IRAN CLERIC MONTAZERI DIES
Saudi women graduates facing gender challenges
New Hijri Year: Six-member Brunei Muslims family reverted to Islam
Cambodia Deports Uighurs despite Criticism
20 terrorists killed in FATA operation
Militant killed, 53 suspects arrested in Swat, Buner
Kingdom trying to find if Saudis were among dead in Yemeni operations
Anti-Islamic Cartoons: Co-existence Between Islam and the West
Udupi: Islam is pro-poor- Jamaat leader
Muslims, Gays and Mormons: All should enjoy fundamental rights
Somalia’s Al-Shabab rebels force men to grow beards
Aligarh Muslim University signs MoU with Indonesian varsity
Accord on free truck movement with Afghanistan
Iran: President asks Muslims to introduce true image of Islam
FBI walks tightrope in outreach to Muslims, fighting terrorism
Dhaka: Qamrul may complain against Justice Islam
Holy Quran Contest for Special Needs People
`Qassab acted like any criminal'
Pakistan’s development potential highlighted
Pak-India outstanding issues affecting war on terror: PM
KARACHI: Girl shot dead on rejection of proposal
Iraq sends forces to oil well seized by Iran
Iran and Iraq discuss "misunderstanding"
Iran troops withdrawn from oil well: Iraq official
I was jailed for helping Afghan women
Somali Islamist rebels force men to grow beards
Ulema urged to play role for peace in Muharram
Haqqani dispels holding up US officials’ visas
Etihad, Alitalia Airways sign MoU
Anxiety, tension prevail Gaza Strip borders with Egypt
Pak Farmer kills wife, her alleged lover
Indonesian Buddhists pray for tsunami victims
Settlement of Kashmir issue key to peace: Gilani
Gilani hopes Gilgit-Baltistan people to see new era
Emirati Woman Gives Birth to First Baby of New Islamic Year
Compiled by Aman Quadri
Photo: Women are revamping their wardrobes in West Aceh to conform to the new Shariah regulation.
URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamicWorldNews_1.aspx?ArticleID=2249
Dressing to Impress Aceh's Shariah Police
In Pasar Rakyat, a market in Meulaboh in Indonesia's West Aceh, a young woman busily browses through a rack of skirts. She is wearing a loose, long skirt, a tight, long-sleeved T-shirt and a jilbab that comes up to her chest. She analyzes the material of the skirts, touching them to feel the texture.
“I have to replace my clothes with skirts and Muslim outfits [that are long-sleeved and loose],” 20-year-old Rahma said last Tuesday. “I don’t want to be arrested by the Wilayatul Hisbah [Shariah police] when they really implement the new law.”
The district of West Aceh will begin enforcing a new regulation in January that will strictly forbid Muslims, especially women, to wear tight clothes. M Nur Juned, head of West Aceh district’s Shariah division, said in a telephone interview with the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that authorities would regulate the clothes that people were allowed to wear.
“For women, the clothes should not be skintight, see-through, show the contours of their bodies or be boyish. The jilbab should be long so it can cover their chest,” he said. “Women can still wear trousers as long as they are not tight.
“As for men, they can’t wear shorts when they are out in public. And they can’t dress up like a woman, either. Allah hates such a thing.”
Juned said that in 2008, the West Aceh government had advised Muslims in the area regarding their manner of dressing.
“We [the district-level office] circulated letters to subdistrict offices on how people should dress. But since this was only an appeal and there were no sanctions, people didn’t take it seriously,” he said. “We decided to make it more serious by issuing this new regulation.”
He said that those caught breaking the law would be reprimanded and advised on how to dress accordingly. He added that if a person repeated the offense, he or she would be subject to the ta’zir penalty.
The word ta’zir literally means to bring something to a halt. But it can also be translated as “to help, respect or honor.” Under Shariah law, ta’zir is defined as a sentence or punishment given to those charged with assault.
“The kind of punishment [subject to ta’zir] depends on how serious the violation is,” Juned said.
“Punishment can range from the very mild to harsher ones. It could mean being caned once to dozens of times.
“It is the Shariah court that decides [how many times one should be caned] depending on how serious the violation is.”
Juned said that once the new regulation was implemented, the district-level government would strongly recommended that government and private offices refuse services for Muslims who violate the dress code.
“Of course, for the first time, the person [who violates the dress code] should just be reprimanded, not ignored,” he said.
“But the next time they come back and still do not follow the dress code, they should be sanctioned by not being given any service.”
Juned added that officers found assisting those in violation of the dress code would also be sanctioned.
In 2003, Aceh province opened its first Shariah court, which implements laws based on Islamic teachings. These laws cover almost all elements of life in the province, including obligating Muslim women to wear a jilbab.
Under the laws, any Muslim found eating, drinking or selling food during sunlight hours in the fasting month of Ramadan, as with the more serious charge of adultery, could be sentenced to a public caning or fines.
Juned said that West Aceh would be the first district in the country to strictly implement an Islamic dress code.
“Maybe later, when the [Aceh] governor issues the same regulation, then it will be applied in all parts of the province,” he said. “Meanwhile, this will apply to all Muslims in West Aceh, be they residents or visitors to the district.
“For non-Muslims, they are expected to respect us, just like during the Ramadan month, when all Muslims are fasting and non-Muslims should not eat or drink in front of them.”
Ita, a vendor at the Bina Usaha, another market in Meulaboh, said last week that demand for outfits conforming to Muslim standards, especially skirts, had increased sharply. She added that prices had also gone up. A skirt that she used to sell for Rp 30,000 ($3.20) now costs between Rp 60,000 and Rp 100,000.
“It depends on the material,” Ita said. “But I am overwhelmed with such a high demand like this. I have been a vendor for years, but this is definitely the first time this has happened.”
She said that skintight clothes and jeans were the best-selling items before the issuance of the new regulation became the talk of the town.
“Young people loved to follow the trends, imitating what they saw on TV or magazines,” the 40-year-old said. “But now, I don’t display the old stock, as no one seems to be interested anymore.”
Boy, a vendor at a different market in the area, also said that the new regulation had helped lift sales of Muslim outfits, including skirts. “I still find it hard to keep up with demand,” Boy said.
In contrast to West Aceh district, young shoppers continue to indulge their preference for trendy tight jeans and tops in Lhokseumawe, North Aceh, where there is no dress code.
“We update our collection, basing it on what we see on TV, the Internet or in magazines,” said Romy, owner of Fashion Gaul, which opened in 2008.
“Young people, especially women, are our biggest clients,” the 30-year-old proprietor said.
Should the North Aceh government implement a regulation that might impact his business, Romy said he would return his current stock to Medan and Jakarta, where he purchased the goods.
“We can exchange them with new collections that support the implementation of the new law,” he said.
Ricky, another vendor in Lhokseumawe, said that selling clothes geared toward young women was a lucrative business in Aceh.
“We make an excellent profit in this business because women love shopping for clothes to follow what is in today,” he said. “They love skintight clothes and jeans.”
Ita, a 23-year-old bank teller in Lhokseumawe, said that she felt comfortable wearing tight jeans and tops, despite Shariah law.
“I don’t think it should be a problem,” she said. “I’m still wearing a headscarf, which is compulsory here.
“I’m not afraid of the Shariah police. I believe that a person should not be judged by what they wear. It is the heart that matters, not a piece of cloth.”
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Iran's most senior dissident cleric, has died, official media has reported.
Montazeri, 87, was an architect of the 1979 Islamic revolution who fell out with the present leadership.
Iranians flocked to view Montazeri's body in his home in the city of Qom on Sunday.
He had been held under house arrest for several years.
"Hossein Ali Montazeri passed away in his home last night," the official IRNA news agency said on Sunday.
Montazeri lived in the city of Qom, which lies south of Tehran, and was referred to as the spiritual leader of the opposition after the country's recent disputed election.
His funeral will be held on Monday and he will be buried in the shrine of Masoumeh, a revered Shia figure, in Qom, his office told AFP.
Foreign media are banned from covering the ceremony.
Montazeri criticised authorities of their handling of the disputed election aftermath
"Thousands of people from Isfahan, Najafabad, Shiraz and other cities have left for Qom to take part in his funeral,” Parlemannews.ir, the website of the parliament's reformist faction, reported.
Ghanbar Naderi, an Iran Daily journalist, said: "This is huge blow to the reformist camp, because he is irreplaceable and nobody is happy to hear about his sad demise.
"He used to say that religion should be separated from politics, because in this way, we can keep the integrity of religion intact."
In August, Montazeri described the clerical establishment as a "dictatorship", saying that the authorities' handling of street unrest after the disputed election in June "could lead to the fall of the regime".
"I hope the responsible authorities give up the deviant path they are pursuing and restore the trampled rights of the people," he wrote.
"I hope authorities ... have the courage to announce that this ruling system is neither a republic nor Islamic and that nobody has the right to express opinion or criticism," Montazeri said in August this year.
By Paul Handley
Poll reveals only 22 percent of male graduates agree women should be able to compete head-to-head with men.
Saudi female university students are ambitious and eager for job opportunities but their more conservative male counterparts are likely to put barriers in their way, a pioneering new survey shows.
The "Bridging the Gap" study of more than 4,400 university students also suggested that religious beliefs in the Muslim kingdom were not the main barrier to women finding jobs.
Instead, the key challenge stemmed from traditional male views that women should marry and stay at home while men work. Another possible barrier is the competition for scarce jobs for both genders.
Conducted by Saudi and Austrian social scientists over 2007-2008, the first mass poll of Saudi university students assessed the barriers to employment for women, who are graduating in greater numbers than males but not finding jobs.
"Everything they do, it all comes down to gender," said Fawziah al-Bakr, a King Saud University education professor and one of the study's authors.
With a high unemployment rate among young Saudis, the oil-rich country needs to generate more jobs and women university students want to compete for those jobs, said Bakr, one of the country's most prominent women's rights advocates.
Saudi women now view university education as a step toward work, and not just as education for its own sake ahead of marriage and raising children, she said in a Riyadh presentation of the study this week.
"They want to realize their full potential and strive in the public sphere: paid employment is a new priority for young female Saudi students," the study says.
It showed about 80 percent of women seek the same opportunities as men and aim to compete in their fields. But over half of men were opposed, with only 22 percent agreed that women should be able to compete head-to-head with men.
However, nearly two-thirds of male university students had a positive view of their female counterparts going to work after graduation.
"This is important, for male acceptance is generally the prerequisite for female job occupation. Male allowance is the female entrance ticket into the world of employment," the study's authors wrote.
Both genders were uncertain of any substantial changes to women's rights in Saudi Arabia over the next five years. Only 44 percent of women were confident, with another 36 percent mildly hopeful.
Meanwhile, only 26 percent of men were strongly confident that such change would take place.
"A person who considers the changes in gender roles necessary is also more likely to predict that these changes will actually occur," the survey said.
Neither gender linked women's moves into the job market as contrary to the ultra-strict version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.
Asked if this would undermine Saudi religious practices, only 24 percent of men and eight percent of women said yes.
The poll shows that women themselves are hesitant about pushing their way into the top ranks of an entirely male-dominated society, with only eight percent agreeing that women should take political leadership roles.
Government leadership is totally male, with the exception of a woman deputy minister of education, appointed this year, the first-ever female with ministerial rank.
Women account for almost two-thirds of university graduates but only seven percent of the Saudi work force.
"The female talent pool is taking over in terms of numbers and qualifications," said Edit Schlaffer, the chair of Women Without Borders, a Vienna-based women's advocacy group which supported the study.
Guided by a strict interpretation of Islamic teachings, Saudi society has some of the world's toughest controls on women.
Women can not drive, must have a male relative's permission and company when moving outside the home, and are banned from mixing with unrelated males, whether in universities or government or private sector offices.
Dec. 19, 2009
CAIRO – As the moon of Muharram marking the start of a new Hijri year appeared in the sky, a new life was blooming for Badri Mo'min and his family.
“It's a new journey for us (as Muslims),” Mo'min told The Brunei Times Saturday, December 19.
His six-member family reverted to Islam Friday on the first day of the new hijri year, which marks the immigration of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) and his followers from Makkah to Madinah.
“As we are berhijrah (moving) to our new house, we are also berhijrah to Islam,” said Badri, a firefighter at the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).
The family decided to postpone their reversion ceremony to avoid harming the feelings of their in-laws.
“Today is a memorable day for us, to become members of the Muslim society in Brunei on this very important Islamic day,” Badri said.
“Also holding it (the ceremony) at our new house, I think it's a blessing.”
Muslims make up nearly 67 percent of Brunei's population of less than half a million, according to the CIA Fact Book.
But other estimates put the number of Muslims at nearly 90 percent of the total population.
Not far from Badri’s house, another Bruneian embraced the Islamic faith.
“I pray that I will be a good Muslim," Muhammad Khairi, a primary school teacher, said.
Showing a growing interest in Islam two years ago, Khairi, formerly Herry Markineh, attended religious events to know more about the faith.
Backed by his Muslim fellows, he finally decided to embrace the faith.
“They led me to the path that 1 am walking today,” Khairi said.
Khairi was impressed that his reversion day coincided with the new hijri year.
“I suppose it is a blessing for me,” the 23-year-old said.
“I cannot wait to perform the daily prayers.”
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world with Muslims making up around one fourth of the world’s population, mostly concentrated in Asia.
Cambodia Deports Uighurs Despite Criticism
December 19, 2009
PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia has deported back to China 20 Muslim Uighurs who fled the country after deadly ethnic violence this year, a government official said on Sunday, despite concerns they will face persecution by Beijing.
The Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group involved in rioting in western China that killed nearly 200 people in July, were smuggled into Cambodia in recent weeks and applied for asylum at the United Nations refugee agency office in Phnom Penh.
Human rights groups say they fear for the lives of the Uighurs if they are deported to China.
They were deported late on Saturday, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong. "We were implementing the immigration laws of the country. They came to Cambodia illegally. We had to apply our immigration law," he added.
The deportation coincides with a visit to Cambodia on Sunday by Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, who is expected to sign 14 pacts related to infrastructure construction, grants and loans.
The Washington-based Uighur American Association said the 20 will likely face torture and possible execution, citing the case of Shaheer Ali, a Uighur political activist who fled to Nepal in 2000 and was granted refugee status by the United Nations.
He was forcibly returned to China from Nepal in 2002 and executed a year later, according to state media.
U.N. DENOUNCES DEPORATION
The United Nations refugee agency office condemned the deportation. "The forced return of asylum-seekers without a full examination of their asylum claims is a serious breach of international refugee law," the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office said in a statement.
Full report at: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2009/12/19/world/international-us-cambodia-china-uighurs.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print
December 20, 2009
BARA/HANGU/MINGORA/ RAWALPINDI: Security forces on Saturday killed 20 terrorists in operations across the northwest.
The forces killed six militants in Khyber Agency’s Bara tehsil and held another four during a search operation in the area.
The six terrorists were killed when they tried to attack the Janki Post in Bara, while the militants were arrested from the Shalobar area. The security forces also blew up the house of Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) commander Arif.
Orakzai: In Orakzai Agency, troops killed six militants and also destroyed three militants hideouts in the area.
Also, unidentified gunmen shot dead two terrorists in the area.
Sources said helicopter gunships pounded Feroz Khel and Shaikhan areas of Lower Orakzai, killing six militants and destroyed three of their hideouts.
The two bodies were recovered from Sanpaga Kandao area of Upper Orakzai.
Waziristan: Meanwhile in the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan, security forces killed six terrorists in the agency’s Razmal area.
“Security forces conducted a search operation in Lowara Punga near Mana. During the encounter six terrorists were killed,” The Inter-Services Public Relations said.
The security forces secured Sain Tanga and Malik Shahi areas and also arrested four suspects during the clearance operation in several areas of the Jandola sector.
Troops conducted search operations in several areas of the sector and recovered a large cache of arms and ammunitions.
The forces also conducted a search operation in Badam Shah near Pash Ziarat and destroyed three terrorist compounds, two bunkers and a tunnel and cleared four suspected houses.
Full report at: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\12\20\story_20-12-2009_pg7_1
Sunday, 20 Dec, 2009
MINGORA: One militant was killed and 53 suspected persons were arrested during search operation in different areas of Swat, Buner and Malakand districts on Saturday.
Security forces conducted search operation in Lakhar and Shen area of Khwazakhela tehsil in Swat. During the search operation one militant was killed in exchange of fire with security forces. A Kalashnikov, three hand grenades and other material were recovered from his possession.
According to ISPR, security forces also seized huge cache of arms in Pashtomai and Bodigram areas of Matta.
Security forces arrested 40 suspected persons from Barabandi and Tootano Banadi areas of Kabal tehsil in Swat.
Thirteen suspected persons were also arrested in Batkhela area of Malakand district and Hisar, Swari, Topdara, and Dandikot areas of Buner district. Security forces also recovered arms from their possession.
LAKKI MARWAT: The law enforcement agencies backed by the volunteers of peace committee repulsed a pre-dawn attack of militants on few checkposts in Shah Hasankhel village.
Sources said that militants attacked the temporary checkpoints, jointly manned by police and FC, at 3:30 am on Saturday. “The attackers used light and heavy weapons. They also fired rockets at the posts,” sources added.
They said that personnel of law enforcement agencies backed by volunteers of Shah Hasankhel Peace Committee repulsed the attack, forcing the attackers to flee.
Meanwhile, police claimed to have arrested several outlaws in a special campaign lunched ahead of Muharram in the district.
The joint team of police, anti-terrorist squad and elite force conducted surprise raids on the hideouts of criminals in different parts of the district.
Nineteen persons, wanted in cases of murder, attempt to murder, theft, car snatching and kidnapping were arrested in the raids.
Seven Kalashnikovs, a shotgun, five rifles, four daggers, a pistol, an SMG and 286 bullets were also recovered from the arrested persons.
Police also seized three kilograms of hashish from a person, identified as Mohammad Nabi Shah in Lakki city.
Full report at: newspaper/national/12-militant-killed-53-suspects-arrested--bi-07
Sunday 20 December 2009
JAZAN: The Interior Ministry is in contact with its Yemeni counterpart to find out if any Saudis figuring in the list of 85 wanted terrorists or any other wanted Saudis are among the dead or detained in Thursday’s operations against Al-Qaeda by Yemen’s security forces, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki told Arab News on Saturday.
Yemeni security forces struck several Al-Qaeda hideouts and training sites near Sanaa and in the southern Abyan province in Yemen on Thursday, killing up to 34 suspected militants. At least 17 suspected militants were arrested. The suicide bombers were in the Arhab district northeast of the capital.
Four Yemenis were found in a hospital in Aden and placed under arrest, Reuters reported quoting a ministry source on Saturday. Their families had taken them there after the attack in Abyan, the report said.
“The armed forces have been firmly stationed in positions along the border against the enemies and have been achieving considerable progress. There has been no incidence of retreating from their positions,” Maj. Gen. Saeed Al-Ghamdi told Arab News on Saturday. “The infiltrators are only armed bands. Though trained in guerilla warfare, they are not capable of confronting Saudi forces. That is why they have retreated to several kilometers from the Saudi border at many locations.”
The officer said the infiltrators are holed up in locations three kilometers from the border in Yemeni territory in Al-Malaheet.
Full report at: http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1§ion=0&article=129925&d=20&m=12&y=2009&pix=kingdom.jpg&category=Kingdom
By Ahmed Said
I take this opportunity to write an article prompted by the recent anti-Islamic cartoons in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The cartoons were derogatory to Muslims because they were sexually explicit with depictions of the Prophet Mohamed.
Just read the cartoon story at http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/12/11/muslim-cartoons
These anti-Islamic cartoons probably keep happening because of Islamophobia, which means unfounded fear of or hostility towards Islam. Islamophobia has increased in the West since the 911 attacks in the United States, creating the opportunity for anti-Islamic groups to perpetrate their misguided intentions that usually make things worse rather than better.
Well, the word, Islam, means peace and this meaning reflect on the true Islamic Teachings on tolerance, peaceful co-existence with non-Muslims and opposition to violence. The true nature of Islam is its universality and its global relevance that never cease to make sense no matter where and when; no matter whether you are an Arab or non-Arab; whether you are white or black; whether you are a man or a woman; whether you are from Europe, Africa or Asia; whether you from America or Australia; whether you are educated or non-educated or whether you are young or old; it does not matter; historically, Islam has being having global importance over the centuries and Islam is becoming internationally more relevant today than ever before, because among other factors, the number of Muslims in the West is rapidly increasing, especially in the immigrant nations such as United States, Canada and Australia.
Thanks to today´s Information Age Technology; the world has become what they call a global village; the Information Age Technology made the worldwide contact between Muslims and non-Muslims too easy to happen; look at the mass media of today through which you can easily have access to what is happening in the other corner of the world; you watch the news on TV while sipping coffee in your local café or comfortably sitting on the coach in your sitting room; the internet is at your finger tips 24 hours where you can have the latest news updates in every minute.
Full report at: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/133353
Public Forum Letter
The Dec. 7 New Yorker magazine discussed the relationship between gays and Muslims in gay-friendly Amsterdam. It profiled politician Ahmed Marcouch, head of the district council of a Muslim neighbourhood, who said: "Look, the fact that one is allowed to be orthodox Muslim is a right. What people in this neighbourhood fail to understand is that gays have the right to be gay. People -- gays, Muslims, black, white -- should never be forced to be untrue to themselves. The freedom of every individual to insist on his own identity must be defended."
One would hope that with Mormonism's history as a persecuted minority that a prominent politician with impeccable Mormon credentials, say, Sen. Bob Bennett, a descendant of a Mormon prophet, would confidently say: "Look, in America the fact that one is allowed to be a Mormon is a right. Now, Mormons need to realize that gays have just as much right to be gay, which means if Mormons can marry as they choose, then gays can, too."
Why is that tolerance so difficult for Mormons? Their imposing their marriage beliefs on others is as silly and wrong as Muslims imposing their practices on the liberal Dutch.
Salt Lake City
MOGADISHU: Somalia’s Al-Shabab rebels on Saturday ordered men to grow long beards, shave their moustaches and wear their trousers above the ankle.
It is the first time in the lawless Horn of Africa country that the insurgents have focused on men’s appearance, having previously ordered women to cover their entire bodies, and banned bras.
“We are ordering all men in Kismayu not to shave or trim their beards, but shave the moustache,” Ibrahim Garweyn, a senior Al-Shabab official said on Saturday.
“We will never accept to see men with long beards and moustaches together. They have three days to follow the order.” Al-Shabab also ordered men to wear their trousers above the ankle. “They have 15 days to follow the order,” Garweyn said.
Dec 20, 2009
Lucknow : The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Darussalam Institute of Islamic Studies, Indonesia, to hold joint research programmes and exchange research findings on important issues pertaining to the Muslim community.
The MoU enables both the universities to hold meetings on academic as well as scientific issues, whereby the academic staff from both the institutions will be allowed to participate.
AMU spokesperson Rahat Abrar said the issues related to the Muslim world will be covered under the collaborative research programme, which includes religious matters, history of Islam and current status of Muslims in various countries.
“The Indonesian university will mainly exchange research material and ideas with three departments of AMU — Theology, Arabic language and Islamic Studies,” said Abrar.
“They are, however, free to take academic support from other faculties of AMU also,” added Abrar.
According to him, a seven-member delegation of Darussalam Institute of Islamic Studies, headed by Dean Ahmad Suharto, has already visited the concerned departments of the university.
Both the universities have agreed to organise conferences, seminars and scientific discussion on various fields, which will be organised in both the countries.
Both institutes will jointly develop the curriculum on Islamic Studies, Shriah Arabic Language, and Islamic Heritage.
AMU has agreed to provide admission and financial assistance to the teachers of the Indonesian University for post-graduate programmes. Both the universities will exchange information on literary sources and library facilities also.
Abrar said exchange programmes will also start very soon.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to allow trucks to move freely in each other’s territory.
According to the accord, Afghan trucks would now be able to operate up to the Karachi port, while Pakistani trucks could move across Afghanistan towards Central Asia.
This was decided at the fourth round of talks on the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, which started here on Saturday.
However, Pakistan did not agree to allow Indian goods to transit through its territory into Afghanistan. A Pakistani official said the issue could only be discussed at the composite dialogue with India.
An Afghan official said the issue was a ‘minor irritant’ and it would not derail the talks. A commerce ministry official said changes were likely to be made in the 1965 Transit Trade Agreement.
The three major pending issues are transit facility, trucking facility and (prevention of) smuggling, he said, adding that relevant bodies would finalise their reports by the end of the talks on Dec 21.
Tags: transit,pakistan afghanistan,trucks movement,Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the spirit of seeking God and justice has been revived in today world, stressing that Muslims worldwide are duty bound to correctly introduce Islam to the world nations.
In a meeting with members of Islamic groups residing in Denmark on Friday, the Iranian top diplomat said Islam was the hard core of all sciences and human values, stressing that the holy religion of Islam was capable of offering all the truth and facts needed to attain a sublime life.
He said the only way for salvation of mankind at present juncture was reliance on the religious and divine values and stressed that all those who were seeking other ways to bring prosperity for man were absolutely misled.
To a question by one of the participants in the meeting about the US military attack against Iran, the president said: “This is in fact our question from Americans: Why you are so eager to attack Iran or the region and why do you impose the Zionist regime on the region which is at the very heart of the Islamic world?
He said this was because the Americans were after sowing discord among Muslims, noting that all the stories they revealed merely aimed at labeling certain groups of people as victims of the oppressive acts in an attempt to pave the way for occupation of Palestine, all of which being certainly a colonial and hegemonic objective.
Ahmadinejad said all those programs were worked out to ultimately gain dominance over the Middle East.
Full report at: http://www.isria.com/pages/19_December_2009_46.php
By Jerry Markon
Sunday, December 20, 2009
At a retirement party last week for the head of the FBI's Washington field office, Muslim and Arab leaders presented the guest of honor with a crystal plaque.
It thanked Joseph Persichini Jr. for reaching out to the local Muslim and Arab communities. Yet even as the tribute on Capitol Hill went on, his agents had a different mission. They were flying to Pakistan to interrogate five Washington area Muslim men arrested in a terrorism probe. The outcome of that investigation threatens to undermine the very relationships their boss tried to foster.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, FBI agents from the same office have met with Muslim leaders, fielded questions at mosques and participated in Ramadan feasts. The outreach might well have resulted in the families of the five men coming forward to the FBI to report them missing.
But that action now has agents and prosecutors facing a dilemma as the case has morphed from a missing persons investigation into a counter-terrorism probe. As U.S. officials consider whether to file criminal charges against the men and how aggressively to prosecute any potential case, some Muslim leaders are calling for leniency, saying the tough approach often used by the Bush administration would alienate a community whose relationship with law enforcement is uneasy.
"Charging them and throwing them in jail is not the solution," said Nihad Awad, national head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which approached the FBI on behalf of the families. "The government has to show some appreciation for the actions of the parents and the community. That will encourage other families to come forward."
Return could take months
Full report at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/19/AR2009121902019.html?hpid=topnews
Sun, Dec 20th, 2009
Dhaka – State minister for law Kamrul Islam on Sunday said he might lodge complaint at the Supreme Judicial Council against Supreme Court judge Justice Nazrul Islam Chowdhury for his comment on the passage of laws in parliament.
A censure motion might also be moved in parliament, he said at a press briefing at his office on Sunday.
Kamrul claimed that Justice Islam ridiculed the process of the passage of laws in parliament at a recent round-table discussion.
Terming the judge's remark 'shameful' and 'in breach of the code of conduct', the state minister said that the judge cannot make such comments openly as he is still working as a judge in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court.
Kamrul dismissed suggestions that his criticism in anyway amounted to contempt of court. Parliament is the highest forum. The judge or anyone else cannot speak against it.
It is his job to explain the laws passed by the parliament. If there are any faults, he can mention them in his judgment, but he cannot comment openly like this, said Kamrul.
20 December 2009
SHARJAH — As many as 66 people with special needs participated in the second edition of the Al Hassawi Holy Quran Award at Al Thiqa Club for Handicapped. The event was part of the open Sharjah Holy Quran Award for which a total of 900 participants have
The chairman of the organising committee, Waleed Al Marzugy, said 16 girls and 50 boys took part in the three categories of the award.
“Challenging their impairments, the participants showed a high level of performance in terms of memorisation and recitation,” Al Marzugy told
The Establishment of the Quran and the Sunnah in Sharjah opened doors this year for disabled competitors, be they Emiratis or expatriates, for the first time.
“The competitors, aged between 10 and 19, were competing in the categories of 10 chapters, one part, and two parts of the Holy Quran,” Al
Al Marzugy said the final results will be announced within a week. “The top 10 winners will be honoured, while the other participants will be gifted valuable prizes.”
Shaikh Nadeem Mohammed, a member of the judging panel said the prize money of the Al Hassawi Award has been increased this year from half a million to one million dirhams.
Ahmed Al Mazlum, CEO of Al Thiqa Club, said such competitions encourage nationals to organise similar awards for memorising the Holy Quran.
“Opening doors for people with special needs will help enhance their involvement in the society.”
‘Qasab acted like any criminal'
Kartikeya & Sumitra Deb Roy
MUMBAI: The outrageous tale that Ajmal Kasab spun in court on Friday has surprised hard-nosed criminal lawyers
but experienced psychiatrists feel
that what he did would have been done by any criminal facing a possible death sentence.
However, criminal lawyers say they are more shocked at the type of lies that Kasab chose to say in court rather than the fact that he fibbed. "Generally while giving a statement under Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code, every accused put forward a defence and denies all the evidence against him. However, what Kasab has done is absolutely new. He has gone on a tangent and tried to tell a whole new story altogether. It is an act of desperation,'' said former IPS officer and lawyer Y P Singh.
Another criminal lawyer said when an accused was given an opportunity to speak under Section 313 he would mostly restrict himself to the defence that he had already used during the course of his trial. However, Kasab never told the court while the evidence was being recorded that he was picked up weeks before the attack or that he had been falsely implicated. He said this on Friday, for the first time during the trial.
Lawyers added that the judge had to confront Kasab with evidence given by as many as 610 witnesses. This means that the whole process can take several days during which Kasab will get an opportunity to put forth his own version of defence. "We must also remember that the trial is being conducted under intense media scrutiny. That could be a contributory factor to what happened,'' said advocate Sushan Kunjuraman.
But Kasab's sudden U-turn has failed to baffle medical experts who said it was one of the routine tactics tried by hardcore and even novice criminals. Doctors, with past experience in treating criminals, said Kasab was being plain defensive and the episode spoke nothing about his mental health.
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Kasab-acted-like-any-criminal/articleshow/5357312.cms
HYDERABAD, Dec 19: Pakistan can become a developed state from the current developing one through vision, energy and resources which were in abundance in today’s youth, said Chairman, Higher Education Commission, Dr Javed R. Leghari.
It’s a long journey but proper planning and application of innovative strategies would help in achieving new dimensions in the field of engineering, he said.
He was speaking at the 12th Convocation of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology at the Jamshoro campus on Saturday.
Some 11 graduates received gold medals and 23 silver medals from among the 440 who were conferred with the degrees. Three scholars received PhD degrees and only on an MPhil.
Two scholars Abdul Sattar Larik and Mukhtiar Ahmed received PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mohammad Hayat Jokhio in Manufacturing.
ISLAMABAD: Non-resolution of all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India is impeding efforts to effectively counter terrorism, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Saturday.
Speaking at the PM’s House, while chairing the 44th session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, the prime minister called for early resumption of a “meaningful and result-oriented” dialogue process with India.
He said he has always stressed that peace and stability in South Asia could only be guaranteed if all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, including the Kashmir dispute, were resolved.
“Pakistan has shown commitment to reversing the course of confrontation in South Asia. We are ready to start a journey of peace and accommodation in order to provide a better environment to the people to prosper and develop,” Gilani said.
He hoped that the governments of Pakistan and India would live up to the expectations of their people and the Kashmiris so that the dream of lasting peace in South Asia could be realised.
Gilani said Kashmiris are a party to the dispute and an integral component of the peace process. They should be included in the dialogue process to make it more meaningful and result-oriented, he added.
He assured the Kashmiris that the government and the people of Pakistan would always stand by them, until they succeed in their struggle to achieve self-determination.
Gilani said Pakistan has called for an end to human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir and pressed India to repeal its draconian laws.
He said Pakistan is committed to finding a just and peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
He said Pakistan would continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir in their struggle.
Budget: Earlier, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council unanimously approved its budget for the year 2009-10 and revised estimates for the year 2008-09.
By Imran Ayub
KARACHI, Dec 19: A teenaged girl was shot dead in the Sultanabad area along M.T. Khan Road on Saturday allegedly by her brother-in-law and his younger brother in a running dispute over the rejection of a marriage proposal, said witnesses and police.
The heart-rending incident caused hundreds of residents to gather outside the home of Hamdullah, the father of the victim. Police said he was at work when his nephews, including his son-in-law, came to his house with a friend of theirs, forced their way into it and killed his 18-year-old- daughter, Ambreen.
“The incident is the result of a family dispute,” said Sub-Inspector Nasir-ul-Hasan, the SHO of the Jackson police station, which called a charity organisation’s ambulance and shifted the body to the Civil Hospital Karachi for medico-legal formalities.
“We have identified the criminals behind the killing. All of the three escaped after the incident and we have found at least four casings of spent bullets of a TT pistol.”
Officials associated with the investigation section of the police station later came to know about the motive behind the killing after the lodging of a case (FIR 878/2009) under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of the victim’s father, Hamdullah, against his two nephews Imtiaz, Hasan Ghulam and their common friends Wazeer Butt.
“Hamdullah’s elder daughter is married to Hasan Ghulam,” said Sub-Inspector Rustam Khan Khattak, the senior investigation officer at the Jackson police station. “A few days ago, Hasan Ghulam and his family sought Ambreen’s hand in marriage for Imtiaz, but the proposal was turned down by the Hamdullah family.”
He said the reason for the rejection of the proposal by the family was not clear, but it seemed that they were not happy with the marriage of their elder daughter with Hasan Ghulam. The elders from the two sides intervened and arranged several sittings to settle the issue, but failed.
Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/local/karachi-girl-shot-dead-on-rejection-of-proposal-029
BAGHDAD: Iraq deployed security forces Saturday near a remote oil well seized by Iran, officials said, and its government pressed Tehran to withdraw its forces from the area along their disputed southern border.
U.S. officials applauded Iraq for standing its ground against Iran — an uneasy ally that analysts said was aiming to remind its neighbor of its economic and political pull in its takeover of the oil well Thursday. The site is located in one of the largest oil fields in Iraq and has about 1.5 billion barrels in reserves.
The standoff was a dramatic display of the occasionally tense relations between the two oil-rich nations that fought an eight-year war in the 1980s but now share common ground in Shiite-led governments.
"Again, we ask Iran to be committed to the good relations that they announced with Iraq and its nation, and to withdraw its forces immediately," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Al-Arabiyah TV. "This is the demand of Iraq, and we call Iran to be committed with that."
Iran, however, appeared undeterred.
In a statement, the Iranian military denied it violated Iraq's sovereignty and cited a 1975 border agreement in claiming the oil well as part of Iran's territory.
"Our forces are on our own soil and, based on the known international borders, this well belongs to Iran," the Iranian military said in a statement to Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam satellite television.
Full report at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=93973
TEHRAN: The foreign ministers of Iran and Iraq have discussed a "misunderstanding" between the countries' border guards, official Iranian media said on Sunday, following accusations that Iranian troops seized an oil well inside Iraq.
In Saturday evening's phone conversation, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Iraqi counterpart Hoshiyar Zebari underlined the need for a meeting of officials "with the intention of enforcing bilateral border agreements", Iranian state broadcaster IRIB reported.
AMARA: Iranian troops who on Friday occupied a disputed oil well on the Iraq border slipped away during the night, a senior official of Iraq's Maysan province told media Sunday.
"The Iranian troops left overnight and the workers of the oil company returned to the well on Sunday," said Maysam Lafta, provincial chief of security and defence.
On Friday, Iraq's state-owned South Oil Co in the southeastern city of Amara said that an Iranian force had arrived at the field and taken control of the Well 4.
Baghdad demanded that "Tehran pull back the armed men who occupied Well No 4" and condemned the incident as "a violation of Iraqi sovereignty."
Iran rejected allegations it had occupied an Iraqi oil well.
Well 4 lies in disputed territory about 500 metres (yards) from an Iranian border fort and about one kilometre from an Iraqi border fort, according to US military officials in the area.
By JAMES HOOPER
AUSTRALIAN documentary-maker Rob Punton went to Afghanistan to shoot a film about life in a war zone, but wound up in a Kabul jail for 37 nights, accused of rape and spying.
Punton had hoped to detail the real story of the war by filming Taliban warlords, private security firms, the military and the drugs trade.
Instead, he witnessed inhumane conditions, torture, and had his life threatened inside the squalid prison.
On August 22, 12 members of Afghanistan's CID police stormed a suburban house with guns drawn, arresting Punton and three women.
"I can honestly say I thought I was going to die when the police stormed the house. There was a huge explosion, and initially I thought it was a bomb," Punton said. "At first, I thought they were screaming 'Taliban!', so I ran to get my bulletproof vest.
"Then I recognised they were plain-clothes officers from the Afghan CID - the local version of the CIA.
"An army officer came in pointing an AK-47 at me, and I thought that was it: I was going to be put to death."In jail, Punton survived on one cup of rice a day and shed 17kg.
Accused of rape, having a relationship with a Muslim woman and spying, he was eventually released without charge after paying CID police $40,000.After Punton's release, the Australian Embassy helped hide him under an assumed name before he flew out of Afghanistan to Dubai, then back to Australia in October.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of the case and our consular officials in Kabul provided the detained Australian man with consular assistance," a spokeswoman said.
Until his release, Punton's parents had left a non-government organisation official in Afghanistan in charge of release negotiations in agreement with Australian consular officials.
Punton became an extortion target when he decided to tell the story of women's rights in Afghanistan.
To do so, he hired Azedeh Naem as his camera operator and interpreter.
She was arrested, along with her mother and sister as a result. The three women are now in hiding and are seeking asylum in Australia.
By Ibrahim Mohamed and Abdi Guled
Sat Dec 19, 2009
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's Islamist al Shabaab rebels on Saturday ordered men to grow long beards, shave their moustaches and wear their trousers above the ankle.
It is the first time in the lawless Horn of Africa country that the insurgents, who seek impose a strict form of Islamic sharia law, have focused on men's appearance, having previously ordered women to cover their entire bodies, and banned bras.
"We are ordering all men in Kismayu not to shave or trim their beards, but shave the moustache," Sheikh Ibrahim Garweyn, a senior Al Shabaab official for the public awareness in the southern Somali port town, told reporters on Saturday.
"We will never accept to see men with long beards and moustaches together. They have three days to follow the order."
The group, which Washington says is an al Qaeda proxy, has already banned musical ringtones, dancing at weddings and playing or watching soccer.
Al Shabaab has carried out executions, floggings and amputations to enforce its rulings, mainly Kismayu.
The group is battling the government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed for control of Mogadishu, and is fighting a another Islamist militia -- Hizbul Islam --in the provinces.
Al Shabaab also ordered men to wear their trousers above the ankle. "They have 15 days to follow the order," Garweyn said.
A two-and-a-half year insurgency has killed more than 19,000 civilians, displaced 1 million people, allowed piracy to flourish offshore and spread security fears in the region.
Somalia has lacked a functioning central government since 1991. Its transitional government controls little more than a few blocks of Mogadishu, with the rest carved up between Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.
Full report at: http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE5BI07O20091219?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true
RAWALPINDI: The ulema and religious scholars from all schools of thought should come forward and play their role for ensuring peace, fraternity, love and brotherhood among the Muslims during month of Muharram, said Advisor to Punjab Chief Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar on Saturday.
He was addressing a meeting of elected representatives, police officers, administration and prominent religious scholars at the commissioner office. Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Sarfraz Afzal, MPAs Raja Hanif Advocate, Yasir Raza Malik, Raja Fayyaz Sarwar, Malik Iftikhar, Col (r) Shabbir Awan, former MPA from Taxila Umer Farooq, Raja Atique Sarwar, Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed, RPO Aslam Tareen, DCO Imdadullah Bosal, CPO Rao Muhammad Iqbal Khan, Rawalpindi Anjuman-e-Tajraan President Shahid Ghafoor Paracha and a large number of ulema and religious scholars from all schools of thought attended the meeting.
Sarwar said the organisers should strictly observe the routes and timings of the mourning processions and majalis. He asked the administration and the police to do their best to provide all possible facilities including security cover to processions and majalis.
He said Muharram was a sacred month for all Muslims, which not only reminded them the great sacrifice of Hazarat Imam Hussain and his companions, but also gave lesson of patience, tolerance and sacrifice. He said ulema could promote sentiments of fraternity, love and brotherhood among the Muslims belonging to different sects.
Arrangements: He said the administration and the police had finalised their arrangements for providing security cover to all processions and majalis in the district. He said such arrangements could be made successful with the cooperation of ulema, organisers, volunteers, members of peace committees, trader associations and all other segments of the society.
Full report at: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\12\20\story_20-12-2009_pg11_6
WASHINGTON—Pakistan is a sovereign country and follows its own procedures for issuing visas, Islamabad’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said while rejecting allegations that Islamabad was deliberately holding back visas for American officials or harassing them in the country.
“The government in Pakistan wants this to be worked out in our mutual interest. That said, we have our own procedures, we are a sovereign country. We have our own bureaucratic methods and we are trying to work them to the best advantage of both our countries,” he told CNN’s Situation Room.
“The bottom line is that the government of Pakistan and even those who are critical of the United States in Pakistan do not want a breach in the relationship,” Haqqani added.
Haqqani said Pakistan and the United States are allies and partners. “The government of Pakistan is trying very hard to work together with the United States for our shared objectives. “
The envoy firmly denied any deliberate campaign to harass U.S. officials working in Pakistan.
“We have not harassed anyone. We have no intention of harassing anyone. And we have no intention of holding back visas.
“The only thing that has happened is that the number of Americans present in Pakistan has increased exponentially. So we’ re having to deal with far more visa applications than we used to in the past,” he explained to the channel.
In answer to a question about criticism of the government, the ambassador noted it is part of the democratic phase the country is passing through.
“Pakistan has returned to democracy after ten years of dictatorship and we are now seeing what can be best described as the noise of democracy, which is definitely preferable to the silence of dictatorship that we had before.
“The government of Pakistan is trying very hard to work together with the United States for our shared objectives. “The envoy firmly denied any deliberate campaign to harass U.S. officials working in Pakistan.
“President (Asif Ali) Zardari is the legitimately elected president of Pakistan and I hope that he will complete his term in accordance with the constitution.”—Agencies
19 December 2009
ABU DHABI - Alitalia and Etihad Airways today exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that confirms the airlines’ intention to operate a codeshare agreement from the start of the Northern Summer season in April 2010, subject to government approvals.
The agreement will mean Etihad customers around the world will be able to fly to two new Italian destinations, Rome and Naples. Alitalia customers will be able to fly directly from Italy to Abu Dhabi and will have greater and easier access to the airline’s expanding network of more than 55 destinations.
Under the proposed deal, Etihad will place its two-letter ‘EY’ code on a number of services operated by Alitalia from Milan to Rome and Naples, and between selected European destinations and Rome, including Frankfurt, Geneva and Munich. In turn, Alitalia will place its ‘AZ’ code on Etihad’s flights between Milan and the airline’s Abu Dhabi home base, and onto Bahrain, Muscat, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Sydney and Melbourne.
Etihad currently operates five direct services to Milan (Malpensa) per week.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said: ‘The ties between the UAE and Italy have never been stronger, and it is our objective to play a key role in the development of travel and tourism between the two regions.
‘This proposed codeshare agreement means we can offer our customers access to two of Italy’s most popular destinations, as well as give European travellers greater and much easier access to Etihad’s own expanding international network.
‘We are delighted to be working with the new Alitalia management team under Mr Sabelli. Their vision for repositioning Alitalia is one of the reasons we have reached this important agreement.’
Rocco Sabelli, Alitalia’s chief executive said: ‘The planned agreement with Etihad is an exciting development for Alitalia, as it is a further step in our strategy of connecting Italy to the most important destinations around the world, building on our strength in the Italian market.
Full report at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2009/December/theuae_December552.xml§ion=theuae&col=
By Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly
RAFAH CITY -- Abu Majed Qishta, an owner of a smuggling tunnel under the borderline between Gaza Strip and Egypt was not able to hide his curiosity as he watched Egyptian bulldozers and armored vehicles' movement day and night to know what they are exactly doing.
Qishta said that his concerns have grown as he heard media reports saying that the Egyptian security forces are digging into the ground under the borders with the Gaza Strip to build up an underground metal fence aimed at preventing smuggling from Egypt into the Hamas-controlled enclave of Gaza.
Qishta said he sat down near his tunnel that "the tunnels business had declined in the past few days," adding that the tunnels owners are skeptical and afraid from the recent big Egyptian security move at the other side of the borderline.
"In fact we don't know exactly what kind of security move the Egyptian security forces are carrying out at the borderline area, but we are sure that this move is carried out against the tunnels and this move would of course harm our business," said Qishta.
Since Hamas movement seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Israel shut down all Gaza Strip commercial crossings and prevented Gazans to import the basic kinds of goods and products. However, the Palestinians dug hundreds of tunnels under the borders between Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Full report at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-12/20/content_12672830.htm
TOBA TEK SINGH, Dec 19: A farmer shot dead his wife and her alleged lover in Chak 367-JB in Jallianwala near Gojra on Friday night.
Reports said Khalid gunned down his wife, Shakila, and Kashif Masih when he saw them together in his house.
The accused surrendered to the Gojra Sadar police on Saturday morning.
Riaz Masih, the uncle of Kashif and a resident of Chak 304-JB, told reporters at the police station that the double murder was the outcome of a land dispute between the accused and his nephew. He said since Shakila was issueless and the accused simultaneously got rid of both his wife and his rival.
He claimed that his nephew was murdered at some other place and his body was placed beside Shakila’s body in her house to show that they were killed for honour.
Police were investigating the matter.
BAN: Speeches of 23 ulema were banned on Saturday by DCO Rana Amanullah on the recommendation of DPO Rana Ahmad Hasan under MPO for the maintenance of peace during Muharram.
According to a press release, the ulema barred from speeches included defunct Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan chief Maulana Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi of Kamalia, Maulana Ismail Hammad, Qari Abdul Rahim Zahid, Maulana Abdul Rehman, Qari Habibullah, Ghulam Abbas Jakhar, Zaigham Hussain, Mumtaz Husain Gondal, Maulana Burq Toheedi, Mufti Muhammad Aslam, Maulana Abdullah Ludhianvi, Hafiz Muhammad Abdullah, Maulana Muhammad Awais, Maulana Allah Bakhsh, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Rabbani, Qari Rafiq Anwar, Qari Noor Muhammad, Maulvi Muhammad Sadiq, Syed Sarfrazul Hasan Shah, Qari Abdul Rehman, Maulana Abdul Haq Khaliq and Qari Tahir Farooqi.
BANDA ACEH-- Over a hundred Buddhists on Sunday prayed and lit joss sticks in Indonesia's Aceh province to mourn the victims of the deadly tsunami ahead of the five-year anniversary on December 26.
"The tsunami took place five years ago but it's still fresh in our minds and had left a deep wound in the hearts of those who survived," the group's leader Yuswar told reporters.
"We hope the mass prayer ceremony will help to strengthen the bond among people from different religions in Aceh," he added.
Led by 11 nuns and monks, the men and women, members of an ethnic Chinese minority in mainly Muslim Aceh province, lit joss sticks and scattered flowers on mass graves at Siron and Ulee Lheue villages.
They also chanted prayers and beat drums as they plied the provincial capital Banda Aceh's main roads in their cars and motorcycles.
They ended the prayer ceremony by drifting hundreds of little rattan bowls filled with food offerings and lit candles on the sea
"We hope the prayers will bless the souls of the dead victims and may they find peace with God," a monk, Kwik Hai, said.
Indonesia was the nation hardest hit by the 2004 disaster, with at least 168,000 people killed when walls of water smashed into Nias island and Aceh province, which sits on the northern end of Sumatra.
By Iftikhar Ahmed Khan
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that settlement of the Kashmir dispute is vital for sustainable peace in South Asia.
“Kashmir dispute is central to Pakistan-India relations and holds the key to durable peace in the region,” he said while chairing a meeting of the AJK Council here on Saturday.
He called for an end to human rights violations in occupied Kashmir and urged India to repeal draconian laws.
“Non-resolution of outstanding issues is impeding Pakistan’s efforts to effectively counter the menace of terrorism.”
Mr Gilani called for early resumption of stalled dialogue process between the two countries. He, however, stressed that the dialogue must be meaningful and result-oriented.
The prime minister said Kashmiri people were a party to the dispute and Pakistan believed that they were an integral component of the peace process. Therefore, they should be included in the dialogue process to make it more meaningful and result-oriented.
He said Pakistan’s future was intertwined with that of Kashmir as the two shared values, culture, history, traditions and a rich Islamic heritage.
Mr Gilani said Pakistan was committed to finding a just and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan would continue to extend political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir for realisation of their inalienable right to self-determination, Mr Gilani said.
The council unanimously adopted its budget for 2009-10 and revised estimates for 2008-09. It also approved the finance accounts and appropriation accounts for 2006-07. The council passed “The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Income Tax (Adaptation) Act, 2009.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said the PPP government has a history of carrying forward the agenda of service to people and hoped this would remain the cornerstone of party’s future policies in Gilgit-Baltistan.
He was talking to Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah here on Saturday. The prime minister asked him to give priority to people’s welfare while formulating and implementing development projects in all parts of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The prime minister congratulated Syed Mehdi Shah on assuming the office and hoped that under his able leadership the people of Gilgit-Baltistan would witness a new era of development and prosperity.
He said the unanimous election of the PPP candidates in Gilgit-Baltistan is a reflection of the government’s firm commitment towards political reconciliation and politics of consensus. He said the trust reposed by the people of the area on PPP’s leadership reflects the popularity of the party.
Syed Mehdi Shah thanked the government for providing unprecedented development funds for Gilgit-Baltistan.
ABU DHABI — An Emirati woman (name not disclosed) from Abu Dhabi gave birth to the first baby of the new Hijra year — Muharram 1, 1431, corresponding December 18, 2009 at 1.10am at the Corniche Hospital here. This is her second baby.
Suroor Ahmed Al Hameli, father of the baby girl weighing 3.15kg has yet to choose a name for her.
A 35-year-old Bangladeshi woman Ismat gave birth to the last baby boy in the old Hijra year Dhulhijja 30, 1430 corresponding December 17, 2009 at 11.14pm. The baby boy weighing 3.30kg was named Ahad bin Abdul Mannan.
This is Ismat’s fifth child, two of whom are girls.
Abdul Mannan, father of the boy, was not available for comment, but the mother expressed thanks to God that her child is in good health.
Both babies are in good health and were delivered normally, said Dr Salima Wani, consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Corniche Hospital.
Around 700-800 babies are delivered at the hospital every month, in which 75 per cent are delivered normally and 25 per cent with the help of caesarean section, which is done when complications occur, said Dr Wani.
“In efforts of healthy development of babies and good health of mothers we always advice them to breast feed their infants as it saves them from breast cancer and other related diseases,” Dr Wani pointed out.
From 7am on December 17 till 7am the following day, 25 babies were born at the hospital, while on the first day of the new Hijra year from midnight till 9am on Friday, 10 babies were delivered,
According to Dr Wani, with more than 10,000 births a year, the hospital is the busiest maternity hospital in Abu Dhabi. There are also more than 400 outpatient visits per day.
The hospital is owned and operated by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and managed by Johns Hopkins Medicine International.
Corniche Hospital is the premiere hospital for women’s obstetric, gynecological and neonatal care in Abu Dhabi. It is a purpose-built obstetrics and gynecology facility hospital with 235 beds, 14 delivery suites and 50 neonatal intensive care cots.