Monday, December 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

W O R L D

Bill denying special security to Hasina passed
Awami League boycotts House
Dhaka, December 2
Ignoring the eight-hour bandh in the capital city Dhaka, by the main opposition Awami League, the Bill scrapping the Act providing Special Security Forces (SSF) protection to two daughters of founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was adopted today, the last day of the first session of new Parliament constituted through elections on October 1.

18 killed in Russian cargo plane crash
Moscow, December 2
A Russian border guard Il-76 plane crashed today during a flight from Moscow to Russia’s far eastern city of Peteropavlovsk-Kamchatsk, killing all 18 persons on board, officials said.
An Ilyushin IL-76 cargo freighter, similar to the one shown in this undated file picture, crashed in Russia's Siberian region on Sunday killing 18 persons following an on board fire .— Reuters photo

Sri Lanka poll campaign ends amid rising violence
Colombo, December 2
Political parties in Sri Lanka on Sunday wound up their campaigns for the December 5 election amid rising violence and forecasts of a close contest between the two main contenders.

Musharraf might use Kashmir as ‘safety valve’
Washington, December 2
Chastened by the failure of his Afghan policy, the Pakistan President might now direct all attention to Kashmir using it as a “safety valve”, an American think tank has said.


The Taliban have handed over a Canadian reporter, who went missing  earlier this week, at the Pakistani border, a  Pakistani border official said.
(28k, 56k)

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Indian peacekeeping force medical team
Indian Peacekeeping Force medical team aiding Lebanese women and children near the militant Hizbullah stronghold in Lebanon near Israel border on Saturday.— PTI

CIA chief meets Musharraf, ISI men
Islamabad, December 2
The CIA Chief, Mr George Tenet, who is on a secret mission here, has held detailed consultations with the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, on the latest situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Zardari calls for ending India, Pak deadlock
Islamabad, December 2
According to The News, Mr Zardari while holding the critics of Benazir Bhutto’s recent statement about India said the political orphans could not understand the development in the region and the politics around the globe.

Pak cabbie wins $ 32 m lottery
Islamabad, December 2
A Pakistani taxi driver has become an ideal not just for his fellow countrymen but for anybody in these days of recession in the USA after he won America’s biggest-ever lottery of $ 32 million.

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Bill denying special security to Hasina passed
Awami League boycotts House
Atiqur Rahman
Tribune News Service


Sheikh Hasina
Bangladesh's former Prime Minister, Ms Sheikh Hasina, speaks with her party leaders in Dhaka on Sunday. —Reuter photo

Dhaka, December 2
Ignoring the eight-hour bandh in the capital city Dhaka, by the main opposition Awami League, the Bill scrapping the Act providing Special Security Forces (SSF) protection to two daughters of founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was adopted today, the last day of the first session of new Parliament constituted through elections on October 1. The Bill was moved by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister only on November 28 and it was scrapped after five and half month. The Bill will come into affect with the ascent of President Dr A.Q.M. Badruddoza Chowdhury.

The original Bill providing protection to Hasina was adopted on June 20 by Parliament when the BNP and the Jamat-e-Islami were absent. Today also the Bill repealing the earlier Bill was adopted in absence of the Awami League.

Meanwhile, activists of the Awami League was prevented by the security forces to bring out procession in support of the bandh and twice there were clashes between the police and AL supporters in front of the central office of the party in the city. The police fired rubber bullets, lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse the huge number of AL activists. Central leaders including immediate past Home Minister Mohammad Nasim were manhandled by the security forces. The AL leaders were pushed inside the party office and not allowed to come out till the end of the programme.

There were reports of minor clashes elsewhere in the city also. The police arrested 50 persons from the premises of the AL office. About 100 were injured in the repeated clashes.

Earlier on Saturday night the Dhaka Metropolitan Police imposed ban on processions with sticks and such other “weapons” in the city. Nearly 6000 security personnel including police and Paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) were mobilised though the police claimed to ‘maintain’ peace in the city, ostensibly it was to prevent the opposition from showing any strength against the ruling coalition headed by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), arch rival of the Awami League.

Torch procession of the Awami League to mobilise support in favour of the bandh on Saturday evening was also dispersed by the police. Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina criticised the action and said that the BNP government was showing its ‘fascist character’ preventing procession by the opposition.

The Home Minister at a meeting on Saturday at his office with police and BDR decided to face the Awami League attempt to ‘create disturbance’ with strong hand.

On the other hand police did not take any action against BNP supporters who threw handmade bombs in front of the AL office.

The session of Parliament was scheduled to end on November 28, the day the controversial Bill was moved and the session was extended to pass the Bill today. With adoption of the Bill Parliament was adjourned sine die.

The adoption of the Bill scrapping the provision of Special Security Forces (SSF) protection to former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana has put the two political rivals into a position of confrontation. 

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18 killed in Russian cargo plane crash

Moscow, December 2
A Russian border guard Il-76 plane crashed today during a flight from Moscow to Russia’s far eastern city of Peteropavlovsk-Kamchatsk, killing all 18 persons on board, officials said.

The plane’s pilot radioed to ground control that a fire had erupted on board while the plane was cruising at an altitude of 9,600 meters, an Emergency Ministry official said.

Contact was lost moments later and the plane disappeared from the radar when it was 7,500 meters above the ground.

There were nine crew and nine passengers on board the plane, which was also carrying a 36-tons payload, officials said.

The Il-76 made a forced landing on the Kamchatka peninsula, but burst into flames on touching the ground, Interfax reported citing a preliminary investigation into the crash.

Investigators discovered the jet split into three parts after hitting the ground, ITAR-TASS reported. There were no survivors.

A workhorse of the Russian military, the transport plane was first introduced into service in 1973 and has established a good record despite a general collapse of the post-Soviet aviation industry.

Today’s accident comes just nine days after 27 persons died when a catastrophic mechanical failure downed a 40-year-old Il-18 plane in the central Russian region of Tver. AFP

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Sri Lanka poll campaign ends amid rising violence
Christine Jayasinghe


A policeman stands guard as Sri Lanka's main opposition United Nation Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe speaks during an election rally in Colombo on Sunday. 
— Reuters photo
 

Colombo, December 2
Political parties in Sri Lanka on Sunday wound up their campaigns for the December 5 election amid rising violence and forecasts of a close contest between the two main contenders.

The campaign reached a crescendo in the past few days with the ruling People’s Alliance (PA) and the main opposition United National Party (UNP) trying to scoop up undecided voters.

Foreign and local election monitors have warned that the contest was becoming increasingly bloody with at least 14 murders being recorded since nominations closed on October 27 and widespread reports of bombings, assaults and arson.

Police chief in-charge of elections Gamini Navaratne said he had ordered policemen to shoot any miscreant on sight as fears rose of vote rigging and intimidation on election day.

Some 4,943 candidates have entered the fray for the snap election called five years ahead of time. They are vying for 225 seats in Parliament.

Of the total number, 4,610 are contesting for the 196 seats to be allocated on district proportional representation (PR) while 333 are in the running for 29 seats doled out according to the total votes a party polls.

Both the PA and the UNP have managed to pick up more supporters as the campaign entered its last phase, according to an opinion poll conducted by an opinion research group, Survey Research Lanka.

The survey, commissioned by the Sunday Times newspaper, however gave the UNP a slight edge of 38 per cent compared to the PA’s 33 per cent.

Surprisingly, the radical Left Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which carried out a high-voltage campaign bringing back an exiled leader from Britain to head it, appeared to have lost some support.

“The support base for the PA appeared to have gone up by about 5 per cent and for the UNP by 3 per cent but The JVP’s support base has apparently fallen by about 3 per cent,” the survey said.

The newspaper commented that the drop appeared to signal that voters could shun the Marxist-oriented JVP for the PA and asked if the return of the controversial former insurgent, Somawansa Amarasinghe, had actually backfired.

The JVP threw the PA a lifeline in September in a bid to save the tottering government after it lost its parliamentary majority when hit by a series of defections.

But the party’s 10-seat backing was not enough and President Chandrika Kumaratunga dissolved the legislature and called fresh elections to prevent the PA’s collapse.

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake said at the start of the campaign that he could not guarantee a free and fair election despite being empowered by new laws to deal with election malpractice.

Chief European Union monitor John Cushnahan said last week that the unprecedented attacks he had seen here were “murdering democracy itself.”

The police has enlisted help from the army to provide special security in identified trouble spots where violence has been at its worst this year and was seen on an unprecedented scale at last year’s parliamentary poll. IANS

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Musharraf might use Kashmir as ‘safety valve’

Washington, December 2
Chastened by the failure of his Afghan policy, the Pakistan President might now direct all attention to Kashmir using it as a “safety valve”, an American think tank has said.

“General Musharraf might use Kashmir as a ‘safety valve’ to show that his commitment to the Kashmiri cause is firm and to unite public opinion behind him,” the Centre for Strategic and International Studies said in its newsletter prepared by ex-Ambassador Teresita Schaffer.

Speculation is rife in the USA on how to deal with Pakistan in the event of its continued sponsorship of terrorism in Kashmir, with preliminary indications that the USA would like to turn its attention to Iraq in Phase II, not the terrorism Pakistanis are engaged in against India.

The “India Report,” circulated periodically by analyst John E. Carbaugh, says, despite continued movement to deepen ties and head towards the strategic partnership envisioned by the Bush administration, “New Delhi feels that Washington is not serious about helping it over the Kashmir (issue)”.

On the other hand, it notes that the US Ambassador to India, Mr Robert Blackwill, envisages a new era of cooperation and collaboration between the USA and India.

Mr Robert Hathaway, Director, Asia Programme of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, says, “Washington’s disinclination to embrace India’s conclusions regarding the linkage between the attacks in the USA and the violence that has wracked Kashmir for more than a decade has infuriated New Delhi. Many Indians resent the manner in which Pakistan has been transformed from being part of the problem to its new status as an essential element in the solution”.

The USA is now pitchforked into a region which it had not been terribly eager to get involved with....Yet, here we are with a new strategic relationship with India, a budding partnership of sorts with Pakistan, a nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, a potential crisis in Kashmir. And the USA, I think, cannot afford, and probably will not pull back from this situation,” Mr Cohen adds. PTI

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CIA chief meets Musharraf, ISI men

Islamabad, December 2
The CIA Chief, Mr George Tenet, who is on a secret mission here, has held detailed consultations with the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, on the latest situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Besides General Musharraf, he also exchanged information on Afghanistan with senior ISI and military officials yesterday as part of the Pak-US cooperation in war against terrorism, The Nation said today.

The visit of the CIA Chief is significant in the backdrop of the US efforts to tighten its noose around Osama bin Laden, who still remains untraced. Mr Tenet, who arrived here on Friday evening also discussed the matter of reported crossing of some Al Qaeda members into Pakistan, The Frontier Post said.

Quoting sources, it said despite the availability of latest equipment, intelligence failure to locate the exact place of Bin Laden have become a great deal of perturbing matter for the USA. UNI

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Zardari calls for ending India, Pak deadlock

Islamabad, December 2
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, has said that relations between India and Pakistan should not be held hostage to the resolution of the Kashmir issue and called for ending the deadlock by opening up trade and free mobility of the people of the two countries. Both countries need to move forward to develop relations through trade and people-to-people contact, he said while appearing before the District and Sessions Court at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore yesterday. According to The News, Mr Zardari while holding the critics of Benazir Bhutto’s recent statement about India said the political orphans could not understand the development in the region and the politics around the globe.

He said that if the Pakistan establishment gave a serious thought to Benazir’s views about the Taliban two years ago, the world in general and Pakistan in particular would have been saved from the catastrophic consequences of the Afghan policy. UNI

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Pak cabbie wins $ 32 m lottery

Islamabad, December 2
A Pakistani taxi driver has become an ideal not just for his fellow countrymen but for anybody in these days of recession in the USA after he won America’s biggest-ever lottery of $ 32 million.

Cabbie Ihsan Khan received a cheque for $ 32 million in Washington on Wednesday, Pakistan’s ‘The News’ said.

He arrived at Washington’s Dupont Circle on that day in a stretch limo to receive the prize. Surrounded by hacks from the larger DC area, where he was the first one to pick up the jackpot, Khan seemed quite confident.

He looked like a country club lawyer, wearing a classic Burberry navy blue blazer with its gold buttons gleaming, grey slacks, a white shirt, blue silk tie and black lace-up shoes that could have been made by Bally.

He left Batagram village in Pakistan when he was 19, following immigrants the world over to fame and fortune.

He made his way — a young man alone — to suburban Chicago, where he earned a political science degree and then moved to Washington. He has been driving the cab for several years now. Many a time, he fretted over how he’d pay for his children’s college education. UNI

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Indian cuisine, music popular in Lhasa

Lhasa, December 2
Thanks to enterprising Nepali traders and chefs, Hindi music, daal-chawal-roti and chicken tikka are readily available and popular among locals and foreign tourists over 4,000 metres above sea level in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. “Indian food is very popular here and we try our best to provide authentic Indian stuff,” manager of Lhasa Snowland restaurant, Nyima Dolkar said.

Most of the cooks in Lhasa’s good restaurants hail from neighbouring Nepal and have become experts in Indian cuisine. Many restaurants along the crowded Denji Lin Road and nearby lanes also served Indian dishes and some of them even sold vegetarian ‘Thali’ at less than 10 yuan (Rs 50). Restaurant owners in Lhasa say Indian and Tibetan food are very popular with the western tourists.

While some beauty and massage parlours run by Chinese girls have hung posters of Hindi film heroines to woo customers, some public transport buses have chosen to display the blow-ups of Bollywood stars. PTI

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102 held in Indonesia

Jakarta, December 2
The Indonesian police arrested 102 members of a Muslim militant group and seized scores of weapons, including bombs and firearms, the police said today. The police raiding the headquarters of the Islam Community Forum in Ngawi, East Java, today found 10 home made bombs, one home made handgun, some 50 knives and machetes and 20 bullets, Secretary of East Java police’s Detective Bureau Adjunct Senior Commissioner Didik Prijandono said. AFP

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