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Old Wednesday, August 13, 2008
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Senior Qaeda commander killed in Bajaur

PESHAWAR: Strikes by Pakistani fighter jets have killed a senior Al Qaeda commander in the Bajaur Agency, according to unofficial reports on Tuesday. Military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said the security agencies had intelligence on presence of top Al Qaeda operative Abu Mustafa Al Yazid but his death could not be confirmed as yet by “contacts on the ground”. “I can only speak when we have 100 percent confirmation that he was killed,” Abbas told Daily Times. However, he confirmed air raids in the area by security forces. Al Yazid, an Egyptian, was senior Al Qaeda commander of operations in Afghanistan, whom the United States identified as Al Qaeda’s third highest-ranking operative. He was best known as Abu Saeed Al Masri. Al Qaeda or Taliban have so far not acknowledged Abu Saeed Al Masri’s death.

Security forces ask Khar residents to move out

* 21 militants killed as fighter jets and helicopter gunships target militant hideouts
* New Taliban bloc warns govt against operation
* Migrations to neighbouring district continues

KHAR/TIMER GARAH: Security forces have warned residents in three tehsils of Bajaur Agency to force militants to leave their areas.

“Get these unwanted people out of your areas, otherwise we will bomb places where the militants are present,” pamphlets dropped from helicopters in Utmankhel, Khar and Mamoond read.

The pamphlets also advised the local population in the three tehsils to move to safer places to avoid being harmed, as more bombings were expected.

Militants killed: Air raids on suspected hideouts of militants in Utmankhel and Khar were carried out on Tuesday resulting in the killing of 21 militants, official sources said.

“Fighter jets and helicopter gunships were used to target the suspected places,” the sources went on to say.

Five civilians were also reported to have been killed during bombing in Khar’s Nawedhand area. Officials claimed the dead were militants, but local residents denied that.

Taliban warn: A spokesman for Taliban leader Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan “warned” the government against operation in Bajaur and other areas.

In a press statement in Miranshah, spokesman Ahmadullah Ahmedi said that the new Taliban bloc would not tolerate “inhuman” attacks.

“Bombings and operations are no solution. However, negotiations can lead to a solution and we invite the government to order ceasefire to pave the way for talks,” he said.

Peace committees have been formed in Khar tehsil to keep militants out of the area, Daily Times learnt. “We have formed different peace committees and volunteers will guard their respective areas against local and foreign militants’ presence,” cleric Maulana Hanif said.

He said the administration promised to not carry out any operation.

Migrations: Meanwhile, thousands of people had migrated to the neighbouring Dir district due to ongoing military operation in Bajaur Agency.

They were living in temporary shelters set up in the Munda area of Timer Garah in Lower Dir district.

Bomb rips through PAF bus, 13 slain

* Dead include six air force personnel
* Taliban claim responsibility

PESHAWAR: Thirteen people including seven Pakistan Air Force (PAF) personnel were killed when a remote-controlled roadside bomb targeted a PAF vehicle on the Bara Pul bridge on Kohat Road on Tuesday, police said.

Twelve people were wounded of which five are stated to be in critical condition.

The blast occurred at around 11am and was so intense that it created a deep crater on the bridge. The explosion was heard several kilometres away and nearby homes were damaged. The PAF Shahzor bus, coming from Bababer and bound for Peshawar, caught fire after the explosion. Six bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

Taliban: Taliban spokesman Maulvi Umar said the attack in Peshawar was in retaliation for recent military operations in the border region. “It is an open war between us and them,” he told The Associated Press.

A senior police official told Daily Times it was a remote-controlled device and weighed 15 to 20 kilogrammes, but a bomb disposal squad official said 30 to 40 kilogrammes of explosives were used. The police official said police seized an engine of an Alto car from the scene and was not clear if the bomb was installed in the car or on the bridge.

A PAF press release said five airmen, two civilians employees of the PAF, and two sepoys of the Defence Security Guard were among the dead. Three PAF airmen and two Defence Security Guard men were injured, it said. Civilians aboard a Kagawala-bound Suzuki van also died in the attack. They included a six-year-old girl. The injured include two women, Pukhraj and Nadia.

Traffic on the Kohat Road was suspended soon after the bombing and was diverted to Cyphen Chowk via Beri Bala Road. Locals said police and fire brigade did not arrive on the scene immediately. NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain condemned the attack while talking to reporters at the Lady Reading Hospital, and said terrorist wanted to “spread anarchy in the country”.

Azadi Show at Aiwan-e-Sadr to go ahead

ISLAMABAD: The annual “Azadi Show” marking the country’s independence day will be held today (Wednesday) evening as per schedule at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, president’s spokesman said on Tuesday. The ministers, who had been sent invitations for the event, refused to participate in Wednesday’s function. Meanwhile, the prime minister on Tuesday cancelled the Independence Day reception as part of the government’s “austerity drive”. A PM House statement said, “Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has cancelled the 14th August reception.”

‘Qureshi’s remarks interference in India’s affairs’

NEW DELHI: The remarks by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Kashmir tantamount to interference in India’s internal affairs, said the Indian External Affairs Ministry on Tuesday. Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said the statements by Qureshi constituted “clear interference” in India’s internal affairs. “Such statements by leaders of a foreign country do not help the situation, nor do they contribute to creating an atmosphere necessary for the dialogue process between India and Pakistan,” he said. Sarna said the government of India and the Indian-held government were taking all necessary steps to restore law and order in Jammu and Kashmir.

IHK police kill 18 Kashmiris

* Curfew imposed in all 10 districts of valley for first time in 13 years
* Mob frees Geelani from house arrest, authorities release Mirwaiz

NEW DELHI: Police shot dead at least 18 people in Indian-held Kashmir on Tuesday amid Muslim protests against what they termed an economic blockade by Hindus over a land row.

The authorities imposed a curfew in all ten districts of the Indian-held Kashmir Valley for the first time in 13 years, but about 200,000 people marched to the Eidgah graveyard for the funeral of senior Hurriyat Conference (HC) leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz, who was killed along with five other protesters when police fired at a demonstration on Monday.

Geelani and Mirwaiz: Earlier on Tuesday, thousands of people stormed HC leader Syed Ali Geelani’s house where he is under house arrest. The mob attacked police personnel and freed Geelani.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was also under house arrest, was released later. Both the leaders led separate processions and attended the burial. They called for peace and communal harmony.

Army was called out in the curfew-bound Kishtwar in the Jammu area, after two men were killed and 20 injured in communal clashes, police firing and a grenade attack, officials said.

Security forces fired at protesters in parts of the valley killing three people in the Aribal area in Bandipora district, three in Lasjan in the outskirts of Srinagar, two in the Bagh-e-Mehtab area and one each in the Rainawari and Zoonimar areas in Srinagar area, and the Ganderbal and Anantnag districts, official sources said.

Regarding the Bandipora killings, Indian defence spokesman Lt Col Mathur said the army fired in self-defence as the protesters tried to storm their camp.

Thousands of people held protests in the town of Uri despite a curfew and attempted to cross the Line of Control (LoC), but police and army stopped them.

Kayani highly professional, pro-democracy, says Gilani

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Ashfaq Kayani is “highly professional and pro-democracy”, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Tuesday.

Gilani told reporters in response to a question about the role of army in the politics of the country: “I want to assure you that COAS Gen Kayani is a highly professional officer and he is pro-democracy.”

The prime minister said the government’s move to impeach President Pervez Musharraf was part of “transition towards democracy”. “We are not against any person, but we are working according to the mandate given by the people.”

Gilani rejected speculation about role of the United States or Western countries in the impeachment move.

The premier said it was the people of Pakistan, the parliament and the elected representatives who took the decisions.

PPP-S abandons president

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao (PPP-S) would support the ruling coalition’s move to impeach President Musharraf, a party leader said on Tuesday. “We have decided to support the impeachment motion in the interest of democracy,” Sikander Sherpao, a member of the NWFP Assembly and a key leader of the Sherpao party, told Geo News on Tuesday.

Frontier PA presses Musharraf to quit

* Resolution calls on president to take vote of confidence

PESHAWAR: The NWFP Assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday calling upon President Pervez Musharraf to seek a vote of confidence or resign, and asking the parliament to impeach him if he did not.

As many as 107 members of the provincial assembly from the Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao (PPP-S) and the independent legislators stood up in favour of the resolution. Four legislators from the PML-Q voted against it. Four of the 124 members of the NWFP Assembly were on leave and eight absent.

Reading out the draft of the resolution, ANP’s Bashir Ahmed Bilour said the “Pakhtunkhwa Assembly” believed the president was “unfit to hold the office” because he was guilty of violating the constitution and of gross misconduct.

Patterson asks Nawaz to show flexibility

LAHORE: US envoy to Pakistan Anne W Patterson on Tuesday urged PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif to consider providing a safe passage to President Musharraf. Nawaz said that all decisions would be taken by parliament in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people. During their meeting, matters relating to the impeachment of Musharraf, on-going military operation in the Tribal Areas and current political situation were discussed. Patterson said that US was committed to support the democratic government in Pakistan.

Charge sheet finalised, says Sherry

ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition’s draft committee on Tuesday finalised a charge sheet against President Musharraf with “violation of constitution” topping the list of allegations. Copies of the document were given to the leaders of the coalition parties. Members of the committee who met at Information Minister Sherry Rehman’s house refused to share the details of the charge sheet. Sources said the charges included a military operation in Balochistan and the killing of Akbar Bugti, military operations in FATA and at the Lal Masjid, the “missing persons” issue and financial irregularities.

Musharraf a matter of few days: Zardari

LAHORE: President Pervez Musharraf is “a guest for a few days” and the new Pakistani president will be elected after consultation with all the parties in the ruling coalition, Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday. “As soon as the new President of Pakistan takes oath, he will abolish Article 58(2b) of the Constitution,” Zardari said in an interview with Geo News TV channel. He said that Pakistan Army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) were not involved in politics and would not intervene in politics in future either.

Musharraf to announce quit decision tomorrow?

* PML-Q leader says coalition to give president safe passage if he resigns ahead of impeachment
* Musharraf advised to apologise to nation, judiciary for sacking judges

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf has decided in principle to quit and a decision in this context will be announced by him on August 14, Independence Day, a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader confided to Daily Times.

It is learnt that if he resigns ahead of the impeachment the ruling coalition will give him safe passage.

Apologise to people: One advice given to President Musharraf is to apologise to the people of Pakistan and the judiciary for sacking Iftikhar Chaudhry and the other judges and restore them all before quitting. Another advice to him is to restore the judges and say he will accept whatever judgment they give on the validity of his presidential election last November and the legitimacy of the Provisional Constitution Order. It is not known what decision he has taken in this regard.

It is understood that if he resigns, President Musharraf will remain in the Presidency for a while as allowed by law until he is able to shift to his newly built home in Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad, and possibly leave the country a few weeks hence.

Daily Times
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