Sunday, November 11, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Maran feels coerced by new WTO round
Doha, November 10
Commerce and Industry Minister Murasoli Maran today charged the World Trade Organisation with coercing India into accepting the new round of trade negotiations and warned the developed nations not to undermine the global unity, following the September 11 attacks on the USA, by splitting the WTO membership.

WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
Who will pay for Musharraf’s follies?
Pakistan’s mainline newspapers are very angry with America, It is not only the bombing of Afghanistan but the way the USA has treated Pakistan over the last three to four decades. There is not a single newspaper which has not taken the fair weather friend to task.

Australian PM claims poll victory 
Sydney, November 10
Australian Prime Minister John Howard claimed victory on Saturday in a general election in which voters firmly backed his stand against allowing rising numbers of desperate boat people into the country.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard celebrates winning the federal election in Sydney on Saturday as his daughter Melanie looks on. —Reuters

Anthrax cases in 4 more US post offices
Trenton (US), November 10
Four more US postal facilities in New Jersey have tested positive for anthrax, all of them served by a Trenton mail-processing and distribution centre known to have handled anthrax-laden letters, officials said.

Officials in New Jersey announced that four more post offices have tested positive for anthrax contamination.
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An Abu Dhabi television crew has been taken to the only hospital in Kandahar to see civilians allegedly injured in US-led bombing raids.
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EARLIER STORIES
 

Clashes between anti-government protesters and the police have continued in Pakistan and a funeral service was held for one of four pro-Taliban protesters killed by the police.
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Pak groups give call for another protest
Islamabad, November 10
A grouping of pro-Taliban Islamic radical parties in Pakistan — the Afghan Defence Council — today gave another call for a countrywide protest to express solidarity with Afghans and condemn the US-led air-raids on Afghanistan.
Mr Liaqat Baluch, deputy chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, told reporters in Islamabad that the protest would be held on November 16.

Five Laden men held in France
Paris, November 10
Five Algerians thought to belong to one of Osama bin Laden’s extreme Islamic groups have been arrested in Strasbourg for allegedly preparing attacks on targets in the eastern city including its famous cathedral, Europe 1 radio reported today.
The five were arrested yesterday and taken to Paris, where they were being held in custody, the radio said

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Maran feels coerced by new WTO round

Doha, November 10
Commerce and Industry Minister Murasoli Maran today charged the World Trade Organisation with coercing India into accepting the new round of trade negotiations and warned the developed nations not to undermine the global unity, following the September 11 attacks on the USA, by splitting the WTO membership.

Delivering a hard-hitting speech at the ongoing Doha ministerial conference, Mr Maran said the developing countries were not being given much say in setting the agenda of the WTO. “It appears that the whole process was a mere formality and we are being coerced against our will,” he said.

He warned that the global unity in fight against terrorism, following attacks on the USA, could also be undermined if a split was created among the WTO members. “The global unity achieved in the wake of the most unfortunate and tragic event of September 11 should not be undermined by proposing an agenda that would split the WTO membership,” the leader of the Indian delegation said.

Strongly opposing the inclusion of new issues like investment, competition, transparency in government procurement, the Commerce and Industry Minister said the Doha conference should instead give an impetus to the ongoing negotiations on agriculture and services.

“Considering the critical dependence on agriculture by large rural populations in developing countries, we need to adequately provide for their food and livelihood security and for promoting rural development,” he said.

“Similarly in services, facilitating the movement of professionals, must receive priority attention,” he added.

Asking the WTO not to infringe on the sovereign rights of the national governments, Mr Maran said globalisation and liberalisation have to be addressed at various fora and not in the multilateral organisation alone.

“The WTO is not a global government and should not attempt to appropriate to itself what legitimately falls in the domain of national governments and parliaments,” he said.

The asymmetries and imbalances in the Uruguay Round agreements, non-realisation of anticipated benefits and non-operational and non-binding nature of special and differential provisions have been the basis for implementation issues and concerns raised by a large number of developing countries, right from 1998.

The draft decision on implementation issues and concerns has addressed some issues but left many more unresolved. “Even among those addressed, the manner of resolution has left many gaps,” Mr Maran said.

India is ready to join a consensus in favour of adopting the decision on implementation related areas as a package, he said.

He reiterated the Indian position that the final declaration of the ministerial conference, the highest policy-making body of the WTO, should keep the needs and interests of developing countries as the central theme of its future activities.

In relation to market access, even after all the Uruguay Round concessions have been implemented by industrialised countries, significant trade barriers in the form of tariff peaks and tariff escalation continue to affect many exports of the developing countries.

“Moreover, sensitive industries in developing countries, including small scale industries sustaining a large labour force cannot be allowed to be destroyed,” he said.

New issues or new agreements would extract new prices and the developing countries were not prepared for the same. Negotiations for agreements on several new areas are being proposed even while the study process is on.

In the areas of investment, competition, trade facilitation or transparency in government procurement, basic questions remain on the very need for a multilateral agreement. Mr Maran firmly opposed linkages between trade and labour standards. “The Singapore declaration had once and for all dealt with this issue and there is no need to refer to it again,” he added.

India is also strongly opposed to the use of environment for protectionist purposes and to the imposition of unilateral trade restrictive measures. “We consider them as Trojan horses of protectionism,” he said. UNI

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WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
Who will pay for Musharraf’s follies?
Gobind Thukral

Pakistan’s mainline newspapers are very angry with America, It is not only the bombing of Afghanistan but the way the USA has treated Pakistan over the last three to four decades. There is not a single newspaper which has not taken the fair weather friend to task. While The Nation in its editorial comments has warned Pakistani leadership not to fall at the feet of the only super power, which has lead over 2,000 sorties and bombed Afghanistan heavily during the past one month, but was siding with the Northern Alliance. This would ultimately go against the strategic interests of Pakistan.

Some have expressed the fear that the USA would abandon Pakistan in the future as it had done earlier once it establishes itself in Afghanistan.

But it has been left to noted columnist Ayaz Amir in Dawn to sum up the mood among the intellectuals and the middle class. He quoted Horace to say,” Brute force bereft of reason falls by its own weight. Power with counsel tempered even the gods make greater; but might which in its soul is bent on all impiety, they hate.”

He said,” If this was a war on terror then it should have begun from Israel, the dagger of terror planted in the heart of the Arab world and held in place by help from the USA. But since it is nothing of the kind and from New York’s Twin Towers, or rather their rubble, it has leapfrogged straight to Afghanistan — on a body of circumstantial evidence that would fail to convince even a drinking judge of a county court — it becomes valid to ingly tiresome, rhetoric and the half-truths it is expecting the rest of the world to swallow.”

Amir’s comments run like this: “If this was a war on terror what about the US’s own record in this field? What a shining list of scumbags the US has supported in Asia, Africa and Latin America, all in the name of freedom and the fight against communism. The Trujillos, Somozas and Batistas signified the kind of ruler the US was happiest with. No matter how corrupt and tyrannical, they were kosher, and high in American esteem, so long as they played lackey to US interests. The expression banana republic comes from the Caribbean and denotes the kind of dependent and compliant state the US favoured.

“What was Fidel Castro’s great crime? Cuba was no threat to the US. The very idea is laughable. The US just could not tolerate a regime 90 miles off its coastline that had the temerity to stand up to it. Havana was a playland and a brothel for America’s rich. Castro put an end to that and took Cuba out of the American orbit, an act of audacity for which the US has never forgiven him. He wasn’t even a communist to begin with, but became one as a response to American hostility.

“What was the Bay of Pigs except an exercise in naked terror? It was an invasion of Cuba by an army of Cuban exiles armed and funded by the CIA. The Reagan administration broke American laws to provide funds and arms to the Contra rebels (or terrorists) it helped put up against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. This list can go on and on. The overthrow of Mosssadegh in Iran, Lumumba’s killing in the Congo, the brutalization and naked terror practised by the US in Vietnam, the totally pointless war foisted on Cambodia (from which that country has yet to recover), and training and funding the same Arabs and Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan during the eighties whom the US is now attempting to destroy. Those idealists who consider the US as the land of hope and liberty should consider the US record in Latin America and the third world before getting wet-eyed on this score. Now we are witnessing another exercise in muscle-flexing in the name of freedom — this time Enduring Freedom. The irony surrounding this venture is thicker than the bombs falling on Afghanistan.”

Ayaz Amir’s other arguments too are weighty. But how come many newspapers and their celebrated or not-so-celebrated columnists are saying it now. How about the time when Pakistan played a dirty role in Afghanistan at the bidding of the master as a frontline state. Yet it is interesting to read this much read columnist.

He wrote, “when democracy and the rule of law at home should not be confused with unprincipled conduct abroad. European colonialists abided by rules at home which they discarded as soon as they left their shores. So it has been always: one law for Rome, another for the barbarians vanquished by Rome. So it is with the new imperium: a different light shining from the Statue of Liberty, a different morality beamed at the outside world.”

Other newspapers added their own arguments like this. “After 50 years of supporting the politics of terrorism in the Middle East, and of exporting CIA-led terror elsewhere across the globe, the US is alight with uncontrolled indignation because the unimaginable has occurred and it too has been struck by terrorism.”

Like the Cyclops Polyphemus whose eye was taken out by Odysseus, the US is going about like a wounded giant and will not be appeased unless it has had its revenge. But revenge on whom? The trail leading from the Twin Towers to bin Laden is unclear but has been seized upon by the USA because it is the only one available. And because bin Laden and the Taliban are easy targets to demonize.

To this Amir has added his own argument. He says,” One does not have to be a Taliban supporter to point out the iniquity of what the US is doing. At issue is not what the Taliban stand for or what their attitude to women is but the death and destruction raining down on the hapless people of Afghanistan. Nothing in the world can justify this and those bleeding hearts who underscore the retrogressive nature of the Taliban’s policies are only confusing the issue.”

The mood is summed up and the concern of an average Pakistani expressed who, of course, is not the concern of its rulers. They have a different ball game. “Is it not plain to see what is happening in Afghanistan? A humanitarian catastrophe is looming on the horizon but the ‘civilized world’ whose way of life came under threat on September 11 views different objects through different spectacles. Afghanistan is not part of the civilized world, or at least of none that a US President who looks smaller than the cosmic role he is trying to play would readily recognize. So it is all right to apply different standards there. The UN has been a US mistress since the Gulf War. So it is foolish expecting comfort from that quarter.

But even the UNHCR and its risible chief, Luubers of the Netherlands, are playing politics with the plight of the Afghans.”

“Even so, Pakistan’s role is the strangest in this dance of death over the skies of Afghanistan. Even if the doubtful proposition is accepted that we had no choice except to bow to American wishes, what necessity of circumstance or loss of shame drives us to be more loyal than the king?” This is how the columnist summed up his argument. Clearly with loud voices like this General Musharraf’s troubles are increasing with each passing day. Pakistan is in for political instability.

“Now General Musharraf is on his way to New York to be feted by President Bush on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. We can only keep our fingers crossed. It doesn’t take much for a Pakistani leader to be swept off his feet. A bit of extra cosseting and someone who in his native setting looks every inch a stern defender of the national interest is changed instantly into a plate of pudding. It is the nation which ends up paying the bill for this transformation.” So warned the newspapers.

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Australian PM claims poll victory 

Sydney, November 10
Australian Prime Minister John Howard claimed victory on Saturday in a general election in which voters firmly backed his stand against allowing rising numbers of desperate boat people into the country.

“I cannot express to you the sense of honour and privilege I feel in once again being elected as Prime Minister of the greatest country in the world,” Howard told jubilant party faithful in the ballroom of a Sydney hotel.

“My resolve, my commitment, my dedication is to the service of the Australian people in the years ahead.”

Howard’s conservative Liberal/National coalition won a third consecutive term with vote counting showing a swing of at least 2 per cent towards the government.

Centre-left opposition Labour needed a swing of just 0.8 per cent nationally to win office after losing narrowly in 1998.

The majority of ballots cast by Australia’s 12.6 million voters had been counted in the populous eastern states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, with counting still going in Western Australia state.

Howard had appeared unelectable six months ago but fought a successful campaign based on stopping illegal boat people from entering Australia.

The move bolstered his flagging support, as did his staunch support for US-led strikes against Afghanistan.

Labour backed Howard’s boat people stand but also tried to focus attention on domestic issues like health, education and jobs. Reuters

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Anthrax cases in 4 more US post offices

Trenton (US), November 10
Four more US postal facilities in New Jersey have tested positive for anthrax, all of them served by a Trenton mail-processing and distribution centre known to have handled anthrax-laden letters, officials said.

A US Postal Service spokesman in Washington told Reuters yesterday that the potentially deadly bacteria was found at post offices in Palmer Square, Rocky Hill, Trenton Station E and Jackson.

Dr George DiFerdinando, acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, said at a news conference the four were isolated anthrax samples probably caused by cross-contamination from mail at the regional facility outside Trenton in Hamilton township.

“These findings represent in our opinion that these workers are very low risk for developing inhalation or cutaneous anthrax,’’ DiFerdinando said. “We have not recommended preventive antibiotics for any of these workers although several hundred of them selected to take antibiotics at the time the facilities were sampled.’’

The four sites had all been served by the now closed Trenton facility, which has been at the epicentre of anthrax outbreaks responsible for five confirmed and two suspected anthrax cases in New Jersey.

All but one of the seven cases are postal workers, and state public health officials have said they believe all were infected by mail that moved through the Hamilton facility.

The Hamilton site processed three anthrax-laden letters sent to US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw and the New York Post.

Anthrax has already turned up at two other facilities: the Princeton Main Post Office in West Windsor and a second regional processing and distribution centre in Bellmawr, outside Philadelphia. In both cases, investigators said they believed contaminated mail from Hamilton was to blame.

According to official figures, 17 persons have been diagnosed with anthrax in the USA since early last month, and four of those have died in what US President George W Bush has called a second wave of terrorism since the September 11 attacks against America.

About 20 US postal facilities have tested positive for anthrax, and thousands of postal workers are taking preventive antibiotics. Reuters 

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Pak groups give call for another protest

Islamabad, November 10
A grouping of pro-Taliban Islamic radical parties in Pakistan — the Afghan Defence Council — today gave another call for a countrywide protest to express solidarity with Afghans and condemn the US-led air-raids on Afghanistan.

Mr Liaqat Baluch, deputy chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, told reporters in Islamabad that the protest would be held on November 16.

“The council has decided to continue its struggle to force (President Pervez) Musharraf’s government to change its Afghan policy,” Mr Baluch said. He accused the Pakistan Government of resorting to “dirty tactics to foil our peaceful campaign” yesterday. DPA

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Five Laden men held in France

Paris, November 10
Five Algerians thought to belong to one of Osama bin Laden’s extreme Islamic groups have been arrested in Strasbourg for allegedly preparing attacks on targets in the eastern city including its famous cathedral, Europe 1 radio reported today.

The five were arrested yesterday and taken to Paris, where they were being held in custody, the radio said.

The men had trained in Afghanistan before being sent to France, apparently to set up an operational cell which was to have planned a large-scale attack on Strasbourg at the end of last year, Europe 1 said.

Their planned targets included Strasbourg cathedral and the city’s Christmas market. AFP

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