|Friday, February 4, 2000,
set for neo-Nazi party govt in Austria
India enjoys edge over Pak: CIA
Pak on Clintons South Asia
Pressure mounts on Wiranto to quit
Swedish firm wins Indian Army
I feared crash: Pak pilot
I have no choice, says President
VIENNA, Feb 3 (Reuters) Austrian Far-Rightist Joerg Haider and conservative leader Wolfgang Schuessel met President Thomas Klestil today to seek his approval for a new Centre-Right coalition despite intense international opposition.
The two men arrived separately at the Hofburg Palace just before 4 pm (IST) for talks with the Head of State on a government programme which they presented to him yesterday and to agree a cabinet list. A news conference was scheduled later.
The Peoples Party leader, Mr Schuessel, Foreign Minister in the outgoing grand coalition since 1995, will be Chancellor if Mr Klestil gives his approval. Mr Haider, best known for remarks belittling the crimes of the Nazis, will not join the Cabinet.
A small group of protesters threw eggs and fruit at Mr Haider as he walked from his car but nothing hit him.
Austrias European partners, appalled at the prospect of Mr Haiders freedom party entering national government, kept up the pressure.
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel questioned whether it was really essential that Austria should remain in the EU.
"Its too simplistic to say that we must keep Austria in Europe at all costs. I think Europe can very well do without Austria. We dont need it, Mr Michel told Belgiums RTBF Radio.
President Mr Klestil, a 67-year-old former diplomat re-elected for a second six-year term in 1998, faced the most difficult decision of his career.
He made clear his aversion to the new government in an unprecedented interview yesterday in which he lashed out at both Mr Schuessel and Mr Haider, but said he had little choice as they command 104 seats in the 183-seat Parliament.
Mr Klestil cannot call a
new election unless Parliament first votes to dissolve
itself. "If I were to swear in this government, I
would not do it out of personal conviction, because I
fear that Austria would suffer
internationally, Mr Klestil told a news
magazine. "In a democracy, a parliamentary majority
has to be respected. Personal preferences do not
India enjoys edge over Pak: CIA
WASHINGTON, Feb 3 (UNI) Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet, citing "the deep-seated rivalry" between India and Pakistan, has said that "India enjoys advantages over Pakistan in most areas of conventional defence preparedness."
In testimony yesterday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, he said that recent changes in government in both countries "add tensions" and that General Musharrafs rule in Pakistan "has reinforced New Delhis inclination not to reopen the bilateral dialogue" soon.
Mr Tenet said, "the new year brings continuing deep concerns about the antagonisms that persist in South Asia and their potential to fuel a wider conflict on the subcontinent."
He said threats were growing from weapons of mass destruction aimed at the USA from many parts of the world and that "over the next 15 years, our cities will face ballistic missile threats from North Korea, probably Iran, and possibly Iraq."
Mr Tenet said suspected Saudi terrorist Osama Bin Laden was still foremost among terrorists planning attacks against the USA and that more than half of 24 terrorists brought to justice since July 1998 "were associates" of Bin Ladens Al-qa Ida organisation.
He said that despite
some disruptions, U.S. intelligence officials believed
Bin Laden could strike without warning, and that the
terrorist along with others was
"placing increased emphasis on developing surrogates
to carry out attacks in an effort to avoid
Pak to observe Feb 5 as Kashmir day
ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (ANI) Pakistan has decided to observe February 5 as solidarity day with the Kashmiri people in a befitting manner for which an elaborate programme has been drawn up. The day has been declared a national holiday.
The decision was taken at a federal Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The National Security Council at a separate meeting also took the same decision. Both meetings were presided over by Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Sources said the NSC meeting reflected the national will to express solidarity with the valiant people of Kashmir struggling for their right to self-determination.
General Musharraf announced he would donate 50 per cent of his pay for humanitarian assistance to the affected Kashmiris. All members of the NSC and the federal Cabinet will also donate a days salary, and all officials are being requested to fall in line.
General Musharraf will also visit Muzaffarabad, capital of Pak-occupied Kashmir, and address public functions.
Political parties and other civilian forums will also observe the day, expressing their solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir.
It was also decided that a poverty alleviation programme will be launched with the coordination between the local communities, the district administration, and army monitoring teams.
The NSC meeting also approved the establishment of the National Command Authority (NCA) which will be responsible for policy formulation, and will exercise employment and development control over all strategic nuclear forces and strategic organisations. It will comprise of two committees, including an Employment Control Committee and a Development Control Committee as well as a Strategic Plans Division which will act as the secretariat.
Meanwhile, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen leader Maulana Masood Azhar has said that Pakistan would remain incomplete without Kashmir. Therefore, a jehad would have to be waged to achieve the objective.
Talking on Wednesday to Allama Hussain Ahmad, Allama Saifullah Khalid and members of other religious and militant organisations on the telephone here, he said India claimed to be the worlds largest democracy but it was meting out inhuman treatment to the freedom fighters and prisoners.
He alleged India was carrying out unprovoked shelling on the Line of Control in order to divert its peoples attention from the internal problems.
Window on President
DESPITE functioning under severe constraints, the Press in Pakistan has taken the General Musharraf regime to task for contemplating an arbitrary amendment in the Ehtesab Ordinance which brought into being the National Accountability Bureau. White-collar crime involving bureaucrats and others holding posts of public responsibility is a major problem in Pakistan. But the Bureau has failed to make the campaign against the corrupt a success because of various complications in gathering evidence. This factor, it seems, has made Pakistan's Chief Executive realise that his much publicised drive to root out corruption may come a cropper. Hence his move to amend the law so that it becomes the responsibility of the accused to prove his innocence, instead of the prosecution providing proof to substantiate the charges levelled.
The Ordinance has also come under attack because of the draconian nature of some of its provisions like the one under which any official can be detained for 90 days on charges of corruption without being produced before a court of law.
The Dawn of Karachi says: "Even allowing for the complications involved in collecting, sifting and piecing together evidence in support of allegations of misuse of power, corruption and (other) irregularities by bureaucrats and others holding positions of public responsibility, it would be highly improper to dislodge a hallowed and very fundamental judicial principle just to make the trial of such cases easier and more expeditious. That principle requires every accused person to be regarded as innocent until proved guilty.... The contemplated change in the accountability law would most surely open the floodgates of arbitrary arrest, prosecution and punishment of past and present government functionaries, as well as harassment and victimisation on a big scale all in the name of accountability of actions. In the process ... while many wrongdoers would be unmasked and brought to justice, many others may be pilloried for no fault of theirs."
The Nation, in its editorial of February 2, quotes an interview the Accountability Bureau chief, Lieut-Gen Mohammad Amjad, gave to the BBC in which the official has given the reason for the contemplated change in the law which can be described only as illogical that the Bureau "does not have investigative or prosecution capability of the standard required to combat white-collar crime." While this foolish argument gives an idea about the military regime's failure to accomplish the task it had undertaken with much fanfare, it also amounts to saying, in the words of The Nation, that "the accused must pay for these shortcomings..." in the law.
According to the highly critical and thoughtful editorial, "The NAB accountability process also suffers from the major lacuna that it is not across the board, the armed forces and the judiciary having been declared untouchable. If accountability is to be credible, what is good for the goose must also be good for the gander."
µ µ µ
Whenever there is a discussion on cross-border terrorism, invariably the roles of Pakistan and Afghanistan in this dirty game are mentioned. Viewed in this backdrop, Jang of February 2 carried an amazing report datelined Islamabad:
"Pakistan and Afghanistan have opposed every kind of terrorism and vowed to launch a joint struggle to eliminate this curse. The vow was taken on Tuesday at a meeting between the chief of Afghanistan's Ministerial Council, Mulla Rabbani, and Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf."
µ µ µ
At a time when the world is busy discussing the information technology revolution and the fast expanding scope of e-commerce, Pakistanis have to spend much of their time and energy on how to contain the unending kite-flying menace and gun culture. The two problems become complicated at the time of Basant. An idea about it can be had from the following opinion carried in The Frontier Post:
"The season generally witnesses the province being overwhelmed with kite flying passion, with reckless revellers inflicting enormous discomfort and losses on the public every year. The metallic wire that most of them use plays mischief with power transmission lines, leading to frequent power interruptions and fluctuations that badly damage costly electrical appliances in the homes. In addition, WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) suffers heavy losses on account of trippings, breakdowns and damages to distribution transformers and other equipment. More importantly, this has often resulted in the loss of precious lives due to electrocution.... It's the gun culture that shows itself with all its vileness on the occasion."
Pak sets up N-command, control centre
ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (AFP) Pakistans military government has set up a command and control mechanism for the countrys nuclear arsenal, officials said today.
The system was approved by the countrys top policy-making National Security Council which met under military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf here late yesterday.
The decision was in line with Pakistans "well-known nuclear policy of responsibility and restraint," an official statement said.
The council approved an "institutionalised command and control mechanism, consistent with Pakistans obligations as a nuclear power," it added.
The national command authority would be responsible for policy formulation and will "exercise employment and development control over all strategic nuclear forces and strategic organisations."
The new authority would comprise an employment control committee to include the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and the Interior as well as the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and armed forces chiefs.
The new body would also have a development control committee and a strategic plans division, which would act as a secretariat.
Russia to go in appeal
MOSCOW, Feb 3 (AFP) Moscow is to appeal the decision of an Indian court to sentence four Russians convicted of an arms drop over Purulia in West Bengal in 1995 to life imprisonment, a source at the Russian Foreign Ministry said today.
Two other men who took part in the arms drop one British, one Latvian were also sentenced to life imprisonment in the case.
The men were arrested when Indian Air Force jets forced down the Latvian Antonov 26 transport plane they were travelling in.
All six were charged with sedition last week in a Calcutta court.
Moscow said New Delhi had misidentified the four Russian crewmembers as Latvians.
Moscow did not believe the sentence was justified, the Foreign Ministry source said.
Pak on Clintons South Asia tour
ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (ANI) Pakistans military government on Wednesday said if the US President, Mr Bill Clinton did not visit Islamabad during his tour of South Asia, it would be most "regrettable".
In a statement released here last evening by the Pakistan Foreign Office, the spokesman said if Mr Clinton skipped Islamabad, "An opportunity to promote the objective of peace and stability in the region would be missed".
The statement was issued after Pakistans Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf chaired separate meetings of his top military-civilian National Security Council and the all-civilian Cabinet, on Tuesday, the White House said in Washington that Mr Clinton would travel to India and Bangladesh in the last week of March,and left open the option of visiting Pakistan, saying that "no decision had been made about other stops".
The proposed visit to Islamabad has been under cloud since the bloodless military coup against the Nawaz Sharif government on October 12, 1999.
The Foreign Office
spokesman in his statement said that both sides were
still discussing how the US Presidents stopover in
Pakistan could be worked out, adding that if it
materialised, the President would "realise a
personal pledge to encourage an expeditious resumption
and intensification of efforts in resolving all issues,
including Kashmir, between Pakistan and India".
Pressure mounts on Wiranto to quit
JAKARTA, Feb 3 (DPA) The standoff betwen Indonesias civilian leader, President Abdurrahman Wahid and the countrys once all-powerful military intensified today, as two of Indonesias top law makers backed Mr Wahids call for the Security Minister to resign.
Indonesian news reports said yesterday that Assembly Chairman Amien Rais and House Speaker Akbar Tanjung supported Mr Wahids demand for the former military chief General Wiranto to resign from the Cabinet.
Mr Wahids demand on Wednesday came after Mr Wiranto was incriminated in an official Indonesian report into human rights violations that occurred in East Timor human rights abuses.
"There is no other choice for Mr Wiranto but to quit, if he is found guilty of wrongdoings," Jakartas Kompas daily quoted Mr Rais as saying in Tokyo yesterday. Mr Rais is on an official visit to Japan.
In Jakarta House Speaker Akbar Tanjung said Mr Wiranto should resign immediately, but added that "it would be a temporary resignation. If results of investigation proved that he was not guilty, Mr Wiranto could resume with his Cabinet job. We have to stick to a principle of presumption of innocence."
Mr Tanjung, however, said he understood Mr Wirantos stand, assuming that the minister would have first talks with Mr Wahid to explain the matter.
The former chief of TNI (Indonesian army), has disappeared from public view, leaving the country guessing whether he will bow out gracefully or fight to keep his post as Minister for Political and Security Affairs.
Swedish firm wins Indian Army order
STOCKHOLM, Feb 3 (Reuters) Swedish defence group Celsius AB, in the process of merging with rival Saab AB, said yesterday that it had won an order from India to provide spare parts for some artillery weapons.
The 105-million crown ($ 11.96 million) order was part of a batch of FH77B field Howitzers which India bought from Celsius arms unit, Bofors 13 years ago. It was a follow-on delivery within the framework agreement contract from 1986.
"Discussions relating to additional spare parts deliveries are ongoing but it is impossible to judge the scope of any coming orders, at this state," Celsius said in a statement.
In July, India ended a 10-year embargo against Bofors which was imposed after allegations that the Swedish company paid bribes to Indian politicians to win the field gun contract worth about eight billion crowns.
Control Committee said Celsius could continue to sell
spare parts and ammunition for the Howitzer weapons to
India. Saab AB launched a five billion crown bid for
Celsius in November and had gradually been purchasing
shares in Celsius ahead of the expiry of its offer to
shareholders, which would end on February 23.
I feared crash: Pak pilot
KARACHI, Feb 3 (Reuters) A Pakistani pilot today said he feared his plane, carrying then Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf, would run out of fuel after it was denied permission to land at the southern port of Karachi.
Pakistan International Airlines pilot Syed Sarwat Hussain was giving evidence in the trial of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is accused of hijacking the plane.
"I advised the Karachi Air Traffic Control that I have 198 souls, limited amount of fuel and that if we are not allowed to land...We will lose the aircraft," Mr Hussain said.
He was testifying for the prosecution about events on October 12, when he was flying General Musharraf and other passengers to Karachi from Sri Lanka.
He said the plane was first denied and then given permission to land. Military officials subsequently assured him it was safe to land.
The prosecution has accused Mr Sharif, his brother Mr Shahbaz and five others of ordering that the plane be denied landing approval and has charged them with terrorism, attempted murder and hijacking which carries the maximum sentence of death.
Mr Hussain said the plane had 80 minutes of fuel when it was denied landing rights.
"Karachi Air Traffic Control informed us that you are not permitted to land at any airfield in Pakistan and to proceed outside at your own risk," he said.
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