Sunday, October 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Over 60,000 Afghans seek refuge in Pakistan
Geneva, October 20
More than 60,000 Afghan refugees are now in Pakistan seeking food and refuge, United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said. Spokesman Ron Redmond said yesterday in Geneva that many had left their villages in apparent panic and arrived at the border with neither food nor personal belongings.

WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
Will Pak economy gain from Afghan war?
When the American action against Afghanistan began in the wake of the terrorist attacks at New York and Washington, it was generally believed that the Pakistani stand will bring it enormous economic benefits. There is no doubt about it even now. 

$500 million aid to Pakistan likely
Washington, October 20
The USA has indicated it will provide $500 million as grant assistance to Pakistan, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar has said. A State Department team will visit Pakistan in a week or two to review foreign aid, Mr Sattar told The Washington Times in telephonic interview. President Bush on Tuesday signed another waiver to allow $50 million grant to Pakistan in addition to a similar amount he sanctioned on September 28.

Don’t extend war to Iraq, says Turkey to USA
Washington, October 20
Turkey has cautioned the USA against extending the war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to Iraq, while offering support to the US campaign to oust the militia, media reports said here today. Turkey fears that chaos in Iraq will lead to even greater autonomy in an ethnic Kurdish zone in northern Iraq, which can spread to its own restive Kurdish areas, according to the Wall Street Journal.

5 killed in Israeli raids
Bethlehem (West Bank), October 20

Israeli troops killed four Palestinians during an advance on two West Bank cities today, the latest raids in the most comprehensive offensive against Palestinian areas in a year-old conflict. 

A Palestinian stone thrower pauses beside a burning car in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Friday.  —AP/PTI


Fireworks explode over the International Convention Centre where the APEC leaders were watching the extravaganza after the first day of their summit in Shanghai on Saturday. APEC leaders, delegates and residents were treated with dazzling fireworks, said to be the largest fireworks display ever held in China. —Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has indicated that the USA will play a role in facilitating the establishment of a possible post-Taliban government.
(28k, 56k)

Anthrax tricky to detect but easy to treat
Washington, October 20
Seven persons in the USA have tested positive for anthrax infections while dozens of cases of exposures have been reported, causing fear and anxiety about a disease that before the September 11 attacks was extremely rare in America. The language and terminology surrounding anthrax can be confusing, and experts have complained about misleading statements in the media and by some of those involved, including Senators and members of the Congress.

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Over 60,000 Afghans seek refuge in Pakistan

Geneva, October 20
More than 60,000 Afghan refugees are now in Pakistan seeking food and refuge, United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said.

Spokesman Ron Redmond said yesterday in Geneva that many had left their villages in apparent panic and arrived at the border with neither food nor personal belongings.

Some had paid smugglers to be taken on a 15-hour route march through mountain passes to Pakistan, he said.

More than 3,500 crossed yesterday morning in the Kandahar region into Pakistan at the Chaman border crossing, Mr Redmond said. Monitors describe the situation there as “chaotic”.

About 10,000 refugees have flooded into Baluchistan province alone over the past six days, he said.

Aid organisation workers of the UN, meanwhile, report that radical Taliban militia are increasingly occupying depots containing aid items. Plundering was also said to be increasing.

They also say international promises of donations have not been fulfilled. The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the deficit was $ 93 million this month. A total of 77 per cent of $ 654 million in pledged aid funds had still not been paid, it said.

The World Food Programme (WFP) called on Taliban militia to allow WFP workers access to a depot in Kandahar containing 1,600 tonnes of food.

In Kunduz, Taliban militia have sealed a storehouse of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) containing urgently needed blankets and winter clothing and are preventing the items from being distributed, the IOM said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that one of its offices had been plundered and a car plus bureau equipment had been stolen. DPA

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WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
Will Pak economy gain from Afghan war?
Syed Nooruzzaman

When the American action against Afghanistan began in the wake of the terrorist attacks at New York and Washington, it was generally believed that the Pakistani stand will bring it enormous economic benefits. There is no doubt about it even now. Pakistan has already started gaining in terms of aid from various foreign sources like the IMF, the USA, Japan and the European Union. But opinions expressed in the media indicate that the loss due to the arrival of more Afghan refugees (Pakistan had over 2 million refugees before the horrifying incidents on September 11), foreign trade reverses, declining revenues from tourism, etc will be quite upsetting. Financial largesse from overseas will help but not as much as is being propagated by the Pakistan government. There is the likelihood of much of the aid being used for debt repayment, and there is no guarantee that the remaining funds will go into economic rejuvenation projects.

In his “Economic diary” carried in The Nation on October 14 Mr M. Aftab says, “ The latest estimate of Pakistan’s export losses are projected at $3 billion — that is a hefty third of the annual exports. Increased shipping and air cargo cost and the newly imposed war risk insurance premium may cost between $75 million and $ 100 million more than what is normal. Tax revenue losses resulting from lower customs duty on reduced imports are estimated at Rs 10 billion. Income tax deposits for which the last date was September 30 are 17.14 per cent less than last year because of a depressing economic situation....”

He adds: “The opponents of Islamabad’s cooperation with Washington point to the meager emergency economic assistance totalling around $ 150 million that has been promised so far by the USA, Japan and the European Union. In the Bush vs Osama bin Laden war the first casualty is Pakistani foreign trade...on account of war risk insurance, the freight rate increase and cargo insurance for export shipments.”

There are reports of foreign firms not placing fresh orders and cancellation of some of the orders already made. This is because there is worldwide fear that the growing anti-US protests may affect industrial production and, therefore, exporters may not be able to meet their commitments. Much of the import-export trade from the NWFP used to be through Afghanistan which remains out of bounds for this purpose. According to one estimate, Pakistan’s economic loss in one month till October 15 was over $ 1 billion.

It is feared the IMF bailout package may come with many strings, mostly uncomfortable, attached, leading to serious difficulties for the managers of the Pakistani economy. A recent editorial in The News hinted at this unwelcome possibility: “Though the size of the bailout package, which the bilateral donors and international financial institutions may put in place is not yet known, it is of crucial importance that some related factors should be carefully considered. The package should be large enough to meet the economy’s requirements, putting it on the path of growth. The multilateral donors should avoid attaching tough conditionalities to their assistance programme.”

This is not enough. Pakistan’s privatisation programme is also going to be hit hard. In his article published in Dawn on October 13 Mr Shahid Kardar says, “Privatisation of public sector units will have to be postponed (no one knows for how long) unless they are to be sold at highly discounted prices; there is an exodus of foreigners working on construction projects; foreign airlines have suspended their flights to Pakistan...; and foreign banks have levied additional charges of around 5 per cent for confirming L/Cs.”

In his analysis “Incoming funds and costs” in The Nation on October 8 Dr Faisal Bari laments, “The current situation is going to hurt Pakistan’s tourism industry and put off international buyers and sellers. It has already led to the exodus of a lot of foreign staff from embassies and missions, international bodies as well as multinationals. There is no hope of getting any portfolio or direct foreign investment at this stage. Even the non-resident Pakistanis will not be interested in investing in Pakistan right now.”

Political stability is more important than any other factor for healthy economic growth and it is not likely to be there in Pakistan for a long time to come because of increased international interest in General Pervez Musharraf remaining at the helm of affairs. Immediately after the Afghanistan war is over, political parties, including those having a religious agenda, will begin to concentrate on their demand for the restoration of the democratic process in accordance with a Supreme Court order. But General Musharraf will most probably invent some excuse to prolong his rule. With the tempers already running high because of his policies vis-a-vis the USA and the Taliban, the instability factor will be more visible than it has ever been. This is the cost a country has to pay for its shortsighted policies.

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$500 million aid to Pakistan likely

Washington, October 20
The USA has indicated it will provide $500 million as grant assistance to Pakistan, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar has said.

A State Department team will visit Pakistan in a week or two to review foreign aid, Mr Sattar told The Washington Times in telephonic interview.

President Bush on Tuesday signed another waiver to allow $50 million grant to Pakistan in addition to a similar amount he sanctioned on September 28.

The President has the authority to waive democracy sanctions up to 50 million in a financial year which he has already exercised twice within three weeks. But US Congress has passed a Bill authorising him to waive all sanctions against Pakistan, including the democracy curbs imposed after the military takeover two years ago.

The Bill awaits presidential assent to become a law.

The Foreign Minister dismissed Indian fears that renewed US military aid to Pakistan would be used against India. “The weapons used by the Mujahideen in Kashmir are all small caliber and not purchased from the USA,” he said.

The Times said since Pakistan’s decision to cooperate with the USA after the September 11 attacks, the Bush Administration had dropped economic and other sanctions and is sending a State Department team in the next week or two to review foreign aid, Pakistan’s $3 billion debt to the USA and possible loans to stimulate trade, said Mr Sattar and US officials. ANI

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Don’t extend war to Iraq, says Turkey to USA

Washington, October 20
Turkey has cautioned the USA against extending the war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to Iraq, while offering support to the US campaign to oust the militia, media reports said here today.

Turkey fears that chaos in Iraq will lead to even greater autonomy in an ethnic Kurdish zone in northern Iraq, which can spread to its own restive Kurdish areas, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We see no reason for an attack on Iraq,” Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said in a TV interview recently. “This will make the Middle East very unstable.”
Ankara has, however, offered support to the US campaign against terrorism, the report said.

Mr Ecevit told Turkish Parliament this week: “The struggle in Afghanistan against an archaic regime which hosts terrorism must be carried out until the end”.
Turkey has reportedly offered to lead a Muslim contingent of any international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan and is also said to be readying a military team to train forces of the Northern Alliance, the journal said.

The daily said Turkey had won “Britain’s blessing” in its attempt to become a leading planner and peacekeeper in any international post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan.

“The endorsement gives Turkey a big step towards a role that would bolster its influence in Europe and help allay fears in the Muslim world that the US-led anti-terrorist war is an attack on Islam”, the report said.

The report, meanwhile, warns that post-Taliban Afghanistan may see a clash between Turkey and Pakistan.

Turkey has enormous ethnic, cultural and linguistic influence in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and among the Northern Alliance members, especially Tajiks and Uzbeks.

Pakistan, in an effort to increase its influence in Afghanistan, created the Taliban militia, consisting predominantly of Pushtuns, who form the majority of the population of the Northwest Frontier and tribal belt in Pakistan, the report said.

Islamabad has also repeatedly stressed on the need for the inclusion of moderate Taliban elements in any broad-based government in Kabul.

The report said this might lead to a clash of interests between Ankara and Islamabad. PTI

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5 killed in Israeli raids

Bethlehem (West Bank), October 20
Israeli troops killed four Palestinians during an advance on two West Bank cities today, the latest raids in the most comprehensive offensive against Palestinian areas in a year-old conflict.

A Palestinian woman was also shot dead in the West Bank town of Beit Jala, the site of a previous Israeli raid this week.

Palestinian witnesses said she was hit in the head by Israeli sniper fire. The army said they knew nothing of the death but reported an exchange of fire in the area.

Stoking fears that violence is spinning out of control since the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister on Wednesday, Israeli troops battled Palestinian gunmen as the army’s armoured vehicles pushed several hundred metres into the West Bank cities of Tulkarm and Qalqilya.

Palestinian security sources said Israeli soldiers had occupied several houses in both cities and destroyed five Palestinian security posts in Qalqilya.

The latest incursions followed similar raids into Palestinian-ruled Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and Beit Jala in the West Bank in a new upsurge in bloodshed after Palestinian radicals killed ultra nationalist Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi.

The radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, opposed to peace with Israel, said it killed Zeevi in response to Israel’s assassination of leader Abu Ali Mustafa in August.

The fighting flies in the face of US efforts to restore calm in West Asia which it views as vital to maintaining Arab support for its war against terrorism — launched after attacks against it on September 11, for which Washington says Afghan-based Osama bin Laden is the prime suspect.

WASHINGTON: The USA has called for an immediate end to Israeli incursions in the Palestinian-controlled territories, charging that they did nothing but “complicate” an already difficult situation.

“Israeli entries into Palestinian-controlled areas are not helpful, complicate the situation and should be halted,” a State Department official requesting anonymity said yesterday.

The directive came after three people were shot by Israeli troops near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, bringing the total number of dead yesterday to six, with more than 28 injured in the lethal game of brinkmanship being played in the historic city. Reuters, AFP

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Anthrax tricky to detect but easy to treat

Washington, October 20
Seven persons in the USA have tested positive for anthrax infections while dozens of cases of exposures have been reported, causing fear and anxiety about a disease that before the September 11 attacks was extremely rare in America.

The language and terminology surrounding anthrax can be confusing, and experts have complained about misleading statements in the media and by some of those involved, including Senators and members of the Congress.

Anthrax is caused by a bacterium known as Bacillus anthracis. Bacilli are rod-shaped bacteria.

When they are not actively infecting a living body, they move into a dormant stage known as a spore. These hard-shelled spores have been known to survive for as long as 100 years.

Anthrax is normally a disease found in animals that graze and pick up the spores out of the soil.

The spores can be inhaled, activated by the warm, wet interior of the lungs. In humans, this form of the disease is the most deadly because it starts out looking like a cold or flu but rapidly progresses to pneumonia or meningitis and if untreated it kills 90 per cent of its victims.

Spores can also work their way into a cut or scrape and cause an infection known as cutaneous anthrax. This is the most common form, and in humans it kills 20 per cent of victims if they are not treated with antibiotics. Distinctive black scabs form, thus the name anthracis, which comes from the Greek word for coal.

A third type of infection known as gastrointestinal anthrax is found in infected meat or when the spores are otherwise swallowed.

In all three cases the spores need a damp and warm place to become active, and a dose of several thousand microscopic spores is needed to cause an infection. The spores cannot be seen by the naked eye.

When an infected animal dies and its body rots, the bacteria return to the soil and revert to spore form, completing the cycle until they are picked up by another animal.

If spores are found on a person, in the nose, for instance, the person has been exposed.

A person is not infected unless the spores have been activated, which can be tested by culturing a lesion on the skin or by checking the blood for antibodies against anthrax.

Anthrax is not contagious and the spores can be washed away with soap and water. Experts suggest that anyone who may have been exposed take a bath, and at least thoroughly wash their hands and face.

It is possible that spores could be carried on clothing, but experts say this is unlikely unless someone has many spores dumped on them.

The bacteria infect immune cells known as phagocytes, releasing toxins as they grow and multiply until the cells burst. The immune response to this throws the system into shock and this is what kills the victim.

Antibiotics can prevent this when given in early stages. Doctors are giving antibiotics to people who have been exposed to anthrax or who may have been exposed, even though they may not be infected.

A wide range of antibiotics can beat anthrax, from penicillin to tetracycline, or cipro-floxacin.

A vaccine against anthrax has been given to tens of thousands of US troops but production is currently suspended due to manufacturing problems. It has not been shown to work against the inhaled form of the disease.

Samples of anthrax can be found at veterinary labs around the world. Many countries developed anthrax for use in biological weapons, including the USA, Iraq and the former Soviet Union.

Experts say Iraq and the Soviet Union made anthrax that resists antibiotics, both by genetically engineering them and by the more old-fashioned method of exposing the bacteria to antibiotics and breeding the bacteria that survived.

To be used in an attack, anthrax bacteria must be grown and the clumpy mass of spores must be dried and ground finely enough to be dissolved in liquid, mixed in with a powder or sprayed in an aerosol. This requires specialised knowledge and equipment.

It is difficult to detect anthrax in the air, but the spores will settle onto surfaces, which can be brushed off. The dust can be examined under a microscope for bacilli, which can then be cultured and if colonies of anthrax grow, it is confirmed that anthrax is present. Reuters

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