Friday, October 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India




W O R L D

EU chief assails US food aid drops
Food ‘not reaching’ needy Afghans

Brussels, October 18
European Commission President Romano Prodi today criticised the US policy of dropping food aid into Afghanistan, saying it rarely reached the people for whom it was intended. Speaking before a summit of European Union leaders in Belgium, Prodi also chided the EU’s most powerful countries, Germany, France and Britain, over their plans to discuss the Afghan crisis without other member-states.

After anthrax the Americans are preparing for another deadly and potentially more transmissible pathogen, smallpox.
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NEWS ANALYSIS
Pak will never snap ties with Taliban
P
AKISTAN President Pervez Musharraf’s press conference in Islamabad last week should leave nobody in doubt about this country’s unwillingness to snap the umbilical cord with Taliban no matter whatever contrary signals might have come from Islamabad since September 11.



Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana films in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday. Dana, wounded several times while filming, has won a prestigious award from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for his coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the CPJ said on Wednesday. The New York-based reporters' rights group awarded its annual Press freedom prize to Dana and three other journalists from China, Zimbabwe and Argentina. — Reuters

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

 

APEC forges anti-terror front
Shanghai, October 18
Pacific Rim nations attending the biggest international gathering since September 11 today forged a united front against terrorism despite some unease about the US strikes on Afghanistan.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin delivers a speech welcoming senior corporate leaders to Shanghai for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Volunteers for Taliban queue up in Pak
Peshawar, October 18
Just like his American counterparts, the polite, clean-cut young recruiter says he is having no problem signing up volunteers to fight in Afghanistan. He says he’s turned away boys too young and men too old, even a one-legged man who begged to be sent to the front.

Another $ 50 m aid for Pak
Washington, October 18
President George W. Bush has ordered the provision of 50 million dollars in economic aid to Pakistan, further cementing the US support for Islamabad after it agreed to back the US war on terrorism.

EARLIER STORIES

 

Manila, rebels sign peace pact
Kuala Lumpur, October 18
The Philippine Government said today it had signed a peace pact with separatist Muslim rebels following talks in Kuala Lumpur, despite violations of an earlier ceasefire.

Israeli tanks enter West Bank
Ramallah, October 18
Israel tanks and bulldozers moved into two Palestinian-controlled areas on the edges of the West Bank town of Ramallah today, destroying anti-tank defences, Palestinian security officials and witnesses said.

A Palestinian woman carries her baby as two men react to gunfire in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Thursday. — Reuters photo

12 die in Lanka clash
Colombo, October 18
At least 12 persons were killed in eastern Sri Lanka today in skirmishes between troops and Tamil Tiger separatist rebels, military officials said.

KATHMANDU: Nepal's King Gyanendra and Queen Komal posing for photographs after Queen Komal was decorated with the nation's highest medal on Wednesday at the Narayanhiti Royal Palace in Katmandu. King Gyanendra was enthroned as the new King of Nepal after the royal palace massacre on June 1, 2001, where his brother King Birendra was gunned down along with eight other members of the royal family. — AP/PTI


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EU chief assails US food aid drops
Food ‘not reaching’ needy Afghans

Brussels, October 18
European Commission President Romano Prodi today criticised the US policy of dropping food aid into Afghanistan, saying it rarely reached the people for whom it was intended.

Speaking before a summit of European Union leaders in Belgium, Prodi also chided the EU’s most powerful countries, Germany, France and Britain, over their plans to discuss the Afghan crisis without other member-states.

Prodi stressed continued EU support for the U.S.-led military strikes against Afghanistan, provided that they remained “targeted”, but questioned the dropping of food.

“This kind of aid is justifiable only in extreme emergency cases. You can’t target the aid. It’s more likely that young people, healthy people, soldiers, will get the aid rather than others,” Prodi told a news conference.

“Food aid drops, statistically speaking, are unlikely to reach their target,” he said.

He added that the commission had no plans to air-drop any of its own promised aid, worth nearly 320 million euros.

Prodi said the crisis triggered by last month’s suicide attacks on the USA had underscored the importance of closer EU integration in a range of policy areas from crime fighting to economic policy.

He suggested that the commission, the EU’s Brussels-based executive, should take control of the bloc’s nascent common foreign and security policy (CSFP), a view likely to win few friends in Britain or France which are jealous of their individual clout on the global stage.

“We (the commission) should be running that and then have greater harmony. You can see that wherever the commission has a prerogative, that is where Europe is,” Prodi said.

The former Italian Prime Minister rapped the decision by the leaders of Germany, France and Britain, to meet separately in the Belgian town of Ghent on Friday before the EU summit.

“I think it’s a shame and I’ve said so, that some countries will be attending and some not,” he said.

Some EU officials see the decision of the three big powers to confer alone as damaging to European unity.

Britain is the only EU state so far to have participated directly in the US-led strikes on Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban and the Al-Qaida network of Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the September 11 attacks.

France, Germany and Italy have also offered military help.

Prodi played down the impact of the crisis on Europe’s economy, saying that integration moves, especially the impending introduction of the single euro currency, had cushioned the bloc from major turbulence.

He said the crisis could delay economic recovery, but ruled out a recession, saying EU and euro zone economies should grow by an average 1.5 per cent this year.

The EU leader said Europe and the USA should work more intensively together to bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace, citing the conflict as one root cause of terrorism. Reuters
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NEWS ANALYSIS
Pak will never snap ties with Taliban
Samuel Baid

PAKISTAN President Pervez Musharraf’s press conference in Islamabad last week should leave nobody in doubt about this country’s unwillingness to snap the umbilical cord with Taliban no matter whatever contrary signals might have come from Islamabad since September 11.

This press conference came a day after the joint US-UK air attacks began against terrorist camps in Afghanistan and therefore one thought now was the time for Pakistan to snap diplomatic ties with Taliban as had been done by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia a few days ago.

In his press conference lasting over an hour he said Pakistan would maintain ties with Taliban to keep a channel of communication open with it. But later in the same press conference he made it very clear his government had in mind a role for Taliban in a new political dispensation if the latter regime fell.

He pointed out that the deposed Afghan king Zahir Shah was acceptable to his government as the head of this new dispensation but it should be broad-based giving the 60 per cent Pushtun population its due in government formation. Pakistan, he said, wanted a friendly government in Afghanistan and, therefore, would not accept the Northern Alliance as an alternative to the Taliban there.

Until this press conference, an impression was sought to be given that Pakistan was out to snap diplomatic ties with the Taliban regime. In his September 19 address to the nation Gen Musharraf regretted Taliban’s recalcitrance and refusal to see danger in not handing over Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden to the USA or a third country to face charges of his and his organisation Al-Qaida’s involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Five days after this address Pakistan recalled its diplomatic staff from Kabul and on October 1 Gen Musharraf agreed in a BBC interview that the days of the Taliban regime were numbered. And then his government said it was convinced of the FBI’s report that established Osama’s and Al-Qaida’s involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

It is notable that the two main religious parties which have been carrying on a campaign against Gen Musharraf’s support to the USA against Osama and Taliban are Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Islam and Jamaat-i-Islam. Their campaign may not be very serious to the military government because the two are known to have enjoyed the patronage and largesse of the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the past. There are already reports that a section of the army is opposed to the government policy of supporting the USA against the Taliban regime. But Gen Musharraf does not seem to be very much perturbed so far.

He claims that a majority of the Pakistani people support his policy. He surely has direct or indirect support from all mainstream non-religious parties. Pakistan People’s Party self-exiled leader Ms Benazir Bhutto has repeatedly said the military government must distance itself from Taliban. The Muslim League, too, supports the government policy with some reservations. The Mutteheda Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Awami National Party and the Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party have all supported the US action against Afghanistan.

Now the question is if the army and the ISI are really against terrorism why should they not cut off or even suspend their diplomatic relations with Taliban? They will not do it because Taliban are the end-product of a policy of encouraging Islamic militancy as a tool of foreign policy in the region. It was Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who in the early 1970s thought of jehad as a tool to counter Soviet influence in Afghanistan.

Mr Bhutto feared that after the overthrow of King Zahir Shah by his own cousin, Mohammad Daoud, in July 1973 the Soviet influence would increase in Afghanistan and within Pakistan the Pakhtoonistan movement would receive a boost. To counter this development Bhutto invited Afghan fundamentalist leaders such as Ahmed Shah Masood, Gulbudin Hikmatyar, Burhanuddin Rabbani along with their followers and started jehad training for Afghans. They were given military training by the elite special service group of Pakistan. Major-Gen Naseerullah Babar, who later became Ms Benazir Bhutto’s Interior Minister, was associated with this project.

Afghan refugees started flooding Pakistan after the 1978 Saur revolution in which Daoud was killed and a Communist government took over.

When Ms Bhutto returned to power in 1993, the government pursued the policy of encouraging friendly Islamists in Afghanistan. During Gen Zia’s rule it was openly suggested use of Afghan territory for strategic depth. The Bhutto Government went a step further when her Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar trained madarsas boys to fight and control Afghanistan. These “boys” were first known as Taliban in October 1994 when they freed Pakistani consumer goods from Afghan warlords who tried to loot them at Spin Boldak on the way to Turkmenistan.

It was the Pakistani army and the ISI which helped Taliban to overrun most of Afghanistan. There are reports that Pakistanis and Taliban together slaughtered about 8,000 Shias when they captured Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998.

In 1997 when the Muslim League, headed by Mr Nawaz Sharif returned to power, it adopted a policy of placating Taliban by taking steps such as the introduction of Sharia Bill in Parliament and closure of universities in Peshawar that admitted Afghan refugee girls. Taliban had banned education for women. This led to the spread of fundamentalism in Pakistan.

But this backwardisation of Pakistani society was acceptable to the rulers, the army and the ISI because it was also affecting Kashmir. Pakistani rulers seem to be living on the hope that they can grab Kashmir only through “Taliban-like” tactics. Terrorists operating in Kashmir have links with the Taliban.

The army and the ISI fear that if they drop Taliban their Kashmir policy, which is terrorism-based will fail. Gen Musharraf has made it very clear that it is basically for Kashmir he is supporting the USA. He had hoped that by supporting the USA he could save Taliban rule in Afghanistan — and save Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. If the Taliban Government falls there would be a serious unrest within the Pak army.

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APEC forges anti-terror front

Shanghai, October 18
Pacific Rim nations attending the biggest international gathering since September 11 today forged a united front against terrorism despite some unease about the US strikes on Afghanistan.

Hours before US President George W. Bush was due to arrive in Shanghai on his first overseas trip since last month’s attacks, Foreign Ministers of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum finalised an historic anti-terrorism declaration to be issued at a weekend APEC summit.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and other ministers reached a consensus that the APEC leaders should send a strong message against terrorism to the international community, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said.

There was no mention during a breakfast ministerial meeting of the US-British military operation in Afghanistan, which had caused concern in APEC members Indonesia and Malaysia over civilian casualties, delegates said.

But the leaders’ anti-terrorism declaration would make clear that the campaign launched was not a war on Islam, Mr Tang indicated.

The ministers had agreed that the APEC leaders would call for countries to choke off terrorist funds and bolster the role of the United Nations, Mr Tang added.

But he said Foreign Ministers of the 21-member APEC group also stressed the role of the United Nations — an apparent nod to China’s and Russia’s reservations about Washington’s dominant role so far in the war it has declared on terrorism.

“Anti-terrorism is the struggle between evil versus good, the civilised and barbaric,” Mr Tang said after the breakfast meeting, which was attended by US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

BEIJING: China detained more than 23,000 suspects in a 20-day anti-crime drive in the run-up to this month’s APEC meetings in Shanghai and its National Day holiday on October 1, state media said.

“The action effectively eliminated the hidden dangers to society, scared the criminals, and got a positive and active result in guaranteeing the security of the national holiday and the APEC meetings,” the state-run China News Service said. AFP, DPA

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Volunteers for Taliban queue up in Pak

Peshawar, October 18
Just like his American counterparts, the polite, clean-cut young recruiter says he is having no problem signing up volunteers to fight in Afghanistan.

He says he’s turned away boys too young and men too old, even a one-legged man who begged to be sent to the front. He’s got combat veterans and raw recruits alike at the ready. Morale is high, he says. His side cannot imagine losing.

But recruiter Obeid Qureshi and his would-be Taliban warriors differ in one key respect from the American troops preparing for a possible ground war in the barren plains and jagged mountains of Afghanistan.

“The best outcome, of course, would be martyrdom,” the neatly bearded 23-year-old said yesterday during a break from manning a recruiting post in the frontier city of Peshawar. “That is every fighter’s greatest desire.”

Pakistani border zones like this one—where pro-Taliban sentiment runs high, where radical Islamic parties have a large following, where religious schools, or madarsas, exhort students to fight the infidels—are proving fertile recruiting grounds for the war next door.

Islamist parties have set a target of 50,000 recruits from Pakistan’s border belt, a goal perhaps unrealistically high, as it exceeds estimated strength of the Taliban army.

Qureshi says about 1,000 volunteers have signed up in Peshawar since the start of the US-led air campaign, and many thousands have volunteered in the province’s tribal areas closest to the Afghan frontier. Uncounted others, taking matters into their own hands , have crossed into Afghanistan to join up. AP

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Another $ 50 m aid for Pak

Washington, October 18
President George W. Bush has ordered the provision of 50 million dollars in economic aid to Pakistan, further cementing the US support for Islamabad after it agreed to back the US war on terrorism.

Mr Bush yesterday directed Secretary of State Colin Powell to provide the money, saying it was “important for the security interests of the USA.” The President can make such provisions under the Foreign Assistance Act whenever he deems it necessary for the US national security. AFP
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Manila, rebels sign peace pact

Kuala Lumpur, October 18
The Philippine Government said today it had signed a peace pact with separatist Muslim rebels following talks in Kuala Lumpur, despite violations of an earlier ceasefire.

Representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government have been holding talks in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, since Monday to reinforce a truce they signed there in August.

The rebels had fought for nearly 30 years for a separate Islamic state on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao before settling for lesser gains in talks brokered first by Libya and later Malaysia.

PAGADIAN: The security forces on Thursday mounted a land, air and sea search in the southern Philippines for a gang of rogue Muslim rebels, thought to be behind the kidnapping of an italian Roman Catholic missionary, officials said.

Gunmen snatched Giuseppi Pierantoni on Wednesday from the parish church of Dimataling town.

Bishop Zacarias Jimenez of Pagadian told Catholic-run DXMS radio that a man calling himself “Commander Ramsy” called up the Bishop’s residence here and offered himself as an intermediary.

The caller sought 3,000 pesos up front as a “mobilisation budget”, but the bishop rejected the offer because the church did not pay ransom demands. Reuters, AFP

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Israeli tanks enter West Bank


A relative of slain Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi mourns over his flag-draped coffin in Jerusalem on Thursday. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for Zeevi's killing on Wednesday outside his Jerusalem hotel room, saying it was to avenge Israel's assassination of its leader, Abu Ali Mustafa, in August. 
— Reuters

Ramallah, October 18
Israel tanks and bulldozers moved into two Palestinian-controlled areas on the edges of the West Bank town of Ramallah today, destroying anti-tank defences, Palestinian security officials and witnesses said.

The tanks rolled several hundred metres into the town, in the northern and northeastern fringes.

In the northeastern area, seven tanks were seen accompanying a bulldozer which removed iron anti-tank spikes, put in place by the Palestinian security forces, outside the Best Eastern hotel.

There were no reports of Palestinian resistance to the incursions, which appeared to have taken place without shots being fired.

The foray came a day after Israel’s hardline Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi was assassinated in his Jerusalem hotel. And just hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up near an Israeli army patrol in the Gaza Strip, slightly injuring two soldiers.

Both the attacks were claimed by the radical left-wing Popular front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group opposed to the 1993 peace accords between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel.

Israel has demanded that the Palestinian authority hand over the killers of Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi or suffer retribution.

Israel warned Mr Arafat to hand over Zeevi’s killers or face a collapse in the peace initiative he renewed with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres three weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian police arrested several PFLP members in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, PFLP officials said.

Kayid al-Ghoul, a PFPL official in the Gaza Strip, confirmed that three members of the PFPL's political wing had been arrested in Gaza and named them as Rabah Muhana, Yunis al-Jarrouh and Hani Habib.

‘‘This is a message to Israel to say that the Palestinian authority is serious about fulfilling its commitments towards Israel,’’ Ghoul said. Reuters/AFP

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12 die in Lanka clash

Colombo, October 18
At least 12 persons were killed in eastern Sri Lanka today in skirmishes between troops and Tamil Tiger separatist rebels, military officials said.

Eight LTTE rebels were killed in an army strike in the jungles of eastern Trincomalee district, said military spokesman Brig Sanath Karunaratne.

“We had five soldiers injured in the mission, one of them seriously,’’ Brigadier Karunaratne said.

In a separate incident, three rebels were killed when the army set off a mine in the nearby Kovil Oya area.

The military strikes came hours after the rebels briefly overran two security posts in the same district, killing one trooper and wounding seven others before they were beaten back.

The hopes of an end to the 18-year conflict have faded with the collapse of a Norwegian-brokered peace bid. The war has claimed an estimated 64,000 lives but has been overshadowed in recent weeks by political turmoil that has forced a snap election in December. Reuters
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