Wednesday, November 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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Pakistan orders closure of Taliban consulates
Islamabad, November 20
Pakistan today ordered the closure of two remaining Taliban consulates in Quetta and Peshawar but remained silent on the militia’s Embassy here. Announcing this here Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told reporters that the Pakistani Government had directed the Taliban Ambassador in Islamabad Mullah Abdul Saleem Zaeef to close down the consulates.
Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef (left) waits for his car to arrive after a meeting at the Pakistan government's foreign office in Islamabad, on Tuesday. Pakistan said on Monday that it no longer does business with the Taliban but will not expel the Ambassador for the time being. — AP/PTI photo

The options before Osama
Washington, November 20
Osama bin Laden’s hiding places are shrinking, but they aren’t gone. The accused terrorist could sneak across a mountain border to Kashmir, blend in with refugees inside Afghanistan or — perhaps most likely — hunker down in a cave and hope not to be found.



EARLIER STORIES

 

Wearing a mask of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, a Thai man (left) offers various kinds of masks to passersby at his roadside shop on the outskirts of Bangkok on Tuesday.
— AP\PTI

UK-US ‘row’ over troop deployment in Afghanistan
London, November 20
The deployment of thousands of British troops in Afghanistan is being delayed because of divisions between London and Washington over their precise role, according to newspaper reports here, quoting defence and diplomatic sources.

USA announces new peace plan
Israeli forces wreck Gaza homes
Gaza, November 20
The Israeli forces demolished Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip early today, hours after Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a new US peace mission to end nearly 14 months of violence.


After five years of Taliban control, the city of Mazar-e-Sharif has taken on a life of its own.
(28k, 56k)

Musharraf: support to USA has strengthened Pakistan
Islamabad, November 20
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said Islamabad’s decision to cooperate with the international coalition against terrorism had strengthened its position on the Kashmir issue, besides ensuring security for its nuclear assets, media reports said today.

India may buy high-altitude helicopters
Washington, November 20
After a prototype of its advanced light helicopter failed thrust and vibration tests, the Indian Army is considering purchasing choppers from abroad for high-altitude use.

Policeman dies in Lanka blast


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Pakistan orders closure of Taliban consulates

Islamabad, November 20
Pakistan today ordered the closure of two remaining Taliban consulates in Quetta and Peshawar but remained silent on the militia’s Embassy here.

Announcing this here Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told reporters that the Pakistani Government had directed the Taliban Ambassador in Islamabad Mullah Abdul Saleem Zaeef to close down the consulates.

With this Pakistan closed down all three Taliban consulates in Pakistan. Two weeks ago it directed the closure of the consulate in Karachi and clamped restrictions on Mr Zaeef’s addressing press conferences.

Today’s announcement was followed by yesterday’s clarification by Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar that his government has de-recognised the Taliban Government as it has collapsed but at the same time it has not recognised any new government awaiting the formation of a broad-based government under the aegis UN.

“We have already withdrawn our personnel from Afghanistan but not yet announced the de-recognition of the Taliban Government. That does not mean we continue to recognise it. Quiet clearly the government has collapsed. For the time being the Afghan embassy represents Afghanistan in our country,” Mr Sattar said.

Clarifying the government’s decision to close down the consulates in Peshawar and Quetta, Mr Khan said the decision was prompted by the Northern Alliance taking over the border posts near Quetta. In view of this the visas issued by consulate have no relevance. Similarly confusion prevailed in Peshawar too, he said.

He said Pakistan supported the moves to form a multi-national force to provide security in Afghanistan. “We support the formation of multi-national force. However the UN has to work out modalities to constitute such a force. Pakistan would take part in the discussions when the subject figured in the agenda of the UN,” he said.

Asked whether Pakistan has established direct contacts with the Northern Alliance in Kabul, he said: “We have not had direct contacts with the Alliance. However, indications were that the opposition alliance has responded positively to the formation of multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan,” he said. PTI

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The options before Osama

Washington, November 20
Osama bin Laden’s hiding places are shrinking, but they aren’t gone. The accused terrorist could sneak across a mountain border to Kashmir, blend in with refugees inside Afghanistan or — perhaps most likely — hunker down in a cave and hope not to be found.

Even with the USA’s chances improving, “People can hide in caves for long periods,” Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday. “This will take time.”

“He may try to hide from us, wait it out. Or he may decide to die a martyr and launch some attack when he’s going down,” said Mr Herbert E. Meyer, Vice-Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council during the Reagan administration.

For the first time, US officials sound optimistic they will eventually get him. The rout of the Taliban has shrunk the area where Bin Laden can hide, President Bush said yesterday. “The noose is beginning to narrow,” Mr Bush said.

And a $ 25 million reward, plus money offered secretly by the CIA, may persuade the local people to look hard for Bin Laden, even crawling through, tunnels and caves, Mr Rumsfeld said. The USA expects that Laden will remain in Afghanistan, rather than trying to flee elsewhere. He’s expected to either hide in one location, or move between several hideouts in the rugged, mountainous strip of Afghanistan running roughly from south-east of Kandahar, up to south of Kabul and Jalalabad.

In the past, Bin Laden always has travelled with a small, armed security force. He’s believed to use couriers to communicate because he knows the USA, can eavesdrop on any phone conversation.

Among Bin Laden’s options:

Sneak out of Afghanistan on foot: Bin Laden could try to escape across the Pakistani border, perhaps to Kashmir, where he has supporters. Bin Laden could disguise himself as a woman in an all-enveloping burqa, travel with just one or two persons and even try to blend in with the region’s thousands of refugees.

Sneak out of Afghanistan by air: Bin Laden might have access to a helicopter, Mr Rumsfeld said, adding that helicopters could fly low to avoid detection. But US airborne-radar planes can spot even low-flying helicopters that follow the contours of hills and valleys in a risky flight path.

Bin Laden could fly helicopter to Pakistan, then take an airplane to Somalia or Sudan.

Hide out in caves in Afghanistan: Bin Laden spent years fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, and spent many of his millions creating a network of caves and underground hideouts for troops and supplies out of the existing, ancient network of water trenches.

If Bin Laden is killed in the bombing of a cave, US officials may never recover his body and never know for sure that he is dead.

Choose to die: In his most recent interview, Bin Laden said he was “ready to die” and predicted attacks against Americans would continue even if he’s gone. He might refuse to be captured alive, and instead blow himself up and hope to take American troops with him.

Whatever Bin Laden does, “It’s awfully tough to pinpoint one single person,” Mr Meyer warned. He gave America a 50-50 chance of catching Bin Laden. “Even that is pretty good,” he said. AP

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UK-US ‘row’ over troop deployment in Afghanistan

London, November 20
The deployment of thousands of British troops in Afghanistan is being delayed because of divisions between London and Washington over their precise role, according to newspaper reports here, quoting defence and diplomatic sources.

The Times and The Independent said Washington was more concerned with hunting down prime terror suspect Osama bin Laden and deposing of the Taliban regime than with setting up a force to aid humanitarian activity.

“It’s desperately frustrating all round and it’s also very awkward,” The Times quoted a defence source as saying.

“The US is focused on going after Bin Laden and is far less inclined to engage in longer-term stabilisation.”

A total of 6,000 British troops are on 48-hour standby for deployment in Afghanistan following the arrival last week of some 100 British marines at Bagram airbase north of Kabul.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said any troops deployed will focus on protecting humanitarian supply routes, securing airfields, ensuring the safe return of UN and aid agency staff and bomb disposal.

He has added that troops could be used in “offensive frontline operations”.

It had been suggested that the impasse over further troop deployment was due to deep mistrust shown by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance towards the presence of British marines.

But defence sources, quoted by The Times, said it “had more to do with Washington than Kabul”.

A spokesman for Mr Tony Blair yesterday denied Britain and the USA were in dispute over the speed at which the campaign in Afghanistan should progress.

He added there was no delay to troop deployment. AFP
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USA announces new peace plan
Israeli forces wreck Gaza homes

Gaza, November 20
The Israeli forces demolished Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip early today, hours after Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a new US peace mission to end nearly 14 months of violence.

Three Palestinians were wounded in the fresh violence, hospital officials said, underlining the difficulties US envoys will face when they arrive in the coming days to prod peace moves forward.

Mr Powell set out the US Middle East policy in a speech yesterday at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He said two mediators would be sent to the region and repeated calls for a two-state solution and an end to violence.

The speech indicated for the first time that the President George W. Bush administration has outlined ideas for ending the conflict, a move coinciding with US efforts to bolster Arab backing for the anti-terror war in Afghanistan.

Palestinian witnesses said tanks and bulldozers rumbled into a Palestinian-ruled area of the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza under cover of darkness and demolished 18 houses, leaving families homeless during the month of Ramzan.

The army said it destroyed two uninhabited homes and denied the area is under Palestinian control. However, Reuters television footage showed Palestinians sifting through the rubble to pick out their belongings.

The military said the raid came after Palestinian gunmen continuously fired on soldiers in the area and threw grenades at nearby outposts.

The army said two soldiers were lightly wounded in a separate mortar bomb attack in Gaza. Palestinian hospital officials said three other people were wounded in an earlier raid in Rafah.

In his much-awaited policy statement, Mr Powell set out a vision of peace, prosperity and tolerance in the Middle East and asked Israelis and Palestinians to help make it a reality.

Answering criticism that the Bush administration has kept its distance from Middle East diplomacy, Mr Powell said the USA was ready to take the lead in helping Israelis and Palestinians reach a lasting peace. Reuters
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Musharraf: support to USA has strengthened Pakistan

Islamabad, November 20
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said Islamabad’s decision to cooperate with the international coalition against terrorism had strengthened its position on the Kashmir issue, besides ensuring security for its nuclear assets, media reports said today.

“Our priority is to safeguard the country’s core interest of Kashmir and nuclear programme,” the daily, Nation quoted the President as saying during his meeting with the district nazims from Sindh province.

General Musharraf had invited the nazims for a meeting as part of his consultations with the representatives of the people on the situation arising after September 11, and the latest developments in Afghanistan.

Referring to lifting of sanctions by other countries of the coalition, General Musharraf said, “The country is gaining in economic terms”.

“We are pursuing the objectives of debt relief, budgetary support and market access,” he said, adding that these objectives were being followed in bilateral negotiations and with multilateral donors.

The President said, “Pakistan is on the right course and this will augur well for our economy.”

Referring to the activities of extremist, he said it was not a healthy situation as some elements were opposing Pakistan’s policy and promoting extremism. UNI

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India may buy high-altitude helicopters

Washington, November 20
After a prototype of its advanced light helicopter (alh) failed thrust and vibration tests, the Indian Army is considering purchasing choppers from abroad for high-altitude use.

“The Army is very concerned over the performance of the prototype built at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore. Since the need for helicopters is immediate the Army may look outside India,” Defence News reported today quoting an Indian Army source.

“The Indian Army is already overrunning its existing helicopters to ferry troops and equipment to the higher reaches of the Kashmir valley. We will ask the Indian Ministry of Defence to make available at least 30 helicopters immediately to operate in the higher reaches because of the delay in the ALH project”, the report said. Expected to cost around $ 4.5 million each, the ALH was intended to fulfil the requirement of 300 combat and transport helicopters during the next 10 years. PTI

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Policeman dies in Lanka blast

Colombo, November 20
A policeman was killed and two others were seriously injured when their vehicle was hit by a claymore mine in northern Sri Lanka this morning. The explosion which took place at Punewa, 12 km south of Vavuniya, was set off by suspected Tamil rebels. PTI
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