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Islamic World News ( 19 Jun 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Shehrbano Taseer challenges blasphemy law in Pak

New Nato raid in Libya kills 15 civilians

'Pak tipped off militants at bomb-making site again'

DELHI WAQF ‘GIFTS’ PLOTS FOR PITTANCE

Indonesian club aims to teach obedience to wives

Conversion to Islam no ground to deny child’s custody

For Muslim girls in Calicut Univ. colleges, push for maternity leave

11 more killed in Karachi violence

Drone strikes kill 6 in Kurram Agency

Four soldiers, 25 terrorists killed in Mohmand

Libya rebels urge donors to honour pledges

Americans are tired of war: Gates

Iraq hunting $17bln missing after US invasion

Islamic group seeks place in a democratic Egypt

Makkah has potential to become Kingdom’s next economic hub

Indonesia protests maid’s execution

Qaeda down, US mulls speedy Afghan pullout

Karzai: Coalition forces polluting Afghanistan soil

Another journalist attacked in Pakistan

Pak judge hides in washroom to avoid gangfight

Rajasthan moves Pak inmate’s mercy plea to guv

India, Pakistan to review nuclear CBMs

India-Pak: Govt has no high hopes from talks

Sailors shifted to Pakistani warship

Somalia jails Britain, US nationals over ransom cash

National Council formed in Syria

Arab world ‘worried’ over Syria crisis: Mussa

US envoy reproaches Afghan president on criticism

Over 4,000 Saudi students graduate from US schools

Extrajudicial killing: ‘FIRs against Shah false’

Olympian’s murder: Boxing community upset over government inaction

Over 30 people detained in Abbottabad investigation: Haqqani

‘Al Qaeda raised funds through abductions’

Weak Al-Qaeda could splinter: Gates

Syria’s Assad to speak after opposition move

Twelve ‘Qaeda’ militants, two Yemen soldiers killed in clashes

Gates sees Taliban peace deal months away

Shoura asks SAMA to study credit schemes

MAKKAH: Teacher arrested for enticing girl

Senior Palestinian leader: Armed resistance best

Turn to kidnapping showed Bin Laden’s interest

Malaysia's Zarinah Anwar calls for greater GCC-Asian connectivity

Costly Afghan weddings under government scrutiny

Syrian army tightens grip near Turkish border

Israel, EU discuss Mideast peace talks

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/shehrbano-taseer-challenges-blasphemy-law-in-pak/d/4873

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Shehrbano Taseer challenges blasphemy law in Pak

Jun 20 2011

Karachi : A day after her father was gunned down by an Islamist extremist, a grieving Shehrbano Taseer wrote on Twitter, “A light has gone out in our home today.’’

In the months since, the 22-year-old daughter of the late Punjab province Gov Salmaan Taseer has emerged as one of Pakistan’s most outspoken voices for tolerance. Through her writing and comments, she warns any audience who will listen of the threat of Islamist extremism. And yes, sometimes she gets scared. She has received threats from militants, who’ve warned her to remember her father’s fate.

“These extremists, they want to tell you how to think, how to feel, how to act,’’ said Taseer. “It has made me more resolute that these people should never win.’’

Salmaan Taseer was assassinated on January 4. The confessed killer, Mumtaz Qadri, boasted he had carried out the slaying because the politician wanted to change blasphemy law that impose the death sentence for insulting Islam.

“For everyone else it was the governor and their leader and this man, and it was this big, sexy story and it was so sensationalist. But for me, it was my father,’’ Shehrbano Taseer said. Taseer majored in government and film at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is by profession a journalist.

Taseer’s followers on Twitter often receive notes that criticise Pakistan’s discriminatory laws, especially blasphemy claims that have reached the courts since her father’s death.

Unlike many politicians, she’s also willing to criticise the role Saudi Arabia has played in funding numerous hardline Islamist schools in Pakistan.

Taseer is frustrated with the Pakistani justice system’s delays in processing the case of Qadri. She wants the former bodyguard to spend his life in solitary confinement. A death sentence is “too easy,’’ she said.

“In Pakistan, we have few brave and honest leaders,’’ she said of the political atmosphere. “We need our heroes alive.’’

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/805936/

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Another NATO strike on Libyan civilians kills 15

2011-06-21

SURMAN, Libya (AP) — Libya's government said a NATO airstrike west of Tripoli early Monday destroyed a large family compound belonging to a close associate of Moammar Gadhafi, killing at least 15 people, including three children. It was the second claim of civilian deaths at a home in as many days. NATO strike the previous day had killed 9 civilians including women and children.

The alliance said the strike Monday hit a "command and control" center.

Gadhafi's regime has repeatedly accused NATO of targeting civilians in an attempt to rally support against international intervention into Libya's civil war. The alliance insists it tries to avoid killing civilians.

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said NATO bombs struck the compound belonging to Khoweildi al-Hamidi outside the city of Surman, some 40 miles west of Tripoli, around 4 a.m. local time Monday.

NATO initially said it had not hit any targets in the Surman area overnight. But the alliance later released a statement saying it conducted a "precision strike" near the town early Monday "on a legitimate military target — a command and control node which was directly involved in coordinating systematic attacks" on Libyan citizens.

The commander of NATO's Libya operation, Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, said the "strike will greatly degrade the Gadhafi regime's forces' ability to carry out their barbaric assaults on the Libyan people."

"Wherever Gadhafi tries to hide his command and control centers, we will find them," he said.

NATO officials have repeatedly said the alliance does not target individuals. It could not confirm reports of casualties in Monday's strike but said it regrets any loss of civilian life.

Al-Hamidi is a longtime regime insider who took part in the 1969 coup that brought Gadhafi to power. He reportedly commanded a battalion that crushed rebels in the nearby western city of Zawiya in March, and his daughter is married to one of Gadhafi's sons, Saadi.

Ibrahim said al-Hamidi escaped the airstrikes unharmed but that three children, two of them al-Hamidi's grandchildren, were among the 15 people killed. Officials said he was inside a still-intact building at the time of the strike.

"They (NATO) are targeting civilians. … The logic is intimidation," Ibrahim said. "They want Libyans to give up the fight … they want to break our spirit."

He warned that killing civilians risked creating a "hateful generation" of young Libyans who "will make the world a very dangerous place."

Foreign journalists based in the Libyan capital were taken by government officials to the walled compound, where at least two buildings had been blasted to rubble. A pair of massive craters could be seen in the dusty ground, and rescue workers with sniffer dogs were scouring the rubble in search of people. The smell of smoke was still in the air.

Bombs also ripped holes through the top of a large tent sheltering cars, smashing the floor and mangling vehicles inside. The windows were shattered in a circular sitting room containing old framed photos said to be of al-Hamidi, and a deer kept in an enclosure with other animals had a broken antler and was bleeding from the mouth.

While there were no signs of heavy weapons at the site, armed guards in military-style uniforms patrolled the grounds as numerous security cameras watched over the sprawling complex. Hundreds of cases of bottled water, cooking oil, pasta and other supplies were stockpiled in one of the destroyed buildings.

Another building outside the compound, next to a communications tower, was also flattened, and walls were blown out of an adjacent house. A mosque across the street and a school next door were not damaged.

Journalists were later taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Sabratha, where medical workers showed them the bodies of about eight to 10 people, including at least two children, said to have been killed in the strike. Some of the bodies appeared charred, while others were in pieces. Portraits of Gadhafi hung on the hospital walls as armed men in military fatigues roamed the hallways.

NATO, which has a mandate to protect Libyan civilians, has rejected government allegations that it targets civilians. However, mistakes have occurred.

On Sunday, the alliance acknowledged that one of its airstrikes accidentally struck a residential neighborhood in the capital, killing civilians. Like on Monday, journalists were taken to the scene of that bomb site and then shown bodies of those said to have been killed.

A coalition including France, Britain and the United States launched the first strikes against Gadhafi's forces under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians on March 19. NATO, which is joined by a number of Arab allies, assumed control of the air campaign over Libya on March 31.

From their de facto capital of Benghazi, the rebels have taken over much of the eastern half of the country. They also control pockets in the west, mainly around the port city of Misrata and in the Nafusa mountains south of Tripoli.

In Luxembourg, European Union foreign ministers condemned the Libyan regime, saying in a statement that "time is not on Gadhafi's side," and that the Libyan leader "has lost all legitimacy to remain in power."

The 27 foreign ministers also toughened the bloc's sanctions against the regime by adding six port authorities controlled by Gadhafi's forces to its asset-freeze list. The ports were not named.

In a similar move, the central bank of the United Arab Emirates ordered a freeze on the accounts of 19 Libyan individuals and institutions while an investigation of the funds is under way into possible links to Gadhafi's regime, according to local media.

The reports gave no further details, and officials at the UAE's central bank were not immediately available for comment.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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'Pak tipped off militants at bomb-making site again'

Jun 20, 2011

WASHINGTON: US officials say Pakistan has apparently tipped off militants at two more bomb-building factories in its tribal areas, giving the terror suspects time to flee, after US intelligence shared the locations with the Pakistani government.

US officials believe Pakistan's insistence on seeking local tribal elders' permission before raiding the areas may have most directly contributed to the militants' flight. US officials have pushed for Pakistan to keep the location of such targets secret prior to the operations, but the Pakistanis say their troops cannot enter the lawless regions without giving the locals notice.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Pak-tipped-off-militants-at-bomb-making-site-again/articleshow/8920554.cms

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DELHI WAQF ‘GIFTS’ PLOTS FOR PITTANCE

By Kumar Vikram in New Delhi

Sixty- two bigha plot rented out for 25 paise per sq yard

Muslim leaders say the high and mighty involved in ‘ racket’

IMAGINE getting land on lease at the rate of 25 paise per square yard per month, in any corner of the Capital.

Or getting a prime plot of land in Lutyen’s Delhi, for just ` 5,000 a month!

An RTI reply has revealed this is indeed possible. Huge tracts of land belonging to the Delhi Waqf Board have been given on lease at meagre rates — in some cases, as low as just 25 paise per square yard.

The irregularities came to light when a complaint alleging corruption in land dealings by Chaudhry Mateen Ahmed, former chairman of the Delhi Waqf Board, was filed in the office of the Lokayukta.

Waqf property consists of assets donated by Muslims to be used for any purpose considered to be auspicious in Islam.

The Delhi Lokayukta recently took cognisance of the matter and issued notice to Ahmed, who also happens to be a Congress legislator in the Delhi assembly.

According to the Lokayukta’s order, a prima facie case for inquiry is made out against the chairman.

The allegations were supported by information disclosed by the Delhi Waqf Board in response to an enquiry filed under the Right to Information Act ( RTI) by one A. Chand, president of a local party called Ali Sena.

Chand, in his RTI petition made in late 2010, sought the details of waqf property.

He got the information on February 28, which revealed that Ahmed had given property worth crores on lease for nominal amounts. Ahmed, currently a Congress MLA from Seelampur, was the Waqf board chairman from 2004 2009. He is also a member of the Delhi Jal Board.

It has been alleged in the complaint filed in the Lokayukta’s court that Ahmed’s act caused a huge loss of state money that could have been effectively used for the welfare of the Muslim community, and that Ahmed misused his position and ran a scam running into crores of rupees, in collusion with property dealers.

According to the RTI reply, the biggest deal made by Ahmed pertains to 62,496 square yards of land in the Punjab Khor Kabristan of Outer Delhi. This was leased out to builder, Jitendra Kumar, in 2006 for just ` 0.25 per square yard. Jitendra, in return, made a donation of ` 1.1 crore to the Waqf board. The last page of the agreement between him and the board reads: “ Resolved that the highest offer submitted by Jitendra Kumar i. e. ( of) ` 1.1 crore as donation and 25 paise per square yards as monthly rent be approved as the successful bidder.” The RTI reply also revealed that Jitendra divided the huge plot into smaller parts and leased them out to 38 other tenants, of which almost all were non- Muslims.

A visit to the area revealed that the smaller plots, earlier part of a graveyard, had been levelled, with concrete roads laid. It looked like the builder was planning to develop a residential colony on the land.

Similarly, land at Dargah Bibi Fatima in Kaka Nagar, central Delhi, in close proximity to the upscale Golf Links area, was given for a monthly rent of just ` 5,000 via resolution 17, dated January 27, 2006.

The Lokayukta’s order reads: “ The allegations levelled by the complainant reveal that the respondent ( chairman) failed to act in accordance with the norms of integrity and conduct which ought to be followed by public functionaries and he also abused/ misused his position to obtain gain/ favour to himself and other persons.” “ The chairman has abused his position and harmed the Waqf board as well as the Muslim community,” Chand alleged. “ I have complained that Mateen Ahmed, during his tenure as Delhi Waqf Board chairman from 2004- 2009, has indulged in illegal activities on which investigation is going on,” he said.

Ahmed has called the charges baseless and plans to reply to the notice.

He said he should not be made an accused as he was not alone in taking such decisions. “ It was the Waqf board’s collective decision to give the land on rent. The board decides who is poor and who is rich,” he added.

Justifying the low rent on the land, he said most of the property was in sparsely populated areas.

Referring to the huge Punjab Khor Kabristan plot, he said the board gave the land on rent to one person. “ The plot was broken up in smaller plots of 1,000 square yards and leased out again to other persons.

don’t know what they are doing the plots now,” he added.

Asif Mohammad Khan, a legislator from Okhla, rued that Waqf property was being misused at many places.

Such property is meant for the welfare of poor Muslims. The land could have been used for hospitals, schools and educational institutions.

But it is unfortunate it is becoming controversial,” he said.

Referring to the complaint against Ahmed, Khan expressed inability to say who was right.

don’t know much about all this, but the complaint is serious and there may be some wrongdoing,” he added.

Shoaib Iqbal, Lok Janshakti party legislator from Matia Mahal controversies Delhi cases an independent “ The three have property. political done without chief When get rates, Mahal constituency, said controversies over Waqf property in Delhi were common and the cases should be investigated by independent agency.

The Delhi Waqf Board has had three chairmen and controversies have always surrounded some property. A chairman enjoys political protection. Nothing can be done on Waqf land in Delhi without the permission of the Delhi chief minister,” he explained.

When asked how anyone could Waqf land for rent at cheap rates, he said: “ One must have elected apart Qasim According website, administer, Waqf The that feature property assistance maintenance dargahs, institutions site high- profile contacts. That’s the only way land becomes available a low rate. There should be an independent inquiry into all these shady deals.” The Delhi Waqf Board was recently reconstituted. It doesn’t have a chairman but Ahmed was elected as one of its members, apart from Maulana Mohammad Qasim and Rana Siddiqui.

According to the board’s website, it is a statuary body meant to administer, control and manage Waqf property.

The website clearly mentions that charity is the dominant feature of Waqf. “ Income from Waqf property is utilised for charity, assistance to the poor and needy, maintenance of mosques, dargahs, graveyards, educational institutions and hospitals,” the says.

Allegations levelled by the complainant ( Chand) reveal that the respondent ( Ahmed) failed to act in accordance with the norms of integrity and conduct which ought to be followed by public functionaries and he also abused/ misused his position to obtain gain/ favour to himself and other persons Lokayukta’s order on the complaint against former Delhi Waqf Board chairman Mateen Ahmed

It was the Waqf board’s collective decision to give the land on rent.

The board decides who is poor and who is rich — Mateen Ahmed, MLA from Seelampur

Delhi Waqf Board has had three chairmen and rows have always surrounded some property. A chairman enjoys political protection. Nothing can be done on Waqf land without CM’s permission. One must have high- profile contacts to get land for rent at a low rate Shoaib Iqbal, Lok Janshakti party legislator

WAQF LAND ROWS IN PAST

According to reports, a 14- acre plot of land belonging to the Waqf board in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district was sold to a developer for just ` 8 crore when the actual market rate for it was ` 60 crore In Bangalore, a plot on which an upmarket hotel stands is reportedly Waqf land worth more than ` 600 crore which has been leased out to the hotel promoters for just ` 12,000 a month

Mail Today

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Indonesian club aims to teach obedience to wives

Jun 20, 2011

JAKARTA, Indonesia: A new club in Indonesia that aims to encourage women to be pious and totally obedient to their husbands has generated an outcry from activists.

Gina Puspita, leader of the “Klub Taat Suami,” or “Obedient to Husband Club,” says the newly formed group already has about 300 members in several Indonesian cities.

Husein Muhammad, a member of the commission on women’s rights, said Sunday that the club, founded under the Malaysian-based Islamic group Global Ikhwan, would not get support in Indonesia.

The club was launched Saturday night in a ceremony in the capital, Jakarta, attended by about 50 women and their husbands.

http://malaysia-today.net/mtcolumns/newscommentaries/41243-indonesian-club-aims-to-teach-obedience-to-wives

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Conversion to Islam no ground to deny Childs custody

June 20, 2011

New Delhi: Religious conversion of a woman cannot be a reason for disqualifying her custodial rights over a child from a previous marriage, a Delhi court has ruled.

The court denied the custodial rights claim of a child's grandfather, who took the plea that since his widowed daughter-in-law had embraced Islam, she was note n titled to the child's custody.

That she has married a Muslim is not by itself a reason to take away the child, guardian judge Gautam Manan said.

Sangam Vihar resident Ram Kumar Maurya had filed a petition, seeking custody of his 14-year-old grandson from the child’s mother, who after the death of his son had married a Muslim.

Times of India

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For Muslim girls in Calicut Univ colleges, push for maternity leave

Shaju Philip

Jun 20 2011

Thiruvananthapuram: At colleges under Calicut University, whose students include those from the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district of North Kerala, many girls among these students are married young and struggle to balance family compulsions with career hopes, especially when they have become pregnant. Now, they have pleaded with their university to grant them maternity leave.

In the absence of such a provision, some pregnant girls have been taking a break from their course, missing their examination and returning later for a supplementary or improvement exam, but this makes them ineligible for ranks. At one college, a few have been taking a house on rent near the campus and shuttling between the roles of mother and student. At a number of colleges, many have simply been dropping out.

The Student Grievance Redressal Cell of the Calicut University has now submitted a recommendation to the University Syndicate to make a provision for three months maternity leave.

Because marks scored in a supplementary or improvement exam are not considered for ranks and grades, many brilliant Muslim girls have been missing the chance to make it to the top of the rankings, says P V Valsaraj, students welfare dean. Making maternity leave part of the rules would make a student as eligible as she would have been when taking the exam for the first time.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/805911/

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11 more killed in Karachi violence

Mon Jun 20 2011

KARACHI: Eleven people, including two activists of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), lost life in separate incidents of violence that took place in different parts of the city on Sunday.

The body of a MQM activist bearing torture marks was found from Kikri Ground within the remits of Kharadar police station.

The victim was identified as Feroz, son of Iqbal. SHO Ghulam Nabi Afridi said Feroz had recently shifted to Agra Taj Colony from North Karachi, adding he was associated with the MQM Unit 136, North Karachi Sector. The officer said that unidentified men kidnapped him on Saturday and threw his body at an isolated place on Sunday.

Another body of a MQM man was found from Ghas Mandi area. It was brought to the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) for an autopsy. The victim was identified as Shahid Bali, 36, son of Bilal. The victim was stated to be associated with the MQM Baldia Town Unit 114.

Three young men were found dead within the jurisdiction of Kalakot police station. Police said that they found bodies of three young men, aged between 25 to 30 years, from Old Haji Camp area. SHO Babar Hameed said all the three victims were badly tortured. He said police believed that they were kidnapped first and then killed.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\06\20\story_20-6-2011_pg1_5

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Drone strikes kill 6 in Kurram Agency

June 20, 2011

Intelligence agencies set to define the parameters of anti-terror cooperation.

An unmanned US drone fired missiles at a car and a compound in Lower Kurram Agency on Monday, killing  six suspected militants.

Two drones struck in Kharh Dand, a far flung area of the agency, targeting a vehicle and suspected militant compound.

The United States has intensified drone aircraft missile strikes in Pakistan’s northwest along the Afghan border, killing 66 suspected militants since June 3.

The CIA operates a covert drone programme which targets suspected militants in countries like Pakistan.

US officials have described drones as a very effective tool for eliminating high-value enemies in northwest Pakistan, where human intelligence is hard to come by because anyone who provides it risks the wrath of militants.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/192632/drone-strikes-kill-6-in-kurram-agency/

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Four soldiers, 25 terrorists killed in Mohmand

Mon Jun 20 2011

PESHAWAR: At least 50 terrorists attacked a paramilitary checkpoint in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border Sunday, triggering intense fighting that killed four soldiers and up to 25 terrorists, officials said.

Warplanes pounded a terrorist stronghold in the Mohmand Agency on the Afghan border in an operation that left 25 terrorists dead, the military said on Sunday. Pakistan Army, paramilitary troops and the air force launched a joint operation “to evict terrorists’ stronghold of Walidad” in Mohmand on Saturday, it said. “Ground operation was preceded with precise strikes by Pakistan Air Force aircraft on terrorists’ bunkers and positions,” it said.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\06\20\story_20-6-2011_pg1_4

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Toddlers among 9 killed in ‘NATO raid' on Tripoli

Jun 20, 2011

TRIPOLI: Libyan officials showed reporters five bodies, including two toddlers, they said were among nine civilians killed in a “barbaric” NATO air raid on Sunday, as pressure mounted on the alliance to allow a political solution.

Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim accused the Western alliance of “deliberately targeting civilians,” insisting there were no military targets anywhere near the residential neighbourhood of Tripoli that was hit.

“NATO is looking into this matter,” said alliance spokesman Wing Commander Mike Bracken in Brussels. “NATO was operating in Tripoli last night, conducting air strikes against a legitimate military target.”

“NATO deeply regrets any civilian loss of life during this operation and would be very sorry if the review of this incident concluded it to be a NATO weapon,” he added.

If it is confirmed the civilian deaths were caused by NATO, it would be an embarrassment for the alliance which has led the bombing campaign under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians.

Mr. Ibrahim demanded that the alliance end its “aggression” to pave the way for dialogue, speaking just hours after organisations including the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations highlighted the importance of “accelerating the launch of a political process” to end the conflict.

Full report at:

http://www.hindu.com/2011/06/20/stories/2011062053951600.htm

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Libya rebels urge donors to honour pledges

June 20, 2011

BENGHAZI, Libya: Libya’s rebel forces said on Sunday they were running out of money and have not yet received any of the roughly one billion dollars promised by international donors earlier this month.

Urging benefactors to make good on their promise to aid the Transitional National Council (NTC), the rebels said that the mechanism for transferring funds had been set up and the cash was now urgently needed.

“(The) funds should have been deposited from last week and none have been deposited to date,” council vice chairman and spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga said.

The rebels — pummelled by forces loyal to Moamer Qadhafi and unable to capitalise on the country’s vast oil wealth because of damaged infrastructure — depend foreign largesse to pay for basic services and their largely volunteer-led rebellion.

At a conference in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, donors vowed to help them with cash and supplies.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/20/libya-rebels-urge-donors-to-honour-pledges.html

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Americans are tired of war: Gates

Jun 19, 2011

WASHINGTON: US defence secretary Robert Gates on Sunday acknowledged that Americans are tired of war as he underlined that Washington did not have the right strategy and resources in Afghanistan till last year.

"I know the American people are tired of war. But, look, the reality is the United States had a very limited commitment in Afghanistan until well into 2008," said Gates, who retires at the end of this month.

"We did not have the right strategy and the right resources for this conflict and a lot of resources, those needed to do the job, until the late summer of 2010," Gates told CNN in an interview.

He said President Barack Obama made this decision for the second surge in December of 2009. "It took us some months to get the additional surge in," he said.

"So I understand everybody is war weary, but the reality is we won the first Afghan war in 2001 and 2002. We were diverted by Iraq, and we basically neglected Afghanistan for several years," he said in response to a question.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Americans-are-tired-of-war-Gates/articleshow/8916464.cms

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Iraq hunting $17bln missing after US invasion

19 June 2011

BAGHDAD - Iraq’s parliament is chasing about $17 billion of Iraqi oil money it says was stolen after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and has asked the United Nations for help to track it down.

The missing money was shipped to Iraq from the United States to help with reconstruction after the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

In a letter to the UN office in Baghdad last month, parliament’s Integrity Committee asked for help to find and recover the oil money taken from the Development Fund of Iraq (DFI) in 2004 and lost in the chaos that followed the invasion.

‘All indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing the money of the Iraqi people, which was allocated to develop Iraq, (and) that it was about $17 billion,’ said the letter sent to the UN with a 50-page report.

The committee called the disappearance of the money a ‘financial crime’ but said UN Security Council resolutions prevent Iraq from making a claim against the United States.

‘Our committee decided to send this issue to you ... to look into it and restore the stolen money,’ said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

UN officials were not immediately available for comment.

Full report at:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June547.xml&section=middleeast

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Islamic group seeks place in a democratic Egypt

By LEE KEATH

Jun 20, 2011

CAIRO: The night breeze blew foul wafts from a nearby canal black with garbage and pollution. The streets jammed with trucks and motorized rickshaws were so shattered that they hardly seemed paved at all.

It was to Cairo’s slum of Munib on a recent evening that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest Islamic group, brought its election campaign message: The country must turn to Islam to rebuild.

“Muslims around the world expect great things from you,” Essam el-Erian, deputy head of the Brotherhood’s new political party, told supporters crowded into a tent, with men across the aisle from women, who wore headscarves or black veils. “We have to build a nation of freedom and equality, a nation of the true Islam.”

The scene, like many in Egypt now, was inconceivable before president Hosni Mubarak’s Feb. 11 removal from power. Under Mubarak’s autocratic regime, the Brotherhood was banned. Tens of thousands of its members were arrested, many tortured, and its gatherings were held largely in secret.

Now, with Mubarak gone, the Brotherhood is storming into the open, appealing to religious voters and trying to win over Egypt’s poor. It is likely to be part of Egypt’s next government, with a hand not only in ruling but also in writing a new constitution. Its strength has fueled fears among many Egyptians that it will turn what began as a pro-democracy uprising in the most populous Arab nation into Islamic rule.

The Brotherhood’s own identity is on the line as well, and there is pressure from inside and out for it not to go down a sharp-right Islamic road. Internally, Brotherhood moderates — many from a younger generation — are resisting control from hard-line leaders, in a struggle that could fragment the group. From the outside, a budding democracy is pushing the Brotherhood, at least in public, to present a more liberal face.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article457333.ece

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Makkah has potential to become Kingdom’s next economic hub

By SARAH ABDULLAH

Jun 20, 2011

JEDDAH: The holy city of Makkah could become the Kingdom’s next economic hub, Fahd Al-Sultan, secretary-general of the Council of Saudi Chambers, said on Sunday.

He said the city’s demographic and geographic features are factors that would play a major role in achieving this objective.

“The center of the holy city of Makkah has unique geographical characteristics — first it is the home of one of the two holy mosques, second it is near the resort city of Taif and third, it is positioned near the commercial city of Jeddah,” Al-Sultan pointed out.

Speaking at the ‘Future Makkah’ forum in Jeddah, he also said Makkah currently accounted for 11 percent of the Kingdom’s GDP and 21 percent of nonoil national products in industrial, educational and religious services sectors.

More than 26 percent of the Kingdom’s factories are also located in Makkah — another proof of its remarkable contribution to the Kingdom’s economy, Al-Sultan said.

He cited nonoil exports and mining as the most promising sectors for future investments and stressed that these areas, along with the city’s transportation sector, should be strengthened further.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/economy/article457826.ece

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Indonesia protests maid’s execution

By BADEA ABU AL-NAJA

Jun 20, 2011

MAKKAH: The Indonesian government has protested the execution of an Indonesian maid here on Saturday after she was convicted of murdering a Saudi woman.

The country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said the government was not informed of the time Royati Beth Sabotti Sarona was executed.

“The Indonesian government called the Saudi ambassador in Jakarta for an explanation,” the spokesman said. He said the government had learned Sarona had confessed to murdering her sponsor Khairiya bint Hamid Mejlid.

“Without prejudice to the legal system in force in Saudi Arabia, the Indonesian government observed that the execution was carried out without observing international practices relating to consular protection,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Tene told AFP.

Tene expressed his “deep sorrow” over the execution. Sarona was found guilty of killing 70-year-old Mejlid by striking her repeatedly on the head with a meat chopper and stabbing her in the neck. The crime took place one and a half years ago.

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article457838.ece

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Qaeda down, US mulls speedy Afghan pullout

Mon Jun 20 2011

Washington: MARK LANDLER & HELENE COOPER

As the Obama administration nears a crucial decision on how rapidly to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan, high-ranking officials said that al-Qaeda’s original network in the region has been crippled, providing a rationale for an accelerated reduction of troops.

The officials said the intense campaign of drone strikes and other covert operations in Pakistan — most dramatically the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — had left al-Qaeda paralysed, with its leaders either dead or pinned down in the frontier area near Afghanistan. Of 30 prominent members in the region identified by intelligence agencies as targets, 20 have been killed in the last year and a half, they said, reducing the threat they pose.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/805920/

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Karzai: Coalition forces polluting Afghanistan soil

Rod Nordland

Jun 20, 2011

KABUL: Hours before Afghan officials sat down with an American delegation to hammer out a strategic partnership agreement for long-term US involvement in the country, president Hamid Karzai said the motives behind the presence of coalition forces were suspect and that their weapons were polluting his country besides killing his people.

"You remember a few years ago I was saying thank you to the foreigners for their help, every minute we were thanking them," he said in an address to the Afghanistan Youth International Conference. "Now I have stopped saying that, except when Spanta forced me to say thank you," Karzai said, referring to his national security adviser Rangin Spanta, who was present. "They're here for their own purposes, for their own goals, and they're using our soil for that."

The president's address was broadcast live on the state television network. Karzai often adopts drastically different messages for domestic audiences, and takes a much harsher stance toward the coalition with his own people than he does in private and in international meetings. In the past, Western diplomats have taken the same line, saying Karzai's speeches were intended for a domestic audience and not indicative of his true views.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Karzai-Coalition-forces-polluting-Afghanistan-soil/articleshow/8910354.cms

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Another journalist attacked in Pakistan

Anita Joshua

ISLAMABAD: Waqar Kiani, a Pakistani journalist working for local and international media houses, was allegedly beaten up by the police on Saturday in the federal capital, a little over a week after he broke his silence about the July 2008 ordeal when he was apparently kidnapped and tortured by intelligence agencies.

According to Mr. Kiani, four persons wearing police uniforms and travelling in a police van stopped him and beat him up. Since this incident took place a week after the British daily The Guardian reported about his July 2008 ordeal, the general view is that he was being punished for breaking his silence.

Working for The Guardian then, Mr. Kiani was tracking a story about the alleged cooperation between Pakistani and British intelligence in the detention and abuse of suspected militants. Before he was picked up and tortured, his house had been ransacked.

When he was let off, Mr. Kiani was warned of dire consequences if he spoke about the incident.

http://www.hindu.com/2011/06/20/stories/2011062054381600.htm

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Pak judge hides in washroom to avoid gangfight

Jun 20, 2011

LAHORE: In another security lapse in less than a month, two criminal gangs attacked each other with sharp-edged weapons in a Pakistan courtroom, besides trying to assault a judge and hold him hostage.

Judicial magistrate Kaleem Aslam Awan had a narrow escape as he rushed to his retiring room and hid himself in the washroom. Sources in court said that the judge acted on time after he saw one of the accused rushing towards him.

Reader Shafique claimed that the accused kicked the doors and abused the judge saying: "Open the door, cowardly judge!" He said that the courtroom of the magistrate was very small, and when both groups entered the room fighting, the judge got scared and locked himself inside the washroom.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pak-judge-hides-in-washroom-to-avoid-gangfight/articleshow/8920471.cms

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Rajasthan moves Pak inmate’s mercy plea to guv

Jun 20, 2011

JAIPUR: A mercy petition of 78-year-old Pakistani prisoner Khalil Chishty, who is suffering from various geriatric ailments, has been forwarded by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot to the governor.

The decision comes in the backdrop of Supreme Court judge Markandeya Katju writing a letter to PM Manmohan Singh urging him to help in release of the ailing virologist from Karachi, serving life term in Ajmer jail. The petition was cleared on "humanitarian grounds" on Friday and was forwarded to Raj Bhavan for approval of the (acting) governor Shivraj Patil.

Chishty's family and human rights activists had filed the mercy plea in April with a request on his behalf that the matter be dealt with expeditiously as his health was failing. The approval of the governor, who has power under Article 161 of the Constitution to remit a sentence, will pave the way for his release. Patil is out of the state and is scheduled to arrive on Monday.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rajasthan-moves-Pak-inmates-mercy-plea-to-guv/articleshow/8919804.cms

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India, Pakistan to review nuclear CBMs

Sandeep Dikshit

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are set to review nuclear-related confidence-building measures at the Foreign Secretary-level talks, scheduled for June 23 and 24 in Islamabad.

Though both sides do not expect major results and disagree on Kashmir and terrorism, sources in the government repose faith in a sustained dialogue process to narrow the trust deficit and build an understanding to resolve issues of discord.

India wants expectations from the talks “realistic,” given the history and complexity of the ties. “Dialogue is a process. We should not expect a decision. We should go step by step,” the sources said.

On the recent face-off between warships of the two countries clouding the talks, the sources cautioned against whipping up frenzy, though they claimed that Pakistani warships had displayed aggressive behaviour in the past too.

“There is so much to discuss. Let us put it behind us,” they said, suggesting that the incident act as a catalyst for both sides to revive a proposal — made before the Mumbai attacks and then shelved — on enhancing the confidence-building measures at sea.

On the core issue at the talks, India insists that Mumbai 2008 is “not behind us,” while Pakistan feels that it is time the political resolution of the Kashmir issue came up for discussion.

Full report at:

http://www.hindu.com/2011/06/20/stories/2011062059150100.htm

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India-Pak: Govt has no high hopes from talks

Jun 20, 2011

NEW DELHI: Even as Pakistan stresses that Kashmir would be the centrepoint of foreign secretary talks later this week in Islamabad, the Indian side is trying hard to tamp down on expectations before the dialogue. Government sources said on Sunday that foreign secretary Nirupama Rao was going to the talks with "an open and constructive mind" and with "realistic expectations". "Dialogue is a process. We should not expect quick and dramatic solutions," a source said.

The two countries remain far apart, because while India maintains that Mumbai attacks of 2008 would be the focus, Pakistan wants India to "move on" and focus on Kashmir. Indian sources said they had given Pakistan a set of translated versions of the seizure memos only a couple of days ago, a signal that India is not about to let go of terrorism as a prime concern. "We have complied with all requirements for documentary evidence. Mumbai is not behind us," the source said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Govt-has-no-high-hopes-from-talks/articleshow/8918647.cms

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Sailors shifted to Pakistani warship

Anita Joshua

ISLAMABAD: All 23 sailors, including six Indians, aboard mv Suez —released from Somali pirates last Monday after a 10-month ordeal — had to shift to the Pakistani warship, PNS Babur, on Sunday as their vessel risked sinking.

All the sailors had boarded PNS Babur by 6.30 p.m. (Pakistani time), said human rights activist Ansar Burney, who arranged half the ransom amount for their release and was coordinating their return to Oman's Salalah port from where they were to fly to their countries.

Since PNS Babur was escorting mv Suez to Salalah as part of the Coalition Force navies guarding the piracy-prone waters of the Gulf of Aden, the captain of the cargo ship, a Pakistani, sought its help as the assistance promised by the Egyptian owner of the vessel had not reached and the ship was in danger of sinking.

Chief of the Naval Staff Noman Bashir was contacted for permission to allow foreign nationals aboard the Pakistani frigate. Mr. Burney said the sailors were being brought to Karachi as the warship could not enter ports of other countries.

“Our effort will be to put them on flights home as soon as they reach Karachi. Especially in the case of Indians, we don't want them to become victims of India-Pakistan politics,” Mr. Burney said.

In an almost similar case, five Pakistani sailors, rescued by the Indian Navy from Somali pirates, have been cooling their heels in Mumbai since March. After nearly three months, they hope to get consular access on June 28.

Mr. Burney was upset over the war of words between India and Pakistan on the issue.

http://www.hindu.com/2011/06/20/stories/2011062055450100.htm

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Somalia jails Britain, US nationals over ransom cash

Jun 20, 2011

MOGADISHU: A Somali court has jailed six foreigners including three Britons and an American for illegally carrying millions of dollars into the country to pay ransoms for the release of vessels held by pirates.

Authorities in the Horn of Africa country, where a lack of effective central government has allowed piracy to boom off its shores, seized two aircraft carrying $3.6 million in the capital Mogadishu late last month. "We sentenced the two pilots, who are American and British nationals, to fifteen years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine each," the Mogadishu court's judge Hashi Elmi told Reuters late on Saturday.

The charges were illegally bringing money into the country, carrying cash intended to pay ransoms and landing in Mogadishu without the correct papers.

The four others, among them two Kenyans, were handed ten years jail terms and fines of $10,000 each, Elmi said. The cash and two aircraft were now the property of Somalia's government, he added. Maritime piracy costs the global economy up to $12 billion annually and has spawned numerous private security businesses offering armed protection for vessels & conducting ransom drops.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Somalia-jails-Britain-US-nationals-over-ransom-cash/articleshow/8920534.cms

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National Council formed in Syria

Jun 20, 2011

TURKISH-SYRIAN BORDER: Syrian opposition activists have set up a “National Council” to struggle against the Damascus regime, a group of dissidents, including their spokesman Jamil Saib, announced on Sunday.

“We announce the creation of a National Council to lead the Syrian revolution, comprising all communities and representatives of national political forces inside and outside Syria,” they told reporters near the Turkish-Syrian border.

Mr. Saib said council members included notably Abdallah Trad el Moulahim, one of the organisers of a Syrian opposition gathering in Turkey this month, Haitham el-Maleh, Souhair al-Atassi and Aref Dalila, all three based in Syria, as well as Sheikh Khaled al-Khalaf and Mamoun el-Homsi. — AFP

http://www.hindu.com/2011/06/20/stories/2011062054161600.htm

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Extrajudicial killing: ‘FIRs against Shah false’

June 20, 2011

KARACHI: The two cases lodged against Sarfaraz Shah, who was shot by Rangers personnel, have been proven false, The Express Tribune has learnt.

A senior investigator said that the police are going to nominate sub-inspector Baharuddin and a civilian, Afsar Khan — the complainants of the two FIRs lodged against the victim — in two more cases. The police are planning on going to the apex court to remove the cases against Shah and reverse them against the complainants.

On June 8, six Rangers personnel shot and killed Shah inside Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park in Boat Basin. Within two hours, two cases were registered at Boat Basin police station. In FIR No. 225/11, Afsar Khan said that Shah was trying to rob a man named Alam Zaib and his family and, in FIR No. 226/11, Baharuddin said that Shah had an illegal weapon.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/192390/extrajudicial-killing-firs-against-shah-false/

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Olympian’s murder: Boxing community upset over government inaction

By Fawad Hussain

June 20, 2011

KARACHI: Frustrated over the government inaction over the brutal murder of Olympian boxer Syed Abrar Hussain Shah, the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) is gearing up for a countrywide protest to seek justice for the deceased and his family.

Shah, who represented Pakistan in Olympics on three occasions, was killed in Quetta last Thursday.

The country’s most successful boxer after Seoul Olympics, medalist Hussain Shah had won various accolades, including gold medals at the Asian Games and the South Asian Games.

The murder of a national sportsman, however, appears to cause little concern to top authorities, say PBF officials.

“The government is paying no attention to the murder of our national hero,” PBF secretary Akram Khan told The Express Tribune.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/192482/olympians-murder-boxing-community-upset-over-government-inaction/

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Over 30 people detained in Abbottabad investigation: Haqqani

June 20, 2011

WASHINGTON: Intelligence authorities have rounded up more than 30 people and questioned several others as part of the Abbottabad probe, Islamabad’s ambassador in Washington Husain Haqqani said Sunday.

Haqqani revealed that Pakistani intelligence detained or questioned several people to identify members of eliminated al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s support network.

“Even if some people were arrested for collaborating with a foreign intelligence service, that would not be different from the United States arresting Jonathan Pollard for spying on behalf of America’s friend Israel. Allies share intelligence. They should not be found conducting espionage on one another,” he wrote in special article, put on the CNN website.

The envoy argued that the bin Laden episode is a moment of introspection for both Pakistan and the United States.

In an appearance on ABC channel’s This Week program Sunday morning, the ambassador pointed out that it is unfair to say that bin Laden was allowed to be in Pakistan and made it clear that the al Qaeda chief “just happened to be there.”

“It is now time for all of us to take a deep breath and objectively evaluate the realities of the relationship between America and Pakistan in a way that furthers our shared goals and objectives.”

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/20/over-30-people-detained-in-abbottabad-investigation-haqqani.html

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‘Al Qaeda raised funds through abductions’

June 20, 2011

WASHINGTON: Pressured by scrutiny of terrorist money sources and strikes aimed at its financiers, Al Qaeda in Pakistan has turned to kidnapping for ransom to offset dwindling cash reserves, according to US officials and information  retrieved from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound .

“There are clearly times for them when money is tight,” said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “We’ve seen that their donors have been less dependable and we’re seeing them turning more to kidnapping as a way of keeping the money coming in.”

Experts from the CIA’s National Counter-terrorism Centre, the Treasury Department and the FBI and military hope to identify important Al Qaeda donors, especially wealthy Persian Gulf figures who dealt with Bin Laden dating to his work with Afghan fighters in the campaign against Soviet occupiers in ’80s.

The Treasury Department’s acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, said: “Al Qaeda’s supporters ought to be wondering if their identities have been revealed.”

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/20/al-qaeda-raised-funds-through-abductions.html

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Weak Al-Qaeda could splinter: Gates

June 20, 2011

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that Al-Qaeda had been seriously degraded and could split into a set of regional terror groups now that Osama bin Laden was gone.

“First of all, they have been significantly weakened. There’s just no two ways about it,” Gates told CNN’s “State of the Union” program, explaining that bin Laden was not the only Al-Qaeda figure to have been killed recently. “We have taken a real toll on them over the last, particularly the last two years,” he said.

Al-Qaeda on Thursday named long-time number two Ayman al-Zawahiri as its new leader after bin Laden was killed by US commandos in the dead of night in a May 2 raid on his hideout in Pakistan.

Zawahiri has been portrayed by US officials as a pale imitation of bin Laden, someone, they say, who lacks his predecessor’s charisma and leadership skills and is also a divisive figure who could fracture Al-Qaeda.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/19/weak-al-qaeda-could-splinter-gates.html

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Syria’s Assad to speak after opposition move

June 20, 2011

DAMASCUS: Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad is set to make a major speech after opposition activists announced on Sunday they are setting up a “National Council” to spearhead the struggle against his regime.

“President Bashar al-Assad will deliver a speech at noon tomorrow concerning developments in Syria,” the official SANA news agency said in a terse dispatch, without elaborating.

It will be the third time Assad has made a major speech since protests demanding greater freedoms and democracy erupted in Syria in mid-March.

Syrian opposition activists have created a “National Council” to lead the battle to oust Assad’s regime, their spokesman Jamil Saib announced on Sunday.

“We announce the creation of a National Council to lead the Syrian revolution, comprising all communities and representatives of national political forces inside and outside Syria,” reporters near the Turkish-Syrian border were told.

The activists urged opposition forces “to cooperate in all cities and provinces of Syria to achieve the legitimate goal of overthrowing the regime and bringing it to justice.” On March 30 — two weeks after the start of anti-regime demonstrations in Syria — Assad addressed parliament and called the deadly unrest a “conspiracy” fomented by the country’s enemies.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/20/syrias-assad-to-speak-after-opposition-move.html

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Twelve ‘Qaeda’ militants, two Yemen soldiers killed in clashes

June 20, 2011

ADEN: Twelve suspected members of an al-Qaeda-linked group and two Yemeni soldiers were killed in clashes near the gunmen-held southern city Zinjibar, an army officer said on Sunday.

“Twelve of the Ansar al-Sharia terrorists were killed and three wounded after Artillery Brigade 119 targeted a group planting explosive devices on the main road,” the field officer told AFP.

He said two soldiers were killed and three wounded when gunmen attacked an army base in the area.

Hundreds of men who officials say are connected to al-Qaeda took control of Zinjibar on May 29 after battles with the Yemeni army in which 140 people died, including about 80 soldiers.

But opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh accuse his government of exaggerating a jihadist threat to head off Western pressure on his 33-year rule.

Yemen is the home of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an affiliate of the slain Osama bin Laden’s militant network. The group is accused of anti-US plots including an attempt to blow up a US-bound aircraft on Christmas Day, 2009.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/19/twelve-qaeda-militants-two-yemen-soldiers-killed-in-clashes.html

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Gates sees Taliban peace deal months away

June 20, 2011

WASHINGTON – It could be months before efforts to broker a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban bear fruit, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview aired on Sunday.

Gates, who steps down at the end of the month, said there had been contacts between United States and the Taliban in recent weeks, headed by the State Department.

"There's been outreach on the - on the part of a number of countries, including the United States. I would say that these contacts are very preliminary at this point," he told CNN.

The comments from the outgoing U.S. defense chief were aired a day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the United States was in contact with the Taliban, a striking public acknowledgment of a peace initiative that has been cloaked with secrecy.

Karzai said an Afghan push toward peace talks, after nearly a decade of war, had not yet reached a stage where the government and insurgents were meeting, but their representatives had been in touch.

"Peace talks are going on with the Taliban. The foreign military and especially the United States itself is going ahead with these negotiations," Karzai said in a speech in Kabul.

The comments come as President Barack Obama prepares to announce the size and nature of the initial U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan nearly 10 years after the September 11 attacks.

Full report at:

http://dailymailnews.com/0611/20/FrontPage/index.php?id=5

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Shoura asks SAMA to study credit schemes

By MD RASOOLDEEN

Jun 20, 2011

RIYADH: The Shoura Council has asked the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) on Sunday to conduct a detailed study on consumer credit and investor credit in the Kingdom.

SAMA, the Saudi central bank, regulates and controls the Saudi banking sector. Financing is available under SAMA regulations to Saudi and non-Saudi businessmen and entities.

The suggestion was made at the 42nd ordinary session of the council held on Sunday under the chairmanship of the council's Vice Chairman Bandar Hamzah.

The house felt such a study would shed light on the future prospects of credit schemes.

The Consumer Credit Regulations (CCR) apply to consumer credit provided by banks in the Kingdom. Consumer credit is defined under the CCR to include loans to individuals, households and family members for non-commercial activities. This includes personal loans, overdraft facilities, car loans, payment card loans and financial leases.

There are a number of specialized credit institutions established by the government that provide credit to Saudi individuals and companies.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article457834.ece

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MAKKAH: Teacher arrested for enticing girl

By BADEA ABU AL-NAJA

Jun 20, 2011

MAKKAH: A 40-year-old Egyptian teacher has been arrested for allegedly enticing a 16-year-old girl and bringing her from Riyadh to Makkah and providing her accommodation in a hotel in Misfala with the help of a relative.

“Police arrested the teacher and his relative who is working in the hotel and transferred the girl to a juvenile center,” a security source told Arab News. She will be sent to Riyadh after investigations.

The girl told police that her parents have been separated and had married her to a 62-year-old man as his third wife, adding that the old man treated her badly during their six-month marriage.

She said after she was divorced by the old man, she did not find anybody in Riyadh showing any sympathy toward her except the teacher. When she went missing her brothers informed police.

Hafsa Shuaib, head of the juvenile center in Makkah, said the girl underwent a medical checkup to see if she was pregnant or not. She will also receive counseling before sending her home.

Lt. Col. Abdul Mohsen Al-Maiman, spokesman of Makkah police, said security agents are still interrogating the teacher and the girl. “She will be taken to Riyadh for further investigations,” he added.

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article457832.ece

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Senior Palestinian leader: Armed resistance best

Jun 20, 2011

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: A senior leader of the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas movement says armed resistance is the “most effective” way to fight the Israelis, and that Palestinian plans to ask the UN to recognize their independence are a waste of time.

Khalil Al-Hayya says the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to persuade the United Nations to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state are a “mirage.” His remarks, communicated by his office Sunday, reflect the tensions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s dominant Fatah movement as the rival factions try to form a unity government.

The head of the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas, is pursuing statehood at the UN because negotiations with Israel have been stalled for 2 1/2 years.

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article457606.ece

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Turn to kidnapping showed Bin Laden’s interest

Jun 20, 2011

WASHINGTON: Scrutiny of Al-Qaeda’s financing has increased and strikes have taken aim at its money men. So Al-Qaeda’s core organization in Pakistan has turned to kidnapping for ransom to offset dwindling cash reserves.

That’s according to US officials and information in files retrieved from Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan after he was killed last month by US Navy SEALs.

Bin Laden’s interest in kidnapping as a money-raiser bolsters accounts that a financial squeeze has staggered Al-Qaeda and forced it to search for alternative funding sources.

Officials would not detail Al-Qaeda’s role in specific crimes, but the group’s affiliates have targeted diplomats, tourists and merchants.

http://arabnews.com/world/article457609.ece

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Malaysia's Zarinah Anwar calls for greater GCC-Asian connectivity

By MUSHTAK PARKER

Jun 20, 2011

LONDON: Zarinah Anwar, chairman of the Securities Commission of Malaysia, the securities and capital market regulator, has called on Middle Eastern and Asian countries to spearhead the further expansion of Islamic finance, which in the process would also deepen business and investment linkages between the two regions where the phenomenon is already being practiced on a significant scale.

Anwar, who was addressing a recent conference on Islamic banking in Singapore, explained: “It would seem logical to enhance the cross-border connectivity of Islamic finance by involving two regions that are already adopting it on a significant scale. This appears consistent with recent World Bank work, which found that the corridor approach of agglomeration of economic activities is effective in enhancing growth. By focusing on clusters of economic activities, scale is achieved to build competitiveness and deepen business ties.”

There is already a degree of connectivity between the Islamic finance sectors in the two regions.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/economy/islamicfinance/article457780.ece

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Costly Afghan weddings under government scrutiny

Jun 20, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan: Some brides in Afghanistan change their outfits up to 10 times. Throw in the six-hour trips to the beauty parlors and the meals for 1,000 guests — and one wedding alone could bankrupt many Afghans.

Now the Justice Ministry is proposing limits on the lavish events to cut down on the pressure poor Afghans face to match the elite’s elaborate weddings. The government is specifically targeting party halls — and threatening to fine owners who flout the austerity rules.

“It is breaking the back of the groom and of the family,” Justice Minister Habibullah Ghaleb said of the lavish nuptials. “It creates an immoral corruption.” Under the proposed wedding law, which still needs to be passed by parliament, locations would be barred from allowing more than 300 attendees for an engagement party and more than 500 people at a wedding, Ghaleb said.

Those halls caught breaking the law would be subject to serious fines or other possible penalties. However, it remains unclear what enforcement powers authorities would have to go after the wedding halls, especially in a country where bribery remains common.

Other rules are aimed at protecting grooms’ families from spending too much money on gifts for brides and their relatives. Brides would get only two dresses — one for an engagement party and one for the wedding. The law would restrict other gifts too, Ghaleb said without elaborating.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/world/article457610.ece

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Syrian army tightens grip near Turkish border

19 June 2011

Syrian troops tightened their grip on a restive area near the Turkish border, setting fire to homes and a bakery that was supplying bread to thousands of displaced people.

The military set up checkpoints and arrested dozens of people over the past two days in an attempt to staunch the flow of residents fleeing to Turkey as Syria’s 3-month-old pro-democracy uprising rages on, several activists reported.

Residents of Bdama said troops on tanks firing machine guns were combing the village in Syria’s restive northern Idlib province and surrounding areas, and several homes were set ablaze in what appeared to be revenge attacks, human rights activist Ammar Qurabi reported.

A man at the Bdama bakery was shot in the stomach as the place was torched by troops, and he was evacuated to Turkey for treatment Sunday morning, said an activist near the border, Jamil Saeb.

The fighting in the Jisr Al Shughour area in Idlib began nearly two weeks ago and has displaced thousands of people, including 10,100 sheltered in three Turkish refugee camps. An estimated 5,000 more are camped out on the Syrian side of the border, with dwindling resources, trying to remain in Syria to avoid refugee status.

The bakery was said to have been the sole source of bread for thousands stuck on the Syrian side of the frontier.

Full report at:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle09.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June541.xml&section=middleeast

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Israel, EU discuss Mideast peace talks

19 June 2011

JERUSALEM — EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held talks on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the international community seeks to relaunch peace talks.

Neither side issued a statement after the afternoon discussions, which came after Ashton met earlier in the week with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

The Palestinians called on the European Union to support them as they head to the United Nations to seek recognition and membership for a Palestinian state.

But many EU nations oppose the UN push, and European and US representatives have sought in recent weeks to develop peace initiatives that could convince the Palestinians to put the bid on hold.

Full report at:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June546.xml&section=middleeast

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/shehrbano-taseer-challenges-blasphemy-law-in-pak/d/4873


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