Court convicts imam and son for blasphemy
Bilawal Bhutto vows to defend minorities in Pakistan
Altaf appeals ‘Ulema’ for no protests on blasphemy
Over 770 killed in attacks on places of worship: Marvi
Patil Slammed For Wrong Arrests In 2006 Blasts
Saffron terror: Leads aplenty, but little work on unravelling network
Rs 10 lakh each for info on two key Samjhauta suspects: NIA
No injustice will be allowed to Urdu newspapers: Imran Qidwai
Wakf imams and muezzins will get salaries within two days: Raj Kumar Chauhan
Saudi Cultural Seminar on Jan 21
Gadkari assails Cong for defaming RSS, accuses it of vote bank politics
BJP questions move to link 'ISI mole' to Hindu terror
Samjhauta probe puts India in spot
'Too early to share Samjhauta info with Pak'
Makkah moves to Arabize signboards
Grand Mufti of Egypt meets Vice President
Security demanded for the AMU
4 killed, 8 hurt in Kabul suicide blast
Debate on gender mixing in hospitals moves from Facebook to Shoura
Bilawal Bhutto vows jihad against fundamentalists
Christians in North Sudan await uncertain future
US won’t cut and run from Afghanistan in 2014: Biden
No Muslim can think of profaning holy Prophet (PBUH): Altaf
‘No country has suffered more from terror than Pak’
‘Afghan-based terrorists behind instability in Tribal Areas’
Muslim policeman shoots Egyptian Christian dead
Biden says US will help Afghanistan after pullout
WikiLeaks lifts veil off New Zealand's bid to block N-deal
Afghan situation very disturbing: Krishna
Terror can't be ignored for friendly ties with Pak: Krishna
No tight jeans, tattoos for girls at Iran varsities
Kurdish clubs boom as Baghdad bans booze
Bangladesh investors, cops clash as stocks go into free fall
Interpol alert for 47 Saudi terror suspects
India, Bangladesh finalise deal on Teesta, Feni river waters
Ejaz Naqvi gets two days to argue case
J&K schools to have grading system
10 Indian Sailors Held In Somalia
Pak defers military offensive against Haqqani: Report
26/11: Fearing 'danger', US prosecutors want anonymous jury in Rana's trial
'Plea against Prez Zardari to be decided after hearing all involved'
Farooq assures Sikhs of security, says not to worry in Kashmir
Face of Afghan woman power
Pak terrorists behind Kerala SIMI camp: NIA
13 people feared killed in Nigeria’s ethnic violence
Partition bad for Muslims: Ansari
BJP to go ahead with Kashmir Tiranga yatra today
US drone strike kills three militants in North Waziristan
Pakistan: Justice Javed Iqbal’s parents murdered
Israeli warplanes in fresh strikes on Gaza
$ 20bn required for flood reconstruction: Pak
Sultan: New airport is King’s gift to pilgrims
Saudi cancer cases 4 times world rate: Contaminated imported goods to blame
Israel arrests 3 Palestinians, including Hamas deputy
30 killed, 24 injured in accidents near Cairo
Iran tells neighbours not to help its enemy
Emirates seeks $1b for expansion
US, Yemen face common Al Qaeda threat: Clinton
Prof Zahida Zaidi passes away
Compile by New Age Islam Bureau
Young lawyers find a hero in Taseer killer
Jan 12, 2011
ISLAMABAD: Cheering crowds have gathered in recent days to support the assassin who riddled the governor of Punjab with 26 bullets and to praise his attack — carried out in the name of the Prophet Muhammad — as an act of heroism. To the surprise of many, chief among them have been Pakistan's young lawyers, once seen as a force for democracy.
Their energetic campaign on behalf of the killer has caught the government flat-footed and dismayed friends and supporters of the slain politician, Salman Taseer, an outspoken proponent of liberalism who had challenged the nation's strict blasphemy laws. It has also confused many in the broader public and observers abroad, who expected to see a firm state prosecution of the assassin.
Instead, before his court appearances, the lawyers showered rose petals over the confessed killer, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a member of an elite police group who had been assigned to guard the governor, but who instead turned his gun on him. They have now enthusiastically taken up his defence.
It may seem a stark turnabout for a group that just a few years ago looked like the vanguard of a democracy movement. They waged months of protests in 2007 and 2008 to challenge Pakistan's military dictator after he unlawfully removed the chief justice.
But the lawyers' stance is perhaps just the most glaring expression of what has become a deep generational divide tearing at the fabric of Pakistani society, and of the broad influence of religious conservatism — and even militancy — that now exists among the educated middle class.
They are often described as the Zia generation: Pakistanis who have come of age since the 1980s, when the military dictator, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, began to promote Islam in public education and to use it as a political tool to unify this young and insecure nation.
Today, the forces he set loose have gained such strength that they threaten to overwhelm voices for tolerance in Pakistan's feeble civilian government. They certainly present a nagging challenge for the United States.
Washington has poured billions of dollars into the Pakistani military to combat terrorism, but has long neglected a civilian effort to counter the inexorable pull of conservative Islam. By now the conservatives have entered nearly every part of Pakistani society, even the rank-and-file security forces, as the assassination showed. The military, in fact, has been conspicuously silent about the killing.
"Over time, Pakistani society has drifted toward religious extremism," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political and defense analyst from Lahore. "This religious sentiment has seeped deep into government circles and into the army and police at lower levels. The lower level are listening to the religious people," he said.
Indeed, the Pakistan of today, and the brand of Islam much of the nation has embraced, is barely recognizable even to many educated Pakistanis older than the Zia generation.
January 12, 2011
Since Salman Taseer's assassination, right-wing religious clerics have heaped praise on his killer and stoked controversy over reform of the law. — Photo by AFP
MULTAN: A Pakistan court has jailed a Muslim prayer leader and his 20-year-old son for life on controversial blasphemy charges in the rural centre of the country, court officials said Tuesday.
The case follows the killing of Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer by his bodyguard last Tuesday, after the outspoken politician called for reform of the law that was recently used to sentence a Christian woman to death.
Mohammad Shafi, 45, and his son Mohammad Aslam, 20, were arrested in April last year for removing a poster outside their grocery shop advertising an Islamic event in a nearby village which allegedly contained Quranic verses.
Judge Mohammad Ayub, heading an anti-terrorism court in the central Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh, handed down a life sentence to the pair on Monday, his assistant Faisal Karim told AFP by telephone.
The prosecution alleged organisers of the event, which commemorated the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammad’s birth, said the pair had “pulled the poster down, tore it and trampled it under their feet,” Karim said.
“The judge sentenced them to life imprisonment on charges of blasphemy and ordered them to pay a fine of 200,000 rupees ($2,350) each,” he said.
Liberal politicians and human rights activists in Pakistan say the blasphemy law, which carries the death penalty for the worst offences, is sometimes used to settle personal scores and encourages extremism.
Defence counsel Arif Gurmani vowed to challenge the verdict in the high court because “it has been given in haste” and was the result of inter-faith rivalries, he said.
“Both are Muslims. The case is the result of differences between Deobandi and Barelvi sects of Sunni Muslims,” he said.
“Shafi is a practising Muslim, he is the imam of a mosque and he had recently returned from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia…. I am defending them because I am convinced they are not guilty of blasphemy,” he said.
Nobody has been executed in Pakistan for blasphemy and those given the death penalty have so far had their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal.
Since Taseer’s assassination, right-wing religious clerics have heaped praise on his killer and stoked controversy over reform of the law. The government has said it has no plan to reform the law.
The controversy was sparked when former information minister Sherry Rehman tabled a private member’s bill in November, seeking to abolish the death penalty for blasphemy.
New Age Islam News Bureau
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the people who are celebrating the assassination of a politician advocating change in the Blasphemy Laws are themselves committing blasphemy. He also expressed his resolve to defend the minorities in Pakistan who are often victims of the extremist organizations. Addressing a condolence meeting for the slain Governor Salman Taseer, Bilawal Bhutto said that ‘thoseTargeting you for the sins that you do not commit, they would have to target me’. He said that the senior leader of the ruling PPP, Salman Taseer had defended a Christian woman Salman Taseer. Mr Bhutto lambasted those who justify violence by suicide attacks and target killings in the name of Islam. Those who are justifying Salman Taseer’s murder are themselves committing blasphemy. His assassination has lowered the morale of people with secular mindset.
Maulana Fazalur Rehman (2L) chief of the Pakistani religious party Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) addresses the crowd during a rally in Karachi on January 9, 2011, against the amendment of the Blasphemy law. More than 50,000 people rallied in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi, police said, against the controversial reform of a blasphemy law that was behind the killing of a senior politician. Religious groups blocked a main thoroughfare in Karachi's teeming metropolis holding banners in support of the police commando who shot dead Punjab governor Salman Taseer on January 4, 2011 over his views in favour of the law's amendment. – Photo by AFP
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain has appealed to ulema of various schools of thought to stop their demonstrations after clear assurances by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani that no amendment is being made in the blasphemy law.
He was addressing via telephone from London to an assembly of the office bearers of various wings of his party at Khursheed Begum Memorial Hall at Azizabad, said a statement issued by MQM here Tuesday.
He said Islam is a religion of peace and it gives us lesson to respect all religions.
Islam not only gives a message of peace to the Muslims but also guarantees peace and security to the non-Muslims, he added.
He was of the view that history tells us that kings, monarchs and rulers have always exploited religion to legitimize their rule and perpetuate their power.
He said the Holy Prophet (pbuh) brought mercy and blessings for all and also treated non-Muslims, even his enemies well.
He said his party respects all schools of thought and it has been working for the last 32 years to promote interfaith harmony.
Prime Minister, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has categorically stated in a press conference that the government is bringing no change to the blasphemy law.
He appealed to ulema to stop protests after clear assurance by the Prime Minister that no amendment is being made in the blasphemy law.
Altaf said he has always preached peace, security, dignity of human beings and moderation as told in the Holy Quran and enunciated by the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
“I have always maintained that whoever you are and whatever sect you belong to or whatever school of thought you subscribe to, you should respect everyone. Do not hate anyone.” he said
He said “Everyone has a right to live. You must all adore Allah according to your way. It is for Allah to judge as to who is right and who is wrong. It is for Allah to decide as to who will go to heaven and who will go to hell on the Day of Judgment and not for man.”
He said the extremists want to destroy the environment of tolerance and inter-faith harmony in Pakistan particularly in Sindh and want to promote intolerance but while MQM is yet present, they would not succeed.
He said the MQM is a political party that believes in tolerance and inter-faith harmony.
We are not only working for unity among Muslims but also unity among various faiths as well. We want to promote moderation and establish an environment where people respect religious sentiments of others, he said.
We should not only revere mosques and imam bargahs but also give protection to all other places of worship.
Altaf Hussain also asked the office-bearers of various wings of MQM to hold corner meetings in every nook and corner to promote tolerance and inter-faith harmony. – APP
PATIL SLAMMED FOR WRONG ARRESTS IN 2006 BLASTS
By Krishna Kumar in Mumbai
THE kin of those wrongly accused in the Malegaon blasts case as well as politicians have come down hard on Maharashtra home minister R.R. Patil for his “cynical statement” on Monday.
Patil had said the government would consider recommending a ban on organisations such as the RSS if they were found involved in terror activities.
He made the statement after he was questioned on why the Anti- Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested the wrong people for the 2006 Malegaon blast when it was actually carried out by Hindutva radicals such as Asimanand, who recently confessed to his crime. Patil’s statement has drawn flak from Congress and NCP functionaries.
“This whole thing (2006 and 2008 Malegaon blasts) would not have happened if the police had properly investigated the Nanded blast case in 2006. It shows the utter failure of the home department and police, and has led to the current situation. I don’t think R.R. Patil can run this department efficiently,” Congress spokesperson in Maharashtra, Hussan Dalwai, said.
Full report at: Mail Today
NEW DELHI: The reach and depth of the Hindu fringe network that carried out the bombings of Samjhauta Express, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif is still not fully unearthed, according to sources who were involved in the investigations.
In the interrogation of Swami Aseemanand, Lt Col Srikant Purohit, Pragya Thakur and other members of the group, several names had cropped up but the agencies have "not carried out a comprehensive check on all of them", a source said. Purohit spoke about at least one individual from Karnataka having obtained IED expertise through his network but there are no clear answers if this expertise was utilized in any action anywhere.
Sources said there were several names, especially from MP and Maharashtra, that needed to be looked into in detail. Many are also worried about the fact that the entire financing details of the network have yet not been probed. During the interrogation of Shyam Apte, Pune-based RSS member who organized funds for Abhinav Bharat, he had revealed that the money for funding the extremist group came from a major industrialist.
Full report at:
Jan 12 2011
New Delhi: Days after Swami Aseemanand’s confession statement in which he linked himself and other Hindu extremists to the 2007 Samjhauta Express attack, the National Investigation Agency has announced a reward for information on three key suspects.
Cash rewards of Rs 10 lakh each were announced for information leading to the arrest of Sandeep Dange alias Parmanand and Ramchandra Kalsangra alias Ramji alias Vishnu Patel.
NIA also announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for the arrest of Ashok alias Amit, also wanted in connection with the same case.
Aseemanand named Dange and Kalsangra as being instrumental in carrying out a number of blasts including the attack on Samjhauta.
Ashok — alias Amit alias Prince alias Sunny alias Ashwini alias Ashwini Chauhan — was identified by Aseemanand from pictures the NIA showed him. Aseemanand is believed to have met this third suspect in May 2006 along with Sunil Joshi, the RSS pracharak who was later murdered.
In fact, NIA officials said they were considering taking over the probe into Joshi’s murder. Joshi, killed in Madhya Pradesh, has emerged as a “key conspirator” in the Hindu terror web, according to Aseemanand’s statement.
Officials said the reward is the highest announced in recent times. Dawood Ibrahim carries a reward of Rs 25 lakh while Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal carry a reward of Rs 5 lakh each on their heads.
Meanwhile, the Home Ministry ruled out sharing with Pakistan any information on the Samjhauta Express probe, saying it was “too premature.”
New Delhi: A delegation of All India Urdu Editors Forum met the Chariman of the Congress Minority Department Imran Qidwai and apprised him of the problems facing Urdu language and journalism. The delegation headed by Mr Hasan Shuja informed him of the non-issuance of government advertisements to Urdu dailies. The forum members have already met various officials of the government and opposition leaders but the government had not taken any steps in this direction. The forum has demanded that Urdu newspapers should be granted 15 per cent of the advertisement budget on the national level as the government has curtailed the share of advertisements to Urdu newspapers. Only 3 per cent of the advertisement budget are granted to Urdu newspapers which is less than what even Bengali, Gujarati and other regional newspapers get. Mr Qidwai listened to the members of the delegate and assured them of all possible help. He then spoke to the PM’s media advisor Mr Harish Khare. Mr Khare then talked to the delegation and assured of a cohesive policy in this regard.
New Delhi: Imam’s under the Delhi Wakf Board met the state minister Rajkumar Chauhan to complain against non- disbursement of salaries to them for the last three months and demanded immediate disbursal of payments. The delegation was led by Maulana Sajid Rashidi and it apprised the minister of the problems faced by them. Mr Chauhan assured them that they will get their salaries within two days. It is to be noted that the imams and muezzins of mosques run under the Delhi Wakf Board have not received their salaries for the months of November, December and January. Moreover, the pensions paid to the widows by the Board have also not been disbursed for more or less one year. The total number of imams and muezzins under the Wakf Board is 191 while the muezzins are 53.
New Delhi: Saudi Cultural and Global Research Academy will hold a three day seminar on the topic ‘Indian travelogues are important sources for the study of Arab history, civilization and culture from January 21, 22, 23. Dr Ibrahim Md Albatshan said that this would be an important seminar on the topic. He said that until now they had seen India in the light of the Arab travelogues but would see Arab in the light of Indian travelogues for the first time. He further said that important personalities had been invited from all over the country. The intellectuals and historians had been given the topic to write articles one year ago.
The BJP on Tuesday attacked the Congress for “selective leaks” on Hindu terror and defended Indresh Kumar, an accused in Ajmer Dargah and Mecca Masjid blasts, saying the ruling party was indulging in vote bank politics.
“On the one hand, the Government has refused to hang Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and on the other, it is hounding others (like Indresh Kumar). It is because of vote bank politics,” said BJP president Nitin Gadkari. He was speaking during the release of a book Secrets of RSS – Demystifying the Sangh here at the party headquarters on Tuesday. The book has been authored by Ratan Sharda. Incidentally, Indresh Kumar was also present in the function.
He alleged that the Congress has been defaming the Sangh since 1947 even though the organisation is democratic, non-violent, disciplined and has never indulged in any kind of violent activity. Even Muslims have been working as full-timers in the RSS and become pracharaks. “But Sangh does not publicise it because it is not in politics,” he said and defended Indresh by saying he has even been dubbed as an ISI agent.
NEW DELHI: The BJP on Tuesday persisted with its defiant stand on saffron terror, dubbing the current focus of investigating agencies on Hindutva radicals as a political conspiracy and an attempt to turn popular attention away from cases of corruption.
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said the charge against senior RSS functionary Indresh Kumar was an outcome of "vote bank politics" and a diversionary ploy.
He also emphasized that the slain chief of Maharashtra ATS, Hemant Karkare, had in his laptop statements of Srikant Purohit and other accused in the Malegaon blast case where they talked of their plan to eliminate RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar. Saying that Malegaon accused were also convinced that Indresh was an ISI agent, the BJP chief said how could the RSS leader be plotting terror attacks with the same set of people.
“Congress has not let go of any opportunity to damage the image of the Sangh and each time, RSS has only emerged stronger than before after such attacks on it," said Gadkari, widely seen as a RSS nominee.
The continued attack on investigating agencies flies in the face of BJP's own demand that they should be given a free hand to investigate terror cases. The party has consistently attacked those who have criticised the probe bodies for "framing innocent Muslim youth" in terror cases.
By Aman Sharma in New Delhi
WORRIED over the diplomatic fallout of the probe into the February 18, 2007, Samjhauta Express blasts — which left 68 people dead — India appears to be speaking in different voices.
On the one hand, Pakistan was categorically told on Tuesday that no information would be divulged to it because investigations were at a premature stage.
On the other hand, the involvement of Hindutva terror elements was virtually confirmed when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) declared huge cash rewards on three of the wanted men. The Samjhauta case, therefore, has become a classic example of the Centre wanting to expose Hindutva terror to embarrass the BJP and RSS, but being wary of drawing flak from Pakistan.
On Monday, Pakistan had asked India to share the “progress” of the probe into case. “It is too premature to share any information with anyone at this stage. The investigation is still on.
The home ministry has informed the ministry of external affairs to convey this to Islamabad,” a source said. But the NIA declared a reward of `10 lakh each on Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, and a `2-lakh reward on Ashok on Tuesday. All three are believed to have links with the RSS.
Jan 11, 2011
NEW DELHI: India will not share with Pakistan the probe details of the Samjhauta Express train blast case "at this juncture" as it thinks the investigation itself is at a very preliminary stage and the move would be "too premature". The Indian stand over the issue was made clear on Tuesday, the day when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) came out with the first ever `official' word on the involvement of Hindu radicals in the incident.
A day after Pakistan sought an update on the probe on the basis of Indian media reports, the home ministry informed the ministry of external affairs that the NIA had not completed its probe and it would be better if one waits till the investigation is complete.
A top government official said: "It is too premature to share any information with anyone at this stage. The investigation is still on. When it is completed, we will take an appropriate decision. India will soon formally inform Pakistan about its stand."
Seeking an update on the ongoing probe "at the earliest", the Pakistan foreign office in Islamabad had summoned India's acting deputy high commissioner G V Srinivas on Monday.
Meanwhile, foreign minister S M Krishna on Tuesday told a group of visiting journalists that India will go "more than half the way'' with Pakistan if Islamabad shows more sensitivity to India's concerns over terrorism. "We are looking forward for Pakistan to be more sensitive towards our basic core concern. The core concern is terrorism and terrorism has to be tackled effectively," said Krishna. He added though that terrorism can't be "shoved under the carpet'' in the hope of friendly ties between the two countries.
MAKKAH: Municipal officials in Makkah have started taking steps to ensure that all name boards of shops and businesses as well as street signboards are written in Arabic, replacing foreign names and scripts.
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal had ordered the change as part of his efforts to make the names match the culture and heritage of Makkah.
Sahl Malaibari, spokesman of the services agencies at the Makkah municipality, said many commercial establishments including wedding halls have already changed their foreign names.
“A wedding hall that used to carry the name ‘Marbella’ on the Ring Road has now been changed to Al-Dhikra Al-Khaledah (Eternal Memory) after the prince suggested the change when he opened the third Makkah Literary Forum there,” he said.
“Another wedding hall's name was changed from ‘Marseilles’ to ‘Mamlakati’ (My Kingdom).”
New Delhi: The Grand Mufti of Egypt today met the Vice President Hamid Ansari and other prominent personalities of India. The Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha K Rehman Khan hosted a dinner in his honour which was attended by ambassadors, leaders and ulema. Delivering the welcoming address, Mr Khan said that the nation greeted him warmly. He said that Egypt and India are two ancient countries. The civilization and culture of both the country was based o harmony and peace. He appreciated the talent and intelligence of the Grand Mufti and the message of peace and fraternity he gave to the world in the light of Islam. According to Mufti Sheikh Ali Guma, no follower of Islam can ever be a terrorist. Therefore, Islam is a religion that peaches peace, harmony and fraternity and disapproves extremism. Mr K Rehman Khan hoped that the cultural relations between the two nations will remain as cordial as ever.
Aligarh: In the light of the recent newspaper reports in which Swami Asimanand was quoted as saying that the Aligarh Muslim University was the target of the terrorists, the VC of the university has demanded that foolproof security should be provided to the students, teachers and their families and the property of the university. Mr P K Abdul Aziz has written a letter to the Chief Secretary of UP and the DM of Aligarh demanding complete security for the symbol of Muslim education, the Aligarh Muslim University.
12 January 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan – Four people were killed and at least eight hurt when a suicide bomber detonated his motorcycle on Wednesday close to the Afghan parliament in Kabul and offices run by foreign companies, officials said.
"There was an explosion in Se-rahi Alawdin (west Kabul). It was a motorcycle explosion. At this stage we don't know what the target of the attack was," the spokesman said. "It was a suicide explosion."
Witnesses reported seeing fragments of a motorcycle and human body parts likely to be from a suicide attacker.
An AFP photographer on the scene said that a minibus and car had been badly damaged in the blast, which took place in front of a psychiatric hospital and close to a mosque just after 8:00 am (0330 GMT).
The last bomb blast in Kabul came on January 4 when a policeman was killed and three people were wounded as the officer tried to defuse a homemade bomb.
The last major attack in the Afghan capital came last month, when two suicide bombers targeted an Afghan army bus, killing five military personnel.
There are about 140,000 international troops in Afghanistan fighting Taleban militants.
By FATIMA SIDIYA & MD AL-SULAMI
JEDDAH: More than 100 doctors and religious scholars have submitted a report to both the Shoura Council and the Ministry of Health calling for the establishment of women-only hospitals in all Saudi cities.
The report has been produced following a Facebook petition calling for women-only hospitals that recently gained momentum. The report also includes a suggested plan to implement the project.
Signatories include religious scholars and tribal chiefs, in addition to 40 male and 30 female doctors employed at various government hospitals.
To support the demand, the report quoted from fatwas of two former grand muftis, Sheikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim and Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, in addition to a previous circular from the Council of Ministers.
“Among the main calls of scholars in our beloved country is the establishment of hospitals for men and others for women so that men can be treated by male doctors and nurses and women can be treated by women so as to protect them and prevent the mixing of sexes,” says the report.
It highlights the successful experience of Al-Wafa’a Hospital, a woman-only hospital in Onaiza.
Jan 11 2011
London: Bilawal Bhutto, son of the former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has blasted those who have come out in support of the killer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer and vowed to wage a "jihad" against fundamentalists.
Comparing the killing of Taseer to assassination of his mother, Bilawal said the Punjab governor "too refused to be silenced".
Blasting those who have come out in support of the killer, Bhutto told mourners at the Pakistan High Commission here that people who voiced support for assassin were "real blasphemers", BBC reported.
Coming out vehemently against those praising the killer, Bilawal,22, said, "Because of you, the message of Islam is distorted in the world."
"Those who attack my religion, specially those who corrupt its peaceful message, you are what I call covert blasphemers and you will be defeated," he said.
"This will be our Jihad," young Bilawal, who has political aspirations and who has been named chairman of Pakistan's ruling People's Party, declared.
The Punjab governor was shot dead by his bodyguard outside a popular restaurant in Pakistan's capital Islamabad on last Tuesday, in the most high profile assassination in the country since Benazir Bhutto was killed in December 2007.
Sudanese Copts attend Christmas midnight mass at Khartoum's Martyrs Church on January 7, 2011. — Photo by AFP
KHARTOUM: In Sudan’s Arab-Muslim north, the minority Christian community anxiously awaits the outcome of the vote on independence for the south, amid threats by President Omar al-Bashir’s to reinforce sharia law if it splits.
"Before the referendum, there was a sort of balance in the country between the Christians and Muslims. After secession, we will only form a small minority,” said a Christian doctor in Khartoum, asking not to be named.
“I fear that at some point we will be seen as strangers,” he added. “Who says they won’t ask us to leave?”
The interim constitution adopted under the 2005 peace deal between the predominantly Muslim north and the largely Christian south recognises the “multi-ethnic,” “multi-cultural” and “multi-religious” character of Sudan.
But it is only valid until July, when south Sudan will declare independence should the vote go that way, as widely expected.
The last census, in 2008, put the number of mostly-Christian southerners living in the north at 520,000. The autonomous government in Juba estimated there to be at least 1.5 million, though many have since returned home.
KABUL: US Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that America will not cut and run in 2014, when the US-led military coalition plans to hand over control of security to Afghan forces.
Speaking after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Biden said training and aid would continue even after responsibility for security is handed over. He added that both sides share a common goal of a “stable, sovereign Afghanistan.”
If “the Afghan people want it, we won’t leave in 2014,” the vice president said a day after arriving in the country for a surprise visit.
Tensions have surfaced between the Obama administration and an increasingly nationalistic Karzai, whose government is plagued by charges of corruption.
Biden’s visit could be aimed in part at smoothing things over with Karzai.
A pleased-looking Karzai recalled that when Biden first travelled to Afghanistan as a senator after the US invasion “we met each other in a very cold room, with no electricity.” Now, he added, “we have electricity and good rooms in here. Afghanistan’a condition has improved and it is better now, we are very thankful for the US assistance to Afghanistan.”
KARACHI: Muttahida Quami Movement chief Altaf Hussain on Tuesday said in unequivocal terms that no Muslim could think about profaning the holy Prophet (PBUH), let alone blaspheming.
“Even minorities living in Pakistan cannot blaspheme against the holy Prophet (PBUH), hence I appeal to religious leaders of every shade of religious persuasion to stop their demonstrations after clear assurances from Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani that no amendment is being made in the blasphemy law,” Altaf said while talking to an assembly of MQM office-bearers at the Khursheed Begum Memorial Hall.
“The MQM is a political party that believes in religious tolerance and sectarian harmony. There is no place for religious fanatics in its ranks and files. We are not only working for unity among Muslims, but also unity among various faiths as well. We want to promote moderation and establish an environment where people respect religious sentiments of each other.
WASHINGTON: Acknowledging that Pakistan has been the biggest victim of terrorism, the United States has reaffirmed its resolve to assist Islamabad in addressing the challenge of violent extremism comprehensively.
“We are trying to help Pakistan improve its government, and it’s relationship with its people, help Pakistan develop the tools and the strategy to combat extremism within its borders,” Assistant Secretary of State Philip J Crowley said at the daily briefing. He noted that extremism is, first and foremost, a threat to Pakistan itself and underscored the strategically located South Asian country’s key importance to regional stability.
“There’s no country that has suffered more significantly from terrorism than Pakistan itself.”
“It’s a strategic country. It is important in terms of regional stability, it’s important to the United States and others in terms of its links to extremism and the risk of terrorism that does affect all of us, including the United States. We are committed to a long-term partnership with Pakistan.”
ISLAMABAD: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Athar Abbas says Afghan-based terrorists are behind instability in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies.
According to Radio Pakistan, he endorsed the statement of Peshawar corps commander in which he has talked about foreign intervention in Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Abbas said Islamabad had informed Afghan officials about the activities of the terrorists on their soil and Pakistan had identified the areas, especially Kunar, where terrorists had their hideouts.
Instability in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies and other areas bordering Afghanistan was caused by terrorists, who flee to Afghanistan after carrying out subversive activities, he said.
To a question, ISPR DG said Pakistan has provided information to Afghan government regarding activities of terrorists on its soil, but the interference was still continuing. He added that Pakistan had raised the issue of cross-border infiltration at the Tripartite Commission platform. app
Coptic Christians stage a mock funeral procession as they gather in Rome, Sunday, January 9, 2011, to demand religious freedom and protection following a New Year's church attack in Egypt that killed 21 worshippers. - Photo by AP
CAIRO: A Muslim policeman shot dead an Egyptian Christian on a train on Tuesday and wounded five others, sources said, less than two weeks after a church was bombed in Egypt’s deadliest attack on Christians in years.
The shooting is likely to stoke tensions in the Muslim majority country, where Christians protested for several days after the Jan. 1 bombing of a church in Alexandria that killed up to 23 people.
Christians make up a tenth of Egypt’s 79 million people and have long complained of unfair treatment. They have accused the government of not doing enough to protect them.
Mariam Salah, a doctor in Minya, south of the capital, told Reuters her hospital was treating five wounded Christians. She said one of them told her a sixth Christian was shot dead.
Outside the hospital, between 200 and 400 Christians gathered to protest the latest attack and demand the government do more to protect them. Police used teargas to disperse them, security sources said.
A security source confirmed one Christian had been shot dead and said the attacker was a Muslim police officer.
Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai and US Vice President Joe Biden shake hands during a press conference at the Presidential palace in Kabul. -AFP Photo
KABUL: Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that America will not cut and run in 2014, when the US-led military coalition plans to hand over control of security to Afghan forces.
Speaking after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Biden said training and aid will continue even after responsibility for security is handed over. He added that both sides share a common goal of a ”stable, sovereign Afghanistan.”
If ”the Afghan people want it, we won’t leave in 2014,” the vice president said a day after arriving in the country for a surprise visit.
Tensions have surfaced between the Obama administration and an increasingly nationalistic Karzai, whose government is plagued by charges of corruption. US officials have expressed grave concerns about how this is affecting efforts to stabilize and rebuild the country.
NEW DELHI: Could it have been Indian intransigence at WTO negotiations that set up New Zealand's back up to the extent that they were really in no mood to accommodate India's nuclear deal? A 'Wikileaked' cable from the US ambassador in New Zealand suggests that quite apart from New Zealand's non-proliferation concerns, Phil Goff, their disarmament minister, had been "frustrated with India and its adamant refusal to compromise during the recent WTO sessions" and wanted to be "tough" on India.
In 2008, New Zealand surprised India with its spirited opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal. In the countdown to the last hours in Vienna, when the global nuclear body, Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), was voting on the deal, the holdouts were surprisingly firm in their opposition. They were New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and Austria. It took much burning of phone lines by US and Indian leaders to get these countries around, leaving China as the main opposer.
NEW DELHI: Foreign minister S M Krishna on Tuesday described the situation in Afghanistan as very disturbing. Back from a two-day visit to the war-torn country, Krishna said the Taliban was providing shelter to LeT and other terror groups.
"What is happening in Afghanistan is something which is very disturbing. The Taliban is an umbrella organisation which shelters LeT and other terrorist organisations," Krishna told a group of visiting foreign journalists.
Krishna, however, added that India would continue its efforts for reconstruction of the country. "India has civilisational and historical relations with Afghanistan for centuries and India continues to believe that it can play a very useful role in Afghanistan in terms of capacity building for which we have committed $1.4 billion for development of Afghanistan," he said.
NEW DELHI: Asking Pakistan to fulfil its assurances of disbanding the terror infrastructure on its soil, India Tuesday said it was willing to go "more than half the way" to hold peace talks with the neighbour but terrorism could "not be shoved" under the carpet.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, during an interaction with visiting journalists from eastern European countries, said India was "looking forward" to Pakistan addressing its core concern regarding terrorism and tackling the outfits effectively.
"If they (Pakistan) can fulfil their assurances (regarding terror outfits), India is willing to go more than half the way to talk to them. We are looking forward to Pakistan being sensitive to our core concern of terrorism and tackling it effectively," Krishna said in the hour-long meeting at his South Block office here.
TEHRAN: Iran has enforced a stricter Islamic dress code at a number of universities including a ban on female students wearing long nails, bright clothes and tattoos, a local news agency reported on Monday.
The semi-official Fars news agency published a list of universities around Iran that were given a note outlining the code but did not say on what basis they were selected.
The new rules ban women from "wearing caps or hats without scarves, tight and short jeans, and body piercing", except earrings, Fars said.
It said tattoos, long nails, tooth gems, tight overcoats, and bright clothes were also banned.
Iran has been waging a country-wide campaign against Western cultural influences. Under Islamic law imposed after the 1979 revolution, women have to cover their hair in public and wear long, loose-fitting clothes.
The new code also bans male students from dying their hair, plucking eyebrows, wearing tight clothes, shirts with "very short sleeves" and jewellery, Fars said.
The authorities usually intensify efforts ahead of hot summer months when women tend to wear lighter clothes and brightly coloured scarves.In recent years, crackdowns have extended into winter fashion as well.
SULAIMANIYAH: Dozens of men gathered in the smoky little club to watch five scantily clad dancers sway their hips to the beat of a drum and the grooves of an electric piano. Once a common sight in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, the scene can now only be found in the more liberal Kurdish north.
Dozens of dance halls and clubs have opened across the Kurdish region during the past months, capitalizing on a crackdown against alcohol in Baghdad, where officials in November began closing clubs serving booze and banned alcohol sales at stores. That prompted the capital's nightlife — its musicians, dancers and the patrons who flock to them — to migrate north.
"Baghdad has become a dead city where there is no more amusement, no drinks and no music. They have dressed the capital in religious clothes," said Hameed Saleh, a Baghdad Academy of Music graduate who plays drums at Kurdonia Club. "Now I play music in Sulaimaniyah and my life is secure."
DHAKA: Bangladesh police fired tear gas shells and water cannons to break up violent protests by investors on Monday after stock trading was halted when prices went into free fall.
The benchmark index shed 8.9% in less than an hour of trading, its steepest-ever slide, according to updated figures from the stock exchange. That followed a 6.7%drop on Sunday after the market had been battered for weeks.
Thousands of angry investors vandalised cars and blocked roads around the Dhaka Stock Exchange, the main bourse, before police moved in. Protesters chanted slogans complaining of manipulation of stock prices by dishonest brokers and traders.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), after an emergency meeting with the central bank, said trading would resume on Tuesday at 11 am as normal.
PARIS: Interpol issued an alert Tuesday to police worldwide for 47 Saudis with suspected links to Al-Qaeda wanted on terrorism charges. "Interpol has published at the request of Saudi Arabia red notices for 47 internationally-wanted individuals sought by Saudi authorities in connection with alleged terrorism offenses," it said in a statement.
The "red notices" are a high alert to police in all 188 member countries of the international body to watch out for the suspects and include information to help identify them, with a view to arresting and extraditing them.
The Saudi suspects pose "a potentially serious public threat at home and abroad due to their suspected involvement with Al-Qaeda," Interpol said, citing the Saudi Interior Ministry.
DHAKA: In what is seen as a major development in India-Bangladesh relations, New Delhi and Dhaka have agreed to sign a 15-year interim accord on sharing the waters of common rivers Teesta and Feni.
This was decided at a Secretary-level meeting of the Indo-Bangladesh Joint River Commission (JRC) here Monday.
The agreement is expected to be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka this year, said Sheikh Wahid-uz-Zaman, Bangladesh Water Resources Secretary, who led the talks with the Indian delegation headed by his counterpart, Dhruv Vijai Singh.
Both Secretaries said the discussions included formulation of a working plan on the sharing of the waters of five other common rivers — Dharla, Dudhkumar, Manu, Khowai, Gumti and Muhuri.
They had a comprehensive discussion on the water sharing issues. They claimed they have “removed major barriers” and the agreed framework would be forwarded to the higher authorities.
This was the first time the neighbours agreed on a framework on sharing of the waters of the Teesta, Mr. Singh said. The leaders of the two countries, during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi in January last year, “instructed us to resolve the issue,” he added.
MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday gave 26/11 co-accused Sabahuddin Ahmed's counsel Ejaz Naqvi two days to prepare and argue the case on Thursday.
Last week, the court reprimanded Mr. Naqvi for his refusal to argue the case on the basis of merit.
“Are you instructed by your client not to argue your case? Give us a straight answer in ‘yes' or ‘no',” a Division Bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and R.V. More told Mr. Naqvi. When he could not respond satisfactorily, Justice Ranjana Desai asked him whether he had at least challenged their order in the Supreme Court. A few days ago, Mr. Naqvi moved an application in the court seeking the removal of Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.
Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to introduce grading system to assess performance of students in State-run schools, in order to make the tests stress-free and reduce the rate of depression among children.
“In order to bring reforms in education system and do away with trend of demoralisation due to percentage pattern, the Education Ministry has decided to introduce grading system in schools,” State Minister for Education Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed told reporters here on Tuesday. — PTI
The Somali police says it has arrested 10 Indian sailors in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Police spokesman Abdullahi Hassan Barise says they are under investigation and the police will release a statement shortly.
Businessman Bashir Hassan says the men were arrested because Somali businessmen had chartered their vessel, the Muskan, to carry charcoal from the ports of Barawe and Kismayo.
Both ports are controlled by Islamist insurgents trying to overthrow the weak UN-backed government.
Mr Bashir Hassan says the 10 were handcuffed on Tuesday and taken to Mogadishu’s central prison.
Last year the government banned the export of charcoal. Burning trees to make charcoal is one of the few ways to make money in arid, poverty-stricken Somalia. —AP
Islamabad : Pakistan has indefinitely postponed a full-scale military offensive against the Taliban's Haqqani network in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region because of the freezing winter there that normally lasts over six months, a media report said today.
In the meantime, US drones will continue to target Taliban sanctuaries in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the tribal belt as this is the only available option to weaken the militants, 'The Express Tribune' newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying.
The Pakistan government has been facing tremendous pressure from the US to move troops into North Waziristan tribal agency to target the Haqqani network, which attacks American and allied forces across the border in Afghanistan.
The Foreign Office has denied any pressure and said an operation will be launched only if it is in the interest of Pakistan.
The paper said that the Pakistani authorities have indefinitely deferred a full-scale military offensive against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan because of the freezing winter in the region.
Chicago : Fearing "danger" from global terror groups and possible media "harassment", US federal prosecutors want the jurors' identities to remain anonymous in the trial of Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, charged in connection with the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
"The jurors could have a reasonable fear they would be in danger if global terror groups learned their names," 'The Chicago Sun-Times' said, quoting a filing by prosecutors here last week.
At a status hearing held on January 7, US District Judge Harry Leinenweber had moved the trial date for Rana, 49, a Chicago-based businessman, from February 14 to May 16.
Prosecutors also said the foreign press ¿ particularly Indian and Danish media -- may provide extensive coverage of the trial, raising the chance that jurors' names would become public and it could expose them to harassment, according to the paper.
Rana and co-defendant David Coleman Headley, an LeT operative, have been charged with providing material support for the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
Lahore : A Pakistani court, which is looking into a petition challenging Asif Ali Zardari's holding of dual posts of President and PPP chief, has said it will decide the case only after hearing lawyers of all the stakeholders.
A four-judge bench of the Lahore High Court headed by Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry observed yesterday that it would not be possible for the court to give its verdict without listening to all the stakeholders.
It subsequently adjourned the proceedings till January 19.
The court's observation came after the leading counsel for the petitioners, A K Dogar, said the court had not decided the case even after the lapse of over a year.
Lawyer Abid Hasan Minto, the amicus curae or friend of the court in the matter, maintained that when a political figure becomes President, he or she should be non-partisan to meet Constitutional requirements.
Union Minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday advised the Sikh community living in Kashmir not to worry about extremist threats that were aimed at driving them out of the Kashmir Valley.
Addressing a religious gathering here on the occasion of Gurupurab in Jammu Abdullah said, “If at the peak of unrest in the Kashmir Valley in 1990, Sikhs had not migrated from the Valley, why should they migrate now?”
Assuring them about their security while living in the Valley the Minister said, “Farooq Abdullah would die first only then any Sikh can think of migrating from Kashmir.”
The NC president said, “At the peak of militancy when the situation was bad an attempt was made to terrorise the Sikh community to drag them out of the Valley. Muslims in the area got together and convinced the Sikhs that they would die first but would not allow any Sikh to leave the Valley. Sikhs relented and stayed back. When you had not migrated at that time there is no need to pay attention to these threats now,” Abdullah said.
He added, “We are not living in those times where anyone would think of migrating. There is no need to worry about your security in the Kashmir Valley.”
By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury In Kabul
RAVAGED by war and bruised by Muslim fundamentalism, Afghanistan is slowly emerging from its troubled past. Habiba Danish encapsulates that new beginning in a country where women are still treated as commodity.
At 30, Danish is Afghanistan’s youngest woman MP and her story sums up the pangs of a country struggling to break free from its past.
She lost her husband at the tender age of 17 in a terror attack during the Taliban rule. That did not deter Danish, who is eagerly looking forward to the start of the parliament session at the end of the month.
This will be the young lady’s second term in parliament as an independent MP, representing the Takhar constituency.
“ I am eagerly looking forward to the parliament session as I want to raise several key issues regarding the Taliban reintegration process and our political future,” Danish told MAIL TODAY, speaking in fluent Hindi. She was first voted into parliament in 2005.
Like many Afghans on the streets, Danish is also opposed to neighbouring Pakistan’s role in the country’s life and politics. “Islamabad has no role in our future,” Danish said in unequivocal terms. “I studied in Peshawar and I have seen Pakistani intentions from close quarters.
The National Investigation Agency (MIA) has found that Pakistani ultras were behind the SIMI terror training camp held at Vagamon in Kerala’s Idukki district in December, 2007. The agency has concluded that the camp was planned by and held under the guidance of Pak terrorist Masood Azhar.
According to the agency, the camp, controlled by Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, was held for imparting training in handling of weapons including AK 47 rifles and explosives. The camp was also meant for giving training to terror recruits in guerilla warfare, says the NIA.
The Union Home Ministry has given clearance to the NIA to prosecute the 30 accused in the case. All of them have been charged with waging war against the nation, conspiracy, inciting religious hatred, possession of explosives and indulging in terror acts. The agency will file the chargesheet in the case at the Special CBI court – 2 (NIA Court) in Kochi next week.
At least 13 people were feared killed in religious and ethnic violence in Nigeria’s remote central Plateau State, forcing the military to step up deployment in the troubled region.
The Nigerian military has effected a heavy deployment to some remote parts of central Plateau State where 13 persons were feared killed by rampaging Muslims of ethnic Fulani origin, reports said. The village where the alleged attack had taken place is called Wareng and is inhabited mostly by Christians of ethnic Berom.
It is located several kilometres away from Jos where religious uprisings and bomb blasts have claimed hundreds of lives in recent times.
Last Christmas eve, a bomb blast within the city claimed more than 80 lives while more than 100 were injured.
The aftermath of the bombing was a riot between Muslim and Christian youths which also claimed scores of lives causing mass migration from the city. Though a religious sect accused of regular killings in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombing, observers say politicians may be responsible for the attack.
Mid last year, three Muslim Fulani herdsmen were hacked down by unknown persons and this led to a reprisal attack when an angry mob suspected to be Muslims killed another three.
By Neha Tara Mehta in New Delhi
‘Result of political adjustments ¬ of mass desire’
THE PARTITION did Indian Muslims, and Muslims everywhere “ enormous harm”, Vice- President Hamid Ansari said in the Capital on Tuesday, even as he reiterated that India has vested interest in the stability of Pakistan and its people.
In a rare admission by a constitutional figure on the cataclysmic watershed of the country’s history, Ansari described Partition as “ the result of a political adjustment at the elite level, rather than of a mass desire to separate.” He was launching India Today and Headlines Today editorial director M. J. Akbar’s eighth book, Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan ( HarperCollins India).
Quoting M. A. Jinnah’s supporter and Muslim League leader Choudhry Khaliquzzaman, Ansari said: “( He) observed that the two nation theory never paid any dividends to us and proved positively injurious to the Muslims of India, and on a longer term basis for Muslims everywhere.” He was addressing a star- studded audience comprising leaders across the political spectrum, from finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to National Democratic Alliance chairman L. K. Advani, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, civil aviation minister Praful Patel, BJP notables Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shatrughan Sinha, and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar.
Rejecting Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's warning, the youth wing of BJP on Wednesday said it would go ahead with its proposed 'Tiranga Yatra' from Kolkata to Kashmir. "Opponents to this march know very well that if youth become aware of the Kashmir issues, they will lose political
Thakur said that the entire nation "is paying the price of its (Congress') consequences."
Pointing that a solution lay in the constitutional framework and not on religious lines, he demanded abolition of Article 370.
Abdullah had said that BJP wanted to set the Valley on fire again and warned the party that if there were any repercussions, he would hold it responsible for that.
“A US drone fired two missiles at a militant compound, killing three militants and injuring two others,” a Pakistani security official said. –Photo by Reuters
MIRANSHAH: A US missile attack killed at least three militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal district on Wednesday, security officials said.
Missiles struck a compound at Haiderkhel village, some 25 kilometers east of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, three security officials said.
“A US drone fired two missiles at a militant compound. At least three militants were killed and two others were injured,” a senior Pakistani security official told AFP.
The identities of the dead militants were not immediately clear, but local intelligence officials said they were “foreigners”, a term used for Taliban and al Qaeda linked non-Pakistani Arab and Central Asian militants.
“They were foreigners,” an intelligence official told AFP, adding they were checking on the nationalities.
LAHORE: The parents of Justice Javed Iqbal, a senior judge of the Supreme Court, were found murdered under mysterious circumstances in their house near Cavalry Ground on Tuesday night.
Preliminary investigations suggested that Malik Abdul Hameed, 80, and Zarina, 70, were suffocated to death in their bedroom, a police officer told Dawn.
He said it would be premature to say anything about the motive behind the murder.
The house was being guarded round the clock by at least four policemen. A housemaid went missing after the incident.
Perhaps the killers used pillows to asphyxiate the couple because no marks were found on their necks, the officer said, adding that two policemen deputed outside the house had been taken into custody.
Palestinians gather around a destroyed motorcycle after an Israeli air strike in Khan Yonis in the southern Gaza Strip. –Reuters Photo
GAZA CITY: Israeli warplanes renewed their air strikes in the Gaza Strip, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of the consequences if Palestinian rocket fire continued.
The first air strikes on the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis killed a militant of the Islamic Jihad and wounded another man, Palestinian sources said.
The Israeli military confirmed the attack, saying it had targeted a member of Islamic Jihad who “was involved in planning a massive terrorist attack in the heart of Israel.”
“This operation disrupts the execution of the attack by Islamic Jihad,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.
“That organisation has been involved in the firing of rockets towards Israeli territory and IDF forces (army) in the past few days,” she added.
Adham Abu Selmiya, spokesman for the Hamas-run health services in the Gaza Strip, named the dead man as 25-year-old Mohammed Jamil al-Najar.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan informed to the international community on Tuesday that $ 20 billion investment would be required for reconstruction of massive flood-affected areas of Pakistan.
It was stated by the Planning Commission here in Planning Commission, Chief (Water), Planning Commission Naseer Ahmed Gillani during one-day international seminar “Integrated flood& drought Management for Pakistan” organized by the World Meteorological Organization in his presentation.
He informed the participants that the reconstruction process after the massive floods in the country requires $ 10 billion public sector investment and equal investment by private sector. He said that in the absence of expected peak flows the time, duration, frequency and location may cause the investment void.
Gillani said that the public investment for hydraulic structure for water augmentation may not provide the anticipated benefits due to reduced mean annual flows. Droughts may cause reduction in growth having impacts on agricultural production and livelihood.
There is not much leverage or control to combat or de-accelerate the climate change by Pakistan; therefore it is mandatory to work on climate change adaptation.
By MD HUMAIDAN
JEDDAH: Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, laid the foundation stone for the new King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) project on Tuesday and said the project is a gift from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to Saudis and foreign pilgrims.
Prince Sultan watched a presentation on the project that will increase the airport’s capacity from 17 million to 30 million passengers. The new airport is designed in the form of two crescents to reflect its position as the main gateway to the two holy mosques.
Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, assistant minister of defense and aviation, said the new airport would have advanced facilities. “The amount allocated for the project is not huge compared to the facilities it would have and similar airports in other parts of the world,” he told reporters.
By GALAL FAKKAR
JEDDAH: The rate of cancer cases in Saudi Arabia is four times as much as international levels due to contaminated imported goods, according to the chairman of the Saudi Consumer Protection Society (SCPS) on Tuesday.
“Cancer cases are on the rise and 35 percent of the population have liver diseases because companies and individuals importing foodstuffs do not reveal the possible harm their products may cause,” Dr. Nasser Al-Tuwaim said.
He warned that some products imported from China could contain cancerous materials.
“The Chinese commercial attaché told me that the Saudi traders ask only for cheap prices and are not concerned about the quality or safety of the goods they import from China,” he said.
By MOHAMMED MAR'I
RAMALLAH: Israeli forces operating in West Bank arrested three Palestinians including a Hamas lawmaker on Tuesday, sources said.
Palestinian sources said that the Israeli forces detained Omar Abdulraziq, a member of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and a former Hamas minister of finance, after storming his house in the town of Salfeet, to the south of Nablus. The other two Palestinians were arrested in other West Bank cities.
Abdulraziq's family said that the Israeli soldiers broke into his house, conducted search and later detained their relative. The soldiers also seized the legislator's mobile and several computers, his family said. The Israeli Army said he is being questioned for suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity.
It is the second time that Abdulraziq is detained by Israeli soldiers after he spent three years and a half in the prison. In June 2006, he was arrested together with 65 top Hamas officials, including ministers of the Hamas government and Parliament members in response to the capturing of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The arrest ended his stint as finance minister in the 10th Palestinian government which was dominated by Hamas figures.
CAIRO: Traffic police says 30 people have been killed and 24 others injured in two road accidents in Sharqiya province, east of Cairo.
A police statement said Tuesday the first accident took place on the main road between Cairo and the Delta Nile city of Belbeis in Sharqiya province involving four vehicles.
A van carrying workers tried to overtake two trucks but because of the fog and crashed into one of the trucks and then careened head on into another oncoming truck and a van.
The second accident, in the same province, involved two trucks, once again trying to pass each other, leaving 10 killed and 20 injured.
Accidents are common in Egypt because of bad roads and poor enforcement of traffic rules. An estimated 8,000 people die in accidents annually.
Iran tells neighbors not to help its enemy
By PARISA HAFEZI
TEHRAN: Iran warned neighboring countries not to help its arch-foe Israel, one day after announcing it had rounded up a spy ring linked to Israel which it said had assassinated an Iranian nuclear scientist.
Israel has not ruled out military strikes on the Islamic Republic if diplomatic efforts fail to stop Tehran trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran has vowed to retaliate with missile strikes on Israel and US targets in the Gulf. “Our neighbors and the regional countries that have ties with the Zionist regime should know that any assistance given to this regime would be viewed as a threat to Iran,” Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi told a rare news conference on Tuesday.
“The regional countries’ interaction with this regime will help the creation of bases for terrorist and espionage actions.”
Iran said on Monday it had arrested a “network of spies” linked to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service which it blamed for the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010.
DUBAI - The Arab world’s largest carrier Emirates airline on Tuesday confirmed that it is in talks with financial institutions to support its expansion plan. Emirates is seeking to borrow $1 billion through a revolving-credit facility, Bloomberg said while quoting three bankers who received requests from the airline.
“Emirates has well-documented financing requirements to support its growth plans and hence has a continuous and ongoing dialogue with various financial institutions,” a spokesperson for the airline told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Federal National Council passed a bill on Tuesday that will allow fuel retailer Emarat to borrow the equivalent of up to 50 per cent of its capital, the company’s chairman said. Emarat’s total debt amounts to around Dh1.9 billion and it has a capital of Dh6 billion. “Currently there is a difference between the cost price and the selling price per litre of fuel of about 1 dirham ($0.272),” Humaid Obeid Al Tayer said. “Emarat is being restructured and its operational plan is being reviewed as well as its investments so it could go back to making profit,” he added.
Hillary Clinton made the first trip by a US Secretary of State to Yemen in 20 years on Tuesday to underline to the Sanaa government the urgency and importance of fighting al Qaeda at its grassroots.
“We face a common threat posed by the terrorists and al Qaeda but our partnership goes beyond counterterrorism,” Clinton said in a statement after about two hours of talks with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“We are focused not just on short-term threats but long-term challenges,” she added as Saleh stood beside her. “We support an inclusive political process that will in turn support a unified, prosperous, stable, democratic Yemen.”
Washington is anxious for Yemen, next door to the world’s top oil exporter, to step up its fight against an al Qaeda wing based in the Arabian peninsula state where militants have attempted ambitious attacks against US and Western targets.
Aligarh: Renowned Urdu writer and former Professor in the department of English, Aligarh University passed away on Tuesday. She was 83. Prof. Zaidi was among the prominent Urdu writers. She wrote in different genres. She was a poet, playwright and critic. Shola-e-Jan is her collection of verses and ‘Inqilab ka ek din’ is her famous novel. Her biggest achievement was that she introduced Urdu literature to the English readers. She wrote both in Urdu and English. She belonged to the family of Urdu poet Altaf Hussain Hali. She was honoured with many awards for her contribution to Urdu literature. Recently Haryana Urdu Academy conferred the Sabir Datt Award on her. Delhi Urdu Academy had also conferred the prestigious Bahadur Shah Zafar Award on her.