|Monday, February 7, 2000,
not to hand over power to Sharif
eager on Pak visit
Russia claims control over Grozny
Chandrikas party to scrap
Laden has kidney
Israelis mad about Dil To
Israel suspends contacts with
NZ PM against Queen as Head
Gen not to hand over power to Sharif
LONDON, Feb 6 (PTI) Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has asserted that he will never hand over power to a government headed by former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif or Benazir Bhutto as they have "plundered the country mercilessly".
"I will never hand over power to a government headed by Mr Nawaz Sharif or Ms Benazir Bhutto... never. Those who have plundered the country mercilessly cannot be allowed to rule again. They have to face trial and be made accountable for what they have done," General Musharraf told the Sunday Telegraph.
Stating that he was "shocked beyond belief" by the "level of corruption" in Pakistan, the Chief Executive in an interview to the weekly, which was published today, said politicians have wreaked havoc on the countrys institutions and finances.
"The feudal culture is at the root of all our ills" he said without referring to anyone in particular but obviously referring to people like Ms Benazir Bhutto, who own great swathes of land.
He plans to change this through devolution of power, starting with elections to local bodies, which he hopes to hold some time by the end of this year.
It is becoming increasingly evident that the 56-year old General has no intention of handing over power to anyone in the near future as he refuses to commit himself to a timetable, saying that to do so would only encourage people to "lie low and wait", and talks of far-reaching structural changes would take years to accomplish, the weekly said.
"At the moment the country is going in the wrong direction," General Musharraf said adding that "It might take 10, 15, 20 years to put it right, but at least I can set in motion things that are irreversible so that never again can people trample on the institutions."
Although the coup was welcomed with nationwide celebrations, complaints are now growing that General Musharraf is moving too slowly, particularly on bringing corruption charges against politicians, the report said. Only 24 persons had been arrested, although the accountability bureau said the final total may run into thousands.
The General claims the people of Pakistan are with him and there is widespread support among the international community.
Clinton eager on Pak visit
WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (PTI) US President Bill Clinton is contemplating a "formula" for visiting Islamabad during his South Asia tour next month amid reports that the Pakistani military ruler has given an assurance to fight terrorism and hold elections in the country, The Washington Post said today.
Mr Clinton "backed by the State Departments South Asia Bureau is eager to find a formula that would allow him to touch down in Islamabad, if only for a few hours," for talks with Pakistans Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf, it said.
Meanwhile, The Post said, "alarmed by the prospect that President Clinton may bypass Pakistan when he visits South Asia next month," General Musharraf has pledged in a letter to US Senator Tim Johnson that his government will wage an "unequivocal fight" against terrorism and hold local elections by the end of the year.
General Musharraf, the paper said, also promised in that letter to cooperate with the Clinton administrations efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.
The paper said General Musharrafs letter to Senator Johnson (Democrat from South Dakota whose defeat of Republican Senator Larry Pressler in the last election was celebrated by Pakistani Americans, who had contributed heavily to his election campaign) is part of a "concerted effort on his part to secure Pakistans place on Mr Clintons itinerary when the President travels to India and Bangladesh in March," it said.
However, the paper added, "counter-terrorism officials are sceptical about a presidential stopover, both because they fear it would reward General Musharraf without reason and also because of concerns for Clintons safety in Pakistan."
officials, while sympathetic to that argument, say that
Mr Clinton cannot visit the country until General
Musharraf takes concrete steps on terrorism, nuclear
non-proliferation and the restoration of democracy. In
that regard, they said, General Musharrafs letter
falls far short of the mark," the paper said.
Pak to reserve right on N-tests
ISLAMABAD, Feb 6 (PTI) Pakistan today said even if it were to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Islamabad would not forego its right to conduct further tests, if India did.
"Whether Pakistan and India become parties to the CTBT or not, that will not affect the nuclear status of either country or their right to maintain and even develop their arsenals," Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said here.
"This non-discriminatory principle is contained in Article 14 of the CTBT which was incorporated in 1996 and Pakistan was in the forefront among movers of this amendment," Mr Sattar told the official AAP news agency in an interview.
Before the amendment, Mr Sattar said, he had personally opposed signing the CTBT. But after the change, it was no longer necessary to oppose it.
On claims of critics that signing the CTBT will result in rollback of Islamabads nuclear programme, he said, "Its only object is to prohibit nuclear tests. Pakistan will never agree to a rollback."
"As many as 156 countries have signed the treaty. They include not only all other major Muslim countries, but also China and Israel.
"If either one does not become a party, the treaty just cannot enter into force. So it has become irrelevant which country signs first," he said.
He said Pakistan possessed credible nuclear deterrence before the May, 1998, tests and it was continuing to pursue the nuclear option with "determination" and no pressure or sanctions would deter Islamabad from its path.
Mr Sattar said Islamabad did not need a "certificate" for its nuclear status and the international community "does not deny this fact. Pakistan is a nuclear-weapon state and signing the CTBT will not alter its status".
On US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbots statement acknowledging India as a defacto nuclear state, the Foreign Minister said US Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth had said the same about Pakistan.
He clarified that the word "recognition" of nuclear status was used in the context of the Non-Proliferation treaty, which was negotiated almost 30 years ago, when there were only five declared nuclear weapons states. "Amendment of that treaty is a different and difficult proposition".
Asked when Pakistan would sign the CTBT, Mr Sattar replied that the government "is in no tearing hurry".
Asked if Pakistan will have to open its nuclear plants to foreign inspection if it signed the CTBT, Mr Sattar replied, "not at all. There is no such provision in the treaty. The verification procedure is meant for preventing cheating".
On the question of
building a consensus on the CTBT, he said in 1996
Pakistan had voted in its favour and in September, 1998,
the Pakistani Prime Minister had announced in the UN
General Assembly that Islamabad would sign the treaty if
sanctions were lifted.
No plan to be in N-race: India
MUNICH, Feb 6 (DPA) Indias nuclear weapons policy was based on a minimum deterrence and the country had no plans to get into a nuclear arms race with China, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra said today.
"We are not, definitely not, attempting to catch up with China in the number of delivery systems or warheads," Mr Mishra said in a speech to the annual Munich Security meeting.
"Our nuclear doctrine is based on no first use (and) no nuclear arms race," he said, adding India was seeking to maintain a minimum but credible deterrence.
"Since there is no first use deployment will not be offensive," he said.
Mr Mishra said the fact that both India and Pakistan now had nuclear weapons appeared to have prevented the escalation of the last years Kashmir crisis between the two nations into a war.
Earlier Mr Mishra chided the USA at a security conference today for what he termed triumphalism and a growing disdain for international law.
"The fact that Russia, China and India have each expressed disquiet over certain US policies has led cold war theorists to visualise a strategic alliance among these nations," said Mr Mishra in a speech to the Munich Security Conference.
"Such perceptions reflect arcane thinking," he added.
"Concerns of Russia, China and India relate primarily to apprehensions that the post-cold war period is witnessing a sense of triumphalism and disdain for the rules and norms of international behaviour," he said.
In an apparent reference to Indias 1998 nuclear warhead test, Mr Mishra declared that the cold war notion of arms control was now "invalid".
"It was based on a notion of symmetry between the USA and the then USSR with Britain, France and China accepted as nuclear weapons states...," he said, adding: "The rest of the world was a group of non-nuclear weapon states..."
Mr Mishra said a new security order needed to be created in Asia which broke away from the traditional balance of power.
"What is needed... is a cooperative security order, rooted in pluralism, he said.
The annual Munich
Security Conference is a high-level event which has been
held since 1964. This years two-day meeting was
attended by more than 200 political, military and
academic security leaders.
Chechnya operation over: Putin
MOSCOW, Feb 6 (Reuters) Interfax news agency today quoted acting President Vladimir Putin as saying that the military operation in Chechnya had ended, nearly five months after he sent troops into the rebel region to crush Islamic separatists. Itar-Tass news agency carried the same report but neither agency immediately made clear where Mr Putin was speaking. Russian troops had taken control of Grozny, the Chechen capital, over the past few days and most rebel fighters had retreated into the mountains.
"Just a short time ago, the last stronghold of the terrorists resistance (in Grozny) was taken Zavodsky district and the Russian flag has been hoisted over one of the administrative buildings. Interfax quoted Mr Putin as saying.
"So we can say that the operation for freeing Grozny has ended, he added. Army commanders have said the focus of their military operation has moved to the southern mountains.
Interfax said Mr Putins comments were part of an interview he gave to ORT public television. Which would be broadcast tomorrow evening.
A senior Russian commander yesterday said the focus of the military campaign, now into its fifth month, would switch to the rebels mountain strongholds in southern Chechnya, where he said about 7,000 fighters were now estimated to be hiding.
But Mr Valery Manilov, first Deputy Chief of the General Staff, also said about 1,000 guerrillas were still lying low in Grozny and said Moscow could not yet claim full control of the city.
The troops killed about 150 rebels yesterday trying to escape Shaami-Yurt, a village southwest of Grozny, and a further 30 fighters in nearby Katyr-Yurt, Itar-Tass news agency said.
Interfax news agency reported from Grozny that two top Chechen field commanders, Shamil Basayev and Vakha Arsanov, had announced the start of "total military actions in the whole of Russian territory".
The two men, in a statement on Chechnyas separatist television channel, also claimed enough support and military hardware to wage their struggle against Moscow "for 50 years".
Interfax said another warlord, Jordan-born Khattab, was coordinating plans to defend rebel strongholds in the mountains. It said the fighters were also trying to overcome Russias block of a key mountain route leading south into Georgia.
Russias NTV television showed footage of fighters heading through snowbound forests onto higher ground. NTV said some of the fighters spoke languages other than Chechen, highlighting the role of foreign mercenaries in the war.
Reuters Television showed rare footage of an operation performed on last Monday night on Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, Russias most wanted man, in the town of Alkhan-Kala shortly after he lost his right foot escaping from Grozny.
shaven-headed Basayev, who has spearheaded Chechen
resistance to Russias offensive, had his foot
amputated while under a local anaesthetic. He lay
impassively as the doctors laboured with only the most
primitive of implements.
IRA rejects deadline for arms handover
BELFAST/LONDON, Feb 6 (DPA) The Irish Republican Army (IRA) has said that it would not cave in to demands by the British Government that it surrender its arms.
A statement from the IRA leadership told the government that the arms issue, which has plunged the peace process into crisis, would not be advanced by British legislative threats.
On Friday, the British Government tabled a Bill in Parliament which would make possible a suspension of the Northern Ireland Government and enable the resumption of direct rule.
The IRA statement came as Mr David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams met in Belfast amid frantic efforts to save Northern Irelands devolved government collapse over the IRAs refusal to decommission its weapon.
As the two men got ready for face-to-face talks, the IRA made it clear there was little or no chance of them acting in time to prevent the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and recently-formed power-sharing executive by the end of next week.
However, the IRA statement was significant in that the organisation accepted for the first time that the arms issue had to be dealt with "in an acceptable way" and that it was "a necessary objective of a genuine peace process".
The statement insisted again that the peace process was under no threat from the IRA.
But it hit out at Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelsons accusation in the House of Commons that the IRA was guilty of betrayal over the decommissioning issue.
It said the IRA had never entered into any agreement or undertaking at any time on any aspect of decommissioning.
The statement said: "Thr IRA believes this crisis can be averted and the issue of the arms can be resolved. This will not be on British or Unionist terms, nor will it be advanced by British legislative threats.
"We recognise that the issue of arms needs to be dealt with in an acceptable way and this is a necessary objective of a genuine peace process.
"For that reason, we support efforts to secure the resolution of the arms issue. The peace process is under no threat from the IRA", it added.
The Bill introduced in Parliament would not become law until next week. If in the meantime there is a breakthrough on the vexed issue of arms decommissioning, the government would not go ahead with the legislation.
Indian woman may be retried in murder case
WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (PTI) NRI dentist Alpna Patel, acquitted of first degree murder of her husband in Baltimore in the USA, may now be retried after the lone male juror in a jury otherwise dominated by women switched his vote in favour of a second degree murder charge against her.
The Baltimore Sun quoted Assistant State Attorney William D.McCollum as saying he would decide this week whether to retry Alpna on second degree murder charges and manslaughter. Alpna is accused of murdering her husband Viresh Patel, a resident doctor in Baltimore.
"I am not taking a verdict unless I am sure of unanimity and that the (male) juror was not coerced," Mr McCollum said.
The jury, however, unanimously acquitted Alpna of first degree murder charges.
During the hearing
yesterday, Circuit Judge John C. Themelis, declared a
mistrial after he noticed juror No 4, the only man in a
12-member jury, wavering for nearly a minute after the
jury declared Alpna not guilty of both first and second
degree murder, the paper said.
Gore wins Delaware primary
WILMINGTON, Feb 6 (AP) US Vice-President Al Gore won the Delaware presidential primary today outdistancing Mr Bill Bradley in an election neglected by the Democratic campaigners and most voters.
Mr Gores victory was projected on the basis of interviews by Voter News Service as people left polling precincts. Those interviews suggested a wide preference for Mr Gore over Mr Bradley. Voter News Service is a consortium of AP and TV networks.
The primary was a popularity vote, a state-run straw poll. Delegates to the democratic convention will be chosen later.
The Vice-President got 57 per cent of the votes, the former senator from New Jersey, 40 per cent.
With candidates bypassing the state, the primary vote was light, about 5 per cent of registered voters. Their verdict: Mr Gore, 6,349 or 57 per cent. Mr Bradley, 4,465 or 40 per cent. Perennial fringe candidate Lyndon LaRouche got the rest.
"Mr Gore appreciates the support of the people of Delaware today," said spokesman Chris Lehane. "We hope to earn that support on the caucus day."
That will be March 27, when Delaware Democrats begin choosing their 22 delegates. The state scheduled its primary near the start of the campaign season in an effort to gain influence, but Democrats could not select delegates this soon without violating party rules.
Chandrikas party to scrap Presidency
COLOMBO, Feb 6 (UNI) The ruling Peoples Alliance (PA) is understood to have decided to abolish the executive presidency as promised in 1994, a senior Cabinet minister has said.
The Island paper quoting Constitutional Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris said discussions among the constituent partners of the PA on the new Constitution were completed last week and the first stage of consultations was over.
The second stage would take place when discussions with Tamil parties begin next week, he added.
The Tamil parties have been requested to bring two participants each for the meetings which analysts observed would be more difficult than the previous talks, due to the complexity of the problems.
The opposition United National Party (UNP) is expected to be invited on February 14.
Mr Peiris said, "The LTTE will join the process after discussions with the UNP. The President is keen on achieving a consensus with all other parties to be presented to the LTTE".
Informed sources said as a result of these talks and meetings among the PA constituents, the government had been able to accommodate the concern voiced by some sections without harming the original draft of the proposed Constitution. Areas on which consensus had been reached include the executive presidency.
Local media quoted President Chandrika Kumaratunga as saying that she intended to bring about peace through a "constitutional revolution". She has already obtained a mandate for this purpose in the last presidential election.
In a significant
development, UNP dissidents have challenged party leader
Ranil Wickremesinghe, stating that they would oust him.
Leader of the breakaway group Sarath Amunugama said his
colleague Wijepaala Mendis had decided to contest the top
post in the UNP.
Laden has kidney problems
DUBAI, Feb 6 (AFP) Suspected Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden, who is on the US most-wanted list, has brought a doctor to Afghanistan to treat him for serious kidney problems, a London-based Arabic newspaper said today.
Al-Hayat, quoting Afghan sources, said the Saudi dissident was suffering from "acute kidney pain that needed treatment which he could not receive in Afghanistan."
Bin Laden has curtailed his activities because of the illness, it said.
Afghanistans ruling Taliban has vowed to resist US pressure to hand over the suspect, despite UN air traffic and financial sanctions imposed because of its refusal.
Israelis mad about Dil To Pagal Hai
JERUSALEM,Feb 6 (PTI) Two years after it hit the box-office in India, Hindi blockbuster Dil To Pagal Hai(DTPH) is making many a heart crazy in Israel with the movie running to full houses for the fifth successive week in Tel Aviv, signalling opening up of the Indian film market here.
The soundtrack of Yash Chopra's musical love story, which has already been screened in Jerusalem and set for release in Haifa next, seems to capture people's imagination here much before the celluloid version thrilled Israelis -- young and old -- in the throes of a late-blooming romance with India.
The theme song of the film seems to blare out of every other window here every now and then.
Subtitled in Hebrew, the big colourful posters of Halev Mistagya (Hebrew translation for Crazy Heart) with faces of main protagonists Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor are seen plastered all over in the streets of Tel Aviv.
When the films music was blaring from every shop in India in 1997, Israeli TV star Tamir Kimchi was rambling through the subcontinent shooting for his TV series Cosmic Optimismin which he tried to examine what the Indian experience does to young Israelis, of late flocking to India in thousands after serving their mandatory army term.
Tremendously attracted towards the DTPH title song, Kimchi decided to use it as the theme song for his own TV series. While serial and its sound track were an unprecedented hit, Kimchi changed his name to Rafik following an overwhelming experience at Rajneesh's ashram in Pune.
From there, the song trickled onto the playlist of Galgalatz, an army radio station with a keen ear for new melodies. The tune did not escape the sharp eyes of advertisers here too.
While food company Telma has incorporated the DTPH theme into its new commercial, Tnuva has already launched a new brand of cheese called Yoga. The national airline El Al has also exploited the new infatuation with India in its ad campaign, pledging a tranquil passage to India.
And of course there is a boom in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other towns of stores offering clothes, food and everything that is from India and the Far East.
"Israelis are in the throes of a late-blooming romance with India evidenced by the proliferation of Indian music, films, clothing and now also books," says Amir-Ben David, deputy editor in an English daily, who has visited India.
Further proof of this socio-cultural phenomenon can be found in two new books recently published by two Israeli women about their spiritual journey to India, Amir said.
"I can see a good market for Hindi films in India as more and more Israelis are getting attracted towards the country, its culture, people, religion, hopes and fears and dreams," says Shai Shimson, a distributor of DTPH in Israel.
Shai, born to a Jewish
family of Indian origin, says that this is for the first
time after 70s that a film has been sub-titled in Hebrew
for Israeli audience," he says, adding he is
planning to subtitle Agnisakshi, Ham To
Dil De Chuke Sanam and Kuch Kuch Hota
Israel suspends contacts with Syria
JERUSALEM, Feb 6 (DPA) Israel has suspended all informal contacts with Syria because of the recent spate of violence in southern Lebanon, Israeli Radio reported today
The report, referring to government circles, said contacts with Syria would only make sense when the violence in the Israeli-occupied border zone in southern Lebanon ceased.
Recently, the pro-Iranian Hezbollah forces killed three Israeli soldiers in a rocket attack. After that, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak threatened to break off peace talks with Syria.
NZ PM against Queen as Head
WELLINGTON, Feb 6 (AFP) Prime Minister Helen Clark has reportedly said it is "absurd" for New Zealand to retain the British monarch as its Head of State.
7 die as train runs off rails
100 dead in
Falun Gong group
marry in mine
Carl Albert dead
plea on girls sentence
for Daytona title
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