THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

USA makes Libya to give up WMD
Washington, December 20
Libya has agreed to abandon its programme to develop weapons of mass destruction, after nine months of secret negotiations with Britain and the USA, President George W Bush has said. In a dramatic nationwide broadcast last evening, Bush commended Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s “wise, responsible and constructive” example to other nations.

A video image shows Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderrhmane Chalgam addressing a Press conference in Libya A video image shows Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderrhmane Chalgam addressing a Press conference in Libya on Friday. Libya said on Friday it would abandon its weapons of mass destruction programmes and allow unconditional inspections.
— Reuters photo


Gurbax Malhi gets charge of new Canadians
Toronto, December 20
Mr Bobby Jindal may have failed to make the grade in the USA but in Canada, Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi has steadily climbed the political ladder to become the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

50 rebels sought in exchange for 2 Indians
Spin Boldak (Afghanistan), December 20
The ousted Afghan Taliban militia is demanding the release of 50 imprisoned militants in return for two Indian engineers they are holding hostage, a rebel commander today said.

Window on Pakistan
It’s fresh, carry on President Musharraf
I
f Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s views on Kashmir sounded pleasant to Indian ears. His interview with Reuters’ Simon Denier was a new beat for Pakistani media. How could Pakistan forget the UN resolutions — part of its arguments for 50 long years? 


An Iraqi gunman raises his weapon while others celebrate around the wreckage of a burning tanker truck near Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, on Friday
An Iraqi gunman raises his weapon while others celebrate around the wreckage of a burning tanker truck near Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, on Friday. A homemade explosive device exploded on the roadside as the military truck was passing, wounding two US soldiers.
— AP/PTI

EARLIER STORIES

 
Indonesian soldiers from the elite Raiders Division take part in a ceremony rehearsal in Jakarta Indonesian soldiers from the elite Raiders Division take part in a ceremony rehearsal in Jakarta on Saturday. The troops are preparing to participate in the Indonesian Army's anniversary, which will take place on December 22.
— Reuters

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USA makes Libya to give up WMD

Washington, December 20
Libya has agreed to abandon its programme to develop weapons of mass destruction, after nine months of secret negotiations with Britain and the USA, President George W Bush has said.

In a dramatic nationwide broadcast last evening, Bush commended Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s “wise, responsible and constructive” example to other nations.

“With today’s announcement, Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations. And Col Gaddafi knows the way forward,” Bush said.

As Libya becomes a more peaceful nation, it can be a source of stability in Africa and the Middle East, Bush said adding that Libya has already pledged cooperation in the international fight against terrorism.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a similar announcement shortly beforehand and said Gaddafi had confirmed that Libya, in the past, had sought to develop WMD capabilities.

Blair said Gaddafi has made a historic decision by deciding to get rid of such weapons.

“I applaud it. It will make the region and the world more secure. It shows that problems of proliferation can, with goodwill, be tackled through discussion and engagement, to be followed up by the responsible international agencies”, he said.

Bush said Gaddafi has agreed to immediately and unconditionally allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya. “These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes and will help oversee their elimination.”

Talks leading to this announcement, said Bush, began about nine months ago when Blair and he were contacted through Gaddafi’s personal envoys who communicated his willingness to make a decisive change in the policy of Libyan government.

At the direction of Gaddafi, Libyan officials have provided American and British officers with documentation on that country’s chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and activities, Bush said.

Meanwhile, Blair said Libya declared its intention to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction completely and to limit the range of Libyan missiles to no greater than 300 Kms, in accordance with the parameters set by the Missile Technology Control Regime.

The Libyan government has undertaken that this process will be transparent and verifiable. It will immediately adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention and declare all nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency. It will also adhere to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and sign the Additional Protocol.

“We have offered our support to Libya in presenting its programmes to these international bodies and are prepared to offer assistance with dismantlement,” Blair added. — PTI 
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Gurbax Malhi gets charge of new Canadians

Toronto, December 20
Mr Bobby Jindal may have failed to make the grade in the USA but in Canada, Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi has steadily climbed the political ladder to become the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

The immigrant from Punjab, who began his life in Canada as a factory labour, was recently sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry with special emphasis on entrepreneurs and new Canadians.

This is the first time that parliamentary secretaries have been assigned specific policy responsibilities and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has chosen the right candidate for the job because if there is one thing Mr Malhi knows everything about, it is being “a new Canadian.’’ The graduate from Panjab University, who migrated to Canada in the late 70s, is proud of having started from the lowest rung of society in his new country.

“I worked in a factory, earning the minimum wages. I did all sorts of odd jobs. Then I went into real estate business. Life was very tough for the first four to five years,’’ said Mr Malhi, savouring his success on his first trip to his constituency in Brampton after being sworn in.

“But then, everybody has to adjust and gradually, the opportunity to do something better presents itself if one works hard enough,’’ says Mr Malhi. His new job in Ottawa will ensure that the MP stays in touch with his roots, helping out the new immigrants in this country to find their feet.

“I feel very proud because now I shall be able to assist the new Canadians who are looking forward to setting up small businesses here,’’ added Mr Malhi, who will be reporting directly to Mr Martin.

According to him, the Martin government is extremely sensitive to the hardships being faced by the new immigrants to Canada. — UNI
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50 rebels sought in exchange for 2 Indians

Spin Boldak (Afghanistan), December 20
The ousted Afghan Taliban militia is demanding the release of 50 imprisoned militants in return for two Indian engineers they are holding hostage, a rebel commander today said.

Commander Mullah Rehmatullah said the hardline Islamic movement, toppled from power in Afghanistan by a US-led war in late 2001, would also make additional demands, but declined to elaborate.

A government spokesman in the southern province of Zabul, where the two engineers were kidnapped earlier this month while working on a major highway reconstruction project, said the authorities there had received a letter outlining the demands.

Copies of the letter have also been sent to senior government officials and the company that employed the Indians, according to the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) news agency.

Officials in Zabul also said they received letters from the Indians saying that they were in good health and being treated well.

“There does not appear to be any important (Taliban) member on the list of people they want released,” Haji Baz Mohammad, an official in the Shah Joy district of Zabul, told AIP.

“These are people whom the Taliban took forcibly to northern provinces to fight and are now in jails, mostly in Shiberghan.”

The Taliban is trying to regroup and fight a guerrilla-style insurgency against American forces and the US-backed government of interim President Hamid Karzai.

Frequent attacks in the south and east have forced the suspension of vital assistance work and triggered calls for a larger international peacekeeping force than the 5,700 soldiers currently operating in the relative safety of Kabul.

The Indians are employed by BSC-C&C JV, a joint venture contracted by Louis Berger Group Inc, the US firm leading the reconstruction of the highway. It was completed on Tuesday. — Reuters
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Window on Pakistan
It’s fresh, carry on President Musharraf
Gobind Thukral

If Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s views on Kashmir sounded pleasant to Indian ears. His interview with Reuters’ Simon Denier was a new beat for Pakistani media. How could Pakistan forget the UN resolutions — part of its arguments for 50 long years? The case for plebiscite in Kashmir rests on these resolutions. But the ground reality as Daily Times comment reveals has brought some freshness to help solve the tangle.

Daily Times editorial says, “Musharraf has come a long way from the time when the Pakistan army under his command sprung the Kargil surprise on India. By the time he went to Agra at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee two years later, he had had ample opportunity to interface with various world leaders and talked with them. For instance, the former Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew had a pragmatic advice for him, a paradigm different from what has been official Pakistani policy. There is evidence that Islamabad has been regularly getting similar signals from Beijing and Riyadh. Both countries had played an important role in convincing Pakistan to roll back its Kargil operation. It is a safe guess that much of this sort of realistic advice, regularly bouncing off General Musharraf, has had a significant impact on his thinking. At Agra, he did not invoke the UN resolutions, but India, long habituated to typical Pakistani responses, failed to pick up the signal. New Delhi also did not appreciate the fact that at the breakfast meeting with Indian newspaper editors, General Musharraf spoke about the need to take an integrated approach to solving India-Pakistan problems and, on Kashmir, referred to solutions rather than the solution. In essence, therefore, General Musharraf has, for some time now, been incrementally and realistically moving away from Pakistan’s stated — and in the eyes of the world, stale — position.”

Dawn in its comments appreciated the track II diplomacy when it wrote, “The track II initiative provides a much needed parallel channel for opinion formation and ideas on issues of vital interest to the two countries and an opportunity for some of the best-informed people from both sides periodically to sit together and discuss many a contentious issue without risking a breakdown or a failure in talks — something that has long inhibited formal contacts between the two countries. Because these discussions taken together with the talk of a reduction in defence spending and the creation of a single currency in the not too distant a future, this may prove useful in carrying forward the current normalisation process in the months ahead. For now, Pakistan has walked more than halfway forward. India should not find it too difficult to make its own contribution to that end. This it can do by engaging Kashmiri leaders in a meaningful dialogue and by ensuring that their people feel that their participation is being sought in determining their future.”

Shawar Junaid, a columnist in The Nation called rapprochement between Pakistan and India as interesting. He writes, “The move towards deeper integration in Europe and the formation of mutually beneficial regional trade blocs across the globe appear to have prompted the Prime Minister of India to suggest that not only should Pakistan and India consider settling outstanding disputes but consider deeper integration, such as a single currency. This suggestion so obviously skips the intermediary stages of regional cooperation that there is no doubt India’s PM was testing the waters for more workable levels of cooperation. The fact that his words were not greeted with excessive hostility and outrage should be considered encouraging.”

Daily Times has an encouraging suggestion for the General. It writes, “The new policy also sits well with the unilateral measures Pakistan has taken in recent days to improve the atmospherics before the January SAARC summit in Islamabad. It evinces the emerging contours of an integrated policy-approach, which is a good thing and which Pakistan lacked so far. National security issues cannot be dealt with in a cavalier or haphazard fashion. There is now need for General Musharraf to take people into confidence. He will be surprised to see how easy it will be for him to sell this line to most people.”
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BRIEFLY

Record pay-out for medical error
London:
An eight-year-old child who became severely physically handicapped after his brain was deprived of oxygen at birth was today awarded a record sum by a British court on Friday. Matthew King, who was born in 1995, was awarded Ł 5.75m in compensation for the error, which occurred at a hospital in the southern English port of Dover. It is the biggest pay-out ever to an accidental victim of brain damage. — AFP

11 killed in China
BEIJING: Eleven people were killed when an overloaded bus rolled down a slope in southeast China, state media reported Saturday. The accident happened early Friday in Nanping city, Fujian province, as the bus veered off the city’s third ring road, possibly because of brake failure, and rolled 33 meters down the slope, Xinhua said. — AFP

Guides save two tourists
Kathmandu: Two Nepali guides came to the rescue of two Dutch tourists who were attacked by a tigress at a national park, 170 km south west of Kathmandu. The tourists were visiting the Royal Chitawan National Park, home to more than 150 tigers, when they were confronted with the tigress and her cub Friday government-run The Rising Nepal said. — PTI

74 feared drowned turn up
BARISAL (Bangladesh): Seventy-four Bangladeshi fishermen feared to have drowned in the Bay of Bengal have been accounted for after being missing for two days, an official said. “They are all safe,” said an official with a fishing vessel association in Barguna district, 173 km south of Dhaka. — AFP
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