New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 16 Jan 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Urban “terrorism” growing threat in Pakistan: report

Lesson for Pak in Samjhauta probe: India’s Home Secy

Tunisia PM to announce new govt

Prominent Saudi scholar warns on agenda against Shariah advisories

Pak Should Punish Qadir, Blasphemy Law Should Stay: Musharraf

There is a need of consensus and conscientiousness: Musharraf

About 50 Hindutva activists were involved in Makkah Masjid, Ajmer blasts

18 killed in Kohat bus blast

Pak to impose curfew in Karachi

Pillion riding banned in Karachi

Algerian sets himself on fire, echoing Tunisian

Pressure mounts on Jordanian government to resign

Iran joins Venezuela, Libya to say $100 oil no harm

Nine killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan: police

Haunted by violence, Iraqi Christians flee to Turkey

100 Hindu families in Pak want to migrate to India

RSS show of strength in town where Sunil Joshi lived, died

Qaeda’s Awlaqi renews call to kill Americans: SITE

Hindus to get majestic eco-friendly temple in UK

‘I was kept prisoner by the Pak sex gang predator’

Kashmir University finally gets land

A ‘minor’ symbol of nationalism in Srinagar

UP khap bans jeans for girls

Prison fire amid Tunisian unrest kills 42

In Afghanistan ‘human maps’ help fight Taliban

Israel, US created worm that sabotaged Iran N-programme

No real investigation in Pak in 26/11 case, says Pillai

Egyptian Man Sentenced To Death For Assaulting Christians

Turkey, Qatar, Syria to discuss Lebanon crisis

Tehran scouring global N-mart: Cable

Cold wave grips Kashmir; Leh and Kargil get some respite

US now sets eye on $1.4bn contract for attack copter deal

God as guard: Bank opens ‘lockless’ branch

Jain temple in Saurashtra region desecrated, looted

Pak seeks full resumption of composite dialogue

Israeli housing plan likely to hit West Asia peace efforts

Iran opens enrichment plant to foreign diplomats

Kingdom to back Finnish bid for Security Council

Plan for more East Jerusalem homes angers Palestinians

TV drama to highlight Pak army’s role in war on terror

Rahman Loses Out On Golden Globe

Wikileaks to Get Tax Evaders' List

'Pak Prez Got 6.93m Euros'

Israel tested worm behind Iran n-troubles

Fire engulfs commercial plaza in Islamabad

Hezbollah to defend itself against Hariri charges

Six, including child, killed in separate incidents in Lahore

2 NATO tankers torched in Kalat

Iran fuel ban targets NATO but hurts Afghans

Terror bid thwarted; terrorist held in Karachi

Al-Jasser named central bank chief of the year for the Middle East

Kingdom plans agriculture investment in 27 countries

1001 Inventions pulls crowds in New York

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/urban-“terrorism”-growing-threat-in-pakistan--report/d/3947

 

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Urban “terrorism” growing threat in Pakistan: report

Jan 17 2011

Overall violence in Karachi spiked by 288 per cent, a report from the the Pak Institute for Peace Studies stated.—Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan gained ground against militant violence in 2010, but urban “terrorism” is a growing threat and military success will not bring stability unless a comprehensive strategy is developed, a think tank said.

A report from the the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) to be released on Monday says the number of incidents of “violence and terrorism” in Pakistan fell by 11 per cent in 2010 compared with the previous year.

The number of suicide attacks fell by 22 per cent to 68 in 2010, compared with 87 in 2009, PIPS said.

But the country has yet to come up with a sound, long-term strategy to tackle militancy, PIPS said.

A total of 2,113 militant, insurgent and sectarian attacks were reported across the country in 2010, killing 2,913 people, it said.

The United States has been waging war against Taliban militants in Afghanistan for nearly 10 years, but many Western nations think neighbouring Pakistan poses a bigger threat.

Pakistan’s lawless Pashtun tribal areas in the northwest are home to some of the world’s most feared militant groups, including ones who attack Western forces in Afghanistan.

Military campaigns are draining the US-backed government’s coffers, while public discontent is deepening over poverty and corruption, complicating efforts to stabilise the country.

“Better coordination among intelligence agencies, capacity building of law enforcement agencies, curbs on terrorism financing, and most importantly, adequate measures to prevent banned militant groups from operating across the country remained persistently lacking,” PIPS said in its annual Pakistan security report.

Pakistan’s military has launched a series of anti-Taliban offensives in the militant-infested northwest that have disrupted their activities. A sharp rise in US drone strikes also contributed to the decrease in militant attacks, PIPS said.

Still, sustainable security remains elusive because of the “less than impressive performance of a weak political administration beset by chronic challenges of poor governance,” said PIPS.

Security crackdowns have focused on the northwest but instability in Karachi is a growing concern. Aside from political, ethnic and gang violence, authorities there are confronted with a growing nexus of militant groups who have found safe havens there.

As many as 93 militant attacks which killed 233 people were reported in 2010, PIPS said. In one high-profile attack in November, a Taliban suicide car bombing demolished a crime investigation department compound where senior militants were interrogated. At least 18 people were killed and 100 wounded.

Overall violence in Karachi spiked by 288 per cent, PIPS said.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/16/urban-terrorism-growing-threat-in-pakistan-report.html

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Lesson for Pak in Samjhauta probe: India’s Home Secy

Jan 17, 2011

NEW DELHI: India on Sunday said Pakistan should learn from New Delhi's fair handling of the Samjhauta Express case, which was being probed without prejudice to the suspects' religion or profile, and bring those responsible for 26/11 to justice.

Home secretary G K Pillai said India was committed to bring to justice anyone who committed terror acts irrespective of his religion or anything else as it considered such a person nothing but a criminal. In an interview to a TV channel, Pillai said, "I think in one sense, it (the probe) shows that we are willing to be fair as far as possible. If somebody has done a crime, irrespective of who he is, what his religion is, we will go after him and make sure that he is punished."

On the Samjhauta Express case, the home secretary said India would share information with Pakistan once the probe was over.

Pakistan had last week sought information on the probe in the wake of one of the suspects Swami Aseemanand's confession in which he identified roles of a number of Hindu radicals. The train blasts took place in February 2007 at Diwana near Panipat in Haryana, and killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis.

Pillai said he hoped that the message went to Pakistan, which is yet to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice, so that they do it irrespective of the persons involved in the attack.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Lesson-for-Pak-in-Samjhauta-probe-G-K-Pillai/articleshow/7300411.cms#ixzz1BGa70zg2

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Tunisia PM to announce new govt

17 January 2011

Tunisia’s prime minister promised to announce a new coalition govt, hoping to maintain the momentum of political progress to ward off fresh protests and also undercut gunmen loyal to the ousted president.

Tunisian special forces fought a gun battle with the ousted president’s security force near the presidential palace on Sunday, a military source said, two days after Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted after more than 23 years as president.

But Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi promised rapid action to fill the power vacuum.

“Tomorrow we will announce the new government which will open a new page in the history of Tunisia,” he said in a brief statement on Sunday.

Three opposition leaders would take posts in the new coalition, two sources close to negotiations on building the new government said. But the interior and foreign ministers in the old administration will keep their jobs.

While die-hard Ben Ali loyalists fought the army at the presidential palace, elsewhere two gunmen stationed on a rooftop near the central bank were killed by fire from a helicopter.

Tanks were stationed around the capital, Tunis, and soldiers guarded public buildings.

Free elections promised

As night fell residents of Tunis blocked off roads with makeshift barriers of tree branches and rubbish bins to protect their property from looters.

“We came out on the streets and dressed in white vests so we can identify one another. We told the police in the neighbourhood that we are here and we’re dressed in white — it was during curfew hours ... some brought sticks and we collected rocks,” one man said.

The protests that forced Ben Ali to flee have died down, but the politicians, many of them former supporters of the ousted president, need to maintain the momentum of progress towards promised polls or face a renewed challenge from the street.

Najib Chebbi, founder of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), which opposed Ben Ali, will become regional development minister in the new government, the sources close to the negotiations said. Opposition leaders will also get the higher education and health portfolios.

Ahmed Friaa, a former academic and junior minister appointed interior minister only last week when Ben Ali fired the previous incumbent during the rioting, would stay in his job, they said.

Speaker of parliament Fouad Mebazza, sworn in as interim president, had asked Ghannouchi to form a government of national unity, and constitutional authorities said a presidential election should be held within 60 days.

Opposition parties wanted assurances that presidential elections would be free, that they would have enough time to campaign, that the country would move towards greater democracy and that the power of the ruling RCD party would be loosened.

Chebbi said on Saturday that elections could be held under international supervision within six or seven months.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle09.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/January/middleeast_January308.xml&section=middleeast

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Prominent Saudi scholar warns on agenda against Shariah advisories

By MUSHTAK PARKER

Jan 17, 2011

At a time when the global Islamic finance industry is debating whether Shariah advisory should be regulated and scholars restricted to advising only a small number of institutions, Malaysia almost in passing adopted on Jan. 1 a new Shariah Governance Framework (SGF) for Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) that supersedes the Guidelines on the Governance of Shariah Committees of IFIs introduced by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the central bank, in 2004.

According to the Malaysian central bank, the primary objective of the SGF is to enhance “the role of the board, the Shariah committee and the management in relation to Shariah matters, including enhancing the relevant key organs having the responsibility to execute the Shariah compliance and research functions aimed at the attainment of a Shariah-based operating environment.”

One prominent international Shariah advisory to the Islamic finance industry, Muhammed Elgari of Saudi Arabia, who sits on several Shariah committees of such organizations as the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes, and a number of banks, agrees that Malaysia’s Shariah Governance Framework for IFIs could become a blueprint for other countries to follow.

In an exclusive interview with the author, Elgari stressed that he can see the need for such a framework, which “most certainly” can be developed into a blueprint, even though he has yet to study the full details of the SGF.

Shariah advisory has been in the news in recent weeks following reports that the AAOIFI is in the process of drafting rules to regulate the shareholdings and the number of supervisory boards individual Shariah advisories can sit on. Market players have long been concerned by the small pool of experienced Shariah advisers serving the Islamic finance industry and that an elite few sit on multiple Shariah advisory boards, a practice which they claim could lead to conflicts of interest and is not consistent with best practice in terms of advisory.

Research by entities such as Funds@Work have added fuel to the fire, although the methodology of the research is not very detailed and transparent. According to Funds@Work, there are 1,141 overall Shariah advisory board positions available in 28 countries. The average board size is 3.33 scholars per board, across the entire universe. Perhaps more importantly, the Top 10 scholars hold 450 out of 1,141 board positions that are available and represent 39.44 percent of the universe. Two Shariah advisories sit on a staggering 85 boards while another on 79 boards.

Some of the top Shariah advisers, not surprisingly, have reportedly spoken out against any efforts to restrict their trade by restricting the number of boards on which they can sit.

“There is no justification in my mind to single out a profession to set rules that are not applied to any other. There is no dispute about the fact that a human being does have a limited capacity or let us say a finite one. But this can’t be measured by the number of boards. The real test is quality of work and ability to meet the expectations of the other party. It should be self evident that if one lacks both, it will not help him to have a limited number of boards,” said Elgari.

Elgari, who also has a doctorate in economics from the prestigious University of California in Berkeley, dismisses any suggestions that Shariah advisories “make too much money” and “they are monopolizing the trade” which he maintains are both lies and naive.

In his experience, none of the banks and organizations he serves as an advisory have expressed any concerns to him about the above issues. In fact, his relationship with his clients remains cordial and commands the utmost professionalism. As such, these supposed concerns are a smokescreen and are really serving the agenda of certain groups who are keen to get a slice of the Shariah advisory business in Islamic finance.

“What is being observed lately is that certain groups want to intermediate between banks and Shariah scholars. In other words they would like to ‘broker’ the Shariah advisory and they believe, correctly, that their negotiating power with the banks is much stronger than individual scholars. Hence they can extract much more from banks. They tell us why should you be concerned, you will not suffer any reduced income (negating the very argument that we make too much). But in principle we do not see it fitting to create an exchange where we sell our services to someone to sell them to a third party at a higher price,” he said.

Elgari, who is one of a very few number of foreign Shariah advisories registered with the Securities Commission Malaysia to give Shariah advisory to the Islamic finance industry in the south east Asian country, maintains that nobody is more concerned about bringing up the second generation of Shariah scholars in the global Islamic finance industry than the current scholars. As such, it is wrong to think that they are threatened by the thought of restrictions and regulation.

“On the contrary our nightmare is for Shariah boards to disappear when we cease to exist. We always request institutions to include in their Shariah board a younger scholar so that the next generation is brought up by the current generation. Recently, we met with the officials from the Waqf Fund (set up by Central Bank of Bahrain) to try to design a program that can be adopted by an academic institution for this purpose,” he said.

Some observers, including regulators, invoke the “conflict of interest” argument to support their desire to restrict the number of boards Shariah scholars can sit on. Elgari in fact believes this is a fair concern and in several instances he has emphasized that Shariah board members should be conscious of it and try to avoid it. He confirms that in several instances he was offered shares in companies he was giving Shariah advisory but he has always declined because he was always aware of a potential conflict of interest. He suggests greater transparency by fellow Shariah advisories, especially in showing their awareness of the issue of potential conflict of interest.

For Elgari, who has also been an economics don at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah for many years, the contemporary Islamic finance industry has witnessed over the last three decades the emergence the birth of a new discipline, which combines Shariah, economics and law. “Unless universities recognize this as a new discipline, not much will be done by them. If these professors themselves can’t do it, how can they teach it? The most effective way is apprenticeship, or a program for study designed by the current Shariah scholars,” he said.

The fact remains that the Shariah governance process in Islamic finance has been steadily evolving and gaining maturity. Last year, for instance, Elgari was the first prominent scholar to emphatically call for a scientific approach to Shariah compliance. This follows a similar call by another prominent Shariah scholar, Sheikh Esam Ishaq of Bahrain, that Shariah advisories serving the Islamic finance industry should be regulated.

Elgari then called on fellow Shariah advisories to adopt a scientific methodology in reaching their deliberations on Islamic finance. “To be respected,” said Elgari, “Shariah scholars should follow scientific methods to reach their conclusions. We have seen many mistakes where declarations have been issued. Only the correct resolutions will prevail. Shariah is not a group of infallible people. It is a science. It requires methodology, and resolutions require peer review and market consultation.”

He is also a big supporter of the codification of Fiqh Al-Muamalat, which could contribute immensely to clarifying the rubrics and the contentious issues relating to products and services in the nascent Islamic finance industry. Similarly, he believes that greater transparency in the Shariah governance process; more professional articulation of the resolutions and statements; and prior debate and consultation between scholars and other stakeholders in the industry, could go a long way in mitigating the misconceptions and confusion that has arisen as a result of some recent Shariah rulings.

http://arabnews.com/economy/islamicfinance/article236465.ece

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Pak Should Punish Qadir, Blasphemy Law Should Stay: Musharraf

Jan 17, 2011

Islamabad: Former Pakistani military dictator Pervez Mushrarraf has said that the killer of Punjab governor Salmaan Tasser should be punished and not allowed to challenge the writ of the state, but pledged support for the controversial blasphemy law.

"The assassination of Taseer was wrong and his murderer should be punished," Musharraf was quoted by The Express Tribune newspaper as telling a conference of his All Pakistan Muslim League part in London yesterday.

Mumtaz Qadri, the police guard who shot the Governor, should not be permitted to challenge the state's writ, Musharraf said. Qadri, a member of the Elite Force that guards VIPs, said he had gunned down Taseer for his criticism of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law. Taseer earned the ire of religious hardliners last year when he spoke in defence of a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed and sought changes in the blasphemy law.

Musharraf said that since Muslims are very emotional about the blasphemy statute, "the controversial law must stay" in Pakistan. However, the Islamic concepts of 'ijtehad' (making a decision through the independent interpretation of Islamic legal sources) and 'ijma' (consensus) should be used to see what can be done about the miscarriage of justice, he said. Asked why he had not amended the blasphemy law when he was in power, Musharraf said he had introduced some procedural changes that required complainants to go to the judiciary rather than the police to file complaints. Musharraf also spoke on other issues.

The economy, he said, was one of the biggest challenges facing Pakistan, which is beset by hyperinflation and bankruptcy. He alleged that his arch-rival, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, had connections with the Taliban and that is why he did not openly condemn the militants. He announced the opening of APML offices in Quetta and Dera Bugti and the nomination of office-bearers.

The party has also set up chapters in the US and Canada, where Musharraf claimed he had received a good response from the Pakistani diaspora. Musharraf said he intended to travel by train throughout Britain and meet supporters to consolidate his party. He reiterated his resolve to return to Pakistan before the next general election.

The former military ruler, who stepped down in 2008, has been living in self-exile in Britain for the past two years.

http://www.asianage.com/international/pak-should-punish-qadir-blasphemy-law-should-stay-musharraf-535

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There is a need of consensus and conscientiousness: Musharraf

New Age Islam News Bureau

Jan 17, 2011

London: Former President of Pakistan Perwez Musharraf has said that the blasphemy laws needed to be revised on the basis of consensus (ijma) and conscientiousness (ijtihad). He said this in a ceremony to announce the office bearers of his party All Pakistan Muslim League. He further said that the killer of the slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer should be punished.

He said that the Muslims not only in Pakistan but over the world are governed by emotions rather than by logic, good sense and judgment so the (blasphemy) laws would have to continue. However, he said that the main issues are that of justice and misuse of the law. Therefore, Pakistan should review the laws on the basis of ijma (consensus) and ijtehad (conscientiousness). He further suggested the defects in the law should be removed as far as possible. Asked why he did not revise the laws during his tenure, he said that he modified a number of laws implemented by Gen Zia and even changed some of the laws of the Hudood Ordinance.

On the blasphemy laws he said that he had brought some changes on the administration level and one of the main changes in this regard was that if a person wanted to register an allegation of blasphemy, he should go to the court instead of registering a case with the police. The court would then decide if the complainant had enough evidence to initiate a case.

The former military chief also said that Nawaz Sharif and the Sharif Brothers had links with the Taliban otherwise they would have opposed Taliban, their activities and their politics which they did not.

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About 50 Hindutva activists were involved in Makkah Masjid, Ajmer blasts

New Age Islam News Bureau

Jan 17, 2011

New Delhi: Seven teams of the CBI that is investigating the Makka Masjid and Ajmer blasts will head for Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. According to the sources, the investigations by the CBI into the blasts have given nailing proofs of the extremists of the right wing groups and at least 50 people might be involved in the blasts. The sources revealed that the CBI had already received information about the involvement of the Hindu extremists and Swami Asimanand when they had arrested Devender Gupta and questioned him. The information was confirmed when the key accused in the Makkah blast Swami Aseemanand confessed his involvement in the blast during the questioning. The investigations carried till now have revealed that eleven mobile SIM had been purchased before the blasts. All the SIM cards were purchased on the same document and the funding was done in Asansol in West Bengal and Jamtara in Jharkhand. The SIMs were purchased on the same document from a single shop. According to sources, one mobile and one SIM each was recovered from spot of Makkah Masjid and Ajmer blast. The CBI has inferred that both the blasts were carried out by the same module.

The investigations done till now have revealed that the arrested Swami Aseemanand was the mastermind of organizing the blasts. He was definitely not involved in the operation. According to the sources, a mobile had been recovered from the Ajmer blast site bearing no. 9732110207.  The CBI was trying to ascertain who the people were who talked on the phone before and after the blast and what the locations were. The CBI has learnt that a call had been received on the phone from no.9754703073 before the blast. According to the CBI, it has retrieved the mobile which had received calls also from nos. 9826121316 and 9098640872. The CBI is trying to identify the callers and so it has taken Devender Gupta to the location revealed by him. According to the sources, the CBI has got information during its investigations that more that 50 right wing activists including Ram Narain Salaskar, Sandip Dange, Pranab Nath Mondal, Anand Raj Kataria, Dharmendra Bairagi and Devendra Gupta are involved in the blasts. The CBI had recently taken Devendra Gupta to Kolkata, Ranchi, Jamtara, Asansol, Dang and Hyderabad. When the CBI took Gupta to Ranchi and questioned him, he admitted that a two-day meeting of the right wing groups was held there. He also divulged the names of the heads of the organisations. He also admitted to going to Dang. The CBI went to the Aseemanand’s Ashram in Dang disclosed by Gupta. The sources said that the mastermind of the blasts were Aseemanand and Sunil Joshi. Joshi was mysteriously killed after the Ajmer blast. The murder is still a whodunit.

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18 killed in Kohat bus blast

January 17, 2011

KOHAT: At least 18 people have been killed in blast in a passenger van on Hangu Road in a passenger bus, Geo News reported.

The ill-fated van was coming from Hangu. Rescue teams and the police have reached the spot. The dead and injured are being shifted to the nearby hospitals.

DIG Kohat Masood Afridi told Geo News that nature of the blast was still not known rejecting earlier reports of a suicide attack. ‘Terrorism can not be ruled out.’

http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=9552

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Pak to impose curfew in Karachi

Jan 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD: A partial curfew will be imposed in parts of Pakistan's financial hub of Karachi to facilitate operations aimed at ending a surge in ethnic and political violence that has claimed nearly 30 lives, interior minister Rehman Malik said.

Malik said a "semi-curfew” would be imposed in parts of Karachi to facilitate operations against those involved in a spate of targeted killings.

He was speaking to reporters at the Karachi airport after chairing a series of meetings to finalize a plan of action to end violence in the southern port city.

Officials said security agencies would decide the duration of curfew to be imposed in parts of Karachi.

Operations will be launched on the basis of intelligence reports and police and paramilitary forces have drawn up lists of persons wanted for targeted killings.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pak-to-impose-curfew-in-Karachi/articleshow/7301565.cms#ixzz1BGZTQJGD

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Pillion riding banned in Karachi

Jan 17, 2011

The pillion-riding ban is imposed following Rehman Malik’s announcement that a “partial curfew” will be imposed in Karachi.—AFP photo

KARACHI: The government on Sunday imposed a fresh ban on pillion riding in the city.

Capital City Police Officer Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari told Dawn that the ban would be enforced across the city. “Initially the ban will be effective for one week….but it will be extended depending on the law and order situation.”

The ban on pillion riding had been imposed in Muharram and was lifted after the Ashura passed off peacefully.

The pillion-riding ban was imposed following Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s announcement that a “partial curfew” and a ban on pillion riding would be imposed in the city to carry out operations against terrorists.

However, confusion marred the interior minister’s announcement about the imposition of the ‘partial curfew’ in selected localities of the city, as authorities of the Sindh home department drew a blank over it.

Conceding that there was some confusion in his announcement, a home department official, Sharfuddin Memon, told Dawn that the law-enforcement agencies created a semi curfew-like situation in a particular area before carrying out an operation or a raid. “But there is always an element of surprise for such acts,” he said.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/17/pillion-riding-banned-in-karachi.html

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Algerian sets himself on fire, echoing Tunisian

Jan 17, 2011

ALGIERS: A man has died after setting himself on fire at a government building in Algeria, state radio reported on Sunday, echoing the self-immolation that triggered the protests that toppled the leader of neighboring Tunisia.

Mohsen Bouterfif doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire on Thursday after a meeting with the mayor of the small city of Boukhadra who was unable to provide him a job and a house, the daily El Khabar newspaper said. He died on Saturday of his burns.

About 100 young men protested over Mohsen’s death in the town, in Tebessa province, 700 km east of Algiers. The governor of the province sacked the mayor, El Khabar said.

Several Algerian towns, including the capital Algiers, have experienced riots in recent weeks over unemployment and a sharp rise in the prices of food staples.

Official sources say two people have been killed and scores were injured during the unrest, which unfolded in parallel to street violence in Tunisia and demonstrations over high food prices in other North African and Middle Eastern countries.

To calm the protests, Algeria has cut the cost of sugar and cooking oil.

The fall of Tunisian President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali on Friday is the first time in generations that an Arab leader has been toppled by public protests.

The protests that brought down Ben Ali erupted after the self-immolation of 26-year-old vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire on Dec. 17 because police had confiscated his vegetable cart. Bouazizi died weeks later of his burns, becoming a martyr to crowds of students and the unemployed protesting against poor living conditions.

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article236278.ece

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Pressure mounts on Jordanian government to resign

By ABDUL JALIL MUSTAFA

Jan 17, 2011

AMMAN: Hundreds of Jordanians demonstrated Sunday in front of the Parliament demanding improvement of living conditions and real political reforms.

The protesters, who mainly belonged to the Islamic-led opposition parties and trade unions, raised placard and chanted slogans calling on the government of Prime Minister Samir Rifai to resign.

They also rebuked the House of Representatives, which was holding an ordinary session, for granting Rifa’s government confidence with an unprecedented large majority a month ago.

Several lawmakers left their seats under the dome to join the demonstrators, eyewitnesses said.

The participants urged speedy political reforms, including the amendment of the election law, which they said produced a lower house that did not properly represent the people in the Nov. 9 parliamentary elections.

The Islamic Action Front (IAF) and its mother group, the Muslim Brotherhood movement, boycotted the polls, citing the government’s failure to adopt a proportional representation system.

The participants in Sunday’s demonstration also praised the Tunisian uprising that forced Ben Ali to flee outside the country.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article236478.ece

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Iran joins Venezuela, Libya to say $100 oil no harm

By RAMIN MOSTAFAVI

Jan 17, 2011

TEHRAN: OPEC’s leading oil price hawk Iran joined Venezuela and Libya on Sunday to say it saw no need for the cartel to consider raising crude supplies to rein in crude prices now near $100 a barrel.

Iranian Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries saw no need for producers to act even if prices went to $120 a barrel. The comments will be of concern for consumer countries worried that rising commodity costs are igniting inflation and jeopardising economic recovery. “None of the OPEC members find $100 concerning or irrational. Some of the OPEC members see no need for an emergency meeting even with prices at $110 or $120,” Mirkazemi, OPEC president for 2011, told a news conference.

“None of the members have asked for an emergency meeting and I think for a long time there would be no such request,” Mirkazemi said.

As holder of the rotating OPEC presidency, Iran has responsibility for coordinating any emergency meeting with OPEC’s Vienna based secretariat. The next scheduled meeting is not until June 2.

Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Sunday that $100 was “fair value” for crude, a position that Libya also backs.

Benchmark Brent crude broke $99 a barrel on Friday, a 27-month high, while US oil futures rose to $91.54, well above the $70-$80 range that OPEC’s most influential member Saudi Arabia says is comfortable for both producers and consumers.

Will moderates act to contain prices?

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/economy/article236303.ece

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Nine killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan: police

Jan 16, 2011

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, (AFGHANISTAN): Nine people were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghlan province, northern Afghanistan, as they travelled to a wedding on Sunday, police said.

The blast was confirmed by Major Qudratullah, a spokesman for police in Baghlan province, who said that the car was travelling from Pul-e-Khumri, the provincial capital, to a village in the same province when the incident occured.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Nine-killed-by-roadside-bomb-in-Afghanistan-police/articleshow/7298095.cms#ixzz1BGZcsjdU

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Haunted by violence, Iraqi Christians flee to Turkey

January 17, 2011

ISTANBUL: Terrorised by mounting extremist attacks, more and more Iraqi Christians are fleeing in panic to neighbouring Muslim-majority Turkey, among them lone minors sent away by desperate parents.

In Istanbul, a tiny Chaldean Catholic community has embraced the refugees, serving as their first point of shelter before the United Nations or local civic groups extend a helping hand.

The number of arrivals, available statistics show, has sharply increased since October 31 when gunmen stormed a Baghdad church, killing 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security guards, in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda’s local affiliate.

“We saw many newcomers after the attack. We saw they had made no preparation and had no savings,” said Gizem Demirci, an activist at the Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants.

“Moreover, we began to receive minors… whose families are still in Iraq but had just enough money to send away a son or a daughter,” she added without offering any specific figures.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/17/haunted-by-violence-iraqi-christians-flee-to-turkey.html

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100 Hindu families in Pak want to migrate to India

Yudhvir Rana

Jan 16, 2011

AMRITSAR: More than one hundred Hindu families of Baluchistan province of Pakistan are making efforts to migrate to India after becoming the target of extremists and fundamentalist groups who kidnap them for ransom. Five Hindu families have already migrated from Balochistan's Mastung district to India and six more families are trying to seek asylum elsewhere.

These startling revelations were made by Pakistan's former federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney while talking to TOI over phone from Baluchistan on Sunday.

Burney who is also United Nations Expert Advisor on Human Rights claims to have visited several Baloch dominated districts including Quetta, Nushki, Dera Allah Yar, Mastung, Khuzdar, Qalat, Jaffarabad, Lasbela, Kharan, Sibi, Kachhi and territories inhabited by Marri and Bugti tribes where Hindus have been living for centuries - following the kidnapping of Maharaj Lakhim Chand Garji (85) by extremist and fundamentalist groups from Kali Mata Mandir in Qalat on December 21.

Garji is 'Maharaja' of Kali Mata Mandir for past 60 years. Burney claimed that despite threat to his life he had visited Qalat and other disturbed places especially religious places of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs in Baluchistan and met people who raised their serious concern on alleged illegitimate and dishonest attitude of some fundamentalist and extremist elements including influential people.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/100-Hindu-families-in-Pak-want-to-migrate-to-India/articleshow/7298753.cms#ixzz1BGaDAA1d

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RSS show of strength in town where Sunil Joshi lived, died

Milind Ghatwai

Jan 17 2011

Dewas : Thousands of volunteers, many of them brandishing swords, marched through this town as the RSS flexed its muscles on Sunday. It’s the same town where former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, a Hindu radical allegedly involved in several acts of terror, lived and was shot dead by his own men on December 29, 2007.

The RSS maintained that Joshi’s murder and the allegations of saffron terror did not influence the choice of venue but the coincidence raised many eyebrows. The planning began more than two months ago and targets were fixed for every village (for the number of volunteers to be sent).

What helped was that the state is ruled by the BJP. The ruling party members, however, kept away from the event.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/738448/

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Qaeda’s Awlaqi renews call to kill Americans: SITE

January 17, 2011

US-Yemeni radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi has renewed a call to strike the American Government and citizens, the SITE monitoring agency said on Sunday.

“Both the (US) Government and private citizens should be targeted,” he wrote in the latest edition of Inspire, the English-language e-magazine issued by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), US-based SITE said.

“America and Americans are the imams of kufr (leaders of disbelief) in this day and age,” Awlaqi said.

“The American people who vote for war-mongering Governments are intent on no good. Anyone who inflicts harm on them in any form is doing a favour to the ummah (Islamic nation),” he added.

Awlaqi also said it was permissible to snatch the wealth of the enemy through deception and urged Muslims to use stolen money to fund jihad, or holy war, SITE said.

The cleric, wanted in the United States on terrorism charges, in November called for the killing of Americans “without hesitation.”

“Do not consult anyone in killing Americans,” Awlaqi said in a 23-minute video posted at the time on jihadist websites.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and headquarters of AQAP, has been under intense pressure from Washington to hunt down Awlaqi. He was charged in October in Yemen with alleged ties with Al-Qaeda and incitement to kill foreigners.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/311234/Qaeda%E2%80%99s-Awlaqi-renews-call-to-kill-Americans-SITE.html

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Hindus to get majestic eco-friendly temple in UK

January 17, 2011

A majestic multi-million pound “eco-friendly” Hindu temple described as “one of a kind in Europe” when completed is being planned for Exeter in the United Kingdom.

The temple will be build at an estimated cost of six to eight million pounds and spread out in four acres, this Hindu Temple and Cultural Community Centre (also known as Sanatan Hindu Mandir) is proposed to be functional in the next 2-4 years in an “eco-friendly” building.

Currently, nearest Hindu temple is in Bristol, about 120 km. The temple is registered with Charity Commission of England and Wales, where its object is listed as “advancement of the Hindu religion.”

Full report at:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/311233/Hindus-to-get-majestic-eco-friendly-temple-in-UK.html

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‘I was kept prisoner by the Pak sex gang predator’

Jan 17 2011

PRETTY teenager Toni- Marie Redfern thought she’d found the perfect boyfriend.

Polite, handsome, and seven years her senior, he drove a silver BMW, wore designer suits and bought her dinner at her favourite pizza café.

No wonder her school friends were envious. And when he asked her to marry him, she started to make plans for their future.

However, Toni- Marie eventually learned the truth about Abid Mohammed Saddique.

While they were going out, the British- born man of Pakistani origin was orchestrating what is believed to be the biggest sex- abuse ring ever discovered in Britain, involving up to 100 young girls.

Last week, Saddique and his accomplice, Mohammed Liaqat, whose Derby- based gang groomed girls ( most of whom were white and aged between 12 and 18) for sex, were

jailed for bringing a ‘ reign of terror’ to the North Midlands city.

Key to the men’s conviction was Toni- Marie, now 20, who bravely gave evidence against her ex- lover.

Talking exclusively to Daily Mail on Friday, she said: “ When I discovered what he had done to those girls, I felt physically sick.

Full report at: Mail Today

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Kashmir University finally gets land

Kavita Chowdhury in New Delhi

A WHOLE year after it began functioning, Kashmir University has finally been allotted land in the state’s Ganderbal district.

The Omar Abdullah government assigned 188 acres of land to the university on Saturday, but officials said it would be “ quite some time” before construction starts and the buildings are ready for classes. At present, the university is operating out of an abandoned hotel on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Last year’s four- month shutdown in the Kashmir Valley from May to September forced the university to postpone examinations and make up for the loss of classes over the remainder of the academic year.

A senior university official said: “The land was identified in Ganderbal back in February 2009. A year has gone by, but the state government was slow in handing it over.” “ As of today, we do not have any land and hence have not been able to start construction. The seed money of ` 10 crore mostly remains unutilised. The HRD ministry is refusing to give us more funds as we have nothing to show by way of utilisation,” the official added.

Mail Today

 

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A ‘minor’ symbol of nationalism in Srinagar

By Naseer Ganai in Srinagar

THE CLOCK tower at Lal Chowk, in the heart of Srinagar, has apparently no significance for Kashmiris. The tower is in a dilapidated condition, the clock has stopped functioning long back, and people pass by even without noticing it.

However, it’s the competing political ideologies in Kashmir, and even from outside the Valley, that have turned this tower into a “ great political symbol”. The announcement by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing, that it will hoist the Tricolour at Lal Chowk on the Republic Day and the quick response by separatist leader Yasin Malik to resist the move have brought back to focus, the significance of the square. In fact, any organisation that announces hoisting a flag at Lal Chowk ends up unfurling it on the clock tower.

Lal Chowk, a business hub, is named after the central marketplace in Moscow — Red Square. Local historians say it was some enthusiastic communists who thought up the name after Lenin seized power in Moscow in 1917. They say Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, an admirer of socialism, gave the square the name Lal Chowk.

In 1980, Bajaj Electricals raised the clock tower in the middle of Lal Chowk. “ It served as an advertisement for Bajaj in Srinagar,” Farooq Ahmad Shah, director- tourism, said.

He said that for years it was not renovated. Now the state government has started renovation work on the tower. “ We want to repair it on the lines of traditional Kashmiri architecture,” Shah said.

Full report at: Mail Today

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UP khap bans jeans for girls

Jan 17, 2011

MUZAFFARNAGAR (UP): A khap panchayat (caste council) banned girls from wearing jeans. Village elders blamed the attire for provoking eve-teasing and encouraging young couples to elope.

The khap panchayat led by Battisa Khap Council head Baba Suraj in Bhenswal village passed the diktat which claimed that wearing jeans had a "bad effect" on young women and eve-teasing incidents had increased due to their objectionable clothes".

The panchayat also formed a five-member committee of women to implement the ban in the village. Earlier, caste councils or kangaroo courts, which have been accused of supporting "honour killings", had banned the use of mobile phones by unmarried girls in the district. They used the same argument, saying the phones encouraged women to step out of the home.

On November 14, all khap panchayats from Shoram village in Muzaffarnagar had assembled to oppose same gotra (sub-caste) marriages and demanded the government amend the Hindu Marriage Act to enforce a ban.

The government is drafting a legislation dealing specifically with killings ordered by khap panchayats.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/UP-khap-bans-jeans-for-girls/articleshow/7300465.cms#ixzz1BGazlE00

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Prison fire amid Tunisian unrest kills 42

January 16, 2011

TUNIS: A coroner said 42 people died in a fire at a prison in a Tunisian coastal resort town as unrest swept the North African country after its long-time president was forced out by protests.

Tarek Mghirbi, a coroner in the resort city of Monastir, said 42 bodies were brought to his office.

He said all the victims appeared to have either burned to death or to have suffered smoke inhalation. He said the cause of Saturday’s prison fire was unclear.

Massive street protests over corruption and unemployment forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country Friday night after 23 years of iron-fisted rule. In the last 24 hours, unrest, looting and arson have erupted.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/15/prison-fire-amid-tunisian-unrest-kills-42.html

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In Afghanistan ‘human maps’ help fight Taliban

January 17, 2011

This file photo taken on December 28, 2010 shows a US soldier from Bravo Troop 1-75 Cavalry 2nd Brigade 101st Airborne Division taking a picture of Afghan villager Mohammad Ras in Loya Derah village during a clearance patrol in Zari district of Kandahar province. Troops across Afghanistan are gathering photographs, fingerprints and employment details as well as canvassing opinions from local residents to find out what they want for the war-racked province. The goal is to strengthen relations between pro-government forces and the local population. – AFP Photo

CHARKUSAH: “I’m 105 years old,” said Bismiullah, an old man stopped by a patrol in southern Afghanistan as part of military efforts to map the population in the battle against the Taliban.

Asked what he thinks of the US army, the Afghan army and the Taliban, Bismiullah responded: “I like myself and my family, that’s it.”

Questioned who is in charge in the area, he was similarly direct: “Allah is my chief.”

The elderly man was stopped by a US-Afghan patrol in the village of Charkusah in the Zahri district of Kandahar, the southern Afghan province seen as the heart of the Taliban insurgency.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/17/in-afghanistan-%E2%80%98human-maps%E2%80%99-help-fight-taliban.html

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Israel, US created worm that sabotaged Iran N-programme

William J Broad, John Markoff & David E Sanger

Jan 17, 2011

The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel's never-acknowledged nuclear arms programme, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal.

Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran's efforts to make a bomb of its own.

Behind Dimona's barbed wire, the experts say, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran's at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive programme that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran's ability to make its first nuclear arms.

"To check out the worm, you have to know the machines ," said an American expert on nuclear intelligence. "The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Israel-US-created-worm-that-sabotaged-Iran-N-programme/articleshow/7301606.cms#ixzz1BGZuaUio

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No real investigation in Pak in 26/11 case, says Pillai

Jan 16, 2011

NEW DELHI: India has expressed its "disappointment" over Pakistan's delay in bringing the perpetrators of Mumbai terror attack to justice, saying "real investigation" has not taken place in that country.

Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai said the prosecution attempt in Pakistan to bring the 26/11 guilty to justice "has not moved an inch" and India's request for providing the voice samples of the handlers of the attackers has fallen on deaf ears.

When Home Minister P Chidambaram asked for action against the 26/11 perpetrators and voice samples of handlers of the attackers during his Islamabad visit last year, his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik told him that "you would not be disappointed by our response".

But, Pillai said that "seven months down the line, there is no Pakistani response. We are disappointed."

No key person, who was actually involved in the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes or giving directions to the attackers, has been arrested. Only second or third-level conspirators were put behind the bars.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/No-real-investigation-in-Pak-in-26/11-case-says-Pillai/articleshow/7297211.cms#ixzz1BGacRT6T

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Egyptian Man Sentenced To Death For Assaulting Christians

Jan 16, 2011

Cairo: An Egyptian court sentenced a man to death on Sunday for a drive-by shooting of Christians in the southern city of Naga Hammadi last year which left seven people dead.

Mohamed Hassan, the primary defendant in the case, was sentenced by a State Security Emergency Criminal court in the southern province of Qena.

The death sentence will be sent to Egypt's grand mufti, an Islamic religious authority, for approval.

The sentence will be confirmed by the court Feb 20, when it will also hand out the sentences of the other two defendants in the case, Qurshi Abulhagag and Hendawy Mohamed Hassan.

Mohamed Hassan is charged with opening fire on a group of people as they were leaving a Christmas mass in Naga Hammadi on Jan 6, 2010, the night of Coptic Christmas eve.

Related Articles

seven hanged in Iran

The attack left six Christian teenagers and a Muslim security official dead.

The trial began Feb 13 and was postponed numerous times throughout the year, angering the Christian community which was demanding a conviction.

Official figures estimate Christians comprise between 10 and 15 per cent of Egypt's population.

Tensions have been high in the country since a New Year's Eve bombing at a church in the coastal city of Alexandria left 23 people dead and over 100 injured

http://www.asianage.com/international/egyptian-man-sentenced-death-assaulting-christians-536

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Turkey, Qatar, Syria to discuss Lebanon crisis

January 17, 2011

A news agency says leaders of Turkey, Qatar and Syria will meet in the Syrian capital Damascus to discuss the political crisis in Lebanon after a Hezbollah-led coalition toppled the country’s Western-backed Government. Anatolia news agency, citing Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal, said on Sunday that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is in Iraq, will also travel to Syria for the meeting. Lebanon’s caretaker PM Saad Hariri visited Turkey on Friday as part of efforts to rally support after Ministers allied to Shiite militant resigned on Wednesday, bringing down his Government.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/311244/Turkey-Qatar-Syria-to-discuss-Lebanon-crisis.html

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Tehran scouring global N-mart: Cable

Jan 17, 2011

OSLO: Iran has been developing contacts in more than 30 countries to acquire technology, equipment and raw materials needed to build a nuclear bomb, a Norwegian newspaper said on Sunday, citing US diplomatic cables.

Aftenposten said that according to the cables, obtained by WikiLeaks, more than 350 Iranian companies and organisations were involved in the pursuit of nuclear and missile technology between 2006 and 2010.

Iran says its nuclear programme has purely peaceful aims but the West suspects is designed to develop a weapons capability. "For years, Iran has been working systematically to acquire the parts, equipment and technology needed for developing such weapons, in violation of UN sanctions against the country's nuclear and missile programme," Aftenposten said.

Aftenposten has said that it has all 250,000 US cables leaked to WikiLeaks, most of which have not yet been published, and is gradually releasing them.

It cited sources as saying Iran is racing to develop nuclear weapons before its already crippled economy succumbs to the sanctions. "A race exists between the bomb and financial collapse," the daily cited a cable quoting a French nuclear expert.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Tehran-scouring-global-N-mart-Cable/articleshow/7301574.cms#ixzz1BGZl7QAW

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Cold wave grips Kashmir; Leh and Kargil get some respite

Jan 16, 2011

SRINAGAR: The Valley was on Sunday gripped by intense cold wave with temperature coming down to a record low of minus 16.1 degrees Celsius in Pahalgam resort, resulting in partial freezing of Dal lake and other water bodies in the state, a Met department official said.

Pahalgam in south Kashmir, recorded the coldest night of this winter as mercury plunged by nearly 14 degrees since the previous night.

Gulmarg in north Kashmir saw a sharp dip in minimum temperature as mercury fell to 14.2 deg below freezing point compared to yesterday's minus 10.6 deg C, the official said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Cold-wave-grips-Kashmir-Leh-and-Kargil-get-some-respite/articleshow/7296994.cms#ixzz1BGakqz9F

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US now sets eye on $1.4bn contract for attack copter deal

Rajat Pandit

Jan 17, 2011

NEW DELHI: Having already bagged some mega defence deals, the US now seems quite smug about cornering an even greater share of the lucrative Indian arms market despite the strong presence here of traditional military suppliers like Russia and Israel.

The growing American confidence can be gauged from the fact that though the field trial evaluation process for acquiring 22 heavy-duty attack helicopters for IAF is still in progress, the US Congress has already been notified by the Obama administration about the impending $1.4 billion contract.

Interestingly, the final battle for the attack helicopters or gunships is now down to just the two erstwhile Cold War rivals, US and Russia, with Boeing's AH-64D Apache Longbow pitted against the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant's Mi-28 Havoc.

"We are still evaluating the two helicopters (Apache and Havoc) in contention...the final selection will take some time,'' said a senior IAF officer.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/US-now-sets-eye-on-14bn-contract-for-attack-copter-deal/articleshow/7300626.cms#ixzz1BGaoLfWr

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God as guard: Bank opens ‘lockless’ branch

Prafulla Marpakwar

Jan 17, 2011

MUMBAI: The United Commercial (UCO) Bank has opened the country's first lockless branch at Shani Shinganapur in Maharashtra, even as the Centre has made hi-tech security mandatory for all nationalized and private sector banks. Shani Shinganapur is a small village in Ahmednagar district whose presiding deity is Lord Shani. More than 5,000 devotees visit the temple every day, while on weekends the number crosses the 1 lakh mark.

"We took note of the general belief and faith of the people. Ever since the most revered temple came into existence several years ago, the village has not witnessed a single crime. In fact, all houses in the entire village have no doors. We took the risk and started the lockless bank a week ago," a senior bank official said.

Local NCP legislator Shankar Gadakh had approached a section of nationalized and private banks about opening a branch in Shani Shinganapur to facilitate the devotees. However, for security reasons, most of them refused to oblige the NCP leader. "We then approached UCO bank, which agreed. It is certainly taking a risk, but in view of the peoples belief the bank has set up the branch," a senior NCP leader said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/God-as-guard-Bank-opens-lockless-branch/articleshow/7300436.cms#ixzz1BGawKtVK

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Jain temple in Saurashtra region desecrated, looted

Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: The desecration of idols coupled with theft in a temple has caused anger among members of the Jain community in Gujarat.

The incident occurred at one of the sacred pilgrimage centres of the community — Palitana, near Bhavnagar, in the Saurashtra region; in the century-old ‘Babu Derasar,' three idols were desecrated and ornaments and cash worth over Rs. 4.5 lakh were stolen on Saturday night.

The police, along with a team of the Forensic Science Laboratory officials, examined the Derasar on Sunday, but have not found any clue. The police said the Derasar authorities informed them that the CCTV camera system installed in the temple was out of order for the last three months.

Firm steps sought

The Jain community members have demanded that the government take steps to nab the culprits and take measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. This was the second incident of attack on a Jain Derasar in two days.

On Thursday a Derasar in Vadodara was desecrated and the watchman of the temple murdered.

The culprits could not loot any valuables as the automatic alarm bell went off as soon as they tried to break open the main door.

http://www.hindu.com/2011/01/17/stories/2011011764671100.htm

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Pak seeks full resumption of composite dialogue

January 17, 2011

Rezaul H Laskar

Pakistan has insisted on the full-fledged resumption of the composite dialogue in proposals submitted to India through diplomatic channels ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries. The two countries have exchanged several proposals in the run-up to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries on the sidelines of a SAARC meet to be held in Bhutan on February 6-7.

The most recent exchange of proposals by diplomats was in Islamabad on Saturday, a senior official of the Pakistani Government said. Pakistan has called for the “restoration of the full spectrum of relations” and resumption of talks on all issues included in the stalled composite dialogue, the official said.

He added that Islamabad is also trying to convince New Delhi to work for a “positive outcome” in the meeting of Foreign Ministers to be held after the parleys between the Foreign Secretaries. The Foreign Ministers are expected to meet in the first quarter of the year, possibly in March, in New Delhi.

Full report at:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/311254/Pak-seeks-full-resumption-of-composite-dialogue.html

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Israeli housing plan likely to hit West Asia peace efforts

January 17, 2011

Harinder Mishra

An Israeli plan to build 1,400 new housing units in the contested eastern Jerusalem city is likely to hit efforts to kick-start the stalled West Asia peace process as it enraged Palestinians.

Direct talks between the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership, which had started under US mediation on September 2, has fizzled out over the row linked to Israeli settlement activities in disputed areas.

In what is being perceived as yet another blow to efforts to kick-start the stalled West Asia peace process, Jerusalem city’s local planning and building committee is to next week discuss a plan to build 1,400 new housing units in the Gilo neighbourhood of the contested eastern part of the city.

The plan for the Gilo neighbourhood, if approved, will then be submitted to the District Committee, the Army Radio reported.

Officials from Jerusalem’s City Hall said that the plan was brought forth by private entrepreneurs and was promoted by the Jerusalem Development Authority.

Full report at:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/311248/Israeli-housing-plan-likely-to-hit-West-Asia-peace-efforts.html

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Iran opens enrichment plant to foreign diplomats

January 17, 2011

Foreign envoys toured on Sunday a nuclear plant where Iran is enriching uranium in defiance of UN sanctions, a day after Tehran vowed to push ahead “very strongly” with the sensitive work.

The Islamic republic organised the rare visit in a bid to garner support for its contentious atomic drive ahead of key talks with six world powers in Istanbul next week.

The diplomats, among them representatives of some member States of the UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saw Iran’s heavy water facility at Arak on Saturday as part of the tour.

Tehran’s allies Russia and China snubbed the visit, along with the European Union.

Iran’s State broadcaster showed footage of the envoys entering the country’s main uranium enrichment facility in the central city of Natanz where the material is being refined despite strong objections from the West. “What we have done is an unprecedented move... To show 100 per cent transparency” about Iran’s nuclear programme, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, said on State television from the Natanz facility.

Full report at:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/311241/Iran-opens-enrichment-plant-to-foreign-diplomats.html

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Kingdom to back Finnish bid for Security Council

By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN

Jan 17, 2011

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has assured its support of Finland's candidacy for the nonpermanent membership of the UN Security Council for a two-year term beginning 2013, according to Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Vayrynen, who spoke after holding talks with high-ranking Saudi officials, including Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, on Saturday night.

Vayrynen said that Finland will contest the election for the Security Council seat in UN General Assembly next year. He also said his talks with his Saudi counterpart covered recent events in Tunisia, the Middle East peace process, Palestine and several other issues of common concern.

The Finnish minister was accompanied by about 40 top officials and businessmen from his country.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article236454.ece

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Plan for more East Jerusalem homes angers Palestinians

Jan 17, 2011

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Sunday they are moving ahead with a new proposal to build 1,400 apartments in East Jerusalem, enraging Palestinians who denounced the plan as another Jewish land grab.

Palestinians have already broken off peace talks with Israel for refusing to halt construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They claim these areas, which Israel captured in 1967, and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for a future state. Jewish settlement construction has angered the United States as well.

Jerusalem officials confirmed they were aware of the plan, but would not say when the city's planning committee, which needs to approve such projects, would vote on it.

"Jerusalem City Hall continues to advance construction for Arabs and Jews alike according to the master plan," the spokesman's office said. "New construction in Jerusalem is necessary to the development of the city."

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article236503.ece

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TV drama to highlight army’s role in war on terror

January 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Taliban-fighting soldiers are set for celebrity status with the launch of multi-million-dollar glossy television drama hailing army victories over terrorists.

Emotive tales of 11 “brave Pakistanis” battling terrorism that is plaguing Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan, will air on the small screen in an army-funded drama that casts the anti-terror fight in a positive light.

Focused on the heroism of soldiers fighting a key air and ground offensive in the northwestern Swat Valley in 2009, one tale looks at the deeds of soldier Hawaldar Naeem Asghar who died fighting a terrorist checkpoint.

Asghar, portrayed as a hardworking soldier from peasant roots, sacrifices his life to overcome Taliban dug in to a hilltop, during operations in the town of Mingora to flush terrorists from the picturesque valley.

Throwing grenades from his bunker without success, Asghar is depicted abandoning cover and climbing the hill, tossing more explosives on his way as bullets rain down from the terrorists’ post.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\17\story_17-1-2011_pg7_13

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Rahman Loses Out On Golden Globe

Jan 17, 2011

Los Angeles: Indian music maestro A.R. Rahman wasn't second time lucky. He lost out on the trophy for best original score-motion picture for Danny Boyle's '127 Hours' at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who composed 18 songs for 'The Social Network'.

Rahman, the double Oscar-award wining composer, was competing with the likes of Alexandre Desplat ('The King's Speech'), Danny Elfman ('Alice in Wonderland') and Hans Zimmer ('Inception') at the awards here on Sunday.

The David Fincher-helmed blockbuster drama 'The Social Network' is about the founding of the social networking website Facebook and its resulting lawsuits.

As Reznor once called it, the score is dark and the movie itself contains 18 songs, some of which are not found on the soundtrack. These include songs from The Beatles, Bob Marley, 10cc, Gluecifer and The White Stripes.

Full report at:

http://www.asianage.com/international/rahman-loses-out-golden-globe-640

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Wikileaks to Get Tax Evaders' List

Jan 17, 2011

London, Jan. 16: A Swiss banker-turned-whistleblower said he will hand over the secret offshore bank account details of 2,000 high net worth individuals and hedge funds of global financial institutions to Wikileaks.

Mr Rudolf Elmer, will reveal the details of massive potential tax evasion before Wikileaks here on Monday, two days before going to his home country to face trial January 19 over charges of violating Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws, the Guardian reported on Sunday. He faces up to three years in prison.

The details will be contained in CDs presented to Wikileaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include approximately 40 politicians, Mr Elmer was quoted as saying. Mr Elmer, who is returning to Switzerland from exile in Mauritius, is a former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank, which accuses him of stealing the information. He is also one of a small band of employees and executives seeking to blow the whistle on what they see as unprofessional, immoral and even criminal activity by powerful international financial institutions.

http://www.asianage.com/international/wikileaks-get-tax-evaders-list-551

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'Pak Prez Got 6.93m Euros'

Jan 17, 2011

Islamabad: A Paris magistrate, probing a suspected scam surrounding the sale of three Agosta-class French submarines to Pakistan’s Navy, has seized as evidence official Pakistani documents detailing how the Pakistani President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, “received kickbacks” worth several millions of euros in the deal, says a media report.

The documents, revealed for the first time by Mediapart, a French online publication, show that the payments to Mr Zardari and others took place on the fringes of the sale of three submarines by the French defence contractor DCN to Pakistan in the 1990s.

The sale, and the bribery associated with it — officially termed as commissions — are at the core of what has come to known as the ‘Karachi affair’, now the subject of two French judicial investigations. The issue has rocked the French political establishment, Pakistan’s The Nation daily said quoting the Mediapart report.

Full report at:

http://www.asianage.com/international/pak-prez-got-693m-euros-548

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Israel tested worm behind Iran n-troubles

Jan 17 2011

New York: The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heart of Israel’s never-acknowledged nuclear arms programme.

Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint US and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.

Behind Dimona’s barbed wire, the experts said, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran’s at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They said Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a programme that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. “To check out the worm, you have to know the machines,” said a US expert on nuclear intelligence. “The reason the worm has been effective is Israel tried it out.” The operations there, as well as efforts in the US, are among clues suggesting the virus was designed as an US-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian programme.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/738352/

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Fire engulfs commercial plaza in Islamabad

Jan 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD: A fire broke out on the third-floor of a commercial plaza, Beverly Center, in the Blue Area Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad on Sunday night.

Soon after the incident, six fire tenders rushed to the spot and tried to extinguish the blazing fire, police said.

Clothing, garments, electronic, mobile phones shops and private offices are situated in Beverly Center.

It is feared that the fire caused losses worth million of rupees. The cause of fire has not yet been ascertained.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/16/fire-engulfs-commercial-plaza-in-islamabad.html

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Hezbollah to defend itself against Hariri charges

Jan 17, 2011

Men smoke as Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks on television, at a coffee shop in the port city of Sidon in south Lebanon January 16, 2011. Nasrallah said on Sunday his group and its allies would not back caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to form a new government in talks expected to begin on Monday. – Reuters Photo

“We will not allow our reputation and our dignity to be tarnished nor will we allow anyone to conspire against us or to unjustly drench us in Hariri’s blood,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

“We will act to defend our dignity, our existence and our reputation,”added Nasrallah, who reiterated previous accusations that The Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was controlled by the United States and Israel.

The Shiite leader said his party would disclose in coming days how it planned to defend itself in light of the indictments.

His speech came one day before the prosecutor of the UN-backed tribunal was expected to submit his charges in the 2005 murder to a pre-trial judge.

Lebanese officials said the government had been notified that the indictments, the contents of which will not be made public in the immediate future, would be submitted on Monday.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/17/hezbollah-to-defend-itself-against-hariri-charges.html

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Six, including child, killed in separate incidents in Lahore

January 17, 2011

LAHORE: Six people, including a child and a woman, were killed in different incidents in the provincial capital on Sunday.

The first incident took place in the jurisdiction of Islampura police, where a 45-year-old man was shot dead by three people over a property dispute. According to details, Muhammad Ali, resident of Akram Park, had a row with his friend, Rana Khursheed, over a house located in the same locality, for the past few months. On the day of the incident (Sunday), Ali came along with his friends to Rana Khursheed’s home to hold a discussion on the same issue, where the latter, his friend Zulfiqar and others were also present. Both the parties exchanged harsh words as the negotiations started. An infuriated Khursheed pulled out his gun and shot Muhammad Ali. As a result, he received serious bullet injuries in his head while the accused managed to escape from the scene right after the incident. Some locals, on hearing the gunshots, informed the police about the incident and rushed Ali to the hospital, where the doctors pronounced him dead. Police shifted the body of the victim to the city mortuary for autopsy, and were able to arrest Khursheed. A case has been registered against him on the complaint of the deceased’s brother.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\17\story_17-1-2011_pg7_18

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2 NATO tankers torched in Kalat

January 17, 2011

KALAT: Unidentified gunmen set two oil tankers on fire near Sorab area of Kalat on Sunday.

According to police sources, the tankers were transporting fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan and were on way to Chaman to enter Afghanistan. Police registered a case against unidentified persons and started investigation into the incident. app

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\17\story_17-1-2011_pg7_22

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Iran fuel ban targets NATO but hurts Afghans

January 17, 2011

KABUL: Iran’s ban on fuel tankers crossing into Afghanistan over claims they are supplying NATO troops is snaring ordinary Afghans in a complex power game as winter living costs rise, experts say.

Some 2,000 trucks are stranded on the Iran-Afghan border, Afghanistan’s commerce ministry says, in a standoff which has run since early December, heaping more misery on civilians in the war-torn, impoverished country.

Behind it all is Iran’s desire to strike out at the international community over its disputed nuclear weapons programme and at Afghanistan over efforts to make peace with the Taliban, according to some analysts.

NATO insists it does not use fuel which has passed through Iran and that the operations of its troops in Afghanistan are not being affected.

But that is cold comfort to ordinary Afghans who, with the first snows of winter on the ground, face paying 40 percent more for fuel than before, plus extra for other day-to-day essentials.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\17\story_17-1-2011_pg7_36

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Terror bid thwarted; terrorist held in Karachi

January 17, 2011

KARACHI: Intelligence agencies have apprehended a terrorist who had planned a strategy to destroy the government building in Karachi, Geo News reported on Sunday.

According to sources, the arrested militant has confessed of terrorism bid to destroy a government building in Saddar area.

The gang is getting financial assistance from abroad, the sources said. They further added that raids are being conducted to arrest other accomplices of the accused.

It is pertinent to mention here that government has ordered for enhancing security in the metropolis.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=9528

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Al-Jasser named central bank chief of the year for the Middle East

Muhammad Al-Jasser

Jan 17, 2011

JEDDAH: The Banker magazine has named Muhammad Al-Jasser, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), as the Central Bank Governor of the Year, Middle East.

The Banker commended Al-Jasser for his management of the banking industry in the Kingdom, steering the Saudi economy clear of the global economic crisis.

“The SAMA’s prudent stewardship of the country’s banking sector has sheltered the Kingdom from greater fallout from the credit crunch. Faced with the Algosaibi corporate scandal which threatened to engulf the whole sector, Muhammad Al-Jassser streered the agency toward a more cautious approach to banking, resulting in less exposure to US subprime debt,” the magazine said in its statement after declaring the award.

The magazine pointed out that by making SAMA follow a prudent but firm stand, Al-Jasser had helped project the Kingdom’s stand in the G20’s debates on global economic stability.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/economy/article236269.ece

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Kingdom plans agriculture investment in 27 countries

By MAHER ABBAS

Jan 17, 2011

RIYADH: Commerce and Industry Minister Abdullah Zainal Alireza said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia has identified 27 countries for agricultural investment. “A technical team has already visited 14 countries to explore investment prospects,” he pointed out.

Opening a workshop on strategic food reserves organized by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alireza said Saudi businessmen would be the main investors in the projects, adding that the state would provide them with necessary incentives.

He said part of the agricultural goods would be supplied in local markets of producing countries, which have to provide necessary protection to investors through long-term agreements. “A model investment agreement has been prepared and approved,” he added.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/economy/article236484.ece

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1001 Inventions pulls crowds in New York

Jan 17, 2011

JEDDAH: The 1001 Inventions Exhibition, showcasing Muslim contributions to science, technology and arts, has drawn a large number of visitors since its opening at the New York Hall of Science recently.

The exhibition, organized by the 1001 Inventions Foundation in cooperation with ALJ Community Initiatives, has already visited London and Istanbul as part of a global tour.

The exhibition takes the visitors on a tour through its seven divisions to see replicas of the astonishing inventions of the Middle Ages. It reveals the huge impact of Muslim civilization on today's life. Visitors start the tour watching a documentary titled “1001 Inventions and Library of Secrets”.

Displayed on a seven-meter high screen, the 13-minute documentary accompanies a group of children in a journey in which they discover the period mistakenly referred as the Dark Ages. Starring in the documentary is Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley, who plays the role of the 18th century Engineer Al-Jazari. The children discover a wealth of knowledge about the Muslim inventions in the period from the 7th to 17th centuries. The documentary has won several international awards from the US and Europe.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article236448.ece

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/urban-“terrorism”-growing-threat-in-pakistan--report/d/3947


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