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Tribune South Asia Baisakhi Festival See page 16-17 >> available from all newsagents Year 1 Issue 40 Thursday, 19.04.12 www.satribune.co.uk Price: 90p Suspension of Lord Ahmed could prove to be “suicide as far as the Muslim vote goes”. George Galloway MP Offer was for Bush and Blair not Obama Mistakenly wrote the name of current US President Obama: Express Tribune Reporter Lord Nazir Ahmed was suspended from the party after a Pakistani ¬newspaper reported he allegedly offered cash for the capture of Mr Obama Following Lord Ahmed’s denial, The Express Tribune’s reporter, who covered the story in Haripur, said he mistakenly wrote the name of current US President Obama – and clarified that the offer was for Bush and Blair. He said that he and other journalists present on that occasion have recordings of Lord Nazir’s statement, adding that some TV channels and at least four Urdu newspapers, including a Karachi-based daily, had also run the comments – but obviously they did not have Obama’s name. He disclosed that, following the news of the suspension of Lord Ahmed’s Labour membership, he had been receiving phone calls from unknown people, who were pressurising him and questioning the veracity of the report. Continued on page 3 >> SATribune readers should write to the Director of Public Prosecutions and demand that Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan be put on trial in the UK Labour calls for Babar Ahmad to be charged and tried in UK Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan says terror suspect should by tried in UK rather than extradited to the US Labour’s justice spokesman is pressing the home secretary for Babar Ahmad to be charged in Britain instead of being extradited to the US to face terrorism charges, the Guardian has reported. According to the Guardian The intervention by Sadiq Khan comes as British prosecutors admit they decided not to put Ahmad on trial here after examining only some of the evidence against him, even though a substantial part of the material was collected by British police. Sadiq Khan, who represents Tooting in south London, is the constituency MP for Ahmad and another man, Syed Talha Ahsan, who is Full report on page 29 >> NEWS 2 The “Robin Hood” of British politics South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 George Galloway, the new MP for Bradford West, make his return to the House of Commons. A defiant George Galloway returned to the House of Commons yesterday insisting he was ‘just the advance party’ for the ‘army mustering in the north’. The Respect MP, who overturned a 5,000 majority with a 10,000vote lead over Labour in the Bradford West by-election, said he represented ‘discontented, alienated people who feel that this place [parliament] has let them down’. He was officially presented to the House at 3.30pm, after Education Questions. He had two Publisher Salah Bu Khamas (UAE) Sabha Khan (UK) sponsors (the chaps who stand beside you while you wait for the Speaker’s summons). One was Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour MP for Bradford South; the other was Sir Peter Tapsell, our longestserving MP (Commons debut: 1959) and thus known as the Father of the House. And the big moment came. “Order,” cried the Speaker. “Would the Honourable Member wishing to take his seat please come to the table?” The House fell silent. Mr Galloway Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.” The Conservative Chief Whip shook hands gratefully with the thrasher of Labour. Mark Tami (Lab, Alyn & Deeside) placed party differences aside and patted Mr Galloway on the shoulder. Respect’s George Galloway has returned to the House of Commons, insisting he is “just the advance party” for the army “mustering in the North”. Speaking at Parliament’s St There’s an army mustering in the North and in the great industrial and post-industrial cities of this country, an army of discontented, alienated people who feel that this place has let them down, it has failed the country and it has failed the people. “I notice that New Labour is terrified of any further byelections and I can understand why because this concept that I have coined, it’s rather rude, that three cheeks of the same backside action in the “wake of the frankly disastrous military situation which is becoming like Vietnam 1968”. In an interview with the Big Issue, Mr Galloway claimed he is the “Robin Hood” of British politics, saying: “If I was a bigamist, I’d be under arrest. If I was a tax dodger, I’d be under arrest. I’m the most inquired-into individual in British politics. By a country mile. “If I did things wrong, be sure I’d be already in big trouble. stepped forward, bowed his head to the Speaker once, reached the table, bowed his head again. “I, George Galloway,” he read aloud, “do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Stephen’s entrance, Mr Galloway vowed to use his first week back in the Commons to raise the war in Afghanistan, likening it to Vietnam. He said: “It is good to be back but I’m just the advance party. pretty much sums them up as far as most people in the country are concerned.” Mr Galloway, accompanied by his fourth wife, 27-year-old Dutch/ Indonesian anthropologist Putri Pertiwi, said he would press for “We have a prevailing orthodoxy: there’s a few inches of political life in which it’s acceptable to have a different view but if you challenge the fundamentals of policy, you’re an outlaw. You’re Robin Hood.” UK Office 10 Courtenay Road, Wembley, Middlesex, HA9 7ND UK Phone: +44 20 8904 0619 Fax: +44 20 8181 7575 email@example.com India Office Satya Infomedia Pvt. Ltd. C/O Satya Group. 1st Floor, Avenue Appt., Near Sheth. R. J. J. High School, Tithal Road, Valsad - 396001 Gujarat, India United Arab Emirates Office S.K. Group of Companies P.O. Box 9021, Karama Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tel: +971 4 2659970, 3359929; Fax: +971 4 2659971, 3341609 www.sk-groupofcompanies.com Managing Editor & CEO Mohammad Shahid Khan Group Editorial Managers Gulzar Khan (India) Abdul Khalique (Pakistan) Editorial Board UK Frances Brunner FYI Tribune team Adrian Fellar Misbah Khan Reema Shah Rohma Khan Keziah-Ann Abakah Marketing & Sales Andrew Klugman (Manager) Art Department UK Ali Ansar (Art Director) Md. Reazul Islam George Galloway In Spotlight At PMQs He is renowned for refusing to fade into the background and George Galloway certainly lived up to his reputation at Prime Minister’s Questions. Mr Galloway, elected Respect MP for Bradford West, last month, returned to the Commons yesterday after a twoyear absence. Called to ask the final question of the half-hour session, the politician took the chance to bring up the Afghan conflict and withdrawal of British troops. Mr Galloway said: “As I was saying Mr Speaker, there is an iron-clad consensus across the frontbenches about what they now call a ‘mission’, but given the amount of blood on the ground and rapidly deteriorating military situation most of us call a ‘war’ in Afghanistan.” George Galloway was not impressed by David Cameron’s comment Mr Galloway called the fighting “a bloody maw” and asked Mr Cameron to reconsider Britain’s position of withdrawing troops by the end of 2014, following Australian prime minister Julia Gillard’s accelerated timetable for pulling out Australian forces. David Cameron congratulated George Galloway on his win in the Bradford West by-election, but said he “profoundly disagreed” with the Respect Party MP and warned him not to “play to the gallery”. “Our troops are in Afghanistan not fighting a war against Islam but at the invitation of an Islamic government and under a United Nations resolution to try and help that country have a peaceful, prosperous and stable future. “You know the dangers in the past of walking away from Afghanistan and leaving that country to become the terroristsupporting haven it did under the Taliban. “We mustn’t make that mistake again and I would urge you not play to the gallery on this issue but to speak up for the work our forces are doing to make Afghanistan a safer country.” South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 NEWS 3 Police racism: 293 cases, five dismissals Scotland Yard Pc charged with racially abusing riots suspect A policeman recorded allegedly racially abusing a young black man under arrest in east London last year will now be charged over the incident. In a major u-turn, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided there IS sufficient evidence to put Pc Alex MacFarlane before a court. The original decision not to charge MacFarlane was taken back in January despite a mobile phone recording featuring racially offensive words. When the tape was made public the CPS announced a review of the decision as further allegations of racism by Met Police officers emerged. Today the CPS has said the original decision was wrong and “regrettable”. MacFarlane will shortly be issued with a summons for a racially aggravate public order offence though the decision not to charge him with assaulting the 21 year old still stands. The lawyer who made the decision is having his work reviewed and Offer was for Bush and Blair not Obama Continued from page 01 >> decisions he’s made in other cases are being re-examined. The incidents range from racist language in emails to the use of the n***** word. The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information act, date back to the Macpherson report 13 years ago which followed the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence and led to the Met Police being labelled “institutionally racist”. Also on Tuesday, a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found “sufficient evidence” to charge Met Police officer Alex McFarlane with a “racially aggravated public order offence”, and has now advised the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to press charges. The officer was accused of using racist language against a 21-yearold black man, and was apparently recorded by the suspect on his mobile phone. Earlier this month, Channel 4 News revealed 120 race cases inside the Met and just one dismissal during the same time frame. This data, gathered from 31 forces in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, completes the national picture. Asian officer wins £840,000 compensation Cleveland Police forced to make payout for racism that blighted traffic officer’s career Lord Ahmed said the claim was “made of lies”. He added: “It was a discussion about people investing in Pakistan and yes, I did talk about illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “But I did not mention any bounty or President Obama. I will answer all the allegations made to the party leadership.” The peer said he had “video recordings” of his comments and would make them public, if necessary, after first giving them to the Labour Party. Respect MP George Galloway, winner of the Bradford West by-election, said the suspension of Lord Ahmed could prove to be “suicide as far as the Muslim vote goes”. Lord Nazir Ahmed recently invited as guest Sheikh Rashid leader of the Pakistan Awami Muslim League , Former Federal Minister of Pakistan and Dr Khalid deputy Leader of the Jamat -e- Islami Azad Kashmir at the House of reward worth $10 million for the capture or any information leading to the capture of Saeed, making him one of the most wanted persons in the world. Hafiz Saeed, responded to the US bounty and said that he will be in Lahore and the US can contact him whenever it wants. “The bounty is always set on people who are in hiding… There is no case against me in any American court,” the capture and trial of religious leader Hafiz Saeed. Lord Nazir denied passing these remarks immediately. His denial was partially accurate, given that he never mentioned the name of current US President Barack Obama or the word “bounty”, as the The Express Tribune had reported. Instead, he made an “offer” for bringing to justice former US president George W Bush and former UK prime Lords on Wednesday 28th March 2012 at 6 pm Committee Room 3 . Sheikh Rashid is one of the leader of recently formed Difa e Pakistan including Hafiz Saeed Saeed, whose JuD is believed to be linked to anti-India militant group Lashkar-eTaiba, despite U.S. was unsure of Saeed role in 26/11 attack The US announced a he maintained while terming the bounty absurd. Britain’s Labour Party suspended Lord Nazir Ahmed after a report on Sunday quoted him as offering £10 million ($15.9 million) for the capture and trial of UK and US leaders in retaliation to the $10 million offered by the US for minister Tony Blair for what he termed to be their war crimes. Likening the two cases, he said that if the reward for Saeed was ok, then his offer for Bush and Blair was also ok. Whether his suspension was for mentioning President Obama’s name, or the nature of the comments itself is unclear. Considering his ordeal over the past 17 years, Sultan Alam has surprising advice for a young Asian man or woman considering joining the police: “Do it. But do so with your eyes open because no one should think they cannot break the glass ceiling in any organisation.” Monday Mr Alam, a retired traffic officer with Cleveland Police, was awarded more than £840,000 for loss of earnings and damages after staging a one-man battle against his former employer dating back to 1994. Cleveland police admitted malicious prosecution towards Alam during a hearing at Leeds Crown Court last year. It was there the trial heard that Alam’ s police colleagues who had conspired to falsely send Alam to prison, were themselves never tried before a crown court. Three of those officers have left the service, but one remains a serving constable. Alam’s crime in the eyes of his colleagues was that he made a complaint about their bigoted behavior after he endured a series of racial incidents including being posted Ku Klux Klan material. Having been falsely convicted of theft, Alam’s life fell apart. His marriage broke down, as did his health, and reputation. During his time in prison – nine months - as an ex police officer, he said that he was a marked man, always ‘fearful for his wellbeing.’ Like many of you I am convinced that with the race cases that we already know about including this one, along with the very suspicious and controversial recent Black deaths in police custody, the call for a Public Enquiry into racism within our police force is becoming louder and louder. Clearly if police officers such as those in Cleveland felt confident and arrogant enough to ‘fit up’ one of their own, what chance do we have or worse still, who’s going to believe a petty Black criminal when they claim they have been ‘fitted up’? Looking back on his battle, Mr Alam said he never considered giving up. “It was never about the money. It’s about the principle. It’s about what’s right,” he said. NEWS 4 EDITORIAL Respect or Labour “We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation,” Labour Party. Lord Ahmed immediately denied having passed the comments. Lord Ahmed is no stranger to controversy in Britain. He hosted a book launch at the House of Lords in 2005 of a controversial Swedish writer Israel Shamir who is known for his anti-Israeli and Jewish views. Ahmed was a vocal opponent of the British government’s decision to honor writer Salman Rushdie with a knighthood in 2007. Whether his suspension was for mentioning President Obama’s name, or the nature of the comments itself is unclear. Lord Nazir has responded by saying that he has been misquoted by the newspaper, Lord Ahmed : ‘I never said those words.’ ‘I did not offer a bounty. I said that there have been war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and those people who have got strong allegations against them – George W Bush and Tony Blair have been involved in illegal wars and should be brought to justice. ‘I do not think there’s anything wrong with that. If the Labour Party want to suspend me I will deal with the Labour Party. They will have to give me some evidence.’ The Express Tribune’s reporter, who covered the story in Haripur, said he mistakenly wrote the name of current US President Obama – and clarified that the offer was for Bush and Blair. He said that he and other journalists present on that occasion have recordings of Lord Nazir’s statement, adding that some TV channels and at least four Urdu newspapers, including a Karachibased daily, had also run the comments – but obviously they did not have Obama’s name. Monday night Lord Ahmed spoke to Channel 4 News and continued to deny reports of his words. He told Cathy Newman: It is a complete pack of lies… I was talking about illegal war in Iraq, and the war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and International Criminal Court… In my opinion, I think Mr Bush and Mr Blair have been involved in an illegal war in Iraq outside the UN resolution. This is not a secret. I did not offer a bounty for the capture of Tony Blair and George Bush. I did not. This is a complete fabrication. They should be brought to justice, taken to court. But not “to capture”… that is completely different to taking them to justice, and to court. It was in the context that whatever it costs to bring people to justice then that should be done. He said he did not use the Urdu word for capture. He just said that Bush and Blair should be brought before some court – the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction – for “war crimes”. According to a Channel 4 News release, the translation from Urdu in the video is as follows: America has just said that they will give a reward of $10m to anyone who arrests or hands over Hafiz Saeed. I am saying that even if I have to beg in Haripur, Pakistan, the US or Britain. Even if I have to beg I am willing to raise and offer £10 million so that George W Bush and Tony Blair can be brought to the International Court of Justice on war crimes charges. Even if I have to sell my house I am ready to do it. The thing is that, if they are talking sensibly then I too am talking sensibly. The US has put pressure on Pakistan. To release this pressure I am are saying this. But the thing is, a political move should be countered with a political move. Channel 4 News has asked the Labour Party whether Lord Ahmed remains suspended in light of this footage. George Galloway win has exposed the void at Labour’s core and left it fighting for its life. On Monday Respect MP George Galloway said that Labour’s decision to suspend Lord Ahmed was “suicide” and suggested the peer defect to his party. “I think the suspension of Lord Nazir Ahmed indicates that New Labour is on some sort of suicide mission so far as the Muslim vote goes,” he said. “Lord Nazir is a great figure - not politically close to me - among the Asian heritage population of Britain and is now suspended from the Labour party, as I myself was. “So let me extend to him an invitation to fill in an application form and join Respect.” the news of Galloway’s victory left many stunned. They all asked why. Labour has been heading for electoral catastrophe as sure as night follows day. And now after Lord Nazir Ahmed suspension it seems New Labour is as George well said “ on some sort of suicide mission so far as the Muslim vote goes,”. The Bradford West result was a powerful message of a collapse of trust between people and politicians. The lies must end now. The Labour Party is no longer fighting to win the next election. It’s fighting to stay in existence . George Galloway’s victory showed Britain is sick of the war, racism, and demonizing of Islam. The people of Bradford West have spoken. It’s a message of thunderous simplicity. Our three political parties decide not to see, hear or understand. I think it’s time for Respect not Labour. South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 What peace? Israeli TV report shows air force gearing up for Iran attack, says moment of truth is near ‘IAF expects losses, and knows it can’t destroy entire Iranian program’ A major Israel TV station on Sunday night broadcast a detailed report on how Israel will go about attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities in the event that diplomacy and sanctions fail and Israel decides to carry out an attack. The report, screened on the main evening news of Channel 10, was remarkable both in terms of the access granted to the reporter, and the fact that his assessments on a strike were cleared by the military censor. No order to strike is likely to be given before the P5+1 talks with Iran resume in May, the reporter, Alon Ben-David, said. “But the coming summer will not only be hot but tense.” In the event that negotiations fail and the order is given for Israel to carry out an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, “dozens if not more planes” will take part in the mission: attack and escort jets, tankers for mid- to think there would be no losses. The IAF is said to be worried about the advanced anti-aircraft systems that Russia has sold to countries in the region, the report said. Among those systems, the SA 17 and 22 in Syria and Iran present a challenge, according to the report. According to the report, it’s the older versions of the F-15 that can fly further than any other plane in Israel’s arsenal, and this puts it on air refueling, electronic warfare planes and rescue helicopters, the report said. Ben-David said the Israel Air Force “does not have the capacity to destroy the entire Iranian program.” There will be no replication of the decisive strikes on Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981 or on Syria in 2007, he said. “The result won’t definitive.” But, a pilot quoted in the report said, the IAF will have the front line of any potential attack. One pilot said in the report that the F-15, or ‘Havaz,’ “is a plane with a very wide range of operation — a combination of relatively energyefficient engines, and significant flightworthiness regarding weapons and fuel.” The IAF has a full-sized unmanned plane, the “Eitan,” that is said to be able to fly to Iran, the report added. “This plane can do Benny Gantz at Yad Vashem: IDF can and must protect all Jews, everywhere Israel must serve as a safe haven for all Jews and it has an army that is capable of guaranteeing their safety, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen Benny Gantz said at an educational seminar on Monday. In an apparent reference to Iran’s nuclear program and the Tehran regime’s repeated endorsement of Israel’s demise, he said Israel has “an army capable of dealing with any enemy.” Gantz gave the address before members of the IDF’s General Staff. War-footing? Iranian commander says Iran among the most powerful forces in the world A senior Iranian commander stressed the Army’s capability to supply its military needs, and said Iran’s Army is amongst the most powerful forces in the world. Speaking to reporters on the occasion of Iran’s Army Day (April 17), Commander of the Army’s Western Operation Command General Amir Manouchehr Kazzemi said, “…today, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran is among the most powerful armed forces of the world. to ensure that it emerges with the necessary result, with “a short and professional” assault. Ben-David said that if negotiations break down, and Iran moves key parts of its nuclear program underground to its Qom facility, the IAF “is likely to get the order and to set out on the long journey to Iran.” “Years of preparations are likely to come to realization,” he said, adding that “the moment of truth is near.” Ben-David interviewed several squadron leaders, pilots and other officers. He noted that some of the IAF personnel, “it is likely, will not return from the mission.” An officer named Gilad said it would be “naive” all that is required of it when the order is given,” a pilot said, without elaboration. The attack, the report said, would presumably trigger a war in northern Israel, with missile attacks (presumably from the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon). “There will no tranquility and peace anywhere in Israel,” BenDavid said. This could be the first full-scale war the IAF has fought in nearly 30 years, the report stated. Pilots had already been told where their families would be moved, away from their bases, for safety, the report said. Army is ‘capable of dealing with any enemy,’ says chief of staff The Army of the Islamic Republic is not all dependent as far as military tools and equipment are concerned, and that is the result of the presence of expert personnel,” Kazzemi stated. Iran has taken wide strides in designing and manufacturing different types of light, semi-heavy and heavy weapons, military tools and equipment. Speaking to FNA on the sidelines of Valfajr military drills in Iran’s Central province of Yazd, the IRGC commander said, “The war games came after the US threats and aggressions, specially its invasion of the neighboring and regional states.” South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 NEWS 5 UN Security Council approves monitors’ deployment to Syria The United Nations Security Council has unanimously agreed to send an initial team of unarmed truce observers to Syria. The resolution, which authorises the dispatch of an advance team of up to 30 unarmed military observers to Syria to monitor compliance with the ceasefire agreement, passed 15-0. The observers will be tasked with establishing and maintaining contact with both sides of the conflict, and reporting on ceasefire compliance until a full mission is deployed in the country. “I will make sure that this advance observer mission will be dispatched as soon as possible and try to make concrete proposals by the 18th of April for an official observer mission,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. A spokesman for international envoy Kofi Annan said on Saturday that an advance team of six monitors would arrive in Syria within 24 hours and deploy within 36 hours. It will be followed by a larger contingent of up to 250 once the situation has stabilised. The resolution also calls on both sides to immediately ‘cease all armed violence in all its forms’ and for the Syrian government to implement the demand by Kofi Annan to pull troops and heavy India warns UK on tough visa norms; Indian IT firms may relocate to other European countries India Monday warned the UK that its IT majors may relocate their business to other European countries, if the British government insists on tough visa rules which affect Indian IT professionals. The issue came up for discussion during meeting of commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma with UK secretary of state for business, innovation and skills Vince Cable and the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne. However, Osborne assured Sharma that the British government has decided not to make any change in the ‘intra-company transfers’ for the next two years. The proposal had upset the Indian IT industry and the government as it meant that the professionals on intra company transfers to UK would be treated “prospective immigrants”. Sharma said this rule has badly affected the performance of Indian companies operating in the UK. “Sharma also expressed concern that this move may force Indian companies, especially IT companies to relocate to other European capital,” an official statement said. The Minister also raised the issue of the restrictions imposed on non-EU immigration into Britain which is adversely affecting the operations of Indian companies here. “He specifically referred to the UK Border Agency treating Intra Company Transfers of IT experts, professionals and highly skilled workers as prospective immigrants which has affected has badly affected the performance of Indian companies operating in the UK,” it said. Besides, Sharma also expressed concern over the issue that Indian companies who want to acquire UK firms have been facing considerable delay and long legal hassles. “He highlighted the concerns of Indian companies who want to visit UK for business meetings and also the long delay in obtaining visa by Indian nationals,” it said. He said Indian experts coming to the UK leave the country after completion of their contractual obligations with their employers in the UK and “therefore they cannot be treated as economic migrants”. weapons out of cities and towns. It’s the first resolution on Syria the 15-nation Council managed to approve unanimously since the uprising against President Assad erupted in March 2011. Russia, which has previously vetoed 2 resolutions on Syria, showed satisfaction with the latest document, based on the 6-point plan, worked out by UN-Arab League peace envoy Annan. The plan was aimed at stopping the violence in Syria which has taken the lives of 9,000 people, according to the UN. Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow has always supported Annan’s peace plan, and that the unanimous decision made by the UNSC reflects constructive work done by its members. “Under the influence of Russia and a number of other Security Council members, the draft resolution has been significantly changed,” Churkin told the UNSC. “It became more balanced and started to represent reality more adequately. It has taken into account the prerogatives of Syria’s government, which will be admitting the UN observer mission.” ¬A ceasefire was put in place on Thursday as part of the Annan plan. But sporadic violence was reported after truce took effect, with both government forces and activists claiming they were attacked. On Sunday, just hours after UN vote, the opposition said the army resumed shelling Homs. Clashes were also reported on the Turkey-Syrian border near refugee camps. Damascus insists the Free Syrian Army is using the camps as springboards to launch incursions into Syria. UK police accuse PIA crew of stealing goods The United Kingdom police have asked the PIA management to stop its crewmembers, including airhostesses and stewards, from stealing goods from hotels and shops during their stay in that country, it is learnt reliably reported Dawn. According to sources, a superintendent of Greater Manchester Police, North Manchester Division, Stuart Ellison, said in a communication to the Pakistan International Airlines: “I would be grateful if PIA could confirm by return the steps it will take internally to support us as we look to solve this problem together.” After repeated attempts to contact him, PIA spokesman hoteliers and individuals had been voicing concerns over the conduct of PIA crew. The goods stolen from hotels included gowns, towels, kettles and glasses, he said. Some of the key retailers from the Market Street Area of Manchester were regularly detaining PIA Sultan Hassan said the query had been communicated to the department concerned and its response was awaited. Mr Ellison said that retailers, crew for shoplifting offences. He said PIA’s reputation was at stake because if a hotel filed a complaint, police would have to take action and detain the suspect/s and without a backup / standby crew available the aircraft might be delayed. “Often the relatively low value of stolen property, the fact that your crew have openly disclosed that they’re returning to Pakistan the following day and the fact that the store has recovered its property has meant that police arrests have not been sought. However, given that there may be three PIA crews in the city at one time, the regularity of reports of theft (shoplifting) by PIA crew has increased to a point where positive action has to be taken.” He said that following a complaint, “an arrest is made, your staff members will be processed at our Custody Suite and, because of them being overseas nationals who we cannot verify at a UK address — and thereby assure ourselves that they would answer bail if released, they will be kept in custody overnight and detained to appear in court the following day”. NEWS 6 South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 UK fuels anti-Islam extremism: report A recent study by an anti-racism campaign group has revealed that the UK plays a leading role in the growth of anti-Islam groups that were behind Norway’s mass murder. A new report by anti-racism group ‘Hope Not Hate’ showed that the UK is one of Europe’s most active countries with regard to the spread of anti-Islam extremism, with 22 anti-Islam groups now operating in the country, reported the Guardian. The report was released one day before the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, Norway’s antiIslam mass murderer who has confessed to slaying 77 people. “All eyes this week will be on what Breivik did last July, but we ignore those people who inspired him at our peril,” said Nick Lowles, director of Hope Not Hate. In July last year, Breivik killed 77 people in a bomb and gun attack in the Norwegian capital Oslo and a nearby island. Despite having confessed to both attacks, Haqqani netwrok behind Afghan attack: Pentagon The Pentagon said Monday a major attack on Afghan government buildings, military bases and foreign embassies was likely carried out by Haqqani militants who operate from sanctuaries in neighboring Pakistan. “Initial indications are that the Haqqani network was involved in this set of attacks that occurred yesterday in Kabul,” press secretary George Little said of Sunday’s assault. The 18-hour attack was “wellcoordinated,” but Afghan security forces “did a very effective job” in quelling the onslaught, Little told reporters. It was not surprising that insurgents had launched an attack with the advent of spring, when fighting usually escalates in Afghanistan, he said. “We thought something like this may very well happen and it did,” he said. Although Afghan President Hamid Karzai had complained about an intelligence failure by Afghan and especially Nato-led troops, the Pentagon spokesman said it was not realistic to expect coalition forces to know in advance about every insurgent operation. “I don’t believe this was an intelligence failure. We did sense that something like this might happen,” Little said. He also rejected any comparison to the Tet offensive during the Vietnam war, saying it was not a large-scale military operation but instead a series of terror attacks. “I’m not minimizing the seriousness of this but this is in no way” like the Tet offensive, “ he said. In the biggest attack on Kabul in 10 years of war, squads of militants who had infiltrated the capital and taken up strategic positions in three locations fired on government buildings, embassies and foreign military bases before all 15 were killed. A total of 51 people died, including 36 militants, and some 74 were wounded in Kabul and three neighboring provinces where government and military targets also came under synchronized attack, Afghan officials said. Afghan security forces took the lead in responding to the attack while Nato provided helicopters. the Norwegian mass murderer has reject criminal guilt saying the massacre was necessary to protect Norway from being overrun by Muslims. An hour before committing the massacre, Breivik emailed leaders of far-right extremists in Britain saying the killing was to protect Europe from being “overwhelmed by Islam”. The findings of researchers at ‘Hope Not Hate’ come as London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone said it was “Muslims’ turn now” to be discriminated against asserting “Right-wing politicians pander to bigotry”. English Defence League (EDL) has been identified by the report as one of the key figures fueling anti-Islam extremism. Last month, a study showed that EDL and other far-right groups in Britain believed it was legitimate and inevitable to take up arms against religious minorities. Australian PM sets out Afghan exit plan Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Australia will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan earlier than planned. Ms Gillard made the announcement in a speech in Canberra, and ahead of a key Nato conference on Afghanistan in Chicago next month. She said troops would begin pulling out this year and most would be home by the end of 2013 - an election year in Australia. Most international troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Nato is in the process of handing over security control to local forces - some strategically important areas of the south and east have already been transferred to Afghan forces. There are currently about 130,000 Nato troops serving in Afghanistan from 50 contributing nations, the International Security and Assistance Force says. Ms Gillard’s announcement, in a speech delivered to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, came two days after a spate of militant attacks in Kabul lasting for 18 hours left more than 50 people dead. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has linked Sunday’s militant attacks to intelligence failures, especially on the part of Nato, but praised the performance of Afghan troops. ‘Different’ picture Ms Gillard said she would raise the plan for Australia’s troop withdrawal at the Nato conference on Afghanistan in Chicago on 21 May. The government had previously said most Australian troops would leave in 2014. But the prime minister said withdrawal would begin once Afghans took on responsibility for security in Uruzgan province - where the majority of Australian troops are based. She said she expected an announcement on this from Mr Karzai in “coming months”, after which the pull-out would take between 12 and 18 months. “When this is complete, Australia’s commitment in Afghanistan will look very different to that which we have today,” Ms Gillard said. Australia would also commit to paying its ‘’fair share’’ toward international aid and military funding for Afghan security forces after 2014, she added. It was also prepared to consider maintaining a limited number of troops, she said, and would commit to helping to train Afghan forces. Australia has some 1,550 troops serving in Afghanistan, mainly in the Uruzgan region. Since 2001, a total of 32 Australian soldiers have been killed in the country, according to Australian media. The new timeline would likely see most of the troops back home before the election next year. Ms Gillard’s minority administration has been slipping in popularity and some observers say Labor could be heading for defeat at the polls. South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 7 NEWS Back to ‘76 as UK faces months of drought More than half of Britain is now in drought, the Environment Agency has warned, as the UK faces its most severe water shortage since 1976. Low rainfall in recent months means large areas of Britain face drought this year, according to the government, which is staging a “drought summit” on Monday to decide what action to take. “The south east of England is at a high risk of drought due to continued low rainfall and central, eastern and south eastern England are unlikely to see a full recovery from drought conditions during 2012,” says Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith. In the Anglian region the five months from September to January were the driest ever, the agency says. “Pressure on water resources looks set to increase over the next few months, so it is more important than ever that consumers, businesses and water abstractors use water wisely,” said national drought coordinator Helen Vale. Government statistics show that each person in Britain uses on average 150 litres of water daily, with the average household using over 100,000 litres of water every year. Britain’s water shortages may last beyond Christmas with more than half of the UK already affected and 17 new drought zones declared. The droughts are a result of just over 40 per cent average rainfall in February and March and the driest year on record in 2011, a second winter of belowaverage rainfall. The shortages are reminscent of the great drought of 1976, when residents were encouraged to share baths and water was rationed. The 1976 summer droughts were the worst for a century. East Anglia’s top soil turned to dust, a drought bill was rushed through parliament and dozens collapsed at the Wimbledon tennis championships. Three days after Dennis Howell was appointed minister for drought, the rain came. The 2012 shortages are already taking their toll on 35 million Britons, creating problems for wildlife, wetlands and crop production. Some rivers are at dangerously low levels and the Royal Society for the protection of Birds said the problems may affect endangered birds. “A longer term drought, lasting until Christmas and perhaps beyond, now looks more likely,” Trevor Bishop, Head of Water Resources at the Environment Agency, said. “We are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to plan ahead.” The Demoniser of Islam Cost Of Living Abu Qatada appeal blocks deportation UK inflation rate rises to 3.5% in March Rises Again Inflation in the UK rose unexpectedly on the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure in March, driven by higher food prices and the cost of clothing. CPI inflation rose to 3.5% in March from 3.4% in February, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation fell slightly to 3.6% from 3.7%. The ONS said that food and soft drink prices were 4.6% higher than in March 2011, when deep discounting took place in supermarkets. It cited higher prices for bread, cereals, meat, fruit and vegetables in particular. Clothing, footwear, DVDs and computer games also contributed to the rise. However, gas and electricity prices were lower than a year ago after energy companies cut tariffs in February this year, whereas they raised them in February 2011. The inflation figures measure the rate at which prices are rising compared with the same month a year ago. The Bank of England’s target for inflation is 2% on the CPI measure. March brought an end to five months of falls in the CPI rate, which had peaked at 5.2% in September last year. The Treasury pointed out that inflation had fallen by a third since then and most commentators expected it to keep falling. To advertise call 020 8904 0619 Abu Qatada appeal halts deportation as Home Office accused of arrest blunder Radical cleric’s lawyers thwart home secretary with 11th-hour appeal to European court of human rights A furious row over missed deadlines has broken out between London and Strasbourg after the European court of human rights dramatically halted an attempt to deport the radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada less than 24 hours after it was ordered by the home secretary. Theresa May ordered Qatada’s arrest and detention on Tuesday in the belief that the three-month deadline for appeals to be lodged against the original Strasbourg ruling on the case on 17 January had passed at midnight on Monday. But it emerged on Wednesday that Qatada’s lawyers accepted the appeal application from Qatada’s lawyers at 11pm on Tuesday night. A spokeswoman said this meant the legal block on the radical cleric’s deportation to Jordan remained in to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, since the three-month deadline to do so lapsed at midnight on Monday night. “His case should be heard in British had lodged an 11th-hour appeal on Tuesday night, putting a halt on moves by the Home Office to press ahead with deportation proceedings. But the European court of human rights insisted the deadline was actually midnight on Tuesday and force until a panel of European judges decided whether the case should go to the court’s grand chamber on appeal. No date has yet been fixed for that hearing. A Home Office spokesman said: “Qatada has no right to refer the case courts, as the Home Secretary outlined to Parliament yesterday. In the meantime, he remains in custody.” A court spokeswoman said the Grand Chamber would now “soon” decide whether to hear Qatada’s appeal. Very few Grand Chamber appeals are successful. NEWS 8 South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 Israel Bars 85 Pro-Palestinian Activists at Airport En Route to West Bank Israeli authorities denied entry to 85 pro-Palestinian activists at Ben-Gurion International Airport today, while about 200 other passengers from American and European cities were barred from flying to Israel after the government provided foreign airlines with names of suspected activists, police said. Among those detained were 51 French nationals, 11 Britons, six Italians, five Canadians, two Spanish nationals and three others from Switzerland, Portugal now in its third year, had been expecting to welcome up to 1,500 people, but Israel vowed to prevent them from entry, warning airlines they would be forced entry by Israel and deported. ‘Air Flotilla’ The Palestinian supporters’ action, described as an “air flotilla,” follows the Greek activists will be permitted into the country or detained for possible deportation, Rosenfeld said. As many as 1,000 travelers were expected to arrive at Ben- Gurion An Israeli official, meanwhile, said the government would issue a detailed criticism of a United Nations report about violence on its border with Lebanon in May. and the United States. Officials had already sent 18 people back to their port of origin, while another 60 had refused to leave voluntarily and had been taken to two facilities near Tel Aviv, she said. Hundreds of Israeli police had been deployed at the airport from Saturday night in a bid to prevent the arrival of a wave of foreigners taking part in the “Welcome to Palestine” fly-in campaign, also known as the “flytilla.” Organisers of the campaign, to foot the bill for the activists’ immediate return home. Most of Europe’s main airlines quickly fell in line, cancelling the tickets of at least 300 Tel Aviv-bound passengers, and sparking angry protests in several European capitals. Police at the airport also arrested nine Israeli activists who had come to support the visitors. Last year, around 800 people tried to join the campaign, with many blocked from flying by airlines. Another 120 were denied authorities’ detention of a group of boats planning to challenge Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. Efforts to send a similar flotilla to Gaza last year ended in violence when Israeli commandos dropped from helicopters onto one of the ships that refused to stop and opened fire, killing nine Turks. Israel says people onboard shot first and attacked with iron bars, a charge they deny. Israeli security forces have been deciding on an individual basis whether travelers identified as airport Monday and tomorrow bound for the West Bank, Israel Radio said. Called ‘Pacifists’ Organizers of the pro-Palestinian events said the arriving travelers are “pacifists” and that “rumors of planned protests are false.” They will “simply tell the truth” that they are arriving “to transit through Israel on their way to Palestine,” according to an e-mailed statement by the Welcome to Palestine movement. The report, written by the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, concluded that Israel used “disproportionate force” against Lebanese demonstrators attempting to enter Israel, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on July 6. Israel’s UN delegation is writing a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which it will respond to the report, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a phone interview, without giving details. Bin Laden family ‘to leave Pakistan ‘Cannibals’ sold human Osama bin Laden’s family is expected to be deported from Pakistan early Wednesday, their lawyer and an intelligence official said, 11 months after the US raid that killed the al Qaeda kingpin. The 9/11 mastermind’s three widows and their children were detained by the Pakistani authorities after the Saudi was killed in a US Navy SEAL operation in the town of Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, last May. They are due to complete a short sentence of detention for illegally entering and residing in Pakistan on Tuesday. “They will go tonight or tomorrow early in the morning. After 12 tonight they can be deported any time,” their lawyer Muhammad Aamir told reporters on Tuesday. Aamir said the family – who number 12, including bin Laden’s three widows, eight children and one grandchild – would probably initially go to Saudi Arabia. He said bin Laden’s youngest and reportedly favourite wife, Amal Abdulfattah, who is Yemeni, may be sent to Yemen afterwards with her five children. A Pakistani intelligence official confirmed that the family was expected to be deported “sometime around midnight” and said “most likely they would be flown to Saudi Arabia.” flesh in pastries Police in Brazil have arrested three people for allegedly killing at least two women, eating parts of their bodies and using their flesh to make stuffed pastries known as empanadas which they sold to their neighbours. Police said the three suspects – a man, his wife and his mistress – belonged to a sect that preached “the purification of the world and the reduction of its population”. The man, Jorge Beltrao Negromonte, reportedly wrote a 50-page book titled Revelations of a Schizophrenic in which he says he hears voices and is obsessed with the killing of women. The three were arrested in the north-eastern town of Garanhuns and had confessed to the crimes, police said. 9 aarc S Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 Work displayed in saarc int. are a review of southasianmedia.net. The information on this page is for information purposes only. The South Asia Tribune and SAARC International Ltd. assume no liability for any inaccurate, delayed, or incomplete information, nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon. The full story can be viewed at www.southasianmedia.net international Thursday, 19.04.12 President Zardari, Kayani visit Siachen to express solidarity with Pakistan Army Pakistan wants resolution of Siachen issue: Kayani Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that Pakistan wants the resolution of the Siachen issue and other matters with India. Kayani, who was speaking to the media during a visit to Giari sector, said that neighbours should live together peacefully. The army chief was visiting the area along with President Asif Ali Zardari, where both were briefed about rescue operations to search for 138 troops and civilians who were buried by a massive avalanche over a week ago. The army chief also said that, “We will pay whatever cost we have to for the defence of Pakistan”. Shah, Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah, Kayani and the area Corp Commander. The president during his visit had an Zardari and Kayani were received by Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Pir Karam Ali aerial view of the search and rescue activities being undertaken by the army personnel. Later he was given a detailed briefing about the activities underway by Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA) Commander Major Gen Ikramul Haq. He directed that all available resources be utilised to further expedite the operation in view of any possible snow slides due to a rise in temperature rise and that the Presidency be kept informed about the progress. President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday conducted an aerial survey of the area in Siachen sector where Pakistani troops are involved in a frantic search for 138 people, mostly soldiers, buried under dozens of feet of snow following an avalanche that hit an Army camp 11 days ago. The visit to Gyari area by the President, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, was aimed at expressing solidarity with the troops and monitoring the search and rescue efforts underway at the site. State-run television beamed footage of Zardari, clad in black, conducting a survey of the site of the avalanche in a helicopter along with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and senior military officials. “The President, during his visit, had an aerial view of the search and rescue activities being undertaken by the army personnel,” an official statement said. He was given a detailed briefing about the operation by Force Command Northern Areas Commander Maj Gen Ikram-ul-Haq. The President appreciated efforts being made by the Army in the search Continued on page 15 >> Agni V crucial for India’s defence capabilities: Analyst Agni-V to be test-fired Wednesday India new nuclear missile that can reach Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai Taking a major leap forward in missile technology, India is all set to test-fire its first Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V on Wednesday. Designed and developed by India’s Defence Research And Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists, the three-stage missile is scheduled to be launched from the Wheeler Island off the Orissa Coast at around 7 pm Wednesday “Final preparations are going according to the plan and the launch window opens today through to Friday,” the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official added. A successful test of the domestically-developed Agni-V would be a major step for India, which is increasing its defence capabilities and spending billions of dollars modernising its military. The Hindu newspaper quoted Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, describing Agni-V’s technology as a “game-changer” for strategic options. Except the US, Russia, France and China, no other country had designed and developed this range of systems, he said. SAARC 10 Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 More than six killed in Karachi violence The spate of terrorism and targetkilling continued despite tall claims of the government and law enforcement agencies. Three people were killed and two others were injured when armed men opened indiscriminate fire in Karachi’s Pahar Ganj (in Karachi’s North Nazimabad Town) area, on Wednesday. Also, two tortured bodies were discovered in Karachi’s area of North Nazimabad Block M. Moreover, bodies were also found in the areas of New Karachi, Ranchor line, Gulistan-i-Jauhar and in the SITE industrial area. In the first incident, two people Ghulam Serwar and owner of the hotel Sanober Khan were shot dead when unidentified motorcyclists targeted them in Nazimabad near Sakhi Hasan Chorangi. After the incident, terror and horror grippe the area and shops and marketing places were closed. Besides, a man was killed by the firing of unidentified miscreants at Usman Abad in the area of Garden. Likewise, a man was shot dead by unknown terrorists in Liaquat Abad while a woman was fell victim to firing in Sohrab Goth. Meanwhile Police raided the houses making the raid difficult. No arrest has been reported nor has their been any confirmation from the Habib Jan, PAC men nominated in case It was reported earlier that Habib policeman in Lyari. They are accused of involvement in the abduction and murder of Constable Raj Mohammad. The constable had reportedly left the station in plainclothes to check deployments within Kalri police remits. Men in a double cabin vehicle and two motorcycles kidnapped him from Maripur road and later threw his body after shooting him in his head. FIR No 91/12 under sections 302/34, 365 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code and seven of the AntiTerrorism Act was registered at the of Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) chief Uzair Jan Baloch and the Friends of Lyari chairperson Habib Jan Baloch in Lyari on Monday. However, unknown armed men opened fire at the police personnel, police. Following the raid, incidents of aerial firing were reported in different areas of Lyari and two people were injured, including a seven-year old girl. Jan along with the PAC leadership was booked for the murder of a Kalri police station on behalf of ASI Ishtiaq. Parliament can nullify court’s order, claims Aitzaz The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the contempt of court hearing against Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani till Thursday. Presenting his arguments regarding presidential immunity before the apex today, the prime minister’s counsel, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, said heads of state enjoyed immunity from prosecution in criminal and civil cases in courts the world over, DawnNews reported. Ahsan was addressing a seven-member bench of the court, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk. During today’s hearing, Ahsan concluded his arguments with respect to Article 10-A of the Constitution. Speaking to reporters after the hearing’s adjournment, Ahsan said that he expected the court to refrain from asking the prime minister to write the letter. The parliament is independent regarding the law and constitution, said Ahsan, adding that the parliament was the only authority that can make constitutional ammendments. “The Parliament can nullify any order of the court,” said Ahsan. “The Supreme Court should refrain from asking the government to write the letter. The court’s orders will be implemented once Zardari is no longer president.” The prime minister was charged with contempt of court on Feb 13 over the government’s two-year refusal to write to authorities in Switzerland asking them to re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. “In respect of the president, the matter of writing the letter should be delayed. This is not Asif Ali Zardari’s problem — this matter involves the country’s president,” argued the prime minister’s lawyer. Moreover, Ahsan reiterated to the reporters his stand that a new bench should be constituted to hear the case. The defence argues that, under the Constitution’s Article 10-A, any judge who has charged the defendant is ineligible to hear the same case, therefore the current bench can not continue hearing the case. US troops posed with Afghan body parts: report An American soldier released photos of a group of a soldiers posing for photos with parts of dead Afghan bombers, Los Angeles Times reported. One of the leaked photos show several U.S. troopers holding the severed legs of Afghan suicide bombers, grinning, with one of them holding both thumbs up. Another depicts two soldiers smiling with a dead body of an Afghan suicide bomber. The photos were taken in February 2010 when the soldiers were sent to an Afghan police station to obtain “iris scans and finger prints” to identify the bombers on once occasion, and a few months after, when they were sent to identify three dead bombers who were killed while trying to build their own bomb. U.S. Army kicked off a criminal investigation once the Los Angeles Times contacted them with the photos, 18 in total, but officials initially asked the Times not to publish them. The Times, however, chose to publish a “small but representative selection.” The soldier who provided the images claimed that almost all of the soldiers in the photos knew people who had been killed or wounded by bombs during their time in Afghanistan. “They were frustrated, just pissed off – their buddies had been blown up by IEDs,” the soldier was quoted as saying by the Times. “So they sort of just celebrated.” The photos have emerged at a particularly sensitive moment for U.S.-Afghan relations. In January, a video appeared on the Internet showing four U.S. Marines urinating on Afghan corpses. In February, the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. base triggered riots that left 30 dead and led to the deaths of six Americans. In March, a U.S. Army sergeant went on a nighttime shooting rampage in two Afghan villages, killing 17. The soldier who provided The Times with a series of 18 photos of soldiers posing with corpses did so on condition of anonymity. He served in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne’s 4th Brigade Combat Team from Ft. Bragg, N.C. He said the photos point to a breakdown in leadership and discipline that he believed compromised the safety of the troops. He expressed the hope that publication would help ensure that alleged security shortcomings at two U.S. bases in Afghanistan in 2010 were not repeated. The brigade, under new command but with some of the same paratroopers who served in 2010, began another tour in Afghanistan in February. U.S. military officials asked The Times not to publish any of the pictures. Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 SAARC 11 WEEKLY REVIEW OF AFGHANISTAN NEWS US Should quit Afghanistan now Whatever trust there was between the U.S. and the Afghan people has been broken, and “there is nothing for the United States to do now but to leave in the most responsible way it can” The Nation magazine said in a recent editorial. “Following repeated U.S. bombings of wedding parties, countless dead civilians as a result of night raids and drone strikes, atrocities by the notorious ‘kill team’ in 2010 and, in 2012, the digitally recorded image of U.S. troops urinating on dead Afghans and the burning of Qu’rans, the United States is far from success in its longest-running imperial misadventure”, the magazine declares. Even though the reason given for the U.S. invasion---to render the forces of Al Qaeda impotent---was achieved long ago, 90,000 American troops remain in the country “in a vain attempt at nation-building”, the liberal weekly says. After 10 years of warfare, it adds, “the government of Afghanistan is virtually nonexistent outside its shaky grip on Kabul”. Worse for the U.S., its occupation “has empowered warlords, fueled ethnic and tribal differences, and enriched a corrupt officialdom” so that the Taliban has rebounded. “In the past six months things have taken a poisonous turn, as the long-building mutual resentment between the Afghan people and the U.S. military has broken out into the open” The Nation asserts. It goes on to say that “The much-touted White House plan to hand over security to a rebuilt Afghan army and police force is widely ridiculed, and the recent atrocities have vastly complicated the already troubled negotiations between Washington and Kabul on a status of forces agreement”. While the UN recently put the number of Afghan civilians killed at 3,021 and those wounded at 4,507, other sources have indicated the actual figures may be far higher. Wikipedia notes thousands of Afghan civilians may have died “as a consequence of displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical treatment, (and) crime and lawlessness resulting from the war”. The U.S. drawdown of its armed forces is scheduled to last through 2014 and next September President Obama is expected to announce the next phase of the departure. Whereas most Americans believed when Obama took office the war was worth fighting, “today a large majority of voters want out, and if Obama accelerates the drawdown, he’ll be in sync with public opinion going into the presidential election” The Nation says in its April 2nd editorial. The war also allows the Pentagon to deploy and test new weapons as the pilotless drone aerial attack planes. Is that what President Bush knew when he predicted, “This war is going to take a while?” Now “The New York Times” says the Obama administration is considering ending its combat role next year apart from the use of Special Forces to train Afghan troops and conduct raids. But The Nation editorial says “that’s not good enough” and it isn’t. This is a senseless, unjust war whose victims largely are the civilians the U.S. purports to help, as well as a war opposed by a majority of Americans. And it is a naked crime against humanity in violation of the UN Charter and should be terminated immediately. Kabul bomb wave, rockets fired: Taliban targets diplomats & NATO At least a dozen large explosions, followed by rocket fire and automatic gunfire, struck Kabul on Sunday in what appears to be a coordinated attack on the diplomatic area and the NATO base. The Taliban says it’s behind the offensive. Afghanistan International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed multiple attacks on seven locations across Kabul but gave no details on the casualties. A parliamentary spokesman told Reuters that rockets were fired at Afghanistan’s parliament and Russian embassy buildings. Russian diplomats later denied the embassy was under fire. Several attackers have attempted to enter the Afghan parliament in Kabul, a local official said. They were driven back by security forces and had taken cover in the nearby building. Residents across the city also reported explosions near the parliament building. A witness says a rocket-propelled grenade hit the residence of the British ambassador in Kabul. Suicide bombers are said to have direction of the German embassy and several other buildings, while sirens could be heard throughout A Turkish military base on the outskirts of Kabul is reported to have come under mortar taken over a Kabul hotel known to be used by foreigners, launching rocket and rifle fire. Smoke is billowing from the the neighbourhood. Taliban claim armed suicide bombers also launched an attack on NATO headquarters. attack. Turkish and Greek forces responded with heavy-caliber machine gunfire. Police say at least one attacker was killed during in insurgency, Al Arabiya reports. Four suicide bombers attempted to attack Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan – an airfield where US troops are based, US airfield commander said. The Taliban declared attacks also took place in eastern Paktia and Logar provinces and claimed they had attacked a police training base in eastern Afghanistan. Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has threatened the attacks are “the beginning of insurgent spring offensive.” An Afghan National Army soldier keeps watch near the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) as a NATO helicopter flies over the site of an attack in Jalalabad province April 15, 2012. Afghan police head to the scene of an attack in Kabul A Afghan National Army soldier runs near the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) as smoke rises from the site of an attack in Jalalabad province April 15, SAARC 12 Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 WEEKLY REVIEW OF BANGLADESH NEWS Railway gate Scandal:Minister and GM suspended Railway minister’s Assistant Personal Secretary Omar Faruq Talukder was sacked and Railway General Manager (East) Yusuf Ali Mridha and Dhaka Division Security Commandant Enamul Huq were suspended yesterday in connection with the railwaygate scandal. The ongoing recruitment in around 3,500 posts in the ministry has also been suspended, Railway Minister Suranjit Sengupta told a press conference at the Railway Bhaban yesterday. “We’ve also decided to file judicial cases against the trio under the Government Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules 1985,” Suranjit said. His announcement came five days after the seizure of Tk 70 lakh from the microbus of his APS by BGB members around 11:30pm on April 9. The vehicle was on its way to Suranjit’s Jigatola residence in the capital with Faruq, Mridha and Enamul on board, and the amount was reportedly part of the bribe money collected from the prospective job seekers. Sources had earlier told The Daily Star that the driver, Ali Azam Khan, drove the vehicle into the BGB Pilkhana headquarters having been refused Tk 5 lakh as share of the amount. Faruq, Mridha, Enamul and the driver were kept in Pilkhana in BGB custody that night. All but the driver was freed around 1:00pm the next day, Enamul told The Daily Star at his Kamalapur Railway Station office on Wednesday. The driver remains traceless since. The minister’s press conference also came hours after Mridha told a twomember probe body in a written statement that he along with Faruq and Enamul was going to Suranjit’s house that night. “The APS [Faruq] picked me up on the way. We had some official business to do with the minister,” Mridha told reporters, emerging from the office of Railway Director General Abu Taher who is heading the probe committee. Asked about the minister’s claim that 10:00pm was his bedtime and that there was no question of meeting them late that night, the GM said: “The minister remains busy in various activities. There is nothing wrong going to his house at night for official purpose.” Faruq, who was summoned by a one-member committee probing his involvement in the scam, did not show up yesterday. Instead, he sent a statement by an aide. The content of the statement could not be known. On April 11, Faruq deposited Tk 70 lakh in his account with Mercantile Bank’s Dhanmondi branch. The central bank has already opened an investigation into the abnormal deposit. Enamul, the security commandant, will be asked today to appear before the two-member probe body with his written statement tomorrow. Yesterday’s press conference was the third by Suranjit since the scam came to light. He left the press meet after sketchily answering a few questions. Replying to a query, Suranjit said the action was taken against the trio based on the statement Mridha and Faruq gave to the body as well as the allegations raised against them in the media. “An APS is a privileged post. I myself decided to dismiss him. I am not a judge that I will try him. The law will take its own course,” said Suranjit, looking upset. Dhaka, Ankara agree on FTA Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his government’s interests in jointventure investments in energy sector, particularly in oil and gas exploration. Erdrogan showed the interest during the official talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at his office here Thursday evening. The two countries agreed to deepen their ties in areas of economy, trade and commerce, culture, and agriculture. Meanwhile, Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh and Turkey will sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) soon. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lays wreath at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. She reached the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday. The premier said this while addressing a business meeting with TUSKON, a leading business group in Turkey, at Hotel Sheraton here. On Thursday’s official talks, Hasina and Erdogan discussed the entire range of bilateral relations, and agreed to support each other in the UN, and in regional and international forums. Erdogan praised the achievements of the Bangladesh government in promoting education, rule of law, and democracy under the dynamic leadership of Hasina. He hoped that Bangladesh would be a middle income country by 2015. “We have attached special importance to our bilateral relations. We have agreed to give support to each other’s candidates in multilateral institutions, including in the UN Security Council,” Hasina said at a joint press conference after the official talks. She said that agreements signed between the two countries would further bolster bilateral relations in economic, commercial, cultural, agricultural, and other fields. Turkey would soon join the International Jute Study Group (IJSG), the only UN organisation headquartered in Bangladesh. It would also finance Bangladesh in the construction of several hundred of government scholarships for Bangladeshi students and assist in restoring the historical Shahi Jame Masjid at Anderkilla in Chittagong. Hasina expressed her happiness over the signing of a Sister-City twining agreement linking the spiritual capitals of Konya in Turkey and Sylhet in Bangladesh. Erdogan expressed his satisfaction saying that the defence cooperation between the two countries is cooperation between the two countries. Of the two MoUs, one is on scientific and technical cooperation in the field of agriculture, and the other is for cultural, scientific and educational exchange programme. A letter of intent has also been signed between the two countries under which Turkey will join IJSG. During the one-to-one meeting with Erdogan, Hasina hailed the community healthcare clinics, she added. “The two countries have been working hard to explore the full potentials of our bilateral relations in different fields,” she said. Hasina mentioned that the Bangladesh Consulate General office has been established in Istanbul this month to cater to the needs of businesspersons and investors from both countries. During the official talks, Turkey has agreed to increase the number growing. After the official talks, Bangladesh and Turkey signed seven instruments to further bolster cooperation in economic, cultural, agricultural, and other fields. An agreement has been signed for reciprocal promotion and protection of investment while the other has been inked for mutual abolition of visas for the diplomatic, service/ official, and special passport holders. The third agreement is on customs Turkish government’s efforts for strengthening democracy and discouraging unconstitutional takeover. She also admired Turkey’s political, legislative, judicial and administrative steps for institutionalising democracy, human rights, and rule of law that have set up an example in the region. She hoped that none of the countries would experience military rule in the future. Later, Hasina attended a state banquet hosted in her honour by the Turkish premier at his official residence. Earlier, on her arrival at the office of Erdogan, Hasina was given a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent of the Turkish armed forces. Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Industries Minister Dilip Barua, Ambassador at-Large M Ziauddin, Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, among others, accompanied Hasina during the official talks. FTA BETWEEN TWO COUNTRIES SOON During the meeting with TUSKON yesterday, Hasina said her government has initiated plans to make Bangladesh the hub of all economic activities in South Asia and South East Asian regions, encompassing China and India. Mentioning that Bangladesh and Turkey will sign FTA soon, she said her country’s export to Turkey has so far been limited to a few products like readymade garments and jute yarn. “We can offer many more. You can import ceramic products, leather and leather products, frozen shrimp, jute goods, handicrafts, bicycle, and many other products from Bangladesh at competitive prices,” she said. In the last few years, she said the Bangladesh government has been developing road, rail, sea, and air connectivity in the region that would connect Bangladesh to a market of over two billion people. She urged the TUSKON to take advantage of the phenomenal growth of pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh to provide quality medicines at better prices to the Turkish people. Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 SAARC 13 WEEKLY REVIEW OF BHUTAN NEWS BAFRA fines NPO… A NPO, which has been saving animals from being slaughtered, has been slapped with a fine of Nu16,000 by the Bhutan Agriculture And Food Regulatory Authority for not obtaining an incountry movement permit, while moving 160 yaks to Shingkhar, Bumthang. Ura gup Dorji Wangchuk said the Jangsa tshogpa did not inform the geog administration, nor discuss with the people before deporting the animals. “The people of Shingkhar have been complaining of damage to their crops and fencing by the yaks,” the gup said. Since nobody knows where the yaks are scattered, it has become a problem to the people of four geogs. “Some yaks are still grazing in the village, while most are freely roaming in the mountains,” Dorji Wangchuk said. At least 10 yaks have been found dead, supposedly from thirst and hunger in different parts of the village, while some yaks are believed to have delivered calves. However, Sonam Norzin, who works with Jangsa tshogpa, said it must be “natural deaths”, since most tshethar yaks are old and weak, and so no more productive to their owners. When Jangsa tshogpa first brought the animals, two men from the village had agreed to look after the yaks, for which they would be paid, the gup said. Although the men have denied any such agreement, the geog has asked them to take responsibility of the yaks, until the tshogpa solves the problem, the gup said. Since the animals are all scattered in the forest for them to locate and take back, Jangsa has instead agreed to tag them with identification marks on the ears, the gup said. Jangsa’s Sonam Norzin said they are discussing how to tag the yaks. “It’s not going to be an easy task, but we’re thinking of sending more people to locate the animals, tag Nashville orthopedic surgeon’s work in Bhutan honored Pioneer orthopedic volunteer Dr. Robert Stein honored in D.C. When Dr. Robert Stein arrived in the capital city of Bhutan as a volunteer in 1990, he found people with infected bones, children with severe disease — and not a single Bhutanese-trained orthopedic doctor who could help. For two decades, the Nashville orthopedic surgeon returned to the Himalayan nation, staying for a month at a time in a cottage where rocks had to be placed over the drains to prevent varmints from creeping in. He treated patients — and trained doctors. Now, 22 years later, there are five Bhutanese orthopedic surgeons where there had been none, and technicians are sent to remote regions in the country to provide care. Stein’s front-line work as Bhutan’s first orthopedic volunteer is being recognized today in Washington, D.C., where he is among nine recipients of a Golden Apple Award from the nonprofit Health Volunteers Overseas. The head of the orthopedic hospital in Bhutan nominated Stein for the award, given in conjunction with World Health Day to recognize the educational contributions of volunteers. “It was a complete surprise,” Stein said. “To me, the real payoff is seeing the growth of the program and knowing that it’s made an impact. When we go through life, we want to leave something positive behind.” He’s always had a burning desire to teach in a Third World country, he said, wanting to increase access to quality orthopedic care. He began by researching which countries could benefit most from such services. He made a cold call to the Royal Bhutanese Mission to the United Nations, asking whether Bhutan would be interested in his program. Governmental officials agreed, and his overseas medical mission was born. “It was the ideal program on many different grounds, as the people were lovely,” he said. “It was safe — you didn’t worry about AIDS or violence.” Stein has been a member of Health Volunteers Overseas since 1988, served as program director for Bhutan for 19 years and was a board member for Orthopaedics Overseas. For his work in Bhutan, Stein also received the Orthopaedics Overseas Leadership Award in 2009. As director of the orthopedics program, Stein traveled back and forth about every two years. His visits required that he forgo not only time but also income. He dipped into his own pocket to pay for travel expenses. “I loved the idea of doing Third World volunteer work with no strings attached,” said his wife, Carol Stein, who would occasionally travel to Bhutan with him. “This was a self-initiated project and made something remarkable out of not much. It’s great that he’s getting this attention. He deserves it.” and photograph them,” he said, Meanwhile, the gup said that, if the male yaks were good for breeding, they would consult the animal husbandry officials and distribute the yaks to the people of Chokhor. The non-compliance of rules, while transporting animals, happened because they had to move the yaks in a rush, Sonam Norzin said. Jangsa tshogpa had earlier deported the saved yaks to Boelangdrak in Wangduephodrang, but chose Shingkhar after they heard that the animals in Boelangdrak were not treated well by the people. Since the tshogpa is facing financial problems, Sonam Norzin said he had verbally talked to the director of livestock regarding the fine imposed on them. BAFRA is however firm on its stand and said the Jangsa tshopga had not bothered to adhere to the Livestock Act 2001, and Rules and Regulations 2008, while transporting the animals. PM calls on people to spend sustainably Bhutan needs to focus on two things: the governance which includes the security and sovereignty of the nation, and the other is the economic development through balancing its imports and exports. It was stated the Prime Minister in a nation-wide address broadcast on the national television on April 12. Owing to these imbalances in the economy, he said, Bhutan is facing the current economic crisis. He said that the majority of the population hugely depend on subsistence farming therefore they cannot afford to spend lavishly ; instead they have to save for retirement, their children’s future and paying taxes. Lyonchen also mentioned that Bhutan spends a staggering Nu 470mn on importing meat and a colossal amount of 286mn on vegetables which can be produced even within Bhutan. He also reminded the nation about the harmful chemicals and pesticides used by people selling vegetables to the Bhutanese people adding that Bhutan spends about Nu 314mn alone on beer imports. He emphasized the issue of youth unemployment, too. Bhutan still employs about 51,616 foreign workers. Lyonchen raised concern about spending around Nu 5 billion on fuels for more than 60,000 vehicles in the country while Bhutan’s hydro power projects generate an annual income of Nu 5 billion. Lyonchen, regarding the rupee shortage, said that the Bhutanese should look at the root cause of the problem and work towards finding a proper solution. “We have to remember the lessons we have learned and work towards it; hopefully we will now change our habits of spending unnecessarily.” Meanwhile, the government has been working together with the RMA and the private sectors for plans and policies to tackle the crisis. He mentioned that Bhutan first faced a rupee crisis in 1966 when the first bank in Bhutan went bankrupt in Phuentsholing. Talking about measures to address the economic crisis Bhutan is facing, he said the government will be stopping the import of vegetables from May 5, 2012 and urged the farmers across Bhutan to meet the needs of the people. He also said that the government would be addressing the drug shortage. He offered his apologies to the people for the mistakes the government had committed. Towards the end of his address, he mentioned about the success of the recent conference on well being and happiness at the UN head quarters. He said regardless of Bhutan being an independent country it is vital for the country to have appropriate recognition in the international community for its sovereignty. SAARC 14 Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 WEEKLY REVIEW OF INDIA NEWS Economy facing challenges but we’ll overcome them: Manmohan While admitting that the Indian economy has been facing “difficulties,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday expressed confidence that his government would overcome the challenges with “great determination.” Speaking at the conclusion of a panel discussion here on ‘Challenges of economic reforms in India,’ in which he was the chief guest, Dr. Singh said: “There are difficulties. Life will not be worth living if there are no difficulties. I am confident, with great determination, we will overcome.” The panel discussion was organised by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) to mark the update and presentation of a copy of published essays by leading economists on economic reforms and developments. The book was presented to the Prime Minister by ICRIER Chairperson Isher Judge Ahluwalia. During the discussions by the panel, which included Reserve Bank Governor D. Subbarao, Chicago University Professor Raghuraman G. Rajan and Business Standard Chairman T.N. Ninan, the urgent need for second generation reforms was highlighted even as attention was drawn to the maladies afflicting the economy. Professor Rajan pitched for putting in place second generation reforms along with a hike in fuel prices in keeping with international rates, resolution of various bottlenecks and a India, Pakistan to fasttrack talks for trade in petro products, electricity Seeking to speed up bilateral cooperation and enhance economic engagement, India and Pakistan have decided to fast-track the ongoing talks for trade in petroleum products and electricity. The issue of opening bank branches in each other’s country would also be taken up on priority. It was decided during the bilateral meeting between Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and the visiting Pakistan Trade Minister, Makhdom Amin Fahim, that the officials of both countries should fast-track the ongoing process. It was also noted that the Central banks of both countries were examining issues relating to opening bank branches in each other’s country. SAFTA lists During the discussions, both sides agreed to draw a road map for further reductions in the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) sensitive lists. While reducing the SAFTA lists, both sides would appropriately consider requests received for tariff lines to be removed. Both sides welcomed these rapid developments on the business front and the business-tobusiness and business-to-consumer contact for promoting both commerce and people-to-people understanding. The Ministers agreed that this was a clear testimony of the business-driven demand for a rapidly expanding bilateral economic engagement. Joint Business Council The Ministers expressed their wish that the business visa regime needed to be liberalised at the earliest. It was noted that a formal decision on this was expected at a meeting of the Home Secretary of India and the Secretary of the Ministry of Interior of Pakistan likely to he held next month. They noted that the business chambers from both sides provided great support to fast-track the growing economic engagement between the countries. It was decided that a Joint Business Council be constituted with 10 prominent business persons to be nominated by each country. “more kindly” treatment of foreign investors with respect to the budget proposal of taxation with retrospective effect. The tax should be levied with prospective effect as, despite a short-term negative impact, the step would be beneficial in the long term, he said. Dr. Subbarao, while expressing concern over the widening fiscal and current account deficits, asserted that the economy now (in 2012) was far more resilient than what it was in 1991. The current downturn, he noted, was a short-term phenomenon and the economy was mature enough to absorb ‘shocks’ and the country’s growth story was intact. “The structure of the economy has changed [since 1991]. Our financial markets are more mature, more diverse and much deeper. They have the resilience to absorb shocks,” he said. In his comments on the discussions, the Prime Minister said: “They [panellists] have thrown a new light on old problems. They have mentioned many challenges our economy is facing. There are difficulties …” Dr. Singh made these observations despite the fact that he had accepted the invitation on condition that he would not speak. “I had accepted this invitation on the condition that I will not speak. I don’t wish to break that,” he said. Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 SAARC 15 Toxic gases hamper search at Siachen avalanche site Inhospitable weather on Monday forced President Asif Ali Zardari to cancel his trip to Gyari, an avalanche tragedy in Siachen, as day 10 posed serious climatic difficulties for rescuers. President Zardari was planning to visit the Gyari sector – where an avalanche struck at a Pakistan Army camp on April 7 and buried 138 people including troops and civilians – to inspect the rescue operation being spearheaded by the military with assistance from international rescuers. The President’s staff was informed about the deteriorating weather conditions in Skardu and the visit was called off. Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar confirmed that the president was due to visit Gyari to express solidarity with the “defenders of the frontiers” but his trip was cancelled due to “unsuitable weather conditions”. Similarly, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is also waiting for the approval of aviation authorities to give weather clearance for a trip to the Siachen Glacier. Meanwhile, a group comprising 46 members from national and international media teams that was set to fly for the rescue site could not land at the Skardu airport on Monday due to harsh weather. Toxic gases Tuesday hampered the search for 138 people buried by an avalanche at a high-altitude Pakistan army camp, as teams from the United States and Norway arrived at the site to help operations. A huge wall of snow crashed into the remote Siachen Glacier base high in the mountains in disputed Kashmir more than a week ago, smothering an area of one square kilometre (a third of a square mile). Rescuers have dug tunnels in the hard mass of snow and ice to try to reach the buried soldiers and civilians at the Giari base, but toxic gases have built up inside one of them, the military said in a statement. A rise in the temperature has increased the risk of further snow slides, the statement said, forcing workers on the site to take extra precautions. Specialist teams from Norway and the United States arrived at Giari, while Swiss and German teams have returned home after helping the efforts. Search teams are looking for the trapped soldiers and civilians at six different points on the site, around 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) up in the mountains. More than 450 rescuers are working at the site near the de facto border with India in the militarised region of Kashmir, though experts have said there is virtually no chance of finding any survivors. Kashmir has been the cause of two wars between India and Pakistan and the rivals fought over Siachen in 1987, though guns on the glacier have largely fallen silent since a peace process began in 2004. Pakistan asks India to honour 1989 accord on Siachen “A 1989 agreement exists, which settled the principles for the resolution of Siachen conflict,” Zehra Akbari, Director General (South Asia) at the Foreign Office, said at a media briefing on rescue operations in avalanche-hit Gayari. Pakistan reminded India on Saturday of a 1989 agreement for resolving the Siachen dispute and asked New Delhi to honour it. “A 1989 agreement exists, which settled the principles for the resolution of Siachen conflict,” Zehra Akbari, Director General (South Asia) at the Foreign Office, said at a media briefing on rescue operations in avalanche-hit Gayari. “Time has come for the implementation of that agreement. It has to be resolved to prevent such mishaps from happening again,” she said. Last weekend’s massive avalanche in Gayari, which buried the army’s battalion headquarters in the region trapping 135 troops and civilians inside it, brought the conflict over Siachen into focus, with people on both sides of the border questioning the strategic value of the territory and calling for withdrawal of troops from the world’s highest battlefield where relentless sub-zero conditions have killed more people than the actual combat. Ms Akbari said Pakistan had been persistently asking for resolution of the issue. She was referring to the Pakistan-India joint statement issued on June 17, 1989, after a meeting between the two defence secretaries. The statement said: “There was agreement by both sides to work towards a comprehensive settlement, based on redeployment of forces to reduce the chances of conflict, avoidance of the use of force and determination of future positions on the ground so as to conform with the Simla Agreement and to ensure durable peace in the Siachen area. The army authorities of both sides will determine these positions.” The agreement was made possible because of back-channel contacts between then prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi. The 1989 agreement, which was soon afterwards denied by India, was lacking in three aspects — which point the troops should pull back to, how to ascertain the existing ground position and monitoring of demilitarisation. Pakistan has, during various sessions on Siachen, proposed that troops return to pre-1972 positions, as agreed in the Simla Agreement, but India has insisted on authenticating the actual ground position line both on maps as well as on the ground. Indians believe that accepting Pakistani proposals will imply a surrender of the glacier that has been under Indian control since 1984. It is said that the Indian army has been at the forefront in preventing a resolution of the issue. At the back of Indians’ mind, an Indian source said, was a fear that China would benefit from any settlement because of its strong ties with Pakistan. American diplomatic cables, revealed by WikiLeaks, had also pointed out to the Indian army’s resistance to a resolution of the dispute. The cables cited the China factor, India’s distrust of Pakistan, Indian army’s internal corruption and its desire to retain the strategically advantageous territory as the factors stopping Delhi from agreeing to a settlement. The cables said every time India and Pakistan came “very close” to an agreement on the Siachen issue, the prime minister of the day would be forced to back out by the Indian defence establishment, Congress Party hardliners and opposition leaders. RESCUE EFFORTS: The Director General of Military Operations, Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem, said rescue efforts in Siachen were at “full-scale” and rescuers had been able to reach the ground level at two points, but did not find anyone. Digging at other points, he added, was continuing. He admitted that chances of finding any survivors were slim, advising “prayers for a miracle”. He expressed the hope that rescue efforts would pick up pace in coming days after an expected improvement in weather. Maj-Gen Nadeem said a new battalion headquarters had been raised at Goma to replace the one buried under the avalanche. The new headquarters has been properly staffed and equipped. It is fully operative now. President Zardari, Kayani visit Siachen to express solidarity with Pakistan Army Continued from page 9 >> operation and paid tributes to the soldiers, saying the country was “indebted to these sons of the soil and prays for them from the very core of their hearts”. He directed officials to use all available resources to expedite the operation “in view of any possible snow slides due to temperature rise”. Pakistan should take initiative to end Siachen war: Nawaz Calling on governments of Pakistan and India to withdraw their forces from Siachen, PML-N President Nawaz Sharif said the first step in this direction should be taken by Pakistan. Speaking to the media, Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan and India were spending billions of rupees on defence, which could be diverted for the prosperity of people. He urged Islamabad and New Delhi to resolve the Siachen dispute through a dialogue. Offering tributes to the soldiers buried under snow due to an avalanche in Siachen, the PML-N chief said the entire nation was praying for the safe recovery of the troops. 16 South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 Baisakhi Festival at the Golden Temple, Pakistan and UK Sikh devotee takes a holy dip in a water tank at the Sikh Shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, on the eve of the Baisakhi festival. Baisakhi is an ancient festival in the Punjab and Nepal regions Also celebrated in Pakistan, and throughout the world , that marks the beginning of a new solar year and a new harvest season. The most awaited and fun ﬁlled festival of the season, Baisakhi was celebrated in city with great enthusiasm. Wearing traditional costumes and drenched in devotion, residents celebrated the festival of growth and prosperity. While some devotees went to Amritsar to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, others attended special prayer meetings and had guruka-langar. Celebrated to rejoice the birth of Guru Gobind Singh - the tenth Sikh guru and the foundation day of Khalsa Panth, major activities for the festival were centred on gurdwaras. On this day, people following Sikh faith woke up early in the morning and visited gurdwaras to attend special prayer meetings. At noon, after the Baisakhi ardas, “karah prasad” was offered to the guru for his blessings. It was then distributed to the congregation. The ceremony culminated with a special guru-ka-langar where people sat in rows with their heads covered as volunteers served them with vegetarian meal. On the occasion various ragi and jathas also recited kirtan. Resident of Sarabha Nagar, Amarjeet Singh said, ‘’Baisakhi also marks the beginning of a new year for us. This Baisakhi I went to the gurdwara near my house to participate in turban tying competition. It was great fun participating in the activity.’’ Resident of Model Town, Surjit Singh said, ‘’I participated in the turban tying competition, however I did not win it. But the good part is that I learnt how to tie a turban in a short span of time.’’ Resident of Civil Lines, Gurjit Singh said, ‘’I wore a saffron colour turban to mark Baisakhi and have been doing the same for the past many years. It’s my way of celebrating the day.’’ Resident of BRS Nagar, Harpreet Kaur said, ‘’I got up early to visit gurudwara and after that offered my help to serve community food. It gave me immense satisfaction.’’ Gurpreet Kaur of Pakhowal Road said, ‘’I started the day with paying obeisance at a gurudwara. Later, we enjoyed the evening at home, dancing and relishing scumptous food.’’ Resident of Dandi Swami Road, Ripanjeet Kaur said, ‘’My family was very excited about Baisakhi. We bought new clothes for the day and dressed our best in traditional attire to celebrate the occasion.’’ Sikh pilgrims taking part in the Besakhi Festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahab in Hassan Abdal Pakistan. Sikh pilgrims taking part in the Besakhi Festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahab in Hassan Abdal Pakistan. Sikh pilgrims eating their lunch during Besakhi Festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahab in Hassan Abdal Pakistan. Sikh pilgrims performing religious rituals during Besakhi Festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahab in Hassan Abdal 17 NEWS 18 Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 MCD election results 2012: BJP heads for victory, Cong faces rout The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday appeared heading to capture the three newly-created municipal corporations in the capital, one with help from independents, cruising ahead of Congress in the civic body polls. While it was poised to win North and South Corporations comfortably, in the East, the BJP looks to be emerging as the single largest party and is confident of getting the support of independents to cross the midway mark. With several of its candidates winning, the saffron brigade also clocked leads in 138 of total 272 wards, while the Congress is winning in 75 after first few hours of counting of votes. Though BJP is set to win the civic body polls, the main opposition Congress has also made significant gains as the party is expected to win 15 seats more than it total tally in 2007 elections Of the 206 results declared by State Election Commission out of 272 wards in all three corporations till 4.50pm, BJP has bagged 106 while Congress has won 60 seats. BSP has bagged 14 seats, RLD three, NCP and SP two each and JD(U) and INLD one each while 17 Independents have also won. In South Delhi Corporation, BJP has won or is leading in as many as 43 out of the 104 wards while Congress candidates are ahead in 29 seats. Interestingly, the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) is ahead in 7 seats, while others are surging slowly in 25 seats. BJP, which is leading in 60 seats, has a comfortable edge over the main opposition Congress in North Delhi as the latter is ahead in 28 seats for which trends are available. In East Delhi Corporation, BJP is surging ahead in 35 seats, while Congress is said to be trailing as it leads in 18 seats only. North Delhi: In North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the trends are available for all 104 seats where the BJP has won or leading in 60 seats, the principle opposition Congress party is ahead with 28, the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) is ahead in four seats while independents are leading in twelve seats. East Delhi: Out of 64 wards, BJP is said to be leading in 35 seats, Congress in 18 and BSP is moving ahead in three seats, while independents are also reported to be going strong in nine seats. South Delhi: In the South Delhi Municipal Corporation also, the trends are available for total 104 seats. Here, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is leading in 43 seats, the main opposition Congress party is ahead with 29, while the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) has gained lead in seven seats. Independents here are leading in twenty five seats. South has the highest number of 904 candidates followed by North (885) and East (634). Prominent winners The first result to be declared was that of Shahdara (SC) in East Corporation where BJP’s Balbir Singh defeated Congress’ Jagdish by a margin of 1,28 (BJP) is also leading in Mukherjee Nagar. Among prominent candidates who have won the election in their respective wards are: Dharmveer (Congress) from RK Puram, Radhey Shyam (BJP) from Vasant Vihar, Tulsi Ram from Dharampura, BJP’s Deputy Mayor Anil Sharma has also won with a comfortable margin. Pramila Tukas, who contested as an independent candidate from Munirka, has also tasted success. Elaborate arrangements by SEC The Delhi State Election Commission had set up counting centres at 32 places across the city for counting of votes for the recently trifurcated Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls. votes. Singh polled 6,809 votes while his nearest rival got 5,571 votes. BJP’s Subhash Arya, the Leader of undivided MCD House, trumped his rival from Congress Manmohan Singh Kochar. MCD Leader of Opposition Jai Kishan Sharma (Congress) lost his electoral battle from Najafgarh. Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta’s wife Shobha has won in Rohini Central defeating her Congress rival Dr Monica Puri. Delhi Mayor Rajni Abbi A total of 2,423 candidates contested from 272 wards, which saw a record 58 percent turnout on Sunday. The outcome of the municipal polls is seen as crucial for Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Congress as well as opposition BJP with leaders believing that it could be an indicator for what is in store for the Assembly polls which is 18 months away. BJP, which has 164 councilors in the undivided MCD against Congress’ 67 and BSP’s 17, harped on alleged corruption by Dikshit government, while Congress targeted the saffron party on its “inefficient and corrupt” administration in MCD. The run-up to the polls also saw some embarrassment for BJP when one of its candidates, a sitting councilor, was arrested for allegedly murdering a party worker, who was opposed to him. A total of 1.12 crore eligible voters exercised their franchise in the polls which include 42.95 lakh voters in North Delhi Municipal Corporation, 42.67 lakh voters in South Delhi Municipal Corporation and 27.16 lakh voters in East Delhi Municipal Corporation. There are 104 each wards in South and North Corporations and 64 in the East, of which 138 seats are reserved for women. South has the highest number of 904 candidates followed by North (885) and East (634). The main contenders are BJP and Congress, but smaller parties like Samajwadi Party and BSP are giving sleepless nights to them. Though in public both the parties make claims about clean sweep in the elections, leaders in Congress and BJP are keeping their fingers crossed as the polls are nearing. Presence of rebels and independents are also keeping both the parties on their toes as they believe that they could play spoilsport for them. The two parties have also expelled a number of leaders to send a strong message to their cadre. NEC not independent or impartial: CMAG The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has said that the National Enquiry Commission established by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik to probe the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power “is not independent or impartial.” The Group further noted that the Commission had failed to gain sufficient support from the various interlocutors of the Maldives and urged the government to re-assess the composition of the team to ensure that it is “independent, credible and impartial.” CMAG agreed that, should the composition and terms of reference of the Commission not be amended within four weeks in a manner that is generally acceptable and enhances its credibility, CMAG would be compelled to consider further and stronger measures. The CMAG had convened in London today to consider its response to the situation in Maldives and Fiji, received a report from the Commonwealth Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon who visited the country last month to assess the continued political impasse in the Maldives. Former President Mohamed early elections. Waheed, who is from a rival political party, was Nasheed’s deputy and took over on February 7 following a police mutiny that capped three weeks of opposition Nasheed, the nation’s first democratically elected leader who came to power in 2008, has refused to recognise the new government claiming that he had been ousted in a ‘coup d etat’ and demanded protests in the capital Male. The Group had met in an extraordinary meeting in relation to the Maldives on February 22 following the now controversial resignation of Nasheed and called for presidential polls during this year and an unprejudiced investigation of the regime change. During the meeting the Group further reiterated its belief that early elections must be held during this year. The Group had also agreed to place the CMAG membership of the Maldives in abeyance during the meeting in February. Presentations from the AttorneyGeneral of Maldives, Aishath Azima Shakoor, and a representative of former President Nasheed, Dr Farahanaz Faizal were also heard during the meeting in London today. CMAG also noted the lack of progress towards a resolution of the political standoff in Maldives since it last met by teleconference on March 15, where the Group had expressed concern for the little progress made since the extraordinary meeting. In this regard the Group called for the All Party Roadmap Talks initiated by the new government to be held without interruption and to broaden the areas of discussion to include the grievances of all relevant parties. CMAG reaffirmed its support for Commonwealth assistance to strengthen democratic processes, institutions and culture in Maldives. In this context, it expressed support for the Commonwealth Secretariat’s technical assistance for strengthening for the long term the capacity of the judicial sector, as agreed with the authorities in Maldives. The Group further called for the capacity of the Parliament to be strengthened and welcomed continued collaboration between the Commonwealth and other international partners, including the United Nations and the InterParliamentary Union, in the consideration of further assistance for Maldives. Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 SAARC 19 Eight Hazaras shot dead in Quetta;15-day toll rises to 26 At least eight members of the Shia Hazara community and a policeman were killed in three attacks here on Saturday. After the attacks and subsequent violence, the administration called out Frontier Corps in the city. The paramilitaries started taking up positions at important places in the evening. “Seven people were killed in firing on two vehicles on Brewery Road and Subzal Road,” DIG (Operation) Qazi Wahid told Dawn. Saturday’s killings took the number of Hazara Shias killed in Quetta and its vicinity during the past fortnight to 26. The Hazara Democratic Party has called upon the community to observe a strike on Sunday to “register outrage over the unabated killings”. Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, who was in Islamabad, expressed sorrow over the deaths and ordered officials concerned to “take all possible steps for arresting the culprits”. The Balochistan governor had earlier this week criticised the provincial government, warning that the army could be called out if the administration failed to protect life and property. Soon after Saturday’s attacks, angry protesters blocked the road that leads from Quetta to Hazara town. They torched a private van and a motorcycle in Bolan Medical College Hospital. A student was injured when unknown people fired in the air. Shots were fired at police, too. The protesters also burnt tyres at different points in Quetta and some men riding motorcycles fired blank shots, triggering panic. Shops and business centres were closed and people started rushing home as fear overtook the city after masked men riding motorcycles fired indiscriminately in shopping areas. The terrorists first struck at Killi Ibrahimzai, where four motorcyclists fired at a yellow cab that was taking six people to Quetta from Hazara town. “They opened fire on the car from two directions, killing all the six passengers. They suffered bullet wounds to their heads,” police said. In the other shooting, two men riding a motorcycle attacked another vehicle on Subzal Road. One man was killed on the spot and another was critically injured. Photo of Afghan girl after bomb attack wins Pulitzer A harrowing photo of a young girl standing screaming in the middle of a pile of bodies after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan has won its photographer a Pulitzer Prize. Massoud Hossaini won the breaking news photography award for his picture, which shows young Tarana Akbari crying after the attack on the crowded Abul Fazel Shrine on 6 December. The Pulitzer committee described the image as “heartbreaking”. Mr Hossaini said he was glad he had become a voice for the Afghan people. “When I could stand up, I saw that everybody was around me on the ground, really bloody. I was really, really scared,” said the girl, whose name means “melody”, and who is now aged 11. ‘Painful memories’ She still has nightmares about the day, and no longer wears her green dress, which was drenched in blood from the attack, AFP reported. Over 70 people were killed in the blast, which coincided with the Shia Muslim festival of Ashura, and was the deadliest suicide bomb attack in Kabul in 2011. Mr Hossaini, who was brought up in Iran before returning to cover the war in Afghanistan, said the image brings back painful memories. “I don’t look at it any more because my heart beats faster and it brings back the emotions of that day.” “I know that whoever sees this photo will think about the photographer but I hope they don’t forget the pain Afghanistan’s people have in their life,” he said. The Pulitzer prize, which started in 1917, honours excellence in journalism and the arts. He died in the Combined Military Hospital. A policeman, Mohammad Panha, was shot dead in Shalkot, near Quetta, when he was going to his place of duty. According to some TV reports, some suspects were taken into custody. OUTRAGE: Members of the Hazara community converged on Brewery Road in their hundreds and at the Bolan Medical College Hospital, where bodies were placed for identification. The enraged crowd pelted vehicles with stones and blocked roads. The demonstrators set on fire a van and a motorcycle parked in the hospital and also attacked some shops. Groups of protesters burnt tyres at Meezan Chowk and in some other places across the Balochistan capital. However, security personnel dispersed them after firing shots in the air. Home Secretary Naseebullah Bazai immediately called out the Frontier Corps to control the situation. “Ten FC battalions have been deployed in and around Quetta to restore peace and order,” official sources said. Heavy contingents of FC, police and Balochistan Constabulary patrolled the road and streets of the provincial capital. Nepal authorities crackdown on casinos allowing locals Authorities in Nepal today arrested some 12 people in a stepped up crackdown on casinos allowing locals to gamble, police said. It is illegal to allow Nepalese to gamble in the eight casinos being operated in the capital Kathmandu. Casinos have been seeking to attract locals amid decline in Indians arriving in Kathmandu due to security fears, frequent police raids and opening of casinos in Goa, Macau and other East Asian countries. In effect, local visitors dominate the eight casinos operating in Kathmandu and two in Pokhara, the tourist hub of western Nepal. According to sources, more than 80 per cent of the visitors are now locals. The police arrested seven locals from Casino Royale situated in Hotel Yak and Yeti at Durbar Marg in the heart of Kathmandu. The police recovered Rs. 22,000 in cash, coins worth Rs. 15,000 and cheque amounting to Rs. 350,000 from them. Five Nepalese were arrested from Casino Everest located at Hotel Everest. SAARC 20 Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 WEEKLY REVIEW OF PAKISTAN NEWS Benazir case: PPP’s stance questioned Malik should dissociate from official duties for fair probe: SC, * Court asks govt why UN report has not been published * Says it is unfortunate PPP-led govt is opposing fresh FIR premier. Aslam has requested the SC to lodge a fresh first information report (FIR) in the case. The court inquired from the deputy attorney general why had the federal government not published the United Nations (UN) investigation report in the BB murder case. The court also observed that it was unfortunate that BB’s party was in power, but it was opposing the registration of the fresh FIR. “Nation is seeking reply about the murderers of its great leader,” it added. Aslam sought the registration of the second FIR against 12 respondents, including former The Supreme Court expressed surprise on Monday over PPP’s reluctance to register a second FIR in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case. The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday said Interior Minister Rehman Malik should dissociate himself from his official post until the completion of probe into Benazir Bhutto (BB) murder case. A three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez, is hearing a plea filed by Chaudhry Aslam, former protocol officer to the slain president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf, former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, former law minister Babar Awan, then acting interior minister Lt General (r) Hamid Nawaz, former Intelligence Bureau director general Ijaz Shah, former interior secretary Kamal Shah, former Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier (r) Javed Iqbal Cheema and former Rawalpindi DCO Irfan Elahi. In his para-wise comments, Malik said that all accused had been arrested, so there was no need of registering the second FIR in this case. The court has adjourned the hearing until April 28. Militants attack Bannu Pakistan calls for jail, 400 inmates escape Siachen review Nearly 400 prisoners escaped from a jail in northwest Pakistan early on Sunday after it was attacked by militants armed with guns and rocket propelled grenades, a senior police official said. The raid by more than 100 fighters was a dramatic display of the strength of the insurgency gripping the nucleararmed country. The attackers, armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, stormed the prison before dawn in the city of Bannu close to the Afghan border, said police officer Shafique Khan. They used explosives and hand grenades to knock down the main gates and two walls, said Bannu prison superintendent Zahud Khan. ”They were carrying modern and heavy weapons,” said Zahud Khan. ”They fired rockets.” Once inside the building, the attackers headed straight to the area of the prison where death-row prisoners were being kept, he said. They fought with guards for around two hours, setting part of the prison on fire before freeing the 380 inmates, including at least 20 ”very dangerous Taliban militants,” said Shafique. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which has close links to al Qaeda, said its fighters mounted the assault, which triggered clashes. Several people were wounded. “We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way,” said Taliban spokesman Asimullah Mehsud. The claim could not be immediately verified. If the Taliban freed the prisoners, it could deal a psychological blow to Pakistani security forces, who say they have made gains against militants through a series of attacks on their strongholds. The escaped prisoners may now rejoin the fight, giving momentum and a propaganda boost to a movement that has killed thousands of Pakistani officials and ordinary citizens since 2007. “Dozens of militants attacked Bannu’s central jail in the early hours of the morning, and over 300 prisoners have escaped,” senior police official Mir Sahib Jan told Reuters. “There was intense gunfire, and rocketpropelled grenades were also used.” Paramilitary troops and security forces surrounded Bannu Central Jail. Of a total 944 prisoners in the jail, 384 escaped, said another police official. One of the prisoners who escaped from jail was on death row for involvement in an assassination attempt on former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, a police official said. “There was an inmate named Adnan Rasheed, who was a dangerous prisoner. He was a mastermind in (one of the attacks) on Musharraf. These people came for him and took another 383 people too,” said the official. Militants apparently targeted six jail blocks in the attack, he said. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, is fighting to topple the US-backed Islamabad government. Major suicide bombings have eased in recent months, suggesting either security crackdowns have weakened the group, or it has changed tactics. Pakistan and India should take a lesson from the recent avalanche that buried 138 people in the Siachen sector and review troop deployments on the Himalayan glacier, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar says. “Pakistan and India should take a lesson from the incident at Gyari camp. They will have to review the deployment of forces at Siachen,” Khar said while addressing a ceremony held after a polo match in Lahore. An avalanche slammed into a Pakistan Army battalion headquarters at Gyari in the Siachen sector on April 7, burying 127 soldiers and 11 civilians. Pakistani troops have been engaged in a frantic search for the buried men at the site of the disaster. Pakistani media analysts and politicians have called for a review of the deployment of forces at Siachen, where soldiers from the two countries have been engaged in standoff since 1984. The guns have largely been silent since late 2003, when the two sides put in place a ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir, and more troops have died due to the adverse weather than combat. Khar further said Pakistan wants peaceful relations with India and President Asif Ali Zardari’s day-long visit to the neighbouring country on April 8 had helped in improving ties between the two countries. She expressed concern at attacks by the Taliban in several cities of Afghanistan today, including the capital Kabul. “Pakistan condemns the attacks in Afghanistan,” she said. Khar also welcomed the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s announcement that its team would tour Pakistan later this month. “The decision will go a long way to pave for other cricketing nations to come here,” she said. The tour by Bangladesh will be the first by a foreign team since international cricket in Pakistan was suspended after a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009. Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 SAARC 21 WEEKLY REVIEW OF MALDIVE NEWS Our sovereignty cannot be compromised at any cost- Gayoom Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has laid emphasis on respect for the country’s national sovereignty and said that sovereignty and independency of Maldives shall not be compromised at the saying of a people. Speaking at the public rally held in Guraadhoo last night to celebrate the winning of the Thimarafushi seat of the Peoples’ Majlis by Ahmed Shareef, the candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Gayoom said that the sovereignty of Maldives should be protected and preserved by all means. Gayoom said that the Maldives has been a hundred percent Muslim nation for many years and the sovereignty of the country has been intact since the acceptance of Islam in the Maldives. He said that there were only two instances in the history of Maldives that the country’s sovereignty was snatched away by foreign forces however the sovereignty was restored by the people. Gayoom noted that Maldives declared its independence in 1965 and has remained a hundred percent Muslim nation and as an independent country since the year 2008. He revealed that foreign parties presented many things but all were rejected for the sake of the protection and Maldives new Govt Wins Crucial bi-elections Abdulla Jabir of Jumhooree Party (JP), and Ahmed Shareef of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) have won the seat for the Kaashidhoo and the Thimarafushi constituencies in the Peoples’ Majlis in the byelections held yesterday. According to the provisional results of yesterday’s People’s Majlis byelections announced by the Elections Commission last night Jumhooree Party Deputy Leader Abdulla Jabir won the Kaashidhoo constituency with 1107 votes while his rival, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Ahmed Haleem “Dhonbileh” got only 919 votes. Opposition in Maldives says polls bolster its early vote call A new government in the Maldives has won two by-elections, according to results on Sunday, defeating the party of former President Mohamed Nasheed who was unseated in February and, his party said, bolstering its call for an early presidential poll. The ouster of Nasheed, the islands’ first democratically elected president, dented the Indian Ocean archipelago’s reputation as a laid-back luxury tourist paradise. Nasheed and his party say the new government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik is illegitimate and they have been demanding an early presidential election. Maldives stages first vote after coup claims * 6,000 voters eligible to cast ballots * By-polls called after country’s were called after the country’s highest court recently disqualified the MPs elected in elections in 2009. Former president Mohamed Nasheed, who stepped down in February, has claimed that he was forced to resign following a military coup which was backed by his then deputy, Waheed, who went on to succeed him. Waheed has denied allegations that he was involved in any coup and has highest court disqualified MPs elected in 2009 polls President Mohamed Waheed of the Maldives, accused of seizing power in a military-backed coup, faced his first popularity test on Saturday when voting was held in two key byelections. Waheed is not directly fielding candidates but has publicly endorsed members of his coalition partners for the Thimarafushi and Kaashidhoo constituencies. The two islands outside the capital, Male, will elect two representatives to the 77-member People’s Majlis, or parliament, the elections commission said. Nearly 6,000 voters were eligible to cast ballots Saturday. The by-elections ordered a government investigation into Nasheed’s controversial exit from office. Results of Saturday’s polls, which were being keenly contested by Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party, were expected late Saturday, officials said. Colombo-based diplomats, who are also accredited to Male, said Saturday’s vote was a crucial test for Waheed who has promised early presidential elections to end a political crisis after Nasheed’s resignation. Nasheed became the first democratically elected leader in the Maldives following the nation’s inaugural multi-party elections in October 2008. afp preservation of the sovereignty and independency of the country. “No matter how much money is promised, no matter what, our sovereignty and independence will not and cannot be compromised at any cost. But is it how it has happened now? But I will not go into details of it here,” he said. Furthermore, Gayoom said that some foreign parties are trying to cause undue influence to the soverinty of the country and ideologically attack the people with on motive. He said that their motive is to divide the ranks of the Islamic brotherhood and to threaten the Islamic unity of Maldives. Former President Nasheed to be charged over arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge The Maldives Police Service has today sent the case of the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdullah Mohamed to the Prosecutor General’s Office. Minivan News understands that under the submitted case, Former President Mohamed Nasheed is expected to face charges for his alleged role in ordering the detention of the judge earlier this year. The country’s judges and their conduct became a major focus for former President Nasheed in the run up to him being replaced by Dr Waheed in February, leading to eventual calls for international assistance on the matter. Nasheed had at the time raised concerns over allegations of perjury and “increasingly blatant collusion” between senior judicial figures and politicians loyal to the former autocratic President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Charges However, it is the former president who now himself faces criminal charges relating to the detention of the judge. According to sources linked to the case, the charges levied against Nasheed relate to the violation of article 46 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, and for violation of Article 12 clause (a) of Judges Act (Act no 13/2010). A police official today confirmed that the case regarding the judge’s attention had been submitted to the Prosecutor General’s Office today. “Today at around 9:30 am, we have submitted the case [the arrest of Judge Abdulla] to the prosecutor general. We have completed all the necessary investigations required,” the police official said. An official from the Prosecutor General’s Office also confirmed that the charges sent to it by police were against Nasheed. However, the official refused to explain the exact nature of the charges, stating that the case was still being assessed by their legal team. Spokesperson for Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said that he would not comment on the issue until after a party meeting scheduled to discuss the issue was held Judge arrest Judge Abdulla was arrested by the MNDF on January 16 this year, in compliance with a police request. The judge’s whereabouts were not revealed until January 18. The MNDF had acknowledged receipt but not replied to Supreme Court orders to release the judge. SAARC 22 Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 WEEKLY REVIEW OF NEPAL NEWS UN Chief Urges Nepal to Timely Complete Peace Process UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon on Saturday urged all political parties in Nepal to maintain current momentum of integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatant so as to complete its peace process. “The Secretary-General commends the progress on integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and hopes for a smooth completion of the process,” said a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson. Ban acknowledged the role of the political parties, Nepalese government and Nepal Army, and Maoist commanders and combatants in the efficient transfer of weapons and security of the cantonments, the statement said. “The Secretary-General urges all political parties to maintain this momentum and consensus in order to bring the peace process and drafting of the new constitution, that reflects the aspirations of all Nepalis, to a successful and timely conclusion, “ it said. Ban also urged all parties to ensure the transitional justice mechanisms currently being debated are established in compliance with international law, prioritize victims’ rights and are able to operate with full After secret talks‚ parties call CC‚ PR sub-committee Claiming that they have narrowed down differences on the outstanding constitutional issues during their closed-door talks at Hattiban Big wigs have convened the meetings of the Constitutional Committee(CC) and the Problem Resolution(PR) Subcommittee for Tuesday afternoon to remove all the bottlenecks. The meeting of the CC has been called at 3pm while the PR sub-committee meet will kick start at 1 pm. But the Constitutional Committee, which is mandated to draft new constitution, was required to forge consensus on key constitutional issues by today (April 17), as the deadline set by Business Advisory Committee of the Constituent Assembly last month. Owing to the deadline, the major political parties—the UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress(NC), CPN-UML, and the United Democratic Madhesi Front have agreed to seek five days more to reach to consensus on the contentious issues, said UML leader Bhim Rawal. According to Maoist leader Khim Lal Devkota, a meeting of the Constitutional Committee of the Constituent Assembly and Problem Resolution Sub-committee under the CC would separately hold discussions to iron out differences, for all the parties have their own stances on all five contentious issues- federalism, forms of governance, judiciary, electoral system and citizenship. PLA integration: PLA combatants fast opting for retirement The ongoing voluntary retirement process of the PLA so far suggests the number of combatants choosing integration is going to be far less than 6,500—the combatants’ intake number in the Nepal Army (NA) set by the seven-point agreement signed on November 1. Of the 9,705 combatants who opted for integration during regrouping last year, many seem to have changed their mind as they are now choosing voluntary redundancy. The number says it all. As of Sunday, 4,052 combatants from all the seven PLA division camps chose voluntary retirement and the trend shows the figure is going to swell. There are many factors that affected the decision of the combatants. The major factor being academic qualification that could be crucial in determining their rank in the NA. “There is no guarantee that a commanding level officer in the PLA will have the same post in the Army. So what can we, low-ranking combatants, expect? It is best we retire,” said a PLA platoon commander from the fourth division camp. Some combatants, meanwhile, vented ire at the UCPN (Maoist) leadership for “ruining” their future. “First, they made us leave schools, saying it was bourgeois education and handed us guns; now they are asking for our education qualification. Whatever happened to all those sacrifices we made?” said one combatant from the Lokesh Smriti Brigade of the seventh division camp in Kailali. independence. He reaffirmed the continued support of the United Nations to Nepal’s peace process. All 15 cantonments of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal ( Maoist)(UCPN-M) People’s Liberation Army and their weapons and physical properties came under the control of the government from Wednesday. The PLA combatants who used to reside in the cantonments have fought in the war under the UCPN-M’s leadership. The combatants have been living inside the camps after the peace process was signed in 2006, ending the decade-long war. Task force on brink of integration breakthrough The task force formed by the Special Committee is on the verge of resolving contentious issues related to integration — composition of the selection committee, ranks to be offered to Maoist fighters The task force formed by the Special Committee is on the verge of resolving contentious issues related to integration — composition of the selection committee, ranks to be offered to Maoist fighters, structure of the directorate general to be formed under the Nepali Army and duration of the training and bridging courses for the to-be-integrated Maoist exfighters. The task force comprising four SC members, one each from four major political forces — Barshaman Pun of UCPN-Maoist, Minendra Risal of Nepali Congress, Bhim Rawal of CPNUML and Jitendra Dev of MJF-D — however, was reluctant to disclose to media the understanding reached after four-hour meeting at SC Secretariat. A member of the task force told THT, “We have decided that lieutenant general of army would head the directorate general.” It was agreed to significantly reduce the training period for the integrating Maoist ex-fighters. A recruit will be imparted five months of regular training, while those harmonised as officer cadets would get nine months of training. Currently, NA recruits and officer cadets have to take between nine and 18 months of training. Besides, the task force proposed three-month bridging course for all PLAs, irrespective of their integrating position. “We have broadly agreed that the highest should be decided as per the seven-point agreement. But it depends on the number opting for integration and how many of them will hold particular positions,” another member of the task force told THT. Jitendra Dev of MJF-D said, “We will submit the draft of today’s understanding to the Special Committee. Tomorrow’s meeting of the committee, in the presence of top leaders of major parties, will finalise it.” Propositions • Lieutenant general to head directorate general • Four brigades to be in charge of disaster management and rescue, forest security, industrial security and infrastructure development directorates • Training for recruits, officer cadres reduced • Highest rank to depend on the number of PLAs opting for integration • Composition of the selection committee to be in consonance with the practice being followed in the Nepali Army Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 SAARC 23 WEEKLY REVIEW OF SRILANKA NEWS Army warns Good friends with both Tamils to be wary China, India: Lanka A top Sri Lankan Army commander has warned the Tamil people in the country’s north to be wary of elements attempting to undermine the hard-earned peace. Speaking to the local people after distributing grants to former LTTE combatants for their rehabilitation, Jaffna Commander Maj Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe invited the Tamil diaspora to help the needy rather than undermining normalcy “Various groups in Tamil Diaspora are now in the process of undermining the hard-earned peace in the country. Instead of disturbing peace now being enjoyed by people of Sri Lanka, those groups must come forward to help destitute people to make their life better using money being wasted on creating dissension among communities in Sri Lanka,” he said. Hathurusinghe said as all communities in the island had suffered irrespective of ethnicity by the LTTE’s campaign for a separate state, now it was the time to forget the dark era of the past and unite as one nation that is Sri Lanka. The civil war in Lanka ended in 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE and killing of its top leadership. In the first phase, each of some 25 of the ex-LTTE combatants released after rehabilitation were offered rupees 50,000. The balance rupees 200,000 will be granted in future. The army also handed over a house built by the troops to a war widow. Some 84 kids of four pre-schools in Alaveddy area were given school uniforms, shoes and exercise books as New Year gifts. Another 50 students were given parcels of exercise books. Sri Lanka is wary of the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora domiciled in the West who the government claims are looking for an opportunity to revive the LTTE activity. India should not feel awkward about the Chinese presence in Sri Lanka since there is plenty of room for both, declared Member of Parliament and Presidential advisor Rajiv Wijesinghe in an interview in New Delhi. In a stopover in the Indian capital while travelling to Nepal Wijesinghe said India cannot have exclusive rights in Sri Lanka since there is plenty of room for both countries. China’s growing presence in Srilanka is a matter that should not worry India at all since Sri Lanka wants to be friendly with both countries said the Sri Lankan diplomat, who added “We are good friends with both India and China.” Wijesinha was speaking to an IANS correspondent. “And there is plenty of room for both.” Wijesinha, who studied at Oxford University and has worked as a professor, said Sri Lanka’s geographical position makes it attractive for both the countries, “but (seeking) exclusive rights to Sri Lanka is a waste of time”. “Not at all, not at all,” said Wijesinha when asked whether India should begin to worry about the projects being undertaken by China in the island nation. Citing the example of Hambantota port, he said: “We first offered its development to India. When it didn’t go ahead, it was given to China.” The port is located in Hambantota, one of the lowest per capita income regions in Sri Lanka, and the port will be an important catalyst for major economic development. The total estimated construction cost of Phase 1 of the project is $361 million, out of which 85 percent has been funded by the Ex-Im Bank of China. The professor said that now India is “moving quickly” and working at the Kankesanturai port in the north. He gave the assurance that “India has nothing to worry about” regarding China and added: “China is not a Big Brother”. Wijesinha, who is advisor to the president for reconciliation, would like India to help out in providing micro-credit to the ex-combatants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In May 2009, Colombo militarily crushed the LTTE, the last stages of the war leaving thousands of combatants and civilians dead. India outlawed the LTTE in 1992, a year after a Tiger suicide bomber assassinated former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The bloody war in Sri Lanka, Wijesinha said, left 300,000 internally displaced people. “About 10,000 combatants surrendered while another 1,000 were later caught.” “The idea is to provide micro-credit to the former combatants so that they can restart their lives through entrepreneurship,” he said. “We will soon approach India so that a sum of 1,000 lakh Sri Lankan rupees ($820,000) can be distributed to at least 1,000 ex-combatants.” Sri Lanka celebrates Sinhala and Tamil New Year The traditional Sri Lankan New Year, the most widely celebrated festival in Sri Lanka falls on 14 April. New Year celebrations follow auspicious times calculated by astrology. Every year Sri Lankans throughout the country rally together with great enthusiasm to celebrate Aluth Avurudu, the Sinhala & Hindu New Year. It is a fact that with the newly found freedom after defeating terrorism ending thirty years of war, Sinhalese and Tamils (Hindus) living in every corner of this tiny island celebrate this traditional festival far better way than before in a true national spirit. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations on Friday brought the capital city of Colombo to a standstill with businesses being shut and the migrant workers from rural outbacks returning home to join in the festivities. The new year is observed by the Sinhala Buddhist community which forms 74 percent of the island’s population and Tamil Hindu community. According Roads which usually feature heavy traffic could only see kids playing cricket or lighting crackers in the family in the village. The first family’s new year rituals are nationally televised. Even the non Buddhist Sinhala and non Hindu Tamils are not excluded in the celebrations. The new year is the movement of the sun at the end of the harvesting season from Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries). The rituals have a striking to the astrological charts, the Sinhala and Tamil New Year dawns this evening at 7:20 pm, local time. revelry. Even President Mahinda Rajapaksa travels to his village in the rural southern Hambantota district to spend time with his resemblance to those observed in some parts of India. The features of the celebration are cultural rituals which begin with the cleaning of the house and lighting of an oil lamp. The rituals are strictly astrological time specified acts from the traditional lighting of the fire to preparation of ‘Kiribath’ (milk rice). The partaking of meals on the appointed astrological time is followed by ‘Ganudenu’ or entering the first business transaction. This is usually exchanging of coins and currency notes wrapped in betel leaves. Even the time to leave for work is on a nekath or the astrologically best time. Each of the auspicious times for rituals is marked by bursting of fire crackers. This year all auspicious times have fallen in the night which some sections of the astrologers’ community have described as odd. Cultural Affairs Minister TB Ekanayake defended criticism pointing to his experts panel of astrologers who he said could not have erred. BUSINESS 24 Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 Vodafone threatens legal action against India over tax proposal Vodafone today threatened to drag the government to international arbitration over retrospective tax legislation under the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between India and the Netherlands. Dutch subsidiary Vodafone International Holdings BV (VIHBV) on Tuesday severed a notice of dispute on the Indian government regarding proposals in the Finance Bill 2012 which it claimed violated the international legal protections granted Vodafone and other international investors in India. In a regulatory filing to the London Stock Exchange, Vodafone has asked the Indian government to abandon or suitably amend the retrospective aspects of the proposed legislation as Vodafone would prefer to reach an amicable solution to this matter. “However, if the Indian government is not willing to do so, Vodafone will take whatever steps are necessary to protect its shareholders’ interest, including investment treaty arbitration proceedings under the BIT against the Indian government,” the company said. In the Budget, the government announced a proposal to amend the Income Tax Act to bring overseas deals such as Vodafone’s purchase of Hutchison under tax net after the Supreme Court held that the UK firm was not liable to pay the Rs. 11,000 crore in taxes. This is sought to be done through a retrospective amendment to the Income Tax Act which gives authorities powers to reopens cases as far back as 1962 under the Finance Bill 2012. The Vodafone statement said that the dispute arose from the retrospective tax legislation proposal which, if enacted, would have serious consequences for a wide range of Indian and international businesses, as well as direct and negative consequences for Vodafone. It said the proposed legislation would also countermand the verdict of the Supreme Court in January 2012, which ruled that Vodafone had no liability to account for withholding tax on its acquisition of indirect interests in Hutchison Essar Limited in 2007. Under the BIT, Vodafone said the Indian government is obliged among other things to accord fair and equitable treatment to investors, provide full protection and security, not breach the legitimate expectations of investors in making investments, not deny justice or breach previously provided assurances and not take steps to indirectly expropriate the investment. The statement said Vodafone believes that the retrospective tax proposal amount to a denial of justice and a breach of the Indian government’s obligation under the BIT to accord fair and equitable treatment to investors. It said the Indian government’s retrospective tax proposals have also raised significant and widespread concern within India and internationally and have been criticised by businesses and industry bodies representing more than 250,000 companies across the US, Europe and Asia. Sun Mark Ltd, winner of three consecutive Queens Awards for Enterprise in International Trade has been listed in the prestigious Sunday Times “Profit Track 100” for a second year running. The company ranked 33rd last year and has improved its position to 25th on the table, signifying its tremendous growth. The Chairman, Dr Rami Ranger, MBE, paid a tribute to the Sun Mark team who share his vision for the company and continue to work hard to provide excellent customer service. He was delighted with the company’s standing and the significant increase in its sales and profits, given the economic downturn in global markets. He is optimistic about the future growth of the company as it has now set up a base in Dubai to service its growing presence in the Middle East and North African regions. The company exports British supermarket products to over 100 countries and its motto is “we only succeed when our customers succeed”. India slashes rates; sees little room for more cuts India’s first interest rate cut in three years may be its last for a while. The central bank cut rates on Tuesday by an unexpectedly sharp 50 basis points to boost the sagging economy, but warned there was limited scope for more cuts, with inflation likely to remain elevated and growth on track to pick up, albeit modestly. The Reserve Bank of India, which was tightening monetary policy long after central banks elsewhere began easing, lowered its policy repo rate to 8.00 per cent, compared with expectations for a 25 basis point cut in a Reuters poll. “RBI is indicating that there is a limit for further rate cut expectations, and I think they are pretty much done with further rate cuts this year,” said Rajeev Malik, economist at CLSA in Singapore. The RBI also warned that India’s current account deficit, which widened to 4.3 per cent of GDP in the December quarter, is “unsustainable” and will be difficult to finance given projections of lower capital flows to emerging markets in 2012. India’s rupee has been under pressure as foreign investors worry about persistent inflation, a yawning current account gap and fiscal indiscipline on the part of New Delhi, prompting concern about the country’s balance of payments. Investors and companies cheered the rate cut, with bond yields and swap rates falling sharply, although the rally was capped by expectations for few further cuts in the near term. Indian stocks ended 1.2 per cent higher. Some RBI-watchers said Tuesday’s move was risky given the potential for resurgent inflation. Pakistan’s foreign investment falls 65 pct in July-March Foreign investment into Pakistan fell nearly 65 per cent to $516 million in the first nine months of 2011/12 fiscal year as direct investment dipped by almost half and fund flows turned negative, the central bank said on Wednesday. Foreign investment totalled $1.46 billion in the same period last fiscal year, the State Bank of Pakistan said. Foreign direct investment fell 48.2 per cent to $599.1 million in the July-March period and portfolio investment turned negative by $83.1 million, the central bank said. Pakistan’s unstable security, a Taliban insurgency in the country’s northwest and chronic power shortages have put off long-term investors, analysts say. Saarc international I Thursday 19 April 2012 ENTERTAINMENT Karisma Kapoor learns five languages for Dangerous Ishq Karisma Kapoor is making her comeback with Dangerous Ishq, that will release on May 11. The theatrical trailer of the movie has hit the web. Actress Karisma Kapoor is excited about her comeback film Dangerous Ishq. She is eager to know the audience’s reaction to it. But for now, she recalls the difficulties and challenges that she had to face during the preparation for her role. One of the challenges that the actress had to face was learning five different languages that were part of her character in the film. A source tells us, “The film has different time periods and Vikram himself helped her with voice modulation. Karisma has work pays off! Actor Rajniesh Duggal, who has been paired opposite actress Karisma Kapoor in ‘Dangerous Ishq’, says he is a huge fan of the actress and has grown up watching her films. The 37year-old actress is making her Bollywood comeback with Vikram Bhatt’s upcoming film and Duggal, who is 60 films her junior says he is nostalgic about starring with her. “I still remember being in school when she had already started working in films. I have grown up on her films like ‘Prem Qaidi’, ‘Jigar’, ‘Deedar’, ‘Anari’, ‘Khuddaar’, ‘Gopi Kishan’ and ‘Raja Babu’. When I was for each she needed to speak different languages. She had to brush up on her linguistic skills that included Urdu, Hindi, English, Marwadi and Punjabi.” The source further adds.“Karisma had to undertake rigorous language training. Director Vikram Bhatt wanted everything to be perfect and her diction to be clear. Thus, she had to go through many workshops and classes. taken it as a learning experience making sure everything falls into place.” Talking about her experience, Karisma says, “It was achallenging though exciting experience. The workshops involved a lot of research and learning. It was about getting the correctaccent. Keeping it authentic was our main goal.” All the best Karisma Kapoor and we hope your hard cramming through school books, she was already making it big in the industry. Now today when she is returning after a hiatus with ‘Dangerous Ishq’, I am thrilled to be her leading man,” Duggal told reporters. Right from the day it was announced ‘Dangerous Ishq’ has been pitched as Karisma’s comeback film but Duggal says his role in the film is equally important. Karan Johar spits venom at Priyanka Chopra Bollywood actress has a hsitory of getting too close to her male co-stars for their wives’ comfort Bollywood director-producer Karan Johar very rarely reacts to rumours involving him. But this time someone must have really crossed the line or so he thinks. Karan lost his temper and went all out in micro-blogging website Twitter. He wrote: “Using their hired PR machinery and hiding behind so called “friends” to get news into tabloids is nothing but spineless and lame!!!” He added: “Some people need to wake up and smell the KOFFEE!!! Get a reality check before its too late!!! Grow up!!! and dont mess with goodness....” Wondering who is facing the Karan’s wrath? It should not be very difficult if you read a report carried by an Indian daily, Mumbai Mirror. The article quoted a certain friend of Priyanka Chopra saying that the actress heard bitchy comments about her being made by a powerful producer-director who fed Priyanka cupcakes at a recent party. This powerful producer-director is apparently going all out against Priyanka. Recently there have been reports that Priyanka is being ignored by the Bollywood fraternity and her co-star’s wives worry about their husband working with her. 25 Nikki sahota has made it to the final miss black country 22 year old, Nikki Sahota, a psychology student from West Bromwich, has made it through to the final of Miss Black Country where she will compete against other girls from the county for the title and a place in the coveted Miss England grand final. The final of Miss Black Country, being organized by Front Models, a national modeling agency specializing in hospitality and promotional work, will take place at Malmaison Hotel in Birmingham on Sunday 29thApril, where Nikki Sahota, will compete in a one to one interview round with a panel of judges, and three catwalk rounds including day wear, party wear and evening wear. The overall winner of Miss Black Country will be announced on the night, along with a number of other prizes. Nikki said, “I am delighted to be selected for the final of Miss Black Country. I am really looking forward to meeting all the other finalists and getting my outfits together for the different rounds.” All finalists are encouraged to raise money for the ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ charity, which was officially established by Miss World last year and aims to help local and international organisations and projects across the World to help make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged and deprived people. Over the last three years the Miss England finalists have raised more than £200,000 for various charities including “The Institute of Cancer, The Variety Club of Great Britain, Beat and the National Autistic Society. Laura Coleman Manager of Front Models said, “Fundraising for ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ is a fundamental element of the competition and all the finalists in both Miss Black Country and Miss England are expected to make an effort to raise monies for the charity. Not only does the money go to support fantastic causes nationally, it will also be used to help international projects in third world countries. It is a fantastic charity for all the finalists to be associated with and will look great on their CV in the future.” The winner of Miss Black Country will not only receive a place in the Miss England grand final where she will compete for the coveted title of Miss England, she will also win a styling consultation and personal shopping experience courtesy of Casey Paul and an outfit of their choice from The Little Wardrobe amongst other things. Sachin Tendulkar headed to Bollywood? Indian Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar may soon be seen dancing around trees instead of swinging his bat on the field. Rumours are rife that the Little Master, who recently completed his 100th ODI century, is all set to make his big screen debut in filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Ferrari Ki Sawari’. And, author Shobhaa De’s tweet suggests it may be more than just a special appearance. “There’s a distinct impression that Sachint is preparing for a new innings. In Bollywood. Fans will be over the moon if that happens,” De tweeted on Friday. The Rajesh Mhapuskar directed film ‘Ferrari Ki Sawaari’ starring Sharman Joshi may star Sachin Tendulkar in a guest appearance. Vinod Chopra had an extended conversation recently at the Mukesh Ambani hosted event and Chopra spoke to Sachin again for his cameo. Sachin has earlier refused to do the cameo in film and given an opportunity Chopra asked Sachin again, post Sachin’s 100th century which has perhaps taken off all the pressure off the master blaster. Sources inform that Sachin has not refused this time and has asked for some time. And that is a reason enough for Chopra to slightly push the release of the film. Sources now state that ‘Ferrari Ki Sawari’ will release a week after ‘Rowdy Rathore’ and come on the 8th of June. The current release date of the film has been fixed on May 11. NEWS 26 South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 ‘Exciting’ new treatment for prostate cancer The new technique targets small patches of cancer cells A new technique to treat early prostate cancer may have far fewer side-effects than existing therapies, say experts. A 41-patient study in the journal Lancet Oncology suggests targeted ultrasound treatment could reduce the risk of impotence and incontinence. Researchers say it could transform future treatment if the findings are repeated in larger studies. The Medical Research Council (MRC), which funded the study, welcomed the results, which it said were promising. Each year 37,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Many face a difficult dilemma: the disease kills about 10,000 men every year, but for some it may not get worse if left untreated. Standard treatment with surgery or radiotherapy involves treating the whole prostate gland, and can harm surrounding tissue, with a serious risk of side-effects, including urinary incontinence and impotence. Targeted treatment Doctors at University College Hospital in London have carried out the first trial using highintensity focused ultrasound months after treatment, are very encouraging.he said we need to remember that this treatment was given to fewer than 50 men, without follow-up over a sustained period of time” “We’ve shown in this study that focal therapy – by targeting the individual areas of cancer – can avoid the collateral damage. We’ve shown that nine in 10 men had no impotence and none of the men in the study had incontinence of urine.” Mr Ahmed says the early Robert Page, from Croydon, says his treatment, two years ago, was a great success. “The outcome was very good,” he said. “I was very pleased with the treatment and very happy with the lack of side-effects, particularly when I contrast that with what might have been the case if I’d had one of the other, alternative, treatments.” The study was funded by the Medical Research Council, the Pelican Cancer Foundation and St Peter’s Trust. effective therapies.” The chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, Owen Sharp, also emphasised the importance of further research. “We welcome the development of any prostate-cancer treatment which limits the possibility of damaging side-effects, such as incontinence and impotence. These early results certainly indicate that focal HIFU has the potential to achieve this in the future. “However, we need to remember evidence on cancer control is also very good. But he says this needs to be evaluated in much larger studies. “This could offer a transformation of the way we treat prostate cancer. It could offer a costeffective treatment for the NHS, and offer men with early prostate cancer an opportunity to treat their disease, but with very few side-effects.” A patient on the trial, 72-year-old Further trials Professor Gillies McKenna, director of the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology, a joint collaboration between the MRC and Cancer Research UK, welcomed the findings. “If these promising results can be confirmed in a randomised controlled trial, focal therapy could soon become a reasonable treatment choice for prostate cancer alongside other proven that this treatment was given to fewer than 50 men, without follow-up over a sustained period of time. “We look forward to the results of further trials, which we hope will provide a clearer idea of whether this treatment can control cancer in the long term whilst ridding men of the fear that treating their cancer might mean losing their quality of life.” (HIFU) aimed at small patches of cancer cells on the prostate. Surgeon Hashim Ahmed explains how the treatment works .This was a “proof of concept” study involving 41 patients. They used a probe, placed close to the prostate, which emits sound waves that heat the targeted cells to 80C, while causing minimal damage to surrounding nerves and muscles. Hashim Ahmed, a urological surgeon at the trust who led the study, says the results, 12 Tips on Eating Out! According to the Federation of specialist restaurants, 7.7 billion informal meals are eaten out a year in the UK, or 128 meals for every person in the UK. As a nation, in 2012 we are eating out more than ever before. At the same time it has been predicted that by 2030 there will be 25 million people in the UK who are obese1. Top dining out tips for those trying to maintain a healthy weight from the experts at BODYCRAFT weight loss surgery, one of London’s leading purveyors of private weight loss surgery offering surgical and non-surgical procedures. We all know that eating out and trying to maintain a healthy weight can be difficult as the temptations are just too great but it needn’t be a hassle with these top healthy eating tips from our industry experts. fish or baked chicken if it is drowning in a creamy rich sauce. Try to order tomato-based sauces if you need to at all • Don’t feel compelled to order a 3 course meal, but if you do, try to choose light options like fruit or sorbet and order extra vegetables Top Tips for Dining Out & Maintaining a Healthy Weight: • Don’t starve yourself throughout the day, going to a restaurant when you are really hungry will only encourage your appetite for those calorie laden dishes. • Avoid fried dishes and speak up to your waiter. Ask for your food to be steamed, baked, grilled or poached. • Be careful of those sauces! There isn’t a point in ordering the poached with your main course to fill up on • If you are going for a starter, try the soup. Make sure to avoid creamy soups and go for broth-based soups made of vegetables as they contain mostly water which is a great way to fill up without the extra calories. • Substitute potatoes and french fries for a salad where possible but watch out for the dressings. Creamy dressings are full of unwanted calories/fat so make sure to ask for it on the side so you can limit how much you use. • Don’t feel compelled to finish the whole meal, or have that extra helping. Take it home and enjoy it for your lunch the next day. • Take your time with your meal. Eating slowly will help you to eat less as your body has a chance to start acknowledging that it is full. • Alcohol is full of calories, try a white wine spritzer (with soda). It’s a great lower calorie drink that lasts longer throughout the meal. South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 COMMENT A deal in the works with Iran? particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan; the end of terrorism from Al Qaeda and the Taliban; the reincorporation of Iran into the international community; and no war. With those assumptions as a skeleton, the shape of a final agreement with Iran is imaginable. The United States nuclear weapon. Once international agencies had full access to Iran’s nuclear program, there could be a progressive reduction of the Security Council’s sanctions that are now in effect. Iran would agree to cease making threats against Israel, and the United States would agree to support efforts toward achieving a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. Meanwhile western diplomats claimed modest progress Saturday after more than 10 hours of talks with Iranian officials, raising hopes for at least a temporary easing of a nuclear crisis that has fueled fears of a new military conflict in the Middle East. The day-long talks at an Istanbul conference center did not yield an agreement on specific curbs to Iran’s nuclear program, but U.S. would agree to full recognition and respect for the Islamic Republic, and Iran would agree to regional cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both sides would agree to address the full range of bilateral disputes. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council could accept an Iranian civil nuclear program in return for Iran’s agreeing to grant inspectors full access to that program to assure that Iran did not build a and European officials described the negotiations as “constructive and useful” and said a second round had been set for May 23 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has expressed optimism about the outcomes of the talks between Iran and six major world powers (P5+1) in Istanbul and the settlement of Tehran’s nuclear issue. “We are optimistic about the outcomes of the negotiations and Did Obama make a deal with Iran?: ‘Surprised’ Turkey says U.S. dropping ball on Syria. THE nuclear talks with Iran have just begun, but already the smart money in Tehran is betting on a deal. That piece of intelligence comes from the Tehran stock index, which on the day after the talks opened posted its largest daily rise in months and closed at a record high. Tehran investors may be guilty of wishful thinking in their eagerness for an agreement that would ease the economic sanctions squeezing their country. The guess is that they probably have it right. So far, Iran is following the script for a gradual, face-saving exit from a nuclear program that even Russia and China have signaled is too dangerous. The Iranians will bargain up to the edge of the cliff, but they don’t seem eager to jump. Iran apparently took a constructive approach at the first round of talks, according to Western diplomats at the talks. Tehran’s attitude at this point in time should come as no great surprise. “IF you deal in camels, make the doors high,” an Afghan proverb cautions. As the dangers mount in the confrontation between the United States and Iran, both sides will have to raise the doors high for diplomacy to work, and to avoid conflict. A diplomatic strategy must begin with the United States’ setting its priorities and then defining a practical path to achieve them. To achieve its top priorities, it will have to learn what Iran needs. Since the United States will not get total surrender from Iran, it must decide what it can put on the table to assure that both sides can reach a deal that will be durable. American leaders have been masterly at diplomatic strategies — “building high doors” — to make deals. Turkey has been surprised by a sudden behind-the-scenes change in attitude from the Obama administration regarding the embattled regime of Turkish foe Syrian President Bashar Assad, Turkish diplomatic sources said to some reporters. The sources said that while U.S. rhetoric against Assad remains strong, the Obama administration is suddenly dropping the ball in supporting a NATO campaign against Assad. The sources said the U.S. is suddenly scaling back material support for the Syrian opposition. The United States wants Iran not to have nuclear weapons; security for Israel; a democratic evolution of Arab countries; the end of terrorism; and world access to the region’s oil and gas. Both Iran and the United States want stability in the region — 27 their continuation in Baghdad in line with resolving the nuclear issue while asserting Iran’s absolute and legitimate rights,” Salehi said in a meeting with Egyptian cultural and media figures in Tehran on Tuesday. He added that the Istanbul talks may be considered as a “starting point for an end to Iran’s nuclear issue.” The Iranian minister lauded the country’s great potential of selfsufficiency and self-reliance and emphasized that the replacement of an attitude of confrontation by Western states with that of collaboration was the significant achievement of the latest talks between Iran and the P5+1 -- Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany. “During the Istanbul talks, it was proven that the Western countries are unable to force Iran to surrender and give up its absolute and legitimate rights to use peaceful nuclear energy by exerting political and economic pressure,” Salehi pointed out. He reiterated that despite the pressure, Iran is making progress in the nuclear energy program, including the production of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Iran and the P5+1 wrapped up their latest negotiations in the Turkish city of Istanbul on April 14 and agreed to hold the next round of the talks in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on May 23, 2012. Both sides hailed the talks as constructive. There is no guarantee that diplomacy will succeed. But that is also true of war. And only diplomacy can offer Iran’s current rulers a stake in building a secure future without a nuclear bomb. Only diplomacy can achieve America’s major objectives while avoiding the mistakes committed in Iraq or Vietnam. Discrimination feared for students applying for UK visas from Pakistan Rehman Khan, London As if the existing stringent policies of UKBA were not tough enough, a new Home Office ‘pilot scheme’ has now been introduced under which Pakistani students seeking UK student visas have been singled out for a new language test which will be conducted by the UKBA ECOs in the shape of a Visa interview at the post where the student has made his/her visa application. UKBA has revealed that border checks suggest as many as 40 per cent of Pakistanis seeking UK student visas had falsified their application forms. This new scheme has been introduced amid fears that thousands of bogus applicants were getting student visas in Pakistan. The obvious result of this move is a sharp increase in the number of student visa applications being rejected. Under previous pre-tier 4 immigration rules, applicants for student visas had their ability to speak English assessed mainly on the basis of their written application form. As there is no way to confirm, whether the written student visa application has effectively been filled by the student himself, it is suspected that visa processing agents were exploiting the situation by charging prospective immigrants an arm and a leg by filling student visa applications on their behalf. They were allegedly deceiving the British Embassy staff by portraying that the visa application has been filled by a student wishing to study in UK, whereas that application might had been filled by a professor or a fluent English scholar. Every year, around 10,000 visas are granted to students from Pakistan. Following a sharp rise in the number of Pakistani student visa applications, Home Office Ministers ordered such applicants to undergo a “credibility test” in the shape of a face-to-face interview with British officials posted at the Embassy where a student is applying for his/her visa. The Tier 4 points-based student visa system, introduced under the previous Labour Government in order to streamline the process, has until recently been paper-based. Hence the candidates only had to fill out an application form without any personal contact with the Embassy officials. Even under the old system, about 20 per cent of candidates were already rejected on the basis of suspected poor English skills. An increase in face-to-face interviews of student visa candidates in Pakistan has revealed that an additional 20 per cent do not have the grasp of English language, they appeared to have on their application forms. This has raised the overall student visa rejection rate to around 40 per cent in Pakistan. UKBA has revealed that preliminary tests appear to show that the sit-down interviews with an officer can weed out bogus applications from 38 per cent of students applying in Bangladesh, 27 per cent from Sri Lanka, 29 per cent from India and 28 per cent from Egypt. The major cause of these rejections had been poor English, with a large number of prospective students requiring an interpreter to get through the test. In the wake of these results, the Home Office now plans to demand more applicants be interviewed in these countries, with 100 per cent of student visa candidates from Pakistan subject to the new strict tests. This move seems to have taken into effect following the revelation of a deeply critical study by the National Audit Office last month, in which it was claimed that 50,000 students from all over the world abuse British visa system. This study found a huge surge in students entering the country was largely fuelled by fake applications after the new points based visa system was introduced in 2009 by the Labour Government. It is estimated the UK Border Agency has probably let through 40,000 to 50,000 illegal students in this year, largely from India, Bangladesh and China. Most of these people have never been traced. The number of illegal immigrants who pretended to be in education is more than ten times higher than the previous estimates. Immigration officials took measures to tighten the system up by increasing checks on colleges and applicants, but the National Audit Office found its controls are still lacking. Under the old student visa system (PBS), replaced in 2009 when the UK Border Agency’s flagship points based system was launched, most students were interviewed or checked by a locally based Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) who had the power to decide whether or not the applicant should be granted entry clearance to the UK. At that time, the ECO’s were accused of being ‘over enthusiastic’ or inconsistent with their refusals and thousands of decisions were overturned on appeal before immigration judges at the AIT (now known as the First Tier Tribunal). The re-induction of visa interview has nullified the Tier-4 Point Based System of UKBA. Filling and qualifying under PBS has now become absolutely meaningless in Pakistan, as all student visa applicants might be required to appear for an interview before the ECO, who will decide what will be the fate of their student visa application. Even if a student visa applicant has passed IELTS with a high band score, such a certificate will have no bearing on his visa application. NEWS 28 South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 Nasrallah to Assange: Hezbollah talked to Syria opposition we want dialogue, US & Israel want civil war Hezbollah urged the Syrian opposition to engage in dialogue with Assad’s regime, but they refused. ¬Hezbollah leader Sayyid Nasrallah confirmed this in his first interview in six years, the world premiere of Julian Assange’s The World Tomorrow on RT. Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah told Assange that Hezbollah supports Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as Syria supported resistance in Lebanon and “hasn’t backed down in the face of Israeli and American pressure.” Nasrallah, a freedom fighter to millions though a terrorist to the US, Israel, Canada and the Netherlands, says Assad’s regime “served the Palestinian cause very well.” This is why Hezbollah supported the so-called Arab Spring in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and elsewhere, but when it came to Syria, Hezbollah urged the opposition to engage in dialog with President Bashar al-Assad. “This is the first time I say this – We contacted […] the opposition to encourage them and to facilitate the process of dialogue with the regime. But they rejected dialogue,” he revealed. “Right from the beginning we have had a regime that is willing to undergo reforms and prepared for dialogue. On the other side you have an opposition which is not prepared for dialogue and it is not prepared to accept reforms. All it wants is to bring down the regime. This is a problem.” Nasrallah called for balance on the Syrian issue as “armed groups in Syria have killed very many civilians” though international blame is leveled squarely at President Assad. Several Arab & non-Arab states are arming and funding the rebels while in the Hezbollah leader’s opinion Al-Qaeda simply wants to turn Syria into a battle ground. “There is fighting in Syria – when one party retreats, the other will advance, it will go on as long as doors to dialogue are shut,” he told Assange. Stressing that Hezbollah supports dialogue, Nasrallah points out that without it, “civil war is the only alternative.” In his words “this is exactly what America and Israel want… Arab states are ready for tens of years of dialogue with Israel but won’t have two months to try a political Doctors in Pakistan are fighting to save the life of a baby boy born with six legs. Imran Shaikh, the baby’s father who lives in Sukkur, around 450km (280 miles) north of Karachi, said he was grateful his son was being treated. The unnamed infant has a rare genetic condition, hospital officials said. The boy was born to the wife of an X-ray technician a week ago, Jamal Raza, the director of National Institute of the Child Health in Karachi, told reporters. “It is not one baby actually. They are two, one of them is premature,” he said. A doctor at the institute, who did not wish to be named, said the extra limbs were the result of a genetic disease which would affect only one in a million or more babies. “The doctors are examining the infant to plan for necessary treatment to save the baby’s life and ensure he lives a normal life,” said a statement from the provincial health department. “We are a poor family. I am thankful to the government for helping us treating my baby,” he told the media. The case is similar to that of Lakshmi Tatma, an Indian girl who sparked international sympathy after she was born with four arms and four legs. The operation to remove her extra limbs began in 2007 when she was two years old and was a success. solution in Syria.” ‘Israel is illegal state’ To this day Nasrallah believes Israel “is and will be an illegal state… It was established on the basis of occupying the lands of others,” he says. “If I occupy your house by force it doesn’t become mine in 50 or 100 years.” While “Hezbollah does not want to kill anyone”, the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is establishing a democratic state on Palestinian land where Muslims, Jews and Christians live in peace but the US “won’t let people listen to Hezbollah.” “Our priority is still the liberation of our land and the protection of Lebanon from the Israeli threat”, he told Assange, “Israel’s hi-tech surveillance will never crack the code of the Lebanese resistance – they use local village dialects.” Assange show premieres Sayyid Nasrallah is the first guest on Julian Assange’s The World Tomorrow – one of the most anticipated news programs of 2012.The first-episode, with Nasrallah’s identity kept secret until broadcast, coincides with the 500th day of financial blockade on WikiLeaks. The 10-episode series features Assange in conversation with “iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders.” Speaking before the premiere, Assange revealed he expects a storm around the show, with media labeling him an “enemy combatant, traitor who interviews “terrible radicals from around the world.” The announcement that RT would host Assange’s show created a global media stir, with many questioning the RT/ Assange link-up. In a pre-show interview Assange explained his rationale. “A lot of the things that we have been trying to report have not been carried accurately in the mainstream press. There are many, many fine exceptions, but when we look at international networks there’s really only two that are worth speaking about, and that’s RT and Al Jazeera.” Saudi woman willing to pay $1.3 million ((840,415.54 GBP) to find suitable husband Woman says she will pay for new husband but he must accept her conditions If you are looking for a rich wife, then read this story. A Saudi woman is offering $1.3 million (Dh4.9 million) to get married — even if it is a Misyar marriage. But wait. The woman has conditions which she will not reveal now. The main thing is that the new husband must “appreciate marriage life.” The woman published the attractive offer in the Saudi Arabic language magazine Roa, which said applicants can write to it by e mail or fax. The announcement neither mentioned the woman’s name and age nor where she lives. “Applicants should provide their contact number so the woman will contact them in case she agrees on the marriage,” the magazine said. It quoted the woman as saying:”It does not matter whether the new husband is attracted to my money as the most important thing is that he must appreciate marriage life and marital duties…I am even ready to accept a Misyar marriage and pay him SRfive million at once…he will live with me in my villa and must accept all my conditions which I will reveal to him later.” The magazine said the woman was married before but that she divorced her husband “was greedy and wanted only money.” “I made the wrong choice first time….I want to make the right choice now…my main obsession now is to marry…I am desperate to marry,” the woman said. Misyar is a marriage contract where couples can live separately but get together regularly, often for sexual relations. Although permitted in Saudi Arabia and under Islam, Misyar is not popular with many who see it as legal prostitution. Women lose nearly all their rights in a Misyar marriage and nearly 80 per cent of Misyar relationships end in divorce. South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 FREE BABAR. FREE TALHA Continued from page 01 >> 29 Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan says terror suspect should by tried in UK rather than extradited to the US also facing extradition to the US. In his letter to the home secretary, Theresa May, Khan last week wrote: “You may be aware that the Metropolitan police and CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] only viewed a small portion of the evidence against my constituents – and sent the vast majority to the United States authorities without first reviewing it to see if British authorities could bring charges against Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan. I would ask that you satisfy yourself that proper procedures were followed at all times in these two cases.” Khan’s letter continues: “I would specifically ask that you personally review the case against my constituents to see if charges can be brought against Babar Ahmad and Syed Taiha Ahsan here in the UK. They have always been willing to stand trial in a British court, and in front of a jury of their peers.” In another letter to the attorney general, Khan wrote: “It is clear that the bulk of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan police was provided directly to the US authorities without the CPS reviewing it.” Ahmad’s family and lawyers had always believed the CPS had viewed all the evidence before deciding not to bring charges in the UK, which left the way open for the US extradition attempt. But last November the CPS wrote to them to say only “a small number of documents seized by the Metropolitan police were submitted for advice”. The letter was from Sue Hemming, head of the CPS’s counter-terrorism division. The same letter said that the CPS had not considered any evidence in charging Ahsan. In a statement, the CPS said: “We made clear to Mr Ahmad’s solicitors in a letter last November that the CPS as domestic prosecutors saw a small number of documents gathered as evidence by the police in this country, which was insufficient for a prosecution here. “At the time this decision was made, domestic prosecutors were aware of the nature of the evidence in the possession of the US, but the entirety of the evidence was never subject to review in this country as it formed part of the case built by the US and was held there.” “The evidence found in the UK and submitted to the CPS by the Metropolitan police service, even if it had potentially amounted to an offence of collecting information likely to be useful for a terrorist purpose, amounted to only a small fraction of the criminality alleged against Babar Ahmad by the US.” Ahmad has spent the last eight years in prison in the UK. The key evidence against him came from searches of his south London home, and lockers and computer equipment he used at Imperial College London. Furthermore, bank accounts and postal orders to fund the Azzam website, which the US says shows Ahmad was instrumental in running it, were all based or originated in Britain. The US says a server used to host the Azzam website for a period of time was based in Colorado. Lawyers for the men facing extradition to the US are considering an appeal to the grand chamber of the European court. Judges last week decided that the length of sentences the men faced, and conditions of detention in a Supermax prison in Colorado with extensive periods of solitary confinement, did not amount to inhumane treatment or torture as defined by article three of the European convention on human rights. But the UN’s leading expert on torture has said he fears conditions the men would face in the US would amount to torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment. In an intervention in the case, Babar be put on trial in the UK immediately. It has now become very clear that the bulk of the evidence gathered by British police was provided directly to the US authorities without the Crown Prosecution Service CPS ever reviewing it, a fact now admitted by the CPS. This is a very serious abuse of process which has resulted in a man being detained without trial for almost 8 years, the equivalent of a 16 year criminal sentence. In the case of Regina v Sheppard & Whittle  involving the possession, publication and internet distribution of racially inflammatory material hosted on a remote server in the US, Lord Justice Scott Baker ruled that the UK was the appropriate forum for trial because a “substantial measure of the activities” constituting the crime (the operation, maintenance and collation of all material for the website) took place in the UK. Babar too is accused of operating, maintaining and collating material for a website from the UK which was simply hosted by a remote server in the US for a period of a few months. Therefore, the correct forum for a trial for Babar should be the UK and not the US. Please write to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, and request that he order Babar Ahmad be put on trial immediately. Please send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org We encourage supporters to prepare their own letters using the above points. A sample letter is below for your convenience but a which the European court essentially rejected, Professor Juan Méndez, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture, wrote to the court saying: “I am concerned that extradition of a detainee to a state that practices solitary confinement with limited recourse would violate article 3.” urther to the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights which ruled that Babar Ahmad and others could be extradited to the US, the Free Babar Ahmad (FBA) Campaign urges all supporters to write to the Director of Public Prosecutions to demand that personalised letter always carries more weight. Kindly send a copy of your correspondence and any replies received to dpp@freebabarahmad. com ‘Forgotten’ terror suspect from Tooting nears five years in prison The family of Tooting’s ‘forgotten’ terror suspect, who remains in jail without trial, are preparing to mark the fifth anniversary of his imprisonment. Syed Talha Ahsan – a 31-year-old writer with Asperger syndrome – was arrested at his home in Franciscan Road, Tooting, on July 19, 2007, after US authorities requested his extradition. He is accused in the US of terrorism-related offences arising out of an alleged involvement with a series of websites between 1997 and 2004. Mr Ahsan’s case is linked to that of Babar Ahmad – but he has received much less media attention than Mr Ahmad, who was arrested in 2003 and is also still in prison. Mr Ahsan, who graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies with a First in Arabic, has never been charged or tried in this country. He is currently in the final stage of proceedings at the European Courts of Human Rights – fighting against extradition. Last week ruling was greeted with disappointment by Mr Ahsan’s father. Speaking from his home, Syed Abu Ahsan, 73, told Channel 4 News: “We are devastated. Until this morning, we had very small hopes that they wouldn’t have to go, or that if they went, they wouldn’t have to go to the Supermax prison. This is the most terrible news for us. “In this country, Talha is completely innocent. Even though we know he is innocent, if they think he has done something wrong, he should be tried in this country. We will still try everything we can.” Mr Ahsan said that the family were now considering whether to appeal against the decision. He said: “My son has Asperger’s syndrome, he is not well. Gary McKinnon also suffers from Asperger’s, and he got bail. So we want to know why our son has been treated differently? “If he goes to a Supermax prison, it will be very sad. Supermax is horrible - you can’t touch the soil, you don’t have contact with other humans. The last six years have been terrible for us, but at least we could speak to him. We could go to visit him once a week. “If he goes to Supermax, we won’t be able to see him, to speak to him. How will we see our son?” Mr Ahsan’s 73-year-old father, Syed Abu Ahsan, said the family was “very very depressed” about the situation, adding he did not hold out much hope his son’s case would be resolved soon. He said: “Nobody is above America. If they say something nobody dares to say differently.” But Mr Ahsan’s family continue to lobby the Home Secretary to give him a fair trial in the UK, giving special consideration to his medical conditions. On July 19, they will be at the Islamic Human Rights Commission bookshop, in Wembley, where supporters will give readings from a book of poetry Mr Ahsan has written and had published while in Long Lartin Prison. Mr Ahsan’s MP, Sadiq Khan, who has spoken out about Mr Ahmad’s case in the past, said: “It is extremely distressing for Mr Ahsan’s family that this case continues to drag on. “I have met with the Extradition Minister to discuss this case and the case of Babar Ahmad. Although the Government is reviewing its policy on extradition to the United States, they have told me it is unlikely to cover existing cases, which is bad news for the family. “I am hopeful that the European Court of Human Rights will make a judgement soon on the case.” A spokeswoman for the Home Office had not responded to any queries as this week’s paper went to press. For more information visit freetalha.org. About Talha Talha Ahsan is a British-born poet and writer with Asperger syndrome facing extradition to America. If convicted he will spend 70 years in “supermax” solitary confinement in ADX Florence. Read on and help stop this injustice. Who is Talha Ahsan? Talha Ahsan is a British citizen born in London in 1979. He was educated at Dulwich College before receiving first class honours in Arabic from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). In the week of his arrest he had job interviews to train as a librarian. Talha has Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism). His mother describes him as “a serious, bookish young man… a very gentle, softly spoken and thoughtful boy.” He is also a keen poet and has received acclaim from novelist A.L. Kennedy amongst others. Why is he in prison? Talha Ahsan was arrested at his home on 19 July 2006 in response to a request from the USA under the Extradition Act 2003 which does not require the presentation of any prima facie evidence. He is accused in the US of terrorismrelated offences arising out of an alleged involvement over the period of 1997-2004 with a series of websites, one of which happened to be located on a server in America. He has never been arrested or questioned by British police, despite a number of men being so from his local area in December 2003 for similar allegations. All of them were released without charge. NEWS 30 South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 SL firmly behind Palestinian people President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas and President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed on the need to further strengthen the excellent relations between the two countries, during bilateral talks at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday morning. The two leaders emphasised the need to further develop ties in the political, economic and cultural spheres for the benefit of the people of both countries. President Abbas appreciated the continued support shown by Sri Lanka to the Palestinian cause. He added he was happy to see Sri Lanka stabilised as a peaceful state moving towards prosperity. “This has happened under your leadership and I believe next year and the future too will be much better for Sri Lanka under your guidance,”Abbas told President Rajapaksa. Palestinian President Abbas who is on a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka was warmly welcomed by President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat. The Palestinian President was accorded a guard of honour at a ceremony within the precints of the Presidential Secretariat. President Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka appreciates the Palestine Foreign Relations Commission’s expression of solidarity and support during Sri Lanka’s war against terrorism. President Rajapaksa invited the Palestine business community to explore opportunities to invest in Sri Lanka as the country is experiencing the benefits of peace. He said Sri Lanka is happy to provide assistance in the field of education to Palestine. President Rajapaksa added Sri Lanka is funding a project to train pre school and grade one teachers in the Palestinian Education Department and has also granted scholarships for needy students in Palestine. He expressed the availability of educational opportunities in the fields of medicine and engineering in Sri Lanka for Palestinian students. The discussions also centred on enhancing co-operation in tourism. The leaders also dwelt on the long standing friendship between the two countries and of matters relating to enhancing diplomatic ties between the two countries. External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris at a press conference held later in the day said firm unwavering support for the people of Palestine, in their legitimate struggle for independent nationhood, has been one of the pillars of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy. He further noted “Sri Lanka’s foreign policy is not based on expediency. But we believe in values and strong friendships”. “Every year at the UN General Assembly our President has strongly insisted upon recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people, that they are entitled to statehood,security of borders and that these are legitimate entitlements of the state of Palestine” he added. Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr Riyad al - Maliki made several proposals to expand bilateral relations between the two countries. He proposed that a joint ministerial committee should be set up to improve bilateral relations on political cooperation. Dr Riyad al - Maliki suggested that a joint business council should be set up to bring the business communities of both countries together and further joint action to encourage tourism ventures in both countries. He suggested measures for greater cooperation in higher education, especially in exchange programmes for lecturers and researchers. Two protocol agreements on Political Consultation between the External Affairs Ministry and the Palestine Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income were signed between the two countries, following the discussions. The agreements were entered into between External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris and Foreign Affairs Minister of State of Palestine Dr Riyad Al-Malki on behalf of the two countries at the Presidential Secretariat in the presence of the two leaders. External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Trade and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Parliamentarian Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatilake Amunugama were also present. schedule of events and competitions, Zing brings Bollywood to life, making it an interactive experience that goes beyond TV. This is a way to delight and thank our avid viewers. We want everyone to get involved and enjoy the Zing vibe!” Already UK’s No. 1 Music Channel amongst Asians (Source: BARB), Zing has successfully brought UK audiences closer to the glamour of Bollywood with star-studded shows and new concepts, only available on Zing. Continue to follow the shows that bring fans closer to Bollywood, including: Trendsetters – Sat & Sun 5pm Capturing what every Bollywood fan is desperate to know, from the trivia to the latest trends Bollywood Families - Sun 6pm A unique insight into the family of a Bollywood star - featuring prominent Bollywood families and their rise to fame Screen And Beyond - Tue 7pm and Sun 6:30pm Get to know the passions and hobbies of stars and celebrities, presenting the little known facets of their personalities Fanography - Tue 7:15pm and Sun 6:45pm Fanography gives a rare insight into celebrity likings Brit’s Bollywood – Sun 11:30am Britain’s take on Bollywood with Asad and Kel For Zing’s latest Bollywood news and competitions for upcoming events visit www.zingtv.co.uk and follow Zing UK on Facebook. Zing’s Bollywood Give-away Bollywood, Music and Entertainment channel Zing has a line-up of EXCLUSIVE Treats for all Bollywood lovers. The channel is involved in a mix of activities – aimed at bringing the full Bollywood experience alive. From Bollywood Nights, Bollywood Boat Parties, Bollywood Movies, Bollywood Comedy Shows to Melas – the channel has it all covered, accompanied with exclusive competitions. Bollywood music is soul food for many. Zing is presenting spectacular Bollywood Nights to enjoy across London, including The Bollywood Experience at Holiday Inn – Kensington Forum this Friday 13 April, Bollywood Baisakhi Boat Party at London Westminster Pier also this Friday 13 April, Bollywood Nights at Peaches Bar and Restaurant and more. Go online now to win exclusive tickets at www.zingtv.co.uk In the coming weeks, Zing will also be seen alongside the much awaited Johnny Lever Comedy Show, an upcoming Bollywood movie London Premier and Summer Melas. Archana Kanade, Zing Channel Head, UK “We know how much our viewers love all things Bollywood. With a packed South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 NEWS 31 Bangladesh confirm Pakistan tour KARACHI: Bangladesh has confirmed that it will be sending its cricket team to Pakistan for a series later this month. The two Asia Cup finalists will be playing one ODI on April 29 and one Twenty20 on April 30, both at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Bangladesh will be the first international team to tour Pakistan in three years. “I am pleased to confirm the tour in which Bangladesh will play a one-day match on April 29 and a Twenty20 game the next day, both in Lahore,” Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Mustafa Kamal said in a press release. Pakistan’s government had promised foolproof security for the Bangladesh team after their security delegation assessed the situation here last month. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf said the confirmation is a good sign. “I am extremely pleased that Bangladesh has confirmed the tour. Obviously this is very important for us and we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this tour takes place in a befitting manner,” said Ashraf. Zahra Lari, the ‘Ice Princess’ in the hijab Continued from page 32 >> With split-second timing she lands on her other leg, having performed, with apparent ease, one of the sport’s toughest manoeuvres, the socalled “death drop”. As the graceful 17-year-old glides through her routine, performing various other tricky moves such as the “lay back spin” and “double axel”, there is an occasional trip and even an odd fall or two. Her coach yells encouragement. “Don’t worry. Blank it out, everything out, just you and the ice.” On other occasions, she is more serious, remonstrating with her that a fall should have been avoided. For Zahra, there is little room for such mistakes. On Monday she will become the first Emirati figure skater to compete in an international competition, when she takes on skaters from 50 countries at the European Cup in Canazei, Italy. Watching her, it is hard to believe there was ever a time when the 12th grader was ever anything but completely at home on the ice. “When I was about 11, I saw a movie called TheIce Princess, about a geeky kid who studies ice skating as part of a physics project and falls in love with figure skating,” she said. “I watched the film and fell in love with the expression and the art, and knew it was what I wanted to do.” Zahra’s father first took her to the ice rink at Zayed Sports City, although he had little idea quite how far his little girl’s ambition would take her. When he first realised how serious she was taking the sport, he began to feel a little reluctant. “It did take time to convince her father to let her do it - he didn’t think it was proper and Islamic and UAE culture,” said her mother, Roquiya Cochran, who was born in the US. “But he loves her and wants her to be happy. She covers herself and hasn’t done anything unIslamic.” A veiled teenage girl performing death-defying manoeuvres on ice may not be a common sight, but Zahra said she has never given the matter any thought. Having worn the hijab since she was eight, she has never felt it stopped her from doing anything. “I’ve never had someone say what I’m doing is bad but I’ve had people come up to me and praise me for it,” she said. Noemi Bedo, the coach who has been training Zahra since she started skating, often adjusts costumes designed for group performances to accommodate Zahra’s religious sensibilities. In Canazei she must perform three dances - the most challenging of which lasts three-and-ahalf minutes and involves seven jumps. “It is very difficult, very high effort,” explained Ms Bedo. “During a jump your heart beats like a bird and it’s continuous ... she sometimes even feels a taste of blood from the rush.” Zahra has been waking at 4.30am every day to prepare for the competition, fitting in her practice before lessons at the American International School of Abu Dhabi. As soon as school is over she rushes back to the ice for a second session. It is a commitment far beyond most girls her age and she plans to keep it that way. Asked if she would quit for a while once she is married and has children, she quickly shakes her head. “I don’t see myself giving it up,” she said, adding that after her competing days are over she would like to teach skating to children. But before then, her dream is to represent the UAE at the Olympics. She came a step closer to achieving that goal when the Olympic champion, Evan Lysacek, asked to skate with her twice when he was visiting the capital - a moment Zahra described as the most significant and rewarding of her skating career. With the biggest competition of her life just days away, there are sure to be many more highlights for Zahra. But before they can happen, she is well aware of the long hours of practice she must put in. As hard as it is to perfect a jump such as the “death drop”, Zahra said the most challenging part of the sport was to get up after a fall. “To never give up was the biggest challenge,” she said. “After a fall you just have to get up and do it all over again.” Both the countries had started to show signs of bitterness after Bangladesh showed reluctance over the tour and Pakistan threatened to review relations if the tour doesn’t take place. PCB further said the remaining matches of the FTP (Future Tours Programme) tour will be played at dates mutually agreed between the two Boards at venues including Bangladesh. Bangladesh was due for a full tour of Pakistan under the International Cricket Council (ICC) FTP in 2012. The ICC said it will need a comprehensive security plan from Pakistan to send match officials. “The ICC Board were informed that the tour will take place and the Board, having due regard to its duty of care to match officials and other ICC staff, requested that the PCB to immediately provide a comprehensive security plan for consideration,” the ICC said. “Thereafter, the ICC’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit will commission a localised risk assessment to determine whether its officials and staff are appropriately protected by the proposed security plan, before any further decision is taken in relation to their appointment.” Last month, the ICC had announced a “special dispensation” to be made only in “exceptional circumstances” in order to ensure that a bilateral series take place even if the ruling body has determined it “unsafe” to appoint its officials for such series. This would allow such series to be manned by “non-neutral match officials.”Kamal, who is a joint nominee of Pakistan-Bangladesh for the ICC vice president’s post in 2012, said the series will give Pakistani people some cricket. “The public of Pakistan have been deprived of cricket and we felt that we needed to support them. The reception we received when we toured Lahore and Karachi on our security visit was overwhelming.” said Kamal. This tour is taking place after 2009 and this short tour will hopefully demonstrate to the world that cricket should start taking place in Pakistan,”said Kamal. The city of Dubai is built on foundations that are steeped in history and tradition. From the evocative Dubai Museum to the spectacular Jumeirah Mosque, and from the breathtaking Bastakiya to the imperious Heritage Village. There are many mysteries waiting to be unravelled. Explore Dubai at your pace and relive great traditions from day gone by. DEFINITELYDUBAI.COM 32 South Asia Tribune I Thursday 19 April 2012 Bangladesh coach Stuart Law resigns Bangladesh’s national team coach Stuart Law says he is resigning from his post for family reasons. Law has served less than a year of a two-year contract since replacing fellow Australian Jamie Siddons, who departed after failing to get Bangladesh past the group stage of the World Cup. Law said Monday that he is resigning as his family is settling in Australia from United Kingdom, and his resignation will be effective from June 30. Before joining Bangladesh, Law served as Sri Lanka’s assistant coach under Trevor Bayliss from 2009 and took the helm after Bayliss resigned following the World Cup last year. SAT Sports 100 days to Olympic glory Zahra Lari, the ‘Ice Princess’ in the hijab Emirati teen skates into history books Skating backwards, Zahra Lari hops elegantly on to one leg before launching herself into a 540 degree spin through the air. Continued on page 31 >> Tuesday marks just 100 days to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Olympic organisers say it will be like ‘carnival day for a fortnight’ when the local borough hosts the London 2012 sailing competition and attracts an estimated 60,000 visitors daily. More than the 80-plus cultural events taking place across the borough, including local people participating in the Coastal Voices mass choir project, borough school children welcoming the Olympic torch with the Moving Tides children’s procession, world-class theatre, earth science and art and musical performances – and 95 per cent will be free. “600 people have volunteered to be ambassadors, the smiling faces of Weymouth and Portland during the Olympics.” A giant sandcastle, measuring four metres by two metres, was built on Weymouth beach to mark 100 days to the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27. A launch event at Kew Gardens in London also saw the unveiling of giant Olympic rings created by flowers which will be visible from flights arriving at Heathrow airport. London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said: “With 100 days to go to the start of the Games, millions of people are getting ready to do the best work of their lives and welcome the world this summer. Expectations are high and we won’t disappoint.” There have been concerns over ticketing, the involvement of certain sponsors and the promised legacy. The debate over the budget, a huge hike in the security bill and what should be contained within the £9.3bn public funding envelope will go on. But, aided by the Olympic Delivery Authority building the permanent venues on time and on budget, Locog, the organising committee for the Games, has steered a steady course. Localised rows aside, it has avoided the bust-ups with politicians that have tended to befall its predecessors and crossparty support has held. There is no mad panic to finish the venues on time and while demand for tickets might have created its issues, to have sold so many is also unprecedented. But the British public is not yet frothing with excitement. Nor are Londoners paying much attention to entreaties to plan their travel during the Games in order to avoid horrific congestion at key “hot spots”. The torch relay will help, as regional media promote the stories behind the torchbearers, but some may find the involvement of sponsors and its stage-managed nature too cloying. The London 2012 festival – the populist arm of the Cultural Olympiad programme – will also play a role. But it is obsessive attention to detail in the next 100 days – from the final ticket sales in early May to the torch relay days later – that will ensure the chance of a medal is not discarded before the flame is even lit. Published by Saarc International Ltd, Suite 101, 10 Courtenay Road, London HA9 7ND. 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