Saturday, November 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Mullah Omar appoints Usmani successor
UNHCR reopens offices in Kabul,
Mazar-e-Sharif
Quetta, November 23
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has appointed a long-time confidant as his new deputy and eventual successor, a close ally of the Islamic militia’s leadership said today.

Afghan Hindus, Sikhs back ex-king
Kabul, November 23
Chanting “Wahe Guru”, 60 Afghan Sikh and Hindu men, women and children worship in their bright tinsel-clad temple in Kabul, hoping that Afghanistan’s next rulers will tolerate religious minorities.

Pakistanis, Kashmiris among Al-Qaida ‘jehadis’
A
n Al-Qaida booklet mentioning jehad militants from Pakistan and unnamed groups from Kashmir is among documents left behind by the Taliban fleeing Kabul last week that shed new light on Afghanistan’s role over the last five years as a gathering point for radical Islamic organisations from across the globe, an American newspaper has reported.

Hijackers had valid US visas
Washington, November 23
All the 19 September 11 hijackers entered the USA with valid visas but three had lost their legal status by the time of the attacks, the Justice Department has said.

Philippine troops in Zamboanga board a military transport vessel for deployment to Jolo on Friday. The troops will reinforce their comrades fighting guerillas loyal to rebellious Muslim governor Nur Misuari. The military said over 160 persons have been killed in the fighting in Jolo over the past three days. — Reuters photo




A bitch called Linda nurses four piglets after she adopted them following the loss of her recently born puppies in Fonfria de Alba, northwestern Spain, on Thursday. — AP/PTI photo

EARLIER STORIES

 

Lanka oppn seeks US intervention
Colombo, November 23
In an unusual move, Sri Lanka’s opposition has asked the USA Britain and the European Commission to intervene to stop what they called an impending “bloodbath” during election time at the alleged behest of President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
US envoy’s remarks disappoint
I
t is not just the Pakistan administration, now under tight military control, but most of the English and Urdu newspapers like Dawn, The Nation and Nawa-e-Waqt see US-Pakistan relations through the prism of India. For President Pervez Musharraf the benefit is that no one is talking about the restoration of democracy. But the India-centred view dominates. It is natural for hostile neighbours that have fought two major wars look to the only super power, now engaged in a no-holds-barred war in Afghanistan, for political and military support.

Putin rules out NATO membership
Moscow, November 23
NATO Secretary-General George Robertson today said President Vladimir Putin had ruled out any attempt by Russia to join the Atlantic alliance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) stands with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson during their meeting in Moscow on Friday. Putin said that Russia was not in the queue to join NATO, but that Moscow was ready to take relations as far as the western alliance wanted.
— Reuters photo




A Palestinian boy waits in a line with men to have his identification checked before entering the al-Aqsa Mosque to pray on the second Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem on Friday. Palestinians and Israelis lowered expectations on Friday of any major breakthrough from a new US peace drive, but said they hoped it would bring progress toward ending nearly 14 months of violence. — Reuters

Britain's Prince Charles (R) visits the East London Mosque accompanied by the Chairman of the Mosque, Dr Abdul Bari, in Whitechapel, London, on Friday. The Prince unveiled a plaque to open a new wing of the Mosque.
— Reuters

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Mullah Omar appoints Usmani successor
UNHCR reopens offices in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif

Quetta, November 23
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has appointed a long-time confidant as his new deputy and eventual successor, a close ally of the Islamic militia’s leadership said today.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Usmani has been handed the task of leading the Taliban should anything happen to Omar, according to Abu Abdul Rehman, a commander of the Pakistan-based Harakat ul-Mujahedin militant group.

“Mullah Mohammed Omar has selected Mullah Usmani as his successor,” Rehman told AFP. “Mullah Omar and Usmani were school fellows. They both fought against the Russians.

“They both started together at the Jamia Farooq Azam” madrasa (religious school) in southern Kandahar province. “When they completed their studies they started teaching together.”

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency said on it had re-established its presence in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif — where there have been unconfirmed reports of atrocities — as well as Kabul.

“We have, as I speak now, three international staff on the ground in Kabul. We still have a very tight ceiling of 20 international U.N. staff for the city of Kabul. So we have to stay in that ceiling and, sharing with other agencies, as security improves we can expand our presence,” said UNHCR co-ordinator Filippo Grandi.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said this week up to 600 bodies had been found in Mazar-e-Sharif after its capture by the Northern Alliance.

In the meantime, the United Nations’ World Food Programme started airlifting food to northern Afghanistan today to build up stocks for more than 274,000 desperately hungry people.

An aircraft carrying about 17 tonnes of flour left Kolyiab airport in southern Tajikistan on a 30-minute flight to Faizabad to aid drought and war-ravaged Afghans.

“This is the first time a humanitarian airlift has been launched from Tajikistan, and the first time in this current crisis that WFP has used aircraft to send food into Afghanistan,’’ the U.N. Agency said in a statement from Islamabad.

Islamabad: To recoup some of its mettle in the ongoing international wrangling in Afghanistan, Pakistan would soon put up a diplomatic presence in Jalalabad, the eastern town of the war-torn country, a newspaper said today.

The Frontier Post, quoting well-placed sources, said the move would be characterised as one of the most daring diplomatic manoeuvres by Pakistan in recent times. Agencies
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Afghan Hindus, Sikhs back ex-king

Kabul, November 23
Chanting “Wahe Guru”, 60 Afghan Sikh and Hindu men, women and children worship in their bright tinsel-clad temple in Kabul, hoping that Afghanistan’s next rulers will tolerate religious minorities.

Afghanistan has always been overwhelmingly Muslim but until the upheaval of the early 1990s, when ethnic militias fought bloody street battles in Kabul, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews played a large role in the economy.

Many emigrated to escape the fighting. But, for those who stayed on, the hardline Islamic fundamentalism that the Taliban introduced when they swept into Kabul in 1996 meant they were forced to worship behind closed doors.

The Taliban ordered Sikhs and Hindus to wear yellow patches on their clothes to mark themselves as non-Muslim. They were further alienated as Punjabi speakers in a city where most speak Dari — a type of Persian — or Pashto.

“We Sikhs and Hindus had a great deal of problems under the Taliban,” said Ravinder Singh, who works at the temple, tucked away down a dirt alley in central Kabul.

“We couldn’t freely practice our religion. And women had to stay indoors all the time,” he said. “Some people had to wear yellow clothing, although those with turbans didn’t always do so.”

Now that the Taliban have gone, the small community is pinning its hopes on a meeting in Germany next week where, under the UN auspices, leaders of the main ethnic groups will seek to agree on a broad- based government.

Ravinder said only 50 Sikh families were left in Kabul, compared with 2,000 in the late 1980s, and no one would represent them directly at the meeting in Bonn.

“We want the King back,” he said. “Under King Zahir Shah this country was more democratic. Everyone could do what they pleased, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus.”

The exiled King Zahir Shah, (87), will send supporters to the Bonn conference on Monday.

The Sikhs have lived and done business in Afghanistan for centuries, many came following British colonial armies in the 19th century and stayed to do business, taking a dominant role in the money markets and even bankrolling Afghan kings when they went to war. Reuters 
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Pakistanis, Kashmiris among Al-Qaida ‘jehadis’

An Al-Qaida booklet mentioning jehad militants from Pakistan and unnamed groups from Kashmir is among documents left behind by the Taliban fleeing Kabul last week that shed new light on Afghanistan’s role over the last five years as a gathering point for radical Islamic organisations from across the globe, an American newspaper has reported.

The 26-page booklet, bound with a yellow cover and appearing to be a primer on Al-Qaida and its sympathisers, contained a page-long list of various militant groups stated to be “helping Afghanistan in their fight against the infidels,” the Washington post said in a Kabul-datelined report yesterday.

The list includes the Egyptian Islamic Jehad movement; the Libyan Jihad Fighters movement; the Abu Sayyaf separatist movement from the Philippines; a group called Abu Al Hasan-al Ansar; and what the booklet calls “Jehad militants” from Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Pakistan, the paper said.

Also listed, but unnamed, are “groups from Kashmir, Indonesia, Somalia, Burma, Bosnia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan,” it said.

The booklet and other documents, which include books, handwritten notes, leaflets, identity cards and notations scrawled on scraps of paper, were discovered in several houses scattered around Kabul where Arab, Chechen, Uzbek and other foreign fighters lived, the paper said.

The paper said most revealing from the hundreds of pages of papers was the extent to which Afghanistan had become the base for a global network of radical Islamic groups stretching from West Asia through Central Asia to the Far East.

“These Arab-Afghans are helping the Afghans in their fight against the infidels, and this is their list,” the booklet reads. “They are fighting for no payment.” it adds, “Our aim is to make the Americans leave the Gulf.”

Arab-Afghans is the name given to foreign militants in Afghanistan, dating from the 1980s when Arab volunteers — including bin Laden — came to Afghanistan to help in the US-sponsored guerrilla war against Soviet occupation.

Another handwritten document, apparently a class notebook from a new Arab trainee, says Al-Qaida “has mostly trained people in light weapons,” such as AK-47 assault rifles, antitank rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and pistols.

The training also covered such aspects as using code words, symbols and other kinds of communications, negotiating mountainous terrain and crossing peaks not easy to climb, making light explosives from gunpowder and using hand grenades, dynamite, chemical bombs, c3 and c4 plastic explosives and nitroglycerin with maximum impact.

An Arabic-language article downloaded from the Internet details how in 1999, bin Laden received Russian anti-aircraft rockets from Bulgaria and how the rockets were smuggled through Pakistan with help from “Albanian separatists who are fighting in southern Serbia.”

The lesson on the final page of a spiral notebook is on “atomic explosions” and includes a short scientific explanation on how the movement of electrons causes an atomic blast. “One atomic explosion can produce the equivalent of 200 metric tons of TNT,” the handwritten notes read. “The atomic explosion causes intense heat, pressure and other side effects. Up to 50 km away, it can cause blindness in people.” UNI
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Hijackers had valid US visas

Washington, November 23
All the 19 September 11 hijackers entered the USA with valid visas but three had lost their legal status by the time of the attacks, the Justice Department has said.

Majority of the attackers, as many as 15, were from Saudi Arabia while two came from the United Arab Emirates, one was an Egyptian and another was Lebanese.

Only two of them had entered the USA last year, in January and December. The majority were admitted in May and June this year. Their visas were granted for either pleasure trips, business or education.

Satam M. A. Al Suqami came in May this year as a temporary visitor for business, but his visa had expired by September 11.AP
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Lanka oppn seeks US intervention

Colombo, November 23
In an unusual move, Sri Lanka’s opposition has asked the USA Britain and the European Commission to intervene to stop what they called an impending “bloodbath” during election time at the alleged behest of President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Opposition United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe wrote to US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and European Commission President Romano Prodi seeking “urgent help” to save democracy after Ms Kumaratunga allegedly held out a murder threat against UNP supporters.

Meanwhile, pre-poll violence claimed two more lives in Sri Lanka on Friday morning when two supporters of the ruling Peoples Alliance (PA) coalition were gunned down allegedly by United National Party (UNP) supporters at Anamaduwa in Puttlam district.

With this, election violence in the poll campaign, which enters its final fortnight, had skyrocketed to 1,090. UNI
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WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
US envoy’s remarks disappoint
Gobind Thukral

It is not just the Pakistan administration, now under tight military control, but most of the English and Urdu newspapers like Dawn, The Nation and Nawa-e-Waqt see US-Pakistan relations through the prism of India. For President Pervez Musharraf the benefit is that no one is talking about the restoration of democracy. But the India-centred view dominates. It is natural for hostile neighbours that have fought two major wars look to the only super power, now engaged in a no-holds-barred war in Afghanistan, for political and military support.

In this context, the nation ran a commentary on Thursday, expressing disappointment over what the US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin had said at a press conference. It said: “She believes that strong relations between the USA and Pakistan are in the interest of both countries, as well as of the whole region.” On Tuesday, she told The Nation that when she took up her ambassadorial assignment in Pakistan she had hoped she would take three years to restore relations between the two countries which had hit rock-bottom. The task was made easy by developments that followed the September 11 attacks. The event made the two countries realise they could not resolve the question of international terrorism without each other’s help.

The editorial also said: “The change in US policy towards Pakistan was as unexpected as it was abrupt. Before September 11, Pakistan faced the most sanctions. Many American think-tanks had declared it a failed state.”

Neither the USA nor its European or Japanese allies were ready to talk to General Musharraf on the “principled” plea that he had overthrown the democratic system. After General Musharraf decided to extend unstinted cooperation to the US-led coalition, he became the darling of the West overnight. “A host of Western dignitaries, including US Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld, Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Schroeder, not to mention assorted foreign ministers, made trips to Islamabad as if they had finally located a long-lost brother. The people of this country are to be excused if this gives them a sense of déjà vu. Many remember this happening in the early days of Ayub, and a younger generation saw this during the Zia era. What happened then, and what everyone is apprehensive might happen again, is the country being left high and dry by the USA after the achievement of its objectives,” it added.

This was of course, all being stated daily by most newspapers. But what The Nation added is meaningful and tells a lot what the Americans are not saying.

It said: “Ms Chamberlin preferred to dodge a number of crucial questions. Regarding military cooperation with Pakistan, she referred to minor things like training exchanges and sale of spares but when asked specifically whether Pakistan would be given F16s, what she said implied that the matter still remained where it was. On Kashmir too she confined herself to stating principles like respect for human rights and opposition to terrorism being careful not to mention the principle of self-determination. She would ask the Kashmiri people, India and Pakistan to start a dialogue to settle the dispute. This would hardly satisfy either the Kashmiris or the people of Pakistan. What the USA needs to understand is that unless it differentiates between struggles for self-determination and terrorism, particularly in the context of the West Asia and Kashmir, the Muslim world will continue to feel uneasy about its policies.”

Dr Aziz Kurtha in an article in Dawn while talking about the legal position in the case of Afghanistan said: “In the absence of any credible evidence that the state of Afghanistan, as opposed to a group of disparate individuals, had launched an “armed attack” on the USA, there could be no legal collective or self-defence arguments which could justify engagement in military hostilities against that country.”

His argument was: “As a precedent the World Court at the Hague had itself ruled in the Nicaragua case of 1986 that the USA had acted illegally by engaging in military action against Nicaragua and that the alleged collective self-defence argument did not apply. The USA was ordered to pay compensation in what is perhaps the nearest judicial determination of guilt in an international case.”

However, the most important caveat against taking any military action under international law including action to prevent and punish crimes against humanity, is the need to protect civilians at all costs and the requirement to bring the alleged assailants to trial before an impartial court, he contended.

Dr Aziz also said the United Nations has already established international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda and these were working efficiently under difficult circumstances. 
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Putin rules out NATO membership

Moscow, November 23
NATO Secretary-General George Robertson today said President Vladimir Putin had ruled out any attempt by Russia to join the Atlantic alliance.

“He (Mr Putin) said this was not some back-door method of Russia getting membership in NATO, and he already ruled out going in through the front door, Mr Robertson told reporters after Kremlin talks with Mr Putin. Reuters
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