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Old Tuesday, August 26, 2008
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Iran starts production of submarines

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
TEHRAN: Iran has started production of new home-built submarines, Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najar said on Monday.

Najar told state television that the new submarine, called Ghaem, was capable of carrying and firing various torpedoes and subsurface missiles with a special operation crew onboard. The minister said Iran has become self-sufficient in manufacturing all types of military vessels, adding however that the Islamic state would just use its military strength for safeguarding peace and security in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

In the year 2000, Iran started production of its first domestically-made mini-submarines which reportedly finished in 2005. The mini-submarines can accommodate a two-man crew and up to three divers and carry out various operations such as reconnaissance and planting mines.

Dead baby lives after hours in cooler!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: A stillborn Israeli baby who was pronounced dead by doctors “came back to life” on Monday after spending hours in a hospital refrigerator.

The baby, weighing only 600 grams at birth, spent at least five hours inside one of the hospital’s refrigerated storage units, before her parents, who had taken her to be buried, began noticing some movement.

“We unwrapped her and felt she was moving. We didn’t believe it at first. Then she began holding my mother’s hand, and then we saw her open her mouth,” said 26-year-old Faiza Magdoub, the baby’s mother. The baby was pronounced dead several hours earlier, after doctors at Western Galilee hospital in northern Israel were forced to abort her mother’s pregnancy because of internal bleeding. Magdoub was 23 weeks into her pregnancy.

Source :THE NEWS

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US envoy faulted for contacts with Zardari

* Zardari House says it’s incorrect to attribute domestic function to friendship with Khalilzad

WASHINGTON: Zalmay Khalilzad, Afghanistan-born American ambassador to the United Nations, is under fire for “unauthorised contacts with Asif Ali Zardari”.

A report in the New York Times, quoting a senior US official, alleges that Khalilzad spoke to Zardari several times a week for the past month until he was confronted about the unauthorised contacts. Khalilzad had planned to meet Zardari privately next Tuesday while on vacation in Dubai, a meeting that was cancelled only after Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, learned from Zardari himself that the ambassador was providing him with “advice and help”.

“Can I ask what sort of ‘advice and help’ you are providing?” Boucher wrote in an “angry” e-mail message to Khalilzad. “What sort of channel is this? Governmental, private, personnel?”

The fact that such a damaging story has been leaked to the press, duly authorised it appears, shows that there are highly placed people in the Bush administration who are out to get Khalilzad, whose name has been mentioned as a possible contender for the Afghan presidency.

US: Officially, the NYT story claims, the US has remained neutral in the contest to succeed Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf, and there is concern within the State Department that the discussions between Khalilzad and Zardari could leave the impression that the US is taking sides in Pakistan’s chaotic internal politics.

Khalilzad’s spokesman told the newspaper that the ambassador had been friends with Zardari for years. “Ambassador Khalilzad had planned to meet socially with Zardari during his personal vacation. But because Zardari is now a presidential candidate, Khalilzad postponed the meeting, after consulting with senior State Department officials and Zardari himself.” A senior American official said it was not clear whether he would face any disciplinary action.

An unnamed “senior Pakistani official” told the New York Times that the relationship between Khalilzad and Zardari went back several years, and that the men developed a friendship while Zardari was spending time in New York with his wife.

The Pakistani official said the consultations between the men were an open exchange of information, with each one giving insight into the political landscape in his capital.

Zardari House: However, Zardari House spokeswoman Farahnaz Ispahani said, “ While we engage global leaders for Pakistan’s benefit, it is incorrect to attribute any domestic political function to Zardari’s personal friendship with eminent diplomats such as Khalilzad,” APP reported.

Key Taliban commander killed in Swat

MINGORA/PESHAWAR/SWAT: A key Taliban commander was killed in a clash with security forces in Swat on Tuesday, officials said. Security officials said Ikramuddin, a close associate of Baitullah Mehsud, was killed following a clash in Chota Kalam area of Kabal tehsil. However, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said Ikramuddin died accidentally when he fired his pistol. Two children were killed as a mortar shell hit a house in Madina Colony area of Kanjoo tehsil in Swat on Tuesday. In Shakardara area of Matta, militants blew up the houses of Awami National Party leader Muzaffar Ali Khan and his three brothers. The houses were empty at the time. Militants also blew up a girls’ high school in Manglor in Bagh tehsil.

US diplomat escapes gun attack

* Gunmen fire at bullet-proof vehicle of US Consulate principal officer Lynne Tracy in Peshawar 100 yards away from her house

PESHAWAR: Gunmen opened fire on the car of a senior US diplomat in Peshawar on Tuesday, but she escaped unhurt, police and US officials said.

US Consulate Principal Officer Lynne Tracy was on her way to the consulate when a vehicle suddenly appeared and blocked the road, local police officials said.

“A man in the intercepting Land Cruiser rolled down the window and opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle,” a local police officer said, adding that Tracy was travelling in a bulletproof vehicle.

The diplomat’s driver quickly threw the car into reverse, hitting an auto rickshaw. The attackers fled the scene. The rickshaw driver suffered minor injuries.

SP Cantonment Abdul Qadir told Daily Times five rounds hit the car. She was 100 yards away from her home, next to that of former interior minister Aftab Sherpao.

The US consulate issued a brief statement saying: “There was a security incident in Peshawar this morning involving a US consulate vehicle and three employees. There were no injuries and minimal damage to the vehicle. We are co-ordinating with Pakistani authorities investigating the incident.”

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemned the incident in a statement and said “steps for enhanced security” had been taken.

National Finance Commission constituted

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday constituted an 11-member National Finance Commission (NFC) to finalise the 6th National Finance Commission Award in consultation with the four provinces.

The commission was formed following its formal approval by acting President Mohammedmian Somroo.

Finance Minister Naveed Qamar will be the chairman of the NFC and the four provincial finance ministers - Qamaruz Zaman Kaira (Punjab), Humayun Khan (NWFP), Asim Kurd (Balochistan) and Qaim Ali Shah (Sindh), - its ex-officio members.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar has been appointed as special member of the NFC along with Saeed Ahmed Qureshi from Punjab, Qaisar Bangali from Sindh, Haji Adeel from NWFP and Gulfaraz as its private members from the four provinces.

The NFC Secretariat, situated at the Ministry of Finance, has notified the constitution of NFC with its terms of references (ToRs) under Article 160 (1).

According to the ToRs, the commission would finalise the share of the federal and provincial governments’ in the federal taxes, which would be distributed on the basis of population.

The NFC would also finalise a new mechanism for provincial borrowing from the federal government and interest payment with revised terms and conditions. The commissiojn would facilitate the provinces to agree on a distribution mechanism for the royalty on crude oil production and surcharge on gas production.

KSE closes at 26-month low

KARACHI: The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) 100-share index lost a substantial 383.37 points to close at 9,430.29 points as compared with 9,813.66 points of the previous session. The KSE 30-share index lost 515.52 points and closed at 10,536.12 points. The closure of the 100-share index at 9,430.29 points is said to be the lowest level in two years and two months.

Sudan jet hijacked, lands in Libya

* 3 senior members of former Darfur rebel movement among 102 people on board

KHARTOUM: A Sudanese passenger plane, hijacked on Tuesday after leaving war-torn Darfur, has been forced to land in Libya, Arab media and Libyan authorities said.

Arabic satellite TV channel Al Jazeera said that 87 passengers were aboard the Sun Air Boeing 737. However, Sun Air Executive Manager Mortada Hassan told AFP 95 passengers and seven crew members were on board.

Three senior members of a former Darfur rebel movement, which has signed a peace accord with the government, were among the passengers, a spokesman for the group told Reuters. Mohammed Bashir of the Sudan Liberation Movement’s Minni Arcua Minnawi faction identified them as an adviser to Minnawi, the movement’s land commissioner, and one of the architects of the Darfur peace agreement of 2006.

The plane had been bound for Khartoum from Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. Egyptian authorities denied it permission to land, and the plane changed course towards Libya, Al Jazeera reported.

Libya’s Civil Aviation Authority confirmed the plane had landed at the Kufrah Airport, Libya’s state news agency Jana reported. The Egyptian state news agency MENA quoted Sun Air as saying four men hijacked the plane.

8 killed in Islamabad bomb blast

LAHORE: Eight people were killed and more than 20 hurt in a bomb explosion at a roadside restaurant in the Model Town area on the outskirts of Islamabad on Tuesday. About 3.5 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the device planted at the eatery situated near Yamaha Chowk in the Hummark area, officials from the Bomb Disposal Squad told Geo News. The blast, which initially appeared to be a gas cylinder explosion, created a one-foot-deep crater, the channel reported. Most of the victims were labourers and drivers. Police from the nearby Sihala Police Station dashed to the scene and shifted the wounded and the dead bodies to Polyclinic Hospital and Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). Before the Bomb Disposal Squad filed its report, Superintendent of Police Kamran Adil, the local police in-charge, told reporters that evidence was being collected from the scene and that the police were not clear what had caused the explosion. He said any subsequent findings would be shared with the media. Hotel owner Raaz Wali had denied reports of it being a gas cylinder explosion saying he used kerosene stoves for cooking. Eyewitnesses said it was a terrorist act and claimed that they had seen a child placing a bag under a chair. Officials at PIMS confirmed receiving three bodies. Additional Commissioner Rana Akbar Hayat confirmed the death of four people.

Zardari, 66 others file nomination papers

ISLAMABAD: Sixty-seven candidates, including PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari filed nomination papers on Tuesday for the presidential election scheduled for September 6. Thirty-five nomination papers were filed for 10 candidates in Islamabad. Seventeen nominations were filed in Sindh by or on behalf of eight candidates. In the NWFP, one candidate filed his nomination papers. Fourteen candidates filed their papers in Lahore.

PPP has no fear from any future coalition: Sherry

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) does not feel any threat from any emerging coalition in the forthcoming presidential election, Information Minister Sherry Rehman said on Tuesday. Talking to reporters after filing the nomination papers of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for the Presidency, she said the party was confident about a positive outcome of the poll.

Interference will be dealt with by force: Shahbaz

LAHORE: The PML-N has the majority in Punjab and anyone. anyone trying intervene will be dealt with by force, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday. Addressing the parliamentary party meeting at Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Shahbaz said that the PML-N had tried to honour all its promises, but deviation of the PPP leadership from its promises and agreements had forced the PML-N to step aside.

Taseer warns against horse-trading in Punjab

* Governor says provincial admin will not be allowed to use state resources ahead of presidential poll
* PPP will not pull out of coalition in Punjab

LAHORE: Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer has said he will not tolerate the use of provincial administration for horse-trading ahead of the September 6 presidential election.

Addressing a press conference at the Governor’s House on Tuesday, he said the provincial administration would not be allowed to use state resources for campaigning, because election of the president was different from that of a district nazim.

Taseer said he had summoned the provincial chief secretary and the inspector general of Punjab Police to his office and had warned them against allowing the creation of circumstances for horse-trading like the “Chhaanga Maanga of 1988”.

He said he would not allow creation of various blocs within political parties.

The governor said the PPP had a set an example by allowing a minority party to form government in Punjab, and that the Punjab Assembly would complete its five-year tenure, as neither he nor the chief minister would dissolve it.

Coalition in Punjab: He said it was the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz that had left the ruling alliance in the Centre, and that as such the PPP would not pull out of the coalition in Punjab. The governor said things would get clear in the next two days.

He denied running Zardari’s presidential campaign in Punjab.

‘Zardari fit as a fiddle’

LAHORE: Commenting on a Financial Times article that alleged PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari of “suffering from severe psychiatric problems”, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to London, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, has said that Zardari is “now fit and well”.

The FT had cited court documents filed by Zardari’s doctors as saying that he was suffering from severe psychiatric problems as recently as last year.

The report said that Zardari was diagnosed with serious illnesses including dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder in medical reports spanning over two years.

In court documents seen by the FT, Philip Saltiel, a New York psychiatrist, had said in a March 2007 diagnosis that Zardari’s imprisonment had left him suffering from “emotional instability” and memory and concentration problems. Stephen Reich, a New York state-based psychologist, said Zardari was unable to remember the birthdays of his wife and children, was persistently apprehensive and had thought about suicide.

According to the FT, court records showed that Zardari had used the medical diagnoses to argue successfully for the postponement of a now-defunct English High Court case in which Pakistan’s government was suing him over alleged corruption.

The FT quoted Wajid as telling the paper on Monday that Zardari had subsequent medical examinations and his doctors had “declared him medically fit to run for political office and free of any symptoms.”

“While he was in prison ... he was surrounded by fear all the time. Any human being living in such a condition will, of course, suffer from the effects of continuous fear. But that is all history,” he said.

8 sacked SHC judges may be reinstated today

* Will retain their seniority g Justice Anwar Jamali likely to be new SHC CJ
* Seven LHC judges may take new oath this week

KARACHI/LAHORE/ ISLAMABAD: Eight of the 15 sacked judges of the Sindh High Court (SHC) may take a fresh oath at 2pm today (Wednesday), sources in the Federal Law Ministry told Daily Times.

A formal notice in this regard is expected early today, they said, and the ceremony is scheduled at the Governor’s House.

Sources in the Law Ministry said seven sacked judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC) are also likely to be re-inducted this week.

The judges will be reinstated at the seniority level they were sacked at.

New CJ: Sources privy to the developments said Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali would be sworn in as the new chief justice of the SHC, replacing acting chief justice Azizullah M Memon. The other judges likely to rejoin today are: Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Abdur Rasheed, Justice Zafar Ahmed Khan Sherwani and Justice Syed Salman Ansari.

The sanctioned strength of the SHC had been increased from 17 to 29. Sources in the Law Ministry said the government was considering a proposal to increase the strength to 40, and development on the issue was also likely today.

Officials at the SHC denied receiving a notice but said arrangements for a plain ceremony would be a matter of minutes if a notice were issued today.

A Law Ministry proposal for the reinstatement of the eight judges had been signed by former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf on August 6, but the measure was delayed after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – then a partner in the four-party ruling alliance – objected to it.

LHC: A sacked judge of the LHC told Daily Times on condition of anonymity that most sacked judges were ready to take a new oath if they are re-inducted at the same seniority level, and that they had been assured that even sacked chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would also be reinstated eventually.

Sources in the Attorney General’s Office told Daily Times the government would not reinstate Justice Khawaja Sharif, reportedly because he has aligned with the PML-N. Officials requesting anonymity, also said the Punjab government was appointing law officers on his recommendation, but Justice Sharif denied the charge while talking to Daily Times.

He also said he knew nothing about a re-instatement move.

Sacked LHC judge Justice MA Shahid Siddiqi said he had declined a senior official’s invitation to take oath, because he had taken one when he was appointed. He said he was ready to join after Iftikhar Chaudhry was reinstated.

Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and Justice Sair Ali denied being contacted. Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary Amin Javed Chaudhry said judges who took a new oath would be considered “PCO judges” and lawyers would protest the measure.

Source: Daily Times.
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Bomb blast in northwestern Pakistan kills 9

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Suspected militants bombed a van carrying prisoners in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least nine people, as fighting between security forces and extremists flared across the tribal belt.
The violence came just over a week after longtime U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf resigned as president, triggering a scramble for power that collapsed Pakistan's governing coalition.

The party long led by slain former Prime Minister Bena zir Bhutto is now in a position to dominate the government and it is toughening its stance against Islamist extremists.

The Pakistani Taliban, meanwhile, are becoming increasingly bold, claiming responsibility for a wave of suicide bombings and gun attacks.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack Thursday, though police said militants were the likely culprit. It happened as a van carrying prisoners crossed a bridge in Bannu, a town in the North West Frontier Province, said Waqas Ahmad, an area police chief.

The dead included police officers and prisoners, said Jalil Khan, another police official. But he could not provide an exact breakdown.

Hours earlier, security forces drove off a Taliban attack on a fort and pounded another band of militants holed up in a health center, officials said Wednesday as fighting spread to new areas in the tribal belt along the Afghan border.

As many as 49 insurgents were reported killed in separate attacks.

Pakistan's 5-month-old government initially sought to calm militant violence by holding peace talks.

But the initiatives have borne little fruit, and U.S. officials have been pressing for tougher action against insurgent groups blamed for rising violence across the border in Afghanistan and in cities further inland.

Lawyers protest countrywide

KARACI: The lawyers are back on the streets today, with protests taking place in all major cities. Lawyer''s leaders, are calling on the government to fulfill its promises and restore the judges. On the appeal of Supreme Court Bar Association, lawyers are protesting and staging sit-in on the key roads across the country. Political workers of different political parties are also participating in the protest. Protestors also chanted slogans against Co-Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Zardari and present government. Addressing a meeting of Lahore High Court Bar, President of Supreme Court Bar Association Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan said that the lawyers movement would continue till the restoration of the judges. Aitzaz said that an international conference would be organized in Islamabad from October 9 to October 12, which will be inaugurated by deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Papers of major presidential candidates cleared

ISLAMABAD: The Chief Election Commissioner has accepted the nomination papers of Asif Ali Zardari, Justice Saeeduzaman Siddiqui and Mushahid Hussain after scrutiny here on Thursday. Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Muhammad Farooq has scrutinized the papers on which no objection has been filed from any side. Thirty-two candidates had submitted their nomination papers for presidential polls. The candidates would withdraw nominations till Saturday whereas final list would also be issued on the same day. The presidential poll will be held on September 6.
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‘Burying women alive for honour is tribal tradition’

* Baloch senator Israrullah Zehri says members should not politicise issue

ISLAMABAD: The killing of women for honour is a demand of the tribal traditions, Balochistan Senator Israrullah Zehri informed the Senate on Friday.

Zehri was responding to Senator Yasmeen Shah’s statement in which she had drawn the House’s attention towards reports that five women had been buried alive in Balochistan in the name of honour. She called it a sheer violation of human rights.

Zehri asked the members not to politicise the issue, as it was a matter of safeguarding the tribal traditions.

Leader of the Opposition in Senate Kamil Ali Agha condemned the killing of women in the name of honour and demanded the issue should be referred to the Human Rights Standing Committee of the House.

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid Senator Nisar Memon drew the attention of the Senate to a research article written by Michael Chossugovsky published in “Global Research of Canada”. He said that the article warns how some foreign elements were planning economic, political and military disruptions to declare Pakistan a failed state.

Memon said the article stated how certain foreign powers were first planning to create chaos in the country through economic crisis followed by an unprecedented price-hike, and an eventual intervention of the International Monetary Fund in the economic affairs of the country.

“The ultimate objective of all these conspiracy theories is a territorial break-up and dismemberment of the country,” Memon warned.

A disintegration of the country on racial and linguistic lines would be another tool against the country, followed by a military disruption similar to that of Yugoslavia, Memon feared.

Senate Chairman Jan Muhammad Jamali said that it was a serious matter and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani should brief the House on national security and territorial and strategic threats faced by the nation.

Leader of the House Raza Rabbani said the government would not allow anyone to harm the integrity of Pakistan.

‘Justice Saeed being rewarded for role in 1997 judicial crisis’

* Justice (r) Sajjad says Nawaz offered him Presidency for dismissal of corruption cases

ISLAMABAD: PML-N presidential candidate Justice (r) Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui is being rewarded for his role in the 1997 judicial crisis, former chief justice of Pakistan Sajjad Ali Shah has said.

In an interview with Radio Pakistan’s current affairs channel, Shah said 10 SC judges became part of the plan that led to his ouster and an attack on the SC building in 1997.

He said he had written a letter to the then president Rafiq Tarar for filing a reference against the judges of the Supreme Judicial Council, but the prime minister at that time, Nawaz Sharif, withheld the request for the reference.

Shah said Tarar had also helped the government in enlisting support of the judges and “that is why he was made the president for his services”.

Nawaz’s offer: Separately, Shah told News One TV channel that Nawaz had offered him the Presidency and, in return, demanded the dismissal of corruption cases related to the PML-N chief’s second term in government.

The former chief justice said that Nawaz and his ministers had also conspired to kill him. He said PML-Quaid presidential candidate Mushahid Hussain was involved in the attack on the SC, which he claimed, was masterminded by Siddiqui. “The then army chief and president watched the footage of the attack in which Hussain and former Ehtesab Bureau chief Saifur Rehman were also seen,” Shah said.

FATA operation may stop today

LAHORE: An agreement between the parliamentarians from the FATA and federal government to cease the military operations in the Tribal Areas is likely by Saturday (today), Geo News reported. While talking to the channel on Friday, leader of FATA legislators in the National Assembly Munir Orazkai said that PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari had assured him of halting the operations for one and a half month. He said he had told Zardari that the FATA MPs would not support his presidential campaign and would quit the coalition if the operations did not cease immediately. Orakzai expressed satisfaction over Zardari’s assurance, but said he was waiting for an official announcement by the government.

Airstrike kills 25 militants in Swat

* Army says ‘core of militants’ perished

MINGORA: At least 25 militants, including two Taliban commanders, were killed in an airstrike on militant hideouts in the Swat valley late on Friday.

A private jail and an ammunition depot of militants were among the airstrike targets.

A military spokesman in Swat told AFP that “a core of militants” had perished in the operation. “Their command and communications structure has also been destroyed,” he said.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said Taliban commander Mufti Saeedur Rehman and local journalist Abdul Aziz Shaheen, who was abducted two days ago, were also killed in the attack on the private jail.

The spokesman said 39 government officials were also in the jail, but did not elaborate further.

He said the security forces targeted 15 locations in Matta tehsil of Swat, adding that Taliban leader Fazlullah was safe.Militants killed a person suspecting him of being a government informer.

They also bombed the house of a local Awami National Party (ANP) leader at Shakardara late on Thursday. A mortar shell hit the house of Peace Committee Chairman Sher Khan, killing his brother.

PPP should pull out of Punjab govt: PML-N

ISLAMABAD: The PPP should pull out of the Punjab government after the exit of the PML-N from the ruling coalition, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq said on Friday.

Talking to reporters outside the Punjab House after a PML-N meeting, he said that his party would continue to run the Punjab government. The PML-N had decided that it would not rejoin the PPP-led ruling coalition, he said, adding that the party would not withdraw its presidential candidate.

The PML-N meeting, chaired by party chief Nawaz Sharif, discussed the political situation in the country with a focus on the presidential elections.

Zafarul Haq said that it was decided at the meeting that the PML-N would continue consultations with other political parties to gain support for its presidential candidate Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui. He said that an important political development was expected within next 24 hours.

The PML-N chairman said that talks were underway with the PML-Q.

Zardari changes home over security fears

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman and presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari has moved into a tightly guarded government compound over security fears, The Associated Press quoted officials as saying on Friday.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters on Friday that Zardari was staying at a hilltop mansion in government quarters of Islamabad “for security reasons”. The prime minister did not elaborate. However, an intelligence official said that there had been reports that the presidential hopeful could be the target of an attack and that he had switched locations after Musharraf’s August 18 resignation

US prepares military blitz against Iran’s N-sites

* UK paper says prospect of military action could put Washington at odds with Britain
* Pentagon planners believe raids can hold back Iran’s nuclear programme

LAHORE: Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran’s nuclear sites as a “last resort” to block Tehran’s efforts to develop an atomic bomb, the Sunday Telegraph reported on Friday.

The British newspaper reported that US Central Command and Strategic Command planners had been identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation. “This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment,” the newspapers quoted a senior Pentagon adviser as saying. “This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months.”

Possible conflict: The report said the prospect of military action could put Washington at odds with Britain, which feared that an attack would spark violence across the Middle East, reprisals in the West and may not cripple Tehran’s nuclear programme. It said the steady flow of disclosures about Iran’s secret nuclear operations and the anti-Israeli threats by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had prompted the fresh assessment of military options by Washington. The most likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B2 bombers, each armed with up to 40,000lb of precision weapons, including the latest bunker-busting devices, the newspaper reported.

Attack, a good defence: Reportedly, Tehran has dispersed its nuclear plants, burying some deep underground, and has recently increased its air defences, but Pentagon planners believe that the raids could seriously set back Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iran was last weekend reported to the United Nations Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency for its banned nuclear activities. Tehran reacted by announcing that it would resume full-scale uranium enrichment – producing material that could arm nuclear devices. President George W Bush has refused to rule out military action and reaffirmed last weekend that Iran’s nuclear ambitions “will not be tolerated”.

PBC satisfied with restoration of SHC judges

ISLAMABAD: The Co-ordination Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Friday expressed its satisfaction over the oath taking of eight deposed judges of the Sindh High Court. The PBC called it a partial success of the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of sacked judges. The committee however stressed that the lawyers’ movement will continue until all sacked judges were restored. Committee Chairman Pervaiz Inayat Malik said that protesting for the judiciary’s restoration through sit-ins was not a decision of the PBC and termed it a conspiracy to divide lawyers.

Justice Dogar is lawful CJP, says Naik

ISLAMABAD: Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar is the constitutional CJP as he has taken oath under the Third Schedule of the Constitution, Law Minister Farooq H Naik told reporters outside the Parliament House on Friday. Naik said reinstating Iftikhar Chaudhry with Dogar in office would create a constitutional crisis. He said the representative bodies of the lawyers should sit with the government and devise a way to avoid any constitutional impasse. Naik said the government was not condoning the actions of Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf, but its hands were tied after the SC validated the emergency actions of November 3, 2007.

Resignations of PML-N ministers will be accepted soon: PM: No deadline on judges: Gilani

* PM says PPP has no personal differences with PML-N
* MQM to be coalition partner in Centre soon
* Zardari is not withdrawing

KARACHI: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is committed to the promise to restore the sacked judges but cannot give a deadline for the reinstatement, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Friday.

Talking to reporters at Karachi International Airport, Gilani said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had asked him to accept the resignations of the PML-N ministers. Gilani said he had informed Nisar that the resignations would be accepted soon after consultations.

Differences: The prime minister said he had made it clear on Nisar that the PPP did not have any personal differences with the PML-N, but a principle stance on the judges’ issue.

“ The PPP has rendered enormous sacrifices for the cause of democracy. We do not have any personnel differences with PML-N and we are committed to ensure implementation of the Charter of Democracy signed by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and the late Benazir Bhutto,” he said.

MQM: Gilani said the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was an allied party. He said that the PPP and the MQM were together in Sindh and would be partners in the Centre soon. He said the government faced law and order and several other crises and the extremists should lay down their arms and renounce violence, as the government was ready to negotiate with them.

Gilani said that anyone challenging the government’s writ would be dealt with an iron hand.

“Talks are underway with the tribal elders for peace in the Tribal Areas and we would also hold talks with militants if they lay down their arms,” he said.

The prime minister said that it was the government’s responsibility to ensure the people’s security and every measure would be taken for the purpose.

Withdrawal: Gilani made it clear that PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari will not withdraw his candidature for the president’s office. He rejected media speculations that Zardari may withdraw his candidature, adding that there was no such thing on the cards.

The prime minister urged all political parties to support Asif Zardari in the presidential elections, saying that both the prime minister and president should be from the same party in order to bring about political stability in the country.

He declared that there would be no compromise on the dignity, sovereignty and respect of Pakistan. The prime minister referred to his meeting with United States President George Bush and said that Bush had stated, “We would respect the sovereignty of Pakistan.”

Source: Daily Times.
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Zardari very friendly to India: Narayanan

* Indian security adviser says Gen Ashfaq Kayani ‘widely respected soldier’

LAHORE: Presidential frontrunner Asif Zardari “is very friendly to India” but may not be able to deliver on his promise of good ties with it, Indian National Security Adviser MK Narayanan said on Saturday, in his first comments on Pakistan since General (r) Musharraf’s resignation.

Talking to the CNBC TV18 channel in its programme India Tonight, he said the rift between Zardari and Nawaz Sharif was not likely to narrow and expressed doubts the PPP government would be stable.

He said Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani was “a widely respected professional soldier”, but questioned whether he had the power to control the ISI. “General Kayani ... is not interested in running Pakistan other than in defending Pakistan . . . The question is will General Kayani work against our interests? I don’t think we’ve seen any evidence that he will.”

Nawaz, Ifitkhar will be left alone, says Fazl

LAHORE: The sacked judges were being reinstated one after the other and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif and sacked chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry would eventually be left alone, ARY One World quoted Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as saying on Saturday. The channel quoted Rehman as saying that all the demands by his party made to the government had been accepted, adding that his party had decided to back Asif Zardari.

Four sacked LHC judges take oath

* Strength of LHC judges increased to 60

LAHORE: The government reappointed four sacked judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday and increased the strength of LHC judges from 50 to 60.

The judges took oath at the LHC Judges’ Lounge at about 2pm after the government notified the two measures separately.

LHC Chief Justice Sayed Zahid Hussain administered the oath to Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Umar Ata Bandial. Punjab Advocate General Khawaja Haris attended the event, but LHCBA officials did not.

The reappointment notice contained a clause that the judges will retain the seniority at which they were sacked.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Hamid Farooq and Justice Akhtar Shabbir met the LHC chief justice before the new judges took oath.

Zardari, Nawaz to decide on alliance in Punjab: Sherry

ISLAMABAD: Party leaders will decide the fate of the alliance between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which is continuing at the Centre and in the provinces, Information Minister Sherry Rehman said on Saturday. She told reporters that the PPP wanted politics of reconciliation and not that of confrontation. She called reports about the withdrawal of PPP ministers from the Punjab government as baseless and mere speculations. “Protests and sit-ins are democratic rights of all political parties,” she said, but added that sit-ins would not help in the prevailing situation.

Zardari support resolution in BA deferred

QUETTA: The coalition partners in the Balochistan government on Saturday agreed to defer a resolution in the Balochistan Assembly supporting PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari as president of Pakistan until Monday due to “unavoidable circumstances”. PPP Minister Sadiq Umrani informed the speaker that he could not table the resolution as some members and ministers were absent, and requested more time. JUI-F Parliamentary Leader Maulana Abdul Wasey objected to the speaker deferring the resolution. He said his party, a major coalition partner in the province, had not been consulted on the deferral.

Sherpao to back Zardari in presidential election

* PPP-S chief says his party won’t join government

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao (PPP-S) on Saturday announced it would support Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in the September 6 presidential election.

“We have decided to vote for PPP presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari. We believe there should be a complete harmony among the offices of the prime minister and the president,” PPP-S chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said at a news conference at his residence.

Sherpao said Pakistan was facing serious challenges, especially security threats, which should be countered by taking all stakeholders on board.

“I have telephoned Zardari asking him to resolve the security issue by taking all political parties on board,” he said, urging political parties to unite in the prevailing political situation.

Sherpao said his party had sided with ‘democratic forces’ when the PPP announced its intention to impeach former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf. He urged the PPP-led government to resolve the issue of provincial autonomy, settle the displaced people in the NWFP and improve Pak-Afghan relations.

Won’t join government: To a question, the PPP-S chief said his party would not join the government despite its support for Zardari in the presidential election.

He also denied any role in the political victimisation of former premier Benazir Bhutto and Zardari during Musharraf’s rule, saying he had nothing to do with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Fazlullah commanders among 40 militants killed in Swat airstrike

MINGORA: Forty militants were killed in an air strike targetting a rebel stronghold in Swat, a military spokesman said on Saturday. Fighter jets bombed hideouts in Peochar valley, a stronghold of top Taliban cleric Mullah Fazlullah, on Friday. Army spokesman Major Nasir Ali said the dead included two senior Fazlullah commanders. Local officials said Fazlullah escaped Saturday’s attack but his group suffered ‘massive damage’. Ali said the group’s ‘core militants’ were killed and its communication network destroyed in the operation, one of the bloodiest raids since the army launched the offensive. Meanwhile, Taliban killed a police constable and a civilian in different areas of Swat on Saturday. In Manglor area of Swat, militants bombed the houses of union council nazim Jamshed Ali Khan and his two brothers, locals said.

‘Terrorism has left psychological scars on military, civilians alike’

ISLAMABAD: The government will support setting up of a modern psychotrauma research centre to deal with the psychological effects of terrorist attacks, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday. Inaugurating the first international conference on psychotrauma, the premier said “we will ensure the implementation of the Plan of Action as proposed by the conference to deal with the serious issue”. The people of Pakistan have been traumatised by some of the worst terrorist attacks in the history. “However the nation has the resilience and the courage to stand up to such challenges,” Gilani told the participants of the conference titled, “Trauma in the changing world; challenges and opportunities”. Gilani said the Pakistan Army was at the forefront in the war against terrorism and was confronting this trauma daily

FATA operation suspended

* Rehman Malik says step taken in honour of Ramazan
* Military will respond ‘with full force’ if attacked
* Displaced people should ‘return home and fast’
* Govt using satellites to monitor militant activities

LAHORE: The military operation in the Tribal Areas will be suspended on August 31 in the honour of the holy month of Ramazan, Interior Adviser Rehman Malik said on Saturday.

But he said the military would respond ‘with full force’ if it were attacked.

“It is not a ceasefire,” he said while talking to reporters after a seminar titled ‘Secure Pakistan’ organised by the Federal Investigation Agency. “If they fire a single bullet we will respond with 10 bullets.”

Return home and fast: The people who had to leave their homes because of violence should return home and fast, Malik said, assuring them that the security forces would look after their lives and property.

To a question, he said 23,000 of the displaced people had already returned to their homes.

He said locals had started playing a role against militants, stopping them from entering their areas and fighting them if they resisted.

He said 77 of the 811 ‘missing persons’ had been recovered and the government had formed a committee to probe the remaining cases.

To a question, he said the government would give full support to Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

Satellites: Malik said the government was using satellites to monitor militant activities and had arrested 562 people belonging to militant organisations ‘in the recent past’.

He said the government was pursuing a ‘no-leniency policy’ towards militants and would not hold talks with them.

He asked the media to help the government counter militancy and asked reporters not to portray militants as heroes.

Earlier, addressing the seminar, Malik said the government would set up courts ‘in a few months’ to deal with cyber crime.

He also said the Balochistan Assembly would pass a resolution in support of Asif Zardari as a presidential candidate after legislators returned from a foreign tour.

Source: Daily Times.

Bahrain deports top terrorist to Philippines

MANAMA: The founder of a group blamed for a ferry bombing in the Philippines that killed 116 people four years ago was arrested here and deported to the Philippines.

Ruben Pestano Lavilla Jr., also known as Sheik Omar Lavilla, was deported to Manila yesterday, more than a month after he was arrested in Bahrain.

Marcelino Libanan, head of the immigration commission in Manila, said the 35-year-old militant leader was working as an editor of a local magazine and was also hired as an interpreter at the Philippine Embassy in Bahrain.

Officials at the embassy confirmed reports about Lavilla’s deportation, but Consul General Jose Burgos could not confirm claims he had been working as an interpreter at the embassy. “I cannot confirm or comment on the issue as I am not aware of it,” Burgos said.

Officials from the Bahraini Ministry of Interior were not available for comment, when contacted by Arab News.

Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor said in Manila that Bahraini authorities arrested Lavilla on July 24 after a Philippine Embassy security check on job applicants found he had outstanding warrants for murder and rebellion in the Philippines.

It took a month for the deportation process to be completed, including a confirmation by the Bahraini government of the existence of the Philippine arrest warrants, the creation of a team to bring Lavilla back to Manila and other preparations that “conform with the international law on human rights,” Blancaflor said.

Fernando Mesa, executive director of the Philippine government’s Anti-terrorism Council, said Lavilla was wanted for the country’s worst militant attack, the bombing of a ferry near Manila Bay in 2004.

: Arab News.

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Punjab govt ‘takes over’ 72 flour mills

Monday, September 01, 2008

LAHORE: A war of nerves has started between flour millers and the Punjab government after its officials 'took over' 72 flour mills of Lahore and Sheikhupura region besides taking into custody flour stocks in different districts during the wee hours on Sunday.

The officials of police, food and revenue departments of the Punjab government took part in the operation to ensure the flour supply to Sunday bazaars. The Punjab government took the extreme step after the refusal of flour millers to do so.

Punjab Food Secretary Rao Iftikhar, talking to The News, said as many as 341 flour mills out of total 600 had announced their full support to the Punjab government. The association has objection to the formula of population-based wheat quota release, inter-district flour and wheat movement, and cancellation of wheat quota of 57 flour mills.

The Punjab government has not taken over any of the flour mills, he said, adding it had just deputed its officials at the mills to regulate the flour supply. "The government has right to regulate flour supply and keep a vigilant eye on the wheat supplied by it," Rao said.

According to government calculations, a flour mill with four rollers can earn Rs 300,000 a month if it gets wheat at Rs 560 per maund. But this profit is not acceptable to the flour mills which earned much more profit during the last season.

Immediately after the Punjab government's action against the flour millers, the Pakistan Flour Mills Association Punjab branch called a press conference threatening that the flour supply would deteriorate.

However, an official of the Punjab Food Department said they had made all the arrangements to ensure availability of the staple food at Rs 300 per 20 kilogram during Ramazan. After Ramazan, he said, the provincial government would evolve a new policy and price.

Sources in the flour milling industry said there was rift among the members of the association. Flour Mills Association's Sargodha Division vice chairman Iftikhar Sidhu said he had already been lifting wheat quota from the government godowns and ensuring the price and supply to his division. He has influence in his division over the association members and is also annoyed with the chairman of the Punjab Branch of the Association, Habib-ur-Rehman Legahri, on the flour quota and supply to NWFP and Balochistan.

Similarly, the association members of the Rawalpindi division have differences with the chairman as he did not support them in a strike call given by them recently. Now almost every flour mill in Rawalpindi division is lifting the wheat quota regularly from the government godowns.

The Pakistan Flour Mills Association (Punjab Branch) chairman said at the press conference that the association had prepared a writ petition against the Punjab government on the imposition of inter-district flour movement ban, Wheat Release Policy 2008-09, 'illegal' takeover of flour mills and confiscation of flour after breaking the locks of their mills. On the other hand, the Punjab government said it was ready to fight the millers even in courts.

Leghari showed the keys of the flour mills of Lahore and Sheikhupura region and said the remaining flour millers in the province would also give the government their keys today (Monday) in the general body meeting of the association.

The meeting will decide as to which official of the Punjab government will be given the keys of all the mills in Punjab. He said the Punjab government should itself run the flour mills and supply flour to the people. He added the Punjab government would be responsible for paying electricity bills.

Leghari said the association had been cooperating with the Punjab government over the last three months but the government had disappointed them. He claimed that the Punjab government last year paid Rs 52.50 for grinding 20 kilogram of wheat but now it was paying only Rs 10 under the new policy.

He alleged that the Punjab food secretary had kept Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the dark by portraying a wrong picture. He condemned the registration of FIRs against the millers.

He said the millers did not want confrontation with the government or to make the public suffer during Ramazan. He claimed that none of the millers had announced their support to the Punjab government.

12 die as bus falls into drain near Narowal

Monday, September 01, 2008

SHEIKHUPURA: Twelve passengers, including six children and four women, were killed and 50 others seriously injured when a bus fell into a drain on the Muridke-Narowal road on Sunday.

The overloaded passenger bus was on way to Narowal from Lahore, when it fell into a drain near Bhago Dial village while saving a motorcycle-rickshaw. As a result, 12 passengers, including Faryad, Razia Bibi, Naziran and nine unidentified people, including women and children, died instantly while more than 50, including Muhammad Boota, Muhammad Ramazan Shahzad, Allah Rakha, Tahir and others were seriously injured.

EDO (Health) Zafar Iqbal Khokhar said emergency had been declared at the Muridke Tehsil Headquarters Hospital while most of the injured passengers were rushed to the Mayo Hospital. Rescue teams of police, Edhi ambulances and civil organisations rushed to the spot and took out bodies and injured people from the drain. An eyewitness, Muhammad Lukman, said he had taken out 12 bodies from the nullah.

18 local Taliban surrender to Peshawar police

Monday, September 01, 2008

PESHAWAR: The Capital City Police achieved a major breakthrough on Saturday when 18 local Taliban surrendered before it after a Jirga successfully brokered a peace deal between the law enforcers, elders of the Mattani Adezai and local elite.

The Taliban and the elders swore on holy Qur’aan that they would give their full support to the police and remain peaceful. The Jirga was held at the Police Club, Peshawar, where it remained in session for three days.

Addressing the Jirga, Chief of Capital City Police, Dr Muhammad Suleman, said being Muslims, it was our duty to live like brothers and maintain cohesion in our ranks and file. The youth of the Mattani Adezai area swore that they would work for the supremacy of Islam, honour and dignity of the country and fight against the miscreants.

They gave full assurance to the police in this regard. It was also agreed upon that violators of the agreement would be dealt with according to the law. SSP Operations Peshawar, Kashif Alam, SSP Rural Nasirul Mulk Bangash, SP Chaudhry Ashraf and DSP Peshawar Cantt Rashid Khan repres-ented the police while Dilawar Khan, Haji Niaz Muhammad, Nazim Asad Khan, Shamsher Ali, Hazrat Khan, Waqif Khan, Haji Abdus Kalam, Malik Hasham and youth of the area represented the elders of the Mattani Adezai on the Jirga.

Asian pollutants threaten US

Monday, September 01, 2008

WASHINGTON: From 500 miles in space, satellites track brown clouds of dust, soot and other toxic pollutants from China and elsewhere in Asia as they stream across the Pacific and take dead aim at the western US.

A fleet of tiny, specially equipped unmanned aerial vehicles, launched from an island in the East China Sea 700 or so miles downwind of Beijing , are flying through the projected paths of the pollution taking chemical samples and recording temperatures, humidity levels and sunlight intensity in the clouds of smog.

On the summit of 9,000-foot Mt. Bachelor in central Oregon and near sea level at Cheeka Peak on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula, monitors track the pollution as it arrives in America.

By some estimates more than 10 billion pounds of airborne pollutants from Asia — ranging from soot to mercury to carbon dioxide to ozone — reach the US annually. The problem is only expected to worsen: Some Chinese officials have warned that pollution in their country could quadruple in the next 15 years.

While some scientists are less certain, others say the Asian pollution could destabilise weather patterns across the North Pacific, mask the effects of global warming, reduce rainfall in the American West and compromise efforts to meet air-pollution standards.

“East Asia pollution aerosols could impose far reaching environmental impacts at continental, hemispheric and global scales because of long-range transport,” according to a report earlier this year in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The report said that a “warm conveyor belt” lifts the pollutants into the upper troposphere — the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere — over Asia, where winds can bring it to the US in a week or less.

The National Academies of Science, at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and in consultation with the State Department, has assembled a panel to examine the problem and its impact. Its report is due next summer.

“Everyone realizes this is an issue of growing importance,” said Laurie Geller of the National Academies of Science. “This is very challenging science with lots of complexities and a lot of uncertainties.”

Though the problem of Asian air pollution has been known for years, no one has a handle on how much is blown in and what it includes. Scientists say Washington state and Oregon might be feeling the brunt of the effects.

“This pollution is distributed on average equally from northern California to British Columbia,” said Dan Jaffe, a professor of environmental science at the University of Washington’s Bothell campus. “Anyone who has gone out to measure it has found something.”

Particulates such as dust and soot, along with heavy metals, pesticides, PCBs, mercury, ozone, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide have all been found. Jaffe said the pollutants can’t be tracked to a single source such as a particular coal-burning plant, but their “chemical fingerprints” can point to a specific country.

Viruses, bacteria and fungi also can be transported on dust particles, though, so far, they’ve been found only on the dust and sand blowing off African deserts, not Asian ones.

Taliban divided over ceasefire

Monday, September 01, 2008

ISLAMABAD/MINGORA: The Taliban were divided on Sunday in their response to the government’s decision to suspend the military operation against them during Ramazan.

“It’s a joke. It isn’t a matter of holy or unholy. All months are holy. If they want to end fighting, it should be permanent,” Muslim Khan, Taliban spokesman in Swat, told Reuters. In an apparent act of defiance, the Taliban bombed the abandoned house of PML-Q leader Haroonur Rashid.

But TTP spokesman Maulvi Omar welcomed the government’s offer and said his group would release six soldiers. A complete ceasefire was observed in Dara Adam Khel on Sunday.

Assets worth Rs 50m lost in fire

Monday, September 01, 2008

LAHORE: A fire broke out in Liberty Plaza on Sunday at noon and reduced valuables worth more than Rs 50 million to ashes.

Rescue officials claimed that the incident occurred due to a short circuit. They said that the market was closed when the fire occurred, due to which the incident was reported a bit late, which resulted in a huge loss. They said that locals called for help upon seeing the flames. Which said that they extinguished the fire after a continuous effort of three hours once they reached the site.

Rescue sources claimed that three locals and a rescue official received minor injuries while extinguishing the fire. They claimed that the fire had engulfed 15 shops in the plaza, but they had managed to save valuable worth millions of rupees during the rescue operation.

Liberty Market Businessmen Association member Rana Tariq told Daily Times that three shops, including a cosmetics shop, had been destroyed in the fire, while 12 other shops were partially damaged. He said that the owner of a cosmetics shop claimed to have lost valuables worth Rs 30 million in the fire.

He said that the fire might have been caused due to the negligence of labourers who were working in one of the tailor shops and had left in the morning. “We believe that one of them might have left the iron plugged in and switched on,” he said.
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Muslims protest after IHK shrine deal

* One killed, 15 injured as forces, protesters clash in Srinagar

SRINAGAR: Hindus in Indian-held Kashmir on Sunday suspended two month of protest after the government agreed to temporarily provide land to a Hindu trust, while one person was killed when security forces fired on Muslims protesting against the decision.

Authorities re-imposed a curfew in many areas of Kashmir after briefly relaxing it earlier in the day, as protesters clashed with police in the summer capital Srinagar.

According to the BBC, the decision to allow the land to be used for the Hindu pilgrimage was made in a meeting between a government panel and the Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Smeeti on Sunday.

Under the new deal, 40 hectares of land will be available to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board every year but only during the pilgrimage.

“The shrine board will now exclusively use the land during the pilgrimage period,” said Leela Karan Sharma, the head of a Hindu group that was leading the protests in Hindu-dominated Jammu.

Protests: Agitated Muslims staged huge protests as soon as the news of the deal was made public. Indian paramilitary troops and police used firing, tear gas and baton-charge to disperse the protesters, which resulted in the death of one person and injured 15 in the outskirts of Srinagar.

The protesters argued the land transfer was being done to change the demographics in the valley but India says it has never encouraged Hindus to settle in the region.

Dr Saleem Iqbal of Mahraja Hari Singh Hospital confirmed the death and said three of the injured were in a critical condition.

Meanwhile, authorities have imposed a strict curfew in Jammu, saying that hardliner groups, who have threatened to kill a leader of the Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Smeeti, were spotted in the area.

Kashmiri separatists have rejected the latest deal. “We reject this deal. But it is not a major issue for us as we are pre-occupied with our freedom struggle,” a statement quoted senior separatist Masarat Alam as saying.

Missile strike kills six in Miranshah

PESHAWAR: A missile fired from an unmanned aircraft hit a house in North Waziristan, killing six suspected foreign militants and injuring as many locals, residents and officials said.

The incident occurred in the Ghundi Kili village, 15 kilometres east of Miranshah, at around 3pm. The residents said injured were passers-by.

Meanwhile, locals found the bullet-riddled body of an Afghan refugee at Tal Pul, 25 kilometres south of Miranshah. The body’s left leg was also amputated. A note found on the body read deceased Sher Baz had been working for an intelligence agency for the past 20 years. He was kidnapped two days ago.

Taliban divided over ceasefire

ISLAMABAD/MINGORA: The Taliban were divided on Sunday in their response to the government’s decision to suspend the military operation against them during Ramazan.

“It’s a joke. It isn’t a matter of holy or unholy. All months are holy. If they want to end fighting, it should be permanent,” Muslim Khan, Taliban spokesman in Swat, told Reuters. In an apparent act of defiance, the Taliban bombed the abandoned house of PML-Q leader Haroonur Rashid.

But TTP spokesman Maulvi Omar welcomed the government’s offer and said his group would release six soldiers. A complete ceasefire was observed in Dara Adam Khel on Sunday.

Tribesmen torch Taliban houses in Bajaur

KHAR: Tribesmen in Bajaur Agency’s Salarzai tehsil on Sunday formed a private army (lashkar) of around 30,000 people against the local Taliban. A local jirga decided to form the lashkar in the wake of the increasing presence of the local Taliban in the area. The lashkar torched 14 houses, including the house of a local Taliban commander. Tribal elder Malik Munsib Khan, who heads the lashkar, said tribesmen would continue their struggle until the Taliban were expelled from the area, adding that anyone found sheltering Taliban militants would be fined Rs one million and his house would be torched. The tribesmen also torched two important centres of the Taliban in the area and gained control of most of the tehsil. The action came hours after the government announced to stop the ongoing military operation against the local Taliban in Bajaur during Ramazan.

Mangal Bagh flees Landi Kotal ahead of operation

LANDI KOTAL/JAMRUD: A joint operation by the Frontier Corps (FC) and the Khasadars forced Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) chief Mangal Bagh to leave Landi Kotal on Sunday. The political administration had given a deadline to the LI to vacate the area by 11am on Sunday. The authorities closed the road leading to Torkham and imposed a curfew in Jamrud. Bagh fled for Gagrina in Bazaar Zakhakhel an hour before the operation. The FC fired at the mountains around a mosque that had been captured by the LI in Khyber. The forces took over the mosque after the LI vacated it. Meanwhile, in a clash between the LI and FC at Jamrud, an LI gunman and one security personnel were killed. Online quoted Political Agent Khyber Agency Tariq Hayat telling a private news channel that 10 LI activists were arrested from the Peshawar-Torkham road.

95 killed in Kurram Agency clashes

* More than 200 injured as Taliban-backed Bangash tribesmen attack Toori tribe
* Tooris retaliate with support of local tribal militia, capture opponent headquarters in Bugzai
* Taliban launch suicide attacks on tribal militia

PARACHINAR: At least 95 people were killed and more than 200 injured in fresh clashes between the warring Toori and Bangash tribes in Kurram Agency on Sunday.

According to sources familiar with the developments in the area, the Bangash tribe was supported by local Taliban militants.

Bangash tribe attacks: Despite a unilateral truce announced by the Toori tribe, militants of the Bangash tribe and the local Taliban launched an attack on their opponents from their Bugzai headquarters late on Saturday.

Toori tribe retaliates: Supporters of the Toori tribe and a local tribal militia retaliated and besieged the Bugzai area, trigging a fierce battle. The tribal militia attacked positions of the Bangash tribe with heavy weapons to force them to stop fighting.

Suicide attacks: The Taliban also launched suicide attacks on the tribal militia, killing 12 tribesmen.

Eight other tribesmen and 77 Taliban were also killed during the fighting, locals said.

After the hours-long battle, Toori tribesmen were reported to have occupied Bugzai - the headquarters of their opponents.

The local tribal militia also seized a large cache of weapons including suicide attack jackets from the positions abandoned by the Bangash tribe and the local Taliban.

According to local sources, at least 70 tribesmen and more than 129 Taliban were wounded in Sunday’s fighting.

The injured have been shifted to hospitals in Kotal, Hangu, Sadda and Parachinar.

The Toori tribe had earlier announced a unilateral ceasefire on the appeal of a jirga. Recent reports from the area had said the rival groups had intensified attacks on each other’s positions in several parts of the area.

Fresh sectarian clashes that began in Parachinar several days ago have left scores of people dead and wounded. Residents of the area said they had been suffering because of a shortage of food and medicine, as the government closed down the central highway leading to the area.

Vote for Zardari to save federation: PM

QUETTA: Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is the most suitable candidate for Pakistan’s president because he had played a key role in keeping the federation of Pakistan united after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, Prime Minister Yousauf Raza Gilani told a delegation of Balochistan Assembly members on Sunday. Later, talking to reporters at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, he said the PPP-led government would end the military operation in Balochistan, recover the ‘missing persons’ and help the province overcome its economic problems. He also said he would direct the Home Ministry to address complaints against the Frontier Corps (FC) and would ask the State Bank governor to listen to the province’s demands.He denied he had arrived in Quetta to appease disillusioned members of the Balochistan government. He also said Balochistan had ‘a significant role’ in the ouster of General (r) Pervez Musharraf.

PML-N to lose Punjab without PPP vote: Wattoo

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif may not be able to secure a vote of confidence without the Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) support if the party withdraws its provincial ministers, Adviser to the prime minister on Industries and Production Manzoor Wattoo said on Sunday, according to Geo News. The channel quoted Wattoo as telling a press conference in Lahore that his visit to Lahore was not aimed at ‘conquering the Punjab’.

‘National unity government key to all problems’

* PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari says his top three priorities ‘poverty alleviation, poverty alleviation, and poverty alleviation’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman and presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari believes that a government of ‘national consensus’ is the only solution to the problems faced by the country.

“A government of national consensus is the need of the hour and after my election as president, my party will work for political and national unity,” Zardari said at a chance meeting with this correspondent at the PM’s House on Sunday. An upbeat Zardari appeared confident the government would handle economic, political and security challenges. “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going,” he said with an optimistic smile.

“We need to strengthen the federation and this is possible only when we create national unity,” he said when asked about his party’s strategy vis-à-vis Punjab. However, he said the PPP would formulate a strategy to form governments of national consensus in the centre and the provinces. “It’s a fleeting moment and the politicians must seize the opportunity to save the nation and the federation.” He agreed that the situation in Balochistan and NWFP was alarming and said: “It’s not an easy task but it’s our responsibility to steer the country out of all crises.”

Priorities: Asked what would be his top three priorities, Zardari said: “Poverty alleviation, poverty alleviation and poverty alleviation.”

Source: Daily Times.
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Zehri’s statement a lie: Senator Leghari

LAHORE: Senator Jamal Leghari on Monday said a statement by Senator Sanaullah Zehri was incorrect that burying women alive was part of Baloch tradition. Talking to Express News, Leghari said Zehri’s statement was absolutely wrong, as burying women alive was not a Baloch tradition. “We do not believe in the investigation report of the government because the provincial minister whose brother is a suspect in this case is Umrani Khosa. The chief secretary of Balochistan is also a Khosa and so is the head of the investigation team,” he told reporters. He said they oppose it on the floor of the House.

Senate, Sindh PA condemn killings

ISLAMABAD: The Senate and the Sindh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed resolutions condemning the burying alive of five women in Balochistan and demanded stern action against those responsible. Acting Senate Chairman Jan Muhammad Jamali referred the issue to the Standing Committee on Human Rights. Adviser on Interior Rehman Malik told the Senate that the government had received conflicting accounts of the incident, but would conduct a forensic analysis to ascertain the cause of the women’s death. PML-Q Senator Yasmeen Shah moved the resolution in the Senate and Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri moved the resolution in the Sindh Assembly.

DPO seeks time to file report on killings

QUETTA: Jaffarabad District Police Officer (DPO) Nazeer Ahmed Kurd on Monday informed a division bench of the Balochistan High Court that investigations had been completed into the killing of three girls in Osta Muhammad Town and sought time to file a report. Advocate Zahoor Ahmed Shahwani appeared on behalf of the HRCP and sought time to file a report about the killing of the three girls on the next date of hearing. The bench consisted of Chief Justice Amanullah Khan and Justice Akhtar Zaman Malghani. The high court had taken a suo motu notice on July 16, 2008 of the three girls’ murder on July 13. The case has been adjourned until September 22.

Fathers, brother arrested for burying five Baloch women alive

* Provincial police chief says two girls’ brother has confessed to crime, federal govt sending top official to conduct probe
* Investigators exhume three bodies for autopsy

DERA MURAD JAMALI: Naseerabad police on Monday arrested seven suspects after the government ordered an investigation into the killing of three girls and two women who were allegedly shot and buried alive around two months ago in Babakot village, 320 kilometres east of Quetta.

According to Dawn News, investigators have exhumed three of the five bodies and sent them for autopsy. The arrested include the fathers of the three girls, a brother of two of the girls, a cousin of one of the girls and two others whose identities have not been disclosed.

According to reports, the five had been buried alive because the three girls had married men of their choice, while the two women had allegedly helped them. “Police have arrested seven suspects, including the brother of two of the girls,” provincial police chief Asif Nawaz Warraich told reporters.

Warraich said the brother had confessed to the crime before investigators and said that he had shot and injured his two sisters and another woman - a close relative, who had allegedly helped the girls marry men of their choice - and had later buried them alive.

The two sisters, Fozia and Janat, along with the woman, Fatima, had been buried in the jurisdiction of the Baba Kot Police Station after they had gone to Osta Muhammad, the Jaffarabad district headquarters, to marry men of their choice.

“The federal government is also sending a top police official to Quetta to investigate the murders,” said Warraich, adding, “We have no evidence so far which may substantiate media reports about the killing of the five women.”

Adviser on Interior Rehman Malik said he had ordered an inquiry into the killings and deputed a top police officer to conduct the investigation. He said he wanted a report within a week, adding, “We want facts. This isn’t a European society. We’re a different society, but violence against women cannot be tolerated either in the name of culture or religion.”

Rights groups, including the Women’s Action Forum, have demanded immediate action. “Are Pakistani women not human beings? Or are they not considered citizens, deserving equal protection under the constitution and law?” asked the group, adding, “The government needs to provide immediate answers and to take urgent action.”

More than 4,000 people, mostly women, have been killed in the rural areas of Pakistan in recent years in the name of family honour. In 2005, former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf signed a bill into law, introducing the death penalty for honour killings.

SBP directs banks to freeze TTP accounts

LAHORE: The SBP has directed all the commercial banks to freeze the bank accounts of the banned TTP, Geo News reported. The channel quoted SBP spokesman Syed Wasimuddin as saying that these accounts would no longer be usable for the deposit or withdrawal of money. According to the channel, the commercial banks have been asked to provide complete details of these bank accounts.

Lashkar captures Taliban stronghold in Kurram

PARACHINAR: A tribal lashkar formed to end militancy in Kurram Agency on Monday re-took Char Dewal and Jalmai villages, strongholds of the Taliban, while six militants among nine were killed and 26 injured in fresh clashes. Meanwhile, the local tribesmen have intensified their peace efforts and plugged all entry points to stop entry of the militants into the Kurram Agency.

Nine killed in Darra operation

* Army says militants’ back broken g Stray shell kills 10 civilians
* Tribal lashkar burns houses of four Taliban commanders

LAHORE/KHAR: At least nine people were killed and 52 others injured as the operation against militants in Darra Adam Khel continued for the fourth consecutive day on Monday, Geo News reported.

According to the channel, security forces used helicopter gunships and artillery to target suspected hideouts of militants in Orakzai Agency.

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told the Associated Press, “In our view, the back has been broken. Main leaders are on the run and the people of the area are now openly defying whatever the militants had achieved there.”

Stray shell: In Bajaur Agency, at least 10 people — including eight children — were killed and eight others wounded when an army mortar shell hit a house in the Anayat Kala area, officials and residents told Daily Times. .

A Frontier Corps (FC) official confirmed the incident, and said the deceased were civilians and that their death was an accident, AFP reported.

Houses burnt: Separately, a tribal lashkar burnt the houses of four local Taliban commanders in the agency’s Salarzai tehsil, bringing the number of burnt houses of the Taliban to 18. Locals said militants had been expelled from the Kasai, Pusht, Chelagam, Danqun and Kotki areas, following the formation of the lashkar.

TTP is an extension of Al Qaeda: Rehman

ISLAMABAD: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is “an extension of Al Qaeda” and the organisations have close ties, Interior Adviser Rehman Malik said on Monday.

“We have certain evidence that there is a close connection [and] links, and that there are similarities between Al Qaeda and the TTP,” he told reporters in Islamabad.

Asked if Al Qaeda’s deputy chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri is directly or indirectly talking to the TTP, Malik said: “If Al Qaeda is to move in a tribal area, they have to look to the TTP to get a refuge.”

“The TTP is a host to Al Qaeda and is their mouthpiece,” Malik said, adding that there was evidence that foreign fighters are operating in Pakistan. The federal government had banned the TTP last month.

According to Reuters, Malik said the security forces had missed a chance to capture Zawahiri.

Rehman Malik did not say when that was or give any more detail about the incident. He also did not say where Osama Bin Laden might be.

Malik said Zawahiri was moving between Pakistan’s Tribal Areas and the eastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Paktia.

“We certainly had traced him at one place, but we missed the chance. So he’s moving in Mohmand and, of course, sometimes in Kunar, mostly in Kunar and Paktia,” he said.

“We have also found traces of militants from the Uzbek and... Chinese militant movements in the tribal regions,” he said.

Baloch militant groups suspend their activities ‘for people’

LAHORE: Militant groups in Balochistan have suspended their ‘activities’ indefinitely, Aaj TV reported on Monday.

The groups include the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and the Balochistan Republican Army (BRA), according to the channel.

The channel quoted BLA spokesman Sarbaz Baloch as saying that the group had suspended its ‘activities’ for the Baloch people. He denied the suspension was a result of any deal with the government. He, however, warned of retaliation if security forces did not stop the use of force against the group. He demanded the government stop establishing cantonments and launching new projects in the province.

Nationalist groups in Balochistan are demanding more control over and additional benefits from the exploitation of natural resources in the province. There have been a number of attacks on gas and electricity installations in the province.

Moon sighted, 1st of Ramazan today

ISLAMABAD: The holy month of Ramazan starts today (Tuesday) after the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee announced the sighting of the moon on Monday. Committee Chairman Muneebur Rehman announced in a press conference that sufficient evidence had been received from different parts of the county that the moon had been sighted. He asked the faithful to set their watches according to the daylight saving time, under which clocks had been moved forward by one hour in June. The government had initially decided to revert the time from September 1, but the cabinet decided to continue with the daylight saving time until November 1.

‘I will be Chief Executive’

* PM says burying alive of five women in Balochistan ‘utterly disappointing’

ISLAMABAD: I will be the country’s chief executive despite Asif Ali Zardari becoming president, said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday.

In an interview with a private TV channel, the prime minister said he had good relations with former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf and would keep the same spirit with the new president. He said talks with India were continuing, adding that no compromises would be made on national integrity.

He said load shedding was a serious concern for the people, but added that the government was trying its best to control it. The prime minister said his statements regarding sacked chief justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chaudhry were being taken out of context, adding that he had never said the sacked CJ was the “Imam of sacked judges”. Gilani said the sacked judges were taking oath without any pressure.

Honour killing: Gilani said it was utterly disappointing that five women had been buried alive in the name of honour in Balochistan.

Punjab govt owes existence to PPP, says Taseer

LAHORE: It is because of the PPP’s support that the PML-N has been able to form a government in the Punjab, Governor Salmaan Taseer said on Monday. According to Geo News, he said no one would be allowed to use state resources in Punjab for the presidential election.

Nawaz asks PPP to respect PML-N’s mandate in Punjab

* PML-N chief says ongoing political crisis will persist if judiciary not restored
* Zardari’s personal agenda overrides national agenda

LAHORE: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) should respect the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s mandate in Punjab the way the PML-N respects the PPP’s mandate in the Centre, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said on Sunday.

According to Dawn News, Nawaz told foreign reporters the ongoing political crisis was likely to persist if the sacked judges were not restored.

According to Geo News, he said Pakistan could not afford another round of political confrontation and urged political parties to act responsibly.

He said he did not want to recall the memories of differences among political parties in the past. Talking to Aaj TV, the PML-N chief said Pakistan needed to evolve a national policy to combat terrorism and extremism.

“The PML-N has time and again said that the issue of terrorism and extremism should be discussed in the parliament as the country direly needs a national policy on the issue.”

To a question, he said the PML-N would play a “constructive role” in the parliament and support the PPP-led government in all its “positive endeavours”.

Personal agenda: In an interview with the Indian Tehelka magazine, Nawaz said PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari’s personal agenda overrode the national agenda.

Talking about his party’s withdrawal from the ruling alliance, he said: “We wanted to put the country back on the rails, correct all the wrongs done by the dictators. We wanted to throw out all the amendments to the constitution that were brought in by the dictators. In fact, we wanted to examine military intervention in politics for all times to come. This was the real agenda ... What I would say here is that there was a personal agenda which became more important than the national agenda.”

Musharraf victim of liberal policies, says Mushahid

LAHORE: Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf is the victim of the success of his own liberal policies, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Secretary General Mushahid Hussain wrote in an article for Tehelka Magazine’s September 6 issue.

Mushahid said in the article that Musharraf was a military ruler with a difference. He had a liberal outlook and his economic policies led to the emergence of an assertive and articulate middle class. In fact, he was the victim of his own success, he said.

Musharraf will be remembered for three major pluses, Mushahid said.

He was the first military ruler to engage India in an institutional peace process. The main security threat to Pakistan was redefined, away from India, to the internally generated spectre of extremism.

He presided over one of the fastest media revolutions in any third world country. Within five years, Pakistan moved from one state-owned television channel to over 50 privately owned news and entertainment channels. The media revolution gave the urban middle class the confidence to challenge state authority, the PML-Q leader wrote.

The role and representation of women in Pakistan’s public life received a boost through Musharraf’s policies, ranging from reversing the wrongs of the Zia era, to promoting one-third representation for women in Pakistan’s electoral system.

Balochistan PA resolution backs Zardari

QUETTA: The Balochistan Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on Monday supporting Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ail Zardari for the office of the president for the September 6 presidential election. Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani moved the joint resolution on the floor of the Balochistan Assembly, which had been signed by leaders of various parties. Raisani said the assembly supported Zardari’s candidature for the office of the president because he was the most suitable candidate in the present circumstances. The assembly also debated the controversial role of the FC in Balochistan.

Real test after September 6, says Zardari

LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said that his party’s real test will begin after it enters the Presidency, Dawn News reported on Monday. Addressing PPP lawmakers from Punjab at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the PM House, Zardari said his party wanted to take along all other political parties for the sake of democracy and political stability in the country. Giving credit to the PPP for ousting a dictator through dialogue, Zardari thanked Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain for proposing his name for the Presidency

New PML-Q ‘forward bloc’ to back Zardari

* 8 PML-Q MPs meet PM
* Zardari contacts PML-Q members
* Malakand MPs including Amir Muqam to back PPP candidate

ISLAMABAD: A new group of dissident Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) legislators assured Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in a meeting on Monday of support for Pakistan People’s Party presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari.

A delegation led by Acting Senate Chairman Jam Muhammad Jamali met Gilani at the prime minister’s house.

The group includes Senator Wali Muhammad Badini, Senator Muhabat Khan, Senator Amjad Abbas, Senator Zafar Iqbal, Senator Kulsoom Parveen, Senator Rehana Yahya and Member of National Assembly Ahmadan Khan Bugti.

Meanwhile, the PPP intensified lobbying for its co-chairman and its top leadership contacted legislators from the PML-Q individually.

Sources privy to the developments said Zardari had been contacting members of the former ruling party. A number of these lawmakers, including some top PML-Q leaders, have assured Zardari of support, they added.

“I have received at least three calls from Zardari and the prime minister has made several requests. If our leadership fails to evolve a clear policy, I may vote for Zardari,” said a top PML-Q leader, holding a key portfolio in the National Assembly.

To a question, he said a National Assembly member from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had also contacted him, but not the top PML-N leadership.

Several PML-Q leaders confirmed Zardari or Gilani had approached them.

MPs: Parliamentarians from Malakand Division including PML-Q’s Amir Muqam also announced their support for Zardari in a meeting with State Affairs Minister Najamuddin Khan.

Source: Daily Times.
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Unemployed included in Benazir Income Support Programme

* 4.6 million people to benefit from scheme
* NADRA to provide govt with list of eligible families, CNICs to be primary database

ISLAMABAD: The government is likely to extend the scope of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to include unemployed married males aged 25 and above, households headed by women, the disabled, widows and poor households.

The National Steering Committee on the BISP had approved the selection criteria, which would benefit an estimated 4.6 million people at a total cost of Rs 42 billion. Earlier, the cost of the BISP was estimated at Rs 34 billion with 3.6 million beneficiaries across the country.

Finance Minister Naveed Qamar chaired the third National Steering Committee meeting to review the strategy and implementation mechanism for immediate relief to the needy households under the income support programme. The Economic Co-ordination Committee of the cabinet in its meeting of May 6 had decided to constitute a Ministerial Committee headed by the finance minister to finalise a comprehensive plan, taking into account the result of immediate relief to the needy families and also finalise a scheme for the grant of targeted subsidy on essential food items to them.

The Steering Committee held its third meeting to review the structure of the programme, determine policy on efficient targeting and disbursement criteria mechanism, financing of the programme and the overall policy framework for its execution. Representative of the provincial governments also attended the meeting.

The government has launched the BISP with an initial allocation of Rs 34 billion to be disbursed amongst the target households. The programme envisages a cash grant of Rs1,000 per month aiming to provide relief to the economically stressed segments of society.

In its second meeting, the Steering Committee had approved the selection criteria that would benefit an estimated 4.6 million people at a total cost of Rs 42 billion. The criteria state that all married males aged 25 and above and educated up to primary, or informally educated or illiterate and unemployed should be included. The criteria state that all families with female heads should also be included. Moreover, it would include the disabled. The criteria exclude families that have members who are government employees or possess machine-readable passport or possess computerised national identity cards (CNICs) meant for overseas Pakistanis. District co-ordination officers (DCOs) would be the co-ordinators of the BISP at the district level. BISP releases will be made after every two months.

NADRA: The NADRA has been tasked with providing a list of eligible families/households at the designated places during September 2008. CNICs will be used as the primary database. Those not having a CNIC will be encouraged to apply for a card free of cost and data will be continuously updated to include eligible households.

The objective of the programme is to reach the poor directly to protect them from financial discomfort and special consideration has been given to minimise and prevent leakages and misappropriation. The administrative cost estimates are expected to be around one-three percent of the total programme size. The income support programme initially intends to cover 2.8-3.4 million families selected electronically through the NADRA database using different variables. The NADRA will transmit lists of eligible cardholders to the BISP Programme Implementation Unit, DCOs, union councils, banks and post offices. The list of eligible cardholders will also be publicly displayed.

The BISP disbursement will initially be made through the countrywide network of post offices. The committee advised the BISP management to complete its homework for the constitution of a board to run the administrative and operational matters of the BISP project.

Dr Nasim resigns as NCHD head

ISLAMABAD: National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) Chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf resigned from his office on Tuesday.

Ashraf stated that he had been privileged to serve the people of Pakistan since 2002 as NCHD chairman. “However, I feel that it is appropriate that a new person be appointed by the new government to this challenging position.”

He thanked his colleagues for their support, listed NCHD achievements and expressed the hope that the NCHD would continue functioning despite financial constraints.

Two more sacked SHC judges ready to return

KARACHI: Two more Sindh High Court (SHC) judges sacked on November 3, 2007 agreed on a reappointment, sources privy to the developments told Daily Times.

An official announcement in this regard is likely in one or two days, officials said.

An official car and security guards were sent back to the residence of one of the two judges, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The sources also said the government had asked two SHC judges – Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany and Justice Mushir Alam – to be sent to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the SHC issued a seniority list of all 26 of its judges on Monday.

PML-N allotted seats on Senate opposition benches

* Senator Saadia Abbasi remains seated on treasury benches

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was allotted separate seats on the opposition benches in the Senate on Tuesday, as it once again reiterated its demand for the reinstatement of all sacked judges and abolition of the 17th Amendment.

Before the maiden appearance of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the House, PML-N Senator Ishaq Dar took a seat at the back of the treasury benches.

Acting Chairman Jan Muhammad Jamali asked him to come forward, as the PML-N had been allotted seats on the opposition benches. Dar, then, joined his colleagues on the opposition benches.

However, PML-N Senator Saadia Abbasi remained seated on the treasury benches, requesting the chair that although she did not want to change her seat, she should be considered sitting on the opposition benches. PML-N Senator Iqbal Zafar Jhagra did not attend the session.

Gilani went to the opposition benches and shook hands with Ishaq Dar when he entered the House.

Welcoming the premier on his first visit to the House, Dar said the country was facing domestic and international problems and that political stability was a must for resolving the worsening economic crisis.

“There are two issues [that are imperative] for ensuring political stability in the country - the issue of the reinstatement of sacked judges and the 17th Amendment, that has disturbed the balance of power in the country,” the former finance minister said.

He requested the prime minister to commit to the House that all sacked judges would be reinstated.

“I request the prime minister to reinstate all the sacked judges. I will see who doesn’t obey his orders,” he said amid desk thumping from several members including PPP senators Safdar Ali Abbasi and Enver Baig.

Dar also urged Gilani to abolish the controversial 17th Amendment.

Talking to Daily Times, PML-N Senator Saadia Abbasi said that she had requested the chair that she wanted to keep the same seat. “I am a member of the PML-N but I have requested the acting chairman not to change my seat. It is quite clear that I am an opposition member now,” she said.

The PML-N has quit the government at the Centre for the second time in protest against a delay in the reinstatement of sacked judges by the PPP-led government.

689 candidates pass CSS written examination

LAHORE: The Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) announced the result of Central Superior Services (CSS) Examination 2008 on Tuesday. Out of 6571 candidates, who enrolled for the CSS examination, 689 were declared successful. Of them, 530 are men and 159 women. This year’s result shows the best success ratio in the past seven years.

Elders to protect NATO supplies

LANDI KOTAL: Pashtun tribal elders have promised to ensure security for supplies trucked through the Khyber Pass bound for foreign forces in Afghanistan, a government official said on Tuesday. Tahab Khan, a senior government official, said elders had signed an agreement with the authorities on Monday to ensure the safety of supplies. According to transport companies, more than 20 trucks hauling containers have been attacked since June.

Tribal lashkar kills six Taliban in Kurram

* Torches 5 houses of tribesmen in Bajaur

PARACHINAR/SWAT/KHAR: A tribal lashkar has gunned down six Taliban in fresh clashes in various parts of Kurram Agency, official sources said on Tuesday.

The fighting continued for the 27th day in Bagazai, Inzari, Tapay Makam, Sadda, Khar Kalay, Balish Khel, Sangeena, Karman, Para Chamkani, Pewaar, Tari Mengal, Maqbal and Kanj Alizai. Online reported that eight people had been killed while 11 others had sustained serious injuries.

Meanwhile, the tribal lashkar torched five houses to punish tribesmen for providing refuge to Taliban at Salarzai tehsil of Bajaur Agency on Tuesday.

The 10,000 strong tribal force torched the houses in Nazki, Ghazai and other areas. Tribal force chief Malak Manasib Khan claimed the force had eliminated Taliban from the tehsil. He said peace had been restored in Salarzai tehsil, adding that the tribal force now controlled over 90 percent areas in the tehsil. He said the displaced people had also begun returning to their homes.

Bodies of Baloch women sent for DNA test

QUETTA: The bodies of two of the five women allegedly buried alive in Balochistan were brought to Dera Murad Jamali on Tuesday for post mortem and DNA tests.

Naseerabad Police Deputy Inspector General Ghulam Shabir Sheikh told a press conference that there was no authenticity in media reports that the girls had been buried alive. He added that the police had identified the graves of two girls in the Baba Kot locality and had sent their corpses to the Dera Murad Jamali Civil Hospital for autopsy.

“Not many people are willing to give evidence due to strict tribal traditions and fear of local influentials,” he said, adding that no one was willing to own the bodies.

Local sources said the girls, aged between 16 to 18 years, belonged to the Umrani Baloch tribe and studied in Quetta. They ran away from their houses in order to contract court marriages. However, their family members followed them to a Jaffarabad hotel.

According to an Asian Human Rights Commission report, Sattar Umrani and at least six other people allegedly abducted the girls at gunpoint. The girls were taken in a Land Cruiser vehicle, bearing a provincial government registration number, to a remote area.

There they were allegedly shot and buried while still alive. Two elder women, an aunt and the mother of two of the girls, were killed when they protested the burial of the girls.

Balochistan Minister Sadiq Umrani, brother of Sattar, told the media on Sunday that the two girls had been killed on the directives of District Nazim Fathe Muhammad Umrani. The minister said certain quarters were trying to defame him by implicating his name in the incident.

Balochistan Inspector General Asif Nawaz was not available for comment because he was “busy on another line” throughout Tuesday evening.

12 militants, four women killed in Swat bombing

* 50 injured as jets pound militant positions
* Gunmen kill cop in Mingora
* Militants destroy market owned by ANP leader in Matta

MINGORA: Twelve suspected militants and four women were killed on Tuesday as fighter jets bombed suspected Taliban positions in the Swat valley.

Nearly 50 people were injured in the bombing, in the Ghat, Piochar and Sar areas of Matta tehsil. Locals said a Taliban post in Ghat area and several private shops were destroyed.

The air strike came despite an offer of truce during Ramazan announced by the government this weekend.

A senior security official said fighter jets bombed the area following intelligence reports that leaders of pro-Taliban cleric Mullah Fazlullah’s group were hiding there.

“We are not sure if any leader was among 10 killed in the air strike,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. Chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas confirmed the bombing but said he did not have details of casualties.

Civilians injured in the bombing were taken to Matta Hospital.

Cop: In Mingora, unidentified gunmen killed a traffic police officer on Tuesday. The policeman, identified as Hawaldar Muhammad Siraj, was on duty at Green Chowk in the Nekpai Khel Adda area when several men fired at him. He was taken to the Saidu Sharif Hospital. Traffic policemen in Mingora stopped performing their duty after the incident, and reached the hospital.

Unidentified gunmen had killed Siraj’s brother several days ago.

Market: In the Sambat area of Matta, militants destroyed a market owned by Awami National Party (ANP) leader Afzal Khan Lala. Six shops were destroyed and a fuel station was damaged in the bomb attack, claimed by the Taliban. No casualties were reported.

The attack follows letters signed by the Taliban asking Lala and the shopkeepers to vacate the shops.

Also on Tuesday, unidentified gunmen shot retired schoolteacher Bakht Jehan dead, when he was on his way home in the Koza Bandai area in Kabal tehsil.

In the Diwali area, militants torched a post office building. No casualties were reported in the attack, but the record and goods at the post office were destroyed.

Taliban claim kidnapping of Chinese

PESHAWAR/BEIJING: Pakistani Taliban on Tuesday claimed they had kidnapped two Chinese telecommunications engineers and two Pakistanis and that abductions would continue until the government stopped attacking militants.

Talking to Daily Times over telephone, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the two Chinese engineers, their guard and driver were in the custody of his colleagues. He said the four were in good health.

“Our aim is to hit the government’s interests wherever they are. We kidnap everyone irrespective of whether he’s Pakistani or Chinese and we’ll continue to do this until they stop killing our people,” Reuters quoted Khan.

China on Tuesday urged Pakistan to rescue the Chinese engineers. “We have requested that the Pakistan government rescue the two missing staff and ensure their safety,” AFP reported foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu as saying.

However, the law enforcement agencies in Dir and Swat districts were still clueless about the whereabouts of the missing.

The spokesman would not say whether the missing persons were in Dir or shifted to Taliban hideouts in Swat.

Locals said the two Chinese were kidnapped from Shal Plam area of Khaal in Lower Dir.

Zardari asks for plans to provide accommodation to journalists

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari asked the federal government on Tuesday to plan residential apartments for journalists ‘on affordable installments’.

The ministries of Housing and Information should consult journalist organisations to devise criteria for eligibility, he said, and should ensure merit and transparency in the allotments.

After a meeting with Housing and Works Minister Haji Rehmantullah Kakar, Zardari said providing housing was an important part of the Pakistan People’s Party manifesto and that the ministry was already working on a countrywide project to build one million housing units.

He also said the media had an important role in nation-building and it was therefore the government’s responsibility to provide them with basic facilities so that they would focus on their profession. Zardari said the government believed in the independence and strengthening of the media and had already struck down media curbs imposed after the November 3, 2007 state of emergency.

Race for Presidency will not be a walkover: Zardari

ISLAMABAD: The upcoming presidential election will not be an easy victory for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), presidential hopeful and party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari told Daily Times in an exclusive talk here on Tuesday. “It’s going to be a fight, it’s not going to be a walkover,” Zardari said, adding that however he had the support of “90 percent of political forces”. The PPP co-chairman, who is widely expected to win the September 6 presidential election, said he remained hopeful that he would become Pakistan’s next president. He said the bad press surrounding his candidacy was motivated by fear. “Our party has fought for and represents liberal values,” he said. “People are wrongly wary of liberals.” He said the allegation that he lied on the holy Quran was part of the campaign to vilify him and the liberal values that he represented. “We don’t believe in taking or giving political oaths on the Holy Quran,” he said. Zardari is running against PML-Q candidate Senator Mushahid Hussain and PML-N candidate Justice (r) Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui.

PPP to abolish 17th Amendment: Gilani

* PM says judiciary will be restored as per constitution
* Offers senators in-camera briefing by COAS on FATA and Balochistan

LAHORE: The removal of the 17th Constitutional Amendment is part of the Pakistan People’s Party manifesto, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the Senate at his first appearance in the Upper House on Tuesday.

“The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has not accepted Article 58(2b) and the 17th Amendment in the past, and will not accept them in the future,” he told reporters at the Lahore airport later on Tuesday.

He said a president should keep the federation united and must be neutral, and that his party did not accept the 17th Amendment because it wanted a balance of power.

A decision on whether Asif Zardari would continue to be the PPP co-chairman after he becomes the president of Pakistan would be made by the party’s Central Executive Committee, he said.

Judges: Gilani said his government was committed to the reinstatement of the judges sacked on November 3, 2007, including sacked chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but had to consider constitutional complications and avoid confrontation between state institutions.

Briefing: The prime minister said he was ready to arrange an in-camera briefing by the chief of army staff (COAS) for the members of the Senate on the situation in the Tribal Areas and Balochistan. He lamented the abduction of Chinese engineers in the NWFP on Monday and said militants had ruined the tourism industry in Swat.

Gilani denied allegations his government’s policy on terrorism was being dictated by the United States, saying he was only answerable to the people of Pakistan. He said he considered the Taliban his brothers and asked them to lay down weapons and work for Pakistan’s progress.

Later on Tuesday, Gilani told PPP lawmakers during a meeting at the Governor’s House that Punjab should play the role of ‘an elder brother’ of provinces and help them get Zardari elected as president.

He told reporters at the Lahore airport that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had withdrawn from the four-party ruling alliance at the Centre because of its stance on the framework for the restoration of the sacked judiciary, but added that the Centre and Punjab would not destabilise each other.

A decision on accepting the resignations by federal ministers from the PML-N would be made after discussions within the PPP, he added. He told the Senate he had ‘forgiven’ former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf after he resigned following dialogue, and that other political parties should also ‘look forward’.

When Baloch senators complained their province was not being given its share of state jobs, Gilani said there were 6,700 quota jobs for Balochistan lying vacant, and he had assigned the Balochistan establishment secretary to advertise the jobs and conduct tests.

Source: Daily Times.
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38,000T of wheat for NWFP arrives at PQ

Thursday, September 04, 2008

KARACHI: A vessel MV Shinyo Integrity, carrying 38,000 metric tonnes of imported wheat berthed Port Qasim on Wednesday and started offloading cargo.

A source in the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) said that the entire wheat will be dispatched to NWFP within four days via goods train. He said that TCP chairman Mohammad Saeed along with Additional Secretary MINFAL Shahid Husain Raja visited Berth No 4 of Port Qasim this morning and inspected the handling of wheat. He directed the cargo handling staff to work hard and round the clock as this wheat has to be transported to NWFP within four days to meet the shortage in the province.

TCP chairman was informed that the wheat is directly packed into jute bags and will be shipped to Pipri Railway Marshalling yard through trucks and trailers. From there, it will be transported to NWFP via goods train.

It may be noted that TCP has awarded contracts for the supply of 1.516 million tonnes of wheat from worldwide sources, of which, 183,899 metric tonnes had arrived in the country and dispatched to wheat deficit areas.

BOC to invest Rs100m in N2O plant

Thursday, September 04, 2008

KARACHI: BOC Pakistan Limited on Wednesday said it was investing over Rs100 million for installing a nitrous oxide (N2O) plant at Multan with an annual capacity to produce 325,000 kg.

The company currently operates 60 tonnes per day carbon dioxide (CO2) manufacturing facility at the Multan site, it said in a statement released here.

BOC owns and operates various air separation units, CO2, dissolved acetylene, N20, other gases compression facilities and welding electrode manufacturing plants.

“This is one of more investment tranches to come in BOC Pakistan, reinforcing our aggressive growth and investment strategy and commitment to the Pakistani market. This new project is scheduled to be commissioned by early 2009,” said BOC Country Head Ayaz Bokhari.

This latest announcement is in addition to the already announced investment of Rs214 million in January this year to expand existing CO2 business.

BOC Pakistan has more than 3,000 customers on its portfolio including customers in the glass and steel sectors, oil and gas exploration, chemicals, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, hospitals and a host of various welding and cutting applications.

It is part of the Linde Group, a leasing, gases and engineering company with more than 50,000 employees working in around 100 countries worldwide.

Palestinians study options if peace talks fail

Thursday, September 04, 2008

OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Support among Palestinians for a bi national state with Israel will grow should US-brokered talks on creating an independent Palestine fail, a Palestinian think tank forecast in a new report released on Wednesday.

Israel has long rejected the idea of becoming a bi national country, in which Jews would lose their majority. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he remains committed to a two-state solution despite slow-moving negotiations.

A 50-page document, formulated by the Palestine Strategy Studies Group (PSSG) and titled “Palestinian Strategic Options to End the Israeli Occupation”, noted Palestinian frustration over Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.

“If the current negotiations fail, Palestinians will be driven to replace the 1988 (two-state solution) offer (by the Palestine Liberation Organisation) by a new strategy, not just rhetorically but in reality,” the report said.

“The negotiated two-state outcome will then be definitely cancelled,” it added.

The PSSG is made up of 30 Palestinian intellectuals and professionals from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the diaspora. The study was funded by the European Union.

The document has sparked a debate within the Palestinian society on the next steps to be taken should negotiators fail to meet Washington’s goal of achieving at least a framework peace deal by the end of the year. Palestinian negotiators have said that Israeli proposals fall short of Palestinian aspirations for a viable state on lands Israel captured during the 1967 Middle East war.

Abbas plans to meet US President George W Bush on September 26 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York, Palestinian Information Minister Riyad al-Malki said on Wednesday.

“We must be prepared with options and scenarios,” Palestinian writer Hani al-Masri, a member of the PSSG, told Reuters.

“The document lists a number of options, including a bi national state. It doesn’t say the two-state solution must be ruled out but it says that the two-state solution is being eradicated by settlements and Israeli facts on the ground,” Masri said, referring to the Jewish enclaves on occupied land.

The Palestinian leadership has also started debating options if no deal is reached. Senior Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said one possibility under discussion was a unilateral declaration of independence.

The idea caused an international uproar in 1999 when then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat threatened to declare statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“The entire Palestinian discourse must change. Our aim is to end the occupation and not have a process without peace,” Fatah official Mohammad Ishtayeh, a member of the PSSG said.
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