US recipe to reduce Indo-Pak tensions
Efforts on to initiate
Pak to release 84 Indian
Bahrain to have Parliament
Golden Bear for Kirk
1 killed, 11 hurt in US attacks on Iraq
Baghdad, February 17
The raid was the first in more than two years on Baghdad and the biggest single air strike since Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign in December, 1998.
“Baghdad was bombed today by enemy US planes,” Iraqi state television announced after several loud explosions were heard in the Iraqi capital.
President Saddam Hussein chaired an emergency meeting of Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council and the leadership of the Baath Party and vowed not to bow to “the criminal US aggression against Iraq,” according to a statement released after the meeting.
“The aggression will not force Iraq to give up its rights,” said the statement.
The US military said 24 warplanes firing stand-off weapons struck near Baghdad, hitting Iraqi radar installations and command posts. More than 50 planes took part in the operation.
The mission aimed to destroy air defense radars that had been threatening US and British aircraft, Pentagon officials said.
In Washington, on the same day of the bombing, a group of Iraqi opposition leaders seeking increased US support, visited the Defence Department.
With US Secretary of State Colin Powell set to travel to the West Asia next week to meet the region’s leaders, some experts questioned the wisdom and the timing of the military strikes.
“There is absolutely no purpose in sending some kind of a dramatic strategic message,” said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraqi expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The action by Washington “creates all kinds of anxieties among our allies,” he said.“It plays into Saddam’s hands. It risks linking the USA to the hardships of the Iraqi people. And it would allow Saddam to say he has forced USA to take this strategic initiative.”
US President George W. Bush, who authorised the air strike yesterday, called it a “routine mission”, but warned the Iraqi President that the USA expects him to abide by the ceasefire agreements that ended the 1991 Gulf War.
“Our intention is to make sure the world is as peaceful as possible, and we’re going to watch very carefully to see if he develops weapons of mass destruction. And if we catch him doing so, we’ll take the appropriate action,” Mr Bush said, who was speaking in Mexico, where he met Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Meanwhile, the injured are women, children and old people, some are critical cases,” Health Minister Umaid Mehdat Mubarak said on Iraqi Youth Television, run by Saddam’s eldest son Uday.
The footage shown from the Al-Yarmuk hospital showed children, women and men bleeding from leg and stomach wounds.
The strikes were in response to the recent Iraqi efforts to use the radar around Baghdad to coordinate surface-to-air missile attacks against the USA and British aircraft in southern Iraq, said Lieut-Gen Gregory Newbold, Operations Director of the USA joint chiefs of staff.
“We think we’ve accomplished what we were looking for.”
Aircraft from the aircraft carrier US Harry Truman and land bases in the Gulf launched the attack at 11p.m. The weapons struck five radar and command and control nodes, positioned 3.8 to 8 km from Baghdad.
In London, the Defence Ministry confirmed that British jets took part.
Russia condemned the raids and a top Defence Ministry official accused the Bush administration of ignoring international humanitarian norms.
“What the US military is doing at the beginning of the new US administration is a threat to international security and the entire international community,” General Leonid Ivashov told Interfax.
Canada said it was not given an advance warning, but fully supported the strikes.
New York: “It’s absolutely wrong,” a spokesman for the American Anti-Discrimination Committee Hussein Ibish told a television network.
Another expert dismissed the argument that the attacks were carried out in self-defence.
According to Ibish, Mr Bush has squandered an opportunity to improve relations in the West Asia with a new approach.
Beijing(Reuters): china condemned USA and British air attacks near Baghdad, saying that it was a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
“we condemn the attacks against Iraq and express deep regret over the deaths and injuries to innocent civilians resulting from the action,’’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency .
US recipe to reduce Indo-Pak tensions
Islamabad, February 17
‘The Nation’ in its lead story said a senior American diplomat on duty in Islamabad said unofficial efforts were on by Washington to prevail upon both the countries to hold direct talks at a neutral location like Singapore.
The diplomat, who was not identified, told the daily that the USA was encouraged by the Indian government’s decision of a ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir and reduction of troops by Pakistan at the Line of Control (LoC).
“But such steps are not sufficient to avert the danger of confrontation between the two countries,” he said.
At the same time, both the countries have not yet established high-level contacts to prepare the ground for negotiations, though the recent telephone talk between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has created a hope, he was quoted as saying.
Efforts on to initiate Indo-Pak dialogue
Islamabad, February 17
Today’s editions of The Nation and Nawai Waqat quoted a senior US diplomat stationed in Islamabad as saying that these efforts were unofficial and no place had been fixed as yet for the possible meeting.
However, any neutral country like Singapore could become a venue for such parleys, he added.
The unilateral ceasefire announced by India and Pakistan’s reduction in troop deployment along the LoC are encouraging steps, but they are not enough to avert the danger of confrontation between the two neighbours.
Barring the hotline between Prime Minister Vajpayee and Pakistani Chief Executive General Musharraf, no other high-level contact exists between the two countries, he pointed out.
Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan V.K. Nambiar has also emphasised the need for a conducive atmosphere to restart a dialogue between the two countries.
In his first speech after the resumption of his diplomatic assignment in Pakistan on “Pakistan India Current Relations, present constraints and future prospects of ditente” organised by the Lahore Chapter of the English Speaking Union yesterday, Mr Nambiar outlined the basic determinants of Indian foreign policy with brief focus on current Indo-Pakistan relations. UNI
Pak to release 84 Indian fishermen
Karachi, February 17
The announcement, broadcast on the state-run television, came after the Indian Government announced the release of 160 Pakistani fishermen last week.
Analysts said the decision to release the fishermen was a goodwill gesture amid moves by the two sides to improve their relations.
A delegation of the Pakistan Fishermen Cooperative Society is due to travel to India next week to help complete the formalities for the release of the Pakistani fishermen.
Bahrain to have Parliament Dubai, February 17 More than 98 per cent of the over two lakh Bahraini voters backed the charter which will restore an independent judiciary, bicameral legislature and allow women to vote and stand for office. Parliament is expected to be elected by 2004. The 51-year-old Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa last night declared the archipelago, with nearly one lakh Indian expatriates, as a constitutional monarchy
acknowledging the referendum results and vowed to start a process that will “give Bahrain a new image, reactivate the democratic process and bring back
parliamentary process under the constitution.” The younger generation ruler has been successful in the years, since 1999 when he succeeded his father, to take the opposition with him with his political and economic liberalisation policies. Under the proposal, the new Parliament will have two houses — Lower House elected, Upper House nominated by Emir who, however, will have the final say in all matters.
Dubai, February 17
More than 98 per cent of the over two lakh Bahraini voters backed the charter which will restore an independent judiciary, bicameral legislature and allow women to vote and stand for office.
Parliament is expected to be elected by 2004.
The 51-year-old Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa last night declared the archipelago, with nearly one lakh Indian expatriates, as a constitutional monarchy acknowledging the referendum results and vowed to start a process that will “give Bahrain a new image, reactivate the democratic process and bring back parliamentary process under the constitution.”
The younger generation ruler has been successful in the years, since 1999 when he succeeded his father, to take the opposition with him with his political and economic liberalisation policies.
Under the proposal, the new Parliament will have two houses — Lower House elected, Upper House nominated by Emir who, however, will have the final say in all matters.
Golden Bear for Kirk
Thanking the festival for his Golden Bear award, he spoke both languages, even lapsing into Spanish for one interviewer at a packed news conference.
Speaking slowly and deliberately, but otherwise showing no traces of the debilitating stroke he suffered in 1996, Douglas was in a buoyant mood. He played down his disability, saying, “Some of you speak better English than I do.”
He thanked Berliners for inviting him to come “to your great city”, noting that he has visited the Berlin festival a number of times over the years. His last trip was in 1988 — before the Berline Wall came down.
“The last time I was here I had to go through Checkpoint Charlie,” he recalled, noting that this time he was staying at a posh new hotel located in the middle of what used to be the no-man’s land between East and West Berlin.
“Now the Wall is down, and I have to think of my contemporaries like Peter Lorre and Billy Wilder, and I can only hope that Berlin will soon recapture the splendour it had in the past.”
This year’s festival is also special because son Michael Douglas stars in “Traffic”, the competition film which is favoured to win this year’s Golden Bear Best Film Award.
The dimple-chinned actor had special praise for his new Welsh daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones, who co-stars with her husband in Oscar-nominated “Traffic”.
“She’s a wonderful girl, not only beautiful, but she’s a family girl. What I’m most proud about is that she gave Michael a baby boy,” he said.
“And that boy has the biggest dimple on his chin,” Douglas exclaimed, inserting his right index finger into the own chinny cleft.
Douglas spoke candidly about his career and the changes he has seen in the movie industry, and about his humble beginnings as the son of Russian immigrants.
“I was Issur Danielovitch,” he said. “That’s a great name — if you want to be a ballet dancer.”
Of the more than 80 films he has made, he felt most are not particularly classics. “A lot of them are bad,” he acknowledged. “I can’t think of more than about 20 that I really like.”
His own personally favourite is “Lonely are the Brave” about a cowboy who takes risks to fight injustice and who baulks at progress for progress sake.
Douglas took risks in his own career to fight injustice, as embodied in the slave uprising in “Spartacus”. Douglas directed, financed and starred in “Spartacus” over the objections of many in Hollywood, who feared the film could be construed as “pro-Communist” because of its theme of rebellion against authority.
Douglas saw to it that Dalton Trumbo wrote the screenplay for “Spartacus” — breaking a blacklist imposed in the 1950s during the Communist witchhunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy. DPA
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