Suspected US missiles strikes kill 11 in Pakistan
Saudi Arabia: Girl whose price is a car
Misfar misfortune: 900 children abandoned in Egypt by Saudi fathers
Govt efforts to empower Saudi women emphasized at UN meet
Six US soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Canadian province rules on Muslim face veils in court
Islamic finance faces political hurdles in US
Pak police trace abducted Hindu businessman
Chinese railroad workers riot in Makkah
Bahrain charges 23 activists with terrorism
Strike out terrorist safe havens in N Waziristan: Gates to Pak
No India-Pak talks before next year
Pakistan seeks drones control
'Rope in Kalam, Deoband clerics, Ramdev for Babri talks'
Firms pay protection money to Taliban out of foreign aid
J&K: Interlocutors named, Mirwaiz calls it a joke
Interlocutors: Lukewarm response in Valley
All steps being taken to thwart infiltration in Jammu: Army
Agents kidnap girl to punish mother for loan default
Army won’t cut troops in Jammu
Protests at Musharraf’s party launch in Manchester
Musharraf’s Trial Sought In Punjab
Pak Can’t Trace Zardari’s Money
Holbrooke would continue in his present capacity: US
Palestinians call on US, Israel to set borders
US favours India sorting out Kashmir with Pakistan: Krishna
Pak flood damage estimated $9.5 bn
'Britain faces cyber attack threat'
Pakistan: BNP-M leader shot dead in Kalat
Erdogan for closer cooperation in defence sector
Pak to raise Kashmir in UN: Tharoor
NATO facilitating Taliban contacts with Afghan govt
Taliban say they are not talking to Karzai government
Peace efforts won’t speed up Afghan pullout
Iran says to stand by Lebanon against Israeli hostility
Kingdom, Egypt call for Iraq unity govt
France tells expats' families to leave Yemen
NATO: Haqqani commander killed in joint force raid
Israel to confiscate 1000 dunams in West Bank
84 more radars on Dubai roads
Qatar Airways Indian pilot dies mid-air of heart attack
NATO to lay out vision for cyber, missile defence
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
German university starts training imams
Oct 13, 2010
Imams sit in a classroom during their first day of advanced training at the university in Osnabrueck, western Germany. (AP Photo)
OSNABRUECK: Ahmed Sami spoke only Arabic when he moved from Morocco to Germany eight years ago to work as an imam. During his Friday prayer services at a mosque in western Germany, he soon noticed that many of the listeners could not understand him.
``The children and teenagers don't speak a lot of Arabic anymore,'' the 31-year-old imam said. ``German is their native language.''
Now Sami's part of a pilot program at the University of Osnabrueck that started this week to train imams — not only in the German language but also to steer them to preach about Islam in a way consistent with Germany's democratic values and religious tolerance.
It comes at a time of growing concern about some young German Muslims becoming radicalized in extremist mosques and turning to terrorism. This month's terror alert in Europe was sparked by information provided by a German radical of Afghan descent who had been captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
``We need imams who are socialized and at home in Germany,'' said Rauf Ceylan, a professor for Islamic religious education and one of the founders of the new program in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany. ``They influence the religious orientation of Muslims in Germany, they have a big impact on whether young Muslims will practice a tolerant, conservative or extremist version of Islam.''
Other European countries have been taking new measures as well. In France, which has a Muslim population of at least five million, the Catholic University of Paris began courses to train French imams in 2008; several imams have been expelled in recent years for what was deemed dangerous teaching.
Experts say the new German academic initiative is much needed. So far, over 90 percent of the more than 2,000 imams in Germany barely speak any German. Most come from Turkey and only stay here for a couple of years before going back home. Due to the language barrier, these foreign-sent imams can't interact with younger community members and they are also not aware of the specific problems the 4.3 million Muslims in Germany deal with on an everyday basis.
Imams hold key positions within the immigrant communities. Just like pastors or rabbis they deliver religious guidance, but they are also the first contact point for parents' worries when the children don't perform well in school, they mediate in marital disputes or get involved in cultural clashes with the Christian majority in Germany.
Later this week, the federal government is expected to announce the establishment of up to three new university departments for Islamic studies in Germany that will include several new professorships. The goal is to educate a new generation of imams and school teachers for Islamic religious instructions who believe and teach that western values and Islam are compatible.
``We need mosques that are transparent, in order to create an atmosphere of trust,'' among Germans and Muslim immigrants, the integration minister of Lower-Saxony, Aygul Ozkan, said at the opening ceremony in Osnabrueck earlier this week. Ozkan, a daughter of Turkish immigrants herself, said in order to create this transparency, it was essential that more imams learn the language and also preach in German.
For Sami, learning to preach in German is one of the main attractions of the state- and federally-funded Osnabrueck program. While he has already started translating parts of his Arabic sermons into German, he still feels the need to improve his overall language skills.
Sami, one of thirty students enrolled in the one-year, tuition-free program, said he also looked forward to classes about Germany's political system.
``It's very important for us to understand the pluralistic, German society,'' he said. ``It's very different from the political system in Morocco.''
The curriculum includes a visit to the German parliament in Berlin, a meeting with a rabbi at a synagogue in Osnabrueck and several classes by Christian theologians.
Avni Altiner, the head of the Shura in Lower Saxony, a Muslim association made up of 80 communities that supports the new program, also stressed the need for more German-speaking preachers at mosques in Germany.
``We don't want foreign, fundamentalist preachers in this country, we want German imams,'' Altiner said.
The Osnabrueck imam training will cost the public euro300,000 ($418,000) to fund through 2013. Starting in 2012, the university is also going to offer a three-year bachelor degree program for imams. The university has long made religious instructions an academic focus and also offers Protestant and Catholic educational courses.
Demand for better education of imams in Germany seems high. When Osnabrueck university earlier this year first announced its plans to offer the imam training, more than 90 people applied.
``Initially, we only wanted to admit 15 students,'' said Bulent Ucar, another professor for Islamic studies in Osnabrueck. ``But when we saw how huge the interest was, we decided to double the number of students.''
While all of the students currently enrolled live and work in Germany already, their background is diverse. There are Arabs, Turks and Bosnians, Sunnis and Shiites. Some moved here only recently while others were born and raised in the country. Among the 30 students there are also four women who are working as counselors or youth workers in mosques across Germany.
Redzo Sekic, a Bosnian Muslim, works as an imam at a mosque in Bochum that is mostly frequented by immigrants from the former Yugoslavia.
The 30-year-old, who moved here five years ago, hopes the classes will boost his German skills and enable him to better respond to the young generations' needs.
``There are sometimes problems with drugs or alcohol and the parents don't know how to tackle these issues,'' Sekic said. ``I hope that after I have finished these classes, it will be easier for me to understand them — their language as well as their problems.''
Mustafa Adanur, a 39-year-old imam from Duisburg, doesn't have any language problems, because he was born and raised in Germany. He is mainly concerned about the many problems among Germans and Turkish immigrants and hopes the classes will offer ideas on how to deal with issues of integration and discrimination.
``It's a great opportunity,'' Adanur said. ``I didn't want to miss it.''
Oct 14, 2010
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Suspected US unmanned aircraft launched four missile strikes at a house and two vehicles in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border Wednesday evening, killing 11 militants, including three foreigners, said intelligence officials.
The attacks occurred within about an hour in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal region that is dominated by militant groups that often attack US and other foreign troops in Afghanistan.
The first attack occurred at about 9pm and targeted a house in Lataka village, killing four militants, said the intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Minutes later, a drone attacked a vehicle nearby, killing two foreign militants, said the officials. A second vehicle was attacked about 15 minutes later, killing three militants, including one foreigner, they said.
The final attack targeted militants collecting bodies from the house destroyed in the first strike, killing two of them, said the officials.
The US is now suspected of carrying out 14 missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt this month, continuing a trend of Washington relying more heavily on the attacks to target militants out of reach its troops in Afghanistan. The US carried out 21 such strikes in September, nearly double the previous monthly record.
By TURKI AL-DAKHEEL
OLD man marries off his young daughter to buy a car!
This was the headline of a news report carried by Al-Watan Arabic newspaper the other day. I was dismayed after reading the report. This seems to be a credible story prepared by three reporters — Abdullah Al-Nahdi, Aziza Yami and Badour Al-Asiri.
The revelations were quite disturbing, as the father married off his child for material gain.
The barbaric practice of burying girls alive that prevailed in the pre-Islamic period was out of fear of social ignominy.
But now people are marrying off their minor girls as a means to buy expensive cars to show off their pride. Certainly, this is a manifestation of the selfishness of man.
However, I believe that while this selfishness could be comprehensible to others, it should in no way transcend into parenthood.
In this example, the poison of selfishness spilled over.
This is the reason for my dismay. How can one become so selfish that he would sell off his young daughter for any amount of money.
I think that there are two major reasons for this disaster. The first one is that there have been no binding laws or regulations to stop the practice of marrying off minor girls to weak-minded people, who are blackmailing parents and buying young girls as if they are animals.
I totally agree with the opinion of the activist Fawziya Al-Oyouni, who called for the introduction of strict rules and regulations to protect the rights of children.
She underlined the need for cracking down on child marriages by punishing marriage officials who sanction these unions.
The imam of Al-Shafie Mosque in the southern town of Najran, Sheikh Hilal bin Al-Ahmad Al-Radeef, who is also a noted marriage official, said in one of his Friday sermons: “Often, marriage officials are not taking into account the age of the would-be bride. This is because Ministry of Justice directives are more concerned with the job of the bride-to-be. In other words, is a man ready to allow his wife to continue her studies and then take up a job, or not?
“The marriage official is mainly focused on the relationship between the couple and the implementation of legal conditions and regulations set by the Ministry of Justice such as the presence of witnesses and guardians, dowry, employment status of the bride and the results of medical tests.
“As for the age of the bride, Shariah law does not compel the marriage officials to ask a girl’s consent for the marriage if she is under the age of nine. In such cases, they listen to her legal guardian.”
This model is something that takes into consideration the values of humanity and adhering to regulations as well as customs and traditions. But many people do not realize the value of childhood because of their beast-like voracity.
The second reason is a social one. If the parents have even the slightest trace of humanity in them and compassionate feelings toward others, as well as respect for women as human beings and not as commodities, then no doubt this phenomenon must be ended.
The problem is that parents of minor girls want to continue practicing such customs and traditions because worldly pleasures of the contemporary age have poisoned their sense of humanity. Subsequently, fathers like huge bank deposits as much as they like their sons and daughters.
This forces me to ask a painful question. What is the value of a society that spoils the childhood of its girls?
By FATIMA SIDIYA
JEDDAH: About 900 children born to Egyptian women and Saudi men in what is commonly known as “misfar” or “tourist” marriages are abandoned by their fathers, said an Egyptian activist at a recent forum on human trafficking.
Speaking at the conference in Egypt, Aiman Abu Akeel, chairman of the board of trustees of the Maat Foundation for Peace and Development, said that the majority of men who visit Egypt looking for misfar marriages tend to be Saudi, followed by Iraqis, and that the women they marry are predominantly younger than them.
“Misfar” marriage refers to a union contracted so that a woman may join her “husband” for the period of time he travels in a foreign country.
The women in such unions are divorced after a short time ranging from a week to a month, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Yaum Al-Sabi reported.
Speaking at the same forum, Azza Al-Jazaar, the general organizer of the Anti-Trafficking of Egyptian Girls program, said that these young women do not know they are being treated like commodities.
Their fathers receive up to 4,000 Egyptian pounds from these men for trading off their girls, she said, adding that most of these girls are below 16 years of age.
Statistics show that some SR100 million are spent on misfar marriages, which last for not more than a month, with 90 percent of Saudi fathers leaving behind children born out of such relationships.
However, Najeeb Al-Zamil, founder of the Back to the Roots Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that helps Saudi children abroad, said that although there are many such children in Arab countries, their suffering is less than that experienced by children born in non-Arab countries.
He added that these men abandon their families and children, as they fear what their relatives in the Kingdom will think.
He also said that while some children live in miserable conditions and turn to drugs and illegal activities, there are others who have become models and actors. He added that some of these children are smart and get educated, but they feel lost because of unrecognized parenthood.
“I met one Saudi-Filipino girl who said she has everything but feels she has nothing because her father doesn’t recognize her, while another said she feels like a puzzle with a missing piece. She said she wants her father to feel proud of her,” he said.
Al-Zamil, a member of the Shoura Council, said he has called for DNA tests to be recognized as a legitimate means of determining kinship, something that would force a father to admit parenthood. He also said that many of these children are not in need of financial aid nor do they want to come to the Kingdom but are desperate to be recognized.
There are 47 Saudi-Filipino children registered with the Saudi Embassy in Manila, but Al-Zamil believes their actual number is much higher with more people contacting them daily.
Saudi lawyer Ibrahim Al-Zamzami criticized women who do not bother registering their marriages, adding that this is what complicates matters. “If a woman has a marriage contract and witnesses, and if the child’s birth certificate states that the child is born after a legitimate relationship, authorities can force the father to accept the child as his,” he said.
“Even though the father violated the law that prevents him from marrying a non-Saudi without approval, this does not mean that any children from such a marriage will not be registered at the Ministry of Interior,” Al-Zamzami said.
He added that Saudi embassies have been advised to register children and issue temporary travel documents that allow fathers to bring their children to the Kingdom and arrange passports and ID cards for them.
Al-Zamzami said that fathers, however, could be punished for violating the law and that this could be in the form of a travel ban or a prison sentence.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, has warned against misfar marriages saying they are not different from “mutaa” marriages, which are conducted to fulfill desires unlawfully.
Al-Asheikh said traveling abroad to marry with the intention of divorcing upon return is not permitted in Shariah, and said such acts would have detrimental effects on society, women and children from such unions.
By P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR
JEDDAH: A Saudi woman diplomat addressed the Human Rights Committee at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday and emphasized the Saudi government’s efforts for the empowerment of women in the country.
Aseel Al-Shehail, second secretary at the Saudi mission in the United Nations, said the number of registered businesswomen reached 40,000 in 2009, 70 percent more than in 2007.
She also spoke about the growing participation of Saudi women in nation-building activities. “All government departments that serve women have been instructed to open special sections for women,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Al-Shehail as telling the UN panel.
The Kingdom has appointed a number of women as diplomats at embassies and advisers at the consultative Shoura Council. “They also hold leading positions in commercial and industrial firms,” she said.
Dr. Mouda Al-Khalaf, the first Saudi woman to hold the position of director of cultural and social affairs at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, highlighted Saudi women’s capabilities in holding important positions.
“The absence of women in positions like consuls or charge d’affaires is a waste of their capabilities and experience,” Al-Khalaf said, citing achievements by Saudi women in scientific and educational fields.
Speaking to Al-Riyadh Arabic daily, Al-Khalaf said she was proud of her new position, saying it gives her an opportunity to defend Saudi women and remove stereotypes about their role in the country.
Full report at:
14 Oct, 2010
KABUL: Six US soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday as Italy became the latest Nato ally to detail plans to scale down its military presence and hand over territory to Afghan forces by the end of 2011.
Four of the soldiers were killed in a single bomb attack in the south, where the Taliban have concentrated their nine-year fight against the western-backed government and where western troops are suffering the most casualties.
The US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a fifth soldier was killed in another bomb attack in the south and a sixth while fighting rebels in eastern Afghanistan, another insurgent stronghold.
A US defence official, who requested anonymity, said that all six soldiers killed were Americans. It is ISAF policy not to reveal the nationalities of troops killed in action.
Bombs known as IEDs are the weapons of choice for the Taliban and other insurgents fighting heavily armed Western and Afghan troops.
The war is in its deadliest year. Around 152,000 foreign troops under US and Nato command are fighting a Taliban insurgency that has steadily expanded since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down their regime.
At least 581 foreign soldiers have been killed this year, eclipsing the previous record of 521 in 2009.
Western public opinion is growing increasingly tired of the war, angry over corruption within President Hamid Karzai’s government and mounting casualties as the conflict pushes into its 10th year.
TORONTO: A provincial court ruling that sets a high threshold for demanding that a Muslim woman remove her face veil while giving testimony was hailed as a victory Wednesday by advocates on both sides of the debate.
The ruling by the highest appeals court in Ontario sets a standard for that province, but not nationally.
Witnesses who wear the face-covering veil, called a niqab, must remove it on the stand only if wearing it truly jeopardizes the accused person’s right to a fair trial, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday.
The issue of a women’s constitutional right to express her religious beliefs in court, and the right of the accused to face their accuser, must be decided on a case-by-case basis, the court added.
The decision effectively means women will only be forced to testify without the niqab in extreme cases, said Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
By Shaheen Pasha
DUBAI: From Australia to Britain and even France, which recently banned the face-veil, Western economies are adjusting their laws to encourage growth in the Islamic finance sector they hope will attract wealthy Gulf investors.Enthusiasm in the United States has been tempered by politics, however, which could slow the growth of Islamic finance and push business from the oil exporting Gulf elsewhere.
Islamic finance has faced scrutiny in the United States, with critics suggesting the $1 trillion industry was a front to funnel funds to terrorists or a plot by Muslims to spread a system of Islamic principles known as sharia, which includes a ban on interest.
The Centre for Security Policy, a US think-tank, last month issued a report titled “Sharia: The Threat to America”, which said that practices promoting sharia were “incompatible with the constitution” and should be “proscribed”. The report was presented on Capitol Hill and endorsed by some Republicans.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich has also been busy on the speaking circuit, calling for a federal law to ensure sharia, and sharia-compliant finance by extension, is not recognised by any US court.
“If there’s a choice, and the return and risk analysis is comparable but one place is opening their arms to Muslims while politicians in another country are making them feel unwelcome, of course Muslims will go to the jurisdiction that is more welcoming,” said Jawad Ali, managing partner and deputy global head of Islamic finance at King & Spalding.
October 13, 2010
A Hindu businessman, abducted by unidentified armed men a week ago, was on Wednesday found in an area in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province, police said. Muri Lal was recovered in Baron area of Dera Murad Jamali district in the province, police officials said, without giving
He was abducted by unidentified armed men from Chitan Pati area of Subatpur a week ago.
However, police have not yet made any arrest in connection with the abduction.
By BADEA ABU AL-NAJA
JEDDAH: A group of Chinese workers involved in the construction of Mashair Railway (Makkah Metro) rioted in front of their company while demanding an immediate increase in their salaries for working in the hot weather.
The workers overturned two company vehicles and broke the windows of four others during the disturbances. The company then called police to restrain the rioting workers.
“Security officers quickly brought the situation under control,” a company official told Arab News, adding that they arrested 16 workers involved in the incident.
Maj. Abdul Mohsen Al-Maiman, spokesman of Makkah police, was unavailable for comment when Arab News tried to contact him.
However, an informed source at the company said the rioting did not affect its work on the railway, which links the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. The source said the company would not charge the workers for the damages to the vehicles.
In July, Makkah police quelled another rioting of workers at a labor-housing compound owned by a large national company in the city’s Al-Shukiya district.
Maj. Zaki Al-Ruhaili, acting spokesman for Makkah police, said his officers were able to bring the riot under control at the compound, home to over 3,000 employees. Workers involved in the riot were protesting poor living conditions.
“Those involved were arrested and taken in for questioning,” the spokesman said at the time.
MANAMA: Bahrain's prosecutor general says 23 activists detained this summer have been charged with terrorism and conspiring against the government.
Abdul-Rahman Al-Sayed says the men also face charges of spreading false information and forming an illegal group that prescribes to terrorism. They could face up to life in prison, if convicted.
Al-Sayed said Wednesday the activists' trial will begin Oct. 28.
Rights groups say more than 250 activists have been detained, including opposition figures and academics.
Oct 14 2010
Washington : US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked Pakistan to take action against the terrorist safe havens in North Waziristan as soon as possible, which is said is critical for the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
"Well, I think it's important. It's clear that North Waziristan is an important safe haven not just for al-Qaeda but for the Haqqani network and for others," Gates told reporters travelling with him enroute Brussels.
Gates said Pakistan has talked about taking action in North Waziristan and hoped that they will.
"And it's also just a fact of life that significant military resources have been drawn away to help deal with this terrible flooding situation they have. So the question is, at what point do they return to the offensive in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas)," Gates said.
"Obviously the sooner the better, but I also completely understand the need to take care of their own people first because of the flooding," Gates said in response to a question.
NEW DELHI: The next India- Pakistan meeting is unlikely to be held before early 2011. After the July meeting in Islamabad between the two foreign ministers, Pakistan minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said he would visit Delhi at the end of the year.
But that won't happen. Foreign minister S M Krishna told editors here on Wednesday, "I have invited Mr Qureshi to visit India. The dates will be worked out through diplomatic channels."
However, he added that November and December would be unusually busy months in the Indian diplomatic calendar.
US President Barack Obama will visit in November, followed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in December.
On a more real plane, the India-Pak faceoff in both Islamabad and New York has soured relations between the countries. India felt badly let down during the foreign ministers meeting in Islamabad, where Pakistan junked an agreed agenda of discussions for a maximalist approach, which was rejected by India.
In New York, Indian diplomats and even Krishna had to resort to open verbal warfare with Pakistanis in UN General Assembly. Pakistan raised Kashmir again and again, to the extent that Krishna was compelled to cancel an almost-scheduled meeting with Qureshi on the sidelines.
However, on multilateral level, none of this came in way of Pakistan supporting India for non-permanent seat in UNSC. While Krishna had a word with Qureshi on the subject, Pakistan had already given a thumbs up when Asian group endorsed India's candidature in February.
By Saad Saud
ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in their separate meetings with a delegation of US Congressmen, said the battle against militancy was multidimensional and use of military force was only one component of it.
They said the other components namely economically empowering the people of tribal areas and waging an intellectual battle against militant’s philosophy were more important in many ways.
The US congressional delegation led by Senator Mark Udall visited Aiwan-e-Sadr and the General Headquarters Wednesday. According to a military spokesman, the US delegation discussed with the COAS matters of mutual interest. The US senators lauded the sacrifices made by the Pakistani armed forces and people for elimination of terror and admitted that without Pakistan, the war on terror cannot be won.
Extensive discussions were held on Pak-US strategic relationship, cooperation in the war against terror, regional situation, talks with Taliban in Afghanistan in addition to defence and military relations between the two countries.
LUCKNOW: Nirmohi Akhara, a key party in the Ayodhya legal battle, wants former president A P J Abdul Kalam, spiritual gurus Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as well as the leading Deoband Islamic seminary to help achieve a negotiated settlement.
"Now that the torch of peace and harmony has been lit in Ayodhya, we want popular spiritual leaders of both Hindus and Muslims to come forward and strengthen efforts for an out-of-court final settlement without allowing the dispute to be re-ignited before the Supreme Court where it could just hang fire indefinitely again," Ram Das of the Akhara told mediapersons in Ayodhya Wednesday.
He is the secretary of 89-year-old Akhara chief Mahant Bhaskar Das. The Akhara has shown keen interest in talks initiated by Hashim Ansari on behalf of Muslims for a final settlement on the vexed Ayodhya issue after the Sep 30 Ayodhya HC ruling. Ram Das said: "It is the duty of these prominent people to make efforts for resolving the dispute. After all, they are all institutions with a large following, so their word will matter.
KABUL: Cash from the US military and international donors destined for construction and welfare projects in restive parts of Afghanistan is ending up in the hands of insurgents, a contractor and village elders said.
The alliance of largely Western nations who back President Hamid Karzai and have 150,000 troops on Afghan soil have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on aid and infrastructure since they ousted the Taliban from power in late 2001.
However with violence spreading and the insurgency bloodier than ever, some construction firms and workers on development projects say they are having to hand over some of their earnings to insurgents to protect their personnel or equipment.
Mohammad Ehsan said he was forced to pay insurgents a substantial part of a $1.2 million contract he won from the US military two months ago to repair a road in Logar province south of Kabul, after they kidnapped his brother and demanded the cash.
"You know we need this American money to help us fund our Jihad," Ehsan quoted them saying when he eventually spent over $200,000 of the project money to secure his brother`s freedom. Ehsan said the insurgents also demanded the cash be changed out of dollars into Afghan or Pakistani currency, saying greenbacks are "Haram" or forbidden for Muslims.
NEW DELHI: With its search for a politician to lead the dialogue to defuse the J&K crisis not succeeding, the Centre on Wednesday appointed three non-politicians as interlocutors for the troubled state.
The slate — senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, specialist in ethnic conflicts resolution Radha Kumar and information commissioner M M Ansari — triggered surprise in political circles, while drawing flak in the state.
In the Valley, the criticism was swift and sharp. Chairman of moderate Hurriyat group Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said it showed that the Centre was not serious. Hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani rejected the team outright.
The misgivings in political circles in New Delhi were as much over appointing the interlocutors before the politician to head the group was named as over the choices.
Many felt the interlocutors would be hamstrung in negotiating the labyrinth of J&K politics — too complex even for seasoned practitioners of the game. The view was shared by many even within the government and Congress.
October 14, 2010
The Centre’s belated appointment of interlocutors has evoked mixed response in Kashmir. Hurriyat Conference’s hardline faction leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said, “This is an exercise in futility. New Delhi is acting deaf and dumb.” He added that New Delhi was trying to use its tested tactics to sabotage the “freedom movement” in Kashmir. Geelani said he has already put forth five points for initiation of dialogue, which includes “acceptance of Kashmir as an international dispute”.
Leader of the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said, “We will study developments and hold discussions within members of the executive committee.” JKLF leader Yasin Malik refused to comment on the development.
The common people are also sceptical about the Centre’s approach to address the Kashmir issue. The three interlocutors — Dilip Padgaonkar, MM Ansari and Dr Radha Kumar — are generally unknown to people of Kashmir, especially youngsters and students, who are the main target of the Central Government for involvement in dialogue. Observers say the appointment has failed to make an impression.
“Home Minister P Chidambaram had announced (a decision) to appoint interlocutors headed by an eminent political personality. Where is that political person?” asked a senior journalist. The Centre failed to engage any non-controversial political personality, he added.
A common impression is that the team would not be different from previous pointmen KC Pant and NN Vohra. “Separatists are unlikely to take these interlocutors seriously,” Rafiq Ahmad, a college political science teacher, told The Pioneer.
JAMMU: Faced with increasing attempts of infiltration by militants from across the border in Jammu division, the Army today said it was taking all possible steps to foil such intrusion bids.
"There has been an increase in infiltration bids from across the border by terrorist groups during the past several months and most of them have been foiled by our alert troops," General Officer Commanding, 16 Corps and Security Advisor Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy told reporters at Nagrota, 12 kms from here.
"We will utilise all our resources to thwart these intrusion bids into our territory," said Lt Gen Roy, who was talking to media after interacting with 'Ace of Space Riders', who are on a cycle expedition from Poonch to New Delhi.
Admitting that some groups manage to infiltrate due to the existing topographical condition in the division, Gen Roy said, "We have to put more vigil to ensure that infiltration does not take place."
Lt Gen Roy, who reviewed the security situation at a core group meeting here yesterday, said 227 terrorists have been eliminated during foiling of infiltration bids and encounters by security forces in the division in the last three years.
NARSIPATNAM: Agents of a micro-finance company allegedly abducted a 10-year-old girl to "punish" her mother for failing to repay their weekly loan instalment at Narsipatnam in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam district.
Daralamma, a daily wage labourer, filed a police complaint on Tuesday, saying the agents abducted her daughter, Durga Anushka, on Saturday last when she was away in Anakapally for medical treatment. "My sister said the agents accompanied by three self-help group women came to our home and took away my daughter. They had threatened her that they would release Anushka only after I clear the dues," Daralamma said.
Daralamma had taken a loan of Rs 18,000 from the company after her husband's death some time ago. She was paying a weekly instalment of Rs 405. She said women accompanying the agents belong to her village in Koyyuru mandal. "I thought they would bring back my daughter. But my worries grew when Anushka didn't come home even on Tuesday," she said.
Police are investigating the case. "We've sent a team to Marripalem to bring back the girl," said a police officer. In a similar incident, a woman was taken away and later released for not paying her weekly dues last week. State police chief K Aravinda Rao said the cops would take action against such companies. Andhra Pradesh CM K Rosaiah said that the state would soon issue an ordinance to prevent harassment of rural poor by agents of the micro finance companies.
The Indian Army has ruled out the possibility of further thinning down troop strength in areas falling south of the Pir Panjal range in Jammu region. This comes even before the next round of meeting of the Unified Command, where a security review is periodically carried out under the chairmanship of the J&K Chief Minister.
During the previous meeting, Omar Abdullah had pushed the idea of reducing the footprint of the Army in a phased manner but only after carrying out a thorough review of the security situation.
A decision was also taken to bring down the number of bunkers in Srinagar to facilitate easy movement for locals.
Meanwhile, a day after chairing a core group meeting ahead of shifting of offices, General Officer Commanding of 16 Corps Headquarters Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy on Wednesday said, “There is no such possibility of reducing troop strength immediately, across Jammu region.”
Lt Gen Roy was replying to a straight question on whether any fresh review had been carried out on reduction of troops to honour the assurances of the Chief Minister. He was interacting with the media after flagging off cycling expedition in Nagrota.
“Last time a high level review was carried out in 2009, before shifting troops in a big way but so far there is no such move,” said Lt Gen Roy, adding that if the security situation would improve, a fresh review could be carried out.
In 2009, two complete divisions — comprising at least 30,000 troops — were shifted out of the same region. One division each was shifted from Rajouri and Poonch districts, according to official sources.
Commenting on the prevailing situation along the Line of Control, Lt Gen Roy said, “In the coming winter months, the pressure of infiltration along the LoC will increase and we have to increase vigil to foil major infiltration bids.” He said if required, certain movement of troops would be carried out to address these security concerns.
“On the whole, it is a very difficult job to make an assessment of the total number of trained militants present on the other side of the barbed wire fence on the LoC,” said Lt Gen Roy.
Instead of cheers, Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was greeted with protests at the launch of his new party in Manchester, where activists shouted slogans against him calling him a “traitor”.
The launch of his All Pakistan Muslim League before a packed gathering in Manchester over the weekend followed similar events in London and Birmingham.
Reports from Manchester said nearly 2,000 people were packed into Manchester’s Sheridan Suite, where he launched his party with the objective of restoring a new political culture in a troubled Pakistan, despite protests inside and outside the building. After a musical start with positive images of the former president’s vision for Pakistan under his new party, Musharraf had barely begun to speak when the first protester began shouting, calling him a “traitor.”
Seven more protesters stood up one by one to accuse Musharraf of corruption while in power, failure to institutionalise democracy and said the people of Pakistan were waiting for a real change for the country through the implementation of ‘caliphate’ State.The reports quoted one of the protesters, Mohammed Kassim, as saying: “I stood up very close to the stage, almost face-to-face with Musharraf, and started to speak out.”
Oct 14th, 2010
Islamabad: The Punjab provincial Assembly in Pakistan has passed a resolution seeking the trial of the former military ruler, Mr Pervez Musharraf, for leading a military coup against an elected government on October 12, 1999, and breaching the Constitution to prolong his dictatorship.
The Punjab law minister, Rana Sanaullah Khan, moved the resolution saying, “This representative House of provincial Assembly terms October 12, when this day in 1999, a democratic government was ruined and black dictatorial rule started, as a worst tragedy in the history of Pakistan.”
“This House recommends the federal government to bring back Mr Musharraf through Interpol and conduct his court trial for violation of the Constitution.
Islamabad: Pakistani authorities have told the Supreme Court that they have not found any trace of the President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari’s, wealth in Swiss banks. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its report submitted to the top court said it did not know where money from Swiss accounts has gone.
It said that the former attorney-general, Mr Malik Qayyum, had not written any letter except withdrawing of the Swiss cases, adding that the authorities concerned had been informed to take action against Mr Qayyum. The Supreme Court is currently hearing petitions to implement the court decision regarding the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that it struck down in 2009.
The decree — promulgated by the former military ruler, Mr Pervez Musharraf, in 2007 to withdraw cases against politicians and bureaucrats including Mr Zardari — has been termed unlawful and the court has directed action against the NRO beneficiaries. The government is mulling the sacking of several ministers who have benefited from the NRO.
According to the NAB, 150 cases were reopened since the NRO was declared void ab-initio by the apex court in its December 16, 2009 verdict.
The report contains the position of NRO cases within and outside the country and also replies of the questions raised by court on last hearing held on September 27, 2010.
Washington: The Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, will continue in his present capacity as Obama administration's point man for the civilian side for the Af-Pak region, the United States has said.
"We are enormously pleased with the effort that Ambassador Holbrooke is leading, and he will continue as he is at the present time," State Department spokesman P J Crowley said.
Holbrooke is currently in Europe consulting with America's international partners.
"He will be with the Secretary (of State) in Brussels, and will be continuing to work as hard as we can to see this process advance," Crowley said, adding that Holbrooke's appointment is not term-limited.
Crowley said as the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Holbrooke is leading the day-to-day execution of the strategy of the US President on the civilian side of the equation.
"He has assembled a team that includes representation from across the American government and in fact includes significant participation from other international partners in this effort," he argued.
RAMALLAH: The Palestinians on Wednesday called on the US administration and Israel to define borders in response to Israel's demand for recognition as the Jewish state.
"We officially demand that the US administration and the Israeli government provide a map of the borders of the state of Israel which they want us to recognise," senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo said.
His remarks came after the US State Department asked the Palestinians to extend a counter-proposal to Israel's call for recognition as a "Jewish state" in exchange for a possible extension of restrictions on settlement building.
The Palestinians rejected the offer, saying recognition of Israel's Jewish identity had no relation to the peace process.
They instead demanded that the US administration set the 1967 lines as the starting point for negotiations about final borders.
"We want to know whether this (Israeli) state includes our lands and houses in the West Bank and east Jerusalem," Abed Rabbo said, referring to Palestinian lands occupied during the 1967 Six Day War.
Oct 13 2010
New Delhi : India on Wednesday dismissed the possibility of a swap with the US on Kashmir problem for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and said that Washington feels that it is an issue to be sorted bilaterally with Pakistan.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna also asserted that India's role as non-permanent member, which it won in the UNSC on Tuesday, will not not encumbered by any issues.
He does not not share the impression that the current phase of the problem in the Kashmir valley and its handling gave India a different image in the outside world.
"To my mind it sounds all speculative. These are kites being flown. There is no no truth in it. The US has been conveying to India that we should sort out the issue. If similar suggestions are put we take them with seriousness," Krishna said at a breakfast meeting with editors here.
He was asked about reports that US President Barack Obama, who is to visit India next week, wants India to sort settle the with Pakistan and that Washington would help India get permanent membership of the UNSC.
He was also asked whether the handling of the Kashmir issue in its current phase harmed its image and could encumber its role as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
Pakistan's recent floods inflicted $9.5 billion in damage to property, crops and infrastructure, according to an Asian Development Bank and World Bank assessment, Finance Ministry officials said on Wednesday. Aside from trying to cope with that direct damage, the government may face total recovery
costs of $30 billion, Finance Ministry officials said, although they had not seen the report.
If that figure proves correct, it will likely disappoint the government, which had estimated damage at $43 billion.
Pakistan may not be able to manage billions of dollars of financial support needed for reconstruction, a reality that worries the US, which wants stability in an ally seen as vital in its war on militancy.
The government is often preoccupied by one crisis after another, from feuding politicians to waves of suicide bombings to showdowns with the powerful Supreme Court.
If aid money does not reach millions of flood-victims soon, unpopular Pakistani leaders will lose more credibility, and Taliban insurgents may capitalise on hardships to gain recruits. Structural tensions between the civilian leadership, the bureaucracy and the military, were also exacerbated by the floods.
An online war has begun between Britain and terror groups and enemy states, with the country facing a serious threat to its national security from cyber attacks, a top official of a spy agency has claimed. Iain Lobban, the Director of the Government Communications Head Quarters, has said that
Britain is forced to fend off 1,000 cyber attacks every month. In the first public speech by the head of the intelligence agency, he described the threat to the critical national infrastructure like power stations, water plants and air traffic control as "real and credible".
"Worms" deliberately targeting government systems have already caused "significant disruption", he was quoted by 'The Sun' as saying. Meanwhile, the rate of cyber attacks is growing by a frightening 60 per cent every year, with e-crime costing the economy "well into the billions".
Lobban, whose Cheltenham-based GCHQ eavesdrops on radio, phone and email communications, told the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London: "Cyberspace is contested every day, every hour, every minute, every second. "I can vouch for that from the displays in our own operations centre of minute-by-minute cyber attempts to penetrate systems round the world. "We have seen worms cause significant disruption to government systems -- both those targeted deliberately against us and those picked up from the internet accidentally. There are over 20,000 malicious emails on government networks a month, 1,000 of which are deliberately targeting them."
The monthly rate of attacks to steal government secrets or money equates to one every 90 minutes. The cyber threat is also very real to Britain's economy and ordinary people's money, Lobban insisted.
Thursday, 14 Oct, 2010
Mr Mengal, who was a member of the party’s central executive committee, was going home when armed men on a motorbike opened fire on him. – AP Photo
QUETTA: Mir Nooruddin Mengal, a central leader of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, was gunned down in Kalat town, about 160km south of here, on Wednesday.
Mr Mengal, who was a member of the party’s central executive committee, was going home when armed men on a motorbike opened fire on him. He was seriously injured and was taken by police to a local hospital. Doctors referred him to Quetta but he died near Mangochar.
Police said both the assailants had escaped.
Protesting against the murder, activists of the BNP-M gathered on the outskirts of Kalat and blocked the National Highway by putting up barricades and burning tyres.
Traffic between Quetta and Karachi was suspended as the protesters pelted passing vehicles with stones.
They also marched on the highway raising slogans against the government.
Traffic was restored in the afternoon when the local administration and police officials assured the protesters that killers of Mr Mengal would be arrested soon.
The killing of Mr Mengal is seen here as a setback for the party because after the assassination of Habib Jalib Baloch he was the senior most leader in the absence of Akhtar Jan Mengal who lives in Dubai.
By Ahmad Hassan
ISLAMABAD, Oct 13: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that his country was prepared to go to any length in negotiations on defence cooperation with Pakistan.
Talking to this correspondent while travelling to Karachi, Mr Erdogan, who was accompanied by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, said that while Pakistan was ahead of Turkey in some ways, his country also had attained advancements in some fields of defence production and cooperation would be beneficial for both.
When asked about his government’s victory in a recent referendum on constitutional reforms, he said: “We have tried to strike a balance between powers of various institutions and laid the foundation of an advanced democracy with the hope that no one will be able to disrupt it in the future.”
Asked if he would like Pakistan to follow his country’s example of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, he said the decision was up to the leadership of Pakistan.
In fact, he added, Israel was obstructing the peace process in the Middle East.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - Former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor Wednesday said there was the "risk" of Pakistan raising the Kashmir issue again in the United Nation's General Assembly.
"As you know, they have raised it in the General Assembly in the opening speech and there is the risk of them raising it again is very much present", Tharoor, who is nominated as a member of the Indian delegation for the UN assembly, told reporters here Wednesday.
He was reacting to queries from journalists on the possibility of the Kashmir issue figuring in the UN general assembly session. “It could come... depending upon whether Pakistan chooses it to raise in the UN,” Tharoor said, without elaborating further on the matter. On India's election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Tharoor said "it is very important because it is 19 years since we got a seat"(on the vital body of the United Nations) "India's voice is always heard in the high table on all important international issues", Tharoor, a former UN diplomat and now a member of the Lok Sabha, said.
BRUSSELS: NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan are facilitating contacts between senior Taliban officials and the Afghan government, a senior NATO official said on Wednesday.
The official, who spoke to reporters in Brussels on condition of anonymity, said talks were in the very early stages and could not be described as negotiations. NATO allies including the United States, have previously voiced their support for reconciliation efforts aimed at ending the nine-year-old war.
“We have indeed facilitated to various degrees the contacts between these senior Taliban members and the highest levels of the Afghan government,” the official said. The official declined to offer specifics about the degree to which the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan was facilitating those contacts, but noted that the discussions have taken place in Kabul.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Afghan Taliban rejected media reports that they were in secret negotiations with President Hamid Karzai’s government to end the war, in which more than 2,000 foreign troops have been killed.
The NATO official played down the level of the contacts. “What President Karzai, his spokesman, has stated is accurate: that these are in the very preliminary stages of discussions,” the official said.
“So you would not yet characterise this, by any means, as a negotiation. These are preliminary discussions.” reuters
KABUL: The Afghan Taliban said on Wednesday that they were not talking to President Hamid Karzai’s government; rejecting recent media reports the two sides were in secret negotiations to end a war now in its 10th year. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also repeated a long-standing demand for foreign forces to leave the country, saying reports of peace talks when troops were still battling insurgents on the ground would only undermine the credibility of the government and its foreign backers. “If the enemy insists on continuation of the war in the battlefields but on the other hand merely disseminates propaganda and contradictory claims about high-level talks, then it will only contribute first and foremost to the enemy’s already losing credibility,” he added. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that representatives of the Taliban and Karzai’s government had started secret talks, citing unnamed Afghan and Arab sources. The sources were quoted as saying they believe the Taliban representatives were authorised to speak for the Afghan Taliban organisation. reuters
BRUSSELS: Efforts towards reconciliation with Taliban are unlikely to speed up plans to reduce Western troop numbers in Afghanistan, Nato’s civilian chief in the country said on Wednesday.
Nato aims to launch a programme next year for a gradual transfer of security responsibility from international troops to Afghan forces up to the end of 2014, after approval by leaders of alliance states at a summit next month.
Mark Sedwill, Nato’s civilian representative in Kabul, said the plan should allow for a gradual thinning out of the 150,000-strong foreign force, which has added tens of thousands more troops in the past year to cope with a widening insurgency. But he stressed that international troops and support for Afghanistan would be required long after 2014, the date Afghan President Hamid Karzai has set for Afghan security forces to assume overall responsibility for security countrywide. Speaking after briefing envoys of the 47 countries contributing to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force in Brussels, Sedwill said Karzai’s efforts towards reconciliation with the Taliban were unlikely to speed the process of handing over responsibility to Afghan forces. “I don’t think it’s likely to have an impact on this timeline, unless of course it proceeds at such a Full report at:
By YARA BAYOUMY
BEIRUT: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used a visit to Lebanon on Wednesday to assure the government that Iran would stand by Beirut in confronting what he called hostilities from neighboring Israel.
Ahmadinejad, making the first official state visit by an Iranian president to Lebanon, was given a tumultuous welcome by thousands of Shiite Muslims who lined the road from the airport, throwing rice and petals at his motorcade.
“The Iranian nation will always stand beside the Lebanese nation and will never abandon them ... We will surely help the Lebanese nation against animosities, mainly staged by the Zionist regime (Israel),” he said.
Israel and Tehran’s Shiite ally Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006, a conflict which killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Ahmadinejad, who was due to visit Lebanon’s border region with Israel on Thursday, told a rally organized by Hezbollah that Israel would pay a price for any aggressive action.
“(Israel) feels it has reached a dead end, and may stage new treacherous acts to rescue its existence and to create opportunities for itself,” he told a crowd of thousands, waving Iranian and Lebanese flags.
CAIRO: Saudi Arabia and Egypt emphasized Wednesday the need to establish a unity government in Iraq, representing all groups and parties and ensuring them equal rights and responsibilities.
“Our two countries are providing advice and consultancy in order to resolve the present crisis in Iraq,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal told reporters after talks with President Hosni Mubarak.
Prince Saud, according to the Saudi Press Agency, conveyed a message from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to Mubarak relating to the present Arab situation.
“My meeting with President Mubarak reflected the unity of opinion the two countries have on various issues such as Palestine, Iraq and Sudan as well as other issues concerning the Arab world,” he said.
PARIS/WASHINGTON: France's Foreign Ministry recommended on Wednesday that the spouses and children of expatriates working in Yemen should leave the country after a French citizen was shot dead in the capital Sanaa last week.
Al-Qaeda has launched a number of attacks against Westerners and against Yemen's government, which declared war on the group's local arm after it claimed a failed attack on a US-bound airliner in December.
Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh visited France this week to discuss the security situation in the Arab world's poorest state with President Nicolas Sarkozy after the French citizen was killed in a shootout outside the compound of oil and gas group OMV.
"Taking account of the deterioration in the security situation after the latest events in Yemen, we urge French expatriates to exercise greater vigilance and caution," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
By ROBERT KENNEDY
KABUL, Afghanistan: An insurgent commander from the Haqqani network and three other militants were killed in a firefight with NATO and Afghan forces in eastern Afghanistan, the alliance said Wednesday.
Ansari Khan, accused of conducting attacks on coalition forces, died in a clash in Khost province’s Spera district in an overnight operation Tuesday, a NATO statement said.
As the security force moved in on a compound, two insurgents threw a grenade and opened fire. Retaliatory fire killed four militants, including Khan, it said.
The Haqqani network is a Pakistan-based faction of the Taleban with close ties to Al-Qaeda.
The group was started by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a commander supported by Pakistan and the United States during the 1980s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Haqqani has since turned against the United States, and American military officials have said his organization, now effectively led by his son, Sirajuddin, presents one of the greatest threats to foreign forces in Afghanistan.
By MOHAMMED MAR'I
RAMALLAH: Israeli authorities on Wednesday decided to confiscate a large area of agricultural lands near the West Bank city of Nablus, a Palestinian official said.
Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority official monitoring settlers’ activity in the northern West Bank, said that Israeli occupation authorities issued a military order to confiscate some 1,000 dunams (100 hectares) belonging to Palestinian farmers from the village of Jaloud, to the southeast of Nablus. Daghlas added that the order was signed by the commander of Israeli Army in West Bank.
The order stated the lands were confiscated for "military purposes and following security conditions that prevail in the region and the need to take steps to prevent terrorist operations." The order added that a military facility will be established on the confiscated lands.
14 October 2010
DUBAI — The General Department of Traffic has installed 84 cameras and radars at signals and intersections in Dubai to catch speeding drivers and those who jump traffic signals.
Major-General Mohammed Saif Al Zafin, Director of General Department of Traffic, said the police had fixed the cameras on Jumeirah, Al Wasl and some other roads, adding that more cameras would be installed at various intersections. Al Zafin said that a number of motorists drive their cars at high speed when they reach traffic signals which caused accidents.
He said the installation of cameras at pedestrian signals would help to catch drivers who did not wait for the pedestrians to cross the road.
Installation work of cameras will be intensified in the coming months to get them activated by the beginning of next year. The Dubai Police is studying the best mechanism to turn the cameras into radars to control speeding drivers who may believe that the cameras are only to catch those who jump the traffic signal .
The General Department of Traffic has recorded 12,494 red signal violations so far this year compared to 18,575 traffic violations last year. As many as 731 tickets were issued immediately while 11,763 violations were recorded in absentia. — firstname.lastname@example.org
Qatar Airways Indian pilot dies mid-air of heart attack
DUBAI — The captain of a Qatar Airways flight from the Philippines to Qatar died of heart attack on Wednesday.
Sources said the captain, a 43-year-old Indian national, apparently suffered a heart attack after the flight took off from Manila. The crew and a doctor on board tried to revive him, while the co-pilot diverted the flight to Kuala Lumpur. However, the pilot died mid-air as all effort to rescuscsitate him failed.
“Qatar Airways regrets to inform that the captain of Flight QR645, operating from Manila to Doha, passed away on board,” the airline said in a statement.
But the company did not say the cause of death, or if the flight was ever at risk. Qatar Airways said in the statement that its priority “remains the comfort and safety of its passengers and staff”.
BRUSSELS— NATO defence and foreign ministers meet Thursday to reshape the alliance into a modern force against cyber and missile threats, at a time of tough fighting in Afghanistan and budget cuts at home.
The diplomatic and defence chiefs hold a rare joint meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels to deliberate on a draft of the “strategic concept” that will lay out the alliance’s vision for the next decade.
The mission statement will then be endorsed by NATO leaders meeting in Lisbon next month, replacing a document written in 1999, two years before the September 11 attacks on the United States sparked the war in Afghanistan.
“My firm intent is that the Lisbon summit will put in place an alliance that is more modern, more efficient and better able to work with our partners around the globe,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said this week.