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  #51  
Old Sunday, December 16, 2007
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BB hails lifting of emergency rule

QUETTA: Former premier Benazir Bhutto on Saturday welcomed the lifting of the emergency rule, but said a lot was needed to restore democracy in the country. “It is the right of political parties to boycott elections, but participating in the electoral process could be the best way to serve people,” she told reporters at the Quetta Airport. online
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  #52  
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Fair polls and BB may work with Musharraf

* Ex-PM says PPP will redress Baloch grievances

LAHORE: Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto says she remains open to working with President Pervez Musharraf, but only if next month’s parliamentary elections are free and fair. President Musharraf has lifted the emergency rule he imposed in November, but as Voice of America (VOA) reports, that is not enough to dispel Benazir’s concerns about electoral rigging in January’s vote.

She told VOA in a telephonic interview that she may still find it possible to cooperate with President Musharraf. But, she adds, that will depend on what happens in the January 8 elections.

Benazir says Musharraf could still surprise people by conducting an honest vote, although she believes that is a remote possibility, VOA reported. “Musharraf has taken some steps that surprised many people, including me. And that included retiring as army chief. So if he surprises us all by having a fair election, that will be very welcome,” she said.

She says that preparations for electoral fraud are already well under way, including falsifying voter registration rolls with what she calls “ghost voters” and intimidation of voters by local government-appointed officials, VOA reported.

The opposition parties had considered boycotting the polls, but Benazir said her party decided in the end not to concede the field. She will run for a parliamentary seat in the election as head of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and hopes to once again become prime minister.

Redressing grievances: Separately, she told reporters at Quetta Airport that if voted into power, the PPP would end the military operation in Balochistan, release all political prisoners, and trace all missing people to redress grievances of the Baloch people, Daily Times staff reporter Malik Siraj Akbar adds.

She also regretted the conflicts between Baloch nationalist leaders and her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on the issue of the military operation in the province. Later, she denounced the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti. daily times monitor/staff report
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  #53  
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India expresses respect for Musharraf

NEW DELHI: Indian National Security Adviser (NSA) KR Narayanan has expressed respect for Musharraf’s handling of Pakistan’s recent internal problems, and was confident of the president’s future. In an extensive interview conducted for CNN-IBN TV, the NSA said he did not think new COAS General Ashfaq Kayani would “indulge in adventurous action against India”. He also said that he thinks Musharraf will continue to get the backing of the military. Referring to the recent turmoil in Pakistan, and its implications for India, Narayanan acknowledged, with “grudging respect”, that Musharraf could succeed even after discarding his uniform.
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  #54  
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Musharraf refuses to endorse third term amendment

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: President Pervez Musharraf had refused to say whether he would endorse a constitutional amendment to allow former prime minister Benazir Bhutto to serve a third term.

In an interview to Lally Weymouth appearing in the Washington Post on Sunday (today), the president said it did not make any difference from the national point of view between his being in or out of uniform. “The army is being managed by a chief of staff dedicated to the job, and I will be president of Pakistan, and if the two are totally in harmony, the situation is better,” he explained. He said he would appoint the army chief and the security services would report to the president and the prime minister. The ISI, he added, reports to the political leaders. Asked how he would share power with the prime minister, he replied that the prime minister runs the government, while he would chair the National Security Council, a consultative body, that meets to review situations but there really is no sharing of responsibility. He denied that there are any restrictions on the press. He compared the code of conduct brought in by the government as being as good as the one in America. When told that there is no code of conduct in the US, he replied that while criticism was okay, the media were “distorting realities and creating despondencies in the people of Pakistan by showing pictures of dead bodies and interviewing terrorists — not showing the law enforcement authorities in a good light but showing the terrorists in a better light. Thus they encouraged terrorism and discouraged the law enforcers. They were undermining the good work of the government, were entirely one-sided, and some responsibility had to be brought in.” He said the code of conduct is there to stay.

The deposed judges, he made it clear, will “never be restored”. He said there was no need to restore the courts as they were “already there”. He added, “There was something seriously wrong with the chief justice of Pakistan.” On March 9, there were corruption charges against him, charges of interfering in the judgments of judges on other courts and interfering in the executive by taking actions on issues from traffic control to privatisation. He accused the Americans and the foreign media of their “obsession with democracy, civil liberties, human rights”. They thought that their definition of all these things is correct. He agreed that he was angrier than he was before. Then added, “Why don’t you understand? Am I a madman? Have I suddenly changed? Am I a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?” He asserted that he did not make mistakes but took “considered views”. “I discuss, I debate issues and then take decisions”.

Reminded that terrorism is not arising because of the media, he replied, that when the government took action in Lal Masjid, the media “showed those who took action as villains and brought those madwomen who were there on television and made heroes of them”. About Osama bin Laden, the president said he could be in Bajaur on the Afghan side. He praised US President Bush for being “extremely supportive”. He added that Bush understands why the emergency was imposed and why action had to be taken.

Asked how he feels about working with Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf answered, “When you talk of working with her, you imply she is going to be the prime minister. Why do you imply that? I keep telling everyone we haven’t had the elections”. He added that if she got enough votes, he would “of course” work with her. He said he had made no promise to the US that he would lift the ban on the prime minister serving more than two terms. He said he would hold fair and transparent elections. He said he would not permit the US to act unilaterally in Pakistan. He ruled out the direct interrogation of Dr AQ Khan by the US.
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  #55  
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SC, HC, FSC judges take fresh oath

* 35 judges take oath at LHC

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/ PESHAWAR/KARACHI: Fourteen Supreme Court (SC) judges, including Chief Justice (CJ) Abdul Hameed Dogar, and four judges of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), including its CJ, took oath of office under the 1973 Constitution after President Pervez Musharraf revoked the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) on Saturday.

President Musharraf administered oath to CJ Dogar and FSC CJ Haziqul Khairi at a ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro, federal ministers, services chiefs and senior civil officials attended the ceremony, APP reported.

Later, CJ Dogar administered oath to 13 judges of the SC and administered oath to two judges as ad-hoc members of the Shariat Appellate Bench of the SC, Online reported. SC Registrar Raja Lehrasab Khan conducted the proceedings at the oath-taking ceremony.

35 judges:Meanwhile, Lahore High Court CJ Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry, along with 26 judges and eight additional judges, took oath under the constitution at a ceremony held at Governor’s House in Lahore, APP reported. The governor administered oath to the CJ, who then administered oath to all the other judges.

10 and 20: Similarly, acting NWFP Governor Talaat Qayyum Qureshi administered oath to acting Peshawar High Court CJ Saleem Khan in Peshawar. Later, CJ Khan administered oath to nine judges of the PHC. Two judges are currently abroad and would take oath upon their return, NNI reported.

Also on Saturday, Sindh High Court CJ Muhammed Afzal Soomro took oath at Governor’s House in Karachi. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan administered the oath. Later, the CJ administered oath under the 1973 Constitution to 19 out of 20 judges of the SHC. One of the 20 judges, Justice Azizullah Memon, is currently out of the country to perform Haj. agencies
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  #56  
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India tests surface-to-air missile

BHUBANESWAR: India on Saturday successfully tested its surface-to-air Akash missile for the third time in as many days, defence officials said.

The missile blasted off from the Chandipur-on-Sea testing site in Orissa state on India’s eastern coast on Saturday afternoon, officials said. The two earlier tests this week at the testing site 200 kilometres northeast of state capital Bhubaneswar were also described as successful. The 700-kilogramme has a striking range of 27 kilometres and can carry a 55-kilogramme warhead. afp
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  #57  
Old Wednesday, December 19, 2007
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Train derails in Pakistan, at least 50 dead

MIRPURKHAS, Pakistan (AP) An express train crowded with holiday travelers derailed in southern Pakistan early Wednesday, killing at least 50 people and injuring many more, officials said.

The overnight train was going from Karachi to Lahore when about 12 of its 16 cars came off the rails near Mehrabpur, about 250 miles north of Karachi, the officials said.

Rescue workers recovered 50 bodies from the wreckage and were bringing in metal cutting equipment to gain access to more of the cars, said Sikander Ali, a senior police officer at the scene.

Azhar Ali Rajpar, a local villager who heard the crash and rushed to the scene, said he had seen "countless" injured people.

"Almost all of the carriages were destroyed," Rajpar said by telephone. "There is total darkness. It is almost impossible for the rescuers."

The train jumped the tracks around 2 a.m. as it carried hundreds of passengers home for the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Adha.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Mohammed Khalid, a railway official who was traveling in one of the rear cars which stayed on the rails, said he suspected a problem with the track possibly sabotage caused the accident.

Some of the carriages had plunged into water standing alongside the rails, Khalid said.

Mehrabpur Mayor Farooq Ahmed Lodhi said about 80 people injured in the crash were rushed to the city's hospital.

Maqsoodun Nabi, a police official in Karachi, said the train was loaded with about 700 passengers, including a large wedding party who had booked a special car.

Deadly accidents are a regular occurrence on Pakistan's colonial-era railway network.

A speeding train struck a crowded bus at a railway crossing near Lahore in October, killing 12 people and injuring about 50 others. About 130 people died in July 2005 when three trains collided in southern Pakistan.


http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2...an-train_N.htm
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  #58  
Old Saturday, December 22, 2007
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Post Pakistan Looks for Clues to ID Bomber

Pakistan Looks for Clues to ID Bomber


By RIAZ KHAN
The Associated Press
Saturday, December 22, 2007; 3:49 AM

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Police examined clothing, shoes and the severed legs of a man Saturday to try to identify a suicide bomber who killed at least 50 people during a holiday prayer service at a crowded mosque in northwestern Pakistan.

Security officers arrested seven students from an Islamic school hours after the blast Friday, which apparently targeted former Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, who had been deeply involved in Pakistan's fight against militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The bomber struck a mosque inside the politician's residential compound in the village of Sherpao during prayers for the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha, leaving a scene of splattered blood, body parts, prayer caps and shoes.

Sherpao escaped harm, but one of his sons was wounded and at least 50 people were killed. The former minister survived an earlier suicide attack at a rally in the nearby town of Charsadda eight months ago that killed 28 people. Officials blamed al-Qaida for that attack.

Suspicion for the blast was expected to focus on the pro-Taliban or al-Qaida militants active in northwest Pakistan, near the Afghan border. The attack also deepened the sense of uncertainty in Pakistan ahead of Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, which Sherpao, as head of the Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao, is contesting.

Police collected pieces of clothing, shoes, prayer mats and two severed legs of a man from the scene of Friday's bombing, and investigators were examining them for clues to identify the bomber, an official involved in the probe said.

"We are looking at how it happened and who did it," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The raid of the Islamic school in the nearby village of Turangzai was carried out based on intelligence information, a second police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The officer indicated the arrests could be linked to the bombing, but he would not elaborate. Of the seven students arrested, three were Afghans.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf condemned the blast and directed security and intelligence agencies to track down the masterminds, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack.

The bomber was in a row of worshippers when he detonated the explosive, provincial police chief Sharif Virk said Friday. Witnesses said the dead included police officers guarding Sherpao, who was praying in the mosque's front row at the time of the attack.

As interior minister, Sherpao oversaw one of Pakistan's civilian spy agencies, police and paramilitary forces involved in operations against militants along the Afghan border.

He was a longtime supporter of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party before defecting and joining the government after the last parliamentary elections in 2002. He left office last month as a caretaker government took over ahead of the January elections.

Taliban and al-Qaida fighters have extended their influence over tracts of Pakistan's volatile northwest in the past two years and in recent months have launched numerous suicide attacks, usually targeting security forces and their families.

The army says the most recent attacks could be retaliation for a military operation against militants in the Swat valley, where it claims to have killed about 300 militants since last month.

The violence came as Pakistan struggled to emerge from months of political turmoil.

Musharraf recently declared emergency rule for six weeks _ a move he said was necessary to combat rising Islamic extremism, but was widely seen as a ploy to prolong his own presidency. Thousands of his opponents were rounded up and Supreme Court justices fired.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...=moreheadlines
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  #59  
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Keep off politics, BB tells spy agencies

* Former PM asks government to act against those involved in rigging elections
* Vows to end army interference in country’s politics

By SM Wajih/agencies

DERA ALLAH YAR/ JAFFARABAD: Former premier Benazir Bhutto urged intelligence agencies on Thursday to concentrate their efforts on capturing terrorists instead of indulging in politics.

“It is not your job to indulge in politics,” she said. She said the intelligence agencies of the country were being used for political purposes causing the situation in the country to further deteriorate. She accused military intelligence of pressuring Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidates to drop out of next month’s parliamentary elections and urged officials to crack down on such harassment.

She told reporters during a campaign stop in Dera Allah Yar that her party has evidence of interference, reported AP. “We demand that the Election Commission take notice of such things to ensure free and fair elections,” she said, while also accusing local nazims of gearing up to cheat.

Against rigging: The PPP chairwoman asked President Pervez Musharraf’s government to act against those involved in rigging the vote, reminding him that he has promised that the January 8 balloting will be free and fair.

She urged supporters to reject candidates from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid party, saying it had done nothing for the welfare of the masses. She also vowed to put an end to army operations in Balochistan, and redress the grievances of the provinces, if voted to power.

She said the PPP has a lot of reservations about the general elections and the party has demanded the government disallow intelligence officers from sitting inside the offices of the returning officers on the day of polling.

End to interference: Separately, addressing a public gathering in Jacobabad, Benazir vowed to end the interference of intelligence agencies and the army in the country’s politics. She also promised to end the miseries of masses by ushering in employment.

She said the PPP did not believe in any form of discrimination and lauded her late father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, for sacrificing his life for the sake of his principles.

She said law and order was key to the development of a country’s economy, adding that the judges could not provide justice if they were not free to do so.

Benazir accused the PML-Q of planning to rig the forthcoming elections and criticised them for not being able to find willing candidates, citing the party’s failure to fill the slots of Chakwal, Attock and Bhakkar.
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  #60  
Old Saturday, December 22, 2007
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Govt unlikely to allow CW observers

By Sajjad Malik

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is unlikely to allow Commonwealth observers to monitor the January 8 elections as a protest against the group’s November 22 decision to suspend Pakistan’s membership, sources in the Foreign Office said.

“The Commonwealth took a hasty decision by ignoring the ground realities and pleas by Pakistan to wait for a few weeks before making any formal response to emergency rule,” they said. The Pakistani leadership was greatly upset by the decision, the Foreign Office sources said. They also said that the Commonwealth had failed to realise that Pakistan was its second largest member nation after India, and that suspension would serve to cause some sort of “moral pain” to Islamabad.

They said last week the Commonwealth had sent a request for permission for observers to monitor the elections, but the Islamabad was in no mood to show eagerness towards the request. Pakistan has also not decided on relations with the organisation after the suspension, the second since Musharraf took over in 1999. “A decision on the issue will be taken by the new government after elections,” the sources said.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth would also review its decision of suspension after Pakistan’s elections.
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