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Islamic World News ( 14 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Time to correct Muslim image: Vice-President of India, Hamid Ansari

V.P. for education to Muslim women

20-yr-old girl auctioned in public in Pakistani village

Young men recruited to terrorism online

Taliban create ‘jannat’ to brainwash youth

Muslims to protest ban as Switzerland blocks German imam

Mock minaret to protest Swiss ban

Muslim as PM: Rahul remark greeted with cautious optimism

Muslim clerics to talk key issues in Mumbai

CIA asked us to eliminate A Q Khan: Blackwater chief

Pakistan raises more bunkers along border

Pak ends operation in S Waziristan

Police Americans in Pakistan had Taliban contact

Headley may turn witness against Rana

Pak national finds himself on no-man's land in India

26/11 trial in Pak put off as accused plead for acquittal

Pak must cooperate fully with US to wipe out Al-Qaeda: Obama

Iran proposes nuclear swap

 ‘A deficit of trust between Pak & US’

Gilani U-turn on Taliban offensive; says operation to continue

Gilani warns of terror strikes on Pak cities

Haneef's lawyer wins human rights medal

Al-Qaida denies killing civilians in Pakistan

Headley denies role in terror plot

The violence and fantasies of ‘the truth’ in Kashmir

Compiled by: New Age Islam News Bureau

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 Time to correct Muslim image: V-P

Dec 13, 2009

In what could trigger a debate in the Muslim community, Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Saturday spoke about the need for separating “harmful social custom” from the religious law and codifying the rules relating to marriage, divorce and succession. He also asked Muslims to shun the “syndrome of victim-hood” and seize the benefits offered by a growing economy.

Delivering the Khuda Bakhsh Memorial Lecture in Patna, Ansari said Muslims should engage in “sustained, candid, and uninterrupted” interaction with fellow citizens without a “syndrome of superiority or inferiority” and strive for self-empowerment, making the best use of government assistance. He also sought a revolutionary approach to give equal status to women.

The crux of Ansari’s argument was that the “failure of communication” with the wider community has tended to freeze the boundaries of diversities that characterise the Indian society. “People have tended to live together separately. As a result, stereotypes have been developed and nurtured.”


V-P for education to Muslim women

13 December 2009,

PATNA: Vice-president Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Saturday said the government's follow-up action on the Sachar Committee report has made some

"But grievances persist, as is evident from the thrust of testimonies given in the meeting organized recently in New Delhi by a civil society group. Some of the recommendations for corrective actions need to be given a closer look," he said while delivering a memorial lecture at the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library here.

The vice-president was speaking on the status of Indian Muslims. He said insecurity, frustration and uncertainty characterized the mind of In-dian Muslims in the immediate aftermath of partition. Their grievances centered around five core concerns: security, employment and reservation, Urdu, Aligarh Muslim University and Muslim Personal Law, he said.

Security concerns and the inability of the state apparatus, from time to time, to ensure physical security still tend to condition reactions across the board. "It has affected visibility in public spaces and induced ghettoisation with all its attendant consequences," he said.

The vice-president said there was sufficient evidence to show that Urdu suffered from deliberate official neglect in some states. But the onus for salvaging Urdu rests primarily on those who claim it as mother language and those who value its inherent strength and beauty and its substantial contribution to Indian literature and culture, he added.

On AMU, Ansari said its distinctive minority character appears to have lost its centrality in community perception with the emergence of good quality minority-run institutions. It remains to be seen whether the new attempt to reincarnate AMU in different parts of the country serves the purpose of the minority community's education, he added.

On Muslim Personal Law, the vice-president referred to the Supreme Court's observation about a uniform law and said though it is highly desir-able, its enactment in one go may prove counter-productive to the unity and integrity of the nation.

He said there is a need to view Muslims as normal human beings and fellow citizens with the same rights and responsibilities. He stressed on education for women of the community and advocated opening of secondary and primary schools for girls in Muslim concentration areas. The community should participate in India's expanding economy, he added.

The lecture by the vice-president marked the conclusion of the death centenary functions of the library founder, Khan Bahadur Khuda Bakhsh.

Earlier, governor Devanand Konwar, chief minister Nitish Kumar and library director Imtiaz Ahmad welcomed the vice-president and spoke on the contributions of late Bakhsh to the society.



20-yr-old girl auctioned in public in Pakistani village


Jacobabad (Pakistan): In a shameful and bizarre incident, a 20-year-old girl was sold in an open auction for 2,70,000 rupees in Badani Bhutto village here

According to reports, the girl named, Azizan, was sold off by her brothers in an open auction where a 50-year old man, Bilawal Bhutto, emerged as the highest bidder and bought the girl.

Women still suffer discrimination: UN

The girl is said to have been abandoned by her husband, and was living with her brothers along with her two children.

Later, Azizan was married to Bilawal, who initially paid 2,10,000 rupees as token money. The groom will take the bride to his house only after paying the rest of the amount.

The total auction money would be equally distributed among all the brothers of the girl, The Daily Times reported.

Violence against Afghan women 'widespread': UN

A large number of people had gathered for the auction, but no one objected to the shocking act, as everybody appeared to be interested in purchasing the helpless girl.

It is ironical that in a country where a women was elected as the Prime Minister on two occasions (Benazir Bhutto, 1988-90 and 1993-96), girls are still being treated as mere objects, despite successive governments claiming to have done much to empower the weaker sex in the country.


Young men recruited to terrorism online

Raveena Aulakh Staff reporter

Dec 12 2009

They are messages of hate, peppered with grand promises of "victory or martyrdom in the fight to defend Islam."

Online propaganda – a mix of nationalist sentiment, religious ideology and tough talk – is enough to recruit young Somali men looking for a purpose and willing to take up arms in their homeland, say community leaders in Canada and the U.S.

A chilling video surfaced some months ago. A man, somewhere in the Shabaab-controlled southern Somalia, was shown talking to a group of people.

"The only reason we are staying here away from our families, away from the cities, away from, you know, candy bars, all these other things is because we are ready to meet with the enemy," says the fair-skinned man with a gun in his hand. "If you can encourage more of your children, and more of your neighbours, and anyone around you to send people ... to this jihad, it would be a great asset for us."

Nicknamed "The American," Abu Mansour al-Amriki, 25, is one of the most outspoken voices of terrorist propaganda and a reported leader of the Shabaab. He grew up as Omar Hammami in Mobile, Ala., and converted to Islam in high school. There were reports he was in Toronto some years ago and married a Somali-Canadian woman.

Another powerful recruiting voice is that of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric believed to be hiding in Yemen. One of his video series is "Constants of Jihad," in which he interprets a well-known Arabic book promoting fighting in the name of Islam.


Taliban create ‘jannat’

December 13th, 2009

Peshawar, PTI, Dec. 12: Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s lawless South Waziristan tribal region created an artificial “jannat” (heaven) that they used to brainwash teenagers into becoming suicide bo-mbers, describing it as a depiction of the place they would go to after carrying out attacks.

The “jannat” was part of a sprawling militant-held co-mpound in Nawazkot area that was recently captured by security forces after intense fighting.

On Friday, a group of journalists were shown the facility where boys aged 12 to 18 years were turned into human suicide bombs under the supervision of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud.

The “heaven” consisted of four rooms, each with crude paintings of “jannat” or paradise, which is depicted as a place with lush green fields and trees, flowing rivers of milk and honey, lofty mountains and homes with red roofs and blue walls.

The “jannat” also depicted other heavenly pleasures awaiting suicide bombers after their “martyrdom,” army officials told the journalists.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani, said on Saturday that the Pakistani army has finished its offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan, but may soon pursue militants in another part of the lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border.


Muslims to protest ban as Switzerland blocks German imam

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A German Islamic preacher who aimed to speech in big protest against minaret ban was blocked to entry to Switzerland.

Swiss Muslims are preparing for a big protest against minaret ban as authorities blocked a Germam imam's entry to the much-criticised European country.

Swiss authorities stopped an Islamic preacher at the German border late on Friday to prevent him speaking at a rally against Switzerland's ban on building new minarets, local press reported.

Pierre Vogel, a German national, had been due to attend an Islamic rally in the Swiss capital Berne on Saturday afternoon against a ban on the construction of new minarets, which Switzerland voted for two weeks ago in a referendum.

Vogel tried to cross into Switzerland by car near Basel at about 2230 local time (2130 GMT) on Friday but was refused entry and forced to return to Germany, Reuters quoted daily newspaper Blick.

Local news agency SDA confirmed the report, citing Basel border authority spokesman Markus Zumbach, who said Vogel had been banned from entering the country by the government.

Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets two weeks ago, a surprise result which has provoked condemnation across the Muslim world, European neighbours and the United Nations.

Vogel objected to not being allowed into Switzerland but cooperated with border guards and signed the order banning his entry into the country. He then returned to Germany, while two other accompanying cars continued into Switzerland.

The Basel border authorities were not immediately available to comment on Saturday.

Growing reactions to minaret ban

The United Nations last week denounced Switzerland's constitutional ban on building minarets as deeply divisive, clearly discriminatory and violates the the country's obligations under international law.

OIC Ambassadors in Genova Group sent a letter to the Swiss government saying that the ban was an unequivocal attack on an Islamic symbol and would only contribute to the anti-Islam sentiment and intolerance against muslims, particularly in Switzerland.

It said the ban was a clear violation of the international laws on freedom of expression and religious freedoms recognised by Switzerland, underlining the danger of this tendency spreading to other areas.

Club Helvetique, a group of over 20 Swiss intellectuals, will draw up an action plan to overturn the ban, which has drawn widespread criticism abroad and prompted hundreds of people to take to the streets this weekend in Zurich, Basel and Berne.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said the Iranian government had summoned the Swiss ambassador to explain the situation.

Switzerland, a country of 7.7 million, is home to more than 300,000 Muslims, mainly from Bosnia, Kosovo and Turkey, but has just four minarets.

Earlier, Greens group leader of the European Parliament called wealthy Muslims to withdraw their money from banks in Switzerland in response to the ban.

"Switzerland's problem is the egoism of the riches. Switzerland has accustomed us to this attitude. I think about the World War 2. There was no problem for Switzerland to sacrifice people who wanted to took refuge and asylum in the country."


Mock minaret to protest Swiss ban

AFP 12 December 2009,

BUSSIGNY: A Swiss businessman appalled by his fellow countrymen’s decision to ban minarets has extended a chimney above his company building into

a minaret in protest.

“It was scandalous that the Swiss people voted for the ban. Now we have the support of all the far-right parties across Europe. This is shameful,” Guillaume Morand, who owns a chain of shoe stores, said.

The businessman, who is not a Muslim, explained that he had constructed the mock minaret at his building near western Switzerland’s city of Lausanne in protest, and at the same time, to “send a message of peace.”

Over 57% of voters upset opinion polls and defied their government by approving the right wing motion to ban minarets — the turrets or towers on mosques from which Muslims are called to prayer.

The outcome of the referendum brought by members of the hard-right Swiss People’s Party and other right wing groups was also hailed by anti-immigrant party leaders elsewhere in Europe. Morand said he viewed the ban was all the more “scandalous” given that Switzerland actively encourages Arabs to “visit the country and to spend their money here.”


Muslim as PM: Rahul remark greeted with cautious optimism

Mrigank Tiwari & Abbas Ali, TNN 12 December 2009

ALLAHABAD: Muslims in general greeted the remarks made by Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi during an interaction with students of Aligarh Muslim University

(AMU) recently regarding the possibility of a Muslim becoming the Prime Minister. However, some dismissed it as a political stunt in view of the Vidhan Sabha elections in 2012 and others advised the scion of the Gandhi family to implement his ideas into practise then only he can win the heart of the community.

Talking to TOI, educationist Zafar Bakht said, "India is a secular country and it is surprising that even after 62 years of attaining Independence, the country has failed to produce a Muslim Prime Minister. However Gandhi's concern for the community conveys a positive message that the country is readying for a change."

Persons like Bakht and others must understand that Gandhi also focussed on the merit which would be a major consideration while elevating a person from the community. Now, what is Rahul's yardstick of merit? Or, was no one from the community worthy enough to be made the prime minister in the past 62 year? These are the question which need answer. However, Rahul was bold enough to speak over the issue and he deserve to be complimented.

But on the other hand, industrialist Asad Noorani dismissed the statement of Gandhi as a pure political stunt aimed at garnering the support of Muslims in the next assembly elections. Questioning the statement which came during his visit to AMU, Noorani said, "If Rahul is concerned about improving the status of Muslims in the country, he should have assigned them important portolios in the Central government which has not been done."

He added that it was only during the tenure of former Prime Minister VP Singh that the Kashmiri leader Mufti Mohammad Sayyed was assigned an important portfolio. After that. the approach of all the major political parties towards the Muslims has remained the same.

Not willing to buy the argument, the convenor, Allahabad Mohurrum Jhoola committee, Ghulam Rasool said, "There is no justification behind questioning the intentions of the Gandhi family whose secular credentials are unquestionable. Moreover, it is only during the tenure of the UPA government that the whole country has come to know about the contents of the Liberhan commission report and the role of various leaders in the Babri demolition, a fact which remained under the wraps."

Lashing out at the Congress

party and Rahul, naib qazi, Madarsa Gharib Nawaz, Maulana Mujahid Hussain said, "Pichle paintalees saalon se Congress waale kya kar rahe the, yeh to sirf siyasati paintra hai Musalmano ko apni taraf kheenchne ka (What was the Congress doing for the last 45 years. It is political gimmick aimed at drawing Muslims into the Congress fold)."

Former director general, vigilance, in the state police, SM Naseem said, "This is a non-issue because the fact cannot be belied that only those persons who are capable should occupy the chair of the prime minister and religion has no role to play. The bottomline is that irrespective of community, only the person who has the capability to lead the country on all fronts should become the prime minister, he added. But then a question arises: Was nobody from the Muslim community capable enough to lead the country since Independence?


Muslim clerics to talk key issues in Mumbai

Age Correspondent


Dec. 11: Muslim clerics belonging to different sects in the community will come together on one platform in Mumbai on December 13 to discuss economic and social issues before the Muslim community in the country.

The Muslim clerics and religious leaders will also pay tributes to the martyrs of 26/11 in Mumbai and will express their strong condemnation of terrorism.

The congregation, known as Ittehad-e-Millat Convention, has been trying to bring the Barelvi and Deobandi sects on the same platform.

"We are not going to discuss religious issues which could emerge as irritants among the various sects. We will be addressing mainly the social and economic issues related to the Muslim community and these problems are common to every sect in the community. Our effort is to collectively discuss these issues and find a solution," said Mr Siraj Mehndi, founder of the Ittehad-e-Millat convention which began in Lucknow and will be hosted in other parts of the country after Mumbai.

Mr Mehndi said that Muslims should rise above sectarian and political lines and raise issues that concern the community. "A handful of terrorist have put the entire community under the scanner. Every Muslim who wears a beard and pyjamas is eyed with suspicion today. This perception must be changed and Muslims should come forward and condemn acts of terrorism," he explained.

Mr Mehndi further said that the main problem before the Muslim community in India was economic, social and educational backwardness and these need to be addressed on a priority basis. "If Muslim youth are given good education, no one can stop them from occupying top jobs," he added.


CIA asked us to eliminate A Q Khan: Blackwater chief

ANI 13 December 2009,

LAHORE: In a stunning revelation, US private security service agency, Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince, has claimed that the Central

Intelligence Agency had asked the agency to kill Pakistani nuclear scientist, A Q Khan.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Prince said the CIA had asked the Blackwater to eliminate Khan, however, authorities in Washington “chose not to pull the trigger.”

"Dr Khan’s inclusion in the target list would suggest that the assassination effort was broader than has previously been acknowledged," Prince said.

Prince has also admitted to Blackwater’s participation in some of the CIA’s most sensitive operations, including raids on suspected militants in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prince said Blackwater’s, which now known as Xe Worldwide Services, role changed remarkably after its officials started providing security cover to CIA operatives in the field.

Raids on suspected insurgents in Iraq, known as “snatch and grab” operations, were mostly carried out during nights between 2004 and 2006.

However, the current management of the Xe Services has denied any association with the CIA in its secret operations.

“Blackwater was never under contract to participate in covert raids with CIA or Special Forces troops in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else. Any allegation to the contrary by any news organisation would be false,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Xe Services.


Pakistan raises more bunkers along border

13 December 2009,

NEW DELHI: Ceasefire may be in force between India and Pakistan along International Border, but the neighbouring country has built as many as 19

new fortified concrete bunkers and 39 observation towers along the border till Nov this year — a move which has caused lot of unease on the Indian side. ( Watch Video )

What bothers New Delhi more is the fact that these new bunkers are not those “defensive bunkers” which Islamabad claims to have built recently to ward off Talibans from within its own territory. The information about the new bunkers was shared with the Union home secretary G K Pillai who, accompanied by police chief of Jammu & Kashmir Kuldeep Khoda and senior BSF officers, on Saturday visited border areas of Suchetgarh and Abdullian in Jammu region to review situation along the border.

The home secretary is learnt to have been told that these new fortified bunkers, which are located very close to India's western border, might have even been used by the Pakistani Rangers to facilitate infiltration attempts of terrorists to this side in the last couple of months. Sources in the home ministry said that though BSF has recently lodged strong protest with its Pakistani counterpart (Pakistan Rangers), the latter denied construction of new bunkers and claimed that only existing defence structures were being renovated to its side.

Referring to the "defensive bunkers" on Pakistani side, the BSF director general Raman Srivastava had last month reportedly stated that Pakistan was building such bunkers — facing its own territory — along the border, which could be aimed at preventing attacks from within its own territory.

Sources in the paramilitary force said that the Indian side had noticed such construction activities in Pakistani side along both Attari as well as Samba sectors. Both the BSF and the Army had a meeting over the issue where officers held the view that such "defensive" bunkers facing Pakistan were different from the ones built facing India.

Although BSF is fully alert over such construction on the other side and its implication for India, officials remain intrigued as to what prompted Pakistan to build new fortified bunkers at a time when there has been no escalation of forces on the Indian side.



Pak ends operation in S Waziristan

REUTERS 13 December 2009,

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani army has ended its offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan and may focus on another tribal area to where

militants have fled, ministers said on Saturday.

Targeted strikes will still be made if needed, they said. The operation in South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, was the army’s biggest in years involving 30,000 troops. Military officials were not available to say if it had achieved its goals.

“The operation has finished in South Waziristan. Now there is talk of Orakzai,” Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani said in Lahore.

Pakistan’s military say 589 militants and 79 soldiers have been killed in the South Waziristan campaign since it was launched in mid-October. Security officials say many of the militants are believed to have fled South Wazirstan to Orakzai, North Waziristan and the Kurram tribal areas.

Orakzai is believed to be the base of Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of Pakistani Taliban, and a hub for al-Qaida and other militant groups.

Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday that some security operations would continue throughout South Waziristan. “Targeted operations are continuing in Waziristan and we will continue to do it wherever these (Taliban) break the writ of the government.”


Police Americans in Pakistan had Taliban contact


ISLAMABAD — Five young American men under investigation in Pakistan for alleged terror links had established contact with a Taliban recruiter and have told FBI officials they were on a mission to be martyred, a Pakistani police official said.

The five Muslim students were being questioned Saturday by local law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the eastern city of Lahore, where they were shifted in the morning, Sargodha town police chief Usman Anwar said.

FBI agents, who have been granted access to the men, are trying to see if there is enough evidence to charge any of them with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group, an American official and another person familiar with the case said Friday.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

The case has fanned fears that Americans and other Westerners — especially those of Pakistani descent — are traveling to Pakistan to join up with al-Qaida and other militant groups. It comes on the heels of charges against a Chicago man of Pakistani origin who is accused of surveying targets for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.

The main contact of the five men in Pakistan was a Taliban recruiter who went by the name "Saifullah," Anwar said.

He would not give any more details about the recruiter or the nature of their contacts, but said Saifullah may have planned to take the men to Mianwali, a district near Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, a region where al-Qaida and the Taliban have proliferated.

"Martyrdom was their mission. This is the same thing they told the FBI's legal assistance team," Anwar said. "They have said openly that they had come to be martyred."

Pakistani police have said the five men wanted to join militants in Pakistan's northwest tribal areas before crossing into Afghanistan. The men are accused of using the social networking site Facebook and the Internet video site YouTube to try to connect with extremist groups in Pakistan.

When they arrived in Pakistan, they allegedly took that effort to the street.

They are alleged to have met representatives from the al-Qaida-linked Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in the southeastern city of Hyderabad and from a related group, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, in Lahore, but were said to have been turned away because they were not trusted.

Officials in Pakistan and the U.S. expect the five, who are from the Washington, D.C., area, to be deported back home. But Pakistan may hold them long enough for U.S. prosecutors to prepare charges, and there was no immediate indication how long that might take.

While Pakistani officials have said the men admitted trying to connect with militant groups, an FBI note sent to American lawmakers Thursday evening said the bureau had "no information linking them to terrorist organizations."

That FBI note did not address whether the students attempted to join a terrorist group. Another possible charge — and one that could be more difficult to bring — would be conspiracy to maim or kill people overseas.

Making that case would depend greatly on what the men say to FBI agents — and whether any evidence or incriminating statements gathered by Pakistani police would meet U.S. legal standards.

Statements made by Americans to police overseas can be used against them in a U.S. trial if they weren't coerced. Another key source of evidence could be the men's computers, on which Pakistani police say they found maps of areas where terrorists operate.

The men were reported missing by their families more than a week ago after one of them left behind a farewell video showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.

Pakistani police detained them this week — along with one of their fathers — in Sargodha, a town in the eastern province of Punjab.

One of the men being held is identified as an Egyptian American named Ramy Zamzam, a dental student at Howard University in Washington. The others were identified as Waqar Hussain, Aman Yemer, Ahmad Minni, Umar Farooq and his father, Khalid Farooq. Investigators are still trying to establish what role — if any — the father played in the men's alleged activities, officials said.

Pakistani officials have given various spellings of their names. The FBI note said two of the young men are of Ethiopian descent, and two are of Pakistani descent. The note was provided by a congressional official on condition of anonymity because it was not public.

Pakistan has many militant groups based on its territory, and the U.S. has been pressing the government to crack down on extremism. Al-Qaida and Taliban militants are believed to be hiding in the lawless tribal belt near the Afghan border.

Associated Press writers Pamela Hess in Washington and Matt Barakat in Alexandria, Virginia, contributed to this report.


Headley may turn witness against Rana

Indrani Bagchi & Vishwa Mohan, TNN 13 December 2009, 04:28am IST


: Suspicions that David Coleman Headley was an American "agent" who turned rogue deepened on Saturday amid indications that the US-based

Lashkar operative might turn into a "truthful witness" and depose against his co-accused Tahawwur Rana.

It's thought the FBI could be working out an arrangement with Headley, allowing him to get off relatively lightly by deposing against Rana. Rana's arrest has taken on importance because of growing fears that he may have used his immigration firm to smuggle Pakistanis into the US. He has refused to reveal anything to the FBI so far.

Given that Headley had conducted a recce for 26/11, the magnitude and scale of the attacks and that six US citizens were among those killed in Mumbai, he is unlikely to walk free. However, his ‘‘cooperation’’ (as testified by the FBI) could earn him the status of ‘‘truthful witness’’ and hopes of a lighter sentence.

The first indication of this came last week when Headley did not contest his indictment. He also decided to forego his right to trial by a grand jury, which might have meant a more diffuse outcome but near-certainty the Lashkar jehadi would have faced uncomfortable questions about his past. This might have ranged across his association with the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and possibly the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Any deal between Headley and the FBI might make it harder for Indian investigators to gain access to the only other 26/11 conspirator (apart from Mohammad Ajmal Kasab) not in Pakistani custody. This is causing consternation here because the accused, also known as Daood Gilani, has deep links with the LeT leadership and HuJI's Ilyas Kashmiri. A deal would reinforce suspicion he is a rogue agent.



Pak national finds himself on no-man's land in India

PTI 12 December 2009,

KANPUR: A Pakistani national, set free after imprisonment and a 10-year legal battle, is finding himself unwanted with his country refusing to

take him back and the district authorities here in a quandary to keep him.

Mohammad Idris, who came here 10 years back to see his ailing father, landed himself in trouble when his visa expired and he had to spend some days in jail.

After fighting the prolonged legal battle, he was finally set free but only to realise that more problems lay in store for him.

As he prepared to cross the Indo-Pak border in August, he found to his dismay that the Pakistani authorities were not prepared to accept him back as the validity of his passport had expired.

Idris is now confronted with a strange predicament -- he is not authorised to stay in India and is also not acceptable by Pakistan. Even the Kanpur police are puzzled as to what to do.

At present he is staying in a guesthouse under the protection of Kanpur police and praying for his early return so that he can join his wife Shabana and four children, who are waiting for him eagerly.

DIG Kanpur D P Jogdand said efforts are on to send Idris back and the moment he gets emergency certificate from the Pakistan High Commission he will return to his country.

Idris was born in Mishri Bazaar area of the city where his parents lived. He was married in Karachi and after some time became a citizen of Pakistan. Idris was a small trader in Karachi and used to make leather goods.

He came to India in May 1999 on a 15-day tourist visa to see his ailing father Ahmed Jaan. When his father expired, Idris was so shocked that he forgot about the validity period of his visa.

He also committed the error of not informing the local intelligence unit or the Pakistan High Commission about the expiry of his travel document.

Idris was arrested in July 1999 under the Foreigners Act on charges of over-staying on an expired visa and sent to jail.

Though he was out on bail after six days of remaining behind the bars, he continued to stay in Kanpur where the case ran for ten years.

On August six this year, he was set free by the court which imposed a fine of a paltry amount of Rs 500 and ordered his immediate return to his country.

Following this, the local police escorted him to the Indo-Pak border at Attari on August 16. There, the Indian authorities said that since his passport has expired, he cannot go to Pakistan.

They said Idris has to obtain an emergency certificate from the Pakistan High Commission before he is handed over to the authorities in his country.

Idris was then brought to Delhi on August 19 and taken to Pakistan High Commission and the Union Home Ministry.

For the last four months, he is awaiting permission from the Pakistan High Commission to go back. "Talks are on with Pakistani authorities and we hope he will get the certificate soon," Jogdand said.


26/11 trial in Pak put off as accused plead for acquittal

13 December 2009,

The seven men facing trial in the Mumbai attacks case submitted applications in an anti-terror court in Rawalpindi on Saturday asking to be acquitted on the ground that there was no probability of their conviction.

As a result, the trial, which was expected to begin on Saturday, has now been put off until the applications are disposed of.

Four witnesses who had been summoned for examination by the prosecution were present in the anti-terror court (ATC), which is held inside the Adiala Jail, but the proceedings took a different turn with the filing of the applications for acquittal.

Judge Malik Mohammed Akram Awan asked the prosecution to respond to the applications at the next hearing on December 19.

The seven accused include the Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. One application for acquittal was submitted on behalf of Lakhvi and another on behalf of the other six.

The applications contend that the charges against the seven, framed by the court on November 25, are not supported by the evidence provided by the prosecution, and seek acquittal under Section 256-K of the criminal prosecution code. The Cr.PC permits acquittal under this section if the judge rules that there is no probability of conviction of the accused.

The applications have come on the heels of a petition to the Lahore High Court by Lakhvi asking to be acquitted on grounds of insufficient evidence. The High court ruled that the matter would be decided by the ATC before the trial commenced.

The applications took up three specific charges framed by the court against the seven - criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly and abetment - and claimed that there was insufficient evidence to prove these charges.

"If there was a criminal conspiracy, there are no details of this conspiracy. Where and when was it hatched? Time and place are vital here because there has to be a nexus with the circumstances of the crime," said Malik Mohammed Rafiq Khan, one of the defence lawyers.

The charge of unlawful assembly also did not hold water, he said, because it could be applied only if there had been rioting. Similarly, there was no evidence to support abetment, the applications contended.

The applications also hold that the accused cannot be tried on two of the charges against the accused, under the Cyber Crimes Act and the Anti-Terror Act.

Section 4 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) contains a list of offences for which a Pakistani national can be prosecuted in Pakistan even if he is accused of committing them in another country. The section says that the prosecution will take place as if these crimes have been committed in Pakistan.

However, offences under the recently enacted Cyber Crimes law, and Section 7 of the Anti-Terror Act, are not listed under Section 4 of the PPC.

The applications also state that Judge Awan did not apply his mind to the available evidence while framing the charges. Instead, the applications state, he replicated the charges framed by the previous Judge Baqir Ali Rana, jettisoned after the defence lawyers complained of being kept out of the process.



Pak must cooperate fully with US to wipe out Al-Qaeda: Obama

13 December 2009,

Humanitarian aspect - By George P. JosephTelengana - By S S KunapuliTelangana - By Dr. Santosh.....taking on p.c - By A.VENKAT SREENIVASTelengana - By M.N.S.NampoothiripadJai telangana - By ananthsagarGreed for hyderabad.... - By Sampath

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US President Barack Obama has said Pakistan must cooperate more fully with the United States to go after and wipe out Al-Qaeda.

Portraying the tribal territories that straddle between Afghanistan and Pakistan as the "epicenter of the violent extremism directed against the West... and the United States", Obama said in an interview to CBS to be broadcast on Sunday, excerpts of which were released on Saturday.

"Ultimately, in order for us to eradicate the problem, to really go after al Qaeda ... we are going to need more cooperation from Pakistan. There is no doubt about that," the US President said in crucial remarks after Washington announced inducting 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan to wipe out groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Obama's comments came as reports emerged that a senior Al-Qaida operations planner was killed in an American missile strike this week in western Pakistan


Iran proposes nuclear swap

Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Iran has said it is ready for a phased exchange of its low-enriched uranium stockpile with nuclear fuel rods for its Tehran research reactor engaged in producing medical isotopes.

Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki said during a security conference in Manama Iran was ready for an initial swap of 400 kg of its domestically-produced LEU stockpile for fuel. He proposed the island of Kish, which belongs to Iran, for the exchange. He said Tehran was ready to eventually swap 1,200 kg of its enriched uranium for nuclear fuel rods, as proposed in late October by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“We are prepared to take 400 kg of 3.5 per cent enriched uranium to the Island of Kish and exchange it with an amount equivalent to 20 per cent of the original batch,” said Mr. Mottaki.

He said the swap would begin “right away” if the P5+1, the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, agree to this offer.

Earlier in an interview with The Hindu during his visit to New Delhi, Mr. Mottaki had said Iran was ready for swapping enriched uranium that it produced for fuel, provided the exchange was conducted on its own soil.

In October after talks in Vienna with the U.S., Russia and France, the IAEA had proposed that the bulk of the Iranian LEU stocks be sent to Russia, where further enrichment would be carried out to a 19-20 per cent level. The material would then be sent to France for fuel fabrication, to be returned for use in the Tehran reactor.

Mr. Mottaki, to a question at a press conference, said Iran did not rule out the participation of regional players in nuclear negotiations, which it had earlier held in Geneva with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany.

Asked whether Saudi Arabia or Turkey should join the talks, he said: “There is no limit to the members of 5+1 [six powers]. We believe other countries from the region could participate in the talks.”

His comments came after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week during an interview that Ankara could play “a very important role between Iran and countries of the world”.

Mr. Mottaki said Iran had set a target of building 15 nuclear reactors for generating electricity, so that it could export most of its oil.

“From what we have found, we need at least 15 power plants to generate the required amount of 20,000 mega watts of electricity for the next two decades,” he said.

On Friday, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates had said Iran could be subjected to a qualitatively higher level of sanctions on account of its nuclear programme.

Asked to comment on the latest U.S. position on sanctions, Mr. Mottaki said it “would be better not to experience that again”.


 ‘A deficit of trust between Pak & US’

13 December 2009,

US SECRETARY of state Hillary Clinton has said the trust deficit between Pakistan and the US was holding back their cooperation.

“ Pakistan is a nation close to my heart,” Clinton said at an event to launch American Pakistani Foundation in New York on Friday.

Warning that Pakistan was at a critical juncture, Clinton said “ we all have a stake in Pakistan’s future”. “ We ( the US) seek not to impose our preferences on Pakistan or to override the government’s judgements or subvert the people’s will. Instead, we want a relationship based on mutual respect and shared responsibility,” she said.

The US has taken major steps in recent months to support Pakistan as it seeks to strengthen democratic institutions, foster economic development, expand opportunity, and defeat the extremist groups who threaten both Pakistan and the US’s security, she said.

“ So when people question the US’s commitment, I point to what we have already done and what we are preparing to do,” Clinton said.

During her October trip to Pakistan, she said, she experienced the scepticism felt by many in Pakistan about America's motives and commitment.

“ This trust deficit holds us back from working together as well as we could and as well as we must,” she said.

“ Each of you, and this organisation now, is uniquely positioned to help close that gap by fostering greater US secretary of state Hillary Clinton understanding between our nations and by contributing in concrete ways to Pakistan's stability, social, and economic development,” Clinton said.

She said US President Barack Obama and his administration have worked hard to change the perception of the US purpose in Pakistan both with words and with deeds.

The US, Clinton said, plans to focus more of its assistance on large ‘ signature’ projects not only in energy, but in transportation, agriculture, water, and education as well.

Clinton also urged Pakistan to continue taking strong military action against terrorism and help the US achieve the goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al- Qaeda and other terror groups.

“ Pakistan has a critical role and we will continue to encourage the Pakistani government to take affirmative steps towards the goal of disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al- Qaeda and the other terrorist groups responsible,” Clinton said.

The American Pakistani Foundation is co- chaired by ex- secretary of state Colin Powell and former Pakistan Premier Moeen Qureshi.


Gilani U-turn on Taliban offensive; says operation to continue

13 December 2009,

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani did an about turn on ending the military offensive against Taliban in South Waziristan even as 19 militants and three security personnel were killed in fresh clashes in the country's northwest.

Talking to reporters in Lahore, Gilani initially said the offensive against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in South Waziristan Agency "has ended" and there was now "talk of (an operation) in Orakzai Agency".

Hours later, Gilani told the media in Karachi that the operation in South Waziristan will continue.

"This operation has continued with great success and the strongholds of militants have been captured and a large quantity of weapons and ammunition has been recovered," he said.

He said he could not give a timeframe for completing the offensive.

If somebody had gained the impression that the military operation would be concluded, "it could have been in a different context," Gilani said. The government will chase militants wherever they take refuge.


Gilani warns of terror strikes on Pak cities

13 December 2009,

Pakistan government has information that militants could strike in the federal capital and cities across Punjab province, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said, as he was briefed on the security situation by the interior ministry on Friday.

Underlining the need for the security agencies to provide actionable and timely intelligence to prevent acts of terrorism, Gilani said he had warned provincial Chief Ministers last month that there were reports that militants could strike in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Islamabad, the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Lahore and Multan.

The threat of attacks in Punjab was conveyed to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and action taken by provincial authorities had led to "some damage control" during recent attacks, Gilani told a meeting of top security officials at the interior ministry this afternoon.

The premier directed the interior ministry to strengthen the intelligence network across the country and to provide provinces timely information to counter terrorists.


Haneef's lawyer wins human rights medal

13 December 2009,

The lawyer, who bravely defended Indian-origin doctor Mohamed Haneef after his arrest in the failed UK terror plot by Australian police, has been awarded the Human Rights Medal for 2009.

The Human Rights Commission has honoured Queensland barrister Stephen Keim SC for furthering the human rights of prisoners, refugees and people with disabilities, ABC reported on Friday.

The charges on Haneef were later dropped and led to his clearance of terrorism-related offences.

Keim felt he had no choice but to take the extraordinary step of leaking a police record of interview to the media to defend the reputation of his client.

"I had no doubts about it at the time. It seemed to be the right (thing) to do," Keim said.

"I was the person in the situation. I had to make the call. I went ahead with it.

"Dr Haneef's visa had been cancelled on character reasons and (former minister Kevin) Andrews had gone on about 50 million television and radio stations talking about the bad character of someone who was supposed to be facing a fair trial... It was really significant to balance the record."


Al-Qaida denies killing civilians in Pakistan

13 December 2009,

CAIRO — Al-Qaida issued a new English-language video Saturday denying it was behind a series of bombings in Pakistan that have killed hundreds of civilians, calling such attacks un-Islamic.

U.S.-born al-Qaida operative Adam Gadahn, who commonly delivers the organization's English messages, said the extremist network was being framed for the bloodshed by the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services .

"The perpetration of such deplorable acts and the pinning of responsibility for them on the mujahideen, only serves the enemies of Islam and Muslims, who are today staring defeat in the face," he said, blaming the media for implicating al-Qaida in the attacks.

"The mercenaries of the ISI, RAW, CIA or Blackwater are the real culprits behind these senseless and un-Islamic bombings," he added.

The ISI and RAW are the Pakistani and Indian intelligence agencies, respectively, while Blackwater is the private security firm — now called Xe Services — whose involvement in the killings of Iraqi civilians have tarnished its reputation throughout the Muslim world.

More than 500 people have died in a slew of attacks in Pakistan that began in October, just as the Pakistani army started waging a ground offensive against the Taliban network in South Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

A single truck bomb in the northwest city of Peshawar killed more than 100 people at a market that sells mostly women's clothes and children's toys. More recently, twin bombs at a similar market in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore killed nearly 50.

Pakistani authorities have laid blame for the recent spate of attacks on the Pakistani Taliban or their affiliates, which include al-Qaida and other local militant groups.

Such groups, which analysts say are increasingly intertwined, most often to attack security targets. But the militants generally avoid claiming responsibility for assaults that kill a large number of civilians.

In a transcript of the video released by the SITE Intelligence Group, a Washington-based monitor of militant Web sites, Gadahn told Pakistanis their real enemies were secular regimes, corrupt police, judges and tribal nationalists.

In Pakistan, where conspiracy theories are rife, support for militancy has only recently taken a downturn, and anti-Americanism is widespread, Gadahn's message may have some resonance.

After the market blast in Peshawar, many Pakistanis expressed disbelief that Islamist groups could have attacked other Muslims in such a manner. And in some corners of the Pakistani media, Blackwater has increasingly been floated as a culprit in nefarious events.

Gadahn grew up in Los Angeles and then moved to Pakistan in 1998, according to the FBI. He is said to have attended an al-Qaida training camp six years later, serving as a translator and consultant for the group.

Al-Qaida's media arm, al-Sahab, is increasingly using English-language videos to address Muslims in Pakistan who are unlikely to speak Arabic. Gadahn's message specifically addressed Muslims in south Asia, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.


Headley denies role in terror plot

Friday , Dec 11, 2009

Chicago : Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, an LeT operative arrested by FBI in October this year, has pleaded not guilty before a US court to all the charges filed against him, including that he conspired in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Headley, 49, also pleaded not guilty to the charge of plotting terror attacks in Denmark against a newspaper that published cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. The next hearing of the case will be held on January 12.

Headley was charged by the FBI on Monday in a 12-count criminal information with six counts of conspiracy to bomb places in India and Denmark and for providing material support to terrorist plots.

Talking to reporters after the arraignment, Headley’s attorney John Theis said, “David Headley is charged with certain acts arising out of things that happened in Denmark and India. These are very serious charges and we are taking them very seriously. I want to remind everyone that he is presumed innocent of these charges against him,” he said.

On whether Indian authorities could get a chance to interrogate Headley, Theis said, “That is something we will have to look at. I have no idea of assessing the chances. If they make any such requests, we will look at it when it comes,” he said.

He was also charged with providing material support to Lashkar, and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India. If convicted, Headley could face the “maximum statutory penalty” of life imprisonment or death.

Appearing before US District Judge Harry Leinenweber for his arraignment at a court here, a clean-shaven Headley wore an orange jumpsuit with white long-sleeved undershirt and blue sneakers. He was shackled at the ankles.

Headley had made five trips to Mumbai from 2006 to 2008, taking pictures and making videotapes of targets, including those attacked. After every trip, Headley allegedly returned to Pakistan, met with other co-conspirators and provided them with photographs, videos and oral descriptions of various locations.

The charges also allege that in March 2008, Headley and his co-conspirators discussed potential landing sites for a team of attackers who would arrive by sea in Mumbai, and he was instructed to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbour and take surveillance video, which he did during his visit to India in April 2008.

Don’t be selective in fight against terror: India to Pak

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday said the onus was on Pakistan “to act with unalloyed determination against terrorism, its leadership and ideologues so as to eliminate the space which these elements continue to enjoy in Pakistan”. India asked Pakistan “not to be selective” in the fight against terrorism and pointed out that the chargesheet against Headley showed militant outfits like LeT, HuJI and al-Qaeda continued to plot attacks against India.

Probe into Headley 26/11 link to end in 6 weeks: Pillai

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday said that in the next four to six weeks, investigations into David Headley and Tahawwur Rana’s links with 26/11 attacks will be completed by the National Investigation Agency. “We expect that investigations will take about four to six weeks and as soon as investigations are completed, the NIA will file the necessary chargesheet,” Home Secretary G K Pillai said. ENS


The violence and fantasies of ‘the truth’ in Kashmir

Kashmir Watch, Dec 11

Murtaza Shibli

The murderous assault on Fazal Haq Qureshi is not unique in its method or in the terror it seeks to provoke. Many Kashmiri activists including Majid Dar, Abdul Ghani Lone and Maulvi Mushtaq were attacked fatally in similar circumstances by ‘unknown’ assailants. What is known and can be fathomed without fail is a clear pattern and method to these incidents. Whenever pro-freedom Kashmiri groups show any signs of resolve to break from the stranglehold of inertia and try to unsettle the status quo, the process is brutally obliterated by employing murder. Commenting on the recent attack, a press statement by the Jammu and Kashmir People’s League makes similar observations, “...whenever there was some progress towards the resolution of the dispute through peaceful means, certain individuals and agencies got unnerved and resorted to such dastardly acts to thwart the process”.

The attack on the senior Hurriyat leader was ostensibly caused by leaked reports that the Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had entered into a dialogue with the Indian Government in what was dubbed as ‘quiet diplomacy’, a pretence  that did not last long. This led to public accusations of a sell out by the rival Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani. As if wild rumours had been whispered into his ear, Geelani made fiery public pronouncements, devoid of any nuanced understanding of the engagement. This raised a furore and vitiated the atmosphere, which led to the grievous attack on one of the most respected separatist politicians in the valley. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq later said that the “assailants were incited by the provocative statements.”

Regular attacks on the Kashmiri leadership suggest a deep level of sophisticated surveillance that keeps a close track of their moments, and if their political behaviour does not conform to the mood music of those who want to control them, they are intimidated through crude and blunt acts of terrorism. The attack is symptomatic, not only of the failure of the India-Pakistan peace process which has now been stalled for nearly two years, but also a testimony to the dangers the Kashmiri leadership faces from the acrimonious relations between the two countries. Kashmiri leaders are also vulnerable to increasing terrorism from various transnational forces and ideologies that are wreaking havoc in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This makes it more urgent for the Kashmiri leaders to chart their own course of engagement with India without having to wait for Pakistani involvement. Such engagements are important to build political resilience, should Pakistan crumble under the onslaught of the Taliban. Our resilience will minimise the damage to the Kashmiri population and culture from a Taliban spillover if that should occur.

Soon after the initial leaks about ‘quiet diplomacy’ surfaced in late November, Syed Salahuddin, Chairman, United Jihad Council, in an interview with the Greater Kashmir “made it clear that dialogue at any level would be futile”. He also rejected ‘quiet diplomacy’ or ‘secret talks’ as serving no purpose. Similar pronouncements were advanced by Ghulam Mohammad Safi, who leads the Pakistani chapter of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, the party Syed Ali Geelani formed after his split from the Jama’at-e-Islami. Safi, who formerly headed the Hizbul Mujahideen, and was removed from the position following his differences with Syed Salahuddin, added his weight to the opposition by saying no to quiet diplomacy and secret talks. He went further by pronouncing the “Kashmiri leadership had no justification whatsoever to get engaged with any sort of dialogue especially in bilateral talks and that too at secret level”.

The matter might have lapsed, had the Mirwaiz faction agreed to back down at these thinly veiled coercive statements and threats of violence. However, much to my surprise at least, Mirwaiz confidently defended ‘quiet diplomacy’ and gave a clear and unequivocal indication that his organisation intended to continue the process. “Quiet talks are nothing new. Such talks led to the final settlement of Ireland and I believe Kashmiri leaders should not shy away from it”, he told a newspaper. He also defended Musharraf’s Four Point Formula as a first step towards the resolution of the issue. Mirwaiz’s tone and candour signalled a marked shift from his group’s previously maintained position of ‘plausible deniability’. This time, the Hurriyat (M) showed much needed confidence and readiness to accept its role and its desire to continue the political engagement, despite serious and threatening opposition from the Kashmiri militant leadership based in Pakistan.

Mirwaiz’s strong defence of quiet dialogue must have come as a surprise - it exhibited Hurriyat’s determination in its engagement with India. The only way to shake this confidence was violence ? a chosen method of certain agencies that do not want Kashmiris to grow out of their dependency syndrome that has become the main pathogen of Kashmiri politics during the last two decades. By targeting Fazal Haq Qureshi, these agencies tried to send a strong and fatal message, as Qureshi is a spotless Kashmiri leader and a vociferous supporter of dialogue with India. Even after the attack, the condemnation statement by the United Jihad Council slipped benign phrases with threats wrapped around them into the text. It added grim tone to the syntax and grammar of ‘the truth’ that had bloody fingerprints all over it.

Syed Ali Geelani was among the first to condemn the attack on Qureshi, but he showed no remorse over his impulse to create violence with his ‘truth’ that contains ugly undertones of terror. As Qureshi lay  struggling for every breath in the intensive care unit of a Srinagar hospital, Geelani, held fast to his version of ‘the truth’, with a chilling public display of this conviction that he will continue to speak regardless of any implications. “I never issue any provocative statement. I only speak the truth and can’t refrain from it to appease anyone”, he said during a public address. Sadly over the years, Geelani Sahib’s truth has lost its humanity, as it occupies an illusory mental space in which the realities of life in Kashmir are elided. The ‘truth’ Geelani sahib proudly presents to the nation wipes out the faith that human life is precious. His truth is devoid of any imagination because it contains no compassion. In a perverse act of triumphalism, Geelani sahib once again claimed to have people’s unequivocal support for his position; during last year’s public demonstrations, he claimed to be the sole leader of Kashmiri struggle, only to apologise later.

Geelani Sahib and his like-minded colleagues sitting in Azad Kashmir are not attuned to the unheard or ‘unofficial’ reality of Kashmir ? which is that Kashmiris are dying without a whimper, and it is therefore only they  who can address the problem.  If Kashmiris seriously believe they are a party to the dispute, they must act according to their own free will. To acknowledge a formal status of Kashmiris as a party in discussion, does not stop Kashmiris from behaving as the central player and from dealing with India and Pakistan separately and according to the merits of each entity.  Kashmiris cannot afford for history to deliver a verdict on their behalf. Nor can they wait for Indian and Pakistani relations to thaw for a purposeful dialogue to start.  The mantra of ‘only tri-lateral dialogue’ negates the Kashmiri role and is unrealistic and untenable. There is a long history of bilateral dialogue between New Delhi and the Kashmiri leadership. Sheikh Abdullah’s Indira-Abdullah Accord after Pakistan’s defeat in Bangladesh is a case in point. Regardless of whether Sheikh Abdullah earned a good deal for Kashmiris or for himself, his initiative to move ahead with India was as bold as it was important, and would have gone down relatively well in the annals of history, had the Indian leadership not seen it as a vindication of their colonial attitude. A recent example of successful bilateral negotiations is the granting of a new status to Gilgit-Baltistan and the conduct of peaceful elections. If bilateral dialogue is good enough for Pakistan and people of Gilgit-Baltistan, why should a similar courtesy be denied to Kashmiris?

If my memory does not fail me, Fazal Haq Qureshi is the only leader of his stature to have survived the attack. The report of his slow recovery is a good omen for Kashmiri politics. His attackers must feel defeated as their violence has lost its power over its victims. The attack has invigorated the peace camp in the Hurriyat Conference, because this attack has failed to quell the sentiment that caused it. In its emergency session, Qureshi’s party, the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Political Front, reiterated that “the dialogue process was the only effective and civilized way to resolve Kashmir”. The party asserted the attack on Qureshi was motivated by an extremist and fascist mindset, and boldly set out a statement that it will “never surrender before extremism and fascism”. Similarly, the acting Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s League, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza said, “such spineless, un-Islamic and inhuman acts could not deter the Kashmiri leadership’s efforts to settle Kashmir dispute amicably through talks”.

These bold statements are very welcome and timely. It is important that Kashmiri political groups based in Srinagar continue to show responsibility and courage, and open up the rusted ribcage of Kashmiri politics, and overcome the exclusion that has brought nothing but misery and unsettlement to Kashmiri life. They must remove themselves from the ‘truth’ that has reached a deadly cul-de-sac. The recent statements by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and parties like the Jammu and Kashmir People’s League and the People’s Political Front show a new maturity and determination. This confidence must grow further in order to deal with the issues that confront Kashmiri society in an indigenous context.  We shall not wait for mythical heroes of untested valour to deliver us. Equally, we shall no more be casualties of a fantasy that masquerades as truth.

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