Israel ready to remove major checkpoints, says Abbas
Elahi for talks on Kashmir
Pakistan paid militants to surrender
Pak welcomes India's decision on pipeline issue
Truck ploughs into crowd; 38 killed
Ramallah, February 9
Returning to his West Bank office, Abbas said: "The Israelis will withdraw from the cities and the adjacent areas and they will leave checkpoints, and Palestinian security forces will replace them at these checkpoints." A senior Israel military official confirmed that several roadbocks would be removed as part of the handover of security to the Palestinians.
Israeli army checkpoints ring all West Bank towns, with soldiers checking documents of all those entering and leaving, whether in cars or on foot. Long lines often form at these checkpoints, severely disrupting the lives of Palestinians. During more than four years of fighting, troops often sealed off towns entirely.
In the coming three weeks, Israel is to hand over security control in the towns of Jericho, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Bethlehem and Ramallah. The time-table was agreed to at Abbas' meeting yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. — AP
Lahore, February 9
“All core issues between India and Pakistan, including the issue of Kashmir, can be resolved through dialogue,” said Mr Elahi while speaking at a dinner hosted by him in honour of visiting Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and other members of the Haryanvi delegation last night.
Mr Chautala arrived here yesterday on a four-day visit to attend the spring festival “Jashn-e-Bahaar” being celebrated by the government of Pakistani Punjab.
Mr Elahi said both India and Pakistan could jointly fight their common enemies like poverty and illiteracy.
He said such exchange of delegations could play a vital role in further strengthening relations between the two countries.
Mr Chautala, on his part, expressed the hope that bilateral relations Pakistan would further improve as a result of the initiative being taken by the people of both the countries.
The Haryana Chief Minister said although the borders between India and Pakistan could not be changed, the feeling of love among the people of the two countries could strengthen the bond of friendship between them.
Mr Chautala invited the entrepreneurs, businessmen and educationists of Pakistan to Haryana to share their experiences with their conterparts in the state.
Both Mr Chautala and Mr Elahi exchanged mementoes. Mr Chautala also presented a turban to Mr Elahi as a mark of respect. Among those present at the dinner were Speaker, Punjab Assembly, Mr Afzal Saahi, and ministers of Punjab province. — UNI
Pakistan paid militants to surrender
Peshawar, February 9
Payments were made as part of a package after the militants insisted that they needed to pay back a huge sum they had taken from Al-Qaida in their fight against Pakistani forces.
The sources said the payments were made from the secret service fund (SS Fund) and the four militant commanders were summoned to Peshawar for the purpose.
Two of them, Haji Sharif and Maulvi Abbas, received Rs 15 million each, while Maulvi Javed Karmazkhel and Haji Mohammad Omar were each paid Rs 1 million.
Maulvi Abdul Aziz, the fifth militant leader, who also signed the peace deal, was not part of the package and, therefore, did not get any amount. However, the sources said that Maulvi Aziz was now angry for being ignored and was reportedly pressing the other four militants to give him his share.
The payments to the Ahmadzai-Wazir tribal militants were made last month, while Haji Sharif received his share on February 4, the sources said.
‘‘There were stacks of millions of notes of Rs 1,000 denomination and these men walked away literally with a bagful of money,’’ the sources added.
No receipts were given or signatures obtained as the payment was made from the SS Fund. It could not be confirmed whether the four militants really owed the money to Al-Qaida as they had claimed or pocketed the amount themselves.
Corps Commander of Peshawar, Lt-Gen Safdar Hussain, confirmed that the militants had initially sought Rs 170 million to return the amount borrowed from Al-Qaida.
‘‘At the start of negotiations, they asked for Rs 170 million but later they reduced the figure to Rs 50 million,’’ the corps commander said, while talking to a group of journalists.
‘‘Since the deal involved money and I did not want to become part of it, I said the matter should be dealt with by NWFP Governor Iftikhar Hussain Shah. And I don't know what happened afterwards,’’ he added.
The military commander also acknowledged having offered Rs 20 million to another Mujahideen commander, Baitullah Mehsud.
‘‘Since I had that past episode in mind, I thought may be Baitullah Mehsud too owed money to some people and, therefore, I made the offer,’’ he said.
The tribal militant who signed the peace deal on Monday had told the gathering on the occasion that he had declined the offer of money and asked the corps commander to use the money to compensate families who had suffered during the military operation.
During his talk with journalists, the corps commander hinted at troop pullout from South Waziristan as a result of peace deals reached with tribal militants. However, he made it clear that the authorities would wait until at least March to see how things developed in neighbouring Afghanistan in the wake of peace deals in the tribal region. ‘‘The two are inter-linked," he remarked.
He said he would wait until the snow started melting to see whether militants were abiding by the peace deals and not using the tribal region to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.
Islamabad, February 9
"This is a good news and ...is welcomed," Pakistan Petroleum Minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon told a press conference here, reacting to the Indian Cabinet' decision to mandate its Petroleum Ministry to hold talks with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Myanmar to secure natural gas supplies through pipelines.
"We are ready to remove all concerns and reservations of India," Khan said, claiming that the project has been "delayed due to India." "We will welcome if India joins the project," he said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will discuss the project with the Iranian President when he travels to Tehran later this month, Khan said.
The 2,600 km Indo-Iran pipeline through Pakistan was a non-starter due to differences between India and Pakistan on a host of issues.
Pakistan, which is expected to earn around $ 700 million as a transit fee from the estimated $ 3.5 billion Indo-Iran gas pipeline, insists that it is a stand alone project while India wants it to be part of opening of trade and economic relations between the two countries.
Another pipeline was planned to be laid from Turkmenistan through Afgahnistan and Pakistan to India. Pakistan has also been holding talks with Qatar to lay a gas pipeline. — PTI
Truck ploughs into crowd; 38 killed
Luanda, February 9 Catholic Radio Ecclesia said police fired shots into the air to disperse a stone-throwing crowd which tried to get into the morgue in the city, about 750 km (470 miles) south of the capital, after the accident. ‘’Witnesses said everything started when the brakes on a truck (from a civil construction firm) failed to work ... The number of dead is rising all the time ... and the population is in shock,’’ Radio Ecclesia said yesterday, without giving a source for the death toll. The radio report said people gathered outside the morgue to identify the dead but were blocked by police from entering the building. The crowd began to throw stones and police responded by firing shots into the air.
Luanda, February 9
Catholic Radio Ecclesia said police fired shots into the air to disperse a stone-throwing crowd which tried to get into the morgue in the city, about 750 km (470 miles) south of the capital, after the accident.
‘’Witnesses said everything started when the brakes on a truck (from a civil construction firm) failed to work ... The number of dead is rising all the time ... and the population is in shock,’’ Radio Ecclesia said yesterday, without giving a source for the death toll.
The radio report said people gathered outside the morgue to identify the dead but were blocked by police from entering the building. The crowd began to throw stones and police responded by firing shots into the air. — Reuters
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Kuwaiti terror leader dead
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