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Old Friday, August 08, 2008
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Default Friday, August 08, 2008

Taliban announce ‘all-out war’ in Swat


MINGORA: The Taliban on Thursday announced war on the security forces and said negotiations with the provincial government were possible only after the forces left the valley, sources said. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told reporters that they would launch an offensive against security forces. Meanwhile, Taliban militants beheaded a young man allegedly for “spying” and gunned down three others as security forces arrested five suspected militants in Swat district during an operation, residents and officials said. Separately, Taliban militants set a girls’ college in Matta and two schools in Qandil on fire taking the number of destroyed schools in the region to over 100.

Bajaur battle kills 10 troops, 25 militants


* Militants attack security checkpost
* Gunships pound insurgent positions

KHAR: Hundreds of Taliban militants attacked a security checkpost near the Afghan border late on Wednesday, sparking fierce clashes in which up to 10 troops and 25 militants were killed, officials said on Thursday.

The security forces had deployed a large force to Loyesam, 12 kilometres from the Bajaur Agency headquarters, in a bid to reclaim important nearby Taliban strongholds.

An officer from the paramilitary Frontier Corps told AFP that 300-400 militants armed with AK-47 assault rifles, rocket launchers and grenades, participated in the attack.

“The firing continued the whole night. This morning reinforcements were sent. One vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device on its way to the post and the convoy was then attacked by Taliban militants,” the official said.

“The fighting is intense and ongoing,” an unidentified security official told AFP. “Up to 25 militants were killed and at least 10 Frontier Corps soldiers have also been martyred,” he said. But Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Maulvi Umer told Daily Times 18 security forces personnel were killed. The casualties could not be ascertained independently.

All resources: Maulvi Umar said the Taliban would use all resources to regain control of Loyesam area, very close to Afghan border.

Helicopter gunships: Helicopter gunships pounded insurgent positions during the fighting, and the Taliban fired a rocket at a gunship helicopter, but could not damage it.

Ex-commando set to fight impeachment


ISLAMABAD: It is not for nothing that President Pervez Musharraf says Napoleon and Richard Nixon are his idols, the former army chief has shown time and again that he does not give up without a fight. The coalition announced on Thursday it would start impeachment proceedings against Musharraf. “The president is a sore loser,” a close aide to Musharraf said. The aide quoted the president as saying recently, “I will not give up without a fight. I will not to see my country sliding downhill and will play my part to keep it on course.”

I will not step down, says Musharraf


LAHORE: President Pervez Musharraf has vowed to defend himself before parliament, Geo News quoted him as saying on Thursday. According to the channel, Musharraf told Muhammad Ali Durrani, Sharifuddin Peerzada and Malik Qayyum during a meeting that he had not violated the constitution for personal gains and that every action on his part was in the best interest of Pakistan. The president said he would justify all his acts and respond to allegations that the ruling coalition had levelled against him. The channel quoted him as saying that he would not surrender without contesting charges against him.

President swings into action to block impeachment move


* Musharraf meets senior legal expert Sharifuddin Pirzada
* Asks allies to muster support in parliament to defeat impeachment

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday held consultations with legal aides and made important telephone calls to his allies to foil the ruling coalition’s bid to impeach him.

Sources privy to the developments said he had a long meeting with legal guru Sharifuddin Pirzada to explore the constitutional and legal ways to avoid impeachment. They discussed all options available to the president, including the use of Article 58 (2b) of the Constitution, promulgation of a state of emergency, and facing the impeachment in parliament, the sources added.

They said the president was, at this point, not interested in discussing the option of resigning from office, and wanted to defeat the impeachment motion by his opponents.

Political allies: He talked to former interior minister Aftab Sherpao, former information minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and PML-Functional chief Pir Pagaro on the telephone.

The sources said Musharraf asked his allies to help muster support in the parliament to defeat the impeachment. His allies were confident that the president would survive the impeachment. Appearing on various talk shows on TV, they said the government lacked required strength in parliament for the attempt to succeed.

Shujaat told a local TV channel that Article 58(2b) would be used as a last resort. He also said the army would look after the country’s interest and not of any party or individual. Leader of the Opposition in the NA Pervaiz Elahi said the coalition was not serious in impeaching the president. Sheikh Rashid said the president was determined to fight back.

Gilani replaces Musharraf at Beijing Olympics


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani left for China on Thursday to represent Pakistan in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Talking to reporters prior to his departure, the PM said Pakistan and China enjoyed excellent relations and “we want to further improve and strengthen these ties”.

The question of who would represent Pakistan at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics took another turn on Thursday evening when it was announced that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would represent Pakistan instead of President Pervez Musharraf.

Earlier, Musharraf was scheduled to leave for China on Wednesday to attend the ceremony, but decided to cancel the visit due to the domestic political situation.

However, he changed his mind after meeting key allies and aides.

Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq had confirmed at his weekly briefing at 3pm on Thursday that Musharraf would leave for China as scheduled.

However, barely an hour later, the spokesman issued a brief statement for official media that the PM would represent Pakistan at the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics.

ANP, JUI-F to support impeachment


ISLAMABAD: Though the party extends its unconditional support to the president’s impeachment, it is still a difficult task, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman said on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the Fazl unconditionally supported its coalition partners’ decision to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, but also called for changing the isolated president’s policies, particularly on the war on terror. The Awami National Party (ANP) will back the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, ANP Information Secretary Zahid Khan said. “If the ruling coalition partners reached the decision to oust Musharraf, we will back it,” the ANP spokesman said. He said that the ANP had always been against dictatorship and believed in supremacy of the parliament, independence of the judiciary and the media.

Govt summons NA session on 11th


ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday sent a summary to President Pervez Musharraf to summon the National Assembly’s session on August 11. According to sources in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), it would be a regular session of the lower house and had nothing to do with the impeachment of the president, contrary to some media reports. A PPP leader – who deals with the parliamentary affairs of the government – told Daily Times that routine legislative business would be on the agenda for the session. He denied that an impeachment motion against the president would be moved during the session. The PPP leader said that the party favoured building up moral pressure on Musharraf through the passing of resolutions from provincial assemblies, instead of going directly for impeachment.

PA passes resolution against 58 (2b)


LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution against the use of Article 58 (2b) by the president to dissolve assemblies. None of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) members present in Thursday’s session of the PA objected to the resolution moved by Shaukat Ali Bhatti, a PML-Q (forward bloc) member from Gojra. The resolution said that the federal government should abolish the article from the statute book. It said that the federal government should also make arrangements to do away with the provincial governors’ powers to dissolve provincial assemblies. It added that the national and provincial assemblies should be empowered with the powers given to the president in 58 (2b). Talking to Daily Times, Shaukat Bhatti praised the PML-Q members for not opposing the resolution.

‘Pakistan first’, Zardari tells Musharraf


LAHORE: President Musharraf should resign so that proceedings against him in parliament could be defended, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari conveyed to Musharraf through a trusted aide after the ruling coalition announced it would impeach the president. In his message, Zardari said that the country was facing a dire situation, and no individual or institution should attempt any adventure that might jeapordise national stability. He asked Musharraf to practically demonstrate that he prefers national interests over his own, and honour his slogan “Pakistan first”. Sources claim that Zardari wishes to provide Musharraf with a safe passage.

It’s Pakistan’s internal matter: US


WASHINGTON: Moves towards the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf are Pakistan’s “internal matter” and it is for the Pakistani people to decide their political issues, the US State Department said on Thursday. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said that it was to be hoped that any actions taken would be consistent with the constitution. Gallegos said it is the responsibility Pakistani leaders to decide on the way forward to succeed as a “democratic, modern and moderate country”.

Charges against Musharraf


* The president has worked to undermine the transition to democracy through collusion with the ‘King’s party’

* His policies have weakened the federation

* His economic policies during the last eight years have brought Pakistan to the brink of economic impasse

* His policies have thrown the country into the worst power shortage in its history

* He did not get a vote of confidence from the new assemblies despite a commitment made with the SC

* He failed to address new parliament

* He did not resign after his allies were defeated in the February 18 elections

Impeachment


* Proceedings will be launched ‘immediately’, say Zardari and Nawaz
* Judges to be reinstated after president’s removal
* Provincial assemblies to ask president to take vote of confidence
* Zardari plays down possibility of Musharraf dissolving parliament
* Parliament to decide on Musharraf’s prosecution, says Nawaz

ISLAMABAD: The four-party ruling coalition said on Thursday it would move to impeach President Pervez Musharraf for plunging the country into political and economic crises and warned him against any attempt to dismiss the government.

The coalition also announced it would reinstate the judges sacked for not taking oath under a Provisional Constitution Order after Musharraf promulgated a state of emergency on November 3, 2007.

“The coalition leaders believe that it has become imperative to move for impeachment,” Zardari, flanked by major coalition partner Nawaz Sharif and representatives of the ANP, the JUI-F and parliamentarians from FATA, told a news conference while reading a communiqué after three days of negotiations.

Zardari said the coalition would “immediately” launch the proceedings and had made the decisions during the negotiations into a “charge sheet” against Musharraf.

“This person committed an oppression against Pakistan. That’s why the parliament has decided to impeach him,” Nawaz said.

The grounds for the impeachment included that Musharraf had failed to address the new parliament or seek a vote of confidence and that he had “worked to undermine the transition to democracy”.

“The economic policies pursued by General Musharraf during (the) last eight years have brought Pakistan to the brink of critical economic impasse,” a joint statement read by Zardari said. “His policies have weakened the federation and eroded trust in national institutions.”

Provincial assemblies: As a first step, the new provincial assemblies will move resolutions asking the president to take a vote of confidence from them in line with the commitment he had made with the Supreme Court ahead of his re-election last year.

Dissolving parliament: Zardari played down the possibility that a cornered Musharraf could now dissolve parliament using Article 58(2b), saying: “The democracy is not that weak now that the threat... can be used.”

Prosecution: To a question, Nawaz said parliament would decide whether to prosecute Musharraf for his violations of the constitution.

Zardari was confident the impeachment motion would be passed with a 90 percent majority. “We have votes and we also have the courage,” he said.

Information Minister Sherry Rehman later told Daily Times, “We have not come this far without doing our parliamentary homework. Summaries will be moved for calling all the four provincial assemblies’ sessions.”

Sources privy to developments said the coalition’s co-ordination committee held another meeting to finalise the future strategy of the coalition.

* Impeachment not main issue: Altaf
* Naik ousted from coalition meetings
* What the man on the street thinks
* Impeachment is all a numbers game
* Text of communique
* Months of turmoil
* Impeachment will be countered: PML-Q
* Not right time: Fahim



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‘White House still sympathetic to Musharraf’

WASHINGTON: While there is “tremendous sympathy” for President Pervez Musharraf, it may not extend to Congress, nor is the Pakistani leader “indispensable” either to the war on terror or Pakistan’s role in the war on terror, according to Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution.

Riedel told an AFP correspondent, “I think that Pakistan needs now to focus on the very many different difficulties it faces and the best way to speed that process and remove the uncertainty would be for Musharraf to make a graceful exit.”

In a commentary, Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation felt that the “fate” of the Pakistani president now lies largely in the hands of army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani.

US envoys discuss impeachment with Zardari


LAHORE: United States Ambassador Anne W Patterson and US embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Peter Bodey met PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari at Zardari House in Islamabad to discuss the coalition’s decision to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, Dawn News reported on Friday.

The channel quoted PPP sources as saying that besides the impeachment decision, the overall political and security situation of the country were also discussed. Zardari briefed the US diplomats about the difficulties the coalition government was facing for legislation, restoration of judiciary, war against terror and providing relief to the people.

‘Musharraf will be asked to leave in a week’


* Telegraph report says Asif Zardari likely to be new president

LAHORE: The army chief will ask President Pervez Musharraf to resign in a week, according to a Daily Telegraph report published on Friday.

Citing an unidentified “senior government official”, it said the army wants Musharraf “to be spared the humiliation of impeachment”.

A senior official from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) told The Telegraph that the army has “whispered in Musharraf’s ear that it is time to leave”, the report said.

“Over the next few days they will make it clear to [Musharraf] that a protracted battle [against impeachment] is not in Pakistan’s interests,” he added.

Citing a former military aide to the president, the newspaper said the army is neutral but is expecting Musharraf to resign. “It will then influence his honourable safe passage as the army’s senior leadership would not want him to be punished”.

The PPP government official said that his party had given an assurance of “indemnity” to the president.

He said the United States hopes the PPP and the president would work together but Musharraf “had begun to use intelligence agencies to plot against the government”.

“America wants Pakistan to be effectively governed and so has realised that the domestic struggle has to be resolved,” he added. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid President Shujaat Hussain told the Daily Telegraph dissolving the parliament would be “ unfortunate” but it may be “necessary”.

Zardari: He said that he had evidence that the move to impeach the president was made after the usually bickering coalition partners had struck a deal to hand the Presidency to PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari.

He said the army might oppose Zardari’s presidential candidacy.

“I have no knowledge of that but Pakistan would be better served by a civilian president with a knowledge of democracy,” a PPP spokesman said of Mr Zardari’s alleged presidential bid.

Taliban kill three American ‘spies’ in Bajaur


KHAR: Taliban beheaded two men and shot dead a third in Bajaur on Friday after accusing them of spying on them, officials and witnesses said. The bodies of three men were found dumped by a road at Kayrala village, Bajaur, with notes saying, “These people were spying on Taliban,” a local government official told AFP. Witnesses said that two had their heads severed and the third was killed by a gunshot. Militants have killed various people after accusing them of spying.

70 militants dead in Bajaur clashes


* Helicopter gunships and mortars pound insurgent hideouts

BAJAUR: More than 70 Taliban died and 60 were wounded in a fierce gunbattle between militants and the security forces in the Bajaur Agency, the Online news agency reported on Friday.

Seven paramilitary troops also died in clashes near the Afghan border, AP said, as helicopter gunships and mortars pounded insurgent hideouts in the Rashakai and Tank Khata areas on Friday, officials and residents said.

The offensive in the tribal region came in the wake of a militant assault Wednesday on an outpost manned by security forces.

“Intense fighting is going on between soldiers and Taliban since Friday morning,” said Sher Zamin, a local resident. He said he saw Taliban fighters going toward the scene of the clashes.

“Intense firing again started at 8am at Loisam, Omari and Nawagai areas where a large number of armed Taliban are attacking security forces,” a security official told AFP.

“Security forces are responding with helicopters, artillery and mortar fire, but there were no immediate reports about casualties,” he said.

Russia sends forces into Georgia


* Forces control part of Tskhinvali-Tbilisi
* Rebel leader says 1,400 civilians dead

TBILISI: Russian forces control part of the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Georgian interior ministry said on Friday, after Russia sent forces over its border to repel a Georgian assault on separatists.

Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Russian forces were shelling Georgian troops “from tanks and airplanes”. “We control part of the town, the Russians another,” Utiashvili said of the besieged capital, Tskhinvali. Georgia’s pro-Western president has said the countries are at war.

Civilians dead: South Ossetia’s rebel leader Eduard Kokoity said there were 1,400 dead civilians in the main town Tskhinvali, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported President Mikheil Saakashvili said 150 Russian tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles had entered South Ossetia from Russia.

“Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory,” Saakashvili told CNN, calling on Washington to help.

He also said Georgian forces had downed two Russian jets. There was no immediate confirmation Russia had sent bombers. The head of Georgia’s Security Council, Kakha Lomaia said Georgia would withdraw 1,000 soldiers from Iraq to help fight off Russian forces.

A top Russian military commander said more than 10 Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia had been killed and nearly 30 wounded, Russian news agencies reported.

Rashid says army won’t support Musharraf


LAHORE: The army will not support President Pervez Musharraf if he dissolves the parliament using Article 58(2b) of the Constitution, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid said on Friday. According to Geo News, Rashid said the ruling coalition would win the number-game, and that the president had three options – to face impeachment, use Article 58(2b) or resign. The channel quoted him as saying that a major crisis was imminent in one or two months and that it was better for Musharraf to “say goodbye”.

Sherry says 18 ‘Q’ MPs to back impeachment


LAHORE: Eighteen members of the PML-Q have contacted the PPP leadership to assure their support for impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman said on Friday. Talking to Samaa TV, Sherry said that the PPP-led four-party coalition had devised a strategy to oust the president. She said that the draft of the resolutions to be tabled in the provincial assemblies favouring the impeachment would be prepared today (Saturday). A joint meeting of the parliamentary parties of the coalition would be held before the August 11 NA session, she added.

Ruling coalition begins spadework for impeachment: ...N’ back in cabinet


* Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer, Saad Rafiq, Mahtab Abbasi to resume office today
* ‘War Committee’ puts together nine-point charge sheet against Musharraf

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) decided to re-join the cabinet of the Pakistan People’s Party-led federal government on Friday, a day after the four-party ruling coalition announced it will impeach President Pervez Musharraf.

But its spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters it would be a “token rejoining”. “Three or four ministers will rejoin while the remaining ministers will rejoin after the judges are reinstated,” he said.

Sources in the PML-N said party President Shahbaz Sharif told PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari that Education Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Defence Production Minister Rana Tanveer, Youth Affairs Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, and Railways Minister Sardar Mahtab Abbasi would rejoin the cabinet “as a token of solidarity”. PML-N Media Co-ordinator Asim Junaid told Daily Times that the four ministers would resume office today (Saturday).

Impeachment: On Friday, the ruling coalition began lobbying for support for their move to impeach the president, and claimed “positive response” from various independent groups. Leaders of the ruling coalition talked to Pukhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Syed Munawar Hassan on the telephone, and Balochistan National Party-Awami Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri visited Zardari House.

A source said a number of opposition legislators had assured the ruling coalition of support but the coalition leaders did not disclose their names.

Charge sheet: Zardari and Shahbaz on Friday chaired a meeting of the six-member “War Committee” that put together a nine-point charge sheet against Musharraf. PPP sources said the meeting would continue today (Saturday) and the coalition partners will finalise the text of a resolution that the provincial assemblies will pass, asking President Musharraf to take a vote of confidence from them. They said that the Punjab Assembly would pass the resolution on Monday, followed by the NWFP on Tuesday, Sindh on Wednesday and Balochistan on Thursday.



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Ruling coalition begins spadework for impeachment: ...
N’ back in cabinet

* Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer, Saad Rafiq, Mahtab Abbasi to resume office today
* ‘War Committee’ puts together nine-point charge sheet against Musharraf


By Zulfiqar Ghuman


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) decided to re-join the cabinet of the Pakistan People’s Party-led federal government on Friday, a day after the four-party ruling coalition announced it will impeach President Pervez Musharraf.

But its spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters it would be a “token rejoining”. “Three or four ministers will rejoin while the remaining ministers will rejoin after the judges are reinstated,” he said.

Sources in the PML-N said party President Shahbaz Sharif told PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari that Education Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Defence Production Minister Rana Tanveer, Youth Affairs Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, and Railways Minister Sardar Mahtab Abbasi would rejoin the cabinet “as a token of solidarity”. PML-N Media Co-ordinator Asim Junaid told Daily Times that the four ministers would resume office today (Saturday).

Impeachment: On Friday, the ruling coalition began lobbying for support for their move to impeach the president, and claimed “positive response” from various independent groups. Leaders of the ruling coalition talked to Pukhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Syed Munawar Hassan on the telephone, and Balochistan National Party-Awami Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri visited Zardari House.

A source said a number of opposition legislators had assured the ruling coalition of support but the coalition leaders did not disclose their names.

Charge sheet: Zardari and Shahbaz on Friday chaired a meeting of the six-member “War Committee” that put together a nine-point charge sheet against Musharraf. PPP sources said the meeting would continue today (Saturday) and the coalition partners will finalise the text of a resolution that the provincial assemblies will pass, asking President Musharraf to take a vote of confidence from them. They said that the Punjab Assembly would pass the resolution on Monday, followed by the NWFP on Tuesday, Sindh on Wednesday and Balochistan on Thursday.

Sherry says 18 ‘Q’ MPs to back impeachment


LAHORE: Eighteen members of the PML-Q have contacted the PPP leadership to assure their support for impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman said on Friday. Talking to Samaa TV, Sherry said that the PPP-led four-party coalition had devised a strategy to oust the president. She said that the draft of the resolutions to be tabled in the provincial assemblies favouring the impeachment would be prepared today (Saturday). A joint meeting of the parliamentary parties of the coalition would be held before the August 11 NA session, she added. daily times monitor




Rashid says army won’t support Musharraf


LAHORE: The army will not support President Pervez Musharraf if he dissolves the parliament using Article 58(2b) of the Constitution, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid said on Friday. According to Geo News, Rashid said the ruling coalition would win the number-game, and that the president had three options – to face impeachment, use Article 58(2b) or resign. The channel quoted him as saying that a major crisis was imminent in one or two months and that it was better for Musharraf to “say goodbye”.


Russia sends forces into Georgia

* Forces control part of Tskhinvali-Tbilisi
* Rebel leader says 1,400 civilians dead


TBILISI: Russian forces control part of the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Georgian interior ministry said on Friday, after Russia sent forces over its border to repel a Georgian assault on separatists.

Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Russian forces were shelling Georgian troops “from tanks and airplanes”. “We control part of the town, the Russians another,” Utiashvili said of the besieged capital, Tskhinvali. Georgia’s pro-Western president has said the countries are at war.

Civilians dead: South Ossetia’s rebel leader Eduard Kokoity said there were 1,400 dead civilians in the main town Tskhinvali, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported President Mikheil Saakashvili said 150 Russian tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles had entered South Ossetia from Russia.

“Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory,” Saakashvili told CNN, calling on Washington to help.

He also said Georgian forces had downed two Russian jets. There was no immediate confirmation Russia had sent bombers. The head of Georgia’s Security Council, Kakha Lomaia said Georgia would withdraw 1,000 soldiers from Iraq to help fight off Russian forces.

A top Russian military commander said more than 10 Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia had been killed and nearly 30 wounded, Russian news agencies reported. reuters


70 militants dead in Bajaur clashes

* Helicopter gunships and mortars pound insurgent hideouts

BAJAUR: More than 70 Taliban died and 60 were wounded in a fierce gunbattle between militants and the security forces in the Bajaur Agency, the Online news agency reported on Friday.

Seven paramilitary troops also died in clashes near the Afghan border, AP said, as helicopter gunships and mortars pounded insurgent hideouts in the Rashakai and Tank Khata areas on Friday, officials and residents said.

The offensive in the tribal region came in the wake of a militant assault Wednesday on an outpost manned by security forces.

“Intense fighting is going on between soldiers and Taliban since Friday morning,” said Sher Zamin, a local resident. He said he saw Taliban fighters going toward the scene of the clashes.

“Intense firing again started at 8am at Loisam, Omari and Nawagai areas where a large number of armed Taliban are attacking security forces,” a security official told AFP.

“Security forces are responding with helicopters, artillery and mortar fire, but there were no immediate reports about casualties,” he said. agencies


Taliban kill three American ‘spies’ in Bajaur

KHAR: Taliban beheaded two men and shot dead a third in Bajaur on Friday after accusing them of spying on them, officials and witnesses said. The bodies of three men were found dumped by a road at Kayrala village, Bajaur, with notes saying, “These people were spying on Taliban,” a local government official told AFP. Witnesses said that two had their heads severed and the third was killed by a gunshot. Militants have killed various people after accusing them of spying. afp


‘Musharraf will be asked to leave in a week’

* Telegraph report says Asif Zardari likely to be new president

Daily Times Monitor


LAHORE: The army chief will ask President Pervez Musharraf to resign in a week, according to a Daily Telegraph report published on Friday.

Citing an unidentified “senior government official”, it said the army wants Musharraf “to be spared the humiliation of impeachment”.

A senior official from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) told The Telegraph that the army has “whispered in Musharraf’s ear that it is time to leave”, the report said.

“Over the next few days they will make it clear to [Musharraf] that a protracted battle [against impeachment] is not in Pakistan’s interests,” he added.

Citing a former military aide to the president, the newspaper said the army is neutral but is expecting Musharraf to resign. “It will then influence his honourable safe passage as the army’s senior leadership would not want him to be punished”.

The PPP government official said that his party had given an assurance of “indemnity” to the president.

He said the United States hopes the PPP and the president would work together but Musharraf “had begun to use intelligence agencies to plot against the government”.

“America wants Pakistan to be effectively governed and so has realised that the domestic struggle has to be resolved,” he added. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid President Shujaat Hussain told the Daily Telegraph dissolving the parliament would be “ unfortunate” but it may be “necessary”.

Zardari: He said that he had evidence that the move to impeach the president was made after the usually bickering coalition partners had struck a deal to hand the Presidency to PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari.

He said the army might oppose Zardari’s presidential candidacy.

“I have no knowledge of that but Pakistan would be better served by a civilian president with a knowledge of democracy,” a PPP spokesman said of Mr Zardari’s alleged presidential bid.


US envoys discuss impeachment with Zardari


LAHORE: United States Ambassador Anne W Patterson and US embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Peter Bodey met PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari at Zardari House in Islamabad to discuss the coalition’s decision to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, Dawn News reported on Friday.

The channel quoted PPP sources as saying that besides the impeachment decision, the overall political and security situation of the country were also discussed. Zardari briefed the US diplomats about the difficulties the coalition government was facing for legislation, restoration of judiciary, war against terror and providing relief to the people. aaj kal report / daily times monitor


‘White House still sympathetic to Musharraf’


WASHINGTON: While there is “tremendous sympathy” for President Pervez Musharraf, it may not extend to Congress, nor is the Pakistani leader “indispensable” either to the war on terror or Pakistan’s role in the war on terror, according to Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution.

Riedel told an AFP correspondent, “I think that Pakistan needs now to focus on the very many different difficulties it faces and the best way to speed that process and remove the uncertainty would be for Musharraf to make a graceful exit.”

In a commentary, Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation felt that the “fate” of the Pakistani president now lies largely in the hands of army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani. khalid hasan


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Taliban take control of Khar suburbs


KHAR: At least seven people were killed and more than 20 injured in fighting between the militants and security forces in Bajaur Agency on Sunday, as Taliban occupied a 15-kilometre stretch of land from agency headquarters Khar to the Jaar area.

Fighter aircraft and helicopter gunships pounded militant hideouts in the agency after paramilitary troops withdrew from the Taliban stronghold of Loyesam following three days of fierce clashes.

Two helicopters and two fighter jets targeted Taliban hideouts in Loyesam, Bando, Rashakai, Tang, Jaar, Haji Lawang, Yousafabad and Charmang areas until 4pm on Sunday.

About 40 houses were destroyed during the bombing. Taliban fighters attacked the bombers with anti-aircraft guns in the Carela and Tang Khata areas.

Hundreds of armed Taliban militants meanwhile dug trenches in Loyesam along an eight-kilometre stretch of the strategic road leading to Peshawar. Taliban also took control of temporary checkposts in Yousafabad, Haji Lawang, and Jaar abandoned by the security forces. They also blew up an abandoned checkpost in Jarmola Kilay. Witnesses said Taliban dug trenches just a furlong away from the Bajaur Scouts headquarters in Khar and occupied a bridge in Jaar.

Witnesses said most of the agency is now under Taliban control.


Local sources said 90,000 local residents had emigrated from the area, mostly to the neighbouring Dir district. NGOs have set up camps in the Munda area, between the Dir and Bajaur.

10 PML-Q MPs want safe exit for Musharraf


LAHORE: At least 10 PML-Q parliamentarians have appealed to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to give a safe exit to President Pervez Musharraf and not impeach him, Aaj TV reported on Sunday. Member of the National Assembly Nasrullah Bajrani told the channel that he had the support of 10 PML-Q lawmakers, including Prince Nawaz Khan, Sardar Talib Nakai, Israr Tareen, Tariq Hussain Nakai and Nauman Ahmad Langaryal. He said the lawmakers believed that Musharraf should resign and Zardari should postpone the impeachment motion.

‘Musharraf shouldn’t be given amnesty’


LAHORE: President Pervez Musharraf should not be given a safe exit, PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told reporters on Sunday, adding, “If we give safe passage to Musharraf, then we should also open the gates of jails.” He said the ruling coalition had the support of about 350 members in parliament.

Coalition to decide on safe exit: Sherry


LAHORE: The leaders of the ruling coalition will decide if President Pervez Musharraf will be given a safe exit if he steps down or is impeached, Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters on Sunday. She said “almost all” PML-Q members and senior PPP leader Amin Fahim will support the president’s impeachment.

Musharraf should quit to avoid impeachment: Naik


* Law minister says Musharraf will not be able to fight charge sheet

LAHORE: President Pervez Musharraf should resign to spare Pakistan the trauma of a bitter impeachment process, Law Minister Farooq Naik told reporters on Sunday.

“A comprehensive charge sheet is being prepared,” he said, adding that the charges include “gross misconduct and violation of the constitution”.

“The charge sheet will be solid and Musharraf will not be able to fight it,” said the minister. “It is better for him to resign before impeachment.”

He declined to publicise details of the charge sheet, however.

Al Qaeda charge sheet Musharraf


LAHORE: Al Qaeda held President Pervez Musharraf responsible for endangering Pakistan’s security, reported Geo News on Sunday. In an audiotape purportedly from Ayman Al Zawahiri, Zawahiri is quoted as saying that Musharraf mistreated AQ Khan to please Washington and allowed US agencies’ operations inside Pakistan.

Move is destined to fail: Shujaat


LAHORE: The impeachment motion against President Pervez Musharraf is destined to fail, said Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Talking to reporters, he said the motion was being tabled due to “personal reasons”, adding that he had advised the president to defend the motion.

PML-Q will defend Musharraf: Elahi


LAHORE: The PML-Q will defend President Pervez Musharraf in case of an impeachment motion, said former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi. Talking to Geo News, he said the PML-Q would support President Musharraf on any decision he would take regarding his future.

‘Musharraf will face impeachment’


* Qureshi says Tariq Aziz and Brig (r) Niaz advised president not to dissolve parliament

LAHORE: President Pervez Musharraf will not resign and will face the impeachment motion, said Presidential spokesman Rashid Quershi, Dawn News reported on Sunday.

Qureshi said close aides Tariq Aziz and Brig (r) Niaz met the president at his Camp Office and advised him not to dissolve parliament. He also rejected claims by US journalist Ron Suskind in his book ‘The Way of the World’, and denied charges levelled against president’s son, Bilal Musharraf, of taking money and handing over Dr Aafia Siddiqui to America.

President’s impeachment: I will decide in national interest, says Fahim


KARACHI: Two provinces of Pakistan - NWFP and Balochistan - are burning and I will take the decision that is in the interest of the country, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senior Vice Chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim said on Sunday

He said he had no plans to quit even though he had complaints against the party leadership’s decisions.

“I have no intention of quitting the PPP because it is my own party,” he said after a meeting with Federal Minister Khursheed Shah.

Fahim left for Dubai after the meeting and is expected to meet a close aide of President Pervez Musharraf.

Talking to Dawn News, he said that the time was not right for Musharraf’s impeachment and the coalition should first resolve other problems.

Fahim clarified that he had nothing to do with the decision made by his elder son Makhdoom Jamil uz Zaman, who resigned as the Sindh minister for Inter-provincial co-ordination.

“My son is independent in his decision about his political future. He joined the Sindh cabinet on his own and he has left by his own will. I have neither pressured him nor will I pressure him in the future,” he said.

He brushed aside the impression that Khursheed Shah had brought him any message from Zardari.

Shah said Fahim was still with the party and would not support dictatorship. He added that the Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakhtoonkhwah Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) were supporting the ruling coalition on the president’s impeachment and the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement was being contacted for its support.

Draft resolution sent to provincial assemblies


LAHORE: The PPP Draft Committee sent the draft of the resolution asking the president to seek a vote of confidence to the four provincial assemblies, Express News reported on Sunday. According to the channel, the resolution states that the Punjab Assembly deems Musharraf unfit for the president’s office because he was elected unconstitutionally.

Zardari may be next president, says Wattoo


LAHORE: PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari may be the next president of Pakistan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Production and Industries Manzoor Wattoo said on Sunday. Talking to Express News, Wattoo said Zardari could become the next president as he “had representation in all provincial assembles and the National Assembly”.

‘Musharraf siphoned millions from US war on terror fund’


* PPP co-chairman says swindling to form part of impeachment charge sheet
* Accuses Musharraf of sabotaging economy, democracy, fomenting conflict in Balochistan, Tribal Areas
* Says those who killed Benazir Bhutto want to kill him too

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Zardari has accused President Pervez Musharraf of misappropriating millions of dollars of United States aid given to Pakistan for supporting the war on terror.

Zardari made the charge in an interview published in The Sunday Times on Sunday.

“Our grand old Musharraf has not been passing on all the $1 billion a year that the Americans have been giving for the armed forces,” he claimed. “The army has been getting $250m-$300m reimbursement for what they do, but where’s the rest? They claim it’s been going in budget support but that’s not the answer. We’re talking about $700m a year missing. The rest has been taken by Musharraf for some scheme or other and we’ve got to find it,” Zardari said.

Charge sheet: The alleged misappropriation will form a part of the charge against Musharraf to be announced today (Monday) when parliament is recalled to start impeachment proceedings, the report said.

The move has sparked panic in Washington where the nuclear-armed Pakistan is increasingly seen as a greater danger than Iraq or Afghanistan.

Zardari claimed the US aid might have gone to fund rogue members of the military intelligence, the ISI, who were accused by Washington last week of assisting the Taliban.

“We’re looking for the money. I think he [Musharraf] has a slush fund being used for this and for some activity for the future,” he said.

Accusation: Zardari also accused the president of economic sabotage and fomenting conflict in Balochistan and the Tribal Areas. “They laid so many mines for us,” he said.

“They spent all the money so we would have to borrow; they didn’t pass on the increased price of oil; nor added a single extra megawatt of power in the last 10 years. All these things were deliberately thought out so at the end of day they can turn round and tell the world, ‘Look, democracy doesn’t deliver’, and step back in,” said the PPP co-chairman.

Killing: “I know I’m in danger, whoever killed her [Benazir Bhutto] wants to kill me,” Zardari added.

“To say we’re responsible for the country, yes we are, but first get your role model out of the way, remove your most allied of allies,” said Zardari, adding, “They’ve had Musharraf there 10 years, instead of bringing these issues up with him they are trying to bring them up with us today.”

Zardari warned an old magician of the president’s camp to stop playing with democracy and not force the coalition to include his name in the charge sheet.



Source:http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default...012:23:57%20PM
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Russia 'ends Georgia operation'



Thousands of people have fled Gori in fear of Russian air attacks

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an end to military operations against Georgia, the Kremlin says.

He told officials he had decided to end the campaign after restoring security for Russian citizens and peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

Mr Medvedev's announcement followed fresh reports of Russian warplanes bombing the Georgian town of Gori.

The conflict began last Thursday, when Russia responded to Georgian military action in South Ossetia.

But Russia has also bombed areas outside the breakaway region - including Gori, which is less than 80km (50 miles) from the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Shortly before Russia's announcement that it was ending military operations, witnesses told the BBC that several people had been killed when a bomb hit a hospital in the town.


A reporter for Reuters news agency said several bombs exploded in front of his vehicle, while a Reuters photographer spoke of seeing dead and injured people lying in the streets.

Officials in the Netherlands have confirmed that a Dutch TV cameraman was among those killed in Gori and another journalist was wounded.



The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse, near Gori, reported seeing sporadic artillery fire around the town right up until shortly before the Russian announcement.

But our correspondent later said military action in the area appeared to have stopped.

After Mr Medvedev's statement, tens of thousands of Georgians gathered in Tbilisi's main square to hear President Mikhail Saakashvili speak.

The president told the crowd that Russia was continuing its "ruthless, heartless destruction" of Georgian citizens - although the Kremlin denied his claims.

In other developments:

• French President Nicolas Sarkozy held a joint news conference with President Medvedev in Moscow. Mr Sarkozy, in his current role as EU president, is trying to negotiate a permanent ceasefire.

• Nato said Russia's withdrawal announcement was "not enough" and that it deplored the "disproportionate" force used by Moscow.

• President Saakashvili said Georgia would leave the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - a group which includes most of the former Soviet republics.

• He also announced that Russian peacekeepers in Georgia's other breakaway region, Abkhazia, will now be regarded as an occupying army - ending an agreement in place since 1994.

• Separatist rebels continued to fight against Georgian troops in the Kodori Gorge region of Abkhazia - the only area of Abkhazia still under Georgian military control.

• British oil firm BP closed a key pipeline that runs through Georgia.

'Safety restored'

According to a Kremlin statement, Mr Medvedev told his defence minister and chief of staff that "the goal has been attained".

"I've decided to finish the operation to force the Georgian authorities to peace. The safety of our peacekeeping forces and civilian population has been restored," he said.


Russia has invaded a sovereign neighbouring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people
US President George W Bush

Bush's tough talk on Russia

"The aggressor has been punished, having sustained considerable losses. Its armed forces have been disorganised."

The BBC's James Rodgers, in Moscow, says there is no sign yet that Russia is willing to engage in talks with the government in Tbilisi.

Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has insisted that Georgia must sign a legally binding document on the non-use of force.

And Mr Medvedev warned that Russia would not tolerate any further Georgian military activity in South Ossetia, saying: "Should centres of resistance or other aggressive attempts arise, you must take the decision to destroy them."

Georgia also remained sceptical, the country's prime minister telling Reuters that troops would remain "mobilised... ready for anything" until a binding agreement was signed between the two countries.

Foreign influence

The Russian move followed strong comments from US President George W Bush, in which he spoke directly of concerns that Russia was planning to topple Georgia's pro-Western president.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announces the end of military operations

"Russia has invaded a sovereign neighbouring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people," he said.

"Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st Century."

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall says Mr Medvedev's announcement must be seen in the light of the US president's words.

President Bush's language was unusually blunt, she says, and if Russia cares about its relations with the US and Europe, it might have been given pause for thought.

The five-day-old conflict began late on 7 August when Georgian forces bombarded South Ossetia, where a majority of people hold Russian passports.

Russia quickly became involved, bombing targets throughout Georgia and sending troops in to recapture South Ossetia.

Some 100,000 people are estimated to have been displaced by the conflict.
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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.


Source:
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Suicide blast in Lahore, 8 killed, scores injured


LAHORE: Eight people have been killed including 5 police officials while 20 others have been wounded as a suicide bomber exploded himself at Allama Iqbal town near Dubai roundabout in Lahore amid Independence Day celebrations, police sources said

Bomb disposable squad and rescue teams have arrived on the spot meanwhile the injured people have been shifted to the nearby hospitals.

Suicide bomber was riding motorcycle who having reached near a police station beside Dubai roundabout blew himself up as the independence day celebrations were on progress, eyewitnesses said.

Police and rangers troops have cordoned off the area while the security has beefed up in and around Iqbal Town.

Emergency has been imposed and police and law enforcement agencies have been put on high alert in Lahore.

Source: Geo News.
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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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Israel to free 200 prisoners as Rice visits ME


Monday, August 18, 2008


OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Israel’s cabinet voted on Sunday to release about 200 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to President Mahmud Abbas aimed at bolstering slow-moving US-backed Middle East peace talks.

The August 25 release will coincide with a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice aimed at encouraging the negotiations, which have shown little visible sign of progress since they were revived in November.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev called the move a “confidence-building measure” towards Abbas, adding: “We hope the release will help strengthen the peace process.”

The list, which will be considered for final approval by a ministerial committee on Monday, will include at least two veteran prisoners implicated in deadly attacks on Israelis in the 1970s, a senior government official told AFP.

They will be a rare exception to Israel’s general policy of not freeing those with “blood on their hands,” but the official said the security establishment “believes the risk of the release is very low.”

Israel had first announced the move on August 6 following a face-to-face meeting between Olmert and Abbas, the latest in a series of discussions since they relaunched peace talks at a US-hosted conference in November.

Once the ministerial committee approves the decision, Israelis will be able to appeal against the freeing of individual prisoners before the actual release takes place on August 25.

Rice—on her 18th to the region in the last two years—is also due to meet Abbas on August 25 before holding talks with the heads of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

A spokesman for Abbas called the prisoner release a “step in the right direction,” but said the Palestinians had hoped to see more freed.



Gilani launches crop insurance for millions of farmers



Monday, August 18, 2008




ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has introduced a new crop insurance system for the first time since independence to compensate for the losses to millions of poverty-stricken farmers caused by floods, crop failure and natural disasters.

The immediate impact of this farmer-friendly decision will help hundreds of thousands of poor farmers to avoid the auction of their lands by the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), as it was decided before Gilani banned such auctions.

Disclosing his decision to The News, Gilani said the PPP government had always been working for the interests of the farmers, as they were the backbone of the economy. The PM said the new crop insurance policy, whose details were being worked out, would greatly help the farmers to recover their losses and avoid poverty which they suffer as a result of crop failures, production losses or natural disasters.

Gilani said after the crop insurance system, even the flood-affected people would be able to get their losses recovered and restart their normal life. It is the first time since independence that any government has revived the system of compensation to farmers, which was actually introduced by the British rulers. The system was Kharaba (destruction), under which, the revenue staff would go into the fields followed by the Patwari who was supposed to carry out the complete survey. Then the Naib Tehsildar used to carry out a partial survey. Finally, the district collector was dutibound to carry out a recheck of the system and ensure payments to the farmers.

Meanwhile, three-times federal secretary agriculture and now chairman Parc Dr Zafar Altaf told The News that PM Gilani’s decision indicates care and concern for the rural areas. He said the system was prevalent before partition when Kharaba used to be provided for lost production in terms of Annas (small coins). “The current vagaries that have come about in the agricultural sector are of two kinds: output is undetermined and price of the product, whatever that may be, is also not determined,” he said. So, Dr Altaf believed, the farmers were suffering from two or three kinds of disadvantages. He said that in a liberal economic system, it was essential to provide some safeguard if the marketplace did not provide adequate protection to a farmer.

Dr Altaf said the rural areas had been subjected to mass variations and disabilities because the nexus between the rural and the urban areas had been disconnected. “This disconnection had led to a pluralistic social system in which the rental class had gained at the expense of the grassroots productive class,” he said, adding Yousuf Raza Gilani’s government had shown its duty of care towards small farmers by taking the crop insurance step.

Dr Altaf said: “Historically this goes back to the time of the unionist government minister Sir Choto Ram who actually saved the Muslim farmers from the Hindu moneylenders. Now the Hindu moneylenders of the British Raj have been replaced by the corporate-sector trader who provides informal credit to the farmer at exorbitant rates.”

He said the urban sector had always been against the provision of crop insurance to the poor farmers. “The reason for that has been that they feel small farmers would not be honest in dealing with the crop insurance situation. In fact, the people of the rural areas are more honest, as they regularly pay back all their debts and the balance sheet of the ZTBL is the biggest evidence,” he said, adding: “When they are hit by the uncertainties of weather and the production system the formal sector takes steps to auction their small holdings.”

Dr Altaf gave full credit to PM Gilani for clamping a ban on the auction of farmers’ small landholdings. “The informal sector is even more regressive because after sometime, when the principal becomes huge, they automatically take over the land,” he said. He added that the government’s step should be followed by removal of all those policy issues, which tended to affect the productive system.


Bomb rocks net cafe in Peshawar



Monday, August 18, 2008



PESHAWAR: A powerful bomb exploded in a net cafe here at the Sanam Chowk, however no loss of life was reported, police sources said. A remote-controlled device was planted in the net cafe, which damaged the building partially. The police rushed to the site and started search for the accused.



Gen Zia’s plane crashed due to mechanical problem’



Monday, August 18, 2008


LONDON: The plane crash in Bahawalpur desert 20 years ago which killed former President Gen Zia-ul-Haq, along with former US Ambassador Arnold Raphael, and spawned several conspiracies theories has now been blamed on a mechanical problem, says a report in The Times.

According to the daily, American, Soviet, Indian and even Israeli intelligence agents were among those blamed for sabotaging the PAF C-130 Hercules plane. The Times has uncovered a far less complicated explanation. According to the US investigators, the mechanical problem, known to be relatively common with the C-130 military transport aircraft, was to blame.

"There were a lot of conspiracy theories and there still are, understandably in that part of the world,î Robert Oakley, who took over as US Ambassador to Pakistan after the crash and helped to handle the politically fraught investigation, told The Times.

Washington sent a team of the US Air Force officers to assist the Pakistanis in the investigation. The two sides reached sharply different conclusions. Mrs Nancy Ely-Raphel, US ambassadorís widow and Brigadier-General Wassom's wife, Judy, were both told by the US investigators that the crash was caused by a mechanical fault.

"It seems there was a mechanical failure for a C-130 in Colorado and the same thing happened," Mrs Ely-Raphael said. "A C-130 had gone into gyrations in the air over Colorado. It was not as close to the ground. They pulled it out."

"It was the steering mechanism, is the way he described it to me. It did not crash but it went through these gyrations up in the air and the pilot pulled it out. I had always thought C-130s were the workhorses of the air. I was quite surprised when the Air Force described to me what they had discovered," she said.

Mrs Wassom told the newspaper she has had to abandon her suspicions that it was sabotage. "My personal feelings about it were that it was not an accident. However, I was told I do not know how much after — that the Army had investigated and that it was an accident," she said. "They gave me some kind of mechanical reason for it," she added.

Oakley identified the mechanical fault as a problem with the hydraulics in the tail assembly. Although, the US Air Force pilots had handled such emergencies, the Pakistani pilots were less well equipped to do so. “These pilots did not have much experience flying C130s and they flew so low,” he said. The paper noted that a former US ambassador to India was relieved of his post after telling Washington that he believed the Israelis, concerned about the nuclear ambitions of Pakistan, were behind the crash.

According to the daily, the mystery of how Zia died still captures the imagination. A former PAF officer has just published a novel about the death of Zia, entitled "A Case of Exploding Mangoes".

In the book, Muhammed Hanif postulates the popular theory that the crew of the aircraft was incapacitated by VX nerve gas smuggled aboard by a Pakistani intelligence agent. Over the years, many possible culprits have been identified for Zia's killing, ranging from the ex-Soviet KGB or the Soviet-backed Afghan government of the time to India.
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World reacts over resignation


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


LONDON: World leaders urged stability and unity in Pakistan — seen by the West as a key partner in fighting terrorism — as they reacted to news of Pervez Musharraf’s resignation as president.

“President Bush looks forward to working with the government of Pakistan on the economic, political and security challenges they face,” US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement on behalf of the US president.

Bush also paid tribute to Musharraf for his “efforts in the democratic transition of Pakistan as well as his commitment to fighting Al-Qaeda and extremist groups,” the statement said.

Sourced told rediff.com the Bush administration has asked the government not to humiliate Musharraf. The sources said the administration urged the Pakistan government to provide Musharraf with security and “if he decides to stay in Pakistan or leave the country, he and his family should be treated with respect and guaranteed safety.”

Meanwhile, India declined to comment on Musharraf’s decision, with the foreign ministry in Delhi describing it as an “internal matter” for its neighbour. Afghanistan said it hoped the move would help strengthen the civilian Pakistani government.

“We are determined to continue our cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism, which pose challenges to both countries,” Karzai’s spokesman Homayun Hamidzada said in an interview.

Russia, another major player in Central Asian geopolitics, expressed hope that Musharraf’s departure would not cause instability in the country. “Russia hopes the departure of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will not have negative consequences for the internal political stability of this major Asian nation,” its foreign ministry said in a statement.

In Britain, Foreign Secretary David Miliband praised the “significant dividends” of Musharraf’s time in office, including on the economic front, in fighting terrorism, tackling corruption and promoting dialogue with India.



Zardari thanks Altaf




Tuesday, August 19, 2008


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has thanked Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain for his positive role during the political developments of the last few days that led to the resignation of Pervez Musharraf.

"Altaf Hussain and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement have played a crucial role in the mediation efforts for obtaining the resignation and ensuring a peaceful exit of the former president," he said. "These efforts for strengthening democracy are commendable and must be appreciated," he added.

He said that he was thankful to all the democratic forces of the country, including the MQM that had helped the coalition government achieve a key objective of forcing Musharraf to resign.

In a statement issued here on Monday, the PPP co-chairman said that it was indeed a momentous day for democracy and the people of Pakistan as the political forces had been able to roll back the frontiers of dictatorship



Suicide attack kills nine civilian labourers in Afghanistan


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


KABUL: A suicide car bomb blew up on Monday outside a US military base in eastern Afghanistan, killing nine civilian labourers, as the country marked Independence Day under the shadow of extremist attacks. The blast, claimed by the insurgent Taliban, did not penetrate the base in Khost and security forces were able to prevent a second suicide attack moments later, the US-led coalition and Afghan officials said. Kabul was locked down with 7,000 police on patrol and checkpoints at nearly every city centre intersection and main entry points into the capital.



More than 50pc of govt wheat allocations lifted



Tuesday, August 19, 2008



LAHORE: The provinces, armed forces, AJK and the Northern Areas have lifted more than 50 per cent of the wheat allocated by the federal government from the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Supplies Corporation (PASSCO) in almost a month, The News has learnt.

PASSCO in its wheat procurement drive during this season has procured 855,000 tonnes, out of which 795,011 tonnes had been allocated by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL) to different provincial governments, Northern Areas’ authorities, Utility Stores Corporation (USC), Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air force, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), World Food Programmme (WFP) and Afghanistan. In almost one month, some 400,700 tonnes of wheat has been lifted from the PASSCO storage facilities.

AJK has lifted 105,800 tonnes of wheat from the allocated 200,000 tonnes, Northern Areas 53,000 tonnes from 100,000 tonnes, NWFP 160,000 tonnes from 200,000 tonnes, Balochistan 5,500 tonnes from 100,000 tonnes, USC 31,320 tonnes from 40,000 tonnes, Pak Army 39,875 tonnes from 75,000 tonnes, Pak Navy complete 1,000 tonnes, Afghanistan 8,660 from 50,000 tonnes and WFP 1,647 tonnes from 24,911 tonnes. However, Pak Air Force has not started lifting the 5,000 of wheat from PASSCO warehouses that MINFAL has allocated it.

A senior official of the PASSCO revealed that the corporation had procured wheat at Rs638 per 40 kilogram during the wheat procurement drive. After adding the incidental charges and paying mark-up rate of over 15 per cent the landed cost of wheat at PSSCO warehouses stands at Rs700 per maund, he disclosed.

Disclosing the reason for not allocating wheat to Punjab from PASSCO storages this year, he said that the Punjab already has over 2.5 million tonnes of wheat in its stocks while the PASSCO has not achieved its wheat procurement target due to low wheat crop. Thus the MINFAL had not allocated wheat to Punjab from PASSCO storages, he added.

Talking about the WFP supply, he pointed out that former Prime Minister Shakuat Aziz during the last days of its government had announced 33,180 tonnes wheat support to WFP. He said that during the previous season WFP had lifted some 15,000 tonnes wheat whereas 18,180 tonnes had been left due to wheat crisis in Pakistan. Now Pakistan is bound to provide remaining quantity of wheat to WFP, he added.

When asked allocation of wheat to Afghanistan despite the prevailing wheat shortage in country and import of wheat to meet the domestic needs, he mentioned that it was federal government’s decision and wheat is being supplied to neighbouring country as gesture of good will.



Main hurdle to democracy is removed: Bilawal




Tuesday, August 19, 2008



Karachi

The main hurdle to democracy has been removed and now the judiciary and parliament would be independent and sovereign institutions, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Monday. He was speaking in Karachi just two hours after President Gen. (Retd) Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation.

Bilawal Bhutto landed at the Jinnah International Airport and later left for Larkana to offer Fateha at the grave of his mother Benazir Bhutto in a special plane chartered by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. The CM and the Sindh home minister received the PPP chairman at the airport.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the democracy was the best revenge and declared that the next president of the country would be from the PPP. His father Asif Ali Zardari has already stated that the next president would be a woman and there were predictions in media that one of Zardari’s sisters could be the candidate for the next president.

PPP Sindh Secretary General Nafees Siddiqi, however, demanded on Monday in Karachi that the party should nominate Asif Zardari as the candidate for the president, because he was the “most appropriate person for this post.”

PPP activists and supporters also organised rallies in Karachi and in other parts of the province and celebrated Musharraf’s resignation. They gathered at Bilawal House, Karachi, where Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and other leaders addressed the rally and termed the president’s resignation a victory of the people.

Supporters and activists of the ruling PPP and its ally, the Awami National Party (ANP), the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Sunni Tehreek (ST), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), nationalist groups, lawyers bodies and members of civil society also celebrated the resignation of President Gen. (Retd) Pervez Musharraf, and described it as a victory of the democratic forces.

People and activists of the political and religious parties came out on to the streets soon after Musharraf’s speech and celebrated the occasion by distributing sweets, indulging in aerial firing, and chanting slogans.

Meanwhile, parties which had previously allied with Musharraf, including the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Pakistan Muslim League — Quaid (PML-Q), the Pakistan Muslim League — Functional (PML-F) and the National People’s Party (NPP) did not show an immediate reaction over the resignation. PML-F chief Pir Pagaro was in his hometown, Pir jo Goth, and was busy in spiritual engagements, while the NPP’s Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and PML-Q leaders were not available for comments.

The MQM is still a strong supporter of Musharraf, and has termed the resignation as a “sacrifice for the stability of the country for political and economic reasons.” Sindh National Front (SNF) chief, Mumtaz Bhutto, has, meanwhile, called a meeting of Bhutto clan to discuss the situation.
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