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  #151  
Old Friday, January 25, 2008
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Gas supply to CNG stations being stopped

By Mohammad Ali Khan

PESHAWAR, Jan 24: The Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) is planning to stop providing gas to CNG stations to ensure its supply to domestic consumers.

The campany has got the go-ahead from the caretaker government and its senior officials are to meet office bearers of the All Pakistan CNG Association in Lahore on Friday to make the decision public.

“We got a call from the SNGPL headquarters for tomorrow’s meeting where a timetable for suspension of gas supply is expected to be finalised,” Alif Khan, a member of the All Pakistan CNG Association, said on Thursday.

He said that under a plan of gradual suspension, the SNGPL stopped supply to a couple of CNG stations in Hayatabad on Thursday. When contacted, the Peshawar-based general manager of the SNGPL, Mr Iqbal Hussain, confirmed that directives had been received from the headquarters to stop supply to CNG stations.
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  #152  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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Gen Kayani rejects world fears about Pak nukes

* Army chief says ‘irresponsible alarms’ counter-productive
* Pakistan test-fires Shaheen-1 ballistic missile

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani on Friday dismissed “unrealistic” fears that Al Qaeda could seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, as the military test-fired a ballistic missile.

General Kayani rejected speculation that Pakistan’s warheads could be at risk amid the turmoil sparked by the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.

He told troops after the training launch of the medium-range Shaheen-1 (Hatf IV) that “Pakistani armed forces were a highly professional, motivated and well-trained force and were capable of safeguarding and securing nuclear assets against all categories of threat.”

“Referring to international concerns regarding speculative scenarios, he dismissed such concerns as unrealistic and based on a lack of understanding of Pakistan’s command and control mechanisms,” an army statement said.

Irresponsible alarm: The statement added: “He stressed that creating irresponsible alarm by certain quarters would be counter-productive.” The statement did not elaborate.

Shaheen-1: Friday’s missile test-launch by the Strategic Missile Group of Pakistan Army’s Strategic Force Command (ASFC) came at the end of an annual training session by a Shaheen-1 Missile Group.

The locally developed Shaheen-1 missile, which has a range of 700 kilometres (440 miles) and is capable of carrying nuclear weapons, is routinely fired during training exercises by the troops. General Kayani said that Pakistan “did not have any aggressive designs against anyone and Pakistan’s nuclear capability was solely for the purpose of deterring all types of aggression.” agencies
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  #153  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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US offers Pakistan joint operations

WASHINGTON: If Pakistan agrees, the United States is “ready, willing and able” to send US troops to conduct joint combat operations with Pakistan’s military against Al Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, the Washington Post reported Defence Secretary Robert M Gates as saying. Quoting Maj Gen David Rodriguez, US commander for eastern Afghanistan, the Post said the US military was beginning to construct eight “coordination centres” along the Pak-Afghan border to be staffed by officers from the three countries to closely share intelligence and conduct combat operations. Rodriguez said the first centre was being built at Afghanistan’s Torkham Gate near the Khyber Pass, about 30 miles from Peshawar. Suicide bombings have increased more than tenfold in Pakistan – from five in 2006 to 60 last year – according to the US military data. “Insurgents are focusing more on gains and expansion opportunities in Pakistan,” the assessment said. khalid hasan
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  #154  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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Israel suspects Iran already working on nuclear warhead

WASHINGTON: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, in an interview published Saturday, that Iran is "quite advanced" in its work on atomic weapons and may already be fashioning a nuclear warhead.

"We suspect they are probably already working on warheads for ground-to-ground missiles," Barak said in an interview with US media.

He also suggested that Iranians "probably have another clandestine enrichment operation beyond the one in Natanz."
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  #155  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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Russian nuclear fuel 7th batch delivered to Iran

Updated at: 1255 PST, Saturday, January 26, 2008

TEHERAN: The seventh batch of Russian nuclear fuel was delivered to the construction site of the Bushehr nuclear power plant (NPP) on Saturday, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) reports.

According to the report, 77 out of 82 tons of nuclear fuel, needed for the functioning of Bushehr NPP on the initial stage, have already been delivered to Iran.

The first batch of Russian nuclear fuel came from Novosibirsk to the construction site of Bushehr NPP on December 16.

The second batch came on December 28, the third and fourth – on January 22 and 24.

Teheran welcomed the deliveries and stated that they promoted “the deepening of strategic relations between Iran and Russia.” Iran warned, however, that the deliveries of Russian nuclear fuel would not change its intention to enrich uranium on its own.

Golyam Hosein Elham, official representative of the Iranian government, said on Tuesday that the deliveries of fuel for Bushehr NPP were a reason for raising the level of Russia-Iran relations.

The Atomstrojexport Company of Russia is the general contractor for the construction of the first power unit of Bushehr NPP, which, according to the Iranian leaders, is finished by 95 per cent.

Atomstrojexport press secretary Irina Yesipova told Itar-Tass earlier this week in Moscow that fuel deliveries for the putting in operation of the first power unit of Bushehr NPP were planned to be completed in February.
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  #156  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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US has no wand: Musharraf

* Says West misunderstands Pakistan in three areas

DAVOS/LONDON: President Pervez Musharraf reiterated on Friday that Pakistan opposes the prospect of US forces on its soil, claiming that the US should beef up its presence in Afghanistan to deal with the insur gency there.

Responding to a question on US Defence Secretary Robert Gates’ offer to send a small number of troops to Pakistan, he told several hundred VIPs in Davos that “This cannot be done by any US force. Please don’t think that the US forces have some kind of a magic wand and they’ll come and lead to success.” He said the US needed more forces in Afghanistan, adding that Pakistan would ask for US help if it needed it, reported AP.

Later, talking to security and defence experts at the Royal United Services Institute in London, he said he was a strong believer in freedom of speech, as long it did not lead to violence and destruction.

Three areas: According to Reuters, Musharraf said there were three areas in which the West misunderstood Pakistan; the notion that the dismissal of judges was somehow a human rights issue, that next month’s elections might not be free or fair and that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were not properly secured.

Earlier, speaking to reporters at Heathrow Airport, he termed his visit to Belgium, France and Switzerland highly productive as it provided him an opportunity to correct the national image. He said he was looking forward to meeting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday to discuss wide-ranging issues of common interest. agencies
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  #157  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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Pakistan tests Shaheen-1 missile

COAS terms world’s N-concerns unrealistic

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan on Friday conducted a successful training launch of the Shaheen-1 (Hatf-IV) medium range ballistic missile.

A Strategic Missile Group (SMG) of the Pakistan Army’s Strategic Force Command (ASFC) conducted the launch at the conclusion of the annual field training exercises of a Shaheen-1 Missile Group, said an ISPR press release. The field launch exercise of the ASFC was witnessed by the Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, senior military officers and scientists.

Addressing the troops in the exercise area, the COAS congratulated them on achieving high standards of training and excellent results. He said that the nation had developed a strong nuclear deterrence capability and expected that the officers and men entrusted with the task of deterring aggression would continue to train hard and maintain professional excellence.

The chief of the Army staff made it clear that Pakistan did not have any aggressive designs against anyone and its nuclear capability was solely for the purpose of deterring all types of aggressions.

Referring to international concerns regarding speculative scenarios, the COAS dismissed such concerns as unrealistic and based on a lack of understanding of Pakistan’s command and control mechanisms.

He said that the Pakistani armed forces were a highly professional, motivated and well-trained force and were capable of safeguarding and securing the nuclear assets against all categories of threat. The nation stood behind the armed forces.

Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani stressed that creating irresponsible alarm by certain quarters would be counterproductive. It may be recalled that the Shaheen-1 ballistic missile system, with a range of 700 kilometres, is an operationalised weapon system held by the ASFC and is routinely fired during training exercises by the ASFC troops.
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  #158  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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No reduction in US aid: Durrani

WASHINGTON: Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Mehmood Ali Durrani has said there has been no reduction in the US aid to Pakistan.

In an interview with a private TV channel, Durrani said they had excellent relationship with the US, especially at the security level, but admitted that theyhad certain disagreements also. But that was not something to be worried about, he added.

"The role Pakistan has played in the war on terror is often appreciated and we tell them that we are fighting for our sake as well as for their sake and above all, for the whole world," Durrani said.

Our own country is also caught in the web of terrorism and we want to get rid of this menace by solving matters in an amicable way. For that purpose, we require to be assisted by the allied nations, he added. Durrani said: "Though they are already assisting us, nevertheless more assistance is required to be made. I have heard you saying that some amount has been sanctioned, which is not true, as it is still a thought process, which is continuing." "We are receiving the aid, which had been pledged, and there is either no reduction or any increase, so far," he added.
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  #159  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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Europe to suffer if Pak war on terror fails: Musharraf

By Rauf Klasra

LONDON: President Pervez Musharraf on Friday warned the Western countries against criticising him or be prepared to face the consequences of failure in the war against terrorism in Pakistan.

He said such an eventuality would have its impact on the streets of whole of Europe, as the stability of the whole region and even the world depends on this war that must be won at all costs.

Addressing members of a British think tank, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) on “vision for Pakistan, regional harmony”, the president assured Europeans that very soon the main architect of suicide bombings in Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, would be eliminated and the bombings would come to an end.

He also gave firm assurances to hold free, fair and transparent elections on February 18. The president also reminded the West in general and Americans in particular that after fighting a war in Afghanistan against the former USSR for ten years, they all “ditched” Pakistan.

Musharraf said Americans and Europeans trained and armed Taliban within Afghanistan to fight against Russians. This was a big military victory that was made possible only with the efforts and collaboration of Pakistan, America and Europe who brought all kinds of Muslim fighters to the region to fight against the communist forces.

He said they failed to convert the military victory into a political one at the end of the Cold War, in which Pakistan and its intelligence agencies had played a major role. He said Afghanistan was left to the warlords to settle their own scores without involvement from any side which culminated in the events of 9/11.

He recounted efforts Pakistan had made to deal with the situation arising out of terrorism following 9/11 incident.The president said Pakistani law-enforcement agencies had played a major role in bringing the situation under control. He said number of those fighting against the Pakistan Army had reduced quite considerably as majority of them had already been killed.

He said his government was also trying to adopt some political strategies to win this war in tribal areas.He said cities were cleared of al-Qaeda elements after 600 of them were arrested from different cities.

He said the Western countries had developed some concerns with regard to his recent steps in Pakistan starting from the removal of the chief justice of Pakistan on March 9, imposition of emergency and human rights situation.

He said they all need to understand that he had to take extreme measures to deal with an extraordinary situation.Musharraf criticised the deposed chief justice of Pakistan and other sacked judges for launching judicial activism. He blamed the deposed chief justice for corruption and claimed that he indulged in nepotism. He said although his fellow judges restored him without any legal provisions, he accepted the decision of the court, as in his opinion the Pakistan comes first.

He said he had taken action against the judiciary after it became partisan in its judgments. He said these judges had made mockery of the judiciary and it all affected the functioning of the government. They started taking suo moto actions on very insignificant issues.

To a question about statements of US presidential candidates regarding sending US troops into Pakistani territories, he said they (candidates) do not have any idea about the situation, as it was very different to be in the government office particularly when you get intelligence briefings in the morning.

He also warned that Americans do not understand tribal areas so they should not think of launching military operations there, as they would find it difficult to handle the situation afterwards. He said Pakistan was a sovereign country and he knew how to deal with its problems. He said people in Pakistan would not respond positively to US intrusion.

Musharraf said during his tenure the country had attained unprecedented growth on economic front. He said he could not see his efforts go waste and; therefore, has to take extreme measures in extraordinary situations.

He said the mode of agitation in countries like Pakistan was different from those of London and other civilised cities as people in Pakistan burn tyres on streets, plunder banks and indulge in bloodshed so they have to be dealt with differently.

He said he had serious complaints against world human rights institutions. He wondered why they were interested in imposing their level of rights in a country like Pakistan. He said what policemen should do to stop those people from crossing barricades if not to hit them with rods. Should they offer sweets to protesters who agitate violently on streets? During President Musharraf’s address, a large number of Pakistanis kept chanting slogans against him outside the building.
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  #160  
Old Saturday, January 26, 2008
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Several South Waziristan towns cleared of militants

By Mushtaq Yusufzai & Irfan Burki

PESHAWAR/TANK: Security forces on Friday intensified attacks on militants positions in the South Waziristan Agency (SWA) where military authorities said a number of towns had been cleared of Baitullah Mehsud-led fighters.

There were reports of fierce clashes between the troops and the militants in various parts of the militancy-hit region, while military officials said Baitullah Mehsud was still hiding in the area leading his fighters. Sources told The News the soldiers stormed militants' positions in the mountains around Spinkai Raghzai near Jandola earlier in the day.

They said two soldiers were killed and seven others injured in the fighting. There were no reports about losses suffered by the militants, as they were reported to have taken away bodies of their slain colleagues.

A senior military official, while requesting anonymity, told this scribe that militants had been evicted from the town, a stronghold of the tribal militants and their foreign guest fighters. He said the militants had taken positions in caves in the mountains, which he said were now in control of the security forces. The official said the troops had recovered heavy arms and ammunition and several suicide jackets, which the militants had left behind in the caves.

Besides Spinkai Raghzai, the military officer said Nawakali, Marghaban and Kotkai villages were also cleared of the militants. Meanwhile, a white-colour jetfighter and several gunship choppers were seen flying over Ladha and bombarding villages, including Shamirey, Nawaz Kot, Makin, Torwam and Kaniguram.

The troops also targeted suspected hideouts of the militants in the areas by firing mortar and artillery shells from Jandola, Wana and Chagmalai forts.There were, however, no reports of losses as soon after the latest military campaign against militants, the telecommunication system was disconnected by the authorities concerned.

The residents of Shakai town, which is inhabited by the Wazirs, said three bodies of militants who were killed in the fighting on Thursday night were still lying in Torwam village. Two of the bodies were of Uzbekistanis and another of a Mehsud militant.

Shakai, which is about 60 kilometres north of Wana, is controlled by the pro-government Wazir tribal militants. Senior military officials said militants hailing from Uzbekistan were found fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with Baitullah Mehsud's men. They said a number of bodies recovered from Spinkai Raghzai near Jandola and Saaga village were of Central Asians.

Some of the residents, who had succeeded in coming out of the troubled Makin area by using the unfrequented, routes said heavy fighting was still going on in and around the town in which both sides had suffered major losses. Similarly, they said the militants were driven out of Nawaz Kot and Ghatsar areas, where fresh Pakistan Army contingents reached from Razmak military camp in North Waziristan.

The government had to withdraw Army from these towns after militants kidnapped 300 soldiers on August 30, 2007 and linked their release with pulling out of the forces from the Mehsud-inhabited towns. Also, Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Masood Aslam Friday visited the restive South Waziristan and met the troops engaged in fighting with the militants. He praised the soldiers for their bravery and professionalism.

There were also reports that two kids of a local tribesman, Gul Mohammad, were killed due to freezing cold while he was shifting his family from Chagmalai to Jandola.

Meanwhile, the three weeks of ban imposed by the military authorities on supplying edible items to the region has created a famine-like situation in the Mehsud-populated areas.

Residents from Kaniguram told The News that 200 families would leave the town today (Saturday) for Tank district due to shortage of food and airstrikes and artillery shelling by the forces on their houses.
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