Wednesday, October 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Anthrax scare spreads across nations 
Seven-month-old baby latest victim
New York, October 16
A seven-month-old baby became the latest victim of anthrax even as authorities tried to quell public fears of terrorist anthrax attacks after 110 envelopes containing white powder were sent to abortion clinics and planned parenthood facilities across the USA.


Northern Alliance gears up for an assault on Taliban positions as US-led air attacks on Afghanistan enters its second week.
(28k, 56k)

As the USA continues to bombard Afghanistan in its quest for bin Laden and his followers, images from inside Afghanistan show a devastated wasteland.
(28k, 56k)

As US Secretary of State Colin Powell holds talks thousands in Pakistan-held Kashmir have staged a  protest against his visit and the USA.
(28k, 56k)

Sept 11 casts shadow on tallest skyscraper
New York, October 16
The view from the offices of First Allied Securities Inc, on the 76th floor of the Empire State Building, is still breathtaking. But since September 11, it is not the same as when Robert Beauchene, a manager of the firm, moved in a year and a half ago.

Jaish vows to continue jehad in Kashmir
Muzaffarabad, October 16
On a day when US Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Islamabad the Jaish-e-Mohammad, whose assets were recently frozen by the Bush Administration, vowed to “pursue and intensify attacks in Jammu and Kashmir”.

COMMENTARY
Stage set for ground operations in Afghanistan
M
ore than a week after the war for peace in Afghanistan, through the fog of war — massive disinformation and deception — it is possible to decipher the outlines of US operational strategy to win this dirty war without fighting it themselves. Instead they will use Pakistani intelligence and Northern Alliance brawn to win their objectives.

Minimise civilian casualties: Annan
United Nations, October 16
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged all parties involved in the intensified conflict in Afghanistan to exercise restraint and take “all possible precautions” to minimise civilian casualties.


The father of Ambia Agha, a resident of Kandahar, looks at his son who was injured on Sunday night in airstrikes by the USA on Afghanistan.
The father of Ambia Agha, a resident of Kandahar, looks at his son who was injured on Sunday night in airstrikes by the USA on Afghanistan. Agha was brought to Quetta, Pakistan, on Monday for treatment. — AP/PTI

EARLIER STORIES

 

No move to expand strikes: Straw
Dubai, October 16
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw today said that Britain had no immediate plans to strike at any country, other than Afghanistan, over the last month’s attacks on the USA.

Punjab-bred re-elected New Zealand city mayor
Sydney, October 16
A New Zealander of Indian origin has been re-elected mayor of Dunedin city for a third term. Of all the 74 mayoral elections held in New Zealand last week, Punjab-bred Sukhi Turner’s win over her predecessor Richard Walls is being considered as one of the most convincing.

Bangladesh not to host NAM summit
Dhaka, October 16
The Bangladesh Cabinet has decided not to host the Non-Aligned (NAM) summit in Dhaka in April, 2002, officials said today.


Workers unload an extra pontoon at the Giant 4 barge which is suspending the Kursk nuclear submarine beneath it at the port of Roslyakovo, near Murmansk, on Monday. The docking of the Kursk submarine has been postponed for a few days as specialists wait to fix pontoons to the barge. — Reuters

A forensic expert walks between bags with human remains in an abandoned factory hall "Sejkovaca" outside Sanski Most in northwestern Bosnia on Tuesday. Experts try to identify victims among remains of more than 500 bodies in the hall, believed to be Muslims killed by Serb forces early in the 1992-95 war, including 372 from Jakarina Kosa, the biggest mass grave discovered so far in Bosnia earlier this month. Six years after the end of the country's war, there are still some 20,000 people reported missing. — Reuters

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Anthrax scare spreads across nations 
Seven-month-old baby latest victim

New York, October 16
A seven-month-old baby became the latest victim of anthrax even as authorities tried to quell public fears of terrorist anthrax attacks after 110 envelopes containing white powder were sent to abortion clinics and planned parenthood facilities across the USA.

Concerns were being expressed that media organisations might be the target after the baby, who had visited the ABC television network headquarters with her mother on September 28, tested positive.

The police was talking to employees and an environmental study of the two floors which the baby had visited was being conducted, reports here said.

The NBC television network here and a tabloid office in South Florida were the earlier targets. Authorities were testing mailrooms of all newspapers in New York as a precautionary measure.

More than 100 abortion clinics and planned parenthood facilities in the USA also received envelopes containing white powder and the FBI was investigating into the matter, reports quoting officials said.

A passenger plane with about 150 persons was also isolated after crew found white powder and a floor of a hotel was closed for the similar reason. But the powder in the case of the hotel turned out to be spices.

In Florida, a second employee of the Sun tabloid in Boca Taton tested positive for a more dangerous form of the disease. But the 73-year old man, who was being treated for the past several days, was said to making progress. His colleague Robert Stevens had died of inhaled anthrax on October 5.

Postal employees, meanwhile, have been given safety tips on handling mail even as small amount of spores were detected at a mail sorting facility in Florida, the officials said.

Meanwhile, two suspicious packages received by the United Nations last week were found to be harmless, chief UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

However, it was not the USA alone that was reeling under the anthrax scare.

Authorities in Germany were testing white powder found in an envelope sent to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and in France, hundreds of people were evacuated from offices and schools following the discovery of suspicious letters.

In Canada, the Federal Parliament building in Ottawa was partially evacuated after a worker developed a rash after handling a package containing powder.

In Melbourne, buildings were evacuated and in northeast city of Townsville workers were taken out following the scare.

The police in Lithuania evacuated the offices of the Respublika daily in capital of Vilnius after a package was found with word “jehad” written on it.

TOKYO: A letter containing a suspicious white powder and addressed to Australia has been found at a post office in northern Japan but initial tests showed no signs of anthrax or any other bacteria, officials said on Tuesday.

An official at the central post office in Fukushima, 240 km north of Tokyo, said the letter, which did not give the name of the sender, was dropped into a mailbox on Sunday.

WARSAW: Eleven persons are in a hospital in Poland undergoing tests for anthrax after opening letters containing a suspicious powder sent to a police office and a television station, officials said.

MOSCOW: Thirtysix persons in Russia’s eastern Tuva republic have undergone tests in hospital after coming into contact with animals suffering from anthrax, the daily newspaper Izvestia reported on Tuesday.

Isolated cases of anthrax have been registered in Russia over the years but the paper said no such cases had been seen in humans in Tuva since 1987. Agencies
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Sept 11 casts shadow on tallest skyscraper

New York, October 16
The view from the offices of First Allied Securities Inc, on the 76th floor of the Empire State Building, is still breathtaking. But since September 11, it is not the same as when Robert Beauchene, a manager of the firm, moved in a year and a half ago.

“It’s a terrible reminder,’’ he said, looking out toward Lower Manhattan. That’s one of the reasons why the firm is leaving.

“We’re out. We’re moving in a couple of months,’’ Beauchene said.

For many of the 2,500 tenants of the once-again tallest skyscraper in New York, going to work every day has become a nerve-racking undertaking, after hijacked jets destroyed the World Trade Center a month ago.

Many are leaving. At least 16 of the 180 companies located in the 102-story building said they had either made the decision to leave or were thinking seriously about it. Four are already gone, according to the building management. Moving companies records indicate that more are considering their options.

“We are getting lots of calls for estimates from businesses in the Empire State Building willing to relocate,’’ said Hector Reyes of Samson Movers in New York.

The long-term leases many tenants signed do not seem to be a deterrent, when the alternative is to lose worried clients or employees.

“We lost two employees,’’ said Amy Boyle, an accounts executive at the public relations firm Global Impact Communication, on the 69th floor. “One simply never showed up after September 11. The other left a couple of weeks later and never came back. Others feel anxious, and we can’t afford to lose anybody else. We are trying to move out.’’

Two employees of First Allied Securities’ staff of five also left without notice a few days after seeing the two planes crash into the twin towers from their windows.

A prime real estate space that rented at about $55 per square foot a month for the upper floors — considered average for a midtown office — is now seen as a high-risk location. Despite impressive security measures, fear is mounting, and not just among tenants.

“Clients don’t want to come up here,’’ said Bill Schacht, chief executive of Aestheticom Inc, a company that produces digital video clips for the music industry, with offices on the 76th floor. “I’m thinking about moving out. Since the disaster it’s been a constant challenge to maintain motivation and morale. Our windows face the site (of the former World Trade Center). It’s always there.’’

The legendary, graceful building in the heart of Manhattan — much more an architects’ favourite than the steel-and-glass towers of the World Trade Center — these days looks like an armed fortress. The towering skyscraper has been featured in movies from “King Kong’’ in 1933 to “Sleepless in Seattle’’ in 1993 and its construction in the depths of the Great Depression made it a symbol of American ingenuity and defiance. Reuters
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Jaish vows to continue jehad in Kashmir

Muzaffarabad, October 16
On a day when US Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Islamabad the Jaish-e-Mohammad, whose assets were recently frozen by the Bush Administration, vowed to “pursue and intensify attacks in Jammu and Kashmir”.

In a clear-cut act of defiance against the US Administration the Jaish-e-Mohammad held a huge rally in Muzaffarabad. Shouting anti-US slogans various speakers made little of the US act of freezing its assets, saying nothing will deter the organisation from its “military operations in Indian-held Kashmir”.

During the protest there was no doubt that the Jaish was belittling whatever US Secretary of State Colin Powell had to say on acts of terrorism being waged by Pakistan-based organisations against India.

Speaking to the 10,000 strong rallyists, the Muzaffarabad Commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammad Mufti Mohammad Ashugra said, “Our armed struggle in Indian-held Kashmir will continue”.

The Jaish leadership then went on to condemn the US actions in Afghanistan and even went to the extent of waring the USA to immediately lift the sanctions that have been placed on the Jaish’s assets.

The protesters further warned the Pakistan government to keep a distance from the USA otherwise “it will have to pay a heavy price”.

The marchers carried anti-India and anti-US banners and placards. They even carried banners which proclaimed “we are proud to be a fundamentalist organisation”, and banners which declared that “jehad in Kashmir will continue — it cannot be stopped”. ANI
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COMMENTARY
Stage set for ground operations in Afghanistan
Gen Ashok K. Mehta

More than a week after the war for peace in Afghanistan, through the fog of war — massive disinformation and deception — it is possible to decipher the outlines of US operational strategy to win this dirty war without fighting it themselves. Instead they will use Pakistani intelligence and Northern Alliance brawn to win their objectives. This is a leaf from Mao Tse Tung book. Although US leaders are saying there is no silver bullet, they’re still hoping the Taliban will collapse from within. The world’s most hitech conventional military force is pitted against a lowtech tribal guerrilla force.

The first phase of Enduring Freedom — consisting of massive aerial bombing — surgically targeting the military infrastructure and terrorist camps around Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad is drawing to a close. It has prepared the ground for operations by the Northern Alliance and US Special Forces. Ground operations could start any day now as the new moon rises on October 17 and darkness rules the night, a condition good for special operations.

A Kosovo is not likely though George Bush despite saying “I’m not gonna fire a $ 2 million missile in a $ 10 tent and hit a camel in the butt” has unleashed a bombing campaign that in operational and munitions cost has already crossed the $ 2 billion mark. The enduring problem of this campaign in the lack of synchronisation between the military and political strategy that is: when and how should Kabul and Kandahar fall and who is to take control of them — Northern Alliance, or Northern Alliance together with substantial US military and Pashtun presence. The delay is cobbling together an alternative power structure that is not hostile to Pakistan has resulted in the delay for Phase II, the ground offensive, of this war.

Enduring Freedom is resting on a triad of principles, objectives and phases. The war strategy is driven by four factors: US sensitivity of body bags, the limited campaign season due to impending winter, minimising collateral damage and sensitivity to the Islamic world. The military objectives are threefold: seizure of Osama bin Laden, destruction of Al-Qaida terrorist network and dismantling of the Taliban regime including their military machine. This consisted of about 500 tanks, 20 aircraft, and 800 pieces of artillery, 80 Stinger missiles and about 20 air defence systems. Much of this system has been made non-operational after the bombing.

The operations are being conducted in three phases, one overlapping the other. The first of these has been the ongoing bombing strikes to suppress air defence so that US-led coalition aircraft can have a free run of the skies and ground operations are facilitated. The air and missile strikes have targeted terrorist bases and are into the second week. Efforts are on to pluck out Osama bin Laden who has a price of $ 25 million on his head. The final phase of operations to dismantle the Taliban regime is being left to the Northern Alliance. This may happen either after the various warlords of the Northern Alliance have captured the objectives like Herat, Mazar-e-Sharief and Bagram or the thrust to Kabul is undertaken prior to this. Since the US would not like to be associated in the regime change in Kabul, they would want the Northern Alliance to take credit for the capture of Kabul.

The problem however, is about Kandahar. The seizure of Kandahar will have to be led by the US Special Forces, as there is hardly any presence of anti-Taliban forces in this region. The Northern Alliance is being supported by Russia, Iran and India though the US presence in their midst is not visible. The different factions of the Northern Alliance led by their commanders Ismael Khan, Dostum, Fahim, Khalili, Qadir, Abdullah and Ahmed, have no unified concept of operations or command. Similarly they lack single point leadership and it is not clear who is coordinating their operations if at all. US Special Forces will have to secure dropping zones close to their targets for the landing of airborne forces. If the Northern Alliance secures Bagram airport, which is 40 km north of Kabul, this will become a forward base for staging operations.

Once ground fire has been neutralised, either by Special Forces or the Northern Alliance, US 101 and 82 Airborne divisions may be dropped to sanitise the key cities of Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad. The three together hold strategic balance for control of Afghanistan. The insertion of a substantial number of US forces inside Afghanistan may not be politically acceptable. It is clear that the Taliban will fight last man last round or fade away to fight another day. As soon as USA is in a position to install an alternative government in Kabul, Phases II and III of the campaign will be launched. In the meantime, the Northern Alliance will try and take back from Taliban, as much ground in the North before they go for the kill in Kabul. It doesn’t seem likely the USA can follow the Mao dictum and will be forced to use US Special Forces to turn the campaign in their favour.

The Taliban may lose Kabul and the first round of this war but will unleash guerrilla warfare that will rob the new regime of any stability to rule. What’s new in that?
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Minimise civilian casualties: Annan

United Nations, October 16
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged all parties involved in the intensified conflict in Afghanistan to exercise restraint and take “all possible precautions” to minimise civilian casualties.

“As the world unites in its fight against international terrorism, we must, at the same time, do everything possible to protect innocent civilian populations,” he said yesterday.

Mr Annan said that the reports of casualties “remind us that, in times of military action, every effort must be made to protect the lives and integrity of the civilian population within Afghanistan as well as of those humanitarian workers still operating in the country.”

The UN Secretary General said that he had been dismayed at reports that Afghan Taliban militia had harassed and beaten up national Afghan staff working for the UN humanitarian agencies. “Equally disturbing was that a crowd burned down the UNICEF office and attacked the facilities of the other UN bodies in Quetta, Pakistan,” he said. PTI
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No move to expand strikes: Straw

Dubai, October 16
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw today said that Britain had no immediate plans to strike at any country, other than Afghanistan, over the last month’s attacks on the USA.

In an interview, excerpts of which were broadcast early today, Mr Straw also told Qatar’s Al-Jazeera satellite channel that Britain was satisfied with the level of support provided by the Gulf Arab states for the US-led strikes.

‘‘We have no agenda for attacking any country outside of Afghanistan,’’ Mr Straw said. He said such an option might only be exercised if there was clear evidence that other countries were involved. ‘‘ Änd if those countries rejected the UN Security Council's recommendations on terrorism.’’ Reuters 
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Punjab-bred re-elected New Zealand city mayor
Paritosh Parasher

Sydney, October 16
A New Zealander of Indian origin has been re-elected mayor of Dunedin city for a third term.

Of all the 74 mayoral elections held in New Zealand last week, Punjab-bred Sukhi Turner’s win over her predecessor Richard Walls is being considered as one of the most convincing.

Expectations for the re-election of Sukhi Turner, married to legendary former New Zealand Test cricketer Glenn Turner, were so high that a number of her potential opponents withdrew their election papers as soon as she announced her intentions to seek a third term.

The rush to exit the race for Dunedin mayor post left seven in the field and only two of them, including Sukhi, were considered serious contenders.

According to media reports, Dunedinites too considered the re-election of their feisty mayor a foregone conclusion and were more interested in other mayoral elections than their own city.

Sukhi, mother of two children, was first elected as a councillor of Dunedin city in 1992. Her first election as mayor of the city came three years later in 1995 and then again in 1998. Now she would serve her third term as the head of the city council.

Over the years, Dunedin has come to respect its mayor for a number of reasons. She is perhaps the only politician in New Zealand who has, in spite of her radical views and a dedicated following, chosen the local bodies platform to express her views. In the past, she has been at the forefront of a number of campaigns that range from human rights to environmental issues affecting not just Dunedin but the whole nation.

What makes people like the Dunedin Mayor is probably Sukhi’s emphatic views for the last three decades.

This political science post-graduate from Ludhiana, had created a big noise when there was some reluctance on the New Zealand government’s part to issue visa to the Dalai Lama, spiritual head of the Tibetan people, last year.

She had cited New Zealand’s Human Rights Act to back her demand to issue a visa to the Tibetan leader. For some time Sukhi has also been opposing the basic idea behind the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

She has gone to the extent of calling APEC a scam and also challenged the notion that bigger was always better, arguing that local economies were special and local governments should invest in them. IANS
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Bangladesh not to host NAM summit

Dhaka, October 16
The Bangladesh Cabinet has decided not to host the Non-Aligned (NAM) summit in Dhaka in April, 2002, officials said today.

They said the first Cabinet meeting of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party government decided to cancel the NAM summit in view of the present global political situation and the country’s fragile economy. The Foreign Ministry has been asked to take necessary steps in this regard, they added. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia chaired the meeting last night with the participation of almost all the members of her 60-member Council of Ministers.

A total of 6,000 million takas has already been spent on the infrastructure to hold the conference of heads of state or government of the Third World countries. The last NAM summit was held in South Africa under the presidentship of Mr Nelson Mandela. Earlier, the summit had been scheduled to be held in Dhaka at the end of 2000 but the date was shifted to 2002 because the necessary facilities for the gathering were not ready. UNI
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