Tuesday, October 16, 2001, Chandigarh, India


W O R L D


 Benazir Bhutto
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto talks to NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, at its studio in Washington.
— AP/PTI photo

Musharraf could be toppled: Benazir
Washington, October 15
Former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto has said that the Musharraf Government would probably weather the opposition protests against its support for the US-led compaign against Afghanistan.





Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, meets Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat at Lambeth Palace in Central London on Monday. Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Monday that the formation of a Palestinian state was a key aim of the Middle East peace process. — Reuters


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

 

Guru Granth Sahib taken out of Afghanistan
Peshawar (Pakistan), October 15
Under a blue cloth lies one “refugee” from the war in Afghanistan that successfully crossed the closed border into Pakistan. It is a book. Not just any book. It is the holiest book of the Sikhs in Afghanistan’s eastern Jalalabad and rests under its special cover in a gurdwara, down a twisting network of alleys in the heart of the western city of Peshawar.

Indian designers collect £ 100,000 at charity show
London, October 15
Amitabh Bachchan, superstar of the millennium, was the star attraction at a charity event which raised £ 100,000 for the charities Care International, UK, and the Consortium for Street Children, both active rendering yeomen services in India.

Anthrax fear grips US, UK consulates
Melbourne, October 15
Nine anthrax scares were reported across Australia today, hitting a US and British consulate as well as six other buildings and a hospital, officials have said. The US consulate in Melbourne had to be evacuated after a chemical found in a letter caused a security alarm, embassy officials said.

EARLIER STORIES
 
Israeli troops pull out of Hebron
Hebron (West Bank), October 15
Israeli troops and tanks pulled out of two Palestinian areas in the West Bank city of Hebron early today to make way for the Palestinian police.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon looks around during the opening of the winter session at the Knesset, or Parliament, on Monday. A vehemently anti-Arab, far-right bloc resigned on Monday from Sharon's broad coalition, saying it opposed lifting sanctions against the Palestinians, Israel Radio reported. 
— Reuters photo


3 of FBI’s most wanted were in Iran: report
Dubai, October 15
Three of the 22 persons on Washington’s list of “most wanted terrorists” were in Iran before the September 11 attacks but have since left, a pan-Arab newspaper reported today.

Laden men claim responsibility for arson attacks
Sydney, October 15
The police is investigating a series of arson attacks on churches here after arsonists, claiming to be supporters of Osama bin Laden, took responsibility for a weekend fire-bombing.

US supplies for LCA to resume
Washington, October 15
India’s light combat aircraft project is set to take off rapidly following a green signal to several US companies to resume supplies to it.

Clashes continue in Nigeria
Kano (Nigeria), October 15
Fresh violence erupted in the northern Nigerian city of Kano today, the fourth consecutive day of Muslim-Christian fighting, despite a police policy to shoot rioters on sight.

Protests in Jakarta
Jakarta, October 15
Hundreds of Muslims demonstrated against US-led strikes on Afghanistan today after President Megawati Sukarnoputri decried the use of military force in the fight against terrorism, but stopped short of criticising Washington directly.


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Musharraf could be toppled: Benazir

Washington, October 15
Former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto has said that the Musharraf Government would probably weather the opposition protests against its support for the US-led compaign against Afghanistan.

Ms Benazir, who lives in exile in London and Dubai, however said: “There is a possibility of the removal of the regime. It’s not a probability,” she said, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” TV programme on Sunday.

“General Musharraf has moved to secure his own position ... Public reaction, while violent, has remained containable,” said Ms Benazir. The Taliban faced growing unrest at home that could work in favour of US forces, she said, adding. “There is a lot of local Opposition to the Taliban. That local opposition is in a position to take sizeable parts of the country.”

Newsweek reported that the CIA was trying to bribe local warlords in Afghanistan to turn against the Taliban and guide the US forces to Osama’s lair in their hunt for those responsible for the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. “I hope, for Pakistan’s stability, that Musharraf is able to take the country back to democratisation next year. But the situation is uncertain,” Ms Benazir said.

“I’m not looking for a position for myself, but I do think that it’s important to have the other leaders of the democratic parties in a broadening of political support,” and reiterated: “I would very much like to return to Pakistan and run for prime minister again.”

Meanwhile, former Major-General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi has said that abrupt change that President Musharraf has brought in the country’s policy towards Afghanistan would prove detrimental to his rule.

He said that there was a large majority, which was not taking to the streets, but they do have feelings of hatred against the present policy of the rulers and this state of affairs is detrimental to President Musharraf’s rule.

He said that the major army reshuffle was directly linked to Pakistan’s changed policy on Afghanistan.

It was said that some of his colleagues were annoyed over this policy shift and due to this reason he was left with no other option but to show way to the opponents.

Former Major General Zahreerul Islam Abbasi who was earlier sentenced for army revolt while commenting on the reshuffle said: “According to my assessment the reshuffle has been made due to the change in Afghan policy. Some generals had expressed opposition to the government’s Afghan policy. These changes are directly linked with this decision of the government”. General Zaheerul Islam maintained that the government would not be in a position to suppress the anger of the people for long. ANI
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Admits to terrorism in J&K

New York, October 15
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has admitted that there is terrorism in Kashmir and that the menace has damaged the cause of Kashmir.

“Terrorist acts have damaged the cause of Kashmir,” Ms Bhutto was quoted as saying by Pakistan’s independent NNI news agency.

She said her government had resisted the “militarisation” of the movement in Kashmir. “I had put my foot down on creation of private armies and militias in Pakistan because such activities are unconstitutional and destabilising.”

She told the agency in Washington yesterday that money was sent from Saudi Arabia by private individuals to destabilise her government as they felt that a woman’s rule was “un-Islamic.”

She said it was only after she was “thrown out” that things in Afghanistan went downhill.

The Taliban, she said, started as a stabilising movement and initially brought peace to Afghanistan. The advice rendered to the Taliban leadership by her government was heeded. But their radicalisation came later, Ms Bhutto added.

She also admitted to the links of her government with Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, but asserted that as long as her government was in office, the Taliban did not exhibit the kind of behaviour that had since come to be associated with them.

There was no Osama bin Laden, “as he came to be”, during her time and no private militias engaged in the kind of activities that he had since been involved in, she asserted.

Ms Bhutto said the madrasas, where the Taliban were trained or where extremist teaching was imparted, were not under the control of the ISI and did not receive their funding from Pakistani sources.

Pakistan’s national self-interest lay in a stable Afghanistan with a broad-based government and said the past Pakistan policy on Afghanistan must be reviewed.

To a question, she said under the present circumstances she had no intention of returning to Pakistan. PTI
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Musharraf warned of pact on Kashmir

Lahore, October 15
The chief of a Kashmiri terrorist group has warned President Pervez Musharraf against reaching a compromise over Kashmir with the US Secretary of State Colin Powell, reports Online news agency.

Hafiz Saeed Ahmad, who heads the Lashker-e-Toiba, also urged General Musharraf to stop supporting the USA in its war against Afghanistan “in order to extricate the country from crisis.”

He said, “Pakistan’s integrity is under potent threat. If the government and the people make no unifying efforts, the country will not be able to withstand the looming threat.”

“The only way out is for General Musharraf to take the people into confidence and change his Afghan policy.”

He warned that if “General Musharraf or any traded over Kashmir with Powell, the country would not accept it. “Jehad will continue in Kashmir and Afghanistan.” IANS

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Guru Granth Sahib taken out of Afghanistan

Peshawar (Pakistan), October 15
Under a blue cloth lies one “refugee” from the war in Afghanistan that successfully crossed the closed border into Pakistan. It is a book. Not just any book. It is the holiest book of the Sikhs in Afghanistan’s eastern Jalalabad and rests under its special cover in a gurdwara, down a twisting network of alleys in the heart of the western city of Peshawar.

The book, Guru Granth Sahib, was taken out of Afghanistan for safekeeping by the dwindling Sikh community, fearing for the future of the country as US warplanes rained bombs and missiles on the ruling Taliban.

“There is anarchy in Afghanistan now, so there is a chance of disrespect for the book,” said Bhai Sona Singh, head of Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh in Peshawar.

“We did it because of the US strikes,” he said.

“This is the most holy book for the Sikhs and is present in every gurdwara, said Sona Singh.

Sikhs in the eastern city of Jalalabad, one of the main targets of the US-led attacks brought it to the Pakistani border. “And we collected it there,” Sona Singh said. “We got permission from the local government.”

Sikhism, a monotheistic religion founded in the 15th century in India, was influenced by both Hinduism and Sufi Islam. Sikhs are easily identified by their turbans and beards.

Sikh leaders estimate about 1,000 to 2,000 Sikhs and Hindus lived in Afghanistan before the current crisis, down from 50,000 before Afghanistan spiralled into strife over two decades ago.

Thousands fled in the 1990s during fighting between the Mujahideen (holy warriors) and Soviet-backed former president Najibulla that left much of the capital Kabul in ruins.

Sona Singh said many who remain are fleeing or thinking of escape “I think more than 500 persons have come in this recent crisis. Most have gone to a gurdwara in (Pakistan’s) Punjab because it’s a very large one and they can be helped there.”

“We left because there was bombing and we were afraid it would come to residential areas,” said Rajindir Singh, who shared mats in the gurdwara with his parents, wife and two children.

Rajindir Singh wanted to stay to run his crockery shop, but was worried about the air raids and the Taliban reaction. “Business was fine, but their attitude was not friendly.”

Rajindir Singh said he and his family would stay in Pakistan and watch events unfold in Afghanistan.

“We have shops, we have homes, so definitely we want to go back. If there is peace and conditions are well, we will go.”

Sikhs in Afghanistan were traditionally involved in the cloth trade, but their dominance declined as their numbers fell.

“Most of them are shopkeepers. They’re still in the cloth trade but also things like general stores,” said Sona Singh.

He said relations between the Sikh community and the Taliban had been difficult but mostly not threatening. “Only when they asked minorities to label themselves, that was a worry.”

The order which asked are Hindus to wear yellow badges did not apply to Sikhs because they were already identified by their distinctive turbans.

Sikhs have been in Peshawar for centuries and their influence hit a peak in the first half of the 1800s, when they occupied the Peshawar valley, ransacked the city and ruled most of the Punjab. Reuters
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Indian designers collect £ 100,000 at charity show

London, October 15
Amitabh Bachchan, superstar of the millennium, was the star attraction at a charity event which raised £ 100,000 for the charities Care International, UK, and the Consortium for Street Children (CSC), both active rendering yeomen services in India.

The five-hour show, Yagna, held at the famous Planit 2000 yesterday was dominated by a fashion show in which eminent Indian designers Tarun Tahiliani and Rina Dhaka showcased their stunning collections. Supermodels from India including former Miss World Diana Hayden, Sheetal Mallar, Suman Ranganathan, Ujjwalla Raut and Noyonika Chatterjee participated in the dazzling show.

Over 1,000 guests attended the Yagna, the brainchild of Surina Nurula and Ramola Bachchan, who as charity coordinator, were at the forefront of fundraising in the UK. Prominent among those who attended the gala show included stars from the screen, stage and television.

International film star Kabir Bedi of James Bond fame, and his TV presenter wife Niki Bedi were comperes of the show. PTI

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Anthrax fear grips US, UK consulates

Melbourne, October 15
Nine anthrax scares were reported across Australia today, hitting a US and British consulate as well as six other buildings and a hospital, officials have said.

The US consulate in Melbourne had to be evacuated after a chemical found in a letter caused a security alarm, embassy officials said.

And the British consulate in Brisbane was one of the five offices across the northeast state of Queensland to report suspicious letters containing white powder.

The scares came as US authorities revealed three new cases of exposure to anthrax in New York yesterday.

Australia has offered military support to the USA, which has been launching air strikes against Afghanistan since October 7 in retaliation for last month’s attacks and to punish the Taliban regime accused of harbouring Osame Bin Laden. AFP

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Israeli troops pull out of Hebron

Hebron (West Bank), October 15
Israeli troops and tanks pulled out of two Palestinian areas in the West Bank city of Hebron early today to make way for the Palestinian police.

Palestinian security sources said the Israeli soldiers moved out of Hebron’s Abu Sneinah and Wadi al-Harria neighbourhoods in the pre-dawn hours as part of an agreed withdrawal.

“We are on our way in now,’’ a Palestinian security source told Reuters today.

The move was made under US pressure as part of Washington’s bid for support in the region for its war on terrorism and went ahead despite the killing of an Islamic militant yesterday by the Israeli forces.

Israeli military sources confirmed the movements inside Hebron and said the withdrawal would be completed by dawn. The pullout is an effort to preserve a fragile ceasefire and was agreed to by security officials from both sides a day earlier.

The latest move reverses re-occupation on October 5 when the Israeli troops and armour entered the neighbourhoods after Palestinian gunmen fired into a crowd of Jewish worshippers in the heart of Hebron two days earlier.

Ahead of today’s troop movement, Mr Yasser Arafat arrived in London yesterday for what he called a very important meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Israeli and Palestinian security officials met in Hebron earlier to decide Israel’s withdrawal despite the shooting dead of Hamas militant Abdel Rahman Hamad earlier in the day.

“The agreement is very specific, that (Palestinian) forces will replace our forces. They’ll take upon themselves the responsibility for complete quiet...If not, then (the withdrawal) will not happen,’’ Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told Israel’s Channel One Television ahead of the move. Reuters
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3 of FBI’s most wanted were in Iran: report

Dubai, October 15
Three of the 22 persons on Washington’s list of “most wanted terrorists” were in Iran before the September 11 attacks but have since left, a pan-Arab newspaper reported today.

The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted a source close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as saying the three men had spent “months” in the Islamic republic before the suicide plane attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 5,400 persons.

In response to the hijacked plane attacks, the USA has launched what it calls a war on terrorism against groups it believes have a global reach as well as nations that help them.

The source said one of the men, Imad Moughniyeh, had left Iran “voluntarily” after he was told “his presence was not to the benefit of Iran and his safety could not be guaranteed after Iranian President Mohammad Khatami agreed to conditional cooperation with the global alliance against terrorism”.

Moughniyeh, a Lebanese, is wanted for the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Beirut in 1985 and is thought to have been behind the abductions of Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s.

He has been indicted for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 persons, and is the subject of an arrest warrant for the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy there, in which 29 persons died.

The source said Ali Atwi, who the USA describes as a member of Lebanon’s Hizbollah and who is also accused of involvement in the TWA hijacking, had visited Iran several times in 1999 but vanished after former US President Bill Clinton sent a letter to Mr Khatami asking for help in hunting down heads of “terrorism”. Reuters

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Laden men claim responsibility for arson attacks

Sydney, October 15
The police is investigating a series of arson attacks on churches here after arsonists, claiming to be supporters of Osama bin Laden, took responsibility for a weekend fire-bombing.

A caller to the police said, “It was for Bin Laden” after the Uniting Church at suburban Bass Hill was extensively damaged yesterday in the second attack on the building within three days.

Rev Neil Ericksson, a minister, said about 12 churches had been attacked in the same area in a fortnight.

Asked if the attack on the Christian churches was reprisal for the arson attack on the Islamic centre, Ericksson said: “I guess it is, but I don’t think it is helpful to speculate.”

Bass Hill is part of the Bankstown region, which is home to Sydney’s large Islamic community.

The police said today that the investigations were continuing into a spate of attacks and they had also stepped up patrols in the area.

The incidents occurred as the Australian authorities stepped up security nationally amid mounting international concern — and a series of hoax calls — about bio-terrorism. AFP

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US supplies for LCA to resume
Sanjay Suri

Washington, October 15
India’s light combat aircraft (LCA) project is set to take off rapidly following a green signal to several US companies to resume supplies to it.

“I expect that the supplies to the LCA project that have been held up will now move,” Indian Ambassador to the US Lalit Mansingh said.

Many Indian companies associated with the project had figured in a list of what the US calls entities, on which sanctions were imposed in the wake of the 1998 nuclear tests.

“The original list of entities was about 200,” Mr Mansingh said. “Then it got reduced to 150. Now this has been reduced considerably and a lot of entities involved with the LCA project have been removed from the list.”

The sanctions had not affected supply of the General Electric GE-404 engines as feared earlier, official sources here said. But they hit the supply of a whole range of critical parts and components from US companies.

The hit list included about 200 such items. The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) managed to locate alternative sources for about 90 perc ent of them but the remaining 10 per cent were crucial, according to well-informed sources here.

These are reported to have included microwave equipment, integrated circuits and advanced electronic devices. The shopping list of the remaining items was worth no more than a million dollars, but it was enough to hold back the project just as it was getting off the ground.

The lifting of sanctions has meant that trade will now pick up between US companies and the offices of Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) set up earlier in the USA The Hyderabad and Bangalore wings of BEL have been closely associated with the LCA project.

Collaboration is expected to proceed also now with Lockheed-Martin to test the fly-by-wire system for the LCA which was designed and developed by the India-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

The lack of a test platform has meant that advanced software for the project developed in India has not been put to test.

The successful test flight of the LCA established a functioning body and engine. The resumption of supply to the project now will take the aircraft towards military preparedness in advance of manufacture, the official sources said. IANS
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Clashes continue in Nigeria

Kano (Nigeria), October 15
Fresh violence erupted in the northern Nigerian city of Kano today, the fourth consecutive day of Muslim-Christian fighting, despite a police policy to shoot rioters on sight.

The police said the new clashes had broken out in the teeming working class district of Tudun Wada for the first time since violence erupted on Friday in the wake of anti-American protests.

“We have instructions to shoot any rioters on sight,’’ a police officer at Kano central police station said.

Today’s fighting erupted after Kano residents spent a third night under curfew, with troops in armoured vehicles patrolling deserted streets dotted with scorched cars and houses.

The police yesterday gave a total death toll of 18, saying that figure was based on the number of bodies found from the streets. However, community leaders and other residents said more than 200 persons had died in Nigeria’s latest outburst of religious bloodletting.

Residents said a number of people had been shot by the police or soldiers since the shoot-on-sight order was first given on Saturday. A community leader said yesterday he knew of eight persons rounded up by troops and shot. There was no independent confirmation of those accounts. Reuters
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Protests in Jakarta

Jakarta, October 15
Hundreds of Muslims demonstrated against US-led strikes on Afghanistan today after President Megawati Sukarnoputri decried the use of military force in the fight against terrorism, but stopped short of criticising Washington directly.

There were no reports of violence at today’s protest outside parliament by about 300 members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, most of them in white Muslim clothes. Some carried sticks or held up posters of US President George W. Bush that read: “Wanted by the Islamic people for murder.”

Hundreds of police guarded the legislature, which was protected by razor wire and water cannons. AP
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