Saturday, October 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Taliban slap tax on food aid
Ban on English
Zahedan (Iran) October 12
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia has slapped taxes on UN food aid arriving in the country from Iran as well as from Pakistan, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has said. The organisation’s representative in Iran, Mr Marius Degaay Fortman, told AFP on Wednesday that a WFP convoy of trucks from Iran loaded with 100 tonnes of wheat flour from the USA was taxed before arriving in Herat.

Allies to shroud attack details in secrecy
Clampdown on information
London, October 12
Washington and London are keen to cloak the details of their war against terrorism in secrecy, but key aspects of the campaign could be forced into the open if Afghanistan’s rulers start using the media to their advantage.

Suspend air strikes on Afghanistan: UNHRC
Dublin, October 12
United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson called on Friday for a suspension of air strikes against Afghanistan in order to provide aid to civilians before the onset of winter. Speaking on Irish state radio, she said the situation for civilians in Afghanistan was “desperate”. 

US arms aid to Pak will ‘worry’ India
Washington, October 12
India has said it would be a matter of concern to New Delhi if the USA extends assistance to Pakistan from economic aid to arms supply for using facilities provided by Islamabad in the war against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden.

NY Mayor’s rebuff to prince
New York, October 12
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has rejected a Saudi prince’s $10 million donation for victims of the World Trade Center after the prince criticised U.S. policy in the Middle East.
 

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia (R) gets a tour of ground zero from New York City Rudolph Giuliani (L) on October 11.—AFP 


Spanish women soldiers parade in central Madrid during Spain's National Columbus Day on Friday. Spanish King Juan Carlos reviewed the troops as commander in chief of the Spanish Army. —Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 

No let-up in anti-US protests
Zahedan (Iran), October 12
The anti-US demonstrators attacked the Pakistani consulate in the south-eastern Iranian city of Zahedan, near the border with Afghanistan today, the police told AFP. “Pakistan’s consulate was attacked by demonstrators who threw stones,” a police official said, without specifying how many people were involved or if there was any damage or casualties.

Naipaul’s first novel had no takers
Paris, October 12
Like many legends who rose from humble beginnings, this year’s Nobel laureate Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul’s first novel was rejected by publishers. But Naipaul, a struggling 18-year-old student writer in 1950, when his literary effort found no publisher, continued writing undeterred by the blanket rejection.

Missile hit caused jet disaster
Moscow, October 12
Russian investigators said today a stray missile blew a Russian passenger jet out of the sky over the Black Sea last week and Ukraine admitted its forces may have been to blame, local news agencies reported. All 78 crew and passengers, mostly Russian-born Israelis, died after the Tu-154 jet exploded at high altitude and crashed into the sea on October 4.

Another French scribe held
Paris, October 12

A second French journalist was arrested in Afghanistan, but was turned over to Pakistani authorities, Le Figaro newspaper reported today. Another journalist, for Paris Match, was being held in Afghanistan, charged with spying.

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Taliban slap tax on food aid
Ban on English

Zahedan (Iran) October 12
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia has slapped taxes on UN food aid arriving in the country from Iran as well as from Pakistan, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has said.

The organisation’s representative in Iran, Mr Marius Degaay Fortman, told AFP on Wednesday that a WFP convoy of trucks from Iran loaded with 100 tonnes of wheat flour from the USA was taxed before arriving in Herat.

“The convoy was taxed at $ 7.5 per tonne. It arrived Wednesday in Herat,” the official said, adding that a first shipment reached Herat the previous day but it was “not believed to have been taxed”.

Mr Degaay fortman said the convoys would continue despite the taxes, with a shipment of fruit to follow on Sunday.

“It looks as though we are going to expand” and increase the pace of deliveries through the Iranian border crossing of Dogharoun to Herat, he said.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have banned the English language from the parts of the country in its control.

Russian news agency Ria Novosti today quoted the newspaper Frontier Post citing the United Nations missions to Islamabad and Peshawar as saying that even United Nations officials, who still remain in Afghanistan, are forbidden to speak English.

All negotiations, including rarely occurring telephone conversations, are conducted in Pashto or Dari, usually in the presence of a Taliban representative, the report says.

In the meantime, Taliban militia official yesterday said Afghans in the eastern province of Khost had burned US food aid rather than accept “Satanic” gifts from the enemy.

“The Muslim people of Gurbuz, Tani and Sabri districts of Khost province on Tuesday burned the foodstuffs dropped by American planes,” said Abdul Hanan Hemat, chief of Taliban’s official Bakhter Information Agency.

“They called it a Satanic attempt by the Americans to make mischief between the Emirate (Taliban) and the people of Khost.”

The USA has been dropping food in conjunction with its air raids against the Taliban, amid warnings that millions of Afghans are on the brink of famine due to relentless war and severe drought.

Khost is believed to be home to several alleged terrorist training camps which may have been targeted by US and British forces since the start of the air campaign on Sunday. AFP, UNI

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Allies to shroud attack details in secrecy
Clampdown on information
Giles Elgood

London, October 12
Washington and London are keen to cloak the details of their war against terrorism in secrecy, but key aspects of the campaign could be forced into the open if Afghanistan’s rulers start using the media to their advantage.

Military analysts believe that if the ruling Taliban allow international news teams to report on the bombing of their country, the allies will have to explain themselves more fully.

US and British defence chiefs have gone out of their way to tell news organisations that they will be clamping down on information during the campaign aimed at rooting out Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, who is hiding in Afghanistan.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has given repeated warnings since last month’s attacks on the United States that anyone who discusses classified information about military plans is breaking the law and risking the lives of service personnel.

Admiral Michael Boyce, Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff, put it more enigmatically, telling reporters: “Sometimes you will know, sometimes you won’t, about what is going on.”

Before the US-British air attacks even began last Sunday, Britain’s Defence Ministry summoned national editors to voice fears that newspaper speculation about what sort of military campaign was being plotted might inadvertently aid the enemy.

One British expert familiar with US defence matters said: “Rumsfeld has threatened the defence industry with excommunication if they let a word out about what is happening in Afghanistan. We are all going to be fumbling in the dark for a very long time.”

Chris Aaron, editor of the authoritative Jane’s Intelligence Review, said for the military, information was a vital tool of war. “The military is trained in media management and it is obviously an issue that they take seriously in terms of prosecuting the war,” he told newsmen.

So far, the main sources of information about the US-led bombing raids are the military briefers. Veteran correspondents say they are being less forthcoming about targets and battle damage than during the 1999 Kosovo campaign or the 1991 Gulf War.

And in the absence of independent reports from the ground in Afghanistan, there is nothing to challenge aerial photographs showing damage to Taliban military facilities by bombs said to have been dropped with pinpoint accuracy.

“When Donald Rumsfeld...declares himself satisfied with the accuracy of the attacks, who can contradict him?” asked Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

This information strategy is currently being aided by the Taliban’s policy of banning foreign news teams from Afghanistan, military analysts believe.

Challenged about accusations from Afghan sources that allied bombs had killed civilians, British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon was able to say quite truthfully that he had no independent verification of the reports.

But if the the Taliban allow international media to produce their own pictures, the allies will have to respond.

The removal of foreign aid workers from Afghanistan deprives the media of one key source of information about civilians.

The Americans do not want to be outdone on managing the message — a priority since they lost media backing in the Vietnam war. Reuters 

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Suspend air strikes on Afghanistan: UNHRC

Dublin, October 12
United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson called on Friday for a suspension of air strikes against Afghanistan in order to provide aid to civilians before the onset of winter.

Speaking on Irish state radio, she said the situation for civilians in Afghanistan was “desperate”. “This is the real wish of the humanitarian agencies...the desperate urgency now is to use this window until about November 15 when the winter snows will prevent access and the people will freeze and starve to death because they will have neither food nor shelter,” she said.

“We must have a pause in order to enable huge humanitarian access and to allow a number of Afghans to come across the borders,” she said.

The USA carried out a fifth wave of air strikes overnight in an assault against the hardline Taliban for its refusal to surrender Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Robinson, a former President of Ireland, said there was an opportunity to save many lives, but time was of the essence.

“All I can say is there is a desperate situation for hundreds of thousands — perhaps up to two million — of the Afghan civilian population who desperately need food,” she said.

“It is absolutely wrong that 6,000 people were killed in the terrible events of September 11 but equally we must have regard for the population in Afghanistan,” she added.

It was also important that military attacks be confined to targets that did not put civilians at risk.

Asked whether she was happy that this was the case at present, she said: “It’s very hard to tell, we don’t have much access.”

London: Amnesty International has asked the Pakistani security forces and leaders of groups organising anti-US protests in the country to exercise restraint and show respect for the human rights of civilians.

Referring to the violent protests that left four persons dead and dozens injured during the last few days in Pakistan, Amnesty said in a statement yesterday night that “protests planned for Friday must not result in the loss of more life and both security personnel and protest organisers must do their utmost to avoid bloodshed.”

On October 9, three Afghan refugees were shot dead by the police in Kuchlak, a small town close to Quetta. According to the police sources, the incident had occurred when protesters including Afghan refugees attacked a police station forcing the police to open fire in self-defence.

Local observers, however, said the police did not use teargas to control the mob nor did they issue any warning before opening fire, Amnesty said.

The statement asked the Pakistan government to ensure that its security personnel strictly abide by international standards on the use of force and firearms and act with restraint even during violent protests. Those responsible for using excessive force should be brought to justice, it added. Reuters, PTI

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US arms aid to Pak will ‘worry’ India

Washington, October 12
India has said it would be a matter of concern to New Delhi if the USA extends assistance to Pakistan from economic aid to arms supply for using facilities provided by Islamabad in the war against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden.

“India understands that in the present context the USA has to use the facilities Pakistan provides for the war against the Taliban and Bin Laden but if the USA goes beyond economic aid to the supply of arms to Pakistan, India will be concerned because the only use Pakistan has made of US-supplied arms in the past is against India,” Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh said here yesterday.

Stating that US President George W. Bush had assured Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee that the war against terrorism included Kashmir, he said: “Mr Bush does not distinguish between global terrorism and regional or local terrorism, and is determined to wipe out terrorism.”

“To Mr Bush, there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. Like India, he is against all terrorism,” Mr Mansingh said speaking at Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.

He said India and the USA stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the war against terrorism. “Both countries have a vital stake in defeating the forces of terror wherever they exist. What is at stake in this new war is more than our lands and our sovereignty. What we are defending are our principles,” he said.

“In the past 20 years, over 50,000 innocent Indian lives have been sacrificed to the monster of terrorism”, Mr Mansingh said, adding that the terrorists’ objective was simple and diabolical — “to destroy our harmony and our way of life. But they have failed. And we will never allow them to succeed.”

India and the USA had a strategic interest in ensuring peace and the security of sea lanes in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, he said. PTI

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NY Mayor’s rebuff to prince

New York, October 12
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has rejected a Saudi prince’s $10 million donation for victims of the World Trade Center after the prince criticised U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal toured the site of Black Tuesday’s destruction with the Mayor, offered to donate $10 million and said, “The government of the USA should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.”

“Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek,” said the Saudi billionaire in a statement released by the mayor’s office.

The prince, one of the world’s richest men, is chairman of Kingdom Holding Co. and not a member of the Saudi Government.

When Giuliani heard the prince’s statements, he turned down the donation, said mayoral spokeswoman Sunny Mindel. “We are not accepting this cheque — period,” she said, adding that the cheque was never cashed.

At a news conference, Giuliani said: “Not only are those statements wrong, they are part of the problem.”

“There is no moral equivalent to this attack. There is no justification for it,” the Mayor said. “The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered four or five thousand innocent people, and to suggest that there is any justification for it only invites this happening in the future.”

“One of the reasons I think this happened is because they were engaged in moral equivalency in not understanding the difference between liberal democracies like the USA, like Israel, and terrorist states and those who condone terrorists,” he said.

The prince also said he condemned terrorism, and he expressed his condolences for the more than 5,000 people killed when hijacked jets slammed into the WTC and the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Reuters

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No let-up in anti-US protests

Zahedan (Iran), October 12
The anti-US demonstrators attacked the Pakistani consulate in the south-eastern Iranian city of Zahedan, near the border with Afghanistan today, the police told AFP.

“Pakistan’s consulate was attacked by demonstrators who threw stones,” a police official said, without specifying how many people were involved or if there was any damage or casualties.

Jakarta: A bomb exploded at a Kentucky Fried Chicken(KFC) outlet in the Indonesian city of Makassar early today and a second explosive device was found at an Australian company office, the police said.

The blast at the KFC fast-food outlet occurred in the wee hours of the morning damaging doors, windows, lights and sections of neighbouring shops, said the police officials . No one was injured.

Kuala Lumpur: The police had to use water cannon to disperse more than 1,000 protesters demonstrating outside the US embassy against the air strikes on Afghanistan.

Kathmandu: Three shopkeepers have been arrested in Kathmandu for selling T-shirts bearing pictures of the Saudi-fugitive Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect behind the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA, daily newspapers reported here today.

These T -shirts are said to be brought from Thailand and most people , aware of the developments in Afghanistan, hesitated to buy them, the shopkeepers said. Agencies

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Naipaul’s first novel had no takers
Ranvir Nayar

Paris, October 12
Like many legends who rose from humble beginnings, this year’s Nobel laureate Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul’s first novel was rejected by publishers.

But Naipaul, a struggling 18-year-old student writer in 1950, when his literary effort found no publisher, continued writing undeterred by the blanket rejection.

From his first disappointment to scooping the highest prize for literature, Sir Vidia - as he is fondly called after being knighted in 1989 - has charted a long and eventful journey.

Today, Naipaul is considered a leading novelist not just of the Caribbeans but also among modern English writers. The Nobel Prize was too long in coming, critics and admirers alike agree.

Naipaul was born into a writers’ family on August 17, 1932, in Trinidad. His father, Sreepersad Naipaul, was a journalist, who had published several short stories. Naipaul had his early education in Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, but his life changed forever when he won a scholarship to study at Oxford University in 1950.

After his first untitled novel found no takers, Naipaul drifted into freelance writing and journalism. He worked as a broadcaster for the BBC’s Caribbean Voices for two years till 1957, when he became a fiction reviewer for the New Statesman.

His writings express the ambivalence of an exile, drawing from his own experience as an Indian in the Caribbeans and later as a West Indian in England. He is the archetypal nomadic intellectual in a post-colonial world.

But the celebrated writer has also generated his share of controversy. Not known to mince words, he has raised hackles among his tribe for his perceived ‘politically incorrect’ portrayal of socio-political aspects of the developing world. He is also noted for his quest to ask unwelcome and tough questions.

Naipaul’s writing career took off in 1960 when he claimed instant media attention with “Miguel Street” which followed “Mystic Masseur” and “The Sufferage of Elvira.”

His book “A House For Mr Biswas”, published in 1961, is today seen as his masterpiece. The book was again inspired by personal experiences, telling the tragicomic story of an Indian Brahmin in search of independence and identity in Trinidad. Mr Biswas’ character was based on Naipaul’s father.

For almost two decades, in 1960s and 1970s, Naipaul travelled to South America, Malaysia, the U.S., India, Pakistan, Iran and Africa. The travels were facilitated by a grant he received from the Trinidad Government. It was a result of these travels that emerged “India: A Wounded Civilization”, published in 1977, a highly controversial book that was critically acclaimed across the world.

India has since featured in three other books, “India: A Million Mutinies Now” (1990), “Bombay” (1994) that he co-authored with photographer Raghubir Singh in 1994, and “Beyond Belief” (1998).

In 1987, Naipaul wrote a semi-autobiographical account, “The Enigma of Arrival” where he depicts a writer of Caribbean origin experiencing the joy of homecoming in England. IANS

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Missile hit caused jet disaster

Moscow, October 12
Russian investigators said today a stray missile blew a Russian passenger jet out of the sky over the Black Sea last week and Ukraine admitted its forces may have been to blame, local news agencies reported.

All 78 crew and passengers, mostly Russian-born Israelis, died after the Tu-154 jet exploded at high altitude and crashed into the sea on October 4. A Russian newspaper reported this week that many passengers were alive during the death plunge.

Ukraine, which had earlier denied any responsibility, said the missile could have come from its military’s live rocket firing exercises on the Crimean Black Sea peninsula at the time the Sibir airline crashed.

“The investigating commission has found that the TU-154 disaster resulted from a strike by the warhead of an anti-aircraft missile,” Vladimir Rushailo, head of Russia’s advisory Security Council, was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

He was speaking at a joint news conference in Black Sea resort of Sochi called to present crash investigators’ preliminary findings.

“The cause may have been an accidental hit from an S-200 rocket fired during Ukrainian exercises,” Evhen Marchuk, his Ukrainian counterpart, was quoted as saying by RIA news agency. Reuters

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Another French scribe held

Paris, October 12
A second French journalist was arrested in Afghanistan, but was turned over to Pakistani authorities, Le Figaro newspaper reported today.

Another journalist, for Paris Match, was being held in Afghanistan, charged with spying.

Aziz Zemouri, a journalist for Le Figaro Magazine, a weekly associated with the daily newspaper Le Figaro, was being detained by the Pakistan Police. AP
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