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Asian Voice - Saturday 3rd December 2011

Pak enraged over Nato strike that killed 24 soldiers IN focus Islamabad to review all programmes, activities and arrangements with US

Islamabad: Pakistan reacted angrily to Nato air strikes on its soil in which 24 of its soldiers were killed, with foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar conveying her country's deep sense of rage to US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, even as protests broke out in towns and cities with thousands of people demonstrating outside the US consulate in Karachi. The foreign office issued a statement saying Khar told Clinton of Islamabad's decision to completely review all programmes, activities and cooperative arrangements with US and Nato, including diplomatic, political military and intelligence. "Khar told Clinton that the attack was unacceptable, showed complete disregard for human life and had sparked off rage within Pakistan. She informed Clinton about the cabinet's decisions to stop Nato supply routes and that the US should vacate the Shamsi airbase within 15 days." Islamabad also ordered shutting down of the two main Nato supply routes into Afghanistan, one at

Sri Lanka takes first count of civilian war deaths Colombo: Sri Lanka is counting the number of civilians killed in the final stages of the country's bloody civil war for the first time, a top defense official said. The census aims to counter growing allegations of war crimes against the military. Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa also for the first time acknowledged that soldiers may have committed unspecified "crimes." He promised to investigate and punish them, a major shift from the government's original position of standing by its soldiers.

Torkham in Khyber tribal region and another at Chaman in Baluchistan. Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani skipped a reception celebrating his son's marriage in his hometown of Multan as he had to rush to Islamabad to chair an emergency meeting to formulate Pakistan's response to Nato strike. The meeting decided to close all Nato supply routes and to ask the US to vacate within 15 days the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan, which is believed to be a secret base for CIA to carry out drone strikes on militants based in Pakistan. Gilani had been on a three-day visit to Multan.

A Pakistan army statement said Nato helicopter gunships and fighter jets carried out “unprovoked firing” and said its troops “effectively responded” in self-defence to the “aggression with all available weapons.” The Pakistan foreign office condemned the “unprovoked and indiscriminate” attack. The latest attack by NATO forces on our post will have serious repercussions as they without any reasons attacked on our post and killed soldiers asleep," source said. The attack is expected to further worsen USPakistan relations, already at one of their lowest points in history, NATO

has apologized for the deaths in the incident and promised a full investigation. Ties between Pakistan and the United States were already deteriorating before the deadly attack and have sunk to new lows since, delivering a major setback to American hopes of enlisting Islamabad's help in negotiating an end to the 10-year old Afghan war. While the United States is widely disliked in Pakistan, the army has accepted billions in American aid over the last 10 years in return for its cooperation in fighting alQaida. The regret expressed by NATO over the killing of the Pakistani soldiers is "not enough", chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said. He said: "I have written... to make it clear that the deaths of Pakistani personnel are as unacceptable, pointing out that 72 Pakistani soldiers were killed and nearly 250 injured in NATO strikes in three years.” Abbas said the Pakistani leadership would decide whether more steps would be taken in reaction to the NATO strikes.

Hindus can now reclaim seized property in Bangladesh Dhaka: Bangladesh has passed a landmark bill that would allow the return of property seized from the country's Hindu minority. The law, initially called the Enemy Property Act, allowed the authorities to take over land and buildings of Hindus who migrated to India. Under its terms, property belonging to millions of Hindus who fled to India was confiscated. The law came into effect in 1965 when Pakistan and India fought a brief war. The act was renamed as

the Vested Properties Act after independence. The Vested Properties Return (Amendment) Bill 2011 will now allow Hindus to reclaim their property taken over by the government and individuals. "There are some good provisions but it doesn't go far enough to address our demand that all the properties seized or taken over until recently should be returned to their rightful owners," Supreme Court lawyer Subrata Chowdhury, was quoted as saying.

According to experts, while the changes to the law are welcome, it will be practically impossible to return all the land because some of it was confiscated over 40 years ago. Most of it appears to have been taken over by Muslims with links to the main political parties. Meanwhile, the Bangladeshi government has said that it would soon publish a list of properties that were seized. It added that any Hindu wanting to make a claim would have 90 days to do so.

Pak nukes not safe, says former minister Qureshi

Islamabad: Pakistan's nuclear weapons are not safe under the present PPP dispensation, country's former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said, evoking an angry response from the government, which rejected his contention as "baseless." Qureshi said, Pakistan's nuclear programme was not safe under president Asif Ali Zardari's leadership. The ex-PPP leader has recently parted company with the ruling party and announced joining Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party. The former Zardari ally, made these remarks at a public rally at Ghotki in Sindh where he announced joining hands with the cricketer-turned politician. He is the highest ranking Pakistani politician to comment that

the country's nuclear weapons were not safe. His remarks come on the heels of warnings by Western experts that Islamabad's nukes could fall into the hands of Taliban terrorists. Though Qureshi did not give details of how Pakistan's nukes were in danger but promised to talk about this in detail at the next public gathering in Karachi. He said, he had been foreign minister and thus understood the issue well and knew the pressures and stresses Pakistan was facing over its nuclear programme. He also came down hard on the government's alliance with the US as well as US policies towards Pakistan. Reacting angrily to Qureshi's remarks, the Pakistan government reject-

Shah Mehmood Qureshi

ed his contentions as it declared there would be no compromise on a programme which is an integral to the country's defence. Foreign office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said the "insinuations" made against the president were "baseless and strongly refuted". "Our policy of maintaining credible minimum deterrence will be maintained.

Under no circumstances can this national programme, which is integral to Pakistan's defence, be compromised," Janjua said. The government, armed forces and people of Pakistan are "absolutely committed to this objective," she said. Under the 18th constitutional amendment, all powers related to the atomic programme and nuclear arsenal were transferred to parliament and the "executive authority is vested fully with the prime minister," Janjua said. In line with the amendments, the National Command Authority which consists of the ministers of defence, foreign affairs, interior and finance, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee and the three service chiefs - is now headed by the prime minister.

80 Afghans held for illegally entering Pak

Islamabad: At least 80 Afghans have been arrested for illegally entering Pakistan through a border town in southwestern Balochistan province. The Afghans entered through Chaman town that connects with southeast Afghanistan, Xinhua reported. The detained Afghans entered Pakistan without legal travel documents, said an official with the paramilitary Frontier Corps, which is responsible for border security. All the detained people have been handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency for further investigation, he said. Since the breakout of the Afghan war about a decade ago, millions of Afghan refugees have fled their homeland and turned up in Pakistan. Under a UN-sponsored repatriation programme, over five million Afghan refugees have reportedly been sent back from Pakistan. However, there are still an estimated 1.7 million Afghan refugees remaining in Pakistan.

Pakistan awards 'Nishan-i-Imtiaz' to Chinese general Islamabad: Pakistan has awarded a top Chinese General with Nishan-i-Imtiaz (Military) for promoting friendship between the two all weather allies. President Asif Ali Zardari conferred the award on General Hou Shusen, Deputy Chief of General Staff of Chinese People's Liberation Army at a special investiture ceremony. The citation, read on the occasion, said the award was in recognition of his "consistent and valuable contributions in promoting relations and understanding between the two countries and armies." Hou also had a meeting with the president, along with his delegation, and discussed matters relating to Pakistan-China bilateral relations and defence cooperation.

Pak elections to be held in 2013: Gilani Islamabad: Free, fair and transparent elections will be held in 2013, said Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who stressed that the government was not facing any threat. So those targeting the government will be disappointed. The prime minister said the government firmly believes in democracy and was following law and constitution. He said: “We respect the mandate given by the people to the political parties.” A secret memo to Washington claimed that president Asif Ali Zardari feared a military coup after the May killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Husain Haqqani resigned as Pakistan's ambassador to the US and former minister Sherry Rehman was appointed the new envoy. Gilani said a high level committee would soon start the probe into the memo and the investigation would be held in a fair manner.

Lanka storm kills 14, damages 1,500 homes Colombo: Heavy rains and gale force winds have killed at least 14 people, damaging nearly 1,500 homes and left more than 30 fishermen missing in southern Sri Lanka. Disaster management centre officials said a total of 14 people were confirmed dead while another 30 were reported missing after coastal areas were lashed by heavy winds. Sri Lanka depends on monsoon rains for irrigation and power generation, but the seasonal downpours frequently cause death and property damage.

Pak woman kills hubby, turns him into ‘qorma’ Karachi: A Pakistani woman chopped her husband to death and then cooked 'qorma' with his flesh. The incident came to light after her landlord, Behzad, who lived on the ground floor of their two-storey house here, went upstairs to her house. The scene that met his eyes have left him scarred for life. The 40-year-old Zainab was cooking 'qorma' with flesh chopped from her husband's arm and leg as she figured this was the only way to practically dispose of the body. Zainab says that she murdered her husband after he had tried to molest her daughter. She claims she had stopped him from doing so on several occasions in the past. However, she later contradicted herself by saying, "He never laid a hand on her but he used to say dirty things whenever he came home drunk."

Sherry Rehman is Pakistan's new ambassador to US Islamabad: Former minister Sherry Rehman was appointed as Pakistans envoy to the US, a day after her predecessor, Husain Haqqani, resigned over allegation that he was behind a memo that sought the Pentagons help to prevent a military coup in May. Rehman is highly regarded for her courage and liberal, progressive views. She has been a vocal supporter of the rights of minorities and women. The 50-year-old unsuccessfully moved a private members bill to have the countrys controversial blasphemy laws amended for being misused to persecute minorities in February. Her stand angered extremists, but she stayed in Pakistan to brave their threats. The 50-year-old called for pleading Pakistans case in one voice shortly dafter her appointment. We have many challenges. We have given many sacrifices. These sacrifices should not go waste.

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