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Back channel talks on to resolve J&K issue: Pak
Islamabad, October 17
India and Pakistan are discussing through back channel “something different” to resolve the Kashmir issue besides their formal standpoints on the dispute, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has said.

2 dead in Rome metro crash
Rome, October 17
A train on Rome’s underground metro system rammed into the rear of another at high speed today, killing at least two persons and injuring as many 50 others, several seriously.




A woman cries after emerging from an underground train crash in Rome on Tuesday. — Reuters
A woman cries after emerging from an underground train crash in Rome on Tuesday.


EARLIER STORIES


Nawaz hopes Benazir will deny contacts with govt
Washington, October 16
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Sunday that he would wait for his meeting with Benazir Bhutto to determine if she was really talking to the Musharraf government.

Divali festivity at Trafalgar Square
London, October 17
Trafalgar Square at the heart of the British capital was ablaze with lights and colour as Mayor Ken Livingstone led hundreds of Londoners in celebrating Divali.

Pak court orders release of Lashkar founder
Islamabad, October 17
A Pakistani court today ordered the release of Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafeez Muhammad Saeed, ignorng the government argument that his “increasing activities” could hurt relations with “neighbouring” countries.

N. Korea: sanctions declaration of war
Seoul, October 17
The UN sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear test are a declaration of war, and the country will “deal merciless blows” if the nation’s sovereignty is violated, the North’s central government said today in its first response to the UN measures.

Key element of Indo-Lanka pact scrapped
Colombo, October 17
Sri Lankan supreme court yesterday scrapped a key element of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord by which the country’s northern and eastern provinces were clubbed to become one administrative unit.

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NASA releases dramatic new pictures of Mars. 
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Back channel talks on to resolve J&K issue: Pak

Islamabad, October 17
India and Pakistan are discussing through back channel “something different” to resolve the Kashmir issue besides their formal standpoints on the dispute, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has said.

Back channel talks aimed at hammering out a solution to the Kashmir issue that is acceptable to all parties are taking place, he said during an Iftar dinner here last night.

He was asked about the chances of the settlement of the Kashmir issue in the light of India’s stand that borders cannot be changed and Pakistan’s stand that LoC is not acceptable.

“Besides formal standpoints of the two countries on Kashmir, something different is being discussed by other sources,” he said in a reference to “back-channel contacts between former diplomats and other experts from India and Pakistan, but gave no details, the Dawn reported today.

Mr Kasuri said relations between the two countries had been improving and there was progress on the Kashmir specific confidence building measures both at diplomatic and other channels.

“There were Indian troops on Pakistan’s border in the past but now the situation has changed and both countries are talking to each other on all issues, including the core issue of Kashmir,” he was quoted as saying by state-run APP news agency.

Travel access initiated by the two countries, travel across the LoC without passport, meeting of Hurriyat leaders with Indian leadership and the visit of APHC leaders to Pakistan are some of the achievements in Pak-India relations which were not at this stage due to stand off Indian forces, he pointed out. — PTI 

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2 dead in Rome metro crash

Rome, October 17
A train on Rome’s underground metro system rammed into the rear of another at high speed today, killing at least two persons and injuring as many 50 others, several seriously.

The fire brigade said two persons, including a 30-year-old woman, were pulled out of the wreckage dead and some passengers were still trapped underground.

The accident occurred when one train arriving at the station at high speed crashed into the back of another that was still discharging passengers at the Piazza Vittorio underground station in the city centre.

The crash occurred at 9:47 a m (1:17 IST) at the crowded station. Unconfirmed early reports said the driver of the second train did not stop at a red light.

A witness said overhead beams of the station collapsed when the train rammed into the rear of the other, which was stationary with its doors open.

Live footage showed police and other rescue workers carrying injured passengers from the station. Witnesses said people spattered with blood were leaving the station while others were still trapped down below. — Reuters

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Nawaz hopes Benazir will deny contacts with govt
Anwar Iqbal

Washington, October 16
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Sunday that he would wait for his meeting with Benazir Bhutto to determine if she was really talking to the Musharraf government.

The two former Prime Ministers are scheduled to meet in London on October 19 to decide how to implement the charter of democracy they signed in the British capital on May 14.

“It will not be wise to make decisions on media reports,” Mr Sharif told reporters in Washington after addressing an iftar gathering by telephone from London.

“I am meeting Benazir on the 19th and I am sure she will dispel these rumours,” he said.

The charter commits Ms Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party and Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) to restoring democracy in the country and 
strengthening the parliamentary system.

They vowed to return home to take part in the campaign for the 2007 elections and rejected speculation about a possible ‘deal’ with President General Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Sharif said he did not believe Ms Bhutto would enter a deal with the government after signing the charter of democracy.

He dispelled the impression that the alliance forged to ‘defeat the military regime’ in Pakistan had run into trouble over Ms Bhutto’s reported contacts with President Musharraf.

Last week, PML-N chairman and Mr Sharif’s close confidant Raja Zafarul Haq told reporters that the Sharif-Bhutto meeting of October 19 could be their last if differences were 
not resolved.

Even though Mr Haq did not outline the differences, PML-N leaders had said they found the continued back-channel contacts between Gen Musharraf’s confidants and Ms Bhutto alarming.

While the media in Pakistan have periodically reported such contacts, Ms Bhutto herself only recently acknowledged the back-channel talks, but reiterated there was no change in her stand that Gen Musharraf should quit the post of army chief and hold free elections.

Addressing his supporters at the PML (N) house near Washington, Mr Sharif said the 2007 elections could not be fair or free. “Gen Musharraf is already urging people to vote for his men. How can he be fair when he is already taking sides,” he asked. “The general says that Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto will not contest the 2007 elections. How can the elections be fair if the country’s two main politicians are kept out?”

He said he was prepared to appear before any commission formed to probe the Kargil incident and present ‘irrefutable evidence’ to show that Gen Musharraf never briefed him before ‘launching his Kargil misadventure’.

He said that the transcript of a telephone call Gen Musharraf made to his deputy, Lt-Gen Aziz Khan, from Beijing during the crisis, also proved 
him right.

“In that tape, Gen Musharraf asks Gen Aziz if Mian Saheb knows about it and Gen Aziz says he does not,” said Mr Sharif. “I have a copy of this tape and I will present it before the proposed commission.”

— By arrangement with The Dawn

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Divali festivity at Trafalgar Square

London, October 17
Trafalgar Square at the heart of the British capital was ablaze with lights and colour as Mayor Ken Livingstone led hundreds of Londoners in celebrating Divali.

The celebration, organised for the sixth year in succession, showcased the talent of the Asian community in Britain with stunning dance and music performances last night.

Divali is celebrated in a number of British cities. Each year more than 40,000 attend an event in Leicester, said to be the largest outside India.

Speaking on the occasion, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said, “Divali, the festival of lights, with its universal theme, symbolises the power of good to triumph over evil”.

He said Divali had a significance and meaning for all London communities.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Londoners of all faiths to share and participate in this joyous occasion.” — PTI

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Pak court orders release of Lashkar founder

Islamabad, October 17
A Pakistani court today ordered the release of Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafeez Muhammad Saeed, ignorng the government argument that his “increasing activities” could hurt relations with “neighbouring” countries.

In his order, Lahore High Court Judge Justice Akhter Shabbir asked the government to immediately release Saeed, who was detained on August 28, saying his detention was against the Constitution and the law.

According to Saeed’s attorney Nazeer Ahmad Ghazi, the judge held the arrest order and the reasons given by the government as “unlawful” and ordered his immediate release.

The arrest of the head of the self-proclaimed NGO Jamat-ud-Dawa was challenged by his wife Mehmoona Saeed.

Even though the government has not given reasons for the detention of Saeed, it told the Lahore High Court yesterday that one of the reasons for his detention was that his “increased activities” could hurt relations with neighbouring countries. — PTI

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N. Korea: sanctions declaration of war

Seoul, October 17
The UN sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear test are a declaration of war, and the country will “deal merciless blows” if the nation’s sovereignty is violated, the North’s central government said today in its first response to the UN measures.

The North wants “peace but is not afraid of war,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The isolated communist nation said it “vehemently denounces the resolution, a product of the US hostile policy toward (the North) and totally refutes it.” “The resolution cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war” against the North Korea, the statement said. — AP

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Key element of Indo-Lanka pact scrapped

Colombo, October 17
Sri Lankan supreme court yesterday scrapped a key element of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord by which the country’s northern and eastern provinces were clubbed to become one administrative unit.

A bench declared as “illegal” uniting of the two provinces and said the President had no power to carry out such a decision. — PTI

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