Friday, October 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


W O R L D


Bangladesh heading for constitutional crisis?
Dhaka, October 4
The debate questioning the credibility of the General Election, the Awami League’s ultimatum to hold fresh poll in all 300 seats cancelling the results of the elections held on October 1 and the decision of its legislators not to take oath indicates that Bangladesh is heading for a constitutional crisis.

Bangladesh securitymen check a jeep carrying former Water and Irrigation Minister Abdur Razzak at the entrance of the Election Commission office in Dhaka on Thursday. — Reuters photo



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Soldiers at Fort Drum in New York state are on high alert to be deployed in the Afghanistan  region.
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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

 

Pak bid to replace Mulla Omar?
Facade to keep Taliban in power
Moscow
In a desperate bid to perpetuate its control over Taliban, Pakistan is trying to remove its chief, Mulla Mohammed Omar, so that the militia continues to rule Afghanistan, a highly placed Iranian source here said.

USA presents evidence on Laden involvement
Islamabad, October 4
Pakistan has said the USA has presented “impressive evidence” of Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the September 11 attacks, and asked the USA to pubicise it all over the world to enable people to make a fair judgement.

Do not limit fight to Laden: India
United Nations, October 4
India, asserting that terrorists had killed tens of thousands of its citizens over the past decade, said yesterday that global solidarity must not be limited to hunting enemies of the USA.

200 attacks on Sikhs in USA: Amnesty
London, October 4
Despite calls for tolerance and restraint by the authorities, at least 200 attacks on Sikhs and 540 on Arab-Americans have been reported in the USA in the week following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, international human rights watchdog Amnesty International has said.

EARLIER STORIES

Food convoys reach Kabul
October 4
, 2001
Move for Afghan elders’ meeting gains momentum
October 3
, 2001
Pressure mounts on Pak to replace Taliban govt
October 2
, 2001
Focus shifts to hijackers’ European links
October 1
, 2001
Taliban not averse to talks with USA
September 30
, 2001
UN chief for $ 584 m to feed, shelter Afghan refugees
September 29
, 2001
Liberate Kabul from Taliban yoke: ex-king
September 28
, 2001
7.5 m Afghan refugees will suffer from hunger, cold: UN
September 27
, 2001
Attack plan bid to install pro-US govt: Omar
September 26
, 2001
Kazakh support for US action
September 25
, 2001
 

A Continental Airlines Boeing 737 passes in front of the US Capitol as Washington's Reagan National Airport reopens on Thursday for the first time since the attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11. US President George W. Bush decided to reopen the airport two days ago after it was shut down for security reasons due to its proximity to the nation's capital. — Reuters

Afghan refugees walk through a sandstorm at the Saranan refugee camp, 45 km outside Balochistan's provincial capital Quetta, on Thursday. US President George W. Bush is expected on Thursday to unveil a humanitarian aid package for Afghans fleeing their country ahead of threatened US retaliatory strikes.
 — Reuters

US Senators’ resolution on American Sikhs
Washington, October 4
As many as 32 Senators have submitted a resolution calling for protection of the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans, including American Sikhs. Senator Richard Durbin (Democrat of Illinois) introduced the Senate Concurrent Resolution in the Senate, which referred it to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

‘Hijack drama to discredit Pak’
Islamabad, October 4
Pakistan today alleged that the “hijack” of an Alliance Air flight from Mumbai to Delhi was a “drama” stage-managed by Indian intelligence agencies to discredit Islamabad.

Blair to meet Pak President today
Islamabad, October 4
British Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad tomorrow, a Foreign Ministry official told AFP. “As far as we know, Mr Blair is arriving here tomorrow afternoon and he will meet President Musharraf during a short visit,” the official said today.

Rumsfeld in Oman for “consultations”
Muscat, October 4
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Oman today after visiting Saudi Arabia where he remained silent on how the country could help the USA find the perpetrators of last month’s attacks.

Iran seals borders to Afghan refugees
Teheran, October 4
Iran said today it had sent thousands of extra troops to its eastern border with Afghanistan to stop refugees flooding across the frontier in case of US strikes.

Opium prices fall along Pakistan border
Islamabad, October 4
Opium prices along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan have fallen by nearly a third, due to Afghan traders selling off their stocks in anticipation of a US attack, an official said today.

Afghan men walk through a poppy field in the Nangharhar province of Afghanistan in this March 1999 photo.

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Bangladesh heading for constitutional crisis?
Atiqur Rahman
Tribune News Service

Dhaka, October 4
The debate questioning the credibility of the General Election, the Awami League’s ultimatum to hold fresh poll in all 300 seats cancelling the results of the elections held on October 1 and the decision of its legislators not to take oath indicates that Bangladesh is heading for a constitutional crisis. The Awami League has rejected the results of the polling showing a landslide victory for the four-party alliance. It has alleged that it was defeated through mass rigging, change of result sheets, stuffing of fake ballots in ballot boxes and by driving out AL polling agents.

The AL was awestruck by the results. Even supporters of the BNP-led four-party alliance are surprised over the landslide victory.

However, rejecting the AL allegation, Justice Latifur Rahman, Chief Adviser of the Advisory Council of the caretaker government, has categorically denied having any report of any kind of rigging. He has asserted that the polling was held in a free-and-fair manner.

Meanwhile, the chief of the BNP, Ms Khaleda Zia, in separate meetings with the Chief Adviser and the President urged them to invite her to form the government. The Election Commission is likely to publish the results of 283 seats of parliament in the gazette notification which makes the elected persons members of Parliament. Then the parliamentary party of the BNP will elect its leader who will be sworn in as Prime Minister. Media reports indicate that Ms Khaleda Zia and some Cabinet members are likely to be sworn in by Monday.

Unofficial results of 283 seats have so far been announced. Repolling in 90 polling centres of 16 seats will be held on October 8. Polling in one seat was deferred due to the death of a candidate and is now fixed for November 1.

AL chief Sheikh Hasina, emerging from the meeting of the party’s executive committee last evening, announced the ultimatum to accept the party’s demand by October 10 failing which it would announced a programme of non-cooperation movement. The debate on the AL demand began because there is no provision in the Representation of the Public Order (RPO) of 1973, amended recently to hold the General Election, to cancel poll results of all seats. Anti-AL intellectuals and organisations have appealed to the AL to accept the defeat. Many local dailies in commentaries and editorials have urged the party to accept the verdict of the people with grace.

However, many dailies have highlighted the demand of the AL and have carried reports of irregularities in polling. Many non-government organisations, engaged in poll monitoring, alleged that the minority community was prevented from voting and AL polling agents were driven out of polling centres.
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Pak bid to replace Mulla Omar?
Facade to keep Taliban in power
Arun Mohanty


A Pakistani soldier guards the road leading into Afghanistan at Michni post near the Torkham border crossing in Pakistan on Wednesday. — AP/PTI photo

Moscow
In a desperate bid to perpetuate its control over Taliban, Pakistan is trying to remove its chief, Mulla Mohammed Omar, so that the militia continues to rule Afghanistan, a highly placed Iranian source here said.

Islamabad feels that Omar is mainly responsible for sheltering terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, considered as the prime suspect by Washington in last month’s terror attacks that killed thousands.

By removing Omar from the Taliban leadership, Pakistan would try to convince the world that the militia has changed and should be given a chance to stay. In this way Islamabad would succeed in preventing the Northern Alliance from taking power in Kabul and have its favoured regime there.

Pakistan is trying to project a liberal and moderate face of the Taliban, the Iranian source told this reporter.

Pakistan hopes to get U.S. support for its project, said the source, adding the return of exiled king Zahir Shah to Kabul was not to the liking of both Washington and Islamabad.

“Islamabad’s game plan is to perpetuate its influence in Afghanistan and retain the terrorist infrastructure in that country for using it as its foreign policy instrument,” the source said.

Russian foreign policy analyst Yevgeny Pashentsev added that Pakistan’s plan to install a new puppet government in Kabul with U.S. approval would serve the interests of both Washington and Kabul and thwart the bid to build a broad-based coalition around the Northern Alliance propped up by Russia, India and Iran.

The Taliban, which seized power in Kabul in 1996, was founded in the Islamic seminaries of Pakistan and has close links with Pakistani intelligence agencies as well as rightwing groups in Pakistan.

The terror attacks in the USA have, however, embarrassed Pakistan, the only country still recognising the Taliban regime.

Pakistani officials admit any “loss” of Afghanistan would be a major blow to Islamabad’s foreign policy objectives, including that of sustaining pressure on India by dispatching Afghan war veterans to fight in Jammu and Kashmir and give the impression of an Islamic upsurge in that state.

Islamabad feels that Mulla Omar’s personal friendship with bin Laden is threatening to wipe out all the gains Pakistan has made by helping the Taliban to take power in Kabul. Pakistan wants to avoid a military defeat of the Taliban - which could become a certainty if the USA launches air strikes and gives full backing to the Northern Alliance. IANS
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USA presents evidence on Laden involvement

Islamabad, October 4
Pakistan has said the USA has presented “impressive evidence” of Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the September 11 attacks, and asked the USA to pubicise it all over the world to enable people to make a fair judgement.

The USA should be confident that it has impressive evidence,” Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said in an interview to CNN yesterday.

He said Pakistan would respect the conclusion reached by the USA on the basis of the evidence but at the same time would not “sit in judgement” on the issue.

“We are hesitant to pronounce a judgement,” he added.

Mr Sattar revealed Pakistan was shown 20 pages of documents besides an oral presentation and his government was evaluating the evidence.

Stating that the USA should publicise the evidence for the people of the world to see and evaluate it, he said people would be impressed by the good work done by the USA. “Of course we are not saying that this should be taken to a court of law as that is for the USA to decide”, Mr Sattar said while adding that if the world community was not made aware of this information they would not be convinced that the action taken was justified.”

He said Pakistan was particularly concerned about this issue as a segment of public existed in the country which had extremist tendencies and would exploit the situation to mislead people. “There is no harm in making the information and evidence public,” Mr Sattar told CNN.

The USA, for the first time, provided material and documentary evidence to the Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf yesterday.
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Do not limit fight to Laden: India

United Nations, October 4
India, asserting that terrorists had killed tens of thousands of its citizens over the past decade, said yesterday that global solidarity must not be limited to hunting enemies of the USA.

“The fact that terrorism is an international problem and can only be tackled collectively is something that countries who have suffered most from it know in their bones,” India’s Ambassador to the United Nations Kamalesh Sharma said.

He was speaking on the third day of a UN General Assembly debate on terrorism, convened after hijacked commercial airliners destroyed New York’s World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, near Washington.

The attacks, have spurred the UN into action of a speed and intensity rarely seen here.

On Friday, after barely 24 hours of consultations, the Security Council adopted a US-sponsored resolution obliging member states to deny funds, support and safe haven to terrorist groups and to exchange intelligence to fight them.

The attacks had “brought home to a world that probably did not realise this until then, how much of an international phenomenon terrorism truly is,” Mr Sharma told the Assembly. AFP
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200 attacks on Sikhs in USA: Amnesty

London, October 4
Despite calls for tolerance and restraint by the authorities, at least 200 attacks on Sikhs and 540 on Arab-Americans have been reported in the USA in the week following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, international human rights watchdog Amnesty International has said.

“Mosques, Hindu temples and community centres have been attacked and vandalised in countries as diverse as India, the UK, Poland and Denmark,” Amnesty said in a report.

In a number of countries, including Mexico, Brazil and Paraguay, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern origin have been detained on suspicion of links with “terrorist” organisations, amid fears that they may be victims of arbitrary detention and ill-treatment.

Men and women of all ages have suffered abuse and even serious attacks because of their real or perceived religious or national identity, it said.

Amnesty International documents evidence of a backlash against Muslims and people of Middle Eastern or Asian origin or appearance in at least 10 countries.

A Sikh, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was killed in a rampage in suburban Phoenix in the USA and many others had to face racial slurs following the terrorists strikes.

The report also highlights the first worrying indications that the “fight against terrorism” may be opportunistically used to clamp down on civil liberties and human rights.

Amnesty International said the horror of the terrorist attacks should not result in other communities around the world being victimised in the name of fighting terrorism.

In Europe and elsewhere, governments are rushing laws that threaten to curb civil liberties and possibly reduce safeguards against abuses of human rights, it said.

The Amnesty fears that many people in Afghanistan will be at heightened risk of suffering human rights abuses, noting that non-Pashtuns living in Taliban-controlled areas are particularly vulnerable as they may be viewed mistakenly as sympathetic to the opposition Northern Alliance. PTI

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US Senators’ resolution on American Sikhs

Washington, October 4
As many as 32 Senators have submitted a resolution calling for protection of the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans, including American Sikhs.

Senator Richard Durbin (Democrat of Illinois) introduced the Senate Concurrent Resolution in the Senate, which referred it to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

The resolution condemns “bigotry and any acts of violence or discrimination against Americans, including American Sikhs. It calls upon local and federal law enforcement agencies to work to prevent hate crimes against all Americans and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all those who commit hate crimes.

The resolution, the sponsors noted, stems from a series of attacks on Sikhs following the September 11 terrorist strikes.

The attackers took the simplistic and ill-informed view that all those who wear turban and have a beard must be supporters of Osama bin Laden, who wears a turban and has a beard. PTI
Top

 

‘Hijack drama to discredit Pak’

Islamabad, October 4
Pakistan today alleged that the “hijack” of an Alliance Air flight from Mumbai to Delhi was a “drama” stage-managed by Indian intelligence agencies to discredit Islamabad.

Reporting on the incident, state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) said the “drama” proved right an alert sounded by Pakistani intelligence agencies on October 2 that India was chalking out a plan to enact a hijack in order to project Islamabad in bad light in the international community.

The television said intelligence reports circulated on October 2 by private news agency NNI and published in some of the newspapers yesterday cautioned that Indian intelligence agencies planned to hijack a plane of a big airline and bring it to Pakistan to get Islamabad declared a terrorist state.

The Pakistan Government had also issued orders not to permit the plane to enter the country’s airspace in the event of an aircraft being commandeered there, it said.

The PTV report alleged that the “hijack” drama followed attempts by India to attribute the October 1 suicide bombing outside Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to Islamic militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad. PTI

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Blair to meet Pak President today

Islamabad, October 4
British Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad tomorrow, a Foreign Ministry official told AFP.

“As far as we know, Mr Blair is arriving here tomorrow afternoon and he will meet President Musharraf during a short visit,” the official said today.

Mr Blair will start an international round of shuttle diplomacy by meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow today.

Before embarking on his tour, Mr Blair addressed a special one-day sitting of UK’s Parliament to outline his reasons for pledging British support for the US-led coalition against terrorism.

Downing street was attempting to keep most of his itinerary a secret although press reports suggested that his tour would also include a morale-boosting visit to British troops currently on exercise in Oman.

The UK has been one of the USA’s strongest allies since the September 11 terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, while Pakistan has also pledged to co-operate. AFP
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Rumsfeld in Oman for “consultations”

Muscat, October 4
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Oman today after visiting Saudi Arabia where he remained silent on how the country could help the USA find the perpetrators of last month’s attacks.

Oman was the second leg of Rumsfeld’s regional tour to discuss America’s “war against terrorism’’ with allies. He will go to Egypt later today and also hold talks in Uzbekistan, US diplomats said.

Rumsfeld made no public comment during his 15-hour visit to Riyadh about how America’s biggest Gulf ally, Saudi Arabia, might help track down those responsible for the attacks.

Washington has blamed the attack on Osama bin Laden and has warned Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement to hand over the Saudi-born exile or face the consequences.

The USA has called on all countries to support its anti-terrorism efforts after the September 11 attack on New York and Washington that left about 6,000 people missing or dead.

Rumsfeld has described the purpose of his tour as to hold “consultations’’ rather than to negotiate greater support for any military action the USA might take.

The attacks have led to the biggest US mobilisation since the 1991 Gulf War. US B-52 and B-1 bombers, warships and elite special forces have already moved to the Gulf, Central Asia and the Indian Ocean.

In Oman, where Rumsfeld was due to hold talks with Sultan Qaboos near the capital Muscat, British troops are carrying out exercises with Omani forces amid speculation among western commentators that some of the British forces may be used in any attack on Afghanistan.

Military sources in the region say several hundred US troops have been newly deployed alongside British forces in Oman in recent days. There has been no official confirmation.

A senior official travelling with Rumsfeld said cooperation between Oman and the USA was “consistently excellent’’, and Oman was among the first states in region to have military cooperation with Washington. Reuters

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Iran seals borders to Afghan refugees

Teheran, October 4
Iran said today it had sent thousands of extra troops to its eastern border with Afghanistan to stop refugees flooding across the frontier in case of US strikes.

It said troops were digging trenches, setting up barbed and electronic detection devices to halt up to 400,000 refugees, which the United Nations says could head to Iran, adding to the more than two million Afghans already living here.

“We have established complete security in eastern borders especially in Khorasan province,” Thursday’s Abrar daily quoted Border Guard Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Sanei as saying. “Efforts are also underway to bring more security to the southern border province of Sistan Baluchistan.”

Twenty-four battalions were now guarding the rugged 900-km frontier, he said.

“We have dug trenches, set up electronic devices and barbed wire and established military camps with look-out towers to completely seal off Iran’s border and not let any Afghans slip through,” he said. Reuters

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Opium prices fall along Pakistan border

Islamabad, October 4
Opium prices along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan have fallen by nearly a third, due to Afghan traders selling off their stocks in anticipation of a US attack, an official said today.

Col Mohammad Zafar Khan said in just two weeks, the price of 1 kg of the drug had fallen from $ 700 to $ 460-540.

“Obviously they want to sell taking advantage of the current crises. They sneak in bringing sacks full of opium to turn their stocks into cash in these uncertain conditions,” Colonel Khan explained.

“Poppy cultivation was banned by the Taliban but people had plenty of stocks. Now hoping that the Taliban grip on power will end in the weeks ahead, they are getting rid of their previous stocks,” he said. “The poppy cultivation season starts in October and we have reports that people in Afghanistan are planning to sow poppy this year, expecting a collapse of the Taliban rule”. AFP
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Taliban court to try UK scribe

Islamabad, October 4
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban plan to put British journalist Yvonne Ridley on trial for illegally entering the country, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said today. “She will be tried because she broke the laws of our land and entered our country without permission,” AIP quoted Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Mullah Abdur Rahman Zahid as saying. Reuters
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