|Sunday, February 27, 2000,
influencing US policy
rights to be on Clintons agenda
human rights record has worsened
for open economic borders
day: Trouble-shooters gear up
chip combined with living cell
killed in Philippines bus blast
Indian-Americans influencing US policy
WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (UNI) Indian-Americans, who now hold 40 per cent of high-tech jobs in Silicon Valley and the Washington area, are pouring money into political campaigns and helping change the shape of US relations with India, where President Bill Clinton will visit next month, reports The Washington Times.
The growing clout of Indian-Americans, who collectively earned $ 60 billion in Californias Silicon Valley last year, is partly responsible for a recent tilt in USAs foreign policy away from cold war ally Pakistan and towards India, officials and analysts say.
Like all Americans participating in politics, Indian-Americans are now sufficiently mature to advocate for their motherland much as the Jews be capable advocates for Israel, the daily quotes Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman having said. He is chairman of the 118-member congressional caucus on India and Indian-Americans.
Of an estimated one million Indian-American nationwide, about 80,000 to 100,000 live in the Washington area, mainly linked to high-tech corridors in Virginia and Maryland. Indian-Americans contribute both to Democrats, such as Mr Ackerman and President Clinton, and to Republicans, such as Texas Gov George W Bush and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms of North Carolina.
Mr Helms, a staunch backer of anti-Communist Pakistan when it hosted anti-Soviet Afghan refugees in the 1980s, now tends to view India with a newfound sympathy and understanding, the daily says quoting congressional sources.
It quoted Mr Mark Lagon, Mr Helms senior foreign policy aide, having said the USA should drop sanctions against India, imposed after Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in 1998, but did not offer such largesse to Pakistan.
Mr Swadesh Chatterjee, President of the Indian-American Forum for Political Education, has met Mr Helms and, according to congressional sources, opened him up to a new view of India. During the cold war, India was both anti-western and a big Soviet arms customer. It has since begun to reform its quasi-socialist economy, and the USA has become its main trading partner.
The daily says some US strategic thinkers also find India increasingly valuable as a long-term counterbalance to the growth of Chinese influence in Asia.
Indian-American businessmen, for example, met White House aides on Thursday to discuss joining the President on his March 19-26 trip to India.
About 300,000 Indian-Americans work in high-technology firms in the Silicon Valley, where they earned $ 60 billion last year, Stanford University economist Rafiq Dossani told a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday.
They were beginning to funnel their incomes, which averages $ 200,000 a year, into southern Indias high-technology boom, already surpassing its export industry as a sources of foreign cash, he said.
Human rights to be on Clintons agenda
WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (PTI) Human rights are expected to be on the agenda of President Clinton when he goes to India, Mr Harold Hongju Koh, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, said at the Foreign Press Centre of the State Department here yesterday.
Asked whether he thought it likely that human rights would be on the Clinton agenda in India, he said: We certainly believe it will.
By we he apparently meant the State Department.
He explained that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had pointed out that we raise human rights consistently at every meeting with foreign leaders. At the same time, he expected that Mr Clintons tone in New Delhi would be different from the tone in some other countries. The USA, he said, raised the issue in a different way with different countries because we have different kinds of relationships.
With New Delhi, he said: We are seeking a cooperative relationship. We expect an extremely productive visit. Productive means frank and honest dialogue and discussion on issues of mutual concern.
The same point was made at a State Department briefing by Ms Albright, who said without a specific reference to India: There is no cookie-cutter solution (meaning same solution) to abuses of international norms. The USA was sometimes criticised for inconsistency in its relations with governments that violated human rights, but a policy of consistent support for such rights did not require that we treat every country precisely the same.
Mr Koh pointed out that India was a democracy and the US and India would be together at the democracy conference in Poland as they were in New Delhi.
He went on the evasive
and the defensive when an Indian correspondent referred
to the use by him of the words that there was
societal violence against Christians and
Muslims in India. When he asked Mr Koh whether he
meant that society of 850 million non-Muslims were
engaging in violence against 150 million or so Muslims
and Christians, he said he had used that expression only
in the introduction, as though that made a big
difference. He denied the phrase had the meaning the
correspondent was suggesting but did not explain what
meaning he was giving.
Pak human rights record has worsened
WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (PTI) Pakistans already poor human rights record under deposed Premier Nawaz Sharif is even worse under the military rule of Gen Pervez Musharraf, says the US State Department in its annual human rights report.
The governments poor human rights record deteriorated under the Sharif government and there were serious problems in several areas. However, the situation worsened with the seizure of power by General Musharraf, in that, after the coup, citizens no longer had the right to change the government peacefully, the report, released here yesterday said.
Despite attempts to reform and to professionalise the police, both before and after the coup, the police committed numerous extra-judicial killings and tortured, abused and raped citizens. While the officers responsible for such abuses sometimes were transferred or suspended for their actions, there is no evidence that any police officers were brought to justice, it said.
It notes that Mr Asif Zardari, husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has waited for over two years for his trial on charges of killing his brother-in-law, Murtaza Bhutto, to begin. To date, only two of the 223 witnesses have been heard.
Pakistans laws, the State Department notes, have been used by rivals and authorities to threaten, punish or intimidate Ahmadis, Christians and even orthodox Muslims.
The government distinguishes between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to political rights. The resettlement of Biharis remained a contentious issue. No further resettlement has occurred, it said.
Minorities, the department points out, are under represented in government and politics.
The report also charged Pakistan with according fewer protections to religious minorities than are accorded to the majority Sunni Muslim citizens.
Meanwhile, India has come under attack for societal violence against religious minorities in the country, with its security forces also being charged with committing human rights abuses, most notably in Kashmir, according to the report.
The Indian Government policy does not favour any religious group, but tension between Muslims and Hindus and to a lesser extent between Hindus and Christians, continues to pose a challenge to the secular foundations of the state, the report said.
The potential for renewed Hindu-Muslim violence remains considerable in India as Hindu extremist groups continued to attack Christians, the report said.
It also accused both
security forces and militants in Kashmir and the
North-East of gross human rights violations and named
several organisations affiliated or close to the ruling
BJP for violence against other religious groups.
Benazir for open economic borders
DUBAI, Feb 26 (PTI) Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has said the continuing problem with India on Kashmir has led to the collapse of the Pakistani economy and the two neighbours should open a dialogue for economic cooperation and eventually a common currency.
Differing viewpoints (on solving the Kashmir problem) have led to conflict and bloodshed. It has also led to the collapse of the Pakistani economy, Mr Bhutto told Khaleej Times in a written interview from London.
The Kashmir imbroglio will remain unless both parties arrive at a solution... the PPP proposal is for Pakistan and India to engage in talks for a policy of open borders on the pattern of Jordan and Israel, she said.
In the first phase an agreement could take place on the monitoring of the border, withdrawal of Indian troops and the participation of Kashmiri leaders without prejudice to either countrys view on the Security Council resolutions (on Kashmir), she said.
Ms Bhutto said she favoured open economic borders and a single currency for Pakistan and India. The proposal for open economic borders is a fulfilment of the promise of Partition. I do not see it as a negation.
She said Pakistan should return to the dream of Muhammed Ali Jinnah who spoke of Partition as a means for Hindus and Muslims in the subcontinent to live in peace.
Once India and Pakistan agreed on Kashmir, opening of economic borders could be done, leading to a huge surge in cross-border tourism, service industry and cheap consumer goods, Ms Bhutto said.
Denying that she was afraid of being arrested, she said she could not go to Pakistan because the constitution had been suspended there, judges sacked and religious leaders were pulling the strings behind the National Accountability Bureau, which is a front organisation for Taliban-type elements in the state.
WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) Trouble-shooters around the world are gearing up for the leap day on Tuesday that occurs once in 400 years, the last big gasp of the year 2000 technology problem.
Experts generally predict the February 29 leap day rollover will cause no major system failures anywhere because computers typically were checked for compliance during Y2K upgrades.
But they say it could screw up data processing, especially in customised programmes written in the 1970s and 1980s and used for record-keeping, billing or other calculations where the number of days is critical.
Its a real issue that we feel obligated to keep track of, Mr John Koskinen, President Bill Clintons chief Y2K aide, said on Thursday as he prepared to crank up a 50 million Y2K command post to keep tabs on automated systems for the last time.
About 150 federal workers will staff two shifts a day from February 28 to March 1 at the so-called Information Coordination Centre two blocks from the White House. Their job is to compile data on any glitches in key systems across the USA, home to most of the worlds computing power.
Mr Koskinen is to take part in scheduled conference calls up to three times a day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with fellow national Y2K coordinators on the steering committee of the world bank-funded international Y2K cooperation centre.
This group includes Britain, Bulgaria, Chile, Gambia, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands and South Korea.
Australia and New Zealand have also been invited to take part as canaries in the coal mine for any problems spotted after February 29 dawns at the International Date Line.
If there are difficulties in many cases it will result in minor or modest glitches that can be remedied quickly if people catch it quickly, Mr Koskinen told a news briefing.
Mr Bruce McConnell, an information technology expert who heads the international Y2K centre, said in an interview that he did not expect any leap date problems to require an international response of the type readied but not required for Y2K.
Mr Koskinen said early testing found that some software programmers might have coded 2000 as a normal year in which February had 28 days, instead of the 29 required.
Botched leap year coding, if left unfixed, would chiefly affect software, not the hardware or operating systems that were the focus of giant fears during the century date change.
Computer chip combined with living cell
SA FRANCISCO, Feb 26 (AFP) US scientists have announced that they have combined a living cell and a silicon circuit, creating a bionic chip which they say can revolutionise the practice of medicine.
Researchers from the University of California in Berkeley announced yesterday that they successfully ensconced a human tissue cell into a small chamber of a computer chip.
Its a silicon-based chip, similar to what you would use in any computer or electronic device, said prof Boris Rubinsky, one of the researchers who led the study. I believe it truly is a bionic chip.
The researchers said it was the first time that a living human cell had been controlled by a computer signal.
44 killed in Philippines bus blast
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Philippines), Feb 26 (DPA) The death toll in a powerful bomb explosion that ripped through a passenger bus aboard a barge in the southern Philippines yesterday has risen to 44, officials said today.
At least four other persons were missing from the blast that destroyed a bus and four other vehicles being ferried over Panguil Bay, said Brig-General Narciso Abaya.
Coast guard lieutenant Jose Isaga said 35 persons suffered serious burns and shrapnel wounds in the explosion, which also damaged the barge.
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