Tuesday, October 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

No role for Taliban in future govt: 
Putin
Dushanbe, October 22
Tajik and Russian Presidents Emomali Rakhmonov and Vladimir Putin and deposed Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani said today that Taliban were a destabilising force in Afghanistan and should be barred from its future government.They expressed this view at a joint press conference after holding talks on the situation in Afghanistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) greets Afghanistan's Northern Aalliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah (L) during a meeting with exiled Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani (2nd L) and opposition alliance chief commander Gen. Mohammed Fahim (C) in Dushanbe on Monday.— Reuters

End bombing by Ramzan: Pervez
Washington, October 22
Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf warned today that if US-led attacks on Afghanistan extended into the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan, they would have a negative effect in the Muslim world.With the start of Ramzan in mid-November approaching, Musharraf appealed for an end to bombing and other attacks on Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers before that.



EARLIER STORIES
 

Iran refuses to meet Zahir Shah’s envoy
Teheran, October 22
Iranian officials recently refused to meet a special envoy from former Afghan monarch, Mohammed Zahir Shah, because it would “weaken” the opposition Northern Alliance, the centrist Entekhab paper reported today.

Anthrax-struck postal man fights for life
Confirmed cases rise to 10
Washington, October 22
A Washington postal worker stricken with anthrax inhalation fought for his life in a local hospital on Monday and five other people were being tested for the disease, health and postal authorities said.

Pak parents fight ‘jehad’ fever
Karachi, October 22
Saleem Tanoli had to chain up his son for a night to stop him from joining a growing ‘holy army’ in Pakistan wanting to help the Taliban against the US.
Twenty-year-old Arshad Tanoli was one of hundreds, possibly thousands of youths in madrasas (religious schools) signing up for the anti-US ‘jehad’.

Concert stampede leaves 14 dead
Caracas, October 22
In a stampede at a concert, 14 persons died and 64 were injured in the industrial city of Valencia, southwest of Caracas, the Venezuelan authorities have said. Unofficial accounts said yesterday the deadly rush started when a shot was fired in the air as thousands of people lined up outside the venue of the event, organised by Caracas television channel Venevision.

USA had pinned down Osama hideout
Washington, October 22

Top American intelligence officials pinned down terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden’s location in Afghanistan in the days before the first ground assault by US military troops, says Newsweek magazine. But the “20-by-20 mile area” was so full of caves and tunnels that it was, in the words of one source, “impossible to seal.”

Taliban vacate UN office
Islamabad, October 22
The Taliban has ended its occupation of a UN office in northern Afghanistan after its supreme leader issued a decree ordering the return of looted assets of international aid agencies, a UN official said today.

‘Time Out’ bags top prize at Montreal fest
Montreal, October 22
The Montreal International Festival of New Cinema and New Media awarded its top prize to “Time Out” (L’emploi du Temps) by French director Laurent Cantet. The film, a fact-based drama, tells the tale of an unemployed man’s quest for dignity through an elaborate deceit about a job in Switzerland.

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No role for Taliban in future govt: Putin

Dushanbe, October 22
Tajik and Russian Presidents Emomali Rakhmonov and Vladimir Putin and deposed Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani said today that Taliban were a destabilising force in Afghanistan and should be barred from its future government.

They expressed this view at a joint press conference after holding talks on the situation in Afghanistan.

According to Xinhua, Mr Putin said the tripartite talks were detailed and of great significance, during which they discussed the current situation in Afghanistan and future.

He said Russia’s policy towards the Afghan issue was aimed at creating an environment in which “the Afghan people can determine Afghanistan’s fate on their own and begin a peaceful life.”

He reiterated Russia’s consistent support to Mr Rabbani and his anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s opposition Northern Alliance, while pledging continued military and technical assistance as well as more humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees.

Mr Rabbani, who was deposed by Taliban in 1996, is still recognised as Afghanistan’s president by the United Nations and most countries. His forces still hold the northeastern part of Afghanistan.

Mr Rabbani told the press conference that it was necessary to start working with a political agenda along with the military strikes on Taliban and terrorists to pave the way for the Afghan people to freely choose which course their country would take after the Taliban rule.

At the same time, he stressed his opposition to any foreign interference, which he said was the hotbed to breed organisations like the Taliban.

Tajikistan too pledged support to Mr Rabbani during the tripartite talks.

Earlier, President Vladimir Putin signed a joint statement and deposed Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani on “the need to find a political solution in Afghanistan”.

“All the ethnic groups should take part in forming the next Afghan Government,” not that process should involve the United Nations” and all foreign governments,” the signatories said in their joint statement read out to reporters by a Tajik presidential spokesman.

“Permanent consultations” will be set up “at the highest level” added Moscow, Dushanbe and the Afghan Government-in-Exile.

The leaders urged a quick conversion from the current US-led military intervention to a political settlement of the Afghan issue, with the purpose of establishing a widely-based ruling coalition representing all parties in Afghanistan. They stressed the need to highlight the UN role in the process.

They also proposed officials at different levels from the three sides to hold frequent consultations on the tension in Afghanistan.

Tajikistan, which has a 1,200-km border with Afghanistan is a key base for the anti-Taliban opposition. UNI, AFP

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End bombing by Ramzan: Pervez

Washington, October 22
Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf warned today that if US-led attacks on Afghanistan extended into the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan, they would have a negative effect in the Muslim world.

With the start of Ramzan in mid-November approaching, Musharraf appealed for an end to bombing and other attacks on Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers before that.

“It should not have any effect on the campaign as such, but it may have some effects in the Muslim world,” Musharraf told CNN’s “Larry King Live” in an interview.

“So one would hope and wish that this campaign comes to an end before the month of Ramzan, and one would hope for restraint during the month of Ramzan because this would certainly have some negative effects in the Muslim world.”

As Ramzan and the Afghan winter near, US and British leaders have stressed the need for speedy action to neutralise the puritanical Islamic Taliban and their “guest”, Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 suicide attacks that killed some 5,400 persons.

Islamabad: The police detained workers of Pakistan’s main Islamic party and banned its leader from entering southern Sindh province, officials said today, a day before a planned protest in a town where US forces are using the airport.

The arrest of the activists yesterday and today, and a ban on the entry of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed in Sindh was to prevent him from holding a protest in the small town of Jacobabad, whose airport is being used for logistical support by US forces attacking Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban.

“The Sindh Government has conveyed to the Jamaat leader that his entry is banned in the province till further notice,” an official of the Sindh province Home Department said.

But, Ahmed had decided to defy the ban and go to Jacobabad to hold what party officials said would be a peaceful rally tomorrow in protest against the presence of the US troops on Pakistani soil, a party spokesman said.

“About 600 of our workers, organisers and provincial party leaders have been arrested by the police without any charge,’’ spokesman Amirul Azeem said by telephone from Lahore.

“But we have decided to start a procession from Mansura (the party’s head office) toward the airport to be led by Ahmed,” said Azeem, adding that the Jamaat-e-Islami campaign was peaceful and the party would challenge the government in court. Reuters

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Iran refuses to meet Zahir Shah’s envoy

Teheran, October 22
Iranian officials recently refused to meet a special envoy from former Afghan monarch, Mohammed Zahir Shah, because it would “weaken” the opposition Northern Alliance, the centrist Entekhab paper reported today.

“This information circulated in Parliament’s hallways yesterday,” the daily said, adding that Zahir Shah’s envoy had requested a meeting with “high-ranking” Iranian officials.”

However, Iran’s National Security Council, charged with national defence matters and headed by moderate President Mohammad Khatami, “refused to accept the request because accepting it would weaken the Northern Alliance,” the paper said.

Mr Khatami yesterday called for “free and general elections” in neighbouring Afghanistan, whose Taliban regime is the target of US-led military attacks for sheltering Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks in the USA.

“We hope for an increased role of the UN in this crisis in order to plan the organisation of free general elections as well as the formation of a coalition government comprising all parties, Mr Khatami said in a telephonic conversation with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Iran was swift to condemn the anti-US terror attacks but is also opposed to the US-led attacks on Afghanistan with which it shares a 900-km border.

Instead Teheran, which detests the Taliban and recognises the ousted Afghan Government linked to the Northern Alliance, demands that the international campaign against terrorism should be led by the UN.

In the meantime, ex-President Burhanuddin Rabbani has said the fall of the ruling Taliban regime would ease the misery of the Afghan people.

In an interview published today in the Teheran daily, Abrar, he said the US air strikes might cause more refugees, but the fall of the Taliban would decrease the people’s misery and make bearing the hardships easier, said Rabbani, who has chosen Iran as his main domicile.

He further indicated that any opposition to the US strikes at present would be irrational — but he blamed the Americans and Pakistan for having supported the Taliban for many years.

On restoring former king Zahir Shah to power as an alternative, Rabbani said the ex-monarch was too old to be involved in such a turbulent political situation. Initial enthusiasm for the king was gradually decreasing. AFP, DPA

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Anthrax-struck postal man fights for life
Confirmed cases rise to 10
Sue Pleming

Washington, October 22
A Washington postal worker stricken with anthrax inhalation fought for his life in a local hospital on Monday and five other people were being tested for the disease, health and postal authorities said.

Postmaster General John Potter said the infected worker, who sorted express mail destined for Capitol Hill at the Brentwood facility in Washington, was in a serious but stable condition.

“We are hearing a good prognosis, but the next 24 hours are critical,” Potter told NBC’s “Today” show.

Potter said another postal employee was in a local hospital with flu-like symptoms but that initial tests had been negative for anthrax. Several other employees with similar symptoms were being tested for anthrax, he said.

In a nation already jittery since the September 11 hijack attacks on America, the use of a potential germ warfare agent such as anthrax has catapulted the country into a higher state of anxiety.

At the seat of legislative power on Capitol Hill, 28 Senate staff members have tested positive for anthrax exposure after an anthrax-laced letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle last week.

Senate and House of Representatives office buildings, where most of the legislative work is done, remained closed on Monday while health workers tested them for anthrax spores and checked out the ventilation systems for the bacteria.

The towering, domed Capitol building itself, which was never closed during the anthrax scare, will be opened to the public and both the House and the Senate are set to be in session on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, Dr Ivan Walks, director of the Washington Health Department, said five people, including a postal worker from the same facility as the infected man, were being treated in local hospitals and tested for the potentially deadly bacteria.

“That means we have got a call from a hospital that says these patients are showing the flu-like symptoms associated with anthrax,” Walks said. “These people have more than likely begun being treated for their clinical presentation and have been tested,” he said.

In an interview later with ABC’s “Good Morning America” show, Walks acknowledged the postal worker’s case of inhaled anthrax had not been expected.

“This gentleman is a new era for us. This is a postal worker with inhalation anthrax. It’s not something that folks had expected,” Walks said.

More than 2,000 postal workers are being tested for anthrax in the Washington area and many of those will be given antibiotics as a preventative measure in case the disease develops.

Potter said postal workers were taking extra care in dealing with mail and that the post office was looking at new technology in dealing with mail.

“We’re looking at introducing technology to sanitise mail. We want to become the leader in terms of addressing these biochemical threats,” he said.

Stephen Ostroff, chief epidemiologist for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the total number of confirmed anthrax cases had risen to 10, with the diagnosis of the Washington postal worker.

That included two cases in Florida, including the man who died of inhaled anthrax, four cases in New York and three cases in New Jersey, he told the ABC show.

The government has been cautious about naming a possible culprit for the anthrax attacks, although President George W. Bush has said he “wouldn’t put it past” Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden — the chief suspect behind the September 11 strikes. Reuters

Kuala Lumpur: Firefighters rushed to the US and Australian diplomatic offices in Kuala Lumpur today after both buildings received letters with powdery substances that sparked suspicion.

Officials said these were first such incidents at both locations since bioterrorism jitters surfaced worldwide following the September 11 attacks in the USA.

The US Embassy said in a statement that its staff at the front gate today morning found an envelope which contained a suspicious powder.

“In accordance with security procedures already in place, the unopened letter was carefully sealed in an airtight container and the Malaysian Fire Department was called to the scene,” the statement said.

The embassy said that all employees “in the vicinity of the letter” before it was sealed away had been tested for possible exposure to disease and would take antibiotics as a precautionary measure. Stoltz said the tests included scans for the anthrax bacteria. AP
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Pak parents fight ‘jehad’ fever

Karachi, October 22
Saleem Tanoli had to chain up his son for a night to stop him from joining a growing ‘holy army’ in Pakistan wanting to help the Taliban against the US.

Twenty-year-old Arshad Tanoli was one of hundreds, possibly thousands of youths in madrasas (religious schools) signing up for the anti-US ‘jehad’.

“It was quite painful for me, but I had to put my son in chains otherwise I may have lost him,” said Tanoli, a police inspector, who spent the night telling his son to fight poverty in his own country or help others in need.

“But many like my son have become entranced by jehad,” he said.

Other parents face a similar family crisis. Maqsood Ahmed, a police Assistant Sub-Inspector, spent hours trying to convince his 17-year-old son not to go to Afghanistan.

“My son does not go to a madarasa, but perhaps because of the jehad fever and anger against the USA he wants to support the Taliban,” Ahmed said. He added that 15 to 20 families in the Baghdadi police colony in Karachi had seen sons and brothers go off to Afghanistan.

“It is a dilemma,” said police officer Rab Nawaz. “We are curbing the pro-Bin Laden demonstrators on the streets but facing rebels at home.”

Teachers in some schools have been asking students to pray for a Taliban victory against the US campaign to bring to justice those accused of masterminding the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. AFP

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Concert stampede leaves 14 dead

Caracas, October 22
In a stampede at a concert, 14 persons died and 64 were injured in the industrial city of Valencia, southwest of Caracas, the Venezuelan authorities have said.

Unofficial accounts said yesterday the deadly rush started when a shot was fired in the air as thousands of people lined up outside the venue of the event, organised by Caracas television channel Venevision.

“So far the number of persons dead is 14, while 64 others were injured,” an official said. “It is terrible what happened this afternoon in Valencia because of someone’s lack of judgement.”

He said that in the queues for the concert, “they apparently put the children in front and the adults started to push, and they weren’t concerned when those people fell down.”

He did not say as to how many children had died, but reports on RCTV put the figure at nine children at least.

Venevision, which belongs to Cuban-Venezuelan company Diego Cisneros, went ahead and broadcast the concert live from Valencia. It has declined to make an official comment on the tragedy. AFP

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USA had pinned down Osama hideout

Washington, October 22
Top American intelligence officials pinned down terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden’s location in Afghanistan in the days before the first ground assault by US military troops, says Newsweek magazine. But the “20-by-20 mile area” was so full of caves and tunnels that it was, in the words of one source, “impossible to seal.”

Newsweek reports in its latest issue that the aim of the raids was to find better intelligence so that Bin Laden and others could be attacked from the air with greater precision. “The preferred method still is dropping a bomb.”

The weekly, quoting US officials, says the ground troops during the weekend raid gathered intelligence from a complex that Taliban leader Mullah Omar has used as a base.

Newsweek had learnt that US commanders deliberately avoided targeting the compound as part of its bombing campaign so that it would remain intact as the focal point for the first ground attack.

It says the uncomfortable and dangerous work of finding people on the ground in Afghanistan will fall to the military’s various Special Operation Forces, the elite soldiers.

Major Mohammad, an Afghan helicopter pilot who recently deserted after transporting foreign terrorists and “holy warriors” in and out of the Kandahar region, told Newsweek that Bin Laden and the Taliban are linked “like head and body, all riding around in black cars and not allowing anyone to talk to them.”

Mohammad (not his real name) says much has changed in the two weeks of US air strikes that began October 7. Al-Qaida’s nerve centre in Afghanistan is in disarray, suggesting that if the terror network is to continue to be a threat, it may be up to its “sleeper” cells worldwide.

And he believes morale is low among Al-Qaida’s Taliban hosts. At least half of the 50 pilots and technicians in his unit have deserted. IANS

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Taliban vacate UN office

Islamabad, October 22
The Taliban has ended its occupation of a UN office in northern Afghanistan after its supreme leader issued a decree ordering the return of looted assets of international aid agencies, a UN official said today.

Mullah Mohammad Omar, the reclusive Taliban leader, issued the edict on Thursday instructing his followers to ensure the speedy return of looted assets of the international aid community and the office in northern Mazar-i-Sharif was swiftly returned, the official told a news conference.

“The Taliban officials who were earlier occupying the UNOCHA compound at Mazar left the compound on Saturday, minutes after receiving the copy of the latest edict of Mullah Omar,” he said. Reuters

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‘Time Out’ bags top prize at Montreal fest

Montreal, October 22
The Montreal International Festival of New Cinema and New Media awarded its top prize to “Time Out” (L’emploi du Temps) by French director Laurent Cantet.

The film, a fact-based drama, tells the tale of an unemployed man’s quest for dignity through an elaborate deceit about a job in Switzerland.

The prize for best screenplay went to “Platform” by Chinese director Jia zhang-Ke, a film about one of the hit songs Chinese youth in the early 1980s were forced to listern to in secret.

The jury’s special prize went to Canadian Inuit director Zacharias Kunuk for his film “Atanarjuat the Fast Runner.”

Nelofer Pazira took the prize for best film role in the Iranian film “Kandahar”. AFP

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