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Year 1  Issue 34  Thursday, 08.03.12

Is Osama Bin Laden Really DEAD?

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Netanyahu on Iran: ‘None of us can afford to wait much longer’

World Powers Resume Nuclear Talks with Iran Will Israel and the US go into War Mode this week?

Fox News reported that bin Laden was dead back in 2001 …

Turkey has called for the resumption of talks between Iran and six major world powers over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. Ankara says this could help defuse regional tensions that have intensified this month. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on the six countries to renew the talks without “excuses.” 6 world powers have accepted Iran’s proposals to renew negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program, ending a stalemate that has led

“The main focus of negotiations will have to be on building confidence by developing concrete and practical steps,” Ashton said in her letter. At the same time, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on a crucial visit to the US to discuss the matter, gave signs that Israel might wait little before striking Iran. Speaking to a pro-Israel conference in the US, Netanyahu said he could not allow his people to “live in the

tensions with the Islamic republic to an unprecedented high. EU high foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton has announced the move by US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China in a letter sent to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. Many see the renewal of talks as a final attempt to reach a diplomatic compromise that avoids military action by Israel or the US, writes the Financial Times.

shadow of annihilation,” writes the BBC. All the same, the Israeli PM has assured US President Barack Obama that Israel would not act on its own and will inform its American partners of its intentions. On his part, Obama stated that “there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution” of the matter with the Iranian nuclear

Benazir Bhutto named Osama bin Laden’s killer before her death in Nov 2007. Benazir signed her death warrant when she claimed Osama bin Laden was dead !!!

Now Leaked E-mails Suggest bin Laden Not Buried at Sea Bin Laden ‘mission’ was fake?

A November 2007 interview where Benazir Bhutto asserts that Omar Sheikh killed Osama bin Laden. She was assassinated shortly after in December 2007. Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C–The

recent announcement of OBL’s alleged death has raised many question as to the timing of the announcement and when exactly Bin Laden died. Many skeptics have argued that OBL was Continued on page 3 >>

Continued on page 7 >>


NEWS

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Putin Wins

South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

Russian Election

Cries During Acceptance Speech Landslide victory, opposition surrenders Vladimir Putin is headed back to the Kremlin after winning today’s Russian presidential election, according to exit polls released after voting ended. In an acceptance speech in central Moscow, Putin had tears in his eyes as he thanked supporters. “We have won an open and honest battle,” he said. Sitting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin won the presidential election in Russia. He received the votes from 63.82 percent of electors, who took part in the voting on March 4th. Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the

Communist Party of the Russian Federation, comes second with 17.18 percent. Mikhail Prokhorov takes the third place with 7.77 percent. Vladimir Zhirinovsky comes next with 6.23 percent. Sergei Mironov comes last with only 3.84 percent. Thus, Vladimir Putin has

on stage to speak to the participants of the meeting and thank everyone for their support in the election. “This victory is needed to have our country modern, strong and independent,” Medvedev said. “Hi everyone! It’s a great day that we are having today. Thank you for being here, thank you for

election today. My special thanks goes to those of you, who gathered here in Moscow tonight, who supported us in every corner of our large Motherland. I thank all of you, who said “yes” to the Great Russia. I asked you once: “Are we going to win?” And we won. We won in the open and honest struggle. But it was

usurp power. The people of Russia have shown today that such variants will not pass,” Putin said. “Today, we won owing to the support from the majority of our voters. We had a clean victory. We will work hard and we will succeed. We urge everyone to unite for the sake of the interests of our people

received the support from over 44.9 million people. Gennady Zyuganov enjoys the support from over 12.1 million, Mikhail Prokhorov - over 5.4 million, Vladimir Zhirinovsky 4.3 million, Sergei Mironov - over 2.7 million. Over 100,000 people took to the streets on Sunday night on Moscow’s Manezhnaya Square to support Putin. President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin appeared

supporting our candidate Vladimir Putin. Our candidate has a strong lead in the race, and I don’t doubt our victory. We all need this victory, and we are not giving this victory away to anyone,” Medvedev told the crowd. Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin spoke to the people next. “Dear friends. In the first place, I would like to thank all Russian citizens, who took part in the

not only the election of the Russian president, it was a very important test for all of us, for all of our people. This was a test for political maturity and independence. We have proved it to everyone that no one can dictate anything to us indeed. We have proved that our people can easily distinguish between the desire for renovation and political provocations that only have one goal - to dismember Russia and

and our Motherland. I promised you that we’d win. We won! Long live Russia!” Putin said. Opposition and near-opposition organizations had to recognize Putin’s victory in the election. For example, Association Golos (Voice), which is known for its criticism of the election process in Russia, concluded as a result of its own counting of votes that Putin gained not less than 53.12 percent.

Publisher Salah Bu Khamas (UAE) Sabha Khan (UK) UK Office 10 Courtenay Road, Wembley, Middlesex, HA9 7ND UK Phone: +44 20 8904 0619 Fax: +44 20 8181 7575 info@satribune.co.uk 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 Phone +91 2632 222209 / 222211 Fax: +91 2632 222212 Post Box No. 98 /108 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 Art Department UK Ali Ansar (Art Director) Md. Reazul Islam

Students should face paying council tax, Lib Dems say The Liberal Democrats are calling for students to face paying council tax for the first time, Whitehall documents reveal. reports The Telegraph

At a meeting between Government ministers and local government leaders, a senior Liberal Democrat indicated that councils should be free to charge students council tax. Those attending a full-time college or university course are currently exempt from the levy – which typically costs more than £1,000 for an average home. According to the say reports The Telegraph report The Department for Communities and Local Government has released minutes of a meeting held last October between Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary and senior figures at the Local Government Association, under Freedom of Information laws. At the meeting, Gerald VernonJackson, the leader of Liberal Democrat councillors and head of Portsmouth City Council said: “Local authorities should have greater discretion over Council Tax

exemptions and discounts, such as the student exemption”. The comments are likely to reopen controversy within the Liberal Democrats over the party’s treatment of students. The party campaigned against increasing tuition fees at the last election – before ultimately supporting a rise in the fees to up to £9,000 from this September. The decision caused outrage among Liberal Democrat supporters, many of whom are students. A call to increase the cost of being a student by hundreds of pounds through

the introduction of council tax is likely to prove deeply unpopular. It is understood that the Conservatives are strongly opposed to ending the student exemption on council tax. The Liberal Democrats have been broadly criticised over the issue of tuition fees, after reneging on pre-election promises not to raise university charges. While in opposition, leader Nick Clegg pledged to abandon the fees altogether and won the support of thousands of students across Britain. Before the election, he signed a

promise not to raise tuition fees, saying unequivocally: “We want to abolish tuition fees. We think they’re wrong.” But after joining the coalition government, he claimed the economic situation forced him to accept the rise. His party signed up to government policy allowing institutions to charge up to £9,000 pounds a year, a change which saw student fees rocket. Tens of thousands of students took to the streets to protest against the rise, wielding effigies and placards accusing the Lib Dem leader of “conning” them. He later admitted he had “not been able to deliver the policy that we held in opposition” and blamed the financial situation for the change. At the time, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman ridiculed Mr Clegg, claiming he had “hawked” his way around university campuses seeking student votes ahead of the general election.


South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

NEWS

Is Osama Bin Laden Really DEAD? << Continued from page 1 killed sometime in the early to mid 2000s, and are taking this news with a grain of salt. Another school of thought believes a team of US Navy Seals captured and shot OBL and was buried at sea. This article will attempt to analyze the factors leading to the alleged death of OBL and what has transpired thereafter. Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a suicide attack at the end of 2007 stated in November that the Osama bin Laden, the head of the international terrorist network alQaida, had been killed. Now According to the official version of events promulgated by the Obama administration, after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, his body was flown to Afghanistan for identification and then buried in the Arabian Sea about 12 hours after his death, supposedly in keeping with Islamic ritual. However, internal e-mails from intelligence service Stratfor, obtained by the hacker group Anonymous and posted to the Internet by WikiLeaks, cast doubt on that story. Bhutto claimed that she even knew the man who had killed the prime suspect of 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA. According to Bhutto’s words, Bin Laden was killed by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh – one of those convicted of kidnapping and killing U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl. Bhutto released that statement on November 2, 2007 in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV channel. Bhutto spoke in English in the program titled Frost Over the World. However, no one paid any attention to her words. Speaking about the enemies, who did not wish to see her back in Pakistan, she said: “Omar Sheikh is the man who murdered Osama bin Laden.” The video of Bhutto’s interview to Al-Jazeera can be found on YouTube . The assassinated Pakistani prime minister says the words about Bin Laden’s killer during the second minute of the interview. She stays absolutely calm when she pronounces the names. More than 600,000 people have already viewed the video. Correspondent David Frost, who interviewed Bhutto, did not even care to ask more questions about the sensational statement. Frost, who is believed to be an experienced journalist, did not even ask Bhutto when Bin Laden was killed. Benazir Bhutto’s interview to Al-Jazeera received very little attention from the media. There was practically no newspaper in the world who published the news on its front page, although tens of thousands of people discussed

Bush administration may already have captured Osama bin Laden and will release the news just before next year’s presidential election: Albright Dec 2003. the news for two months. It just so happens that even Al-Jazeera messed it up. There was no official who commented on the information. Not a word was said from the CIA and the FBI. They did not even lift a finger to reject it. Absolute silence. But the U.S. administration promised a reward of 25 million

dollars for Bin Laden’s body, dead or alive. Benazir Bhutto is now dead. She cannot say anything about her sources of information. Earlier in Dec 2003 US former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters that the Bush administration may already have captured Osama bin Laden and will release the news just before next year’s presidential election. On Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Brit Hume,” Roll Call reporter Morton Kondracke recounted Albright’s comments to him. Kondracke said that Albright didn’t seem to be joking, explaining, “She was not smiling.”He shot back, “You can’t seriously believe that.”Albright replied that she thought a bin Laden October Surprise orchestrated by Bush was “a possibility.” In 2008 when Madeline Albright was asked by a caller on a TV program regarding Benazir Bhutto claim and also speculated that she was killed after a month of this claim. Madeline Albright said she never heard or know of any video with a claim she will make a point of looking at it. Now 2012 Austin, Texas-based Stratfor is a very well-connected organization described by WikiLeaks as “a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and

Osama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader. Fox 2001

government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.” The company’s vice president for intelligence, Fred Burton, a highly experienced counterterrorism expert with many contacts in the U.S. government, was the originator of most of the e-mails concerning the disposition of bin Laden’s body in the hours after his death. Bin Laden was allegedly killed near Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, just after 1:00 a.m. local time. President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s assassination on May 1 at 11:35 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (May 2 had not yet arrived in the United States). At 5:26 a.m. Central Daylight Time on May 2, Burton sent out an e-mail with the subject “OBL” (Osama bin Laden) stating: “Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.” Twenty-five minutes later he sent one with the subject “Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane.” The text read: “Than [sic] onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.” (“Technically this would have meant the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, since the AFIP operations were folded into Walter Reed as part of a consolidation plan,” explained Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com, adding that if confirmed, “it would add yet more intrigue to Dover Air Force Base, already under enormous scrutiny for its mishandling of corpses and disposal of remains at a Virginia landfill.”) At 6:26 a.m. Burton stated that he “doubt[ed]” that bin Laden’s body had been “dumped at sea,” adding, “We would want to photograph, DNA, fingerprint, etc.” “His body is a crime scene,” he continued, “and I don’t see the FBI nor DOJ letting that happen.” He suggested that burying the body at sea would be reminiscent of the cremation of Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s body following his capture, trial, and execution, the purpose of which was to prevent anyone from building a memorial to him. Stratfor CEO George Friedman agreed but noted that “Eichmann was seen alive for many months on

trial before being sentenced to death and executed,” then cremated. “No comparison with suddenly burying him at sea without any chance to view him which i [sic] doubt happened,” he added. Obviously neither of these highly connected men with plenty of inside sources had yet bought into the idea that bin Laden had been sent to Davy Jones’ locker. Indeed, at 1:36 p.m. Burton was still of the opinion that bin Laden’s body was being taken to the United States, writing: “Body is Dover bound, should be here by now.” By 3:11 p.m., however, he appears to have changed his mind, e-mailing: “Down & dirty done, He already sleeps with the fish.” But he noted the difficulties that this course of action would create, saying, “It seems to me that by dropping the corpse in the ocean, the body will come back to haunt us.” Although bin Laden’s corpse hasn’t haunted the United States much thus far, the release of the Stratfor e-mails will likely revive the debate over just what happened to bin Laden’s body and, consequently, whether or not U.S. forces actually killed the terrorist mastermind in the first place. Secrecy prior to the raid is understandable; a refusal to produce the key piece of evidence that the raid was successful, on the other hand, is quite curious indeed. The Obama administration claimed it had buried bin Laden at sea in an effort comply with Islamic tradition, which requires washing, shrouding, and burial within 24 hours of death. However, “a number of scholars have said such an action is appropriate only under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ — and that bin Laden’s death did not qualify,” CBS News reported at the time. According to ABC News, the CIA has at least 52 images of Osama bin Laden that could make one’s stomach churn. Photographs and video recordings of Osama bin Laden’s death may be released to the public, The Atlantic Wire reports. Moreover, observed the Guardian: “The 24-hour rule has not always been applied by the U.S. in the past. For example, the bodies of Uday and

3

Qusay Hussein — sons of the Iraqi dictator — were held for 11 days before being released for burial.” Another theory behind the sea burial was that, as in the case of Eichmann’s cremation, dumping the body into the deep would prevent his grave from becoming an inspiration to other terrorists. This theory also seems to be applied selectively. “Saddam Hussein was treated to traditional Islamic burial rites and interred in a compound he had built for himself near his birthplace,” Slate wrote. “When detainees die at Guantanamo Bay, either through suicide or natural causes, the Pentagon repatriates the remains to their home countries, where the funerals often become scenes of anti-American protest.” One might argue that bin Laden’s was a special case likely to inspire devotion on the part of Islamic militants and that as a result, his burial at sea was appropriate. The Guardian, though, dismisses such notions: “Fears about Bin Laden’s burial place turning into a shrine for Islamists were probably unfounded, since the Wahhabi/Salafi tradition rejects such things. Even Saudi kings are buried in unmarked graves.” Given all this, more people are likely to question whether bin Laden was killed on May 2 and whether his body was plopped into the Arabian Sea shortly thereafter. Very little evidence of a successful operation against bin Laden has been produced; and what evidence existed at the time continues to dwindle. Besides the mysteriously disappearing corpse, the compound in which bin Laden was supposedly killed was demolished last week. The Obama administration apparently expects the world to accept its version of events on faith alone — a kind of trust it has hardly earned over the past three years. But with the release of the Stratfor e-mails, which suggest that bin Laden’s body was not buried at sea (or at least not as quickly as the administration maintained), what many consider to be Obama’s one certified foreign policy achievement may well be called into question just as he is seeking reelection. Then again, if dead people can vote in Chicago, why couldn’t the supposed corpse of bin Laden play a role in the reelection or ouster of a President with roots in the Windy City’s political machine? Media outlets across the globe are waiting for the photos. Some are suggesting that this is opportunism on behalf of the Obama administration because Obama’s approval ratings were at an all time low. Others think, he may release a photo or two and since this is an election cycle, might wait until sometime next year to release more photos or even video if at all they exist. One thing is for certain, this is a political Chess game, where every move is calculated to produce maximum results. The question is who are the pawns?


NEWS

4

EDITORIAL

Celebrating 101st Anniversary of Int’l Women’s Day Thursday will mark the 101st International Women’s Day (IWD) with thousands of events planned across the world to mark the occasion. While women are generally better off than they were a century ago, there are exceptions, according to one of the organizers of a recent International Women’s Day celebration. “It depends on your situation, it depends on where you’re living, and it sure depends on whether you’ve got enough money to get by,” Benita Hart said. “Women are among the poorest of the poor in virtually every country in the world.” International Women’s Day, officially celebrated March 8, was started 101 years ago in Europe. We live on a planet in which women perform 66 per cent of the world’s work and produce 50 per cent of its food but earn ten per cent of overall income and own one per cent of property. Women hold only 19 per cent of the world’s parliamentary seats and just 16 of the world’s 188 directlyelected leaders are female. Violence against women causes more deaths and disabilities among the global female population aged 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, road traffic accidents and war.

to the Gender Equity Index (GEI) 2012 report. The GEI 2012 was released by Social Watch, a Manila-based civil society network, ahead of the International Women’s Day. According to the ranking of the index, Bangladesh has got 55 points while India 37, Pakistan 29, and Afghanistan 15. The GEI prepared annually measures the gap between women and men in education, economic and political empowerment. It is an average of inequalities in the three fields. In literacy, it examines the gender gap in enrolment at all levels. Economic participation computes the gaps in income and employment; empowerment measures the gaps in highly qualified jobs, parliament and senior executive positions. Bangladesh’s 55 points rank it on the top among those countries with very low GEI, although 16 points above the South Asian average of 39, while the Maldives’s got 63 and Sri Lanka 62 points. The five levels according to which the index measures the gender gap are: critical, very low, low, medium and acceptable. Bangladesh got 81 points

Bangladesh ahead of India, Pakistan

Bangladesh

India

Pakistan

South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

British soldiers cannot afford to eat

HUNGRY soldiers are training on empty stomachs because they cannot afford three meals a day. The Sunday Express reported. The situation is so bad that one soldier told the Sunday Express he would rather be serving in Afghanistan because at least the food there was “better and free”. Almost a fifth of all trainees regularly go without at least one meal a day, according to a report submitted to MPs. It means infantry soldiers, who can expect to be risking their lives on the frontline a year after they join, are not consuming the number of calories the Army says they need. According to Sunday Express one of Britain’s most respected soldiers urged the Ministry of Defence to step in. Major General Patrick Cordingley, who led Allied forces to victory over Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War, said: “This is an extremely serious situation and it must be addressed by the Ministry of Defence as a matter of urgency. “Either they should be paid more or their food should be more heavily subsidised.” Traditionally troops had their pay docked monthly for all their meals. In 2006 a Pay As You

Dine system was introduced to give them the choice to buy food off-base. An independent report by the Recruit Trainee Service, submitted to Parliament last week, found “83 per cent of trainees on PAYD said they can afford to eat enough to get through training”, leaving a 17 per cent shortfall. One soldier at Colchester Barracks in Essex said: “I often just take the evening meal, that way I can keep my costs down. A lot of the guys will tell you we prefer being in Afghanistan where food is better and free.” While food prices have increased, pay at lower ranks has failed to keep up with inflation. A recruit earns less than £14,000 a year, rising to £17,265 when he passes basic Phase 1

Marsha Singh MP to step down It is estimated that one in five women worldwide will become a victim of rape or attempted rape and one in four will experience domestic violence. Unfortunately, despite the United Nations marking a day annually to recognise the role of women in all walks of life, women continue to be suppressed and denied their rights in many countries. Just few days earlier Lifting the ban on Muslim women soccer players wearing hijabs in international matches is being hailed as a victory. Ahead of International Women’s Rights Day (8 March) Amnesty International has launched a new campaign in support of the right of women in Saudi Arabia to lawfully drive. Bangladesh is ahead of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan in terms of gender equity in South Asia, according

for reaching a medium value in education, 18 points for critical value in empowerment and 65 in economic participation. At a world level, the countries that have achieved a better score are Norway with 89 points, Finland 88 points, and Iceland 87, which places them as countries with a medium in GEI. Of the 154 nations measured, five in the worst global situation are Congo 29, Niger 26, Chad 25, Yemen 24 and Afghanistan 15. Social Watch measures the gap between women and men, not their wellbeing. Thus, a country in which young men and women have equal access to the university receives a value of 100 on this particular indicator. In the same manner, a country in which boys and girls are equally barred from completing primary education would also be awarded a value of 100.

Marsha Singh will step down as MP for Bradford West due to serious health problems. The 57-year-old was elected in 1997 in a seat which has been a Labour stronghold since 1974. Singh’s resignation has triggered a by-election in his Bradford West constituency which is set to take place at the end of the month. Singh said he had been suffering

from health problems for some time, adding, “I have had wonderful treatment from our fantastic NHS doctors and nurses here in Bradford. But it has become clear that it is going to take much longer than I’d expected to recover.” He added, “This is a sad day for me. I have been extremely proud to represent the people of Bradford West for the last 15 years. I would like to thank the people of Bradford West from the bottom of my heart for putting their faith in me, and for all the warmth and affection they have shown me. I’m passionate about Bradford. It is where I grew up and where my children were born, so it has been a great privilege to be asked by the electorate at four general elections to be their voice in Parliament.” Singh held on to his seat at the 2010 election after getting 45 per cent of the vote.

training. Yet they pay £540 a month, two-thirds of their take-home pay, for food and accommodation. An MoD source last night suggested some soldiers blew their money on a so-called “billionaire’s weekend” and should learn to budget better. The report, which focused on Phase 2 trainees, also found 46 per cent were deliberately skipping meals to save money. An insider said: “Some have family far from barracks and it’s often a choice between eating and having enough money to see loved ones.” Soldiers are expected to consume about 2,900 calories a day in order to carry out their arduous training. The MoD said a Hungry Soldier scheme, introduced four years ago, provided food vouchers for those who ran out of money and docked their pay until they learned to budget properly.

George Galloway ‘almost certain’ to stand in Bradford West by-election

Former Respect MP expelled from the Labour party in 2003 expected to put himself forward as a candidate reports The Guardian. He said “the chances” were that he would stand in the poll. The by-election is expected to take place within the next month. “I’m here to take the temperature in the city. I’m finding it warm and sunny so far. By the end of the day I’ll have a better picture, but the chances are that if and when the House of Commons declares the by-election … then I will be candidate for Respect in the Bradford West constituency,” he said.


South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

COMMENT

5

Would You Support a War Against Iran If You Knew the True Facts?

A military strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities would bring about “catastrophic” consequences, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wrote in a widely circulated article on Monday. – An interview with a former Israeli intelligence official who opposes attacking Iran saying that Israel had decided not to attack Iran but worrying that the prime minister might want to reopen discussion of the issue. – A sensationalistic article in an Arab newspaper with no Israeli inside sources speculating that an attack was going to happen.

Would you support a war against Iran if you knew that: • Iran has one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, and the second-largest in the Middle East behind Israel • Jews are protected by the Iranian constitution, and are guaranteed seats in the Iranian parliament • The CIA admits that the U.S. overthrew the moderate, suit-andtie-wearing, Democratically-elected prime minister of Iran in 1953. He was overthrown because he had nationalized Iran’s oil, which had previously been controlled by BP and other Western oil companies. As part of that action, the CIA admits that it hired Iranians to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order

to turn the country against its prime minister • If the U.S. hadn’t overthrown the moderate Iranian government, the Islamic revolution would have never taken over. (Moreover, the U.S. has had a large hand in strengthening radical Islam in the Middle East by supporting radicals to fight the Soviets and others) o The U.S. armed and supported Iraq after it invaded Iran and engaged in a long, bloody war which included the use of chemical weapons. Here is former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein in the 1980′s, several months after Saddam had used chemical weapons in a massacre: • The U.S. has been claiming for more than 30 years that Iran was on the verge of nuclear capability

• The U.S. helped fund Iran’s nuclear program • The U.S. has been actively planning regime change in Iran – and throughout the oil-rich Middle East and North Africa – for 20 years • The decision to threaten to bomb Iran was made before 9/11 • America and Israel both support a group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization which is trying to overthrow the Iranian government • Top American and Israeli military and intelligence officials say that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear bomb • Top American and Israeli military and intelligence officials say that – even if Iran did build a nuclear bomb – it would not be that dangerous, because Israel and America have so many more nukes. And see this

• American military and intelligence chiefs say that attacking Iran would only speed up its development of nuclear weapons, empower its hardliners, and undermine the chance for democratic reform • The people pushing for war against Iran are the same people who pushed for war against Iraq, and said it would be a “cakewalk”. See this and this • Well-known economist Nouriel Roubini says that attacking Iran would lead to global recession. The IMF says that Iran cutting off oil supplies could raise crude prices 30%. War with Iran would kill the American economy. And see this and this • China and Russia have warned that attacking Iran could lead to World War III Israel has a track-record of preemptive strikes against nuclear

targets in the region. In June 1981, Israeli jets bombed the Osirak reactor near the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. More recently, in September 2007, Israeli warplanes attacked a facility in Syria that Israel, the US and many experts believed was a nuclear reactor under construction. However, a potential strike against Iran would be nothing like the attacks in Iraq and Syria. These were both against single targets, located above ground, and came literally out of the blue. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Romney will get some support next week when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Washington: Netanyahu will ask Obama to say publicly that “the United States is preparing for a military operation in the event that Iran crosses certain ‘red lines’.”

NEWS

UK’s bad bank turns good profits, but repossessions rise 10%

UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), which is winding down the mortgage books of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, said repossessions rose to 8,847, up 10% on 2010 UK: Mortgage fears as banks consider raising interest rates Fuel prices are already at record highs – now mortgage rates are set to rise as well. The “bad bank” owned by the UK taxpayer repossessed almost 9,000 homes last year, as profits shot up by 145%. UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), which is winding down the mortgage books of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, said repossessions rose to 8,847, up 10% on 2010. Richard Banks, the chief executive of UKAR, said: “One is absolutely not happy with repossessing anyone’s property. But it is not fair to the customer to create a situation where they are incurring more and more debt. It is also not in the benefit of the taxpayer. And it’s not fair on the 90%

of customers who are paying their mortgages on time.” Millions of families face rising mortgage interest rates that will add £300 a year to the cost of a £100,000 home loan. The RBS-NatWest group is pushing up rates from 3.75 per cent to 4 per cent and Halifax – one of Britain’s biggest lenders – is expected to follow suit with a similar announcement this week. RBS-Natwest is pushing up rates on two of its products by 0.25%, while Halifax is expected to raise its standard variable rate tomorrow. The hikes in cost come despite the Bank of England maintaining the base rate at a historic 0.5% low and are expected to raise concerns among thousands of homeowners who are already struggling to make ends meet. An RBS spokesman today said its rises would apply to two of its products – the Offset and The One Account, and would affect around 200,000 customers. He said: “Over the last year the cost of funds at which we need to borrow at to fund our mortgage commitments has

risen considerably. “We have absorbed the cost during this period but have now decided to pass on some of this increase, 0.25% to our Offset and The One Account customers. “For the majority of our Offset and One Account customers their new rate will be 4%, the same as our standard variable rate.” The move comes amid speculation that Halifax is set to push its standard variable rate (SVR) up from 3.5% to 3.99% from May 1, thought to affect around 850,000 customers. The hikes are apparently due to higher costs of funding a mortgage in the current economic climate. They come as families are being squeezed harder than ever by rising costs of living. Among these are record high prices for petrol, announced yesterday – with the average cost of a litre at 137.44p, according to the AA, while diesel is up to 144.67p a litre, another new record.

Muslim Aid Expands its Service in Birmingham with a New Regional Office

To expand its reach within UK and engage more with local communities and organisations Muslim Aid will be opening its regional office in Birmingham on 10th March 2012. The launch event will be attended by distinguished guests including community leaders, business community members and friends and partners of Muslim Aid. The Birmingham office will allow Muslim Aid to engage and work

more closely with the regional community and institutions in assisting beneficiaries placed locally and across the globe. It aims to cater to the mission of Muslim Aid based on the principles of Islam. The new regional office will run projects and initiatives with local participation and serve the wider community by creating awareness, training volunteers and raising funds for emergency relief and development projects globally. A Spokesperson for the Charity said, “The opening of this office will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Muslim Aid. The Birmingham office staff aim to build upon the work that teams in London and across the world has carried out for the last 25 years and hope to mirror the successes achieved.”


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China’s defence spending to rise 11.2% China’s defence budget to double to $238bn by 2015

China plans to boost its official defence budget by 11.2 per cent this year as Beijing is balancing the modernisation of its armed forces against the need to keep military spending in line with economic development. Defence expenditure is budgeted to rise to Rmb670.247bn ($110bn) in 2012, Li Zhaoxing, spokesman of the National People’s Congress, told reporters a day before China’s rubber stamp parliament opens to hear premier Wen Jiabao’s budget report. The rate of increase is slightly lower than last year’s 12.7 per cent but in line with the growth trajectory over the past two decades. China has reported double-digit increases in official military spending for each year since 1989 except for 2009, when the announced growth rate dropped to 7.5 per cent. Beijing says it is committed to keeping military spending in line with the overall pace of economic development. Foreign analysts agree that Beijing’s official defence budget does not represent the full amount China spends on the military, but most external estimates still assume that the overall growth trajectory of military spending is in line with the announced figure. The Stockholm Institute for Peace Research, one of the most respected independent research institutions, estimates that the official figure accounts for about 60 per cent of China’s total military spending. HINA’S booming economy means

its defence budget will double by 2015 to $238.2 billion, about four times the size of its nearest rival, Japan, according to a report released yesterday by global defence information provider IHS Janes. The economies of Japan and India, whose defence budgets are the second- and third-largest in the Asia-Pacific region, have both been flagged “at risk”, a grading carrying serious implications for their respective defence requirements, the report warned. It tracked the economies of the Asia-Pacific’s 13 biggest defence spenders, including Australia and its Anzac partner New Zealand’s whose economy was also graded “at risk”. The report reinforces regional concerns about China’s military build-up. But it also raises questions about other states in the region keen to modernise ageing arsenals. “This isn’t a three-horse race

(China, India and Japan). Taiwan’s rate of investment means it has overtaken Singapore in terms of defence spend by 2015, while Vietnam and Indonesia are also forecast to increase defence spending at a rate that exceeds GDP growth.

competition for untapped natural resources, that are prompting many states to increase their defence to GDP (gross domestic product) ratio,” said IHS Janes senior analyst, Paul Burton. Both Japan and India are likely to rein in defence spending due to

“China’s rise is not the only motivator. There are a number of lingering security issues, driven by

economic challenges. Japan’s government debt and investment needed after

Iran’s Majlis Elections: Whoever Wins, the West Loses 75 percent of principlists win vote for parliament: Reports

President’s sister Parvin Ahmadinejad defeated by a conservative rival in their hometown of Garmsar . Conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appear on course to gain firm control of the Iranian parliament, according to early election results. Iran, under intense Western pressure over its disputed nuclear programme, on Saturday declared an initial turnout of 64 percent in a parliamentary election shunned by most reformists as a sham. Iran’s Islamic clerical leadership is eager to restore the damage to its

legitimacy caused by the violent crushing of eight months of street protests after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a 2009 vote his opponents said was rigged. More than 64 percent of the registered electorate voted in Iran’s parliamentary poll, the interior minister said on Saturday in a preliminary estimate of the turnout. “Based on the preliminary estimate, participation nationwide stands at 64.2 percent, but this figure is not final,” Mostafa Mohammad Najar told the state broadcaster. Participation in legislative polls normally varies between 50% and 70%. The figure stood at 55.4% in the last election in 2008, according to official figures. Mohammad Najar said that so far 135 candidates have won seats in the 290-member parliament, with results in larger constituencies expected by Monday. The Islamic republic’s ruling conservatives predicted a massive turnout in Friday’s election despite a boycott by a large part of the reformist opposition. The interior minister said turnout stood at 48 percent in the capital, up from 30 percent in the 2008 legislative poll.

Fukushima (earthquake) will impact on defenece spending, the report forecast. While firm economic growth is predicted in Australia from 201215, the federal government’s promise to set real defence growth at 3 per cent raises doubts as to whether the defence budget will be large enough to meet demands for an ambitious equipment program. Australia, the region’s fifth-biggest military purchaser, spent $23.6 billion on defence last year, a figure expected to rise to $27.5 billion by 2015. On New Zealand, IHS-Janes warned a significant deterioration in medium-term public finances since 2009 combined with postdisaster reconstruction following the Christchurch earthquake would constrain the government’s ability to deliver on its 2011 defence capability plan. The economy of New Zealand, the Asia-Pacific’s 13th-biggest defence spender’s remains “at risk”.

Police accuse 17 Prague Social Democrats of bribe-taking Prague: The anti-corruption police have accused 17 members of the Prague branch of the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) of bribery during votes at party meetings, Czech Television (CT) said today. CT said Frantisek Kolinsky, head of the CSSD Prague 9 branch, and former City Hall member Lukas Plachy, were the most prominent accused persons. According to CT, Kolinsky and Plachy reportedly bribed 15 fellow party members. “The persons were bribed in order to join one CSSD local organisation, whereby they were to widen the membership and subsequently vote according to the commands given to them beforehand,” anti-corruption police spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej told CT. The two officials mainly resorted to bribery when the list of candidates was compiled for the 2010 general elections, Ibehej said. “The votes at CSSD meetings were

influenced to the benefit of a handpicked candidate,” he added. “If the information were confirmed, it would be a serious case and the party leadership would deal with it,” party leader Bohuslav Sobotka has said. Kolinsky has refused to comment on the affair. The police started investigating the case two years ago. At that time, some media published the recordings allegedly testifying that Plachy had promised a place on the list of candidates for 100,000 crowns to a party member.


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British politician sacked for predicting Israel’s end “It will not go on for ever, it will not go on for ever. Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown,” Tonge was filmed as saying during a student panel address at Middlesex University last week. “Beware Israel… One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving £70 billion a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East - that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough,” She added. Following her remarks, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg apparently gave Tonge an ultimatum to apologize or step down, but the peer refused to make an apology

The veteran British peer, Baroness Tonge, has been forced to resign as a Liberal Democrat frontbencher in the House of Lords after saying she sees the Israeli regime’s end coming. and resigned. “I have been asked to apologise but refuse to do so and resign the whip of

my party,” she said in a statement. The outspoken anti-Israeli peer, who once said she would consider

becoming a suicide bomber if she were a Palestinian, also attacked the Lib Dem leadership over their decision saying they seem “always to abet the request of the pro-Israel lobby.” “The comments I made were in protest at the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank,” she said in the statement. “Israel is acting against international law, the Geneva conventions, and Human Rights. They do this with impunity and if our political parties will not take action then individuals must,” she added. Tonge has been a Lib Dem MP between 1997 and 2005 when she was appointed to the House of Lords. She has been a fierce critic of the

Zionist regime of Israel and a thorn in the Lib Dems’ side over the past years. Back in February 2010, Clegg removed Tonge as a Lib Dem health spokesman in the House of Lords after she called for an inquiry into reports that the Israeli soldiers were guilty of body parts trafficking in Haiti. The reports showed that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) who were allegedly deployed to the Caribbean country for humanitarian purposes after the killer 2010 earthquake, were actually busy harvesting victims’ body parts. Tonge was also removed as Lib Dems spokesman on children’s issues in 2004 after suggesting she could become a suicide bomber.

World Powers Resume Nuclear Talks with Iran << Continued from page 1 program. At the same time, he stressed that the States will continue to work for not letting Iran build its nuclear weapons. The Iranian government’s position is that its nuclear program is completely peaceful and geared towards developing nuclear energy. Brent falls on news of Iran nuclear talks Oil prices fell back sharply on Tuesday following news that negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme would resume between the world’s third largest crude exporter and six world powers. Financial times reported. ICE April Brent fell $1.99 to $121.81 a barrel as the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China announced they had agreed to resume talks with Iran. The news came as commodities markets were subdued after a downward revision of the country’s growth target by the Chinese government early this week. The Nymex April West Texas Intermediate declined $1.50 to $105.25 a barrel. Worries about global crude supplies caused by escalating tensions over Iran’s uranium enrichment programme had been behind the rally in the value of oil since the start of the year. The Brent benchmark jumped over $128 last week on false reports of an explosion of a pipeline in Saudi Arabia last week, highlighting the jitters in the oil markets. Despite the softening of the oil price, the physical oil market is expected to remain tight due to disruptions in Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Israelis smell war in Netanyahu Iran speech “Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy

to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer.” Israel has waited for the international community to resolve the issue, Netanyahu said in his address, but diplomacy and sanctions have failed It seems Israel’s leadership considers that its strategic, military, diplomatic and political ‘window of opportunity’ to make war against Iran is fast closing. Israeli and US leaders seem united in their strategic goal of destroying Iran – as they were in destroying Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan – but they’re also at loggerheads as to which tactical road to tread. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uncompromising speech to a pro-Israel lobby in Washington has persuaded the public back home that war with Iran is increasingly possible. Netanyahu evoked the horrors of the Holocaust, quoting a 1944 letter where the United States rejected a request by Jewish leaders to bomb the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz. His message was clear: Israel cannot rely on others to defend its people. “As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation,” he told the influential pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Monday after meeting US President Barak Obama. “We have waited for diplomacy to work, we have waited for sanctions to work. We cannot afford to wait much longer.” The words resonated in Israel, with analysts, commentators and former military officers seeing a distinct sharpening of tone towards Tehran, which itself has called for the destruction of the state of Israel. “The pistol isn’t only loaded, but the safety catch has been released,” Uzi Dayan, a former general and national security

adviser, told Israel Radio. Israel is adamant it will not let Iran build an atomic bomb and has been pushing Washington to pile pressure on Tehran to force it to abandon its nuclear programme. Monday’s speech represented Netanyahu’s clearest endorsement of this doctrine since taking office in 2009, but critics said he still had to convince a sceptical public of the need for war. “Today’s Israel does not subscribe to this,” said Uri Dromi, a spokesman for former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, adding that the war of words from both Israel and Iran reminded him of the build up to World War One, when Europe stumbled into mayhem. “He is preparing us for war, but I am not sure we are ready for it. It is not a smart game. It is a gamble,” he said. An opinion poll published last week said just 19 percent of Israelis thought their nation should attack Iran, even if they did not first get the support of Washington. Many Israelis fret the country is not prepared for conflict, with analysts predicting it could be hit with a barrage of missiles from Iran and its allies, such as Hizbollah in Lebanon. Today, in what appear to be final talks between the US and Israel before war is unleashed, Mr. Netanyahu emphasized that “Israel must have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.” And then thanked president Obama for affirming in his speech before AIPAC that, as he himself put it, “Israel has the sovereign right to make its own decisions.” According to Monday’s New York Times, Israeli officials interpreted this to mean that the United States would not try to block a preemptive Israeli strike. Will it be war, then? Let’s hope not, but very dark and heavy clouds have certainly gathered on the horizon. It may just be a coincidence, but

interestingly, in recent years key foes of Israel have been destroyed by the US and UK on dates that coincide with the Jewish Festivity of Purim that falls every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar. Based on the Old Testament Book of Esther, Purim celebrates the slaughter of 75,000 enemies of the Jews throughout the Persia Empire (modern Iran, of all places!) Purim falls on a different date each year

in our Western calendar: in 1991 it fell on 1st March (actually it started at sunset on 28th February) which was the exact day the Bush I administration called victory in Iraq. In 2003, Purim fell on 19th March which is when Bush II invaded Iraq. Last year it again fell on 19th March, marking the first massive NATO attack on Libya. This year Purim falls on 8th March. Will Israel and the US go into War Mode this week?


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South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

Obama has turned his back on Israel, Santorum tells AIPAC

On Super Tuesday – one of the biggest Republican primary days of the year – three leading GOP candidates court pro-Israel voters Speaking to thousands of pro-Israel activists on Tuesday, the leading Republican presidential candidates accused President Barack Obama of weakness in dealing with Iran and questioned his commitment to the Jewish state. “From everything I’ve seen from the conduct of this administration, [President Obama] has turned his back on the people of Israel,” said Rick Santorum, one day after Obama said the US would always “have Israel’s back.” Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, speaking via satellite from a campaign stop in Ohio, said “hope is not a foreign policy.” Earlier in the day, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, gave a full-throated

defense of Obama’s Israel and Iran policies to the AIPAC crowd. Panetta: ‘We’ll attack Iran if diplomacy fails’ US secretary of defense also praises the American-Israeli alliance: “We are stronger when we act as one.” US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the AIPAC conference Tuesday

that only if diplomacy fails would the US carry out a military strike against Iran. Panetta was speaking on the final day of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used his address to warn the world of the

danger of a nuclear Iran. “Military action is the last alternative when all else fails,” Panetta said. “But make no mistake, we will act if we have to.” By and large, however, the defense secretary reiterated President Barack Obama’s stance that diplomacy and sanctions must be given time to

work. “We want diplomacy to work, we will back the diplomacy with strong and increasing pressure, we will keep all options – including military action – on the table to prevent (Iran) from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Panetta said. The defense secretary also praised the American-Israeli alliance, saying “our shared desire and our shared commitment to working together are absolutely essential.” Like Obama, Panetta urged Israeli compliance with the American strategy towards Iran. “The United States must always have the unshakeable trust of our ally Israel,” he said. “We are stronger when we act as one.”

UK Riots: Two guilty of attacking Malaysian student Ashraf Rossli Two thugs who posed as Good Samaritans in one of the most notorious crimes of the London riots were facing jail tonight after being convicted of robbing a defenceless Malaysian student. Ashraf Rossli, 21, had been in Britain just a month when he was knocked to the ground and left a bloodied mess on August 8 last year. Moments after his jaw was smashed and his bicycle stolen, John Kafunda, 22, was caught on camera lifting him up and appearing to shepherd him from trouble. But seconds later he and Reece Donovan, 22, began rifling through his rucksack as the victim’s back was to them and robbed him of a portable Playstation and 10 games worth £500. As police hunted the offenders, the footage was posted on YouTube and broadcast on news channels causing global outrage. Mobile phone footage showing Ashraf Rossli, 21, from Malaysia, lying injured before being helped to his feet then robbed by the two who stole items from his bag, caused widespread outrage when broadcast on YouTube. John Kafunda, 22, of Ilford, and Reece Donovan,

also 22, of Romford, were found guilty of robbery and violent disorder at Wood Green crown court in north London. The judge warned they could expect lengthy custodial sentences when they are sentenced on 13 March. Chief Superintendent Gary Buttercase, temporary police borough commander at Barking and Dageham, described Rossli, from Kuala Lumpur, as “a man of humility and dignity”, adding: “I am particularly pleased we have managed to get justice for the appalling attack he suffered and the subsequent theft that

has attracted derision from across the world.” Jenny Hopkins, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The image of Reece Donovan rifling through the contents of this vulnerable young man’s bag was one of the most shocking images from the public disorder in the summer of 2011.” After the attack and robbery Rossli said he was

determined to continue his studies in Britain despite his ordeal, telling a press conference: “Britain is great. Before I came here I was eager and I haven’t got any ill feelings about what happened. I feel very sorry for the people that did this.” A fund was set up to help him. Following Friday’s verdicts, a spokeswoman said: “He is grateful for the work the police have done in bringing the case and also for the support of the British public for what they have done for him.” Both defendants had denied the charges. Donovan, a mechanic, claimed he was in the area to buy skunk cannabis, but had originally told police he was at his mother’s house in Limehouse, east London, because he feared being questioned about the drugs. Cell site mobile evidence had proved he was in Barking when the attack and robbery took place. Kafunda claimed he was at a neighbour’s house on the night of the riots. The two had claimed they had not seen each other for three weeks at the time of the riots because Kafunda owed Donovan money for fixing his motorbike.

Bubbles all over my body torturing

Mohammad Omar is 62 years old and suffers from almost all his life. He has bubbles everywhere. On the face, neck, arms and legs. His belly and back are full of bubbles, the tumors that determine his life. A 62-year-old dubbed the ‘Bubble man’ because his body is covered in bubbles has revealed how people treat him worse than a ‘dirty stray animal’. Mohammad Umar started growing small lumps on his hands at 14, and since then his body has slowly been ravaged by benign bubbles. Now, they cover his entire body. ‘I’m a good man,’ he said. ‘And I can work hard but my looks are a problem to other people. No one likes looking at me or being near me. It’s ruined my life.’

Doctors suspect that Mohammad suffered from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disease incurable. No one can relieve his suffering. One day he will die as a result of his illness. Mohammad lives in Hyderabad, India. At his birth he was healthy. His mother

had blisters on her hands, nowhere else. She died in 2001. The suffering began when Mohammad was 14 years old. Chance of bubbles suddenly grew on his body. His mother took him to the doctor because they were the same bubbles, which they wore on

their bodies. The older Mohammad, the bigger the bubbles, the greater the suffering. He says: “I knew it was getting worse. I knew it was a nightmare. “ Today he can barely see the bumps grow on his face over her eyes. In summer, the skin itches intolerably. “I am a good person. I can work hard, but my appearance is a problem for other people. No one likes to see me or be with me, “said Mohammad of the British newspaper” Daily Mail “. His job as a porter at the station he has long since lost. Now and again he begs to at least get some money. Again and again he had to move - no landlord wanted him in his house. One day he learns Farhat-un-Nisa know

(45). Mohammad fell in love, got married when he was 28 years old. Even today they are a happy couple. And although the doctors said that the disease is transferable to their children, they take the step. Four children have the two together: daughter Shama (25), the sons of Mohammad Hussain (20), Mohammad Subani (18) and Khaja (12). The first three children are healthy. But when the shock Khaja. Very slowly, are also formed on his body first blisters. “It’s just the way it started with me. I am devastated, “says Mohammad. The worst is that doctors say the disease was incurable. Fortunately, the tumors are not painful to his body. But the life of Mohammad Umar is painful - his son has probably yet to come.


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Saarc international I Thursday 08 March 2012

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international

Thursday, 08.03.12

‘Manmohan is staying as PM’

Party organisation weak in UP: Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi slams rumours claiming Cong is changing PM Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday ruled out any ‘damage’ to the UPA government in the wake of electoral outcomes in which, she said, wrong choice of candidates and weak organisation in UP played a role in the party’s dismal performance. She said price rise could have been a factor for the party’s poor performance in the elections and declared that the Congress has to ‘pull up its socks’ for the coming battles in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka. Sonia Gandhi also dismissed possibility of any change of Prime Minister in the wake of the poll debacle. “The question does not arise,” she shot back when asked if there was a possibility of the Prime Minister stepping down and Congress choosing another leader for the post. Asked by reporters as to who would be the Congress candidate for Prime Minister in the 2014

elections, Sonia Gandhi merely said, “This is 2012”. Appearing before the media a day after

the party’s dismal showing in assembly elections to UP, Punjab and Goa, Gandhi said a meeting of all the leaders, including

Explain ISI funding, Hasina tells Khaleda

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked her arch rival Khaleda Zia to clarify the allegation that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI gave her 50 million rupees to help her in the

1991 parliamentary polls. Referring to a report on Dubaibased newspaper Khaleej Times which carried the allegation, Hasina alleged Khaleda “sold

country’s interest to Pakistan” by taking money from the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence). “People want to know why she took ISI money. She must answer it,” said Hasina, also president of ruling Awami League, said while addressing a large rally near Suhrawardy Udyan marking the historic March 7. She alleged that the opposition leader is trying to “make Pakistan happy” by taking position in favour of the war criminals who collaborated with the then Continued on page 19 >>

from the states, will be called to analyse the reasons. “Every election is a lesson for us, whether we win or lose, there is a lesson for us,” Gandhi said. Asked about the reasons that could have impacted the party’s performance, she said in UP, weak organisational structure and wrong choice of candidates could have been the factors. Queried whether there was lack of leadership, she responded, “I would say rather than lack of leadership, (there are) too many leaders... That is our problem.” Gandhi acknowledged inflation could have been factor for Congress’ poor performance. On the party’s performance in Amethi and Rae Bareli, Gandhi said, “There have been such defeats earlier. “People were not happy with the sitting MLAs... the new candidates won,” she said.

Waheeda Shah slapped with two-year ban A two-year ban from taking part in elections is what Waheeda Shah got for slapping a polling staff member in the recently held by-polls in Tando Mohammad Khan.

While announcing its verdict on a complaint over the incident, the Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday also nullified the result of a provincial assembly seat (PS-53) by-poll where the incident took place.

In its order, the ECP has further asked the IG Police Sindh to take action against DSP Irfan Shah who was present with Ms Shah inside a polling station when the incident occurred. Continued on page 19 >>


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Fishermen’s killing: Italian marines sent to Central Jail till March 19

A court in Kerala Monday extended the custody of the two Italian marines arrested for shooting dead two Indian fishermen and ordered them to be sent to the Central Jail in state capital Thiruvananthapuram until March 19. Italian marines Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone were on Feb 20 sentenced by the court to 14 days custody, of which the first three days was police custody. The judicial custody was later extended twice by seven days each. They were being kept in the Central Industrial Security Force guest house in Kochi, and were Monday sent to the Central Jail. Both the marines were produced in the court Monday.

Indian fishermen Ajesh Binki, 25, and Gelastine, 45, were allegedly shot dead Feb 15 by the marines who mistook them to be pirates.

The marines were on board cargo vessel Enrica Lexie, about 14 nautical miles off Alappuzha in Kerala.

The Kollam chief judicial magistrate court asked the authorities to ensure that special security is given to the two and also allowed Italian

officials to meet the two every day for an hour between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The court also asked the police to see that they should not be kept with other jail inmates, and if they feel the security cover is inadequate, then they could be shifted elsewhere with the permission of the court. On Tuesday, the petition of the Italian Consulate General demanding quashing of the FIR against the marines is coming up for final disposal in the Kerala High Court. Last week, the judge pointed out errors in the petition filed by the Italian Consulate General and said it had no seal of the Italian embassy or any authorisation.

India to ratify Mujib- 26/11: Pak judicial panel Indira treaty to visit India on Mar 14

India is going to ratify a treaty 38 years after its former prime minister Indira Gandhi signed it with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1974 to settle border disputes, the home minister has said. Shahara Khatun in a report at Monday’s cabinet meeting said New Delhi also assured the Bangladesh government of handing over Mujib murder convicts captain Majed and Risalder Moslehuddin, now hiding in that country, to serve their sentences. The Indian prime minister, finance minister and home minister gave her the assurances during her recent visit there, Cabinet Division secretary Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain Bhuyian told reporters after the meeting. Shahara told the cabinet that Bangladesh had already ratified and operationalised the treaty while the Indian government will take steps after its parliament cleared the proposal in the next session, Bhuyian said. “It will be easier to settle dispute between Bangladesh and India over land boundary once they implement the treaty,” he quoted Shahara as telling the meeting.

The home minister said she also discussed issues over land and water boundary, visa processing, ease of travel by Moitree Express train, process to set up barbed-wire fence along the border, prevention of terrorism and human trafficking, Bhuyian said. She also said she had protested killing of Bangladeshis by Indian Border Security Force along the border and the Indian authorities assured her that they will take step to that end, too, he added.

A Pakistani judicial panel would visit India on March 14 as part of the probe into the Mumbai attacks, an anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of LeT’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects notified on Tuesday. Judge Shahid Rafique notified the date for the commission’s muchdelayed visit during proceedings held behind closed doors at a prison in Rawalpindi this afternoon. The judge further notified the appointment of Fazal Majid, a Deputy Director in the Interior Ministry, as the coordinator for the commission’s visit. The appointment was made in response to an application from defence lawyers, sources said. “The court has notified that the commission will visit India on March 14 and appointed a coordinator,” Khwaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Lakhvi, said. The commission will travel by air

from Lahore to Delhi before going to Mumbai. “They (the authorities) want us to complete some formalities in Delhi,” said Ahmed. Prosecutors could not present the record of the inquiry by the chief investigation officer in India despite a direction from the court, sources said.

Chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali told the judge that Pakistani authorities had sought the report from their Indian counterparts but were yet to receive it. The court subsequently adjourned the case till March 10.

Gujarat riot victims still awaiting justice: Amnesty

Amnesty International said that ten years after the Gujarat riots “an overwhelming majority” of the victims were still awaiting justice and urged the authorities to ensure adequate compensation to all those who lost their homes. Those who were still living in transit camps should not be evicted, it said. “The majority of the perpetrators of the Gujarat violence walk free, assuming that they will not be punished by the State institutions which have simply failed to ensure justice for the victims. The fact that more than 2,000 people can be murdered and the lives of thousands of others shattered

in Gujarat with only a small number of the perpetrators brought to justice is offensive to any notion of justice,” it said in a statement. Investigation and trial processes made headway only in “a handful of cases,” it said adding: “The special team, which was the only one to have probed allegations

that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party played a key role in facilitating the riots, referred to his speeches as ‘sweeping and offensive,’ but cited lack of evidence to proceed against him.” At least 21,000 persons were still in transit

relief camps awaiting relocation. They were now facing “forced evictions” as the State authorities were now claiming that the land on which the camps were set up belonged to the government and that they would have to vacate them, it said. “For the relatives of the victims and survivors, this has been an excruciating process of being promised justice and watching India’s institutions break their promises again and again. All those responsible for the killings and gender-based violence including rape must be brought to justice — whether they are political leaders, police or government officials,’’ it demanded.


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WEEKLY REVIEW OF AFGHANISTAN NEWS

Afghan Investigator Insists Quran Burnings Intentional

KABUL, Afghanistan : While U.S. investigators say the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. military base was a mistake involving at least five Americans who may face a disciplinary review, Afghan investigators claimed it was an intentional desecration. The conflicting accounts highlight rising tensions between the two countries following the Feb. 20 discovery of charred Qurans and other religious literature in a burn pit at Bagram air base, north of Kabul. Anger over the burnings already has led the deaths of more than 30 Afghans during violent protests as well as six U.S. soldiers. A Western official said that preliminary findings from a joint investigation by senior Afghan and U.S. military officials that was ordered by Marine Gen. John Allen has convinced them that although mistakes were made, there was no intent to desecrate the Qurans or other material. The official, who has knowledge of the investigation but spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said it could lead to a disciplinary review of at least five U.S. military personnel involved.

The Western official confirmed earlier reports that extremist inscriptions were found inside the texts, including notations apparently scribbled by detainees exchanging messages. He said that after the writings were discovered, two Afghan-American interpreters were assigned to go through the library materials, and 1,652 items were removed and placed in boxes. was made to dispose of the material because of a lack of storage space and the notes inside, but a group of three soldiers on a garbage detail removed the books before that could be done properly, the official said. He said the soldiers had no idea what they were throwing into the burn pit and insisted none of the material was destroyed

before it was removed by Afghan workers. However, Maulvi Khaliq Dad, a top Afghan religious leader who was on a different panel appointed by President Hamid Karzai to investigate the incident, claimed the burning was intentional. Dad said U.S. officials informed Afghan authorities about their suspicions that notes inside the books were being used as a way for detainees to communicate with comrades outside the prison. The Americans believed that a bookseller, who had a contract to take care of the library, was acting as a mediator and told him not to show up for work on the day that two translators were scouring the materials. The translators later told the

Pak, China, Afghanistan hold trilateral meeting

In a conspicuous international development, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan held a formal trilateral dialogue in the Chinese capital of Beijing and covered various aspects of mutual cooperation. The three sides reaffirmed their commitment to the spirit of the 2002 Kabul declaration on good neighbourly relations, and to develop a constructive and supportive bilateral relationship based on the principle of territorial integrity, mutual respect, friendly relations, cooperation and non-interference in

each other’s internal affairs. A trilateral meeting of the three countries has taken place for the first time in the history of regional ties, a mechanism possibly born in anticipation of the withdrawal of the occupation forces from Afghanistan in the a few months. India, enhancing its interference and presence in Afghanistan, is also worrying to both Pakistan and China. The first trilateral meeting was held in Beijing while the next will be held in Islamabad to be followed by one in Kabul. Pakistan’s senior diplomat

and Additional Foreign Secretary Ambassador Alamgir Khan Babar has returned to Islamabad after representing Pakistan at the meeting and will be submitting the report to the government in a day or two. A formal communique pertaining to the meeting is likely to be issued today (Monday) after approval by Foreign Secretary Syed Jalil Abbas Jilani. Well-placed diplomatic sources told that China and Pakistan expressed their support for the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” reconciliation process while the three countries agreed that it was greatly significance that the three foreign ministries had held trilateral dialogue and exchanged views on the regional situation and cooperation between the three countries on a regular basis. The dialogue will play a positive role in enhancing friendly cooperation between the three countries and maintaining peace and stability in the region. The creation of the arrangements has provided a new model for unity and cooperation between the three countries.

Afghan delegation that U.S. officials had told them that the books pulled from the shelves were headed for storage. According to Dad’s account, the books were kept in a place where refuse is picked up and taken to a garbage burn pit on the base. Afghan workers at the base noticed the religious books and notified an Afghan army commander who questioned U.S. troops about the books and was satisfied when he was told they would be stored somewhere safe. But the Afghan workers later noticed the books had been set on fire. The workers and two Afghan officers rescued 216 books, including 48 Qurans, from being burned, Dad said. They were shouting and pulling the books

from the burn pit, preventing the U.S. troops from throwing the remaining four cartons of books into the fire, he said. “They lied to the Afghan workers and the Afghan National Army officers, telling them they were going to store the books in a container, then they went and burned the books. If it was not intentional, they would not have lied,” Dad said. Dad also claimed the investigation had shown that some detainees had written their names, their father’s names, their inmate identification numbers and the date they were detained in some of the books that were not destroyed. Some of the books written in Arabic also had definitions of Arabic words scribbled in Dari or Pashto, the two Afghan languages. “I didn’t see anything that suggested that messages were being exchanged between prisoners or with outsiders,” he said. Full details of the incident are expected to be included in the joint Afghan-U.S. probe that is being reviewed by a coalition legal expert. A date for its release has not been set. A more formal U.S. military investigation is still weeks away from completion.

Afghanistan wants deeper collaboration with Pakistan

In a letter to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Afghan President Hamid Karzai stresses equitable and deeper collaboration between Pakistan and Afghanistan to sustain brotherly and close ties. Karzai in a letter to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, mentioned the Third Afghan-Iran-Pakistan Trilateral Summit in Islamabad that offered yet another opportunity to pursue bilateral dialogue between the two countries.

The president said he has often mentioned both privately and publicly that Afghanistan and Pakistan were twins and it was essential that they sustain a brotherly and equitable collaboration. Karzai said he had a strong sense of a shared determination to ensure peace, security and prosperity for both the countries, assuring his government’s full cooperation in realising the mutual commitments made in Islamabad.


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WEEKLY REVIEW OF BANGLADESH NEWS

Saudi Embassy official shot dead in city

An official of Saudi Embassy in Dhaka was shot dead some 30 yards off his house in Gulshan area of the capital early Tuesday. Khalaf Al Ali, a Saudi national who joined the embassy about two years ago, was shot once in chest.

Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Dr Abdullah Al Bussairy identified the slain officer as a diplomat. But acting Foreign Secretary Mustafa Kamal said al Ali was on the non-diplomats’ list of the foreign ministry.

Police are yet to arrest anyone or ascertain the cause of the murder, said Khandker Lutful Kabir, deputy commissioner of Gulshan Division. This is for the first time in Bangladesh’s history that a foreign embassy official in Dhaka was killed. Identifying the slain official as a “very soft spoken and polite” person, a Bangladeshi official at the Saudi Embassy said everybody liked him very much. al Ali, 45, used to live alone at Flat A-4 in House 22/A on Road No. 120 for the past two years, said Taposh Rema, a guard of the house. According to a Saudi Embassy note verbale (diplomatic communication), some unidentified people attacked the official near his house.

Bangladesh High Court summon ex-VC for distorting 71 history

The High Court on Monday summoned Prof Ershadul Bari, former vice chancellor of Bangladesh Open University (BOU), before it on March 12 in connection with a charge of distorting history of the Liberation War. During hearing of a writ petition, the court passed the order after Dhaka University Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Harun-or Rashid told it that Ershadul Bari is responsible for distortion of history in a text book he had written for BOU students in 2000. The court also requested former Bangladesh Bank Governor Farash Uddin Ahmed, senior journalist Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul and BOU Treasurer Shanti Narayan Ghosh, who were members of a committee formed in 2010 to investigate

the distortion of history, to be present before it Tuesday to make statements. The HC also asked six academicians including Harun-or Rashid to appear before it Tuesday in connection with the writ petition filed on charge of distorting history of the Liberation War. The five others are BOU Vice Chancellor Prof Aminur Rashid, Prof Shawkat Ara Hossain, Prof Sadiha Sultana, Mahfuza Chowdhury and

HM Delwar Hossain. Five, except Aminur Rashid, on Monday appeared before the HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik and Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim as per its March 1 summons order, petitioners’ Belal Hussain Joy said. The bench on March 1 asked them to appear before it to explain their roles in distorting information on the Liberation War in two textbooks written by them under BOU.

Ershad slams advisers

Jatiya Party chairman Hussein Muhammad Ershad on Monday slammed advisers of the government for speaking “in favour of India”. Ershad accused India of illegally taking control of water of the common river Feni. Just before starting a road march towards Feni district, Ershad also urged all to protest against such Indian move by rising above narrow partisan views. “The Feni river is ours. No other (country) has right to this river,” Ershad, a key ally of the ruling Awami League, told a street rally in the city’s Banani Model Town. “Are these advisers citizens of Bangladesh or of India? They do not speak for Bangladesh, they speak for India. Where do they come from? We do not need these advisers,” Ershad said at a street rally at Gazaria Bus Stand in Munshiganj in the morning. Our Munshiganj correspondent sent the report. Ershad is leading a road march towards Feni river protesting the water sharing of the river with India. Ershad started the road march from the capital around 9:00am. On his way, he addressed two street rallies at Madanpur and Mograpara bus stands in Sonargaon upazila of Narayanganj. Before starting the road march from his Banani office, Ershad informed

reporters that he had a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday and termed it “fruitful”, reports Bangla daily Prothom Alo. Asked what they discussed during the meeting, Ershad kept mum, saying: “I can’t say anything at the moment.” Replying another query, he said they discussed about elections. He also revealed that the JP has been taking preparation to participate in the next parliamentary election unilaterally. Ershad, the chief of JP, a key component of the ruling Awami League-led 14-party alliance, also said that his party will contest from all the 300 seats in the next parliament election. Regarding the polls to the bifurcated Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) which is going to be held at the end of May, he said: “We have nominated two candidates for the DCC mayoral race.” Talking on the road march, the former dictator said, “Feni is our river. The origin and mainstream of the river is in our land. So, we will not share the water of the river.”

BD in race with India, Pakistan to grab Gulf job markets

Bangladesh is in competition with India and Pakistan in expanding overseas job opportunities for its nationals and also commodity market in the Gulf region, traders and officials say. Remittances to Bangladesh rose to some $12 billion in the last fiscal. The region comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran on the rim of the Persian Gulf, which has been a traditional job market for expatriate workers from the sub-continent, now emerged a potential market of products from South Asia, traders said. In addition to remittances from the expatriate workers, export earnings are also coming to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan from the Gulf region, officials said.

According to the Bangladesh Bank, remittances to Bangladesh rose to some $12 billion in the last fiscal year 2010-

11, and the bulk of the remittances came from the Gulf region. Nearly 5.0 million out of the country’s total 7.0 million expatriate workers are employed in the Gulf region, officials of the expatriates welfare and overseas employment said. In addition to the traditional job market, the emerging businesses of

three South Asian countries -- India, Pakistan and Bangladesh -- over the past years opened outlets in all the countries of the Gulf region mainly for food products, vegetables etc. A large number of restaurants and hotels having their owners or business partners of South Asian origin are also in operations, traders said.

Though India, and Pakistan dominated the Gulf market in all sectors, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs are now actively trying to push ahead to expand their business. As these Bangladeshi business groups are smaller, in terms of size of capital, and do not have proper corporate design, the records of their individual performances are not available. However, Bangladesh’s Pran, a fastmoving consumer goods brand, expects its export sales to jump more than 50 per cent in the Gulf region. “Last year (2011), our sales revenue reached (Dihram) Dh95 million and we expect it to reach Dh160 million this year,” Hasan Mahbub, Managing Director of Pran Foods UAE, told reporters in Dubai recently.


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WEEKLY REVIEW OF BHUTAN NEWS

Quota to seat women in politics

UN Conference Is there a need for reservation of seats for Bhutanese women in politics? If so, why and, particularly, in the context of Bhutanese customs and culture? So began the first UN conference, a two-day meeting in Thimphu that saw senior government officials, mostly women, from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Norway and Nepal, discuss the promotion of women’s political leadership and governance in India and south Asia. UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) regional program director, Anne F Stenhammer, said quota for women to partake in politics was not important. “But what’s important, is women’s rights and correct decision making in the society,” she said, adding, in

some countries, it had proven to have brought about change in women’s participation in politics and leading the country. “Even in terms of growth of a nation’s happiness and development.” Even in Norway, where she is from, it took a long time before quota for women found a place in politics.

“I was elected mayor once through such a system that opened doors for women in politics,” she said. Since it was just one election in Bhutan, she said, there was a need for further deliberation and deeper discussion on the issue. Today, one of the presenters at the workshop pointed out, the

country lacked a legislation to ensure a minimum level of women’s representation in the country, although six out of 25 members in National Council, and four out of 47 in National Assembly were women. National Commission for Women and Children executive director Phintsho Choeden believes Bhutanese women would do well, if there was a quota system in place. “My biggest fear is that, in our wait for the quota, it might take a long time and women will miss a lot of opportunities,” she said. “Therefore, to begin with, we need to have a catalyst and quota could be one.” She also expressed concerns that, despite such facilities being extended to women, sometimes the strings were left with men to pull, which should not be the case with Bhutan.

A representative from Institute of Gender Equality and Social Justice, Nepal, Saloni Singh said: “Although quota isn’t a permanent solution, it’s an important strategy.” Chief election commissioner Kunzang Wangdi felt there was a need for a serious study on whether the quota system was applicable to the Bhutanese women. “Our religious and cultural structures are very complex,” he said. “Instead of replicating what other countries have, our young democracy will do well if advocacies and trainings are provided to women.” The UN Women that works towards empowering and strengthening women’s participation in politics through capacity building and evidence-based policy advocacy organised the workshop.

Economic activity fuels fuel imports Bhutan : Gender politics The growth is projected to increase ever more with bigger hydropower projects The nation’s demand for fuel, fuelled by a rapidly growing economy, continues to increase, although at a slightly lower rate compared with that of the previous year. This year, the economy’s fossil fuel consumption reached Nu 5.5B, which is about 10 percent of the gross domestic product. The fuel bill for major petroleum products like diesel, petrol, kerosene and liquid petroleum (LPG) increased to Nu 5.1B from Nu 4.4B in 2009. Only diesel, petrol and kerosene imports increased from 114 million litres to 136 million litres in 2011, an increase of more than 21 million litres. Cooking gas imports increased by 576 metric tonnes to 7,410 MT in 2011. Diesel remains Bhutan’s top energy import, and its consumption increased by 21 percent, compared with the previous year. The economy, trade officials said, used huge volumes of diesel; mostly the hydropower sector, which has heavy machines working round the clock. With more hydropower constructions scheduled for the next three years, diesel consumption, economic affairs ministry officials project, would only increase. The next three years will see the construction of mega hydropower projects, including the 2,050MW four joint venture projects, and the two biggest projects of Sunkosh and Kuri-Gongri. Second in order of importance to the economy is petrol, which is mostly used in light vehicles.

Consumption of petrol, volume-wise, increased 14.2 percent between 2009 and this year. Records with Road Safety and Transport Authority show the import of vehicles averaged between 7,000 and 8,000 a year, a majority of them being light petrol cars. In terms of value, the rate of increase for petrol is a huge 43 percent, while for diesel, the increase in value was 9.5 percent. This explains the number of times prices for petrol and diesel changed. Details with trade department state petrol prices changed 10 times within a year in 2011, seeing an increase of almost Nu 11 at the end of the year. Diesel prices changed only four times, with a titillating increase of Nu 4. Change in prices affected value of import because, although in terms of volume, diesel consumption saw significant increase, the value of petrol import recorded a higher jump, attributed largely to vagaries of prices. In India, prices of petrol are left to the market forces, while the government

regulated the diesel prices. Kerosene imports increased to Nu 72.7M last year from Nu 60.6M the year before. Import of LPG, which is mostly used for cooking, increased to Nu 190M from Nu 138M in 2010. LPG prices also changed thrice within the last one-year, touching Nu 436M in October from Nu 431M in July last year. Including fuels, such as furnace oil, bitumen, lubricants, high speed diesels, xtramile and xtra premium, the overall value of fuel imports is Nu 5.4B. The increase in fuel consumption, compared with last year, was 15.45 percent. The hike was 23 percent last year, compared with 2009 records. This year’s figures does not account of aviation oil, xtra premium and xtramile. Trade officials said they did not receive any figures for these fuels from the dealers. The country has four fuel dealers of Bhutan Oil corporation, Bhutan Oil distributor, Druk Petroleum and Damchen Petroleum.

The near absence of women in the Bhutanese parliament has always been a cause of unease for government leaders. When the Bhutanese parliament was a unicameral one, with close to 150 members, it was even more glaring. The people’s elected representatives from the villages made up 100 members, and the rest in orange, red, and blue were ministers, dzongdas, representatives of the monk body and the royal advisory council. Spotting a woman in this crowd was either easy or difficult, because there were so few of them. Attempts were made to get more women representatives mainly from the group of people’s elected representatives, since there were none in the orange, red and blue. At one time, there were about 11 women elected representatives or chimis, as they were known then, and during recess there used to be quite a rush in the corridors of the hall, as some members from the bureaucracy literally grabbed some of them on the pretext of shaking hands. Some of these very young women members, with some formal schooling and with family members that had served in the local government, had been coaxed and cajoled into becoming members for the sake of gender parity. They did not express themselves much

when the Assembly sessions were on. In the new bicameral system, there are 10 women members of a total 72, a much better representation than in the past, but perhaps not good enough. At the local government level, which has more than 1,000 official positions, the number of women representatives elected is 101, even though more women voted. A more balanced representation of women in decision-making levels, not only in politics but also in the government bureaucracy, has been a topic of discussion for many years. Since Bhutan transited to a parliamentary system of governance, introduction of gender quotas in politics for better representation to make their voices heard in a political space controlled by men has come up now and then. Over the weekend, the first UN women conference in Thimphu on the promotion of women’s political leadership and governance in India and south Asia also discussed the need for gender quotas in Bhutan. Many countries in the world do have such quotas, with it being initiated and most successful in the Scandinavian countries. Women, it has been argued, bring a different set of values and experiences to politics, and would be more effective in bringing womenfriendly legislation.


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WEEKLY REVIEW OF INDIA NEWS

Earthquake in North India, strong tremors in Delhi

Strong tremors were felt in Delhi and its surrounding areas at 1.10 pm Monday. In South Delhi’s Greater Kailash Part One, the buildings could be felt shaking. In Gurgaon also said that they could feel the tremors. However, there were no reports of any casualty or damage. No aftershocks were reported. Five people have been repprted to be injured in the earthquake that lasted

for about 10 seconds. There are conflicting reports about the magnitude of the earthquake that shook Delhi and its adjoining areas. While the Indian Meteorological Department measured the quake at a scale of 4.9, the United States Geological Survey put the magnitude at 5.2 on the Richter scale. According to meteorological department officials, the epicentre of the earthquake has

India opts to befriend rather than sanction Iran

India says it is determined to continue importing oil from Iran despite EU and US sanctions aimed at stopping trade until Tehran stops what the West insists is a military nuclear programme. Reacting to US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s comments that the US was engaging in “very intense and very blunt” conversations with India and others such as China and Turkey to stop oil imports from Iran, New Delhi officials indicated yesterday that they would not be coerced. India’s finance minister Pranab Mukherjee recently rejected pressure from the Obama administration to join the US-EU led sanctions against Tehran. India imports about 12 per cent of its oil and gas requirements from Iran for an estimated $12 billion (€9 billion), and maintains it will abide only by UN sanctions and not implement those imposed by individual nations or groupings such as the US and the EU. India recently used Chabahar port in southeastern Iran for the first time to transport 100,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan as part of its humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. India helped build Chabahar a decade ago to provide access to Afghanistan and central Asia – prohibited over land by neighbouring nuclear rival Pakistan – and is involved in building a 900km

rail link from the Zabul iron ore mines in southern Afghanistan to the Iranian port. With Iran and Afghanistan, it has agreed that Indian goods headed for Central Asia and Afghanistan will benefit from tariff discounts at Chabahar. In addition to its oil needs, India wants to cement ties with a besieged Tehran so as to retain access to Kabul in the run-up to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and to the Asian republics, where there are vast hydrocarbon reserves that could fuel India’s economic development. Over the past few weeks a defiant India has been examining ways to step up trade with Iran amid trouble in settling its oil bills as sanctions closed down banking routes. Much to Washington’s ire, New Delhi is sending a large trade delegation to Iran later this month to explore business opportunities created by western sanctions. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Delhi said the Islamic republic offered massive potential for Indian exports: more than $10 billion (€7.5 billion) a year. “The potential of trade and economic relations between India and Iran can touch $30 billion by 2015 from the current level of $13.7 billion,” association secretary general DS Rawat said. An Iranian central bank delegation is currently in Delhi to examine options for India to pay for crude imports. It is negotiating to offset a proportion of this bill in exchange for oil-refining machinery, heavy engineering goods and pharmaceuticals, all badly needed in Iran.

been identified as Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar district of Haryana. The epicentre is about 34 kilometers from Delhi. Many people in residential areas of Delhi rushed outside their homes. According to reports, the tremors were felt as far as Uttar Pradesh , Punjab and Rajasthan . The fire brigade and police said they have not received any immediate calls of casualty or damage.

India unveils anti-beating charter for schools

India on Monday unveiled new guidelines on disciplining children in schools after a survey revealed largescale corporal punishment meted out by teachers. More than 98 percent of the 6,632 children involved in the survey, who were aged between three and 17, had endured some type of physical punishment at school, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights said. The survey found that “beating with a cane appears to be a preferred method of controlling children... slapping on the cheeks and beating on the back

appear as second preferences”. Corporal punishment is already outlawed in several Indian states, and the commission said that no teacher should use a cane to hit students. Teachers should instead learn to control students through clear communication commands and temperate language, the new charter advises. “These guidelines will serve as an important tool for sensitisation and creating awareness on the subject,” Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath told reporters in New Delhi.


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No U.S. forces present, say three nations

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U.S. Special Forces unit deployed in India

Delhi denies Pentagon’s claim of US special forces’ presence in India No US Special Forces in Sri Lanka: Military U.S. Special Forces teams are currently stationed in five South Asian countries including India as part of the counter-terrorism cooperation with these nations, a top Pentagon commander has disclosed. These teams have been deployed by U.S. Pacific Command as part of its effort to enhance their counter-terrorism capabilities, in particular in the maritime domain, Admiral Robert Willard, the PACOM Commander said on Thursday. “We have currently special forces assist teams – Pacific assist teams is the term – laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, as well as India,” Willard told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing in response to a question on co-operation with India on counter-terrorism issues. “We are working very closely with India with regard to their counter-terrorism capabilities and in particular on the maritime domain but also government to government, not necessarily DOD (department of defence) but other agencies assisting them in terms of

their internal counter-terror and counterinsurgency challenges,” Willard said. Willard said, Pakistanbased Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) is a very dangerous organisation. It not only has very good operational security, but also a lot of international design in terms of their aspirations. “So it is a very important threat, and we’re working very closely with the nations in the region to help contain it,” he said. The PACOM commander was responding to a question from Congressman Joe Wilson as to what

effort is being made to counter threat from LeT. But India promptly denied it, saying Washington has neither sought nor has India approved stationing of US Special Forces personnel in the country. The US and India are working together to contain Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attack. Sri Lanka on Saturday rejected a top US military commander’s statement that American Special Forces were

deployed in the island nation. There was no American or any other foreign forces stationed in the country, Sri Lankan military spokesman Brig Nihal Hapuarachchi said. U.S. only provides training: Dhaka : Bangladesh’s Additional Secretary (Political) in the Home Ministry Kamal Uddin Ahmed told the media that the U.S. troops were not stationed in the country as media reports had suggested. But a U.S. team was scheduled to be in the

capital on a three-day tour from March 11 to take part in a workshop, he said. Replying to a query, LieutenantColonel Ziaul Ahsan, intelligence chief of the elite anti-terror Rapid Action Battalion, told The Daily Star newspaper, “All year round personnel from different U.S. agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Security, come to Bangladesh and provide training to the army, navy and others.” The training programmes cover different issues including counterterrorism, he said. The Nepal government has categorically rejected claims made by a senior Pentagon commander that U.S. Special Forces are stationed in Nepal, as a part of counter-terrorism cooperation in South Asia. Nepal Army (NA) spokesperson BrigadierGeneral Ramindra Chhetri said, “There are no US troops deployed for anti-terrorism purposes or any other purpose in Nepal.” BrigadierGeneral Chhetri, however, added that Nepal and American forces have been conducting joint training exercises “for ages”.

BrahMos cruise missile India is South Asia’s biggest successfully test fired narcotics consumer Drug trade through private couriers worries NCB

Providing it a swift strike capability along the border with Pakistan, the Indian Army Sunday inducted its second BrahMos supersonic cruise missile regiment in the western sector. It also successfully conducted a test of the 290-km range missile to validate the unit’s operationalisation. “In conformity and pursuit of operational and strategic surface to surface missile capability development, the second BrahMos unit of Indian Army has been operationalised somewhere in western sector,” an army spokesperson said in a release here. “The Indian Army unit successfully launched BrahMos missile and destroyed the preselected target in the field firing ranges in Rajasthan on Sunday,” he added. BrahMos has the capability of

attacking surface targets by flying as low as 10 metres above the ground. It can reach a speed of Mach 2.8 or close to three times the speed of sound. The BrahMos has been developed as a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India and the Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia under BrahMos Aerospace. BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian Joint venture company headed by A. Sivathanu Pillai, is also working to develop the submarine launched, air launched and a hyper-sonic version of the missile in the near future. It has already been inducted into the Navy and is deployed on almost all the front line surface warships of the maritime force. The missile is named after two rivers, the Brahmaputra and the Moskva.

India has been named the biggest consumer of narcotics substances in South Asia, according to a report by the INCB, an independent monitoring body for implementation of the United Nations International drug control conventions. “India has a market estimated at $1.4 billion for heroin, while it is $1.9 billion for the entire South Asian market,” said the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It also estimates the global heroin economy at $68 billion. International parcels containing banned narcotic drugs and substances reaching India in hordes have caught the narcotics control bureau (NCB) off guard. “The orders are placed through illegal internet pharmacies. Some of the pharmacies are run by doctors. Social media plays a major role in this illegal drug trade,” said NCB director general OPS Malik. “Among the Indian states, the rising consumption of illegal drugs

in Punjab is worrisome,” said NCB director general OPS Malik. “Punjab is the greatest concern for us because the illegal drug consumption is going up in different parts of the state. The consumption of the synthetic drug in the state is also very high,” he added. “Why I say concern, because it is visible and impacting the health of youth in the state. Youths in Punjab have typical consuming patterns — like increased use of poppy husk,” Malik said. Around 3.1 million Indians illegally use opiate – an opium derivative –

of which half use synthetic opiate, the report mentions. It also said that India is largest producer of opium in the South Asia. According to the report, “South Asia is experiencing increasing problems with abuse of prescription drugs and overthe-counter pharmaceutical preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.” The prescription drugs buprenophine, pentazaocine and sedatives are easily available in India, the report noted.


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Argentina Zoo sparked controversy by allowing entry into cages of tigers and lions... important among the cats of the zoo, with over 80 animals. There are also 20 Bengal tigers and 12 jaguars. There are about 50 different species of South American monkeys, as well as a pair of elephants...

possibility for humans to have a

their behavior. These animals are born in captivity and cannot get back to nature, they have lost their instincts. There are two possibilities: that they are inside the cages and the visitors on the outside, or that people

On their website, the Lujan Zoo says “God created the cat so that humanity can have the pleasure of caressing the tiger.” The phrase, attributed to the French vet, Fernand Mery, sums up the attraction for and fear of big cats like jaguars, lions and tigers, and the effect they have on the human imagination. But in Argentina, one does not have to contend with lions, cuddle bears, stroke tigers and feed cheetahs. Cages are accessible to everyone who paid $50 and signed the paper saying that if you are eaten, the Zoo is not responsible. Lujan Zoo is about 50 miles from from Buenos Aires, has an entrance fee of just £5. Animal protection charity, The Born Free Foundation, has condemned the zoo and issued a statement to urge tourists not to visit it. Will Travers, CEO of The Born Free Foundation said: ‘Based on what I have seen displayed on the Lujan Zoo website, I am fearful that a terrible accident is going to happen. the Persians, Siamese or a mutt. In Lujan Zoo, which is 70 kilometers from Buenos Aires, visitors can enter their cages to love, give milk and take pictures as if they were nothing more than big cats. It is also possible to feed and interact with elephants and bears. The zoo is a success. Who wouldn’t want to have a baby lion on their lap, play with and give milk to an adult tiger up close or see a grizzly bear without risk? A controversial zoo in Argentina allows tourists to have extremely close encounters with some of the most dangerous predators in the world. At the Lujan Zoo near Buenos Aires visitors can ride

Environmental Lawyers. “I’m not against the demonstration of the goodness of animals in captivity, as it also improves the management of these conditions. But someone entering a cage with a lion? Where is the image of respect to a species that is a natural predator? What message does that give?” says Balboa, from the Wildlife Foundation. The direction of this place, on the other hand, suggests it’s too expensive to keep

by encouraging them to have ‘close encounters’ with dangerous, potentially lethal, wild animals.

‘The zoo is, in my view, placing the lives of its visitors at great risk

‘Anyone who has any knowledge of big cats will understand that they are wild animals and, as such, as unpredictable.’ Today, in an area of 15 hectares, there are sheltered cages and wooded areas, where visitors can even spend the day and barbecue, as well as interact with the animals. The group of African lions is the most that when they purchase animals, they prefer to call it a rescue. They happen to be saving the animals from the deplorable conditions in which they often live, mainly in circuses. Despite the conscious discourse, Lujan is a controversial place. Their policy of allowing visitors to touch the animals makes one more aware and wonder if it is possible - if not desirable - to tame predatory species such as lions, tigers and bears, without sedatives, and put them in direct contact with the public so that neither they nor the visitors take risks. “A great business” But can you really compare Lujan Zoo with the wildlife parks in Australia and Africa, for example, where there is contact with animals that are loose in reproductions of their habitat and not domesticated? “The Lujan Zoo creates a fictitious image of the nature of animals and has no educational value. It’s just a big business that violates the rights of animals,” says Enrique Vidal, president of the Argentine Association of

come in, take photos, videos and get to know them very well,” says Semino.

relationship with animals. This kind of practice is very young. It began to be studied in the 1950s, and shows that some species may have modified

a zoo like this, and they do not have any kind of extra investment and therefore you cannot even reproduce the natural habitat of the animals. “We do not have to justify what we do. We give the


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Saarc international I Thursday 08 March 2012

REMEMBERING 3/11:

Tsunami Devastates Japan 11 March, it will be exactly a year since one the most powerful earthquakes on record struck the north-east coast of Japan, triggering a massive tsunami wave up to 40 metres in height.

The 9.0 magnitude quake hit just before 3pm local time at a relatively shallow party of the Pacific Ocean, its epicentre just of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku. Sendai was the nearest major city to the earthquake and was among the worst affected areas. The northern Pacific coastline of Japan was devastated by the tsunami, which travelled at a rate of 500mph (800km/h), sending ships crashing into the shore, flattening buildings, sweeping away cars, trees and people. The Japanese National Police Agency confirmed 15,850 deaths and thousands injured and missing. A ship carrying

100 people was swept away, four trains disappeared into the sea and an estimated 125,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Fires ripped across the country. A dam burst in Fukushima prefecture, submerging homes and flooding the nuclear power plant, causing radioactive material to leak. The following day an explosion triggered fears of a meltdown and it took months for the plant to be made safe. It was a triple disaster: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear. In the last 12 months, some progress has been made in rebuilding lives, but much remains unfinished. Tsunami-debris

violins to be played A project is under way to have 1,000 violinists from around the world play at various venues in Japan and abroad with violins made from debris in the tsunamiravaged city of Rikuzentakata, with the first performance to be given by Israeli-born violinist Ivry Gitlis, 89, at a first-anniversary ceremony there on Sunday. Violins have been made under the project from wooden debris in Rikuzentakata, home to the “miracle pine” that became a symbol of hope and perseverance. The tree survived the gigantic tsunami that knocked down all the other roughly 70,000 pine trees on the area’s 2-km scenic stretch of Pacific shoreline. The tree’s roots, however, were destroyed and it is dying. Memorial services held in disaster

areas Memorial services were held across the devastated Tohoku region on March 4 to mark last year’s disaster that claimed some 20,000 lives. Events were held prior to the actual March 11 anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami because many official ceremonies are due to be held this coming Sunday. Bereaved family members and others who lost friends and colleagues in the catastrophe poured out their feelings. Takeshi Takeyama heads an association to remember the 84 children, teachers and clerical staff of Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, who perished or remain Another memorial service was held in the

ruins of Ishinomaki city government’s Kitakami Sogo branch office, where many residents took refugee after the magnitude9.0 earthquake struck. However, the exact number and the names of those who were swept away is still unknown. Fukushima Sabotage – Japanese Journalist Accuses Israel A leading Japanese journalist recently made two incredible claims about the Fukushima power plant that suffered a nuclear meltdown in March 2011, sending shockwaves around the world. First, the former editor of a national newspaper in Japan says the U.S. and Israel knew Fukushima had weapons-grade uranium and plutonium that were exposed to the atmosphere after a massive tsunami wave hit the reactor. Second, he contends that Israeli intelligence sabotaged the reactor in retaliation for Japan’s support of an independent Palestinian state. According to Yoishi Shimatsu, a former editor of Japan Times Weekly, these nuclear materials were shipped to the plant in 2007 on the orders of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, with the connivance of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In an even more explosive charge, the journalist says that, 20 minutes before the Fukushima plant’s nuclear meltdown, Israel was so upset with Japanese support for a Palestinian declaration of statehood that it double-crossed Japan by unleashing the Stuxnet virus on the plant’s computers. While it is impossible to verify some of Shimatsu’s claims, there was a massive cover-up at the time of the Fukushima disaster in March. Explosions at the site were immediately downplayed.

A Look Back at Japan’s Nuclear Disaster by Yoichi Shimatsu A year on, the Fukushima nuclear disaster has reached far beyond Japan as an encroaching threat to human health everywhere and to the very existence of life on Earth. As the fallout goes global, there’s nowhere to run or hide since even tiny dosages in rainwater and the food chain have a cumulative effect. In high-tech societies under constant exposure to radiation from medical scanners, security systems, telecom devices and consumer electronics, nearly everyone is teetering at the brink of the cancer abyss. The slightest exposure to dust from Fukushima is a ticket to an early exit. Despite new admissions of a cover-up from high officials and an independent investigation in Japan, governments and the nuclear establishment continue to deny or downplay the immense dangers posed by atmospheric fallout and sea dumping from the Fukushima meltdowns. An accurate reckoning of the danger to public health worldwide is not being discussed because governments are powerless against the nuclear monstrosity

they created. Decades of assurances about nuclear safety have been blown away by the unexpected global effects of the March meltdowns. The past year’s crisis yanked open a Pandora’s Box of bizarre science that staggers the imagination of corporate scientists and bureaucrat engineers, from whom there comes only dumfounded silence. These include: -- Previously unknown types of explosive nuclear reactions occurring midair or underground, which have been

misrepresented as “hydrogen blasts.” -- Expansion of a vast ozone hole over the Arctic Circle, now equal in area to the damaged upper atmosphere over the Antarctic, caused by radioactive iodine and xenon gas caught in the jet stream, leaving the Earth’s air supply unprotected and heightening the threat of skin carcinoma. -- High-energy interactions of xenon gas (which decays into cesium) with incoming solar flares and artificial electromagnetic belts created by U.S., NATO and Russian missile-defense shields (this synergy is

visible in the northern lights that emit a deep green color due to the excitation of xenon, and it is no coincidence that three American nuclear power plants were incapacitated during the recent solar flare). The growing possibility of mass extinction of marine life in the Pacific Ocean due to the nuclear contamination of major spawning waters for plankton and fish, the bottom of the food chain for higher life-forms, including whales and humans. -- A rising threat to human reproductive health from ingestion of radioactive isotopes through food, drinking water and respiration, resulting in abortions and population decline for Japan, a trend that will extend worldwide. -- Mutations of contagious pathogens,

such as bird flu, due to genetic disorders in both microorganism and host species, including domesticated animals and wildlife. Warhead Recycling Worsened the Crisis Whatever his timid admissions about the official cover-up so far, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan has yet to disclose the truth behind his more disturbing decisions: first, the absence of stenographers and voice recordings at his emergency Cabinet meetings; and why the government had to order the Tokyo Electric Power Company not to abandon Fukushima No.1 plant after the March 15 mini-nuclear explosions. The high-level cover-up and lab analysis of cesium-isotope ratios indicate the Japanese nuclear establishment was illegally involved in the reprocessing of weapons-grade uranium at Fukushima No. 1 and probably two other civilian nuclear plants in northern Japan. The U.S. Department of Energy dares not address Tokyo’s violation of the NonProliferation Treaty because much of the enriched nuclear material at Fukushima Continued on page 24 >>


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A traditional Hindu spring festival, celebrated on Saturday, in India, Pakistan and UK. March 10, Holi marks the end of winter and is known for its bright colours and cheerful atmosphere. The tradition of festival-goers throwing brightly coloured powder on each other will be recreated at Orleans House Gallery, alongside free live performances of Indian music and dance including Bollywood and bhangra. Holi in UK With temperatures hovering at 6 degrees Centigrade and rain expected through the week, it is not exactly fun to be doused with bucket of water but the festival

nevertheless, is marked with fervour and fun in Britain In March when it can be very

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The Holi ‘festival of colour’ brings streets to life

chilly, freezing even, the British weather isn’t exactly ideal for the celebration of Holi. Yet more and more people among Britain’s estimated one million Hindus feel such an important occasion in their religious and cultural calendar should not be allowed to pass without marking it in some way. Revival As Radha Mohan Das, spokesman for the Hare Krishna Movement at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire, puts it, “Holi is celebrated but not like in India it is scaled down obviously and it is done in designated areas; obviously not in the street or like it would be in India, of course. Here it is slightly more subdued but it is celebrated.” English flavour: Holi in another

Explain ISI funding, Hasina tells Khaleda Continued from page 9 >> Pakistani occupation forces and killed 3 million freedom loving people. “I want to say firmly that the trial of war criminals will be held on this soil, Inshallah and she [Khaleda] won’t be able to foil it,” said the premier. Addressing the same programme, AL General Secretary and LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam branded Khaldea Zia as a “paid agent” of ISI. “It has been revealed that she took 50 million rupee during the 1991 election. It will be come to light someday how much money she took during the 1996, 2001 and 2008 elections,” he said. The Khaleej Times report published on Saturday under the headline “Asghar Khan’s petition finally comes up for hearing” mainly deals with a petition filed by Pakistan’s former Air Force commander-in-chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan against 140 million Pakistani rupees doled out by the establishment through the ISI to a select group of anti-Benazir Bhutto politicians in 1990. The report adds: “Another Rs 50 million was allegedly paid to Bangladesh’s Khalida (Khaleda) Zia to help her in polls against Hasina Wajid’s (Wajed’s) Awami League generally perceived by Pakistan’s security establishment as pro-India”. Addressing Wednesday’s rally, AL leader Mahbubul Alam Hanif alleged Khaleda designed the March 12 programme as a means to save the war crimes suspects.

Waheeda Shah slapped with two-year Continued from page 9 >> Mohammad Afzal Khan, the spokesman for the Election Commissioner, told newsmen after the announcement of the verdict that three jury members voted in favour while two opposed it. Khan said that the order could be challenged in the Supreme Court. Earlier, the Supreme Court had refused to accept an unconditional apology from Ms Shah while hearing a suo motu notice of the incident.

country is as much fun as it is in India, never mind the different weather conditions In fact, more of the older generation

the Hindu way of doing things shouldn’t become extinct with passing years. Indian-Americans celebrate Holi

is reviving the celebration of Holi as a way of passing on something of their way of life to their Britishborn children. Growing up as they are in a secular society, parents and grandparents are anxious that

with fervour Indian diaspora’s deep-rooted bonding with its rich cultural heritage was uniquely displayed once again when hundreds of Indian-Americans in and around

Houston joining their follow countrymen to celebrate the colourful festival of Holi. Taking a break from their humdrum life for one afternoon, people gathered on Saturday to cherish the colourful moments of the festival with an intention to bring about a feeling of brotherhood and harmony. Day-long celebrations were held in Rosenberg in Fortbend County and in Alden Bridge Park in The Woodlands, here to mark the “Festival of Colours”, that commemorates the arrival of Spring and the end of winter hardships. Some adult Indian-Americans were also seen explaining the significance of the festival to the younger ones on this occasion.

Allies pledge support to Zardari for polls in March 2013 The coalition partners of PPP-led government pledged to support to President Asif Ali Zardari for holding general elections in March 2013, report . A meeting of coalition partners of Pakistan People’s Party was held in the presidency on Monday night that was chaired by the president. Surprisingly Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was not present on the occasion.Sources said that the president suggested the idea of holding elections in March next year, during the meeting, which was supported by government’s allies.The president said that the democracy was

returned after a while in the country and it should be protected. He also urged all coalition partners to take credit for completing the constitutional tenure of the government.Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar, on the occasion, tendered his party’s support to the president and said that

“MQM stands with the president on every political decision.”Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali also vowed his party’s support and said that ANP would lend a hand for every step taken by the PPP. “Reconciliatory policy of the government has strengthened the democracy,” he added.


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WEEKLY REVIEW OF PAKISTAN NEWS

“A revolution is coming.” Imran Khan Interview with Observer’s Jason Burk

Imran Khan: the man who would be Pakistan’s next prime minister. As he reaches 60, the Pashtun aristocrat who married into the height of British society says he is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the legacy of colonialism. The cricketer turned politician talks in Islamabad. ‘We need to be a friend of America, but not a hired gun. We will take no aid from them’: Imran Khan at his home outside Islamabad. Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi, 59 years old, currently of Bani Gala village on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, is certain of many things. He is certain that “a huge change” is coming to his country. He is certain, too, that a “revolution” is on its way. And even if he does not state it explicitly, he is certain that he will, within eight months to a year, win a landslide victory in elections to become Pakistan’s prime minister. “When we are in power”, he says these days, not “if we were in power”. Imran Khan says in his interview to Jason Burk that he could take over – democratically, of course – at any moment, but he is biding his time. “We have the power to go out and block the government on any issue. But we will only have one chance and we have to be completely prepared.” Back in the late 1990s, he tells me, politics was “like facing a fast bowler without pads, gloves or a helmet”. Not any longer, he says. In his Interview with The Obsever Imran khan said “I had always wanted to marry a Pakistani, but I realised while I was playing cricket that sport at that level and marriage were not compatible,”

he says. “So I decided I’d only get married when I gave up sport.” Khan twice announced his retirement: the first time, General Zia ul-Haq, then military dictator of Pakistan, persuaded him to reconsider, and the second time he returned to the team to help raise funds for Pakistan’s first cancer hospital. His mother, to whom he had been very close, had died of cancer in 1984 and in her memory he had decided to build a hospital which would offer free treatment to the poor. “The whole board [of the hospital] said I needed to keep playing so they could raise money. So I carried on until I was 39, and by then I was too old for an arranged marriage. I just could no longer trust someone else to find someone for me. “So I found it very difficult,” Khan continues. “The irony was I thought all the 25-year-olds were too young, and I was still looking when I met Jemima – and she was 21.” The couple married in 1995 and divorced nine years later. “It would have had a

greater chance of working if I hadn’t been involved in politics or she had been Pakistani. Or if she could have got involved in the politics with me.” As one of his wife’s grandfathers was Jewish, a noxious storm of abuse and conspiracy theories was unleashed. He still gets on well with her family – when in London he stays with his former mother-in-law Lady Annabel Goldsmith – and has a “fabulous relationship” with his sons. A day or so after we meet, he is flying to London for three days for half term. “It’s very important to spend time together. Children really need a mother and a father. They have different roles, but both are very important. This idea of having two men as parents. It’s a nonsense.” Religion became important to Khan relatively late. as a young man, he was not devout. The return to faith came following his mother’s illness and a profound personal interrogation, he says, prompted by the furore after the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Wanting to defend

Islam from what he saw as ignorant attacks, Khan began to read more widely about the religion. Jason Burk wrote in his interview with Imran Khan that Mian Mohammed Aslam, the head of the Jamaat-eIslami, a mass Islamist party similar to the Muslim Brotherhood in the Islamic world and dedicated to a similarly hardline, conservative programme, spoke warmly of “close relations” with Khan, even going as far as raising the prospect of an electoral pact with Khan’s Tehreeke-Insaf in the coming elections, when I interviewed him. Khan says that as a politician he and his party need to reach out to everybody, but that does not mean that he endorses the views of the Islamists. He insists “there is

not a threat to Pakistan from Taliban ideology”. So, what would Khan do in power? At the moment he is thick on aspiration and thin on practical policy. He

would, he says, cut government expenditure and raise tax collection. He would turn the mansions and villas of senior officials – “these colonial symbols” – into libraries or even museums “like after the Iranian revolution” to show the people how the elite lived. He would solve the “energy and education emergencies” and he would “totally pull out of the war on terror”, withdrawing the army from the western border zone and letting “our people in [these areas] deal with the militants themselves”. Whether he could make the country’s powerful military obey such directives – his critics allege he is unhealthily close to the army – is unsure. As for relations with Washington, his position is clear: “We need to be a friend of American, but not a hired gun,” he says. “We will take no aid from them. We will stand on our own feet, with a fully sovereign foreign policy and no terrorism from our soil.” If Khan does end up prime minister he will do things his way. Khan is not “dim”, as the elite who he detests contemptuously say, but is not an intellectual either. He is a politician riding a wave of public disaffection, and that wave might just carry him to power. What he does afterwards is not something he worries about. He will be 60 this autumn. This would only bother him, he says, if he “had nothing to look forward to”. But he is convinced that he does. From his hilltop Khan looks down and says: “This country will go through its biggest change ever. A revolution is coming.”

Missing persons: Fiery SC lays down the law for spy agencies

An unforgiving Supreme Court has put its foot down — with a scathing warning and a diatribe against the country’s top spy agencies. Expressing dissatisfaction with the report submitted by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI) in the Adiala jail missing prisoners’ case, the apex court gave out a stern reprimand on Thursday. “Do not assume in your head that you [ISI and MI] are superior and others [civilians] are inferior,” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. “You are not above the law.” Headed by Chief Justice Chaudhry, the three-member bench said that the spy agencies, in their responses to the court,

made no attempt to explain under which laws civilians were picked up and kept in detention for more than a year. “Who gave you the right to hound people?” thundered the chief justice at the ISI and MI’s counsel, Raja Irshad. “You are extremely insensitive to the human pain and loss that the families of the missing persons continue to bear because of your actions. “The allegation that you [ISI and MI] abduct people and their abandoned bodies surface after days is an extremely serious one,” said Chief Justice Chaudhry. “After reading your poorly-drafted reply, I wondered whether we are working against the country’s interests here. As much as you consider yourself to be loyal to this

country, perhaps we are more loyal than you.” Underscoring the controversial role of the agencies in Balochistan, where hundreds of men have gone missing, the chief justice said: “You’re an arsonist. You have set Balochistan on fire. “We asked you time and again and you avoided the truth. Are we here to listen to your stories? “Even if these people had attacked the General Headquarters (GHQ), it was imperative to produce evidence against them for a fair trial. You are not above the law; you must go by the book.” The chief justice added that the “insensitive” agencies have become the “biggest violators” of the country’s laws.

The defence counsel said that the authorities in the ISI and MI “are considering this matter seriously as this is a burning issue”. Pointing out that “foreign elements” were involved in fuelling terrorism in Balochistan, he said that the agencies cannot work with their “eyes closed”. In reply, the chief justice remarked that whatever the agencies do should be done within the parameters of the law. The court, however, voiced satisfaction over the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) chief secretary’s report on the health conditions of prisoners. The report covered inmate health, improvement in their condition and how they were being accommodated. Tariq Asad, the lawyer for missing

prisoners, was told by the court to invoke the available procedures to secure the release of prisoners and the hearing was adjourned for 14 days. Seven of the eleven surviving detainees – accused of attacking the General Headquarters and the ISI’s Hamza Camp base – were picked up from the Adiala prison by intelligence agencies after they had been acquitted of the charges by the court. Four of the 11 detainees died in the custody of the ISI and MI and on February 13 – more than a year and a half after being picked up – seven of them were presented before the Supreme Court after the two agencies were served notices to explain the circumstances behind the deaths of the four prisoners.


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WEEKLY REVIEW OF MALDIVE NEWS

Don’t meddle in our affairs, Maldives home minister tells India

India’s handling of the political crisis in Maldives is increasingly being seen as “interference” by political parties’ who are part of the national unity government being headed by President Mohamed Waheed Hussain Manik. India has in fact, been accused of promoting the agenda of one party - that of ousted President Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party. The charges have begun to surface after foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai’s second visit to Maldives last week, during which he had meetings with all political players in a bid to push the roadmap talks and discuss the prospects of an early elections. In a first such statement

emanating from the ruling regime, home minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed told reporters that India “must not be seen as friend of just one party”. He is hinting at Nasheed’s MDP that has been demanding early election, something that the ruling coalition is not in favor of. In a strong statement, he said, India’s efforts will only be seen as constructive “as long as India does not interfere in Maldives’ internal affairs”. During a telephonic conversation, Dr Jameel said, “As long as India does not interfere in the internal affairs of Maldives, all other efforts put by India will be seen as constructive. However, India must not be seen as a friend of one

party or political individual.” MP’s from Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party did not allow President Waheed to deliver his address to the Parliament and demanded that the government announce election dates. The session was eventually cancelled

Maldives frees Indian fishermen

Eleven Indian apprehended by

fishermen Maldivian

Navy for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line have been released and handed over to the officials of the High Commission of India, police said on Saturday. All the fishermen, who were held at Haa Dhaal Atoll, Island of Kulhudhuffushi, were released and handed over to the high commission of India in Male on Thursday, media official of Maldives police said.. The move followed a request

from the Indian External Affairs ministry for the fishermen’s release. The fishermen from Kanyakumari district are expected to return home in a couple of days. They had put out to sea off the Kerala coast last week and were to return ashore on February 25. Due to a snag, their boat entered into the waters of Maldives. In view of the Indian government’s request, the Maldivian officials have not filed any case against the fishermen.

Maldives Prez adds more Gayoom loyalists to cabine

Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed on Monday picked up two more Gayoom-era officials to fill up the crucial cabinet berths of Foreign Affairs and Finance, even as the all-party talks to reconcile political differences and set out a future roadmap lay in shambles. Waheed appointed Abdul Samad Abdulla, Maldives’ envoy to Bangladesh during Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s time as the new Foreign Minister, and gave the finance portfolio to Abdulla Jihad, who earlier held the ministry as well as the position of the Central Bank governor during Gayoom’s regime in 2008. With the new appointments, former loyalists of the Gayoom

after speaker Abdulla Shahid was blocked from entering his chamber. There were also reports of clashes between MDP supporters and the police. The Maldives government claims there have been 14 police casualties in the violence perpetrated by the MDP. Four police personnel received

grievous injuries and one had to be rushed to Sri Lanka for additional care. The state of affairs and the violence being perpetrated by MDP, said Dr Jameel, has been completely “ignored” by the international community. He said Nasheed and MDP are being dealt with too much “softness” and “leniency” by the international community. He said, the violence and destruction that Maldives witnessed after President Nasheed and his supporters took to the streets on February 8, a day after his resignation, cost the country losses amounting to 183 million MVR (almost $12 million) Early elections in Maldives would have to follow an amendment to the constitution

Trendsetters on Zing

Board the Bollywood express this weekend on Zing free on Sky 789 and Freesat 509: Trendsetters – Sat & Sun @ 5pm Trivia & Trends not to miss

Sat 18 Feb - Top highest paid actors of 2011. Actresses who suit in the role of village girls. Latest fashion statements by the stars Sun 19 Feb - People who have been lucky in marriage the second time. Five actors with eccentric behaviour. Late success bloomers of Bollywood. Bollywood Families - Sun @ 6pm Hear the musical success stories of the great Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosale and RD Burman - unique insights into Bollywood families.

regime now dominate Waheed’s cabinet that also has the former dictator’s daughter, Dhunya Maumoon as a State Minister for Foreign Affairs. Waheed had earlier appointed former Justice Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, as the Home Minister, and Mohamed Nazim,

a former military officer under Gayoom, as his Minister of Defence and National Security. He also chose Gayoom’s spokesperson, Mohamed Hussain Shareef as his Minister for Human Resources, Youth and Sports and made Gayoom’s lawyer, Azima Shakoor, as the Attorney General.

Brit’s Bollywood – Sun @ 11:30am Kel reviews the latest flick Ek Main Aur Ek Tu and Asad meets the star of Brit-Asian movie Nachle London, in the show that gives Bollywood buffs Britain’s take on B’town. Screen And Beyond - Sun @ 6:30pm Meet the feisty Deol boy – the rough and tough Sunny Deol on this Sunday’s Screen and Beyond - presenting the little known facets of Bollywood personalities. Also enjoy Bollywood movies every weekend @ 12pm


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WEEKLY REVIEW OF NEPAL NEWS

UN raps Nepal over Tibetan refugees, 13 students released after heavy bail The 13 Tibetan school students who have been in a Kathmandu jail for nearly two weeks for raising slogans outside the United Nations office in the Nepali capital, were released yesterday after paying heavy bail. A large fine of Nepali rupees 3,51,000/- (27,000 for each individual) was paid after a divisional bench at the Supreme Court on Monday turned down the Habeas Corpus writ filed against Lalitpur district administration and police regarding the detention of the Tibetan students.

The same day the writ petition was rejected, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nepal expressed concern at the continued prevention of members of the Tibetan community from exercising their “rights to freedom of movement, assembly and association” in a report discussed at the at the UN Human Rights Council’s 19th Session in Geneva. The UN body monitoring and promoting human rights in Nepal was told to close its office on December 8, 2011 by the Government of Nepal.

The two girls and eleven boys were arrested on February 24, third day of the Tibetan new year from outside the UN building where they had gathered to submit a fivepoint memorandum appealing for intervention in the ongoing crisis in Tibet. The Tibetans had urged the UN to send a fact-finding delegation to Tibet amidst the ongoing wave of self-immolation that has witnessed 26 Tibetans torch their bodies, demanding the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.

Govt comes under fire in Parliament Nepali cricket team

Prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has admitted that two innocent citizens, who did not heed the warning of security personnel, were killed on February 28 during security operations in Gulmi. Elaborating, the prime minister today said the Gulmi headquarters and the adjoining areas had been under curfew on the day of the incident. Security personnel in the area, spotting a group of persons

around 7.30 pm on February 28, repeatedly asked them to halt and hold their hands up. However, these persons started running away and the security men, assuming that they were Maoist cadres, opened fire. Two persons from the group were killed in the incident, the prime minister told the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The security personnel had

received information that a group of armed terrorists had entered the Resunga jungle area. In the light of this development, the explanation that the persons killed had gone into the jungle for gathering pine resins does not seem valid, Deuba said. He, however, added that on the other hand, the chief district officer (CDO) or the security forces were not notified. The prime minister also confirmed that Gopal Budhathoki, the editor of weekly Sanghu, is in the custody of security forces. He was taken into custody for publishing news items which helped terrorists and affected the morale of the security forces. “Freedom of the press has not been curtailed, only those supporting terrorists are being kept in check,” he said.

off to India

A 16-member Nepali national cricket team left for New Delhi on Monday to play three friendly matches as part of their preparation for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers. The Tourists will play two matches against Jamia University on March 6 and 7 before taking on Collage Sports Club on the very next day. The touring team includes 14 players selected for the Qualifiers as well as coach Pubudu Dassanayake and Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) advisor Aamir Akhtar. The World Twenty20 Qualifiers is scheduled for March 13-25 in the United Arab Emirates.

Cops round up 455 Holi Nepal ex-King defies PM, attends yagna revelers for hooliganism

Police said that 455 people, including 12 women, were detained in the Valley for hooliganism and breaching the traffic rules while celebrating the Holi festival on Wednesday. As many as 121 motorcycles and three four-wheelers have been taken into custody for violating the traffic rules. One teenage girl died after falling from

the rooftop in Pesicola of Kathmandu while marking the festival, while at least three others have been injured in different places of the Valley. Simran Karki (19) was critically injured after falling to the ground from her house at around 10:45 am. She was rushed to B&B Hospital for treatment, where she was pronounced dead shortly after the noon.

Former Nepal King Gyanendra paid no heed to a warning by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai Sunday and attended a ‘maha yagna’ in the capital where organisers and other devotees welcomed his presence. Bhattarai, on Saturday, had accused the former king of conspiring to derail the constitution-making and peacebuilding process through his recent movements and comments. “Speaking and doing things intended against the twin processes will harm him,” Bhattarai told a select group of journalists. His warning came two days after Gyanendra attended another yagna in eastern Nepal’s Jhumka area. Over there he commented that “Nepali nationalism and democracy as well as public safety had come under severe threat” in recent times. Bhattarai’s statement, apparently in

consultation with President Ram Baran Yadav, was taken as a warning to the former king that he should curtail his movements and that he should not be speaking on the political and topical issues. But he went to attend the ‘Gopal mad-mahayagna’ at Shankhamul area in the capital and spent nearly an hour there. The yagna was conducted for peace and prosperity of the country. Gyanendra simply smiled when asked

to comment on the warning issued by the prime minister. When requested by the media to speak on the current situation, he said “he had just said something on the issue.” Although in the past three years the government has occasionally imposed a ban on his visits to temples on certain occasions, this is first time that the prime minister issued warned him on the issue.


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WEEKLY REVIEW OF SRILANKA NEWS

Iran oil: Lanka trapped in US sanctions Sri Lanka has told Iran it will follow in the steps of India to secure urgently needed oil supplies from theat country if its quest for stocks from other sources fails. At present Iran supplies 93 per cent of Sri Lanka’s crude oil requirements. This in essence is what Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Iran’s Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani during extensive talks in Teheran recently. Mr. Cabraal flew to Teheran for a day’s visit accompanied by an Assistant Director of the Central Bank. This was in the wake of the sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States. The move came after confirmation that Sri Lanka would not receive exemptions from the US. India has publicly declared that it will only heed sanctions of the United Nations and not the United States. Hence, India, one of the largest buyers of Iranian crude has said it will continue its purchases from Iran. However, payments for such procurements are being routed

through other sources and not through any US banks. Mr. Cabraal has also explained to Iran the difficulties Sri Lanka encountered as a result of the US sanctions. He has said that it was an extremely difficult situation since breaking the sanctions would mean Sri Lanka will lose the country’s largest apparel market in the United States. He has also said that Sri Lanka was looking for other sources of supply on an urgent basis. Last week’s the Sunday Times report of the US not granting exemption from sanctions to Sri Lanka drew a response from Edward Heartney, Economic Counsellor in the US

Sri Lanka’s LLRC report does not address accountability adequately - US The United States says the report of the Lessons Learnt and reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Sri Lanka’s domestic body that probed the country’s armed conflict

does not adequately address the issue of accountability. Addressing the 15th meeting of the 19th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva today, the US delegate John C. Mariz said the LLRC report does not include any plan to implement its recommendations, nor does it adequately address the crucial issue of accountability. The US says accountability can play an important role in the reconciliation process as evidenced by the recent history from countries that have undergone similar experiences. A resolution against Sri Lanka backed by the US, is expected to be brought before the UNHRC to press

Sri Lankan government to promptly implement the recommendations made by the LLRC and address the accountability for the war crimes allegedly occurred during the final phase of the battle with the Tamil Tiger terrorists. A draft resolution has been circulated among the UNHRC’s 47 members. Several member states, especially China, Russia and Pakistan, have shown support to Sri Lanka to fend off the resolution arguing that the UN should not address countryspecific situations. However, the US disagreed with the notion saying that the credibility of UN’s human rights machinery depends on its capacity to address urgent and persistent human rights situations to protect people who suffer under oppressive governments. The delegate said as US Secretary of State Ms. Hilary Clinton has noted, the US is prepared to work with Sri Lanka in order to bring lasting peace to the island. Sri Lanka says the government is taking measures to implement the LLRC recommendations methodically and it needs time and space to work towards reconciliation without interference from the international community.

Embassy in Colombo. He explained, “The United States has been engaged in private discussions on this issue with the Government of Sri Lanka, before and during the February 2 visit of US Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Luke Bronin, as well as in subsequent meetings. We will continue to work with the Government of Sri Lanka, and have offered to provide any technical expertise that might be of assistance.” However, he has not explained what this “technical expertise” is. Mr. Heartney has said that the US sanctions has two exemptions. He states: “First, the law exempts exports

of food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran, which is significant for Sri Lanka because tea exports are included in the food exemption. Second, if a country significantly reduces its imports of Iranian oil, then the legal provisions cutting off access of that country’s financial institutions to the US financial system are exempted. Under the US law, eligibility for this exemption solely depends on significant reductions in Iranian oil imports, and it is not tied to any human rights issues.” Mr. Heartney added, “there is no tie between sanctions and human rights records, and thus Sri Lanka’s request could not be granted. Iran sanctions

law is applicable to all countries, and there are no exceptions based on the amount of oil imported from Iran.” However, other diplomatic sources said yesterday that exemptions have indeed been granted by the US when sanctions are imposed. Rural electricity project hit by US move An Iranian funded rural electrification project in Sri Lanka has run into trouble due to the US sanctions which prevent dealings with Iran’s banks, Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka said yesterday. He said the project aimed at providing electricity to some 1,000 villages had been affected as Sri Lanka could not now deal with the Iranian banks. The minister said Sri Lanka had received US$ 40 million worth of material for the project which was estimated to cost US$ 106 million. But Sri Lanka was not in a position to obtain the balance money and this would be a severe setback to the rural electrification programme, he added.

Sri Lanka tops South Asia in cutting extreme poverty The world has achieved its first MDG of cutting extreme poverty in half ahead of the 2015 deadline, a study by the World Bank shows. With only seven percent of its population classified as extremely poor, Sri Lanka is the top performer in South Asia. The bank defines extreme poverty as living on under $1.25 per day, adjusted for purchasing power parity. According to the report, released this week, 1.29 billion people, or 22 percent of the developing world’s population, live below $1.25 a day, down from 52 percent in 1981. “The developing world has made considerable progress in fighting extreme poverty,” said Martin Ravallion, the director of the bank’s research group, although that doesn’t mean they have comfortable lives. “The 663 million people who moved above the poverty lines typical of the poorest countries are still poor by the standards of middle- and highincome countries.” In India, 32.7 percent of the population subsists on less than $1.25 per day and 69 percent make only $2 a day. In rural India, 34.28 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, down

from 43.83 percent in 2005. In urban India, 28.93 percent of the population is in extreme poverty, down from 36.16 percent in 2005, according to the report. The rapid pace of India’s economic growth has only widened the income gap in the country, which the World Bank measures using the “Gini coefficient.” In India the Gini coefficient has increased from 31 in 1994 to 33 in 2005. World Bank analysts said South Asia is making progress. “The pace of improvement between 2005 and 2010 for those living below the $1.25 poverty line has been faster than previously observed,” said Rinku Murgai, a lead poverty specialist at the World Bank for South Asia. But the number of people living below $2 a day continues to be very high, she said, “and a large number of people remain vulnerable to moving back into poverty.” With only seven percent of its

population classified as extremely poor, Sri Lanka is the top performer in South Asia; Bhutan follows closely at its heels with 10.2%. Bangladesh is the worst performer -43 percent of its citizens subsist on less than $1.25 a day. India is the second-worst in South Asia. South Asia as a whole saw its $1.25 a day poverty rate fall from 61 percent to 36 percent between 1981 and 2008, but the region’s poverty statistics are better only than sub-Saharan Africa, where 47 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty. Brazil has a slightly higher poverty line of $2.50 a day, below which 15 percent of its population falls. However, the inequality in asset distribution is steep. The poorest two-fifths of the Brazilian population together earn less than 10 percent of the national income, whereas in India the two poorest quintiles earn 21 percent of the national income.


BUSINESS

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Saarc international I Thursday 08 March 2012

India upset with hard-line Israeli lobby over Iran charges

Smarting under charges that it continues to cozy up to Teheran in the face of US-led sanctions, an angry India on Tuesday accused the proIsraeli lobby in America of presenting a ‘’distorted picture of New Delhi’s foreign policy objectives and energy security needs’’ by selective use of data about its imports from Iran. “India’s relationship with Iran is neither inconsistent with nonproliferation objectives, nor do we seek to contradict the relationships we have with our friends in West Asia or with the United States and Europe,” the Indian Embassy in Washington DC said in a lengthy explanatory statement, adding, in a sentiment that sought to echo President Obama’s cautionary advise on Monday, that “as a responsible member of the international community, India... firmly believes that the situation concerning Iran should not be allowed to escalate into a conflict, the disastrous consequences of which will be in nobody’s interest.” The ostensibly reason for the New Delhi authorized statement from the embassy were reports in the US media, evidently inspired by the hardline pro-Israeli lobby in the US, that India had actually stepped up its

oil imports from Iran despite its close ties with US and Israel. The statement, which did not directly name the lobby, maintained that “allusions in the media that India’s overall oil imports from Iran are increasing just because its monthly uptake of Iranian oil reportedly increased in January this year are based on selective use of information, misrepresenting the fact that in aggregate terms, crude imports from Iran constitute a declining share of India’s oil imports.” The Obama administration has seized on such reports to turn the screws on India, demanding a certifiable halt to transactions with Iran. India’s ambassador to the US Nirupama

Rao has had to make New Delhi’s case before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has warned players in the region, including India and Pakistan, of “consequences” if they continued to defy US-led sanctions. China and Russia, the major sanctionbusters, escape U.S wrath on account of being permanent Security Council members. In a more aggressive mode, the Indian statement also cited the development imperative, explaining that the reports pillorying New Delhi’s trading with Teheran overlook the necessity of India’s dependence on oil imports from Iran to serve the energy needs of its people, more than 400 million

BD expects $7-9 b investment by Indian power companies

Looking for increased co-operation with India in the energy space, Bangladesh expects Indian companies to invest $ 7-9 billion in its power sector and a few entities have already evinced interest. Bangladesh would need about $ 30 billion for its planned power capacity addition over the next five-six years and expects about 25-30 per cent of the investments for the same to come from India, Bangladesh Power Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad said. Grappling with acute electricity shortage, Bangladesh is embarking on significant capacity addition plans and is in the process of inviting tenders for projects having capacity of over 5,000 MW. Azad said the country needs about $ 20 billion investment in power generation activities alone in the next five to six years. “So, taking into account transmission and generation (activities), the total investment expected in the power would be around $ 30 billion,” he said in an interview during his visit to India. “I expect around 25-30 per cent investments (of our expected total) would come from India,” he said. Currently, Bangladesh has an installed capacity of over 7,600 MW and is expected to go up to 21,000 MW by

2021. According to Abul Kalam Azad, many companies, including those from India have participated in tender processes for various power projects. “Private players from India are interested in gas and coal projects as well as transmission... Indian investors will love to be part of Bangladesh power sector,” he noted. In January, NTPC inked a pact with Bangladesh Power Development Board to build $ 1.5-billion Khulna project -having 1,320 MW capacity. Separately, NTPC has agreed to export 250 MW power to Bangladesh. On March 1, Bangladesh organised a road show here to showcase the business opportunities in their power sector. Prior to that, similar road shows

were conducted in the UK, the US and Singapore. Meanwhile, Bangladesh is looking to participate in the hydro power projects in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Mizoram. Further, the country is interested to take part in gas-based or coal-based power projects in the Indian states which are adjoining to Bangladesh. To meet its growing needs, Bangladesh would be building nuclear power plant with Russia. “We are talking with Russia. I believe that within the middle of this year, we will have a final contract with them for building primarily 1,000 MW and another 1,000 MW (capacity). This may come up by 2018-19,” Azad said.

of whom do not as yet have access to commercial energy. “Given the imperative of meeting the energy needs of millions of Indians, an automatic replacement of all Iranian oil imports, is not a simple matter of selection, or a realistic option,” it said. The statement also rationalized India’s ties with Iran and its regional policy on three other counts: the familiar one based on India’s “civilization” ties with Iran; the presence of six million Indians in the Gulf region and the effect on them of a precarious security situation; and most recently and pertinently, the deep convergence of interests between India and US on the “historic mission” to aid Afghanistan.

“Iran is also India’s only corridor for land access to Afghanistan, through which is routed most of our development and reconstruction assistance to that country,” it reminded hardline U.S lawmakers, some of whom have demanded greater compliance from India. The statement, while refusing to give Teheran the benefit of doubt over its nuclear quest, went on to elaborate that India has consistently said that Iran must cooperate with the IAEA to address and resolve all outstanding issues about its nuclear program, “issues that continue to raise understandable doubts in the minds of the international community.” It said that India believes that while Iran has rights to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, it must simultaneously and rigorously fulfill the treaty obligations which it has acceded to. “Our stand in this regard has been, and remains, consistent, well-enunciated including in the IAEA, and perfectly clear,” the statement said, adding that “India has scrupulously adhered to the multilateral sanctions against Iran as mandated by the United Nations, and remains fully engaged with the United States Administration and Congress on this issue.”

A Look Back at Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Continued from page 18 >> was covertly supplied from the American military arsenal under a suspected 2006 secret accord between the Bush and Abe administrations. According to whistleblowers in the U.S. non-proliferation agency, highly reactive uranium from dismantled U.S. warheads stored in the Fukushima spent-fuel pools readily ignited after the quake knocked out the water pumps. When the quake and tsunami hit on March 11, only three reactors out of a total six at Fukushima were scheduled to produce electricity, yet in actuality five were operational. Since then plant workers disclosed that the supposedly empty Reactor 4 had been refitted with a new steel shroud in secret by GE and that it was fully loaded with new fuel rods. The two extra reactors were running clandestine operations, the likeliest purpose being the enrichment of uranium prior to extraction. By no coincidence, Hitachi Electric and Honeywell are partners in developing a laser-plasma system to extract highly pure plutonium and uranium The collaboration between Washington and Tokyo in a covert nuclear-weapons program was a violation of international law that in its hypocrisy and duplicity towers even above Iran’s suspected program or North Korea’s puny attempts at bomb-making. Weapons production at Fukushima also violates the foundations of the U.S.-Japan Security treaty, which stipulates that Japan provide military bases in exchange for protection under the American nuclear umbrella.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s selective enforcement of the counterproliferation treaty only spurs smaller nations to invest in nuclear deterrence against the real possibility of a covert buildup by Japan, Israel, India and other U.S. allies. Now, to make an optimistic prediction: Considering the 33-year half-life of cesium, far more people worldwide can be expected to die horribly due to the fallout of Fukushima rather than in any nuclear war with Iran or North Korea. Proliferation begins at home; not only inside faulty nuclear plants but whenever we switch on a television set or open the refrigerator door. Earthquakes and volcano eruptions are becoming more frequent in Japan, as well as the entire Ring of Fire. Nearly every nuclear plant in the Pacific region has reached the limit of its spent-fuel rod capacity, meaning these time bombs are fully loaded and ready to blow. Even when the cesium and strontium threats diminish, the possibility of mass extinction will remain for as long as humankind can muddle along. The chunks of uranium blasted into seawater around Fukushima have a half-life of 700,000 years. Many more quakes, tsunamis and lava eruptions are coming – Fukushima was only the first such crisis and it’s still not over. Author Bio: Yoichi Shimatsu, former associate editor with Pacific News Service and general editor at the Japan Times Weekly, has reported from Fukushima and served as an environmental consultant on countering radiation effects.


Saarc international I Thursday 08 March 2012

ENTERTAINMENT

25

Backs French far-right candidate Le Pen

Brigitte Bardot: Loves dogs, hates Muslims Back Being a Mental Old Racist Again

Once upon a time, she was France’s most alluring actress and a source of Gallic pride. Today, she’s deemed a pesky old bag and an embarrassment to her fellow countrymen. Brigitte Bardot is living proof that not only do pretty girls eventually lose their looks, but they also go a bit batty and racist sometimes as well. That’s because dear old Brigitte Bardot, the woman who entranced the world with her earthy sensuality all those years ago, has just been convicted for provoking discrimination and racial hatred for the fifth time in 11 years, after she published a letter claiming that Muslims are destroying France because they don’t kill sheep properly. At 22 she was the darling of France, a talented and beautiful actress who nobody could keep their eyes off. At 77, she’s like that racist old neighbour that you avoid in the street – the one that values puppies over asylum seekers. On last Monday, Bardot penned a letter to Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing him of letting down the animal world by not banning halal slaughterhouses. “It’s because of you that throatslitting has become the norm in France,” she griped.

Strangely enough, Sarkozy’s pals had just spent the previous few days trying to woo animal rights sympathisers with talk of modernising the “medieval” practice. But crafty old Bardot saw straight through them. She knows all too well that the only politician who really, truly hates Muslims enough to put animal rights first, is far-right darling Marine Le Pen (MLP). She, of course, would have no qualms in banning halal abattoirs in France. After all, the country’s five-million Muslims rely on them. No more halal… no more Muslims? And it would all be done in the name of animal rights,

naturally. Sing it lambs, MLP for president! And God Created… Le Pen’s biggest fan So when did Bardot take up antiimmigrant ranting as a part-time hobby? She’s certainly no stranger to MLP’s National Front (FN) party – her current husband is a former aide to MLP’s doddering dad, JeanMarie Le Pen. And in case you forgot, Bardot was fined for inciting hatred against Muslims in 2008. A few weeks ago she called on French mayors to back MLP in the spring election, to ensure the FN leader a place in the presidential

Celebrate International Women’s Day With A Splash Of Yellow Fizz And Help Empower Women in Pakistan As part of International Women’s Day, international development agency Hashoo Foundation has teamed up with leading make-up artist Zaynab Mirza to raise funds for its 500 for 500 Appeal, to help empower women in Pakistan. Zaynab Mirza, who created leading cosmetics brand Provoke, is one of the campaign’s ambassadors and will be donating £3 from each sale of one of her most popular products, the Yellow Fizz shadow dust. The 500 for 500 Appeal aims to invite and engage 500 women from the UK to join hands with 500 women in the Northern areas of Pakistan, through the Foundation’s award-winning Plan Bee project. Plan Bee, which won the BBC World

Challenge in 2008, is Hashoo’s innovative project that provides women in the Northern region of Pakistan with the opportunity to become beekeepers. Plan Bee is based on a system of social barter, designed to promote social change, whereby Hashoo Foundation agrees to provide hives, training and then to link them to the lucrative markets to sell their honey in Pakistan, provided that the families agree to send their children to quality schools, have regular health check-ups and improve nutrition at home. Zaynab says of the special initiative: “International Women’s Day seemed

like the perfect time to launch this fund-raising activity. If we can get 500 women to each buy one unit, we can together change the lives of six women in Pakistan and give them the resources to set up their own beekeeping business.” Every £250 raised from the sale of Yellow Fizz will provide each woman with:

•3 beehives to start her business •Access to Hashoo Foundation’s mentor and training facilities • Access to HF’s commercial network to allow the women to sell their honey Ms Mirza continues: “As an entrepreneur it felt like a natural fit – these are products that I created for women all over the world, and if the sale of these can help empower other women, that’s a fantastic result.” Sarah Hashwani, chair of the Hashoo Foundation launched the UK chapter in October of last year, with the 500 for 500 Appeal being its first major fundraising initiative in the UK.

To buy the Provoke Yellow Fizz and help the drive to empower women beekeepers in Pakistan through the 500 for 500 Appeal log on to: http://store. provoke-cosmetics.com/SHADOW_ DUST_LOOSE_PIGMENT_p/ehsd.htm . Donations to the 500 for 500 Appeal will be made on all sales of Yellow Fizz starting from International Women’s Day on 8th March through to the end of the month.

race. In a scrawled letter to a Nice newspaper, Bardot wrote “[MLP] is a top candidate, defends animals and has the courage to lead our country, France, to its rightful spot in the world.”

We can only imagine were that ‘rightful spot’ might be – a kittenfilled paradise where Muslims are slaughtered by cows? No wonder there are so few animal rights campaigners in France…

Bollywood Hit Makers RDB and Parichay Perform For Legendary Actress Sri Devi at Music Launch of Char Din Ki Chandni!

After the blockbuster success of Yamla Pagla Deewana, director Samir Karnik has once again called upon the internationally acclaimed urban music band RDB along with the band’s latest music sensation Parichay to repeat their musical hit-pair success story for his forthcoming film Char Din Ki Chandni starring Tusshar Kapoor and Kulraj Randhawa, releasing 9th March 2012. RDB, who have previously composed tracks for hit Bollywood films such as Namastey London, Singh is Kinng, Kambakkhtq Ishq, Yamla Pagla Deewana and Speedy Singhs, have produced the track ‘Chandni Oh Meri Chandni’ - a new version of the 1990’s chartbuster Chandni - for Char Din Ki

queen Sri Devi and veteran Rishi Kapoor who attended the star-studded event. Also in attendance were the lead stars from the film Kulraaj and Tusshar Kapoor along with other Bollywood icons and music industry moguls.

Chandni. The lead vocals of the new version are by the multi-talented international music artist Parichay of Yamla Pagla Deewana fame, and Sunidhi Chauhan. The remixed version of the track is sung by Parichay and Bollywood songstress Nindy Kaur, famed for her edgy urban-bhangra infused songs and her collaborations on some of Bollywood’s biggest films including ‘Aloo Chaat’. ‘Kambakkth Ishq’ and ‘Speedy Singhs’. RDB and Parichay performed exclusively to the track at the film’s music launch event in Mumbai earlier this week, for cinema

just the way we wanted it to be. There’s great rhythm to it and also a soulful melody. We have all been waiting to dedicate this song to Sri Devi, and we are thoroughly looking forward to performing in front of her and Rishi Kapoor.” The song is RDB’s most ambitious project, as they channel their creative talents into producing the official soundtrack for Bollywood’s latest take on a classic love story that is ‘Chaar Din Ki Chandni’. Chaar Din Ki Chandni will be directed by Samir Karnik and will be in cinemas on 9th March 2012.

‘Chandni Oh Meri Chandni’ promises to be a fitting tribute to the original classic composed by Shiv-Hari. Parichay explained: ‘Chandni Oh Meri Chandni’ has turned out


COMMENT

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South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

In Uttar Pradesh, parties slog it out for the Muslim votes Driven by the changing aspirations of a younger generation, the community this time holds its fists tight Reshma Khan

At a time when almost all major mainstream political parties are engaged in a fierce battle to win the hearts of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, a section of Muslim clerics busied themselves to push the community into a deadly religious ideological trap. Their aim was not only to ensure a just and proper share in the allotment of tickets to enter the assembly and to have an adequate share of power but also to settle their scores through this election. With this bizarre goal in mind, a purely religious group of Barelvi Sunni Muslims known as the All India Ulema Mashaikh (clerics and nobles) Board turned political overnight. Its religious leaders are out in public to ensure that candidates owing allegiance to the Deobandi-Wahhabi school of thought are defeated in the elections, irrespective of the party they belong to. If they have their way, it would be the first time in the electoral history of the country that Sunni Muslim votes would be split on ideological lines. “We are not only going to oppose all the Deobandi candidates but will also make sure that they get defeated,” thundered AIUMB leaders Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhochhavi and Syed Babar Ashraf at the Sufi Mahapanchayat in Moradabad in October. They claim 70 percent of Sunni Muslims follow Barelvi ideology. The Barelvi leaders and Sufis were belching fire at the influential Darul Uloom, Deoband, the orthodox Islamic seminary. Reaction from the clerics and lay Muslims was sharp. A bewildered mohtamim (vicechancellor) of Darul Uloom, Deoband, summoned a press conference where he countered the charge and questioned the credentials of the AIUMB. Yet none could ignore the Barelvi clerics’ message. Shaista Ambar, the president of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, said that instead of empowering the community to assert its rights in the fast-changing world, some leaders (clerics) were out to spread fitnah (to create a chaotic situation that tests one’s faith). Deobandis, the Barelvis think, get the largest chunk of tickets and dominate educational institutions and all other services. Not only this. They think, 80 percent of their mosques have been captured by Deobandis. While Barelvis are moderate and closer to Sufism, sharing the local culture and have adopted local traditions and customs, Deobandis under the influence of the 250-year-old Wahhabi movement preach Islam in its original and puritan form. They even have their dress code (skull cap and knee-high pajama with beard being compulsory) to maintain their separate identity. The sense of anger among Barelvis got expression in this election posing a challenge to the parties that could hardly distinguish between Barelvis and Deobandi-Wahhabis. Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, a senior member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said that any attempt to play up religious ideological differences on the eve of election would harm the community’s cause. This coincided with the Congress party scion Rahul Gandhi visiting well-known Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Nadwat-ul-Ulama on the banks of the Gomti in Lucknow and met its chief maulana Rabe Hasan Nadvi seeking the blessings of the Ulemas. Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav also visited the prestigious institution. Soon Mayawati also sent her confidant and BSP’s Muslim face Nasimuddin Siddiqui to the seminary

to impress the Muslim voters. This was not all. Rahul went to Azamgarh and shook hands with Burqa-clad college and school girls. SP’s youth icon Akhilesh Yadav moved in his chariot through Muslim-dominated areas meeting people and reminding them of his party’s secular credentials. Frequent visits of political leaders to Nadwatul Ulama have led to a curious development—some scholars here have started showing interest in politics. Though the institution has been apolitical in nature, one of its leading scholars, Maulana Salman Nadvi, formed an Ittehaad Front (unity front) to work as an umbrella organisation for regional Muslims-oriented parties like Ulema Council, Parcham Party, Welfare Party of India (of Jamaat-e-Islami), Nationalist Loktantrik Party, Qaumi Ekta Dal and Peace Party. Later, the Peace Party that has emerged influential in some areas was eased out because its ambitious chief Dr Ayub indicated that his party was a natural ally of the BSP. On the other hand, perfume-making businessman Maulana Ajmal Badruddin-led Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), which has already set the mighty Brahmaputra and Barak rivers on fire

the same to nine percent after the polls, only to be pulled up by the election commission. Mulayam Singh Yadav did not lag behind and promised 18 percent quota for backward Muslims if voted to power. According to Narayan, this promise for reservation has enchanting power for Muslim youth because it creates a sense of empowerment and gives them a sense of security and status in society. Interestingly, while AIUMB was raising a storm and spreading the ideological trap for Muslims, parties were vying with one another for allotting to Muslims as many tickets as possible. The BSP took the lead by allotting 84 seats out of 403. This constitutes 21 percent of the total tickets. It was followed by 75 seats by SP and 61 by the Congress. In the outgoing house, there are 56 Muslim MLAs, the highest so far. All this because the thinking contours of the new generation Muslim voters have changed fast, said political analyst Surendra Singh Rajput. He pointed out that the proverbial RSS threat to their identity, Mandir-Masjid controversy, the talk of ‘Islam in danger’ and other emotional issues no longer bother them. “The young generation now feels that the past two generations were consumed by emotional issues and in turn Muslims piled up a backlog of miseries, poverty, illiteracy and backwardness. But now there is awakening among the voters. They have become assertive and sociopolitically extrovert and this new assertion is leading to the search for a new identity.” Rahul

Samajwadi Party. However, just before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the SP supremo hoping to get Lodh votes (2.5%) put in danger his secular credentials by inducting Kalyan Singh whom Muslims saw as the villain of the Babri Masjid demolition, into his party. Many of Yadav’s trusted leaders, including Azam Khan, not only deserted him but also campaigned against the SP the way Kalyan Singh had campaigned against the BJP in 2002 after he was removed from the CM’s post in 1999. Despite the fact that it was Kalyan Singh who had extended support to Yadav to form the government after Mayawati had resigned in 2003, Muslims were livid at the Mulayam-Kalyan friendship and tilted towards the Congress. As a result, Yadav lost many Lok Sabha seats but was still number one in the tally. Though the Congress doubled its seats, Mayawati suffered losses. But in UP, the socio-economic divide among Muslims is still very sharp. It has historical reasons. In the wake of the partition, upper-caste, educated, wealthy and aristocratic Muslims attracted by the greener pasture on the other side of the border had migrated to Pakistan, leaving behind the middleclass people and artisans. Later, in a series of riots, especially in towns where traditional art and crafts were concentrated, those artisans lost their very means of livelihood. In subsequent elections, they were forced by their own leaders to fight for emotional issues that didn’t ensure them livelihood and education. Muslim leaders wanted to play the

by doubling its seats from nine to 18 in the last assembly polls, has announced his decision to contest all the 403 seats. Rich in resources and with the backing of Deoband (he is on the advisory board, shura, of the seminary), he might emerge as a rally point of Muslim outfits. However, all these developments were taking place at a time when Muslim youths were giving clear signals that they were no longer interested in emotional issues or sectarian ideology. Social scientist Badri Narayan said the young Muslim generation was trying to modernise itself and was interested more in higher education, profession and job reservation than slogans by their Ulemas. Keeping these aspirations in mind, political parties showered Muslims with promises of job reservation. Indeed it was Mayawati who read the writing on the wall and sent a letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh in September last year, saying she favoured reservation for backward Muslims to increase job opportunities for them in all sectors. The centre keeping in mind the Congress’s electoral politics in UP and other poll-bound states announced 4.5 percent job quota within the 27 percent quota for OBC. Unmindful of the controversy that the centre’s quota-within-quota had kicked up, minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid promised to increase

Gandhi has realised this. Clearly, the political parties in UP were reading the face of young voters who along with others constitute nearly 45 percent of the voters. But the new assertion and growing aspiration along with others have alarmed the clergy and this feeling might be the reason behind the Barelvi-Deobandi clash just before polls. In fact, it was all about capturing the crucial Muslims support. Muslims’ electoral strength matches only the numerical strength of dalits who constitute 21 percent of the population against 18.5 (unofficial estimate puts it to 20) percent Muslim votes. In UP, Muslim votes play a deciding role in as many as 130 seats. Muslims number about 20% in 70 assembly seats, whereas they are between 30% and 45% in 20 seats in western UP, 10 seats of eastern UP (Poorvanchal), five seats of central UP (Awadh) and one seat of Bundelkhand (Jhansi area). In the 2007 assembly elections, there were around 51 seats where Muslim candidates were either on the first or second positions and more than 31 seats saw Muslim candidates getting the third slot. Traditionally, Muslims were considered a Congress vote bank, but in the wake of the Mandir-Masjid movement the community saw Mulayam Singh Yadav as their messiah and shifted its loyalty to the

role of the champions of the community in the Ganga belt in a way that the widespread illiteracy and economic backwardness among Muslims remained intact. The logic was simple: the more they were socio-economically backward, the more they could be exploited emotionally and politically. Contrary to the situation in UP, Muslims in southern and western India were better off because wealthy Muslims in the region stayed back at the time of partition and prospered in their own regions. Data collected by psephologists in the past showed that while in the 1998 Lok Sabha polls only seven percent Muslims voted for BSP and 61% had voted for SP, in the 2007 assembly polls 32% voted for BSP and 40% for SP. Though Mayawati tried to make it 60:40 in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, she failed because while Mulayam Singh Yadav almost maintained his Muslim vote share, a sizeable number of Muslims tilted towards the Congress. On the basis of field feedback, Badri Narayan predicts that in this election, Muslim votes are expected to be divided between SP and the Congress. Muslims feel that despite high-sounding promises, only a handful of Brahmins and Muslims hanging around Mayawati ate away their share of the cake. This kind of feeling along with the raging ideological war is bound to create new political contours in the UP elections.


South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

COMMENT

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Obama’s plan for nuclear sanity

By Richard Schiffman

“Iran Worried U.S. Might Be Building 8,500th Nuclear Weapon,” read the headline. This frontpage banner in the satirical weekly The Onion may not have gotten the number exactly right. The Obama administration reported in 2010 that the US possesses 5,113 warheads in the stockpile and an additional 4,500 retired, but not yet dismantled, making the grand total even higher than the spoofers had guessed. While media pundits in the U.S. warn darkly of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, America itself is regarded as the main nuclear threat in much of the world today. The United States argues that it needs these weapons to deter attacks on itself and its allies, and that it would only use them to prevent or respond to such an attack. But people in other countries wonder why Americans need so many of them — secreted away in missile silos, on submarines and in bombers, computer-targeted to obliterate their cities at the turn of a key. The U.S. rightly wants to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to nations like Iran that do not yet possess them: the more actors that have the bomb, the greater the risk that it will eventually be used, either as part of a regional war, or in a freelance act of terror. Yet by what right can Americans ask others to abstain, when they themselves continue — along with their old cold war rival Russia — to maintain an arsenal large enough to destroy life on the planet several times over? It is not just that the U.S. lacks the moral authority to preach nonproliferation. The larger problem is that it sets a bad example for other nations. It is telling others, by its hoarding of warheads, that in order to be secure in the world

today you need nuclear weapons — and lots of them. Is it any wonder if leaders in Iran and elsewhere might want to buy some protection for themselves with a nuclear stockpile of their own?

alert more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Not only is this nuclear standoff insane, for both countries, but in a time of deficits and cutbacks in government

for our real defense needs rather than maintaining thousands of redundant nuclear warheads in perpetuity. “Small numbers of nuclear weapons produce dramatic effects,” three Air Force

to continue the decades-long trend toward reducing nuclear weapons. The real weakness would be holding onto an antiquated nuclear force which no longer serves U.S. strategic needs.

Nukes make nobody safe. They breed fear; and fears and mutual suspicions make for war not peace. A world bristling with weapons of mass destruction may be temporarily frozen in terror (a condition known in strategic parlance as “mutual deterrence”). But the smallest spark in that tinderbox can set off a conflagration. Unless we find some way to eliminate these scourges, there is a catastrophe waiting to happen. World leaders recognize these dangers. Every recent president has engaged in arms control talks with Russia, and worked toward strengthening nonproliferation programs. Nuclear weapons numbers have been significantly reduced over the past decades, most recently through a series of START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) negotiations between the U.S. and Russia which were initiated by President Reagan in 1982. But so far no one has succeeded in fundamentally altering the cold war logic which keeps thousands of warheads in U.S. and Russian arsenals on hair-trigger

spending, it is a madness we can no longer afford. The dirty little secret of the U.S.’s ongoing nuclear weapons program is how expensive it is. Few Americans realize that the U.S. is spending more today on nuclear weapons research, development and modernization than it was at the height of the cold war, even after factoring in for inflation. All told, the U.S. lavishes over $50 billion a year on nuclear arms-related programs (nearly double what it devotes to all other scientific and technological initiatives combined, including the space program). President Obama said in 2009 that he wanted to work toward eventually creating a nuclear weapons-free world. As a step in this direction, the administration is now considering options for cutting America’s nuclear arsenal, most likely in conjunction with future arms control negotiations with Russia. Many in the Pentagon believe that this is an idea whose time has come, a change in focus which will free up funds

authors write in the military journal Strategic Studies Quarterly. “In fact, the United States could address military utility concerns with only 311 nuclear weapons in its nuclear force structure while maintaining a stable deterrence.” Yet even before the administration has decided on what course to take, some Republicans are up in arms. Thirty-four lawmakers sent a letter to the White House warning of dire consequences should the president reduce America’s nuclear arsenal. “I just want to go on record as saying that there are many of us that are going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that this preposterous notion does not gain any real traction,” said Representative Trent Franks. Where were these critics when Republican presidents like Reagan and both Bushes cut back the US nuclear arsenal (Bush Senior by nearly 50 percent)? But in an era of Obamacan-do-nothing-right, the GOP hawks have been quick to paint the president as weak and naive because he wants

In a 2004 poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, when asked how many nuclear weapons the United States needs to deter other countries from attacking, the average response was 100. The president’s final number will undoubtedly be much higher than what Americans say they require to remain safe. Still, by cutting their warheads to possibly hundreds rather than thousands, Americans will have taken a big step toward lowering global tensions and saving billions of dollars. They would also gain crucial standing to actually persuade countries like Iran not to join the nuclear club. And not to worry: the U.S. would still have more than enough weapons to ward off an attack by China, Russia, Pakistan, North Korea and any conceivable nuclear power that might rise in the future. What it might no longer have, however, was enough firepower to unilaterally terminate life on the planet. You would think that even a Republican might concede that is not such a bad idea.

In India, Pakistani scholar Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri praises killer of Muslims Narendra Modi; calls Muslims terrorists; speaks launguage of West, Israel and RSS By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani Ahmedabad: After Deoband’s former Mohtamim Maulana Gulam Vastanvi’s advice to forget Gujarat riots which sparked a very hot debate, Pakistani Islamic scholar Tahir-ul-Qadri’s reported remarks advising Muslims to forget the Gujarat riots have sparked a row with some Muslim organisations in Gujarat. After getting pleased with hospitality and state guest status accorded by Pakistan-baiter, architect of anti-Muslim genocide Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Barelvi Muslim sect scholar Tahir Qadri is presently in Hyderabad as a Guest of All India Majlise Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMMM). He will be in India till midMarch. The police stepped up security for Dr Qadri, who arrived in Hyderabad on

a five-day trip amid criticism from Jamiat-ul-Ulema and others for his remarks during a visit to Gujarat last week. The controversial Pakistani scholar, while addressing a meeting at Vadodara in Gujarat on February 25, 2012, reportedly advised Indian Muslims to forget the post-Godhra carnage and move on. He also thanked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for providing him security. Qadri, who faces threat to his life in Pakistan, mostly lives in the West. He is on a visit to India till March 18 and will address religious meetings in Ajmer, Mumbai, Raipur and Bangalore. He has a considerable following among adherents of the Sufi and Barelvi schools of thought. The Pakistani scholar addressed the

gathering from behind a huge bulletproof screen and was escorted by his personal security guards and city policemen.

Mufti Rizwan Tarapuri, leading Islamic academician and Principal of Darul Uloom Jamia ibn Abbas Ahmedabad, has accused Qadri of speaking the language of the West. “By praising the killer of Muslims and calling Muslims terrorists, he is expressing the views of either America and Israel or the RSS and Bajrang Dal,” he said. Mufti Farid Kavi of Darul uloom jambusar accused Qadri of linking Muslims to terrorism to appease the West. Social activist Faruk Bawani of Rajkot alleged that Qadri was adding insult to the injury of Muslims by asking them to forget the massacre. How can we forget riots? asked Dr. J. Bandukwala, leading social activist from Baroda. The last ten years have been difficult for the Muslims of Gujarat. Muslims have been almost

completely cut off from the politicaladministrative machinery in Gujarat. Further the absence of justice has been so blatant that even moderate people like me have lost faith in the justice system within Gujarat he further said. In all other cases the accused are mostly out on bail, and the cases drags on. This includes the most notorious kiler Babu Bajrangi who was granted bail by the high court judge Mehta. Incidentally it is the same Mehta whop now sits on the Nanavati Mehta panel on the riots. Qadri has not reacted to the allegations so far and the attempts to contact him for his reaction yielded no results. [Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com)


NEWS

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Zardari gets boost in Pakistan senate election President summons Senate session on March 12

President Asif Ali Zardari has summoned the first session for the Tenth Parliamentary Year of the Senate on March 12 at 10:00 a.m. to transact its business of oath taking of the newly elected members and the election of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. Pakistan’s ruling party has strengthened its position in senate elections, preliminary results show, in a boost for President Asif Ali Zardari’s crisis-hit civilian government. Voting was held on March 2 for 45 seats out of 104 in the indirectly elected upper house of the federal parliament. Unofficial results suggest that the ruling PPP party won at least 15 seats, increasing its majority in the senate. The news is a welcome boost for Zardari, whose government has been plunged into crisis by a string of highprofile scandals, including a leaked memo in which he reportedly sought U.S. help to prevent a feared military coup after the killing of Osama bin Laden by American forces last year. Final official results for the senate election are due to be released next week. The ruling coalition, led by the Pakistan People’s Party, consolidated its position in the Senate on Friday, taking its strength to 70 in a

house of 104. And the prospect of many independents supporting it beckoned. The PPP previously had 27 seats in the upper house of parliament, with five of them due to retire on March 11. With the success of 19 of its candidates, the PPP has become the single largest party in the Senate. Its total strength has now risen to 41, according to unofficial results. The Pakistan Muslim League-N had seven members in the Senate and one of them is to retire. Eight of the party’s candidates won the elections, taking the number of its senators to 14. The Awami National Party doubled its strength to 12 with the victory of seven candidates. It previously had six members in the Senate, one of whom will retire on March 11. The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F’s strength in the upper house was

down to seven as seven of its senators are due to retire while the party could get only four seats on Friday. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which had six senators hitherto, clinched four seats to improve its position to seven. Three of its existing senators will retire next week. The BNP (Awami) will have four members and the PML-Functional and the National Party one each in the new Senate. Five independent candidates also won the Senate elections, taking the number of independents to 12. The combined strength of the opposition in the house now stands at 22. An understanding reached between the PPP, MQM and PML-F in Sindh worked as all candidates fielded by them emerged victorious. Mian Raza Rabbani, Mukhtar Ahmad Dhamra, Dr Karim Ahmad Khawaja

and Saeed Ghani of PPP, Col (retd) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi and Syed Mustafa Kamal of MQM, and Syed Muzaffar Shah of PML-F won the elections on general seats. Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi was the only loser out of the eight candidates in the run for seven seats. Muttahida’s Nasreen Jalil and PPP’s Mudassir Sehar Kamran won the seats reserved for women. One seat reserved for minorities was clinched by Hari Ram of PPP. Things were, however, different in Punjab where eight candidates were left in the run for seven general seats. The electoral battle saw Mohsin Leghari of the Unification Bloc, a splinter group of the PML-Q, making his way to the Senate. It surprised many who believed that the understanding reached between the PPP and the PML-Q would work

as planned. In Balochistan, Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hasni, Muhammad Yousaf and Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi (PPP), Mir Israrullah Zehri (BNP-A), Saeedul Hasan Mandokhel (PML-Q), Daud Khan Achakzai (ANP) and Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor were winners of the contest for seven general seats. Rubina Irfan of the PML-Q and Naseema Ehsan of the BNP-A won the seats reserved for women. Rozi Khan Kakar of the PPP and Mufti Abdul Sattar emerged victorious on the seats reserved for technocrats. The seat reserved for minorities went to Heman Dass of JUI-F. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azam Hoti, Shahi Syed and Baz Muhammad Khan (ANP), Haji Saifullah Khan Bangash and Ahmad Hasan (PPP), Nisar Muhammad Khan (PML-N) and Talha Mehmood (JUI (F) won the general seats. Farhatullah Babar (PPP) and Ilyas Bilour (ANP) won the seats for technocrats. Amar Jeet of the ANP won the seat reserved for minorities. Mushmmad Saleh Shah, Malik Najmul Hasan, Hadayatullah and Hilalur Rahman won the four seats reserved for Fata. Munir Khan Orakzai, the parliamentary leader of Fata MNAs in the National Assembly, lost the race.

Mar 12 rally to be a ‘turning point’ ? Rahul accepts responsibility Attempt to foil BNP rally for poor election results The govt should rather help than hinder

Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party politician seen as India’s primeminister-in-waiting, on Tuesday accepted responsibility for poor results in state elections in which he had led campaigning. “I stood in front, so it is my responsibility,” he told reporters in New Delhi. “Organisationally we are not where we should be in UP (Uttar Pradesh state). “I think it will be a very good lesson for me, because I think it will make me think about things in a detailed way.” The Congress party flop in India’s most politically vital state was also a blow to the already-tottering government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reducing his scope to re-launch reforms and reverse a slowdown in economic growth. “It has been a disaster for the Congress, it’s an even bigger disaster for Rahul Gandhi and the Gandhi family,” political analyst Amulya Ganguli said as results came in from Uttar Pradesh and four smaller states that went to the polls. “They were banking on success in these elections, hoping to get at least four out of five states. It has gone exactly the

opposite way. It shows that there is no charisma left in the Gandhi family.” SETBACKS IN FOUR STATES With the count nearing its conclusion on Tuesday, the Congress party was trailing in fourth place in the big northern state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), which with 200 million people would be the world’s fifth-most populous country if independent. It looked set to win about 29 of the state assembly’s 403 seats, a marginal improvement on its lacklustre performance there five years ago and far short of the 100-plus tally it had boasted Gandhi’s tireless election campaigning would deliver. There was also mostly disappointing news for Congress from other states that went to the polls over the past month.

It was heading for a loss in Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand, but was set to win in the far-flung northeastern state of Manipur. Scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has ruled India for most of its 65 years of independence, Gandhi campaigned hard to revive his party in Uttar Pradesh, where it has not ruled for 22 years. He attended more than 200 rallies, slept in villagers’ huts and even grew a beard that gave him a more rugged look. His performance was widely seen as a test of his fitness to take the reins of the party from his ailing Italianborn mother, Sonia, and eventually to become prime minister if Congress and its allies retain power in national elections due in 2014.

BNP’S acting secretary general has alleged that the government is trying to thwart the March 12 BNP rally. The allegation comes as extremely disconcerting news. In a democratic country every political party is entitled to hold rallies to press home its demands in a peaceful manner. However, a news item in yesterday’s issue of this paper gives us a different picture altogether. Reportedly, hoteliers in the capital and bus owners all over the country are being intimidated by certain influential quarters to prevent BNP activists from joining the rally. Any attempt to foil the upcoming rally, that too on the part of the government, stands in stark contrast to people’s fundamental democratic rights. Earlier, BNP’s request to hold the rally at the Paltan Maidan was rejected with no plausible explanation from the concerned authorities, given the fact that the BNP had declared this programme a long time ago. And we wonder whether the police have allowed the AL’s counter programme to be held at the Maidan, or whether permission has been sought at all. The nod has been given to hold the rally in front of BNP party office; we wonder whether the authorities consider holding

a political rally on a major thoroughfare a sensible alternative to Paltan Maidan, given the tremendous traffic snarl up it will cause. And even then we are seeing some surreptitious mechanisms at work to foil the rally. We are perturbed also by unwarranted utterances by some senior AL leaders, meant as warning to the BNP of any attempt to create chaos, and the likely dire consequences, and more so when it comes from a senior AL office bearer. A political party’s right to hold a rally is guaranteed by the constitution, and it is the government’s bounden duty to ensure that a constitutional right is upheld, not obstructed. If the government has any forewarning and authentic information it should take appropriate actions as deemed necessary and share the same with the public, otherwise people are likely to ascribe motives to the police actions.


South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

COMMENT

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Ghaus ul Azam, Shaikh, Syed Mohyyuddin Abdul Qadir Jilani, RA

Piran ne Peer Ghaus ul Azam Dastageer, RA, the Great defender and the leader of the saints was born in Gilan, Persia Iran, in 470 Hijri, ( 1077 AD ). He was of pious parents of Hassani lineage. He was Syed from both, the father as well as the mother side. His father Syed Abu Saleh, was an illustrious and God fearing man. Once he was engrossed in meditation by the bank of a river he saw an apple floating down the river. He picked it up and ate it. It struck to him that he ate the apple without paying for it so he set out in search of the owner on the bank of the river and at last reached the owner of the orchard; Abdullah Somai, whom he requested to tell him the price of the apple. Abdullah Somai replied that it was an expensive thing. Syed Abu Saleh replied that he had not much by way of worldly material, yet he could serve him for its compensation. Abdullah Somai then asked him to work for a year in the orchard. In the course of time the duration was extended several times. In the end Abdullah Somai admitted that he had served him in excess of the price and desired to reward him. Abu Saleh hesitated in accepting it but when Abdullah Somai persisted, he relented. He said he had a daughter, blind of eyes, handicapped of hands and feet and wanted to give her in marriage to him. In this way Abdullah Somai got his daughter, Syeda Fatima, married to him. To his astonishment, Abu Saleh found her wondrously beautiful and wholesome. He complained to his father in law that he found her exactly the opposite to what he had described her. Abdullah Somai insisted on the truthfulness of his statement, and said. she was blind because she had not seen a man who could marry her. She was mute because she had not uttered a word repugnant to the Shari’aa. She was deaf because she had not heard anything inconsistent with the Shari’aa. She was handicapped of hand and feet because she had never moved in the direction of evil. The great man died soon after the marrige and the little orphan was reared up by his mother and under the benevolent care of his grand father, Abdullah Somai. Childhood: During infancy he never sucked milk during the day and had it after it was dark. When hungry he never cried like other children but remained composed in the cradle. As he was an orphan his initial education started under the supervision of his mother. Having completed, his primary education he sought his mother’s permission to go to Baghdad for higher education. His mother was old still she allowed him to go and thus he set out to Baghdad in the year 488 Hijri. Some chroniclers say he was 14 when he set out to Baghdad. His mother sewed 40 gold Dinars ( coins ) in his quilt so that he might spend as he needed. The dacoits struck the caravan on the way, and looted all the travelers of their belongings and wealth. They asked him what he had. He replied that he had 40 gold Dinars ( coin

). The dacoits took his reply as a joke and took him to their cheiftain. The Chief of the dacoits asked him the same question and he again replied that he had 40 gold coins on him. He demanded that he should be shown the Dinars as there was no appaent trace. Abdul Quader tore away the quilt and produced the Dinars to the Chief. He was surprised and impressed and asked him why he had given the hidden Dinars. He could have kept them and the dacoits could have never known about them. The boy replied that he was travelling to Baghdad to receive education and his mother had instructed him to speak the truth always and so he had done it. This left the Chief with a deep effect, and he gave up his profession of looting. Higher Education: He received lessons on Islamic Jurisprudence form Abu Saeed Makhzoomi, Tradition from Abu Bakr bin Muzaffar, and Commentary from the renowned Commentator, Abu Muhammad Jafar. Having thus qualified he engaged himself in the field of teaching. Teaching: He became a teacher and took to teaching in the seminary of his teacher, Qazi Abu-Said-Mubarak. Soon he became popular with his pupils. His fame spread far and nears. Pupils flocked to him. In the morning he taught on Tradition and Commentary, and in the afternoon he held discourse on mysticism, and the virtues of the Holy Qur’an. The number of students grown so much that the seminary could no more hold them. He, therefore, decided to extend the premises of the seminary. The students and the

people willingly came forward with their whole hearted contributions, and the construction started. The campus buildings were ready in 528 Hijri and thereafter it became known as Madarsa-e Quadriya. Judicial Sentences and Ermons: The Shaikh ( The Great Defender ), besides teaching engaged himself in Judicial

Sentences and Sermons in the service of the Religion; delivered his sermons three times a week. His oratory drew multitude of crowds, which sometimes exceeded sixty or seventy thousand in bare numbers. Truthfulness & Fearlessness: The Shaikh was truthful and fearless. The Caliph Al-Muqtazi once appointed Ibn-e Marjam the Qazi. Ibn-e Marjam was known for his cruelties. The people were panicked, and approached the Sheikh. He addressed the Caliph from the pulpit that he had posted a man as a Qazi who was extremely cruel. When he reached before his Creator on the last day what excuse he would put forward for appointing him. God is merciful and find to the people. The Caliph trembled and at once sacked Ibne Marjam form the post. Generosity: Whatever Presents,

valuables his followers or disciples offered him he distributed them among the poor and the needy and gave precedence to other’s needs to this own. None returned empty handed from his gate. He was therefore, called leader of the saints, the Helper, the Great defender, and Darling of God. God filled his heart with profound love for the poor, the needy, and the helpless. Propagation of Islam: He propagated Islam through his writings and speeches and remained aloof from the government and politics. He, therefore, ruled over the hearts of the people. The kings were envious of him. Not only did he propagate Islam through pen and word of mouth but saved also the Muslims from complete extinction. The world so remembers him with the little, Mohyyuddin, the life-

giver. Death: He busied himself for forty years in the service of the Faith from 521 to 561 Hijri During this period hundreds embraced Islam because of him and organized several teams to go abroad for the purpose. He came to India in 1128 AD. And stayed at Multan. His Qadriya order still exists through out India. He died 11, Rabi ul awwal, 561 Hijri ( 1168 AD ), at the age of 91. His shrine is in the Bughdad, Iraq. His Sayings: o- Knowledge is useless without action. o- Be a doer and not an illiterate deliberately. One who knows and acts accordingly is a viceroy of Allah. o- Allah is such a name that eases every difficulty and relieves of all kind of worries and grieves and this is a great

name. o- Whoever keeps Allah his friend, he is under His protection and passes his life under His benign benevolence. o- Beggar is the one who perpetually engages himself in the prayer and in contemplation. He is truthful, capacious, and courageous. He regards his ‘self’ the meanest; what he does not know, tries to know; teaches the ignorant, and advises the careless. o- The faithful is one, who seeks lawful living, and is not a fatalist. If succeeds in getting a job, he shall get lawful living and compensation for search of a living. o- For patience he said; the faithful perseveres in difficulty and distress and does not forsake the Shairah; submits to the will of Allah; is not perturbed from poverty and grief but remains composed, patient, and thankful. o- The patience of a beggar as against the thankfulness of a rich man, and the beggar’s thankfulness as against the rich man’s patience is larger. o- The war of the inner is better than that of the outer. o- Don’t complain of Allah’s slave ( men). o-Think great so long as you live. Books: He was a great speaker, lecturer and writer of his time. He wrote books of immense depth on the subjects he wrote in the defense and service of Islam. 1- Ghansat ul Tal-e been, is on the orders from the Tradition. 2- Mansharah ul Ghaib ( Revelation of the Unseen )deals with mysticism. 3- Fateh Rabbani is the collection of his sermons and addresses. 4- Maktoob-e Subhani comprises of his letters. In poetry he wrote fourteen moving odes in Persian which is a great work A dervish is a friend of God and a friend of a friend is a friend. So why not be a friend of a dervish?


SPECIAL FEATURE

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South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

Dr.Mohammad Ali Jawad -Plastic, Cosmetic and Burns Reconstructive Surgeon.

“My Hero with Oscar”

After being cruelly disfigured in an acid attack masterminded by a jealous boyfriend, model Katie Piper talks fondly of the man she calls “my hero” – pioneering plastic surgeon Mohammed Ali Jawad. In the course of 24 months, Katie has had to endure more than 30 operations. But when she talks of the surgeon who re-built her face she smiles with gratitude and calls him “my hero.” His name is Doctor Mohammad Ali Jawad. Dr Jawad is a Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Burns Surgeon who helps women who have been cruelly disfigured in acid attacks. Until he met Katie, all of his work with acid victims had been in his home country, Pakistan. Dr Jawad said he was truly shocked when he saw Katie’s injuries - in 15 years of practising he had never seen a white woman attacked this way. After consulting the top names in plastic surgery, he used pioneering treatment to rebuild her skin in the first procedure of its kind in the world. And now The film, which won the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary, highlights the work of

most promising of students: “I had very basic schooling at Happy Days School the very name was an embarrassment to us.” But nevertheless he managed to get into Adamjee Science College and subsequently to Dow Medical College, failing several exams on the way partly due to the distractions of his active social life. “I was not a social animal, I was a social monster”, he recalls. “Karachi in those days was a very benign place. In those days Dow was at the heart of student politics and I was politically active, on the left of course, with the NSF. We were

At 10 Downing Street Dr Muhammad Ali Jawad, the British Pakistani plastic surgeon. The documentary film ‘Saving Face’, which chronicles his work with acidburn victims in Pakistan, won an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject. Directed by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Daniel Junge, ‘Saving Face’ follows the personal stories of two acid attack victims: their battle for justice and their journey of healing as their faces are reconstructed by Jawad. Hollywood is a long way from Dow Medical College, Karachi, where the young Jawad first decided he wanted to be a plastic surgeon. “Because, I must admit, I thought there was so much glamour attached to it. I thought I’d end up with Hollywood actresses lining up to be treated by me. And I thought life would be easy, because beautiful people don’t need much work, just maintenance stuff. But I must have been at the wrong place at the wrong time because that’s not what I ended up doing and I very soon realized that it was very hard work”. Disarmingly honest and almost childlike in his enjoyment of the public recognition he has received, Jawad’s story of ordinary-boy-made-good is probably as much a surprise to him as to anyone else because he was not the

much we had to learn in order to do some decent work. Our resources were poor, training was zero and patients had to wait for months and months to get treated because plastic surgery was such a low priority. So burns patients with even 20% burns were dying all around us.” Katie Pieper before and after the attack, and after the surgery In 1990 Jawad made his way to Ireland to complete his training prior to sitting for the FRCS Part 2 exam. After passing his FRCS Part 2 exam in 1992, Jawad quickly pursued further

“I trained mostly in regional trauma centres. Big responsibility. Big teams. So in a sense I was very lucky. I trained with the best including Mr Fatah at Wordsley Hospital in Birmingham also a president of BAAPS.” It was a chance meeting with Mr Fatah at a conference in 1998 that brought Jawad back to Pakistan. Fatah was going to Pakistan with a team of surgeons to perform cleft palate surgery. Jawad went along to Lahore as a junior member of the team and realized how important it was, not only as a humanitarian enterprise

In a photoshoot with Katie Pieper for her foundation very progressive and had no time for mullahism. Because we were Muslim - said our namaz and read Quran and kept our rozas - we did not need a bunch of idiots to tell us how to live our

training in plastic and reconstructive surgery at some of the best institutions in the UK under some of the most skillful surgeons. At the Ulster Hospital in Belfast

lives. The best thing was there was no violence. We had thriving discussions. We’d have lots of arguments. We would disagree - but that would be the end of it.” But it was not long before Jawad began to pursue his medical career in earnest: “I realized that in order to achieve, I had to focus.” So after graduation, he went to the UK in 1985 to sit for Part 1 of the FRCS exam. He passed at the third attempt. “Failing the exam twice made me realize how inadequate the medical education I had received in Pakistan was. I had to turn it around for myself so I had to work much harder to overcome my weaknesses.” “I was not a social animal, I was a social monster” After passing Part 1 he returned to Pakistan in 1986 to Jinnah Hospital for his training period. “I realized how

he learned to deal with Plastic and reconstructive Surgery in Trauma situations. Katie Piper was a beautiful young model who had acid thrown in her face at the instigation of an ex-boyfriend. Badly scarred, she told Jawad she didn’t want to live if she looked horrible In 1994 Jawad joined the staff at the world famous Burns Unit at Birmingham General Hospital which was at the forefront of Burns Trauma Surgery in the world. “We used to save 70% of the lives of burns victims whereas in Pakistan it was closer to 15%.” Jawad was keen to specialise in burns because he knew that at some point he would want to return to Pakistan and thought it important to develop areas of expertise that would be useful there.

but also as a skills transfer exercise. It made him aware of the requirements and limitations of the country and he returned several times with surgical teams in the following years. ‘Saving Face’ chronicles Jawad’s work as he travels to Pakistan to treat survivors of radically disfiguring acid attacks, the majority of whom are women targeted by family members In 2005 Jawad organised a major medical relief effort to help earthquake survivors in Pakistan who had been the victims of trauma. Over two months multi-ethnic teams of UK plastic surgeons visited Pakistan on a rota basis to perform limb salvaging and reconstruction surgery. A unit was set up in Al-Shifa hospital in Islamabad for this purpose for two months comprising three theatres and 100 beds. The unit treated 250 patients in the space of 7 weeks while at the same time imparting training to Al-Shifa medics. But it was an incident in 2008, while he was a Consultant at the prstigious Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, that brought Jawad to the attention of a wider public. Katie Piper was a beautiful young model who had acid thrown in her face at the instigation of an ex-boyfriend. Badly scarred, she told Jawad, who attended her, that she didn’t want to live if she

looked horrible. The entire face was re-constructed in one-stage procedure. “I was sure it would give better results than the traditional procedure. We documented everything.” The results were astonishing and Katie’s entire journey was documented in a Channel 4 documentary, “My Beautiful Face”, which aired in 2009 in which the patient lauded Jawad as “my hero”. Building on his success with the procedure, Jawad looked to extend his skills to acid burn victims in Pakistan. In 2009 he teamed up with the Depilex Smile Again Foundation and the Indus Hospital in Karachi to undertake the project. Being interviewed about it by the BBC World Service brought him to the attention of American filmmaker Daniel Junge, who approached Jawad about making a documentary. ‘Saving Face’, the film that came out of that collaboration (and is now nominated for an Oscar), chronicles Jawad’s work as he travels to Pakistan to treat survivors of radically disfiguring acid attacks, the majority of whom are women targeted by family members. The film will be broadcast in the USA and UK in March. Public recognition gets him into the corridors of power and helps him disseminate his message: “Let me speak honestly. I may not be a very good Muslim but I always say my fajr prayers and this has always been my prayer that let me be useful in society... And I feel very strongly that we doctors in the diaspora need to take responsibility for society in Pakistan; because what we have done is that we have benefited from the education system; we have enriched ourselves but we never gave back to society. In the past people who studied abroad went back. There wasn’t a “brain drain”, there was “brain circulation”. But that doesn’t happen anymore... So my message is very simple: I feel that being born in Pakistan is like being born in a family where some of its members have learning disabilities. I have two options: I either run away, say to hell with it, or I own up to my responsibilities. And in the current scenario, that family needs us. It’s not enough to send money. Skills transfer is important. So I want to use the public recognition I have received to convince my fellow expatriate professionals, be they doctors or engineers, that some part of their lives should be spent working in and for Pakistan.” But the humanitarian surgeon is also a fun-loving social animal, was excited as any teenager about winning the Oscars. The Hollywood glamour which he dreamt about as a young man deciding to specialize in Plastic Surgery has finally came true.


South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

Continued from page 32 >>

Dilshan, Jayawardene guide Lanka to a comprehensive win

Arthur has bluntly told Australia’s players of his displeasure at recent performances, particularly the crushing eight-wicket loss to the tourists in Tuesday’s second final. “It simply wasn’t good enough. There was no excuse for it,” Arthur said. The coach took some of the blame for the loss and allowing Sri Lanka to level the best-of-three series at a win apiece. Arthur said Australia erred by taking the same game plan into Tuesday’s loss in Adelaide as they did into their winning first final in Brisbane. “Our execution has been questionable at times but Adelaide is different conditions to the Gabba, so we have to go around tinkering our game plans just a little bit,” he said. “Our plans were similar for the first two finals and that was probably a little bit of a default on our part. Arthur said the tactical changes would include a more aggressive mindset in the initial 10 overs of Australia’s batting innings. “I do think we could be a little bit more bold in those first 10 overs,” he said. “We were 1-39, they were 0-78 (after 10 overs on Tuesday) and that is a huge differential. “And they’re certainly going to play that way again tomorrow. That is why we need to stay one or two steps ahead and our game plan will reflect that.”

‘Indians weren’t really interested in Test cricket’ - Greg Chappell cricket they can sort of put up with.” “Test cricket for a lot of, not only India, a lot of subcontinent teams, I think it`s pretty tough. And the challenge for Test cricket is, without the sort of grounding that we [Australians] had as kids, Test cricket is too hard. It`s very demanding mentally, physically and emotionally.” Chappell also questioned the physical fitness and attitude of senior Indian players like Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan. “You can throw in attitude for Zaheer as well,” Chappell said. Taking at dig at overall Indian culture Chappell said: “The culture is very different, it`s not a team culture,” Chappell said. “They lack leaders in the team because they are not trained to be leaders. From an early age, their parents make all the decisions, their schoolteachers make their decisions, their cricket coaches make the decisions.” “The culture of India is such that, if you put your head above the parapet someone will shoot it. Knock your head off. So they learn to keep their head down and not take responsibility. The Poms taught them really well to keep their head down. For if someone was deemed to be responsible, they`d get punished. So the Indians have learned to avoid responsibility. So before taking responsibility for any decisions, they prefer not to.”

Amir Khan: The WBA still have me as WBA Super Champion

& IBF Light Welterweight Champion, surprised the global boxing community by his recent claim that the WBA has reinstated him as the WBA super lightweight ‘super’ champion in place of Lamont Peterson. Amir made his claims through his Twitter account and his web page. Khan’s tweet read, “Great news WBA still have me as WBA Super Champion! I will be putting that title on the line on May 19th against Peterson.” Khan did not stop with his claims there, he also notified his fans through his web page saying, and “I’ve just been relaxing and doing other work away from the ring since my fight last December with Lamont Peterson. As you all know the rematch has been agreed but something you might not know is that I will be going into the ring as the WBA ‘Super’ Champion. I’m really looking forward to putting my WBA ‘super’ title on the line against Peterson, who will enter the ring as the IBF world champion.” Khan attempts to get his IBF and WBA titles back from Peterson in Las Vegas on May 18. And he said: “I don’t care what belts I go into the ring with, if any. All I am concerned about is walking out of the ring with the two titles I lost. “Once I beat Peterson in the ring there can be no arguments about who is the real champion.” It should be noted here that the WBA has rejected Khan’s claims saying that Peterson is still the WBA champion on their website and in their records. Nothing is sure yet as to why Khan did this. Maybe it was his yet another media trick to get public attention or maybe he was just trying to irk Peterson.

NEWS

31

Ban on women footballers wearing hijab to be lifted FIFA agree to overturn Hijab ban ‘in principle’

Four years ago, the International Football Association Board made the decision to ban Muslim women from wearing the headscarf during competitive matches on the grounds of health and safety. Suddenly, a group of people with the same passion for the beautiful game as anyone else in the world, would not be able to play competitive football unless they took off the headscarf, which is a marker of maintaining their modesty. Asian football leaders have welcomed the International Football Association Board to remove the ban on female footballers wearing the Islamic headscarf on the field of play. The decision angered a lot of people, especially because the game is constantly promoted by the Football Association in this country as Football For All. Indeed, the FA have a support group for Asian and Muslim women. It would have been a mockery of their mission to be all inclusive if they continued to uphold the ban. This weekend saw IFAB hold a big get

together in Bagshot, south of London to discuss a number of big issues. Amongst the topics up for discussion was the use of goal line technology, magic spray for free-kicks and having an extra substitute if games went into extra-time. But the main issue for many campaigners worldwide was whether IFAB would overturn the ban and whether it would have wider implications, affecting other religious groups such as Sikhs and Rastafarians, who could have had their religious headwear prohibited under a wider ban. The campaign was supported by UN Secretary General’s special adviser on sport, Wilfried Lemke, international players’ union FIFPro and the FARE network.

So there was some relief when the eightman panel of the IFAB, made up of officials from FIFA, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish FAs, unanimously decided to overturn the ban ‘in principle’. The decision was made after a presentation by FIFA executive committee member Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan on a new headscarf design which is fastened by Velcro. It is only considered a partial victory for campaigners as there is set to be further testing with a view to a final decision in July. But Prince Ali has welcomed the decision, saying Muslim women who wore the headscarf would no longer feel alienated from the global game.

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South Asia Tribune I Thursday 08 March 2012

‘Indians weren’t really interested in Test cricket’ - Greg Chappell Former India coach Greg Chappell said that Indian players were not interested in playing Test cricket during their recent tour Down Under. “It was obvious from the start of the tour that the Indians weren`t really interested in Test cricket,” Chappell was quoted as saying by Cricinfo at a promotional event for his book, Fierce Focus, in Adelaide on Wednesday.

“After the Australians showed that they were going to be a formidable foe, I was very disappointed in the Indians. And having worked with many of them and having been in the dressing room with them, Test cricket was too hard for most of them. They can only make a lot of money playing 20-over cricket. Fifty-over Continued on page 31 >>

Dilshan, Jayawardene guide Lanka to a comprehensive win Tillakaratne Dilshan slammed his second century to propel Sri Lanka to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Australia in the second final of the tri-series on Tuesday. Dilshan began his innings in style smashing Brett Lee for a boundary off the first ball he faced. Lee’s first over went for 12 runs prompting Michael Clarke to go for a change straightaway and he introduced James Pattinson into the attack. Dilshan continued with the charge hitting collecting two boundaries of his first over though they came off edges. His intent to attack was evident from the ‘Dilscoop’ he attempted twice—once getting hit on the helmet while the

other successfully scooped for a boundary. From thereon, he held back his shots a bit, playing the balls to their merit. On his way to twelfth ODI century, he collected ten boundaries and by the time he was caught at midwicket, he had driven the Lankan innings to a certain win. It was an ordinary bowling performance from the Australian team as they waited for things to happen rather than creating chances. They were quiet on the field as Dilshan and Jayawardene kept on playing their shots at will.

SAT

Sports

Australia’s batting and bowling plans need a re-think for third tri-series final Shellshocked Australia coach Mickey Arthur has gone back to the drawing board to devise plans to defeat Sri Lanka in Thursday’s triseries decider. James Pattinson gave away 22 runs in his first two overs while spinner Xavier Doherty who was brought early ended as being the most expensive of the lot. Mahela Jayawardene and Dilshan produced an excellent opening stand of 179 runs laying the foundation for chasing Australian target of 272 runs Adelaide. With this win Sri Lanka have equalized the series and the winner will be decided on Thursday in the third final at Adelaide. Continued on page 31 >>

Amir Khan: The WBA still have me as WBA Super Champion Amir Khan @AmirKingKhan : If it’s true or not true about the WBA handing bk the title, Id rather fight + win it, we al knw what happened last time + prove I’m the best AMIR KHAN has been dragged into a title row after being installed as WBA super champion despite losing his last fight to Lamont Peterson in Washington DC. The light welterweight was introduced to the audience at the recent WBA convention in Mexico as super champion and was also given a special ‘super champions’ ring. He was also told by WBA vice president Gilberto Mendoza he could tell fans about his super

champion status. Amir Khan, former WBA (Super) Continued on page 31 >>

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