Saturday, December 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Lanka to be put under nationwide curfew
Post-poll violence in Kandy, Tamil area
Colombo, December 7
Curfew was re-imposed in Sri Lanka today to quell escalating post-poll violence even as the election chief announced he was annulling the results in two of the island’s 22 electoral districts.

Taliban’s alien fighters flee to Pak
Washington, December 7
Foreign fighters who supported Afghanistan’s Taliban and its “guest” Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida organisation in their fight against the US are beginning to show up in Pakistan and other countries as the manhunt for terror suspects intensifies. Pakistan says it is sealing its borders to fleeing Taliban fighters, but they are slipping across the long frontier along with foreigners suspected of belonging to Al-Qaida.

UN for MNF in Kabul by Dec 22
London, December 7
The UN’s senior peace-keeping official said today he wanted deployment of a multinational force to begin in Afghanistan by December 22, when the country’s interim government takes power.“It’s important there not be too much delay in deployment,” UN official Jean-Marie Guehenno said.
In Video: The UN Security Council unanimously endorsed an agreement among anti-Taliban Afghans to form an interim government but put off the contentious issue of a multinational security force.(28k, 56k)


WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
Pervez’s Afghan policy comes a cropper
I
ndeed Pakistan’s game plan of foisting “a friendly” government in the post-Taliban Afghanistan has come a cropper. Fortyfour-year-old Hamid Karzai ,educated in India is Prime Minister of the caretaker government.Most governments across the world have lent clear support to this interim government which was agreed upon by Afghan factions in Bonn after nine days of negotiations.


Fashion design student Long Lei celebrates after winning a modelling contest organised by Chinese Central Television in Beijing December 6, 2001. It was the first ever model or beauty contest organised by any Chinese government organisation.
— Reuters photo

EARLIER STORIES
 
Clayton Lee
Captured fugitive Clayton Lee Waager, who authorities suspect mailed hundreds of hoax anthrax letters to women's health clinics, was ordered held without bond in a Cincinnati jail on December 6, 2001. Wearing green prison garb and joking with reporters and US Marshals, the 45-year-old Waager made his first appearance in federal court since being arrested at a copy store in a Cincinnati suburb on Dec. 5. "I know all about that place (jail)," Waagner, who sported a goatee, is shown in this police booking photograph on December 5. —Reuters photo

No surrender deal with Omar: USA
Washington, December 7
The USA, reacting to Taliban supremo Mullah Omar’s reported offer to surrender, has ruled out any compromise in dealing with leaders of the militia and Al-Qaida.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the USA would deal “effectively” with the Taliban and Al-Qaida and ensure against the escape of any Al-Qaida fighters.

Jaish, LeT on new US visa blacklist
Washington, December 7
The USA has placed Pakistan-based terrorist groups Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba along with 39 other militant outfits on a new visa blacklist aimed at excluding supporters of terrorism from the USA or deporting them if they are found within the country’s borders.

Amnesty blames BNP for atrocities on Hindus
Dhaka, December 7
Amnesty International the human rights watchdog, in a report on atrocities on the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh following the October 1 general election has blamed ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters for the ‘ grave human rights abuses’.

Israel bombs police compound
Gaza City (Gaza Strip), December 7
Israel resumed its military strikes against Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian authorities today, bombing the Palestinian police compound in an apparent signal that it is not satisfied with his efforts to quash terrorism.

A Palestinian woman shouts in anger as she and other Hamas supporters break through a Palestinian police line who tried to stop them to hold a rally in the city centre of the West Bank town of Ramallah on Friday.—Reuters

A Palestinian woman shouts in anger

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Lanka to be put under nationwide curfew
Post-poll violence in Kandy, Tamil area
Christine Jayasinghe

Colombo, December 7
Curfew was re-imposed in Sri Lanka today to quell escalating post-poll violence even as the election chief announced he was annulling the results in two of the island’s 22 electoral districts.

The People’s Alliance (PA) government announced that a nationwide curfew would go into effect in all other areas from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday, amid reports of mounting tension between rival political supporters.

The Elections Commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake, exercising new powers given to him just before the elections, said he was cancelling the results in the Central Kandy and the western Gampaha districts and would not order a repoll. The general election was held on the island on December 5.

He made the announcement to secretaries of political parties, a day after he suspended the release of the results of Wednesday’s election amid charges of widespread ballot-stuffing in Gampaha and violence in Kandy.

The main opposition United National Party (UNP) was set for an impressive victory belying expectations that the election would throw up a hung Parliament.

Meanwhile, in the northern Wanni district, at least two people were shot dead when rival Tamil political parities clashed shortly after constituency results were announced there, officials said.

Two members of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) were shot dead and four others wounded in a clash with members of the rival Democratic People’s Liberation Front (DPLF) in Vavuniya, officials said. It was the first killing reported after results began trickling in.

Earlier, a curfew was clamped in central Sri Lanka as mobs went on the rampage to avenge the deaths of 10 local residents on election day.

Groups of rioters set fire to a petrol station demanding police action against killers of 10 Muslims, supporters of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), who were gunned down allegedly by President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s (PA) supporters.

Curfew was imposed on the town of Wattegama in Kandy district even as a 33-hour clampdown, ordered after the election, was lifted at dawn in other parts of the country.

“Several vehicles had been attacked at Wattegama and a large number of people have taken to the streets despite the curfew,” said a local police official in Kandy, 112 km east of here.

Residents said Muslims who predominantly live in the area were demanding the arrest of a former PA minister and close relative of Kumaratunga, who is allegedly linked to the killings of the young men.

The SLMC has cast its lot with the UNP, which from the officially released and unofficially-divulged vote counts is set to win at least a simple majority in the legislature.

The UNP demanded that the Deputy Defence Minister of the outgoing government be arrested in connection with murders.

“The mass murder of Muslims was instigated by Deputy Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte,” the UNP said in a statement demanding that the Inspector-General of Police immediately hold an impartial inquiry.

The killings shocked the country as the worst single act of election-related violence during the five-week run-up to the election, which has already claimed the lives of nearly 60 party supporters and candidates.

The rioting came as both Kumaratunga and UNP leader and Prime Minister-elect Ranil Wickremesinghe appealed for calm to prevent further violence. Both called on party supporters to refrain from acts of revenge and requested the police and armed forces to preserve law and order.

The campaign has been dubbed the most violent in the country’s history with local and foreign polls monitors reporting increased incidents of murders, assault and arson. IANS

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Taliban’s alien fighters flee to Pak

Washington, December 7
Foreign fighters who supported Afghanistan’s Taliban and its “guest” Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida organisation in their fight against the US are beginning to show up in Pakistan and other countries as the manhunt for terror suspects intensifies.

Pakistan says it is sealing its borders to fleeing Taliban fighters, but they are slipping across the long frontier along with foreigners suspected of belonging to Al-Qaida.

The presence of thousands of foreign fighters in Afghanistan also complicates plans of the US-backed coalition and the United Nations to install an interim government of Afghans starting on December 22.

Though Pashtun tribal leaders acknowledged that they had offered Afghan Taliban fighters amnesty, no mention was made of foreign fighters.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 foreign fighters are believed to be in Kandahar, according to Abdul Khaliq, a Pashtun opposition leader.

Mr Sam Zarifi, an investigator with the Human Rights Watch, said unconfirmed reports indicated that 2,000 family members of foreign fighters lived in Kandahar, mostly in a district called the Kabuli Bazaar.

More foreigners are believed to be holed up in a cave complex in eastern Afghanistan in the Nangahar province, near Jalalabad.

Another 500 to 600 are believed to be in Helmand province in the west. And in the Paktia and Logar provinces, foreign fighters and their families continue to operate and live.

Mr Zarifi said an investigation into the foreign fighters and their families in Paktia and Logar revealed two groups: one described as Chechens and another called Arabs by local Afghans, who often had a hard time distinguishing one foreigner from another.

The purported Chechens, he said, constitute about 140 families without a large number of fighting men.

They started in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, then fled to Kabul when the Northern Alliance began its push into Mazar-e-Sharif last month. When Kabul fell on November 13, Mr Zarifi said, the Chechens had gone to Paktia, near Pakistan’s border.

By then, the Taliban had withdrawn from Paktia and a council of Pashtun tribes had assumed control. In mid-November, the council gave the Chechens shelter, Mr Zarifi said, allowing them to live in abandoned houses in villages.

US warplanes, however, continued their attacks in the Paktia region. On November 17, the US warplanes accidentally hit the Jalaladin mosque in Khost, the Pentagon said. At the time, Mohammed Usman, a tribal official in the Paktia, said the US warplanes had targeted a neighbourhood frequented by foreign fighters and their families.

Mr Zarifi said the group assumed to be made up of Arabs — 30 families, including armed men — was living in automobiles that travelled between the Paktia and neighbouring Logar province.

The families, he said, fled Kabul after it fell to the Northern Alliance. They had been in Khost, but left after the tribal council took over, he said.

“Now they are living in their cars in a convoy,” Mr Zarifi said. “They are afraid, so no one has been able to approach them. They don’t spend the night at one place. They are worried about bombing, food and the cold.”

He said foreign fighters steered clear of the Pakistani border because they feared arrest. The police said the fighters at the hospital would be arrested after they recover from their wounds.

The police Superintendent Awal Khan, said initially the fighters had refused to disclose their names. So he gave them a choice.

“We told them we are wanting your ID to give you medical treatment,” Mr Khan said with a chuckle. “No ID, no medical treatment. As they were wounded, they disclosed their names.”

Imram, the doctor, identified the Saudis as Rehman, 36, Asadullah, 30, and Muheen, 22. He identified the Nigerian as Aghra, 32. PTI

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UN for MNF in Kabul by Dec 22

London, December 7
The UN’s senior peace-keeping official said today he wanted deployment of a multinational force to begin in Afghanistan by December 22, when the country’s interim government takes power.

“It’s important there not be too much delay in deployment,” UN official Jean-Marie Guehenno said.

He suggested it operate along the lines of the Australian-led force sent to East Timor under UN mandate in 1999.

“It will be a multinational force, a coalition of the willing, not a ‘Blue Helmet’ force (led by the UN)”, he told reporters.

Guehenno said it was up to the countries to decide the command structure and the role of the troops.

Once a proposal was on the table, the UN Security Council would be able to pass a resolution “within a matter of days” authorising deployment, he said.

United Nations: The UN Security Council has endorsed the agreement for an interim government in Afghanistan and expressed willingness to help implement it The British-French resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member council expressed willingness to take further action to support the interim institutions established by the accord “As long as the Afghan parties fulfill their commitments. AFP, PTI

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WINDOW ON PAKISTAN
Pervez’s Afghan policy comes a cropper
Gobind Thukral

Indeed Pakistan’s game plan of foisting “a friendly” government in the post-Taliban Afghanistan has come a cropper. Fortyfour-year-old Hamid Karzai ,educated in India is Prime Minister of the caretaker government. Most governments across the world have lent clear support to this interim government which was agreed upon by Afghan factions in Bonn after nine days of negotiations. The key portfolios including defence, foreign and interior are with the Northern Alliance, which Musharraf and his top brass hate.

Musharraf, who day in and day out called the Taliban freedom fighters and justified their fundamentalist approach that was pushing a poor neighbour into the Stone Age, had to sing a different tune when his “master” (America) demanded it. Later he tried to push his agenda of foisting “moderate” Taliban elements and since that too did not receive any attention, he had to bite the dust and seek another stooge under the cover of having a moderate Pashtun. This, too, was turned down not only by major factions across the beleaguered country, but by Pashtuns also.” Either one is a Pashtun or not, who is a moderate? Clearly Pashtun leaders had finally realised the dirty game of the Pakistan Government that had seen at least seven millions of their brothren made refugees.

In fact, Musharraf and his predecessors had created the of Taliban in the madarsas of Pakistan and transported them to Afghanistan, all this with the avowed aim of keeping themselves in the saddle and harassing India by pushing these brain-washed fighters into Kashmir. This Afghan policy has come a cropper.

The September 11 attacks had changed the US policy and instead of strengthening “jehadis”, it was now destroying them.

This has made the mainline media sit up. Even a casual reading of the major newspapers like The News, Dawn, The Nation, and Pakistan Today makes it clear. Except China, other neighbouring countries, India, Russia and its former republics, Iran, and now Afghanistan, have clearly no love for Pakistan’s rulers. Even China, which had been trying to stop of the tide of Islamic fundamentalism in its Muslim-dominated areas, is happy at the fall of the Taliban regime.

So where does Pakistan stand today? Its choices are limited. It has to accept the new arrangement in Afghanistan. But what should it do with the Taliban? This militia comprises not just Pakistanis but Arabs, Chechens and even Afghans. For this battle-hardened religious militia, fighting is the only thing it knows. “These fighters are going to spread out in droves with weapons to all the neighbouring countries. Governments around Afghanistan have to gear up to this threat as it may take any shape, any dimension, and any intensity... They will roam round as headless chickens as Mullah Omar in his last desperate message said. Those who created the Taliban must learn some hard lessons of such misadventure and prepare to welcome these chickens, coming home to roost”. This is how the Nation’s editor, Shaheen Sehbai, summed up.

This is one problem and this could lead to further dismemberment of Pakistan as the Pashtuns are going to fight for their right and demand separation. Already Pakistan’s hold over North-Western Frontier Province is very fragile and Pashtuns both from Afghanistan and Pakistan could unite and seek a separate homeland. This is no distant possibility. After the Taliban are completely routed, the USA would not leave it at that. It would be there and exploit the oil and natural gas wealth of the region. Pakistan has no choice but to be a client-state.

Already the Islamic parties are feeling the pinch as people watch Pakistanis, including their soldiers, being, jailed, killed and left on the roadsides. The Urdu press shows the strong reactions. People blame the government policies and the fundamentalists for the miserable condition of their sons who had gone to Afghanistan to fight a “holy” war. It is another matter that all “holy” wars lead first to bloodshed and finally end up as a cruel joke. But then these extract a heavy toll. Now why are these so called religious parties in Pakistan not demonstrating on the streets?

For Musharraf a hard reality check is essential. He has to understand the limited nature of its alliance with the USA. It was playing a mischievous role, which got exposed when it had to airlift its forces Leave it to the people to judge. Dictators come and go by different routes. Isolation and turmoil is what looks to be the fate unless the General plays some his cards well. 

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No surrender deal with Omar: USA

Washington, December 7
The USA, reacting to Taliban supremo Mullah Omar’s reported offer to surrender, has ruled out any compromise in dealing with leaders of the militia and Al-Qaida.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the USA would deal “effectively” with the Taliban and Al-Qaida and ensure against the escape of any Al-Qaida fighters.

Mr Rumsfeld was responding at a Pentagon briefing to questions, speculating that Omar has made or is making a deal with the anti-Taliban opposition that has come into power in Kabul.

The deal reportedly involves Omar’s surrendering Kandahar in exchange for being allowed to remain in control of Taliban forces, or his being allowed to live in the Pushtun area of Afghanistan without being turned over to the US forces.

Mr Rumsfeld said the USA was keen that the remaining Al-Qaida fighters did not leave Afghanistan and “go off to conduct additional terrorist attacks on other nations, including the USA”

Afghanistan should not be a nation that harbours terrorists, he said.

Gen Peter Pace, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also at the briefing, noted that opposition forces are now moving through the Tora Bora valley. IANS

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Jaish, LeT on new US visa blacklist

Washington, December 7
The USA has placed Pakistan-based terrorist groups Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba along with 39 other militant outfits on a new visa blacklist aimed at excluding supporters of terrorism from the USA or deporting them if they are found within the country’s borders.

The 39 groups which also include the Al Rashid Trust and the Harkat ul-Jihadi-Islami have been placed on the “Terroirst Exclusion List” under the new US Patriot Act, Deputy State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said. The provisions of this law give the US authorities the power to deport members of these groups or deny them visas for entering into the USA, Mr Reeker said.

“This round of ‘Terrorist Exclusion List’ designations is by no means the last. We will continue to expand the list as we identify and confirm additional entities that provide support to terrorists.” he said.

The outfits on the list included some which had already been subject to financial curbs but not immigration checks as well as organisations which were not previously under any US sanctions at all.

Mr Reeker’s announcement came shortly after Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had asked the State Department to include these groups on the list. PTI

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Amnesty blames BNP for atrocities on Hindus
Atiqur Rahman
Tribune News Service

Dhaka, December 7
Amnesty International the human rights watchdog, in a report on atrocities on the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh following the October 1 general election has blamed ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters for the ‘ grave human rights abuses’.

Amnesty International (AI) in its report said that the backlash after the elections was systematic and severe. It added the minority Hindu community was targeted by the BNP supporters for their perceived support to BNP’s rival, the Awami League.

The AI report published in dailies yesterday said that the government was responsible for giving protection to the citizens and the present government had failed to provide the protection.

The last two months showed how vulnerable the Hindu community was on the face of attacks, arson, loot, rapes and threats .

Interestingly, there were no reports of atrocities on minorities during the BNP rule from February 1991 till March 1996. The party had allied itself with the fundamentalist Jamat-e-Islami to topple the Awami League from power which proved unsuccessful. But the alliance with this party and another ultra-rightist political combine, the Islami Oikyo Front helped the BNP in getting more than two-thirds majority seats in the October 1 elections. The BNP is blamed now for this rightist alignment and the atrocities on minority Hindu community.

During the tenure of the military ruler, General Ershad, from March, 1982, to December, 1990, on two occasions there were incidences of organised attacks on Hindu families in Dhaka, Chittagong and other places. Amnesty International criticised the atrocities at that time also.

The BNP government has assured an inquiry into the reported atrocities by a committee which has not yet been constituted.

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Israel bombs police compound

Gaza City (Gaza Strip), December 7
Israel resumed its military strikes against Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian authorities today, bombing the Palestinian police compound in an apparent signal that it is not satisfied with his efforts to quash terrorism. At least 20 persons were injured.

The pre-dawn F-16 fighter plane strikes ended a two-day lull in military action that Israel said had been meant to give Mr Arafat a chance to act against those responsible for suicide bombings in Israel.

The Israeli army said in a statement that its strike had targeted the “Palestinian security apparatus that supports and aids terrorist operations. The army will continue its operations to defend the safety of Israeli citizens and soldiers.”

In another Israeli response, three army tanks and a personnel carrier entered the southern Gaza Strip town of Abssan during the night, a witness said. Israeli soldiers searched 10 houses and arrested a number of persons, leaving after about 90 minutes. AP

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