|Saturday, January 29, 2000,
regrets Indians ill-treatment
|Chechnya action needed: Putin
MOSCOW, Jan 28 UN General-Secretary Kofi Annan met acting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow today to discuss the situation in the Balkans and the Chechen conflict, news agencies said.
Albright to determine
charges Speaker with racial bias
to mediate in Lanka
Defusing Indo-Pak crises a challenge: Clinton
WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (PTI, Reuters) President Bill Clinton has said working to defuse crises between India and Pakistan is one of the fundamental challenges the USA must meet globally in the 21st century.
In his final State of the Union address last night, he said America cannot prevent every conflict or stop every outrage. But where our interests are at stake and we can make a difference, we must be peacemakers.
We should be proud of Americas role in bringing the Middle-East closer than ever to a comprehensive peace; building peace in Northern Ireland; working for peace in East Timor and Africa; promoting reconciliation between Greece and Turkey and in Cyprus; working to defuse crises between India and Pakistan and defending human rights and religious freedom, Mr Clinton said outlining the fundamental challenges ahead of the USA globally.
Justifying the use of force to defend human rights where the USA can make a difference, Mr Clinton said, We should be proud of the men and women of our armed forces and those of our allies who stopped the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo enabling a million innocent people to return to their homes, he remarked.
Another challenge, Mr Clinton said, was to keep the inexorable march of technology from giving terrorists and potentially hostile nations the means to undermine the US defence.
We must meet this threat by making effective agreements to restrain nuclear and missile programmes in North Korea, curbing the flow of lethal technology to Iran, preventing Iraq from threatening its neighbours, increasing our preparedness against chemical and biological attack, protecting our vital computer system from hackers and criminals and developing a system to defend against new missile threats while working to preserve our anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia, he said.
Most of the speech was devoted to domestic affairs, with the President proposing a total of $ 350 billion in expenditure on various programmes to help the underprivileged and middle classes. But he also spoke on some of the foreign policy issues.
He said, we must continue to encourage our former adversaries, Russia and China, to emerge as stable, prosperous, democratic nations. Both are being held back from reaching their full potential Russia by the legacy of Communism, economic turmoil, a cruel and self-defeating war in Chechnya; China by the illusion that it can buy stability at the expense of freedom.
On Russia, he said the USA should continue aid for nuclear threat reduction and arms control efforts and support those Russians struggling for a democratic, prosperous future.
Acknowledging the growing threat of rogue nations to world stability, he called for effective international agreements to restrain nuclear and missile programmes in North Korea and to prevent the spread of lethal nuclear and biological weapons technology to countries like Iran and Iraq.
With the threat of rogue states in mind, Mr Clinton referred briefly to the need for the USA to develop a national missile defence system capable of warding off ballistic missile attacks.
USA regrets Indians ill-treatment
WASHINGTON, Jan 28 The Clinton Administration has expressed deep regret over the treatment meted out to 40 Indian computer programmers working at a US Air Force based who were handcuffed and paraded like common criminals after being arrested in an immigration raid.
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth told India Abroad News Service that he had called Indian Ambassador Naresh Chandra and expressed my deep regret at the way the Indian nationals had been treated by agents of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS).
Mr Inderfurth said his office was in contact with the INS and, after reading a preliminary report of the incident, believed the Indian nationals, working at the base in San Antonio, Texas, shouldnt have been subjected to the shabby and humiliating treatment they received.
He said he had instructed his staff to get in touch with the INS office in San Antonio and the Texas regional office and prepare a complete report about the circumstances leading to the incident so he could take it up with top INS officials if it was found that the rights of the Indians had been violated.
Mr Inderfurth, however, said he did not believe that Indians were specifically targeted because of their nationality or that there was any racial profiling involved.
Mr Rahul Reddy, an immigration attorney who represented the arrested engineers and got them released on a bail of $ 5,000 each, had said: It appears that the INS action is a crackdown on Indians.
He alleged that the INS officials used national slurs and added it is not normal procedure for INS agents to enter into a workplace, arrest and handcuff employees. According to Mr Reddy, the normal course of action would be for the INS to serve notice asking the engineers to show cause why their visas should not be withdrawn for the alleged violations.
Ambassador Chandra told IANS that Indias Consul General in Houston, Texas, on his instructions had been in touch with the local INS office to ascertain facts of the case and had challenged the agency to show cause for the action it took.
He said the Council-General had offered to cooperate with the INS if any laws had been broken by the body shopper who had contracted the programmers and to provide the Indian Government with any evidence that would justify the arrest and humiliation.
Mr Chandra acknowledged there had been cases of body shoppers who had been prosecuted in India for perpetrating fraud and violating the terms of the H1-B temporary visa programme and said that was why the Consul-General in Houston said India was ready to cooperate if any illegal activity had taken place.
Mr Chandra agreed with Mr Inderfurth, saying he did not believe they had been targeted because they were Indians.
But both Mr Inderfurth
and Mr Chandra said there might have been some technical
nuances of the law that perhaps disallowed
sub-contractors transferring consultants that might have
been violated and this was what both governments were
trying to ascertain. (India Abroad News Service)
Window on Pakistan
IN his attempt to subdue the judiciary and use it as a tool, Pakistans military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, could achieve only a limited success. Chief Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui and six of his colleagues from the Supreme Court refused to play the ball. They declared that they would not take the oath under the new constitutional order, as desired by the ruling General, since they were committed to the 1973 constitution that guaranteed independence of the judiciary.
All of them have ceased to be judges. In fact, Chief Justice Siddiqui is under house arrest and faces the threat of being prosecuted in cases of alleged corruption. But all of them have won acclaim. Most newspapers, including The Nation, The News and The Frontier Post, have welcomed their stand.
What would this mean in the long run is not clear. But it would be a bit difficult for the General, now in the robes of the Chief Executive, to secure verdicts of his choice. It is true that many lawyers and judges would be available to fill the bill and pronounce convenient judgements, but they would be closely watched by the media and the people.
General Musharraf was keen to pack the judiciary with his own men or at least ensure that he got favourable judicial pronouncements. Or else he ran the risk of even getting the military take-over declared as unconstitutional.
There is no provision in the 1973 constitution for the army to sack an elected government and send the elected representatives to prison. The take-over was under challenge in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The General could hardly run the risk of the highest judicial body nullifying his rule. So to preserve and protect the original action and to avoid any judgement against army rule, the Chief Executive, after persuading the handpicked President, asked all the judges to take their oath under the new constitutional order. Seven other judges of different High Courts, all inconvenient, were not invited to take the oath. However, they too ceased to function.
Pakistans leading lawyer and human rights activist, Ms Asma Jehangir, finds the development dangerous. She feels the list of the judges was prepared by intelligence agencies and then okayed by General Musharraf. You find corrupt judges still on the Benches, and those who stood by some principles have been sidelined.
But what is becoming more scary is that the media which has enjoyed a degree of freedom so far, would be the next target, in any case. The Frontier Post and The Nation, besides The News, had warned about this much earlier, almost in November last year.
It is clear and everyone is taking note of it that General Musharraf, now riding a tiger, would like to have judgements on former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the lines of what General Zia got about the then ousted Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. If Mr Nawaz Sharif is not hanged, at least he must spend the rest of his life as a condemned prisoner. How could the General afford to have a democratic set-up that would question him and negate army rule? For the poor people of Pakistan it is going to be the rule of the sword, not of the law. And Hate India would be the slogan of the army to live by.
Harkat chief disowns Azhar
ISLAMABAD, Jan 28 (IANS) The chief of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Fazl-ur-Rehman Khalil, has disowned Maulana Masood Azhar, the Pakistani cleric India freed with two other jailed extremists last month to save the passengers and crew of a hijacked plane.
Masood Azhar was with us three or four years ago but he has not been a member of our group for the past three years, Khalil told the BBC, NNI news agency reported.
He said Azhar was a
journalist and not a regular member of the
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, which has been designated a
terrorist group by the U.S. State Department. He
was a journalist, writing reports and articles about
Kashmir. Therefore, he was also related to us. However,
he was not our regular member, he insisted.
Chechnya action needed: Putin
MOSCOW, Jan 28 (DPA, Reuters) UN General-Secretary Kofi Annan met acting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow today to discuss the situation in the Balkans and the Chechen conflict, news agencies said.
Mr Putin told Mr Annan that the military action against Muslim rebel forces was necessary to restore a peaceful life to the republic and enable the reconstruction of its economy, Interfax quoted the deputy head of the Kremlin administration, Sergei Prikhodko, as saying after the meeting.
Mr Annan expressed understanding for the efforts of Russia in the fight against terrorism, but raised international concerns for the fate of Chechen civilians caught up in the conflict, Mr Prikhodko said.
Meanwhile, a pro-Russian Chechen leader whose forces are fighting rebels in the regional capital Grozny has said he will hold talks with some rebel commanders who appeared set to surrender.
Bislan Gantamirov, quoted by Interfax, said some commanders in the eastern parts of Grozny had approached him saying that they were ready to lay down their arms. Gantamirov said he would hold talks with them today.
Alkhan-Kal (Russia): Chechen snipers in high-rise buildings and trenches fired fiercely at Russian troops trying to advance on the centre of Grozny while a rain of Russian bombs and rockets blanketed the capital in thick smoke.
Albright to determine terrorist-state status
WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) The USA has deplored a Pakistani Government decree that judges take an oath of allegiance to the provisions of military rule, seen as a step back from promises to restore civilian government.
The decree increased to the gap between Washington and Islamabad, which are also at odds over Kashmiri militants, nuclear tests and ties with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The spokesman volunteered a vague threat that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright might use her power to designate countries as state sponsors of terrorism.
So far the USA has said the Pakistani authorities provide general support to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen but did not have advance knowledge of the hijacking plan or support it.
Rubin added: If the Secretary of State determines that a government has repeatedly provided support of international terrorism directly, then she would be prepared to designate that country as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Inclusion on the list of state sponsors, which now consists of Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and North Korea, usually brings US economic sanctions.
But the USA has not yet lost hope in the Pakistani Government changing course.
Military ruler Gen Pervez Musharra issued the decree on Tuesday night. Pakistans Chief Justice, Said-uz-Zaman Siddiqi, ignored the order and was replaced on Wednesday.
The USA deplores General Musharrafs order, said US State Department spokesman James Rubin yesterday.
This move ... undermines the integrity and independence of the judiciary in Pakistan. This is contrary to the path of restoration of civilian rule the General pledged to follow when he took power in October, the spokesman added.
only reinforces the view we share with much of the
international community that General Musharraf needs to
make clear in a comprehensive fashion how he intends to
return Pakistan to an elected government, he said.
Sikh charges Speaker with racial bias
TORONTO, Jan 28 (IANS) An Indo-Canadian has accused Canadas House of Commons Speaker Gilbert Parent of firing him as his chauffeur because of his race.
The three-year-old complaint by Mr Satnam Vaid, A Sikh, before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, has once again hit the headlines with The National Post giving fresh details of the case.
The report said Mr Vaid, in his complaint, alleged that Mr Parent once asked him to name the caste into which he was born.
When he refused, Mr Vaid said the Speaker persisted... and wanted to know the difference between he and I in terms of the relative positions that would be ascribed to us under the caste system and mentioned the powerful office he now occupied as the Speaker.
Mr Vaid had sought the commissions help and intervention in his reinstatment as chauffeur and payment of $ 5,000 in compensation for injured feelings, loss of dignity and mental distress.
Norway to mediate in Lanka
COLOMBO, Jan 28 (UNI) Norway has set foot on this island country to negotiate with the LTTE as Sri Lanka feels that direct bilateral negotiations with the banned organisation are no longer practicable now that the confidence level between the government and the rebels has eroded.
This is the first time that a western country is making an effort at the behest of the government to evolve a political solution to the countrys long-standing ethnic problem. Senior Norwegian diplomat Leiv Lunde, who concluded his five-day visit to Colombo on Wednesday, held preliminary talks with the government and members of political parties as a prelude to negotiating with the LTTE, official sources said.
Mr Lunde who holds the
rank of a Deputy Minister met acting Foreign Minister
Lakshman Kiriella and members of various Tamil parties
during his stay. He also called on opposition leader and
United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister G.L.Peiris.
law in Nigerian state
out of court deal
Rebel leader for
end to war
50 bodies found
3 children die
of poisonous fumes
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