Monday, November 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Zahir Shah to join Loya Jirga
London, November 18
Expressing his serious concern over possible breakout of faction fights in Afghanistan, exiled King Zahir Shah says he will return to Kabul soon, simply to be a member of the Loya Jirga (council of tribal elders) rather than the king.

Osama hiding ‘130 km east of Kandahar’
Trail for mastermind narrows down
London, November 18
The Sunday Times said British and US special forces had narrowed search for Osama bin Laden to a 78-sq km area in southeastern Afghanistan.

Laden’s school of terror
Jalalabad (Afghanistan), November 18
From the outside, the mudbrick building set in orchards looks like an ordinary Afghan school. Inside the classroom, spent bullet casings and a silhouetted target riddled with gunfire tell a different story.

Freeze assets of ultras: G-20
Ottawa, November 18
Strengthening the global crackdown on funds for terrorism, top finance officials from industrialised and developing countries including India have adopted an action plan calling on each G-20 member to freeze the assets of terrorists and their associates and close their access to the international financial system.

Yashwant Sinha Chairman of the World Bank Development Committee, Yashwant Sinha, the Minister of Finance for India, left, shakes hands with James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, prior to the meeting of the Development Committee of the World Bank in Ottawa on Monday.
— Reuters photo

Russian forces for Kabul
Moscow, November 18
Russia is sending its special forces to Afghanistan to help capture Osama bin Laden and members of his Al-Qaida network, a Russian Defence Ministry source said. “Russian special forces and several units of the 201st division stationed in Tajikstan are being despatched to Afghanistan,” the source told IANS.


Burhanuddin Rabbani returns to Kabul after a little more than five years.
(28k)
Preparations are underway for the opening of the Iranian Embassy in the war-battered Afghan Capital.
(28k, 56k)


Separated at birth

Nepalese nurses hold Ganga (front) and Jamuna Shrestha, the Nepali twin girls whose fused heads were separated in a record four-day Singapore operation last April, after they arrived at Kathmandu airport on Sunday.
Nepalese nurses hold Ganga (front) and Jamuna Shrestha, the Nepali twin girls whose fused heads were separated in a record four-day Singapore operation last April, after they arrived at Kathmandu airport on Sunday. The twins returned to Nepal after recovering from surgery in Singapore to separate their fused skulls and intertwined brains.
— Reuters


EARLIER STORIES

 
Emperor penguins
Emperor penguins make their first walk in this winter season at the Zurich Zoo, Switzerland, on Saturday. This is a regular visitor’s attraction at the zoo.
— AP

Miss India USA 2001
Miss Florida India Stacy Issac won Miss India USA 2001 title at a beauty pageant held at Union County Arts Center in New Jersey on Saturday. Photo shows Miss India USA Ritu Upadhyay crowning Miss Stacy Issac as Miss India USA 2001 and at left, first runners up Miss Uzma Enaya Tulla. The 20th Miss India USA was organised by the India Festival Committee of Dharmatama Saran. Thirtytwo girls from all over USA participated in the pageant. — PTI 

Plan to deploy British forces put on hold
London/Kabul, November 18
The UK yesterday signalled its grave concern about the dangers facing the coalition forces in Afghanistan as heavily armed warring factions demanded that foreign troops ‘get off our sovereign soil’.

2 Tigers held for airbase attack
Colombo, November 18
Sri Lankan detectives have managed to dig out most details of the plot behind the LTTE’s deadly attack on the main air force base on July 24, arresting two LTTE men who allegedly masterminded it and about a 100 others who aided it.

Lack of evidence ‘helped’ Nadeem
London, November 18
Lack of adherence to strict procedure and evidence in Britain was the cause of India’s failure to get the extradition of Bollywood music director Nadeem Akhtar Saifi to stand trial in the Gulshan Kumar murder case, a leading London-based Indian barrister has said.

Another honour for Swraj Paul
London, November 18
Moscow University has decided to confer a Doctorate on the leading NRI industrialist, Lord Swraj Paul.

Plan to educate Gujarat kids
London, November 18
A scheme to educate 100 children of poor widows in Gujarat will be formally launched in Ahmedabad on November 20, as part of the effort by a London-based trust to educate 3,500 such students all over India for five years.


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Zahir Shah to join Loya Jirga

London, November 18
Expressing his serious concern over possible breakout of faction fights in Afghanistan, exiled King Zahir Shah says he will return to Kabul soon, simply to be a member of the Loya Jirga (council of tribal elders) rather than the king.

“I am ready to sacrifice my health, my time and whatever is left of my life to serve my nation,” the 87-year-old former monarch said in an interview published in The Sunday Telegraph today.

“The situation in my country is very grave,” Zahir Shah said in French that was the language of his court. “When I see the pictures on television or I am on the phone with the commanders, I still foresee a lot of difficulty.”

His son-in-law and former commander Gen Abdul Wali explained his father-in-law’s concern.

“The Northern Alliance had promised us that they would stop at the northern gates of Kabul to give others in the south time to move. But they did not stop,” he said. “I asked them why they didn’t keep the agreement, but different individuals give different answers,” he added.

“We’re not judging anyone, just saying a promise is normally something you keep. Obviously the king is very concerned because he fears fighting might break out between factions and cause more casualties to innocent civilians. It would be very wrong to drag the Afghan people into ethnic confrontation.”

The fear is that having taken control of the capital, the Northern Alliance, which comprises minority Tajiks and Uzbeks, will not allow fair representation for the Pashtoons, the majority tribe to which the king belongs and which has ruled the country for the past 300 years.

The king has written to Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, asking for a peacekeeping force in Kabul to allow the convening of a Loya Jirga, a traditional assembly of hundreds of tribal leaders , to choose a head of state.

Over the past few days numerous Pashtoon commanders have telephoned the king’s office, saying that they have captured territory and asking him what to do with it. “We have had calls from 27 provinces and they all want to know when the king is coming,” said his grandson, Mustafa Zahir Shah.

A reluctant monarch, Zahir Shah becoming king in 1933 at 19 after his father was assassinated, Zahir Shah was deposed in 1973 when his cousin, Daoud, seized power in a coup. The king was in Italy at the time recovering from an eye operation. He was sent a message telling him not to come back. His family was imprisoned.

Zahir Shah was a pro-Western modern king who travelled widely in Europe and America. His reign is remembered as a time of relative stability when women in Kabul wore mini-skirts and make up, though few would term it a time of great progress. Reuters, PTI
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Osama hiding ‘130 km east of Kandahar’
Trail for mastermind narrows down

London, November 18
The Sunday Times said British and US special forces had narrowed search for Osama bin Laden to a 78-sq km area in southeastern Afghanistan.

It said the troops had been lifted by helicopter to the southern approach to the area, near the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, to prevent Bin Laden from escaping into nearby Pakistan.

Meanwhile, a senior official of the Northern Alliance said Osama bin Laden is hiding 130 km east of Kandahar.

Qanooni dismissed claims by Abdul Salam Zaeef, Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, that Bin Laden was no longer in areas under the Islamic militia’s control.

“The Taliban are trying to cheat the international community so that they will stop the aerial bombardments,” Qanooni told AFP.

“According to my information, Bin Laden is still at Maruf in Kandahar province, some 130 km east of Kandahar city. He has training camps there and strong underground bunkers.”

The location given by Qanooni for Bin Laden is the most precise provided so far by an official on the ground in Afghanistan.

Earlier, Zaeef told the Afghan Islamic Press that Bin Laden was no longer under the protection of Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed British defence intelligence source as saying Bin Laden was believed to be “static” somewhere to the southeast of Kandahar.

“For a variety of reasons we can be confident that he has not been able to move far,” the source was quoted as saying.

The Sunday Telegraph, meanwhile, quoted civilians it said had escaped from the besieged northern city of Kunduz as saying a non-Afghan commander of Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda fighters had ordered the execution of 150 Afghan Taliban troops there. Reuters, AFP
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Laden’s school of terror

Jalalabad (Afghanistan), November 18
From the outside, the mudbrick building set in orchards looks like an ordinary Afghan school.

Inside the classroom, spent bullet casings and a silhouetted target riddled with gunfire tell a different story.

Here, local residents said, is where some 30-40 children of the foreign fighters who form the backbone of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network were taught to shoot straight.

Below the school, built on a rocky outcrop, lie vegetable patches and the houses, now looted, where the fighters lived with their families.

“This is Osama’s centre. These are people of Osama’s centre. The families were living here and this is the school for their children,” a local resident, Baz Mohammad, said as he showed a visiting reporter round the school yesterday.

“And this is the target where they trained their children to use Kalashnikovs and other weapons,” Mohammad said, glancing over his shoulder at the wooden target with a black silhouette stencilled onto it.

The wall against which it has been set is also pock-marked with bullet holes.

Jalalabad, some 75 km from the Pakistani border, was known as a centre of the training camps used by Saudi-born militant Bin Laden and his shadowy al Qaeda guerrilla network, suspected by Washington of having carried out the devastating September 11 attacks on the USA.

The foreign fighters fled with their families after a shootout with the forces of the opposition, which took the eastern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday following several weeks of heavy US bombardment.

Muslim militants from the Philippines to Chechnya, from Pakistan to West Asia, heeded Bin Laden’s call to wage jihad, or holy war, and came in their thousands to Afghanistan to train in weapons and bomb-making in a string of remote camps under the protection of the Taliban.

Several thousand foreign fighters are believed to be among the thousands of Taliban defending the northern town of Kunduz, one of the few remaining pockets of Taliban control. Reuters
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Freeze assets of ultras: G-20
T.V. Parasuram

Riot police spray protesters with a water hose as they rush the gate outside the G-20 summit in downtown Ottawa on Saturday.
Riot police spray protesters with a water hose as they rush the gate outside the G-20 summit in downtown Ottawa on Saturday. — AP photo

Ottawa, November 18
Strengthening the global crackdown on funds for terrorism, top finance officials from industrialised and developing countries including India have adopted an action plan calling on each G-20 member to freeze the assets of terrorists and their associates and close their access to the international financial system.

The action plan, adopted at the end of the two-day annual meeting of the Group of 20 countries here yesterday, also asked the members to cooperate with international bodies to implement standards to combat abuses of the financial system including finances for terrorism and money-laundering, which the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, had suggested.

Addressing the meeting of G-20 Finance Ministers, Mr Sinha stressed the need for a “united, comprehensive and truly global action” to choke funds for terrorists, saying that the plan should include prompt action.

“Every single member of the G-20, without exception, has signed on to that action plan,” the Canadian Finance Minister, Mr Paul Martin, who chaired the meeting, told a news conference.

He said the members agreed to take action to block financing by groups such as Al-Qaida led by Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the USA.

“The barbarous attacks on the USA were attacks on all of us intended to shake the global economic confidence and security. We will ensure that these efforts fail,” said a communique issued at the end of the meeting. “We are committed to combating terrorism by cutting off its financial sources. There should be no safe haven for the financing of terrorism. To this end, we have agreed on an Action Plan to deny terrorists and their associates access to our financial systems. We call on other countries to take similar steps,” the communique said.

The G-20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, the USA and the European Union plus the IMF and the World Bank.

“We are confident that the attacks of September 11 will not undermine our future economic prospects. We have taken policy actions to maintain liquidity and stabilise markets. We stand ready to take additional actions as necessary,” they said.

“We accepted the generous invitation of India’s Finance Minister Sinha to hold our 2002 meeting at New Delhi,” they added. PTI
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Russian forces for Kabul
Arun Mohanty

Moscow, November 18
Russia is sending its special forces to Afghanistan to help capture Osama bin Laden and members of his Al-Qaida network, a Russian Defence Ministry source said.

“Russian special forces and several units of the 201st division stationed in Tajikstan are being despatched to Afghanistan,” the source told IANS.

Russia has all along maintained it will not send troops into Afghanistan following a bitter military campaign that ended with their withdrawal in 1989.

The size of the force and equipment mobilised for the purpose indicate Moscow is contemplating conducting its own special operations to capture Bin Laden and other terrorist leaders.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement said: “A Russian delegation headed by special ambassador Alexander Oblov left for Kabul for conducting negotiations with the leadership of the Islamic state of Afghanistan and representatives of different ethnic groups of that country.”

The delegation would talk to deputy special emissary of United Nations F. Vendrel, US representatives and other countries of the anti-terrorist coalition in order to “work out common positions on political disposition in Afghanistan.”

Questions concerning urgent supplies of humanitarian aid to Afghans would also be discussed.

The Russian delegation comprises officials from the Defence Ministry, emergency situation ministry and other ministries and departments.

The Northern Alliance, backed mainly by Russia and India, controls more than 80 per cent Afghan territory at present and its leader Burhanuddin Rabbani has declared himself President of Afghanistan after the Taliban fled from Kabul.

Rabbani, in an attempt to consolidate his power, has said exiled former king Zahir Shah, backed by the USA, may come back home but can have no stake in a new government in Afghanistan. IANS
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Plan to deploy British forces put on hold
Kamal Ahmed & Chris Stephen

London/Kabul, November 18
The UK yesterday signalled its grave concern about the dangers facing the coalition forces in Afghanistan as heavily armed warring factions demanded that foreign troops ‘get off our sovereign soil’.

In a series of developments which showed that war in Afghanistan was in danger of slipping into a diplomatic and military chaos, a senior government source revealed yesterday that situation on ground was ‘pretty grim’ and that a contingent of 6,000 British troops might now not be deployed in Kabul.

As fighting continued throughout parts of the country still under the Taliban’s control, the source said that the group of 100 troops, including members of the Special Boat Squadron, already in the capital could be pulled out as tribal warlords started carving up the country, demanding bribes from locals, killing captured Taliban soldiers and looting property from civilians.

“It sounds pretty dangerous,” the source, who is closely involved in Britain’s military planning in the area, said. If they have completed their work we will pull them out. We are not keeping them there for the sake of it.

The Northern Alliance warlords, competing for supremacy as the country drifts into a political vacuum, said that the British forces had never been invited and that they would not allow a large force in to secure the key airstrip at Bagram on the outskirts of the capital.

Special forces were also said to be in the mountains carrying out search-and-destroy missions on al-Qaeda troops.

Yesterday Engineer Arif, the Alliance’s deputy intelligence chief and a senior figure in the organisation, said the troops had arrived without proper consultations and that only 15 could stay to undertake ‘humanitarian tasks’.

Hours later Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Alliance’s Foreign Minister, said there was no agreement on enlarging the force.

The news comes as a significant blow to efforts to put humanitarian systems in place before the snows of winter set in. Without an operating airfield, large drops of food or peace-keeping forces will not be possible.

It now seems clear that plans to put a large contingent of British troops on the ground in Afghanistan has been put on hold. Sources said any deployment was not imminent.

The arrival in Afghanistan of the government’s special envoy Stephen Evans has also been delayed.

‘It has to be dependent on the situation on the ground, how that evolves and crucially whether we can get them (British troops) in safely,’ the source said.

‘We are certainly not going to put them in and take risks with them.’ He said individuals who had set their face against the arrival of the coalition forces could wreak havoc.

‘You have to bear in mind that a single Taliban with a shoulder-launched missile, hiding not too far off that runway, could cause a massive problem,’ he said. The Observer, London
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2 Tigers held for airbase attack

Colombo, November 18
Sri Lankan detectives have managed to dig out most details of the plot behind the LTTE’s deadly attack on the main air force base on July 24, arresting two LTTE men who allegedly masterminded it and about a 100 others who aided it.

The arrests of Pushpakumar, a well-trained black Tiger rebel who coordinated the operation, and Victor Dominic, who assisted him in preparations, and unearthing of all details of the plot, make this the most remarkable investigation in the CID’s history, Sunday Times said today.

In a shocking revelation, the police has found that an opening in the perimeter fence around the Katunayake air base, through which the suicide squad gained entry, was made by some airmen themselves to sneak out to meet their girlfriends.

“The path of horror was made by love-struck airmen themselves,” the weekly newspaper said in an exhaustive account of the painstaking probe. PTI
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Lack of evidence ‘helped’ Nadeem 

London, November 18
Lack of adherence to strict procedure and evidence in Britain was the cause of India’s failure to get the extradition of Bollywood music director Nadeem Akhtar Saifi to stand trial in the Gulshan Kumar murder case, a leading London-based Indian barrister has said.

The House of Lords had turned down an appeal by the Government of India seeking a review of the London High Court decision against his extradition.

The High Court had ordered that Nadeem be “discharged forthwith in relation to the offences in respect of which his return is sought by Union of India.” The court also awarded a cost of 920,080 pounds to Nadeem towards his legal expenses.

Mr Bhasker Ghorpade, Barrister-at-Law, said in an interview that many of the statements disclosed in the Nadeem case were taken in Hindi or Marathi.

“In such a case procedure here requires expert evidence of translation. There was no such evidence. Without translations in admissible form, the judge had no evidence before him upon which to find a prima facie case against Nadeem,” he said. PTI
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Another honour for Swraj Paul

London, November 18
Moscow University has decided to confer a Doctorate on the leading NRI industrialist, Lord Swraj Paul.

The university, which bestowed a similar honour on Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during his recent visit to Russia, said Lord Paul would be made ‘‘an Honorary Doctor of the State University of Management.’’

Lord Paul, Chairman of the 500-million-pound Caparo Group and Chancellor of Wolverhampton University in the UK, will be awarded the degree at a ceremony to be held some time early next year. PTI
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Plan to educate Gujarat kids

London, November 18
A scheme to educate 100 children of poor widows in Gujarat will be formally launched in Ahmedabad on November 20, as part of the effort by a London-based trust to educate 3,500 such students all over India for five years.

Of the 100 children, 50 are chosen from Bhuj who are victims of the recent devastating earthquake and the rest from Ahmedabad and other areas in the state, Chairman of Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba Memorial Trust in the UK, Mr Raj Loomba, said here today. PTI
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