Friday, October 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

W O R L D

Exiles cold-shoulder Northern Alliance, tell aliens to leave
Demilitarise Kabul under UN, OIC
Peshawar, October 25
Afghan elders, warriors and religious leaders today demanded an end to U.S. bombing and called for a grand council headed by the deposed king to map out Afghanistan’s political future.
Leaders of various Afghan factions, including Sayed Ahmed Gillani (second from right), pray at the start of a "shura" (meeting) in Peshawar aimed at discussing the shape of a possible post-Taliban coalition.
Leaders of various Afghan factions, including Sayed Ahmed Gillani (second from right), pray at the start of a "shura" (meeting) in Peshawar aimed at discussing the shape of a possible post-Taliban coalition. — AP photo

The refugee crisis continues unabated as hopes  of an early end to the war against the Taliban  seems  even more remote.
(28k, 56k)

No Pak diktat on new Kabul set-up: Powell
Washington, October 25
Pakistan will not be allowed to dictate the composition of the post-war government in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said.


British soldiers from the Royal Engineers Regiment start work to dismantle the watch tower at Newtonhamilton in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on Thursday.

British soldiers from the Royal Engineers Regiment start work to dismantle the watch tower at Newtonhamilton in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on Thursday. Britain tore down several army posts and Northern Ireland's coalition government resumed business on Thursday as the province took further tentative steps on the path to peace. 
— Reuters

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Cluster bombs dropped on frontlines
Kabul, October 25
US warplanes dropped cluster bombs in their latest intense overnight attacks on Taliban frontlines, a militia official said today.

This Police handout shows the accident site in the Gotthard tunnel, shortly after the fire broke out, on Wednesday. At least ten people were killed in a head-on truck crash and fire in the Alpine tunnel, but officials said safety features prevented a much worse disaster.
This police handout shows the accident site in the Gotthard tunnel, shortly after the fire broke out on Wednesday. At least 10 persons were killed in a head-on truck crash and fire in the Alpine tunnel in Switzerland but officials said safety features prevented a much worse disaster. — AP/PTI

Pak may crack down on pro-Taliban bodies
Islamabad, October 25
Faced with violent protests for rejecting the bodies of Harkatul Mujahideen militants killed in Afghanistan, the Pakistan government is contemplating a crackdown on the pro-Taliban religious groups.

Second front against Taliban
Islamabad, October 25
US-backed anti-Taliban Afghan forces are gearing up to open a second front of ground attack against the ruling militia with a senior rebel Pushtoon commander, accompanied by a large force of supporters, having already crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan.

EARLIER STORIES
 
‘Laden may get away’
Washington, October 25
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the USA may not be able to catch terrorist Osama bin Laden even though he predicts the Taliban regime harbouring him in Afghanistan will be toppled.


A relative of Palestinian policeman Kamil Bargothi weeps over his body in the West Bank village of Beit Reema north of Ramallah on Thursday.
A relative of Palestinian policeman Kamil Bargothi weeps over his body in the West Bank village of Beit Reema, north of Ramallah, on Thursday. Bargothi and four other Palestinians were killed yesterday as Israeli soldiers raided the village. The Israeli army said it carried out the assault to arrest the assassins of slain Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi.— Reuters

US House okays $ 100 b stimulus package
Washington, October 25
The US House of Representatives have narrowly approved a $ 100-billion stimulus package meant to blunt the potentially devastating effects of September 11 terror strikes on Washington and New York.

Pak review of J&K policy?
New York, October 25
Significant sections of Pakistan’s elite are reconsidering Islamabad’s Kashmir policy following the September 11 and October 1 terror attacks in the USA and Kashmir, respectively, an American analyst says.

Blasts in arsenal kill 18
Pak Chong, (Thailand), Oct 25
Explosions rocked a Thai army arsenal stocked with rockets and ammunition today, killing 17 soldiers, injuring dozens of other people and forcing evacuation of a nearby town.


A video grab shows an explosion at a Thai military weapons warehouse in Pak Chong on Thursday. Seventeen persons are missing after a truck loaded with explosives blew up at a Thai military weapons warehouse on Thursday injuring about 70 persons, officials said. 
— Reuters photo

Pakistani held for NY attack dies
New York, October 25
A Pakistani detained in connection with investigations into September 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington has died in his cell in a New Jersey prison.


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Exiles cold-shoulder Northern Alliance,
tell aliens to leave
Demilitarise Kabul under UN, OIC
David Fox

Peshawar, October 25
Afghan elders, warriors and religious leaders today demanded an end to U.S. bombing and called for a grand council headed by the deposed king to map out Afghanistan’s political future.

A gathering of some 1,500 Afghans in this border city also condemned the September 11 attacks on the USA believed to have been masterminded by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden. It called on foreigners to leave Afghanistan, where Bin Laden is hiding.

The exiles also demanded that “those foreigners who add more to our miseries” leave the country — a reference to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and the mostly Arab members of the Al-Qaida terrorist group hiding in Afghanistan.

“They should not exploit any longer the hospitality of Afghans,” said a resolution passed after the two-day meeting of the Conference for Peace and National Unity.

Clad in flowing robes and turbans and sporting mobile phones in their waistbands instead of traditional daggers, the exiles made no mention of the Northern Alliance in their debate, suggesting Afghanistan’s woes may not end with the toppling of the ruling Taliban.

The Northern Alliance, helped by the U.S. offensive, say they are poised to seize the capital, Kabul.

The meeting focused on swiftly establishing a loya jirga, a traditional grand council of the country’s elders, to pave the way for a broad-based government that would operate from a demilitarised Kabul under the auspices of the United Nations and Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

It also saw a role for moderate elements of the Taliban thus satisfying Pakistan which has pressed for their inclusion in any long-term settlement.

“The prevailing crisis of Afghanistan has entered a very critical phase,” said the resolution carried by the meeting.

“Military operations carried out by the USA and its allies may cause the fall of the Taliban regime at any time which will create a political vacuum,” it said, after 19 days of U.S.-led air raids aimed at punishing the Taliban and flushing out Bin Laden.

The final declaration was read out by Pir Ahmad Gailani, the organiser of the conference and ally of former King Zahir Shah, exiled in Rome.

Although the Taliban were not officially represented, there were some officials from the hardline rulers present as well as members of other Afghan groups and parties.

Many observers saw the meeting as the formation of a “southern alliance” made up of the country’s Pashtun majority as a more credible political alternative to the northern opposition which is dominated by ethnic minority Uzbeks and Tajiks.

It certainly appeared to be dominated by exiles form Pashtun tribes from south of the Hindu Kush mountain chain that divides the poverty-stricken country, and indeed issued a veiled warning against a leading role for the Northern Alliance.

“If that (power) vacuum were filled by a particular group through military operations, it would turn to a new phase of bloodshed and disorder,” Gailani said.

“We are not excluding the Northern Alliance, but they have their business at the moment and we have ours,” said one of Gailani’s aides afterwards.

“We would welcome all participants from Afghanistan, but just because you have been fighting doesn’t mean you have the right to power. Others have been fighting in other ways.”

The Pashtuns have banked on mass defections to weaken their fellow Pashtun Taliban from within, but their efforts to win turncoats have not made much progress — partly because Afghans traditionally rally against any foreign attack as they did against the British twice in the 1800s and also to the Soviet Union more recently.

The all-male conclave endorsed the resolution in a jirga, or traditional meeting, after filing into Nishtar Hall in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Their one-page resolution outlined what they called the building blocks for a new government that could help rebuild Afghanistan. Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Former Afghan King Zahir Shah is ready to become the provisional President of war-torn Afghanistan, it was revealed yesterday.

The announcement was made by the leader of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (NIFA), Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani, who recently met the former monarch in Rome.

He said King Zahir had concurred with him that at this traditional assembly of people’s representatives, powers of the future President, fundamentals of an Islamic Constitution and a scheme for holding a general election in Afghanistan would be worked out. UNI

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No Pak diktat on new Kabul set-up: Powell

Washington, October 25
Pakistan will not be allowed to dictate the composition of the post-war government in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said.

Mr Powell told the House International Relations Committee that neither Pakistan nor any other nation would have a dominant say in Afghanistan’s post-war government.

“The next government of Afghanistan cannot be dictated into being by Pakistan,’’ Mr Powell asserted while testifying before the committee after a diplomatic mission to South Asia and China.

“It won’t work if any one country dictates what the future of the government will look like,’’ he said but emphasised a lead role for the United Nations. “The United Nations will take charge and the post-war government will be constituted in consultation with all of Afghanistan’s neighbours, and countries such as China and Russia,’’ he said.

In a written testimony, Mr Powell said the USA wants to be a part of the effort to put in “a new system, a new government for the Afghan people, a broad-based government, representing all elements of Afghan society.’’

He said some peacekeepers or others may be needed to help the new government, adding that America was working with the UN and all interested nations in that regard.

The US Secretary of State also expressed the determination to press on with the strikes until the goal was achieved of removing Taliban regime irrespective of the fast approaching winter or Ramadan.

“We are sensitive to Ramadan, but we can’t let that be the sole determinant of whether or not we continue our military activities,’’ he pointed out. UNI

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Cluster bombs dropped on frontlines

Kabul, October 25
US warplanes dropped cluster bombs in their latest intense overnight attacks on Taliban frontlines, a militia official said today.

Abdul Hanan Hemat, head of the Taliban’s Bakhtar information agency, said there were air attacks during the night on frontlines north of Kabul, including Bagram air base, and at Keshendeh and Dara-e-Souf closer to the key northern Taliban-held town of Mazar-i-Sharif.

“Cluster bombs were dropped and many have not yet exploded,” Hemat told AFP.

The fist-sized anti-personnel and armour-penetrating explosives designed to scatter across a wide area have already been reported in the western city of Herat by the UN.

At least 20 persons were killed when us warplanes dropped seven big bombs on a hamlet close to the western city of Herat, the Taliban said today.

Most of the victims were inside or had just left a mosque following prayers at sundown yesterday when the bombs struck, according to Taliban information chief Abdul Hanan Hemat.

“At least 20 persons died, maybe more,” Hemat told AFP. There was no way the incident could be independently confirmed.

Meanwhile, the Taliban militia today rejected US allegations that it was planning to poison its own people and blame the deaths on Washington, the Afghan Islamic Press reported.

Education Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said the accusation, made by the deputy operation director of the US Joint Staff, Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem, was cynical propaganda.

“No one is so cruel as to poison his own people. This is propaganda which proves that America is nervous,” he told the Pakistan-based news agency.

It called on the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to immediately dispatch an urgent delegation to inspect damage and casualties caused by US bombing.

The OIC does not recognise the Taliban, which controls most of Afghanistan. Agencies

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Pak may crack down on pro-Taliban bodies

Islamabad, October 25
Faced with violent protests for rejecting the bodies of Harkatul Mujahideen militants killed in Afghanistan, the Pakistan government is contemplating a crackdown on the pro-Taliban religious groups.

President Pervez Musharraf’s government has directed that stern action should be taken against any militant outfit involved in violence in any part of Pakistan, reports said here today.

The direction came in the wake of large-scale protests in southern city of Karachi following Islamabad’s refusal to let in the bodies of Harkat militants at the Pak-Afghan border.

General Musharraf’s presidential secretariat has sent a letter to the Interior Division. directing it to “take stern action against those organisations found involved in violence, brandishing of weapons and creating fear amongst masses,” The News said.

The Interior Ministry in Islamabad has also identified 10 militant outfits which are active in Kashmir, the paper quoting presidential secretariat sources said. The 10 outfits are Mujahideen, Harkat-ul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, Tehreek-e-Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehreek-ul-Mujahadeen, Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, National Liberation Army of JKLF and Al-Badr Mujahideen, it said.

Of the 10 organisations, Harkat-ul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad have turned out to be a major embarrassment for Islamabad after the US administration has virtually banned both of them for their alleged links with Osama bin Laden and his terrorist outfit Al-Qaeda.

The embarrassment turned acute yesterday when the bodies of eight Harkat militants, who were killed in US bombing in Kabul two days ago, were brought back to Pakistan.

The government reportedly also planned a crackdown on the sectarian groups as they were found taking part in anti-US protests.

The groups included Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar Jhangvi, Sipah Mohammed, Tehrik Fiqh-i-Jafaraia (TJP - Sajid Naqvi group), TJP (Moosvi group), Sawad-e-Azam, Lashkar Ahl-e-Bait, Tanzeemul Ikhwan and Sunni Tehrik, the paper said. PTI

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Second front against Taliban
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, October 25
US-backed anti-Taliban Afghan forces are gearing up to open a second front of ground attack against the ruling militia with a senior rebel Pushtoon commander, accompanied by a large force of supporters, having already crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan.

Abdul Haq had crossed into Afghanistan on October 21 with hundreds of well-armed supporters to mount an offensive against Taliban in eastern Nangrahar province, unconfirmed reports said.

Pakistan daily Dawn quoting Haq’s associates from Peshawar said he went towards Jalalabad with a large force. Haq is reported to have headed for Spingar mountains north of Jalalabad which divides Afghanistan’s Pakita and Nangrahar provinces.

Quoting an Afghan source, the daily said Taliban got wind of Haq’s presence in Nangrahar and mounted an operation to track him down. Their efforts so far appear to have failed, it said.

If Haq manages to open a second ground front against Taliban in Pushtoon-dominated areas in addition to the resistance stepped up by Northern Alliance forces in Northern Afghanistan, it could expedite the fall of Taliban on the ground as they have to spread out their meagre military assets, the daily said.

Forty-three-year-old Haq was previously commander of the Kabul region Haq, who later went to Dubai, returned to Pakistan this month at the instance of the USA to organise uprising and armed opposition against Taliban, Dawn said. PTI

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‘Laden may get away’

Washington, October 25
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the USA may not be able to catch terrorist Osama bin Laden even though he predicts the Taliban regime harbouring him in Afghanistan will be toppled.

“Yes, I think there will be a post-Taliban Afghanistan,” Rumsfeld told USA Today. “That is easier than finding a single person.”

Rumsfeld told the paper it will be “very difficult” to capture or kill Bin Laden.

“It’s a big world,” he said. “There are lots of countries he’s got a lot of money, he’s got a lot of people who support him and I just don’t know whether we’ll be successful. Clearly, it would be highly desirable to find him.”

But he said in any event Bin Laden’s terrorist network would carry on without him. “If he were gone tomorrow, the same problem would exist.”

His interview with USA Today appeared in today’s editions.

Meanwhile, top Pentagon officials say Afghanistan’s Taliban could be planning to poison food aid intended for the Afghan people. AP

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US House okays $ 100 b stimulus package

Washington, October 25
The US House of Representatives have narrowly approved a $ 100-billion stimulus package meant to blunt the potentially devastating effects of September 11 terror strikes on Washington and New York.

The Republican-led House passed the measure yesterday, which focuses on tax cuts and investment incentives, by a razor-thin 216-214 margin, setting the stage for a battle with the Democratic-controlled Senate that is likely to shrink the total amount.

US President George W. Bush, whose top economic aides have said the plan is too expensive, earlier called on the Congress to approve a new round of tax cuts for businesses and low and middle income households.

“Part of the war we fight is to make sure that our economy continues to grow,” Mr Bush said as he championed the blend of tax rebates and cuts as well as investment incentives at a printing plant in nearby Glen Burnie , Maryland. AFP

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Pak review of J&K policy?
Ela Dutt

New York, October 25
Significant sections of Pakistan’s elite are reconsidering Islamabad’s Kashmir policy following the September 11 and October 1 terror attacks in the USA and Kashmir, respectively, an American analyst says.

Other experts see the South Asian situation in the wake of the US-led military operations against Afghanistan as “highly unstable” and the “outcome of American involvement uncertain.”

Anatol Lievin, senior associate at Carnegie Endowment and former correspondent for The Times, London, saw a distinct shift in thinking within the Pakistani elite regarding Kashmir.

Lieven, who has just returned from a two-week research trip to Pakistan, told IANS: “A significant section of the Pakistani elite is admitting that the Kashmir policy had been wrongheaded.”

He apparently gleaned this from his talks with many leading policymakers, intellectuals and military brass, including former Foreign Minister Humayun Khan and former Army General Talat Mahmood.

“They (their opinions) could help in the cutback in support to Jaish-e-Mohammed,” Lieven said, referring to the Pakistan-based terror group that had claimed responsibility for the October 1 attack in Srinagar and whose assets were subsequently frozen by Washington.

“It’s obviously a very fluid situation and anybody who says they are clear about where things are headed is giving nothing better than an educated guess,” said Michael Krepon, director of the Washington-based Henry L. Stimson Centre, a thinktank that has been closely involved with conflict resolution in South Asia.

India could not at this present juncture hope to become Washington’s “closest ally,” said Lieven, who believes it is the agenda of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Washington visit at President George W. Bush’s invitation on November 9.

But Krepon said: “A lot of very senior leaders are coming to Washington and we are going abroad. It makes perfect sense for the prime minister to swing by. Vajapyee’s visit is mainly to reinforce the (Indo-US) relationship.”

Leiven said India’s desire to be a major player was not possible currently. “India can’t help at this time. It can only make things worse. It cannot be a frontline state (against Afghanistan’s Taliban). That could lead to more antagonism within Pakistan and lead to catastrophe,” he said.

There is little chance of talks, he said, based on Vajpayee’s statements Tuesday ruling out a meeting with President Pervez Musharraf until Pakistan stopped backing cross-border terrorism. US Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters the same day: “Obviously, there is tension between India and Pakistan still. ...They cannot let it get out of control. The stakes are too high.”

Krepon said while it was in New Delhi’s and Islamabad’s interest to hold back on skirmishes on the Line of Control, the ceasefire line dividing Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan, “the wildcard is the jehadis.”

“I believe the message is getting through to Pakistan that if you are complicit in helping people get across, you are also complicit in what happens on the other side. The message has gone from the US towards the end of the Clinton administration and being conveyed privately by the Bush administration,” he added IANS

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Blasts in arsenal kill 18

Pak Chong, (Thailand), Oct 25
Explosions rocked a Thai army arsenal stocked with rockets and ammunition today, killing 17 soldiers, injuring dozens of other people and forcing evacuation of a nearby town.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the explosions, which destroyed at least eight of the 44 warehouses in the compound in northeastern Thailand, appeared to be an accident.

The explosions were continuing eight hours after the first 9 a.m. blast at the 160-hectare arsenal, located in Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima province, 150 km from the capital, Bangkok.

Interior Minister Purachai Piemsomboon, who visited the scene, said he had received a report that 17 bodies had been seen inside the destroyed camp, but only one had been recovered so far, from a guardhouse near the gate. It was unclear how many people might be missing.

Another man, a civilian, was reported dead of heart attack suffered in hospital when he heard the blasts, which raised huge clouds of fire and smoke into the sky.

More than 10,000 residents of Pak Chong, a town 3-5 km from the camp, were evacuated to temporary shelters 20 km from the site. AP

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Pakistani held for NY attack dies

New York, October 25
A Pakistani detained in connection with investigations into September 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington has died in his cell in a New Jersey prison.

After the autopsy, the officials said yesterday that 55-year-old Muhammed Butt died of natural causes and his death was related to heart condition.

Butt was held on immigration charges, a device that the authorities use to keep a material witness or suspect or someone needed for interrogation in prison without formally charging him while they complete investigation.

FBI and Immigration Department officials said Butt was detained on immigration charges after the September 11 incident and they have informed the Pakistan consulate about his death as he had no known family members here. PTI

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