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Islamic World News ( 29 Dec 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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US empowers Muslim women


Intensified drone strikes kill 18 in North Waziristan

Hindu terror to take centre stage at Jamiat meeting

US Drone Kills Seven In Pak

Joshi used HRD post to promote Hindutva

Two jailed in Turkey for hijacking

Two terrorists killed in Mohmand

Police: Nigeria radical Muslim sect wounds 3

Kingdom plans hospitals in all 24 universities

188 vie for top spots at Qur'an contest

Ahmadiyya community condemns terror in name of Islam

No way to seal Afghan-Pakistan border: US

Fazlur Rehman rejects Malik's request to rejoin Pak coalition govt

Indy Woman Dubbed 'Jihad Kathie' Denies Terrorism Link

Muslims urged not to shun spiritualism; 350 Nikahs performed in Ijtima

Somali Shabaab's threat to strike US seen empty

Majlis amend laws over Rf600,000 a year retirement package to former judge with fraud record

A daughter's YouTube plea from Yemen, a mother found in Alaska

PML-N to announce anti-govt drive tomorrow

‘LSE, Big Ben among potential targets of UK X’mas terror plot’

Israel will not apologise to Turkey over flotilla raid: PM

Jamiat demands PM’s resignation

Jolt to fragile Gilani Govt as MQM set to quit Cabinet

West hostility harms nuclear talks: Iran

Radical Nigerian Muslim group owns up attacks

Pranab: India, Pakistan have made progress in easing visa curbs

 ‘Benazir’s killers are shielded’


Evidence of Hindu extremist link to Samjhauta, say officials, add caution

US embassy was target of UK terror plot

Iran hangs `spy' it says worked for Mossad

Israeli firms to build Palestinian city

Israel arrests 10 Palestinians, including a Hamas legislator

Palestinians routinely denied lawyer: Israeli NGO

MQM to show strength at Minar-e-Pakistan

Pak-US relations remain stable despite ups and downs: Mushahid

Four ISO students injured in blast at Karachi University

ECP completes hearing of 13 legislators’ fake degree cases

48 injured after Israeli train catches fire

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




US empowers Muslim women

Brian Knowlton

They Gain Much Higher Profile In The Country Than In Islamic Nations

Atlanta: Around September 11,2001,not long after she founded the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta,Soumaya Khalifa heard from a group whose name sounded like Bakers Club. It wanted a presentation.

The address was unfamiliar,but she went anyway.The group turned out to be the Bickerers Club,whose members love to argue.Islam was their topic du jour and their venue was a tavern.Khalifa laughed,and made the best of it.

Khalifa,born in Egypt and raised in Texas,wears a head scarf but also juggles,comfortably,the demands of American suburbia: crowded schedule,minivan and all.She is one of a type now found in most US cities: vocal Muslim women wary of predominantly male leadership of their community and weary of suspicions of non-Muslims about Islam.

These women have achieved a level of success and visibility unmatched elsewhere.They say they are molded by the freedoms of the United States and by the intellectual ferment stirred when American-born and immigrant Muslims mix.

What were seeing now in America is what has been sort of a quiet or informal empowerment of women, said Shireen Zaman,director of Institute for Social Policy and Understanding,founded after 2001 attacks to provide research on American Muslims.In many of our home countries,socially or politically it wouldve been harder for Muslim women to take a leadership role.Its actually quite empowering to be Muslim in America.

Tayyibah Taylor is a convert of Caribbean descent in Atlanta who founded a glossy magazine,Azizah,to celebrate Muslim women of achievement.I didnt see Islam as taking my freedoms as a woman, said Taylor,who is 57 and studied the Koran in Jidda for six years.It really opened up worlds for me.

Times of INdia



December 29, 2010

A war of words erupt ed between Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday over Singh's statements on Hindu radical groups indulging in what Singh has termed “majority terrorism“.

It all started with the BJP leader stating that Singh's stand will damage the Congress and weaken India's efforts to combat terrorism. Sinha also said that Singh would learn about the impact “when the people would react to his remarks“.

Singh retaliated, “If Sinha is so interested in Congress, he should join us.“ He also clarified on remarks attributed to him at a book release function in Mumbai on Monday where he is reported to have said slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare was like God for Muslims. Singh on Tuesday said he meant Karkare was a saviour of Muslims.

The BJP on Monday attacked Singh and his party, asking, “Congress and Sonia Gandhi should reply whether Singh has been appointed Congress spokesperson for dividing the country,“ BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

The Congress went into damage control. Party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said, “Digvijaya Singh had used it like a proverb.“ `SENTENCE TO BINAYAK NEEDS TO BE REVIEWED' Digvijaya Singh also sought a review of the judgement sentencing rights activist Binayak Sen to life imprisonment on sedition charges.

“I feel that Sen is a very fine human being and because of this, the judgement against him needs to be reviewed,“ he said.

HindustAN Times


Intensified drone strikes kill 18 in North Waziristan

December 29, 2010

MIRAMSHAH: At least 18 suspected militants and civilians were killed on Tuesday in what appears to be a surge in US drone attacks in the volatile North Waziristan, official sources said.

The death toll from seven back-to-back strikes in the region adjacent to the border with Afghanistan during the past 24 hours jumped to 43.

On Monday unmanned aircraft targeted three vehicles in Mirali tehsil, killing 25 suspected militants. The majority of those killed belonged to Orakzai Agency and Bannu district.

Local officials said that two missiles were fired at two suspected compounds at around 10am on Tuesday in Sherkhel area, an abandoned Afghan refugee camp in Ghulam Khan tehsil. Four people were killed.

The area people said that Kochis (Afghan nomads) lived in the compounds.

Local people were searching the place for survivors when the drone fired two missiles, killing four more people and injuring three others.

The names of the dead and wounded could not be ascertained.

In the third strike, a pickup truck carrying the wounded people from Ghulam Khan was targeted near another abandoned refugee camp called Nawab camp. Two missiles were fired in which four people were killed.

Sources said that two cars were heading towards the destroyed truck when the drone fired another volley of missiles, leaving another six people dead.

AP adds: The strikes come in the final days of a year that has seen an unprecedented number of drone attacks as part of a ramped-up US campaign to take out Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters seeking sanctuary outside Afghanistan.

Around 115 missile strikes have been launched this year – more than doubling last year’s total. Nearly all have landed in North Waziristan, a region that allegedly hosts several militant groups battling the US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, including the Haqqani network.


Hindu terror to take centre stage at Jamiat meeting

December 29, 2010

In line with Congress’s Hindu terror agenda, the two-day meeting of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind (JUH), the biggest body of Muslim clerics, will discuss the alleged terror link of right-wing Hindu outfits.

While the Jamiat leaders refused to come on record in view of the sensitivities involved, sources in the organisation said, “The two-day national executive committee meeting of the Jamiat, starting on Wednesday, will deliberate upon the issue of fascism, communalism and terrorism and their emerging relationship with the RSS.”

“The new trend of linkages of terror with the right-wing outfits is of particular concern as the same is directed against the Muslim community,” the sources said, adding a response of the community has to be evolved to counter the threat.

The issue will figure during the discussions on Jamiat’s ongoing “Save the Nation and Community Movement” that began in 1979 and repeated in 1983, 2002 and May 2010.

Under the ruling UPA dispensation at the Centre, a number of persons connected with the right-wing outfits have been named as accused in terror incidents like the Mecca Masjid blasts and the Ajmer blasts cases. However, the RSS has denied its involvement in any terror act.

Top Jamiat leader and Rajya Sabha MP Maulana Mehmood Madani, JUH president Maulana Qari Usman, head of Shamsul Huda Board, Patna, Maulana Qasim, head of Tableeghi Jamat, Maulana Ahmed Deola and general secretary of Deeni Taleem (Religious) Board of India, Mufti Salman Mansoorpuri among others will attend the national meet.

The Jamiat will also discuss whether the guidelines issued by the HRD Ministry on the implementation of the Right to Education Act are sufficient enough to take care of the concerns raised by the community or a Parliamentary amendment is required to offset the apprehensions of the Muslim community over the fallout of the Central Act on madrassa education.

The agenda of the meet also includes formulation of a strategy for expeditious implementation of the recommendations of Sachar Committee and those of the Ranganath Mishra Commission report.

The besides, the oldest outfit of the Muslim clerics will also decide upon the future course of action for inclusion of a clause in the Communal Violence Bill for fixing responsibility upon the administrative officials for failure to maintain communal harmony.

In May 2010, the Jamiat leaders had submitted a memorandum for implementation of the recommendations of Sachar panel and those of the Mishra commission report within six months to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. However, the assurances to that effect are yet to be translated into action.

The meet will on Thursday also elect the Ameer-ul-Hind (head) of Darul Qaza (Islamic courts for personal laws) as the former incumbent and rector of Darool Uloom Deoband Maulana Marghubur Rahman passed away earlier this month.


US Drone Kills Seven In Pak

Dec 28, 2010

Islamabad: An unmanned US aircraft on Tuesday fired four missiles into two compounds in Pakistan's tribal region near the Afghan border, killing seven people, security officials said.

The attack raised the death toll to 25 from drone airstrikes within 24 hours against suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda hideouts.

An intelligence official said the drone fired two missiles at each compound on Tuesday in the Ghulam Khan village near Miran Shah, the headquarters of the North Waziristan tribal district.

"The information we have received so far shows that three people died in one compound and four in another," the official said.

A second intelligence officer said the drone fired two more missiles into one of the compounds as local residents were trying to pull bodies from the debris.

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"The death toll might rise significantly," he said.

"We are trying to gather further information."

On Monday, US drones killed at least 18 suspected militants when they targeted a vehicle near a roadside security check post and a compound, also in North Waziristan, intelligence officials said.

US forces have intensified their drone campaign in Pakistan's tribal region. More than 100 strikes this year have killed more than 600 people.


Joshi used HRD post to promote Hindutva

Subodh Ghildiyal

New Delhi: BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi has come in for strong criticism from the Congress for using the perch of the HRD minister to promote Hindutva in education during NDAs regime,

Congress had targeted Joshi during his successive terms as the HRD minister in the Vajpayee regime,singling him out as the chief architect to use education to promote Sanghs communal agenda.It has said new history books were introduced,where historical facts were distorted and prejudiced statements made.Like,Gandhijis assassination was ignored in a Class X textbook.Later,a small paragraph on the killing was inserted following a countrywide uproar,but it did not mention Godses RSS links.

In an interesting coincidence,partys official history,unveiled at the just-concluded plenary session,has been released at a time when Congress leaders are banking on Joshi to accept Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs offer to appear before Parliaments Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain his role in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

There is a new-found appreciation for Joshi,now referred to as a senior leader who is the chairman of the PAC and appears to be resisting the pressure from the BJP and other in the Opposition not to let Singh appear before the committee.However,partys official history marks a sharp indictment of Joshi for his alleged attempt to communalise the curriculum.

Quoting examples like alluding to the minorities as foreigners in a textbook in Gujarat and accusing the government of appointing pro-RSS people in autonomous organisations to preempt opposition,the party history says,HRD minister M M Joshi,a firm supporter of the RSS/VHP ideology of Hindu Rashtra,was the force behind this move.

Thee irony of the political situation and the Congress history book unfolding at the same time was not lost on leaders who pored over the chapter on Congresss years in opposition alongside the nerves in BJP over his refusal,at least as of now,to toe the party line.

The tension was evident when leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj,a day after Joshi turned down pleas for summary rejection of PMs request for deposition,tweeted that rules did not permit for ministers and PMs to appear before the PAC,which was seen as advice to her own leader.As a leader laughed,he is a suspect in both camps.

Times of INdia


Two jailed in Turkey for hijacking

December 29, 2010

ANKARA: Turkey's state-run news agency says a court convicted a Palestinian man of having ties to Al-Qaeda and attempting a plane hijacking and sentenced him and his Turkish accomplice to 27 years and six months in prison.

The Anatolia agency says the men were sentenced Tuesday.

The two, using a fake bomb, attempted to divert an Atlasjet flight to Iran after it took off from northern Cyprus in 2007.

The pilots instead landed in Antalya, on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, on the pretext of refueling and fled the aircraft. The ordeal ended a few hours later with the surrender of the hijackers.

Police said the Palestinian suspect had been trained at an Al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in 2004 and the two wanted to join Al-Qaeda once they reached Iran.


Two terrorists killed in Mohmand

December 29, 2010

LAHORE: The security forces killed at least two terrorists and injured four others in a gun battle in the Mohmand Agency, a private TV channel reported on Tuesday.

According to details, the gun battle began after the Taliban attacked a checkpost in the Mohmand tribal region, an official said. The terrorists armed with sophisticated weapons launched an attack on the Ziarat security checkpost in Saafi tehsil. In retaliatory action, security forces killed two of the attackers and injured four others.

Separately, a security official was injured as a land mine exploded in Ambar tehsil of the tribal region, the channel reported.\12\29\story_29-12-2010_pg7_25


Police: Nigeria radical Muslim sect wounds 3

December 29, 2010

The Borno state police spokesman said Wednesday that members of the radical Muslim sect Boko Haram had shot a retired senior police officer and two civilians in the city of Maiduguri Tuesday.

The group is also blamed for two Christmas Eve attacks on churches that killed six people.

In a statement attributed to the group, Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for Christmas Eve bomb blasts in a city about 320 miles (520 kilometers) away that left at least 32 dead.

Boko Haram was thought to be vanquished in 2009 after Nigeria's military crushed its mosque and its leader died in police custody. But now, a year later, members have stepped up attacks.


Kingdom plans hospitals in all 24 universities

December 29, 2010

JEDDAH: Higher Education Minister Khaled Al-Anqari on Tuesday announced his ministry’s plan to establish medical colleges and hospitals at all of the Kingdom’s 24 government universities.

“We have already started work on some of these university hospitals and contracts will be awarded within a few days to implement the rest of the university hospital projects,” the minister said.

“These are educational hospitals. At the same time they will provide health services to people in their respective provinces,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Al-Anqari as saying while visiting Al-Jouf University.

He said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has approved 33 new colleges including seven in Makkah, six in Qassim and four in Tabuk.  Twelve UNESCO chairs for scientific research in five Saudi universities have also been approved.

The move to establish university hospitals aims at increasing the number of Saudi physicians and medical consultants and providing them with advanced training. At present Saudis account for only 20 percent of the Kingdom’s doctors.

Prof. Yassir Bahadur, chairman of the radiology department at King Abdulaziz University Medical College, emphasized the need to open more medical colleges and university hospitals in the Kingdom to meet the growing demand for physicians.

“There is a dire shortage of Saudi physicians. The population is increasing and more and more hospitals and medical centers are coming up in various parts of the country.  So we need more doctors.”

He said many Saudi students find it difficult to get admission at foreign medical colleges. “I take this opportunity to congratulate the minister for this smart and long-term plan,” he told Arab News.

Bahadur said establishment of hospitals at universities would help their medical students achieve quality training. “Some universities like Umm Al-Qura, which do not have a hospital, sent their medical students to public hospitals for training,” he pointed out.

Al-Anqari said the new hospital at Al-Jouf University would have 200 beds in the initial stage, adding that the capacity would be increased to 800 beds gradually as planned for all university hospitals in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has given top priority to education and training to prepare its younger generation to get actively involved in the nation-building process. The new budget for 2011 has allocated SR150 billion (26 percent of the total) for education and training.

The Health Ministry last year announced a plan to increase the number of Saudi doctors at its hospitals by 2020 as part of a major Saudization initiative. According to the plan, there will be 25,858 Saudi doctors (50.4 percent of the total) within the next 10 years.

In May 2009, the ministry introduced a new pay scale to woo Saudi doctors. Under the new scale, consultants received a pay rise of 30 percent, deputy doctors 16 percent, resident doctors 15 percent, consultant specialists 41 percent, senior specialists 25 percent and specialists 10 percent.


188 vie for top spots at Qur'an contest

December 29, 2010

MAKKAH: One hundred and eighty-eight contestants from 64 countries are competing for leading positions at the 32nd King Abdul Aziz International Qur'an Recitation and Memorization competition inside the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh Al-Asheikh opened the competition on Sunday and highlighted the role of the Holy Qur'an in unifying the Islamic Ummah. He called for greater efforts to spread its message all over the world.

The contests are held in five categories. The ministry has allocated SR888,000 as cash prizes to winners. The first-prize winner in the first category will get SR75,000 while the second and third prizewinners will get SR72,000 and SR69,000 respectively. The fourth place finisher will receive SR66,000 and the contestant finishing fifth SR63,000.

In the second category the first five winners will receive SR55,000, SR52,000, SR49,000, SR46,000 and SR43,000 respectively. In the third SR40,000, SR37,000, SR34,000, SR31,000 and SR28,000. In the fourth SR25,000, SR22,000, SR19,000, SR16,000 and SR13,000. Winners of the fifth category will receive SR10,000, SR8,000, SR6,000, SR5,000 and SR4,000.


Ahmadiyya community condemns terror in name of Islam


Qadian (Punjab), Dec 28 (IANS) The Ahmadiyya Muslim community, which is holding its annual congregation in this Punjab town, Tuesday strongly condemned terror in the name of Islam.

Community leaders, while addressing the 119th annual congregation, said it was wrong to associate Islam with terrorism as the religion never allowed any terror activities.

Mohammed Muslehuddin Saadi, Ahmadiyya missionary from Hyderabad, said 'Jihad' is the most misunderstood concept and Islam never promoted violence.

'Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. The word 'Jihad' itself means make efforts to achieve something,' he said on the fourth and final day of the congregation.

He added that forcible conversion of people to Islam was unjustified.

Other leaders of the community also addressed the convention.

Considered a renegade sect by Shia and Sunni Muslims, the Ahmadiyyas, who advocate peaceful co-existence and have often expressed anguish against rising Islamic fundamentalism, live in several countries.

Qadian, a small town in Punjab about 250 km from Chandigarh, is the birthplace of the sect, which was founded in the late 19th century (1889) by Muslim spiritual leader Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The town is now the headquarters of the sect.

Over 4,000 delegates from Pakistan were among the nearly 20,000 community members who attended the spiritual convention. Followers of the community are spread in nearly 200 countries.


No way to seal Afghan-Pakistan border: US

December 29, 2010

WASHINGTON: A US military commander says there is no practical way to seal Afghanistan’s vast border with Pakistan and stop all Taliban fighters from slipping through, so troops are focusing on defending vulnerable towns and fighting insurgents on Afghan soil.

Army Col. Viet Luong, who oversees US forces in a section of eastern Afghanistan, told reporters on Tuesday that ”to secure the border in the traditional sense” would ”take an inordinate amount of resources.”

Luong said it also would require far more cooperation from the tribes inside Pakistan who often provide Taliban fighters safe passage.

Other senior US military officials have said they hope the Pakistan military does more to shut down Taliban hideouts. But the US has denied reports that American forces are pushing to expand special operations raids inside Pakistan.


Fazlur Rehman rejects Malik's request to rejoin Pak coalition govt


Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has declined Interior Minister Rehman Malik's request to rejoin the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition government.

Malik had made the request during a meeting with Fazl at the latter's residence, the Dawn quoted JUI-F sources as saying.

Later on, a delegation of ten MNAs from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) also met with Fazl, requesting him to soften his stance toward Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

But he rejected their request as well, and said he would not change his position, as "the prime minister had sabotaged the Pakistan People's Party's reconciliation policy".

According to a report, Fazl's aide, Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, said the JUI-F would rejoin the government only if President Asif Ali Zardari sacked Gilani, adding that the premier must be punished for stirring up tensions when he sacked a JUI-F lawmaker from his Cabinet.

The JUI-F has also refused an offer to nominate a Cabinet minister from its ranks as replacement, the report said.

"We will only consider working with the ruling party if President Asif Ali Zardari sacks Gilani," said Ahmad, following the JUI-F chief's meeting with Malik.

Fazl had demanded Gilani's resignation just hours after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced that it was quitting the federal cabinet.

"The prime minister should resign and the PPP should appoint a new one," Fazl was quoted as saying.

"He (Gilani) has sabotaged the process of reconciliation among coalition partners and his actions have caused political instability in the country," he said, adding, "The government is under pressure and the president will have to take this step." (ANI)


Indy Woman Dubbed 'Jihad Kathie' Denies Terrorism Link

December 29, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis woman dubbed "Jihad Kathie" by some online admits she's on the radar of U.S. authorities after a video she made with her husband, but denies she has any links to terrorism.

Kathie Smith, 46, a U.S. citizen and a convert to Islam, married a man last year who reported is a suspected German jihadist, and has been flying back and forth to Germany to visit him.

Recently, a nearly six-minute video surfaced showing Smith and her husband, known online as Salahudin Ibn Ja'far, 28, posing, hugging and holding weapons along with photos of men accused of plotting attacks against Americans in Germany and assorted jihadist propaganda.

 "They're saying it's my husband… that I married, who's in Germany, has ties to ... a cell over in Germany, and that's not true,” Smith, who goes by the Muslim name Zubaida, told 6News' Rick Hightower. “Now, he did know these people."

Smith claims the men featured in the video are childhood friends of her husband and that the tribute was an attempt to honor them.

In a recent e-mail exchange with, Smith wrote, “In the video, he was expressing his love and gratitude to his friends who have died fighting for freedom. … There is no difference in gratitude and love. It is just that your government has deemed these noble men as 'terrorists' because they are not on the same side.” also reported that in online postings Smith has celebrated the deaths of U.S. soldiers -- who she called terrorists -- at the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan, applauded another user’s posting of a rendering of the two planes hitting the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, and repeatedly called for jihad against the West.

But Smith has denied she is anti-American, saying she doesn't like how the U.S. government is treating people in other countries, but that she has a right to free speech.

"And to be called, what is it they're calling me, Jihad Kathie? That is horrible. I'm nothing like that," she told 6News.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security confirmed to 6News that the agency has been made aware of the video of Smith and her husband.

Officials said it has been turned it over to state police and the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, which collects information to share with local, state and federal law enforcement.

As is standard practice, federal officials would not confirm nor deny they're investigating the couple.


Muslims urged not to shun spiritualism; 350 Nikahs performed in Ijtima

December 28, 2010

Bhopal: Muslims all over the world are at the receiving end for directing all their efforts and energies on materialism and giving a goby to spiritualism which links them to their Creator.

Maulana Shaukat addressing intellectuals in the 63rd “Aalami Tablighi Ijtima” (World Preachers’ Congregation) said on Sunday that Muslims are at the receiving end everywhere despite the fact that the amount of wealth and education possessed by the followers of Islam the world over is much more than what they had 1400 years ago at the time of advent of Islam during the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and later during the rule of four of his Caliphs. The Muslims nowadays, however, despite having everything with enormous resources at their disposal are scorned and despised by other communities as they have abandoned the way of life of their Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He said on the contrary 1400 years back the Muslims did not had money-power and were even educationally backward but still shone like zenith on the face of the earth far and wide. Thereby tribes after tribes entered Islam due to its principles of equality, justice, peace and tranquility as ordained by Allah Almighty to lead a life of dignity in this world and Hereafter.

On the second day separate special religious discourses were held for intellectuals, traders, farmers, students etc. and the participants were asked to follow the Islamic religious tenets in their spirit apart from the message for universal brotherhood. Prominent “Akabreens” (Tableeghi elders) who addressed the gatherings included: Maulana Zubair, Maulana Sa’ad, Maulana Shaukat, Dr. Sanaullah, Maulana Mustaqueem etc.

In all 350 Nikahs were performed in the Ijtima in the evening on Sunday after Asr prayers in the spirit of Islam by Maulana Zubair from the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat at New Delhi. Before performing Nikahs Maulana Zubair threw light on the importance of Nikah and to perform it in a simple manner without any pomp and show entailing extravagant expenditure.

The Ijtima will conclude Monday with mass “Dua” (prayer) when several lakhs of people will join to seek salvation in Hereafter and universal brotherhood and peace.


Somali Shabaab's threat to strike US seen empty

Wed Dec 29, 2010

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's Islamist al Shabaab rebels are seen as lacking the numbers and unity of purpose to carry out a threat by one of their leaders to attack the United States on its own territory.

Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, number three in the group, said on Monday the al Qaeda-linked Islamists would carry out attacks in the United States if President Barack Obama and American citizens did not convert to Islam.

While al Shabaab managed to carry out a major bomb attack in Uganda earlier this year, Somalia analysts based in the country and outside this week dismissed the threat against Washington as propaganda.

"I do not believe al Shabaab can implement its threat to the U.S. It is more propaganda," Rage Farah, a history lecturer at a Mogadishu university, told Reuters.

"Al Shabaab itself admits that it failed to overcome AU (African Union) forces. They may threaten Uganda, countries that are within their reach."

Together with soldiers loyal to the Somali government, the AMISOM African Union peacekeeping force has been making gains over al Shabaab fighters in Mogadishu in recent weeks, suggesting the insurgents are falling back in their campaign to overthrow the government.

Abdiwahab Abdi Samad, a lecturer in armed conflict and peace studies at the university of Nairobi, said the group has no more than 3,000 to 5,000 local fighters, who have been joined by about 200 foreign recruits from countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The insurgents are also split down the middle in terms of ideology, with half espousing jihadist tendencies and the other half just interested in bringing Somalia under their rule, Samad added.


Al Shabaab, which means "the youth" in Arabic, controls most of the south of Somalia and much of Mogadishu, from where they launch attacks on the United Nations-backed government.

Headed by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the Transitional Federal Government is protected by the 8,000-strong African Union force, mainly drawn from Uganda and Burundi.

In July, two suicide bombings in the Ugandan capital killed 79 people. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility and identified the presence of Ugandan troops in Somalia as grounds for further reprisals.

Security officials in East Africa have stepped up their state of alert following renewed threats from al Shabaab. A bag containing a hand grenade, that was about to be put on a Kampala-bound bus in Nairobi, exploded last week, killing two people.

In his comments to reporters this week, Khalaf also urged Islamist fighters in Yemen -- seen in the West as an emerging source of radicalised militants -- to join in the fight against Christians.

Afyare Elmi, a Somali professor of politics at Qatar University in Doha, said al Shabaab's "loud claims" were intended to show the group's fighters in a favourable light.

But Rashid Abdi, a Nairobi-based Somalia analyst for the International Crisis Group, said that while there was an element of propaganda in the group's latest threat, it should not be dismissed completely.

"They are at war with the whole of the West because it is behind the Transitional Federal Government ... the threats shouldn't be taken lightly," Abdi said.


Majlis amend laws over Rf600,000 a year retirement package to former judge with fraud record

By Azra Naseem

December 29th, 2010

The Majlis yesterday amended the Justice Act (13/2010) to award a Rf 53,250 monthly retirement package to former Interim-Supreme Court Justice Mujthaz Fahmy, who was found to have embezzled state funds in 1996.

Former Justice Fahmy claimed, by fraudulent means, Rf900 in overtime pay while working as a judge at former Court No.2 in 1996. A development that casts doubt over his moral character and according to the principle of hadd offences, whether he met the constitutionally-stipulated Islamic qualifications required for the bench.

According to a letter seen by Minivan News that was sent to the Justice Ministry by the Anti-Corruption Board in June 2009, former Justice Fahmy and another judge were said to have deliberately omitted their working hours from attendance records to carry out the deception, and to fraudulently obtain pay for work they had not done.

None of the 77 MPs who were present when the retirement package was passed yesterday raised the question of former Justice Fhamy’s fraud record, despite some MPs openly admitting the package was being introduced especially for the former Justice.

Dismissing any objections to the extraordinary circumstance where the nation’s legislative body passes a law designed for a specific person, Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed said, “Even though it may appear today that this is an amendment proposed for one person only, it is something that we have to do for the future.”

MP Rasheed also pointed out that the People’s Majlis passing a law for the benefit of one particular person is not without precedent. He asked members to recall another similar legislation passed with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in mind.

MP Afraasheem Ali, who had introduced one of the amendments, also made it clear that it was a purpose-built package for former Justice Fahmy.

“I believe that it will enhance the strength of the country’s judiciary immensely if we were to award these benefits, as we have proposed in the amendments, to Mr Mujthaz, the judge who recently left the Supreme Court”, MP Afraasheem Ali said.

MP Afraasheem said judges are awarded high salaries and benefits to ensure their ethical and disciplinary standards, and that it is essential for them to continue to be able to uphold their dignity and impeccable ethical standards even after they leave office.

“If a retired Justice were forced to wheel a cart on the street after leaving the bench, it will not give them the respect and the love that they received in office, and still deserve”. That is why, he said, it was essential for Mujthaz – who was specifically named in the Majlis – to be awarded the package.

Constitutional requirements

Article 149 of the 2008 Constitution requires that only those who possess the stipulated educational qualifications and competence, in addition to a “high moral character”, are eligible for the bench.

It also stipulates that only those who “have not been convicted of an offence for which a hadd is prescribed in Islam, criminal breach of trust, or bribery” should be allowed on the bench.

Theft, big or small, is one of the hadd offences prescribed in Islam.

A judge’s required professional qualifications, as stipulated under the Constitution, requires education in Islamic Shari’ah or law in addition to a minimum of seven years experience.

Former Justice Fahmy’s education qualifications, although a matter of public interest, are not publicly available. Documents seen by Minivan News show that in addition to the “Sentencing Certificate” with which former Justice Fahmy first sat on the bench, he has undergone four other training programmes in the last 29 years.

In 1985, he attended a two-month “Training for Island Court Judges”; a four-month “Training to Upgrade Judges” in 1996 – the same year in which he was found to have made fraudulent claims for overtime; a month long “Computer Course conducted by CPL” in 1998; and a four-day training programme conducted for Maldivian Judges and Court Administrators in Singapore in October 2007.

According to these records, Justice Fahmy spent a combined total of roughly eight months –217 days – spread over a period of 26 years training for his career in the judiciary, which ultimately put him on the Interim-Supreme Court bench and has now provided him with the lifetime retirement package of Rf600,000.

The above total does not include the unspecified number of days it took him to acquire the initial “Sentencing Certificate”, but includes the month in 1998 which he took to learn how to use a computer.

There is no record of whether or not former Justice Fahmy had any formal education before acquiring his sentencing ‘sanadh’ or certificate.

A law degree takes an average of four years to obtain, and has higher entry requirements than most other faculties in the humanities.

Article 285 of the Constitution required that the Judicial Service Commission – established to oversee the professional, ethical and disciplinary standards of the judiciary – remove from the bench by August 2010 any sitting judge who did not fit the criteria stipulated in Article 149.

Former Justice Fahmy himself was the Vice Chair of the Judicial Service Commission from 2008 to 2010. He was removed on 7 August 2010, when the Interim Supreme Court was abolished and the Supreme Court proper established in its place. He also lost his seat in the JSC as a result.

MP Afraasheem, who introduced part of the amendments to reward former Justice Fahmy the retirement package, is also on the Judicial Service Commission and was a colleague of former Justice Fahmy.

MP Afraasheem is on record as having said that Article 285 is “symbolic”, suggesting that he does not regard the Constitutional stipulations concerning a judge’s qualifications and moral character as legally binding.

Fonadhoo MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, who introduced the amendments at Majlis yesterday, is in the Parliamentary Oversight Committee for Independent Commissions, with oversight of the Judicial Service Commission.

Speaker Abdulla Shahid is also a member of the JSC.

MP Afraasheem also proposed to the Majlis yesterday that the benefits package for retired Supreme Court Judges should begin from 7 August 2010. It was the day on which former Justice Fahmy was ousted from the two positions he held – the Interim-Supreme Court bench and the JSC seat.

Job benefits

Minivan News has also learnt that despite Justice Fahmy not having been a member of the judiciary for the last four months, he has continued to receive full salary and benefits “pending a decision by the Majlis”.

The salary for a Supreme Court Justice is Rf51,000, plus Rf20,000 in living allowances.

A “Special Car”, or “Kaaru Kolhu” as well as medical insurance worth Rf12,000 is also part of the monthly remunerations.

The amendments approved by Majlis yesterday also entitles a Supreme Court Justice who retires after 20-25 years of service to two thirds of a serving Supreme Court Justice’s salary.

If the retirement is after 25 years of service, they are entitled to three fourths of the salary. Benefits and other living expenses as well as state protection, and the status of a dignitary are also included in the package.

It will become law if President Nasheed ratifies the amendments within fifteen days of receiving them from the Majlis.


A daughter's YouTube plea from Yemen, a mother found in Alaska

By JULIA O'MALLEY - McClatchy Newspapers

Dec. 29, 2010

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA In 2007, a Malaysian woman made a YouTube video to ask for help solving a personal mystery.

In the video, the woman wears Islamic dress, her head covered in a pink scarf that wraps under her chin. She introduces herself as Halimah Hajar. She is 39 years old and looking for her mother, whom she has not seen in 32 years. She holds her passport in front of the camera. It's American. She was born in Chicago, she says. When she was small, she lived in New York City. Then she was sent to Malaysia to live with her father's family. She never saw her mother again.

Kate Saganna, Halimah repeats for the camera. Kate Saganna. That is her mother's name. She holds up a blurry photo of a dark-haired woman on a city street, with a baby in her arms.

"This is the only photo of my mother I have," she says.

Then Halimah holds up a letter. It was written by her mother in 1991.

The return address: Fairbanks, Alaska.

"I appeal to anyone out there especially in Alaska Fairbanks or in America or anywhere, if you know my mother, if she is still alive, please tell her that I miss her," Halimah says, her face filling the frame, her voice breaking. "I would like to keep in touch with her. I love her very much."

In 2008, Kate Saganna's nephew, Ronald Saganna Jr. and his girlfriend, Liz, searched "Saganna" on the Internet. The YouTube video appeared.

They forwarded the video to the rest of the family, including Kate's nephew, Daniel Lum, a 37-year-old hotel desk clerk in Anchorage. It was Daniel who called to tell me his family's story.

When he saw the video, Daniel knew Halimah's face right away, he said.

She was the cousin he had heard about. The one who went missing as a child. She looked just like his Aunt Kate when she was young.

Daniel and others in the family sent messages to Malaysia. Kate Saganna was alive, they wrote. She lives in Barrow. They promised Halimah they would help her and Kate make contact.

In Daniel's family, Kate's story is a tragic one. It began many years ago on a spring day in Barrow, according to Esther Lum, Daniel's mother and Kate's sister, who lives in Fairbanks. On that day, Kate must have been about 10 years old, Esther said.

"She went up on the barge and she fell into the ocean," Esther said.

Kate floated in the cold water for a long time before she was pulled out. By a miracle, she was revived, Esther said.

"After that she got real eccentric. She was very smart. But real eccentric."

Kate's and Esther's family broke up. The girls left Barrow when they were still in elementary school. They were sent to separate foster homes in Fairbanks. Kate gave birth to Ron, her first child, in 1966.

Kate went to Chicago to go to college and met Halimah's father, Esther said. They had Halimah, and a younger brother, Zainuddin. Kate drove a taxi cab.

She was Christian and Halimah's father was devout Muslim. After a while, the cultural differences between them caused their relationship to fray, Esther said. They split up. And one day Halimah and Zainuddin disappeared, Esther said. Kate learned later they had been sent to Malaysia.

As far as the family knows, Kate didn't go to the police. She eventually returned to Alaska, but she wasn't the same. Her behavior became more erratic. She had a fourth child, William. He was raised by Kate's parents in Fairbanks and Barrow. More recently, Kate was homeless in Anchorage and Fairbanks. She had brushes with the legal system, according to public records. Now she lives in elder housing in Barrow. I left her a message there, but she didn't return the call.

She can usually be found outside the village grocery store, according to her family.

"She sits on the bench and usually asks me for a sandwich and a drink," said Mary Sage, one of Kate's nieces who lives in Barrow.

Kate talks about her missing children, Sage said. Before the YouTube video, Sage tried to find Halimah and Zainuddin online. She hoped it would bring her aunt peace, she said.

After the family made contact with Halimah, Daniel helped make a video of Kate to post on YouTube so Halimah could see her. In the video, Kate stands in the snow outside the Fairbanks Rescue Mission and smiles into the camera.

"I miss you a whole bunch Halimah," Kate says. "I love you, love you and love you."

Daniel, Mary and other family members continued to correspond with Halimah for almost two years. She told them she was divorced. She had a grown son. She worked sometimes as a waitress. She had a degree in computer science. She was very devout, living in Yemen, studying at a religious school.

Daniel told her his family was Inupiat. He speaks to his five children in Inupiaq. He grew up in Barrow eating whale and walrus and seal.

Halimah knew nothing about this side of her family's culture.

"I told her she was Eskimo and she started laughing, then she started crying," Daniel said.

Halimah said she wanted to move to the United States. Daniel's family sent her a one-way ticket. She arrived on a recent December Saturday.

When Daniel saw Halimah at the airport, he was overcome. He wanted to hug her, but she told him it was against her religion for man who wasn't an immediate relative to touch her. So they just smiled and cried. His children went to her immediately, wrapping her in hugs.

Halimah said she was afraid when she arrived in America, because she had heard that the country was unfriendly to Muslims. But when she got off the plane she saw Muslim women in the terminal. Daniel told her right away that Americans are free to practice any religion.

Daniel gave her winter clothes and they went to Walmart. Halima saw more Muslim women. They also ran into people from Barrow in town for Christmas shopping. Daniel introduced Halimah to everyone.

"I want her to be welcomed wherever she goes," he said.

Halimah must pray five times a day. Daniel wasn't used to that. Once they had to pull into the parking at Century 16. She set up her mat next to the car and prayed, facing Mecca, while his family watched from the car.

Daniel and Halimah came to the Daily News on Dec. 20. Halimah wore her head scarf and a Hawaiian-print kuspuk Daniel had given her.

Halimah always longed to know what became of her mother, she said. After her father died, his brother suggested she make the video.

She knew her mother had been through a lot, that her mental health had suffered. I asked what she expected when she arrived in Barrow.

"I just have to be a daughter, what a daughter is supposed to be, to be patient and accept her," Halimah said. "She is my mother no matter what."

Halimah flew to Barrow on Wednesday morning. Just before noon that day,

Mary e-mailed me a picture: Halimah, Kate and Halimah's half-brother William sitting at the airport, all together, with tears in their eyes.


PML-N to announce anti-govt drive tomorrow

29 Dec 2010

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) will announce tomorrow a decision to strike the field against the government, as Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman have already moved out against the government.

A meeting of the party’s high-ups was held in Raiwind. PML-N decided at the meeting to move public opinion against the government. The decision will be made public at the party’s founding day tomorrow.

Various PML-N leaders including party’s chief Mian Nawaz Sharif, Khawja Asif, Saad Rafiq and Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa attended the meeting.

Nawaz Sharif remarked that people are buckling under the onus of exorbitant prices, underscoring the need for the government to take steps for relief to general public.

PML-N does not back up any unconstitutional change in the country, he added. SAMAA


‘LSE, Big Ben among potential targets of UK X’mas terror plot’

December 29, 2010

The nine people including one of Indian descent, who were arrested in the UK for plotting a Christmas bombing campaign, had planned to target the London Stock Exchange, Big Ben and Mayor Boris Johnson, almost identical to the Mumbai-serial bomb attacks in 1993, according to the prosecutor.

The nine men, mostly of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, aged between 19 and 28, had carried out reconnaissance missions before deciding on their possible targets.

Prosecutor Piers Arnold told the court on Tuesday that Trafalgar Square was visited and then Westminster, where a mobile phone was allegedly held up and pointed at Big Ben.

According to The Daily Telegraph, police were said to have found a list of six sites, including the full postal address of the Stock Exchange, Boris Johnson’s London mayoral office and the US embassy.

Defendants were seen studying the tower of Big Ben, before inspecting Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Church of Scientology.

The Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, two rabbis and the US Embassy were also said to have been

listed for possible attack, according to The Daily Mail.

According to the British tabloid, besides 28-year-old Gurukanth Desai, others accused in the plot are Mohammed Moksudur Rahman Chowdhury, 20, Shah Mohammed Lutfar Rahman, 28, Omar Sharif Latif, 26, Abdul Malik Miah, 24. Bearded Miah and clean-shaven Desai are brothers, the court heard.

The four suspects from the Midlands were Nazam Hussain, 25, Usman Khan, 19, Mohibur Rahman, 26, and Abul Bosher Mohammed Shahjahan, 26. Miah and Desai both applied to be freed on bail — the only two suspects to do so — but chief magistrate Howard Riddle remanded all nine men in custody to the Old Bailey on January 14.

According to Arnold, surveillance teams followed their quarries to the South Bank and the London Eye giant ferris wheel, which was being ‘observed intently’. They moved on to look at the Church of Scientology building on Queen Victoria Street near Blackfriars, before visiting a branch of McDonald’s.

After the arrests on December 20, searches at one of the addresses uncovered a handwritten note containing the contact details of six individuals, Arnold said.


Israel will not apologise to Turkey over flotilla raid: PM

December 29, 2010

Israel on Tuesday ruled out apologising to Turkey over the raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship that killed nine Turkish activists, as another vessel prepared to bypass its blockade of the territory. “We will not apologise, but express our regrets to Turkey,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told private television network Channel 10.

“We don’t want our soldiers to be possibly hauled before international tribunals... Our soldiers acted in accordance with standards,” he said, as an apology could be interpreted as an admission of liability.

Netanyahu’s comments came just a day after Israel’s right-wing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed as “a cheek” Ankara’s demand for an apology before it would normalise relations.

“The ones who have to apologise are the Government of Turkey for supporting terror,” said Lieberman. “There will be no apology” from Israel for the May 31 commando raid, he added. Lieberman was “only expressing a personal opinion, like other Ministers do,” said a statement from Netanyahu’s office office soon after the comments on Sunday.

And on Monday, explaining his Foreign Minister’s comments, Netanyahu told Channel 10: “In my coalition Government, there are different points of view but the PM expresses the voice of the Government.” Israel’s ties with Turkey plunged into crisis following the raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ferry carrying aid to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday that Ankara wanted to turn the page on a year of difficult relations with Israel, but the Jewish state had to apologise for the deadly assault.


Jamiat demands PM’s resignation

December 29, 2010

Pakistan’s prominent Islamic party, JUI on Tuesday demanded that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani should resign or be sacked for “sabotaging” the policy of reconciliation, a day after the MQM pulled out its two Ministers from the PPP-led coalition Government.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who quit the PPP-led coalition earlier this month, said Gilani should resign on his own or President Asif Ali Zardari should remove him for “sabotaging” the Pakistan People’s Party policy of reconciliation. “It has become necessary for the Prime Minister to resign and for the PPP to give us a new premier. Or the President should himself take steps against the Prime Minister on the charge of sabotaging the President’s policy of reconciliation. This should be done so that the country’s political situation stabilises,” Rehman told reporters.


Jolt to fragile Gilani Govt as MQM set to quit Cabinet

December 29, 2010

A key party in Pakistan’s ruling coalition said it would quit the Cabinet on Tuesday, threatening the stability of the country’s already shaky US-allied Government. The latest political pressure on President Asif Ali Zardari’s Government comes as Pakistan faces a slew of problems, including a violent Islamist insurgency and a financial crunch that has left the Government relying on an $11 billion loan from the IMF.

Government instability could also hamper US efforts to convince Pakistan to take more action against Islamic extremists and Al Qaeda-affiliated groups hiding in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Pakistanis are also still reeling from this year’s massive floods and persistent electricity shortages.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a secular party whose primary base is the southern city of Karachi, said its two Cabinet Ministers would submit their resignations on Tuesday, which is typically a precursor to joining the Opposition. MQM leaders, however, said they would not shift their 25 seats to the Opposition — yet. Farooq Sattar, one of the MQM Cabinet Ministers, said his party was unhappy with the lack of progress in solving Pakistan’s problems and felt Zardari’s Pakistani People’s Party did not consult the MQM enough.


West hostility harms nuclear talks: Iran

December 29, 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that the West’s hostile policies could harm further talks over the country’s disputed nuclear programme.

The warning delivered in a speech at the northern Iranian city of Karaj came as Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as Germany, are set to engage in another round of talks in Istanbul in late January.

“If you take an action that is a continuation of the previous path, this will make the job difficult. It will close the road (to dialogue),” he said in the live TV broadcast. “Cooperation benefits all. We do not expect them to take actions that are hostile.”

The UN Security Council imposed a fourth and tougher round of sanctions on Iran in June after Tehran refused to halt its disputed nuclear programme. Ahmadinejad, however, asserted during the speech that sanctions have only strengthened Iran. Iran held a first round of talks with officials from the US, China, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and the EU in Geneva earlier this month.

The US and its allies suspect Iran is pursuing weapons under cover of its nuclear programme. Iran denies the charge.


Radical Nigerian Muslim group owns up attacks

December 29, 2010

A radical Muslim sect has claimed responsibility for the Christmas Eve bombings and church attacks in Nigeria that killed at least 38 people, and the group threatened new attacks to avenge local violence against Muslims. Religious fighting has left more than 500 people dead this year in the deeply divided region where Jos is located. Authorities had already blamed the Boko Haram group for some of the deaths on Friday. “Therefore we will continue with our attacks on disbelievers and their allies and all those who help them,” said the group, which also said it has taken on a new name.

Two bombs went off near a large market in Jos where people were doing last-minute Christmas shopping on Friday. A third hit a mainly Christian area of Jos, while the fourth was near a road that leads to the city’s main mosque. Officials said at least 32 died from the blasts.

That same day, two churches were attacked in the northern city of Maiduguri killing at least six people. Authorities said a Baptist pastor and two choir members preparing for a late-night carol service were among the victims.

The radical Muslim sect was thought to be vanquished in 2009. Nigeria’s military crushed its mosque into concrete shards, and its leader was arrested and died in police custody.

But now, a year later, Maiduguri and surrounding villages again live in fear of the group, whose members have assassinated police and local leaders and engineered a massive prison break, officials say.

Western diplomats worry that the sect is catching the attention of Al Qaeda’s North Africa branch. It remains unclear what, if any, formal links Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has made with the sect.

Boko Haram says it has changed the name to: “The organisation of followers of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and champions of Islam and holy wars.” Nigeria, a country of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian in south.

The blasts happened in central Nigeria, in the nation’s “middle belt,” where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands. The violence, though fractured across religious lines, often has more to do with local politics, economics and rights to grazing lands.


Pranab: India, Pakistan have made progress in easing visa curbs

December 29, 2010

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan have made some progress in relaxing visa restrictions, but there are still some hurdles, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

“I think we took some decisions about relaxation of visas [restrictions], and some progress has been made. But there are still some hindrances which can be addressed,” he said, speaking at a function to mark the 10 {+t} {+h} anniversary of the South Asia Free Media Association here.

He called for a free flow of information. “When I am suggesting that there be a free flow of information, sometimes the visa restrictions which are applicable to even journalists could be eased.”

Mr. Mukherjee said he would be happy if talks between parliamentary delegations of the two countries were kept away from the media glare initially, so that they could make some positive contributions to influencing decision-makers.

The signing of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation agreement on trade at the 16th SAARC Summit in April should strengthen economic cooperation by expanding intra-regional investments and production opportunities, he said. “I hope the ratification of these agreements by other countries would help realise the full potential of services.” The inter-regional cooperation had strengthened physical connectivity and helped to overcome the global economic and food crisis.

Pointing out that Ajmal Kasab, the main accused in the Mumbai attacks, did not get a visa to visit India, Rajya Sabha member Mani Shankar Aiyar sought to know why governments were making it difficult for people to visit their families.

Asked about his opinion on the visit of parliamentary delegations from both the countries, he said: “This is a question of Parliament. Parliamentary delegations are not handled by the government but by the Speakers.”

The former External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, said the initiatives taken by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when he was the Prime Minister, to resolve the differences between India and Pakistan were path-breaking. “As long as the government listens to the Joint Secretaries and diplomats, we can never have peace with Pakistan.”

Mr. Sinha said India should adopt an “asymmetrical” approach, without insisting on reciprocity from other countries. “India is a large country and needs to show generosity.”


 ‘Benazir’s killers are shielded’

By Badar Alam in Karachi

December 29, 2010

AS THE third death anniversary of former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, drew to a close there were loud demands by her party’s supporters for the immediate arrest of her killers.

In and around her mausoleum at her family graveyard in Sindh province’s Larkana district, the members and workers of her Pakistan People’s Party carried banner that read: “ BB we are sorry that your killers are still alive”. They chanted slogans and circled the grounds of the mausoleum, demanding the government, and Bhutto’s widower Asif Ali Zardari, also the President of the country, to disclose the names of those involved in her 2007 assassination in Rawalpindi and award them the severest punishment possible.

The federal law minister tried to pacify party workers when he told the media in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh after a meeting of the central executive committee of Pakistan People’s Party that a briefing about Benazir Bhutto’s murder probe could not take place because Bilawal Bhutto, her son and the chairperson of the party, was not present at the occasion.

But other senior leaders remain unconvinced that the report will become known any time soon and this, they said, might have consequences for the party in the next election.

Naheed Khan, who worked as Benazir Bhutto’s personal secretary but is now out of favour with the party’s leadership, directly blamed Asif Zardari for trying to save her murderers.

“ He is not serious in probing the murder because he has enormously benefited from Benazir’s disappearance from the political scene,” Naheed told this correspondent.

“ He has made the party his personal fiefdom and amassed all political power in his hands,” she said.

Aitzaz Ahsan, another senior party leader, told this correspondent that his party’s failure to resolve the mystery behind Benazir’s killers will have serious impact on the party’s political fortunes in the coming election.

“ Our voters will certainly ask us what we did when we were in power to find her killers. If we don’t have a satisfactory answer, expect even the diehard party members to turn their backs on us in the future elections,” Ahsan said.

In Islamabad, Zardari assured some party workers on Tuesday that he would soon make public the facts of her murder.

A day earlier, addressing a gathering of the party in Nau Dero, Bhutto’s ancestral village close to the place where she lies buried, Zardari complained that the United Nations probe, that Pakistan had asked and paid for, into her murder was incomplete.

But in a potentially embarrassing move for him, the government of Punjab province recently ended the house- arrest of one of the men accused of carrying out a deadly suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto’s caravan in October 2007 when she had landed in the country after spending many years in self- exile.

Sources in the Punjab home department confirmed that they have set Qari Saifullah Akhtar free because “ there has been no evidence against him and he is facing no court case”. Akhtar was “ kept under house arrest at an undisclosed place in the Chishtian tehsil of Punjab since August 2010 and was freed almost three weeks ago, in the first week of December,” wrote Amir Mir, a senior reporter, in the daily The News on Tuesday.

Mail Today



By Naseer Ganai in Srinagar

December 29, 2010

It was a summer of discontent in Kashmir with stone-throwing incidents and retaliation by forces killing 112. Peace may still be elusive next year

THERE is something ominous about this new slogan that has spread through Kashmir by word of mouth — “ Khoon ka badla June mein lenge” (We will avenge the murders in June). No one knows who coined it.

Police officials say the slogan is not a prank. For the past three years, the situation in the Valley has turned volatile each summer, leading to protests and killings. “We will do everything to stop this cycle of violence, whosoever instigates it,” says Showket Ahmad, police superintendent in the sensitive old town of Srinagar. In 2010, parts of the Valley saw protests that resulted in a cycle of violence after three boys were killed by security forces in June.

The killings came in the aftermath of a fake encounter in April at Machil. The army allegedly killed three villagers, setting the Valley on fire that eventually led to 112 deaths by September.

Ahmad, who was given his current posting after the three youth were killed, attributes the present calm in the city and the rest of the Valley to police restraint and the “realisation among people that stone throwing will lead to nowhere”.

However, critics say the state government has ensured peace after booking over 3,000 youth. They say scores of youth who participated in protests this summer have fled from Srinagar, Sopore, Pampore, Anantnag and other areas fearing arrest.

“The situation is grave,” says a researcher who has come from abroad to study the situation. “There is fatigue because of a strike call given by the Hurriyat for five months. But it needs only a spark for a fire to engulf the Valley, and that spark should not be provided by the police and security agencies.”

She adds: “I don’t see protests next year. They (state government) will be too strict to allow it. But I think other things will happen. Look at Facebook discussions — the language of armed resistance is there.”

Lawyer Mir Shafqat Hussain said a 13-year-old had been booked under the Public Safety Act by the Srinagar district magistrate. “The magistrate declared his age as 19 and jailed him. They are ruining a generation and it is bound to have consequences.” Political parties, too, are not certain what would happen in 2011. “We are sitting on a volcano,” PDP’s Nayeem Akhtar says.'

National Conference leader and MP Mehboob Beg argues that a national consensus needs to be formed on Kashmir. “What’s the need for the BJP to play the Kashmir card? All this flares up the situation,” he says.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the Hurriyat Conference’s moderate faction, says arbitrary arrests would further alienate people. “The policy of repression to buy peace will have far reaching consequences,” he says, adding that if India wants to resolve the issue, it should push the political process by engaging the Kashmiri leadership and Pakistan.

 Mail Today


Evidence of Hindu extremist link to Samjhauta, say officials, add caution


December 29, 2010

AS investigators look closely into the alleged role of Hindu extremist groups in the Samjhauta Express attack, top government sources today disclosed that there is "overwhelming preponderance of evidence that these (Hindu extremists) did it".

However, they were quick to add that the government was not certain enough to arrive at any firm conclusion and has told investigative agencies to do "a professional job".

Regardless of the larger diplomatic ramifications -the possibility of Islamabad using this as a handle to push India on the defensive -sources said that the government is keen for the investigation to be carried out properly. And that it does not want investigators or their agencies to be in "anticipatory compliance" of certain assumptions of government's preferences.

"The investigative agencies must dotheirjobsandletthepoliticalleadershipdotheirjob,"anofficialsaid.

What the government's top brass is certain about is that Hindu extremism "exists" but at the same time is worried by the "political football" being played on this issue.

Sources said this kind of politicisa tion only "plays into the phenomenon" and hoped all sides would exercise caution on the issue.

On the larger terror situation, the general assessment is that there continues to be a growing threat going by the current alert of an attack by the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Sources said this was a "serious alert" with specific details and all agencies were working round the clock. Also, the possibility of groups like the LeT reaching out to Indian youths and constituting a group like the Indian Mujahideen could not be ruled out.

But on the whole, government sources felt the situation was better than the beginning of the year and that India was "better equipped" to deal with the threat. In this context, they added that the plan for a National Counter Terrorism Centre was ready and would be put up for Cabinet approval soon. With NATGRID already cleared, the broad institutional framework on dealing with terror would be in place next year.

One of the main objectives for the next year, sources said, was to have similar institutional structures to cope with Maoist extremism. The government is clear that this cannot be seen like a terror problem. Here, sources gave the example of how J&K police had to "learn in three months" how to control agitating crowds without killing people.

Given that those involved in Naxal extremism were fellow citizens, sources said, a "more calibrated and institutionalised approach" is on the cards in the coming year.

Indian Express


US embassy was target of UK terror plot

December 29, 2010

THE US embassy in London was a target of a group of men arrested last week in Britain and charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and preparing acts of terrorism, the US State Department said on Monday.

Twelve men were arrested on December 20 in what British police said werecounter-terrorismraidsessential to protect the public from the threat of attack. Three were later released without charges, leaving nine who appearedincourtonMondaytofacethe charges.

Asked if he was aware of reports the suspects indicated that the US embassy in London was on their target list, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters: "I am aware and ... obviously our folks in London are aware of this." In response to a follow-up question during a telephone briefing with reporters, Toner said: "You asked me if we were aware that we were on the targeting list and I confirmed that." The suspects were from London, the Welsh capital of Cardiff and the central English city of Stoke. A British police statement said the men had conspired to cause "explosions of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property". It added they had been downloading materialfromtheInternet,researching anddiscussingpotentialtargets,carrying out reconnaissance and "igniting andtestingincendiarymaterial".

Meanwhile, a Dutch judge Tuesday extended the detention of one suspect in an alleged terrorism plot by Somali immigrants. Prosecutors said two other Somalis remain suspects in the case, though they were released. They were among 12 Somalis detained in Rotterdam last week in what prosecutors said was a move to stop an imminent attack against an unidentified target. No weapons or explosives were found.

The other nine have been cleared of suspicion and freed or handed to immigration authorities.

The Dutch investigation comes at a time of heightened concern over terrorism in Europe.

Indian Express


Iran hangs `spy' it says worked for Mossad

December 29, 2010

Ali Akbar Siadat was convicted of passing on Iran's military info

RAN on Tu esday hanged an Iranian convicted of spying for the country’s archenemy Israel, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Ali Akbar Siadat had been accused of providing Israel with classified information on Iran’s military capabilities, including details about military manoeuvres, bases, operational jet fighters, military flights, air crashes and missiles, IRNA reported.

Separately, another Iranian was hanged Tu esday for membership in an exile opposition movement, IRNA reported.

Over the past decade, Iran has stepped up its domestic military production, including missiles capable of reaching Israel and beyond — aiming, Te hran says, to defend the country from Israel and the US amid Iranian concern they might strike its nuclear facilities.

According to IRNA, Siadat confessed to spying for Israel starting in 2004 in return for $60,000, as well as an additional $7,000 each time he met with Israeli handlers. IRNA said he met up with Israeli intelligence agents during “foreign trade” trips to Tu rkey, Thailand and the Netherlands and that he transferred data through a digital camera, transmitters and laptop.

IRNA reported that Siadat was arrested in 2008 while planning to flee Iran. There were no details on whether Siadat was a government employee.

IRNA said Siadat was hanged in Te hran’s Evin prison. Earlier in the week, Iran’s judiciary announced that a spy for Israel would be executed soon after an appeals court confirmed the man’s death sentence. It said the trial was held in the presence of his lawyer. Espionage is punishable by death under

Iranian law. Iran and Israel have been enemies since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, with Te hran periodically announcing arrests of people suspected of spying for Israel.

In 2008, Iran executed Ali Ashtari, an electronics salesman who was convicted of relaying information on Iran’s nuclear programme and other sensitive data to Israel’s Mossad spy agency. And in 2000, a court convicted 10 Iranian Jews of spying for Israel in a closed-door trial and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. All were released before serving out their full sentences after international pressure.

Iran faces increased pressure from the West over its controversial nuclear programme that Israel, the US and others contend is intended for nuclear weapons making.

Te hran denies the charge.

IRNA also reported that another Iranian, identified as Ali Sarami, was hanged on Tu esday in Evin after being convicted of membership in an exiled opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organisation. MEK in a statement Tu esday claimed Sarami’s wife and daughter as well as two other supporters were arrested while protesting outside Evin prison after his execution. The MEK is a bitter opponent of Iran’s ruling clerics.

Indian Express


Israeli firms to build Palestinian city

December 29, 2010

RAMALLAH: About 20 Israeli suppliers will help build the first modern Palestinian city in the West Bank but only after promising they will not use products or services from Israeli settlements, the project's developer said Tuesday.

The announcement angered the Jewish settlers, who accused the suppliers of caving in to an international boycott of settlement goods and businesses.

The West Bank city of Rawabi, going up 30 km north of occupied Jerusalem, is a key part of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's plans to lay the groundwork for a future Palestinian state, regardless of progress in peace talks.

The participation of Israeli companies in its construction is both an ironic twist on the heavy use of Palestinian laborers in building Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and a powerful reminder of how much the 43 years of Israeli occupation have made the Palestinian economy reliant on Israel.

Project developer Bashar Masri told the Associated Press that he tries to use Palestinian suppliers whenever possible. But when necessary, he turns to Israeli firms on condition that products and services from any territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war — the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights — are not used.

“Settlements are diabolical. They steal Palestinian land and are an obstacle to an independent Palestinian state, and it's time for us to put an end to that harm,” Masri said.

He refused to identify any of the Israeli companies, but said they were suppliers of building and construction materials. Their contracts with the Rawabi project were first reported Tuesday by Israel's Army Radio.

Settler leader Dani Dayan fumed that Israeli companies agreed to the Palestinian conditions. “It's a capitulation to the boycott,” Dayan said.

Palestinian activists and their supporters have launched a campaign to persuade investors to divest Israeli holdings and boycott Israeli companies over the occupation. The economic impact has been negligible, but for Israel, the negative publicity has been unwelcome.

Israel accuses boycott advocates of trying to delegitimize the Jewish state and argues that many foreign companies with ties to authoritarian regimes are not similarly targeted.

Fayyad has publicly advocated a boycott of settlement goods in the West Bank, and earlier this year, his government passed a law imposing heavy penalties and jail time on Palestinians who work in settlements.

But they haven't been able to find alternative sources of employment for the estimated 21,000 Palestinians who work in settlements in construction, agriculture or industry, and the law isn't being enforced.

Some 300,000 Israelis live in more than 120 settlements across the West Bank — almost a threefold increase since the two sides launched their first round of peace talks 17 years ago. An additional 180,000 live in east Jerusalem, the section of the holy city claimed by the Palestinians as a future capital.

Israel captured both areas in the 1967 Mideast war.


Israel arrests 10 Palestinians, including a Hamas legislator

December 29, 2010

RAMALLAH: The Israeli forces operating in West Bank arrested 10 Palestinians including a member of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), early Tuesday, sources said.

Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli forces detained member of the Hamas-dominated PLC Mohammed Al-Tall after storming his house in Hebron. The other nine Palestinians were arrested in other West Bank cities.

Al-Tall's family said that the Israeli soldiers broke into the house at 1 am. It added that the Israeli soldiers surrounded the house and ordered their relative to get dressed and accompany them.

It is the second time that Israel arrests Al-Tall. The first time was in 2006, when Israel detained 65 top Hamas officials, including ministers of the Hamas government and parliament members in response to the capturing of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli military courts accused them of belonging to an illegal organization, association with a terror group, and other allegations.

The officials were 'bargaining chips' Israel hoped to use as leverage in the efforts to secure the release of Shalit. Israel is still holding eleven Hamas legislators.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman rumored to be out of favor with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was suspended from Fatah's leadership, the party said on Tuesday.

The central committee of Fatah, Abbas' political party, announced the decision after a meeting chaired by the president in Ramallah. The leadership body also said Dahlan was facing an internal investigation.

The committee decided "unanimously to suspend Mohamed Dahlan from its meetings until the commission of inquiry finishes its work," a statement issued by the leadership council said.

It was the first official confirmation that an investigation into Dahlan is underway, after months of speculation about growing tensions between the former Gaza strongman and Abbas.

The Palestinian media has reported that the commission of inquiry is looking into the origin of Dahlan's alleged fortune, as well as allegations that he attempted to establish a personal militia.

In addition to suspending Dahlan, Fatah's central committee also relieved him of his role overseeing the party's communication and culture portfolios.

A former head of preventative security in the Gaza Strip, and once considered a US protege, Dahlan fell into disgrace after the humiliating rout of his forces by Hamas fighters in June 2007 in Gaza.

Despite his fall from grace, he returned to the political stage in August 2009, when he was elected to Fatah's central committee during its party conference.

— Input from agencies


Palestinians routinely denied lawyer: Israeli NGO

December 29, 2010

JERUSALEM: Palestinians being interrogated by Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet are routinely denied access to a lawyer and are often ill treated, an Israeli rights group said on Tuesday.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel said in a report made available to AFP that up to 90 percent of West Bank Palestinians interrogated by the agency, known as the General Security Service (GSS), were denied legal access.

Israeli civil and military law allows incommunicado detention in “emergency situations or unique cases,” the group said, but data collected between 2000 and 2007 showed denial of legal access was the rule rather than the exception for Palestinians being interrogated by the GSS in the West Bank.

The report, co-authored with the Palestinian Prisoner Society, estimates that up to 10,773 Palestinians interrogated by the GSS in the West Bank were denied legal access, with nearly half going more than two weeks without a lawyer.

In addition to violating legal guidelines that allow interrogators to deny access to a lawyer in exceptional cases only, the report said detainees held incommunicado were exposed to harsher conditions, and even torture.

“All the detainees who gave affidavits to PCATI regarding their interrogations under incommunicado detention testified to having been exposed to violence, including physical and/or psychological ill treatment, and were held under especially hard conditions,” the report said.

The rights groups said prisoners described being shackled to chairs for prolonged periods, sleep deprivation, threats, and abysmal detention conditions.

“It is doubtful that a single one of the cases... would have occurred without the conditions of incommunicado detention,” the report said.

While the report only provides detailed statistics on the period up to 2007, PCATI said information gathered between 2008-2010 “shows the scope of GSS’ use of ‘incommunicado detention’... has not decreased.”

The group called for new rules on when prisoners can be denied access to a lawyer “so as to reduce to a minimum the implementation of this tool,” and for cameras to placed in GSS interrogation facilities to monitor questioning.

It also urged the courts to force the release of additional official information on incommunicado detention by the GSS.

Rights groups have regularly petitioned for the release of official statistics under Israel’s freedom of information law, but the courts have usually sided with the GSS, permitting them a security exemption.

“This comprehensive confidentiality of information... permits the GSS to continue its mass use of incommunicado detention unimpeded, under cover of obscurity,” the report said.\12\29\story_29-12-2010_pg4_1


MQM to show strength at Minar-e-Pakistan

December 29, 2010

KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has decided to organise a large public gathering at the Minar-e-Pakistan on March 23 next year to show its strength in the country’s largest province.

MQM insiders told Daily Times that the party has decided to organise a large public gathering at the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore, and party workers have been asked to start preparations for the event. The decision came after the MQM chief, on Tuesday, said that his party will organise a gathering in Lahore soon. When contacted, an MQM Coordination Committee member, Wasay Jalil, confirmed the decision, but said that the date for the gathering had not been finalised yet. “We are going to organise a large public gathering at the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore,” he said.\12\29\story_29-12-2010_pg7_30


Pak-US relations remain stable despite ups and downs: Mushahid

December 29, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Renowned analyst cum-journalist and chairman of the Pak-China Institute and Regional Think Tank, Mushahid Hussain Syed, said that Pakistan enjoyed stable relations with the United States, despite many ups and downs during the 2010.

Talking to VOC, Mushahid said that there remained mutuality of interests on both sides, especially with reference to Afghanistan. He said he saw some confusion emanating from Washington and then clarity from the Pakistan side, which was a pleasant change in the sense that US policy towards Afghanistan seemed altered. He said Pakistan had done its homework well and mostly the credit went to army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in this regard, as he submitted his complete document to the US administration, which carried positive manifestation of Pakistan.

He said America dehyphenated both India and Pakistan during Obama’s recent visit to India, but contrary to this, the Chinese PM rehyphenated India and Pakistan on the one hand, and Pak-China on the other. “We are officially declared as third world countries by Washington,” he said.

Replying another question about the Kerry-Lugar bill, Mushahid said the bill had a lasting impact, as it not just brought US dollars but also growers. He further said, “Now the ground realities have been changed a lot, so the US government should put forward our interests and objectives clearly and present them in written forms.”

He said the year 2011 would be very difficult for the US, as it would be the beginning of a tough election campaign for Obama’s administration and the issue of restoration of economy would also be a big challenge for him. He would have to choose either economy or Afghanistan. If it opt for Afghanistan, then it would not be able to keep the economy intact, as the Us was spending nearly $ 4 billion every week from its budget. app\12\29\story_29-12-2010_pg7_23


Four ISO students injured in blast at Karachi University

By Atif Raza

KARACHI: A low-intensity blast at the cafeteria lawn of Karachi University on Tuesday left four students of the Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) injured.

The explosion occurred when ISO activists were preparing for noon prayers in the lawn of the main cafeteria of the university. After the blast, law enforcement agencies’ personnel, Bomb Disposal Squad (DSP) staff, ambulances of various welfare organisations and students rushed to the scene and shifted the injured to the nearby Patel Hospital.

BDS officials, investigators of FIA’s Special Investigation Group and various other agencies reached the spot to evaluate the nature of the blast. Experts, after paramilitary investigation, disclosed that the bomb was planted at the ISO stall where ISO workers offer their prayers daily.

DIG (East) Commandant Shaukat, SSP Naeem Sheikh, Gulshan-e-Iqbal TPO, SSP Mazhar Mashwani of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) and SSP Raja Umar Khitab of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) also inspected the site of the incident.

BDS and SIG investigators cordoned off the crime scene and took samples for laboratory tests.

SIG and BDS investigators said the blast was low intensity, in which terrorists used some 150 to 200 grammes of explosive material. They added that the blast could have been more harmful or even fatal if the terrorists had used pellets in the explosive device. The blast also damaged the cafeteria’s wall, a window and destroyed a tree, which reduced its intensity and saved students’ lives.

DIG Shaukat said the actual nature of the blast and explosives would be determined after a laboratory examination.

Later, enraged ISO workers took out a rally from the campus to the university road, chanting slogans against Rangers, deployed at the university and KU administration. ISO senior leader Qasim Karbalai said that two out of the four injured students, Wajid Ali and Irfan Haider were wounded critically, while the two slightly injured students, Jawad and Haider Ali, were discharged after first aid.

He added that they had informed the KU administration about extremist elements’ presence in various students’ organisations but the university’s administration “did not take any action”. He pointed out that a complete wing of Rangers was deployed at the campus but they were reluctant to provide security to students.

It is pertinent to mention that investigators are looking into different aspects of the blast, including disputes of ISO with rival student organisations.

Sources say that a clash between the ISO and PSF that took place a couple of weeks ago could be a major issue.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan and Interior Minister Rehman Malik took strict notice of the incident. The CM has asked the Karachi capital city police officer and Sindh IGP to submit a detailed report on the incident.

Meanwhile, KU will remain open today (Wednesday), however, the examinations scheduled for today have been postponed.

This was decided at a meeting held at the campus and presided over by KU Vice Chancellor Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui.\12\29\story_29-12-2010_pg7_2


ECP completes hearing of 13 legislators’ fake degree cases

December 29, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) completed the hearing of 13 legislators in fake degree cases on Tuesday.

The hearing was held under the chairmanship of Muhammad Afzal Khan, the nominated officer of the ECP under the direction of the Supreme Court.

A senior official in the ECP told Daily Times that an ECP committee had sought written replies from these legislators before referring their cases to the police for starting criminal proceedings against them.

During the hearing, MPA Yar Muhammad said the committee should first listen to his objections against it according to a Lahore High Court (LHC) judgement. Earlier, Yar Muhammad had challenged the ECP committee in the LHC.

The LHC had directed the ECP to consider his submissions about the committee, which was hearing the fake degree cases.

MNA Maulvi Haji Roziuddin appeared in person and submitted his documents. The committee advised him to submit a written reply along with an affidavit as early as possible.

MPA Abdul Samad Akhunzada appeared along with Qari Abdul Rashid advocate and requested for adjournment of the case. The committee advised him to submit a reply and all credible evidences.

In the case of MPA Sardar Ali his representative Inamullah Khan appeared before the committee along with relevant record. Dr Badshah Munir Bukhari, the University of Peshawar additional controller of examination, termed both of his degrees fake, while the committee asked Inamullah to present the original degree within three days failing which the case will be submitted to the chief election commissioner.

Amir Saeed Rawn advocate appeared on behalf of MPA Safina Saima Khar and requested for adjournment of her case. The committee advised Amir Saeed Rawn to submit a written reply within three days.

Asif, representing MNA Mir Ahmedan Khan pleaded that the madrassah from where Mir Ahmedan got his education had forwarded back his verified documents to the ECP. The committee assured him every possible justice in his case.

Aysha Shakeel appeared on behalf of MNA Hayatullah Khan Tareen and sought adjournment for submission of a written reply. The committee advised her to submit a precise written reply with credible evidences.

Tariq Khokhar, counsel for MNA Mir Humayun Aziz Kurd pleaded that his client had remained a bona fide student of Eire International University. The committee advised him to submit all his arguments in written form along with an affidavit.

Masood Sarwar Tarar appeared on behalf of MPA Afshan Farooq and the committee advised him to re-verify the degree of his client from the Preston University within three days otherwise her case would be submitted to the chief election commissioner.

Khanzada Mukkarrum Khan advocate appeared in the case of MPA Seemal Kamran and pleaded that the Supreme Court declared the condition of graduation unconstitutional on April 21, 2008 while his client was elected in 2009 on a casual vacancy. The committee informed him that her nominations papers were submitted during the schedule announced for general elections and closed her case.

For MPA Nasim Nasir Khawaja her counsel Farhat Nawaz Lodhi appeared before the committee and pleaded that he had asked Punjab University for some clarification and the case might be adjourned until the receipt of clarification.

Amir Saeed Rawn advocate appeared in the case of MPA Samina Khawar Hayat and presented another degree of BBA. He pleaded that his client had not passed BA from Riphah International University rather she passed her BBA from the Preston University in 2006. The committee closed the case.

Ashraf Ali advocate appeared on behalf of MPA Khalifa Abdul Qayyum Khan and clarified that the degree of his client was not fake as he had studied from a prominent madrassah and his client was not aware about its recognition with the HEC. The committee informed him that the institution was not in the list of 10 madrassas recognised by the HEC.

Zulfiqar, representing MNA Syed Muhammad Salman Mohsin, submitted his client’s degree.\12\29\story_29-12-2010_pg7_6


48 injured after Israeli train catches fire

December 29, 2010

An Israeli passenger train caught fire on Tuesday, injuring almost 50 people, in an apparent accident north of Tel Aviv, emergency services said.

The train carrying 400 passengers was brought to a halt after the blaze engulfed three of its carriages near Kibbutz Shfaim, close to Netanya city, about 15 kilometres from Tel Aviv.

“Forty-eight passengers have been hospitalised, nearly all of them suffering from minor injuries due to smoke inhalation or broken windows,” an emergency services spokesman told AFP, adding four had suffered serious injuries.

Witnesses said a policeman travelling on board shot out windows to provide ways of escape from the burning train and that some of the injuries were caused as fleeing passengers scrambled over broken glass.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP an “investigation was opened to determine the cause of the fire,” while indicating police investigators believed it was the result of an accident.

Israeli army radio said that there was “a growing belief that the fire broke out after an electrical short-circuit.”