Friday, February 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

40 Russians killed: Chechens
NAZRAN, Russia, Feb 24 — Russian warplanes hit rebel targets in the Argun and Vedeno gorges of southern Chechnya today and troops pressed on with their offensive to take the guerrilla stronghold of Shatoi.

Volcano erupts in Philippines
LEGASPI, (Philippines), Feb 24 — Mayon volcano in the eastern Philippines erupted today, spewing out a vast cloud of hot ash and molten rocks as authorities evacuated hundreds of residents from an expanded danger zone.

WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
Towards guided democracy?
The Army generals ruling Pakistan since October last, true to their colours have begun rooting for a guided democracy. It is like firing guided missiles. “We shall have the right kind of persons to be at the helm of affairs at the village and district levels to improve the lot of the common people and help the country gain economic prosperity. We would establish basic democracy,” declared Gen Pervez Musharraf the other day.

Sharif’s notes stolen from jail
KARACHI, Feb 24 — Lawyers for deposed Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif complained today that notes written by their client during his trial have been stolen.

Santana bags 7 Grammy Awards
LOS ANGELES, Feb 24 — Carlos Santana, who first gained fame a generation ago with a searing guitar performance at woodstock, won seven Grammy Awards for his comeback album.



EARLIER STORIES
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E. Timor : council for swift justice
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 24 — The UN security Council has urged Indonesia to act swiftly and transparently to put the perpetrators of last year’s violence in East Timor on trial as soon as possible.

More French troops for Kosovo
WASHINGTON, Feb 24 — France is sending 600 to 700 more troops to help quell the rising violence in a divided city in northern Kosovo and the USA may send in a Marine unit.

S. Korea’s ruling coalition ends

Kurd party leader sentenced to jail


HOUSTON, USA: People gather in a downtown Houston park on Wednesday for a memorial service in memory of five clerks slain during stickups in recent weeks. The rally was scheduled in honour of the victims: two Pakistani men, an Indian couple and a Lebanese man. — AP/PTI


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40 Russians killed: Chechens

NAZRAN, Russia, Feb 24 (Reuters) — Russian warplanes hit rebel targets in the Argun and Vedeno gorges of southern Chechnya today and troops pressed on with their offensive to take the guerrilla stronghold of Shatoi.

Interfax news agency quoted military sources in the region as saying warplanes had carried out 120 sorties against the rebels in the past 24 hours, destroying an air defence installation, a communication centre and other facilities.

Itar-Tass news agency reported that two Russian checkpoints and a building belonging to the Chechen Interior Ministry had come under sporadic machinegun fire but nobody was hurt.

The rebels’ internet site (Kavkaz.Org) confirmed that Russian troops were advancing on Shatoi but said the separatist fighters were putting up fierce resistance.

It also said 40 men from the Russian special forces had been killed near the village of Khal-Keloi, near Shatoi, and said the rebels had downed five helicopters in the past five days. Russia denied an earlier report that it lost three helicopters to rebel fire.

ORT public television said Chechnya’s administrative border with Russia’s Ingushetia region, home to about 200,000 refugees, would be reopened tomorrow. It was closed earlier this week amid fears of Chechen terrorist attacks.

In Moscow, the Speaker of Russia’s Duma (Lower House of Parliament) Mr Gennady Seleznyov, said the chamber would consider tomorrow a request from acting President Vladimir Putin to prolong an amnesty for fighters wanting to lay down their arms.

The Duma is expected to extend the amnesty until April 1.
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Volcano erupts in Philippines

LEGASPI, (Philippines), Feb 24 (AFP) — Mayon volcano in the eastern Philippines erupted today, spewing out a vast cloud of hot ash and molten rocks as authorities evacuated hundreds of residents from an expanded danger zone.

No casualties were reported so far following the eruption of the volcano in Albay province, east of Manila.

First there came a scary rumbling like that of a stampeding herd, said Mr Raymundo Punonbgayan, Director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). These became pronounced at 4.35 p.m., he added.

Witnesses said a huge cauliflower-like plume of red-coloured cloud packed with ash and flaming boulders rolled down the summit.

A column of ash, extending over 10 km, darkened the skies over the towns of Camalig, Guinobatan and Ligao, forcing drivers to turn on their headlights in the daytime, witnesses quoted on radio said.

The towns also experienced ash falls.

Mr Punongbayan said in a radio interview that he had recommended extending the danger zone around the volcano to 8 km.

The thick cloud of ash contained “pyroclastic materials” reaching temperatures up to 800C and was rumbling down the slope at 70-80 km per hour, he said.


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Window on Pakistan
Towards guided democracy?

The Army generals ruling Pakistan since October last, true to their colours have begun rooting for a guided democracy. It is like firing guided missiles. “We shall have the right kind of persons to be at the helm of affairs at the village and district levels to improve the lot of the common people and help the country gain economic prosperity. We would establish basic democracy,” declared Gen Pervez Musharraf the other day.

In the new robes of the Chief Executive, the General would be the sole guide to allow the emergence of a good regime. In an interview with the state-controlled Pakistan Television, General Musharraf painted a rosy picture, making even hard-boiled politicians — who make one promise and break 10 — blush.

He said it would be a four-dimensional framework envisaging that right people were elected to take control of the district administration, providing justice to the people at their doorsteps, making districts financially autonomous and devising a mechanism to weed out corrupt and incompetent members of the elected bodies at the district level.

The districts would be able to raise finances themselves in areas to be determined by the government to meet their needs, he said, adding that poor districts would be provided the necessary assistance by the government. The government would ensure that right people are elected to the district bodies. “For this purpose, some sort of electoral reforms will be effected,” he emphasised.

To sum up his achievements, the General said he was not worried about economic recovery. “All economic indicators are pointing upward and the stock markets too are responding to the recovery mood.” It must be a miracle that the General, who found Pakistan’s economy in a total mess only in December last, finds it in a blooming health in just three months. Sick Asian Tigers could take some lessons from Pakistan’s Chief Executive.

But how is Pakistan really governed? Here is what Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn has to say: “ Instances of extra-judicial killings have been reported again in Punjab during the past 45 days or so. It was thought that there had been a policy change, and that the police had been restrained from bumping off people in staged encounters (in 1999, 76 people were killed in this fashion in Lahore alone till October 7). But apparently there has been a change of tactics.”

Three alleged robbers were killed in an encounter with the police on February 16 in Shahdara in the Lahore suburbs; one man within the city on February 17. Earlier, in December, a highwayman was killed in a shootout in Faisalabad and two proclaimed offenders in Mianwali. In January, there was a spate of encounter deaths— one killed near Lahore, two dacoits and a policeman shot dead in Jhang, one person in a Sargodha village, and two proclaimed offenders in Chiniot. This month, three “RAW agents” were shot dead in an encounter in a village near Narang Mandi and three youngsters in Lalamusa. The last incident is specially hair-raising. The police said they shot at the youths because they were riding a bicycle which had no number plate, in a country where no one even checks motor cars and four-wheelers without number plates.

The Punjab Law Minister said in Multan on January 12 that the policemen involved in extra-judicial killings would not go unpunished and would be taken to task as “our law does not allow anyone to take the life of another person”. But, then, the Law Minister also once used to be a staunch critic of the attempts to weaken the judiciary and has now become an apologist.

With the police acting as the arbiter of justice, the militarymen now controlling Pakistan would have no problems in ruling for another five or 10 years. It suits the Chief Executive admirably that the two major political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan People’s Party, are at loggerheads. And whenever they try to patch up and demand an election, it would not be difficult to make them fight. The most threatening problems are, however, the economic crisis, all-pervasive poverty, unemployment, exploitation and misrule. For these there can be no easy answer with the military rulers.

— Gobind Thukral
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Sharif’s notes stolen from jail

KARACHI, Feb 24 (AFP) — Lawyers for deposed Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif complained today that notes written by their client during his trial have been stolen.

Documents and notes belonging to Mr Sharif and his six co-accused were stolen from their jail cells, defence lawyer Ajaz Batalvi told a Karachi anti-terrorism court.

“While they were away from the barracks all these important documents and notes were stolen. They were precious notes,” he said.

He asked the judge to ensure that the notes were returned.

Judge Rehmat Hussain Jafri today was discussing an application by the prosecution who wanted a reporting ban on all evidence given by Mr Sharif and the other defendants.

Meanwhile a Pakistani judge said today that he would give a decision tomorrow on whether Mr Sharif can deliver a statement in an open court.

The prosecution in Mr Sharif’s hijacking case had asked for his (Sharif) statement to be delivered in a closed court as it was “likely to tarnish and affect the security, integrity and solidarity of the Islamic republic of Pakistan” if released to the public through the media.


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Santana bags 7 Grammy Awards

LOS ANGELES, Feb 24 (AP) — Carlos Santana, who first gained fame a generation ago with a searing guitar performance at woodstock, won seven Grammy Awards for his comeback album.

Each of the 52-year-old guitarist’s victories last night came for a track from “Supernatural,” a multi-platinum album that included “Smooth,” his first No.1 single.

“Smooth” was named record and song of the year. Santana didn’t earn a trophy for song of the year, which went to the writers, Rob Thomas, who sings it, and Itaal Shur.

Another nominee whose career began in the sixties Cher, won her first Grammy for dance recording. She enjoyed her biggest commercial success last year with the hit single “Believe.”

Feuding soul divas TLC picked up two awards - for best rhythm ‘n’ blues performance by a group for their frank put-down of men, “No Scrubs,” and best R and B album for “Fanmail.” “No Scrubs” was also named best R and B song.

Sting sprang an upset in the male pop vocal category with a victory for “Brand New Day,” beating out younger, Latin-influenced singers Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin. Sting also won the Grammy for best pop album.

Eminem won two awards, for best rap solo performance and best rap album.

Two ’70s icon took home their first trophies ever: Love god Barry White’s “Staying Power” won best male R and B performance and Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” was honoured as best metal performance.

Country’s leading ladies, the Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain, won two awards apiece. George Jones, who had a near-fatal traffic wreck last year, won male country vocal for “Choices.”

Tony Bennett, a familiar winner in the traditional pop vocal performance category, was honoured with his ninth Grammy for his tribute to Duke Ellington.

Thirtyone years after Santana headlined at the landmark Woodstock festival, he collaborated with younger singers like Thomas of Matchbox 20, Lauryn Hill and Dave Matthews to make “supernatural,” which won the rock album Grammy.

Reuters adds: Pop pianist and singer Elton John, 52, received the Grammy Legend Award, capping a long and prolific career that spans 30 years.

But the pop singer gave the press short shrift when he walked away from a backstage news conference just seconds after he arrived when no questions were asked immediately.
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E. Timor : council for swift justice

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 24 (AFP) — The UN security Council has urged Indonesia to act swiftly and transparently to put the perpetrators of last year’s violence in East Timor on trial as soon as possible.

The statement followed a pledge by the Indonesian Government that it would ensure that justice was done over East Timor.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had also warned that the UN could set up an international tribunal.

The Security Council made its recommendations to Indonesia in a letter to Mr Annan yesterday. It said that bringing the perpetrators of violence to justice would be “a key factor in ensuring reconciliation and stability in East Timor”.
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More French troops for Kosovo

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (AP) — France is sending 600 to 700 more troops to help quell the rising violence in a divided city in northern Kosovo and the USA may send in a Marine unit.

“France has decided to despatch an Army battalion to the city of Kosovska Mitrovica, in a part of Kosovo controlled by French peacekeepers,” French Defence Minister Alain Richard said at a news conference with Mr William Cohen, U.S. Defense Secretary, yesterday.

“It is simply normal military business to decide ... to make the real provisions so that we take control of the situation there,” Mr Richard said. France already has about 4,500 troops in Kosovo.


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S. Korea’s ruling coalition ends

SEOUL, Feb 24 (AFP) — South Korea’s two-year-old ruling coalition ended today as the United Liberal Democrat (ULD) Party said it had pulled out of its alliance with President Kim Dae-Jung just weeks ahead of a crucial poll.

The ULD’s departure from its political marriage of convenience with the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) was announced by ULD President Lee Han-Dong at a press conference at the ULD headquarters.
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Kurd party leader sentenced to jail

ANKARA, Feb 24 (Reuters) — A Turkish state security court today sentenced the leader of the main legal Kurdish party to more than three years in jail for aiding and abetting Abdullah Ocalan’s separatist guerrillas.

State-run Anatolian news agency said another 17 members of the People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) also received the same sentence. The convictions came hours after three HADEP mayors in the Kurdish south-east were charged with similar offences.
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WORLD BRIEFS

83-year old to take test for 30th time
KATHMANDU: An 83-year-old man living at the foot of Mt Everest has shown indomitable spirit as he prepares to take the qualifying examination which will allow him to sit for Nepal’s school-finishing exam. The Nepali language daily ‘Kantipur’ reported on Wednesday that Mr Bal Bahadur Karki, residing at Solukhumhu village was preparing to take the annual school-leaving certificate examination for the 30th time. — DPA

NASA deniessex tests
CAPE CANAVERAL: The US space agency NASA denied a French astronomer’s claim that shuttle astronauts conducted test trysts to find optimal positions for sex in zero-gravity. Author Pierre Kohler said in his new book, The Final Mission, that NASA astronauts had tested the limits of stellar sex with the space agency support. — Reuters

Doctor held for chastity lock
BEIJING: The police in south-western China has arrested a doctor for padlocking a woman’s vagina to prevent her from having other lovers, the Beijing Evening News said. The woman, surnamed Liu, reported to authorities in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu this month after neighbours saw her walking with difficulty, the newspaper said on Wednesday. — Reuters

Death pact on internet?
OSLO: Two young persons found dead on the face of a cliff probably entered a death pact on the Internet before meeting each other, Norway’s largest circulated newspaper has reported. According to Verdens Gang newspaper, an Austrain woman and a Norwegain man, both in their 20s plunged to their death from a 2,000-foot cliff, Prekestolen or Pulpit Rock, a popular tourist attraction in Western Norway. — AP

Landslides claim seven lives
JAKARTA: Landslides triggered by days of torrential rains have buried at least 36 persons in central Java, but rescue workers were only able to recover seven bodies, officials on Thursday said. — DPA

Streakers to get free clothes
VIENNA:
An Austrian clothing chain is offering shoppers 5,000 schillings ($ 385) worth of free clothes if the customer enters the store completely naked. Streakers must make it as far as the checkout counter of any Kleider Bauer outlet, where they will be greeted with a towel to cover up as well as a voucher to buy clothes for the trip home, the department store said in a statement on Wednesday. — Reuters

School gives in over trousers
LONDON:
A British schoolgirl has won an out-of-court settlement against her school in a two-year tussle to wear trousers instead of skirts to classes. Jo Hale (14) and her mother Clare began the legal action against Whickham Comprehensive School in Gateshead, northern England, after it refused to change a dress code insisting on skirts even during Britain’s cold winter months. — Reuters

18 convicts escape
SAO PAULO: In an escape right out of the movies, 18 dangerous convicts sawed the window bars at a police jail and scampered down to freedom using bedsheets tied together, media reports said on Wednesday. The jail built for 20 inmates, was holding 92 prisoners.Top

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