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Islamic World News ( 3 Dec 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pak: Ulema Urged to Abstain from Fatwas to Dub Others Non-Believers

Afghan women victims of violence and abuse like under the Taliban

Will religious tolerance in Indonesia continue?

Manhattan College Director Committed To Expanding Interfaith Dialogue on The Holocaust and Genocide

US warned against losing Pakistan

Pakistan hell bent on self-destruction: Jones

In future, you’re free to hit back, Kayani tells troops

Veena Malik's nude photo causes fury in Pakistan

Holy day turns into protest landscape against US, NATO

Power, not politics, divided Bhuttos: Fatima

Overnight clash in north Syria kills 15

7 militants dead in cross-border clash

Uzbek among 3 ‘terrorists’ held in Loralai

2 killed, in Lashkar-LI clash

One dead, 70 hurt in attack near Afghan NATO base

NATO may cross Pak border in new push

Democracy's Pakistani perils

Pakistan has right to self-defence, so does US: Pentagon on NATO strike

Gilani endorses Bilawal as future PM candidate

India assures Bangladesh on Tipaimukh

UN rights panel slams murder, torture of civilians in Syria

Rome Statute activated in Maldives

Prosecution Analyst Outlines Al Qaeda Strategy

Pentagon says Pakistan not joining bombing probe

Pakistani man pleads guilty over US terror charges

NATO plans to quell Pakistan-based insurgents: Guardian

UK arrests 22Pak nationals in drone demonstration

Expelled Iranian diplomats arrive in Tehran

Iran Cautions European States Not to Sacrifice Ties with Iran for Britain

Kenya, Sudan resume ties

South Sudan to disarm civilians

Yemen PM warns transition at risk

Tahrir protest starts as Egypt awaits poll results

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau



Pak: Ulema Urged to Abstain from Fatwas to Dub Others Non-Believers

Our correspondent

 LAHORE: December 03, 2011, Ulema need to abstain from adventurism regarding Fatwas for dubbing others non-believers, giving up self-promotion through individual stance instead of acting as a binding force under the teachings of God and the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).

The religious leadership played a vital role in the creation of Pakistan and they should work for safeguarding the country in the prevailing circumstances.

These views were shared by guests at the Jang Forum held on “The Role of Ulema in Ensuring Peace and Harmony during Muharramul Haram”. Allama Khalilur Rahman Qadri, Maulana Amjad Khan, Maulana Raghib Naeemi, Allama Mushtaq Hussain Jafri and Allama Zubair Ahmed Zaheer attended the event.

Jamia Naeemia;s head Raghib Naeemi said the practice of imposing views on others and dubbing others as Kafir for not conforming to the views should stop at once. He said the intolerant and overruling approach had caused immense problems for the nation and the situation, sadly, was worsening day by day. He said there were miscreants in every country who manipulated religion to fuel extremist ideologies among the masses. He said if Ulema of all sects join hands to curb the few religious extremists, the country could enjoy sustainable inter-sect harmony and peace.

Member Islamic Ideology Council Allama Zubair Ahmed Zaheer said Ulema were the disciples of prophets, which vested them with an enormous responsibility. He went on to say that if Ulema preached the lessons learnt from the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), instead of interpreting various versions of it for self-promotion, the problems faced by the country would be eradicated automatically.

He said sectarianism had hurt Pakistan very much and we could not afford any such trend at present or in the future. He was of the view that in case of any unfortunate happening, Ulema would have to bear the prime responsibility for not being able to prevent it.

Allama Mushtaq Hussain Jafri said Pakistan was going through its most testing times, saying that the western powers were bent upon overpowering us and they would go to every limit to do that. He said our enemies knew that we were vulnerable to sectarianism, therefore, they had been fuelling sectarianism and they would increase their efforts in Muharram for which we needed to prepare ourselves.

He stressed upon the Ulema to enlighten certain religious extremist factions who played in the hands of the enemy forces. “We should not only stop them but should also expose the extremist groups in the cloak of religion.”

Allama Khalilur Rahman Qadri questioned that inter-sect harmony should be promoted at all times, then why was it that we sat to talk about it every Muharamul Haram only. He said that we were bound to reap what we sowed through the year.

He criticised the Ulema who delivered extremist sermons on every Friday, which infuriated the people the whole year. He said the Fatwa-happy Ulema needed to stop their impulsive practice of dubbing other sects as Kafirs as this matter acted the strongest catalyst in exacerbating the situation. He said all the sects of Islam had more common elements than differences and we should all try to connect with one another through our common grounds and then should turn our differences into conformity as well, otherwise, no-one would be safe.

Maulana Amjad Khan said that if the Ulema could not come together at such a crucial time in the history of the country, they would never find a better reason to do so.

He said the government should indiscriminately confiscate offensive and hate-mongering literature from all sects and strictly enforce the code of conduct in this regard. He said political, economic and religious extremism was at an all-time high in the society and unless we brought the evil minds behind these extremisms to justice, we could not achieve sustainable peace.


Afghan women victims of violence and abuse like under the Taliban

In Kunduz, local leader has acolytes throw acid on the members of a family because the father had refused to give his daughter in marriage. Speaking to AsiaNews, local source slams the country’s tribal Islamic culture, which continues to trample civil laws and human rights. More than 50 per cent of Afghan women in prison are there on adultery charges.

Kabul (Asia News) AFGHANISTAN: 12/02/2011, As far as women’s rights are concerned, Afghanistan under President Karzai is no better than when it was ruled by the Taliban, as illustrated by the many cases of stoning, abuses and arrests of women on adultery charges.

Last Wednesday, a gang in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, reportedly indignant at a father's refusal to give one of his three daughters up for marriage, sprayed the family of five with acid, sending everyone to hospital with burns. The father and the eldest daughter are in critical condition.

Although Afghan police began their investigation, local sources said that they are afraid to move against the perpetrators and that no arrest was likely. Eyewitnesses in the village where they incident occurred said that the head of the gang of attackers belongs to a local militia known as the Arbakis, set up to fight the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. For this reason, police and residents view them as above the law, and this despite a plethora of accusations against its members of summary executions, rape and violence.

The evidence is clear. Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, the country remains in the grip of radical Islam and tribal traditions, the source told Asia News. Most Afghans continue to view Sharia as the only law of the land. And women are the ones who are paying the price for that since they continue to be denied the right to go to school, choose their husband or get a job. When they become widows, they are also exclude by their family and lose their property.

A recent report by British association, Womankind Worldwide, noted that than 50 per cent of jailed Afghan women are accused of adultery. On 10 November, a group of men in Ghazni (138 km south-west of Kabul) incited by a local imam stoned to death two women, mother and daughter, on alleged adultery charges. The attack occurred at some 300 metres from the local police station.

“Sadly, women’s inferior status is rooted in families and traditions,” the source said. “Men are considered above everything and they do not accept the evolution of the status of women, who are deemed mere reproductive tools.”

In Afghanistan, the status of women in Afghanistan is erroneously linked to religion. The Quran does not ban women’s education. “In my school, most teachers are women,” the source explained. “Many girls go to elementary school. In order to improve attendance level in higher schools, we are providing girls with bursaries to induce their families to let them to study.”

Women’s cultural evolution varies from city to city. In Kabul, you can see many girls go to school, wearing a uniform and a coloured veil. However, in villages just a few kilometres from the capital, the situation is quite different.

“The mullahs are the strongest opponents to female education. Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, they continue to reject the little freedom granted to women,” the source explained.

“To change this country from the point of view of human dignity, we need a cultural revolution, not just political changes,” the source said. “Many Westerners think that the appointment of a woman governor in Heart is great progress. That is not the case. It is just window-dressing to show the government’s good intentions.”

What is more, “Western nations cannot just stop at removing the Taliban from power. To change Afghanistan, they must convince its rulers to invest in education and not only security. Only this way can a society that protects human dignity and human rights be promoted. Otherwise, the country will remain backward, making the ten years of US occupation and the war against terrorist worthless.” (S.C.)


Will religious tolerance in Indonesia continue?

By Franz Magnis-Suseno S.J.

JAKARTA: December 2, 2011,, Violence against Christians in Indonesia frequently makes news headlines. However, acts of violence targeting Christians should not obscure the fact that the vast majority of Indonesia’s Christian communities live and worship free from fear and interference in a Muslim majority country, and that religious conversion has never been prohibited.

In the past few years, however, the level of religious freedom has declined. The government must have the courage to stop this trend and protect Indonesia’s religious minorities to continue to uphold religious freedom.

During the first nine months of 2011 alone the Jakarta Forum for Christian Communications counted 31 instances of interference with Christian churches. In 2010 they counted 47 incidents. In many regions it is virtually impossible to build new churches and when Christian communities celebrate their Sunday services in unauthorized places they are often forced to stop under threat of violence. Indeed, this year some of these religiously-motivated threats turned into violent incidents.

While highly successful in fighting terrorism, the government seems reluctant to take action when minorities are threatened. Although the government condemns the use of violence, this is not always backed up by action. For example when three Ahmadis — members of the group founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, an Indian religious leader who claimed he was the promised messiah foretold by the Prophet Mohamed — were killed in the town of Cikeusik, local police did not interfere, and later, the perpetrators only received three to seven month prison sentences.

The discrepancy between statements condemning violence and the consequences for it encourages locals to engage in oppressive sectarian politics against minorities. For over a year now, a Presbyterian community in Bogor, West Java has been harassed by non-Christian groups on Sundays, because it has had to hold services on the sidewalk after its church was closed down by the mayor. Despite Indonesia’s Supreme Court later declaring the closure illegal, the church remains closed by the mayor, who is concerned about the views of some of his Muslim constituents.

This represents a breakdown of tolerance and social order. In the past, resistance to building Christian churches was often justified by the argument that these churches would proselytize to the Muslim community. These arguments were usually countered through dialogue or settled through the courts.

Now, people no longer bother with such excuses and simply say that they do not want a church in their neighborhood. At the same time, local authorities in many places are introducing ordinances based on sharia (Islamic principles of jurisprudence) that further restrict not just the activities of religious minorities but also the rights of citizens, particularly women.

The government needs to declare that there are areas — such as religious freedom and human rights — that do not fall under the jurisdiction of local authorities, who are vulnerable to divisive political interests, but are managed and protected by the central government.

Despite the disturbing news, however, there have also been positive developments that we should take to heart and try to build upon. During the last 15 years, relations between Christians and mainstream Muslims have continuously improved. If 40 years ago, Christians tended to look to the national military for protection when problems arose, they now turn to Nahdlatul Ulema, the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, not just for protection but also to demonstrate to the public that interfaith relationships at the grassroots level are still strong.

In many places, trusting relationships have been built up between Christian and mainstream Muslim leaders on the local level. Catholic theology students regularly hold events and stay at pesantrens (traditional Islamic boarding schools), and in some places youth militias of Nahdlatul Ulema now protect churches during Christmas and Easter services, further demonstrating the existing strong interfaith bonds.

At the leadership level, on Jan. 10 this year, several well-known religious leaders of various faiths issued a joint declaration criticizing the government for failing to deliver on promises it had made to the public. All three examples demonstrate that maintaining good relationships and understanding are key to building better interfaith relations.

So, do Indonesia’s Christians face a more challenging future? Religious freedom is rooted in Indonesian culture and respected by mainstream Islam. The tangible improvement in relations between Christians and mainstream Muslims of the last 15 years are probably the strongest guarantee for the future of religious tolerance and social order in Indonesia.

Franz Magnis-Suseno S.J. is a German-born Jesuit priest and lecturer at the STF Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta, as well as a long-time advocate for pluralism in Indonesia. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews),


Manhattan College Director Committed To Expanding Interfaith Dialogue on the Holocaust and Genocide

Riverdale, NY (PRWEB) December 02, 2011

Mehnaz M. Afridi, Ph.D., a scholar in Muslim identity and Jewish relations, was hired last summer as the director for Manhattan College’s newly expanded Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith (HGI) Education Center, and is about to wrap up her first semester with the College after hosting a variety of enlightening lectures and panels.

Mehnaz M. Afridi, Ph.D., a scholar in Muslim identity and Jewish relations, was hired last summer as the director for Manhattan College’s newly expanded Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith (HGI) Education Center, and is about to wrap up her first semester with the College after hosting a variety of enlightening lectures and panels.

With Afridi’s scholarly commitment to the study of the Holocaust and genocide and years of dedicated work in interfaith relations, she was chosen to lead HGI in broadening its focus. Formerly called the Holocaust Resource Center, HGI expanded in July of this year to include helping to promote a better understanding among Christians, Jews and Muslims through interfaith dialogue at various programming and educational events offered for both the College and community.

A student-run panel analyzing the misperceptions of Islam in the modern world; a post 9/11 interfaith discussion with three women from different faiths; and a lecture with a senior historian and archivist from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), were just a few highlights during the fall semester. In addition, Afridi is organizing a film screening and discussion on The Lesson Plan: The Story of the Third Wave with another professor for early next semester.

She is constantly exploring ways to integrate the Holocaust with tolerance of other faiths, and as a result, is having the exhibition Besa, which means promise, come to the College’s campus next fall. The exhibit shows how Albanian Muslims are helping Jews, and it’s the first step of reconciliation rather than looking at the negative relationship between Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Afridi is also serving as an assistant professor of religious studies at Manhattan College and is teaching a course in Islam. In the past, she has taught at Antioch University, National University, American Intercontinental University and Loyola Marymount University, and also received her doctorate in religious studies from the University of South Africa, and her M.A. and B.A. from Syracuse University.

“In her public talks in academic conferences, in temples and synagogues all over the greater Los Angeles area, Dr. Afridi has dedicated herself to interfaith dialogue, the importance of the Holocaust and the critical importance of interpreting key Muslim texts accurately,” wrote Michael Berenbaum, Ph.D., director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust at the American Jewish University.

Since moving to New York, Afridi is preparing to publish her first two books, The Shoah Through Muslim Eyes and Orhan Pamuk’s Global Literature: Existentialism and Politics (co-edited by David Buyze, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Toronto), and is frequently presenting as a guest speaker locally and internationally. In fact, in October she traveled to Istanbul, Turkey to attend the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality (WISE) conference and moderated a panel on women and leadership. She also was the moderator at the Building a Global Muslim/Jewish Alliance panel at the 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association on Nov. 17.

During the month of September, Afridi spoke at the In Good Faith: Stories of Hope and Resilience event, which was sponsored by ASMA along with the Cordoba Initiative and the Interchurch Center. She also joined other faith leaders at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, an Orthodox Synagogue, on Sept. 10 to discuss the principles of justice and commonalities of Judaism and Islam.

To learn more about Afridi and her new role at Manhattan College, please contact Liz Connolly, assistant director of communications, via e-mail public relations (at)Manhattan(dot)edu or by phone at (718) 862-7231.


US warned against losing Pakistan

NEW YORK -December 03, 2011, A major American newspaper on Thursday warned against breaking ties with Pakistan, saying such a course would be far more costly than maintaining the current ‘fragile and sometimes disingenuous’ friendship.

“It’s clear that the long-troubled US-Pakistan relationship is at a crossroads,” Boston Globe said in an editorial as tensions between the two countries escalated over Nato‘s raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers… But, it should be equally clear that the United States and Pakistan still need each other, and that the Obama administration should do all it can to forestall a permanent rupture.”

Full Report at:


Pakistan hell bent on self-destruction: Jones

ISLAMABAD (Agencies) December 03, 2011,- In an interview with Charlie Rose on Bloomberg TV Thursday Gen James Jones said Ijaz was a mere acquaintance.

This comes contrary to Ijaz’s claims in several interviews that Jones is a close friend of his. Responding to a question, Jones said “Pakistan is a country hell bent on self-destruction” which refuses to listen to advice that might help it. Asked about the memo controversy, he said he had played a small part in it. Jones said Mansoor Ijaz is a ‘Pakistani American’ who lives in Europe and remains involved in the affairs of Pakistan.

He is an acquaintance and on May 10 asked Jones to deliver a letter to Mullen. Jones did not say that the letter was initiated by President Asif Ali Zardari or former ambassador Husain Haqqani.

Asked if Ijaz was considered credible in the US National Security Council, Jones stopped at saying he was a mere acquaintance.


In future, you’re free to hit back, Kayani tells troops

Omer Farooq Khan, TNN,

ISLAMABAD: Dec 3, 2011, Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has directed his troops against allowing Nato forces "to evade a crushing response regardless of its consequences for any cross-border attacks in future''. The chief 's message comes amid mounting anger over last week's Nato airstrikes.

Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday also called for a comprehensive review of Pakistan's cooperation with the US following the Nato strike saying troops had been instructed to respond "with full force" to any further act of aggression.

Sources said Kayani directed his troops to respond "without waiting for the high command's directions''. They said he expressed full trust in the capabilities and resolve of his soldiers. "Be assured that we will not let the aggressor walk away easily. I have clearly directed that any act of aggression will be responded with full force...,'' said a source quoting Kayani's message.

Pakistan military's Inter Services Public Relations confirmed the message. Kayani said that he was proud of his men, who responded with all resources at their disposal, including artillery. "We all salute the courage displayed by brave officers and men..." Kayani said the attack could have been retaliated effectively had the communications network not broken down. "Timely decision could not be taken due to breakdown of communication with the affected posts and therefore lack of clarity of situation at various levels..."

Experts say the airstrikes have forced Pakistan to rethink its strategy and shift focus from fighting militants to ensuring security of its troops along the Afghan border. "The Nato forces in Afghanistan will also be treated as a potential threat," said defence analyst Brig (Retd) Mehmood Shah.


Veena Malik's nude photo causes fury in Pakistan

AP, Dec 3, 2011,

A Pakistani actress who posed in the nude for an Indian magazine with the initials of Pakistan's feared and powerful intelligence agency on her arm has triggered fury across this conservative nation.

Veena Malik's photo on the website of FHM India, in advance of its publication in the magazine's December issue, has been lighting up social network website Facebook and Twitter since earlier this week.

Many here anticipate a backlash, as nationalists and Islamists regularly stage rallies against anything they deem an insult to Islam or to the national honor. India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency or ISI has been accused of sponsoring terrorist attacks inside India.

Malik has broken Pakistani religious and national taboos in the past. She is a target for conservative ire and a heroine to some Pakistani liberals.

Conservative cleric Maulana Abdul Qawi declared on Aaj TV on Saturday that her latest venture into controversy was a "shame for all Muslims." Farzana Naz, interviewed by the same channel on the streets of Lahore, said that the actress had "bowed all us women in shame."

Twitter commentator Umair Javed however called on Pakistanis to "make copies of the picture and bury it in your backyard. This way, our grandkids will know there were some amongst us who lived free!"

Asked by reporters whether Pakistan would "pursue the matter" legally, the country's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Saturday, "First, let us see whether it is real or fake."

Malik for her part says that the photo at the root of the current uproar was published in violation of her agreement with FHM India. In an interview with Pakistani Geo television broadcast Saturday, Malik acknowledged having been photographed for a "bold but not nude shot." She said the editor of the magazine had promised that he would cover most of the photo with the ISI initials.

Malik said that the photo was intended to poke fun at the Indian fear of Pakistani spies: "Whatever happens (in India), people say ISI is behind that."

Malik said she would "probably" take a legal action against the magazine for violating terms and condition.

Magazine editor Kabeer Sharma said Malik did all with her full consent.

"We have all the record(s)," he told the Pakistani television station. "Veena was very excited about that ISI idea."

Malik does most of her work in India. The entertainment sector there is booming, while Pakistan's is moribund. Her ties to Pakistan's archrival have landed her in controversy in the past.

During a much-publicized talk show appearance early this year, she lashed out her nemesis Abdul Qawi, who criticized her for having a scripted love affair with an Indian actor on an Indian reality show.

"What is your problem with me?" an angry Malik demanded of the scholar, who had accused her of insulting Islam.


Holy day turns into protest landscape against US, NATO


LAHORE December 03, 2011, On the call of religious and religio-political parties, thousands of people from various walks of life took to the roads and streets across the country, including the City, for the third consecutive day on Friday to condemn the unprovoked Nato attacks which killed 28 Pakistan Army personnel.

After the Friday prayers, people thronged the venue of the rallies to vent their anger against the US and NATO and to force the Pakistani rulers to take a bold stance for giving a befitting reply to any aggression in future. During the Juma prayers, ulema and khatibs highlighted the issue and asked the government to end support to Nato forces for good.

In Lahore, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and other parties held rallies to denounce the uncalled for attack on Pakistan check posts. The speakers demanded immediate withdrawal from the US war and appealed for a complete national unity for meeting the challenges ahead. Addressing the participants of a big rally at Chuburji, ameer Jamaat-ud-Dawa Hafiz Muhammad Saeed appreciated the military leadership decision of giving a befitting reply top any aggression in future. He said that the Nato has attacked Pakistan and at the same time encouraging India to follow the same path.

Full Report at:


Power, not politics, divided Bhuttos: Fatima

Mumbai -December 03, 2011, It was power, which is more destructive than politics, that divided Bhutto family, feels the writer-poet scion Fatima Bhutto.

“Power is more destructive than politics. Everybody in the family had different ideologies from the start but when the family became powerful, things began to fracture,” the 29-year-old niece of slain Benazir Bhutto said at the Times Literary Carnival.

Fatima, who finds penning memoir a strange process since it entails researching one’s own family, says she took up writing because of a promise she had made to her father (Murtaza). “I took up writing because it was the last thing I promised my father hours before he was killed,” she said speaking on “Selective Nostalgia: Memoir Writing and Charitable Deception of Memory”.

“I asked him (Murtaza) why doesn’t he write about himself. He told me to do it after he was gone and few hours later he was killed,” she said and described her father as a “fascinating figure”. About her latest book “Songs of Desert and Sword”, which is an account of Murtaza’s life seen through her eyes, she said it was strange to research about her own family while writing the book that dwells on the brutal and corrupt world of Pakistani power politics which claimed the lives of four members of the Bhutto dynasty in the past 31 years.

She said her target audience was the young Pakistani who viewed her writing with “sympathy, solidarity and curiosity”.

While conceding that it was not possible to be neutral about people you love, Fatima said she had critically analysed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s handling of Balochistan. “He could have made a difference by ending the repression of Balochi people but it continued,” she said.


Overnight clash in north Syria kills 15


BEIRUT - 3 December 2011,, Overnight clashes between security forces and army defectors in northern Syria left 12 soldiers and defectors and three civilians dead early on Saturday, activists said.

Fighting has become more intense as rebels increasingly often confront security forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad who are trying to suppress the eight-month-old protest movement against his rule.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting broke out around midnight in the northern city of Idlib, near the Turkish border.

“Seven were killed from the army and regime security forces, including an army officer,” the group said. “Three civilians and five defectors were also killed.”

More than 4,000 people have died since protests broke out in March against the Assad family’s 41-year rule, according to the United Nations, which says the violence in Syria looks like civil war.

Syria faces mounting international and regional isolation as organisations such as the Arab League and the European Union, and the United States, demand that Damascus stop the bloodshed and talk to its opponents, and impose increasingly tough sanctions when it does not do so.

Syrian authorities say they are fighting foreign-backed “terrorist groups” trying to spark civil war who have killed some 1,100 soldiers and police since March.

The head of the main group of army deserters who have joined the opposition, the Free Syrian Army, told Reuters that his forces were switching their tactics from seizing equipment and hitting security checkpoints to attacking the military directly.

He said this was a necessary response to an increasing use of violence in Damascus’ military crackdown on protests.


7 militants dead in cross-border clash

ISLAMABAD (Agencies) - December 03, 2011,Seven Afghan militants were killed in cross-border skirmish Friday when Pakistan military returned fire into Afghanistan, officials said. Five Pakistani soldiers also sustained wounds by militants’ fire.

It was the latest in a series of recent cross-border assaults from Afghanistan’s Pech Valley and the provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, all areas from which US troops began pulling out earlier this year as part of a strategy designed to bolster security in more populated areas of Afghanistan.

The five injured Pakistani security personnel were airlifted by helicopters to a military base, said Col Nasir Jadoon, commander of a border security force in Chitral.

The Pakistani forces returned fired into Afghanistan, killing seven militants, Jadoon said.

In the same border region in August, at least 25 Pakistani security personnel were killed when between 200 and 300 militants attacked border posts along Pakistan’s border with Agfhanistan. Those who martyred included soldiers and police.

Military officials have said the withdrawal of US troops has provided insurgents in the mountainous areas of eastern Afghanistan with safe havens to launch cross-border attacks against Pakistani security forces.

The attacks have raised tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, with each country accusing the other of not doing enough to secure its border region.


Uzbek among 3 ‘terrorists’ held in Loralai

LORALAI: Loralai police has arrested three suspected terrorists and recovered explosives from their possession. Loralai Saddar Police SHO, Nasir Shah, told media that the police arrested three suspects including an Uzbek from the Loralai bypass. During the search, the police recovered a huge quantity of explosives, detonators and wires used in making improvised explosive devices from their possession. app\12\03\story_3-12-2011_pg7_6


2 killed, in Lashkar-LI clash

By: Ahmad Nabi

KHYBER AGENCY: December 03, 2011,Two persons were killed and two others sustained bullet injuries in fresh skirmish between Zekha Khel Qaumi Lashkar and banned Lashkar-e-Islam in Narri Baba area of tehsil Landi Kotal, sources said on Friday.

They said the clash erupted when volunteers of Zekha Khel peace lashkar launched an assault to get the possession of an important post of their opponents situated at Narri Baba mountain hills, far flung area of Tirah valley.

The Zekha Khel peace lashkar succeeded to hold control of the post, however two of their fighters were killed, sources said.

The killed persons included Aevraj, while the identity of the second person could not be ascertained. Two of their accomplices - Muslim Khan and Zarbat - were also wounded in the clash. The Zakha Khel lashker sources also claimed that one man of the banned LI had been arrested. The LI version on the fresh fighting could not be obtained due to lack of communication in Tirah valley.

It is worth mentioning here that fighting among different factions in Tirah have caused loss of scores of precious lives for the last few years, besides hundreds of tribesmen have been displaced.


One dead, 70 hurt in attack near Afghan NATO base

PUL-I-ALAM (AFP) - December 03, 2011 A powerful truck bomb exploded near the gate of a Nato base in Afghanistan Friday, killing one person and wounding as many as 70 others, including a foreign soldier, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide attack at Combat Outpost McClain in Muhammad Agha district of Logar province, south of the capital Kabul, which took place at around 8:00am (0330 GMT).

The blast outside the small base could be heard for several kilometres, an AFP reporter in the area said, and was described as “huge” by local police chief.

Logar provincial governor Atiqullah Ludin said an Afghan carpenter who had just entered the camp through the gate was killed in the attack, while seven others - five police and two intelligence officials - were wounded.


NATO may cross Pak border in new push

LONDON: December 03, 2011, NATO commanders are planning a substantial offensive in eastern Afghanistan aimed at insurgent groups based in Pakistan, involving an escalation of aerial attacks on insurgent sanctuaries, and have not ruled out cross-border raids with ground troops, the Guardian reported on Friday.

The aim of the offensive over the next two years is to reduce the threat represented by allegedly Pakistan-based groups loyal to insurgent leaders like the Haqqani clan, Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Western officials had been encouraged by the fact that a blitz of drone strikes against commanders loyal to insurgent leaders Jalaluddin and his son Sirajuddin in Miran Shah, the capital of North Waziristan, and against forces loyal to Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan, had produced few civilian casualties and no reaction from the Pakistanis.

Consequently, an increase in cross-border raids by special forces – and even the withdrawal of the Pakistani army to create a free-fire zone – have not been excluded. “The Pakistanis may not have the strength to defeat the Taliban and the Haqqanis on their own, even if they wanted to,” a western diplomat said.

The move is likely to add to the already tense atmosphere following the recent border post attack by Nato helicopters that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. On Thursday, Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani ordered his troops to return fire if they came under attack again by its ally.

Full Report at:


Democracy's Pakistani perils

George Jonas,

National Post · Dec. 3, 2011

A few weeks ago, while being led to my table in a Toronto restaurant, I bumped into Pervez Musharraf, quite literally. The former dictator of Pakistan was having breakfast with a small entourage.

"Wasn't that -?"

The maitre d' nodded yes before I finished the question. I took another look. Here's the man who prompted me to write in the early fall of 2007: "Democracy may come to Pakistan before long, and with it, catastrophe."

2007 was the year when Gen. Musharraf, having come to power in a 1999 military coup, initiated the process of legitimizing his title and office by putting both on the electoral line. He did so against his better judgment, having found then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hard to resist. The Calamity Jane in Gen. Musharraf's life was self-exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who returned in a triumphal procession to Karachi to contest the upcoming democratic elections.

That was more than four years ago. The elections came; the regime changed; the culture didn't. Hundreds, maybe thousands, died; Ms. Bhutto was assassinated. A tragedy, if no outright catastrophe yet. Pakistan is angry. Relations with the West have never been worse.

It's only symbolic so far, but the gestures are near the jugular. The troops display the bodies of 24 Pakistani border troops mistakenly killed in a NATO air strike. Mobs attending televised parades burn American flags. Pakistan's leaders have halted deliveries through a key pass, interrupting the supply line to coalition troops. A spokesman for the country's ruling coalition threatens to boycott the upcoming Bonn conference on Afghanistan. The country with the Muslim Bomb is restless. It doesn't want to play with us any longer.

The catastrophe I was writing about in 2007 wasn't democracy coming to Pakistan following the elections, but whatever might come to Pakistan following democracy. The gates leading from czars to commissars or Shahs to ayatollahs are often marked "democracy." The calamity isn't liberty but liberty's genius to serve as an agent of repression. Freedom of choice includes freedom of making the wrong choice, and some people and peoples have a penchant for making the wrong choices.

Pakistan isn't the only Muslim country with a penchant for making the wrong choice, but it's the only such country to also have the Bomb. A country that has both the Bomb and a talent for making the wrong choices wouldn't be a country I'd urge to please make a choice - but that's just me. Then-U.S. President George W. Bush, instead of thanking God that Pakistan was being run by a benign military dictator, who in addition to being friendly to the West was less repressive to his own people than military dictators usually are, insisted on putting Gen. Musharraf's country on electoral democracy's auction block.

The advisability of letting sleeping dogs lie has no effect on those who view democracy as a panacea, as President Bush did. The addicts of nation-building keep waking, baiting, teasing and unleashing dogs that are perfectly content to doze, resulting in a commotion all over the global village. Who let the dogs out? We did.

Calling elections looked good on paper, but Islamists pounced almost immediately, raining fire on Ms. Bhutto's parade, killing and maiming hundreds. They were getting ready to kill and maim thousands more, when Gen. Musharraf imposed a state of emergency, suspended the constitution, deployed troops, and locked up hordes of lawyers and journalists, claiming it was necessary to prevent a takeover by the militants of Islam. He was probably right, but in the end he was not only unable to prevent the assassination of Calamity Jane, but couldn't even prevent being blamed for it.

The fact that these events were predictable doesn't mean that they were avoidable. They weren't the "fault" of democracy, only its consequences. Some lessons need to be learned the hard way. One shouldn't blame democracy for a nation's troubles, even after predicting that they would occur, and I certainly don't blame democracy. One might be more justified blaming a nation for democracy's troubles - although "blame" is the wrong word. It's not a matter of blaming Pakistan, only a recognition that democracy is strong medicine. It's every bit as miraculous as penicillin, but some nations, like some patients, are allergic to it.

The best medicine won't help an allergic patient, and sometimes it may kill him. The same is true of a culture trying to ingest a political system to which it reacts badly. At this point in time, a democratic Pakistan has a chance of being nothing but a brief prelude to the long, dark night of a Taliban-style tyranny. Leaving Gen. Musharraf's military dictatorship alone would have saved lives, Ms. Bhutto's included.

It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, they say. Feeble as democracy's candle may be, it's a pinpoint of light in a pitch-black region. That's why great squishy Western moths are fatally attracted to it. It's all very understandable, if not very wise. The next sound we hear may be a sizzle as the moth flies into the flame.


Pakistan has right to self-defence, so does US: Pentagon on NATO strike


WASHINGTON,: Dec 3, 2011, With Pakistan vowing to respond with "full force" to any future aggression in the wake of the deadly NATO strike, the Pentagon has said that Islamabad has the right to self-defence and so does the US.

It also admitted that the last Saturday air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers has had a "chilling effect" on US-Pak military relations.

"I've seen the comments attributed to General Kayani. I'm certainly not going to speak for him or for the government of Pakistan.

"But every sovereign nation has the right of self-defense and the right to order their troops to defend themselves. That's what my understanding is what he did: He reiterated their right of self-defense. We certainly respect that right of his. We have it as well," Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt John Kirby told reporters yesterday.

He was repsonding to questions about Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani ordering his troops to respond with "full force" to any further "act of aggression" by NATO forces.

Kirby also said, "I think it's safe to say that the incident has had a chilling effect on our relationship with the Pakistani military, no question about that. Both sides deem it to be as serious as it was."


Gilani endorses Bilawal as future PM candidate


 Islamabad   Dec 02, 2011, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has endorsed ruling PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as a future prime ministerial candidate.

"It is up to the party. Our chairman should be the Prime Minister and I am with him," he said on the programme 'Prime Minister Online' on state-run PTV late last night.

He was responding to a question on whether he would be the PPP's prime ministerial candidate in the next election scheduled for 2013 in the presence of Bilawal who has formally entered politics.

"I am with the party. I was not a candidate (for the post of Prime Minister after the 2008 election). The party gave me the responsibility," he said.

Gilani's remarks came days after 23-year-old Bilawal, son of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, chaired a meeting of PPP leaders entrusted with handling public affairs and relations with the media.

Bilawal presided over the meeting held in Karachi on November 29 that was attended by PPP spokesman Qamar Zaman Kaira, parliamentarians Farzana Raja and Farahnaz Isphani and Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri.

Party insiders described the meeting as the first one chaired independently by Bilawal after he formally entered politics.

The PPP chairman asked the leaders to increase the activities of their wings.

He also called for establishing media cells in all four provinces of the country.

Media reports quoted Bilawal as saying that instead of adopting an aggressive approach for dealing with negative news regarding the PPP, the leaders should tackle such information in a technical manner.

Kaira told the media that Bilawal wanted the youth to join the PPP.


India assures Bangladesh on Tipaimukh

TNN Dec 3, 2011,

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to assuage apprehensions in Bangladesh, India on Friday stressed it would not take any steps on Tipaimukh dam that would adversely affect the neighbouring country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave this assurance to Gowher Rizvi and Mashiur Rahman, advisers to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, after meeting them this afternoon. In a statement, MEA said, "The Prime Minister reiterated the assurance he had given to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during his visit to Bangladesh in September, 2011, that India will not take steps on Tipaimukh project that will adversely affect Bangladesh."

Rizvi and Rahman raised the Tipaimukh issue because it has grown to become a touchy political subject in Bangladesh. Opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia of BNP has been spearheading the protests on the issue.

Last week, Zia even wrote to Singh on the subject. In his response to Zia's letter, the PM wrote back to her that India would not do anything to undermine the interests of Bangladesh.

The MEA spokesman said Indian government had told the Bangladesh government it was ready to hold discussions on the Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project. Earlier, Bangladesh had sent a 10-member delegation of political leaders to India to discuss the issue. The Bangladeshi politicians had visited the Tipaimukh project site in 2009, and were apparently convinced that it would not hurt Dhaka's interests.

The recent spate of protests has been fuelled by reports that India has signed a "promoters agreement" to form a joint venture company for the dam. This triggered concerns in Bangladesh that the proposed 1,500 MW project being constructed on Barak river would starve Bangladesh of water not only on the Barak river but its biggest river, Meghna.

Hasina's advisers also met power minister Sushil Shinde, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram and water resources minister.


UN rights panel slams murder, torture of civilians in Syria

GENEVA: December 03, 2011, The UN Human Rights Council on Friday slammed ‘gross violations’ in Syria following evidence security forces murdered and tortured dissidents including children, as five more people reportedly died.

Council members in Geneva overwhelmingly passed a resolution “strongly condemning the continued widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities” and referred a report on the abuses to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon. There were 37 yes votes and six absentions, while four countries - Russia, Cuba, Ecuador and China - voted against. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing slaughter, arbitrary arrest and torture of peaceful protesters,” US ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said earlier at the council’s third emergency meeting to discuss Syria since the repression began in March.\12\03\story_3-12-2011_pg7_3


Rome Statute activated in Maldives

By Minivan News

December 1st, 2011

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) became active in the Maldives today, following a required 60-day period after depositing the Instrument of Ratification.

The Maldives recently became the 118th state member of the International Criminal Court following a favorable vote in Parliament. It is the third South Asian country to join the ICC after Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

By adopting the Rome Statute, experts say, the Maldives has benefitted its own legal system by expanding training opportunities. It has also taken a step towards greater transparency on the international level.

Based in the Hague in the Netherlands, the ICC is an independent, permanent tribunal established in 2002 to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. After 2017, it will exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

The Maldives is expected to participate in the 10th Assembly of State for the Rome Statute, scheduled in New York between 12-21 December.


Prosecution Analyst Outlines Al Qaeda Strategy

By Milton J. Valencia


Prosecutors in the terrorism trial of Tarek Mehanna used a self-described terror analyst yesterday to outline the history and operation of Al Qaeda, part of an attempt to show that Mehanna was willingly working to support the terror organization.

Evan F. Kohlmann, who described himself as an international terrorism consultant with Flashpoint Global Partners, an independent consulting company he runs, told jurors yesterday at Mehanna’s trial in US District Court in Boston that Al Qaeda’s leadership has publicly called for support from followers, in the form of money, fighting, even the promotion of its ideology.

Every person who speaks on behalf of Al Qaeda has at one point or another called for support . . . from saying prayers, to producing videos, to helping put out Al Qaeda’s message,’’ said Kohlmann, who holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University with a focus on security in the Muslim world.

“Al Qaeda is seeking to recruit people who are religious,’’ he said, adding, “Jihad is its central philosophy.’’

Kohlmann said he has researched and written extensively about terror networks and the Mujahideen, or the so-called Freedom Fighters who fought the Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan more than two decades ago. He has interviewed members of terror networks and authored papers and a book titled, “Al Qaida’s Jihad in Europe.’’

He has testified for government prosecutors 20 times in US federal courts, and has also testified before Congress and in terrorism cases abroad.

After five weeks of testimony in Mehanna’s trial, Kohlmann is the last witness to testify for the government, and prosecutors are seeking to use his analysis of the case to argue that the Sudbury resident was willingly working to support Al Qaeda by translating and promoting its ideology, answering the group’s call to spread its message in the West.

Mehanna, 29, a US citizen who was living with his parents, faces life in prison if convicted of charges of conspiring to support terrorists, to kill in a foreign country, and for lying to investigators.

Prosecutors say Mehanna used his fluency in Arabic to translate documents promoting Al Qaeda’s philosophy and to distribute them to his friends and on the Web, answering the group’s call for followers to promote its ideology.

Prosecutors also allege that Mehanna traveled to Yemen in 2004 seeking terrorism training, so that he could carry out jihad - or holy war - against US soldiers in Iraq. He was not successful at finding a camp, they said.

Mehanna’s defense lawyers have described him as a budding scholar who was simply expressing his own free-speech-protected views critical of foreign policy in Muslim countries and against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At no point did he work with or at the direction of any terror organizations, and at points he also denounced Al Qaeda’s viewpoints, the lawyers say.

They also maintain that Mehanna traveled to Yemen in search of schools on Islamic law and the Arabic language, to further his religious studies.

Kohlmann had not spoken about Mehanna directly by the close of testimony yesterday, and he will be restricted under legal rules from expressing his opinion on the case.

But he began to outline a history of Al Qaeda that prosecutors argue Mehanna followed when he distributed videos showing suicide bombings in the name of jihad, and when he translated documents calling for Muslims to support their brethren in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kohlmann described Al Qaeda’s origins in Afghanistan, where Muslims ousted the Soviet occupation. By the late 1980s, a group led by Osama bin Laden decided it wanted to further fight on behalf of Muslims across the world, Kohlmann said.

Al Qaeda particularly targeted the United States for sending soldiers into Muslim lands, at a time when the group was promoting the establishment of Islamic governments in the Middle East. What followed were attacks on US interests, including the embassies in Africa in 1998, the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Al Qaeda means the solid base in English, Kohlmann said, and the group has now worked to decentralize itself by spreading its message to young radicals, particularly through the use of the Internet, he said.

“The more decentralized it is, the more spread out it is, the more difficult it is for other enemies to fight it,’’ he said, adding that the organization has several media wings to help promote its ideology.


Pentagon says Pakistan not joining bombing probe


WASHINGTON: Dec 03,2011Pakistan is refusing to participate in the US investigation of last week’s Nato bombing along the Afghanistan border that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

At a Pentagon briefing Friday, Defence Department press secretary George Little said the US asked Pakistan to be part of the investigation, but the Pakistanis have ”elected to date” not to participate.

That decision is just one in a series of actions Islamabad has taken in retribution for the incident, including a move to shut down supply lines that the United States uses to get food, fuel and other equipment from ships at Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea to troops in Afghanistan.

At the same time, however, US military officials said Friday that Pakistan has continued to have representatives at the border coordination centres working with Afghan and coalition forces.

So far, the US has sufficient supplies on hand and has been able to find other ways to get shipments through to Afghanistan, including alternate routes through Uzbekistan.

”Logistics is about alternatives; it’s about options, and we’re certainly working through what sort of options we may need to pursue,” said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.

Asked why the US has chosen to express its regrets for the incident but has not explicitly apologised to the Pakistanis, Kirby said that ”in this case, this was clearly a military engagement…that cross-border fire resulted in the deaths of some two dozen Pakistani soldiers, not innocent villagers or civilians.”

Kirby added that it is too early to assign blame for the deaths because the investigation is not yet completed.

Other defence officials have told The Associated Press that when US and Afghan forces came under fire, the US checked with the Pakistan military to see if there were friendly troops in the area and were told there were none.

Pakistani officials have said that the US gave them the wrong location when asking clearance to return fire.

Defence officials deny that, and say the investigation is likely to point substantial blame at the Pakistanis.

The US officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is not complete.

German Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a spokesman for the Nato coalition in Afghanistan, said it will take much of December to complete the investigation.

”We need Pakistan to join this process so that we have a rounded picture,” he said, adding, however, that, ”we have to understand that emotions obviously are very high on the Pakistani side.”

The incident has deteriorated the already shaky US relationship with Pakistan, endangering the war in Afghanistan, including reconciliation efforts with members of the Afghan Taliban who often seek sanctuary in Pakistan.

But defence officials said that so far the retribution from Pakistan, including the shutdown of supply lines, has had negligible effect on the war effort, including operations to go after insurgents.

”I don’t think, if I was a member of the Haqqani network or the Taliban, that I’d be lollygagging around that area,” said Kirby.

US Defence and State Department officials also said the US continues to reach out to Pakistan and hopes that the relationship can be mended.

At the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that efforts were continuing to persuade Pakistan to participate in next week’s conference in Bonn, Germany, on the future of Afghanistan. The Pakistanis withdrew from the event this week.

”We think it would be regrettable if Pakistan were not to attend this conference,” Toner said. ”It’s important for the region. It’s important for the neighbourhood. It’s important that we all work to put Afghanistan on a square and solid footing.”

Toner said that the US and Pakistan had a shared interest in combating extremist groups operating in Pakistani-Afghan border areas and that cooperation needed to be improved.


Pakistani man pleads guilty over US terror charges


WASHINGTON: Dec 03, 2011 A Pakistani man living in the United States faces up to 15 years in jail after pleading guilty Friday to providing material support to the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

US justice officials said Jubair Ahmad, 24, posted a propaganda video for LeT “glorifying violent jihad” in 2010, three years after he arrived in the United States with his parents and two younger brothers.

“Foreign terrorist organisations such as LeT use the Internet as part of well-orchestrated propaganda campaigns to radicalise and recruit individuals to wage violent jihad and to promote the spread of terror,” said US Attorney Neil MacBride.

“Today’s conviction of Jubair Ahmad demonstrates that we will aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who provides material support to a terrorist organisation in whatever form it takes,” he added.

Ahmad, of Woodbridge, Virginia, close to the US capital Washington, will be sentenced on April 13.

“By preparing and posting a graphic video that glorified violent extremism, Mr Ahmad directly supported the mission of a designated terrorist organisation,” said FBI assistant director in charge James McJunkin.


NATO plans to quell Pakistan-based insurgents: Guardian


LONDON: Dec. 02, 2011, Nato commanders are planning a substantial offensive in eastern Afghanistan aimed at insurgent groups based in Pakistan, involving an escalation of aerial attacks on insurgent sanctuaries, and have not ruled out cross-border raids with ground troops, The Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.

The aim of offensive over next two years is to reduce threat represented by Pakistan-based groups loyal to insurgent leaders like Haqqani clan, Mullah Nazir & Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

Nato hopes to reduce level of attacks in the eastern provinces clustered around Kabul to the point where they could be contained by Afghan security forces after transition in 2014. The move is likely to add to already tense atmosphere following recent border post attack by Nato helicopters that resulted in death of 24 Pakistani soldiers.

While drawing down forces in Helmand & Kandahar, the US will step up its presence in eastern provinces bordering Pakistan, bringing long-festering issue of insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan tribal areas to a head. Message being given to Pakistan military is that if it cannot or will not eliminate insurgent havens, US forces will attempt job themselves, report said.

It is unclear to what extent killing of 24 Pakistan soldiers in Nato air strikes last Saturday will have on Nato strategy. An investigation is underway into the incident. As a consequence, Pakistan closed supply routes used by Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and barred the US from using a Pakistani air base to launch drones.

Isaf commander, General John Allen, said the need to confront sanctuaries in Pakistan was “one of the reasons we are shifting our operations to the east”.

In an interview in Kabul, Allen, a US marine, did not give specifics of strategy and said nothing about cross-border operations.

According to The Guardian, Allen said he did not know what long-term consequences of last Saturday’s clash would be, describing it as a “tragedy”, but made clear that push to the east would continue.

“Ultimately outcome we hope to achieve in the east is a reduction of insurgent networks to the point where Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) can handle them, reducing them in 2012, if necessary going after them in 2013,” Allen said.

“I won’t go into specifics of operations but as we consolidate our holdings in the south and as population centers there in Helmand River valley and in (Kandahar,) we will conduct substantial operations in the east idea being to expand security zone around Kabul. In particular we are going to pay lot of attention to south of Kabul, Wardak, Logar, Ghazni, Zabul.

Because in the end if you have a population in the south that feels secure and it’s secured by ANSF, and you have a population in east and around centre of gravity of Kabul, and those two are connected by a road so you have freedom of movement, you have a pretty good outcome.”


UK arrests 22Pak nationals in drone demonstration


LONDON: Dec 02 2011British police say 22 people have been arrested outside of the US Embassy in London during a protest over the American use of drones in Pakistan.

Scotland Yard confirmed the arrests on Friday at the demonstration, organised by a group calling itself ”United Ummah.”

Police said 20 people were arrested on suspicion of being members of a group banned by the Home Office. It would not say what group it believed the suspects belong to. One other person was arrested for violent disorder and another for obstruction.

”United Ummah” does not appear on the Home Office’s list of banned groups, but prescribed organisations have rebranded themselves in the past after they were featured.

The demonstration was advertised online – on YouTube, Twitter and various forums – and in a publicity video as a gathering to expose ”the recent spate of anti-Muslim drone strikes that have been launched by the US government against innocent Muslims.”

US and Pakistan diplomatic relations hit a new low following US-led Nato strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last week, with officials from both countries offering different accounts of how two Pakistan army posts were attacked before dawn on Saturday.

According to US military records described to The Associated Press, the incident occurred when a joint US and Afghan patrol requested backup after being attacked by Taliban militants. Before responding, the patrol first checked with the Pakistani army, which reported it had no troops in the area, the account said.

Pakistani officials have refuted this claim and said US forces must have known they were attacking Pakistani soldiers because the posts were clearly marked on maps given to Nato and the two sides were in contact immediately before and during the airstrikes.


Expelled Iranian diplomats arrive in Tehran


TEHRAN: Dec 03, 2011Iran’s diplomats expelled from London over the storming of the British embassy in Tehran this week arrived in the Iranian capital early Saturday, Iranian media reported.

The group of diplomats was kept out of sight of waiting media as they passed through back corridors in Tehran’s international airport after landing aboard an Iran Air flight.

Some 150 students chanting “Death to Britain” and holding flower necklaces who were there to welcome the group did not see them either, an AFP photographer said.

The diplomats were expelled from London on Friday in retaliation for the violent incursion of Britain’s embassy and a second diplomatic compound in Tehran on Tuesday by hundreds of pro-regime Iranian protesters.

Britain, which evacuated all its own diplomats from Tehran for their safety after the attacks, closed its embassy and ordered Iran to do likewise.

It said the assault on its embassy could only have occurred with tacit consent from Iran’s leaders.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, who was at the airport to receive the diplomats, noted moves by other EU nations backing Britain.

“Now the British government is trying to involve other European countries in our bilateral issue. But we have told the Europeans not to trouble relations with Iran because of Britain,” he said, in remarks reported by Fars news agency.

The assault on the British embassy and subsequent downgrading of diplomatic ties between the two countries to their most minimum level has tipped into crisis a showdown between Iran and the West over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.

France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy have recalled their own ambassadors from Tehran for consultations, to show solidarity with Britain. The European Union tightened sanctions on Iran and warned extra measures on Iran’s financial and oil sectors could follow.

The pro-regime protesters who went on their anti-British rampage Tuesday were reflecting official fury at new British sanctions cutting off transactions with all of Iran’s financial sector, including its central bank.

The sanctions were coordinated with similar measures by the United States and Canada.

“Iran is not the sort of country where spontaneously a demonstration congregates then attacks a foreign embassy. That sort of activity is only done with the acquiescence and support of the state,” Britain’s evacuated ambassador, Dominick Chilcott, told British media on Friday.

Foreign media in Tehran on Thursday were told covering all anti-British, pro-regime demonstrations was now forbidden — an unprecedented restriction that adds to many other reporting curbs already in place.

Iranians staged a fresh anti-British demonstration in Tehran on Friday in support of the storming of the British compounds, according to the official IRNA news agency.


Iran Cautions European States Not to Sacrifice Ties with Iran for Britain

TEHRAN (FNA)- 2011-12-03, "We have called on the European countries not to trouble their relations with us for the problems we have with Britain," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast told reporters on Saturday.

He warned that Britain is making attempts to persuade other European countries to severe their ties with Iran after Tehran lowered its ties with London and expelled British ambassador due to the country's inimical attitude towards the Iranian nation.

In relevant remarks on Friday, Tehran's provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami had also cautioned the European nations against compliance with the US and Britain's policies against Iran, saying Washington and London's animosity towards Tehran would produce no result but damage to the West.

Addressing a large congregation of worshippers on Tehran University Campus on Friday, Khatami warned the European countries that the US and Britain intend to reduce their losses in their confrontation with Iran by distributing the losses and damage among a more number of countries.

"If you are wise, you will not tie your rope with the worn-out rope of the British," he said, cautioning that the British have no place in Iran and the Muslim world.

His remarks came after the Iranian legislators in an open session of the parliament on Sunday approved the bill of a law on downgrading relations with Britain with 179 yes votes, 4 oppositions and 11 abstentions. The 4 oppositions demanded a full cut of ties with London.

Full Report at:


Kenya, Sudan Resume ties

NAIROBI (Reuters) - December 03, 2011, Kenya has normalised relations with Sudan after Khartoum reversed its decision to expel the Kenyan ambassador over a Nairobi court ruling ordering the arrest of the Sudanese president, the Kenyan foreign affairs minister said on Friday. Moses Wetangula spoke to reporters after returning home from a meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to defuse a row touched off by the Kenyan court's order that Bashir be arrested for suspected war crimes if he sets foot in Kenya. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Bashir on charges of orchestrating genocide in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Sudan had threatened to expel Kenya's ambassador and pull its own envoy out of Nairobi after a Kenyan judge told the Nairobi government to detain Bashir if possible and hand him over to the ICC in The Hague.

Wetangula met Bashir in Khartoum on Thursday night to try to resolve the spat.

Kenya was criticised by the ICC and foreign governments for failing to arrest Bashir when he attended a ceremony to enact a new Kenyan constitution in August last year.


South Sudan to disarm civilians

NYAL (AFP) , December 03, 2011- One of Africa's longest-running wars left this land in ruins and battling a bitter legacy that threatens prospects for peace -- a stockpile of weapons spurring cattle raids and banditry. After seceding from the north in July, South Sudan begun a clean-up to rid civilians of arms taken up during the brutal two-decade civil war with the Khartoum army in the north. South Sudanese authorities are disarming civilians in the central Lakes state, as well as in Unity and War rap states to the north, all notorious for cattle rustling and bloody clashes between rival groups.

The United Nations in September raised concerns over multiple raids in South Sudan, which it said could plunge the newly-independent country into a fresh crisis after 600 people were killed in inter-ethnic clashes in the vast Jonglei state in August.

Lakes State Governor Chol Tong Mayay insists the population in the area under his control has been disarmed, and said authorities have seized 4,000 weapons from the state's 700,000 inhabitants.

But in Unity, herder Gatluak is not convinced.

"We live in fear. You never know if in other counties disarmament is done," he said -- one of many residents who publicly laud the disarmament but worry that the same is not being done in neighbouring regions.

With rebel movements and other armed groups still operating, insecurity still reigns and South Sudan faces a tough task mopping up weapons and restoring stability.

The task has not been made any easier by ethnic groups disarmed in previous drives subsequently being attacked by rival armed gangs.

Last month, authorities in Unity State accused a rebel group, the South Sudan Liberation Army, of sabotaging the disarmament campaign after an attack there that claimed 80 lives.

The independent monitoring group Small Arms Survey said disarmament in the past has not been systematic.

"Disarmament was generally poorly planned and sporadically implemented ... and had a minimal impact on security," a report on earlier efforts reads.

"The number of weapons collected is probably a small fraction of the total holdings in each of the affected communities."


Yemen PM warns transition at risk

SANAA (Reuters), December 03, 2011 - At least five civilians and three soldiers were killed in the protest hotbed city of Taiz Friday, and the head of a new government meant to prevent civil war in Yemen said a week-old political pact could unravel if the bloodshed went on.

The bloodshed in Taiz made clear that a deal to ease President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power has yet to defuse 10 months of violent unrest over the fate of Saleh and the political future of impoverished country.

Yemen's Gulf Arab neighbors and their US ally hope the deal can reverse a drift toward chaos on the doorstep of the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and stop al Qaeda's Yemeni branch gaining a foothold near Red Sea shipping routes.

In Taiz in south Yemen, government forces shot dead three civilians, and a fresh battle between government troops and gunmen backing protesters killed two people trapped in their homes during fighting, protest leaders and medical workers said. Three government troops were killed in what a security source called an attack by fighters tied to the opposition and the Islamist Islah party, which has backed the protests.

Witnesses said street battles with heavy weapons including tanks raged near a police headquarters in the center of Taiz, and activist Tawfiq al-Shaabi said dozens of families had fled artillery and small arms fire in western areas of the city. At least 12 civilians, government soldiers and anti-Saleh gunmen were killed in Taiz in the previous few days. The earlier casualties in the city 200 km (120 miles) south of the capital Sanaa included five civilians killed by pro-Saleh troops during intense shelling of some Taiz neighborhoods, according to residents and medical workers.

Protesters in Taiz are ringed by troops loyal to Saleh as well as tribal forces and troops opposed to him. Taiz's governor called for a ceasefire late Thursday. Mohammed Basindwa, a former foreign minister designated by opposition parties to lead a government to be divided between them and Saleh's party, said his side would rethink its commitment to that pact if the killing in Taiz did not cease.

Full Report at:


Tahrir protest starts as Egypt awaits poll results

CAIRO (Reuters) - December 03, 2011, Egypt will hear the results of elections which Islamist parties expect to win on Friday and protesters rallied in Cairo to remember 42 people killed in clashes with police last month.

"Without Tahrir, we wouldn't have had these elections," said Mohamed Gad, in the Cairo square that was the hub of the revolt that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February. "God willing, the elections will succeed and the revolution will triumph."

But many of the young people who took to the streets early this year now fear their revolution risks being stolen, either by the army rulers or by well-organized Islamist parties.

The Muslim Brotherhood, banned but semi-tolerated under Mubarak, says its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) expects to win 43 percent of party list votes in the first stage of a complex and lengthy election process that lasts into January.

Many had forecast that the Brotherhood would convert its decades of grassroots social and religious work, as well as its opposition to Mubarak, into a solid electoral showing.

But the Brotherhood's website also forecast that the Salafi al-Nour party would gain 30 percent of the vote, a shock for some Egyptians, especially minority Christian Copts, who fear it will try to impose strict Islamic codes on society. Nour said on Thursday it expected 20 percent of the vote.