Monday, September 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Taliban say Laden missing; USA not convinced

Islamabad, September 23
In an intriguing development, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia today said Osama bin Laden had gone “missing” but the USA rejected it saying Washington was “not going to be deterred” by the reports.

As the US manoeuvred its forces in the Gulf and rushed more deployments to various locations for possible strikes on Afghanistan following the militia’s refusal to handover Bin Laden, Taliban spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmaen said “Osama bin Laden is missing. We are searching for him”.

The Afghan Islamic Press quoted Mutmaen as saying that the fatwa, issued by the Afghan clerics last week, asking the militia leadership to persuade Bin Laden, wanted “dead or alive” by the USA for September 11 terrorist strikes, to leave the country voluntarily, had been endorsed by the Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammad Omar.

But “we are still making efforts to locate him. When he is found, the edict will be delivered to him. Then he will decide whether to leave Afghanistan or not,” he said.

Reacting swiftly, President George W. Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said: “We are not going to be deterred by comments that he may be missing,” Rice told Fox Television. “We don’t simply believe it.” PTI


USA admits losing spy plane

Washington, September 23
The USA had lost a spy plane over Afghanistan, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today, playing down claims that forces of the Taliban militia shot down the aircraft.

“The USA have lost contact with an unmanned aerial vehicle,” Mr Rumsfeld told journalists after appearing on a talk show early today.

“That happens from time to time in terms of control. We have no reasons to believe it was shot down,” he said.

Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia today claimed its forces shot down a US spy plane in Northern Samangan province. AFP


Pak awaits US response on cooperation details

New Delhi, September 23
Ahead of an American delegation’s visit to Islamabad for discussing the details of cooperation for the military strike against Afghanistan, Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar has said Pakistan was waiting for a clear indication from the USA about how precisely Pakistan would be able to help Washington in its fight against terrorism.

“We have assured the world community of our cooperation in the fight against terrorism and we have informed the USA that we will cooperate”, Mr Sattar told the BBC.

He said, “So far, the discussions have been in general terms. These have involved the questions of intelligence and information and assessment sharing, permission for overflights, and logistic assistance”. PTIBack


US attack unlikely this week
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 23
The US move to lift economic sanctions against India and Pakistan today shows that Washington is pursuing a policy of equidistance with respect to New Delhi and Islamabad and also indicates that it is one step closer to the launching of its reprisal attacks on the terrorism apparatus in Afghanistan.

At the same time, however, according to well-placed diplomatic and security sources here, the US attack on the hideouts of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and elsewhere is unlikely till Pope John Paul II completes his tour of Central Asian Republics which began yesterday and is expected to last at least four or five days. The Pope’s visit to this region is being interpreted here as a signal that the West is not anti-Islam.

The lifting of US sanctions against India and Pakistan, say experts, is a pointer to the fact that the USA is not willing to abandon its decades-old strategic ally, Pakistan, and is not ready to do anything which could indicate that it is more close to either of the two nuclear powers in the Indian subcontinent. Former Foreign Secretary, Muchkund Dubey told this correspondent that the lifting of sanctions was going to benefit Pakistan more than India. “At the same time, there is no need for India to be worried over this as it is certainly not our objective to see Pakistan going down financially or politically.”

Noted strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney said the US move to lift sanctions was aimed at coming to the aid of Pakistan and the timing of the move showed that it was not a very good message for India from the USA.

“For months the Americans had been telling India that they would be lifting the sanctions but they did not whereas in the case of Pakistan they did so within days of Islamabad agreeing to help the Americans against the Taliban.’’

Mr Chellaney said Pakistan had been hit hard by the American sanctions. “In any case most sanctions against India regarding multilateral lending and military-to-military ties had already been relaxed. However, technological sanctions, which are most important for India continue to be in place for over three decades.”

Mr S.K. Datta, a former Director of the CBI who is presently a member of a couple of strategic groups on Pakistan said the US move showed that it did not have any principles.Back

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