Party President Oli Ahmed, hours after a vehicle was set ablaze near the PMO during hartal hours on April 29.
The same day, Ramna police filed another case against top leaders of the alliance for exploding a 'bomb' at the Bangladesh Secretariat that day.
After the cases were filed, the top accused BNP leaders went into hiding and turned up at the High Court on May 7 to seek bail.
But a two-member HC bench delivered dissenting orders on seven bail petitions.
Meanwhile on May 10, detectives pressed charges against 45 leaders and activists of BNP-led 18-party alliance, including the BNP acting secretary general in the arson case.
Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury, senor judge of a High Court bench, granted anticipatory bail to the accused until police submits their reports on the cases. He issued seven separate rules upon the government to explain in four weeks as to why the petitioners should not be granted regular bail.
Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder, the other judge, however, directed the politicians accused to surrender before the magistrate's court concerned within seven days and ordered law enforcers not to harass or arrest them during the period.
Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain sent the case to a third HC bench on May 10 for its final disposal.
The third bench on May 13 ordered the 37 accused to surrender before the trial court.
Accordingly, they surrendered before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court on May 16 and the court sent 33 top opposition leaders to jail rejecting their bail petitions.
On May 21, a trial accepted the charges against 45 opposition leaders and activists in the case.
4 NATO service members killed in Afghanistan
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Four Nato service members were killed in separate roadside bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan, the alliance said Sunday.
Nato said in a statement that all four deaths occurred Saturday. It provided no other details on the attacks, including the nationalities of the service members.
One is thought to be a British soldier killed Saturday in an explosion in the Nahr-e Saraj region of southern Helmand province. The British Ministry of Defence announced late Saturday that the soldier died while travelling in a vehicle.
Another Nato service member died Friday in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan. No details have been given on that death.
Their deaths bring to 33 the number of Nato service members killed so far this month in Afghanistan, for a total of 165 this year. A total of 414 members of British forces have died since operations in Afghanistan began more than 10 years ago.
The Afghan Ministry of Interior also announced Sunday that six insurgents were killed Saturday in joint operations in four eastern provinces. Another three were killed when the roadside bombs they were trying to plant detonated in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
Bangladesh PM urges India for speedy implementation of accords
Unb, Dhaka, Sunday, May 27, 2012, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged India to speedily implement the decisions and agreements made during her visit to India and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh.
She made the call when Indian Minister for Law, Justice and Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid met her at her official Gono Bhaban residence in the evening.
Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Sheikh Md Wahid Uz Zaman, three Indian parliament members Bhola Singh, CM Chang and Mohammad Adeeb and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran were present.
Deputy Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Bijan Lal Deb briefed reporters after the meeting.
The premier underscored the need for early ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement 1974 and its protocol signed during the visit of Dr Manmohan Singh for a satisfactory resolution of the land boundary dispute.
In this regard, Salman said India was committed to early ratification of the land boundary agreement.
Stressing the need for regional cooperation, Hasina said, “We should work together for the benefits of the region, because our main goal is to ensure welfare of our people.”
Mentioning that her government is working relentlessly to strengthen democracy in the country, she said some 5,175 elections at different levels had so far been held in a free, fair and peaceful manner when even the ruling party-nominated candidates lost in some cases.
Expressing her stern stance against terrorism, she said, “We understand that there is no boundary for terrorism and there is a need to work unitedly to combat terrorism.”
In this regard, the Indian minister appreciated the government's efforts on anti-terrorist activities.
Salman said, “We see the high future of Bangladesh and greater commitment of the government to its people.”
Hasina said Bangladesh attached highest importance to its relations with India and since the exchange of visits between her and the premier of India, there had been a significant forward movement in the initiatives undertaken by both the countries to further deepen and widen the existing excellent bilateral relations.
She also recalled with satisfaction the successful conclusion of the year-long joint celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore and 113th birth anniversary of Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Hasina mentioned various high level visits from India to Bangladesh, including that of the home minister, commerce minister, vice-president, UPA chairperson, culminating in the successful visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Dhaka in September 2011.
She further said the two sides were able to have very fruitful discussions on all issues of mutual interests and resolve a number of long outstanding issues, including the land boundary issue.
Taliban condemn Afghan-US strategic partnership
ISLAMABAD: Condemning approval of the Afghanistan-US strategic partnership by Afghan parliament, Taliban on Saturday vowed to award exemplary punishment to the parliamentarians who, it said, sold Afghanistan under cover of the strategic agreement.
In a message received here, Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said parliament has proved itself as a foreign agent.
He said it was the Afghan nation that always compelled aggressors to leave the country and it always punished aggressors as well as their local supporters. “Now it is not far away that such criminals would see their appropriate sentence.” He said, “Taliban strongly condemn approval of the agreement, which is against national interest and in contradiction to the religious principles and freedom of the country.”
He said that Taliban had always said that this government and parliament was not representative of Afghan people and they are representing the US.
Lady Gaga Indonesia concert cancelled
27 May 2012
Lady Gaga has cancelled a concert in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, citing security concerns, after protests by religious groups.
Police in Indonesia had refused to issue a permit for the US pop star after Islamic groups objected to her show, claiming it was too vulgar.
The hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had threatened to try to stop Lady Gaga getting off the plane.
Indonesia is officially secular but has more Muslims than any other country.
More than 50,000 tickets had been sold for the 3 June event. Promoters said they would offer refunds.
Police had said they would only issue permits for the concert - part of her Born This Way Ball concept tour - if the flamboyant singer agreed to tone things down. Instead, her management pulled the plug on the show.
'Nothing holy about hatred'
"Lady Gaga's management has considered the situation minute to minute, and with threats if the concert goes ahead, Lady Gaga's side is calling off the concert," Minola Sebayang, lawyer for promoters Big Daddy, told reporters.
"This is not only about Lady Gaga's security, but extends to those who will be watching her."
Big Daddy President Michael Rusli said: "I think everyone including the government itself would have hoped that the show would go on. But of course along the way we have to review all the planning and we have to be mindful of what is happening in the media, what is happening in Indonesia itself."
Just hours before the announcement, Lady Gaga wrote on her Twitter account: "There is nothing holy about hatred."
The singer has nearly 25 million followers on Twitter - the highest number on the social networking site.
The Islamist FPI had threatened violence if the concert went ahead, calling Lady Gaga a "devil's messenger" who wears only a "bra and panties".
Habib Salim Alatas, the group's FPI Jakarta chairman, said the cancellation was "good news" for Indonesia's Muslims.
"FPI is grateful that she has decided not to come. Indonesians will be protected from sin brought about by this Mother Monster, the destroyer of morals," he told AFP news agency.
He added: "Lady Gaga fans, stop complaining. Repent and stop worshipping the devil. Do you want your lives taken away by God as infidels?"
Indonesia's conservative Religious Affairs Minister, Suryadharma Ali, also welcomed the cancellation.
"I strongly believe this cancellation will benefit the country," he said.
"Indonesians need entertainment and art which have moral values."
This is not the first time that Lady Gaga has faced objections during her Asian tour.
Her concert in South Korea in April was made an adults-only event following protests from Christian groups.
Protests also took place in the Philippines, with Christian groups accusing her of being blasphemous.
She is scheduled to play three shows in Singapore this week before moving on to New Zealand and Australia.
Rebel groups merge in Mali, agree on Islamic state
BABA AHMED | AP
Saturday 26 May 2012
BAMAKO, Mali: The two rebel groups that seized control of the northern half of Mali announced Saturday that they have agreed to fuse their movements and work together to create an independent Islamic state on the territory they occupy, a signatory to the agreement said.
Alghabass Ag Intalla, one of the leaders of Ansar Dine, which is fighting to create an Islamic state, confirmed that his movement was joining with the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, a secular rebel group led by Tuareg separatists. They signed the agreement in the northern town of Gao on Saturday evening, and celebratory gunfire rang out in both Gao and Timbuktu, another town under their control, as fighters heard the news.
“I have just signed an accord that will see an independent and Islamic state where we have Islamic law,” Ag Intalla said.
It’s one more worrying development for Mali, because Ansar Dine is known to have ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Africa, which is responsible for dozens of suicide attacks as well as the kidnappings of foreigners, some of whom were later executed.
The two groups took over the north of Mali, an area the size of France, at the end of March, forcing Malian government troops to flee south. Until now, the two had been in disagreement because Ansar Dine wants to impose Shariah law in the area they occupy, something the secular NMLA had been resisting.
Ansar Dine had also previously said they were opposed to the NMLA objective of creating an independent homeland for Mali’s Tuaregs, a goal they now say they are backing.
During the rebel advance in March, residents said there were visible turf wars with the fighters occupying different areas of the cities under their control.
In Timbuktu, the last major town in the north to fall to the rebels, the NMLA took over the local airport, located on the outskirts of town, while Ansar Dine installed itself in the military camp at the center of the fabled city. The two have different rebel flags, and witnesses reported seeing one group raise its flag over an administrative building, like the governor’s residence, only for the second group to show up, and replace it with their own flag.
The agreement suggests that both sides have made a major concession in talks that have been going on intermittently for weeks. The agreement will likely increase the chance of the groups reaching their goal and they can now combine fighters.
The north of Mali fell after a coup d’etat in the capital Bamako on March 21 left government forces disorganized and lacking motivation to fight. The transitional government of Mali says it wants to take back the north, but so far the factions in Bamako have been too busy arguing over who is going to lead the transition to focus their attention of the issue of the north.
African Union troops seize key Somali town
Friday 25 May 2012
MOGADISHU: African Union troops yesterday seized a rebel stronghold near Mogadishu from Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, marking a major blow against Al-Shabab rebels who have used the town to stage sporadic attacks on the capital.
The capture of Afgoye by the AU force AMISOM and Somali government troops, who already control most of Mogadishu, also paves the way to securing a corridor to the capital giving access to agencies providing humanitarian aid to displaced people.
Nevertheless, it still leaves the capital vulnerable to attacks because African Union and government troops have as yet been unable to dislodge the last of the rebels from areas just around Mogadishu.
“We have crossed the River Shabelle and we are now there in Afgoye, we hold the town,” AU army spokesman Paddy Ankunda said. “We have been fighting since Tuesday to achieve this objective and we have achieved it now.”
“There was some brief resistance but we have crushed that,” said Somali army commander Mohamed Abdullah.
Al-Shabab confirmed the capture of the town by the AU forces on its website www.somalimemo.net, and said its withdrawal was tactical.
“Thousands of our enemies, AMISOM, with tanks, entered Afgoye town on Friday after three days of fighting,” the website said. “They took the town without resistance. The mujahideen withdrew as part of our tactics.”
Afgoye is a strategic junction town on the road leading from Mogadishu to the south of the Horn of Africa nation, about 30 km outside the capital.
“It is a significant blow for Al-Shabab, that said Al-Shabab is not a diminished force and having been in Mogadishu I can tell you they continue to infiltrate the city, continue to conduct assassinations and other asymmetric war tactics,” Rasheed Abdi, an independent Horn of Africa analyst, said.
“They (AMISOM and Somali government troops) should not rest on their laurels, the struggle continues ... Mogadishu still remains vulnerable to these attacks.”
The capture of Afgoye is “a significant military breakthrough,” said Augustine Mahiga, the UN special representative for Somalia. “Afgoye... controls the exits and entrances to Mogadishu and it has been a military headquarters of Al-Shabab,” he said.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday about 6,200 people had been displaced following the fighting in Afgoye.
“However strategic Afgoye may be, even if Afgoye is taken I don’t think that will be the end of the military challenge,” Augustine Mahiga, special representative of the UN secretary general on Somalia, said earlier on Friday.
Seven killed, 40 injured in Algeria gas blast
Algiers, May 26, 2012, A gas blast at a university canteen in Algeria killed seven students and left 28 others injured, the APS news agency reported. The students were eating dinner in Tlemcen, 520 kilometres southwest of the capital Algiers when the explosion occurred. The head of the area's university
works department said that gas had accumulated in the basement of the building following a leak.
The Bakhti Abdelmajid University where the accident took place is known to be in a dilapidated state.
Bosnia buries 66 Muslim war victims
VISEGRAD: Several thousand people gathered on Saturday in Visegrad to attend a collective funeral of 66 Muslims killed in the eastern Bosnian town at the beginning of the 1992-1995 war.
Under light rain, imams prayed for the dead before the bodies, found in a lake 15 years after the end of the war, were buried.
“In first months of the conflict, Serb forces killed my son, my husband, my two sisters, my brother and several other relatives, 13 in total,” said Meva Ahmetagic. One of her sisters and a brother-in-law were buried on Saturday.
The remains of the 66 had been found in 2010 during a search of Lake Perucac, into which the Drina River - marking the frontier between Serbia and Bosnia - runs.
The search was conducted after water levels dropped to an historic low due to repairs being carried out on a dam.
“The youngest victim buried is a boy who was three-and-a-half years old at the time. He was killed together with his mother, whose body unfortunately has not been found yet,” said Hedija Kasapovic, president of an association of families of victims missing from Visegrad.
After the funeral, the mourning procession went to a bridge over the Drina, where roses were thrown into the river in memory of victims of the conflict. Meva Ahmetagic threw 13 roses, one for each member of her family killed.
Between April and June 1992 Serb forces killed more than 1,500 civilians in Visegrad and surrounding areas, according to the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons. Some 600 people are still unaccounted for.
According to survivors, a number of bodies victims were thrown into the Drina and washed down into Lake Perucac.
Before the war Muslims made up 60 percent of the some 21,000 inhabitants of Visegrad. All survivors were expelled from their homes in a Bosnian Serb-led campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in eastern Bosnia.
The inter-ethnic war in Bosnia left some 100,000 people dead and more than two million refugees and displaced people, almost half the country’s pre-war population. afp
Vatican in chaos after Pope’s butler arrested for leaks
VATICAN CITY: The Vatican’s inquisition into the source of leaked documents has yielded its first target with the arrest of the pope’s butler, but the investigation is continuing into a scandal that has embarrassed the Holy See by revealing evidence of internal power struggles, intrigue and corruption in the highest levels of the Catholic Church governance.
The detention of butler Paolo Gabriele, one of the few members of the papal household, capped one of the most convulsive weeks in recent Vatican history and threw the Holy See into chaos as it enters a critical phase in its efforts to show the world it’s serious about complying with international norms on financial transparency.
The tumult began with the publication last weekend of a book of leaked Vatican documents including correspondence, notes and memos to the pope and his private secretary. It peaked with the inglorious ouster on Thursday of the president of the Vatican bank.
And it concluded with confirmation Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI’s own butler was the alleged mole feeding documents to Italian journalists in an apparent bid to discredit the pontiff’s No 2.
“If you wrote this in fiction you wouldn’t believe it,” said Carl Anderson, a member of the board of the Vatican bank which contributed to the whirlwind with its no-confidence vote in its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. “No editor would let you put it in a novel.”
The bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, issued a scathing denunciation of Gotti Tedeschi in a memorandum obtained Saturday by The Associated Press. In it the bank, or IOR by its Italian initials, explained its reasons for ousting Gotti Tedeschi: he routinely missed board meetings, failed to do his job, failed to defend the bank, polarized its personnel and displayed “progressively erratic personal behavior.”
Gotti Tedeschi was also accused by the board of leaking documents himself: The IOR memorandum said he “failed to provide any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last known” to be in his possession.
In an interview with the AP, Anderson said the latter accusation was independent of the broader “Vatileaks” scandal that has rocked the Vatican for months. But he stressed: “’It is not an insignificant issue.”
Gotti Tedeschi hasn’t commented publicly about his ouster or the reasons behind it, saying he has too much admiration for the pope to do so. He also hasn’t been arrested, avoiding the fate that befell Gabriele.
The 46-year-old father of three has been in Vatican detention since Wednesday after Vatican investigators discovered Holy See documents in his apartment. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Gabriele had met with his lawyers and that the investigation was taking its course through the Vatican’s judicial system.
Full report at:
UAE and UK explore joint cooperation in job market
(WAM) / 26 May 2012
Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Labour and Chairman of National Qualifications Authority (NQA), and John Hayes MP, UK Minister of State for Further Education and Skills, explored avenues of joint cooperation and exchange of expertise.
Ghobash informed the British minister about the mission and role of the NQA and its plans to advance socio-economic development in the UAE in consistence with the UAE Vision 2021 which calls for sharpening competitive edge in the job market and transformation towards the knowledge-based economy.
He said the UAE job market, which offers best job perks and benefits, is one of the world’s most attractive labour markets.
For his part, the British minister commended achievements the UAE has made in a record time. He said the UK and UAE maintain longstanding bonds of friendship and cooperation.
Dr. Thani Al Muhairi, Director of NQA, gave a presentation on the key guidelines of the NQA which cover education and training, including vocational education and training, in the UAE, and its relationship with the economy and labour market as well as the development of a national qualifications framework for the UAE and identifying appropriate national mechanisms covering vocational education and training and development of related systems and processes.
“The Authority is working in coordination with other existing concerned authorities to establish and develop a national system of educational qualifications in the UAE through drawing up plans and policies in this regard within a comprehensive and standardised strategy of the qualifications, which determines regulations and standards of higher, general, technical education qualification and vocational training and how to develop them continuously in order to keep pace with scientific and technological progress and the requirements of economic and social development in UAE,” he added.
Top labour officials along with Dominic Jermey, the British ambassador to the UAE, were present at the meeting.
US take al-Qaeda war to cyber world
Sunday, May 27, 2012
TAMPA, FLORIDA: The State Department has launched a different sort of raid against al-Qaeda, engaging in a cat and mouse game to replace anti-American al-Qaeda ads on Yemeni tribal websites.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Wednesday that experts based at the State Department swapped al-Qaeda ads on Yemeni websites bragging about killing Americans with ones showing the deadly impact of al-Qaeda tactics on Yemenis themselves.