Sunday, October 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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Pak not to participate in military strikes 
Islamabad, October 6
Pakistan will not participate in any US-led military strikes in Afghanistan but will restrict itself to cooperation in information exchange, intelligence sharing and use of air space, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar has said.

A US AV-8B Harrier jet lands on the flight deck of USS Essex during an exercise at an undisclosed location in the Pacific Ocean . —Reuters


Protesters blast Blair, USA over Bin Laden
Peshawar (Pakistan), October 6
Pakistan religious groups today protested against British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the United States of America for their push to isolate or oust Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement.

A protester shouts anti-US slogans during a demostration in Peshawar on Saturday. — Reuters


No dearth of safer hideouts, says Laden
Islamabad, October 6
Osama bin Laden alleged terrorist mastermind has said he had no difficulty in finding a safer place outside Afghanistan as his hide-outs ranged from Indonesia to Algeria, Chechnya to Kashmir and Bosnia to Sudan.

USA redesignates 25 terrorist groups
Washington, October 6
The LTTE was among the 25 groups redesignated by the USA as foreign terrorist organisations, but contrary to expectations, none of the groups operating in Kashmir was cited in the list.

USA rebukes Sharon
Washington, October 6
In a rare public disagreement between two strong allies, the White House yesterday rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for saying that the USA risked appeasing Arab nations at Israel’s expense, just as Hitler was appeased on the eve of World War II.

No Pak plan to persuade Taliban
Islamabad, October 6
Pakistan has no plans to send further delegations or envoys to Afghanistan to try to persuade the ruling Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, the Foreign Ministry said today.


Thousands of Taliban supporters marched on to the streets of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Friday in a protest against the USA
(28k, 56k)


Hundreds of people are stranded in the village of Ghulam Muhammad on the Afghan side of the border with Pakistan awaiting permission to cross over.
(28k, 56k)



A Pakistani women from Jamit-e-Islami party peeks during a pro-Taliban rally in Islamabad on Saturday.
—Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 

Suspect linked to Cole bombing
Washington, October 6
One of the suspected hijackers on the aircraft that damaged the Pentagon on September 11 has been linked to two previous attacks attributed to Osama bin Laden, the New York Times reported today.

Pervez extends term as Army Chief 
Islamabad, October 6
President Pervez Musharraf today gave himself an indefinite extension in the key position of the Chief of Army Staff citing the largest interests of the country.

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Pak not to participate in military strikes 
Muhammad Najeeb

Islamabad, October 6
Pakistan will not participate in any US-led military strikes in Afghanistan but will restrict itself to cooperation in information exchange, intelligence sharing and use of air space, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar has said.

Sattar told IANS Islamabad would provide “logistic support. These are the assurances we have given to the United States.”

There was no question of Pakistan’s participation in strikes against Afghanistan, he said, referring to British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s visit to Pakistan on Friday.

He said President Pervez Musharraf’s talks with Mr Blair focused only “on what we have said earlier.”

When asked when he expected the USA and its allies to “attack” Afghanistan, he said: “What we know is that the modalities are yet to be worked out.”

He said Islamabad spoke about the future of Afghanistan, “keeping Pakistan’s interests in view. Certainly one has to take into account all possible eventualities in Afghanistan.”

Mr Sattar said Pakistan feels there is evidence leading to association between Saudi-born Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terror strikes.

After talks with Mr Blair on Friday, President Musharraf had told reporters: “I, personally, and my government feel there is evidence which is leading to an association between this terrorist act and Bin Laden.”

An aviation official, meanwhile, said Pakistan has almost restricted flying over its extreme southern airspace that borders Afghanistan and Iran.

“We have readjusted flight operations by diverting all air traffic towards Karachi Flight Information Report (FIR) from Panjgur (Balochistan) for security purpose in the given circumstances,” said Air Vice-Marshal Arshad Rashid Sethi, Deputy Director-General of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Panjgur flying zone, in Pakistan’s southern Balochistan province, shares airspace with Afghanistan and Iran. It is more than 400 km from the coastal town of Gwadar, some 720 km south of Karachi.

Earlier, reports suggested the presence of a US aircraft carrier within 150 nautical miles in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Gwadar.

“We opted for diversion of the international flights from Panjgur airspace to southern FIR as you can understand the situation,” Air Vice-Marshal Sethi said, without directly commenting on possible air strikes by US aircraft over airspace near Afghanistan.

He categorically denied the general closure of Pakistan’s airspace or even suspension of domestic flights to Panjgur.

The US Defence Department last week said the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier was already in the Arabian Sea. The USS Enterprise was expected to be joined by the USS Carl Vinson from the Gulf as part of the ongoing US military build-up in the region.

A team of US defence officials was in Islamabad last week holding, what Pakistani officials had described as preliminary discussions on the extent of Pakistan’s support for any military action in Afghanistan.

In 1998, U.S. forces fired cruise missiles at targets in Afghanistan from ships in the Arabian Sea.

The attack was ordered in response to the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, reportedly orchestrated by Saudi-born Bin Laden. IANS
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Protesters blast Blair, USA over Bin Laden

Peshawar (Pakistan), October 6
Pakistan religious groups today protested against British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the United States of America for their push to isolate or oust Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement.

The protesters marched through the frontier town of Peshawar raising anti-American and anti-British slogans and then ripped apart an effigy of Blair.

“We declare war on America and Britain,’’ said one speaker from the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, which has said it had started recruiting fighters to go to Afghanistan if the USA attacked the country to punish the Taliban for not giving up Bin Laden.

The protest in the pro-Taliban stronghold of Peshawar, not far from the border with Afghanistan, came one day after Blair made a brief stopover in Islamabad where he said Pakistan’s support was vital for the global war against terrorism in the wake of the suicide plane attacks on New York and Washington last month.

“If the current Taliban regime fails to yield up Osama bin Laden and his associates then it must fall, and its successors must be a broad-based government with every ethnic group,’’ Blair told a news conference with President Pervez Musharraf.

The protest in Peshawar was peaceful and relatively small by Pakistan standards.

“I think there are 3,000 to 4,000 people. It is peaceful, quite normal,’’ said police inspector Shah Nawaz, standing by a row of riot police which stayed back from the protest. Nearly half of Peshawar’s residents are Afghan.

The destruction of an effigy of Blair was the first in Peshawar in more than three weeks of protests since Bin Laden was accused by Washington of being the mastermind behind the attacks on the USA and comes after the British Prime Minister stepped up his criticism of the Saudi fugitive and the Taliban for sheltering him. One of the speakers in the strongly pro-Taliban Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam sang a protest song. Music has been banned in Afghanistan by the Taliban which is trying to turn the war-ravaged country into the world’s purest Islamic state.

The protesters also attacked US President George Bush, and there were signs that declared, “George Bush is greatest terrorist’’.

Blair’s visit was part of a whirlwind tour aimed at shoring up support for the global war against terrorism and thank Musharraf for his decision to back the USA.

Musharraf has drawn strong domestic criticism for backing Washington, but his government dealt a possible death blow to the Taliban on Thursday when it said the USA had provided strong enough evidence to support an indictment against Bin Laden. Reuters 
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No dearth of safer hideouts, says Laden

Islamabad, October 6
Osama bin Laden alleged terrorist mastermind has said he had no difficulty in finding a safer place outside Afghanistan as his hide-outs ranged from Indonesia to Algeria, Chechnya to Kashmir and Bosnia to Sudan.

In an interview to Pakistan’s Urdu weekly ‘Takbeer’, Laden said there was no problem finding hide-outs from where he can carry out his “mission” as he has plenty of safer places in a number of countries other than Afghanistan.

“I am not afraid of death because I have to kiss martyrdom one day and I pray to God to ordain martyrdom,” Bin Laden, prime suspect in last month’s strikes in the USA, was quoted as saying.

The weekly has not specified from where and when it obtained the interview.

Stating that he considered Pakistan a sacred land and abode of pure people, Bin Laden said these people (Pakistanis) would protect him without caring for their lives.

“Pakistan is a great hope for the Muslims of the entire world... Pakistanis are ready to fight against the enemies of Islam shoulder to shoulder with Taliban.”

He said had there been such “valiant Muslims in two other Muslim states”, there would have been no dominance of the west over the world.

He said fighting for the security of Pakistan is the greatest Jehad (holy war) as “Pakistan is the fort of Islam irrespective of the fact whosoever is in power or whether it was ruled by male or female.”

Bin Laden said since he has become the “slave of God Almighty,” he cannot accept hegemony of any powers on the earth for fear of risk to life. PTI
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Osama points finger at India, Russia

Islamabad, October 6
Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden, wanted for the September 11 strikes on the USA, has denied his involvement in the attacks and said they might have been engineered by “enemies of Islam and Christianity”.

In his latest interview from somewhere in Afghanistan to a Pakistan-based Urdu weekly Takbeer, Bin Laden said none of the outfits operating under Al-Qaeda was behind the attacks that left nearly 6,000 persons dead.

“Countries like Israel, Russia, India and Serbia could have triggered these attacks to promote their culture and religion,’’ the wanted terrorist said.

“One cannot ignore the fact that even Jews, who were unhappy with the election of Mr George W. Bush as US President, could have been behind the attacks,’’ he added.

Bin Laden said his struggle was against forces killing innocent people.

“Irrespective of who is in power in Pakistan, the fact remains that it is the fortress of Islam and a sacred place of worship. If two or three more Muslim nations come together, the domination of the West will end,’’ he added. UNI 
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USA redesignates 25 terrorist groups

Washington, October 6
The LTTE was among the 25 groups redesignated by the USA as foreign terrorist organisations, but contrary to expectations, none of the groups operating in Kashmir was cited in the list.

The list released yesterday by Secretary of State Colin Powell basically redesignated 25 groups as foreign terrorist organisations.

“By redesignating them as Foreign Terrorist Organisations and publishing the decision in the Federal Register, we continue the measures against these terrorist groups in accordance with the provisions of the anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act,” Mr Powell said.

He said every one of these groups had continued to engage in terrorist activity over the past two years.

“Most of these groups including the LTTE, HAMAS, Palestine Islamic Jihad and Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida organisation — have carried out murderous attacks on innocent people, he said.

Meanwhile, the USA reiterated its position that its global campaign against terrorist will embrace those operating in Kashmir President George W.Bush had made it clear that terrorism should be wiped out everywhere, including in Kashmir, White House spokesman Ari Fleisher told the media.

“When the President met Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh of India earlier this week, the President directly condemned the terrorist attack in Kashmir.

And the President has said terrorism must end everywhere, and that included in Kashmir,” he said. UNI 
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USA rebukes Sharon

Washington, October 6
In a rare public disagreement between two strong allies, the White House yesterday rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for saying that the USA risked appeasing Arab nations at Israel’s expense, just as Hitler was appeased on the eve of World War II.

“The Prime Minister’s comments are unacceptable,” said President George W. Bush’s spokesman Ari Fleischer.

“Israel has no stronger friend and ally in the world than the USA, and President Bush is especially a close friend of Israel,’’ he told reporters.

He said the US Displeasure had been communicated to Mr Sharon by Secretary of State Colin Powell on phone and by the US Embassy in Israel and Bush’s National Security Council. A second phone conversation between Mr Powell and Mr Sharon was made as well.

Mr Sharon on thursday called on the USA and the West not to seek Arab support for a war against global terrorism at Israel’s expense, citing the “dreadful mistake of 1938” when Europe “decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia” to the Nazis.

Israel, he said, “will not be Czechoslovakia.”

“The USA is not doing anything that would appease the Arabs at Israel’s expense,” Fleischer said.

The dispute marked a rare public disagreement between the two allies since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Israel is the largest recipient of US Assistance, estimated at $3 billion a year. Reuters
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No Pak plan to persuade Taliban

Islamabad, October 6
Pakistan has no plans to send further delegations or envoys to Afghanistan to try to persuade the ruling Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, the Foreign Ministry said today.

“There are no plans to send new delegations,’’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan told a news conference.

“The Taliban know what the international community expects of them”.

“If they decide to respond to what the international community wants ... It is to their advantage to do so.’’

Pakistan has sent two delegations to Afghanistan since September 11, but both have returned empty handed. Reuters
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Suspect linked to Cole bombing

Washington, October 6
One of the suspected hijackers on the aircraft that damaged the Pentagon on September 11 has been linked to two previous attacks attributed to Osama bin Laden, the New York Times reported today.

Khalid Almihdhar had a role in the bombing of the USS Cole as it sailed into Yemen in October, last year, and “possibly” in the 1998 bombings of two US Embassies in Africa, the newspaper quoted unnamed US government officials as saying.

It said the British intelligence showed almihdhar “played a significant role” in both attacks, according to senior US and European intelligence officials. AFP
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Pervez extends term as Army Chief 

Islamabad, October 6
President Pervez Musharraf today gave himself an indefinite extension in the key position of the Chief of Army Staff citing the largest interests of the country.

General Musharraf, who was to retire from the army today after completing his three-year term as the Army Chief, extended his term indefinitely after consultations with senior Generals, including chiefs of the armed forces and civilian colleagues of the powerful National Security Council and Cabinet, defence spokesman Major-Gen Rashid Quereshi said.

The decision would enable General Musharraf to remain at the helm of Pakistan armed forces at least until October 2002, before he is legally bound to hand over power to an elected government. PTI
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