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Default Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finance Ministry received US aid: Mukhtar

LAHORE: The Finance Ministry, not the Defence Ministry had received United States military aid to Pakistan, ARY TV quoted Federal Defence Minister Chaudry Ahmad Mukhtar as saying on Wednesday.

According to the channel, Mukhtar, while talking to reporters outside the Parliament House, said that violations of the Line of Control, human rights and killing of Kashmiri leaders by the Indian troops would harm India-Pakistan relations. He said that Pakistan strongly condemned the Indian atrocities in Kashmir. The minister said Pakistan’s armed forces were fully alert at the borders but Pakistan had no aggressive designs against its neighbours.

Sindh Assembly votes against Musharraf

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly became the third Pakistani provincial assembly on Wednesday to pass a resolution to push President Pervez Musharraf to quit.

The opposition and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) boycotted the vote, letting the resolution pass with the support of 93 lawmakers. No one voted against the resolution.

Three legislators from the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid – were Mir Ghalib Domki and Abid Sundrani from Jacobabad, and Dr Sajeela Leghari from Dadu – also voted in favour of the resolution. Four Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) members including Makhdoom Amin Fahim’s son Jamiluz Zaman were absent. But PPP members considered close to Fahim voted in favour of the resolution. The resolution accuses Musharraf of violating the constitution and gross misconduct, and it demands that he seek votes of confidence from parliament and the provinces or resign. Otherwise, lawmakers are to push for his impeachment.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah asked the president to step down. Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq warned the president against dissolving the assemblies using Article 58(2b) of the Constitution. “This resolution is against the authoritarian regime of Musharraf. If he cares a little bit about his honour and dignity he must resign forthwith,” provincial Information Minister Shazia Marri said. Jam Madad Ali of the pro-Musharraf PML-Q said the resolution was “unconstitutional and illegal” and pledged continued support for the embattled leader.

Leader of banned group shot dead

BARA: The head of a local vigilante organisation was shot dead on Wednesday. Amr Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkar chief Haji Namdar was delivering his routine sermon for his FM radio channel from a mosque in Bar Kambarkhel when an unidentified man shot and killed him. The attacker was captured by Namdar’s supporters. The executive body of the organisation named Haji Hukam Khan as the new chief of the group. Namdar was laid to rest in Karawal. Media coverage of his funeral was not allowed due to security reasons.

NWFP Assembly condemns NATO

PESHAWAR: The NWFP Assembly condemned the United States-led NATO forces through a unanimously passed resolution on Wednesday for violating Pakistan’s border in the Tribal Areas. Tabling the joint resolution, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary leader Pir Sabir Shah said NATO forces had directly attacked Pakistan’s border areas in the Kurram and Waziristan agencies. “We condemn the NATO steps,” he said. The PML-N leader demanded the government take action against NATO as no country had the right to interfere in the internal affairs of another.

Drone strike kills 12 militants

* 18 militants, 13 civilians killed in Bajaur clashes

WANA/KHAR: Around a dozen foreign and local militants were reported killed in a drone-fired missile attack near the Afghan border in South Waziristan, local residents and officials said.

A United States drone was used in the attack on a suspected hideout of militants and between 10 and 12 militants were reported killed, official sources told Daily Times.

According to the officials, the strike was launched at 8:30pm in Baghar near Angoor Adda, 30 kilometres west of Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan. “There are no signs that a high-value target is among the dead but there are reports that Arab and Punjabi militants are among the killed,” the officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Bajaur: Jet fighters and helicopter gunships continued targeting Taliban positions in Salarzai, Mamoond, Khar and Utmankhel tehsils of Bajaur Agency. Locals and officials said 18 militants and 13 civilians were killed in clashes and bombing in various areas of the agency on Wednesday.

According to locals, Tehreek-e-Taliban deputy chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad had warned residents of Siddiq Abad area in Khar tehsil to force the security forces to remove their checkpost from the area.

US interfering in Pakistan affairs: Nawaz

LAHORE: Impeachment of Pervez Musharraf was Pakistan’s internal matter and the United States was intervening in Pakistan’s sovereignty, NDTV repported Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif as saying on Wednesday.

Nawaz denied that he was a presidential candidate, saying the decision on the next president would be taken in consultation with Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Zardari.

According to the channel, Nawaz said the coalition government would remain intact and he would continue to support the PPP-led government for the sake of future of democracy in Pakistan. He reiterated that the judges’ reinstatement was his party’s foremost priority and the PML-N members joined the federal cabinet after being assured that the sacked judges would be reinstated. The channel quoted him as saying that other PML-N members would join the federal cabinet after reinstatement of the sacked judges.

Political reconciliation ‘need of the hour’, says Musharraf

* President hints at ‘internal and external’ conspiracies against national institutions
* Urges national unity to face challenges

ISLAMABAD: The country is passing through the most difficult time of its history and political forces should adopt a reconciliatory approach, President Pervez Musharraf said late on Wednesday night.

“Political reconciliation is the need of the hour,” the president said while addressing the annual Azadi Show held to mark the 61st Independence Day at Aiwan-e-Sadr. His body language suggested that he was not in low spirits. He did not refer to the current political impasse and the government’s move to impeach him but suggested that the political situation would not benefit the country in any way.

“We are faced with the challenges of extremism and terrorism which are shaking Pakistan’s foundation. We need to join hands to strengthen our country and foil the conspiracies against it,” he said.

Conspiracies: The president said he feared that the enemies were hatching conspiracies to destabilise Pakistan. “I see internal and external elements conspiring against our national institutions and we need to join hands against these elements.”

He referred to the shrinking economy and said: “We must stop the flight of capital and bring back the investors. Pakistan’s military and economic might is its strength and to maintain our strength we need political stability…and we must stay united.”

Unity: He paid tributes to those who sacrificed for the country and urged the nation to forge unity to face the challenges. He said an enlightened and moderate Pakistan was in the interest of everyone. “We must demonstrate unity and oneness to steer the country out of the crises.” The president condemned human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir and the killing of Sheikh Abdul Aziz. He said this situation was not in anybody’s interest.

Interior Ministry fears more attacks

LAHORE: The Interior Ministry has warned of more suicide attacks in the country, saying a stolen vehicle of an intelligence agency’s female official might also be used for the purpose, Geo News reported late on Wednesday night. According to the channel, security has been put on high alert after this warning. Sources in the Interior Ministry told the channel said that an explosives-laden trailer could also be used in the attack.

Stay away from Independence Day celebrations, warn Taliban

LAHORE: The Taliban in Swat have warned people to stay away from Independence Day celebrations today (Thursday), reported Samma TV. According to the channel, Taliban spokesman Haji Muslim Khan said those who had destroyed Taliban’s houses would see their own houses destroyed. He said people should stay away from the celebrations as the Taliban might target such gatherings, the channel reported.

Suicide attack on police kills nine, injures 35 in Lahore

* Dead include two policemen and a woman
* Attack ‘linked to arrests made in Jhang’

LAHORE: A suicide blast in Lahore killed at least nine people and injured more than 35, targeting policemen standing guard on the eve of the Independence Day.

The attack took place at the busy Dubai Chowk in the Allama Iqbal Town area at about 11:34pm, as citizens poured into the streets before midnight to celebrate the 61st anniversary of Pakistan’s independence, which falls on Thursday (today).

The dead include two policemen and a woman.

Jhang arrests: Intelligence sources linked the blast to the “recent arrests from Jhang”, referring to the detention of members of banned militant organisations. A similar blast had taken place at the GPO Chowk after arrests were made in Sargodha, Bhakkar, Mianwali and Lahore’s Shahdara area, they added.

Witnesses said a young man with a beard blew himself up near a police van that arrived at the Dubai Chowk traffic signal. They said the Shalwar Kamiz-clad suicide bomber was waiting on a footpath outside a nearby mosque.

The blast was so severe that windowpanes of nearby buildings were broken.

A policeman at the scene told AFP he saw the burning body of a man, whom he believed to be a suicide bomber, lying next to a charred motorbike, while bloodied policemen were strewn around the site. Police sealed off the area to collect evidence and record witness statements, and sealed off the entry and exit points of the city. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced a compensation of Rs 1 million each for the families of the martyred policemen and Rs 300,000 each for those of the civilians, Geo News reported.

Musharraf links quitting to failsafe indemnity

* Resignation and impeachment on hold until matter is resolved
* US, UK and Saudis back in secret loop
* Army high command standing by

ISLAMABAD: Last ditch efforts behind the scenes to secure an acceptable guarantee of “safe passage” and indemnity for President Pervez Musharraf’s are continuing and may delay the announcement of his resignation speech originally planned for August 14 (today), informed sources have told Daily Times.

It is learnt that there is an understanding between the coalition partners and President Musharraf that he will resign before impeachment proceedings can begin in earnest against him.

But President Musharraf is refusing to take “safe passage” to mean an immediate exile out of the country following his resignation. He is insisting on two conditions: first, that he will be entitled to stay in his house in Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad and be provided full security and privileges as allowed under law to all presidents; second, that cast-iron guarantees of indemnity from any action against him following his resignation will be provided, preferably through an act of parliament.

It is also learnt that the army high command is standing by President Musharraf in these two demands. The last thing the army wants is to see either the impeachment of a former army chief or action against him by the civilians on any count. It may be noted that the current high commanders of the army were his partners in government when he was ruling the roost and took policy initiatives that later rebounded on his government and which could form the basis of any charge sheet against him.

US, UK, Saudis: Sources told Daily Times that the coalition partners were divided on the issue of what sort of indemnity and safe passage to provide him, with Mr Nawaz Sharif taking a harder line than Asif Zardari. President Musharraf’s international friends, the Saudis, Americans and British, are also running around to help both sides devise an acceptable formula for his “safe passage”.

The problem for the government is that it wants President Musharraf to quit immediately because it has already launched the run-up to the impeachment process and any delay in it will lead to a loss of credibility, especially if Mr Sharif is not on board and tries to exploit the situation by taking a different position from that taken by Mr Zardari. The danger is that if the deadlock is not resolved quickly and the impeachment process continues apace, the situation will become more intractable and even precipitous.

“Either the government must provide the proper guarantee quickly so that the president can resign immediately or put the impeachment process on hold until this matter is sorted out to our mutual satisfaction,” said a presidential aide to Daily Times.

Meanwhile, Mr Sharif has refused to comply with Mr Zardari’s demand that the PML-N rejoin the cabinet in earnest and take up the three big slots earmarked for it, namely finance, petroleum and commerce. The PML-N’s position is that it will not join the cabinet in earnest until the impeachment of President Musharraf is concluded and the judges have been restored.

Source: Daily Times.
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